FICTITIOUS AND GENUINE CREED:
"A CREED FOR ARMINIANS,"
BY RICHARD HILL, ESQ.
TO WHICH IS OPPOSED
FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT
CHRIST TASTED DEATH FOR EVERY MAN
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE
CHECKS TO ANTINOMIANISM.
En doctrine show uncorrnptneas, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned:that he who is of the contrary part ma~ be ashamed, Titus ii, 7, 8.
TO FICTITIOUS AND GENUINE CREED.
In which the author gives an account of .lVfr. Hill's new method of attack, and 9nakes some reconciling concessions to the Calvinists, by means of which their strongest arguments are unnerved, and all that is truly Scriptural in Calvinism is openly adopted into the antiCalvinian doctrine of grace.
WE should be deservedly considered as bad Protestants if we were not "ready always to .give an answer with meekness to every man, [much more to Mr. Hill, a gentleman of piety, learning, reputation, wit, and fortune,] who asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us." We confess, that after the way which our opponents call the heresy of the Arrninians and Perfectionists, we worship the God of our fathers; believing what is written in the Scriptures concerning the extent of redemption by price and by power.
Concerning the extent of Christ's redemption by price, we believe, that "he, by the grace of God, tasted death" to procure initial salvation "for every man," and " eternal salvation for them that obey him :" and concerning the extent of his redemption by power, we are persuaded
that, when we come to God by him, he is able and willing to "save to the uttermost" our souls from the guilt and pollution of sin here, and our bodies from the grave and from corruption hereafter.
With regard to our extensive views of Christ's redemption by price, Mr. Hill calls us Arminians: and with respect to our believing that there is no perfect faith, no perfect repentance in the grave ; that the Christian graces of repentance, faith, hope, patience, &c, must be perfected here or never; and with respect to our confidence that Christ's blood fully applied by his Spirit, and apprehended by perfect faith, can cleanse our hearts from all unrighteousness before we go into the purgatory of the Calvinists, or into that of the Papists ; that is, before we go into the valley of the shadow of death, or into the suburbs of hell ; with respect to this belief and confidence, I say, Mr. lull calls us Perfectionists: and appearing once more upon the stage of our controversy, he has lately presented the public with what he calls, ".i~ Creed for .2rminians and Per fect~onisIs," which he introduces in these words :" The foll.owing confession of faith, however shocking, not to say blasphemous, it may appear to the humble Christian, must inevitably be adopted, if not in express words, yet in substance, by every Arminian and Perfectionist whatsoever; though the last article chiefly concerns such as are ordained ministers in the Church of England." And as among such ministers, Mr. J. Wesley, Mr. W. Sellori, and myself, peculiarly oppose Mr. Hill's Calviniaii doctrines of absolute election and reprobation, and of a death purgatory; he has put the initial letters of our names to his creed; hoping, no doubt, to make us peculiarly ashamed of our principles. And indeed so should we be, if any "blasphemous" or" shocking" consequence " inevitably" flowed from them.
But how has Mr. Hill proved that this is the case? Has he supported his charge by one argument? ÍÏ: but among some consequences of our doctrine, which are quite harmless and Scriptural, he has fixed upon us some shocking consequences, which have no necessary connection with any of our doctrines of grace. We apprehend, therefore, that by this method Mr. Hill has exposed his inattention more than our "heresy."
If Mr. Hill had said, before a thousand witnesses, É hold len guineas in my right hand, and ten in my left, could the author of the Checks wrong him, or expose his own candour, if he insisted upon the truth of this consequence: "Then Mr. Hill holds twenty guineas in both his hands ?" And if Mr. Hill protested ever so long that he holds but ââåån in all, and that É am a "caiurnniator," for saying that he holds twenty; would not all the witnesses, who are impartial, and acquainted with the proportion of numbers, clear me of the charge of calumny, and accuse Mr. Hill of inattention? Again: if É had said, before the same witnesses, that I have Iwo guineas in my right hand, and Iwo in my left; and if Mr. Hill, to keep his error in countenance, by bringing me in guilty of as great a mistake as his own, fixed the following consequence upon my assertions: "Then you hold seven guineas in both your hands !" would he not expose himself more than me? And would not all the candid spectators declare, that although É have a right to maintain that ten and ten make twenty, my opponent cannot reasonably assert that two and two make seven. The justness of this illustration will appear to the reader, if he cast a look upon the creed which I have composed for an Antinomian, with Mr. Hill's principles. The doctrines that it contains are all his own, and they are expressed chiefly in his own words, as appears from numerous quotations, in which É refer the reader to the pages where he has publicly maintained the tenets 'vhkh I expose. But Mr. Hill has not produced in his Arminian creed one line out of my Checks, from which any shocking or blasphemous doctrine flows by "unavoidable" consequence. If he had, É protest, as a lover of truth, that É would instantly renounce the principle on which such a doctrine might be justly fathered; being persuaded that the ñõre light of a pure doctrine can never be necessarily productive of a gross darkness: although it may accidentally be obscured by occasional difficulties, as the sun may be darkened by interposing clouds.
Some readers will probably think that I have made the Calvinists too many concessions in th~ following pages: but É am persuaded that É have granted them nothing but what they have a Scriptural right to; and God forbid that any Protestant should grant them less! At the synod of Dort, the Arminians being sensible that a gratuitous election can be deÉeðded by reason and Scripture, would debate first the doctrine of gratuitous, Ca/v inian reprobation, which is flatly contrary to reason and Scripture. The Calvinists, on the other hand, being conscious that the strength of their cause lay in maintaining a gratuitous election, and hoping that the gratuitous reprobation would naturally skulk under that election, insisted that the doctrine of election should be debated first. The Arminians would not consent to it, so that nothing was properly discussed: and the Calvinists, having numbers, and the sword on their side, deposed their opponents as obstinate heretics. While we disapprove the severity of the Calvinists, we blame the ërminiaðs for provoking that severity by refusing to clear up the doctrine of election. And improving by the mistakes of both parties, we make the reconciling concessions which follow :
É. We grant that there is an election of distinguishing grace: but we show that this election is not Calvinian election; thousands being partakers of the partial election of distinguishing grace, who have no share in the impartial election of distributive justice ; two distinct elections these, the confounding of which has laid the foundation of iiumberless errors. See Scripture Scales, sec. xii.
2. We grant the Calvinists that initial salvation is merely by a decree of Divine grace through Jesus Christ. But we assert that eternal salvation is both by a decree of Divine grace and of distributive justice; God rewarding in Christ, with an eternal life of glory, those believers who "by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honour, and immortality."
3. We grant, that although God, as a judge, "is no respecter of persons ;" yet, as a benefactor, he is, and of consequence has a right to be, so far a "respecter of persons," as to bestow his favours in various degrees upon his creatures; dealing them to some with a more sparing hand than he does to others.
4. We grant, that although God punishes no one with eternal death for original and necessary sin; yet 'vhen sin, which might have been avoided by the help of creating or of redeeming grace, has been voluntarily and personally committed; God does punish (and of consequence has a right to punish) with eternal death some offenders more quickly than he does others; his, showing, in such a case, mercy and justice upon Gospel terms to whom he pleases, and as soon or late as lie pleases, being undoubtedly the privilege of his sovereign goodness oi justice : nfl awful privilege this, which is perfectly agreeable to the evangelical law of liberty, and with which the Calvinists have absurdly built their twin doctrines of finished salvation and finished damnation ; not considering that such doctrines stain the first Gospel axiom, and totally destroy the second.
The nature of this concession may be illustrated by an example. Two unconverted soldiers march up to the enemy. Both have unavoidably transgres~ed the third commandment: the one by calling f7ây times for his damnation; and the other jive /éõndôåé~ times. Now, both have personally forfeited their initial salvation, and continuiiig impenitent, God, as a righteous avenger of profaneness, may justly suffer 'the jlfty pence debtor to fall in the battle and to he instantly hurried to the damnation he had madly prayed for: and, as a longsuffering, merciful Creator, he may suffer the jive !nmdrei pence éÉeb(ï~, É mean the soldier who has sinned with a higher hand, to 'valk out of the field unhurt, and to be spared for years; following him still with few offers of mercy, which the wretch is so happy as to embrace at last. Here is evidently a higher degree of the distinguishing grace which was manifested toward Manasses, as it has also been to many other grieí~õs sinners. But by this peculiar favour, God violates no promise, and he acts in perfect consistency with himself: fir, when two people have personally forfeited their eternal salvation by one avoidable sin, of which they do not repent when they might: he does no injustice to the fifty pence debtor, when he calls him first to an account; and lie greatly magnifies his long sééßÀeriðg, when lie continues to reprieve the five hundred pence debtor.
By this sparing use of astonishing mercy, God strongly guards the riches of his grace. This inferior degree of forbearance makes thoughtful sinners stand in awe: as fiot knowing but the first sin they shall commit will actually fill up the measure of their iréié1õißßes, and provoke .the Almighty to swear in his righteous anger that their day of grace is ended. To justify, therefore, God's conduct toward men in this respect, we need only observe, that if distinguishing grace did not make the difl~erence which we grant to the Calvinists, ~ free will 'vould draw amazing strength from the unwearied patience of free grace. Suppose, for instance, that God had insured to all men a day of grace of four-score years, would not all sinners think it time enough to repent at the age of three-score years and nineteen? There ('ore. through the clouds of darkness which surrounds us, reason sees fur iiito the propriety of the partiality with which distinguishing grace dispenses its superior blessings. But all the partiality which that grace eveu disñÇ~yed, never amounted to one single grain of Calviuiian reprobation. Because God, as a righteous judge, lets every man have a fair trial for his life. Nor will all the sophisms in the world reconcile the ideas, which the Scriptures and rectified reason give us of Divine justice, with a doctrine which represents God as condemning to eternal torments a majority of men, for the necessary, unavoidable consequences of Adam's sin: a sin this, which, upon the scheme of the absolute predestination of all events, was also made unavoidable and necessary. To return :
5. We grant, that although Christ died to purchase a day of [initial] salvation for all men, yet he never died to purchase ETERNAL salvation for any adults, but "them that believe, obey," and are "faithful unto death." And that of consequence the redemption of mankind by Jesus Christ is general and unconditional 'vith respect to INITIAL salvation; but particular and conditional with respect to ETERNAL salvation; except in the case of infants, who die before actual sin: these, and only these, are blessed with unconditional election and finished salvation in the Calvinistical sense of these phrases :These are irresistibly saved, and eternally admitted into one of the many mansions of our heavenly Father's house: free grace, to the honour of our Lord's meritorious infancy, absolutely saves them, without any concurrence of their free will. Nor is it surprising that God should do it unavoidably; for as they never were personally capable of working with free grace, i. e. of "vorking out their salvation ;" so they never were in a capacity of working against free grace, or of beginning to work their damnation. Having never committed any act of sin, God can, consistently with the Gospel, save them eternally without any act of repentance. In a word, infants having no unrighteousness but that of the jlrst Adam, reason, a~ well as Scripture, dictates that they need no righteousness but that of the second Adam.
6. From the preceding concessions, it follows that obedient; pcisevering believers are God's elect in the particular and full sense of the word, being elected to the reward of eternal life in glory:
a reward this, from øich they who die in a state of apostasy or impenitencv have cut themselves off, by not making their calling and conditional election sure.
7. We grant that none of these peculiar elect shall ever perish. though they vould have perished had they not been faithful unto death and we allow, that, with respect to God's forekno'vlcdge and ïmðis~ cience, their number is certain. But we steadily assert, that, with regard to the doctrines of general redemption, of God's covenanited mercy, of man's free agency, of Divine justice, and of a day in which the Lord will "judge the world in righteousness :" we steadily assert, É say, 'vithi regard to these doctrines, the number of the peculiar elect mi~ht ho greater or less, without the least exertion at' forcible grace or of forcible wrath. For it might be greater, if more wicked anÝ slothful servants improved instead of burying their talents: and it might be less, if more good and faithful servants grew faint iii their minds, and "drew back to perdition," before they had "fought their good fight out, kept the faith, and finished their course."
8. And lastly, we grant, that, according to the election of distinguishing grace which is the basis of the various dispensations of Divine grace toward the children of men, Christ died to purchase more privileges for the Christian Church than for the Jews, more for the Jews than for the Gentiles, and more for some Gentiles than for others: for it is indubitable that God, as a sovereign benefactor, may, without shadow of injustice, dispense his favours, spiritual and temporal, as he pleases: it being enough for th~ display of his goodness, and for the exciting of our gratitude, (l.) That the least of his heathen servants had received a talent, with means, capacities, and opportunities of improving it, even to everlasting happiness. (2.) That God never desires to reap where he does not sow, nor to reap a hundred measures of spiritual wheat where he only sows a handful of spiritual barley. And, (3.) That the least degree of his improvable goodness is a seed, which nothing but our avoidable unfaithfulness hinders from bringing forth fruit to eternal life in glory.
By making these guarded concessions, É conceive we rectify the mistakes of Arminius; we secure the doctrine of grace in all its branches, while Calvinism secures only the irresistible grace by which infants and complete idiots are eternally saved: we turn the edge, and break the point of all the arguments by which the Calvinian doctrines of grace are defended; and tear in pieces the cloak with which the Antinomians cover their dangerous error.
Had Arminius, and all the ancient and modern semi-Pelagians, granted to their opponents what we grant to ours, Calvinism would never have risen to its tremendous height. If you try to stop a great river, refusing it the liberty to flow in the deep channel which nature has assigned it, you only make it foam, rise, rage, overflow its banks, and carry devastation far and near. The only way to make judicious Calvinists allow us the impartial remunerative election, and the general redemption 'vhich the Gospel displays, is to allow them, with a good grace, the partial, gratuitous election, and the particular redemption which the Scriptures strongly maintain also. (See the Scales, sec. xi, xii, xiii.) For my part, É glory in going as near the Calvinists as ' safely can. Zelotes is my brother as well as Honestus: and, so long as I do not lose firm footing upon Scripture ground, É gladly stretch my right hand to him, and my leff hand to his antagonist; endeavouring to help them both out of the opposite ditches, which bound the narrow way, where truth frequently takes a solitary walk.
I conclude this introduction by thanking Mr. Hill for coming a little 3lïser to the knot of the controversy in his Fictitious Creed, than he has done in his Finishing Stroke; for by this mean he has stirred me up to dig deeper into the Scriptures,those inexhaustible mines of truth which God has set before us. É 'vou!d not intimate that É have dug out new gold. No: the oracles of God are not new; but I hope that É have separated a little dross from some of the richest pieces of golden ore which the Arminians and the Calvinists have dug out of those mines: and I flatter myself that the judicious and unprejudiced will confess that some of those pieces which Calvinian and Arminian bigots have thrown away as lumps of dross or of arsenic, contain, nevertheless, truths more precious than thousands of gold and silver. ~hoõÉd these sheets in any degree remove the prejudice of professors, and prepare them for a reconciliation upon the Scriptural plan of the doctrines of grace and justice, or of the two Gospel axioms, É shaH humbly rejoice and thankfully give God the glory.
MADELEY, Dcc. 14, 1774.
FICTITIOUS AND THE GENUINE CREED.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED,
BEING A CREED FOR ARMINIANS.
Composed by RICHARD HILL, Esq., and published at the end of his "Three Letters written to the Rev. J. FLETCHER, vicar of Madeley."
"I BELIEVE that Jesus Christ died for the whole human race, and that he had no more love toward those who now are, or hereafter shall he, in glory, than for those who now are, or hereafter shall be, lifting up their eyes in torments; and that the one are no more indebted to his grace than the other."
THE GENUINE CREED,
Being an anti-Calvinian confession of faith, for those who believe that "Christ tasted death for every man ;" and that some men, by "denying the Lord that bought them, bring upon themselves swift destruction."
1~Ve believe that Jesus Christ died for the whole human race, with an intention, first, to procure abosolutely and unconditionally a temporary redemption, or an initial salvation for all men universally: and, secondly, to procure a particular redemption, or an eternal salvation conditionally for all men, but absolutely for all that die in tlìeir infancy, and for all the adult who obey him, and are "faithful unto death."
We believe that, in consequence of the general and temporary redemption procured by Christ for all mankind, every man is unconditionally blessed with a day of grace, which the Scripture calls "the accepted time," and "the day of salvation." During this day, (under various dispensations of gri!ce, and by virtue of various covenants made through Christ, David, Moses, Abraham, Noah, or Adam,) God, for Christ's sake, affords all men proper means, abilities, and opportunities to " work out their own salvation," or to make "their calling and conditional election" to the eternal blessings of their respective dispensations "sure ;" and as many do it, by keeping "the free gift which is come" unto all men, or by recovering it. through faithful obedience to re-converting grace : or, in other terms, as many as know, and per.severingly improve "the day of their visitation," are, in consequence of Christ's iarticular redemption, entitled to an eternal redemption or salvation : that is, they are eternally redeemed from hell, and eternally saved into difÀerent degrees of heavenly glory, according to the difÉ~ôent degrees of their faithfulness, and the various dispensations which they are under. While they that bury their talent, and "know not [i. e. squander away] the day of their visitation," forfeit their initial salvation, and secure to themselves God's judicial reprobation, together with all its terrible consequences.
We believe, moreover, that although Christ "tasted death for every man," yet, according to his covenants of peculiarity or distinguishing grace, he formerly showed more love to the Jews than to the Gentiles, and now shows more favour to the Christians than to the Jews, and to some Christians than to others; bestowing more spiritual blessings upon the Protestants than upon the Papists; more temporal mercies upon the English than upon the Greenlanders, &c. We farther believe that this special favour is not only national, but also, in some cases, persoiial: thus it seems that God showed more of it to Jacob than to Esau; to Esau than to Shechem; to David and Solomon, than to Jonathan and Mephibosheth; to St. Paul than to Apollos; and to Peter, James, and John, than to Judas, Bartholomew, and Matthias. We likewise believe that God (according Éï his prescience) has a regard for the souls who (he foresees) will finally yield to his grace, arid this regard he has not for the souls who (be foresees) will finally harden themselves against his goodness: thus, with respect to Divine foreknowledge, we grant that Christ had a respect for fallen Peter which he had not for fallen Judas:
for, when they were both lying in the guilt of their crimes, he could not but prefer him who had not yet sinned out his day of grace to him who had: him who had done the Spirit of grace a partial, Éemñïôár9 despite, to him who had done that Spirit a total and ânáÉ despite. And, in a word, him who would repent, to him who absolutely would not. However, this peculiar regard for some men, this lengthening or shortening a sinner's day of grace arbitrarily, and this bestowing more talents, i. e. more temporal and spiritual blessings upon one man than upon another, according to the sovereign prerogative which God claims in his covenants of peculiarity; this peculiar regard for some men, É say, never amounts to a grain of partiality in judgment: much ]ess to a rape committed by overbearing grace, or infrusirable wrath, upon the moral agency of two men (suppose Peter and Judas) to bring about, in an unavoidable manner, the final perseverance of the one, and the final apostasy of the other. For had the covetous traitor humbly repented when he could have done it, he yet would have gone to heaven; and had the lying, perjured apostle put ofF his repentance as obstinately as Judas did, he would have gpiie to the place of imñeni~ tent apostates: for God having "put life and death before" the sons of men; and having appointed eternal rewards for those who "flnally choose life" in the rectitude of their conduct, and eternal punishment for those who "finally choose death in the error of their ways," he can no more ânálly turn the scale of their will than he can deny himself, and turn the solemnity of the great day into the pageantry of a Pharisaic masquerade.
The end of the first article of Mr. Hill's FjcÉiÉjï~3 Creed is not less contrary to all our principles than the middle part. For, according to all our doctrines of grace, persons who are in glory like Peter, are infinitely more indebted to Christ's grace than persons who lift up their eyes in torments like Judas. This will appear, if we consider the case of those two apostles. Although they were both equally indebted to Christ for his redeeming love, which put them iii a state of initial salvation; and for his distinguishing favour, which raised them to apostolic honours; yet upon our scheme Peter is infinitely more beholden to free grace than Judas and É prove it thus: Christ, according tb his remunerative election, which draws after it a particular redemption, and eternal salvation ;Christ, É say, according to that remunerative election, has chosen Peter to the reward of a heavenly throne and a crown of glory. Now this election, in which Judas has no interest, springs from God's free grace, as well as from voluntary perseverance in the free obedience of faith. It was of free grace that God designed to give to all penitent, persevering believers, and of consequence to Peter, a crown of glory in his heavenly kingdom: for he might have given them only the conveniences of life in a cottage on earth: he might have dropped them into their original nothingness, after having blessed them with one single smile of his approbation: flay, he might have demanded their utmost obedience, without promising them the least reward. Therefore Peter and all the saints in glory are indebted to Christ, not only for their rewards of additional grace on earth, but also for all their eternal salvation, and for all the heavenly blessings which flow from their particular redemption. Infinitely gracious rewards these, which God does not bestow upon Judas, nor upon any of those who die impenitent! Infinitely glorious rewards! which nothing but God's free grace in Christ could move his distributive justice to bestow upon persevering believers. Hence it is evident that Mr. Hill has tried to make our fundamental doctrine of general redemption appear ridiculous, by absurdly clogging it with an odious consequence, which has no more to do with that comfortable doctrine, than we have to do with Mr. Hill's uncomfortable tenet of absolute reprobation.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"I believe that Divine grace is indiscriminately given to all men; and mat God, foreseeing that by fat the greater part of the world will reject his grace, doth nevertheless bestow it upon them, in order to heighten their torments, and to increase thek damnation in hell."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We do not believe that Divine grace is indiscriminately given to all men. For although we assert that God gives to all at least one talent of true grace to profit with; yet we acknowledge that he makes as real a difFerence between man and man, as between an ángeÉ and an archangel, giving to some men one talent, to others two talents, and to others jive, according to the election of distinguishing grace, maintamed in the Scripture Scales, sec. xii. But the least talent of grace is saving, if free will do not bury it to the last.
And we believe that although God foresaw that in some unhappy periods of the world's duration the greater part of adults would reject his grace, lie nevertheless besto'vs it in different measures upon all; but not (as Mr. Hill says) "in order to heighten the torments, and increase the damnation of any in hell." This is a horrid conceit, which we return to those who insinuate that God gives common grace (that is, we apprehend unsaving, graceless grace) to absolute reprobates, i. e. to men for whom (upon Mr. Hill's scheme of absolute reprobation) there never was in God the least degree of mercy and saving goodness. This shocking consequence, fixed upon us by Mr. 1-lill, is the genuine offspring of Calvinistic non-election, which supposes that God sends the Gospel to myriads of men from whom he absolutely keeps the power of believing it; tantalizing them with offers of free grace here, that he may, without possibility of escape, sink them hereafter to the deepest hell,the hell of the Capernaites.
According to the Gospel, the reprobation that draws eternal damnation after it springs from our own personal free will doing a final despite to free grace, and not from God's eternal free wrath. And if Mr. Hill ask, "Why God gives a manifestation of the Spirit of grace to men, who (he foresees) will do it a final despite, as well as to those who through that grace 'vill work out their own salvation :" we reply :
1. For the same reason which made him give celestial grace to the angels who became devils by squandering it away; paradisiacal grace to our first parents ; expostulating, Gentile grace to Cain; Jewish, royal grace to Saul; and Christian, apostolic grace to Judas. If Mr. Hill says he does not understand what that reason is; we answer: By the same reason which induced the master who corrected Mr. Hill for making a bad exercise at Westminster school, to give his pupil pcn, paper, ink, and proper instruction, before he could reasonably call Mr. Hill to an account for his exercise. And by the same reason which would make all Shropshire cry out against Mr. Hill as against a tyrannical master, suppose he horse-whipped his coachman and postilion for not driving him, if he had taken away from them boots, whips, spurs, har~ ness, coach, and horses; and if he had contrived himself the fall of their apartment, that all their bones might be put out of joint when the floor gave way under them.
2. If Mr. Hill is not satisfied with these illustrations, we will give him some direct answers. God gives a manifestation of his grace to those who make their reprobation sure by finally resisting his gracious Spirit ; First, Because he will show himself as he is, "gracious arid merciful," "true and long suffering toward all," so long as "the day of their visitation" lasts. Thus he bestows a talent upon all his slothful servants who bury it to the last, because he will display his equity and goodness, although they will display their wickedness and sloth. Secondly. Because he is determined that if those servants will destroy themselves, their blood shall be upon their own heads, according to the welÉ~kééïwn scripture : " Ï Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself. É would,arid ~e would not." Thirdly, Because God will "judge the world in righteousness," and display his distributive justice in rendering to all according to "their works ;" deservedly clothing his finally unfaithful servants with shame, and making the faithfu. walk 'vith him in white, "because they are [evangelically] worthy." And, to sum up all in one,because the two Gospel axioms are firm as the pillars of heaven and hell; and God will display their truth before men and angels and especially before Pharisees and Antinomians. Now, according to the first axiom, there is a Saviour, a measure of saving grace, and a day of initial salvation for all. And, according to the second axiom, there is free will in all, and a day of judgment, with a final salvation or damnation for all, according to their good or bad works, that is, according to their free agency; the good works of the righteous being the product of their free, avoidable co-operation with God's grace; and the bad works of the wicked springing from their free, avoidable rebellion against that grace.
Hence it appears, that the second article of the Fictitious Creed contains indeed a "shocking, not to say blasphemous" consequence, but that this consequence is nothing but a sprig of Mr. Hill's supposed "orthodoxy," absurdly grafted upon the supposed "heresy" which St. John and St. Paul maintain in these words: "He [Christ] was the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The grace of God which bringeth salvation has appeared unto all men, teaching [not forcing] us to deny ungodliness, &c, and to live soberly," &c, if we are obedient to its teachings.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"I believe it depends WHOLLY on the will of the creature whether he shall or shall not RECEIVE ANY benefit from Divine grace."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that the benefits of a temporary redemption, of a day of salvation, and of the " free gift" which "came upon all men" to the justification mentioned Rom. v, 18: we believe, É say, these benefits, far from "depending wholly on the will of the creature," as to the RECEIVING of them, depend no more upon us than our sight and the light of the sun. All those blessings are at first as gratuitously and irresistibly bestowed upon us, for Christ's sake, in our present manner of existence, as the Divine image and favour were at first bestowed upon our first parents in paradise, with this only difference; before the fall their paradisiacal grace came immediately from God our Creator; whereas, since the fall, our penitential grace comes immediately and irresistibly from God our Redeemer ;I say irresistibly, because God does not leave to our option whether we shall receive a talent of ~.cdee~ning grace or not, any more than he left it to Adam's choice whether Adam should receive five talents of creative grace or not: although afterward he gives us leave to bury or improve our talent of redeeming grace, as he gave leave ~tï Adam to bury or improve his five talents of creative grace. Our doctrine of the general redemption and free agency of mankind stands therefore upon the same Scriptural and rational ground, which bears up Mr. Hill's system of man's creation and moral agency in paradise; it being impossible to make any objection against the personal loss of redeeming grace in Judas, that may uot be retorted against the personal loss of creative grace in Adam or Satan.
But, "~ith respect to all the temporal and eternal benefits which God has promised by way of reward to his every "good and faithful servant," we believe that they depend upon the concurrenue of two causes; the jirst of which is the free grace of God in Jesus Christ; and the second, the faithfulness of our assisted and rectified free will, which faithfulness is graciously crowned by God's remunerative justice and evangelical veracity. And, instead of blushing at this doctrine, as if it were "shocking," we glory in it, as being perfectly rational, strictly Scriptural, and equally distant from the two rocks against which Calvinian orthodoxy is dashed iii pieces: É mean, the twin doctrines of wanton free grace and eternal free wrath, according to which, God, without any respect to the faith or unbelief, to the good or bad works of free agents, absolutely ordained for some of them the robe of Christ's imputed righteousness, and the unavoidable reward of eternal life by the mean of unavoidable faith; while he absolutely appointed for all the rest the robe of Adam's imputed unrighteousness, and the unavoidable punishment of eternal death by means of necessary, unavoidable unbelief.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"Though the Scripture tells me that the carnal mind is enmity against God, yet I believe that there is something in the heart of every natural man that can nourish and cherish the grace of God; and that the sole reason why this grace is effectual in some and not in others, is entirely owing to themselves, and to their own faithfulness or unfaithfulness, and not to the distinguishing love and favour of God."
THE GENUINE CREED.
Though the Scriptures tell us "that the carnal mind is enmity against God," and that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit," yet 've believe, that, from the time God initially raised mankind from their fall, and promised them the celestial bruiser of the serpent's head, there is a gracious free agency in the heart of every man 'vho has not yet sinned away his day of salvation: and that, by means of this gracious free agency, all men, during the "accepted time," can concui with, and work under the grace of God, according to the dispensation they belong to. Again: we believe that no child of Adani is a " natural man" in the Calvinian sense of the word, [i. e. absolutely destitute of all saving grace,] except he who has actually sinned away his day of grace. And when we consider a man as absolutely graceless, or as "a child of wrath" in the highest sense of the word, we consider him in fallen Adam, before God began to raise mankind by the promise of the woman's seed: or we must consider that man in his o'vn person after he has done final despite to the Spirit of that grace which has more or less clearly appeared to all men under various dispensations.
Mr. Hill greatly mistakes, if the thinks, that, according to our doctrine, God's grace is "effectual in some, and not in others ;" for we believe that ii is effectual in all, though in a different manner. It has its jlrsi and most desirable effect en them that " cherish it" through the above-mentioned gracious free agency. And it has its second and less desirable effect on those 'vho finally reject the gracious counsel of God toward them: for it reproves their sins; it galls their consciences; it renders them inexcusable; it vindicates God's mercy; it clears his justice ; it shows that the Judge of all the earth does no wrong; and it begins in this world the just punishment which righteous vengeance will complete in the next.
The grace of God, therefore, like the Gospel that testifies of it, is a two-edged sword: it is a savour of life to those who cherish it, and a savour of death to those who resist it. That some cherish it, by its a~sistance work righteousness to the last, and then receive the reward of the inheritance, is not " entirely owing to themselves and to their o'vn faithfulness," as the Fictitious Creed asserts : nor is it "entirely o'ving to the love and favour of God." This happy event has two causes: the jlrst is free grace, by the assistance of which the faith and good works of the righteous are begun, continued, and ended: the second is free will humbly working with free grace, as appears by the numerous scriptures balanced in the Scripture Scales. And that some, on the other hand, resist the grace of God, and are personally given up to a reprobate mind that they might be damned, is not at all owing to God's free wrath, as the scheme of Mr. Hill supposes: nor is it entirely owing to the unfaithfulness and obstinacy of impenitent sinners. This unhappy event has also two causes: the first is man's free will finally refusing to concur with free grace, in working out his own salvation; and the second is just wrath, revenging the despite done to God's free grace by such a final refusal.
With respect to "the distinguishing love and favour" of God our Judge, and his distinguished hatred and ill will, (on which our eternal rewards and punishments unavoidably turn, according to Mr. Hill's twin doctrines of finished salvation and finished damnation;) we dare not admit them into our holy religion. We give to "distinguishing favour" an important place in our creed, as appears from the first article of this; but that favour has nothing to do with God's judicial distribution of rewards or punishments, i. e. with God's appointing of us to eternal life or to eternal death. We believe that it is a most daring attempt of the Antinomians to place distinguishing favour and distinguishing displeasure upon the judicial throne of God, and in the judgment seat of Christ; no decrees proceeding from thence, but such as are dictated by impartial justice putting Christ's evangelical law in execution, and strictly judging, (i. e. justifying or condemning, rewarding or punishing) moral agents, according to their works. We should think ourselves guilty of propagating "a shocking, not to say blasphemous" doctrine, if we insinuated, that " distinguishing favour," and not unbribed justice, dictates God's sentence; God himself having enacted, "Cursed be he that perverteth judgment, &c, and all the people shall say, Amen," Deut. xxvii, 19. Nor need É tell Mr. Hill this, who has hinted that God is such a partial Judge ;yea, that carries partiality to such a height, as to say to a man who actually defiles a married woman, and treacherously plots the murder of her injured husband, "Thou art all fair, my love, my undefiled, there is no spot in thee: thou art a man a!~er my own heart." If Mr. Hill has forgotten this anecdote, É refer him to the Five Letters, the sale of which he does not scruple to advertise again in his Three Letters, saying: "I now think it the way of duty to permitthe Five Letters to Mr. Fletcher, &c, to be again sold, in order that both friends and enemies may, if possible, be convinced that É never retracted rn~, sent irents." Strange confidence of boasting! Ï mores! What have morality and godliness done to Mr. Hill, that he will put them to a perpetual blush, lest his Vené~s (for she no longer deserves the name of Diana) should redden one moment?
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"I believe that God sincerely wishes for the salvation of many who never will he saved ; consequeiitly, that it is entirely owing to want of ability in God, that what he so earnestly wiHeth is not accomplished."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that God's attributes perfectly harmonize. Accordingly his goodness and mercy incline him to "wish for the salvation of" all men, upon gracious terms laid down by his wisdom and veracibj. As a proof of the sincerity of his wish, he swears by himself, that his antecedent will or decree is not " that sinners should die ; but that," by the help of his free grace and the submission of their free 'vill, "they should turn and live." He does more still: he grants to all men a day of initial salvation, and "all that day long he stretches forth his hands" to them. He reproves them for their sins: he calls upon them in various ways to repent; and gives them power to do it according to one or another dispensation of his grace; requiring little of those to whom he gives little; and much of those to whom much is given. But it is his sõbse9õenÉ decree, dictated chiefly by his holiness, justice, and sïíerei~nÉç, that, if free agents will none of his reproofs, and uinully disregard the ï~ers of his grace, "his Spirit sliaul not a1-"ays strjvc wi~1é them." A day of calamity shall follow the day of their neglected salvation; and justice shall be glorified in their righteous destruction. This is the sad alternative which God has set before them, if, in opposition to his antecedent will, they (through their free agency) finally choose death, in finally choosing the way that leads to it.
This part of our doctrine may be summed up in three propositions. (1.) God's mercy absolutely wills the initial salvation of all men by Jesus Christ. (2.) God's goodness, holiness, and faithfulness, abso&~tåÉy will the eternal salvation of all those who, by the concurrence of iheir assisted, unnccessitated free will, with his redeeming grace, are found penitent, obedient believers, at the end of their day of initial salvation. And, (3.) God's justice, so~'ereigééty, and veracity, absolutely 'vill the destruction of all that are found impenitent at the close of the day of their gracious visitation, or initial salvation. To see the truth of these three propositions, 've need only consider them in the light of these two Gospel axioms, and compare them with these declarations of Moses and Jesus Christ: "É set life and death before you, [free agents, 'vho enjoy a day of initial salvation:] choose life :" (1 ofl'er it you ârsß:
"choose life," I say,) "that you may live eternally. But if you choose ~ eath in the error of your 'vays," your rejected Saviour will complain, "How often vould É have gathered you as a hen gathereth her brood under her wings, but ye would not: and now the things that made for your peace are hid from your eyes :" that is, you are given up to judicial blindness, and to all its fearful consequences.
Hence it is evident, that the damnation of those 'vho obstinately live and die in their sins, and whom God was willing to save as free agents upon Gospel terms, argues no "want of ability in him" to save them eternally, if he would give up the day of judgment, and exert his omnipotence in opposition to his wisdom, justice, holiness, and veracity; or if he vould destroy the most wonderful of all his works, which is the free will of moral agents. We never doubted his ability to unman man, and eternally to save all mankind, if he would absolutely do it; it being evident that the Almighty can overpower all his creatures if he should he bent upon it, and drive them from sin to necessitated holiness, and from hell to heaven, far more easily than a shepherd can drive his frighted sheep from the market to the slaughter house. Therefore, the supposition that, upon our principles, "God 'vants ability to save" whom he absolutely will save, is entirely groundless; every man being actually saved so far as God* absolutely wills: for, ârsÉ, God absolutely wills that all men should be unconditionally saved 'vith initial salvation ; and thus alt men are frncondilionally saved: and, secondly, he absolutely wills that all men, who are übedient and faithful unto death, should absolutely be saved with arm eternal salvation: and thus all men who are obedient and faithful unto death are actually saved. They shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of Christ's protecting hand. But what has this Scripture doctrine to do with Calvinism? With the necessary, eternal, finished salvation of ALL the disobedient sheep, who turn goats, foxes, lions, and serpents? Who, far from remembering Lot's wife, slily rob their neighbours of their ewe lambs,their heart's blood,their reputation!
[ * The reader is desired to take particular notice of this observation, because it cuts up by the root Brad'varden's famous argument. "If you allow, (says he,) (1.) That God is able to do a thing, and, (2.) That he is [absolutely) willing to do a thing: then, (3.) 1 a~rm, that the thing will not, cannot go unaccomplished: otherwise God must either lose his power, or change his mind. If the [absolute] 'viii of God could be frustrated and vanquished, its defeat would arise from the created wills either of angels or of men. But could any created will whatever, &c, counteract and bare the will of God, the will of the creature must be superior either in strength or in visdom to the will of the Creator: 'vhich can by no means be allowed." We fully grant to Mr. Toplady that the ar~gõmeðt is "extrernely conclusive," provided the two vords "absolutely" and "absolute~~ be taken into it; and therefore, we maintain, as well as he, that man is actually saved, so fat as God ahsolutely wills. ]
To conclude: the most that Mr. Hill can justly say against our principles, is: (1.) That, according to the Gospel which we preach, man is a free agent, and God is wise, holy, true, and just; as well as good, loving, patient, and merciful: and, (2.) That one half of these attributes do not Permit him to necessitate free agents; that is, to make them absolutely ~o or FORBEAR those actions, by which they are to stand or fall in judgment. And let men of reason and religion say, if this doctrine be not more rational and Scriptural than the Calvinian doctrine of Jinished salvation, and of its inseparable counterpart, finished damnation.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
É believe that the Redeenier not only shed his precious blood, but prayed for the salvation of many souls who are now in hell; consequently that his blood was shed in vain, and his prayer rejected of his Father, and that therefore he told a great untruth when he said, É know that thou hearest me always."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that the Redeemer did not shed his precious blood or pray absolutely in vain for any man: seeing he obtained for all men, in their season, a day of grace and initial salvation, with a thousand spiritual and temporal blessings. Nor were his prayers for the eternal salvation of those who die impenitent rejected by his Father; for Christ never prayed that they should be eternally saved in impenitency. Before Mr. Hill can reasonably charge us with holding doctrines 'vhich imply that Christ told a gross untruth 'vhen he said, "É know that thou hearest me always," he must prove that Christ ever asked the eternal salvation of some men, whether they repented or not; or that he ever desired his Father to force to the last reñentance, faith, and obedience, 'ipon any man. If Mr. Hill cannot prove this, how can he make it appear that, according to our doctrines of grace, one of our Lord's prayers was ever, rejected? We grant that Christ asked the forgiveness of his mõrdereri~, and of those who made sport with his sufferings; hut he asked it upon Gospel terms, that is, conditionally. Nor was his prayer ineffectual; for it obtained for them time to repent, and uncommon helps so to do, with a peculiar readiness in God to pardon themupon their application for pardon: and if, after all, through the power of their free agency, they despised the pardon offered them in the Gospel, and repented not, they shall deservedly perish according to Christ's own declaration. Ðe has acted toward them the part of a gracious Saviour: he never engaged himself to act that of a tyrant: I mean, he never sent either his good Spirit, or the evil spirit of Satan, to bind the wills of men with adamantine chains of necessitated righteousness, or of necessitated iniquity, that he might cast some into Abraham's bosom, and others into hell, as Nebuchadnezzar sent the strongest men in his army to bind Daniel's companions, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.
Once more: we believe that, with respect to the reward of the inheritance, and the doctrine of eternal salvation, Christ's atonement and intercession are like his Gospel. Now his Gospel is guarded by what one of Mr. Hill's seconds queerly calls "the valiant Sergeant IF," that is, the conditionality of the promises and threatenings which relate to eternal salvation and eternal damnation; and this conditionality is the rampart of the old Gospel, and the demolition of the new; strongly guarding the ancient doctrines of free grace, free will, and just wrath, against the novel doctrines of overbearing grace, bound will, and free wrath.
É should not do justice to our cause, if É dismissed this article without retorting Mr. Hill's objection. É have shown how unreasonably we are accused of holding doctrines, vhich, by "unavoidable" consequence, represent Christ as "telling a gross untruth :" and now we desire Mr. Hill, or his seconds, to show how the Son of God could, consistently with truth, profess himself to be the "Saviour of men," the Saviour and "hight of the world," and "the drawer of all men unto himself;" if most men have been from all eternity under the fearful curse of Calvinian reprobation. We ask, if the Redeemer would have "told a gross untruth," upon the supposition that Calvinism is true, had he called himself the reprohator of men; the non-redeemer, the darner of the world, and the rejecter of all men from himself; seeing that, according to the doctrines of grace, (so called,) the bulk of mankind were ever reprobated, never redeemed, never initially saved, and never drawn to Christ. We beseech candid Protestants to say, if the Bible do not clear up all the dimcìlties with which prejudiced divines have clogged the genuine doctrines of grace, when it testifies that our Redeemer and Saviour has procured a general temporary redemption, together with an initial salvation, for all men universally; and a particular eternal redemption, together with a finished salvation, for "them that obey him, and endure to the end." And we entreat the lovers of the whole truth as it is in Jesus to help us to bring about this Scriptural plan, a reconciliation between those who contend for the doctrines of particular redemption and finished salvation; and those who maintain the doctrines of general redemption, and of" a day of salvation" for all mankind.
THE GENUINE CREED.
"l believe that God, foreseeing some men's nature will improve the grace which is given them, and that they will repent, believe, and be very good, elects them unto salvation."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that out of mere mercy, and rich free grace in Jesus Christ, without any respect to foreseen repentance, faith, or goodness, God places all men in a state of initial salvation; electing them to that state according to the mysterious counsel of his distinguishing love, which places some under the bright and direct beams of Gospel truth; while he suffers others to receive the external light of it only through that variety of clouds which we call Calvinism, Popery, Judaism, and Mohammedanism ;* leaving most in Gentilism, that is, in the dispensation under which Cain, Abel, Abimelech, king of Gerar, and Melchisedec, king of Salem, formerly were.
[ * Calvinism is Christianity obscured by mists of Pharisaic election and repro. bation, and by a cloud of stoical fatalism. Popery is Christianity under a cloud of Pharisaic bigotry, and under thick fogs of heathenish superstition. Judaism is Christianity under the veil of Moses. Mohammedanism is a jumble of Christianity, Judaism, Gentilism, and imposture. And Centilism is the religion of Cain and Abel; or, if you please, of Shena, Ham, and Japheth, under a cloud of false and dark tradition. Some call it the religion of nature: I have no objection to the name, if they understand by it the religion of our nature in its present state of initial recovery, through Christ, from its total fall in Adam. ]
2. We believe that God, for Christ's sake, peculiarly (although with different degrees of favour) accepts all those who, in all the above-mentioned religions, i. e. "in every nation, fear him and work righteousness." These, when considered as enduring to the end, are his elect, according to the election of remunerative justice. For these he is gone to "prepare the many mansions in his Father's house :" for these he designs the "reward of the inheritance that fadeth not away in heaven." And when he speaks of some men as belonging to this number, it is always with respect to his foreknowledge that they 'viii freely persevere in the obedience of faith; it being the highest pitch of Antinoniian dotage to suppose that God, the true, the wise, the holy, and righteous God, elects men to the reward of persevering obedience, without taking any notice of persevering obedience in his election.
To sum up all in a few lines : the dïctrine~ïf election has Éwá branches: according to the jlrst branch we are chosen that we shoula be holy and obedient, in proportion to the ordinary or extraordinary helps which l)ivine grace affords us under one or other of its dispensaLions. This election to holiness has nothing to do with prescience; it depends entirely on free grace and distinguishing favour. According to the second branch of the doctrine of election, we are chosen to receive the rewards of perfected holiness and of persevering obedience, in proportion both to the talents which free distinguishing grace has afforded us, and to the manner in which our assisted free 'vill has improved those talents. This remunerative election depends on four things: (É.) On free grace, promising for Christ's sake the reward of the inheritance to the persevering obedience of faith. (2.) On faithful free will, securing that reward by the assistance of free grace, and by the free obedience of faith. (3.) On Divine faithfulness, keeping its Gospel promise for ever. And, (4.) On diet ri&utive justice, dispensing the reward according to the law of Christ, and according to every man's work. This election therefore has much to do with Divine prescience, as depending in part upon God's knowledge that "some men have improved, or will improve, the grace which is given them, repent, believe, and be good [if not 'very good'] and faithful servants unto the end."
Unprejudiced readers will easily see how much our doctrine of election is preferable to that of our opponents. Ours draws after it only a harmless reprobation from some peculiar favours, and a righteous reprobation from rewards of grace and glory obstinately despised, or wantonly forfeited; but the election of the Calvinists is clogged with the dreadful dogmas of an unscriptural and terrible reprobation, which might be compared to a well-known monster, "Prima Leo, posÉrå~ná Draco, media ipso Chimera." Its head is free wrath; its body, unavoidable sin; and its tail, jinished damnation. In a word, our election recommends God's free, distinguishing grace, 'vithout pouring any contempt on the holiness of Christ's precepts, the sanction of his la'v, the veracity of his threatenings, and the conditionality of his promises. And our reprobation displays God's absolute sovereignty, without sullying his mercy, impeaching his veracity, or disgracing his justice. In a wand, our election doctrinally guards the throne of sovereign grace, and o'ir reprobation that of sovereign justice: but Calvinian election and rsprobation doctrinally overthrow both those thrones: or if they are 1~ft standing, it is to allow free wrath to fill the throne of justice, and unchaste, bloody Diana to step into the throne of grace, 'vhence she hints to Laodicean believers that they may 'vith advantage commit adultery, murder, and incest; calling as many as take her horrid innuendoes, "My love, my undefiled," &c, and assuring them that they shall never perish, arid that all things (the most grievous sins not excepted) shall work for their good.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"1 believe that the love and favour of Him, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning, and whose gifts and callings are without repentance, may vary, change, and turn every hour, and every moment, according to the behaviour of the creature."
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
We believe that God's works were all originally very good, and that God did love or approve of them all as very good in their places. "'e maintain that some of God's works, such as some angels, and our first parents, by free avoidable disobedience ,forfeited God's love or approbation. He approved or loved them while they continued righteous ; and disapproved or hated them when the bad use which they made of their free will deserved his disapprobation or hatred. Again: ive believe that God's absolute giâs and callings are without repentance. God never repented that lie gave all mankind his paradisiacal favonr in Adam, arid yet all mankind forfeited it by the fall. God never repented that he called all his servants, and "gave to every one" of them his talents, as he thought fit; and yet, when the "wicked and slothful servant haél buried" and fïrf~ited his talent, God said, "Take the talent from him !"
Once more: ve believe, that so certain as God is the gracious Creator and the righteous Judge of angels and men, the doctrines of Divine grace and Divine justice (or the two Gospel axioms) are perfectly reconcilable; and that, of consequence, God can justly curse mankind 'vith temporal death, after having blessed them with paradisiacal life; and punish them in hell, after having blessed them a second time 'vith initial salvation during their day of personal probation on earth. To deny this, is to deny that there are graves on earth, or torments in hell, for any of the children of men.
Nevertheless, we believe that there is no positive change in God. From eternity to eternity he is the same holy and faithful God; therefore he unchangeably " loves righteousness and hates iniquity." Apostasy in men or in angels does not imply any change in him; the change being only in the receptive disposition of his free willing creatures. If ' make my eyes so sore that É cannot look with pleasure at the sun, or that its beams, which cheered me yesterday, give me pain to-day; this is no proof that the sun has changed its nature. The la'v that condemns a murderer, absolves me now; but if É ~stab my neighbour in ten minutes, the same law that now absolves me, will in ten minutes condemn me. Impossible says Mr. Hill's scheme: "the law changes not." É grant it; but a free agent may change; and the law of liberty, which is but the transcript of God's eternal nature, is so ordered, that, without changing at all, it nevertheless treats all free agents according to their changes. The changes that God makes in the world do not change him ; riiuch less is he changed by the variations of free agents : such variations indeed lay rebels and penitents open to a ne'v aspect from the Deity ; but that aspect was in the Deity before they laid themselves open to it. Fire, without changing its nature, melts 'vax and stiffens clay; now, if a rebel's heart absolutely hardens itself, so that it becomes like unyielding clay; or if a penitent's heart héémbÉeÝ itself, so that it becomes like yielding wax, God changes not any more than the fire, when he hardens the stiff rebel by resisting him, and melts the yielding penitent by giving him more grace.
To understand this better, we must remember tnat God's eternal nature is to "resist the proud, and give grace to the hrnôébÉe ;" and that when free grace, (which has appeared to all men,) assists us, we are as free to choose humility and life, as we are to choose pride and death when 've daily with temptation, or indulge the natuml depravity of our own hearts. Hence it follows that the judicious difference which God makes when he alternately smiles and frowns, dispenses rewards and punishments, springs not from any alteration in his unchangeable nature, but from a change in the mutable will arid behaviour of free agents; a change this, which arises from their will freely resisting Divine grace, if the alteration be for the worse; and from their will I yielding without necessity to that grace, if the change be for the better. Nor are ve any more ashamed to own man's free agency before a world of fatalists, than we are ashamed to say, "Verily there is a reward for the righteous: though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished: doubtless there is a God that judgeth the earth, and will render to every man according to his works ;" that is, according to his free will; works being our own works only so far as they spring from our own free will. And we think that the opposite doctrine is one of the most absurd errors that ever disgraced Christianity; and one of the most dangerous engines 'vhich were ever invented in Babel to sap the walls of Jerusalem ;a dreadful engine this, which, if it rested upon truth, vould pour floods of disgrace on all the Divine perfections: would overset the tribunal of the Judge of all the earth; and would raise upon the tremendous ruins the throne of the doctrinal idol of the day4: É mean the spurious doctrine of grace, which É have sometimes called the great Diana of the Calvinists, because, like the great Diana of the Ephesians, it may pass at once for LUNA, orjinished salvation in heaven, and for HECATE, orjlnished damnation in hell.
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"I believe that the seed of the word by which God's children are born again, is a corruptible seed; and that so far from enduring for ever, (as that mistaken Apostle Peter rashly aBirms,) ills frequently rooted out of the hearts of those in whom it is sown."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that the word or the truth of God is the Divine seed by vhich sinners are born again when they receive it, that is, when they believe ; and this spiritual seed (as that enlightened Apostle Peter justly amrins) "endures for ever ;"but not for Antinomian purposes ; not to say to fallen believers, in the very act of adultery or incest, "My love! niy undefiled !" No: it "endures for ever," as a seed of reviving or terrifying truth : " it endures for ever" as a two-edged sword to defend the righteous, or to wound the wicked; to protectobedient believers, or to pierce disobedient and obstinate unbelievers; "it endures for ever" as a sweet "savour of life" to them that receive and keeñ it; and as a bitter "savour of death" to them that never receive it, and to them that finally cast it away, and never "bring forth fruit to perfection."
But although the seed of the word caii never be lost with respect to both its effects, yet (as we have already observed) it is too frequently lost with regard to its more desirable effect: if Mr. Hill doubts of it, we refer him to the parable of the sower, where our Lord observes that the good seed was thus lost in three sorts of people out of four, merely through the want of co-operation or concurrence of the part of free will, which he calls good or bad ground, soft or "stony ground," &c, according to the good or bad choice it makes, and according to the steadiness or fickleness of that choice. And if Mr. Hill exclaim against the obvious meaning of so well-known a portion of the Gospel, the world will easily see that, supposing his doctrine of grace deserves to be called chaste, when it prompts him to vindicate, as openly as he dares, the profitableness of adultery and incest to fallen believers; it by no means merits to be called devout, when it excites him to insinuate that our Lord preached a "shocking, not to say blasphemous doctrine."
THE FICTITIOUS CREED.
"É believe that Christ does not always give unto his sheep eternal life; but that they often perish, and are by the power of Satan frequently plucked out of his hand."
THE GENUINE CREED.
We believe that Christ's sheep, mentioned in John x, are obedient, persevering believers ; that is, as our Lord himself describes them, John x, 4, 5, 27, persons that "hear [i. e. obey] his voice," and "whom he knows," [i. e. approves;] persons that" know [i. e. approve] his voice ;" that "know not [i. e. do not approve] the voice of strangers ;" and "flee from a stranger," instead of following him: in a word, persons that act'ially '~follow the good Shepherd" in some of his folds or pastures. In this description of a sheep, every verb is put in the present tense, to show us that the word sheep denotes a character, or persons actually possessed of such a character. So that the momeiit the character changes; the moment a man who once left all to follow Christ, leaves Christ to "follow a stranger," he has no more to do with the name and privileges of a sheep, than a deserter or a rebel has to do with the name and privileges of his majesty's soldiers or subjects.
According then to our doctrine, no "sheep of Christ," that i~, no actual follower of the Redeemer, perishes. We think it is shocking to say, that any of them are plucked out of his hand. On the conirary, we frequently say, with St. Peter, "Who will harm you [much more, who vill separate you from the love of Christ] if ye be followers of that which is good ?" i. e. if you be sheep: and we insist upon the veracity of our Lord's promise, "He that endureth unto the end," in the character of a sheep, i. e. in the way of faith and obejience, "the same shall be [eternally] saved." And we maintain, that so long as a believer does not make shipwreck of the faith and of a good conscience; so long as he continues a sheep, a harmless follower of the Lamb of God, be can no more perish than God's everlasting throne can be overturned. But what has thiB doctrine of our Lord to do with Calvinism?
With regard to the sheep mentioned in Matt. xxv, 33, 34, whom our Lord calls "blessed of his Father," we believe that they represent the multitude of obedient, persevering believers, whom two apostles describe thus: "Blessed are they that do his [God's] commandments, that they may have right ~ïr if Mr. Hill pleases, privilege] to the tree of life, and enter, &c, into the city," Rev. xxii, 14. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation! for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." "And this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments," James i, 12; 1 John v, 3. For such enduring, obedient believers a kingdom of glory "is prepared from the foundation of the world :" and to it they are and shall be judicially elected; while the goats, i. e. unbelievers, or disobedient, fallen believers, are and shall be judicially reprobated from it. Hence it is, that when our Lord accounts for his judicial election of the obedient, (whom he parabolically calls sheep,) he does not say," Inherit the kingdom," &c ; for É absolutely jinished your salvation: but he says, "Inherit the kingdom. for ye gave me meat," &c; ye fed the hungry from a right motive; and what you did in that manlier, I reward it as if you had done it to myself. In other terms, "Ve heard my voice, and followed me ;" in hearing the whispers of my grace, and following the light of your dispensation; and now I own you as my eternally rewardable elect, my sheep, which have followed me without finally drawing back.
Again: when our Lord gives an account of the judicial reprobation of the finally aisobedient, whom he parabolically calls goats, he does not say, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for you from the foundation of the world ;" for then É absolutely finished your eternal reprobation. No: this is the counterpart of the Gospel of the day. But he says, "Depart, &c; for ye gave me no meat," by feeding the hungry in your generation, &c: that is, ye did not believingly follow me in following your light and my precepts. Either you never began your course, or you drew back before you had finished it. Either you never voluntarily listed under my banner, or you deserted before you had "fought the good fight" out: either you never believed in me, the light of the world, and your light; or, instead of keeping the faith, you voluntarily, avoidably, unnecessarily, and resolutely made shipwreck of it, aÞd of a good conscience: and therefore your damn. ation is of yourselves. You have personally forfeited your conditional election to the rewards of persevering obedience, and personally made your conditional reprobation frám those rewards sure by your final disobedience.
From these evangelical descriptions of the sheep and the goals, mentioned in John x, and Matt. xxv, it appears to us indubitable: (1.) That these sheep [i. e. obedient, persevering believers] "shall never perish ;" although they might have perished, if they had "brought upon themselves swift destruction by denying the Lord that bought them." (2.) That they shall be eternally saved, although they might have missed eternal salvation, if they had finally disregarded mir Lord's declaration: "He that endureth unto the end, the same shall be [finally] saved." (3.) That the good Shepherd peculiarly laid down his life for the eternal redemption of obedient, persevering believers; and that these believers are sometimes eminently called God's elect, because they make their conditional calling to the rewards of perseverance sure, by actually persevering in the obedience of faith. (4.) That the peculiarity of the eternal redemption of Christ's persevering followers, f~r from being connected with the absolute reprobation of the rest of mankind, stands in perfect agreeéôßent with the doctrines of a general, temporary redemption, and a general initial salration; and 'vith the doctrines of a grátõiÉïõ3 election to the blessings of one or another dispensation of God's saving grace; and of a conditional election to the rewards of voluntary, unnecessitated obedience. (5.) That our opponents give the truth as it is in Jesus two desperate stabs, when they secure the peculiar, eternal redemption of finally disobedient believers, and comfort mourning backsliders in so unhappy a manner, as to overthrow the general, temporary redemption of all mankind, and to encourage or countenance the present disobedience of Laodicean believers. (6.) That the Calvinian doctrines of grace, which do this double mischief under such fair pretences are, of all the tares which the enemy sows, those which come nearest to the wheat, and of corisequence those by which he can best feed his immoral goats, deceive simple souls, set Christ's moral sheep at perpetual variance, turn the fruitful field of the Church into a barren field of controversy, and make a Deistical world think that faith is enthusiastical fancy; that orthodoxy is immdral nonsense ; and that revelation is nothing but an apple of discord. (7.) And, lastly, that the doctrines of grace which we maintain do equal justice to the Divine attributes ; defend faith, without wounding obedience; oppose Pharisaism, without recommending Antinomianism; assert the truth of God's promises, without representing his most awful threatenipgs as words without meaning; reconcile the Scriptures, vithout wounding conscience and reason; exalt the gracious 'vonders of the day of atonement, without setting aside the righteous terrors of the great day of retribution; extol our heavenly Priest, without pouring contempt upon our Divine Prophet; and celebrate the honours of his cross, without turning his sceptre of righteousness into a Solifidian reed, his royal crown into a crown of thorns, and his law of liberty into a rule of life, by 'vhich his subjects can no more stand or fall in judgment, than an Englishman can stand or fall by the rules of civility followed at the French court.
To the best of my knowledge, reader, thou hast been led into the depth of our doctrines of grace. É have opened to thee the mysteries of the evangelical system, which Mr. Hill attacks as the heresy of Vlrminians. And now let impariialiiy hand thee up to the judgment seat: let reason and rev elation hold out to thee their consentarieous light: pray that the "Spirit of truth" may help thine infirmities: turn prejudice out of the court; arid let candour pronounce the sentence, aiid say, whether our ñrinciñÉes or those of Mr. Hill "inevitably" draw atler them "shocking, not to say blasphemous," consequences?
I shall close this answer to the creed which that gentleman has composed for Arminians, by an observation which is not entirely foreign to our controversy. In one of the Three Letters which introduce the Ficlitiou.s Creed, Mr. Hill says: "Controversy, É am persuaded, has not done me any good ;" and he exhorts me to examine closely whether I cannot make the same confession. ' own that it would have done me harm, if ' had blindly contended for my opinions. Nay, if É had shut my eyes against the light of truth; if É had set the plainesi scriptures aside, as if they wÞre not worth my notice; if É had overlooked the strongest arguments of my opponents; if É had advanced groundless charges against them; if É had refused to do justice tc their good meaning or piety: and, above all, if I had taken my leave of them by injuring their moral character, by publishing over and ovei again arguments which they had properly answered, without taking the least notice of their answers; if É had made a solemn promise not to read one of their books, though they should publish a thousand volumes; if, continuing to write against them, I had fixed upon them (as "unavoidable" consequences) absurd tenets, which have no more necessary connection with their principles than the doctrine of general redemption has with Calvinian reprobation; if É had done this, I say, controversy would have wounded my conscience or my reason; and, without adding any thing to my light, it would have immovably fixed me in my prejudices, and perhaps branded me before the world for an Arminian bigot. But, as matters are, É hope I may make the fþlïwing acknowledgment without betraying the impertinence of proud boasting.
Although É have often been sorry that controversy should take up so much of the time, which É might 'vith much satisfaction to myself have employed in devotional exercises; and although I have lamented, and do still lament my low attainments in the "meekness of wisdom," which should constantly guide the pen of every controversial writer; yet É rejoice that É have been enabled to persist in my resolution either to wipe off, or to share the reproach of those who have hazarded their reputation in defence of pure and undefiled religion: and, if É am not mistaken, my repeated attempts have been attended with these happy effects. Ééé vindicating the moral doctrines of grace, I hope, that, as a man, É have learned to think more closely, and to investigate truth more ardently than É did before. There are rational po'vers in the dullest souls, which lie hid as sparks in a Hint. Controversial opposition and exertion, like the stroke of the steel, have made me accidentally find out some of these latent sparks of reason for which É should never have thanked my Maker, if had never discovered them. I have frequently been thankful to find that my horse could travel in bad roads betéer than É expected; nor do É think that it is a piece of Pharisaism to say, É am thankful to find that my mind can travel with more ease than É thought she could through theological roads, rendered almost impassable by heaps of doctrinal rubbish brought from all parts of Christendom, and by briers of contention which have kept growing for above a thousand years. To return: As a divine, I see more clearly the gaps and stiles at which mistaken good men have turned out of the narrow way of truth, to the right hand and to the left As a Protestant, É hope É have much more esteem for the Scriptures in general, and in particular for those practical parts of them which the Calvimiists had insensibly taught me to overlook or despise: and this increasing esteem is, I trust, accompanied with a deeper conviction of the truth of Christianity, and with a greater readiness to defend the Gospel against infidels, Pharisees, and Antinomians. As a preacher, I hope I can do more justice to a text, by reconciling it with seemingly cïn.~ trary scriptures. As an anti-Calvinist, É have learned to do the Calvinists justice in granting that there is an election of distinguishing grace for God's peculiar people, and a particular redemption for all believers who are faithful unto death; and by that means, as a controverlist, I can more easily excuse pious Calvinists, who, through prejudice, mistake that Scriptural election for their Antinomian election; and who consider that particular redemption as the only redemption mentioned in the Scriptures. Nay, É can without scruple allow Mr. Hill, that his doctrines of ânished salvation and irresistible grace, are TRIJE with respect to all those 'vho die in their infancy. As one who is called an rlrminian, É have found out some flaws in Arminianism, and evidenced my impartiality in pointing them out, as well as the flaws of Calvinism. (See the preface.) As a witness for the truth of the Gospel, I hope I have learned to bear reproach from all sorts of people with more undaunted courage: and I humbly trust, that, were I called to seal with my blood the truth of the doctrines of grace and justice against the Pharisees and the Antinomians, I could (Divine grace supporting me to the last) do it more rationally, and of consequence with greater steadiness. Again: as afollower of Christ, É hope É have learned to disregard my dearest friends for my heavenly Prophet: or, to speak the language of our Lord, ' hope É have learned to "forsake father, mother, and brothers, for Christ's sake and the Gospel's." As a disputant, ' have learned that solid arguments and plain scriptures make no more impression upon bigotry than the charmer's voice does upon the deaf adder; and by that mean, É hope, É depend less upon the powers of reason, the letter of the Scripture, and the candour of professors, than É formerly did. As a believer, É have been brought to see and feel that the power of the Spirit of truth, which teaches men to be of one heart and of one mind, and makes them think and speak the same, is at a very low ebb in the religious world; and that the prayer which É ought continually to offer is, Ï Lord, baptize Christians with the Spirit of truth, and the fire of love. Thy kingdom come! Bring thy Church out of the wilderness of error and sin into the kingdom "of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." 4s a member of the Church of England, I have learned to be pleased with our holy mother for giving us floods of pure morality to wash away the few remaining Calvinian freckles still perceptible upon her face. As a Christian, É hope I have learned in some degree to exercise that charity which teaches us boldly to oppose a dangerous error without ceasing to honour and love its abettors, so far as they resemble our Lord; and teaches us to use an irony with St. Paul and Jesus Christ, not as an enemy uses a dagger, but as a surgeon uses a lancet or a caustic: and, lastly, as a writer, É have learned to feel the truth of Solomon's observation: " Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh; let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man," and the sum of the anti-Solifidian truth, 'vhich ' endeavour to vindicate.
I do not say that I have learned any of these lessons as I should have done; but I hope I have learned so much of them as to say, that in these respects my controversial toil has not been altogether in vain in the Lord. And now, reader, let me entreat thee to pray, that if É am spared to vindicate more fully what appears to us the Scriptural doctrine of grace, I may be so helped by the Father of lights and the God of love, as to speak the pure truth in perfect love, and never more drop a needlessly severe expression. Some such have escaped me before É vas aware. In endeavouring to render my style nervous, I have sometimes inadvertently rendered it provoking. Instead of saying that the doctrines of grace (so called) represented God as "absolutely graceless" toward myriads of "reprobated culprits ;" 1 would now say, that, upon the principles of my opponents, God appears "devoid of grace" toward those whom he has absolutely" reprobated" from all eternity. The thought is the same, I grant; but the expres'sions are less grating and more decent. This propriety of language I labour after, as well as after more meekness of wisdom. The Lord help me and my antagonists to "keep our garments clean !" Controvertists ought to be clothed with an ardent, flaming love for truth, and a candid, humble regard for their neighbours. May no root of prejudice stain that flaming love! no malice rend our seamless garments! and, if they are ever "rolled in blood," may it be only in the blood of our common enemies, destructive error, and the man of sin!