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If a true doctrine were as easily understood, and as gladly en braced by them, as a false one, then it could not be true, that they prefer darkness to light.
By keeping in view these Scriptures, and making faithful observations on the reception which various doctrines meet with in the world, from those whose deeds are evil, we may secure some rers profitable reflections.
First:-Let us suppose a Unitarian starting out into the world to deliver his message to a sinful generation.
He hears of a blaspheming infidel who forbids his family to go to church, and to him he preaches at his own fire side.
Unilarian. Sir, I have come to deliver to you the gospel message, and to preach to you what I esteem to be the only correct view of the christian system.
Deist. Very well-proceed.
Unitarian. First, the doctrine of the Trinity is a perversion the Scripture-unintelligible, and totally absurd.
Deist. It is ridiculous, and worse than ridiculous.
Unitarian. But I inforin, you further—the doctrine of total depravity is a libel on human nature; and the doctrine of atonement, as taught by Calvinists, is altogether dishonoring to the character of God.
Deist. I know it; I always said so.
Unitarian. But I am not through. The doctrines of regenera: tion, justification, &c. as we commonly hear them preached, are most irrational—the charitable societies (as they are called) of the day, are the offspring of priestcraft-creeds and confessions of faith should be held in utter abomination. Deist
. My sentiments, most cordially. It is astonishing that silly men cannot see these things.
REFLECTION.-Surely the Unitarian need not deliver his message to the Deist. Ile believes it all before it is told him. Unitarias ism is light, infidelity has always been exceedingly fond of that light.
Next let us see a Universalist setting out to preach his favorite tenet.
He hears of a nest of infidels--pays them a visit, and finds then deeply engaged at cards, and some of them partly into xicated. He begins; My fellow meo, I have the news of heaven to cleclare, in your ears. The kind. Maker of all things is too merciful to dapi soul forever, for the weaknesses and failings committed merely in This short life of imperfection.".
l'irat Infidel. I hope I have more exalted ideas of my
than to suppose he would sentence any one to eternal punishment.
Second Infide. Nóné but fanatics ever taught so.
Third Infidel. I myself could not be so cruel-and God is more merciful than I ani.
REFLECTION.-If the favorite and peculiar doctrine of the Universalist is light, who will oppose that light? Those whose deeds are most evil? They would be the first to snatch at it. The light of the Universalist is darkness.
And now I fancy I see a young Arminian minister, starting out to bear that message to a dying world, which the Saviour has plainly given us to understand will cause the bearer to be hated of all men for his sake. The youthful preacher has tasted the sweets of religion, and zealous for his master, he burns to be instrumental in com municating the blessing to others. He determines that fatigue, opposition, or persecution, shåll never deter him from following the footsteps of his Master, whose message and whose doctrines incensed the multitude so highly. He goes to the infidels, and to the teachers of error we have mentioned-to the notoriously abandoned, and to the professed haters of God. He preaches to them the Saviour's anderived divinity-his vicarious sufferings, and his awful determination, that except they' repent, they must perish," and perish forever. One calls his message mysticism-another calls him a fanatic-another sneers—another contradicts and blasphemes. “Well,” says he, “I looked for as much. It has always been the fate of true prophets and evangelists. Men love darkness. The carnal mind is the same it always was. If the world did not hate me, I would be of the world. God's will can never fit the will of the ungodly. Otherwise, where would be the necessity for reconciliation? Things that already harmonize, need not be exhorted to agree.”
But just suppose him (like hundreds who now preach) to say with in himself, “Calvinism is the most horrible of doctrines. It should be hunted out of the world. It is my duty to preach against it. I will go now and bend all my powers for a time, solely to arrest the mighty evils that must result from such awful tenets.” And that very moment he stan:Is a preacher without a message to a single 301 or daughter of Adam's family. All who now follow him with only a moderate portion of candour, will be able to see this strange sight. He goes to the Atheist-to the Deist-and to the Unitarian-exclaiming against the absurdity, and the injustice of the doctrines of Calvinism. But to his utter surprise, he finds them as hearty in the cause as himself.
He goes to the Universalist—and to the Swedenborgian--and to the Shaking Quaker-explaining to them men's self-determining power, and deprecating in his zeal the views of Presbyterians on these subjects. But he discovers them swalowing every sentiment he utters with something like a portentous avidity. “Surely," thinks he, "I might have spared myself my last few days of toil. These people are all straight on this subject already. How my discourse delighted them! But I need not seek out any more men out of any of these various classes of infidels, for they are already perfectly rational. I must find some one who needs conversion ou this point."
He next inquires for the noteriously wicked-hears of one whose. outbreakings have rendered him famous throughout the neighbor hood. Arriving at his house, he finds him whipping his wife-bis eye yellow with rage his face carbuncled with brandy-and hise tongue stumbling in the multiplicity of his blasphemies—and when he gets him calın enough to hear, and tells him of that portion of grace which all may foster, until it grows large enough to be called regeneration-tells him of the unreasonableness of Calvinism-and concludes by. exhorting him not to believe election. He is answered, “I never did believe it. I have more exalted views of my Creator, than to believe he would create any one to damn him. I should think it insulting to God to accuse him of partiality.”,
REFLECTION.-Strange that this man should have such respect for his Creator all at once, when he quits swearing, and begins to talk of election.
Now to shorten this view:--There is not, on the face of the earth, and there never has been, an infidel, or a hater of Jesus Christ, or one who is daringly wicked, who will not say amen to the message against Calvinism, as fast as it can be delivered. (of these few who hate God, and who say they believe in election, we will speak at the conclusion of this dissertation.) Of course our young must seek else where for heurers, it he wishes to change the belief of any one for the better. He cannot do so by telling them that which they already heartily receive.
Suppose he goes to his own society, to prevent the members from believing Calvinism, and being injured by it. His message is useless. They do not believe election. Not one of them but thinks on these points alreally as he does himself.
The only class of men left, is that of Calvinistic Christians. If they do not need his sermons, then our position is shewn to be true"That whilst he goes forth principally to preach whatever is
the opposite of Calvinism, he has no message for the sons of men.
He approaches then a Presbyterian, and tells him-"I have been preaching against election to unconverted men--but they did not like it, even before I opposed it. I found it useless to labor with Universalists, Deists and Unitarians, on this point, for not one of them but hates it more than I do. But my object is to do good.You believe the Calvinistic doctrines, and I wish to warn you against their evil tendency.
Presbyterian. Were it not for this evil tendency, (as you express yourself) you would not preach to me on this subject?"
Arminian. Certainly not. If these doctrines would do you no injury, I should have no message to you against them.
Presbyterian. Then will you name their evil tendency?
Arminian. I fear they produce a false security, causing men to fold their arms, and say, if I am to be saved, I'will be saved,' &c.
Presbyterian. If these are your fears, your message is not to me, nor is it to those who believe as I do. Your theory is, that this belief will have this tendency. But ask your own observation, what are facts on this subject? Are any preachers more urgent in exhorting sioners to fly to Christ, than the Calvinistic divines? Do Presby. terians say, “if things will be, they will be," and remain inactive? or do they exert themselves to send Bibles through the earth-to send preachers--to form societies--to scatter tracts, &c. &c. ? In short, may they not compare, in every kind of christian activity, with any who disbelieve their doctrines. You fear Calvinism tends to encourage a fatal slumber, leading to apostacy. Do those who credit the doctrine of the final perseverance, fold their arms? Are tases of apostacy more frequent among them, than amongst those who speak of falling from grace?"
Thus observation shews, that the injurious tendencies feared by those who oppose this system, are not verified in the cases of those who believe it:—for in words, they disclaim all encouragement to sinfulness, or sluggishness; and in their actions, they prove the truth of their words--for we see them as diligent and as watchful as those who deprecate their faith. And at this moment, although they do believe the decree of the Lord to fill the earth with his glory, is as unshaken as the pillars of heaven, they are as active, as benevolent, as liberal, and as industrious, as those are who fear the tendencies of Calvinism? And should a direct comparison of effort be made, it might appear that Calvinists are doing ten times more than all the world beside.
But if Calvinists do not need the message of Arminianism, inhdels cannot be altered by it, for they already hate the doctrines which Arminians oppose. Between the two poles, from the centre to the sun, there never was such a thing heard of, as an infidel of any class or description, who did not favor Arminianism, and hate its opposite. And so it is with all who deny the foundation doctrines of the New Testament-with all the notoriously wicked.And if the man who starts out to oppose the doctrine of election, &a has any message--that is, if it is needed by any one in this world, I do not know who it is.
I was to consider, in the last place, those who professed to be Calvinists, and were yet in their sins, and opposers of God, or indifferent on the subject of religion.
Amongst the world of ungodly men, there is not perhaps one out three hundred, that does not contend against Calvinism—and of those few, the following facts are true. Some contend in words for that form of doctrine, because it was the belief of their family.And of these, if they should ever engage seriously in religion, ask thein and they will tell you they felt, or still feel, a rising opposition to that very system they once advocated for all men are born Arminians.
Others may occasionally be found, who, merely for the sake of taking sides, or perhaps the desire of argument, or a conceited wish to appear singular from those they are with-may profess a belief in the Calvinistic system and others may, when reproved for their crimes, pretend to offer such a creed by way of excuse. But converse with them, and you will always find, that so far from being sincere, they do not understand the doctrines; or perhaps are found on the next day opposing their foriner pretences.
Or if none of these, then certainly nothing more than fatalists, in stead of Calvinists-arguing that the fate of men will at last be diecided without regard to character-a sentiinent which not even the (enlightened) enemies of Calvinisin would say we holdi.
And now in conclusion, is it not a strange supposition to speak of doctrine of the gospel which, when received, has no tendency to convert the soul? If the doctrine of a self-determining power, or che opposite of election, is true-strange that the millions of the ene mies of Christ (who all strenuously contend for it) are not benefited ny it. Have they been in possession of the trath fur ages, and orji it not cause them to draw pear to God? Preaching to ten thousand ti them what they already believe, cannot be expected to convert them. And O should not those who preach, be started to find they five 19 message to those who are farthest from God, which is inda