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dered with great exactness: “ He went'and preached to the spitits în safe-keeping." Now if Christ went and preached to souls of men thus in prison or safe-keeping, surely, he went to the prison of those souls, or to the place of their custody? And what place that should be but the hell of the apostle's creed, to which our Lord descended, I have not yet met with the critic that could explain." Quickened by the
The spirit, in these English words, seems to be put, not for the soul of Christ but for the divine spirit. But this is èertainly not the sense of the apostle's words. If the word “flesh” denotes, as it most evidently does; the part in whieb death took effect upon him, "spirit” must denote the part in which life was preserved in him, i.e. bis own soul. And the word “ quickened” is often applied to signify, not the resuscitation of life extinguished, but the preservation and continuance of life subsisting. The exact rendering, therefore, of the apostle's words, would be, “ being put to death in the desli, but quick in the spirit;" i. é. isprviving in his soul the stroke of death which his body had sustained, “ by which, or rather “ in which," that is, in which surviving soul, "he 'went ảnd preached to the souls of men in prison, 81
in safe-keeping. The souls in custody, to whom our Saviour went in his disembodied state and preached, were those " which sometime were disobedient.”. The expression, “sometiine were,” or “ one while had been, disobedient,".- implies that they were recovered from that disobedience; 'and, before their death, had been brought to repentence and faith in the Redeemer to come. To such souls he preached neither repentance nor faith, but the glad tidings 'tliat he had actually offered the sacrifice of their redemption, and was about to appear before the Father as their intercessor, in the merit of his own blood. "But for what reason shonld the proclamation of the finishing of the great work of redemption be addressed exclusively to the souls of these ante-diluvian 'penitents? "I think I have observed, in some parts of Scripture, an anxiety of the sacred writers to convey distinct'-intimations that the ante-diluvian race is not uninterested in thie redemption and final retribution. And a particular conference with one class"might be the means,' and certainly could be no obstruction, to a general communication with all. "Bishop Horsley's - Sermon on wl Pet. iii. p. 18, 19, 20.
It is observable that there is surprising analogy between the days of the original week and the system then created. The six primary planets, for the moon is the satellite of the earth, more round the sun, which is fixed or at rest, and together they are in number seven. This answers exactly to the six days of work and of rest, of which the original week consisted. Thus the Mosaic account of the creation of the world is a symbolical description of the world or system created. This analogy oecasioned, it is most probable, the custom of calling the days of the week by the names of the planets; a custom so antient that the beginning of it cannot be discovered. It is undoubtedly as antient as 'the division of the day into twenty-four hours, since the
great regard paid to the planets, from a notion of their influence over all terrestrial bodies, was the cause of that division. Univ. Hist. vol. xvii. p. 270.
The method in which Oliver Cromwell distributed and conducted the ELECTIONS, being so favourable to liberty, forms an inconsistency which is not easily accounted for. He deprived of their right of election all the small boroughs, places the most exposed to influence and corruption. Of 400 members, which represented England, 270 were chosen by the counties. The rest were elected by London and the more considerable corporations. The lower populace, too, so easily guided or deceived, were excluded from the elections. An estate of £ 200 value was requisite to entitle any one to a vote. The elections of this parliament were conducted with perfect freedom. Hume's Hist. vol. vii. p. 238. 1. How happy would it be were a similar method adopted again!
An objection to God's goodness is raised from the doctrine of absolute reprobation; tl at is, of a decree by which the greater part of mankind are doomed first to sin and then to eternal misery, while a few Elected persons are as unavoidably impelled to righteousness, or have the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and shall be crowned with glory and happiness. So the former are delivered up to cruel fate and unrelenting necessity; the latter are favourites of heaven, and God hath fixed on their very persons without any regard to their moral qualities. Now this strange doctrine, fathered upon Christianity, stands upon no other foundation than a few misinterpreted texts of Scripture, and they who believe it ought also to believe that goodness in God is an unknown and incomprehensible quality; for, such a method of government differs from our notions of goodness as much as darkness from light. Such a system as this seems calculated to produce a religion narrow, contracted, gloomy, sour, and unbenevolent; a religion from which reason is discarded to make room for enthusiasm ; a religion which fills the mind either with a bold security, or with cruel despondence and despair, according to the different tempers that it meets with. Jortin's Sermons, vol. i. p. 181.
If any one pretends divine revelation for this doctrine, that God hath from all eter-nity absolutely decreed the eternal ruin of the greatest part of mankind, without any respect to the sins and demerits of men, I am as certain that this doctrine cannot be of God, as I am sure that God is good and just, because this grates upon the notions that mankind have of goodness and justice. This is that which no good man would do, and therefore cannot be believed of infinite goodness: and, therefore, if an apostle or angel from heaven teach any doctrine which plainly overthrows the goodness and justice of God, let him be accursed. Tillotson's Serm. vol. viii. 15.
Some have, from several passages of Scripture, attempted to deduce the doctrine of absolute predestination; that, because the decrees and purposes of God are un
changcable, changeable, therefore men's salvation or condemnation does not at all depend on any works in their own power. And, indeed, were there any such decree, it could not be denied bút' it would be unchangeable, and consequently that all religion were vain. But, the truth is, that the Scripture mentions no such decree at all, and, therefore, men need not be concerned about the unchangeableness of that which has no being. The decree of God is not tliat this or that particular person shall necessarily be saved or perish, (for then what need or what use would there be of a day of judgement ?) but his decree is, that faith and' obedience, in whomsoever it is found, shall lead to salvation, and disobedience, on the contrary, to destruction; and this decree is, indeed, like all his other purposes, absolutely unalterable. Clarke's Sermons, vol. i. 151.
The doctrines of absolute predestination and unconditionate decrees, the doctrines which subject men to unavoidable fatality and represent God capable of the greatest cruelty, must of necessity be false. And the Scriptures, upon which they are built. though to the careful reader they have plainly enough another meaning, yet, even if we could not tell how to interpret them otherwise, we might, nevertheless, be certain that their sense was mistaken; because, we are before-hand sure, from the nature of God, that it is altogether as impossible for him to do what is evil or unjust as to be able to work even contradictions themselves. Clarke's Sermons, vol. i. 235. ,
Decretum prædestinationis esse decretum finis et mediorum, nego; sed dico esse decretum, quo decernitur hisce talibus salus per modum præmii, istis vero non talibus mors, per modum pænæ. Et hoc decretum fit cum respectu ad qualitatem sive conditionem personarum. Hoc decreto conditionali posito, sic ut Deus præsciverit e vestigio, qui conditionem sibi oblatam libera voluntate accepturi et præstituri: essent. Et sic omnes et singuli, qui vel ad vitam electi sunt, vel ad mortem reprobati, recte ab æterno prædestinatos dici possunt ac debent. Episcopius de Redempt. lib. iv. c. 6. See Knowledge.
Hæc consequentia radio solis scripta est Lantgravii de absoluta prædestinatione. “ Si prædestinatus sum, nulla peccata mihi poterunt auferre regnum cælorum, si reprobatus, nulla opera valebunt conferre. Episcop. de Redemp. lib. iv. sect. 5, c.7.
By the called are to be understood those of the Jews who were called by Christ and his apostles to the marriage-feast and supper of the Gospel, offered to them with all its benefits and yet slighted and refused by them: Lu. xiv. 18 : “ The elect, those among the Jews who embraced this call, and so are called by St Paul the election and a remnant, retasxhojno, and, by St Peter, the elect.” Whitby.
Election, in Romans xi. generally signifies the remnant of the Jerus which were to remain the people of God, and incorporate with the convert Gentiles into one body of Christians, owning the dominion of the one true God in the kingdom he had set up under his Son, and owned by God for his people. This he calls the election. Locke.
?" It is confessed that the elect cannot finally fall, neither shall any plyck them out of "God's hand. Their names are
written in heaven in the book of God, and shall not be · blotted out. But these counsels of God are to us unsearchable, neither has he leftus
in Scripture any marks or signs by which we may infallibly include ourselves in that happy number whom he has finally chosen., Herein, then, lies the error which we I would -reprove; that men have pretended to assign certain characters and evidences (by which all who are elected may assuredly know, themselves to be so, most of which
resolve into a strong confident persuasion that they are so, which they presume to be - the justifying faith of the elect. A doctrine, indeed, which canuot
' but gain great åt- tention and reverence to the teachers of it from their followers, who look upon them
as men trusted with the secrets of heaven and who know the impression of God's seal; who, in truth, by pretending to declare the evidences of it, do, in effect, assume a power of fixing it on whom they please. But, what advantages soever the teachers of this
doctrine may derive to themselves from it, it is to be feared their disciples are, in confi3. dence of their skill and authority, often led into conclusions from it of great danger á to their souls, who are thereby persuaded to rely with too much presumption on their ivvigilance, and be less apprehensive of sin than the soldier of Christ ought to be. Sixth Sermon of Rogers's 19 Serm. p. 110.
See this observation fully verified in the article Hell, in letter H. » Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called, &c. Rom. viii. 30., This e. may well be called the golden chain of election, as it exhibits the order and connection
of the purposes of God concerning our salvațion. Only the several steps of divine
gráce are expressed, but that holiness, which the apostle, has been arguing for as .. essential to our salvation, is manifestly understood. The not observing of this has led * -some Christians into a very great error, as if some men, and indeed all that are to be • finally saved, were foreknown, predestinated, called, justified, and glorified, by an abso
lute decree, without regard to their moral character. Which is infallibly a very great mistake. Taylor on Rom. "Now as it is true that no contingency or freedom in the creatures can any way de
ceive or surprise God, so, on the other hand, it is likewise true that the divine | Prescience doth not hinder freedom: and a thing may or may not be, notwithstanding tw. that fore-knowledge of it which we ascribe to God. When, therefore, it is alleged, ithat, if God foresees, I shall be saved, my salvation is infallible, this does not follow; because, the fore-knowledge of God is not like man's, which requires necessity in
the event, in order to its being certain, but of another nature consistent with contingency. ( Veneer on 17th Artic.
1.t. The remonstrants have chosen a better foundation for their opinion in this matter, (election,) and in the pursuit of it represented God in a more agreeable dress. The Calvinists have strong pretensions to Scripture, but, perhaps, may be mistaken in the interpretation of it. The remonstrants have clearly the advantage as to the opinion of
the antient church. But the Calvinists, it must be owned, have a much nearer conformity to our own. In such abstruse points each man, I suppose, is left to his own persuasion; for no church, I am satisfied, has authority enough to make men believe and hold what is not agreeable to the doctrine of the Old and New Testament, and to what the catholic fathers and antient bishops gathered from that very doctrine. Stackh. Body of Div.
But our church does not favour Calvinism, as may appear from one of the tracts I published on the Articles, in 1804. See also Remonstrants, in letter R.
ERASMUS. See Cranmer.
The Eucharist is not a federal rite, but only the memorial of a fædus, or corenant; and, of consequence, there is no reciprocal intercourse between God and man of blessings, graces, &c. as Dr Waterland supposes. And, though I do not deny that in the Eucharist there is a real assistance of God, and a real benefit, which the worthy receiver partakes of; and this benefit may be conveyed to the communicant, not only as a natural effect of an act of religious worship, (which is all that some seem to allow,) but supernaturally too, i.e. he may receive such benefits as fow not from the nature of the action, but from the grace and blessing of God, the giver; yet I say that the Eucharist has these in common with other acts of obedience under the Gospel, which shews that they are not annered to the Eucharist. The assistance of God's spirit is promised in general to all Christians, and therefore I think that in all acts of religious worship a devout Christian may expect it; but I cannot see that he has a right or reason to expect, that, in the Eucharist, pardon and grace is annexed to the worthy receiving. Pearce's Letters to Waterland.
But, if not in the Eucharist, then why in any other act of religious worship? And, if in any other act of religious worship, why not in the Eucharist?
There have been many who contend that the Jewish passover was itself no sacrifice, and that the Christian Eucharist, being connected with that rite alone, could not therefore be a sacrificial feast, and ought not to be considered as a federal rite in any degree, but merely as commemorative. — But it is certain that the Paschal Lamb was sacrificed, and they who allow that Christ is our Passover must allow also, in the words of the apostle, that he was sacrificed for us; and, farther, that the communion of his body and blood is, strictly speaking, a feast upon that sacrifice offered once for all, and therefore a federal rite, as such feasts always were. - On this idea all is intelligible and pertinent; but, on the idea of a mere commemoration, so much contended for by some, not only every part of the institution becomes lifeless and unmeaning, but the great and discriminating article of our faith is kept out of sight. — If this idea be retained, it cannot be denied but that we do, in a most lively and efficacious manner, commemorate both our Redeemer and the great act of our redemption; and also fit