Page images

the true meaning of the word. To elucidate this definition, we will consult a parable, in which this doctrine is strikingly exhibited. A householder hired laborers for his vineyard, some of whom labored all day, and others did not commence their work till the “eleventh hour." With the first class, the householder stipulated, that they should receive a penny for their services; and with the others, he engaged only in a general way, in these words, “whatsoever is right I will give you." Here you observe, that tho the householder acts like a sovereign, yet he recognizes the principle of right, and engages to conform to it. When the laborers were paid at the end of their services, a murmuring arose, occasioned by the last hired receiving as much as the first. “Every man received a penny.” Those who had wrought from the morning, considered this unjust. They were answered in this way, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good ?” This is the language and conduct of a sovereign. But why? because the householder consulted no man's will but bis own. But in his sovereignty, he injured no man; he did not defraud one of his pay to give it to another ; no partiality was exercised in the case. If the will of the first class of laborers had been consulted, the last would probably have received little or nothing. The same might have been the case, if the humor and opinion of the last class been inquired into, They might have wished to have engrossed all to themselves. But neither the opinion of the one or the other was required. The man proceeded in his own course, and the rectitude of his conduct seems to have silenced every murmur.

The above is precisely the kind of sovereignty, that the carnal dislikes. That act of God which does not make one happy at another's expense, strikes many in an unfavorable manner, probably much more on account of their prejudices, than from any internal malevolence. Tell them, however, of the grace that selects here one and there another for heirs of salva

tion, without an apparent reason for the distinction, and they are pleased with it; this is sovereign mercy, that saves whom it will; this the power that pardons and reprobates whom it will. It is still a curious circumstance that elected persons are, in general, the only believers in this plan of salvation. Reprobates are not predisposed to subscribe to the system. There is really something in it, that is captivating, if a man can once believe himself the subject of sovereign grace. For tho he will exclaim, “Why was I called and others rejected ?". as if he would resolve it into an act, as it were, without a cause, yet were bis heart unveil. ed to himself, he there would discover a cause, which he has not yet seen. He would find it in the spiritual pride and haughtiness of his heart.

We are often informed that sinners are openly opposed to the sovereign mercy of God; by which is meant that they are opposed to the system that we have been examining. We know this, and can account for it. Sinners have feelings of soul, and understanding of mind as well as other men ; and while they exercise these, they can discover no excellency in this system.' But on our part, we have exhibited a scheme of sovereignty, which, we believe, is supported by reason and revelation, which good men, so called, will dislike as much as sinners dislike the other, and we have shown you the causes of their disapprobation. If the doctrine, to which we have attended, is found upon reflection to "be without partiality," if it refers every divine act to a rule of conduct perfectly wise and benevolent, and represents Deity, as consulting the welfare of the universe, in all his dealings, tho the will of men nor angels be not consulted, we believe this doctrine will receive the unqualified assent of the understanding, the will, and affections of rational men. It is a scheme wbich the wicked cannot despise, nor the spiritually proud pervert to corrupt and dangerous purposes.

For the Christian Repository.



I wish to communicate through the medium of your useful journal, to the public in general, to the watchmen upon the wails of our Zion, and particularly to those in the vicinity of New York, an account of the following facts.

Last week, on Wednesday, I attended the (N. H.) General Association of Calvinist ministers at Acworth, which was attended by a multitude of ministers of the state of N. H. and a number from other states. The forenoon was occupied mostly in giving and receiving intelligence of the state of society and religion in this state and others. One presbyterian clergyman from the city of New York, gave a description of the number of inhabitants and state of religion with them, in that place. As an incentive or stimulus to greater exertion for the promotion of the cause of truth, (by which he would doubtless have us to understand Calvinism, he suggested that the means of grace and religious instruction were greatly inadequate to the vast population of the city. He stated (if I rightly recollect) that there were one hundred and thirtythree thousand inhabitants, and about eighty churches which would convene upon an average nearly eight hundred people each, all of which would convene about 64,06 people at public worship on the Sabbath. I think, however, he limited the number tó 58,000. But of this number he said they were not all privileged with the preaching of the gospel. The exceptions were two Universalist Churches, one Quaker, one Catholic, and one Unitarian ; in which churches they were destitute of the ordinary means of grace, and did not enjoy the preaching of the gospel.


What did this clergyman mean by saying that Universalists, Quakers, Catholics, and Unitarians in the city of New-York, did not enjoy the preaching of

the gospel, and were destitute of the ordinary means of grace ? Did he mean that there were no preachers of those orders in the place ? If he did, and it is really so, those orders ought to be apprized (and I hereby apprize them that they should endeavor to obtain preachers and pastors for their flocks. But this is not what he meant : for there are preachers of those orders in the city of New-York; and I have reason to believe that there are pastors of some of those orders, "after God's own heart, who feed their flocks with knowledge and understanding,” preaching the gospel that "God preached unto Abraham, saying, "In thy.seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.” He evidently meant to deny all of those orders of professors the name of Christians, because they do not believe and preach the dogmas of John Calvin, and sedulously maintain his five celebrated points, and the doctrine of the Trinity, &c. with the same bigoted intolerance that brought Michael Servetus and John Rogers to the stake. Perhaps had this divine explained the word gospel as he understands and preaches it, neither Universalists nor Unitarians would profess to preach it in that sense; but as he has not, they profess and will profess to preach the gospel as they understand it. Perhaps to suit his refined Calvinistic ear, the angelic annunciation to the shepherds of Bethlehem, (which Universalists, Unitarians, &c. call gospel,) "Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be unto all people," would have to be reversed, thus, “Fear; for behold I bring you sad tidings of great lamentation, which shall be unto all people, except a special elect few, whom "God, out of his inere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected to everlasting life, and did enter into a covenant of grace with them-to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer." This would doubtless suit his turn of mind and ideas of gospel better than the heavenly message does, provided he knew he was one of the elect, of which I suppose he has no doubt.

Would he now wish to equivocate and say he did

not mean to deny Universalists, Unitarians, &c. the name and fellowship of Christians, in his remarks? His language speaks for itself. If they were “destitute of the ordinary means of grace, and the preaching of the gospel,” they certainly could not be Christians. And besides, this point was tested, the day following, at this very Association. On Thursday, as I was informed, Mr. Kneeland, pastor of the Universalist church in the city of Philadelphia, being present while they were celebrating the Lord's supper, they gave a general invitation to all Christians, members of other churches in regular standing, to partake of the communion with them. Accordingly, Mr. Kneeland kept his seat with the communicants. But“they were greatly troubled at his presence," and could not proceed till he was removed. They said they did not know him, and therefore could not consistently commune with him. He replied that he was known to many of those who were present, as he had once been the pastor of a church in a town* adjoining. But all this would not suffice. Still that bigoted spirit lurked within their breasts that says to others, “Stand by thy self, come not near me; for I am holier than thou. They then requested all to retire, except those that could subscribe to the following articles of faith, viz. total depravity of the heart, the final perseverance of the saints, regeneration by the special grace of God, the all-sufficient atonement of Christ for salva. tion, and the eternal punishment of the wicked.

Mr. Kneeland then observed that he could not subscribe to those articles of faith, and took his leave of them.

How far does the conduct of this Association towards Mr. Kneeland, and the observations of this clergyman before spoken of, about Universalists, and ouver denominations, who differed from Calvivists, Gone stort of popery? Methinks not very far. Calvinism may be called, with propriety, the eldest

* Langdon.

« PreviousContinue »