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murder. But suppose the thing were otherwise, and it were possible to escape committing the crime, which according to the Calvinist it is not, this would only plunge the sinner deeper in guilt. God's decree would then be thwarted and disappointed, his superintendence “in ordering, bounding, and governing," weak, futile, and ineffectual, his glory in the murder not "manifested," the sinner not eternally damned, and the counsel of his will unaccomplished.
“This most wise, powerful ordering, bounding, and governing" God employs for the accomplishment of his own holy ends;" but I entreat the reader to remember what those holy ends are, which God thus seeks to accomplish. They are no less than the final misery and damnation of angels and men. To this, the “fall and all other sins” of these his creatures, which his conduct has rendered inevitably and infallibly certain, must necessarily and unavoidably lead. Yet God has repeatedly declared, that “he wills not the death of the sinner”-“that he is not willing any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"- " that he has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God.” Nay, he commands the sinner—“Wash you; make
you clean; put away the evil of your doings; cease to do evil; learn to do well.” But he cannot, says the Calvinist; evil he must do, for God has “infallibly and immutably” decreed his guilt. He cannot learn to do well, for God "withholds his grace, withdraws the gifts he had, lest he should be enlightened in his understanding, or his heart be reformed;" and thus God incapacitates first for doing good, and damns bim afterwards because it is not performed. God says he wills not that any should perish; the Calvinist declares it is his will that countless millions should perish, for from eternity he has decreed it, and his decree is the counsel of his will. The one, that he has no pleasure in the death of him that dieth ; the other, that he has pleasure, for the reprobate part of mankind “God was pleased to pass by, and ordain to wrath and dishonour, to the praise of his glorious justice.”—Con, chap. iii. It is idle to say, that what is in accordance with the will of any being—and a decree is God's will — what he does for his own glory, and God decrees the damnation of the wicked for his own glory—and, above all, what glorifies his justiceshould not afford him pleasure, and most of all, God, who acts solely from his own will and only for his own glory. But, since men will not believe God on the solemn declaration of his word, it would be at least decorous to believe him on his oath ; and he has sworn, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Now, which are we to believe, the Calvinist on his word or God on his oath? Both cannot have told the truth,
But further, in the chap. of the Con. already quoted, we are told, “as for those wicked and ungodly men, whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden, from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon in their hearts, but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had, and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin ; and, withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan,” &c. Now, who, again, is the agent here? It is God, the righteous judge, “who blinds and hardens;" and a most righteous judge, indeed, must he be who blinds and hardens, instead of seeking to reclaim and reform the culprit. It is he who withholds his grace to prevent the sinner from being “enlightened in his understanding, or his heart softened or improved.” And, when the wicked exhibit any symptoms of returning to the path of duty, God “withdraweth the gifts they had,” dreading they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and be converted. Nay, more, he exposeth them to such objects, as he knows from “their corruption" must be their ruin—an act of complicated iniquity at which a good man shudders; for who, except the God of the Calvinist, would not rather strive to keep a weak and erring child of humanity away from the temptation that “most easily overcomes him," than “expose” him to what must occasion his final and eternal misery? No one can read these two passages, and not be forcibly struck with the means which God employs to prevent even the most distant approach to repentance and reformation in the sinner. Think, again, of Almighty God “withholding his grace,” “blinding and hardening," "withdrawing the gifts which the sinner had," and "exposing him to temptations," to which, from the weakness and corruption of his heart, he knows he must yield, and at the same time giving him over to “the power of Satan,” his all but omnipotent, all-present, and implacable enemy.
But we shall be able to judge more correctly of this representation of the character of the Trinitarian God, in his providential government of angels and men, when we consider the opinion we would form of the man who would act a similar part, but with this difference, that as God is not only all-wise and Almighty, but infinitely pure, holy, good, merciful, and full of compassion, his conduct should be free from the ignorance and imperfection inseparable from humanity; his government untainted by injustice and revenge, and distinguished for impartiality, mercy, and forgiveness. Suppose, then, a person wise, talented, experienced, placed in a high station in society, raised above all suspicion of what is mean, revengeful, unjust, to be intrusted with the management of a young, uneducated, helpless, inexperienced family, one of whose remote ancestors had long since grievously offended him. Placed eompletely in his power, under his control and guidance, they are dependant upon him for maintenance and education-for all their future prospects, comforts, and enjoyments in life. But he has long since decreed their misery and destruction. For this purpose he employs all his power and contrivance—all the influence of his experience, station, character-he bounds, orders, governs, hedges and fences round his ignorant, inexperienced, unfortunate victims, for the accomplishment “of his own holy ends”– I would say his unholy and wicked ends—the infamy, misery, and ruin of his helpless dependants. But lest his plans should be ineffectual, he denies them all means of education and improvement. He withholds all favour, countenance, encouragement to do well. He prohibits the kuow. ledge of everything stimulating to honourable, virtuous, upright conduct; and where he perceives any tendency to this, he discountenances it“ nay, withdraws the very gifts”-good qualities he discovered. Ile has trained them and knows their weakness; he has nurtured and fostered their irregular appetites and passions, until they have become almost irresistible—and now, taking advantage of these," he exposes them” to indulgences which their “corruption" cannot withstand ; and finally, having thus corrupted and depraved them, withdrawn all support, and deprived of all power of reformation, they are abandoned to the society and example of companions the most profligate and unprincipled, whose only object is to allure them on to debasement and destruction. And yet the man who pursues this course of conduct-the most wicked, depraved, unprincipled that can be pursued-one to which the murder, nay, the annihilation of his victims would be perfect innocence and virtueyou will say, has done no wrong—is involved in no guilt-perpetrates no crimo against his hapless helpless dependants. Nay, you will affirm that he is holy and just, upright and good, even when “he blinds and hardens, and then exposes to temptations which he knows cannot be resisted—that he is not the author of the crime which he has planned and decreed; and the perpetration of which he bounds, orders, and governs." And when, at last, the vices and crimes of his unhappy victims, to which they have been both allured and driven, have brought them to the gibbet, he calls the accomplishment of his decrees the “manifestation of his own glory,"and witnesses, unmoved, the slow, lingering, endless, convulsive pangs of their execution, as the completion of his happiness. As well might you say, corruption is angelic purity — darkness is light - Belial is Christ. Human law may not always be able to punish adequately such enormous iniquity, but the indignation of every honest, upright mind, is roused against such heartless, demoniac malignity and revenge. And yet, read again the passage I have already quoted, and you will find, that not only to the letter, but with additional aggravations, this is the character which the Calvinist gives of his God. But can a God" of goodness and of grace withhold his grace from them that ask, when most required ? Will he, indeed, blind and harden the sinner “whom he has passed by and fore-ordained to endless misery and wrath,” and withdraw from him the very gifts which his goodness had bestowed, the more effectually to prevent his repentance and sink him in perdition? Could he, first, "infallibly and immutably decree the fall of Adam and all other sins of his depraved and ruined posterity bound, order, and govern their iniquities,” and yet afterwards create man in his own image, and pronounce him to be good when he had decreed him to be damned. Oh! no; he is too righteous and just, too good, loving, merciful, and gracious. Such is not the God of nature—the God of the Bible. Such is not our God-our father's God. It is only the idle, erroneous, wicked dream of the Calvinistic Trinitarian,
(To be continued.)
TO THE MINISTERS OF THE REMONSTRANT SYNOD OF ULSTER.
BRETHREN, - Many of us are unable to supply ourselves with good and useful books. Those who publish works of an enlightened and liberal theology, not being able to expect a large circulation, are obliged to charge high prices, and but few of us can afford to purchase them. Even those who have the largest incomes find it difficult to add to their libraries a tithe of the good books that are issuing from the press. Many of our people who possess the means, and who have a taste for reading, purchase and read these books, and by degrees get quite "a-head" of us, not only in literary but even in theological subjects. This should not be so. We should always be, if possible, in advance of our people ;—at any rate never behind them. Yet how is the evil to be avoided,,unable as most of us are to purchase the necessary books? True, there are several extensive public libraries to which access might be obtained. But the annual subscription to these is generally very high. But this is not the chief objection. In none of them would we find the works which we would most require. In no existing public library could we get the class of books of which most of us are in greatest need.
Under these circumstances, I respectfully propose that a library be established in connexion with the Remonstrant Synod of Ulster, for the use of the ministers, licentiates, and students of that body. I should intend it to contain the standard works of the past and present, in theology, criticism, history, philosophy and general literature. It could only be, however, by slow degrees that it could attain any great extent, especially in the literary &c. department; as the first, chief, and constant care of its managers should be to have their shelves well adorned with the best works on theology and kindred subjects. I believe it could be very easily started. Donations of books would be made by friends, and ministers would endeavour to raise some funds. £l from each congregation (and that could be easily raised) would, with the donations of books that might be expected, make a respectable beginning. The subscriptions of members would supply new books. Of details I need not speak further here. I shall only add, that the library should be established in Belfast, as being in every way the most suitable and convenient place. Accommodation and the services of a librarian can be obtained, I know, without
Such a library could be of vast importance to our body. The advantages it would afford would be of infinite service to many of our ministers, as also to our licentiates and students whose means of procuring access to valuable books are generally very limited.
Trusting, brethren, that my proposal may meet your approbation, and that it may be carried out ere long,
A MINISTER OF THE REMONSTRANT SYNOD.
September 24, 1846.
ON ADVANCING THE OBJECTS OF THE UNITARIAN
To the Editor of the Unitarian Magazine and Bible Christian.
Sir,—I was highly pleased with the perusal of the report of the proceedings at the anniversary of the Unitarian Association, on the 28th of October; and I hope the anticipations there expressed will be fully realized.
As I feel deeply interested in the proposed missionary movement and also in the success of the Northern Sunday-school Association, I would suggest the great advantage of publishing in your Magazine the accompanying document; confident that if the Association give it their deliberate consideration and act upon the principle therein propounded, it will do more to advance the truth as it is in Jesus than any single human agency which could be brought to bear upon it.
It will be the means of producing ample funds for any missionary enterprise, for the building of new churches, and to meet all other contingent expenses.