« PreviousContinue »
Paul's preaching, and converted." Thus Zeno's predestination failed, and, with it, Zeno's argument: For robbery led not Onesimus to thrasbing, but to conTET. sion and glory, if we beliere Mr. Hül. And if Mr. Fulsome is an elect person, why might be Dot be guilty of as fortunate a robbery? Why might not a similar end by the (same Antinomian] means " Mr. Toplady
and accomplish the (same Erabgelican may prevail over us by borrowing Zeno's case, and the whip of Mr. Hill's lashing footman ; bot bis per will never demonstrate, (1.) That Calviniat does not rationally lead all her admirers to the deepest mire of they are there, nothing can keep them from weltering speculative Antinomianism: And 2. That wber in the dirt of practical Antinomianism, but an happy inconsistence between their actions and their pripciples.
SECTION XI. A Caution against the Tenet, WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT:
An Antinomian Tenet this, which Mr. T. calls “a first Principle of the Bible."-An Answer to his Challenge about finding a middle Way between the Calvinian Doctrine of Proridence, and the Atheist. ical Doctrine of Chance. But if the Deity absolutely works all things in all men,
WHATEVER the true God works, is ondoubtedly right. good and bad, it evidently follows, (1.) That the two(2.) That the bad principle of this double deity works principled deity preached by Manes is the true God. wickedness in the wicked, as necessarily as the good principle works righteousness in the righteous.-And, (3.) That the original of wickedness being divine, Upon this horrid, Manichean scheme, who can wonder
wickedness is as
* Mr. Toplady saying,
ARG. LXXI. (p. 96.) —“ This is a first principle of the Bible, and of sound Reason, that whatever is, is right ; or will answer some great end, &c., in its relation to the whole.”—Error is never more dangerous than when it looks a little like truth. But when it is imposed upon the simple as “a first principle of the Bible and of sound reason," it makes dreadful work. How conclusively will a rigid Predestinarian reason if
“Whatever is, is right; and therefore sin is right. Again, it is wrong to hinder what is right: Sin is right; and therefore it is wrong to hinder sin.-Once more; we ought to do what is right; and therefore we ought to commit sin.”—Now, in opposition to Mr. Toplady's first principle, I assert, as a “ first principle of reason,” that though it was right in God not abso. lutely to hinder sin, yet sin is always wrony.—“Oh! but God permitted it, and will get himself glory by displaying his vindictive justice in punishing it: For
the ministration of condemnation is glorious.' This argument has deluded many a pious Calvinist. Το overthrow it, I need only observe, that ' righteousness exceeds condemnation in glory!'
In what respect is sin right ? Can it be right in respect of God, if it brings him less glory than right. eousness ? Can it be right in respect of man, if it brings temporal misery upon all, and eternal misery upon some? Can it be right in respect of the Adamic law, the law of Moses, or the Law of Christ? Certainly, no: For sin is equally the transgression of all these laws. “Oh! but it is right with respect to the evangelical promise."-By no means: For the evangelical promise, vulgarly called The Gospel, testifies of Christ, the Destroyer of sin, and offers us a remedy against sin. Now, if sin were right, the gospel which remedies it, and Christ who destroys it, would be wrong. clude, then', that if sin be right, neither with respect of God, nor with respect of man; neither with regard to the law, nor with regard to the gospel; it is right in no shape, it is wrong in every point of view.
“ But why did God permit it?" Indeed, he never
properly permitted it, unless Mr. Toplady, who does not scruple to call God, “ the Permitter of evil,” can prove, that to forbid in the most solemn manner, and under the severest penalty, is the same thiug a3 to permit,
Should you say, Why did not God absolutely hinder sin ? I still answer,-(i.) Because his wisdom saw that a world where Free-agents and Necessary-agents are mixed, is better (all things considered) than a world stocked with nothing but its Necessary-agents ; i. e., creatures absolutely hindered from sinning.—(2.) Because his Distributive Justice could be displayed vo other way, than by the creation of accountable free agents, made with an eye to a day of judgment.-(3.) Because it would be as absurd to necessitate free agents, as to bid free agents be, that they might not be free agents ;
;-as foolish as to form accountable creatures, that they might not be accountable.--And (4.) Because when God saw that the Free-agency of his creatures would introduce sin, he determined to over-rule it, or remedy it in such a manner as would, upon the whole, render this world, with all the voluntary evil, and voluntary good in it, better than a world of necessary agents, where nothing but necessary good would have been displayed : An inferior sort of good this, which would no more have admitted of the exercise of God's Political Wisdom and Distributive Justice, than the excellence of stones and fine flowers admits of laws, rewards, and punishments.
Should the reader ask, how far we may safely go, to meet the truth, which borders most on Mr. Toplady's false principle, Whatever is, is right ? I answer, (1.) We may grant, nay, we ought to assert, that God will get himself glory every way. Evangelical grace, and just wrath, minister to his praise, though not equally: And therefore God willeth not primarily the death of his creatures. Punishment is his strange work; and he delights more in the exercise of his Remunerative Goodness, than in the exercise of his Vindictive Justice, (2.) Hence it appears, that the wrath of man, and the rage of the devil, will turn to God's praise : But it is only to his inferior praise. For, though the blessed will sing loud Hallelujahs to Divine Justice, when vengeance shall overtake the ungodly; and though the consciences of the ungodly will give God glory, and testify that he is holy in all his works and righteous in all his vindictive ways; yet this glory will be only the glory of the ministration of condemnation :-A dispensation this, which is inferior to the dispensation of Righteous Mercy. Hence it appears, that those who die in their sins, would have brought more glory to God by choosing righteousness and life, than they do by choosing death in the error of their ways. But still, this inferior praise, arising from the condemnation and punishment of ungodly free-agents--this inferior praise, I say, mixed with the superior praise arising from the justification and rewards of godly free-agents, will far exceed the praise which might have accrued to God from the unavoidable obedience and absurd rewards of necessitated agents, of angels and men absolutely bound to obey by a necessitating grace like that which rigid bound-willers preach; were we even to suppose, that this forcible grace had Calvinistically caught All rational creatures iu a net of Finished Salvation, and had drawn them all to heaven, as irresistibly as “Simon Peter drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three.' For before the Lawgiver and Judge of all the earth, the unnecessitated voluntary goodness of one angel, or one man, is more excellent than the necessary goodness of a world of creatures as unavoidably and passively virtuous, as a diamond is unavoidably and passively bright.
ARG. LXXII. (p. 96.)-With respect to the second part of Mr.Toplady's doctrine, that whatever is, is right, because “ it will answer some great end, &c., in its relation to the whole ;' it is nothing but logical paint put on a false principle, to cover its deformity :
For error can imitate Jezebel, who laid natural paint on her withered face, to fill up her hideous wrinkles, and impose upon the spectators. I may perhaps prove it by
an illustration. I want to demonstrate that cheating, extortion, litigiousness, breaking the peace, robberies, and murders, are all right, and I do it by asserting, “ That they answer some great ends in their relation to the whole; for they employ the Parliament in making laws to prevent, end, or punish thep ; they afford business to all the Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, Sheriffs, Constables, Jailers, Turnkeys, Thief-catchers, and Executioners in the kingdom : And when robbers and murderers are hanged, they reflect praise upon the government which extirpates them; they strike terror into the wicked; and their untimely, dreadful end sets off the happiness of a virtuous course of life, and the bliss which crowns the death of the righteous. Besides, many murderers and robbers have been bronght to Christ for pardon and salvation, like the dying thief, who, by his robbery, had the good luck to meet Christ on the cross : So that his own gallowe, as well as our Lord's cross, proved the tree of life to that happy felon.”—The mischievous absurdity of these pleas for the excellence of wickedness, puts me in mind of the arguments by which a greedy publican of my parish once exculpated himself, when I reproved him for encouraging tippling and drunkenness. “The more ale we sell,” said he, “the greater is the “king's revenue.
If it were not for us, the king could -nor could he pay the fleet and army ;" and if we had neither fleet nor army, we should
soon fall into the hands of the French.” So “great are the ends," which tippliug "answers in its relation to the whole" British empire, if we may believe a tapster, who pleads for drunkenness as plausibly, as some good, mistaken inen do for all manner of wickedness.
From the whole, if I am not mistaken, we may safely conclude, that, though all God's works are right, yet sin, the work of fallen angels and fallen men, is never right; and that, though the universe, with all its sinfulness, is better than a sinless world necessitated to be sinless by the destruction of free-agents; yet, as
not live ;