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CHAP. III.

dom over evil, and the ultimate rescue of all souls from its misery and power.

Feeling the incongruity of admitting on the one hand that Christ died for all, and of acknowledging on the other that nevertheless all will not be saved, but on the contrary that vast numbers will be for ever damned, the Ultra-Calvinist boldly cuts the knot, and solves, to his own mind, the difficulty, by denying that Christ did die for all. He died for the elect only, he affirms; the elect therefore will and must be saved. Revolting as this view is, and involving as it does the virtual reprobation, or as some do not shrink from asserting, the decreed damnation of countless souls which God called into existence, yet must we admit that at least it has the merit of being logically consistent. Nay, in that it represents the Son of God as completely accomplishing what He came to effect (the salvation of the elect), this view seems so far less disparaging of the redemptive efficacy of Christ's sacrifice, and of the results of his mission, than the doctrine of those who hold that though Christ came into the world in order that the world through Him might John iii. 17. be saved, numbers of the souls for which He died will, for all that, perish everlastingly.

It will not, I think, be inappropriate here to consider for a moment the bearing of the present argument on the mysterious fact of the introduction and prevalence of evil. Under any point of view the existence of evil is a dark and painful problem. That God should have created Adam in the full prescience of his fall, and of his thereby entailing on his descendants a sinful nature with all its

CHAP. III.

consequent misery, is confessedly a deep and solemn mystery. But if we may believe that ultimately good shall prevail over evil, in the reconciliation and subjection of all things to God; if we may believe that meanwhile a stupendous lesson is being

taught in this world's history to God's universe at Bph. iii, 8–11. large, and that powers and principalities in heavenly

places are, by the operations of grace, being instructed in the manifold wisdom of God, then is the problem lightened of much of its darkness, and relieved of some of its perplexity. But if, on the contrary, we are to believe that countless millions, who, by no will or fault of their own came into existence with a nature disposed to evil, and who, while on earth, were exposed to manifold temptations, will yet ultimately fall into endless, hopeless, irremediable perdition, then, indeed, is the problem in question one of intensest darkness, and the contemplation of it becomes horrible and maddening.

CHAPTER IV.

THE ULTIMATE SUBJECTION OF ALL SOULS
TO GOD CONSIDERED IN RELATION TO THE

FREE WILL OF MAN.

CHAP. IV.

At this point in the argument an obvious objection
presents itself, and must be considered. That ob-
jection may be fairly stated in the following form :
“Man is a free agent, and as such there must be
acceptance on his part of the terms of salvation.
Salvation is a product of the co-operation of the
human will with the divine will. If, then, in the
exercise of his free will a man has resisted the
divine will throughout his present life, is it not
quite conceivable that he may continue that resist-
ance throughout eternity. In such a case, perdition
would be simply a man's own act, and ipso facto
must be eternal. God forces damnation on no man,
neither does He force salvation on any man. Christ
did indeed die for all, salvation therefore, is possible
for all, all who will may be saved ; hence, if any
are not saved it is because they will not. God is
willing, indeed, that all should be saved, but He
doth not coerce the will of any."
· Under one form or other this objection is the one
most frequently, perhaps, advanced by thoughtful
men, as that which hinders their accepting, what

CHAP. IV.

otherwise they would have been disposed to accept, the doctrine of the ultimate subjection of all souls to God, deeming it to involve a coercing of the free will of man.

But in the use of this word coerce there lurks, I think, a misconception ; if this be removed, the objection itself will lose much of its point and plausibility. If by “coerce” be meant the bringing to bear a kind of mechanical force, absolutely overpowering the human will, and so compelling it as, in effect, to cause the actings of a man to be no longer the result of the exercise of his own will, for such an exertion of the divine will over the human will, neither is there warrant to hope, nor indeed would it be right to hope, seeing that a submission so produced would have no moral worth. But that the divine will may be so brought to bear on the human will as to constrain though not to compel it, so attracting, drawing and persuading it, as to win it to subjection, so influencing it as,

while not destroying or impairing its freedom, to bring at last every man of his own will to submit himself to God's will, for this, I contend, there is real ground of hope, not only in the direct Scripture testimony which has been already adduced, and in the a priori presumptions which the facts of the case afford, but in what we ourselves know and have felt of the working of divine grace, as it is now exhibited in the conversion of souls to God.

For what, let it be asked, is the history of any true conversion of a soul to God? It is the history of a human will so wrought upon by divine grace as to overcome its perversity, and to turn it from its bias to evil in the direction of good. The uniform

CHAP. IV.

experience and the unvarying confession of every truly converted man is expressed in the memorable words of St. Paul, ' By the grace of God I am what 1 Cor. xv. 10. I am.' The operations of divine grace in effecting conversion are, indeed, infinitely diverse, both in manner and degree, corresponding to the infinite variety in the condition of the human will and of the circumstances affecting it. Nevertheless, of every soul truly converted to God, whether in childhood, in manhood, or in old age, whether under circumstances favourable or adverse, whether after an aggravated course of sin or in comparative innocence of evil, whether in an obstinate and hardened state of mind or in one more open and predisposed to conviction, of each and all alike will the acknowledgment be one and the same,“ of my own will, and left to myself, I should never have turned to God ; I am what I am by the grace of God.” The case may

be such an one as that of Saul of Tarsus, who, while kicking against the pricks of inner misgivings and convictions, and in spite of his pursuing a course of defiant opposition, being struck to the Acts ic. 3-6. earth by the light from heaven which suddenly shone round about him, and hearing the remonstrance · Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me, cried out in trembling and astonishment, 'Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?' Or the case may be such an one as that of Lydia, resorting with other women Acts xvi, 13, 14. to the place where prayer was wont to be made, and listening to the preaching there, 'whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended to the things which were spoken by Paul. Still, of the one as much as of the other, faith was the effect of grace; the

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