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lieved the independency of the Divine foreknowledge to be founded on the eternal sovereignty of the Divine will. It was to this attribute of God that he appealed in proof of predestination:"The certainty and necessity of every future event, follow as strongly on the principle of God's foreknowledge or omniscience, as they can possibly do on the hypothesis of the most adamantine decree.'.1 Yet" the influence which the Divine foreknowledge has on the certain futurition of things foreknown, does not render the intervention of second causes needless, nor destroy the nature of things themselves."' This means that men do not feel as if any compulsion were applied to the will, though their future conduct is certain; for God's knowledge is infallible, and is the cause of the things which are known. It means that nature remains notwithstanding a half-unconscious conviction that the attributes of God ought to displace it. We must give Mr. Toplady the credit of admitting facts, yet we can hardly doubt that he felt inclined to make as little as possible of nature. Indeed, his philosophy seems to have tended to the destruction of all essences, even the essence of Deity. God is pure act. If there is an essence of which the Divine actions are products, that essence must be acted on, hence be passive, which is below the dignity of Divinity. Having made the all-absorbing energy of God's attributes destroy his essence, it is kindly in him to assure us they have not destroyed nature. But might not this system, by something analogous to a chemical combination, be reduced to a simpler one,"Whose body Nature is, and God the soul?" Election and Reprobation. The predestination of each individual to eternal happiness or eternal misery, is a doctrine which in any age will excite opposition and anger. Toplady was assailed, on account of his belief of this doctrine, with ridicule and abuse. The particular view of it which he took, will next claim attention. 1 I. 193.
Election and Reprobation he held to be doctrines revealed in the Bible, and not otherwise discoverable. Yet his viewof God's government was such as to compel him to say, that it would be casting imputation on the wisdom of God to suppose, if he saves any, that he saves them without a decree — Election and Reprobation thus become the most prominent themes in all his theological writings. It would be impossible to exaggerate his estimate of their importance. They exercised a kind of tyranny over his mind. Reprobation was an "awful" theme, on which he looked with trembling, but with composure; for he was enabled, in the mean time, to hide himself, in the Divine election, as his " ark of refuge." The foreordination of God seemed to him to be God himself working in the world. To deny this was atheism. It was not simply denying the revealed word of God; it was denying the decree, the plan, the will of God— God willing, planning, decreeing in the world; which he considered a denial of God's existence. Election was, in his system of theology, what causes are in a philosophy of nature — "the bond which connects and keeps together the whole," without which it is a system of sand. Election seemed, to him, "so blended and woven with the entire scheme of gospel doctrine, that when the former is excluded, the latter bleeds to death."i In looking at his statements of these doctrines, it should be borne in mind that Toplady was a sub-lapsarian. The distinction between this view and that of the supra-lapsarians, he gives as follows:"The Supra-lapsarians suppose that, in the decree of election and pretention, God did not consider mankind either as fallen or unfallen; but chose some and rejected others merely as beings that should infallibly exist. The Sub-lapsarians suppose that the elect were chosen and the reprobate passed by, not merely as creatures, but complexly as sinners. Calvinism is the general name under which the partisans of both are comprehended. The Church-of-England system is formed on the Sub-lapsarian principle, though with such moderation as not to exclude the former." He points out four different meanings of the term " elec- 1 V. 280.
tion," as used in the Bible; the following is the only one required here."The term election most commonly signifies that eternal, sovereign, unconditional, particular, and immutable act of God, where he selected some from among all mankind, and of every nation under heaven, to be redeemed and everlastingly saved by Christ."1 Reprobation is:"God's eternal pretention of some men, when he chose others to glory; and his predestination of them to fill up the measure of their iniquities, and then to receive the just punishment of their crimes, even destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." *
The ground of election and of reprobation is the sovereign will of God:"Those who were ordained unto eternal life, were not ordained on account of any worthiness foreseen in them, or of any good works to be wrought by them, nor yet for their future faith; but purely and solely of free, sovereign grace, and according to the mere pleasure of God. This is evident, among other considerations, from this: that faith, repentance, and holiness are no less the free gifts of God than eternal life itself."1
"As the future faith and good works of the elect were not the cause of their being chosen; so neither were the future sins of the reprobate the cause of their being passed by: but both the choice of the former and the decretive omission of the latter, were owing merely and entirely to the sovereign will and determining pleasure of God." * The end to be attained by the salvation of the elect and the punishment of the non-elect is the same:"The grand principal end proposed by the Deity to himself, in his formation of all things, and of mankind in particular, was the manifestation and display of his own glorious attributes. His ultimate scope, in the creation of the elect, is to evidence and make known, by their salvation, the unsearchable riches of his power and wisdom, mercy and love ; and the creation of the non-elect is for the display of his justice, power, sovereignty, holiness, and truth. As, therefore, God himself is the sole author and efficient of all his own actions; so is he, likewise, the supreme end to which they lead and in which they terminate."6 In reference to subordinate ends: to the elect themselves, the end of election is eternal life; but the punishment of the 1 V. 232. * V. 234. 8 V. 249. 4 V. 264. • V. 268. non-elect is for the purpose of treating men according to their desert.1 Mr. Toplady was obliged to reply to many of the common objections to the doctrine of election. Some of these may be noticed:God's justice is brought in question, by his election of some to life and his reprobation of others. This injustice is either a want of impartiality in his treatment of men, or his arbitrary act of condemning those who had simply done what he ordained they should do. In the first case, the reply is:"The justice of God's procedure herein is unquestionable, out of a corrupt mass, wherein one was not better than another, he might love and choose whom and as many as he pleased. It was likewise without a shadow of injustice whom and how many he would pass by."' In the second case, the reply is:"The condemning of the non-elect is the fruit (not of their non-election, which was no fault of theirs, but) of their own positive transgression.'' "Reprobation is, for the most part, a thing purely negative; and consists in God's not choosing some to glory, and not calling them by grace. Even his resolving to let them fill up the measure of their iniquities, has, so far as God is concerned, more in it of negation than of positivity; and is only tantamount to this, that the ungodly take advantage of the non-interfcrcnce of grace, to follow the corrupt dictates of their own hearts, so far as they are not restrained by providence."* This reply is naturally followed by another question, which is perhaps more difficult for a sub-lapsarian to answer: How happens it, that men sin? Was not the fall of man decreed, as well as his reprobation; why divide a decree which is really one, and then make yourself the champion of that part which is easiest of defence? The decree of reprobation implies a decree of sin; and in this latter decree, the supposition of sin, as its ground would be absurd. Are men, then, compelled to be subjects of the decree of reprobation? Mr. Toplady's opponents insist on knowing whether, taking into view the whole subject at once, men can avoid punish ment, or must the reprobate be " damned, do what they can?" Toplady felt the full force of the objections which are here raised, and has replied to them more or less satisfactorily, in several places. His manner of stating the objection is this: "It is frequently objected to us, that, according to our view of predestination:' God makes some persons on purpose to damn them.'"1
We will first notice his sentiment in reference to this objection, and then his argument:"This we never advanced; nay, we utterly reject it, as equally unworthy of God to do, and of a rational being to suppose."s "To say that any shall be saved, do what they will; and others be damned, do what they can: is, in the first instance, blasphemy against the holiness of God; and, in the second, blasphemy against his goodness."3
To Wesley's charge, that his view of predestination made God the author of sin, and made it God's fault, not that of Judas, that Judas betrayed Christ; he replies: "without the least heat or emotion, I plainly say, Mr. Wesley lies." * The argument which he brings forward for the defence of his system is: first, "Reprobation denotes either God's eternal pretention of some men when he chose others to glory; or, it may likewise signify God's forbearing to call, by his grace, those whom he had thus ordained to condemnation." 5 But this is a defence of only a part of his doctrine of predestination — that relating to punishment, not that relating to sin. A second argument is drawn from the texts of the Scriptures where predestination is asserted. These passages he attempts to apply only to those who have already become sinners: "God condemns and punishes the non-elect, not merely as men, but as sinners."6 The remainder of the argument is what is contained in these words:"John offers a query: 'Can they avoid it [i. e. can the reprobate avoid punishment] by anything they do?' Let me also put a query to the querist: Can you prove, that any one of them ever did what he could to avoid it? If this cannot be proved, it does not follow that 'the reprobate shall