Page images


can perish; but they must all necessarily be saved. Which Salvation consists as much in the recovery of moral rectitude below, as in the enjoyment of eternal blessedness above."



but they must all necesTM
sarily be damned. Which
Damnation consists
much in the being stripped
of moral rectitude on earth,
as in the enduring of eter
nal torments in hell.

By such wrested texts, and delusive arguments as these, it is, that Mr. Toplady has vindicated God's holiness upon Calvinian principles. Now, as he requests that Calvinism may stand " upon its legs," that is, upon absolute election and absolute reprobation; I appeal to all the unprejudiced world, have I not made the Diana of the Calvinists stand straight? Have I not suffered her to rest upon her left leg, as well as upon the right? If that leg terminates in an horribly cloven foot; is it Mr. Wesley's fault, or mine? Have we formed the doctrinal image, which is set up in mystical Geneva? Is the quotation produced in my motto forged? Is not absolute reprobation one of "the doctrines of grace" (so called) as well as absolute election? May I not shew the full face of Calvinism, as well as her side face? If a man pay nae a guinea, have I not a right to suspect that it is false, and to turn it, if he that wants to pass it, will never let me see the reverseof it in a clear light? Can Mr. Toplady blame me for holding forth Calvinian reprobation? Can he find fault with me for shewing what he says, I am "not only bound to shew, but to defend?" If Calvinism be "the doctrine of grace," which I must engage sinners to espouse, why should I serve her as the soldiers did the thieves on the cross? Why, at least, should I break one of her legs. If ever I bring her into the pulpit, she shall come up on both "her legs.' "9 The chariot of my Diana shall be drawn by the biting serpent, as well as by the silly dove; I will preach Calvimian reprobation, as well as Calvinian election. I will be a man of "conscience and honour."

* A

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

And now, reader, may I not address thy conscience and reason, and ask: If all the fallen angels had laid their heads together a thousand years, to contrive an artful way of reproaching the living God—the Holy One of Israel,' could they have done it more effectually than by getting myriads of Protestants (even all the Calvinists) and myriads of Papists (even all the Dominicans, Jansenists, &c.) to pass the false coin of absolute election and absolute reprobation, with this deceitful alluring inscription-" Necessary holiness unto the Lord," and this detestable Manichean motto on the reyerse, "Necessary wickedness unto the Lord?" And has not Mr. Toplady presumed too much upon thy credulity, in supposing, that thou wouldst never have wisdom enough to look at the black reverse of the shining medal, by which he wants to bribe thee into Calvinism?


An Answer to some Appeals to Scripture and Reason, by which Mr. Toplady attempts to support the Absoluteness and Holiness of the Calvinian Decrees.

LET us see if Mr. Toplady is happier in the choice of his scriptural and rational illustrations, than in that of his arguments. To shew that God's decrees, respecting man's life and salvation, are absolute, or (which is all one) to shew that the decree of the end necessarily includes the decree of the means, he appeals to the case of Hezekiah, thus:

[ocr errors]

ANG. XIII. (Page 20.)—“ God resolved that Hezekiah should live fifteen years longer than Hezekiah expected, &c. It was as much comprised in God's decree that Hezekiah should eat, drink, and sleep, during those fifteen years; and that he should not jump into the sea, &c., as that fifteen years should be added to his life."-From this quotation it is evident, that Mr. Toplady would have us believe, that none of God's

decrees are conditional: that when God decrees the end, he does it always in such a manner, as to ensure the means necessary in order to bring about the end and that Hezekiah is applied to, as a proof of this doctrine. Unfortunate appeal! If I had wanted to prove just the contrary, I do not know where I should have found an example more demonstrative of Mr. Toplady's mistake: Witness the following account. 'Hezekiah was sick unto death; and Isaiah came to him and said, Thus saith [thus decrees] the Lord, Set thy house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.' (Is. xxxviii. 1.) Here is an explicit, peremptory decree ;—a decree where no condition is expressed;-a decree which wears a negative aspect, Thou shalt not live,' and a positive form, Thou shalt die.' The means of executing the decree was already upon Hezekiah: He was 'sick unto death.' And yet, so far was he from thinking that the decree of the end absolutely included that of the means, that he set himself upon praying for life and health; yea, upou doing it as a Jewish perfectionist. Then Hezekiah turned his face towards the wall, and prayed, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee with a perfect heart, &c., and Hezekiah wept sore. Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith [thus decreeth] the Lord, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold I will add unto thy days, fifteen years.' (Ver. 2, 5.) From this account it is evident, that Hezekiah might as easily have reversed the decree about his LIFE, by stabbing or drowning himself, as he reversed the decree about his DEATH, by weeping and praying; and that Mr. Toplady has forgotten himself as much in producing the case of Hezekiah in support of Calvinism, as if he had appealed to our Lord's sermon on the mount in defence of the lawless gospel of the day.

A kind of infatuation attends the wisest men, who openly fight the battles of error. In the end, their swords, like that of the champion of the Philistines, do their cause more mischief than service. Mr. Toplady

[ocr errors]

will perhaps afford us another instance of it. After producing Hezekiah to establish the absoluteness of God's decrees, he calls in the first Jewish hero : Joshua is brought to demonstrate, that the decree of the end always binds upon us an unavoidable submission to the decree of the means; Or to speak more intelligibly, that God's decrees to bless or to curse, are always absolute, and necessitate us to use the means leading to his blessing or his curse.

ARG, XIV. (Page 23.)—“ Prior to the taking of Jericho, it was revealed to Joshua, that he should certainly be master of the place. Nay, so peremptory was the decree, and so express the revelation of it, that it was predicted as if it had already taken effect: 'I have given into thy hand Jericho,' &c. This assurance, than which nothing could be more absolute, did not tie up Joshua's hands from action, and make him sit down without using the means, which were no less appointed than the end. On the contrary," &c.-Here we are given to understand, that Joshua and the Israelites could never cross any of God's gracious decrees by neglecting the means of their accomplishment; because they were necessitated to use those means. Thus is Joshua pressed into the service of Calvinian Necessity, and the absoluteness of God's decrees ; Joshua, who, of all men in the world, is most unlikely to support the tottering ark of Calvinian Necessity. For when he saw in the wilderness the carcases of several hundred thousand persons, to whom God had promised the good land of Canaan with an oath, and who nevertheless entered not in because of unbelief,' he saw several hundred thousand proofs, that God's promises are not absolute; and that when he deals with rewardable and punishable agents, the decree of the end is not unconditional, and does by no means include an irresistible decree which binds upon them the unavoidable use of the means.

But, consider the peculiar case of Joshua himself. 'The Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, There shall not

any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life-I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.' (Josh. i. 5.) Now this peremptory decree of the end, far from necessarily including the means, actually failed by a single flaw in the use of the means. The disobedience of Achan reversed the decree: For he disregarded the means or condition which God had appointed : <Turn not to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.' (Josh. i. 7.) Hence it is, that when Achan had turned to the left,' the decree failed, and we find Joshua prostrate before the ark a whole day with his clothes rent, and dust upon his head:' Lamenting the flight of Israel before Ai, and wishing that he had been content, and had dwelt on the other side Jordan.' Nor do I see, in God's auswer to him, the least hint of Mr. Toplady's doctrine.

Why liest thou upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant: For they have even taken of the accursed thing.—Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, because they were accursed: Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing.' (Josh. vii. 1, 13.)


Hence it appears, that when Mr. Toplady appeals to Joshua in defence of the Absoluteness of God's decrees, he displays his skill in the art of Logic, as much as if he appealed to the Peremptoriness of the famous de.. cree, Yet forty days, and [ungodly] Nineveh shall be destroyed' And yet penitent Nineveh was spared: So unscriptural is the assertion, that the decree of the end ensures the use of the means, when God tries moral agents in the day of salvation, in order to punish or reward them according to their works, in the day of judgment !

Mr. Toplady supports these unfortunate appeals to scripture, by the following appeal to Reason.

[ocr errors]

ARG. XV. (Page 24.)-"Suppose it were infallibly revealed to an army, or to any single individual, that the former should certainly gain such a battle, and the

« PreviousContinue »