Page images















Beware lest any man spoil you through Philosophy and vain

Col. ii. 8.

[blocks in formation]


Mr. Voltaire, at the head of the Deists abroad ; President Edwards and Mr. Toplady, at the head of the Calvinists in America and Great Britain ; and Dr. Hart. ley, seconded by Dr. Priestley and Mr. Hume, at the head of many iugenious philosophers ; have of late years joined their literary forces to bind man with what Mr. Toplady calls Ineluctabilis ordo rerum,"-or the extensive series of adamantine links,” which form the chain of “absolute necessity,"-An invisible chain this, by which, if their scheme be trne, God and Nature inevitably bind upon us all our thoughts and actions ; so that no good man can absolutely think or do worse -no wicked man can at any time think or do better than he does, each exactly willing up the measure of unavoidable virtue or vice, which God, as the first cause, or the predestinating and necessitating author of all things, has allotted to him from all eternity.

Mr. Toplady triumphs in seeing the rapid progress, which this doctrine makes, by the help of the abovementioned authors, who shine with distinguished lustre in the learued world. “ Nr. Wesley," says he, “ laments, that Necessity is the scheme which is now

adopted by vot a few of the most sensible men in the 'nation.' I agree with him as to the fact. But I canpot deplore it as a calamity. The progress, which that doctrine has of late years made, and is still making in the kingdom, I consider as a most happy and promising symptom,” &c.

I flatter myself, that I shall by and by shew, upon theological principles, the mischievous absurdity of that spreading doctrine, in ao Answer to Mr. Toplady's Vindication of the Decrees. But, as he has lately published a book entitled, The scheme of Christian and Philosophical Necessity, asserted, in opposition to Mr. J. Wesley's Tract on that Subject;" and as he has advanced in that book some arguments taken from Philosophy and Scripture, I shall now take notice of them. -To defend truth effectually, error must be entirely demolished. Therefore, without any farther apology, I present the lovers of truth with the following refutation of the grand error, which supports the Calvinian and Voltaitian gospels.



REPLY, &c.

view of the doctrine of absolute Necessity, as it is maintained by Mr. Toplady and his adherents. This doctrine (as well as Manicheism) makes God the author of every sin.

CONTROVERTISTS frequently accuse their opponents of holding detestable or absurd doctrines, which they never advanced, and which have no necessary connexion with their principles. That I may not be guilty of so ungenerous a proceeding, I shall, first, present the reader with an account of Necessity and her pedigree, in Mr. Toplady's own words.

Scheme of Christian and Philosophical Necessity, (page 13, 14,) * “ If we distinguish accurately, this seems to have been the order in which the most judicious of the ancients considered the whole matter. First, God;—then, his Will;—then Fate, or the solemu ratification of his Will, by passiug and establishing it into an unchangeable decree ;-then Creation ;-then Necessity; that is, such an indissoluble concatenation of secondary causes and effects, as has a native tendency to secure the certainty of all events, as one wave is impelled by another ; $-then Providence :

$ Mr. T. puts this clause in Latin ;

Velut unda impellitur unda.

that is, the omnipresent, omnivigilant, all-directing (he might have added all-impelling] superintendency of divine wisdom and power, carrying the whole preconcerted scheme into actual execution, by the subservient mediation of second causes, which were created for that end."

This is the full view of the doctrine which the Calvinists, and the better sort of Fatalists, defend. I would only ask a few questions upon it.-(1.) If all our actions, and consequently all our sins, com pose the seventh link of the chain of Calvinism ;-if the first link is God; the second, his Will; the third his Decree ; the fourth, Creation; the fifth, Necessity : the sixth, Providence ; and the seventh, Sin; is it not as easy to trace the pedigree of SIN, through Provi dence, Necessity, Creation, God's Decree, and God's Will, up to God himself; as it is to trace back the genealogy of the Prince of Wales, from George IUI, by George II, up to George I ? And upon this plan, is it not clear, that Sin is as much the real offspring of God, as the Prince of Wales is the real offspring of George the First ?-(2.) If this is the case, does not Calviuism, or, if you please, Fatalism or Necessitarianism, absolately make God the Author of Sin by means of his Will, his Decree, his Creation, his Necessitation, his impelling Providence ? And (horrible to think !) does it not unavoidably follow, that the monster Sin is the offspring of God's Providence-of God's Necessitation of God's Creation of God's Decree of God's Will -of God himself ?-(3.) If this Manichean doctrine be true, when Christ came to destroy sin, did he not come to destroy the work of God, rather than the work of the devil ? And when preachers attack sin, do they not attack God's. Providence-God's Necessitation, God's Creation, God's Decree, God's Will,—and God himself ?-(4.) To do God and his oracles justice, ought we pot to give the following scriptural genealogy of sin ?-A sinful act is the offspring of a sinful choice ;a sinful choice is the offspring of self-perversion ;--and self-perversion may or may not follow from Free Will

« PreviousContinue »