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The sage, peer, potentate, king, conqueror;
I would here candidly acknowledge, that there are some sentiments in the epistles of St. Paul, which seem both directly and indirectly to favour the doctrine of predestination ; and many of his sayings are hard to be understood. Even one of his cotemporaries, the apostle Peter, acknowledges this to be the case.
Hear what he says on this subject.
66 And account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, háth written unto yon; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things ; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they
do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.
In order that the reader may for himself see the truth of the above assertion, I will transcribe, or quote some of the doctrines of St. Paul, most difficult to be understood.
« 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 ranneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”
It is a lamentable fact, that not only the unstable and unlearned, but also the most sincere, and best informed men in different ages of the world, have differed in judgment respecting the
sentiments and doctrines of St. Paul. If therefore, men possessing the best hearts, and the most informed heads, have differed so materially on this important subject, it is most assuredly, my duty, to be modest while suggesting my opinion on this topic; I feel nevertheless, tremblingly solicitous to remove this formidable barrier to the title and subject matter of our work, without which our labour is all in vain; for if the doctrine of unconditional reprobation is true, I must be a liari and the truth is not in me. I have one ob. vious failing, which I here humbly acknowledge; and that is, to be too acrimonious in my animadversions : “ I know the right, and yet the wrong pursue;" because, when I view with my intellectual eyes, the mountains of mi. sery observable in Christendom, and which originate, exclusively, in the arbitrary power assumed by hypocrie tical Christian priests, and Christian potentates, I cannot refrain from irri. tation, and humbly pray my good God to pardon his servant, for this de
viation from Christian moderation. What I now propose in vindication of the impartiality of Jehovah, I do with modesty and great deference to those distinguished authors, who have differed from me in sentiment, on this subject, 6 the latchets of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose." There has been so much said on this subject already, that it is inpossible to say any thing on it, but what has been previously anticipated ; what therefore I am going to add, is for those, who, like myself, feel a cogent desire to find, 6 that God is just, and yet the justifier of all (not part of) those who obey the spirit of Christ." The votaries of controversy I have not the most distant idea of proselyting. They stick to their text to the last moment; particularly the foreknowledge of God. For my part, I cannot (perhaps because I am so foolish) see, wherein God's foreknowledge or afterknowledge can consist. According to the idea I have formed of the God of my salvation, a moment with him is the same as a million of years; and the earth on which we live, is like a grain of sand; or rather a particle of dust. All time, all eternity, and all his works, are directly present before his eyes. God knows who loves and endeavours to serve him, and who neglects himn and treats him with silent contempt; the same as a man who has a silver and a brass dollar in his hand at the same time, knows this moment, as well as the next, that one dollar is good, and the other bad. To talk about fore-knowledge or after-knowledge in this case, would be perfect nonsense ; and not, in my view, more nonsensical and absurd, than to talk about the fore-knowledge of God, before whose eyes every thing is present that is, was, or ever will be. God saw 5000 years ago, the sins that are committed this moment, as plainly and clearly as I see the paper on which I am now writing; and because he sees (not foresees- I dislike the word; because it is perfect nonsense, when applied to this case) the sins which man