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All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased in his appointed and accepted time, effectually
Such passages as I have quoted glare upon the reader throughout the Fifteen Sermons of Idwards The volume is darkened and discolored with the flames and smoke of Hell, represented as curling round far the greater part of the human race.
• How dismal will it be when you are under these racking torments, to know assuredly that you never, never, shall be delivered from them; to have no hope. When you shall wish that you might be turned into nothing, but shall have no hope of it; when you shall wish that you might be turned into a toad or serpent, but shall have no hope of it, when you would rejoice, if you might but have any relief. after you have endured these torments millions of ages, but shall have no hope of it; when after you have worn out the ages of the sun, moon, and stars in your dolorous groans and lamentations, without rest day or night, or one minute's ease, yet you shall have no hope of ever being delivered; when after you have worn out a thousand more such ages, yet you shall have no hope, but shall know that you are not one whit nearer the end of your torments; but that still there are the same groans, the same shrieks, the same doleful cries incessantly to be made by you and that the smoke of your torment shall still ascend for ever and ever; and that your souls which have been agitated by the wrath of God all this while, yet will still exist to hear more wrath; your bodies which will have been burning and roasting all this while in these glowing flames, yet shall not have been consumed, but will remain to roast through an eternity yet, which will not have been at all shortened by what sball have been past. Sermon on the Eternity of Hell Torments. pp. 418, 419. These are the most grievous torments in soul and body without intermission in Hell-fire forever,' to which Calvinism teaches that we are 'justly liable' for what we are by nature It is in order that they may endure these torments,FOR THE GLORY OF HIS SOVEREIGN POWER OVER HIS CREATURES,' as the Westminster divines express themselves, that the God of all favour and consolation has created far the greater part of men. Of the countless multitudes of human beings who have dwelt on our globe, there are very few, the end of whose creation as decreed by God, was not their infinite and eternal wretchedness. To this they were ordained, and for this they have been prepared by him. He has successively sent them into the world with such natures, that they were utterly indisposed, disabled and made opposite' to every act, but such as might incur his vengeance.
It may seem, as if nothing could be added to aggravate the horror and disgust which such a doctrine is adapted to produce. But it is not so. There is something, I think, more inexpressibly loathsome, in the following passage from Edwards, than in any thing I have yet quoted.
'The sight of hell-torments will exalt the happiness of the saints for ever. It will not only make them more sensible of the greatness and freeness of the grace of God in their happiness; but it will really make their happiness the greater, as it will make them more sensible of their own happiness; it will give them a more lively relish of it; it will make them prize it more, When they see others, who were of the same nature, and born under the same circumstances, plunged in such misery, and they so distinguished, O it will make them sensible how happy they are. misery, in all cases, greatly increases the relish of any joy or pleasure.' A sense of the opposite What must be the effect of such a belief, as is here expressed, in brutalizing the whole character of him by whom it is held. Such are the DOCTRINES OF DEVILS, which have been taught under the insulted name of Christianity.]
to call, by his word and spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.'
I shall quote no other authority. As this doctrine is the only redeeming feature of Calvinism, if indeed it deserve that name, I suppose it will not be denied to be a part of the system. Otherwise it might be denied to be so, with just as much pretence and plausibility, as any other of the doctrines I have stated, with which it is intimately and essentially connected.
I am now then to prove it a doctrine of Calvinism, that the number of those saved out of the common ruin of mankind is comparatively small.
In proof of this proposition, I might, perhaps, content myself with appealing generally to the declamations, with which every one acquainted with Calvinistic writings must be familiar, concerning the general depravity of the world, and the small number of the saints, as contradistinguished from each other. But I shall adduce more particular evidence.
'And indeed it is not wonderful,' says Calvin, 'that they who are born in darkness, harden themselves more and more in their stupidity, because very few (paucissimi), that they may be restrained within bounds, attend with docility to the word of God; but they rather exult in their own vanity."*
In commenting upon the words in the prayer of our Saviour, John xvii. 9. he says: Whence it appears that the whole world does not belong to its creator; only that grace snatches a few (non multos) from the curse and wrath of God and from eternal death, who would otherwise perish; but leaves the world in the ruin, to which it has been ordained.'†
1 give a few more quotations from Calvin.
'Especially is it the lot of Christians to be hated by the great. er part of men.**** Satan, the prince of the world never ceases to arm his followers with madness to insult the members of Christ.'
In commenting upon the beautiful and affecting invitation of Christ, Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, the temper and views of Calvin are sufficiently discovered:
'And yet all (who accept this invitation) are few in number;
*Institut: Lib. i. C. iv. § 2.
The words of this extraordinary passage deserve to be given in the original: Unde fit ut totus mundus ad creatorem non pertineat: nisi quod a maledictione et ira Dei, ac morte æterna non multos eripit gratia, qui alioqui perituri erant; mundum autem, in suo interitu, cui destinatus est, reliquit.' Institut Lib. iii. C. 22. § 7.
Comment: in Harm, Evang. p. 65.
because out of the innumerable multitude of those who are perishing, but few perceive that they are perishing.'*
In the Westminster Assembly's Larger Catechism, we are told: They who having never heard the Gospel, know not Jesus Christ, and believe not in him, cannot be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, or the law of that religion which they profess; neither is there salvation in any other, but in Christ alone, who is the Saviour only of his body, the Church.'
'The visible church consists of all those who profess the true religion; [i. e. Calvinism] and their children; But
All that hear the gospel and live in the visible church, are not saved.'
I think it must be granted that according to the Westminster Assembly, the number of the reprobate far exceeds that of the elect.
I will now quote from Edwards.
'That there are generally but few good men in the world, even among them that have the most distinguishing and glorious advantages for it, which they are favoured with that live under the gospel, is evident from that saying of our Lord, from time to time in his mouth, many are called, but few are chosen. And if there are but few among those, how few, how very few indeed, must persons of this character be, compared with the whole world of mankind? The exceeding smallness of the number of truc saints, compared with the whole world, appears by the representations often made of thein as distinguished from the world.'t
I might very well stop here, but the harvest of such passages is abundant.
'If we observe the history of the old Testament, there is reason to think, there never was any time from Joshua to the captivity, wherein wickedness was more restrained, and virtue and religion more encouraged and promoted than in David's and Solomon's times. And if there was so little true piety in that nation, that was the only people of God under heaven, in their very best times, what may we suppose concerning the world in general, take one time with another.'
I have thus given proof from the best authorities, that the propositions which I have declared to be doctrines of Calvinism are such. I think I shall not again be charged, as I have been by your reviewer, with borrowing my notions of Calvinism from
*Comment: in Harm. Evang. p. 131.
+ Edwards on Original Sin. Works, vol. vi. p. 190,
Ibid. p. 192.
Toplady, a writer into whose works I never have looked. I am convinced, that the great body of common Christians who bear the name of Calvinists in New England, a portion of our community of whom I never have spoken with disrespect, because I never have felt it, are, in truth, but very imperfectly acquainted with that system from which they derive their appellation. This circumstance has afforded opportunity for a despicable controversial artifice, (if it deserve the name of artifice,) which has of late been freely resorted to by some of the professed defenders of the Calvinistic faith. Instead of endeavouring to maintain, they have denied the doctrines of their own system. They have had the assurance to assert that that was not Calvinism, which for almost three centuries, every theologian has known and acknowledged to be Calvinism. They have refused, when pressed hardly, and the occasion has required it, to acknowledge the fundamental doctrines of their own creeds and confessions and standard writers. They have not given them up explicitly and honestly, and said they could not defend them, but they have, in fact, denied the Calvinistic faith, at the very moment they have been pretending to support it, and have been reviling those by whom it was openly opposed. The folly of this artifice is on a level with its disingenuousness.
You will, without doubt, be unwilling to publish this communication in your work. Before refusing to do it, however, I beg you to consider, that you have admitted into your work a gross attack upon my character, not as a writer, but as a man, and that you cannot, consistently with honour and justice, refuse me an opportunity of answering such a charge in the work in which it was made; that, in the next place, in meeting you as it were upon your own ground, and asking for the insertion of this article in your own work, I give you every advantage; for you may surround it with comments and answers to do away its effect, of all which, probably, I shall take no notice; that, further, it consists principally of extracts from the highest Calvinistic authorities, and that it will be hard to deny your readers the benefit of so much sound doctrine, because it has been brought together by an heretical collector; and lastly that if you do not insert it in your work; I shall take every other means in my power to give it publicity, that it will probably find its way to many of your readers, and that they will receive it with an impression particularly unfavourable to yourself and your cause, that you were afraid to admit it into your publication.
Whatever reply may be made to this communication, it must be recollected, that the main question at issue is, whether I have misrepresented the doctrines of Calvinisin. Every thing which does not bear upon this point will be irrelevant and impertinent.
In order to prove this point, it will be necessary, in the first place, to show that my quotations from Calvinistic authors do not coincide with and confirm my propositions; and then, to point out specifically, the errors in those propositions, and to shew by proper authorities, that they are errors. No reply of this sort, I am confident, will be given. But whatever may be attempted, I must claim the privilege of making a rejoinder in your work. It is not probable, indeed, that I shall use this privilege. But your reviewer, or any other writer of a similar character, is obviously not to be trusted to make assertions, without the salutary dread of an answer upon his mind; though the dread of an answer may prevent its necessity.
If you do not insert this communication, in your next number, and I do not in the mean time, hear from you, I shall understand that you decline publishing it, and take measures accordingly. I am, Sir, &c. &c.
The following is the notice of the preceding letter, which appeared in the number of the Spectator for August, printed exactly as it there stands.
'We have received a letter of nearly five sheets from Professor Norton, in which he attempts to fasten upon us the charge of falsehood for our denial that the writings of Calvin or of the Westminster Divines, will support his statement of the leading doctrines of Calvinism. After the treatment which Dr. Miller, in similar circumstances, received from the "Unitarian Miscellany," we should be justified in coolly informing Prof. Norton that if he chooses to publish his letter in the form of a pamphlet, at his own expense, we will consent to its being stitched up with one of our numbers, and circulated among our subscribers. But we will not follow such an example. Prof. Norton's communication shall be inserted whenever it is purged of those reproachful and menacing expressions which he well knew could be endured by no man who is not lost to every feeling of self-respectexpressions which we think too well of Prof. N. to believe he can reflect upon hereafter with any other emotions than shame and regret. As a specimen of these, we need only mention that he speaks of a highly respectable writer in our work, as an "anonymous scribbler without TRUTH and without SHAME;" and treats him as so utterly abandoned, that "he (the Reviewer) or any other writer of a similar character, is obviously not to be TRUSTED to make ASSERTIONS without the salutary dread of an upon his mind." Our readers will be amused to learn that these