Having found the origin of the free-will system we will proceed to shew its inconsistency with the doctrine of God, for the scriptures fully declare that man is corrupt throughout. “That every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, is evil, and only evil, and that continually,” that the “Carnal mind is enmity against God, is not subject to his law neither indeed can be.” “So those that are in the flesh cannot please God, and all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” that the wisdom of men is foolishness with God, and is earthly, sensual and Devilish, that the natural man knoweth not the things of the Spirit, neither can be discern them; that he is blind, deaf, yea dead in trespasses and sins. Now we ask, what can he will, that is right, holy, or in any way agreeable to God? How can he will, to fall in with propositions, [if any were made] which are wholly abhorrent to his heart and mind? Or flee from a danger which he does not see, to a refuge of which he is totally ignorant? If he wills, it must be in accordance with his wisdom or understanding, his mind and heart, and of course if we exhort him to be up and doing, we must mean the man just as he is, for if we speak with reference to any foreign agency, we are guilty of gross sophistry; for our exhortation ought to be, to the power to be put forth, otherwise we are not understood; for who would, or ever did understand, when he was addressed by a preacher & told that he ought to come to Christ, and ought to repent, & could if he only would, – that the preacher meant God, and did not mean him. Surely no one, therefore when men are addressed, men are meant just as they are. So when they are exhorted to act, to move, to will &c. We must mean, if we mean any thing, that they should put forth the energies, and move under the influence of the combined powers, of a heart deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked containing no affections but lust and pride, thoughts that are only evil, a mind which is enmity against God, and cannot be subject to his law; a wisdom which is earthly, sensual, devilish, and foolish. For these are all the powers which the natural will has at command, and how long these must be exercised in order to produce christianity, we leave the reader to determine. One idea more is embraced, viz: that the exhortation urges him to act displeasing to God, for it urges him to act without faith – and without faith it is impossible to please God. Form the above brief outline, we see that such a manner of preaching is inconsistent with the doctrine of total depravity, so called, and sets aside the truths, that men are dead in sins, and alienated from the life of God, and that they must be born again, before they can see the Kingdom of God. We will now proceed to hear something of the will of God, as the will of man is like his nature, and character, so is the will of God like his nature, it is holy, righteous, perfect, glorious; being exercised on the basis of righteousness, of holiness judgment & truth, guided by infinite wisdom & fulfilled by everlasting strength; a complete & perfect contrast to men in all respects and it must be a self-evident proposition, that two agents, whose minds, and wills, are opposite to each other, cannot both act freely in the same sphere of action. The one must give way to the other, or nothing can be done; we leave it to those who know themselves to say who ought to give way, and to those who know the power of God, – to say who does give way, there is a degree of consistency in the Arminian plan; because that declares that God gives way, and men takes Heaven by violent force. The doctrine of the Gospel is consistent, for that declares the sovereignty of God, that he doeth his will among the inhabitants of the earth, and in the army of Heaven, that his council shall stand, and that he will do all his pleasure, that it shall prosper in the hand of Jesus Christ, that he hath purposed, and who shall disannul it; that all the inhabitants of the earth are before the Lord, as a drop of the bucket, as the small dust of the balance. Nothing, less than nothing, and vanity, that God, his purpose, his power, his wisdom, his faithfulness, his truth, his love and mercy, are all in all, and that, wicked men, and Devils, can do no more than his hand & council have determined should be done. But the system which we now combat, declares God’s Sovereignty, and man’s Free-agency both, that is: that God and man are opposite, but neither gives way! that God’s eternal purpose in truth and holiness, and man’s free agency in total depravity, and perfect iniquity, are both preserved inviolate, and yet a reconciliation takes place! what dreaming Philosopher, of what school of darkness, first ushered into the world this doubled-headed system we know not, but we are confident, that neither Mahomedan nor Papal superstition, contain any thing more foreign to truth, or contrary to Scripture, than this, yea and nay scheme, which carries on its purposes, by flattering men, with the story of their powers, and so keeping them firm in their adherence, and in turn compliments the great God by contradicting in their prayer what they have just been preaching in their sermon, and they are unusually happy in their selection of subjects; if one half of the sermon does not give the other the lie, “the legs of the lame are not equal,” so is a parable in the mouth of such a preacher. But the absurdity of this doctrine is not its worst quality, it lays the foundation for all these unholy alliances between the church and the world, for the ostensible purposes of saving mankind, and given her the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise. They have defiled the temple of God, and brought in the uncircumcised, and the unclean, & thro’ this unhallowed testimony, & its benefits influence are the precious Sons of Zion, which were once compared to fine gold – now esteemed as earthen vessels, the work of the hands of the Potter – the adversary knew would not do to come amongst the Baptists, and at once openly avow his enmity to the doctrine of Election. So he has saved the letter of it while the spirit of it he has neutralized, and brought all the curse of legality under the name of grace amongst the children of the Living God. It makes the heart of the righteous sad (by its falsehood,) whom God has not made sad, for it tells them of their sufficiency to work out their own salvation, and to live daily free from the influence of indwelling corruption, and that their corruption, and that their groans under the weight of the body of this death, are criminal, which they partly believing from the supposition that their preachers must know better than they, endeavor to free themselves by their own strength, they pray, and some foolish thought obtrudes itself, in spite of all their efforts, or, their most secret and fervent devotion. They meditate, and some vain and frivolous conceit, forces itself between their minds and God, and blurs all the brightness of the Heavenly imagery, they open the Scriptures, and turn to pages that have many times afforded rich consolation, and reflected his name, who is the believers life, and hope, but now all is dark and comfortless that field of instruction which has blossomed as the rose, is now a barren waste, to the mind, he sinks down in sadness, and says, “If christians can always live and enjoy light and peace, at their will, I certainly am not a christian,” and many a weak believer has stumbled at the very threshold of his journey, and all his life time in the flesh, been subject to bondage thro’ this death-born doctrine; on the other hand it strengthens the hands of the wicked, whom God has not strengthened, by promising him life.
For it tells him he has power to do, and he don’t know but he does, for darkness never comprehends light, therefore he rageth and is confident, he looks on himself and thanks God, he is not like other men, he presents himself before Christ in his profession, saying “what lack I yet?” It is better to meet a Bear, bereaved of her whelps, than this fool in his folly, the above are among the many evils which have come into the church by this man-pleasing, doctrine of Devils. – We exhort our Brethren; therefore to take heed to themselves, & the doctrine they have received, and to “beware least any man spoil them, thro’ philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.” – Farewell.
Signs of the Times
Volume 1, No. 20
August 23, 1833