Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

be damned, do what they can.'1 Can Mr. Wesley produce a single instance of any one man, who did all he could to be saved, and yet was lost? If he can, let him tell us who that man was, where he lived, when he died, what he did, and how it came to pass he labored in vain." * This reply certainly meets the case, and may be applied to the objection in its broadest form. But it is not a defence evolved from his own doctrine of decrees. Nor has it any necessary reference to predestination at all. It is worth noticing, that an author who had said that God cannot be a tyrant, in the sense of acting contrary to law, "because the Supreme Governor of the universe can be bound by no exterior law," * should be driven at last to appeal, rather pettishly, to man's ability, in proof of the justice of God. But what does Mr. Toplady mean by this reply in the form of a question?—that the reprobate can break a decree of God, and crowd themselves into the number of Christ's followers? We shall hardly charge his opponents with stupidity for not so understanding him, at least before this resort to what a "man can do;" if we notice his doctrine of necessity; his frequent assertion, that "the decrees of election and reprobation are immutable and irreversible;" and such assertions as this: " Nor could the justice of God stand, if he was to condemn the elect, for whose sins he hath received ample satisfaction at the hand of Christ; or if he was to save the reprobate, who are not interested in Christ as the elect are."4

Another objection is, there is inconsistency between God's decree of electing a fixed and unalterable number to salvation, and the general offer: "Whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely." The reply is: "In the first place, none can will or unfeignedly and spiritually desire a part in these privileges, but those whom God previously makes willing and desirous; and, secondly, he gives this will to, and excites this desire in, none but his own elect." 5 The opponents of election say, the doctrine which teaches that men will be saved, "do what they will," leads to indo1 V. 401. * V. 405. 8 V. 270. * V. 248. s V. 228. lence and vice. We have seen that Mr. Toplady resents any such representation of his doctrine. He also denies the effect here charged upon it. It is as impossible to be saved without personal holiness as without personal existence. But God decrees with salvation the means of salvation. "The same gratuitous predestination which ordained the existence of the elect as men, ordained their purification as saints." He denies that the doctrine tends to " carnal security," but to fortify the people of Christ against the attacks of unbelief, and the insults of spiritual enemies, to withdraw men from a dependence on themselves, or any creature, and to excite them to a love of God, from a confidence of his love to them. On the other hand, he thought the legitimate tendency of Arminianism to be to licentiousness. He considered the foundation of Arminian doctrine to be: the assumption that every man has a claim to happiness "in right of involuntary creatureship."1 God gave existence, therefore he is bound to make that existence happy. "Admit but this, and universal salvation comes in with a full tide."a We may securely say : " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." As reasons for publicly teaching the doctrine of predestination, Toplady gives, from Luther, the two following:1. The humiliation of our pride and the manifestation of Divine grace. 2. The discipline of faith afforded, in believing this as one of "the things not seen." To these he adds, as further reasons:1. "Without it, we cannot form just and becoming ideas of God," as a being whose understanding is infinite; whose care extends to the minutest things; whose purposes are unchangeable; who is omnipotent, for, if he is not the author of irreversible decrees, he is liable to be baffled and defeated by his own creatures; and who exercises sovereign mercy and voluntary grace. 2. "Predestination is to be preached, because the grace of God cannot be maintained without it." 1 V. 390.

[ocr errors]

3. By this, "human pride is levelled, and the Divine glory shines untarnished, because unrivalled." 4. This doctrine is to be insisted on," in order to confirm and strengthen true believers, in the certainty and confidence of their salvation." 5. Without this doctrine, "we cannot enjoy a lively sight and experience of God's special love and mercy towards us in Jesus Christ." 6. "That from a sense of God's peculiar, eternal, and unalterable love to his people, their hearts may be inflamed to love him in return." 7. By it, "we shall be excited to the practice of universal godliness." 8. Without it, "we shall want one great inducement to the exercise of brotherly kindness and charity." Nothing will so effectually knit together the hearts of God's people, in time, as the belief of their having been written, by name, in one book of life, from everlasting." 9. Without it, "we shall want the surest and most powerful inducement to patience, resignation, and dependence upon God, under every spiritual and temporal affliction." "My afflictions were a part of his original plan, and are all ordered in number, weight, and measure."1 Necessity. Toplady advocated the scheme of necessity; he admitted, also, the freedom of the will. How he made these two positions consistent with each other, is the point to he noticed. Necessity he defined to be " that by which, whatever comes to pass, cannot but come to pass, and can come to pass in no other way or manner than it does; which coincides with Aristotle's definition of necessity. We call that necessary, which cannot be otherwise than it is." a Of the different kinds of necessity included in this definition, that of " compulsion" may be thrown out, as not applicable to the human will. The necessity of "infallible certainty," without any

[ocr errors][merged small]

"compulsory force on the will of the agent," is that by which human actions come to pass." 1 This infallible certainty is consistent with freedom, as may be seen by an illustration:"When Mr. Wesley is very hungry or very tired, he is necessarily, and yet freely, disposed to food or rest. He can no more help being so disposed, than a falling stone can help tending to the earth. And I will venture to affirm, what he himself cannot deny, that, necessarily biassed as he is to those mediums of recruit; he has recourse to them as freely (i. e. as voluntarily, and with as much appetite, choice, desire, and relish) as if necessity was quite out of the case; nay, and with abundantly greater freedom and choice, than if he was not so necessitated and impelled." * The coincidence of thought in this last clause and that in a remark of Sir William Hamilton, is worth noting. Hamilton, speaking of the liberty of spontaneity, says: "The greatest spontaneity is, in fact, the greatest necessity."8 In evidence of this, he brings forward the same illustration as that above; except that he supposes a hungry horse, in place of the Methodist divine. But the Scotch philosopher says, this liberty of spontaneity ought, in the question of the freedom of the will, "to be thrown altogether out of account." If we neglect both of the points which have now been noticed, — compulsion from external force, and that kind of freedom which is common to men and brutes,— as irrelevant; we may return to the question, What scheme of necessity did Mr. Toplady adopt, as consistent with freedom of the will 1 Understanding freedom to be, as has just been noticed, acting with appetite, choice, desire, and relish, we may suppose at least two kinds of necessity, which would be consistent with it — necessitation by the efficient willing of the Deity, through the human will as an instrument; and necessitation through final causes, or the necessary determination of the will by the strongest motive. Some passages appear to indicate one view; some, the other; and, at times, it would be difficult to determine which was in the mind of the writer, or whether both, for the latter might be true, either with or without the former. Indeed, Toplady's purpose in

VI. 20. 3 VI. 20.

8 Hamilton's edition of Rcid, p. 601. writing did not require him to distinguish, very accurately, between different schemes on this subject. He says:"The point in dispute between us and the Arminians is, not concerning the existence of free will, but concerning its powers. That man is naturally endued with a will, we never denied; and that man's will is naturally free to what is morally and spiritually evil, we always affirmed. The grand hinge, then, on which the debate turns, is whether free will be, or be not, a faculty of such sovereignty and power, as either to ratify or baffle the saving grace of God, according to its [i. e. according to the will's] own independent pleasure and self-determination ?"1

But Toplady has been more definite than this; and we may find statements indicative of his sentiments on both of the points last noticed. In relation to the power of motives, he is explicit."Bradwardin believed that the human will, however free in its actings, is not altogether exempt from necessity. He supposed that what the understanding regards as good, the will must necessarily desire; and what the understanding represents as evil, the will must necessarily disapprove. A remark this, not spun from the subtilties of metaphysics; but founded in fact, and demonstrable from every man's own hourly experience. The will, therefore, is no other than the practical echo of the understanding; and is so far from being endued with a self-determining power, or with a freedom of indifference to this or that, that it closes in with the dictates of the intellect as naturally, as necessarily, and as implicitly, as an eastern slave accommodates his obedience to the commands of the grand seignor. As the understanding is thus the directress of the will; so, ten thousand different circumstances concur to influence and direct the understanding; which latter is altogether as passive in her receptions of impressions from without, as she is sometimes active in her subsequent contemplation and combination of them. It follows, that if the understanding (from which the will receives its bias) be thus liable to passive, subjective necessity; the will itself, which is absolutely governed by a faculty so subject to necessitation, cannot possibly be possessed of that kind of freedom which the Arminian scheme supposes her to be." * "The finally predominant motive constantly and infallibly determines the will; and the will, thus necessarily determined, as constantly and infallibly determines the actions of the wilier. If motives did not so operate on the mind, actions and volitions would be uncaused effects; than which ideas, it is impossible for anything to be more absurd and selfcontradictory." *

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »