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of phraseology, than the old habit of using contractions in wri. ting. What strange flourishes are made to stand for Half a dozen letters in some old Greek manuscripts ! But the art of printing, has put an end to the use of this enigmatical character. When will theologians cease to be enigmatical ?
The wide scope which Dr. Hamilton has allowed himself, will be seen from the Contents.
• Chap. I. Of the Nature of Election. Chap. II. Proof of the Doctrine of Election. 1. The love of order, the desire of enjoying their own will, and the habits of inquiry and consideration, observable in rational agents. § 2. The Attributes of God. Ø 3. The evi. dences of design apparent in the works of God. $ 4. Prophecies and Promises. 5. Salvation by grace. $6. The testimonies of Scripture.
• Chap. II!. Vindication of Election. $ 1. Defence of Election from the charge that it is dishonourable to the character of God.
from the charge that it is inconsistent with the freedom of the will. 3. --- from its supposed inconsistency with the univer
s sal calls and free offers of the Gospel.'
· A short extract will shew the Author's view of the nature of the subject.
• But, whilst in this manner we are compelled to admit that salvation, in all its parts, is of grace ; that conversion is the work of God ; and that every individual who is born again, is not only rendered spiritually minded, but is actually born of the Spirit ; another question instantly and inevitably meets us : When did God resolve on this gracious result ? Did He or did He not think of it till the moment when the Spirit commenced his saviug operations ? If He entertained the purpose before that interesting period, when was it first formed? Was this from everlasting? or at the birth of the man? or merely a day, or an hour, or a moment before he called him by his grace ?—These questions lie at the foundation of all the discussion respecting the decrees of God; and the issue of the whole controversy turns upon the answer which they ought to receive. The opponent of Election imagines that the effect is altogether extemporary; and that, whatever may be the agency of God in conversion, and the extent of His foreknowledge, up to the moment of execution, He has no will nor purpose upon the subject; and that He is not more determined effectually to apply the blessings of the Gospel to one than to another; to John than to Judas, to Paul than to Caiaphas.
• However much the advocates of this hypothesis may be delighted with its simplicity, and confident in its strength, if we are to judge of the perfections of God, by what we observe in the best and most en. lightened of men, we must at once declare it utterly untenable.'
pp. 26, 7.
Now we must be permitted to say, that the issue of the whole controversy by no means turns upon the answer which such questions ought to receive, for they are questions which deserve no answer. Nor would the opponent of Election ac, cept Dr. Hamilton's statement of the sentiment he attributes to him: Would it not have been better to give the itnagination' of his opponents in their own words. , If the Author is not fighting with a man of straw, why not name the writers who hold the opinion referred to ?
His attempt to infer the necessary truth of the doctrine from the love of order in the Divine mind, strikes us, we must confess, as both a failure and an impropriety. The Divine prescience may be clearly proved to be a necessary perfection of Deity ; but our knowledge of the Divine purposes must be derived purely from Revelation, and all á priori speculations respecting them are worse than superfluous. But our readers shall judge. The following is the summing up of the second, chapter.
• In the mean time, on looking back upon the ground over which we have travelled, we are necessarily led to ask, Is it true, as we haye proved, that every man of wisdom and of worth, possesses a love of order, a desire to follow the dictates of his own will and judgment, and a habit of inquiry and consideration ? and is it also true, that the powers of God's understanding and the inherent un. changeable rectitude of his nature, just as far surpass all created in. telligence and goodness, as the heavens are higher than the earth; and that in every thing in which we excel, he is infinitely above us? Is it true, that from everlasting to everlasting he is God, and that he is in all and through all; and that whilst he inhabits eternity and fills immensity, he at once sees and comprehends the past, the present, and the future? Is it true, that his understanding is infinite, and his nature unchangeable; and that, whilst he knows the properties of every creature that he has made, what he has once purposed, he will infallibly bring to pass ? 'Is it true, that his power is omnipotent, and that its exercise perpetually depends upon his will; and that every thing that exists, has been made by his pleasure, and is upheld by his own providence and care ? Is it true, that his wisdom and goodness are inconceivable and absolutely unbounded; and that it is an essential attribute of wisdom and of goodness to pursue the best and noblest ends by the simplest and most efficient measures ? Is'it true, that without a plan and a purpose, we could discover no trade of order and regularity amongst his works ? and is it likewise true, that the universe is rèplete with the proofs of a constancy which never varies, and of a skill the most perfect and stupendous ? Is it true, that the agent's declaring before-hand, exactly what he afterwards produces, demonstrates deliberate and fixed determination? and is it true, that the Bible contains an uninterrupted train of prophecies and promises, extending from the beginning to the end of
time, and embracing an outline of the whole of God's conduct towards the children of men? Is it true that the change of the human heart is wholly his work; and that while he is able to subdue even all things to himself, he leaves multitudes to live in security and sloth, to die in impenitence and sin, and descend to everlasting destruction Is it true, 'that the scriptures again and again proclaim the right and the power of the Most High to do what he pleases in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and in all deep places; that his counsel shall stand, and that he will do all his pleasure ?
• Is all this true ? And who that confides in the evidence either of reason or revelation, can doubt or deny its truth? Then, with whatever difficulty it may be supposed to be attended, we may most securely rely on the fact, that the whole of the Divine government is planned and fixed; that whatever God does, is done from design; that he worketh all according to the counsel of his will; that there is an election of Grace; and that they who are saved, are saved and called with a holy calling, not according to their works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given them in Christ Jesus, before the world began.' pp. 167-9.
The propositions contained in the last paragraph, no Christian man, we apprehend, would deny; and in fact, the conclusions are clearer and more certain, taken by themselves, than the proofs adduced by the Writer to establish them. This will apply to the whole work. The Author's doctrines we, in the main, cordially approve of; it is to his reasonings and subor. dinate statements that we hesitate to assent. Dr. Hamilton writes like a sensible and pious man, and his object in the pubs lication has been, we are persuaded, the good of his fellow creatures. But after all, what is the tendency of such disquisitions ? On an unbeliever, we should fear that they would make an unfavourable and injurious impression; what is the effect they are adapted to produce on the mind of a believer? Is it a practical, is it a devotional effect? We question it.
It is, we think, a serious omission in such a work, that the practical uses of the doctrine have not been thought to require distinct notice. The language of systematic Theology is, It • is so, and you are to believe it.' We find nothing like this frigid, dogmatic niode of exhibiting trath in the sacred writings. There, doctrines are never introduced apart from their moral purpose; but there is always to be found a reason for their being brought forward, in the obvious scope and holy tendency of the train of thought in which they occur. When the Apostles call upon men to believe, it is to believe unto salvation, What they are intent upon, is not, as their ultimate object, the initiation into a creed, but the formation of the Christian cha, racter. Separated from this moral aim, theology is the most una interesting and useless of studies. Take the doctrine of Election, for instance, and let us suppose that Dr. Hamilton's readers are brought entirely to acquiesce in the justness of his statements : what then? Will the perusal have promoted in their hearts love to the Divine Being ? May not a man be as orthodox a believer in Election, as the Author could wish him to be, and yet remain at enmity with the moral government of God? This will surely be admitted. It cannot be concealed, that there are hundreds of unconverted, unprincipled men among the orthodox. Now the question is, not whether the Scripture doctrine of Election, or any other revealed truth, has a holy tendency; for this it were impious to doubt; but whether such polemical exhibitions of the doctrine are adapted to promote the end of all truth, which is to sanctify the heart and regenerate the character.
The apology usually made for treating of such topics, either in the pulpit or in essays and disquisitions, is, that they are controverted and opposed. But what if they were not controverted, would it be the less necessary to insist on all that Scripture has revealed ? Would it cease to be necessary to preach and uphold the doctrine of the Atonement, if there were no Socinian 'left to impugn it? It is highly proper to notice, when the occasion calls for it, the objections which are urged against the truth of a doctrine; but defences, apologies, apd vindications are apt to leave out or keep in the background, the positive recommendations of the truths they advocate : while insisting on their certainty, they say little that can illustrate their excellence. Whereas the only efficient motive for embracing truth, lies in its moral excellence.
There are many pious individuals who believe in the doctrine of Election as usually stated,--that is, they acknowledge it to be a Scripture doctrine ; but still, were they to speak out, they would say, they wish it were not in Scripture. It is a part of the system of belief which they dare not discard, but it has no relation in their minds to any practical result, any virtuous or holy feeling. While they do homage to the authority of Revelation, this seems to them a truth scarcely worth being revealed. In their case, it will not be said, that it is the opposition of the heart to the humbling doctrines of the Gospel, that causes their dissatisfaction. We must conclude, either that the doctrine itself, which presents itself under this repulsive aspect, is not scriptural, or that their minds have never been fairly brought into contact with the doctrine in its true character. We believe the latter to be the case, and the reason is, that they have perhaps seldom or ever had the doctrine exhibited to them otherwise than controversially: they have never been taught why they should believe it.
This gives the Antinomian teacher an immense advantage in the pernicious use he makes of these ill-understood doctrines. They do not lie idle in his mind. He well krrows, and his hearers too, why he holds and preaches Election.' He has uses for the doctrine which the Apostles never dreamed of applying it to. It is almost the only active principle of his creed ; but it acts in a direction the very contrary to that in which it was intended to operate.
We have often thought that this fact supplies a presumption against the scriptural character of Antinomianism, so strong as to warrant our pronouncing its condemnation, independent of any direct refutation. The use which the Antinomian makes of the doctrine of the Election, is clearly such as to produce an effect precisely opposite to what the Apostle designed. St. Paul labours to refute the idea of merit or works in the believer as the cause of his being chosen to eternal life, for the purpose of exalting the gratuitousness of the Divine mercy, so as to exclude boasting: the Antinomian fancies himself personally elected, not by mercy, but by favouritism, and of this he does boast. The argument of the Apostle is thus illustrated by Calvin in his commentary on Eph. i. 4. There• fore, if the cause be sought, why God has called us to a parti'cipation in the Gospel, why he vouchsafes daily to confer on us any benefits, why he
heaven to us, we must ever recur to that as a first principle, Because he has chosen us before the foundation of the world. Moreover, that this choice is gratuitous, may be deduced from the very time of it; ' for what excellency could attach to us, what merit could be apparent in us, before the world was made ? For, how puerile that sophistical cavil, that we were chosen, not because we were already worthy, but because God foresaw that we should « become so. We were all lost in Adam ; therefore, unless God redeem us from destruction by his own choice, he can foresee nothing different as the issue. But for the interposition of God in sending his Son to redeem and enlighten the world, what good works could he have foreseen in any? The Apostle's argument is, that, as the Divine purpose to redeem his church was from'eternity, (in common with all the Divine purposes,) nothing in .us could originate the love of God, since it was " when we were enemies, that Christ died for us." At the time this sovereign purpose was formed, the subjects of it had no existence. Their existence in the Divine mind is a metaphysical abstraction with which the Apostle does not concern himself. And previously to their embracing the Gospel, they were “ dead," even as others, “ children of wrath," even as others. And why does he urge this? That they might