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the end is never to be looked for or expected. He who holds any thing contrary to this, is-so far as he holds it-not a sound believer in our Confession of Faith and Catechisms-he is not a consistent Calvinist.

Thus you perceive, that we not only admit, but assert and vindicate, the truths with which the divine decrees may seem to be in conflict--while we repel the false allegations which have been made, in regard to those who believe in the absolute sovereignty of God.

But now, as it is conceded that the truths last stated do seem to militate with the position that God hath « foreordained whatsoever comes to pass,” it is reasonable to inquire-how are we to dispose of this difficulty? I answer, with frankness and explicitness, that, for myself, I believe, that in following the subject out, there is a difficulty here, which the human intellect will never be able to solve or satisfactorily to remove in this world.

It were easy to say much to put the difficulty out of sight; and much to show that every other system that has ever been adopted in relation to this subject is more objectionable, and harder to be maintained, than that which has been laid down in this lecture. This I verily believe to be the fact. If I did not, I would adopt some other system -but it is my deliberate conviction that every other system is liable to more-far more-objections than this. It seems to me, after as close an investigation as I have been able to give the subject, that on the one hand, the absolute sovereignty of God in his decrees and providence, is clearly demonstrable, both from reason and Scripture; and that, from the same sources on the other hand, the freedom and accountableness of man, and the influence of means or second causes, are equally evident and undeniable. I therefore receive and firmly believe both these truths; although I cannot explain how they consist with each other: and I feel no mortification, and no reluctance in making this avowal. Why should I, when a similar avowal has been made by men of the first order of intellect that the world has ever seen?

In a letter from the celebrated Mr. Locke to his correspondent Mr. Molyneux, the following statement appears—“If you will argue for or against liberty, from consequences, I will not undertake to answer you. For I own freely to you the weakness of my understanding, that though it be unquestionable that there is omnipotence and omniscience in God our maker, and I cannot have a clearer perception of any thing, than that I am free, yet I cannot make freedom in man consistent with omnipotence and omniscience in God; though I am as fully persuaded of both, as of any truths I most firmly assent to. And therefore I have long since given off the consideration of that question, resolving all into this short conclusion, That if it be possible for God to make a free agent, then man is free, though I see not the way of it.” Dr. Witherspoon, than whom I have certainly never personally known a man more capable of investigating such topics, closes his theological lecture on this subject in these words: “For my own part, I freely own that I could never see any thing satisfactory, in the attempts of divines or metaphysicians, to reconcile these two things; but it does not appear difficult to me, to believe precisely in the form of our Confession of Faith; to believe both the certainty of God's purpose, and the free agency of the creature. Nor does my being unable to explain these doctrines, form an objection against the one or the other.” Here are the declarations of men of eminent talents, learning, and candour. But in truth, it is not wonderful that such men as Locke and Witherspoon, should have made such declarations; because they knew that in natural philosophy, and in every thing to which human investigation is directed, the powers of our minds soon reach an impassable boundary; and that we must, and do often-very often-hold as unquestionable truths, things which we cannot explain or reconcile. Witherspoon remarks, that the difficulty before us is the same in natural as in revealed religion; and the same in the course of nature as in both. The certainty of events, makes as much against common diligence in the affairs of life, as against diligence in religion”-No—it is your sciolists who object, your half taught people, that think they can explain and measure every thing, and who declare that they will believe nothing which they cannot comprehend. Whoever should really do this, would soon find that he could believe very little.

My dear youth, the subject before you, is one of the deep things of God. The heathens tried to explain it, and could not. Revelation does not attempt to explain it; because, probably, it cannot be explained to our comprehension, unless new faculties should be given us, or unless those we have should be greatly enlarged. But revelation professes to give us no such faculties, nor any such enlargement. Revelation takes man as he is. It clearly teaches us both these truths, as I think I have plainly shown you; and it attempts no explanation. Let me call your attention for a moment to one text of Scripture, in which the efficiency of means and exertions on the part of man, and at the same time his absolute dependence on grace and assistance to be imparted from God, are distinctly brought together-Phil. ii. 12, 13—“ Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling: For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Here, in a single sentence, we have both the principles which I have endeavoured to maintain and inculcate, sanctioned and applied to practice. We are commanded “ to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling;" and yet taught, at the moment, that “it is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure." And what is worthy to be noted and remembered is, that our absolute dependence on God, is stated as an encouragement-not as a discouragementto exert our own powers, and to use diligently all the means of grace. Let me exhort you then always to view and treat the subject in this very manner. Hold both these truths, and let them both be practical; but never perplex and torment your minds with endeavouring to comprehend the manner of their agreement, nor

ever be discouraged in attempting any duty because you cannot comprehend it. “It is finely imagined by Milton, that he makes a part of the damned in hell, to torment themselves with unsearchable questions, about fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute. It is certain that we cannot now fathom these subjects—if we ever shall to eternity.* Forbear, then, all attempts to fathom them; but as I have said, make a practical use of the known truths; and let the truth always be viewed in an encouraging light—That is, exert all your powers, and use all the appointed means, in the great matter of your soul's salvation; and be encouraged to this, because you have help in God, who is ever ready to aid by his grace the endeavours of all who sincerely and earnestly ask Him to impart it to them. If this course be pursued humbly and perseveringly, you will obtain salvation: but if it be neglected, you will certainly perish, and the guilt, as well as the pains of perdition, will be all your own. “ Strive, therefore, to enter in at the strait gate-For every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Amen.

* Witherspoon.



Our last lecture related to a subject of importance, and of confessed difficulty. It was not found practicable to bring within the time allotted to the discussion, all that properly belongs to it, or to the answer on which it was grounded. It is not my intention, however, to detain you with it much longer. But before we proceed to the next answer, I think it may be useful to notice very briefly, a few frightful inferences, in addition to those mentioned in the last lecture, which have been made from the doctrine of the divine decrees, particularly the decree of election; and to enter at least a protest against the justice of these inferences, and of the charge that they are held or admitted, by those who hold the doctrine from which they are said to follow. I also propose to make a few remarks on that part of the answer, not yet noticed, which states that it was for “his own glory," that God foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.

You will probably, 'my young friends, hear the church to which you belong reproached—for it has often been reproached-with holding generally “the horrible dogmas of Calvin.” On this I would observe to you, that it ought to be easy for us to forgive, and even to pity, the authors of this reproach; because I think it is scarcely ever made, except by those who are ignorant both of what we really believe and what Calvin really taught: and it is weak, as well as unchristian, to be much moved by the effusions of ignorance. If we soberly condemn the rashness manifested in such a reproach, and pray that those in whom it has appeared may come to

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