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goodness, or mercy. Such thoughts of God's sovereignty were far removed from Calvin's views of the subject; and so they are from ours.” Remarks, p. 330. Vol. I. In our judgment, God acts as the covenant, and not the sovereign God, in the work of regeneration, by which a sinner is both disposed and enabled to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered in the gospel; and he chooses to give the only ability which is of any use in the acceptance of salvation, because of the atonement. That God was sovereign and voluntary, but not arbitrary, in giving a people to the Anvinted One, we believe and teach; for he was under no obligations to anoint any Redeemer, or to make provision for the salvation of any rebel of our race. Dr. Scott has very happily expressed the truth, by saying, “there can be ro more mercy in our salvation, than there would have been justice in our being left to perish in our sins, without hope or possibility of salvation. Every thing pertaining to the salvation of guilty polluted creatures, is mercy, and might have been with. held.” Vol. I. p. 359.
Among many of the dissenters of Old England, the peculiar tenets of New England, in her modern days of religious innovation, have had an unmerited popularity. Hence we find Dr. Williams adopted the Hopkinsian distinction between universal atonement and particular redemption. He says, that the sacrifice of Christ was not our redemption, “ so much as that by which we have redemption, or, with which we are, or may be redeemed.” " It is the foundation of our redemption.” “ No sinner, therefore, can be properly said to be redeemed until he is personally delivered from some enemy or evil, by the interposition of an adequate price, and the exertion of an adequate power.” p. 186, 187. If this be true, the Bible made a mistake, in not calling the Holy Ghost the Redeemer, for it is by his “exertion of an adequate power," that we are actually delivered from indwelling sin. For mere words we have no disposition to contend; but we shall think what the Saviour performed while on earth, under the curse, was the work of redemption, so long as we read, (Tit. ii. 13, 14 ) that “the great God, even our Saviour, Jesus Christ, gave himself for us, that he might
redeem us from all iniquity:" and that in him “ we have redemption through his blood.”
Predestination and election are fruitful subjects of controversy. That the divine Mind possesses a faculty of prescience, and foresees all things, is agreed by our trio. Any other election to salvation than one founded on the foreseen obedience of some to the gospel, is denied by Dr. Tomline; but his opponents prove, that from ever. lasting to everlasting, it was, is, and will be, the purpose of God to save all who will ever be saved; and that his purpose of saving them is not founded on any foreseen faith, penitence and perseverence, because sinners condemned, and wholly destitute of these blessings, are chosen to enjoy them, as the means infallibly securing their everlasting felicity in Christ. Such an election Dr. T. says is irreconcileable with the divine goodness; not however, on account of his kindness to the elect; but be. cause he has not thus elected all to everlasting life. Tous it seems, that without any impeachment of any of his attributes, the Judge of all the earth may say, to every condemned transgressor, “Friend, I do thee no wrong: is thine eye evil, because mine is good?”
It is not our intention to follow the controvertists through their elaborate discussion; but a peculiar tenet of Dr. Williams on this subject deserves a little atten. tion. He maintains, that there is no decree of reprobation, nor any of non-election; nor any of the permission of evil; that the ultimate source of all certainty is not the divine will; and that there are deficient as well as efficient causes of events. Some of his expressions on these points
“ Non-election is a negative idea, not electing; but to decree a negation is as absurd as to decree nothing, or to decree notto-decree. The notion of decreeing to permit, involves the same absurdity; for to permit, in this connexion is not to hinder: but to decree not-to-hinder, is the same as to decree to-donothing, or, as before, to decree not-to-decree. The fallacy consists in the supposition that non-election is a positive idea, and therefore requires a positive determination, by way of decree
. p. 206. The same reasoning is applicable to preterition. p. 207. Here I would propose, with becoming deference, how the celebrated reformer, Calvin, and many others who
hold the doctrine of election, so readily concluded, that a decree in favour of some, implied a decree of reprobation, in any sense, but as an exercise of justice towards the wicked. And this I conceive to be, their assuming as an undoubted truth, that there is no other assignable adequate cause of any event, beside the divine will. But when pressed with the striking consequence of this maxim, that it made God the author of sin, they invented the distinction between a decree to effect and a decree to permit. This, however, was only a verbal subterfuge; for it still ascribed the cause of sin to the decree and will of God. When pressed further on the subject, how it can be worthy of an infinitely good and benevolent being to permit sin by a decree, they have been found to confess, that what is evil in the perpetration is good in the decreer. His end in so doing they have pleaded, is to promote the highest ultimate good; but the sinner's end is self-gratification. This mode of reasoning, however, can never remove the odium cast upon the decreer of evil, by whatever words, or in whatever shape, the idea of decree may be represented. Much ingenuity and subtlety may be shewn in attempting, on that assumption, to clear the divine character; but after all, the cloud remains; and on such principles ever will remain. p. 211. Now the question returns, can there be any principle of certainty besides the divine decree? Múst not the divine will be the ultimate source of all certainty? No.-p. 216. A creature, however exalted, is limited in his being and properties; and it is as evidently impossible that he should be otherwise, as it is to multiply absolute infinities. It is equally clear that this limitation is a negative idea, implying a comparative defect, and no one will affirm, that negation, or defect, as related to the created object, is itself created, because whatever is created must have a positive existence. It cannot be denied, again, that such limitation involves innumerable certainties. It is certain, for instance, from the very idea of limitation, that a creature will not do a great variety of things. The same remarks are applicable to the negative idea of dependence. p. 218. It follows that some events may be certain which are not decreed, and if certain, may be foreknown as such. Thus God may foreknow a sinful defect, without decreeing it, though he has created, and therefore decreed the being in whom the defect is found. He may foreknow the defects of ignorance, moral weakness, and sinful neglect, which are no objects of his power, and consequently of his decree, though the persons to whom these sinful defects are attached are the objecis both of his power and purpose;-and who can consistently doubt, that what he may know, he actually does
p. 219. Every event has for its ground either an efficient or a deficient cause; and all causes, both efficient and deficient,
are equally clear to the divine mind. p. 225. That good and evil must proceed from the same identical principle, is a gratuitous assumption;-and it has be«n adopted by persons of even opposite sentiments. In the opposite extreme are those who reduce all events to the predestinating will of God; in the other, are those who reduce all moral events, without distinction of good and bad, to the will of man as their ultimate source. Both these extremes, however, pursued to their just consequences, are demonstrably absurd. Neither of them gives unto God the things that are God's, nor unto man the things that are his. The more we investigate the subject without injurious prepossessions, and with a humble mind, the more clearly we shall perceive, that though the human will is the agent, yet the ultimate cause, and the only adequate cause of every good effect, is the will of God, operating according to his beneficent and infinitely wise nature; and the only ultimate and adequate cause of every bad effect, though, as observed before, the human will is the agent, is a negative principle peculiar to the creature, as inseparably related to it. That there is in every creature such a principle of defectibility, which is, however, under the control of supreme benificence and wisdom, has been proved before, and that there is no such principle in the self-existent, independent, and all-sufficient Jehovah, needs no proof.” p. 235.
“We find the ultimate source of vice in the Heart, according to the scriptural acceptation of the term. p. 507. But the evil quality of the heart is neither from God nor from chance; and yet we cannot deny [affirm] it to be without a cause, in some sense of this word,-unless at the same time we renounce the fundamental axiom, that there is no effect without a cause. It was for want of ascertaining the real cause of an evil heart, and consequently of vice, that the fathers are so often found contradicting themselves and one another. These contradictions they would have avoided, had they perceived that the ultimate source of all evil is a negative cause, as contra-distinguished from a positive. p. 509. From the preceding account of the ultimate sources and the respective natures of virtue and vice, we may perceive that vice is a species of defect in moral actions. A vicious act is a wrong act, and the wrong quality is a defective one-the want of what ought to be in the exercise of free volitions. But we cannot thence infer that the principle of the defect is itself vicious, since the exercise of a voluntary choice is an essential part of vice. Hence it follows demonstrably that the ultimate source of vice is not vicious. There is no vicious act which is not compounded of something positive, and therefore good, and of something negative or defective, and therefore evil in a comparative sense. The
goodness of the act is its physical energy, which flows from God; the badness of the act is its moral defect, or a failure in the manner of exercising the physical faculties, when they are voluntarily directed to a wrong end, or to means of attaining it which are not laudable. Were there no principle of defectibility in the agent, every act would be perfectly virtuous; and were that principle itself of a vicious quality, in a moral sense, there would be no difference between cause and effect: vice would be the cause of vice, which is incompatible.” p. 513.
A considerable portion of the foregoing extracts is more ingenious than sound. Of reprobation we treated in the last Number. It is true that divine actions are the proper objects of divine decrees; for God predestinates, or decrees, all his own actions: but could Dr. Williams, if now living, prove, that the divine mind never contemplated certain possible actions, and decreed not to perform them? Suppose, for instance, the Governor of the universe had thought of some mode of proceeding by which Adam might have been prevented from apostacy: might he not have decreed for wise reasons, not to pursue that mode of proceeding? To us, it seems no more absurd, to say, that Jéhovah has decreed what he will not do, than what he will: and if he willed not to restrain our first parents by his grace from all evil; if he decreed that in certain given circumstances they should be upheld and act from their own thoughts, feelings, and choice, without hindrance from himself, we cannot see the impropriety of affirming, that he decreed to permit the introduction of evil.
That God is not the Author of sin, we believe as firmly as Dr. Williams did; and how the first man fell, without any positive divine agency in the production of his first unholy thought, his first unholy feeling, his first unholy volition, and his first unholy action, we have shown at large, in another place.* Sin came into the world by Jehovah's not acting, instead of being produced, as Dr. Emmons and many others teach, by any thing which he actually performed. It gave us peculiar pleasure to read a spirited paragraph in Dr. Scott on this subject; for al
See the Preface and Appendix to “ The Fathers, the Reformers, and the Public Formularies of the Church of England,” &c. VOL. I.