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´╗┐Title: The Calvinistic Doctrine of Predestination Examined and Refuted
Author: Hodgson, F. (Francis), 1805-1877
Language: English
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Delivered in St. George's M. E. Church, Philadelphia,







Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by


in the Office of the Clerk of the District Court of the United
States in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



PHILADELPHIA, July 13, 1854.


DEAR SIR: We, whose names are hereunto annexed, having heard your
recent series of discourses upon the "Divine Decrees," and
believing that their publication at this time would be of great
service to the cause of truth, earnestly desire that such
measures may be taken as will secure their publication at an
early period. We therefore respectfully solicit your concurrence,
and that you would do whatever may be necessary on your part to
further our object:--

  JOHN J. HARE,             THOMAS W. PRICE,
  WM. G. ECKHARDT,          THOS. M. ADAMS,
  CHAS. COYLE,              FRANCIS A. FARROW,
  R. O. SIMONS,             JNO. R. MORRISON,
  ENOS S. KERN,             JOHN FRY,
  JNO. P. WALKER,           E. A. SMITH,
  J. W. BUTCHER,            S. W. STOCKTON,


The motives which induced me to preach the discourses on the
"Divine Decrees" are equally decisive in favor of their
publication, as you propose. I have taken the liberty to
rearrange some parts of them for the benefit of the reader.



To Brothers LONGACRE,

MYERS, and others.



"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being
predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will."--EPH. i. 11.

IT would very naturally be expected of a preacher, selecting this
passage as the foundation of his discourse, that he would have
something to say upon the subject of predestination. It is my
purpose to make this the theme of the occasion; and this purpose
has governed me in the selection of the text. The subject is one
of great practical importance. It relates to the Divine
government--its leading principles and the great facts of its
administration. Some suppose that the Methodists deny the
doctrine of Divine predestination, that the word itself is an
offence to them, and that they are greatly perplexed and annoyed
by those portions of Scripture by which the doctrine is
proclaimed. This is a mistaken view. We have no objection to the
word; we firmly believe the doctrine; and all the Scriptures, by
which it is stated or implied, are very precious to us.

There is a certain theory of predestination, the Calvinistic
theory, which we consider unscriptural and dangerous. There is
another, the Arminian theory, which we deem Scriptural and of
very salutary influence. My plan is, _first_, to refute the false
theory; and, _secondly_, to present the true one, and give it its
proper application.

My discourse or discourses upon this subject may be more or less
unacceptable to some on account of their controversial aspect.
This disadvantage cannot always be avoided. Controversy is not
always agreeable, yet it is often necessary. Error must be
opposed, and truth defended. What I have to say, is designed
chiefly for the benefit of the younger portion of the congregation.
I feel that there devolves upon me not a little responsibility in
reference to this class of my hearers. Many of them, I am happy to
learn, are eagerly searching for truth, and they have a right to
expect that the pulpit will aid their inquiries, and throw light
upon their path.

The theory of predestination to which we object affirms that God
has purposed, decreed, predetermined, foreordained, predestinated,
whatsoever comes to pass, and that, in some way or other, he, by
his providence, brings to pass whatever occurs.

The advocates of this doctrine complain loudly that they are
misunderstood and misrepresented. The Rev. Samuel Miller, D. D.,
late of Princeton College, N. J., in a tract on _Presbyterian
Doctrine_, published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication,
complains thus: "It may be safely said that no theological system
was ever more _grossly misrepresented_, or more _foully_ and
_unjustly vilified_ than this." "The gross misrepresentations
with which it has been assailed, the _disingenuous_ attempts to
fasten upon it consequences which its advocates disavow and
abhor; and the _unsparing calumny_ which is continually heaped
upon it and its friends, have _scarcely been equalled_ in any
other case in the entire annals of theological controversy." "The
opponents of this system are wont to give the most _shocking_ and
_unjust_ pictures of it. Whether this is done from _ignorance_ or
_dishonesty_ it would be painful, as well as vain, at present, to
inquire." "The truth is, it would be difficult to find a writer
or speaker, who has distinguished himself by opposing Calvinism,
who has fairly represented the system, or who really appeared to
understand it. They are forever fighting against a _caricature_.
Some of the most grave and venerable writers in our country, who
have appeared in the Arminian ranks, are undoubtedly in this
predicament: whether this has arisen from the want of knowledge
or the want of candor, the effect is the same, and the conduct is
worthy of severe censure." "Let any one carefully and dispassionately
read over the _Confession of Faith_ of the Presbyterian Church, and
he will soon perceive that the professed representations of it,
which are _daily_ proclaimed from the _pulpit_ and the _press_,
are _wretched slanders_, for which no apology can be found but in
the ignorance of their authors."

He places himself in very honorable contrast with those whom he
thus severely condemns: "The writer of these pages," says he, "is
fully persuaded that Arminian principles, when traced out to
their natural and unavoidable consequences, lead to an invasion
of the essential attributes of God, and, of course, to blank and
cheerless atheism. Yet, in making a statement of the Arminian
system, as actually held by its advocates, he should consider
himself inexcusable if he departed a hair's-breadth from the
delineation made by its friends." (pp. 26, 27, 28.)

This writer reiterates these charges, with interesting
variations, in his introduction to a book on the Synod of Dort,
published by the same establishment. "They," says he, "are ever
fighting against an imaginary monster of their own creation. They
picture to themselves the consequences which they suppose
unavoidably flow from the real principles of Calvinists, and
then, most unjustly, represent these consequences as a part of
the system itself, as held by its advocates." Again: "How many an
eloquent page of anti-Calvinistic declamation would be instantly
seen by every reader to be either calumny or nonsense, if it had
been preceded by an honest statement of what the system, as held
by Calvinists, really is." (_Synod of Dort_, p. 64.)

The Rev. Dr. Beecher says, in his work on _Skepticism_: "I have
_never heard a correct_ statement of the Calvinistic system from
an opponent;" and, after specifying some alleged instances of
misrepresentation, he adds: "It is needless to say that
falsehoods _more absolute_ and _entire_ were never stereotyped in
the foundry of the father of lies, or with greater industry
worked off for gratuitous distribution from age to age."

The Rev. Dr. Musgrave, in what he calls a _Brief Exposition and
Vindication of the Doctrine of the Divine Decrees, as taught in
the Assembly's Larger Catechism_, another of the publications of
the Presbyterian Board, charges the opponents of Calvinism in
general, and the Methodists in particular, with not only
_violently contesting_, but also with _shockingly caricaturing_,
and _shamefully misrepresenting_ and _vilifying_ Calvinism--with
"systematic and wide-spread defamation"--with "wholesale
traduction of moral character, involving the Christian reputation
of some three or four thousand accredited ministers of the
gospel." His charity suggests an apology for much of our
"misrepresentation of their doctrinal system" on the ground of
our "intellectual weakness and want of education;" but, for our
"dishonorable attempts to impair the influence" of Calvinistic
ministers, and "injure their churches," he "can conceive of no

The Rev. A. G. Fairchild, D. D., in a series of discourses
entitled _The Great Supper_, likewise published by the Presbyterian
Board of Publication, complains in these terms: "Sectarian partisans
are interested in misleading the public in regard to our real
sentiments, and hence their assertions should be received with
caution. Those who would understand our system of doctrines, must
listen, not to the misrepresentations of its enemies, but to the
explanations of its friends." (p. 40.) Again: "As these men cannot
wield the civil power against us, they will do what they can to
punish us for holding doctrines which they cannot overthrow by fair
and manly argument. God only knows the extent to which we might
have to suffer for our religion, were it not for the protection of
the laws! For, if men will publish the most wilful and deliberate
untruths against us, as they certainly do, for no other offence
than an honest difference of religious belief, what would they not
do if their power were equal to their wickedness?" (p. 73.)

This writer expresses his sense of the "wickedness of those who
oppose Calvinism" in still stronger terms: "If, then, the
doctrines of grace [Calvinism] are plainly taught in the
Scriptures, if they accord with the experience of Christians, and
enter largely into their prayers, then it must be exceedingly
sinful to oppose and misrepresent them. Those who do this will
eventually be found _fighting against God_. We have recently
heard of persons praying publicly against the election of grace,
and we wonder that their tongues did not cleave to the roof of
their mouth in giving utterance to the horrid imprecation." (p.
178.) Ah! These Methodists are very wicked!

The Rev. L. A. Lowry, author of a recent work, entitled _Search
for Truth_, published by the same high authority, discourses as

"When I see a man trying to distort the proper meaning of words,
and, presenting a garbled statement of the views of an opponent,
I take it as conclusive evidence that he has a bad cause; more
when he is constantly at it, and manifests in all that he does a
feeling of uneasiness and hostility towards those who oppose him.
During my brief sojourn in the Cumberland Church, I was called
upon to witness many such exhibitions, that, in the outset of my
ministerial labors, made anything but a favorable impression on
my mind. I found there, in common with all others who hold to
Arminian sentiments, the most uncompromising and _malignant_
opposition to the doctrines of the Presbyterian Church, while
there was _not_ a man that I met in all my intercourse, that
_could_ state fairly and fully what those doctrines are. Their
views were entirely one-sided; the truth was garbled to suit
their convenience; and the creations of their own fruitful fancy
were constantly being presented before the minds of the people,
thereby deepening their prejudices, and drawing still closer the
dark folds of their mantle of ignorance and bigotry." (pp. 65,

Again: "It is painful to witness the ignorance and stupidity of
men--their malignity and opposition to the truth--who have
learned to misrepresent and abuse Calvinism with such bitterness
of feeling, till, like a rattlesnake in dog-days, they have
become blinded by the poison of their own minds." (p. 156.)

In this attempt to destroy confidence in the veracity of
Arminians, so far, at least, as it is connected with their
representations of Calvinism, leading individuals are singled out
for special animadversion. Dr. Miller assails the moral character
of Arminius. He says of him that, "On first entering upon his
professorship, he seemed to take much pains to remove from
himself all suspicion of heterodoxy, by publicly maintaining
theses in favor of the received doctrines; doctrines which he
afterwards zealously contradicted. And that he did this contrary
to his own convictions at the time, was made abundantly evident
afterwards by some of his own zealous friends. But, after he had
been in his new office a year or two, it was discovered that it
was his constant practice to deliver one set of opinions in his
professional chair, and a very different set by means of private
confidential manuscripts circulated among his pupils." (_Synod of
Dort_, p. 13.)

Dr. Fairchild speaks thus of a passage by Mr. Wesley: "In the
doctrinal _Tracts_, p. 172, is an address to Satan, which we have
no hesitation in saying is fraught with the most concentrated
blasphemy ever proceeding from the tongue or pen of mortal,
whether Jew, Pagan, or Infidel, and all imputed to the Calvinists.
One cannot help wondering how such transcendent impieties ever
found their way into the mind of man; I am not willing to transfer
the language to these pages; but the work is doubtless accessible
to most readers, having been sown broadcast over the land."
(_Great Supper_, p. 150.) He also indorses the charge of forgery
which Toplady made against Mr. Wesley. (See p. 111.)

The late Dr. Fisk is charged with garbling the _Confession of
Faith_ for sinister purposes (p. 111); and with "scandalous
imputations" against Calvinism. (p. 150.)

It is not impossible that our Calvinistic brethren should be
misrepresented. Nor is it impossible that they should misrepresent
both themselves and others. I do not admit that they are thus
misrepresented by their Methodist opponents, but it is not my
intention to refute these charges at this time. I refer to them
now to justify the special caution which I shall observe in
presenting their tenets. They make it necessary for us to prove
beyond the possibility of doubt that they hold the doctrines
which we impute to them. I shall give their views in their own

Calvin says, in his _Institutes_: "Whoever, then, desires to
avoid this infidelity, let him constantly remember that, in the
creatures, there is no erratic power, or action, or motion, but
that they are _so governed _by the secret counsel of God, that
_nothing can happen_ but what is subject to his knowledge, and
DECREED _by his will_." (Vol. i. p. 186.)

Again: "All future things being uncertain to us, we hold them in
suspense, as though they might happen either one way or another.
Yet, this remains a _fixed principle_ in our hearts, that _there
will be_ NO _event which God has not_ ORDAINED." (_Ib_. p. 193.)

Again: "They consider it absurd that a man should be blinded by
the will and command of God, and afterwards be punished for his
blindness. They, therefore, evade this difficulty, by alleging
that it happens only by the permission of God, and not by the
will of God; but God himself, by the most unequivocal declarations,
rejects this subterfuge. That men, however, _can effect_ NOTHING
but by the secret _will_ of _God_, and can _deliberate_ upon
nothing but what he has _previously decreed_, and DETERMINES by
his _secret direction_, is proved by express and innumerable
testimonies." (_Ib_. p. 211.)

Again: "If God simply foresaw the fates of men, and did not also
_dispose_ and _fix_ them by his _determination_, there would be
room to agitate the question, whether his providence or foresight
rendered them at all necessary. But, since he foresees future
events only in consequence of _his decree that they shall
happen_, it is useless to contend about foreknowledge, while it
is evident that ALL _things come to pass rather_ by ORDINATION
and DECREE." (Vol ii. p. 169.)

Again: "I shall not hesitate, therefore, to confess plainly, with
Augustine, 'that the _will_ of God is the _necessity of things_,
and that _what_ he has _willed_ will _necessarily come to pass_.'
" (_Ib_. p. 171.)

Again: "With respect to his secret influences, the declaration of
Solomon concerning the heart of a king, that it is inclined
hither or thither according to the Divine will, certainly extends
to the whole human race, and is as much as though he had said,
that WHATEVER CONCEPTIONS we form in our minds, they we
_directed_ by the _secret_ INSPIRATION of GOD." (_Ib_. p. 213.)

Finally, for the present: "_What God decrees_," says this
celebrated writer, "must NECESSARILY _come to pass_." (_Ib_. p.

I think it will not be said, by any one who has heard me
attentively, that I either misrepresent, or misunderstand,
Calvin, when I impute to him the doctrine that God has purposed,
decreed, determined, foreordained, predestinated whatsoever comes
to pass, and that he in some way or other brings to pass whatever

But it may be objected that we ought not to hold modern
Calvinists responsible for all the doctrines of Calvin; that they
"no further indorse them than as they are incorporated into their
acknowledged creeds." To this we cordially assent. By this rule
we will abide. What, then, is the language of the _Westminster
Confession of Faith_, the established standard of orthodoxy in
the American Presbyterian Churches? The third chapter commends
thus: "God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy
counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain
whatsoever comes to pass" (p. 15); and, at the commencement of
the fifth chapter, we read: "God, the great Creator of all
things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures,
actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his
most wise and holy providence."

Observe, he, according to this statement, not only _upholds_ and
_governs_ all creatures, but _directs_ and _disposes_ all
_actions_ and things, from the _greatest_ even to the _least_.

The _Larger Catechism_ says, in answer to the question, "What are
the decrees of God?" "God's decrees are the wise, free, and holy
acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he
hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained _whatsoever
comes to pass in time_, especially concerning angels and men."

The _Shorter Catechism_ answers the same question by these words:
"The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose according to the
counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath
foreordained _whatsoever comes to pass_."

The next question in this Catechism is: "How doth God execute his
decrees?--_Ans_. God executeth his decrees in the works of
creation and providence."

In a work, entitled _An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of
the Westminster Assembly of Divines_, by the Rev. Robert Shaw,
published by the Presbyterian Board of Publication, and revised
by the Committee of Publication, we find the following passages:
"That God _must have decreed all future things_ is a conclusion
which flows necessarily from his foreknowledge, independence, and
immutability." (p. 58.)

Again: "The decrees of God relate to all future things without
exception; _whatever is done in time was foreordained before the
beginning of time_." (p. 59.)

Again: "If from all eternity he knew all things that come to
pass, then from eternity he _must_ have _ordained_ them" (p. 60).
Again: "The foreknowledge of God will necessarily infer a decree;
for God could not foreknow that things would be, unless he had
decreed they should be." (p. 59.)

In another publication of this Board, entitled _Fisher's
Catechism_, we find the following questions and answers:--

"_Q_. What are the decrees of God?--_Ans_. The decrees of God are
his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby,
for his own glory, he hath _foreordained whatsoever comes to
pass_." (p. 51.)

"_Q_. Are all the decrees of God then unchangeable?--_Ans_. Yes:
from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass." (p. 53.)

"_Q_. Does anything come to pass in time but what was decreed
from eternity?--_Ans_. No: for the _very reason why anything_
comes to pass in time, is _because God decreed_ it." (p. 54.)

"_Q_. Are things that are casual or accidental positively
decreed?--_Ans_. Yes." (_Ib_.)

"_Q_. What has the decree of God fixed with respect to man's
continuance in this world?--_Ans_. It has _immovably fixed_ the
precise moment of _every_ one's _life_ and _death_, with _every
particular circumstance thereof_." (_Ib_.)

"_Q_. How does God execute his decrees?--_Ans_. God executes his
decrees in the works of creation and providence." (p. 57.)

"_Q_. What is it for God to execute his decrees?--_Ans_. It is to
bring them to pass; or give _an actual being in time_, to what he
_purposed from eternity_." (_Ib_.)

"_Q_. Does not God leave the execution of his decrees to second
causes?--_Ans_. Whatever use God may make of second causes, in
the execution of his decrees, yet they are _merely tools_ in his
overruling hand, to bring about his glorious designs, and must do
all his pleasure." (_Ib_.)

"_Q_. Are there not certain means by which the decrees of God are
executed?--_Ans_. Yes; but these _means_ are _decreed as well as
the end_." (p. 52.)

"_Q_. Is there an exact harmony or correspondence, between God's
decree and the execution of it?--_Ans_. When the thing decreed is
brought actually into being, it _exactly corresponds_ to the idea
or platform of it _in_ the infinite _mind_ of _God_." (p. 57.)

"_Q_. Can none of the decrees of God be defeated or fail of
execution?--_Ans_. By no means." (_Ib_.)

"_Q_. Does God's governing providence include in it his
_immediate concurrence_ with every action of the creature?--Ans.
Yes; God not only _efficaciously concurs_ in _producing_ the
action, as to the matter of it; but likewise _predetermines_ the
creature to such or such an action, and _not to another, shutting
up all other ways of acting_, and leaving _that only open_ which
he had _determined_ to be done." (p. 67.)

"_Q_. Why are the decrees of God said to be _absolute_?--_Ans_.
Because they depend upon no condition without God himself, but
entirely and solely upon his own sovereign will and pleasure."
(p. 52.)

On page 67 he tells us that "the _worst action_ that was ever
_committed_, the _crucifying_ of the Lord of glory, was _ordered_
and _directed_ by God."

The Rev. Dr. Musgrave says, &c.: "In the former chapter, we
endeavored to explain and prove the three following propositions:--

"1. That _all things that come to pass_ in time, have been
_eternally_ and _unchangeably foreordained_, because most
certainly foreknown to the infinitely perfect Jehovah." (p. 18.)

The Rev. Dr. Boardman, of this city, in his discourses on the
doctrine of election, not only quotes with approbation that part
of the Confession of Faith which says, "God, from all eternity,
did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely
and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass" (p. 49), but
also says: "Some persons appear to think that the Divine decrees
are restricted to spiritual matters. This is so far from being a
correct opinion, that the Scriptures represent ALL EVENTS,
however _trivial_, as being embraced in those decrees." In this
connection, he also affirms "that the Divine decrees embrace not
only _ends_ but _means_, and that both in temporal and spiritual
things, where an end is decreed, the _means_ by which it is to be
reached or accomplished are _also decreed_." (pp. 56, 57.)

Dr. Chalmers, in his discourse on Predestination, says: "Let us
not conceive that the _agency_ of _man_ can bring about _one
single iota_ of _deviation_ from the _plans_ and the _purposes_
of _God_, or that he can be compelled to vary in a single case by
the movement of any of those subordinate beings whom he hath
himself created. There may be a diversity of operations, but it
is God who worketh all in all. Look at the resolute and
independent man, and you then see the purposes of the human mind
entered upon with decision, and followed up by vigorous and
successful exertions. But these _only make up one diversity of
God's operations_. The _will of man_, active, and spontaneous,
and fluctuating as it appears to be, is an _instrument in his
hand_--and he turns it at his pleasure--and he brings other
instruments to act upon it--and he plies it with all its
excitements--and he measures the force and proportion of each of
them--and _every step_ of _every individual_ receives as
_determinate_ a _character_ from the _hand of God_, as every mile
of a planet's orbit, or every gust of wind, or every wave of the
sea, or every particle of flying dust, or every rivulet of
flowing water. This power of God knows no exception. It is
absolute and unlimited, and while it embraces the vast, it
carries its _resistless_ influence to all the minute and
unnoticed diversities of existence. It reigns and operates
through all the secrecies of the inner man. _It gives birth to
every purpose. It gives impulse to every desire. It gives shape
and color to every conception_. It wields an entire ascendency
over every attribute of the mind, and the will, and the fancy,
and the understanding, with all the countless variety of their
hidden and fugitive operations, are submitted to it."

It may be supposed that while we have shown clearly and
indubitably that the doctrine which we propose to examine and
refute is held by Old School Presbyterians, it would be an act of
injustice upon our part, should we impute it to those of the New
School. Many think that the New School have rejected the leading
doctrines of Calvinism, as set forth in the Confession of Faith.
This is a very erroneous impression. A writer in the _Presbyterian
Quarterly Review_--a work recently originated and sustained by New
School Presbyterians--remarks as follows: "Whatever difficulties
there may be in the philosophy of the fact, it is certain that the
idea of Presbyterianism actuates itself theologically in Calvinism."
(Vol. i. No. I. p. 18.)

Again: "So far as we are informed, there is not a minister of our
body who does not love and cherish the Westminster Confession of
Faith as the best human delineation of Biblical theology." (p.

Again: "After fifteen years, in the body with which we are
connected, no man has moved to alter a tittle of the Confession
of Faith." (p. 3.)

Again: "As we love the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms, we
shall stand ready to vindicate them from Arminian, Socinian, and
infidel assaults on the one side, as well as Antinomian glosses
on the other." (p. 10.)

Again: "We must then, if we would obey the voice of God's
providence, teach our children the priceless glories of their
faith" (p. 152). "Who tells them that the Westminster Confession
of Faith is a model of noble writing?" (p. 153.)

The _Westminster Confession of Faith_, with the _Catechisms_, has
recently been republished by the authority of the New School
General Assembly, as the creed of their Church. Had they made any
material changes in their creed, so far as Calvinism is
concerned, this would have been the time to manifest them. But
the New School _Confession of Faith_ is a mere reprint of that of
the Old School.

The Rev. Albert Barnes, in a sermon in behalf of the American
Home Missionary Society, preached in New York and in Philadelphia,
says of that institution: "It cannot be denied, it need not be
denied, that the form of Christianity which it seeks and expects
to propagate, is that which has been much spoken against in the
world, and known as the Calvinistic form, and that it expects to
make its way because there are minds in every community that are
likely to embrace Christianity in that form, because it is
presumed that the more mind is elevated, and cultivated, and
brought into connection with schools and colleges, the more
likely it will be to embrace that form." (p. 38.)

Again, in a sermon preached before the New School General
Assembly, May 20, 1852, he commences a paragraph with these
words: "The Calvinistic denomination of Christians, of which we
are a part" (p. 12). Again, he says: "As this form of Christianity
is represented in the great denominational family to which we
belong, it combines two things--the Presbyterian form of government,
and the Calvinistic or Augustinian type of doctrine." (_Ib_.)

This eminent writer, whom I hold in very high esteem for his
learning, intelligence, and piety, notwithstanding his Calvinism,
expresses his views of the Divine decrees in these words:--

"But on this point, the entire movement of the world bears the
marks of being conducted according to a plan. We defy a man to
lay his finger on a fact which has not such a relation to other
facts as to show that it is a part of a scheme; and if of a
scheme, _then of a purpose formed beforehand_." (_Introd. to
Butler's Analogy_, p. 53.)

Again: "The event which was thus foreknown, must have been, for
some cause, _certain_ and _fixed_, since an uncertain event could
not possibly be foreknown. To talk of foreknowing a contingent
event as certain, which may or may not exist, is an absurdity."
(_Notes on Romans_, viii. 29.)

Again: "We interpret the decrees of God, so far as we can do it,
by _facts_; and we say that the actual _result_, by whatever
means brought about, is the expression of the _design_ of God."
(_Introd. to Butler's Analogy_, p. 43.)

The _Saybrook Platform and Confession of Faith_, which contains
the faith of the New England Congregationalists, holds precisely
the same language respecting the Divine decrees, with the
Confession of Faith of the Presbyterian Churches.

I am in possession of a work entitled _A Confession of Faith put
forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of
Christians (baptized upon profession of their faith) in London
and the country_; adopted by the Baptist Association, met at
Philadelphia, September 25, 1752. The chapters in this Confession
which relate to "God's decree" and "Providence," are, with very
slight variations of phraseology, not affecting the sense, the
same with those in the _Westminster Confession of Faith_, and the
_Saybrook Platform_. It is thoroughly Calvinistic.

The _Baptist Catechism_, published by the American Baptist
Publication Society, contains the following question and answer:--

"_Q_. What are the decrees of God?--_Ans_. The decrees of God are
his eternal purposes, according to the counsel of his will,
whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes
to pass."

The _Confession of Faith_ of the Dutch Reformed Church says: "We
believe that the same God, after he had created all things, did
not forsake them or give them up to fortune or chance, but that
he rules and governs them according to his holy will, so that
_nothing happens in this world without his appointment_." Again:
"This doctrine affords us unspeakable consolation, since we are
taught thereby, that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the
direction of our most gracious and Heavenly Father." Mark,
according to this, NOTHING _happens_ but with the APPOINTMENT and
by the DIRECTION of our Heavenly Father.

My hearers will, by this time, be fully convinced that I have not
misstated the Calvinistic doctrine of Divine predestination.

The application of this doctrine to the final destinies of men
and angels constitutes the Calvinistic doctrine of election and
reprobation. Upon this point, Calvin says:--

"Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which _he
has determined in himself what he would have become of every
individual of mankind_. For they are _not all created with a
similar destiny_, but _eternal life is foreordained for some_,
and _eternal damnation for others_. Every man _therefore being
created for one or the other of these ends_, we say he is
predestinated either to eternal life or death." (Vol. ii. p. 145.)

Again: "Observe; all things being at God's disposal, and the
decision of salvation or death belonging to him, he orders all
things by his counsel and decree in such a manner, that _some men
are born devoted from the womb to certain death_, that his name
may be glorified in their destruction." (_Ib_. 169.)

Again: "I inquire, again, how it came to pass that the fall of
Adam, _independent of any remedy_, should involve so many nations
with their _infant children_ in eternal death, but because such
was _the will of God_. Their tongues, so loquacious on every
other point, must here be struck dumb. It is an awful decree, I
confess but no one can deny that God foreknew the future final
fate of man before he created him, and that he did foreknow it
_because it was appointed by his own decree_." (_Ib_. 170.)

Upon this point, the _Presbyterian Confession of Faith_, the
_Saybrook Platform_, and the _Baptist Confession of Faith_, hold
the following language:--

"By the decree of God for the manifestation of his glory, some
men and angels are predestinated to everlasting life, and others
foreordained to everlasting death.

"Those angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are
particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so
certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or

"Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before
the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal
and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure
of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out
of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith
or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other
thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving him
thereunto, and all unto the praise of his glorious grace."

I do not say that Calvinists never contradict any of these
statements. Nor do I profess to have spread out the entire theory
of Calvinism. The question now relates to their doctrine of
Divine decrees.

I am fully convinced that the times demand a review and
comparison of the two opposing systems, Calvinism and
Arminianism. Our Calvinistic brethren, both Old and New School,
are putting forth high claims in behalf of their system, and
speaking of ours in very disparaging terms.

The Rev. Albert Barnes tells us, in his sermon in behalf of the
Home Missionary Society, preached in 1849, that the more mind is
elevated, and cultivated, and brought into connection with
colleges and schools, the more likely it will be to embrace the
Calvinistic form of Christianity. He thinks that Calvinists will
be increased just in proportion as schools and colleges can be
founded, and an intelligent and educated ministry sent out. He
does not suppose that the entire mind of the west will embrace
Calvinistic views, but he does "expect that a considerable
portion of the _educated_ and _ruling_ mind will" (p. 40). He
tells us, in his sermon delivered before the New School General
Assembly, convened in Washington in 1852, that past history has
shown that the class of minds most likely to embrace the
Calvinistic system "is most likely to be found among the
thinking, the sober, the educated, the firm, the conservative,
and the free" (p. 10); that "the Calvinistic system identifies
itself with education, and a large portion of the cultivated mind
of a community will be always imbued with the sentiments of the
system." (p. 15.)

This seems to imply, whatever may be intended, that Arminianism
has special affinities for ignorance; that it is more indebted to
ignorance than to intelligence for its diffusion; that its
chances for success will be diminished, in proportion as sound
education advances, and the ministry becomes intelligent. If this
be so, Arminians are pursuing a suicidal policy; for no Christian
denomination has established as many colleges and academies in
the same length of time as the Methodists. That Arminianism takes
better than Calvinism with _the masses_ is undeniable; but this
may be because it possesses a superior adaptation to the wants of
humanity. Our Saviour gave it as a distinctive mark of the
ushering in of the last dispensation that the poor have the
gospel preached unto them, which implies that the poor, and
consequently the uneducated, may understand it.

Mr. Barnes goes further. He intimates that the different
theological systems are "the result of some _original peculiarity_
in certain classes of minds;" that "there are minds, not a few in
number, or unimportant in character, which, when converted, will
_naturally_ embrace Calvinism." He "will not undertake to say
whether John Wesley _could_ have been a Calvinist, but he can say
that Jonathan Edwards _could never have been anything else_." He
repeats this sentiment three years after, in these words: "There
are minds, indeed, and those in _many respects_ of a high order,
that _will not_ [mark the phraseology!] see the truth of the
Calvinistic system; but there are minds that _can never_ see the
truth of an opposite system. We could not perhaps undertake to
say whether John Wesley could ever have been a Calvinist, but we
_can_ say that Jonathan Edwards could never have been anything
else; and if there be a mind in any community formed like that
of Edwards, we anticipate that it will embrace the same great
system which he defended."

Now it is inconceivable that Mr. Barnes should consider the
Arminian superior or equal to the Calvinistic mind. That must be
the best mental structure which is most in harmony with the best
theory. The tenor of his remarks indicates clearly his opinion
upon this point.

I can hardly express the astonishment which I felt upon reading
this strange sentiment from so justly distinguished a writer. It
appeared to me to be grossly unphilosophical, implying either
that truth is not homogeneous; that contradictory propositions
may be equally true; or that God has constituted some minds
falsely. It is presumable that between truth and mind, in its
original normal condition--mind not perverted by erroneous
education, or prejudice, or passion, or depravity in any form--
there will be a strict congeniality, so that truth will be
preferred to error. But this doctrine implies that one set of
minds will, under the same circumstances, from their peculiar
natural constitution, prefer the truth, and another set reject
it. It is obviously of very dangerous practical tendency. While
the Calvinist may refer to it to account for his being a
Calvinist, and the Arminian to account for his being an Arminian,
the infidel may claim that it is from the same cause that he is
an infidel. His rejecting the Bible is the natural inevitable
result of the peculiar mental constitution which God gave him.

Mr. Barnes tells us that Calvinism does not appeal to passion;
but, if I am not very greatly mistaken, and you may judge whether
I am or not, its advocates appeal very significantly to pride of
intellect. It offers gross flattery as the price of adhesion and
support. What else can be inferred from the passages which I have
quoted, than that by becoming Calvinists you will class
yourselves with minds of a superior structure, and with the
educated and cultivated, and will occupy an elevation from which
you can look down upon the less favored Arminians?

A writer in the New School _Quarterly Review_ has this remark:
"Our physical frame could about as well be erect, and adapted for
its purposes without a backbone, as piety be complete without
Calvinism." (Vol. i. No. I. p. 19.)

The Rev. Mr. Lowry, in his _Search for Truth_, claims that "the
doctrine of human depravity--the complete ruin of man--the
justice of his condemnation--the legal or covenant relation of
Adam and his posterity--the necessity of an atonement--and its
vicarious nature," "belong exclusively to the Calvinistic
system." He admits that the "Arminian often makes use of the same
phraseology as the Calvinist," but then he rejects the "proper
and scriptural sense." "The Arminian," he says, "attempts to
connect with his system the doctrine of a vicarious atonement,
because the phrase is a popular one, and he cannot well do
without it; but when we come to examine its meaning, we find that
lie has no claim to it whatever. He may hold on to the name, but
nothing more. The substance is as different from the view which
forms a part of his creed, as a city on the Atlantic coast
differs from a small village in the backwoods." (pp. 55, 56.)

Again: "The principles which lie at the foundation of the
Arminian doctrine of _ability_ and _grace_, are not only
calculated to destroy the energies of the Church, and unhinge the
institutions of society, as I have endeavored to show, but they
go still further; they enter the Christian's closet, and destroy
the life and soul of his private devotions. They are calculated
to dry up every fountain, and destroy every spring of religious
feeling and action." (p. 86.)

Again: "Arminians are without any consistent and harmonious
system of doctrine. It is true that, on speaking of the doctrines
of those who hold to Arminian sentiments, we are in the habit of
using the word _system_, but it is only as a matter of convenience
and courtesy. Some of those doctrines may sustain a logical
connection with others--such as the doctrine of falling from grace,
and the denial of divine efficiency in conversion and sanctification
--but Arminianism, as a whole, is a coat of many colors, that has
been patched and pieced since the days of Pelagius, according to
the taste and caprice of the man that wears it." (p. 156.)

Again: "It requires but half an eye to see, that the view of the
fall of man and the relation we sustain to Adam, as found in the
standards of the Methodist Church, vitiate the whole Gospel
scheme; that the principles growing out of the view there
presented, lead to fundamental error with regard to the nature of
virtue and vice, and destroy all human accountability; that the
nature of the remedy found in the same standards necessarily
destroys all motive to intelligent action and labor upon the part
of the Church in the great work before her, holds out no
encouragement to prayer; degrades the character of God to that of
a debtor and apologist for injuries he has done to the creature;
and exalts the creature to heaven by a kind of semi-omnipotence
of his own. Such consequences as these I say are _dangerous and
ruinous_." (p. 157.)

This book derives its importance from its being adopted by the
Presbyterian Board of Publication, and its bearing the _imprimatur_
of that institution. It is commended by their catalogue as "well
worthy of perusal by those who have doubts as to the scriptural
character of those doctrines which ignorance and prejudice brand
as the horrible dogmas of Calvinism.'" It was published in 1852.

A writer in the _Presbyterian_, of June 25, 1853, thus expresses
his views of Arminianism: "Did we preach Arminianism to the
people, we could get ten into our churches where we now get one;
for it must be remembered that Arminianism is far more palatable
to depraved nature than Calvinism." Again: "These brethren go too
fast, get men into the visible kingdom too soon; lull them to
everlasting sleep by their soporific measures and doctrinal
anodynes, thereby breaking down the barriers which separate the
Church from the world, and ruining hundreds of souls where they
save one. Let our young men be made to feel rather that
Arminianism is a dangerous delusion wherever it is preached, and
uphold with all their might and main real old-fashioned

It is a very common thing with Calvinists to refer opposition to
Calvinism to depravity, as its source. The _Presbyterian Banner_,
for Nov. 5, 1853, contains the following: "The natural heart
recoils from predestination. The ungodly hate it. Our whole
system is too humbling to human pride to find friends even among
the vicious. This is to us a strong affirmation of its truth."

They also claim for Calvinism that it is not only specially
conducive to civil and religious liberty, but that it is
essential thereto. The Rev. Dr. Wilson, of the New School
Presbyterian Church, in an address delivered before the literary
societies of Delaware College, in 1852, went out of his way to
eulogize Calvinism in these terms: "Calvinism and human liberty
flourish side by side, or rather the latter is not found without
the former; and nowhere at this hour is there _true freedom_,
true independence of opinion in Church or State where Calvinism
is not the foundation." Calvinists must be very forgetful of
their history, or they must suppose that all others are ignorant
or forgetful of it. But it is not my intention, at present, to
reply to this extravagant pretension.

I do not object to the publication of these views from the pulpit
and the press. If our brethren entertain them, they have a right
to publish them. It is manly to do so. But it may be obligatory
upon us to stand up for what we believe to be the truth, and to
oppose what we believe to be error. I shall endeavor to do so,
the Lord being my helper.


"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being
predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will."--EPH. i. 11.

IN the preceding discourse, I called attention to the fact that the
opponents of Calvinism are frequently charged with misunderstanding
through ignorance, or grossly misrepresenting it. I read passages
from several, charging us with calumny, defamation, slander, and
even blasphemy.

In view of these charges, often made and reiterated, and widely
spread, with high official sanction, and likely to be repeated
whenever Calvinism is boldly investigated, I deemed it necessary
to show, by numerous quotations, that I do not misrepresent it
when I impute to it the doctrine that God has willed, proposed,
and decreed whatsoever comes to pass, and that, in some way or
other, he brings to pass whatever occurs. For this purpose, I
referred to the acknowledged publications of the Presbyterian,
Congregational, Baptist, and Reformed Dutch Churches. I noted,
particularly, that this doctrine is held by the New School
Presbyterians, because it is supposed by many that they have
abandoned it, and that their rejection of it constitutes one of
the points of difference between them and the Old School.

I also quoted largely to show that earnest efforts are in
progress to exalt Calvinism, and disparage Arminianism and

We now propose to test this dogma of Calvinism by reason and
Scripture. We shall not, at present, enter upon the examination
of the proof-texts, though we hold the Holy Scriptures to be the
ultimate authority on all theological questions, but shall
compare it with acknowledged Scripture principles. And, yet, it
may be very reasonably expected that some attention will be paid
to the passage which, according to custom, has been selected as
presenting the subject of discourse. It is the very first proof
-text adduced by the _Westminster Confession of Faith_, but it
fails to meet the demand made upon it. It does not contain the
doctrine sought to be proved. It does, indeed, assert the
predestination of believers to certain blessings, a point not in
dispute, and also that they are predestinated to these blessings
according to God's purpose; but all this is very far from
teaching that _God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass_.
The proof is supposed by some to be contained in the remaining
portion of the passage--"who worketh all things," &c. But we must
take the entire expression of the apostle in order to get his
meaning, "who worketh all things after the counsel of his own
will." By this he means to say, merely, that, in whatever God
does towards men or angels, he is uncontrolled. He carries out
his own free purposes. He does not conform to the counsels of
others. He does not yield to the clamors of discontented
subjects, or make concessions to contemporary and independent
powers. The words are thus paraphrased by McKnight, a Calvinistic
commentator: "According to the gracious purpose of him, who
effectually accomplisheth all his benevolent intentions, by the
most proper means, according to the wise determination of his own
will." We may, with as much propriety, argue from the apostolic
injunction, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings"
(Phil. ii. 14), that Christians are required by the law of God to
_do all things_ absolutely, as, from the clause under consideration,
that God has decreed and executes whatsoever comes to pass. But, if
our brethren insist upon so understanding the apostle, we shall
hold them to their interpretation. We shall not allow them to
contradict it whenever the exigencies of the argument may render it

1. In the first place, this theory of predestination is
inconsistent with the doctrine of man's free moral agency. The
force of this objection is readily perceived. It is _impossible_
that we should be free agents, when all the _external circumstances_
that affect us, and all our _mental_ and _bodily acts_, are
predetermined and brought about by God. Man is thus reduced to, a
mere passive instrument. He is nothing more than a complicate and
curious machine--a man-machine, an automaton--whose every movement
is conceived, determined, directed, controlled by a supervisor. It
avails nothing to apply to him terms which signify freedom. We may
say that he has _the power to will_; that he _actually wills_; but
the difficulty is not relieved. The being who endowed him with this
faculty has foreordained and brings to pass, by a well-directed
agency, every movement of that faculty. We may say that he _wills
according to his inclinations_, and is therefore free; but God has
decreed and brings to pass all his inclinations. We may say that he
acts according to his will, and not against his will; still nothing
is gained, since all his purposes, and the movements by which he
executes them, are equally preordained and brought to pass by
God. We may say that he is _conscious_ of _acting freely_, but
this is a mere delusion, if the doctrine we are considering be
true. By the very logic which reconciles it with free agency in
man, I will undertake to prove that every steamboat and every
railroad-engine is a free agent. Calvinistic free agency must be
something analogous to Bishop Hughes's freedom of conscience,
indestructible and inviolable, in its very nature and essence; so
that a man may be denied the privilege of reading the Bible, or
of propagating or entertaining any opinions contrary to the
Church of Rome--he may be thrown into prison, and put to torture,
for refusing to subscribe to its dogmas, or to worship according
to forms which he holds to be idolatrous--and yet he enjoys
freedom of conscience. So, according to the teachings of modern
Calvinism, man is a free agent, notwithstanding all the
_circumstances_ which _surround_ him, with all his _sensations,
emotions, desires, purposes, volitions_ and _acts_ were _decreed
from eternity_, and brought to pass by a power which he can
_neither control_ nor _resist_. This free agency must then be
something absolutely inviolable in its nature and essence,
something which God himself cannot destroy or impinge except by
terminating the existence of the being in whom it inheres. As
Bishop Hughes's freedom of conscience is very different from what
is generally understood to be freedom of conscience, so the free
agency which may be made to harmonize with this doctrine, is
different from what is usually understood to be free agency. It
is not the power to act otherwise than as we do act, or to choose
or will otherwise than as we do choose or will.

2. This doctrine, being at variance with man's free agency, is,
by necessary consequence, at variance with his _moral accountability_.
There would be as much reason in holding the _atmosphere_ accountable,
or the _trees_, or the _grass_, or the _clods_, or the _stones_. All
his _views_, _feelings_, and _volitions_, being thus predetermined,
he can no more be accountable for them than for the _circumstances_
of his _birth_, or the _natural color_ of his _skin_. He cannot
reasonably be made the subject of commendation or censure--of reward
or punishment.

3. It also follows, from this doctrine, that there is not, and
cannot be any such thing as sin. If man be not a free agent--if
he be incapable of acting otherwise than as predetermined by
Jehovah--he is incapable of either virtue or vice. It would be as
reasonable to predicate virtue or vice of the flux and reflux of
the tides, or the circulation of the blood, as of man or angel
under such circumstances.

And, mark! if we, for the sake of the argument, should admit that
man is capable of _virtue_, notwithstanding all his acts are
foreordained and rendered infallibly certain by a power which he
cannot successfully resist, he is still incapable of _vice_. He
cannot sin, for this plain, all-sufficient reason--he cannot act
otherwise than according to the will of God. "Nothing comes to
pass in time but what was decreed from eternity." "None of the
decrees of God can be defeated or fail of execution." So
Calvinism explicitly affirms.

Further, while the inference that there is and can be no sin is
fairly deducible from the supposition that man is not a free
agent, it does not depend upon that supposition. Let it be
admitted, for the purpose of the argument, that man is a free
agent, and capable of sinning, notwithstanding all his actions
were predetermined, and what is the state of the case? _Still he
has not sinned_. He has done nothing but what God freely willed
and ordained he should do. The perfect obedience of Christ
consisted in his doing in all respects the will of the Father.
Either, then, it may be sinful to do the will of God, or there
is--there can be no sin. I do not know of any way in which this
consequence can be avoided. I do not believe that it can.

Let us take another view of this point. Let the advocates of this
doctrine succeed in proving that man is a free agent, in the
proper sense of the term, and capable of sinning, notwithstanding
all his actions are decreed and brought to pass by God, and we
have before us this remarkable result: _Every individual of the
human race, while in a state of probation, without a knowledge of
God's predetermination respecting him, and without any controlling
influence brought to bear upon him, has, in every instance, willed
and acted in accordance with the will of God_. The result is
_universal voluntary holiness_. Here, then, is a dilemma. Either
there is _no possibility of sin or of holiness_, or, if there be
a possibility of sin or of holiness, there is, in fact, _no sin_
--there is, in fact, _universal holiness_.

4. If it be asserted that sin exists, notwithstanding this
perfect coincidence between the will of God and the conduct of
his creatures, it will follow, most conclusively, that _God is
the author of sin_. He has decreed and brings to pass all the
sensations, perceptions, emotions, inclinations, volitions, and
overt actions, of the whole human race. Various attempts have
been made to avoid this result, but they are all futile. The
_Confession of Faith_ says: "God, from all eternity, did, by the
most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably
ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God
the author of sin." We pay all respect to this as a disclaimer. Our
Presbyterian brethren do not intend to charge God with being the
author of sin. But we are compelled to regard these propositions
as directly contradictory to each other. Is not a being the author
of that which he originally designs and decrees, and subsequently
brings into existence? and is it not maintained that he decreed
from all eternity, and brings to pass whatever occurs? Either sin
has not come to pass, or God is the author of it. It is useless
to say that God has brought to pass the act, but not the sinfulness.
The sinfulness has come to pass. It is useless to say that sin is
man's, and not God's act. Man does nothing but what God has decreed,
and, in some infallible way leads him to do. "God's power," says Dr.
Chalmers, "gives birth to _every purpose_; it gives impulse to
_every desire_, gives shape and color to _every conception_." Says
Fisher, in his _Catechism_: "God not only efficaciously concurs in
producing the action as to the matter of it, but likewise predetermines
the creature to such or such an action, and not to another, shutting
up all other ways of acting, and leaving only that open which he
had determined to be done." We might, with vastly more plausibility,
deny that Paul was the author of his Epistles, because he employed an
amanuensis, or, for the same reason, deny that Milton was the author
of _Paradise Lost_. It is useless here to speculate upon the reasons
which induced God to ordain and bring sin to pass. We are now concerned
with the fact merely, and we hence conclude that he is the author of
sin and the only being properly answerable for it.

5. If the advocates of this doctrine should still insist that it
does not make God the author of sin; that man is a free agent,
and properly responsible for his actions, notwithstanding they
are foreordained; I press them with this plain consequence--God
is, to say the least, a participant in the sinning. And he is not
merely a _coadjutor_, but the _principal_--the principal in
_every instance of sinning_. He originates the first conception
of the sinning act. He forms the plan. He arranges all the
circumstances. He, by his providence, applies the influence by
which the result is effectuated. Here, then, is a dilemma from
which there is no escape. Either God is, _strictly and properly_,
the _author of sin_, or he is a _participant_ therein, and not
merely accessory, but _the principal_, the _plotter_, the _prime
mover_, the RINGLEADER thereof.

6. Another inevitable consequence of this doctrine is that,
admitting the existence of sin, God _prefers sin to holiness_ in
every instance in which sin takes place. This consequence is too
plain to require much illustration. If God _freely_ ordained
whatsoever comes to pass; if he was not under a fatal necessity
of ordaining just as he did; if he had it in his power to ordain
otherwise, he could have ordained holiness in the place of sin.
The fact that he was free and unnecessitated in his decrees, and
could ordain the one or the other, according to his good
pleasure, is proof substantial that he prefers sin to holiness in
every instance in which sin occurs. Had he preferred holiness, he
could have decreed it, and it would have come to pass. This
consequence has been admitted, and is, by many Calvinists at this
day, maintained as a doctrine. In fact, it has been a matter of
dispute amongst Calvinists--Dr. Taylor, of Connecticut, taking
one side, and Dr. Tyler, of Connecticut, taking the other. But
what a shocking conception! (See _Christian Spectator_, vol. iv.
p. 465.)

7. Nor can we resist the further conclusion, from these premises,
that sin is not a real evil, but, on the contrary, a good, and
that in every instance in which it is preferred to holiness, it
is worthy of such preference. This reasoning proceeds upon the
assumption that God is a being of infinite goodness and wisdom,
and, therefore, always prefers good to evil, being, of course,
always able to distinguish the one from the other.

This inference also has been admitted by many of the advocates of
Calvinistic predestination. They distinctly affirm that sin is
the necessary means of the greatest good, and, as such, so far.
as it exists, is preferable on the whole to holiness in its
stead--that its existence is, on the whole, for the best. I give
as authority for this affirmation, a publication of the
Presbyterian Board, entitled _Old and New Theology_. On the first
page we find this explicit statement: "It has been a common
sentiment among New England divines, since the time of Edwards,
that sin is the necessary means of the greatest good, and as
such, so far as it exists, is preferable, on the whole, to
holiness in its stead."

I do not charge Dr. Musgrave with holding this inference as a
doctrine, and yet it is very clearly asserted in an argument
designed to prove the Calvinistic doctrine of foreordination.
"There must," says he, "have been a time when no creature
existed, as God alone is from everlasting. Before creation, and
from all eternity, all things that are possible, as well as all
things that actually have or will come to pass in time, must have
been perfectly known to God. He must, therefore, have known what
beings and events would, on the whole, be most for his own glory,
and the greatest good of the universe; and therefore, as an
infinitely wise, benevolent, and Almighty Being, he could not but
have chosen or determined, that such beings and events, and SUCH
ONLY, should come to pass in time." "The conclusion is,
therefore, to our minds, irresistible, that if God be infinitely
wise, benevolent, and powerful, and perfectly foreknew what
beings and events would, _on the whole_, BE BEST, he must have
chosen and ordained that they should exist, or be permitted to
occur; and that, consequently, everything that does actually come
to pass in time, has been eternally and unchangeably foreordained."

Here it is argued that God, as an infinitely wise, benevolent,
and powerful being, must have _known_ and _preferred_, and
_decreed_, that just such beings should exist and events occur,
as would, on the whole, be most for his own glory, and the
_greatest good_ of the universe, _and such only_; and that,
consequently, he has eternally, and unchangeably foreordained
everything that does actually come to pass in time. Now it is
plain that all the events which have come to pass in time must
answer this description--must be for the best, for his highest
glory--or the argument falls to the ground.

The Rev. Jas. McChain, one of the editors of the _Calvinistic
Magazine_, in a discourse published in that periodical, December,
1847, thus undertakes to prove that God "has foreordained
whatsoever comes to pass:" "Jehovah is infinitely _wise_; does he
not, therefore, know what it is BEST should take place? He is
infinitely _benevolent_; will he not choose, then, that _shall
take place_ which he knows is FOR THE BEST? He is infinitely
_powerful_; can he not, therefore, cause _to take place_ what he
_chooses shall take place_? The Most High is infinitely wise, and
_knows_ what it is BEST should come to pass--benevolent, and
_chooses_ to bring to pass WHAT IS BEST--powerful, and _does_
bring to pass what he chooses as BEST." "Surely his infinite
wisdom and goodness will choose and determine whatsoever it is
best should take place, and his almighty power will perfectly
carry out his plan."

It is not my intention, at this time, to point out the fallacy of
these arguments. I quote them to show that the consequence which
I have deduced from the doctrine that God has decreed whatsoever
comes to pass--that sin is not an evil, but a good, and worthy of
being preferred to holiness in every instance in which it occurs--
is actually recognized as a truth, and used as a premise in
proof of the Calvinistic doctrine of the decrees.

8. And how can we avoid adopting as a legitimate conclusion, the
licentious infidel maxim, that "WHATEVER IS, IS RIGHT"?

9. It is obvious, at the first glance, that this doctrine
destroys all reasonable ground for repentance. Of what shall we
repent? Of sinning? Let it first be proved that, according to
this doctrine, any one has sinned, or can sin. But, if sin be
possible, yet in every instance of sinning we have done the will
of God. He freely and unchangeably predestinated the act from all
eternity. His providence brought it to pass. Before we feel
ourselves authorized to repent we should be sure that God has
repented of his purposes and acts. And, even then, there would be
no good reason for repentance upon the part of his creatures.
For, if we, for the sake of the argument, allow that they are
able to act otherwise than as they do, notwithstanding the Divine
decrees, they are morally bound to submit cordially to those
decrees, leaving to God the responsibility of decreeing wisely.
Hence there is no room for repentance.

This is precisely the application made of this doctrine by an
intelligent Calvinistic lady of New England, Mrs. Elizabeth
Stuart Phelps, daughter of the late Prof. Stuart, of Andover, and
authoress of certain very popular works. In the memorial of her,
prefixed to _The Last Leaf of Sunny Side_, she is quoted as
saying in her diary: "I never _could_ understand or divine
before, my claim upon the Deity's overruling care. Now I do get a
glimpse of it--enough to make me feel like an infant in its
mother's arms. Every event, of every day, of every hour, is
unalterably fixed. Each day is but the turning over a new leaf of
my history, already written by the finger of God--every letter of
it. Should I wish to re-write--to alter--one? Oh, no! no!! no!!!"
Here, you perceive, is no ground for repentance. It is repudiated.
She would not alter an event of her life, a letter of her history.
She carries this acquiescence in the Divine decrees so far as to
say in another place: "I have no hope but in my Saviour and if He
has not saved me, then this too, I know, is just, and God's
decrees I would not change."

10. Nor can prayer be more reasonable than repentance. For what
shall we pray? That God would reverse his eternal decrees? This
would be to reflect upon his attributes. Are his decrees wrong?
Besides, the doctrine in question affirms them to be unchangeable.
Shall we pray that God may accomplish them? This can add nothing
to the certainty of their accomplishment; for they cannot be
defeated. So we are distinctly assured by the advocates of this
theory. The only apology that can be offered for prayer, on the
part of those who believe this doctrine, is that it is decreed
they shall pray. But a prayer offered in strict logical accordance
with this theory would be a manifest absurdity.

11. Another legitimate consequence of this doctrine is that man
is not in a state of probation. There is a flat contradiction
between the idea that man is in a state of probation and the
affirmation that the whole series of volitions, states, actions,
and events of his life is fixed, unchangeably, by the Divine
decree, before he comes into existence. I have long regarded this
as an inevitable deduction from the Calvinistic doctrine of
decrees, but it was not until lately that I found it actually
advanced as a doctrine by a Calvinistic writer. On page 77 of
_Fisher's Catechism_, the following occurs:--

"_Q_. Is there any danger in asserting that man is not now in a
state of probation, as Adam was?--_Ans_. No."

"_Q_. What, then, is the dangerous consequence of asserting that
fallen man is still in a state of probation?--_Ans_. This
dangerous consequence would follow, that mankind are hereby
supposed to be still under a covenant of works that can justify
the doer!"

I do not mean to be understood that this dogma is held by all
Calvinists, but, whether held or not, it is a legitimate

12. Let us now notice the bearing of this strange tenet upon some
of the leading doctrines and facts of Christianity. Take the
doctrine of the Fall--which is understood to be that God made man
in his own image--holy; righteous, capable of standing in his
integrity, yet liable to be seduced from it; and that man
voluntarily transgressed, brought guilt and depravity upon
himself, and involved his posterity in moral degradation and
ruin. But, if the Calvinistic doctrine of decrees be true, there
was obviously no fall in the case. There was a change in the
condition of Adam, but that change was a part of God's eternal
plan. Nothing occurred but what belonged to the divinely
predetermined series of events. If Adam had acted otherwise than
as he did, God's original purposes would have been frustrated. If
there were any fall, it should be predicated of the Divine
decrees rather than of the human subject thereof.

13. Again: The plan of redemption, it is supposed, was designed
to rescue him from a deplorable, desperate condition, in which
his perverseness had placed him; but, if the doctrine we are
considering be true, the redemption, so called, is nothing but a
part of a chain of predetermined events. He _was, and is, at no
time_, in _any other condition_ than was _devised_ and _decreed_
by _Jehovah as most conducive to his own glory_ and _the highest
good of the universe_. Thus, the redemption, about which so much
is said, is resolved into a mere nullity.

14. Again: The glorious doctrine of Christ crucified thrills the
bosom of the church with intense emotions of fear, and penitence,
and hope, and gratitude, and joy. Paul attached so much
importance to it as to say: "For I determined to know nothing
among men save Christ and him crucified." But, view it in the
light of the doctrine that God has decreed whatsoever comes to
pass, and what does it amount to? The sufferings and death of
Christ derive their importance from the fact of their being
propitiatory--an atonement. But for what shall they atone? For
acts which were determined upon, as a part of God's plan, for his
glory, and the good of the universe, millions of ages before the
human actors were born; for acts which no more need to be atoned
for than the actions of Jesus Christ himself. To say that those
acts were wrong is to reflect upon the decrees of God, since
"nothing has come to pass but what was decreed by him;" since,
according to Mr. Barnes, we are "to interpret the decrees of God
by facts, and the actual result, by whatever means brought about,
expresses the design of God." If men need atonement, they need it
for doing the will of God, and for nothing else. Need I add that,
in view of the Calvinistic doctrine of decrees, the doctrine of
atonement by the sufferings and death of Christ is absolute

15. Again: I affirm of this doctrine that it renders utterly
baseless the _doctrine of pardon_, or the remission of sins. It
renders the offer of pardon a mockery. For what is pardon
offered? For _doing the will of God_--for doing just _what he
decreed_ we should do; for _carrying into effect_ his _eternal
counsels_. How can any man need pardon if this doctrine be true?
Should it be said, in reply, that although the decrees of God
have been invariably fulfilled, yet his _precepts_ have been
violated, I rejoin that the violation of these precepts was,
according to the Calvinistic hypothesis, specifically _decreed_.
Unless decreed, it could not have come to pass. Hence, the
violation was inevitable, from the very nature of the case. God
offers pardon to his creatures, who have invariably, from the
commencement of their being, fulfilled his decrees. He offers
pardon to them for violating commands which it was impossible for
them to keep, inasmuch as he had eternally decreed that they
should not keep them, and his decrees are infinitely wise and
holy, and cannot be, frustrated.

Further, if God's decrees are righteous (and we are told
explicitly by the creed we are reviewing that they had their
origin in his "wise and holy counsel"), it follows that his
precepts must be unrighteous, whenever they are assumed to be in
opposition to his decrees; and surely no one can need pardon for
pursuing a righteous course in opposition to an unrighteous one.
If it be said that his precepts and his decrees are all equally
righteous, it follows that a course in direct opposition, in all
respects, to a righteous law is, nevertheless, a righteous
course, and thus the distinction between righteousness and
unrighteousness is destroyed. View the subject in whatever light
you may, and the offer of pardon in connection with the
Calvinistic doctrine of decrees, becomes an impertinence and an

16. And what is the effect of the Calvinistic theory of
predestination upon the doctrine of _regeneration_? Regeneration
is usually understood to be a change by which unholy dispositions
--dispositions at variance with the character and will of God
--are substituted by those in accordance therewith. But, if
Calvinism be true, regeneration is nothing more than a preordained
change from doing the will of God perfectly in one way, to doing
it perfectly in another way.

17. A consequence of this theory has been incidentally brought to
view in illustrating a preceding argument, which deserves a
distinct statement. It is that God has two hostile wills, in
relation to the same thing--his decrees, and his published
commands and prohibitions. He has enjoined certain modes of
action, by the most solemn legislation, and yet decreed, from all
eternity, that multitudes of those whom he has subjected to those
obligations, shall constantly act at variance therewith; so that
multitudes of human beings are doing his will perfectly, and yet
violating his will at the same time.

18. This theory makes all civil government manifestly unreasonable.
Civil government proceeds upon the supposition that man is a free
agent, capable of choosing and acting otherwise than as he does;
but this theory, as we have seen, is incompatible with free agency.

And should we admit, for the sake of the argument, that it is not
incompatible with free agency, it is still irreconcilable with
civil government. Civil legislation prohibits various modes of
acting. It assumes that the forbidden actions are wrong--
injurious to society--whereas, this theory represents that all
the actions that have been performed, or will be performed, were
freely willed, purposed, decreed, foreordained, and brought to
pass by God himself--that there are no events, and can be none,
but what are in precise harmony with his eternal purposes--so
that, unless we suppose that God has from all eternity freely
decreed what is wrong and injurious, thereby subjecting human
legislators to the necessity of opposing his will in order to
prevent outrage and injury, civil legislation admits of no
justification or apology.

And if this theory is incompatible with civil legislation, it is
not less so with civil jurisprudence. Men assume the right to
inflict severe punishment upon their fellow-men for doing what
cannot be avoided, or for not doing what they cannot possibly do.
Or, if it be admitted, for the sake of the argument, that they
could act otherwise, still they are punished for doing and
suffering, in all respects, the will of God, for merely
exemplifying his eternal unchangeable decrees. Take either
alternative, and human jurisprudence is palpably iniquitous.

The only plausible apology that can be offered in behalf of civil
government is, either that human legislators and judges, and
jurors, and counsel, and sheriffs, and constables are passive
instruments in the hands of God, in which case their proceedings
are ludicrous, the actors being mere puppets, exhibiting all the
appearance of self-determined motion, and yet, like those famous
characters called _Punch_ and _Judy_, acting only as determined
and effected by the wire-worker; or, admitting that they are
free, and executing their own determinations, they too are doing
precisely what God has foreordained; so that, in this respect,
the jury who pronounce the verdict of guilty, and the judge who
pronounces the sentence of death, are upon a level with the
alleged criminal. All have done, and are doing, just the things
which God has decreed they should do, neither more nor less.

19. I cannot but regard this theory as subversive of every
rational idea of a Divine moral government. Moral government
implies precepts or prohibitions, or both, enforced by rewards
and penalties, and addressed authoritatively to beings capable of
either obedience or disobedience. But of what use are precepts or
prohibitions if every act of every individual is fixed beforehand
by the Divine decrees? As well might moral codes be addressed to
steam-engines or to whirlwinds. The only plausible attempt that
can be made to reconcile this theory of predestination with a
Divine moral government, is to apply the term moral government to
a certain class of preordained influences designed to bring about
a certain class of preordained results. But this is moral
government in name merely. The process which the advocates of
this theory call moral government is just as mechanical as that
by which the motions of the planets are controlled. The judiciary
system of the Divine government, with all its solemn pageantry,
is thus reduced to a mere farce. Beings are arraigned, with great
judicial pomp, and condemned, or approved, punished or rewarded
for actions which were decreed innumerable ages before they were
born, and brought to pass by influences beyond their control, for
actions which were devised, decreed, and irresistibly brought to
pass by the judge himself.

20. We are now prepared for another consequence, which hangs like
a millstone around the neck of this theory, and is sufficient, of
itself, to sink it to the depths. It represents God not only as
decreeing one thing and commanding another directly adverse
thereto, but also as decreeing and bringing to pass opposite and
contradictory events. He ordained that one man should believe the
Holy Scriptures, and reverence them, and that another man should,
at the same time, deny, and hate, and vilify them. He ordained
that men should at one period of their lives preach the gospel,
and write in favor of Christianity, and at another period become
infidel lecturers and disputants. He decreed that some should
believe the Calvinistic doctrine of decrees, and teach it, and
that others should, at the same time, regard it as false and
oppose it. He has ordained that men shall take opposite sides on
all great questions, religious, philosophical, or political. He
ordained the fugitive slave law and the recent Nebraska and
Kansas enactment, and all the opposition from ministers and
laymen, with which these measures have been regarded. He has
ordained that one party shall laud them as just and patriotic,
and that another party shall condemn and hate them as diabolical.
He ordained the arrest of that man on the suspicion of murder,
with all the conflicting opinions as to his guilt or innocence,
the contradictory testimony of the witnesses, the contrary
pleadings of the counsel, the verdict of the jury pronouncing him
guilty, the sentence of the judge condemning him to death, and
the pardon of the governor under the full conviction of his
innocence. All the conflicting opinions and acts in the fiercest
controversy that ever raged, this theory traces up to the Divine

21. It must have appeared to the audience, by this time, that the
character of God is fearfully involved in this inquiry.

(1). We have already seen that this theory draws after it the
logical consequences that God is the author of sin, or, if not
the author of it in the strict and proper sense of the term, at
least the plotter--the prime mover of it; that he prefers sin to
holiness in every instance in which sin takes place; that he
regards sin as the necessary means of the greatest good; that he
has, at the same time, two hostile wills relative to the same
thing. And now what shall we say of his _wisdom_, when we find
him decreeing acts, and bringing them to pass, and yet,
peremptorily forbidding them--enjoining acts, by formal solemn
legislation, which, from all eternity he has foreordained shall
never be performed? When we find him ordaining measures for the
promotion, and measures for the counteraction, of his own plans?
When we find him ordaining all the contradictions and vacillations
by which human conduct is diversified and disgraced?--when every
example of the most contemptible folly that ever turned the laugh,
or the sneer, or the frown, or the sentiment of pity upon its
immediate perpetrators, can be traced to the free counsels and
designs of God, and finds its origin there?

(2). What shall we say of the _sincerity_ of God when we find him
enjoining one class of actions on pain of eternal damnation,
while yet he has decreed, and by unfailing means brings to pass,
in the same subjects, an entirely opposite class?--when we find
him threatening, and expostulating, and professing to be grieved,
on account of conduct which had its origin in his own free
purposes, and is effected by his own providence?--when we find
him engaged in enforcing two wills respecting the same thing, one
directly the opposite of the other, one of which must necessarily
fail of accomplishment, and then, wrathfully charging the failure
upon those who have acted in all respects as he ordained they
should?--when we find him offering salvation to all men, and
solemnly asseverating that it is his will that all men should
come to the knowledge of the truth, while yet the sinning, and
ultimate damnation of myriads, were decreed innumerable ages
before they existed?

(3). What shall we say of his _holiness_, when the vilest crimes
that ever caused the blush of shame, or the feeling of indignation
or horror--_fornication, adultery, bestiality, fraud, oppression,
lying, murder_--are in perfect coincidence with his eternal
purposes, parts of his great plan, when he chose them in preference
to their opposites, with all the means and appliances, great and
small, by which they were brought to pass?

(4). And what shall we say of his _equity_ and _justice_, when we
find him placing his subjects under the necessity of violating
his will in one way or another, either his secret decrees or his
published enactments? When we find him rewarding one class of his
subjects for fulfilling his decrees, and damning another class
with everlasting tortures for doing precisely the same thing?

(5). And where is his _benevolence_, when he freely chooses,
prefers, ordains, and brings to pass all the sin and misery in
the universe?

22. Again: It is obvious that this theory lays the foundation of
a new system of morals. If it be insisted upon that, notwithstanding
God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass, he is perfectly sincere,
just, holy, and benevolent, we shall have obtained certain ethical
principles which, if carried out into universal practice, would
subvert all social order, and destroy all confidence. For instance,
it will follow:--

First. That a ruler may secretly will, purpose, decree,
foreordain, that his, subjects shall act in a certain way. He may
put into operation effective measures to secure their concurrence
with his designs. Meantime, he may profess a profound and
insuperable dissatisfaction with a very large proportion of the
actions which he has predetermined and induced; he may indignantly
condemn and threaten to punish the actors; he may do all this,
and yet be perfectly sincere. In other words, what men usually
regard as the most thorough-paced duplicity, is in entire accordance
with perfect sincerity. By this principle, the worst hypocrite that
ever lived may be fully vindicated from the charge of hypocrisy.

Again: A being may give existence to a vast multitude of other
beings, inferior, dependent, but yet intelligent. He may assert
over their actions the most absolute control. He may predetermine
and bring to pass every one of their actions. He may "shut up all
other ways of acting, and leave that only open which he had
determined to be done." Meanwhile, he may issue laws peremptorily
requiring conduct directly opposite to his unchangeable
predeterminations, thus placing his creatures under the dire
necessity of violating his secret decrees, or his published laws;
and yet he may, with perfect justice, arraign, condemn, and
punish them for the violation of these laws, consigning them to
eternal misery. This theory will furnish us with a criterion of
moral character--a code by which the Neros, Domitians, Caligulas,
and Diocletians, whom men have reprobated and abhorred as
tyrants, may be triumphantly vindicated and made honorable.

Again: A being may be the author, or, if not, in the strictest
sense, the author, at least the planner, the prime mover of all
the wickedness that ever existed. He may use effective influences
in bringing it to pass, so that it may be said, in truth, that he
freely and unchangeably preordained and produced it, and yet he
may be perfectly holy.

And again: A being may purpose, foreordain, and bring to pass all
the sin and misery in the universe, and yet be perfectly
benevolent. Here is a principle of ethics which will more than
cover and vindicate the most atrocious cruelties of the Romish
inquisition. The rum-seller, so called, who is the agent of
incalculable mischief, may find under it the most ample
protection. His designs terminate upon the sale of his liquors,
and the gains which result. If he could sell his fiery commodity,
and secure his gains without the misery, he would. But, according
to our new code of ethical principles, he might go much further.
He might design, as an end, all the wretchedness that results,
and prosecute his traffic as a means to secure that end, and yet
be perfectly benevolent.

Is it not plain that this theory, if adopted and carried out to
its legitimate logical results, must revolutionize and reverse
all our established conceptions of wisdom, sincerity, holiness,
equity, justice, and benevolence, and introduce an entirely new
estimate of moral conduct?

23. Further: This theory furnishes the most complete
justification of all the conduct of the worst men that ever
lived, both by the ethical principles which may be deduced from
it, and by the single consideration that their every action is in
perfect harmony with the Divine will. The New Testament speaks of
men being without excuse; but I ask, what better excuse can be
desired than that the conduct in question is in precise
accordance with the will of God? Men sometimes think it an
apology to say that they acted hastily--that they were misled by
others--that they were not aware of the mischief likely to result
from their course; but this doctrine puts them at once upon the
highest possible ground of justification. The poor reprobate may
be silenced, at the day of judgment, by the terrors which
surround him, and by the stern authority of the judge, but _not
by the want of a valid plea_. When the sentence shall go forth
consigning him to perdition for the deeds done in the body, he
will have in readiness, whether allowed to utter it or not, the
unanswerable answer: "Lord, the deeds for which I am condemned
were in all respects what thou didst predetermine. I have
executed from first to last thy wise and holy counsels. Had I
acted otherwise, I should have frustrated thy free purposes,
formed before the foundation of the world. I have, indeed, gone
contrary to thy published law, but that thou didst render
inevitable by making that law antagonistic to thy eternal decree,
which thou dost not allow to be thwarted, in any instance, by man
or angel."

This plea would be equally conclusive before any human tribunal.
There are Calvinistic lawyers, or lawyers who are members of
Calvinistic churches or congregations. The names of some of these
are appended to a note soliciting for publication Dr. Boardman's
sermons on _Election_. In defending alleged criminals, men of
their profession often tax their ingenuity to the utmost for
arguments. If the insanity of the prisoner can be established,
they expect his acquittal, though he may have perpetrated the
fatal violence. But why do they never offer, in behalf of the
prisoner intrusting his case to them, that he has done nothing
but what God willed and decreed from all eternity he should do?
that, from the beginning to the end of the affair, he was but
executing the counsels of Heaven--counsels which Heaven never
suffers to be frustrated, either as to the end, or the instrument.
Some of them believe the doctrine, and desire that the public
should believe it. Why, then, do they never plead it when pledged
to give their client the benefit of every available argument? Is
it nothing to be able to say for him that he has not swerved a
hair's-breadth from the designs of the great Sovereign of the
universe, at whose judgment-seat all the decisions of human
tribunals will be reviewed? They dare not offer such a plea.
They know that common sense would laugh them out of countenance,
if not out of court. And if all present were believers in the
doctrine, they could not attempt to reduce it to its legitimate
practical application without laughing in each other's faces--
such is its essential absurdity. They may circulate it in
sermons, in which eloquent nonsense is drivelled with impunity,
but they will not venture to propound it in a court, where common
sense and equity bear sway.

24. If this doctrine be true, it is wholly unnecessary for any of
you to impose any restraint upon your passions or wills. Are you
tempted to indulge in sensuality, or to defraud your neighbor,
and even to assassinate him? And does the inquiry arise in your
mind whether the act to which you are tempted is according to the
will of God? You have only to do it, and the result proves that
it is decreed. So says Mr. Barnes: "The result, by whatever means
brought about, expresses the design of God." If the act be not
decreed, you cannot do it, though you try. If you can, it is
decreed _that you should_; and your doing it is as inevitable as
destiny itself. So you may just go forward, and the result will
be right; that is, if God's decrees are right.

25. It is also an obvious consequence of this doctrine that no
man can contribute anything to hip personal salvation; that his
salvation or damnation is fixed wholly by the Divine decrees. He.
cannot influence his destiny by any effort he can make. There is
no use in his trying. Indeed, the _Westminster Confession of
Faith_ informs us directly that man is "altogether passive" in
"regeneration," and that his "perseverance" "depends not upon his
own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of
election." So that all the exhortations of the gospel and of the
pulpit, are utterly irrelevant. There is a very significant
passage bearing upon this point in Chalmer's discourse on
Predestination: "And now," says he, "you can have no difficulty
in understanding how it is that we make our calling and election
sure. _It is not in the power of the elect to make their election
surer in itself than it really is, for this is a sureness which
is not capable of receiving any addition_. It is not in the power
of the elect to make it surer to God--for all futurity is
submitted to his all-seeing eye, and his absolute knowledge
stands in need of no confirmation. But there is such a thing as
the elect being ignorant for a time of their own election, and
their being made sure of it in the way of evidence and discovery."
The amount is that a man may ascertain by exertion the fact of his
election, but he can do nothing towards securing it. Thus Mr.
Wesley's famous consequence is established. "The elect shall be
saved, do what they will; the reprobate shall be damned, do what
they can." It is plain from these reasonings that this doctrine
tends to spiritual inactivity, and countenances licentiousness.

But we are told, by Dr. Boardman, that the Divine "decrees are
not the rule of our duty;" that "we are not held responsible for
not conforming to them;" that "we are not bound to act with the
least reference to them." (p. 45.) What! The subjects of a
government not bound to act with the least reference to the
decrees of its sovereign!--not responsible for not conforming to
them!! This is surely a strange doctrine. It is an indirect
concession that the practical bearing of the Calvinistic doctrine
of decrees cannot be defended. But it is said that we have no
right to make God's secret decrees our rule. Very true. We are
not arguing from his secret decrees, but from what our brethren
profess to know. If the doctrine in question be a secret, we
would like to know by what authority it is so confidently stated
in the _Confession of Faith_ and the _Catechism_. How did they
come by the knowledge of God's secret decree? They may claim to
be better educated than we are, and more intelligent, to have
minds of a superior natural constitution; but we protest against
their claiming to be intrusted with the secrets of heaven.

26. This wonderful doctrine makes out the devil and his angels to
be faithful servants of God. They have done, throughout the past,
and are doing now, precisely what God, in his wise and holy
counsel, foreordained they should do.

27. It leads to Universalism. If all beings do as God has
decreed, upon what ground can God punish any of them, then, in
futurity? You have only to connect with this doctrine the
declaration that God is benevolent, or just, and Universalism

28. It leads to rank infidelity. It is to my mind more reasonable
to believe that God has made no written revelation of his will,
than that he has revealed such a doctrine as this. Let the
opinion become prevalent that it is a doctrine of the Bible, and,
as the consequence, the Bible will be rejected by thousands, yea,
hundreds of thousands. It is impossible for the ablest disputant
to maintain a respectable argument against infidelity while
standing upon this ground. He must assume the opposite ground, as
the basis of his argument, or he will fail signally. The infidel
objects to the Bible that it represents God as sanctioning crime,
and making favorites of its perpetrators, and hence concludes
that it cannot be true.

The usual reply is that, so far from having sanctioned vice and
its perpetrators, he has solemnly prohibited it; that he holds
the perpetrator guilty, condemns him to severe punishment, and
will remit that punishment only in view of repentance, and
reformation, and an atonement which fully vindicates the Divine
government, and most impressively manifests its abhorrence of the
course pursued by the transgressor. But what says this doctrine?
That God has freely, and from all eternity _willed, decreed,
foreordained, whatsoever_ comes to pass. The infidel objects that
the Bible contains contradictions, and hence cannot be the word
of God. The usual answer admits that God cannot contradict
himself, but denies that the Bible is chargeable with self
-contradiction. Whereas, this doctrine declares that God has
decreed and brought to pass all the contradictions that were ever
uttered. Can it be that God is the author of a book which
represents him as ordaining and bringing to pass all the acts of
crime and folly that were ever committed, including all the lies
that were ever uttered, as having two hostile wills in relation
to the same event, as decreeing that his creatures should pursue
a certain course, and yet commanding them to pursue a contrary
course, and then, damning them, thousands upon thousands, for
doing what he decreed they should do? It is impossible for the
infidel to frame a stronger argument than this doctrine supplies
him with.

I have shown, unanswerably, I think, that this doctrine leads, by
obvious deduction, to the doctrine that God prefers sin to
holiness in every instance in which sin takes place, and that sin
is the necessary means of the greatest good. I will now quote an
eminent Calvinistic minister upon the tendencies of this
doctrine. He is commenting upon what he calls "the third
solution" of the question, "For what reason has God permitted sin
to enter the universe?" which he states to be that "God chose
that sin should enter the universe as the necessary means of the
greatest possible good. Wherever it exists, therefore, it is, in
the whole, better than holiness would be in its place"--the very
doctrine which we are told by high Calvinistic authority, has
been a "common sentiment among New England divines since the days
of Edwards." He says:--

"The third solution has been extensively adopted by philosophers,
especially on the continent of Europe; and its ultimate reaction
on the public mind had no small share, we believe, in creating
that universal skepticism which at last broke forth upon Europe,
in all the horrors of the French Revolution. While the profoundest
minds were speculating themselves into the belief that sin was the
necessary means of the greatest good, better on the _whole_, in
each instance, than holiness would have been in its place--common
men were pressing the inquiry, 'Why, then, ought it to be punished?'
Voltaire laid hold of this state of things, and assuming the
principle in question to be true, carried round its application to
the breast of millions. In his _Candide_, one of the most amusing
tales that was ever written, he introduces a young man of strong
passions and weak understanding, who had been taught this doctrine
by a metaphysical tutor. They go out into the world, to 'promote the
greatest good' by the indulgence of their passions; certain that,
_on the whole_, each sin is better than holiness would have been
in its place. But when Candide begins to suffer the natural
consequences of his vices, he feels it to be but a poor consolation,
that others are now reaping the benefit of his sin. Is it surprising
that such a work induced thousands to disbelieve in the holy
providence of God, and prepared multitudes to 'do evil that good
might come?'" (_Christian Spectator_, vol. i. pp. 378, 9.)

It would be easier, and more reasonable, to believe in a
plurality of gods, than that one God should be capable of such
conflicting counsels. And this would bring us to the verge of

29. This doctrine covers with the wing of its sanction all the
errors that were ever promulgated or conceived. I do not say that
they all grow out of it, but that it justifies them. Why should I
oppose Romanism, or Universalism, or Socinianism, or Puseyism, or
Infidelity, when they are all decreed by Jehovah? Christendom
presents the strange spectacle of men prying into systems,
bringing to the light, condemning, and holding up to public odium
their errors of theory and practice, and, yet, holding as a
fundamental article of their own creed that God from all eternity
freely decreed, whatsoever comes to pass. Let them first reject
and refute the error which vindicates all errors. What right has
a Calvinist to find fault with anything?

30. Again: It clearly follows, from this theory, that any attempt
to prevent the commission of sin in our neighbors, is not only in
opposition to the primary--the original will, the eternal
purposes of God, but is also in opposition to the highest good of
the universe; and that we should, as reasonable beings, rejoice
in every instance of sin--of lying, robbery, uncleanness, and
murder--as in every instance of holiness.

31. I do not identify this doctrine with pagan fatalism, but I
hold that it is akin thereto, and that it tends to the same
practical results. It is, in my opinion, worse than pagan
fatalism. That doctrine represents all events and actions as
strictly necessary, but it binds the gods as well as men. All bow
to that mysterious power called fate. Thus it relieves the gods
of all blame. But Calvinism asserts the freedom of Jehovah, and
then imputes to him the foreordination of whatever occurs in the
whole universe, and thus, by plain logical consequence, fastens
upon him all the just blame of whatever is exceptionable.
Calvinism is not pagan fatalism. It is Christian fatalism. It is
fatalism baptized.


"In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being
predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all
things according to the counsel of his own will."--EPH. i. 11.

IN the preceding discourse, I showed that the Calvinistic
doctrine of the Divine decrees leads to the following consequences,
namely, that man is not a free agent; that he is not properly
accountable for his conduct; that there is no sin in the world; or,
that, if there be sin, God is the author of it; or, that, if he be
not strictly and properly the author, he is at least the prime
mover of it; that, if sin exist, God prefers sin to holiness in
every instance in which sin takes place; that sin is not an evil,
but a real good; that whatever is is right; that there is no
reasonable ground for repentance, or for prayer, or for pardon;
that regeneration is nothing else than a change from perfect
conformity to the will of God in one way, to perfect conformity to
the will of God in another way; that the doctrines of the fall and
redemption by Christ are gross and palpable absurdities; that man
is not in a state of probation; that God has two hostile wills
relative to the same thing; that, not only are his secret decrees
and his written laws at variance, but he has also decreed and brings
to pass opposite and contradictory events; that civil government is
wholly unreasonable; that there is in fact no moral government; that
God is not holy, or just, or wise, or truthful, or benevolent; or,
that if God be nevertheless holy, and wise, and true, and just, and
good, we have the foundation of a new system of morals, which, if
adopted, must reverse all our estimates of moral character; that man
cannot contribute anything to his personal salvation; that the devil
and his angels are as faithful servants of God as any of his elect.
It was shown that it leads to Universalism and to rank infidelity;
that it sanctions all the errors that were ever promulgated; that it
furnishes a complete justification of the worst conduct of the worst
men, that ever lived, tends to paralyze all effort to resist
temptation, and condemns as impious any opposition to the commission
of sin by our neighbors, and, finally, that it is worse than the
pagan doctrine of fatalism.

I shall now endeavor to present the true doctrine. As has been
said, we do not object to the doctrine of predestination, but to
the Calvinistic doctrine. The question is not whether God is a
Sovereign, or whether he has his purposes or decrees, but how
does he exercise his sovereignty--what are his purposes and
decrees? We deny that he has foreordained whatsoever comes to

For all our information upon this great question we must inquire
of the sacred oracles. We understand them to teach that God,
foreseeing, though not ordaining, the transgression of our first
parents, decreed that it should subject them to the penalty of
death--eternal death. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou
shalt surely die." He also decreed that their condition should
not be at once irremediable, but that a second probation should
be allowed them. He also decreed that an atonement should be
made, by which the claims of his government should be vindicated,
while he granted to the offenders a respite, and the advantages
of a new trial, and which should lay a firm foundation for
whatever acts of mercy should be extended to them and their
posterity. He further decreed that this atonement should be
effected by the suffering and death of his Son, who, for the
purpose of effecting this atonement, should assume our nature,
and become God-man. The apostle instructs us that he was
"delivered" to suffering and death, "by the determinate counsel
and foreknowledge of God." It was also decreed that the benefits
of this atonement should extend to all Adam's posterity--that
Christ should die for all. He gave him "a ransom for all," that
he, "by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." It
was also predetermined in the counsels of Heaven, that a change
should take place in the administration of the Divine government.
The first administration, sometimes called the Adamic law or
covenant, was suited to beings perfectly innocent and pure, but
not to fallen beings, as it made no provision for pardon or moral
restoration. Under its authority the sinner could have no hope.
Another decree provides that the Son of God shall bear the
sceptre of authority--that the government shall be upon his
shoulders. To this arrangement we suppose the words of the
Psalmist to refer: "Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of
Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou
art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will
give the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts
of the earth for thy possession." (Ps. ii. 6, 7, 8.) Also the
prayer of the apostle Paul, in which he speaks of "the mighty
power" of God, "which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him
from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly
places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and
dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world,
but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under
his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the
church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in
all." (Eph. i. 21, 23.) It is further ordained that, under this
new arrangement, faith shall be the condition of the sinner's
acceptance with God--that whosoever believeth shall be pardoned
justified from all things; that the act of faith which secures
the pardon of one sin shall secure the pardon of all then
chargeable; that whosoever is pardoned shall be made holy,
conformed to the image of the Son of God, and made a child of God
by adoption. "For whom he foreknew, them he also did predestinate
to be conformed to the image of his Son." "Having predestinated
us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ, unto himself,
according to the good pleasure of his will;" that the great
mediatorial scheme should be developed in successive dispensations,
usually distinguished as the Patriarchal, Jewish, and Christian
dispensations; that one nation of people should be selected as the
depository of the sacred oracles, and as a theatre for the exhibition
of the true religion; that in the fulness of time, Jews and Gentiles
should be placed upon one common ground of religious privilege, the
partition wall being broken down. It is also decreed that there shall
be a general judgment. God hath appointed a day in the which he will
judge the world; that there shall be a resurrection of the bodies of
men; that the bodies of the saints at the resurrection shall be made
very glorious; that the righteous of every age and country shall
ultimately be gathered into one glorious place, from which all
sin and pain shall be excluded, and shall constitute one undivided
family forever. "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given
me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." "Having
made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good
pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation
of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things
in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on earth." And,
finally, it is decreed that while the righteous shall have life
eternal, the wicked, the finally impenitent, and unbelieving, and
unholy, shall go away into everlasting punishment--shall be
imprisoned in a place originally prepared for the first rebels
against the Divine government--the devil and his angels.

Such, as I understand it, is the Methodistic, or Arminian,
doctrine of the Divine decrees. There is no difficulty in
sustaining this doctrine by Scripture. It is not liable to any of
the objections which menace fatally the Calvinistic scheme. There
is no difficulty in perceiving its harmony with man's free agency
and moral accountability. It does not give the slightest occasion
for the question whether God is the author of sin. He has issued
decrees respecting it; but they are all condemnatory. None of
them preordain it. It does not admit the supposition of his being
a participant in any unholy deed or device. The question never
came up among Methodist divines, whether God prefers, in any
instance, sin to holiness? They would not, could not, consider it
a debatable question. Nor that other question--Is sin the
necessary means of the greatest good? Calvinism is justly
entitled to the honor of originating such questions as these. No
one would ever think of affirming upon Arminian principles that
whatever is is right. Arminianism lays a firm basis for Divine
moral government, and also for civil government--for rewards and
punishments. It not only relieves the Divine attributes from the
fearful suspicions and imputations with which Calvinism dishonors
them, but surrounds them with a transcendent glory. It protects
the morality of the Bible from the devastating incursions to
which Calvinism exposes it, and presents the most powerful
incentives to piety. It does not throw the protecting shield of
the Divine decrees over every form of error and outrage with
which earth is filled, or represent God as having two hostile
wills. It forms no entangling alliances with heathen fatalism. We
are not under the necessity of warning inquirers against
committing themselves to the practical influence of the Arminian
doctrine of Divine decrees, by saying, with Dr. Boardman, that
"These decrees are not the rule of our duty. We are not held
responsible for not conforming to them. We are not bound to act
with the least reference to them."

The practical bearing of the Arminian doctrine is eminently and
obviously salutary. It has not a single aspect which is not
favorable to piety and morality. Does a sinner tremble at the
word of God? He is made to feel the force of the inspired
declaration that the way of transgressors is hard, and to ponder
the advantages of reformation? Is he not appalled and paralyzed
by the terrible announcement that all his misdeeds, the tendency,
if not the nature of which he now contemplates with horror, are
the result of a power which he cannot successfully resist; that
he is bound to the hateful course of conduct which he deplores,
by eternal decrees and that, in despite of any feelings or
desires he may have, his course may be predestined to be worse in
the future than in the past. O, no! He is assured that God never
preordained sin. That he commands all men everywhere to repent,
and that what he requires of men he will enable them to do. He is
told that nothing binds him to sin but his depravity, that he may
avail himself of the powerful influences of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus, which can make him free from the law of sin and
death; and that whom God foreknew, as repenting, and believing,
and availing themselves of remedial provisions, he "predestinated
to be conformed to the image of his Son"--he hath chosen "to be
holy and without blame before him in love."

Has the man who is seeking with penitence and prayer the favor of
God profoundly humbling views of himself? Does he think it to be
a wonderful stretch of condescension and mercy in God to forgive
his innumerable and grievous offences? And does he wonder whether
God will, in addition to pardoning him, raise him to those high
relationships to the Godhead to which he has raised others? Will
he extend to me the grace of adoption? Will he constitute and
call me his child? Shall I be favored with those blessed
intimacies--those varied and manifold advantages of which that
relation is the guaranty? How satisfactory the answer! You will.
You will be numbered with his sons and daughters, the coheirs
with his eternal--his only begotten Son. God hath not left this
an open question. "He hath predestinated us to the adoption of
children by Jesus Christ unto himself." "For unto as many as
received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to as many as believe in his name."

Christians, you entertain high hopes of heaven. And yet,
sometimes, it seems too much for your faith that God should
confer upon you such blessedness and glory. Your faith almost
staggers at the promise. You are ready to say--

   "How can it be, thou Heavenly King,
   That thou should'st us to glory bring--
   Make slaves the partners of thy throne,
   Deck'd with a never-fading crown?"

Let your faith be invigorated by the assurance that this is
settled beyond dispute by God's eternal purpose. It is decreed.
"To him that overcometh will I give to sit down with me on my
throne." "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being
predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all
things after the counsel of his own will." Nor has this measure
been forced upon Jehovah. It is sometimes the case that
sovereigns are compelled to yield privileges to restless and
revolted subjects. Sometimes contemporary sovereignties combine
to force a reluctant ruler into arrangements contrary to his
preconceived and preferred policy. Sometimes potent rulers yield
their preferences to the sway of sage and influential counsellors,
and find themselves committed to a policy which they execute with
reluctance, and with exceptions. It is not so with any of the
decrees of the Most High. Who, being his counsellor, hath taught
him? He "worketh all things according to the counsel of his own
will." "It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
It is no less the pleasure of the Son: "Father, I will that they
also that thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may
behold my glory." And he has power to carry out his purposes to
their entire fulfilment. O, how precious is this doctrine of Divine

You may have enemies. There may be those who would deny you a
place in the church on earth. You may have been excommunicated
and cursed for worshipping the God of your fathers after the
manner which some call heresy. Your enemies would fain keep you
out of heaven. They profess to be able to do so. But they are
mistaken. God has not left it to them to determine who shall
enter heaven and who shall not. He has fixed the conditions of
salvation independently of their counsels--long before they
existed--before the sun began his course. "He will have mercy on
whom he will have mercy." To accomplish their end, they must be
able to go behind all human arrangements to the decrees, the
purposes of heaven, and revoke them. Will they be able to do
that? Or, if unable to revoke, or induce him to revoke his
decrees, will they be able to defeat them by machinations or
physical resistance? Surely not. He will show them "the
immutability of his counsels." He will say to them, "My counsel
shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." "There is no wisdom,
or understanding, or counsel, against the Lord." "He will make
the devices of the people of none effect." "The Lord of Hosts
hath purposed, and who shall disannul it." "Hallelujah, for the
Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"

And how glorious are the prospects which the decrees of God
unfold! These bodies must decay. One of those decrees consigns us
to the grave; another provides that we shall be recalled--that
death shall be conquered--shall be swallowed up of victory. The
prearrangements of Heaven respecting the bodies of the saints,
are thus disclosed: "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in
incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It
is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural
body; it is raised a spiritual body."

Religion does not extinguish or impair our social feelings, but
rather refines and invigorates them; and, among the hopes that we
have been led to cherish, is that of a reunion with departed
friends in heaven, and a participation in the society of the good
of other climes and ages; and it is expressly declared that the
redeemed of subsequent ages shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, in the Kingdom of God.

And while this doctrine is so full of consolation to the
Christian, and so fraught with healthful stimulus to piety, it is
terrible to the sinner. He need not think to find anything in it
to justify or to apologize for his crime, or his impenitency. Nor
may he indulge the hope that whatever may be the destiny of other
sinners, he will escape the damnation of hell. There can be no
influence brought to bear upon Jehovah sufficient to induce him
to swerve in a single instance from his plans. The decrees of God
are against him. He that believeth shall be saved. He that
believeth not shall be damned. "These shall go away into
everlasting punishment." And he has power to execute his decrees.
All attempts at resistance will be as nothing. "The Lord
reigneth; let the people tremble."

I have now presented the two rival theories. There is the
Calvinistic doctrine, and there are the consequences to which it
leads. We can easily detect the wisdom of the requisition that
the teachers of it shall handle it with "special caution," and
account for their studiously keeping it out of sight during
revivals, and in their ordinary ministrations, and then seeking
to divert attention from its practical tendencies by denying that
the decrees of God are to be taken as the rule or test of our

But do I not repeat an Arminian slander when I charge them with
partially concealing or disguising the doctrine? No! We have high
Calvinistic authority for the imputation. The following is the
testimony of a distinguished Congregational minister of New
England, the Rev. Dr. Harvey:--

"There is a large number of orthodox ministers in New England
who, from family alliances, from constitutional delicacy of
temper, &c. &c., as I hinted above, will temporize and make
_smooth work_, from an honest conviction that a full disclosure
of the truth would _alienate their hearers_. The bitter revilings
of base men have been gradually and insensibly leading Calvinistic
ministers to _hide their colors_, and _recede_ from their ground.
Dr. Spring's Church, at Newburyport, Park Street, especially in
Dr. Griffin's day, and a few others, have stood like the Macedonian
Phalanx. But others have gone backward. _Caution_, CAUTION, has
been the watchword of ministers. When they do preach the old
standard doctrines, it is in so guarded a phraseology that they are
not understood to be the same." (_Harvey on Moral Agency_, p. 174.)

This is clear and indisputable. The Methodist preachers are
probably included among the "base men" whose "bitter revilings"
have brought about this state of things, as none have done more
to bring Calvinism into discredit.

And yet, with all this caution, this doctrine is assiduously
taught to little children in Sabbath-Schools. It is presented to
them and inculcated without disguise. I almost shudder when I
think of it. Were all the wealth of this great city offered to me
for the privilege of teaching this doctrine to my children, with
the understanding that I would withhold counter-instruction, I
would spurn the offer. At least, I would do so until my mind had
become reconciled to the proposition by a slow and painful
process of self-depravation, which, I acknowledge, would not be
an impossibility. The apostle Paul speaks of those who through
"love of money" have "erred from the faith."

Our Calvinistic brethren may have some ground for claiming that
they are in advance of us in learning and intelligence, but it is
to be hoped that they will not offer their holding this doctrine
as proof of the justness of the claim. And if it be the case that
some minds are determined, by peculiarities in their original
formation, to the belief of Calvinism, I thank God that mine does
not belong to that class. And, further, it may be a source of
consolation to us, in our imputed inferiority, that it does not
require much learning or intelligence to refute Calvinism, or to
make its supporters ashamed of it.

And when Calvinists ascribe our opposition to their doctrines to
depravity, and call our objections to it "impious cavillings," as
does Dr. Musgrave, we offer this apology, that our objections are
not alleged against what we understand to be the Scripture
doctrine; and that if their doctrine be true, and ours false, we
are, after all, doing nothing but what God has wisely foreordained
we should do. We would also suggest to them that any opposition to
our course is resistance to the will of Heaven, so that it is a
fair question whether the charge of depravity should not take the
opposite direction, But I do not retort it. Methodists never, so
far as I know, seek to raise the slightest suspicion of the piety
of their Calvinistic brethren on the ground of their being Calvinists.

The assertion that Calvinism is specially and exclusively
favorable to civil and religious liberty, is a _sheer_ pretence.
I will just state a few facts. When the Presbyterians obtained
the ascendency in England, they proceeded to establish themselves
by law. The _Westminster Confession of Faith_ was intended for
the English Establishment. Presbyterianism is the established
religion of Scotland at this day, and also of Holland, Geneva,
and some parts of Germany. Presbyterian ministers in Ireland are
supported, in part, by the British Government. They thus consent
that Methodists, Baptists, and others, shall be taxed for their
support. That Presbyterianism is not the Established Church in
this country may be owing altogether to the fact that it has
always been too weak to place itself in that position. When the
Independents, in Cromwell's time, obtained the ascendency, they
followed the example of the Presbyterians. The Congregationalists
of New England, who are Calvinists, established their system, by
law, in several of the colonies, and continued to be the
Established Church after the Revolution, and until the other
sects, combining with unbelievers, became strong enough to put
them down and change the State constitutions in favor of equal
rights. And, within five or six years of the present time, a
Presbyterian Church, in one of the States of this Republic,
applied to the legislature, and obtained a grant of one thousand
five hundred dollars to be expended upon a Presbyterian church
edifice. Many Calvinists have held, and many do yet hold
doctrines highly intolerant; and the history of Calvinism is
crimsoned by records of blood spilled in support of its tenets.
It would be great wisdom on the part of our Calvinistic brethren
to allow the question of the bearing of Calvinism upon civil and
religious liberty to sleep, undisturbed.

A very strong presumption of the unsoundness of the Calvinistic
doctrine of decrees arises from the fact that its advocates are
compelled, in answering objections to it, not only to disguise,
but also flatly contradict it, and to substitute for it Arminian
positions; thus virtually conceding that it is indefensible. Dr.
Musgrave, as we have seen, asserts explicitly that God has
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. He argues that to deny
this, would be in effect to deny that God is infinitely wise,
benevolent, and powerful. He says: "We have proved, both by
reason and revelation, that all things that come to pass are
foreordained." He applies this doctrine to sinful actions in the
following manner: "Now, that the whole of Pharaoh's conduct had
not only been foreknown but foreordained is indisputable." Again,
he says: "In connection with the foregoing statements concerning
the crucifixion of the Saviour, let us single out the case of one
of the individual actors in that awful tragedy, one whose part
was the most perfidious and execrable, and see whether his crime
was not before ordained, and he the individual predesignated as
its perpetrator." He proceeds to the proof of this proposition.
But, when it becomes necessary to meet the palpable and
irrefutable objections that this doctrine makes God the author of
sin, and takes away the responsibility of the creature, he is
compelled to change entirely his ground. He substitutes
_permission_ for _foreordination_, and defines permission to mean
simply not preventing. "And is there no difference," says he,
"between God's making, or exciting men to sin, by his power or
influence, and his _permitting_, or _not preventing_ them from
sinning? Between his determining to produce the evil himself, or
to cause others by his power to do it, and his predetermining to
_permit_ men to abuse their liberty and to commit the evil by the
_unprevented_ exercise of their own voluntary efficiency?"

I reply--there is a very great difference. It is nothing less
than the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. He is led
to deny his own doctrine, and take refuge in the one he has tried
so hard to refute.

The Rev. Dr. Baker, of Texas, in a tract published by the
Presbyterian Board of Publication, and entitled _The Standards of
the Presbyterian Church a Faithful Mirror of the Bible_, attempts
to establish by Scripture the proposition--"God from all eternity
did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely
and unchangeably foreordain whatsoever comes to pass." But in
another, published by the same institution, and entitled _The
Sovereignty of God Explained and Vindicated_, the design of which
is to present the doctrine of Divine decrees in such a light as
will obviate the usual objections to the Calvinistic view, he
says: "Certain things God _brings to pass_ by a positive agency.
Others he _simply permits_ to come to pass. And let it be
remarked, permission and approbation do not, by any means, mean
the same thing." Again: "Does any one ask what is the difference
between _bringing_ to pass, and _permitting_ to come to pass? I
answer: God brought to pass the incarnation of his Son. He
permitted to come to pass his crucifixion. The difference is as
wide as the east is from the west."

But if God simply permits some things, why do the creed and the
catechism of the Presbyterian Church assert, so unequivocally,
that he has from all eternity foreordained whatsoever comes to
pass, and that he executes, or brings to pass all his decrees?
The contradiction is manifest.

The Rev. Dr. Fairchild, in his famous _Great Supper_, says:
"Calvinists do not regard the decrees of God as extending to all
events in the same manner. Some things God has determined to
_effect_ by his own agency, and other things he has decreed to
_permit_ or _suffer_ to be."

But, if the Calvinistic doctrine be that his decrees merely
"extend to all events" (a very different thing from his decreeing
all events), and that while he "decrees" and "effects" some he
merely "permits" or "suffers" other events, what must we
understand to be the Arminian doctrine, against which they are
called to contend so earnestly? Are they prepared to acknowledge
that they have abandoned Calvinism and run into Arminianism? Do
they mean to say that there is no difference between these
systems on the point in question? Not at all. How then do they
preserve the antagonism of the two creeds? What is the Arminianism
against which they are arrayed? Dr. Musgrave thus attempts the
solution of this question.

"Now, I submit, whether the difficulty, thus confessedly pressing
against both systems, is not capable on our principles, of a much
more full and satisfactory conclusion. For we not only say, as
Wesley does, that 'God knew that it was best, on the whole, not
to prevent the first sin of Adam,' but we add, that, knowing
this, he determined not only to permit that, but all the sins
that he knew would follow from it, and to limit and overrule the
whole for his most excellent glory."

It seems, then, that the difference between Calvinism and
Arminianism respecting the Divine decrees is that Calvinism
affirms that God knew it was best, on the whole, not to prevent
the sins which he has not prevented, but to permit, and limit and
overrule them, while Arminianism affirms that God knew it would
be best, on the whole, not to prevent the _first_ sin, but
determined to prevent all the sins that he foresaw would flow
from it. What a strange statement! To what shifts are these men
driven by their unfortunate creed! Where does Mr. Wesley, or any
other Arminian writer, say this directly or indirectly? Our
author very wisely declines any references at this point. Mr.
Wesley does, indeed, deny that God permitted sin, even the "first
sin of Adam," in the sense of approving or tolerating it; but
whoever denied that God permits, in the sense of suffering--not
forcibly preventing, the sins which actually occur? He appropriates
to himself, unfairly, Mr. Wesley's doctrine, and then imputes to Mr.
Wesley a tenet so perfectly foolish that it may be doubted whether
any man ever advanced it, whether sane or insane, drunk or sober.

No! these are not the doctrines of Calvinism and Arminianism
respectively. The reader will see the importance of the pains
taken, in the first discourse, to identify Calvinism. I proved
beyond dispute, that Calvinistic creeds, Catechisms, and other
theological treatises, teach explicitly, that God has purposed,
decreed, foreordained, whatsoever comes to pass; that in some way
or other he brings to pass all events; that nothing will, or can,
come to pass but what he has ordained; that none of his purposes
can be defeated; that it cannot, with truth, be said of any
event--it may or may not occur; and that all actual results, by
whatever means obtained, are expressions of the design, or decree
of God. Arminianism teaches on the contrary, that God has not
ordained whatsoever comes to pass--that some things he has
preordained; that other things he has not, but has, nevertheless,
approved and commanded them, leaving it to the free agency of the
creature to fulfil his requisitions; that other things, he not
only has not foreordained, but, has condemned and prohibited
them, and yet permits or suffers them to be, in preference to
that violent interference with free agency which would be
necessary to their forcible prevention.

Dr. Fairchild tells us that "this distinction between a decree to
_effect_ and a decree to _permit_ has been adopted by Predestinarian
divines in all ages."

Yes, in all ages Predestinarian divines have been compelled to
abandon and contradict their creed in the progress, and for the
purpose, of its defence. But Calvin himself formally discards and
protests against this distinction. He says respecting it: "A
question of greater difficulty arises from other passages, where
God is said to incline or draw according to his own pleasure,
Satan himself and all the reprobate. For the carnal understanding
scarcely comprehends how he, acting by their means, contracts no
defilement from their criminality, and even in operations common
to himself and them, is free from every fault, and yet righteously
condemns those whose ministry he uses. Hence was invented the
distinction between _doing_ and _permitting_; because to many
persons this has appeared an inexplicable difficulty, that Satan
and all the impious are subject to the power and government of God,
so that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases, and uses
their crimes for the execution of his judgments. The modesty of
those who are alarmed at the appearance of absurdity, might perhaps
be excusable, if they did not attempt to vindicate the Divine
justice by a pretence utterly destitute of any foundation in truth.
They consider it absurd that a man should be blinded by the will
and command of God, and afterwards be punished for his blindness.
They therefore evade the difficulty, by alleging that it happens
only by the permission of God, and not by the will of God; but God
himself, by the most unequivocal declarations, rejects this

But Calvin protests in vain against resorting to this "evasion"
and "subterfuge." It is the only way in which the advocates of
his doctrine can make a plausible show of argument when pressed
with certain objections. Hence we find the Westminster divines
employing it. They tell us in their Confession of Faith, that God
was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to _permit_
the sin of our first parents. Lest, however, the faithful should
fall into a serious mistake, another part assures them that the
providence of God "extendeth itself to the first fall, and all
other sins of angels and men, and that not by a _bare permission_,
but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding,
and otherwise ordering and governing of them, &c." The nature of
that "ordering and governing" is explained in the declaration that
"God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his
own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass."
But how learned men can talk of God's permitting what he has
eternally and unchangeably ordained, is a mystery to some of the
unlearned. Is it necessary to tell us, gravely, that God permits
to come to pass that which from all eternity he freely ordained
shall come to pass? He permits men and angels to do what he has
predetermined they shall do, and what they cannot avoid doing!

The apology for this gross misapplication of language, on the
part of men whose learning is sometimes magnified almost into
infallibility, is found in their distressing emergency. In no
other way can they, with any plausibility, meet their opponents.
The usefulness of this term "permit" is admirably indicated by
the account which a Presbyterian colporteur gives of an interview
with some who objected to the Calvinistic doctrine of decrees. He

"I felt myself, however, sometimes compelled to combat with the
opponents of our Calvinistic creed. On one occasion entering a
house, the members of which all attended the Presbyterian Church,
but were not members, I sold a Confession of Faith to the
gentleman; his lady inquired what the name of the book was and on
being told, after turning over its pages in a hasty manner,
exclaimed: 'I could never allow that book to be under my roof--it
should not be read, and it never ought to have been printed.'

"What was I to do? The doctrine of our Church, so far as election
is concerned, was attacked. After some little conversation on the
subject, I found that she and her son charged our Confession with
teaching that God passed a decree which put the fall of Adam
beyond the possibility of escape."

Here was an exigency. Let us see how he meets it. That the
Confession does teach the doctrine which the lady and her son
ascribed to it, is as plain as anything can be. He _decreed
whatsoever comes to pass_, and _executes_ his decrees. Does he
ask her what objections she has to this doctrine and offer to
refute them? Does he directly and promptly deny that Calvinism
teaches this doctrine? No! Such a course would be rather
hazardous, considering the character of the books he was seeking
to distribute, and did actually leave with them. What course,
then, does he take? "I told her," says he, "if the chapter on the
fall of man said so, I was as loath to believe it as she was; and
if she could find it so, I would condemn the doctrine." Mark! He
does not say, unconditionally and unequivocally that he condemned
the doctrine, and was as loath to believe it as she was, but _if
the chapter which treated on the fall of man said so_. Well, what
follows: "On turning to the 6th chapter, how surprised was she to
read--This their sin God was pleased according to his wise and
holy counsel to _permit_.'" This word _permit_ helped him out of
his difficulty. "Here was a fact," says he, "of which they had
never heard before, and which gave them no little satisfaction."
He doubtless left them under the impression that the Confession
of Faith does not teach that God decreed and brought to pass the
sin of Adam. However, he did not leave them until they willingly
purchased the _Confession of Faith, the Great Supper_, and
_Fisher's Catechism_, which asserts, as I have already shown,
that "the very reason why anything comes to pass in time is,
because God has decreed it," that "none of the decrees of God can
be defeated, or fail of execution;" and that God "predetermines
the creature to such or such an action, and not to another,
shutting up all other ways of acting, and leaving that only open
which he had determined to be done."

Another presumption in favor of Arminianism results from the
readiness with which Methodist preachers are installed as pastors
of Calvinistic churches, both old and new school, with the
understanding, if their own statements be reliable, that they are
not required to renounce or contradict the Arminian creed.
Arminian ministers are coming into great demand by Calvinists.
They are admitted into the Methodist ministry with the understanding
that they are sound Arminians. They remain for years without
exciting the least suspicion of their orthodoxy. When, all at once,
without any prior change of ecclesiastical relations, or intimation
of a change of theological views, they walk into Calvinistic pulpits.
I make no remarks at present upon the morality of this course, but
deduce that Arminianism preaching, to some extent, is necessary to
keep up Calvinistic congregations.

Methodists, you may well prize your creed. Your ministers can
preach it without reserve. You can defend it. The water of life
comes to you through no corrupting medium. You are in no danger
of inhaling poisonous sediment. It will bear analysis. It comes
to you fresh and abundant. Drink it, and dig channels wide and
long for its diffusion, that others may be blest as you are.

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