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The Author begs to apologize to his readers for not inserting the Diagrams referred to in the explanation of the Attributes of Jehovah. Those who consider them requisite, can easily mark them out for themselves.
AS an introduction to the following Treatise, on a new and original system of Theology, which we bare at length made up our minds to publish; we will, in as brief a manner as possible, explain the motives and objects which we have in view; in order, if possible, to advance the glory of the Supreme Being, and the good, or happiness of mankind, which are inseparably connected with each other.
For a number of years we have perceived with unfeigned sorrow, that there still exists a great diversity of opinion among the various sects or parties of professing christians, into which the religious world is divided and sub-divided, and while each separate party entertains such different sentiments, they all profess strictly to follow the same Divine Master; and likewise to derive their faith from the same sacred volume: this probably has been the means, in no small degree, of increasing the votaries of infidelity.
In order not to be too tedious on a subject which is much lamented by many, we will for the present confine ourselves to the two principal or largest bodies of professing christians (including both churchmen and dissenters,) which are known, or called by the names of Calvinists and Arminians; the former of which the Rev. George Whitefield followed, and the latter the Rev. John Wesley ; both of whom we trust are gone to glory and happiness in the heavenly world.
To avoid all particulars about which the separate parties may contend among themselves, we will merely state in a few words, the real and original difference that appears to exist between these two large bodies of professing christians, or the major part of each, with respect to their general doctrines, and the tendency of them; after which we shall endeavour to advance some particulars of a more harmonious and definite system, which we have now the pleasure of introducing to the impartial reader's attention ; and if it should eventually “by the blessing of God,” be the means whereby these two contending parties may be harmonized and united into one large body or church, we shall consider ourselves amply rewarded for our labour and exertion, in having accomplished such a desirable object.
Now without injustice or prejudice, it may be observed that many of the Calvinists professedly believe that the doctrine of Election or Predesti. nation, which was mentioned by Christ our Saviour and his Apostles, is altogether unconditional, with respect to the eternal decrees of God, relative to the salvation, and likewise the reprobation of mankind; by which strictly, in our humble opinion, the Deity is very much misrepresented, acquiescing, if not delighting in the everlasting torments of the largest portion of those whom he has created and preserved, by constantly and unceasingly witholding his love, grace, or favour from them ; for the express, determined purpose of their eternal damnation, without the most distant or glimmering hopes to the contrary; which evidently appears repugnant to the attributes of Jehovah, as well as to his revealed will—the holy Scriptures, natural religion or philosophy, reason, and com
The Arminians or Wesleyans on the other hand profess generally to believe that all mankind might be saved from the wrath to come,” if they would but use the appointed means of the Gospel; the reception or rejection of which altogether depends on themselves : but at the same time many of them either partially or wholly deny the doctrine of Election or Predestination; conceiving like the Calvinists that the two doctrines (viz.) the moral agency of man, and the election of God are at variance, and opposite to each other, although both are positively to be found in the pages of the holy Scriptures, and consequently both must be in complete unity and harmony with each other, if we take that blessed book to be our guide to an eternal world.
The Wesleyans or Methodists, then, appear to be in the least error, for although many of them deny the doctrine of Election, they tirmly believe and propagate moral agency or free will; which the Calvinists cannot in reality believe; because they set God's free grace in opposition to man's free will, by considering the grace of God irresistible, which opinion would go far to destroy all mental exertion, and the proper efforts of the will towards that which is good.
It must be evident to all thinking persons, that without a freedom in the will there could be no choice whatever, consequently there could be no sin on the part of mankind; for only in such proportion as we are free to choose or refuse good and evil, can we be responsible or accountable to Jehovah our creator: therefore if the will of man be destroyed, as is imagined by many, and he is merely a passive agent, we certainly must be altogether animated machines, not capable of doing either wrong or right beyond the quantum apporti
oned to us; on which absurd conclusion we could not possibly be responsible beings, neither could we, if we take into consideration the benevolence or goodness of God; or even strict justice without mercy, be subject or liable to the least degree of future punishment.
The new system which we are about to illustrate in the following pages, harmonizes and unites the two grand points in question, (viz.) the moral agency or free will of mankind, in strict accordance with the election, or predestination of Jehovah, which is our principal object in the present treatise, (although it has generally been considered an impossibility in past and present ages;) in anticipation of that happy and glorious period, when there shall be but one Church or body of professing Christians, and as far as fundamental and general doctrines are concerned, one faith and one God : after which, we presume that particulars will follow correctly, if such are deduced from a well defined, practical, harmonious system, as results proceeding therefrom.
Before we conclude these introductory remarks, we will however just mention the naturally pernicious effects of Calvinisin.
This doctrine has a tendency which is generally injurious or pernicious, in the same degree that the mind reposes in it with satisfaction, and conforms to the same; so much so, that if strongly and strenuously embraced, in course of time it leads to dangerous extremes.
For instance, many of the hearers and readers of the late Dr. Hawker, of Plymouth, (who we have no doubt was a worthy, good man, but in error relative to the doctrine of Election,) have, we are sorry to find, embraced, by degrees, the dreadful and abominable doctrine of Antinomianism, which is