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you are none of my elect; my blood was never shed for you! But I rather think he went too far.
Slapd. Yes, Sir, and with your leave, I'll venture to go a step further. It was, I fear, a designed trick; an artful falsehood. He must know that we conclude every penitent believer is already accepted in the purpose of God, or he never would have come for that "all that the Father hath given him, shall come to him; and that whosoever cometh he will in no wise cast out."
Bri. Sir, were you not shocked at this most vile per
version of our sentiments?
Whim. Why, Sir, your opinion is, that Christ will never add to the number of his elect.
Bri. Will you answer me one question: Can God dispense with his own foreknowledge? Can he lay aside that which belongs to his infinite existence ? Can an infinite Being, who preordains all causes, be ignorant of the effect which those causes must produce?
Whim. Some among us have doubted whether God may not dispense with his own foreknowledge.
Bri. Sir, is it possible you can entertain such a sentiment? Have you any passage of scripture to bear you out? or will you deny that express declaration in the sacred volume, Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." While it is so expressly said, that we are elected according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. Why, if you go on at this rate one step further, you will be an atheist: you may as well deny the being of a God as to deny that foreknowledge which must belong to a being whose wisdom must be infinite.
Whim. O Sir, don't be frightened; another of our preachers has written a book to confirm this bold stroke of our learned Doctor, by proving that what are called contingent events must be unknown to God himself; and
what a wonderful wise argument he made use of; for God cannot make a circle into a square.
Slapd. I suppose he cannot, no more than he can make the number four to be the same as the number forty. But what of that?
Whim. Some people's arguments are so deep that it is almost impossible to find out the meaning of them.
Slapd. Yes, and such sort of deep arguments are at times found very convenient; like eels which always find themselves in the safest situation from being caught when they dive deep into the mud. It is a strange way of getting rid of difficulties, which the wisest can never fathom without presumptuously denying the foreknowledge of God himself. We should wonder at the conceit of a proud sprat that could fancy itself large enough to swallow a whale; and, if the elephant himself never thought he was of sufficient magnitude to wade through the depth of the sea, (and these are but comparisons drawn from objects that are finite,) what pride must exist in the minds of such trifling worms as we are if we can presume to arraign him whose being and wisdom must be infinite, before the bar of our pigmy understandings, or to deny that he possesses those essential qualities of his divine existence, because we cannot comprehend them, while he must be, from the nature of things, so infinitely beyond our reach.
Whim. I had rather talk no more on this subject.
Bri. Sir, we most readily agree to drop it; it is a subject too deep for us to fathom. For whatever God's future designs may be, they are most wisely hid from us that we may attend to that which is our duty, according to his commands.
Whim. I think the Calvinists are misunderstood. Good-morning to you, Gentlemen. I have a long ride to take this evening.
Spri. O, but, Sir, you must stop and dine with us.
Our religious controversies should not interrupt our friendship and esteem for each other.
The invitation is accepted, the same subject was continued at the dinner, which will not be narrated, as these pages inadvertently swell beyond their first design; still a valuable end will be answered by this Dialogue, if we are led to see more of the wisdom of God in his work upon the heart, and are less free in our unguarded conclusions against others.
MR. WORTHY AND FAMILY, MR. LOVEGOOD, SIR THOMAS
THE RAKE'S PROGRESS, DISGRACE, AND RUIN.
THE reader's attention has now been engaged for a considerable time at Sandover; and having been informed of the happy termination of the melancholy death of Mr. Merryman, he is once more invited back to Brookfield, to hear the conclusion of these events. Nothing occurred for several months of sufficient consequence to demand a share of the reader's attention, excepting the promotion of Thomas Newman, to the office of Parish Clerk, upon the death of Andrew Snuffle. This was an event of considerable magnitude to himself and his family.
My readers would have been pleased to see what humble attention he manifested, when, for the first time, he escorted the worthy Vicar from the vestry through the crowded aisles into the reading desk; with what becoming gravity and devotion he next entered his own desk; and how attentively he conducted that part of the service, which was now his office to perform; while the congregation could not but admire how well he looked, dressed in a decent suit of grey clothes; and indeed clad in new apparel, from top to toe, by the benevolence of Mr. Worthy. At the same time, it may easily be supposed, what the general feelings of the large assemblage were, for the credit of the new Clerk of Brookfield Church. And as for poor Betty,
what she felt for him throughout the service, and especially when he raised the psalm, is not so easily to be conceived. I am happy however to say, that he performed his office to the admiration of all; insomuch, that in the church-yard, (how it happened I cannot say,) Mr. Worthy and his family thus accosted him; "How do you do, Mister Newman? we congratulate you very heartily upon your preferment-You have conducted your part of the service admirably to our satisfaction; and may you long live to enjoy your office!" While, in addition to this, it seems, Mr. Worthy, at all times affable and kind, gave him a friendly shake by the hand.
No wonder that honest Thomas was quite upset, by such an address from this right honourable Esquire; and how to reply he could not tell. But that he should, for the first time be called Mister Newman, surprised him most of all. He was satisfied this title could not have been recently imported either from London or from Bath, as Mr. Worthy knew better than to waste his time or property in visiting any places of public resort, but as necessity required. Brookfield Hall was his paradise; and there he almost constantly resided to make every one as happy as himself.
I question, however, as modern times go, if Mr. Worthy went much beyond the mark, in conferring such a title on this respectable peasant; for if, according to the general courtesy which prevails throughout the metropolis, where every shopman is a Mister, and every washerwoman and charwoman a Mistress, why should not the worthy Clerk of Brookfield Church be addressed as Mister also?
As for the title of Esquire, we know to what an extent it is now bestowed. It belongs almost to every Haberdasher and Hosier, to every Lawyer and Lawyer's clerk, and nearly to every Apothecary and Apothecary's