Page images

tor's character, but for the fact the glorious, heart-cheering fact, that out of all this shall issue an universally benevolent result; " our light aMictions, which are but for a moment, worketh for ns a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."

And now, my smart Free-thinker, do you object to the bible because it inculcates this doctrine ? I will then show you that it is as accordant with fact as with scripture. Is it because men please that one is born of rich, and another of poor parents ; one of vicious, and another of virtuous parents; one grows up in de cent, and another in profligate society ? Had I been born in the Chinese empire, I should, in a civil respect, have been a slave, and in a religious, a worshipper of the Mogul, or the Lama. Had I been born of Russian peasants, I should have been a serf; but having been born in America, I am a freeman. Did I choose where, or of what parentage I should be born ? Norihis in the order of providence was determined for me by my Creator. Even in christendom I might have been born of infidel parents, and educated in infidel principles, in which case, in perfect honesty of heart, I should have probably adopted an infidel creed. Or I might have been born a subject of certain moral imbecilities, which would have determined my religious character for life, such as a Hexibility of purpose and of principle; my intellect might have been feeble, lacking in forethought and judgment, whilst iny ani. mal propensities night have been violent. Who will say, that thus constituted, I should not have found it more difficult to be a virtuous man, than do others of different natural powers and temperament? Say now, if you can, that our moral characters are determined for us by our own free choice. No sir, if you believe in a God, you must refer all the events of life to his pre-appointment. But you are an Atheist, perhaps? Well then, your goddess, Chance, with her bandaged eyes and dizzy brain, has fixed these affairs of human life thus irreversibly, by the force of her blind decrees. And are we profited by the exchange of an Almighty deity, whose benevolent energies are unerringly,

“i From seeming evil still educing good,
And better thence again, aud better still,

In infinite progression,”
for an unseeing, unthinking, unfeeling fatuity, whose hap-hazard
determinations can never be brought to any beneficent conclusion ?

[ocr errors]

The Arminian's favorite and stereotyped inaxim is, that whatever may be the civil or the constitutional differences among men, the spirit of God operates sufficiently upon all, to make each man's advantages for salvation the same, and to leave all inexcusable who are not saved at last. This I deny :-the scriptures, facts, and virtually their own creeds and prayers, deny it; they are in the constant habit of thanking God for advantages which they themselves possess over others Who, that has read the lives of Bunyan, Tennant, John Newton, Col. Gardner, Brainard, Bramwell, the Wesleys, Adam Clarke, and others of that class, can help admitting that a well arranged train of providences determined them to be what they were ? I have before shown that on Christ's own authority, God did less for Sodom than he afterward did for Chorazin and Bethsaida, and that the former could have been saved, had as much been done for it as had been done for the latter! And God himself told Jerusalem, which he spared, that her sins greatly exceeded those of Sodom, which he had cut off! (Ezek. xvi.). Has the sinner who is cut off in the bloom of youth, and just as he is ripened for hell, equal advantage with him who lives in sin until his hairs are hoary, and who then from sheer satiety turns from sin with loathing, and prepares for heaven? If the natural advantages of all men were equal, and an equal measure of divine assistance were afforded to all, it is certain that the effect upon all would be the same, and if any would be christians all would be. If even the natural advantages of all men were not equal, yet if the measure of divine assistance were proportioned to the requirements of each, the same result would follow; for similar causes will invariably, under like circumstances, produce similar results. But all men are not in a like degree affected by divine grace; therefore, all men have not the same opportunities afforded them in this world, for securing their salvation in the next. Thus Arminianism is logically refuted. For example, if my organ of veneration (phrenologically speaking) is smaller than another's, it will require more external means to excite religious affections in me than in him ; if more is not granted me, and he have but barely enough for his salvation, it will follow that I shall be damned for tbe lack of the aid which my Maker saw to be indispensable to my salvation. Could I prevent that lack? Or, if my organ of marvellousness is small, I shall require more evidence to satisfy me of the truth of christianity than will another of greater credulity; if that additional evidence is withheld, should I (as I could not help it) be eternally damned therefor? God created some to the clearly foreseen end that they should suffer an eternity of pains : did he love these as well as those whom he created to a different end ? Say nay, and you pronounce him partial ; say yea, and it follows, as he is unchangeable, that the wicked inhabitants of hell shall to eternity be as much the subjects of his love as the pure inhabitants of heaven! Once more- But what boots it to chase Arminianism through its various corkscrew windings! I have already shown it to be one with Calvinism in fact, and only differing from it in verbal modification ; its abetiors are constantly letting out this truth in their prayers, and sermons, and related experiences. John Wesley, in his tract on the efficacy of prayer, for example, relates that a certain woman implored the Lord to dedicate to himself her infant from its birth, and to make it the subject of his special protection ; consequently, saith the good but credulous divine, the earliesi lispings of that child were prayers and expressions of piety; and when he grew up, he became an eminent christian. Now, to say nothing of the weakness of supposing, that the unchangeable Jehovah could be induced by the mother's prayers to love the poor child better than he otherwise would have done, and to take the case as it stands, what does it prove? It proves that because the mother implored him to be so, he was partial to that child; he did more for it than for others : independently of its own agency he stamped upon it a religious character, by virtue of which, it is to be presumed, it got to heaven at last; it might otherwise have got to an endless hell !

“ Great God! on what a slender thread

Hang everlasting things !"
So exclaims an Arminian poet, and well may he so exclaim.

Believe me, reader, it is not possible to avoid the conclusion, that all events take place agreeably to the unalterable decrees of Jehovah; whether we look at facts, as recorded in history or in our own experience, or as they transpire around us, or whether we examine the subject in the light of the scriptures or of common sense, we are irresistibly brought to this conclusion: most gladly would I have avoided it if it had been possible, for my

prepossessions were strong, and of long standing against it; and even though at length convinced of its truth, yet had I a struggle with the remnant of prejudice within me ere I could consent to discuss it in this work. I feared two things ; 1st, that the doctrine of necessity (as it is called) might prove practically injurious; and, God knows, I would not consent to acquire wealth or fame (allowing my poor production could procure me either) by means which might prove injurious to mankind. After duly weighing this consideration, I came to the following conclusion : Truth is from God, it therefore cannot be injurious, but the contrary ; moreover, the brightest lights of the christian church, of all past ages, have believed in, and maintained this truth; many even who have suffered martyrdom for the cause of Christma great majority of the Scotch nation (not notorious for impiety, certainly) have always maintained it since they became protestant: our pilgrim fathers, too, were unanimous in its belief. Indeed, if we but reflect seriously upon it we must see, that this truth not only exalts the divine character, but it furnishes inducements to man to trust in God, and cheerfully to acquiesce in the allotments of his providence, inasmuch as all are to be brought to a good issue at the last; whereas the persuasion that all things, even interests of endless and inconceivable magnitude, are left contingent on the vagaries of human will, must necessarily tend to affect the mind with despair-to induce distrusts of God's wisdom and goodness—to beget suspicions that in omitting to provide against our final undoing, he betrayed a recklessness in regard to us, quite incompatible with his professions of love, and of desire for our salvation. Thus my first objection to a discussion of this point was removed. My 2nd was, that it would render my book more vulnerable to to what? Not to valid objections, reader, but to misrepresentation ; to the vapid common place of party decrial, &c. for religious controversy is conducted frequently with great dishonesty ; however, this weighs little with me, for I must not suppress truth from a fear of what the consequences of its publication may be to self. I have published it, therefore, and if any should undertake its refutation, I beg them to be assured, that their success will not be hailed with greater pleasure by their own party, than by the author.




This article, reader, is designed as a sequel to the one foregoing, and in this many important points will be cleared up, which in that were left out of view, for I wish to avoid fatiguing your mind by over-long articles; and I hope, moreover, to gain your attention the better by varying the style of the whole as much as possible : for this purpose we shall prosecute the residue of this branch of our discussion in a conversational forin; the parties in the conversation are supposed to be a Calvinist, an Arminian, and the author.

Calvinist. I most fully concur in your conclusion, that absolute foreknowledge necessarily implies absolute foreordination; and therefore that all things exist agreeably to the divine will and appointment: I often tell my Arminian brethren that their notion of a God who leaves the most momentous affairs to be determined by contingencies, is but little, if any, better than atheism; because, like it, it makes it a matter of mere chance whether existing things shall issue in a desirable order and harmony, or whether they shall progress from bad to worse to eternity: even in heaven we may not be secure against the bad effects of free agency; another rebellion may take place there, another battle, and another expulsion of a part of its blissful inhabitants to the dwelling place of the damned.

Arminian. But you forget, sir, that we have the positive word of Jehovah, that the state of the redeemed in heaven shall be one of changeless felicity.

Calvinist. Yes, he has so promised, I grant, and he may mean that such shall be the case ; but it is none the more certain for that, if

your doctrine be true, for he is constantly breaking through his purposes, and doing acts which he meant not to do! He meant that sin should never enter the world, yet it entered ; he meant that man should live eternally in Eden, yet he drove him out; he meant that man should be immortal, yet he dies; he meant too that his Son should save the world, yet by much the larger part of it is to be damned ! In like manner, he may very sincerely

« PreviousContinue »