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ests to bring to bear upon them, some, in their self-determination, would, and others would not fulfil the conditions on which alone salvation was possible. All the means of human salvation consist in motives presented (it matters not by what agency) in some way or other to the mind, and every one necessarily determines his own character and destiny, under the influence of such motives, by consenting to, or resisting them. The determination of God to employ the general system of motives which he does employ, as the means of saving men, was of course an election of all, whom he foresaw they would induce to fulfil the conditions of salvation, to obedience and eternal life. Hence as Peter informs us they were “elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” And so the Apostle Paul tells the Thessalonian christians, that “from the beginning, God had chosen them to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” Believing the truth” is our own act, and consequently the grounds of their election was the foreseen agency both of the Spirit and of them. The whole Bible inculcates that salvation as really depends on the agency of man as of God. It teaches us with the utmost definiteness the reasons for which, on the judgment day he will receive the righteous into Heaven, and doom the wicked to Hell—that they are the faith and obedience of the former, and the unbelief and disobedience of the latter. Certainly, the reasons which he will then assign for their eternal destinies respectively, must have been the reasons for which, before the foundation of the world, he elected the one, and reprobateď the other. Thus are the reasons of God's eternal election plain, and such as justify the ways of God to man. Even those who are finally lost cannot therefore
Both what they judge and what they choose."
advocates of unconditional election and arbitrary sovereignty, could cry out, as if stimulated into raptures by their view of the subject—“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!-how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” The spontaneous inquiry arises—how can you thus shout the praises either of the wisdom or knowledge of God in the matter of election, when, by your own showing, you know just nothing at all about it! Declaring at one breath, that the reason why some are, and others are not elected, is an inscrutable secret, and at the next, how great are the wisdom and knowledge of God displayed in it! The fact is, the apostle had no reference whatever to the doctrine of election when he uttered this exclamation. He uttered it in view of the inspiring fact that God had provided a salvation for, and was offering it to all, both Jews and Gentiles.
It is often attempted to sustain the doctrine we are opposing, by saying that God foresaw all men as sinners, and that therefore he was under no obligation to save any; and that consequently, he does no injustice in decreeing some to salvation and passing by others. The non-elect, it is contended, have no right to complain, if treated as they deserve, even though the elect are made the recipients of the eternal favor of God..
In reply to this, we admit that, on the ground of equivalent justice, God was under no obligation to save any sinner. But, we contend, that on the ground of benevolence, he was under obligation to save all the race, notwithstanding their sins and ill-desert, if he consistently could, and especially to treat them all on the same grand principle. The obligation to be benevolent towards any being does not rest on the fact that he deserves to be treated benevolently, but on the fact that he is capable of happiness; and the measure of his capability of happiness, is the measure of the obligation which God is under to will his good. The reason then for saving sinners is not that they deserve salvation, but that salvation is essential to their happiness which is a good in itself, and to be willed for that reason. Since, therefore, all are capable of happiness, and the happiness of each is a good in itself, it follows that God was under obligation to do what he could, in his circumstances, to save all-one as really as another. He was bound to save as many as in the nature of moral government was possible—to adopt, out of all possible plans, that one which he foresaw would result in the salvation of the greatest possible number. There is no escape from this, except by denying that God was under obligation at all, which is to transform him at once into a capricious and arbitrary Sovereign, capable of neither virtue nor vice, and to annihilate the idea or possibility of moral government -which is, in fact, infidelity. Unless then God foresaw insurmountable natural difficulties in the way of the salvation of all, so that he could not consistently save but a part, the nature of benevolence forbids that some should be taken and others left. That such difficulties did, and do exist, we have already shown, as also what they consist in. The above objection therefore is of no validity.
We waive farther remarks on the subject, except to call attention to one remarkable fact. The fact is, that although the doctrine of election is so often reiterated in the Bible, and manifestly one of great attraction to the inspired writers, yet it is now generally regarded with a kind of horror, not only by sinners, but by christians, and christians too in those very denominations where it has been most strenuously insisted on. The greater proportion of the laity, even in such denominations, do not believe it as they hear it inculcated; and there are but few who would not rather hear nothing about it. Now this is certainly a shocking state of mind toward any portion of the revelation of God, and we can account for it only on one hypothesis, that it has not been inculcated as it really is. Can it be possible that one of God's eternal verities is intrinsically of so frightful a nature that even true christians revolt at, and reject it, whenever it is presented to them? The truth is, as generally presented, it meets with a stern and indignant protest from universal reason, and it is not until reason is smothered down by a determination to believe that it gains any ascendency in the human mind. But is such a determination real belief? It is not the faith which is exercised in those tenets to which reason assents, but a faith similar to that which is exercised in the Koran or the Shaster. There is no virtue in it. The virtue of
belief consists in its being a candid assent to intelligent conviction. But a rejection of whatever reason repudiates, on a candid inspection, is equally virtuous. We know it is often said, in answer to the considerations advanced, that it is the natural heart which revolts at this doctrine, thus presented, and that when men thus submit to, and acknowledge the sovereignty of God, they will admit it. But we deny the statement as an unwarranted assumption. It is
contradicted by the fact that multitudes who furnish the most conclusive evidence of true piety never have admitted it, but have regarded it as a detestable dogma, and treated it accordingly. And, as we have already said, a great proportion of the adherents even of those denominations which are the most tenacious of it, never do in fact believe it. A large proportion, then-probably a great majority—of all professed christians must have lived and died, according to this objection, in direct hostility to God and his truth!
Finally, it is not the natural heart, but reason in its truthful affirmations which isthe perpetual opponent of this doctrine as it is commonly advocated. Since creation’s dawn, reason has never ceased to shriek her condemnation against the idea of unconditional predestination, and she never will. It is a slander on the character of God, and incalculably baneful in its bearings on the immortal interests of men. Would that it were purged from the theology and from the minds of all good men.
In what we have said against this doctrine, we must not be understood to impugn the character of Chalmers or any other good man who holds it. It is one thing to assail a doctrine or dogma, and quite another to assail those who assert it. The latter we have neither done, nor intended to do. We can most cordially adopt towards our author the language, a little changed, which he so liberally employs in reference to those who, like ourselves, repudiate his view of this subject “We do not see how he can get over the evidence that there is against unconditional predestination, both in the Scriptures of truth, and in those independent reasonings to which man, even unaided and alone, seems altogether competent. Yet we are aware, that to a certain limit, there may be varieties of opinion, and all of them alike consistent with reverence for God and his communications, so far as the ability to understand them has been given; and such varieties on the much controverted topic of predestination appear to us within that limit.” We recognize Chalmers as one of the best of men.
We must omit an examination of several other topics of inculcation in these Lectures, which we had designed to make, and conclude our review with a brief attention to his views on Rom. 7: 14-25.
The interpretation which any one gives to this passage is the representative of his ideal of the essence and excellence of the christian life of his conception of the nature
of saintly virtue, and of the efficacy of the provisions of Heaven for its propagation and culture. It may be regarded as the exponent of his experience, the result of his philosophy, or simply the parrot-like utterance of an element of the creed which he has blindly embraced; or it may be the issue of all these combined. But no matter whence it may derive its origin, it cannot but have a momentous importance in relation to the piety of all who receive it. It is just as certain as that doctrinal views have a direct relation to practical piety, that regarding this passage as the portraiture and standard of the ripest Christian attainment, must tend to, and generate a religion very different, in type and development, from that which would naturally result from the belief that itis simply a history of legality—of a mind struggling to be holy under mere legal motives, and without the faith which transmutes the heart to love, and sends it forth in cheerful obedience. The latter is our understanding of this much controverted passage; the former is the understanding of Chal
Which is the right one? An essential clue to the settlement of this question, and one which Chalmers seems to have entirely overlooked, is a distinct apprehension of, and a perpetual regard to the design of the apostle in penning this passage. His main design manifestly was not to set forth the efficacy of the gospel, but the inefficacy of the law as a means of sanctification--not to portray the moral condition of a mind relying on the gracious provisions of the gospel of Christ, but of one endeavoring to meet the demands of the law independently of such reliance. A collateral element of his design was to vindicate the law from the objections and imputations which his representations of its inefficacy to sanctify, and of its actual effect, might naturally be supposed to call forth from those who deemed obedience to it the only way of salvation. That this was his design is abundantly verified by the fact, that, excepting the first part of the 25th verse which is a parenthetic exclamation of gratitude that the gospel is a remedy for the wretchedness of legality, there is not the shadow of an allusion, in the passage, to Christ, or the Spirit, or faith—by the fact that it records not one instance of spiritual victory, of love, or peace, or joy, but an unbroken series of overwhelming and distressing defeats, thus standing in contrast, not only with the first 17 verses of the following Chapter, but with numerous other explicit and unmistakable declarations and resentations in this and the other epistles of Paul, and in