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I must still ask the reader's attention to one more quotation from this eminent divine of the Church of England. It is from the eighth volume of his sermons, 278th page-a sermon on the goodness of God. "But if by reprobation (says the author) be meant, either that God hath decreed, without respect to the sins of men, their absolute ruin and misery; or that he hath decreed that they shall inevitably die and perish; it cannot be denied, but that such a reprobation as this, doth clearly overthrow all possible notion of goodness. I have told you, that the true and only notion of goodness in God, is this; that it is a propension and disposition of the Divine nature, to communicate being and happiness to his creatures but surely nothing can be more plainly contrary to a disposition to make them hapру, than an absolute decree, and a peremptory resolution, to make them miserable. God is infinitely better than the best of men; and yet none can possibly think that man a good man, who should absolutely resolve to disinherit and destroy his children, without the foresight and consideration of any fault to be
committed by them. We may talk of the goodness of God; but it is not an easy matter to devise to say any thing worse than this of the devil.
"But it is said, reprobation is an act of sovereignty, and, therefore, not to be measured by the common rules of goodness. But it is contrary to goodness, and plainly inconsistent with it; and we must not attribute such a sovereignty to God as contradicts his goodness; for if the sovereignty of God may break in at pleasure upon his other attributes, then it signifies nothing to say, that God is good, and wise, and just, if his sovereignty may at any time act contrary to these perfections.
"Now, if the doctrine of absolute reprobation, and the goodness of God, cannot possibly stand together, the question is, which of them ought to give way to the other? What St. Paul determines in another case, concerning the truth and fidelity of God, will equally hold concerning his goodness: Let God be good, and every man a liar. The doctrine of absolute reprobation, is no part of the dec
trine of the Holy Scriptures, that ever I could find: and there's the rule of our faith. If some great divines have held this doctrine, not in opposition to the goodness of God, but hoping they might be reconciled together, let them do it if they can; but if they cannot, rather let the schools of the greatest divines be called in question, than the goodness of God, which, next to his being, is the greatest and clearest truth in the world."I have given these lengthy quotations from this eminent writer, because they appear to me to exhibit an instance of fair and forcible reasoning, upon an important and interesting point. I shall only add further, that if any persons shall still be disposed to charge the clergy of the Church with preaching doctrines contrary to their own articles, though it may possibly have the effect to mislead some of their people; yet it will not, I trust, induce any of the clergy to deviate, in their preaching, from those doctrines which they themselves believe to be agreeable to Scripture, and to the Artiles and Liturgy of the Episcopal Church.