Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

joy; for by faith ye stand.' 2 Cor. i. 24.--Not by faith in creeds, for this would be giving up our liberty, taking upon us a yoke of bondage, and submitting to the dominion of others; but by faith in the word of God, which all persons are free to consult,—and this freedom all must be allowed to enjoy, before they can be required to believe or obey."* pp. 105—108.

The article on a part of which Mr. Sparks is here remarking, runs thus;

“The church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's word written, neither may it so expound one place of scripture that it be repugnant to another; wherefore although the church be a witness and a keeper of holy writ, yet as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of salvation”.

It did not fall in the way of Mr. Sparks to state a fact which however is not unimportant. It is, that for the egregious folly, as it may seem, of this article, the earliest churchmen are probably not responsible. There is good reason to think that the first clause was not inserted till a subsequent age. It is not found in the forty-two articles of king Edward, nor in the origina! copy of the thirty-nine, subscribed by both houses

* The following remark of Watson seems to us to contain the whole doctrine of creeds as a reasonable man can receive it. "I certainly dislike the imposition of all creeds formed by human authority; though I do not dislike them as useful summaries of what their compilers believe to be true, either in natural or revealed religion." Life, p. 203

To the same effect Dr. Ware; “As to the propriety of having a creed, no doubt, I believe, has ever been entertained. Unitarians have always claimed the right of every individual to have his own particular creed. What they have soinetimes had occasion to object to, is, not that each of the several sects and denominations of christians should have its own creed, nor that any individual should have one, but that any, whether an individual or a body of christians, should insist upon their creed being the creed of others.” Letters addressed to Trinitarians and Calvinists, p. 9.

of convocation, and now preserved in a public library at Cambridge. There is reason to think that it was not even in the copy authorized by parliament in 1571, but was afterwards surreptitiously inserted. An account of the affair may be found in Neal's history, vol. i. p. 207, or in a note to p. 306, vol. ii. of the bishop of Lincoln's Elements of Theology. Howcver the truth may be, it is no longer of consequence except as affecting the wisdom of the early reformers, as the clause in question undoubtedly made part of the articles confirmed by act of parliament on the restoration.

We know not an example of more unanswerable reasoning, than that contained in Mr. Spark's fourth letter on the Calvinistic character of the formularies of the English church. He begins with the statement, that of the five points, as they are called, of Calvin, namely, total depravity, special election, particular redemption, irresistible grace, and the final perseverance of the saints,

“The two first only are fundamental doctrines, of which the three last are necessary consequences. If all men have originally a corrupt nature, which renders them worthy of divine wrath and condemnation, and if God in his mercy have decreed, according to “his everlasting purpose, that a certain number of his creatures shall be rescued from this deplorable condition and finally be saved; it is a natural and necessary consequence, that all such persons are redeemed by a particular redemption, are effectually called, and will persevere to the end. The decree of election extends only to particular persons, and therefore the redemption it procures is a particular redemption; it is an absolute decree, and therefore all whom it calls, are effectually called; it is an immutable decree, and therefore all whom it restores to the condition of saints, must retain this condition.

"The fundamental doctrines of Calvinism, then, are total depravity, and election; and if these are found to be contained in the articles and homilies, I.

it may

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

suppose be rightly inferred, that such are the doctrines of the church."

pp. 110–111. The first of these doctrines he finds in the following passages of the articles:

6 Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk,) but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far (quam longissime) gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated."" - Art. 9th.

“The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works to faith and calling upon God. Art. x. •Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring pot of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace;-yea; rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin. Art. xiii?"

And in the following of the homilies, which, by a vote of the convention in 1814, are required to be studied by all candidates for the ministry;

“When our great grand father Adam had broken God's commandment, in eating the apple forbidden bim in Paradise, at the motion and suggestion of his wife, he purchased thereby not only to himself, but also to his posterity forever, the just wrath and indignation of God, who, according to his former sentence pronounced at the giving of the commandment, condemned both him and all his to everlasting death, both of the body and soul; he was cast out of Paradise, he was no longer a citizen of heaven, but a firebrand of hell, and a bond slave of the devil.'-2d Ho

mily concerning the death and passion of our Saviour.

6. Man of bis own nature is fleshly and carnal, corrupt and naught, sinful and disobedient to God, without any spark of goodness in him, without any virtuous or godly motion, only given to evil thoughts and wicked deeds.' Homily for Whitsunday, part 1st.

66 «Of ourselves we be crab trees, that can bring forth no apples. We be of ourselves of such earth as can bring forth but weeds, nettles, briars, cockle, and darnel.-Hitherto have we heard what we are of ourselves; very sinful, wretched, and damnable; we are not able to think a good thought or work a good deed, so that we can find in ourselves no hope of salvation, but rather whatsoever maketh unto our destruction.'-Homily of the misery of man.

" "This so great and miserable a plague, if it had only rested on Adam, who first offended, it had been so much the easier, and might the better have been borne. But it fell not only on him, but also on his posterity and children for ever, so that the whole brood of Adam's flesh should sustain the self same fall and punishment, which their forefather by his offence most justly had deserved.--As in Adam all meu universally sinned, so in Adam all men universally received the reward of sin; that is to say, became mortal, and subject unto death, baving in them. selves nothing but everlasting damnation both of body and soul;—they were nothing else but children of perdition, partakers of hell fire." "—Homily of the nativity.

For proof that the second fundamental doctrine of Calvin, that of special election, is avowed by the church, he refers to its seventeenth article:

• Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed, by his coun. sel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation,

as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they, which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be call. ed according to God's purpose, by his spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of his only begotten son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.

“ As the godly consideration of predestination, and our election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well, because it doth greatly es. tablish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kiudle their love towards God; so, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

66 «Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth in boly scripture, and in our doings, that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.'"

And to such expressions as these in the book of homilies; “whom God hath appointed to everlasting salvation;" the undoubted children of God, appointed to everlasting life;" “sons of God, and elect of him unto salvation."--Homily on Almsdeeds.

In conclusion of this argument, Mr. Sparks has collected an overwhelming mass of evidence to prove, tbat the tenets of the reformers, who framed and adopted the articles of the church,” accorded with those of Calvin. The inference is direct, that had they

« AnteriorContinuar »