Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Mystery Hid From Ages and Generations, Part I:

I am going to reproduce Rev. Charles Chauncy's "The Mystery Hid From Ages and Generations" in portions. I am also going to edit the lowercase "s" because in the original style they look more like "f." This helps sheds light on Dr. Gregg Frazer's assertion that ministers like Chauncy, while they held reason and revelation largely agreed, resolved apparent differences between them in favor of reason, not revelation. Hence reason trumps revelation. That's not what Chauncy and others necessarily claimed to do (he's claiming to derive his authority from the Bible's text). But, I want us to ask whether that is in fact what Chauncy DID. What follows is the three and a half pages. The original can be read in its entirety here.



AS the First Cause of all things is infinitely benevolent, 'tis not easy to conceive, that he should bring mankind into existence, unless he intended to make them finally happy. And if this was his intention, it cannot well be supposed, as he is infinitely intelligent and wise, that he should be unable to project, or carry into execution, a scheme that would be effectual to secure, sooner or later, the certain accomplishment of it. Should it be suggested. Free agents, as men are allowed to be, must be left to their own choice, in consequence whereof blame can be reflected justly no where but upon themselves, if, when happiness is put into their own power, they chuse to pursue those courses which will end in misery: The answer is obvious, Their Creator, being perfectly benevolent, would be disposed to prevent their making, or, at least, their finally persisting in, such wrong choices; and, being infinitely intelligent and wise, would use suitable, and yet effectual, methods, in order to attain this end. Should it be said further. Such free agents as men are may oppose all the methods that can be used with them, in consistency with liberty, and persist in wrong pursuits, in consequence of wrong determinations, to the rendering themselves finally unhappy: The reply is, This is sooner said than proved. Who will undertake to make it evident, that infinite wisdom, excited by infinite benevolence, is incapable of devising expedients, whereby moral agents, without any violence offered to their liberty, may certainly be led, if not at first, yet after various repeated trials, into such determinations, and consequent actions, as would finally prepare them for happiness? It would be hard to suppose, that infinite wisdom should finally be outdone by the obstinacy and folly of any free agents whatsoever. If this might really be the case, how can it be thought, with respect to such free agents, that they should ever have been produced by an infinitely benevolent cause? If the only good God knew (as he must have known, if he is infinitely intelligent), that some free agents would make themselves unhappy, notwithstanding the utmost efforts of his wisdom to prevent it, why did he create them? To give them existence, knowing, at the same time, that they would render themselves finally miserable, by abusing their moral powers, in opposition to all that he could do to prevent it, is scarcely reconcilable with supremely and absolutely perfect benevolence; which, in this case, one would be ready to think, must have withheld the gift of existence.

But however uncertain the final state of men may be, upon the principles of mere reason, the matter is sufficiently cleared up in the revelations of scripture. For we are here informed, not only that men were originally made for happiness, but that they shall certainly attain to the enjoyment of it, in the final issue of things. The salvation of the whole human kind is indeed the great thing aimed at, in the scheme, the bible has opened to our view, as now in prosecution, by the benevolent Deity, under the management of that glorious personage, Jesus Christ; who, we are there assured, will go on prosecuting this design, till all the individuals of the human race that ever had, now have, or ever will have, existence, shall be fixed in the possession of complete and everlasting happiness.

This, I am sensible, is very contrary to the common opinion, which supposes that the greatest part of mankind will be finally miserable, notwithstanding the appointment of Jesus Christ to the office of a Saviour, and all that God has either yet done, or will hereafter do, under his ministration, in order to prevent it. Nay, it is the opinion of some, that the elect (a very small number comparatively considered) are the only ones, the benevolent Deity has concerned himself for, so as effectually to secure their salvation; having left all others, whom he might as well have saved, had he so pleaded, to bring upon themselves remediless and eternal ruin, for the praise of the glory of his justice.

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