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general of God's arrangement, and the fall, which gave osca sion to it, of God's ordinance, but to his counselled will, as its ultimate source, is to be traced the origin, progress, and termina tion of the work of redemption in every individual, and to the same counselled will, as its ultimate source, that inflexible adherence to sin and apostacy which is found in the justly condemned unbeliever.”*
Mr. Vaughan is not less distinct in affirming that God's predestinating, (whether election or reprobation,) is not influenced by the foreknowledge of how the elect or reprobate will act.t “ If,” says he, “ the foreknowledge spoken of by St. Paul, (Rom. viii. 29,) were merely the certain knowledge of how they would act, predestination becomes a dead letter; for why should God ordain that which will certainly take place without his ordinance.” He afterwards explains this foreknowledge—“ An approbation entertained of old, entertained before it was called forth by performance." I
In fine, he conceives it deducible from the scriptural testimonies he refers to, “ that holy Scripture declares it to be the will of God, the purpose of God, the decree of God; and if so, his everlasting will, purpose, and decree, that there should be a lost people of mankind as well as a saved ; that to this will, purpose, and decree, as its ultimate source, their final destruction is to be referred; and that God is the supreme artificer, mover, and conductor of the machine, by which this awful result is effected.”S Thus this writer maintains the system of Calvin, in all its unmitigated severity.
Nor is this system, at this day, maintained by individuals only; for if so, however weighty their authority, it would be less extensively dangerous. It forms a part of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is still the avowed creed of the most important part of the presbyterian church, as appears from the third chapter of that Confession, || entitled " Of God's eternal decree.”
“ Ist. God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain what
* Page 129.
S Page 183. || Confession of Faith, &c. &c. of Public Authority in the Church of Scotland. Edinburgh, printed by Blair and Bruce, 1815. Page 38, and seq.
soever comes to pass ; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
66 2nd. Although God knows, whatsoever may, or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed any thing because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.
" 3rd. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death.
“ 4th. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
“ 5th. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature as conditions or causes moving him thereunto, and all to the praise of his glorious grace.
• 6th. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, fore-ordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
- 7th. The rest of mankind, God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath, for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice."
Also chapter tenth.“ Effectual calling :"
“ All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by his word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ: enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh, renewing their wills, and by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.
“ This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.
“ Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved ; much less can men, not possessing the Christian religion be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.”
This entire system I cannot but oppose, because it appears to me repugnant to the general tenor of Scripture, and conveying a mistaken, and dangerously revolting view of the moral attributes and government of God.
On this system I differ from my Calvinistic fellow-Christians, holding in common with them, the great vital truths of the Gospel ; the trinity; the atonement; the depravity and weakness of man existing to such a degree, that without the aid of divine grace he cannot be saved ; and the doctrine of justification by faith working by love, through the merits of Christ, not by our own works or deservings.
Agreeing in these great and vital truths, I think our difference as to the doctrine of predestination, ought not to disturb
our amity or Christian union on earth, as I sincerely hope and believe, it will not impede our union in a better world.
But I feel it necessary to vindicate the word and the ways of God, from an imputation, which, however it may originate in unintentional error, appears to me to discredit the character and impede the reception of divine revelation.
ABSOLUTE PREDESTINATION COMPARED WITH
JUSTICE OF GOD.
GENESIS, XVIII. 25.
" Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
The defenders of the predestinarian system have in general maintained, that any attempt to refer the divine conduct to the principles of justice, as apparent to human reason, is absurd, if not impious. 66 The works of God cannot be brought to any test whatever, (says a zealous writer in support of these opinions ;) they who exclaim against unconditional decrees as cruel, tyrannical, and unjust, either know not what they say, nor whereof they affirm, or are wilful blasphemers of his name, and perverse rebels against his authority."* While Calvin affirms, “it is acting a most perverse part to set up the measure of human justice, as the standard by which to measure the justice of God.”+
These and many similar declarations, tend to silence all appeal to reason concerning unconditional predestination, as if such an appeal were contrary to faith and piety. But a remarkable instance of such an appeal, occurs in the passage of Scripture which we are now considering. Here the God of Israel exhibits himself to the faithful, the pious, and the enlightened Abraham, not merely as the peculiar guardian God of him and his posterity, but as the moral governor of the world; and as such he
Vide_" The doctrine of absolute predestination stated, from the Latin of Jerome Zanchius; with a preliminary Discourse on the Divine Attributes,” &c. by Mr. Toplady, author of the “ Church of England vindicated from the Charge of Arminianism." London, by Gurney, 1769. p. 33.
+ Vide, ut supra, Introduction, pp. 170, and 171-also Institutes, vol. II. p. 467, b. 3, chap. 24, last sentence.
hi author of the Chrney, 1769. P. 3171–also Instit