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Arminian idea of God: for our free willers and our chance-mongers tell us, that God does not do whatsoever he pleases; that there are a great number of things, which God wishes to do, and tugs and strives to do, and yet cannot bring to pass : they tell us, as one ingeniously expresses it,
" That all mankind he fain would save,
But longs for what he cannot have.
A disappointed, changing God.” How does this comport with that majestic description, Our God is in the heavens! He sits upon the throne, weighing out, and dispensing the fates of men; holding all events in his own hand; and guiding every link of every chain of second causes, from the beginning to the end of time. Our God is in heaven, possessed of all power; and (which is the natural consequence of that) he hath done whatsoever he pleased : or, as the apostle expresses it, (the words are different, but the sense is the same) he (a) worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Therefore it is, that we both labour and suffer reproach ; even because we say (and the utmost we can say upon the subject, amounts to no more than this : to wit, that) our God is in heaven, and has done whatsoever pleased him. And do according to his own sovereign pleasure he will, to the end of the chapter; though all the Arminians upon earth were to endeavour to defeat the divine intention and to clog the wheels of divine government. He that sits in heaven (a), laughs them to scorn ; and brings his own purposes to pass, sometimes, even through the means of those very incidents, which evil men endeavour to throw in his way, with a mad view to disappoint him of his purposes. All things, saith the Psalmist, serve thee (6): they have all a direct tendency, either effectively or permissively, to carry on his unalterable designs of providence and grace. Observe, effectively, or permissively. For we never say, nor mean to say, that God is the worker of evil: we only maintain, that for reasons unknown to us, but well known to God, he is the efficacious permitter (not the (c) agent, but the permitter) of whatsoever comes to pass. But when we talk of good, we then enlarge the term ; and affirm, with the Psalmist, that all the help [i. e. all the good] that is done upon earth, God does it himself(d).
the mountain top of atheism; and then hurls itself from that precipice, into the gulph of blind, adamantine necessity, in order to prove mankind free agents !
My interview with the philosopher abovementioned (whom, by the way, I most heartily acquit of all intentional atheism, or even disrespect to the Supreme Being), was seasoned with so many curious and uncommon circumstances of free debate, that my respectable and invaluable friend, the Reverend Mr. Ryland, senior, of Northampton (who was present the whole time), acknowledged, after we had taken our leave of the worthy gentleman, that the said philosophic politician is a very honest, and, consequently, a very unusual phænomenon.
(a) Eph. i. 11.
I remember a saying of the great Monsieur Du Moulin, in his admirable book, entitled, Anatome Arminianismi. His observation is, that the wicked, no less than the elect, accomplish the wise and holy and just decrees of God: but, says he, with this difference; God's own people, after they are converted, endeavour to do his will from a principle of love : whereas they who are left to the perverseness of their
(a) Psalm ii. 4. (6) Psalm cxix. 91. Liturgy Version.
(c) To say, that the doctrine of predestination makes God the author and actuator of sin, is one of the most daring, (and at the same time) most irrational cavils, that ever dishonoured Arminianism itself. The state of the matter stands thus. Since the fall of Adam and his sons (an event, the divine motives to the permission of which, we are not entitled to know), God need only leave men to themselves by withholding the restraints of grace and providence; and men's corrupt free-agency will, of itself, carry them headlong into all evil.
(d) Psalm lxxiv. 13.
own hearts (which is all the reprobation we contend for), who care not for God, nor is God in all their thoughts; these persons resemble men roting in a boat, who make toward the very place, on which they turn their backs (a). They turn their backs on the decree of God; and yet make to that very point, without knowing it.
One great contest between the religion of Armi. nius, and the religion of Jesus Christ, is, who shall stand entitled to the praise and glory of a sinner's salvation ? Conversion decides this point at once : for I think, that, without any imputation of uncharitableness, I may venture to say, that every truly awakened person, at least when he is under the shine of God's countenance upon his soul, will fall down upon his knees, with this hymn of praise ascending from his heart, Not unto me, O Lord, not unto me, but to thy name, give the glory: I am saved, not for my righteousness, but for thy mercy and thy truth's sake.
And this holds true even as to the blessings of the life that now is. It is God that sets up one, and puts down another (6). Victory, for instance, when contending princes wage war, is all of God. The race is not to the swift, as swift; nor the battle to the strong, as such (c). It is the decree, the will, the power, the providence of God, which effectually, though sometimes invisibly, order and dispose of every event.
(a) The same great reasoner observes, that “ God overrules even the follies of mankind, to the purposes of his own infinite wisdom; and makes use of wicked men themselves, to execute his own righteous views : just as a person may draw a strait line, or give a right blow, with a crooked stick."- -Illi ipsi, qui resistunt mandato Dei serviunt ejus Providentiæ : et, remigum instar eò tendunt, quò obvertunt
Deus, per insipientiam hominum, perficit consilia suæ sapientiæ. Utitur hominibus injustis, ad excercendam suam justitiam. Non secus, ac si quis, obtor to baculo, rectum ictum infligat. Molinæi Anat. Arm. cap. 3. p. 17.-Edit. Ludg. 1619.
(6) Psalm lxxy. 7. (c) Eccl. ix. II.
At the famous battle of Azincourt, in France, where, if I mistake not, 80,000 French were totally defeated by about 9000 English, under the command of our immortal king Henry V.; after the great business of the day was over, and God had given that renowned prince the victory, he ordered the foregoing Psalm (that is, the 114th), and part of this Psalm from whence I have read you the passage now under consideration, to be sung in the field of battle; by way of acknowledging, that all success, and all blessings, of what kind soever, come down from the Father of lights. Some of our historians acquaint us, that, when the triumphant English came to those words which I have taken for my text, the whole victorious army fell down upon their knees, as one man, in the field of conquest; and shouted with one heart, and with one voice, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name, give the glory, for thy mercy and for thy truth's sake.
And thus will it be, when God has accomplished the number of his elect, and completely gathered in the fulness of his redeemed kingdom. What, do you think, your song will be, when you come to heaven ? Blessed be God, that he gave me free-will; and blessed be my own dear self, that I made a good use of it? O no, no. Such a song as that was never heard in heaven yet, nor ever will, while God is God and heaven is heaven. Look into the Book of Revelation, and there you will find the employ of the blessed, and the strains in which they sing. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation (a). There is discriminating grace for you! Thou hast redeemed us out of every kindred, &c. that is, from (6) among
the rest of mankind. Is not this particular election, and limited redemption ?
The church below may be liable to err: and if any visible church upon earth pretends to be infallible, the very pretension itself demonstrates that she is not so. But there is a church, which I will venture to pronounce infallible. And what church is that? The church of the glorified who shine as stars at God's right hand. And, upon the infallible testimony of that infallible church; a testimony, recorded in the infallible pages of inspiration ; I will venture to assert, that not one grain of Arminianism ever attended a saint into heaven.-If those of God's people, who are in the bonds of that iniquity, are not explicitly converted from it, while they live and converse among men; yet do they leave it all bebind them in Jordan (i. e. in the river of death) when they go through.
through. They may be compared to Paul, when he went from Jerusalem to Damascus, and the grace of God struck him down : he fell, a freewiller; but he rose a free-gracer. So, however the rust of self-righteous pride (and a cursed rust it is : may God's Spirit file it off from all our souls) however that rust måy adhere to us at present; yet, when we come to stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, it will be all done away, and we shall sing in one full, everlasting chorus, with elect angels and elect men, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us.
And why should not we sing that song now? Why should not we endeavour, under the influence of the spirit, to anticipate the language of the skies, and be as heavenly as we can, before we get to hea. ven ? Why should we contemn that song, upon earth; which we hope for ever to sing, before the throne of God above? It is to me, really astonishing, that protestants, and church of England men, considered merely as rational creatures, and as people of common sense, who profess to be acquainted with the scriptures, and to acknowledge the power