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ARG. LI. (P. 61, 62.)-" So when Saul went home to Gibeah, it is said, “There went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched. Ju like manner God is said to have stirred up the spirit of Cyrus.Then rose up, &c. the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised up.' Will any man say, that these did not will freely, only because they willed necessarily?"
1. 1 (for one) say, that while they willed necessarily (in the Calvinian sense of the word “ vecessary,”) – they could not will freely in the moral sense of the word free. Mr. T. is not morally free to will, so long as he is absolutely bound to will one thing; any more than a map is free to look to the left, who is absolutely bound to look to the right; let the object he looks at engage his heart and eye ever so pleasingly. God's Spirit prevents, accompanies, and follows us in every good thiug: All our good works are“ begun, continued, and ended in him ;" but they are not necessary, in the Calvinian sense of the word. In moral cases, God does not absolutely necessitate us, though he may do it in prophetic and political cases. Thus, he necessitated Balaam, when he blessed Israel by the mouth of that coretous prophet; and thus he necessitated Balaam's ass, when the dumb animal reproved his rider's mad
But then, whatever we do under such necessitating impulses, will not be rewarded as our own work, any more than Balaam's good prophecy, and his ass's good reproof, were rewarded as their own works.
2. From the above-mentioned passages, Mr. T. would make us believe, that, upon the whole, the touches of God's grace act necessarily like charms : But what says the stream of the scriptures ?-God' touched the hearts' of all the Israelites, and stirred them up to faith : But the effect of that touch was so far from being absolutely forcible, that their hearts soon started aside like a broken bow ;' and, after having been saved in Egypt through faith, they perished in the wilderness through unbelief.'— God gave king Saul a new heart;' and yet. Saul cast away the heavenly gift.-'God gave Solomon
a wise and understanding heart;' and yet, Solomon, in his old age, 'made himself a foolish heart, darkened' by the love of Heathenish women.-God stirred up the heart of Peter to confess Christ, and to walk upou the sea; and yet, by and by, Peter sunk, cursed, swore, and denied his Lord.—Awful demonstrations these, that, where divine grace works most powerfully, when its first grand impulse is over, there is an end of the over-bearing power; and the soul, returning to its Free-agency, chooses without necessity the good which constitutes her rewardable ; or the evil, which constitutes her punishable. Of this Mr. Toplady himself produces a remarkable instance, (2 Cor. viii. 16, 17,) * Thanks be to God,' says the apostle, “who put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you ;of his own accord he went unto you.'
If a gentleman, who delights to be in houses of illfame, more than in the house of God, sees, in a circle of ladies, one whom he suspects of being immodest, he les her out as one that may suit bis purpose : And to her he makes his bold addresses. I am sorry to observe that this is exactly the case with Calvinism unmasked. We find, in the scriptures, a few places where God's suffering some men to do a lesser evil, in order to prevent, or to punish, a greater evil, is expressed in a strong, figurative manner, which seems to ascribe sin to Him, just as, in other places, Jealousy, Repentance, Wrath, and Fury, together with Hands, Feet, Ears, and a Nose, are figuratively attributed to him. Now as Popish Idolatry screens herself behind these metaphors, so Calvinian Antinomianism perpetually singles out those metaphorical expressions, which seem to make God the author of sin. Accordiugly,
ARG. LIT. (P.61, &c.)--Mr. T. produces these words of Joseph, 'It was not you that sent me hither, but God ;'--these words of David, “The Lord said to him [Shimei] Curse David ;'--these words of the sacred historian, · God had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahitophel, to the intent that the Lord might
bring evil upon Absalom ;'-and these words of the prophet, “Howbeit, he [the Assyrian king, turned loose upon Israel to avenge God's righteous quarrel with that hypocritical people] meaneth not so, neither does his heart think 80 :
But it is in his heart to destroy;'—these words in the Revelation, 'God hath put it into their hearts (the hearts of the kings who shall hate the mystic harlot and destroy her, and burn her with fire] to ful61 his will, and to agree, and to give their kingdom to the beast, till the words of God shall be fulfilled ;'—and the words of Peter, “They (the accomplishers of the crucifixion of Christ) were gathered together to do whatsoever God's hand, and God's counsel, had predestinated to be done,' &e.
With respect to the last text, if it be rightlyt translated, it is explained by these words of Peter, (Acts ii, 23,) 'Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God:'-By his gracious-counsel,' that Christ should lay down his life as a ransom for all: -And by his clear 'foreknowledge of the disposition
With Episcopius, and some other learned critics, I doubt it is not. Why should it not be read thus ? Acts iv. 26-28, The Rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, (both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,) for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.'-By putting the clause ' Both Herod, kes, in a parenthesis, you have this evangelical sense which gives no handle to the pleaders for sin : Both Herod and Pilate, &c., were gathered together against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou 'hast anointed to do whatsoever thy hand and counsel determined before Co be done. I prefer this reading to the common one, for the following reasons : (1.) It is perfectly agreeable to the Greek; and the pecul. liar construction of the sentence is expressive of the peculiar earnesto ness with which the apostles prayed.--(2.) It is attended with no Manichean inconveniency.—(3.) it is more agreeable to the context. Por, if the Sanhedrim was gathered by God's direction and decree,' in order to threaten the apostles, with what propriety could they say, (verse 20,) .Now, Lord, behold their threatenings ?'-And (4.) It is strongly supported by verse 30, where Peter (after having observed, Verse 27, 28, according to our reading, that God had anointed his boły child Jesus to do all the miracles which he did on earth,) prays, that, now Christ is gone to heaven, the effects of this powerful anoint. ing may continue, and signs and wonders may still be done by the name of his holy child Jesus.' Vol. IV.
of the Jews to take that precious life away. This passage then, and all those which Mr. T. has produced, or may yet produce, only prove :
(1.) That God foresees the evil which is in the hearts of the wicked, and their future steps in peculiar circumstances, with ten thousand times more clearness and certainty, than a good huntsman foresees all the windings, doublings, and shifts of a hunted fox; and that he over-rules their wicked counsels to the execution of his own wise and holy designs, as a good rider over-rules the mad praucings of a vicious horse, to the display of his perfect skill in horsemanship, and to the treading down of the enemy in a day of battle.—(2.) That God catches the wise in their own craftiness,' and that, to punish the wicked, he permits their wicked counsels to he defeated, and their best-concerted schemes to prove abortive.—(3.) That he frequently tries the faith, and exercises the patience of good men, by letting loose the wicked upon them, as in the case of Job and of Christ.—(4.) That he often punishes the wickedness of one man by letting loose upon him the wickedness of another; and that he frequently avenges himself of one wicked nation by letting loose upon it the wickedness of another nation. Thus he let Absalom and Shimei loose upon David. Thus a parable spoken by the prophet Micaiah informs us, that God, after haring let a lying spirit loose upon Zedekiah, the false prophet, let Zedekiah loose upon wicked Ahab. Thus the Lord let loose the Philistines upon disobedient Israel, and the Romans upon the obdurate Jews, and their accursed city; using those wicked Heathen as his rindictive scourge, just as he used swarms of frogs and locusts, when he puuished rebellious Egypt with his plagues.-(5.) That he sometimes let a wicked man loose upon himself, as iv the case of Ahitophel, Nabal, and Judas, who became their own executioners. -- (6.) That, when wicked men are going to commit atrocious wickedness, he sometimes inclines their hearts so to relent, that they commit a less crime than they intended. For instarice, when Joseph's brethren were going to starve him tu death, by providential circum
stances God inclined their hearts to spare his life: Thus sustead of destroying him, they only sold him into Egypt. —(7.) With respect to Rev. xvii. 17, the context, and the full stream of the Scripture, require, that it should be understood thus : “As God, by providential circumstances, which seemed to favour their worldly views, suffered wicked kings to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, to help the beast to execute God's judg. ments npou corrupted churches and wicked states ; so He will peculiarly let those kings loose upon the whore, and they shall agree to hate her, and shall make her desolate and paked."
Upon the whole, it is contrary to all the rules of cri.. ticism, decency, and piety, to take advantage of the dark construction of a sentence, or to avail oneself of a parable, an hyberbole, a bold metaphor, or an unguarded saying of a good man, interwoven with the thread of Scripture history; in order to make appear, (so far as Calvinism can,) that “God worketh all things in all men; even wickedness in the wicked.” Such a method of wresting the oracles of God, to make them speak the language of Belial and Moloch, is as ungenerous, as our inferring from these words, 'I do not condemn thee,' that Christ does not condemn adulterers ; that Christianity encourages adultery, and that this single sentence, taken in a filthy Antinomian sense, outweighs all the sermon upon the mount, as well as the holy meaning of the context: For these words being spoker to an adulteress, whom the magistrates had not condemned to die, and whom the Pharisees wanted Christ to' condemn to be stoned according to the law of Moses;' it is evident that our Lord's words, when taken in connexion with the context, carry this edifying meaning : "I am come to act the part of a Saviour, and not that “of a Magistrate : If the magistrates have not 'con“demned thee to be stoned,' neither do I condemn “thee to that dreadful kind of death ; avail thyself of
thy undeserved reprieve : 'Go and repent, and evi"dence the sincerity of thy repentance by “sinuing no more.'”-Hence I conclude, that all the texts quoted