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calculated to do good in general; and since a nice calculation of this kind is exceedingly difficult, it appears to me to be the best, upon the whole, for every person to endeavour to establish what appears to himself to be the whole truth, and not to trouble himself about any consequences. The gospel sower must cast his seed promiscuously on all kinds of ground, hoping that in some it may yield a good increase, though he must lay his account with its being lost, and even worse than lost, upon others.
I also think it an objection to the slow and cautious proceeding which some persons recommend, that the evidence of any truth is exhibited to the most advantage in connection with the whole system to which it belongs. Nor would I conclude that, because the minds of many are staggered by bold and undisguised representations of truth, this mode of proceeding is, upon the whole, less effectual. In many cases it may be the only method of gaining a sufficient degree of attention to a subject; and when this only is done, a great point is gained. The horror with which an offensive sentiment is viewed at first, may wear off by degrees, and a cool examination succeed. What could give more offence even to good minds than the manner in which Luther, and other reformers, attacked the church of Rome? Any person would have imagined, à priori, that it could only offend and irritate. We must wait a considerable time before we can form a judgement of the number of converts that any person makes.
I cannot help expressing my surprise that so many persons, and especially of the clergy of the established church, should profess themselves Arminians, rejecting the Calvinistic doctrines of election and reprobation, and yet entertain such a horror of Arianism or Socinianism, contending with the greatest earnestness for the divinity of Christ, and atonement for sin by his death; when it appears to me, that the literal interpretation of the language of scripture (which is almost all that can be pleaded in favour of any of those opinions) is even more favourable to the former than to the latter, as, I should think, must appear to any person who wiil attend to those which I have quoted in this treatise. I know that I have found much more difficulty in my attempts to explain them. I consider it, however, as an undoubted sign of the progress of just thinking in inatters of religion, that the standard of orthodoxy is so much lower at present than it has been in foriner times.
Time was, and though I am not old I well remember the time, when Arminians would have been reckoned no better than Socinians by those who were reputed the orthodox of their day; and yet with what rage
have some of these orthodox writers at. tacked a brother heretic! How would the manes of those old champions smile to see us fall out by the way, when they were confident that we must all come to the same place of torment at last! And the furious zeal of those veterans was far more plausible, and re
spectable, than that of the modern pretenders 10 orthodoxy.
There is something striking and consistent in the genuine Suprulapsarian system, of the eternally destined fall of man, an infinite penalty incurred by one, and, by the imputation of his sin, affecting all, and an infinite atonement adequate to it, made by an infinite being; by which means a small remnant of the human race are necessarily saved; while all the rest of mankind, including new-born children, unbelieving Jews, Mahometans, and Heathens, Arminians and Baxterians, Arians and Socinians, without distinction, (as destitute either of faith, or the right faith,) are consigned to everlasting torments with the Devil and his gels; from whence results glory to a God, who, in all this dreadful scheme, is supposed to have sought nothing else.
These are the tremendous doctrines which have over. awed mankind for so many centuries; and, compared with this, all the modern qualified, intermediate sys stems are, crude, incoherent, and contemptible things. My antagonists may cavil at election und reprobation, or any other single article in the well compacted system : but every part is necessary to the whole; and if one stone be pushed out of its place, the whole building tumbles to the ground. And when, in consequence of their ill-judged attempts to alter, patch, and repair, they have brought things to this catastrophe, there will be nothing left but the simple be
lief, that the merciful parent of the universe, who never meant any thing but the happiness of his creatures, sent his well-beloved son, the man, Christ Jesus, to reclaim men from their wickedness, and to teach them the way of righteousness; assuring them, for their encouragement, of the free and unbought pardon of their sins, and promising a life of endless happiness to all that receive and obey the gospel, by repenting of their sins, and bringing forth fruits meet for repentance.
This is the essence of what is called Socinianism; and though this simple doctrine may, on account of its excellence and simplicity, be a stumbling-block to some, and foolishness to others, I believe it to be the sum and substance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the wisdom and power of God.
Formidable as the greatest adversary of the truth may be, I make no doubt but that, by the help of reason, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, it will be finally overcome. And whenever the holy apostles and prophets shall rejoice at the fall of this last part of mystical Babylon, Rev. xviii. 20., happy will they be who may join the chorus, as haying employed their efforts, however feeble, with those who, in this great cause, fight under the banners of the lamb, and who are called, and chosen, and faithful. Rev. xvii. 14.
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