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transgression, or that we are liable to condemnation for any thing but our own personal and voluntary offences; but that among the unhappy consequences of Adam's apostacy, we find the humbling and alarming fact, that all his descendants, as soon as they are capable of it, manifest the disposition which he manifested, when he ate of the forbidden fruit. This disposition, we believe, must be overcome, before any of us can be fit for the kingdom of heaven; and that the Spirit of God only does overcome and correct it :-yet that He does this by the use of means and motives which leave us as free in conversion and new obedience, as we ever were in transgression.

We do not say, that all mankind "come into life with a fixed character, decidedly, entirely, and, for all they can ever do, incurably wicked;"-that is, that all are originally as bad as they can be, and utterly incapable of amendment. On the contrary, reason and scripture unitedly teach us, that there are innumerable degrees of wickedness among men, and that effectual means of cure are put within the reach of all;-that "a fountain is opened for sin and for uncleanness," to which "whosoever will" may come and partake of its purifying and life-giving streams. We do not believe that regeneration is "as much the sole act of God, as if the subject of it had been without sense or motion up to the very moment of its occurrence." Far from it. We have not forgotten the prayer of David, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!"-nor have we forgotten that the same Spirit who indited that petition, has also issued the high command, "Make you a new heart and a new spirit; for why will ye die?"—and has put on record, for the encouragement of every humble and self-despairing sinner, the precious promise, "A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within Christ's people are " willing in the day of his power." Their reception of him is voluntary, though it is, at the same time, an evidence that they are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”‡


Ps. li. 10. Ezek. xviii. 31. and xxxvi. 26. † Ps. cx. 3. John i. 12, 13.

I have not here attempted a full explanation of the doctrines in question; nor would I at any time undertake to clear them from all obscurity. The connexion of dependent and supreme agency in the formation of human character, is a mysterious subject. I have said thus much upon it rather for the purpose of disclaiming sentiments erroneously ascribed to us, than of explaining or defending those which we really hold. We would not add any thing to the interesting and humbling statement of facts given us by the apostle," By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." And the fact that we individually sustain the same character with our fallen progenitor, and are consequently under the same liabilities, and the same moral necessities, is surely one of much practical importance, whether we can, in any measure, account for it or not. To collect, therefore, all the unscriptural and injudicious expressions which have been employed in stating it, and by the help of these, to draw from the doctrine a train of illegitimate and horrible inferences, thus strengthening the opposition which such mortifying truth must meet in every unhumbled heart, is as unkind as it is unfair. It tends to frighten men away from a subject which most deeply concerns them, and which accordingly claims the closest and most careful investigation.

4. With the doctrines already noticed, are necessarily connected those of Election and Perseverance; and about these also there is much misconception, and consequently much irrelevant reasoning. The advocates for these doctrines are often represented as saying, that some of mankind are chosen to salvation, and others fore-ordained to destruction, without any regard to their respective characters that the elect will be saved, let them conduct as they may; and the non-elect must fail of salvation, however earnestly they may seek it. But such are not our sentiments. We believe, indeed, that " Whom God foreknew, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son ;"-that "whom he did predestinate, them he also called ;"—and as "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance," we believe he will perform the good work which he has begun in them, unto the day

of Jesus Christ; reserving for them an incorruptible and unfading inheritance in heaven, and keeping them, for that inheritance, by his mighty power, through faith, unto salvation. Is this saying that the elect, or even the regenerate, are sure of heaven without any exertion on their own part? Far from it :-yea, the very reverse. They are "chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience." Hence they are exhorted to "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God that worketh in them to will and to do, of his own good pleasure."

We would use "the exceeding great and precious promises" of Him who "hath called us to glory and virtue," as an encouragement to humble and vigorous and persevering effort; "that by these we may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Instead of making these promises a pillow of slothful repose, or a refuge from the claims of personal duty, as if salvation were something quite distinct from holiness, we feel that we must " give diligence to make our calling and election sure" adding to faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity and that it is only while we "do these things," we may rest assured that "we shall never fall."*

Finally then, dear reader, "be not tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Take not your religious opinions at second hand; but while some say one thing, and some another, about the doctrines of grace, search the scriptures daily, whether these things are so; remembering, especially, that speculative knowledge, however correct, is not enough for you; but that you must "believe with the heart unto righteousness," before you can "make confession with the mouth unto salvation."

Let those who so freely speak of Election and Perseverance as doctrines of human invention and of immoral tendency, carefully examine Rom. viii. 1-18 and 28-39, and 1 Pet. i. 1-9, and 2 Pet. i. 1-11: and they will perhaps perceive that their controversy is not merely with us, but with the inspired apostles of our Lord, and through them, with our Lord himself.


It is not uncommon for those, who deny the doctrine of the universal decrees of God, to charge those who believe that he foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, as holding to fatalism; and consequently as being fatalists. This is used as a term of reproach, at which the minds of many are apt to revolt, and therefore it is believed, that this opprobrious charge has had great influence upon many, and led them to reject the salutary doctrine of God's universal decrees. It is the usual practice with disputers and controversial writers to retort, if possible, the arguments and charges of their opponents, and thus to confound them with their own weapons. The writer of this does not recollect of ever reading or hearing any thing, in which a retort of this charge has been attempted. It is conceived, however, not to be a very difficult, nor even undesirable task to turn back the imputation of fatalism upon those who deny the doctrine of God's sovereign, holy, and universal decrees. Let it then be asserted, that all those who deny the decrees of God are fatalists; and then see if what follows does not support the assertion. What is meant by the universal decrees of God, is not difficult to understand. They are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his own will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. God's efficient will, or determination, which gives being to all creatures, things, and events throughout the universe, is his decree. What is meant by fate is, perhaps, more difficult to be clearly understood. There are several senses in which the word fate is used; but that which is most common is hardly definable. It seems, however, to import some unknown, unintelligent, undescribable, and eternal destiny, by which all things are unalterably fixed in an absolute necessary chain of causes and effects. This fate, according to the ancient stoics, was superior to all the heathen gods, who were subject to its decrees. Even omnipotent Jupiter, with all his potent council, could not alter or control the events fixed by this superior destiny. This is the most intelligible view the writer can give of fate.


Now to prove, that they who deny the universal decrees of God are fatalists, we need only the use of this self-evident position, viz. every event must be the effect of an efficient cause. This is a fundamental principle of all just reasoning. The whole universe must have an adequate efficient cause of its existence. All the things in the universe must have an efficient cause, which gave them their being and form; and all events, of every nature and kind, must have a primary cause, by whose efficiency they are produced in their time, place, and manner. This, it seems, is true, beyond all reasonable doubt. Now let the inquiry be made, What is this primary efficient cause of all things? To what are we to ascribe the existence of things and events? Is it to be ascribed to the decree of God! Or is fate their cause? It must

be one or the other of these; for no third efficient is conceivable or possible. They who believe the doctrine of decrees have no hesitancy in answering, that the decrees of God are the primary cause of all things; and that their efficiency pervades the universe, giving existence, form and issue to all beings, and to whatsoever comes to pass. But to what cause will the deniers of divine decrees ascribe the being of events and things? They cannot ascribe it to God, or to his decrees, for the existence of these they deny, and there being no other possible efficient in the universe, they must ascribe all things to fate as their cause. Hence a denial of God's universal decrees, naturally and directly leads to fatalism; and therefore all such deniers are absolute fatalists.

If the above reasoning be just, then we may easily see the great advantage which the Calvinistic doctrine of universal decrees has over the Arminian denial. Calvinists have a God at the head of the universe-an intelligent, wise, and holy Being, who has established a perfect plan of operation, and is conducting all things by his providence according to design; or as an apostle of Jesus Christ expresses it, "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," to accomplish the glorious purposes of infinite wisdom and goodness.



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