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Christians who have pronounced in favour of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation; because, if they believe some were predestinated from all eternity to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, they must then believe that salvation is not possible to all, and that it was not intended to be universal.
The Quakers have attempted to answer the objections which have been thus made. to their theory of redemption. And as the reader will probably expect that I should notice what they have said upon this subject, I have reserved the answers they have given for the present place.
The Quakers do not deny the genuineness of any of those texts which are usually advanced against them. Of all people they fly the least to the cover of interpolation or mutilation of Scripture, to shield themselves from the strokes of their opponents. believe, however, that there are passages in the Sacred Writings which will admit of an interpretation different from that which has been assigned them by many; and upon this they principally rely in the present case, If there are passages to which two meanings
may be annexed, and if for one there is equal authority as for the other; yet if one meaning should destroy all the most glorious attributes of the Supreme Being, and the other should preserve them as recognised in the other parts of the Scripture, they think they are bound to receive that which favours the justice, mercy, and wisdom of God, rather than that which makes him appear both unjust and cruel.
The Quakers believe that some Christians have misunderstood the texts which they quote in favour of the doctrine of Election and Reprobation, for the following reasons:
First, because, if God had from all eter nity predestinated some to eternal happiness, and the rest to eternal misery, the mission of Jesus Christ upon earth became unneces sary, and his mediation ineffectual,
If this, again, had been a fundamental doctrine of Christianity, it never could have been overlooked (considering that it is of more importance to men than any other) by the Founder of that religion. But he never delivered any words in the course of his ministry, from whence any reasonable conclusion could be drawn, that such a doctrine
formed any part of the creed which he intended to establish among men. His doctrine was that of Mercy, Tenderness, and Love, in which he inculcated the power and efficacy of repentance, and declared there was more joy in heaven over one sinner that repented, than over ninety-nine just persons who needed no repentance. By the parable of the Sower, which the Quakers consider to relate wholly to the word or Spirit of God, it appears that persons of all descriptions were visited equally for their salvation ; and that their salvation depended much upon themselves, and that where obstacles arose, they arose from themselves also, by allowing temptations, persecutions, and the cares of the world, to overcome them. In short, the Quakers believe that the doctrine of Election and Reprobation is contrary to the whole tenour of the doctrines promulgated by Jesus Christ.
They conceive, also, that this doctrine is contrary to the doctrines promulgated by the Evangelists and Apostles, and particularly contrary to those of St. Paul himself, from whom it is principally taken. To make this apostle contradict himself they dare not.
And they must therefore conclude, either that no person has rightly understood it, and that it has hitherto been kept in mystery; or, if it be intelligible to the human understanding, it must be explained by comparing it with other texts of the same apostle, as well as with those of others, and always in connection with the general doctrines of Christianity, and the character and attributes of God. Now the apostle Paul, who is considered to intimate that God predestinated some to eternal salvation, and the rest to eternal misery*, says, that "God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth;" that in the Gospel-dispensation "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free‡." He desires also Timothy "to make prayers and supplications and intercessions for all men;" which the Quakers conceive he could not have done, if he had not believed it to be possible that all might be saved. "For this is acceptable," says he, "in the sight of our Saviour, who will have all men to
* Rom. chap. ix. + Acts xvii. 26.
1 Coloss. iii. 11.
§ 1 Tim. fi. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
be saved; for there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all." Again: he says "that Jesus Christ tasted death for every man*." And in another place he says, "The grace of God, which bringeth salvation, has appeared unto all ment." But if this grace has appeared to all, none can have been without it; and if its object be salvation, then all must have had sufficient of it to save them, if obedient to its saving operations.
If the doctrine of Election and Reprobation be true, then the recommendations of Jesus Christ and of his Apostles, and particularly of Paul himself, can be of no avail, and ought never to have been given. Prayer is inculcated by these as an acceptable duty. But why should men pray, if they are condemned beforehand, and if their destiny is inevitable? If the doctrine, again, be true, then all the exhortations to repentance, which are to be found in the Scriptures, must be unnecessary. For why should men repent, except for a little temporary happiness in this
* Heb. ii. 9.
+ Titus ii. 11.