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‘REFUTATION OF CALVINISM.'
ON UNIVERSAL REDEMPTION, ELECTION, AND
In entering on this part of the general controversy, I feel one difficulty, arising from this, that a considerable number of that body, whose cause I have in some degree advocated in the preceding books, do not coincide with me in judgment on the subjects on which we now enter ; and perhaps would rather that I should be silent respecting them. Yet as they form in my view a part, and a highly important part of divine truth ; and as they are lamentably misunderstood or misrepresented, I consider it incumbent on me, to make remarks on this as well as on the preceding parts of the Refutation. Whether our doctrines be true, or not, we have a right to fair and impartial treatment; and certainly ought not to be misrepresented. Indeed if our opinions be openly avowed in clear and intelligible language they ought not to be misunderstood. No one can without manifestly and inexcusably violating the golden rule, “What
would that men should do unto you, “ do ye even so unto them,” write against us, till he has carefully perused our works, and does indeed know what we do hold, and what we do not. Though, for reasons which will afterwards appear, I do not willingly assume, or even receive the name of Calvinist ; yet I fully avow, that I believe and maintain the leading doctrines which are generally, though inaccurately, called Calvinistical. But the nature of the subjects here to be discussed, and the state of the public mind respecting them, induce me to vary the plan adopted in the preceding books; and to let my sentiments open on the reader gradually, along with the explanations and arguments which belong to them,
It seems to be the decided opinion of his Lordship, that the evangelical clergy, especially such of them as believe the doctrine of personal election, hold what is called particular redemption ; whereas in fact very few of them adopt it. The author of these remarks, urged by local circumstances rather than by choice, above thirty years since, avowed his dissent from the doctrine of particular redemption, as held by many professed Calvinists, especially among the dissenters.? In this he has since been surprised, and rather amused, to find that his Lordship deduces nearly the same conclusions, from many of the same premises, which he before had done. Indeed 'general redemption,' as distinguished from particular redemption, is the phrase which he uses in preference to universal. The latter word might be understood to include other intelligent beings, not of Adam's race; and it seems to lead to dangerous notions of universal salvation.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him “should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 2 “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away " the sin of the world." 3 “ The Propitiation, for “our sins; and not for our's only, but for the sins Sermon on Election, &c.
? John iii. 16. 3 John i. 29.
" of the whole world.” 1 Were it possible, that a preacher could go into other worlds, and address sinful intelligent beings, of other orders than Adam's race; he could not address them as we may' any of the human race, in every part of the world. He could not say, “ Believe in the Lord “ Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” But, wherever we meet with a human being, we can consistently feel no other embarrassment in thus addressing him, than in calling to those who are asleep after the sun is risen, and exhorting them to arise and go forth to their labour, for the natural light of the world shines and suffices for all.
The infinite value and sufficiency of the atonement made by the death of him who is God and Man in one mysterious person; the way in which the scripture calls on sinners without distinction to believe in Christ; and every circumstance respecting redemption ; shew it to be a general benefit, from which no one of the human race will be excluded except through unbelief. Every exhortation, invitation, and encouragement imaginable may therefore be used without reserve, in addressing men of any nation and description.—Yet some line must be drawn as to the actual effect of this redemption, by all who do not hold universal salvation. He that believeth not shall be “ damned.” The difference then, in this respect, between Calvinists and others is less than is supposed. Calvin himself says, ' Redemption is ' sufficient for all, effectual only to the elect.' His opponents say, It is sufficient for all, effectual only for believers. But faith is “ the gift of
il John ii. 1,
“God;" and the only question is, whether he determines to give faith to one man and not to another, at the moment ; or whether he previously decreed to do it ; and, whether he gives faith to one and not to another, because of some good disposition or conduct, seen or foreseen, in one above the other, previous to his special preventing grace. If he do no injustice to those who are left to themselves and continue unbelievers, it could not be unjust to decree even from eternity, thus to leave them. Some think, that none ever truly believe except the elect; others think differently. But all who allow the truth, and abide by the plain meaning, of the scripture agree, that through this general redemption, believers, and none except believers among adults, shall be saved. The words of the apostle, “ Whom he foreknew, them he did “ also predestinate ; and whom he predestinated, “ them he also called ; and whom he called, them " he also justified ; and whom he justified, them “ he also glorified ;" ! by not mentioning redemption among these special blessings, imply, that this is to be considered as general : and our seventeenth Article goes on exactly the same ground.
· It is natural to conclude, that the remedy, proposed by a Being of infinite power and infinite mercy, would be commensurate to the evil; and 'therefore, as the evil operated instantly in producing the corruption of Adam's nature, which was soon transmitted to his offspring, we may 'infer that all, who were to partake of that corrupt nature; were to partake also of the appointed remedy.'2 Rom. viii. 28--31.
? Ref. 185.