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AND THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH
DAILY SUCH AS SHOULD BE SAVED.
THIS text is often brought as a proof of pre
1 destination. But if the context be examined, it will appear, that such as should be saved, were not to be saved by the absolute decree of God, but by continuing stedfast in the apostle's doctrine.
The doctrines of predestination-election-and Teprobation, which are all nearly connected, receive their chief force from the fuppofition, that the fore-knowledge of God cannot be reconciled with the freedom of man's will. That this is an awful, deep, and to us an incomprehensible subject, may well be allowed. But are we not told, in various parts of Scripture, of the deep things of God? Are
we not told, that things which are impossible with men, are possible with God? Are we not forbidden to be wise above what is written?'
The predestinarian, in support of his opinion, quotes a number of texts, which seem to serve his purpose. All of them, however, either by the context, or some other mode of interpretation, admit of easy answers. One of the strongest is the apostle's celebrated allusion to the potter and his clay*. This passage is taken from the eighteenth chapter of Jeremiah. By the prophetic sign of the potter and his clay, (according to the common mode of eastern instruction) the prophet instructs the Jews, that God'exercised the same power in receiving one nation, and rejecting another, as the potter does over his clay. And it is very remarkable, that the translators of our Bible, who were not thought to be very averse to these doctrines, tell us in the contents of this chapter, that under the type of a potter is mewn God's absolute power in disposing of nations. Now, it is evident, that the apostle makes exactly this use of the allusion. He has not the leaft reference to individuals, nor to a future state: but merely threatens the Jews with the completion of those prophecies which hung
* Rom. ix. 216
over them-the rejection of their nation, and the acceptance of the Gentiles.
But the strongest appeal against this doctrine, is to the nature of the Gospel, and to the whole tenor of Scripture. What can be more absurd, than to suppose God offers salvation to man in the Gospel, which can be of no service to him? What can be more abfurd than for the Scripture to exhort-to threaten—to encourage--and to promise-unless these modes of application mean to treat men like creatures, who have it in their power either to obey or transgress? Even on a supposition, that certain passages on this subject are not easily explained, whether is it more natural to conclude, that the whole Scripture is founded on absurdity, or that a few texts are not clearly understood ?