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introduced the ninth chapter to the Romans, by declaring the great concern which he felt for the salvation of his kindred, proves that he did not believe in the doctrine of unconditional election. "Can it be supposed," says Mr. B. "that he felt such an opposition to the eternal decree of God, respecting the reprobation of the Jews, that he wished himself accursed from Christ, if he could thereby prevent its execution?" p. 100. To this difficulty it may be replied, 1st. Divine decrees do not take away feeling, either from God, or his friends. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked man who dieth. Even when the decree has brought forth, and the command is given, "Bind ye the unprofitable servant and cast him into outer darkness;" even then; he has no pleasure in his death. To punish, is his strange work. The Saviour wept over Jerusalem, devoted to destruction by the righteous judgment of God. After the God of Isaac had declared to the prophet Jeremiah his fixed purpose, to send his people into captivity, and thus cast them out of his sight, and had said, Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee; the prophet said, Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people. Such feelings as these were perfectly compatible with a reconciliation to the revealed purpose of God concerning that sinful nation. The Lord was not displeased to see his servant so full of feeling on this occasion. These feelings were ever the fruit of that divine nature of which he had partaken. Things which are naturally or morally evil, holy beings are never pleased with for their own sake. They could never be reconciled to either class of these evils, except in view of the good which these evils are made the means of promoting. God is pleased with that scheme of providence which contained in it the death of his only begotten Son, not because he was pleased with seeing the agonies of his Son or the malice of his murderers, but because of the great good which he designed to bring about by the natural evil which he endured, and the moral evil which they committed. God is pleased with his scheme of providence, considered as one great
whole, though it included this natural and moral evil : but does it hence follow, that he was pleased with these evils for their own sake? To suppose him pleased with the agonies of his dear Son, when viewed by themselves, and for their own sake, would be to suppose him to be cruel, and even cruel to him, with whom he was well pleased. To suppose him to be pleased with the murderous spirit of his crucifiers, would make the most holy God to be no better than Pilate, Herod, and the Jews. There is therefore a complete foundation for the distinction now made, between being pleased with, and reconciled to, things in their consequences, and being pleased with them, on their own account. Christ was reconciled, all things being taken into view, with the casting away of the Jews, and yet the feelings of his heart, in view of this event by itself considered, were well expressed by his flowing tears, and by his compassionate exclamation-" If thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day the things of thy peace!" Paul's compassionate feelings for the Jews, and desire for their salvation from sin and ruin, as in itself a great natural and moral good, are very strikingly expressed in the beginning of the 9th, and again in the beginning of the 10th chapter of his epistle to the Romans. But this did not imply that he wished, on the whole, to have the divine purpose changed, even as it respected the casting away of the Jews. His reconciliation, and even his triumphant rejoicing in the whole scheme of divine providence, not excluding the blindness in part which had happened to Israel, are equally manifest. It is when he is just closing this solemn subject, that he exclaims, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judg ments, and his ways past finding out !-For of him, and through him, and to him are all things to whom be glory forever. Amen."
A 2nd reply to the difficulty is this; It was the duty of the apostle to seek the salvation of sinners, while he found them in this world of hope. God has a sovereign right to have mercy on whom he will, but it is our duty to seek the salvation of all. The commission given to the servants, is, "As many as ye find, bid them to the marriage." Those who believe in the certain fore
knowledge of God, cannot expect that more will bẹ saved, than the number foreknown; and yet they seek the salvation of all. I would ask, Do they mean to frustrate the foreknowledge of him, who is without any variableness or shadow of turning.
Let it be further considered, that though Paul knew it was the purpose of God to cut off many of the natural branches from the olive tree; yet he did not consider all prayers and labors for he salvation of the seed of Abraham to be utterly in vain. He hoped still that he might save some of them.
II. One objection which Mr. B. raises against the doctrine of personal election, especially as drawn from our text, is the badness of Jacob's character, particularly before his conversion. He says, "Let any man of candor impartially examine the two characters of Jacob and Esau, and he will find as much to applaud, at least, in Esau, as in Jacob, previous to the conversion of the latter, which appears to have happened on his way to Padan-aram." p. 104. Grant this to be correct, and how does it furnish any argument against our doctrine? We do not pretend that the elect are, before their conversion, any better than others. On the contrary, we say that God, in choosing them to be monuments of his grace, has no respect to any good distinctions which exist in them that they are not chosen because of good works, but unto good works. What Mr. B. says about these two brothers, seems to confirm, instead of tending to weaken our doctrine of unconditional election.
From something which I find in Mr. B's. book, in close connection with the last quotation, I am led to conclude that he does not understand us when we speak of election as being unconditional. He has this sentence; "If, because Jacob is called the elect of God, he were elected to eternal life, without any regard to his faith and obedience, &c." Further on he says, "The question is not therefore as your readers might infer, whether our election to eternal life be predicated of works or grace; but whether the grace of eternal life, be unconditionally bestowed on some, and whether all the rest be unconditionally reprobated to eternal death, without any res pect to their wicked works." p. 108. Now it is a matter of first importance, that writers in controversy, es
pecially in theological controversy, should not misunderstand, or misrepresent each other's sentiments. I have already shown, that by works, in the controversy concerning predestination, I did not mean the same as merit, but that I understood our opponents as building predestination on good works foreseen; such as repentance, faith, and new obedience. I would now ask, whether the quotations from Mr. Bangs' Letters, which have just been made, are not calculated to give his readers a wrong view of our sentiments? He says, "The question is, whether grace, the grace of eternal life, be unconditionally bestowed on some?" I think this is far from being the question. God bestows the grace of eternal life on none but penitent believers, but he bestows the grace of repentance and faith on those who are dead in sin; in consequence of which grace, they become alive, and now exercise repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Let every reader understand, that Calvinists no more believe, that God has promised to admit men to heaven, without their being prepared for it, than the Arminians do; but Calvinists fully believe, that God has determined to prepare some men for his heavenly kingdom, without making something good, on their part, the condition on which he will begin this good work of preparing them.
III. One great objection which Mr. B brings against the doctrine of personal election, is, that it implies personal reprobation. We acknowledge that it implies this. And his system of national election, necessarily implies national reprobation. If the posterity of Jacob, in distinction from the posterity of his brother, were chosen to enjoy the special privileges of revealed truth, and divine ordinances, then the posterity of Esau, in this thing, were reprobated, i. e. they were not chosen to these privileges. Now why are not the minds of our opponents embarrased with such a reprobation as this, seeing it so directly led to their eternal ruin?
The Arminians, as well as the Calvinists, believe that a part of mankind will be eternally wicked and wretched; and that the omniscient Being from eternity foresaw that it would be so. They must therefore acknowledge, that notwithstanding he saw what their end would be, he chose, all things considered, to bring them into
existence. But they will say, The wickedness and wretchedness of the damned were not his ultimate end in their creation. And so say we; though my antago nist supposes us to say otherwise, as will appear by what follows; "We have no authority therefore for concluding that God made Esau on purpose for destruction. Were we to allow that he was wicked as was Cain, it no more proves that this was the ultimate end of his existence, than it does that God can lie." p. 107. Ultimate end, must mean one or other of these two things; either first, that chief and highest end, the best good, or that which is most worthy to be proposed by all intelligent beings, as their supreme object or secondly, it must mean something which is desirable for its own sake, so that, though it be not the supreme good, still it is such an end as to make it suitable that certain other things should be subordinated to it. To these subordinate things it is an ultimate or last end. Bodily health, for example, is a real good in itself considered, when contrasted with sickness and distress. We send for a physician, and take unpleasant drugs, to the end that we may recover health. In this instance, recovery to health is an end, to which we subordinate other things, and to these other things it is an ultimate end, tho' it ought not to be the chief end; for there is something of more importance than our bodily health. It could not be, in any sense, proper to say, that the ultimate end of obtaining a physician was to get some of his bitter drugs, though this is the immediate end we have in view by obtaining him. An ultimate end must be some good upon which the mind rests, as that which serves, at least in some measure, to compensate for the use of means or subordinate ends for its attainment. If this definition of ultimate end be in any measure correct, it is very far from us, to represent the destruction of the wicked, as God's ultimate end. It is not his chief end, that is certain, for his own glory is his chief and highest end. "He hath made all things for himself; yea even the wicked for the day of evil." Prov. xvi. 4. Here is the very thing concerning which we are now making inquiry. Here are the wicked, and here is their destruction, and God is said to make them for the day of evil, which is the same as the day of destruction ;