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determined before to be done, instead of Herod, Pi late, the Gentiles, and people of Israel's doing what his counsel had determined. But why did he need to resort to this transposition of the text? While he was seeking to get rid of the proper force the last passage, (Acts ii. 23,) he resorted to foreknowledge as the ground work of divine determinations. See page 34, 35. If God's determinate counsel concerning Christ's crucifixion, in the second chapter, was founded on this foreknowledge of the wickedness of Judas and the Jews, why does he not let the present text stand as it does in our translation, and say; That God's hand and counsel's determining before, what all these bad characters should do, means no more than that he foresaw what they would do? But I have one or two objections to make against his criticism; 1. I believe that every Greek scholar who does not feel an interest in transposing the words, will say, it is more natural to read them in the crder in which we find them. 2. The transposition proposed, evidently makes these devout worshippers lose the object of the quotation which in their address to God they had just made from the second Psalm They tell God, that by the mouth of David he had said, "Why did the heathen rage and the people immagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and a-. gainst his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, &c." In the passage, which they introduced in prayer, it is foretold what would be done to or against Jesus, the Lord's Christ, and not what he would himself do. After they have quoted the passage in which it is predicted what the kings and nobles of the earth would do against the Lord and against his Christ, they proceed to apply it to what Herod and Pilate and others did to Jesus, by saying, "For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, &c."
We cannot leave this text without making this remark; That the apostles considered the predictions of the Old Testament, not as things merely foreseen by the prescience of the Deity, but as things which his hand and counsel had determined before to be done. And this view they had of it, even when the things predicted were to be brought to pass by wicked agents,
such as Judas, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and other similar characters.
Since Mr. Bangs has said so much, both in the public Debate, and in his Letters, against the necessity of Christ's crucifixion, I feel myself bound to take some further notice of this highly important event. Mr. B. from p. 36th to 47th, is laboring more or less to prove, that there was no plan of God which made it necessary that Christ should be crucified; or that he should, in any other way be put to death. To do away the necessity of his being crucified, or in any other way put to death, he proceeds to show, that he did not die by crucifixion, or by any device of wicked men. Speaking of the death of Christ, he says; "But if miraculous, as it certainly was, he did not die by crucifixion." p. 45. He then adds ; “ And this is farther evident from his own words, I lay down my life—I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again: And after having sufficiently suffered to answer the wonderful design of love; it is said, He gave up the ghost, or dismissed the spirit." I would reply to the last thing first: If the phrase, he gave up the ghost, prove, that Christ did not die by crucifixion, but in a miraculous way, it would also prove, that Abraham and Ishmael died miraculously, by dismissing the spirit ;" for it is said of them, that they gave up the ghost. See Gen. xxv. 8, 17, As to what the Saviour said about laying down his life himself, and that no man took it from him, I do not see how we can well mistake his meaning. He undoubtedly meant to say, that, as the Divine Mediator, he was perfectly superior to his enemies. When they came to apprehend him, and Peter drew his sword in defence of his Master, he said to Peter, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" Mr. B. communicates the sentiment, if I under stand him aright, (and it is not my design to misunderstand him,) that it was not necessary it should thus be. Ought we to understand the Saviour to say, that men would not actually be the instruments to take his life away; or only, that it would be through his voluntarily submitting to it? Christ was obedient unto death, even
the death of the cross. That he was a voluntary sacrifice is evident, and it is no less evident, that wicked men were the instruments of his death-nor is it any less evident, that in doing this, they did what the hand and counsel of God before determined to be done.
Now if we can show that wicked men did put Christ to death, and that God's plan of saving sinners could not have been accomplished without it, the doctrine of divine decrees will need no other support. In proof of Christ's dying by violent means, I shall make a few quotations. Being put to death in the flesh :" 1 Pet. iii. 18. This text is phrased in such a manner as to give the idea of the passivity of his death, or that " his life was taken from the earth." Peter says, Acts, ii. 23. "Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain." In chap. v. 30, he says, "Whom ye slew and hanged on a tree :" and chap. iii. 15. " And killed the prince of life." These passages all give us the idea, that wicked men were as much the cause of the death of Jesus, as they were of the death of Stephen. One of the arguments used by Mr. B. in favor of the miraculous death of our Lord, by the dismission of his spirit, viz. this, that he was dead sooner than was expected, has been commonly made use of to prove the greatness of his sufferings above common sufferers. And notwithstanding all which my antagonist has said, I see no cause to turn the argument out of the old channel.
Two or three things will now be suggested to show, that God did not only predict, what wicked men would do to his son; but that, all things considered, it was his choice, and the fixed purpose of his heart, to bring these dreadful sufferings upon him. How can this text imply any thing less: Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him? And this; Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the Shepherd? Zech. xiii. 7. What was the sword with which God designed to smite the Shepherd? It was undoubtedly the very sword which was used. See Psal. xvii. 13, 14; Deliver my soul from the wicked which is thy sword: from men, which are thy hand, O Lord. By comparing the passage from Zechariah, with this from the Psalms; and comparing both
with the history of our Saviour's death, it seems as if nothing could, or need be clearer than this, That the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ designed to make use of wicked men to be his sword, to smite, and put to death the man who was his fellow, i. e. his well beloved Son. Thus Jesus viewed the matter himself long before the Roman band were put in array against him. "From that time forth Jesus began to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed." Mat. xvi. 23. Peter thought there was no must be to such dreadful sufferings, as were in fact about to come upon his Master. But we all remember the rebuke which his Master gave him. It was not so strange that the disciples should not see the necessity of these dreadful sufferings beforehand, as that we should not see their necessity and utility, who live so long after they have taken place, and who have actually seen so much of the glory which was to follow. What instruction are we to learn from such passages as these? "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life: Joh. iii. 14. 15. "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?"" Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer." Luke xxiv. 26, 46.
Mr. B. has sought to do away my explanation of other passages adduced to support the doctrine of divine pur poses, but I do not see any thing material to detain me in making further remarks on these texts. I must make a great effort to be concise, or the vindication which is now attempted will exceed its proper bounds. I hasten,
III. To assign another reason why I cannot change my views of the import of the text, which stands at the head of the first sermon, and come into the views of the Arminians: It is this, the doctrine which we drew from the text, still appears honorable to God, and not in the least opposed to any of his glorious perfections, or to any of the truths of his blessed word. He who has read Mr. Bangs' book will see, that it is eminently his strong hold, to disprove the divine decrees, by show
ing how dishonorable they are to God, and how inconsistent they are with the doctrines of his word. He does not pretend to bring much direct proof from the scriptures, to show that God has not a purpose about every event. He strives hard by learned criticisms, and other means, to invalidate our direct proof; but his direct proof against us is very slender. I recollect scarcely any text introduced with a design directly to confront our doctrine, except Jer. xix. 5; "Which I commanded them not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind." And if there were not a great want of direct proof against the decrees, it is certain, this text would not have been used for this purpose; for if it contain any direct argument against foreordination, it is by its denying the foreknowledge of God: But Mr. B. is equally concerned with myself to defend the text from such an interpretation. Our opponents cannot but see that we have much scripture, which seems naturally to support the doctrine of a divine plan of creation, provi- . dence and grace: therefore, they choose to meet us in the field of reason, rather than in that of revelation. Here they feel as if they had no difficulty in confronting They think they can make our doctrine appear amazingly absurd, and even ridiculous. Now they display a great zeal for the honor of God. They cannot bear the thought, that he should, according to our sense of scripture, work all things after the counsel of his own will; because if he does, what, say they, will he do to his great name? It is good to be jealous for the honor of God; but it becomes us to be very careful, lest we think that we are more competent than he is himself, to tell what will be for his honor, and what will not. If he has expressed himself in his word in such a manner as clearly to convey the idea, that his hand and counsel are concerned in determining and bringing to pass what men, and even what wicked men do, we ought to conclude, that he does not view this as bringing any blot upon his holy character. And do we not act the more consistent part, when we set ourselves to work to reconcile this with his holiness, than when we undertake to show, that it is inconsistent with holiness, and therefore it must be that God did not mean as he said. If it were a solitary passage, which appeared to contain the