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The Presbyterian Confession of Faith

Brownson's Quarterly Review, October, 1847

Art. V. - The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America : containing the Confession of Faith, the Catechisms, and the Directory for the Worship of God ; together with the Plan of Government and Disci­pline, as ratified by the General Assembly at their Sessions in May, 1821, and amended in 1833. Philadelphia : Has-well & Co.     L838.

In our Review for April last, we discussed at sufficient length the first part of the doctrine of Predestination, namely, - Almighty God purposed from the beginning to create some angels and men in order to condemn them to everlasting mis­ery. We proceed now to consider the second part, namely,- the Almighty, to render his decree effectual, lays both the elect and the reprobate under the invincible necessity, the former of doing good and the latter of doing evil. This part teaches us that the wicked are driven by this necessity into sin, and to plunge into every excess, that their condemnation may be cer­tain ; or, in other words, to recur to a figure already used, the Almighty binds around their waists the leaden jacket, which leaves them no alternative but to sink. This part of the doc­trine, still more than the former, renders Presbyterianism exe­crable, for it makes God the real author of the sins which men by his decree are placed under the necessity of committing.

The passages of the Confession which establish this mon­strous doctrine are numerous and clear, and there seems to have been not much effort to conceal it. Soon after their first appearance in the world, the Calvinists split on the question, whether predestination to hell and sin was anterior or posterior to the fall of Adam, and they divided into two parties, the antelapsarians or supralapsarians and the postlapsarians or sub-lapsarians. The Westminster Divines, as mighty geniuses, appear to have contrived to be of both parties at once. Their Confession speaks of God's decree to damn some angels and men before saying a word of the fall of Adam ; and as angels had no original sin, it is fair to conclude that men and angels are placed on the same footing ; and therefore that the predes­tination preceded foresight of the fall. In conformity with this, we read, -

" The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite good­ness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and of men, and that not by a bare permission^ but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends." - Chap. V., Art. IV.

As God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass, and as the sins of angels and men do not proceed from the bare permis­sion of God, it can hardly be supposed that the angels and Adam had any real power to avoid sin after this ordering of God con­cerning their fall ; and that they had not appears evident from the chapter of the Confession which treats of Free Will.
" God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature deter­mined, to good or evil.

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to
will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet
mutably, so that he might fall from it.

Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability
of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation ; so as a natu­
ral man, being altogether averse from that which is good, and dead
in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to
prepare himself thereunto.

When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the
state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin,
and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that
which is spiritually good; yet so as that, by reason of his remain­
ing corruption, he doth not perfectly, nor only, will that which is
good, but doth also will that which is evil.

V. The will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to
good alone, in the state of glory only." - Chap. IX.

The beginning of this chapter is edifying and orthodox, and would seem to indicate that Presbyterians, after all, hold to a genuine free-will in man ; but to judge of a performance, it is alvvnys well to see the end ; and in this case the end contradicts the beginning, and shows that the free-will asserted is in kind simply that by which the blessed in heaven love good. The blessed, we are told, are perfectly pure because they embrace good with great intensity ; and therefore, when we are told that the sinner wills freely that which is spiritually good, the meaning is, that he wills it without dissent in himself and with great ear­nestness, in which sense a Presbyterian would say that the cat pounces with great freedom upon a rat. When, therefore, we are told that man's will is neither forced, nor determined, by any absolute necessity of nature, to good or evil, the mean­ing is, merely, that his will is not under any absolute necessity of nature, because some other order in which it would have been really free was possible. It is probable, therefore, that in the minds of Presbyterians even Adam had no real free-will, but was under the necessity of falling, though God might,' if he had chosen, have established an order in which his fall would not have been necessitated.

But whether, according to Presbyterians, Adam had or had not free-will, is of little consequence, for all men have fallen ; and it is with their state since the fall that we are chiefly con­cerned. There can be not the shadow of a doubt that Pres­byterians are Postlapsarians, and admit in sinners, not predestinated to heaven, no power whatever to escape their impend­ing fate. Since the fall, and in consequence of it, whether
before it or not, Presbyterians recognize the leaden jacket, and
allow the non-elect sinner no alternative but to sink into the
abyss of hell. " They who are elected, being fallen in Adam,
are redeemed by Christ Neither are any other re­deemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sancti­fied, and saved, but the elect only." Chap. 111., Art. VI. This, taken in connection with what is said in the article just cited above, that man by the fall " has lost all ability of will to any spiritual good," warrants the conclusion, that the reprobate, not being redeemed by Christ, are left in their disability to good,
and by the depravation of their will, consequent upon the fall,
are led to every kind of evil and corruption, without its being
possible for them to do good. Thus we read concerning our
first parents, -

" II. By this sin they fell from their original righteousness, and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly de­filed in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

" III. They being the root of all mankind, the guilt of this sin was imputed, and the same death in sin and corrupted nature conveyed to all their posterity, descending from them by ordinary genera­tion.

" IV. From this original corruption, whereby we are titlcrlj' in­disposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly in­clined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions.

" V. This corruption of nature, during this life, doth remain in those that are regenerated ; and although it be through Christ par­doned and mortified, yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin."

Chap. VI.
Here we are plainly taught that the non-elect are disabled and made opposite to all good, and therefore we do not say compelled, but necessitated, to all evil; and even those motions of concupiscence which arise prior to any reflection or delibe­ration are properly sin, and are forgiven to the elect, but to no others. Here, undeniably, is the leaden jacket, which causes the sinner necessarily to sink, though in the act of sinking, he is willing to sink, and even takes delight in sinking. But this does not affect the necessity of the act, because he has no power not to sink. He is predestinated to hell, to which he is drawn, without compulsion indeed, but necessarily and irresistibly.

But here is another passage, from the chapter Of Effectual Calling, still more explicit : -

" III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how hu pleaselh. So also are all other elect persons, who are in­capable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the word.

" IV. Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can­not be saved : much less can men, not professing the Christian re­ligion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess ; and to assert and main­tain that they may is very pernicious, and to be detested." - Chap. X.
A queer passage this. If an Indian, or infidel, a Chinese for instance, be a Presbyterian elect, he will be saved, though he never hear of the Christian religion ; but another Chinese, not a Presbyterian elect, cannot be saved, although lie does his best to live according to the law of nature, and to say that he can is very pernicious and to be detested !

To refute this revolting doctrine, that some are under an in­vincible necessity of committing sin, we undertake to prove that every sinner, even since the fall, however reprobate in the estimation of Presbyterians, is truly and properly free as to the commission of sin, has truly the power to refrain from sin, if he chooses ; and, also, that every inordinate effect beyond the control of his free-will, - as certain bad thoughts and motions of concupiscence which may arise prior to deliberation, - though inordinate in its nature, is not properly sin, and is not punish­able as such, whether the individual be an elect or a reprobate, u saint or a sinner. We say not, however, - and this must be borne in mind, - that this true power of resisting evil, which all sinners certainly have, proceeds in all cases from the prop­er and innate strength of their free-will, which has certainly been much weakened by original sin ; but we do say that the grace which strengthens the will can never be wanting to em­power them to resist sin, if they choose. This grace is given to all through the merits of Jesus Christ, who proves himself the Saviour of all men, by imparting all the graces necessary for the avoiding of sin and the obtaining of salvation.

The fact of free-will in man is proved from the first chapters of Genesis, where it is said man " was made to the image and likeness " of God, which is repeated after original sin, and even the flood, and assigned as the reason for prohibiting his blood to be shed. Gen. ix. 6. In these first chapters God himself declares to Cain that he is able to restrain his inclina­tion to sin, which had impaired, but not destroyed, the image of God. Before he murdered his brother, Cain saw his offer­ings rejected by the Lord, because they were made from an unclean heart. " Cain was exceeding angry, and his counte­nance fell ; and the Lord said to him, Why art thou angry, and why is thy countenance fallen ? If thou do well, shalt thoii not receive ? but if ill, shall not sin be forthwith pres­ent at the door ? but the lust thereof shall be under thce, and thou shalt have dominion over it." Gen. iv. 5-7. It would seem that Almighty God made this declaration from the be­ginning, that he might shut the mouth of fatalists in every age. By it he teaches clearly and undeniably, that, even after orig­inal sin, - for Cain had certainly contracted it as deeply as any one, - we have the ability to refrain from sin and to keep its lusts in subjection ; and certainly God is always able to give us the strength necessary to do this, if he chooses.

This text is so decisive, that Calvinists have found no way to escape its force, but by departing from the translation usual­ly given  by the Fathers.    We copy the Protestant version : " And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth ? and why is thy countenance fallen ?    If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted ?   and if thou doest not well, sin lielh at the door.     And unto thee shall he his desire, and thou shalt rule over him," It is strange that Protestants should present the pub­lic such a foolish translation as this ; but Calvin felt the text was conclusive against him, and that he must in some way alter it,- sectarians are in the habit of making the Bible very elastic, - and he, and Protestants after him, make therefore the Almighty say to Cain, Thou shalt rule over him."    Whom ?    As there were then in the world, besides Cain, only Adam and Abel, and as it will hardly do to suppose the Lord gave Cain domin­ion over Adam, the pronoun him must needs relate to Abel. Here God, by these words, makes  Abel the slave  of Cain, although he had a moment before preferred Abel to Cain ; and, moreover, by giving Cain this express dominion over his broth­er, the Almighty must be understood to have all but sanctioned the murder which Cain perpetrated !    Are we to adopt a trans­lation which  authorizes such horrible conclusions ?    A  pro­noun must be referred to the substantive which precedes it, unless there be some evident reason for inverting the natural order of construction.    The translation, therefore, should be,
" Thou shalt rule over it," that is, sin, the substantive which precedes ; not over him, for which there is no reason in the context. Calvin and his followers say that in Hebrew the pronoun is masculine, while the noun rendered sin is feminine ; hut commentators answer, and every tyro in Hebrew knows, that the word translated sin is of both genders, and consequent­ly masculine, which they prove by showing that in the very passage, " sin lieth at the door," a masculine construction is employed. But all this, though a hundred times more than sufficient, weighs nothing with Presbyterians, who very natural­ly prefer to assert an ungrammatical and absurd translation to writing down their own condemnation.

We find a second Scriptural proof against Presbyterians in Deuteronomy.     Moses is speaking to the whole house of Is­rael, all of whom were concluded under original sin, and he says, - " This commandment that I command thee this day is not above thee, nor far off from thee ; nor is it in heaven, nor is it beyond the sea, that thou mayest excuse thyself.  .....
But the word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that
thou mayest do it  I call heaven and earth to wit­
ness that I have this day set before you life and death, blessing
and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both thou and thy
seed may live." xxx. 11 - 19. Hard language this to rec­
oncile with the dogma that the greater part of men are so de­
praved as to he utterly unable to avoid sin and to be saved.
Does not the Lord say by Moses, that his commandments are
neither above us nor far ofFfrom us ? What can more clearly
prove that it is in the power of any sinner to avoid sin if he
chooses, and to make a good use of his free-will, and of the
Divine grace which is never refused ? What more absurd
and hypocritical than to tell a man to choose life, when he has
no power to do so ? What more cruel mockery than to tell
one who has a leaden jacket around his waist, with great so­
lemnity, in presence of heaven and earth, to choose floating ?
In the last chapter of Josue we have another proof clearer than the light of day, that no one is ineluctably driven to sin, and that he who sins, sins because he chooses to do so. The great leader of the people of God assembles his nation, and, in the name of the.,God of their fathers, tells them, - " If it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice. Choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, - the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites in whose land you dwell ; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And the people an­swered and said, God forbid that we should leave the Lord, and serve strange gods." xxiv. 15, 10. Which shall we believe, - Josue who tells us in the name of the Lord that we have our choice, or the Confession which tells us that this choice, without our participation, was made for us, and that, if we are predestinated unto life, we must necessarily embrace virtue, and if predestinated unto death, we must necessarily cleave to our corruption, and have no possibility of being saved ? The word choose implies always the power to do either of the two things proposed. If free-will were only the strong inclination of the will to one of the alternatives, with­out the power to do the other, there would and could be no choice. Who will say to another, Choose to hold that two and two are equal to four ? Why not ? Because there is no choice in the matter. Both the intellect and the will assent to the equality asserted, and have no power to do otherwise.

But here is still another proof that we have the power to choose between good and evil. Elias, having assembled the people of Israel, so strongly inclined to idolatry, says to them, - " How long do you halt between two sides ? If the Lord be God, follow him ; but if Baal, then follow him." 3 Kings xviii. 21. Assuredly Elias was no Presbyterian. He evi­dently supposes that the Israelites were halting between idol­atry and true religion, but with full power to choose between the two and to embrace either. What would be more ridicu­lous than to say to a man falling from a tower, Why do you halt ? Would he not answer, " I do not halt, - I have no power to halt" ? But, according to Presbyterianism, those pre­destinated to everlasting death have even less power to halt, and are driven down even with greater power than that with which the man falls from the tower to the ground.
Let our Presbyterian friends also meditate on these words of Isaias, - " Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom ;
give ear to the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrha 
If you be willing and will hearken to me, you shall eat the good things of the land. But if you will not, and will provoke me to wrath, the sword shall devour you ; because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." i. 10-20. It would almost seem that this was specially intended for Presbyterians. Does not the Lord here plainly imply that these sinners whom he addresses, and who had certainly contracted original sin, had the power either to hearken or to rebel ?    Suppose a number of men, having on the leaden jacket, to be thrown overboard, and the captain to say to them, - " If you will float, you will breathe freely, you will not be choked, and will enjoy the comforts of life ; but if you will not float, you will sink, you will be smothered, and perish in a watery grave." Who would not call it bitter mockery ? Are we to suppose that God by his prophet thus cruelly mocks those who are sinking into ever­lasting death ?

Here are some passages from Ecclesiasticus which speak for themselves. " God made man from the beginning and left him in the hand of his own counsel.    He added his commandments and precepts. He has set water and fire before thee : stretch forth thy hand to which thou wilt. Before man is life and death, good and evil : that which he shall choose shall be given him." xv. 14-20.     And again, - "Blessed is the rich
man that is found without blemish ; who is be, and
we will praise him He that could have transgress­
ed, and hath not transgressed, and could have done evil things,
and hath not done them."  xxxi. 8-10.

Passages without number to the same effect might be multi­plied, but we will close with the words of our Lord : - u If thou will enter into life, keep the commandments." St. Matt. xix. 17. Are not these words as clear and as concise a refutation of fatalism as can be desired ? Do they not necessarily im­ply that men have the power to keep the commandments if they choose, and that no one is under the invincible necessity of violating them and incurring eternal death ? If the repro­bate have no power to choose to keep the commandments, if they are borne onward and downward irresistible current to perdition, what is the meaning of the exhortation of our Lord ? Suppose a philosopher shouting out from the top of his voice to a man tumbling down the Falls of Niagara, - " Good friend, if you would save your life, stop the water " ; would any refutation of such a philosopher be pertinent, other than physic and good regimen in a lunatic asylum ?
But it is not against the Scriptures only that Presbyterian-ism makes war. Its doctrine concerning free agency is re­pugnant to the common sense of mankind. It is the universal conviction of all ages and nations, that crime is imputable to us when we commit it, because we have the power to avoid it, and that it is never imputable when and where this power is wanting. To suppose that this conviction is false would be to suppose that the very Author of our nature has deceived us. Even Presbyterians themselves, whatever they may do in theo­ry, dare not assert practically a contrary doctrine. Let the stubborn boy grossly insult his father, call him a liar or a fool, and the lather, even though a Presbyterian elder, will, we may presume, without danger of a rash judgment, pounce upon him for good; and if the boy rejoins that he had no power to do otherwise than he did, the elder will show the deep impression such reasoning makes upon him by redoubling the chastisement. Now this, not precisely a fanciful supposition, proves very con­clusively that even the Presbyterian does not practically believe the doctrine of fatalism he asserts.

The falsity of this doctrine is evident from the absurd and shocking consequences it necessarily involves. All laws, whether Divine or human, whether religious or civil, are, if Presbyterianism be true, but empty words ; for it is essential to the law that all those for whom it is intended should have the power to obey it. It would be a strange thing indeed to pass laws for horses, pigs, turnips, and cucumbers. What would be thought of the legislature who should decree, that all turnips should grow with the root downwards, or that cucum­bers should all grow ready pickled ? Take away free-will from man, and you reduce him to the rank of brutes and inani­mate things, for which laws are not and cannot be made, be­cause their motions are regulated by necessity. In this system moral merit and demerit have no existence. Every punish­ment inflicted for the violation of law is a flagrant injustice. Is the storm culpable and punishable, because it destroys our ships and occasions the death of their crews and passengers? Is punishment to be decreed against the eagle for pouncing upon the timid and lovely wren ? It is evident from common sense, that, if the wicked cannot avoid committing sin, they can not be blamed or punished for it without gross folly and injus­tice. What Lucian, the Pagan philosopher, wittily says against the Stoics, the Presbyterians of his day, is strictly to the point. " If Parca is the cause of all things, then when a man kills his father, it is Parca that is in fault. If, then, Minos would judge justly, he would do better and more equitably to punish Destiny than Sisyphus, Parca than Tantalus. For what injustice is there in them, since they have only obeyed superior orders ?" *(footnote: * Jupiter Confuted) Calvinists have nothing to reply to this simple argument of Lucian.    They have even made matters worse than the Destiny of the Stoics ; for they tell us that both good and bad are in the hands of God as the horse under its rider, as the wheel under him who makes it revolve, as the saw in the hands of the sawyer, as clay in the hands of the potter. When the lord found the man who had not on the wedding-garment, and said to him, " Friend, how earnest thou in hither, not having a wedding-garment ? " we are told the man was silent, and, evi­dently, because he had no excuse to oiler. But if Presbyte-rianism were true, he might have answered advantageously in the words of Lucian, and we see not what the lord of the feast could have said in return.

According to Presbyterianism, God is the author of sin, and although the Confession is unwilling to admit it, and even posi­tively denies it, with an attempt to mystify the reader by pious words commendatory of God's infinite sanctity, the fact is as we state it. Calvin and his followers have always been justly accused of making God the author of sin, which Pres­byterians virtually admit, when they assert that God has from the beginning foreordained every thing that comes to pass, - therefore sin, since it is not excepted, - and say that sin does not happen by his bare permission. But whether they admit it or not in words, they do really and effectually make God the author of sin, by representing the reprobate under the invinci­ble necessity of committing it. When I ride a horse, which is under my control, over a child on the road and trample it to death, it is not the horse, but myself, that is the cause of the murder. Men have always so understood it. If the sinner is under an impossibility of avoiding sin, it is not he, but the neces­sity he is under, that commits it. Now, Presbyterians say, that it is the decree of God that constitutes this necessity. In vain, then, does Calvin pretend that God is not the author of the sin, because he decrees it from a good motive, to wit, the manifestation and praise of his justice. Besides, this repre­sents God as acting on the principle so often and so falsely attributed to the Jesuits, namely, the end sanctifies the means, - the contradictory of the principle laid down by St-. Paul, Rom. iii. 8, that we are never to " do evil that there may come good." In vain is it alleged, that, God being bound by no law, there can be no sin for him, - a notion which strikes at the eternal distinction between good and evil. God forbids sin because it is bad in itself, and contrary to the eternal law to which he is essentially subjected ; for he is essentially order, justice, truth.    Seek to disguise it as they may, Presbyterians do make God the author of sin, and the man who commits it, as his necessary agent, is only executing the orders of the Su­preme power, and is entitled rather to praise than to censure.

Presbyterians may throw the blame of the sins of men upon original corruption ; but if this corruption impose a real neces­sity of sinning, there is no more commission of new sins among men than there is among the devils and the damned in hell, who, all admit, can commit no new sin, because they are deprived of free-will. We, however, know that God has not left men in that necessity. The moment he promised that the head of the serpent should be crushed, they were restored to the state of responsible beings, and through his mercy fitted again to obtain the supernatural end for which they were created. The rea­son assigned by Presbyterians for the necessity of sinning, namely, that the reprobate receive no grace, no help, is mani­festly false, and is contradicted by every page of the Holy Scriptures. " I called and you refused." Prov. i. 24. " How often would I have gathered together thy children, and thou wouldst not." Si. Matt, xxiii. 37. " What more is there I ought to do to my vineyard that I have not done to it ?" Isa. v. 4. " We do exhort you that you receive not the grace of God in vain." 2 Cor. vi. 1. Here are words which clearly show that some receive graces which they reject through the malice of their will.

We conclude from this against Presbyterians, that any regu­lar effect, produced in us without any participation of our free­will, is not sin at all, though it be the consequence of original sin. Bad thoughts or motions arising in us against our free­will are not sin, and assume its character only when they are deliberately entertained. If they were properly sins, the sins so called of ignorance would also be properly sins, for igno­rance is one of the effects of original sin ; yet they are not sins when the ignorance is in no sense voluntary, as appears from the case of Abimelech, Gen. xx. 6, who through ignorance would have married the wife of Abraham ; and, also, from the positive declaration of our Lord to the Jews, - " If you were blind, you should not have sin [that is, the sin of not believing in me] ; but now you say, We see, your sin remaineth." St. John ix. 41. And again, xv. 22,- " If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sinned [the special sin of infidelity] ; but now they have no excuse for their sin."

If Presbyterians object, that St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, calls the motions of concupiscence sin, we reply in the words of the Holy Council of Trent, - u Concupiscence, which the Apostle sometimes calls sin, the Holy Synod de­clares the Church has never understood to be called sin, be­cause it is truly and properly sin in the regenerate, but because it comes from sin and inclines to sin, - ex peccato et ad pecca-tum inclinat. If any one maintains to the contrary, let him be anathema." Session v. 5. This decision explains itself; and who can hesitate between the whole Church, declaring the word wn in some passages of St. Paul does not mean sin prop-erly jfejjfcLtruly so called, and a little knot of Presbyterians who-ft2Fbf yesterday, maintaining that it must be taken in its rigorous sense ? The meaning of words is determined by common consent. Even Presbyterians themselves depart from their rigorous interpretation of the word sin, when they read, Osee iv. 8, that the priests " eat up the sins of the people " ; and, 2 Cor. v. 21, " He hath made him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin." Indeed, if it were admitted that all effects of original sin came through our fault, and are im-putable to us, we should blame the man who is born blind, lame, crooked, or otherwise deformed ; for this is the effect of original sin. But that this is absurd every body admits, and we are taught as much by what our Lord says in reference to the man born blind, St. John ix. 3, that " neither hath this man sinned nor his parents." If, then, corporeal blindness be not blamable in one who is born blind, so neither is concu­piscence, when there is no positive act of our free-will which makes up assent to it.

We have quoted the Council of Trent to show the sense of the word sin in its relation to concupiscence, which St. Paul sometimes calls sin. We quote it further to show the' firm and uncompromising doctrine of the Church on free-will. The Presbyterian or Calvinisiic doctrine, it is true, is at variance with common sense, with our primary notions of good and evil, and with every page of Scripture ; but it receives its final death-blow from the positive and formal decisions of the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, and against which the gates of hell cannot prevail, and which if we hear not, we are no better than heathens. The Holy Council condemns Presbyterianism in several canons of its sixth session. Thus, Canon iv., - "If any one says that the free-will of man, moved and excited by Cod, in assenting to God exciting and calling, cooperates in nothing, and that it cannot dissent, if it chooses, but is as something inanimate, which does nothing at all, and is merely passive, let him be anathema." This condemns that part of Calvinism which teaches that the elect are under the irresistible influence of Divine grace ; for it is as absurd to rob the just as the wicked of their free-will, since without it they would deserve no greater praise for practising virtue, than the rain for fertilizing our fields, or the sun for diffusing upon us its light and warmth. The Holy Council continues, in Canon v.,- " If any one says the free-will of man, after the sin of Adam, was lost and extinct, or that it is only a mere title, nay, a title without reality, and even a figment introduced by Sajjjfai into the Church, let him be anathema." Hence, men by thif'sin of Adam have not lost free-will, and fallen under the sway of inex­orable necessity, but have really retained their free-will, though much weakened and bent, as the Council elsewhere declares. The Council judged it proper to condemn in an especial manner that worst feature of Calvinism, namely, sinners are subjected to the ineluctable necessity of sinning and of incurring everlast­ing death. Hence it declares, Canon vi.,- " If any one says that it doth not lie within the power of man to make his ways evil, but. that God himself operates evil works, as well as good, not merely by permitting them, but even properly and by his own action, so that the treason of Judas is no less properly his work than the vocation of Paul, let him be anathema." Fi­nally, in Canon xviii., the Holy Council establishes the doctrine, that the precepts of God are never impossible : ¦- " If any one says that the commandments of God are to man, even justi­fied and established in grace, impossible to keep, let him be anathema."

Before taking our leave of Presbyterians on the momentous topics which we have been discussing, we owe it to them to take a brief notice of the Scriptural texts which they cite to prove that some are under the necessity of forfeiting their eter­nal salvation. This will not detain us long, if we confine our­selves to those which bear on the subject, and the others we may well pass over. One of these last, however, we must notice for the sake of the admirable Scriptural logic of Pres­byterians which it displays. In order to prove that some elect can be saved without being outwardly called by the ministry of the word, they quote (Confession, p. 52) the text, - " There is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts iv. 12. And then, on the next page, they cite it again to prove that men not professing the Christian religion cannot bo saved at all.    This displays rare economy of logic, for it makes the same text answer to prove each of two contradictory propositions. It is something to be able to prove two such propositions, - it is much more to be able to prove them both from the same text. A plain man, however, would say that the text, if it proves any thing to the purpose, proves the second proposition, and therefore disproves the first.

To prove that the fall of Adam brought about a necessity of sinning, Presbyterians quote Gal. v. 17, - " The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh ; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would!" The blessed Apostle here speaks of a struggle between the flesh and the spirit, - that struggle between con­cupiscence and reason, pleasure and duty, to which every one not utterly profligate must bear witness ; but Presbyterians add, what the Apostle does not, that in this struggle men are under the necessity of doing what they would not, and are un­able to repress concupiscence, - " Ye cannot do what ye would." But they flagrantly corrupt the word of God. Have they not told us that the New Testament in Greek is divinely inspired, and by God's singular care and providence it has been kept pure in all ages, and is therefore authentical, and that in all controversies of religion the Church is to appeal to it ? Why, then, do they not appeal to it ? The Greek does not say, " ye cannot," but says, " you do not," - Xvu ,u?}«<iv tiibjie, tuvtu notrjie. Griesbach gives no various reading of the text, and all the versions on this point agree with our Douay Bible, which translates, - "So that you do not the things that you would." The substitution of cannot entirely changes the sense. " You do not resist your passions," - " you cannot resist your passions," are propositions of widely different import, and resemble each other no more than the Catholic doctrine, " Many are called, few are saved," resembles the Presbyterian heresy, " Many are called, few can be saved." The Pres­byterians will do well to expunge this corruption from their Bible and Confession without delay.

The Presbyterians with no better grace cite the latter part of the seventh chapter of Romans. It is nothing to their pur­pose.    St. Paul, it is true, says, - " I am carnal, sold under sin.  What I would, that I do not ; but what I hate, that I do I know that in me, that is, in my flesh,
there dvvelleth no good thing ; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not" ; but he is far from saying that he is responsible and will be condemned for that inward warfare between nature and grace. In fact, he says directly the reverse. " Now, if I do that I would not, it is no more /that do it, but sin that dwelletli in me." Rom. vii. 14-20. This proves the very contrary of Presbyterian-ism ; for, since it is not Paul that produces these motions of concupiscence, but sin, that is, concupiscence, that dwelletli in him, it is evident he did not view this concupiscence as some­thing truly and properly sin, which might be imputed to him, but as a misfortune, a burden under which he groaned, and which made him exclaim, - " Unhappy man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? The grace of God by our Lord Jesus Christ."

We come now to another text, disfigured in the same way. Presbyterians wish to prove that the elect only are redeemed, and, therefore, that the others are left in the fatal necessity of sinning. To this end, they cite John xvii. 9, - " I pray for them ; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me ; for they are thine." They would have us infer from this, that those whom God has given to his Son are the elect, and for them Christ prays ; the others are the reprobate, and for them he does not pray ; therefore they have no power to escape damnation. This is another example of the way in which people are humbugged in the interpretation of Scripture. The pious old Presbyterian lady who reads this flatters herself that she is unquestionably one of those whom God gave to his Son, and thanks him that she is not one of the worldly Papists for whom our Lord did not pray. But this seventeenth chap­ter of St. John's Gospel, if examined, will soon dispel the dear old lady's pleasant dream. It contains a prayer addressed by our Lord to his Heavenly Father, after the Eucharistic Ban­quet, and in the presence of his Apostles, to whom he had made a long discourse on the occasion. In this prayer he states, verses 6-8, what he has done for these men who had been given him ; and then he says, " I pray for them ; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." It is evidently a distinct, a special prayer for his Apostles, who sur­rounded him at the moment. So the words, " I pray not for the world," are not expressive of a resolution not to pray for the world at all, but simply mean, " I pray not for the world noto, but for my Apostles." This interpretation will be undeniable, if we read on ; having prayed specially for his Apostles, our Lord extends his prayer, verse 20, - " And not for them only do I pray, but for those also who through their word shall believe in me" ; and inverse 21, still further,- " that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." He excludes, therefore, no one from his prayers ; and we know that on the cross he prayed for his very executioners. God so loved the world as to give his only Son to die ; and 1 St. John ii. 2 positively asserts that " he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world."

The last text we will notice is St. John vi. 65 [66] : - " No man can come unto me except it were [be] given unto him of my Father." Presbyterians appear to rely much on this text, for they quote it on several occasions ; but it is by no means to their purpose. It does not in the least say that it is impos­sible for some to go to Christ, or that those who do go do so through irresistible grace, thougli voluntarily. It merely teach­es, that grace or supernatural illumination of the mind and su­pernatural motion of the will are necessary to enable us to come to Christ, as Catholicity uniformly asserts ; but it does not say that this grace is refused to any not determined to offer resistance to God. It offers no contradiction to that other text of St. John, that Christ is " the true light which enlight-eneth every man that comeih into this world," i. 9 ; or that of St. Paul, 1 Tim. ii. 4, that " God wills the salvation of all men." God offers to all the remote means, at least, of coming to Christ by prayer ; and if it be written, St. John vi. 44, " No man can come to me except the Father draw him," it is also written, xvi. 23, " If you ask the Father any thing in my  name,  he will give it you."     Hence St.   Augustine adds, " You are not yet drawn; pray that you may be drawn." This is a drawing, however, which does not neces­sitate the will, which one may resist ; for Judas was drawn at first, but afterwards refused to follow the attraction of grace.

Here we close our discussion on this part of the Confession. We might offer some reflections ; but those who have followed us will not have failed to remark the utter weakness and folly, as well as falsity and wickedness, of Presbyterianism. Surely, if Presbyterians were not under demoniacal influence, if they hud even the free exercise of ordinary human reason, they would abandon their system in disgust.