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amid the triumphs and glories of a temporal kingdom. They are still far from entertaining correct views, and have much to learn: nor does the day of Pentecost itself perfect their knowledge. The admission of the Gentile nations into the fold of Christianity was long afterwards a subject of controversy and dispute !
We are far, however, from wishing to deny, that unexpected and important events may occur in the life of man, which may give a new strength, or direction to the sentiments and feelings, and open the heart to the favourable operations of divine grace. We are far from denying that the worldling and sinner, in a course of frivolity or vice, may by the shock of a misfortune, or the awakening suddenness of a death, be impressed with a virtuous resolution, or roused to a consciousness of duty. But that grace in such a moment can effect a thoroughconversion of the heart, to us appears impossible. A complete change of heart is, to our apprehension, a work too important to be thus hurriedly accomplished; the Christian religion is of an extent too great to be comprehended by such a passing glance. No! nothing is precipitate, nothing is hurried in the operations of nature; nor are the laws which regulate the development of mind, whether in the individual or the species, an exception to the course of providence. Divine grace acts with a gradual and persuasive force, not by sudden impulse or interrupted effort. Conversion is the work of the whole life, and ends only with consciousness and reason.
CALVINISTIC REPRESENTATIONS OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD
CONTRASTED WITH THE TEACHINGS OF SCRIPTURE.
BY THE REV. W. GLENDY.
( Continued from page 365, No. XII. Vol. I.) But the character of God will appear still more deeply implicated, when we take into account the number and situation of those, who, according to the Calvinistic Trinitarian, are consigned to endless misery. Now, it will be admitted as an undeniable principle, that in a mixed state of good and evil, in proportion to the means which any being possesses, and the extent of his mercy, benevolence, and forgiveness, will be his anxiety to alleviate suffering, his delight in promoting happiness and improvement; and the satisfaction he must feel in overlooking offences, or in being reconciled to the offender : and this we would expect most of all in God. On the other hand, the more revengeful, malignant, and cruel any are, the more enjoyment they have in producing or witnessing the greatest extent of misery and suffering, or fostering and encouraging strife and conten
tion : our own experience teaches us this truth. But we are told, (Con. chap. 3) that by the decree of Gol, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others ordained to everlasting death. Those thus predestinated are particularly and unchangeably designed ; and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished ! All elected to life are infallibly certain of salvation ; all foreordained to death must inevitably be damned. No vice or crime can endanger the eternal happiness of the one ; no holiness or virtue prevent the endless misery of the other. Those reprobated by God's eternal decree, however anxious to please him, or obedient to his will, can never obtain his favour or approbation.
But election means choice; and in order to choose, there must be some ground of preference. Folly may, but wisdom, whether finite or infinite, cannot act capriciously—cannot choose where there is no difference, no ground for choice. This is the case here. All mankind come into the world in precisely the same state by nature; they are all equally the creatures of God; they are all equally the enemies of God. From their original corruption, “they are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually." Con. chap. 6. Cat. 23. Had a few been less tainted and corrupted than the rest, chosen they might have been ; but where there is no difference, there can be no choice. But as all mankind are thus by nature in a state of perfect equality, and God cannot act capriciously, he may have selected the elect because he foresaw they would live more godly, act more wisely, improve beyond others the gifts of divine grace and goodness, freely and graciously bestowed upon them. Upon this ground Abraham is peculiarly favoured and blessed of the Almighty : “ For I know him, saith God, that he will command his children and liis household after him ; and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." But the Calvinist thinks differently, for he declares that, " those predestinated unto life are elected without any foresight of faith, or gool works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving God thereunto.” To use one of their own phrases : “ Those who are elected unto everlasting life are equally hell-deserving sinners with those who are reprobated," "passed by, and ordained to wrath, for the praise of God's glorious justice.” Here, then, is a God " who has respect of persons,” by bestowing favours upon some which are withheld from others, who are as good and as deserving as those upon whom the favours are conferred ; or who makes a capricious choice, where there is no possible grounds of preference. And yet a very high authority has told us,
“God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness," not he that is capriciously elected, “ shall be accepted of him.”
But we are told an election, choice, did take place; and as God is boundlessly benevolent, infinitely good, gracious, full of compassion, and delighting in mercy, we naturally conclude, that by far the greater part of the human race will be elected by him, and admitted into everlasting glory and blessedness. To this even common justice would lead : for since all are equally guilty and corrupted, and therefore equally unfit for happiness, and undeserving of it, all should have equally the means afforded them of being happy or miserable ; and still more from his boundless benevolence : for if some must be sacrificed, made victims of wrath, as an example to others, and yet they can be no example, it will only be the few that are punished, the many will be rescued from destruction. But we are mistaken. Such is not the God of the Trinitarian ; and, accordingly, the Calvinist delights to ask, with some of old, “ Lord, are there few that shall be saved ?" And, according to him, the redeemed are indeed a little flock. And if we are to estimate the power of a monarch, the dignity of a sovereign, or the glory of a conqueror, by the greatness of his triumphs, the number of his subjects, and the extent of his conquests, then, according to the Calvinist, is the devil every way the superior, and more triumphant monarch than the Lord Jesus. On this otherwise mysterious subject, the Calvinist affords us suflicient data for clear and accurate calculation. The Con. chap. 10, after stating, infants and persons, incapable of being called by the outward ministry of the word, if elected, will be saved; but that others, not elected, cannot be saved, adds: “Much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they ever so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion which they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.” Let us here
a moment, and think of the countless millions which, even since the commencement of Christianity, this single sentence, without compunction or remorse, consigns to never-ending misery and torment. There was a time when the whole Christian community was assembled in an upper room ; there was a time when the number of the names was one hundred and twenty-it was this few—that upper room to heaven, and all the other millions of earth to hell. “Men not professing the Christian religion, cannot be saved in any other way
whatsoever.” What! not the Jews, the chosen people of God, yet from whom he withholds his grace?-believing their own law to be what God declares it, an “everlasting covenant,”
adhering with unshaken firmness to the faith of their fathers, "framing their lives according to the precepts of that law” which they had received from Moses, living in the practice of righteousness, and observing the statutes which God, of old, had given to prepare men for heaven-can they not be saved ? No; "and to assert and maintain that they may, is pernicious, and to be detested.” What! not the Mahomedan, whom “God blinds and hardens,”—whom he “ poses” to the errors and delusions of a false prophet; yet, in the inidst of all their blindness and darkness, maintaining the most sincere and fervent piety for Jehovah—“ diligent to frame their lives according to the precepts of that religion which they do profess,” and with a firm and unshaken belief in predestination which puts the Calvinist to shame-will not his orthodoxy in this momentous and fundamental doctrine save him? No; he too must be damned. But the poor, ignorant, benighted heathen-he on whose ear the glad tidings of salvation never fell, wbose eye was never cheered with the glorious light of the gospel, to whom the good news of a Saviour was never proclaimed-he who sits in darkness, and the regions of the shadow of death, without God and without hope in the world—shall he too be damned ? and for what? Because he has not believed. " But how shall he believe except he hear ? and how shall be hear except there is a preacher ?" But though to him that preacher never came, “yet he, having no law, became a law unto himself, doing by nature the things contained in the law," his own untutored mind leading him to the practice of many of the duties of Christianity—its mercy, humanity, compassion-its truthfulness, integrity, uprightness, in a way that should put to shame the hard, unfeeling heart of those that damn him. Must he be consigned to endless perdition, because he did not believe on him of whom he had never heard, profess a religion never made known to him, accept a revelation which God never revealed to him ? Whatever may be the fate of others, can we possibly believe God will condemn eternally a being for not doing his will, when he never made known that will; for not accepting the pardon he never offered ; for not walking in the light he never saw, and never could see ? Why, the tyranny of Egypt, in exacting the double quantity of brick, and yet withholding the straw, is mercy compared to this. Is God this austere master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed ? The Bible teaches a very different lesson. It declares à “ man shall be judged for that he hath, and not for that he hath not;" “ that where there is no law there is no transgression.” He who received but two talents is not answerable for five, which he did not receive. He who "v lived under the law, is judged by the law;" and he who lives under the gospel,
shall be judged by gospel light and liberty. But, the TrinitarianCalvinist will have all men judged by the precepts of the gospel, though they have never heard the sound thereof, nor been blessed with its instructions; and thus the Jew, Pagan, Mahomedan, constituting, even now, more than two-thirds of the whole human race, cannot be saved ; " and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.” May God, of his infinite mercy and goodness, forbid that ever such a sentence be executed ! and of his boundless forgiveness, pardon the heart that can harbour such a sentiment! The poor, ignorant, benighted heathen,-has God brought him into existence only to damn him? Oh! will not his ignorance, his darkness, his privations, plead for him at the bar of mercy, and plead not in vain ?
But since we must thus consign to everlasting misery more than two-thirds of the whole human race, will not all the small remaining fraction be saved ? Will not all professing the Christian religion go to heaven? No, exclaims the Trinitarian-Calvinist; and as he delights in consigning to endless misery the greatest numbers, he again, with insatiate appetite for destruction, seizes upon the Roman Catholic Church, which includes considerably more than one-half of the Christian community, and dooms them the companions of the devil and his angels. The faith of that church is not only pronounced, but until very lately was sworn, to be both “ damnable and idolatrous;" and the denunciations proclaimed in every corner, against the idolatry of the mass, prayers to saints and angels, and the other superstitious and idolatrous observances of that church, are too well known to require quotation. The awful end which awaits the idolator, who, enjoying the light of the gospel, still persists in his idolatry, need not be mentioned ; and the understanding of a child must know, that only is damnable which damns. And the Unitarian, what of him? Why, to quote the opinions of some of the more prominent evangelical divines of the present day, his heresy is damnable ; of him the devil is so sure he troubles himself not about him; permits him to live undisturbed, in the practice of all that is kind, humane, merciful, and benevolent; and sure of him the devil may be, for he is a God-denier, a soul-destroyer, an infidel rejecting his Bible, despising his Saviour, denying the Lord who bought him—one who plucks the crown from the brow of the Eternal, &c. &c. &c. In truth, after consulting the opinions of evangelical divines, respecting the number of the saved and damned, the only conclusion to which you can come will be, that all the goodness of redeeming love, all the glories of redemption, all the stupendous and inconceivable extent of that love, in its height and depth, its length and breadth, wherewith God has loved us, in