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dear reader, that these stupendous occurrences were not previously marked out by Jehovah, and every link in the well-arranged series of means by which they were brought about, appointed and adjusted by him? Was the effecting of these great ends left to the agency of accident? So at least, thought not Joseph; for when, after his father's death, his brethren came to him to implore his forgiveness for their evil conduct toward him, he said unto them, "Fear not; for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Gen. 1. 19, 20.) Thus is God directly recognised by Joseph as the prime agent in this business; but his was a different motive from their's, who were the subordinate agents or instruments. Take another example. Jehovah appointed his Son to die for the world's redemption; he meant, of course, that this important event should be effected in a certain definite way. What was that way? The Savior was to be denied by one of his disciples; betrayed by another; forsaken by all; rejected by his own nation; scourged, and in death confounded with malefactors. All these things are said by Jesus himself to have been previously marked out by the purposes of heaven; and the inspired recorders of these transactions make no scruple of referring them to the same source. (Matt. xxvii. 35. John xii. 38; xv. 25; xvii. 12; xviii. 32; xix. 24, 36.) After Christ's death, the apostles set forth the same fact in their preaching. "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." (Acts ii. 23.) The following is to the same effect. "And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." (Acts iii. 17, 18.) Even in solemn prayer together they recognise these events as the result of the divine purpose. "For of a truth, against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." (Acts iv. 27, 28.) I cannot conceive how any rational man can dream, that God, having for ends of unspeakable glory and benevolence appointed his Son's death, took no express mea
sures for the accomplishment of that event, but left it to be brought about by mere chance! Yet have I heard even preachers prate to that effect from the pulpit! I have even heard them affirm that the death of Christ was no necessary part of the divine plan! Let such wise heads turn to Heb. ix. 8. Col. i. 19, 20, and compare notes with the great apostle upon this point.
Equally unphilosophical as unscriptural is the denial, that all things, in the broadest acceptation of the phrase, have their origin in the unchangeable designs of heaven; it is, in effect, to dethrone the deity, and to put the sceptre of the universe into the hands of finite creatures, whose wills may shape its occurrences to suit themselves. The pious worthies in bible times were better philosophers. Job ascribed his calamities directly to Jehovah. "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.” (Job i. 21.) “Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil 2" (Job ii. 10.) Yet in bringing these evils to pass, God employed the agency of Sabine and Chaldean freebooters, as well as winds, and fire, and disease. (These agencies are, in the bible, personified under the name of Satan ;) the scheme, you perceive, involved the sins of robbery and murder! Jeremiah accounts God the author of the public calamities which he bewails in his Lamentations. "The Lord hath cast off his altar; he hath abhorred his sanctuary: he hath given up into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they have made a noise in the house of the Lord, as in the day of a solemn feast. The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the Lord." (Lam. ii. 7-9.) The same prophet asks, "Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" (Ibid. iii. 37.) Now in this visitation upon Jerusalem, Jehovah employed the ambition, the lust of fame and spoil, of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon; the earthly mon arch's purposes were those which his own lusts suggested-God's were those of retribution upon a sinful people. Let me here askdo we not account Napoleon to have been a scourge of Providence
to the despotic and corrupt nations of Europe? And if God meant that our nation should become free when it did, was not his hand concerned in the oppressions, exactions, evil counsels in the British cabinet, etc., which directly tended to bring on the great event? If any suppose these questions to be impious, I beg they will peruse 2 Chron. xviii. 18-22, and Exod. x. 1, 2. I cannot think that signal occurrences, of the nature here alluded to, take place accidentally; and if we allow that they take place providentially, then consistency demands the admission that, in appointing the ends, providence also appoints the means by which those ends are effected.
"But this reasoning proves," you will say, "that we are destitute of moral freedom; whereas this is contradicted by our experience, for we can all do what we please, within the compass of our ability." Granted; but can you please as you please? You are pleased with beauty-can you, if you try, be equally pleased with deformity? You are pleased with musical harmonies-can you, by trying, be equally pleased with discords? You are pleased with savoury viands-can you, by any effort, become equally so with such as are nauseous? If not, then where, I pray you, is your boasted freedom of choice? Your will is influenced by motives, and, for the life of you, you cannot yield to a weaker motive in one direction, when a stronger one is acting upon you in another; you cannot prefer pain before pleasure, nor sickness before health. By an error in judgment you may indeed mistake the weaker for the stronger motive-every sinner does so when he prefers a present and momentary gratification, such as vice may yield, before a virtuous self-denial, which would secure to him a purer and more permanent enjoyment. You must see, reader, that the notion of free-will is a chimera. Is it because you choose, that you love your friends better than your enemies? or your own children better than those of a stranger? Suppose, then, that you try to choose otherwise-ha? can you make it out? Why, thou art a most puissant free agent, indeed!
There is infinite skill displayed in the divine plan of dealing with man; while man is acting to please himself, and is under the impression that he directs his own volitions as well as actions, God is, in fact, by his weak and purblind intrumentality, working wut his own vast purposes-making even his impotent wrath to
praise him; controlling, over-ruling to finally glorious ends, all his infinitely diversified schemes and doings. To Nebuchadnezzar, the proud monarch of Babylon, was afforded an experimental proof of this. "The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee: and they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen,, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.-And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what dost thou ?" (Dan. iv. 30—32, 34, 35.) When Senecharib, king of Assyria, marched back his army without fulfilling his contemplated invasion of Jerusalem, he supposed he was merely fulfilling his own sovereign pleasure; but see how God speaketh in regard to him. "Therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest." (Isa. xxxvii. 29.) Indeed, whoever wishes to maintain a firm faith in the doctrine of free agency, would do well to avoid a study of the scriptures, for they afford it small countenance indeed. "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord." (Prov. xvi. 1.) "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand." (Ib. xix. 21.) "Man's goings are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way?" (Ib. xx. 24.) "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." (Ib. xxi. 1.) "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.." (Ib. xvi. 33.)
Has the language of these texts any meaning? And is it of any authority in this question?
I will now show you, sir Arminian, that in your notion of free agency you are inconsistent with yourself; your practice is in contradiction with your theory. Why, if our hereafter condition depend on our volitions, do you supplicate the deity to interfere therewith? Why ask him to convert this individual, or that, if, after all, the individual must convert himself? Why should we look to God for salvation, when the matter depends on ourselves? And what meant Paul when he said, himself might plant and Apollos water, but God must give the increase? You try to make out, I know, that our salvation is a sort of partnership concern between God and ourselves-we must do a part, and God will do the rest. But then, (as you confess,) we cannot do our part until God does his; and there are millions in regard to whom his part is not done at all, (or if at all, ineffectually, which is the same thing.) You therefore are inconsistent when you connect our salvation with our supposed free agency, because by your own admission we have so such agency! You do not admit this unequivocally, I grant, but you certainly do in such terms as clearly imply it. See the following quotation from the Methodist discipline, (which is but a transcript from the Episcopalian book of Common Prayer, and expresses the doctrine of both those denominations on this head.)
"ART. VIII.-Of Free Will.-The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith, and calling upon God; Wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will."
I do not quote your written creed for the sake of refuting it, for I believe it in accordance with the bible and with fact: I quote it to show your inconsistency with it; for most gross inconsistency it is to say, that if a man be not converted, it is his own fault; and yet he can do nothing toward this conversion until God has begun it, nor then, unless God continue it also when it is begun! If the language of your creed does not express this, it expresses nothing intelligible; and certes, the bible expresses it, whether