Page images

dead matter ; as a place inhabited by learned men and curious beasts, contains more wonders than one which is only stocked with fine flowers and curious stones. If this be granted, it necessarily follows, that this world was very perfect, calculated to display His Infinite Power and manifold Wisdom.-Now, in the very nature of things, rational free-ageuts, being capable of knowing their Creator, owe to him gratitude and obedience, and to one another assistance and love ; and therefore

they are “uuder a law,' which (as free-agents) they 14 may keep or break, as they please.

“But could not God necessitate free-agents to keep the law they are under ?”

Yes, says Calvinism, for he is endned with Infinite Power : But scripture, good sense, and matter of fact, say, No: Because, although God is endued with Infinite Power, he is also endued with Infinite Wisdom. And it would be as absurd to create free-agents in order to necessitate them, as to do a thing in order to undo it. Besides (I repeat it) God's Distributive Justice could never be displayed, nor would free obedience be paid by rationals, and crowned by the rewarder and ‘Judge of all the earth,' unless rationals were freewilling creatures, and therefore, the moment you absolutely necessitate them, you destroy them as free-agents, and you rob God of two of his most glorious titles, that of Rewarder, and that of Judge. Thus we account for the origin of evil in a scriptural and rational manner, without the help of Fatalism, Manicheism, or Calvinism. Mr. Toplady replies :

ARGUMENT XXX1. (P. 44, 45.)—" Oh, but-God himself is a free-agent, though his will is necessarily, unchangeably, and singly determined to good, and to good only. So are the elect angels. So are the glorified souls of saints departed, &c., and so might Adam have been, had God pleased to have so created him."

This is the grand objection of President Edwards, which I have answered in the Scripture Scales, in

I shall, however, make here a few

Vol. iii. 308.

remarks upon it.-(1.) If “God worketh all things, &c., even wickedness in the wicked,” as the consistent Predestinarians directly or indirectly tell us; it is absurd in them to plead, that he is singly determined to good, and to good only: For every body knows that the god of Manes is full of duplicity ; having an evil principle, which absolutely predestinates and causes all the wickedness, and a good principle, which absolutely predestinates and causes all the virtue in the world. As for the God of Christians, he is not so necessitated to do that which is good, but he might, if he would, do the most astonishing act of injustice and barbarity: For he might, if he would, absolutely doom myriads of unhorn infants to remediless wickedness and everlasting fire, before they have deserved this dreadful doom, so much as by the awkward motion of their little fipger. Nor need I tell Mr. Toplady this, who believes that God has actually done so.

2. God is not in a state of probation under a superior Being, who calls himself the Rewarder, and who says, * Vengeance is mine, and I will repay:' Nor shall he ever be tried by one who will judicially render to him according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.'

3. If faithful angels are unchangeably fixed in virtue, and unfaithful angels in vice, the fixedness of their nature is the consequence of the good or bad use which they have made of their liberty; and therefore their confirmation in good, or in evil, flows from a judicial election or reprobation, which displays the distributive justice of their Jurige, Rewarder, and Avenger.

4. Nothing can be more absurd than to couple absolute necessity with moral free-agency. glorified souls are necessitated to serve God and love one another, as a good man is necessitated not to murder the king, and not to blow his own brains out. Such a necessity is far from being absolute: For, if a good man would, he might gradually overcome his reluctance to the greatest crimes. Thus David, who was no doubt, as chaste and loving once as Joseph, overcame his strong aversion to adultery and murder.

Angels and

Should it be said, What! Can glorified saints and angels fall away? I reply : They will never fall away, because they are called off the stage of probation, stand far abore the reach of temptation, and have ‘benceforth crowns of righteousness laid up for them, which the Lord

, the righteous Judge, shall give them at that day.' In the mean time, they rest from their [probatory] labours, and their works follow them.' But still, in the nature of things, they are as able to disobey, as Joseph was to commit adultery, had he set his heart upon it: Por, if they had no capacity of disobeying, they would have no capacity of obeying, in the moral sense of the word: Their obedience would be as necessary, and as far from morality, as the passive obedience of a leaden ball, which you drop, with an absurd command to tend towards the centre. If I am hot mistaken, these answers fully set aside Mr. T.'s argument taken from the necessary goodness of God, angels, and glorified saints.

ARGUMENT XXXII. (p. 45.) “God is, and cannot but be, inviolably just, amidst all the sufferings of fallen angels and fallen men, involuntary beings as they are. And he will continue to be just in all they are yet to suffer.”—That “God is, and will be just,” in all that fallen angels and men have suffered, and may yet suffer, is most true, because they are voluntary Beings (Mr. Toplady says, “ involuntary Beings”) and free-agents (Mr. Toplady would say necessary agents) who personally deserve what they suffer ; or who, if they suffer without personal offeuce, as infants do, have in Christ a rich cordial, and an efficacious remedy, which will cause their temporary sufferings to answer to all eternity the most admirable ends for themselves, if they do not reject God's gracious, castigatory, probatory, or purificatory counsels towards them, when they come to act as free-agents. But that “God is and will be just,” in absolutely ordaining « involuntary” to sin and be damned, is what has not yet been proved by one argument which can

bear the light.-However, Mr.

Vol. IV.


Toplady, with the confidence which suits his peculiar logic, concludes this part of his subject by the following triumphal exclamation :

ARGUMENT XXXIII. (Ibid.)—" And if so, what becomes of the objection to God's Decree of Preterition, [a soft word for Absolute Reprobation to remediless sin and eternal death] drawn from the article of Injustice!".

Why, it stands in full force, notwithstanding all the arguments which have yet been produced. Nay, the way to shew that an objection is unanswerable, is to answer it as Mr. Toplady has done ; that is, by producing arguirents which equally shock Reason and Conscience, and which are crowned with this new paradox: “ Fallen angels, and fallen men are involuntary Beings.” So that the last subterfuge of moderate Calvinists is now given up. For when they try to vindicate God's Justice, with respect to the damnation of their imaginary reprobates, they say, that the poor creatures are damned as voluntary agents. But Mr. Toplady informs us, that they are damned as “ivvoluntary beings," that is, as excusable beings;-and might I not add, as sinless heings. For (evangelically speaking) is it possible that an “involuntary being” should be sinful? Why is the murderer's sword sinless? Why is the candle by which an incendiary fires yonr house, an innocent flame? Is it not because they are

“involuntary beings, or mere tools used by other beings? A cart accidentally falls upon you, and you involuntarily fall upon a child, who is killed upon the spot. The father of the child wants you hanged as a murderer : But the judge pronounces you perfectly guiltless. Why ? Truly because you were, in that case, an “involuntary being” as well as the cart. When therefore Mr. Toplady asserts that we are involuntary beings," and insinuates that God is just in absolutely predestinating us to sin necessarily, and to be damned eternally, he proves absurdum per absurdiusinjustum per injustiuscrudele per crudelius. In a word, he gives a finishing stroke to God's Justice; and his pretended “Vindication" of that tremendous Attribute

proves, if I may use his own expression, a public, though, (I am persuaded,) an undesigned" defamation

of it,

SECTION V. An Answer to the Arguments, by which Mr. Toplady

endeavours to reconcile Calvinian REPROBATION with divine Mercy.

If it is impossible to reconcile Calvinian Reprobation with divine JUSTICE, how much more with divine Mercy! This is however the difficult task which Mr. T. sets about next. Consider we his arguments :


ARGUMENT XXXIV. (p. 45.) -“ As God's forbearing to create more worlds than he has, is no impeachment of his Omnipotence : So his forbearing to save

many as he might, is no impeachment of his Infinite Mercy.”—The capital flaw of this arguinent consists in substituting still the phrase “ not saving,” for the phrase absolutely reprobating to remediless sin and everlasting burnings." The difference between these phrases, which Mr, Toplady uses as equivalent, is prodigious. No body ever supposed that God is unmerciful because he does not take stones into heaven, or because he does not save every pebble from its opacity, by making it transparent and glorious as a diamond : For pebbles suffer nothing by being “ passed by," and not saved into adamantine glory. But, if God made every pebble an organised, living body, capable of the keenest sensations; and if he appointed that most of these “ involuntary [sensible] beings," should be absolutely opaque, and should be cast into a lime-kiln, there to endure everlasting burnings, for not having the transparency, which he decreed they should never have ; would it not be impossible to reconcile hisconduct to the lowest idea we can form even of Bonner's

mercy ?

Having thus pointed out the sandy foundation of Mr.

« PreviousContinue »