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´╗┐Title: A Solemn Caution Against the Ten Horns of Calvinism
Author: Taylor, Thomas, 1738-1816
Language: English
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A

SOLEMN CAUTION

AGAINST THE

TEN HORNS OF CALVINISM.


BY PHILALETHES,

LATELY ESCAPED.


FOURTH EDITION, CORRECTED.


And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and I saw a beast rise up out
of the sea, having seven heads and Ten Horns. Rev. xiii. 1.


LEEDS:

PRINTED BY JAMES NICHOLS, 36, BRIGGATE, AND SOLD BY OTHER
BOOKSELLERS.

1819.



TO

THE REV. JOHN WESLEY.


Reverend Sir,

THE author of the following strictures hopes your candour will
pardon his addressing you in this public manner. Who he is, or what
he is, signifies very little; only he begs leave to intimate, that
he hopes he is a follower of that Saviour who "gave himself a ransom
for all." He was convinced when young in years, in a great measure,
by reading "Alleine's Alarm;" and the Calvinists being the only
professing people near him, he soon got acquainted with them, and
was, for some time, in their connexion. Being young in years,
experience, and knowledge, he saw with their eyes, and heard with
their ears; yet not without many scruples concerning the truth of
several of their tenets. Sometimes he proposed his doubts, yet
seldom had much satisfaction; but rather was a little brow-beaten
for being muddy-headed. He often paused, and pondered, and read, and
rubbed his head, and wondered what he ailed. Cole on "God's
Sovereignty" was put into his hands to clear his dull head, and make
him quite orthodox; but still he could not see how God could be just
in condemning men for exactly doing what he had decreed them to do.
After many conflicts, your little piece, entitled, "Predestination
Calmly Considered" fell into his hands; he read it over with that
attention which both the doctrine and performance deserve; and never
had a doubt, from that day to this, that God is loving to every man.
You will, dear sir, excuse the liberty which he has taken in
recommending that little useful piece, as well as some others, which
are published in your catalogue. But, perhaps, you will say, "Who
hath required this performance at your hands? Are there not already
better books written upon the subject than yours?" He answers, Yes;
there are books much better written: They are really written too
well for the generality of readers. He wanted to adapt something to
the genius and pockets of the people. The generality of such as
profess religion are poor, and have little time, little capacity,
little money. If they read and understand this, perhaps they may be
capable of relishing something better. However, the writer throws in
his mite, and hopes it will be acceptable. In the meantime may you,
who have much to cast into the divine treasury, go on and abound
until you finish your course with joy. I am, Reverend Sir, your
obedient and humble servant,

THE AUTHOR.

_December_ 5_th_, 1779.



A

SOLEMN CAUTION,

_&c._


When the forerunner of our blessed Lord came preaching his
dispensation among men, it is said, "the same came for a witness, to
bear witness of the light, that all men through him might believe.
He was not the light, but was sent to bear witness of the light.
That was the true light which lighteth every man which cometh into
the world." It is farther added, "this is the condemnation, that
light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather than
light."

One would think such express testimonies were sufficient to convince
any man who attentively considers what is here spoken, and who spake
these words, "that Christ tasted death for every man;" and that he
"would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the
truth." Yet it is well known, men have found the art of torturing
these and many other scriptures to death, so as to leave neither
life nor meaning in them. For many years I did not see the bad
tendency which unconditional predestination has; for though I was
convinced that it was not a scriptural doctrine, yet knowing some
who held it to be gracious souls, I was ready to conclude that all
or the greater part were thus happily inconsistent, and so, contrary
to the genius and tendency of their doctrine, were perfecting
holiness in the fear of the Lord. But latter years have convinced me
to the contrary; and though many are either afraid or ashamed to
hold it forth in its full extent, and have kept its chief features
out of sight, yet it is still like that second beast which is
mentioned in the Revelation,--its horns are like a lamb; but attend
closely to it, and it speaks like the true dragon, and with its ten
horns is pushing at the saints of the Most High; and, I fear, has
cast down many, and is still pushing every way to the great danger
of many more. Many who were simply going on their way, rejoicing in
a crucified Saviour, denying themselves, and taking up their cross,
--no sooner has this beast obstructed their way, but they have
unwarily been seduced from the path of life. Having now their eyes
opened, they are become wise in their own conceits, and are no
longer the same simple, patient followers of the Lamb; but soon
become positive, self-conceited, and gradually fall back into the
world again.

It is true, many excellent checks have been given to this growing
plague; several of which are mentioned in the subsequent part of
this little performance: Yet they are really too well written, and
too large, for the generality of readers. Such arguments as Mr.
Toplady and Mr. Hill have made use of, that is, being pretty liberal
in calling foul names, are far more taking than rational scriptural
reasoning. I could not prevail upon myself to stoop so low; truth
does not require it. Yet a few plain strictures, just giving a
concise view of some of the principal features of this beast, is
what is pretended to here. I think I shall avoid all railing
accusations, all personal abuse; there being something so low and
mean in scurrility, that it can never help the cause of pure and
undefiled religion. The following positions, concerning absolute
predestination, I hope to make appear.

The sum of Calvinism is contained in that article in "the Assembly's
Catechism," viz., "that God, from all eternity, hath ordained
whatsoever comes to pass in time." From hence naturally follow the
ensuing ten blasphemous absurdities:--

I. If it is so, that, God has from all eternity ordained whatsoever
comes to pass in time; then it is certain, nothing can come to pass
but what he hath ordained or appointed.--But, we are sensible, the
most shocking things have come to pass; such is the rebellion and
fall of the angels, who kept not their stations, but are become the
enemies of God and man, and seeking to do all the mischief they can
in the world. But if God has, by an express decree, ordained
whatsoever shall come to pass, he has ordained that these angels
should sin, and fall, and become devils; they could not help it; and
all the mischief they do in the world is but fulfilling the divine
decree. Likewise it was ordained, that they should seduce man, and
that he should fall, and propagate a race of sinful creatures like
himself, and that all the shocking consequences should follow; that
Cain should murder his brother; that the old world should be
immersed in sin and sensuality, and then be drowned; and, though
Noah was a preacher of righteousness a hundred and twenty years,
that none should believe and be saved; likewise the arriving of the
Sodomites to such an enormous pitch of wickedness, was ordained; and
that they should burn in lust, working that which was unseemly, and
perish by fire; also that the Israelites should murmur, tempt God,
commit fornication in the wilderness, and their carcases should then
fall; in like manner, after they were settled in the promised land,
that they should fall in with the various abominations, such as
burning their children to Moloch, use enchantments, witchcrafts, and
every other abomination which we find them charged with. Then was
not the cruelty exercised by Pagans, or Papists, or Mahometans all
ordained?--also all the massacres, treacheries, plundering, burning
of towns and cities, dashing poor infants to pieces, or starving
them to death, ripping up their mothers, together with all the
rapes, murders, and sacrileges which have ever come or shall come to
pass? I say, this doctrine charges the blessed, the merciful God
with it all, by ordaining from all eternity whatsoever shall come to
pass in time. Here is no overstraining, no forcing things; it is the
unavoidable consequence, as much as a man charging, pointing, and
firing a cannon at any one or number of men is the cause of their
death. The powder, cannon, and ball only do what the men appoint
them to do. Reader, is not this shocking? Does not thy blood chill
at reading all this blasphemy? I am sure mine does at writing. I
know, great care is taken to hide their monstrous visage; but as it
is there, I am determined to drag it out to light.

II. This doctrine makes the day of judgment past;--a heresy which
very early found its way into the church of God, and thereby
overthrew the faith of some. If God from all eternity ordained
whatsoever shall come to pass in time, then he ordained who should,
and who should not, be damned.

Now if there be anything in the day of judgment analogous to what is
transacted in courts of justice here, then causes are to be tried by
the law or word, and such as have voluntarily committed crimes are
to be punished accordingly, and every cause is to have a fair
hearing, Rev. xx. 12. But, according to the scheme of absolute
predestination, all is settled and fixed already; then there is no
judging of every man "according to his works," but according to what
is before ordained concerning him. So that the clay of judgment is a
solemn farce, or rather we may call it the day of execution, seeing
it is only to execute what was long ago determined. What a
ridiculous idea does this give us of the proceedings of that great
and awful day! Should the king summon a number of cannons to take
their trial in Westminster-Hall for blowing down some city, which
cannon had been fired by his secret orders, would not every one who
knew the affair both despise, and in their judgment condemn, such a
foolery? But how does judging men for doing that which He has before
determined they should do, reflect upon the wisdom and goodness of
the Almighty? It is said of Nero, that he secretly ordered Rome to
be set on fire, and then laid the blame upon the Christians, and
ordered them to be persecuted for the same. But is it not horrid
beyond conception to represent the God of wisdom, mercy, and
goodness, even worse and more ridiculous than Nero? Such is the
consequence of absolute predestination.

III. It contradicts the plain word of God.--To quote all the texts
of Scripture which it contradicts, would quite swell this little
performance too large. A few, however, shall be selected. "The Lord
is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works,"
Psalm cxlv. 9. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in
the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and
live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: For why will ye die, O
house of Israel?" Ezek. xxxiii. 11.

These two testimonies from the Old Testament cut off all absolute
predestination at a stroke. If God is good to all, or if he is
loving to every man, how can this consist with his

    "Consigning their unborn souls to hell,
    Or damning them from their mother's womb?"

If his tender mercies are over all his works, how can this consist
with fore-ordaining that the greatest part of mankind should sin and
be damned for ever? Now, what loving tender heart can take any
satisfaction in any such broad blasphemies?

Again: if God takes no pleasure in the death of a sinner, certainly
he affords him proper means of living; but that he takes no pleasure
in the death of such, we have not only his word, but his oath for
it; and, as he could swear by no greater, he has sworn by himself.
"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of
the wicked," &c. Now, must he not have a large stock of impudence
who can give the God of truth here the lie? What kind of brass must
his brow be cased with? For me to see a poor creature hanging over a
dreadful fiery furnace, and have it in my power to help him with a
word, and will not help him, nay, order him secretly to be pushed
in, and yet stand, and in the most solemn manner cry, "As I live, I
have no pleasure in your death;" yea, passionately cry out, "Why
will ye die? turn ye, turn ye;"--now I say, where would be my
sincerity all the time? When I have pushed the contenders for
reprobation in this manner, the cry has been, "O, that is your
carnal, human reason!" Indeed I think the other is devilish, inhuman
reason.

I shall now select a few witnesses from the New Testament. Hear the
lip of truth expostulating with the unhappy Jerusalem, a little
before it suffered: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the
prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would
I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her brood
under her wings, and ye would not!" Luke xiii. 34. "Of a truth I
perceive, that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation,
he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with
him," Acts x. 34, 35. "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief
that he might have mercy upon all," Rom. xi. 32. "Who will have all
men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth," 1 Tim.
ii. 4. "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due
time," 1 Tim. ii. 6. "For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation,
bath appeared to all men," Titus ii. 11. "He, by the grace of God,
should taste death for every man," Heb. ii. 9.

I shall multiply no more quotations; these are sufficient. Only I
would ask, Is there any meaning in language? Or are words intended
to convey any fixed and determined meaning? If that is the case,
then absolute predestination manifestly contradicts the plain
testimony of Scripture, and therefore must spring from the father of
lies; and, as such, is to be abhorred.

IV. It has a tendency to render all means useless.--I know it is
asserted, that He who has ordained the end, has appointed the means
thereunto: And this observation, understood rightly, is a great
truth. But has God so ordained, that there is no liberty left for
free agency? Has he appointed that one must be a preacher, and
another a curser and swearer? that one must give his goods to feed
the poor, and another must steal and plunder, and so live upon spoil
and rapine? Or has the Lord given a power to every man either to
choose or refuse? This is what the Bible maintains, or otherwise the
many exhortations, reproofs, expostulations, and threatenings are in
vain. Now we are exhorted to pray: "To pray! for what?" Such things
as we are sensible we stand in need of. Yea, and it is said, "Ye
have not:" "And why had they not? Was it because God had decreed to
give them nothing?" No such thing; they have not, because they did
not ask. For if God had decreed to give them nothing, then they had
not been to blame; but they are charged with neglect in not asking,
and that is assigned as the reason of their not receiving. This is
perfectly consistent with what our Lord has said, "Ask, and it shall
be given; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened."
Well, but all this asking, knocking, seeking, is all lost labour, if
there be any such decree as is mentioned above. For can all this
praying, and asking, and seeking, alter what is irreversibly decreed
to be done? Indeed this borders upon deism; for the deists argue,
"Do you think that praying will make God change his mind?" Now if we
believe the Bible, we must ask God to give us the blessings we stand
in need of, and cannot warrantably expect to receive without asking.
The same holds good with regard to family prayer. I ask eternal life
for my wife, children, or friends. How vain is all my labour! For if
God has decreed to give them eternal life, they shall have it in the
way, time, place, and manner it is decreed for them, whether I pray
or not. And if God has not decreed to give it unto them, all my
praying can never change the decree.

I find a love to poor perishing sinners in some town or village, and
I go to persuade them to be reconciled to God: Many of them use me
ill, not only with reviling language, but even with sticks, or
stones, or clods, or rotten eggs. Why, what a fool was I to expose
myself on any such account! If they are decreed to be saved, they
shall be saved; or lost, they shall be lost: So that my suffering
and preaching are entirely in vain.--See that pert young man, he has
just left his loom or his plough, and he is going to hammer at a bit
of Latin; by and by, he becomes a mighty smatterer: With his little
sense, little grace, and next to no learning, he harangues famously
about a decree and a covenant, and puffs and parades, and shouts out
amain, "O the sweetness of God's electing love!" Having by this time
acquired a pretty good stock of assurance, he looks out for a shop,
that is, in the quaint phrase, "he waits for a call;" by and by the
desired object appears, the bargain is struck, and the stipend is
settled, and now we have our pert youngster a Reverend Sir!--"Well,
but what is he to do?" Why, we should think, call sinners to
repentance, and comfort mourners, and establish believers, and help
their faith. But, alas! this is all in vain. This Reverend Sir might
as well have stayed at his loom or plough, as take the poor people's
money for watching over their souls, when all from first to last was
settled by an unalterable decree.

Such is the consistency of predestinarian teachers. Poor simple
souls, who are thus led, do not you see that if such a decree is
gone forth, you are supporting an idle man in vain?[1]--What end is
preaching to answer? Let him lecture with ever such state and
assurance, if the time, the place, the manner be all fixed: I say he
is an ignorant, lazy drone, who is picking his poor people's
pockets; but, perhaps, it was decreed that it should be so.[2]

V. It makes promises and threatenings useless.--I apprehend promises
are intended to encourage the fainthearted, and such as are ready to
be discouraged in their way; and the Lord who has made them, no
doubt, designs to fulfil the same. They are not mere baubles, but
the firm and never-failing words of God. Yet they are conditional. I
know no promise made to us, in the way of experience, but there is a
condition either expressed or implied. The only promises which can
in any measure be said to be unconditional, are such as respect
Christ's coming into the world, the pouring out of the Spirit, or
the preaching of the Gospel. But as for such as respect the
forgiveness of sins, consolation, sanctification, or glorification,
they are all conditional, and, as such, are intended to encourage
all who are travelling to Mount Zion.

So with regard to the threatenings; they are intended to warn the
unruly, and put a check upon the disobedient; so that no sinner may
rush upon his own damnation, without being duly apprised of the
same. "And why is he apprised? Barely to torment him before the
time?" No, verily; but, like the citizen's hearing the sound of the
trumpet, that he may take the warning, and escape the danger. But if
there is an irrevocable decree, if all things are so ordered and
fixed from eternity, then are the threatenings mere scare-crows;
they can answer no valuable end at all, and might as well be given
to stocks and stones as to human beings, if they have no power to
take the awful warning. And does not this make the word of God of
none effect? Certainly; if promises have no power to allure and
encourage, that is, if the human race are not to be moved by them,
and if their power of obeying is wholly taken from them, it is in
vain for God to call out, "How long, ye simple ones, will you love
simplicity? Turn ye at my reproof. Unto you, O men, I call! and my
voice is unto the sons of men." It is in vain for him to say, "Come,
let us reason together; though your sins be like scarlet, they shall
be white as wool: And though they be red like crimson, they shall be
as snow. Come, let us reason together!" "Reason! with what?" Brutes,
nay stocks and stones! How absurd! Would a wise man make such a
proposal? How does this inconsistent scheme reflect upon the
infinitely wise and gracious God? Shall vain man throw such an odium
upon his Maker? God forbid! But such an odium does this decree throw
upon unerring wisdom; and all the quibbles in the world cannot clear
it of the same. Again: let God speak like thunder, "The wicked shall
be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God!" yet if the
sinner is incapable of taking the warning, what empty bombast does
it make of the awful threatening! But let God be true, and every man
a liar who can cast such vile reflections upon his righteous
proceedings.

VI. It is contrary to every attribute in the Deity.--Now his justice
is the severest attribute of the blessed God; that is manifest when
its sword awaked against the Man who was his fellow, when the great
Mediator bled for human crimes. Yet even this attribute must be
consistent with mercy and goodness; nay, the very term itself
implies there is no wrong in it. But how can we clear the justice of
God, if he has ordained that man shall sin; nay, is made for that
very end, and then to be damned for it? There is nothing equal to
this in the whole compass of history. That which bears the nearest
resemblance is the well-known instance of Tiberius; when determined
to destroy a noble family root and branch, finding a young virgin
who could not, by the Roman laws, be put to death, he ordered the
hangman to ravish the poor innocent, young and helpless creature,
and then to strangle her. Such a horrid picture do these low
advocates draw of the justice of the Supreme Being!--And what shall
we say of his love? Nay, hear what David said of it, namely, that
"He is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works."
Hear what the lip of truth himself hath said, "God so loved the
world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "God so loved
the world;" "that is," say they, the "elect world." And what proof
do they bring for such an interpretation? None; nay, that is a
circumstance which is often forgotten. But we need go no farther
than the text itself, to confute that rugged interpretation; only
let the grammatical sense of the words be attended unto,--"God so
loved the _elect_ world, that whosoever of the _elect_ world
believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." Then
what is become of the elect world which do not believe in him?
According to this scheme, there are some of the elect world which
will not believe in him, and so perish. See what consequences follow
such absurdities! St. John says, "Behold what manner of love the
Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of
God." But the poor reprobates may argue, "Behold what manner of hate
and destruction the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should
thus by his decree be called reprobates, children of darkness,
enemies to God, strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, and enemies
to the cross of Christ."

And what can we say, upon such principles, for the pity of Him whose
bowels melt with tenderness? Who are the objects of his pity? Are
not poor miserable objects, who are plunged into a hopeless,
helpless situation through the fall, and become offenders through
the original transgression? The doctrine under consideration is so
far from representing any pity to such unavoidable objects, that it
really represents God, of his own sovereign good-will and pleasure,
bringing them into that deplorable situation, and then leaving them
to perish without remedy, and taking a horrid pleasure in their
everlasting destruction. O thou pitiful anti compassionate Lord God,
what a picture of vindictive cruelty does this sad doctrine exhibit
of thy tenderness and pity to poor sinners!

And what plea is there for the goodness of God, upon the same gloomy
doctrine? I can see none. Now goodness does not seem to be so much
any one attribute, as a blessed assemblage of them all put together.
It seems a collection of all the glorious and blessed qualities in
the adorable Deity, shining out in countless rays on every side; an
image of which is the sun which shines on the evil and good, and the
innumerable drops of rain which fall on the just and the unjust.

Some have asked me, "Do you not think that God might have justly
passed you by, and left you without his grace or help at all?" I
answered, No; I think he could not have done any such thing. That I
was shapen in iniquity, and in sin conceived, I allow; its woeful
effects I feel to this day. But then that was not my fault. I could
not help it; and certain I am, that God never demands the taking up
of that which he never laid down, or reaping where he has not sown.
That I have, times without number, rejected that grace which brings
salvation to all, and abused it again and again, I do with shame and
confusion acknowledge; and that he might have taken away the abused
talents, and, from my so frequently turning a deaf ear to his loving
voice, have sworn I should not enter into his rest, is a truth which
I feelingly confess. But that he could or would leave me a slave to
everlasting misery on account of my original depravity, I utterly
deny.

Where shall we find the mercy of God, according to this merciless
doctrine? It is said that "mercy is his darling attribute, and that
judgment is his strange work." But according to this scheme, we must
reverse this sentence, and say that "_judgment_, or rather
everlasting destruction, is his darling attribute; and that mercy is
his strange work." It is said, that "his tender mercies are over all
his works." This must mean over such as have sinned; for such as
have not sinned, do not stand in need of mercy. But this narrow
limited doctrine does not make his mercy extend to a tenth part of
his works. If I see a multitude of poor wretches hanging over a
dreadful fiery furnace, and can extend my help to them all as easily
as to one, but will not, this speaks but little for my mercy; and as
little does this doctrine speak for the unbounded mercy of God.[3]

VII. It contradicts common sense.--There is something of a light in
the breast of every one, which the Author of our being has planted,
and which we call "the understanding." By this we are enabled to see
things in common life which are consistent or inconsistent; so even
in religious matters there may be asserted some things so shockingly
inconsistent as may affront even what we call common sense, and
perhaps may be a stumbling-block in the way of many. Should the
legislative power of England give out laws or acts of parliament to
be obeyed, and rewards promised to the obedient, and punishments
denounced to the disobedient; but at the same time, by some secret
springs of management, should so order it, that a certain number
should be constrained to obey, in some particular time, called a day
of power; and the remaining part should be under an unavoidable
necessity of disobeying, either by being constrained to
disobedience, or for want of that ability to obey which the
government could only give, but it was denied them: now must it not
shock all common sense, and all degrees of truth and justice, to
find these poor impotent wretches brought to the stake to be burnt
alive, because they could not do impossibilities? And does not every
one see the case is parallel, when the great Judge shalt pass the
sentence of condemnation at the last day, "Go, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire?"--"Why, what for? Because I have decreed it shall
be so?" No: "I was hungry, but ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty,
but ye gave me no drink." We do not find them objecting any such
decree being made against them; if there had, how could they have
been furnished with a better plea? They might have said, "Lord, thou
knowest we could not reverse thy decree, nor avoid our impending
doom. Didst thou not ordain that we should just do as we have done,
seeing thou hast fore-ordained from eternity whatsoever should come
to pass in time? So that we have just fulfilled thy counsel, and
done all thy pleasure." Here it seems pretty plain that such a
scheme must fill the prisoner's mouth with undeniable arguments,
while the judge has his mouth stopped. How horrid the bare thought
appeared, in so much as it shocks me to make the supposition! And
yet it is no more than what this uncouth system inevitably holds
forth; it is the plain undeniable consequence. Let them shift it off
that can; and if they cannot, let them renounce so unscriptural, so
absurd a scheme, which fathers such broad blasphemies upon the
Father of mercies, and the God of truth.

VIII. It has a tendency to licentiousness.[4]--It is well known that
the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked; that it is prone to every vice, and is glad to catch at
anything to keep itself in countenance. But can anything be better
calculated to cause a poor fallen creature to sing to his lusts, and
sound a requiem to his sensual soul, than a doctrine which informs
him, that "all things are ordained from eternity," and he must sit
still, and, if he is a chosen vessel, he will some time or another
be called upon; and, if otherwise, all his striving or seeking will
avail nothing at all. Besides, if he feels propensities to any
sensual appetites, like a true free-thinker, he may say, "What are
these passions or appetites for, but that I may gratify them? Or,
why should I endeavour to deny myself, seeing I cannot alter what
God has decreed? I may eat, drink, dance, sing, swear, live in
uncleanness, just as my inclinations lead me. To stem the torrent is
in vain, seeing it is fixed, unalterably fixed, nor is it in my
power to reverse the same." Nor do there want instances in history
of such as have died under the grossest delusions, affirming, if
they were deceived, it was God who had deceived them. All the calls
to repentance, all the invitations to Christ, all the exhortations
to holiness, self-denial, and mortification, plainly imply a
capacity to prevent them in the parties addressed, or their labour
is absurd; but absolute predestination supposes no such thing, any
more than if the stones in the street were exhorted to arise and
run, or the sign-posts were exhorted to take up arms and defend the
city.

IX. It makes the God of all grace and goodness worse than the
devil.--One of the names given to satan is Apollyon, that is, "a
destroyer;" but then he is not destroying his own work, he is
seeking to destroy the works of God, whose daring enemy he is, and
thereby acts consistently with himself. But this gloomy scheme
represents God bringing innumerable beings into existence, not
barely to destroy them, but to torment them for ever. Can anything
be greater blasphemy? But be it what it will, it is the natural
consequence of all things being ordained from eternity, which are to
come to pass in time. What a dismal picture of the blessed God! When
I have read of some of the Popish massacres, I have been much
shocked, and my very blood has run chill; much more so, when I have
read of some religious rites of the heathens; such as their offering
the captives, who were taken in war, sacrifices to their devil-gods,
nay, even their own children that have been offered up in the
flames; I have found it raise an unspeakable indignation against
both them and their religion. And what idea must a person have of
that God who has made on purpose millions of rationals to fulfil his
decree here, censuring and frowning for ever over them, while they
are tormented with endless flames, for just doing what he has
ordained them to do? Lord, how is thy name blasphemed by doctrines
so contrary to thy goodness, pity, and love?

X. Lastly. If the unconditional decree be a true doctrine, then
there is no such thing as sin in the world.--Everything is just
going on as he would have it to be; all are acting in the department
of life which is appointed. Therefore go on, ye jolly drunkards, and
jovial song-singers; proceed, ye numerous tribes of profane swearers
and sabbath-breakers; curse on, ye horrid blasphemers and swarms of
liars; ye murderers, plunderers, unclean profligates,--ye are all
doing the will of God, answering the great ends for which you were
made. What avails all the noise the preacher makes about the wicked
being turned into hell, and all the nations which forget God? Let
him cry out, till his face is black, "Turn ye, turn ye, from your
evil ways." If ye be ordained to turn, ye shall turn; if not, all
his zeal will avail no more than a tinkling cymbal. Therefore, he
that is praying, and he that is preaching; he that is speaking the
truth, and he that is lying; he that is labouring honestly, and he
that is stealing; he that is chaste, and he that is impure; he that
is over-reaching, and he that deals honestly; he that sings the
songs of Zion, and he that sings the songs of satan; in a word, he
that is converted, and he that is unconverted; he that is a
believer, and he that is an unbeliever; are all doing the will of
God, which none can acid to, and none can take from; but all things
are just in the state and condition which God has appointed, and all
are just doing what his will is, and then there is no such thing as
sin in the world.

I should now have finished this small affair, only two or three
objections, which have sometimes been made against Universal
Redemption, may justly and with very great propriety be retorted
upon the objectors.

First. "To assert that Christ died for every man, or, what is the
very same thing, that all men may be saved if they will, is mere
heathenism."

Answer. Whether it be heathenism or not, I am certain that absolute
predestination is. For it is well known that the stoics were a very
extensive sect among the heathens, and it is equally known that they
held an absolute fatality, that is, absolute predestination. They
even made Jupiter, their supreme deity, subject to the fates; and
even that "father of gods and men," as they termed him, could not
reverse what the fates had decreed to be done. Their fates
determined what kingdoms should rise, and what should fall; what
heroes should conquer, and what should be conquered. This doctrine
runs throughout the poem of Homer called the Iliad; so that he makes
the fates determine the ends of his two chief heroes, Hector and
Achilles. And though the former was knocked down several times in
the different engagements and dangerously wounded, yet as the fates
had decreed that he should fall by the hand of Achilles, he is
rescued from destruction by a deity, because the time of his death
was not yet arrived. So that whether our asserting that "all may be
saved, if it is not their own fault," be heathenism, it is certain
that unconditional predestination is; and if that proves the untruth
of it, then are their absolute decrees untrue.

Secondly. They say that "our doctrine is Popery."

This has as frightful an aspect as the other, and perhaps more so;
as many think there is less danger of their turning Heathens, than
their turning Papists. But be not frightened at nothing; perhaps the
tables again may be turned upon the objectors. Whether Christ's
tasting death for every man be Popery or not, I am sure absolute
predestination is; and it argues, that they who start that objection
are ignorant of the tenets of the Papists. It is well known, that
that large fraternity among the Papists called Dominicans, were all
rigid predestinarians, as well as those called Jansenists. And I
very much question if Calvin himself did not spring from the former
stock; and, when he came from the church of Rome, brought that
branch of Popery along with him, by which means the leaven spread
among many of the Protestants. It would shock any mind which is not
quite intoxicated with the absolute decrees, to read what some
writers of the above-mentioned classes have said concerning God
fore-ordaining sin and misery, and how much he is pleased with the
same, nay, how he is glorified thereby, far more than by holiness.
From hence it is very evident, that absolute predestination is
downright Popery.

Again: the Mahometans are rigid predestinarians;--a doctrine which
suits that cruel disposition for which they are so remarkable; the
same leaven which spreads among the predestinarians among those
which are called Christians. The same vindictive, sour spirit we
find in Calvin; witness his conduct towards Servetus, who was by his
means burned to death. The same savage turn we see in Knox. Let any
one read the proceedings of the infamous Synod of Dort. Could any
Popish tribunal be more boisterous or arbitrary? How were the poor
Remonstrants dragooned from place to place! It seemed as if that
time was come, when no man should buy or sell who had not the mark
of the beast of predestination either in his forehead or in his
right hand; that is, either public or private. Let any one read the
book called the "Cloud of Witnesses." Did they die like true
martyrs, calling for mercy upon their persecutors? No; the book is
full of very dreadful execrations and horrible anathemas, pronounced
with their dying breath. Does the spirit of Jesus breathe out
threatening and slaughter in such a manner, so as to bind eternal
vengeance upon any one? Let any one consult the spirit of the
Seceders and Sandemonians, and they will see the same genuine
Mahometan spirit, which is as contrary to that doctrine which says,
"Let all bitterness, and malice, and anger be put away from you," as
darkness is to light. Certain it is, that love worketh no ill to any
one; nay, it thinketh no evil; it is the end of the commandment out
of a pure heart.

Reader, weigh these things attentively; consult the Scriptures,
comparing Scripture with Scripture; and consider the nature of that
Deity whose essential character is Love.


THE END.


James Nichols, Printer, Leeds.



Footnotes


[1] "I presume, nothing is intended here against any humble, pious,
good man." Ed.

[2] It is easy to observe, that the above entirely refers to the
predestinarians of the Dissenting party; whatever may be said of
them, it must be acknowledged, they act a far more honest and
ingenuous part than the predestinarians who are Ministers of the
established Church. As Dissenting Ministers are maintained by the
voluntary contributions of their hearers, their hearers are at
liberty to withdraw their assistance; but then Ministers, who obtain
parishes and lectureships, &c., yet being predestinarians, are
preying upon the emoluments of the Church, and are real Dissenters
within her own walls. But perhaps a half sheet may take a little
farther notice of them shortly.

[3] It is not the design of this small dissertation to prove what is
asserted at large, or answer the objections which have been made
against God's being loving to every man, or to explain the
Scriptures which Calvinists bring in to defend their tenets. No, my
design is only to present the reader, who has no better way of
knowing, with a few of the principal features of Calvinism. But I
wish to recommend "John Goodwin's Redemption Redeemed;" or "Mr.
Sellon's answer to Cole," or his "Arguments against General
Redemption Considered." Who or what this Sellon is, I know not,
except from his writings, having never to my knowledge seen the
gentleman in my life; but by his writings I find that he is an
honest, consistent Minister of the establishment; and that he is a
sensible man, and a scholar, one who has well studied the original
Scriptures, and the nature of the controversy. Likewise I beg leave
to recommend what entirely satisfied me on this head, "Mr. Wesley's
Predestination Calmly Considered." That, and his Sermon on Free
Grace, I wish every reader duly to consider.

"Mr. Sellon's works have lately been published in 2 vols. 8vo. price
16s. by Blanshard, London." Ed.

[4] "Of this tendency we have but too many lamentable proofs." Ed.





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