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aware of the absolute dominion which God is exercising over us : we are aware, indeed, that motives govern us, but we seldom inquire, who governs motives ? Consistently with the notion of man's free agency, it is difficult, indeed impossible, to understand the thousand promises with which the scriptures abound, of what God will do in, and for, the parties to whom those promises relate ; for there is necessarily implied therein an interference with the freedom of the will. See the following as a sample: “For in my holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the first-fruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered : and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have wrought with you for my name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord.” (Ezek. xx. 40, 41, 43, 44.) David says, in relation to the ultimate moral redemption of the Jewish nation by Jehovah, “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” (Ps. cx. 3.) And how was this willingness to be effected in them ? Paul shall answer : own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you, BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO of his good pleasure.” (Phil. ii. 13.)
Old Mr. Benevolus promised his son, that he might have the morrow to himself, to do on it whatsoever he pleased; whereupon John planned that he would begin the day with fishing—he would repair to a neighboring forest and hunt until noon, and the residue of the day he would devote to a sailing excursion with some companions. “You have given him a dangerous license, my dear,” observed old Mrs. Benevolus, when John was out of hearing; “I am afraid that harm will come of it.” “ None whatever," replied the father, “ for without violating my word to him in the least, I promise you he shall do just what we choose.” So the old folk
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arranged it between them that a party of young persons should be invited to spend the morrow at their house ; all kinds of attractive amusement were included in the plan, and among the party was to be a winning nymph, a cousin of John's, whose bright eyes were known to exert a fascination over his young heart; and there was to be music, and dancing, and every variety of fruits and confections Jack jumped, and tossed his hat into the air for joy-away went his projected schemes of fishing, and hunting, and sailing; for he would'nt be absent from the party, he said, for the price of his new fowling-piece. You can hardly say, reader, that John was a free agent, for the old folks controlled his will; and yet you perceive he did just as he pleased.
You may not like this view of things, reader, and I will tell you why; it is not flattering to your self-love ; you better like the notion that your superiority over others is the result of your own independent exertions. “Not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," is a text which soundeth not well in the ear of your pride; and you doubtless thank not Paul for asking the troublesome questions in the following passage.
« For who maketh thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it ?" (1. Cor. iv. 7.) And since this brings us to a consideration of the religious differences between some and others, we may as well get to close quarters on this branch of the argument.
A. is a christian, B. is not; why? “ Because A. chooses so to be, and B. does not.” But why do A. and B. choose so differently? " Because the one is naturally less perverse and obstinate than the other.” And pray who made the one to be thus natu rally less vicious than the other ? You are here brought up short, my friend reader. If B. had possessed the same natural dispositions and advantages as A., is it not plain that B. would be a christian too? And can he help, (and must he be endlessly damned for) not having had the same advantages ? So your creed impliedly asserts, and so Calvinism directly decides; between the two isms, therefore, (as I have said,) there is not a hair's breadth of rational difference. It is no detriment to Arminianism, however, that it is essentially identical with Calvinism; on the contrary, it is on that account the more accordant with the scriptures. (“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth,) it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then ? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Rom. ix. 11-18.)
It is impossible to read the writings of Paul with unbiased mind, without seeing on the face thereof that in his judgment certain persons are elected from eternity to be the subjects of gospel faith and obedience, whilst others are doomed to remain in darkness and unbelief. Speaking of the comparative fewness of God's worshippers in the days of Elijah, he represents Jehovah as say. ing to that prophet, “ I have reserved to myself seven thousand souls who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” (Rom. xi. 4.) On which the apostle remarks, “ Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.” (Rom. xi. 5, 6.) The same doctrine is carried out in other parts of the scripture; Christ tells his disciples, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” (John xv. 16.) And whilst (as before shown in this work) the greater number of the Jewish people were debarred from belief in him by the purposes of God, a knowledge of his Messiahship was forced upon others, who are termed “the elect," and in regard to whom it is said, " and as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed.” (Acts xiii. 48.) It has been seen that Thomas did not believe in Christ from choice, but from necessity; and assuredly Paul himself had no will in being thrown from his horse and convinced by ocular evidence that he was persecuting the Lord Messiah! Nothing is clearer from the scriptures than that believers in those times regarded themselves as particularly elect
ed and foreordained to that privilege. “ According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Ephe. i. 4, 5.) Peter plainly sets forth the same fact in his epistles: he tells the Gentile converts to whom he writes, that while the Jews were afore-appointed unto a disobedience and rejection of the gospel, that themselves were an elect people, a chosen generation;" having now obtained mercy, “that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Peter ii. 7, 8, 9.)
To the more superficial part of my readers, an explanation may be necessary, why we should suffer for sin, if it is committed agreeably to the fore-appointment of God. Should we suffer for what we eannot help? Let such remember that they are as much concerned to answer this question as I am; for, whatever their doctrine may be, they must see it to be the fact, that we do suffer for what we cannot help. We suffer so soon as we are born. Can we help being born? We suffer greatly from teething. Can we help this natural operation ? Many of us suffer from hereditary dis
Can we help those diseases ? And lastly, if our lives are prolonged, we suffer from the decay of age, and surely we cannot prevent that decay. " But why should we be censured and punished for sin, if its commission be but the result of foreordination ?" You are answered, reader, so soon as you answer yourself, why you crush with detestation the odious reptile under your foot, when you know it cannot help being the reptile that it is! And why you love any beautiful being, and liate a loathsome one, when the one nor the other can account for being what it is! Truth is, our Creator has designed that this existence should be one of partial suffering-moral as well as physical suffering; and in appointing the end, he has also appointed the means. Sin is the main means by which the former is brought on; he who sins most, has most moral suffering : God has joined these two things together, and no man can put them asunder. The reader will therefore learn not to plead this doctrine as an excuse for sinning the more, for, so sure as he does so, he must suffer the more. All this, I know, would reflect no glory upon the Crea
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 afflictions, which are but for a moment, worketh for us 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 decent, 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 Lamą. 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 ? No--this 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 flexibility of purpose and of principle; my intellect might have been feeble, lacking in forethought and judgment, whilst iny animal propensities might 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
be lieve 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,
“ From seeming evil still educing good,
In infinite progression,” for an unseeing, unthinking, unfeeling fatuity, whose hap-hazard determinations can never be brought to any beneficent conclusion !