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An illustration will at once shew the justness of this consequence to an unprejudiced reader. Fifty fishes sport in a muddy pond, where they have received
life. The skilful and Almighty Owner of the pond has si absolutely decreed, than ten of these fishes, properly
marked with a shining mark, called Election, shall absolutely be caught in a certain net, called a gospel-net
, on a certain day, called the day of his power ; and that
they shall, every one, be cast into a delightful river, this where he has engaged himself, by an eternal covenant en of particular redemption, to bring them without fail.
The same Omnipotent Proprietor of the poud has likewise absolutely decreed, that all the rest
of the fishes, namely
, forty, which are properly distinguished by a black mark, called reprobation, shall vever be caught in the gospel-net; or that if they are entangled in it at any time, they shall always be drawn out of it, and so
shall necessarily continue in the muddy pond, till, on a * certain day, called the day of his wrath, he shall sweep
the pond with a certain net, called a law-net, catch them all, and cast them into a lake of fire and brimstone, where he has engaged himself, by an everlasting covenant of non-redemption, to bring them all without fail
, that they may answer the end of their predestination to death, which is to shew the goodness of his law-net, and to destroy them for having been bred in the muddy poud, and for not having been caught in the gospel-net
. The owner of the pond is wise, as well as powerful. He knows, that, absolutely to secure the end to which his fishes are absolutely predestinated, that end; and therefore, that none may escape their he must absolutely secure the means
which conduced to happy or their unfortunate predestination, he keeps night and day his hold of them all, by a strong hook, called necessity and by an invisible line, called divine decrees. By means of this line and hook it happens, that if the fishes, which bear the mark election, are ever so loth to come into the gospel-net, or to stay erful love ; and if the fishes which bear the m
are always drawn into it in a day of pow
reprobation, are, for a time, ever so desirous to wrap themselves in the gospel-net, they are always drawn out of it in a day of powerful wrath. For, though the fishes seem to swim ever so freely, yet their motions are all absolutely fixed by the owner of the pond, and determined by means of the above-mentioned line and hook. If this is the case, says Mr. Wesley, ten fishes shall go into the delightful river, let them do what they will, let them plunge in the mud of their pond ever so briskly, or leap towards the lake of fire ever so often, while they have any liberty to plunge or to leap. And all the rest of the fishes, forty in 'number, shall go into the lake of fire, let them do what they can, let them involve themselves ever so long in the gospel-net, and leap ever so often towards the fine river, before they are absolutely necessitated to go, through the mud of their own pond, into the sulphureous pool. The colla sequence is undeniable, and I make no doubt that all unprejudiced persons see it as well as myself: As sure as two and two make four, or, if you please, as sure as ten and forty make fifty, so sure ten fishes shall be finally caught in the gospel-net, and forty in the law-net.
Should Mr. Toplady say, that this is only an illustration, I drop it, and roundly assert, that if two men, suppose Solomon and Absalom, are absolutely predestinated to eternal life; while two other men, suppose Mr. Baxter and Mr. Wesley, are absolutely predestinated to eternal death; the two elect shall be saved do what they will, and the two reprobates shall be damned do what they can. That is, let Solomon and Absalom worship the abomination of the Zidonians, and of the Moabites, in ever so public a manner them, for years, indulge themselves with Heathenish women, collected from all countries; if they have a mind, let them murder their brothers, defile their sisa ters, and imitate the incestuous Corinthian, who took his own father's wife ; yet they can never really endanger their finished salvation. The indelible mark of unconditional election to life is upon them; and forci. ble, victorious grace shall, in their last moments, if not
before, draw them irresistibly and ivfallibly from iniquity to repentance. Death shall unavoidably make an end of their indwelling sin ; and to heaven they shall unavoidably go. On the other hand, let a Baxter and a Wesley astonish the world by their ministerial labours : Let them write, speak, and live in such a manner, as to stem the torrent of iniquity, and turn thousands to righteousness : With St. Paul let them take up their cross daily, and preach and pray, not only with tears, but with the demonstration of the Spirit and with power.' Let unwearied patience and matchless diligence carry them with increasing fortitude through all the persecutions, danger, and trials, which they meet with from the men of the world, and from false brethen : Let them hold on this wonderful way to their dying day: Yet, if the indelible mark of unconditional reprobation to death is upon them, necessitating victorious wrath shall, in their last moments, if not before, make them necessarily turn from righteousness, and unavoidably draw back to perdition ; shall they be fitted for the lake of fire, the end, to which, if God Calvinistically passed them by, they were absolutely ordained through the predestiuated medium of remediless sin and final apostacy.
This is the true state of the case : To spend time in proving it, would be offering the judicious reader as great an insult, as if I detained him to prove that the North is opposed to the South. But what does Mr. Toplady say against this consequence, “ If Calvinism is true, the reprobates shall be damned, do what they can ?" He advances the following warm argument:
ARGUMENT I. (Page 55.)—“ Can Mr. Wesley pro" duce a single instance of any one man, who did all " he could to be saved, and yet was lost? If he can, " let him tell us who that man was where he lived, “ when he died, what he did, and how it came to pass "he laboured in vain.—If he cannot, let him either
retract his consequences, or continue to be posted “ for a shameless traducer."
I answer : 1. To require Mr. Wesley to shew a man who did all he could, and yet was lust, is requiring him to prove that Calvinian reprobation is true ; thing this, which he can no more do, thau he can prove that God is false. Mr. Wesley never said that any man was damned after doing his best to be saved : He only says, that if Calvinism is true, the reprobates, shall all be damned, though they should all do their hest to be saved, till the officacious decree of their absolute reprobation necessitates them to draw back and be damned.
2. As Mr. Toplady's bold request may impose upon his inattentive readers, I beg leave to point out its absurdity by a short illustration.
Mr. Wesley says, If there is il mountain of gold, it is heavier than a handful of feathers; and his consequence passes for true in England. But a gentleman who teaches Logic in mystic Geneva, thinks that it is absolutely false, and that Mr. Wesley's “ forehead must be petrified, and quite impervious to a blush,” for advancing it. Can Mr. Wesley, says he, show us a mountain of gold, which is really heavier than a handful of feathers ? If he can, let him tell us what mountain it is, where it lies, in what latitude, how high it is, and who did ever ascend to the top of it. If he cannot, let him either retract his consequences, or continue to be posted for a shameless traducer.
Equally conclusive is Mr. Toplady's challenge! By such cogent argunients as these, thousands of professors are bound to the chariot-wheels of modern orthodoxy, and blindly follow the warm men, who
drive as furiously' over a part of the body of scripture divinity, as the son of Nimshi did over the body of cursed Jezebel,
Calvinism upon its legs, or a full view of the arguments by which Mr. Toplady attempts to reconcile Calvinism with God's holiness ;-a note upon a letter to an Arminian teacher,
Sensible that Calvinism can never rank among the doctrines of holiness, if “ the elect shall be saved, do wbat they will," and if the " reprobate shall be damned do what they can;" Mr. Toplady tries to throw off, from his doctrines of grace, the deadly weight of Mr. Wesley's consequence. In order to this, he proves that Calvinism ensures the holiness of the elect, as the necessary means of their predestinated salvation : But he is too judicious to tell us that it ensures also the wickedness of the reprobate as the neeessary means of their predestivated damnation. To make us in love with his orthodoxy, he presents her to our view with one leg, on which she contrives to stand, by art. fully leaning upon her faithful maid Logicu Genevensis. Her other leg is prudently kept out of sight, so long as the trial about her holiness lasts. This deserves explanation.
The most distinguishing and fundamental doctrines of Calvinism are two; and therefore they may with propriety be called the legs of that doctrinal system. The First of these fundamental doctrines is, the personal, unconditional, absolute predestination, or clection, of some men to eternal life; and the SECOND is, the personal, unconditional, absolute predestination, or reprobation, of some men to eternal death. Nor can Mr. Toplady find fault with my making his doctrine of grace stand upon her legs, Calvinian Election and Calvinian Reprobation : For, supposing that our church speaks in her Seventeenth Article of Calvinian, Absolute Predestination to eternal life, he says himself in his Historic Proof, (page 574,) “ The predestina" tion of some to life, asserted in the seventeenth " article, cannot be maintained without admitting the