« PrécédentContinuer »
But the Quakers say, this is no where manifest; for the term Salvation is not annexed to any of the passages from which the doctrine is drawn. Nor do they believe it can be made to appear from any of the Scriptural Writings, that one man is called or chosen, or predestined to salvation, more than another. They believe, on the other hand, that these words relate wholly to the usefulness of individuals; and that, if God has chosen any particular persons, he has chosen them that they might be the ministers of good to others; that they might be spiritual lights in the universe; or that they might become, in different times and circumstances, instruments of increasing the happiness of their fellow-creatures. Thus the Almighty may be said to have chosen Noah, to perpetuate the memory of the deluge, to promulgate the origin and history of mankind, and to become, as St. Peter calls him, “a preacher of righteousness" to those who were to be the ancestors of men. Thus he may be said to have chosen Moses to give the Law, and to lead out the Israelites, and to preserve them as a distinct people, who should carry with them notions of his exist
ence, his providence, and his power. Thus he may be said to have chosen the Prophets, that men in after ages, seeing their prophecies accomplished, might believe that Christianity was of divine origin. Thus also he may be said to have chosen Paul, (and indeed Paul is described as a chosen vessel*,) to diffuse the Gospel among the Gentile world.
That the words "called" or "chosen" relate to the usefulness of individuals in the world, and not to their salvation, the Quakers believe from examining the comparison or simile, which St. Paul has introduced, of the Potter and of his clay, upon this very occasion: "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one unto honour and another to dishonourt?" This simile, they say, relates obviously to the uses of these vessels. The potter makes some for splendid or extraordinary uses and purposes, and others for those which are mean and ordinary. So God has chosen individuals to great and glorious uses, while
† Rom. ix. 20, 21.
Acts ix. 15.
others remain in the mean or common mass, undistinguished by any very active part in the promotion of the ends of the world. Nor have the latter any more reason to complain that God has given to others greater spiritual gifts, than that he has given to one, man a better intellectual сараcity than to another.
They argue, again, that the words “called” or" chosen" relate to usefulness, and not to salvation; because, if men were predestined from all eternity to salvation, they could never do any thing to deprive themselves of that salvation; that is, they could never do any wrong in this life, or fall from a state of purity: whereas it appears, that many of those whom the Scriptures consider to have been chosen, have failed in their duty to God; that these have had no better ground to stand upon than their neighbours; that election has not secured them from the displeasure of the Almighty; but that they have been made to stand or fall, notwithstanding their election, as they acted well or ill,-God having conducted himself no otherwise to them than he has done to others in his moral government of the world.
That persons so chosen have failed in their duty to God, or that election has not preserved them from sin, is apparent, it is presumed, from the Scriptures. For, in the first place, the Israelites were a chosen people. They were the people to whom the apostle addressed himself, in the chapter which has given rise to the doctrine of Election and Reprobation, as the elected, or as having had the preference over the descendants of Esau and others. And yet this election did not secure to them a state of perpetual obedience, or the continual favour of God. In the wilderness they were frequently rebellious, and they were often punished. In the time of Malachi, to which the apostle directs their attention, they were grown so wicked, that God is said to have no pleasure in them, and that he would not receive an offering at their hands*. And in subsequent times, or in the time of the apostle, he tells them, that they were then passed over, notwithstanding their election, on account of their want of righteousness and faith, and that the Gentiles were chosen in their placet. In the second place, Jesus Christ is said Rom. ix. 31, 32.
*Malachi i. 10.
in the New Testament to have called or chosen his disciples. But this call or election did not secure the good behaviour of Judas, or protect him from the displeasure of his Master.
In the third place, it may be observed, that the apostle Paul considers the churches under his care, as called or chosen, as consisting of people who came out of the great body of the Heathen world, to become a select community under the Christian name. He endeavours to inculcate in them a belief that they were the Lord's people; that they were under his immediate or particular care; that God knew and loved them, before they knew and loved him and yet this election, it appears, did not secure them from falling off; for many of them became apostates in the time of the apostle, so that " he was grieved, fearing that he had bestowed upon them his labour in vain." Neither did this election secure even to those who then remained in the church any certainty of salvation; otherwise the apostle would not have exhorted them so earnestly to continue in goodness, lest they should be cut off."