BLTC Press Titles


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The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller


Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


The doctrine of election

by Thomas Erskine

Excerpt:

quired to know, in order that he may do the will of God. And because I know that the minds of many, specially in this country of Scotland, are much prepossessed by the doctrine here condemned, I earnestly and solemnly, as in the presence of God, entreat the reader to give me his honest attention, that he may be able to judge truly, whether, in treating the question, I endeavour to make out a case, by setting aside or passing over any part of Scripture, or by putting forced interpretations on any expressions contrary to the tenor of the passages in which they occur; or, on the contrary, whether I do not uniformly ground the argument on the general scope of Scripture, and on the natural meaning and tenor of the passages generally cited in support of the received view of the doctrine, giving its full weight to every expression, as one who does not wish to escape from the will of God, but to discover it.

The doctrine of election generally held, is, that God, according to His own inscrutable purpose, has from all eternity chosen in Christ, and predestinated unto salvation, a certain number of individuals out of the fallen race of Adam; and that, in pursuance of this purpose, as these individuals come into the world, He in due season visits them by a peculiar operation of His Spirit, thereby justifying, and sanctifying, and saving them; whilst He passes by the rest of the race, unvisited by that peculiar operation of the Spirit, and so abandoned to their sins and their punishment. It is also an essential part of the doctrine, that the peculiar operation of the Spirit, by which God draws the elect unto Himself, is held to be alike irresistible and indispensable in the work of salvation, so that those to whom it is applied, cannot be lost, and those to whom it is not applied, cannot be saved; whilst all the outward calls of the gospel, and what are named common operations of the Spirit, which are granted to the reprobate as well as to the elect, are, when unaccompanied by that peculiar operation, ineffectual to salvation, and do only aggravate the condemnation of the reprobate.

I held this doctrine for many years, modified, however inconsistently, by the belief of God's love to all, and of Christ having died for all—and yet, when I look back on the state of my mind during that period, I feel that it would be truer to say, I submitted to it, than that I believed it. VI submitted to it, because I did not see how the language of the 9th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and of a few similar passages, could bear any other interpretation; and yet I could not help feeling, that, on account of what appeared to be the meaning of these few difficult passages, I was giving up the plain and obvious meaning of all the rest of the Bible, which seems continually, in the most unequivocal language and in every page, to say to every man, "See I have set before thee this day, life and good, death and evil, therefore choose life that thou mayest live." I could not help feeling, that if the above representation were true, then that on which a real and righteous responsibility in man can alone be founded, was awanting; and the slothful servant had reason, when, in vindication of his unprofitableness, he said, "I knew thee, that Thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed." v Above all, I could not help feeling that if God were such as that doctrine described Him, then the Creator of every man was not the friend of every man, nor the righteous object of confidence to every man; and that when Christ was preached to sinners, the whole truth of God was not preached to them, for that there was something behind Christ in the mind of God, giving Him to one, and withholding Him from another, so that the ministry of reconciliation was only an appendix to a deeper and more dominant ministry, in which God appeared simply as a Sovereign without any moral attribute, and man was dealt with as a mere creature of necessity, without any real responsibility.;

I at that time, used to answer and rebuke this doubt of my heart, by the words, though, I now see, not by the meaning of Scripture, "Who art thou that repliest against God?" and by the consideration that the finite understanding of man was incapable of comprehending the infinite mind of God. But still I remained unsatisfied, because I met with passages in the Bible in which God invites and calls upon men to judge of the equality and righteousness of his ways, placing himself as it were at the bar of their consciences, and claiming from them a judgment testifying to his righteousness, and clearing him of all inequality, and that not on the ground that his righteousness is above their understanding,—far less on the ground that he has a sovereign right to do as He pleases, —but on the ground that his righteousness is such as men can judge of, and because it is clear and plain to that principle of judgment within them, by which they approve or condemn their own actings, and the actings of their fellow-men.

The passages to this effect which struck me most forcibly were, the 18th and 33d chapters of Ezekiel, and the 5th chapter of Isaiah. I shall transcribe the greatest part of the 18th of Ezekiel, that I may bring the reader face to face with it. "The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die." "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will

turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, the way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel, Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? When arighteons man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."

It appeared to me impossible to read this passage without perceiving that the righteousness of God is assumed throughout to be a righteousness which man is capable of comprehending and appreciating—and that although His sovereignty is incontestable, He yet, in a manner, holds Himself accountable to the consciences of His intelligent creatures, for the way in which He exercises it.


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