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truth-and also that I am more immediately concerned than any one else, in consequence of having taken an active part in the debate alluded to, I think myself bound to enter a public protest against what are deemed the dangerous errors advanced in your sermons.
Another consideration likewise induces me to take my pen on this occasion, namely, that you have not given a fair and candid statement of the points debated, nor of the arguments used. This I hope to convince you of in the course of these letters. Let these considerations, dear sir, be my apology for troubling you with these remarks; and also for continuing a controversy which is already worn thread bare, by the repeated publications on these subjects. The propositions you have stated, and the arguments used to support them, have, the most of them, been answered over and over again, by men of the first qualifications, both as it respects erudition and piety; and their arguments remain unanswered and unanswerable to the present day. It is hardly possible therefore to advance any thing new upon subjects which have been so ably investigated.* It is possible, however, for these remarks
Considering, however, that Hopkinsianism is of comparitively recent date, and that in several instances it differs from Calvinism, on these accounts the controversy, as far as we are concerned in it, assumes in some respects, a different aspect. Formerly we had to contend for the moral agency of man, the universality of the atonement, and justification by faith.Truth has at length prevailed, and those points are yielded by many, although so explained as to do away their practical influence.
to fall into the hands of some, who have not seen the invaluable authors alluded to; and under God, may be a mean, either of reclaiming them from a pernicious error, or of confirming them in the truth.
Without further introduction, I begin with some remarks upon the text which you have made the foundation of your sermon on foreordination. That God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, is not disputed; but that the doctrine you have attempted to deduce from these words, was never designed by the Apostle, is easily demonstrated. You say, “ 'The first is, that God brings to pass every thing which is brought to pass ;” whereas the text says nothing about “ bringing every thing to pass which is brought to pass.” It simply states, that he worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The question to be determined is, What is the counsel of his will ? You say that it means, that “ God foreordained every event which comes to pass," p. 1. If every event which comes to pass, is brought to pass by God's plan, as you call it, or is an effect of his decree, then there can be no event, however trivial in itself, however wicked, foolish, and inconsistent, but what is included in this plan which you ascribe to God, and which, according to your statement, is the effect of his un, controlable decree. If this system does not ascribe wickedness, foolishness, and absurdity to God, there. are no such things as wickedness, foolishness, and absurdity in the world ; for all events, whether they be wicked or good, foolish or wise, absurd or con
sistent, you intimate are included in God's plan, p. 6. Are not foolishness, wickedness, and all inconsistencies, events? If not, what are they? causes, means, or ends ? It matters not by what name they are distinguished, whether causes, means, ends or events; for according to your system, they are all included in the divine plan; and you assert, p. 1, “ God brings to pass every thing which is brought to pass ;” and therefore whatever name is attached to what comes to pass, whether cause or effect, wisdom or folly, they are all, according to your sentiment, the work of God. Now, sir, you must either deny that there are such things as folly, wickedness, and absurdity, or ascribe them to God. If you undertake to do the first, you must blot out of the Bible all those passages of scripture which speak of those things, and you know they are very many) and shew the inspired writers were mistaken. If you ascribe them to God still, as you have already done in your book, I ask who imputes “fol
y? to him now? p. 3. It will not help you any to say, that these wicked and foolish actions, are said to be the actions of men. This we know; and in this respect we follow the inspired writers, in imputing them to wicked and foolish men. cording to your doctrine, they are no more the actions of men, than the moving of my pen are its actions; and in this case it would be as absurd to find fault with my pen for bad writing, as to find fault with men for their inconsistent conduct. For you say, All events are brought about by God's
plan, and expressly assert in the first page of your book, that they are his work.
Permit me here to repeat the text and your comment. Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
66 There are two ideas," say you, "contained in this passage.” The first is, That God brings to pass every thing which is brought to pass. The other is, That he brings all things to pass, according to a plan, or scheme devised by his own mind.” Do folly and sin come to pass? most certainly. Who brings them to pass ? “God brings to pass, every thing which comes to pass.” Is sin and folly produced by wisdom and holiness? You say yes, by admitting God to be wise and holy. Do these effects answer to their cause? No; for nothing is more opposite than wisdom and holiness to folly and sin; and yet according to your sentiments, sin and folly have resulted from infinite wisdom and holiness. I ask again, who imputes “consummate folly” to God now?
Any hypothesis which imputes wickedness and folly to a being of infinite wisdom and holiness, must be false; but your doctrine of foreordination does this; and therefore it is false. If any should doubt respecting your ascribing sin to God, let them examine the note, p. 23. Here you state expressly, that God is the efficient cause of sin; and lest your readers should not believe you meant to make God the cause of sin, you have made the words efficient cause, emphatical, by causing them to be printed in italics.
Having made these general remarks upon your explanation of the text, I proceed to consider the subject more methodically. In doing this, permit me, in some measure, to imitate the method you have adopted. From the perfection of God's character it is impossible for him to foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. However difficult in many instances, it may be to prove a negative, I think it not impossible in the present case. It will be admitted by all, that God is infinitely just, wise, holy, good, and true—and any system which, either in its principle, or by consequence, militates against these perfections of Deity, must be erroneous. That the system which you have advanced, and advocated does this, the following observations are designed to shew.
1. 1. It militates against the justice of God, according to your own assertion in page 67, where you say, “Impartiality requires that all innocent persons should be justified.” Impartial conduct is an exemplification of justice. Now if God from all eternity foreordained whatsoever comes to pass, he ordained the condemnation of part of the angels, of Adam and all his posterity while in a state of perfect
It is of no use to say they became sinners before the sentence of condemnation went forth against them; for agreeably to your system their sin was only an intermediate link in the immense chain of irresistable decrees, which was necessary to bring about the end which God had in view. If therefore justice or impartiality required all inno