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innumerable memorials of thine own instability, and to look for once to the “time of thy departure,” which, at farthest, “is at hand.” Think, Oh my friend! what will then be thy feelings. Canst thou feel the cold chills of death gathering upon thee, and hear it pronounced that THOU ART DYING ! Canst thou look upon thy grief given and bewailing friends, children, partner. Canst thou find that thy hold on time and earth is giving way forever, and yet think, that thou wast justifiable, when in health, not to bestow a serious thought on these things ;—that, thou wast excusable for not preparing for so distressing an hour ? Methinks not. Let it not then be charged to a timorous disposition, if we endeavor to impress upon thy mind, the trials of that distressing period, and to set forth some requisites, necessary to prepare us for its approach.
I am not among the number of those, who would contend, that, the sentiments and feelings of the dying man are always indicative of his future, eternal condition. It seems far more reasonable in me, to consider the former, the effect of his ideas of the latter, rather than that his eternal estate is the effect of the former. It will appear plain then, that to prepare us for passing, calmly, through “the dark valley of the shadow of death,” it is necessary that we have a firm confidence in God our Saviour, and that we can say with the poet ;
“ On the long wish'd for shore.' Nor is it of so much consequence what particular sentiments of religion we may have embraced in life, since all have afforded, in most instances, a quiet exit. There is one thing, which will grant us all we need, and to this all agree, that, a firm confidence and trust in God, as our Father, Friend, Redeemer and Saviour will ensure us submission, peace and transport at the hour of dissolution; and let me add, nothing short of this can make the bed of death, welcome. This, we all may possess, as it is but learning, and believing God as he is, possess-
ing the above characteristics. Let us then, my FRIEND, examine ourselves and see, whether our confidence in God's Paternal attributes is so strongly fixed, that we can cheerfully say with the Apostle, “ I am now ready to be offered,” and with the Saviour of the world,“ Thy will O God be done;" —whether we can look upon death and the grave without being moved, and, in view of the glorious triumphs of the Son of God, unite with the poet in addressing the latter :
“ Thou O grave! must render up the dead,
STRICTURES On a paragraph in the “ Christian Mirror,"
No. 5...... Columns 2 and 3. The article to which we allude, appears to be an indirect reply to a communication sent to the editor of the Mirror for publication ; requesting him to show the propriety of calling the doctrine of ENDLESS MISERY as held by Calvinists one of the doctrines of grace. Mr. Rand does not object to being considered a strict Calvinist, but attempts, as will be seen by the following strictures, to evade the main question, and divert the attention to other points. He says,
6 Some persons may be at a loss to understand the propriety of calling the doctrines of depravity, of condemnation by the law, and of future punishment, doctrines of grace. It is only when we speak in a general way, that the expression is strictly just. Such are the doctrines of grace, as they make a necessary part of a whole system of gospel doctrines, and form a dispensation of mercy and grace to guilty and condemned sinners, in danger of eternal woe. We say, a necessary part ; because
where there is no just condemnation for sin, there can be no place for mercy, no room for the exercise of grace,” &c. &c.
Now to what does all that amount, in reply to the inquiry for calling the doctrine of endless misery, which Mr. Rand calls “ future punishment,” one of the doctrines of grace ? Just nothing. The question was proposed in strict connexion with Calvinism in general and
as making a necessary part of their whole system. It was admitted to be so necessary as to be decreed from eternity. The main question still remains unanswered, viz. How can God be gracious, in making the endless misery of some men, a necessary part of a whole system? If that be merciful, what would be cruel ?
Mr. Rand allows that “Where there is no just condemnation for sin, there could be no place for mercy, no room for the exercise of grace ? " Will he now shift about, and say, God will not save all men because they are justly condemned for sin,” without which, he could not save them ? This he must do, or he overthrows his system at once. According to his views, if “ justice did not condemn and banish the-impenitent,” there would be no place or room for the exercise of grace and mercy, in their salvation. What a solecism then it must be, to contend thạt he will not save them, because they “ are justly condemned ;" i. e. are in a fit situation to be saved! St. Paul says, “ As-judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so, the free gift came upon all to justification of life.” Rom. v. 13. This is apostolic doctrine of grace!
If Mr. Rand maintains that “future punishment is merciful and gracious, he denies its eternity, and makes it disciplinary, which closes the controversy. Should he assent to that truth, he would not have to contradict one part of his system, to support another part.
Believing Mr. Rand was a strict and consistent Calvinist, we presumed he would be pleased with the final misery of the impenitent, and, as a co-worker with his God, do all in his way to accomplish it. But he appears desirous of defeating the designs of his God, and
for the salvation of those, whom he believes were destined to be finally lost. Dear reader, to what God do you suppose he addresses his prayer? Not to the one, surely, who decreed their damnation ! It can hardly be called serious for a man of common sense, to pray to an unchangeable God, to save those whom he has foreordained to endless misery. If Mr. Rand be sincere, he prays that his doctrine may be false, and ours be true; and, in this respect we agree. The reader is requested to pause for a moment, and settle in his own mind, whether Calvinists, as such, can sincerely and fervently desire and pray that “ all men may be saved;" when they say, “ the substance of the doctrine is fully expressed in these words, Ye shall not surely die ?” Do they
agree with the first and great deceiver” in their desires and prayers, or are they hypocritical in such pretentions ?
The truth is, the people are so deceived by such sophistry, as to be pleased in hearing the ministers pray, for the truth of the very doctrine, which they profess to believe is false and of licentious tendency !! Did their prayers and sermons agree, the cruelty of their God and the malevolence” of their hearts, would soon be discovered by their hearers. They HATE the doctrine in their HEARTS.
Mr. Rand pretends that Orthodox ministers exercise “compassion or mercy" in "warning men of imminent danger, of which they are ignorant.” This we deny ; because their “ whole system” regards man as “ totally depraved and helpless in consequence of Adam's sin; his entire inability to obey, being infinitely criminal." “ All warnings and invitations to the finally impenitent, will increase the severity of their endless sufferings.” Can such warnings and invitations be merciful and compassionate ? No. To adopt Mr. Rand's own comparison. Should he “awake his neighbor from profound sleep, when his house was on fire, and warn him to escape or he would perish," when he knew he was unable to escape, God having decreed he should be burnt, and then upbraid him, while suffering in flames, for not yielding to his solicitations, would he not be just as merciful as Calvinists are, in awakening and warning the impenitent! The only compassion they exhibit, is, a disposition to arouse the reprobates, that they may go, wide awake, into “ the pains of hell forever.” It is not unfrequent for those merciful
preachers, after having proclaimed the universal love of God, in the salvation of a part of the world, and the unceasing torment of all others, to exult loudly before their hearers, that they have lovingly given them those offers and warnings, which will testify to their condemnation in the day of judgment, and like arrows dipped in poison, pierce their very hearts, in “ eternal wo."
To avoid such consequences, should Mr. Rand take another position, and contend that it is not the design, really, to benefit the impenitent, but that the righteous
may escape eternal wo," it involves him in two contradictions, instead of one. For in the first place, it exposes the hypocricy, in pretending to befriend the reprobates ; and secondly, it renders the warnings entirely nugatory. If “ the righteous were elected from eternity to eternal life,” they never were in danger of endless
To pretend the contrary, is of all things the most preposterous. So that Mr. Rand's old house of Calvinism is on fire, whether he escapes or not.
Let the Editor of the Mirror prove, that it would be “ cruelty, to attempt to render men more unguarded and blind to real danger,” and yet, that “there is no cruelty in God,” in creating them to damn their souls forever, and the controversy will be at an end. Or let him prove that any who ever have been, since “ eternity,” exposed to such danger, can be benefited or injured, essentially or as respects their final destination, by any thing we can do, and we are silent. The God he worships is as much more cruel than any other being, as he is more powerful. “ He made the reprobates with a determination to make them miserable forever," and is not every pretention to the contrary, while embracing Calvinism, sheer deception and sophistry ?