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learning, and piety, will be had in everlasting remembrance. Nor will posterity be unmindful of the literary merit and moral worth of Tomline, Ryder, Whitaker, Gisborne, Cunninghame, Eyton, Daubeny, Smyth, and several other excellent clergymen of the present day, whose attachment to the doctrine of General Redemption is no secret.
It is also greatly to the credit of our national establishment, that she has of late years produced no writers of eminence in favour of pure Calvinism. Toplady, Hervey, and Scott, are the only clergymen who have, in modern times, distinguished themselves by their attempts in its defence. They have in consequence been much admired by men of the same kidney, and have collected around them a great number of retainers. . The First evinced himself to be deficient in learning and genius: his main talent lay in the exercise of the low arts of calumny, impudence, falsification, and buffoonery. His works, as might have been expected, are now in little repute, and seldom quoted, except for the purpose of shewing to what lengths, in support of his opinions, a violent Calvinist may be driven. The style of the Second is a turgid outrage of all that is natural and lively. Not content with placing Calvinism on stilts,
, and decking out her decayed carcase in gorgeous apparel, a zealot in her service, he spoiled all his semblance of humility and pretensions to superior sanctity, by penning, almost in the article of death, those scandalous “ Eleven Letters to Wesley,”
»* in defence of his darling Aspasio, which are a disgrace to his memory, and of which his greatest admirers are ashamed. The THIRD, who is still living, professes to be of a somewhat more moderate cast in his Calvinism; but his exquisite knowledge of any other doctrines than those of his favourite, may be discovered by perusing one of the notest in his • Force of Truth,” in which he relates his conversion from Armi. nianism. One thing is evident from the tenor of the whole note, that Mr. Scott was at no period of his life an Arminian, and that he never ascertained by actual inspection even the outlines of the sentiments espoused and propagated by the celebrated Arminius. I
Among those of her sons of whom the Church of England has just reason to boast, is Doctor Daniel Whitby, who, in his admirable Paraphrase and Commentary on the New Testament, has done
* See a more particular account of this affairin Volume second, page 165, of the Rev. Walter Sellon's Works, of which a new edition, in two volumes octavo, has lately been published.
+ Ninth Edition, 12mo, page 7, &c. # What the genuine sentiments of this amiable and greatly-injured man were, the British public will soon have an opportunity of learning; as an English translation of all his works has been some time in a course of preparation for the press. A life of Arminius, by a clergyman in every respect qualified to do justice to his subject, is also in a state of great forwardness.
more than any single preceding writer in defending the doctrines of Christianity, and in clearing up the difficulties which occur in that portion of Holy Writ, but especially in the Apostolical epistles. His authority on biblical subjects is very highly respected; and his decisions have many times been quoted, with every mark of approval, by Commentators and Divines of different views and persuasions. Uncommonly valuable as his labours on the New Testament have been deemed, his “ Discourse on the Five Points” has not been held in any inferior estimation. It has been recommended, by some of the highest dignitaries of our Church, and by other profound divines, as a work in which may successfully be sought an able elucidation of the doctrines of Arminianism, and the arguments by which they are supported. And, certainly, it must be admitted, by all impartial judges of the controversy, that the Doctor's is, in every respect, an astonishing production; and it will remain in the church of Christ a lasting monument of his vast erudition, his masculine genius, and his unwearied industry. The testimonies of the Ancient Fathers in favour of Universal Redemption, have, in his hands, and by his mode of applying them, been most decisive in the award of victory to the cause which he espoused. Every Arminian will cordially unite with him in his general arguments, except in a few places where his opinions respecting original sin, and the operations of the Holy Spirit, are not very clearly expressed, but have in soine instances the appearance of leaning too much towards Semi-Pelagianism. He seems also, in cutting off some of the enemy's resources, to have been too confined in his descants on particular texts, which by no canon of eriticism are to be restricted to the Apostolic age, but which relate to every subsequent period of the Christian Church.
When the publication of a standard work similar to this, is announced, the Calvinists generally assure us, that "the arguments which it attempts to refute, have been long since abandoned.” This objection is partly founded in fact; for no other system of religious doctrines has so changed its scenery as Calvinism has done. In the last age, this old hag was remarkable for her unblushing effrontery in preaching up absolute reprobation, infant-damnation, and the other horrible consequences of her unscriptural dogmas. In the present age, conforming herself to the advancement made in knowledge, she has by various expedients tried to cast a veil over her ugly fea. tures; and by means of certain modern refinements, she has partially succeeded.* But into whatever differing forms it may be
To smooth down the unsightly asperities of Calvinism, appears now to be the order of the day. This system of refinement is carried into every department of literature into which a Calvinist is capa. ble of conveying ite Calvin's Institutes are said to have been lately translated again from the Original
moulded, and however specious and imposing its present garb may be, Calvinism is alike an insult to the expressions of God's universal compassion to man, and a prolific principle of vanity to the individual who entertains it. It is true, that its premises, when untenable, are periodically changed; but whether openly avowed by a Crisp, or wrapped up in mysterious terms by a Williams, it, in both instances, when examined, bears the same revolting character as a perversion of Christianity, and is derogatory to the government of a merciful Goil. And the arguments which formerly sufficed to counteract its evil influence, and overturn its superficial reasoning, will not experience any additional difficulty in penetrating through its present thin disguises, and shewing it in all its native deformity.
It has also been objected, that “works like this enter into learn“ed disputes about the antiquity of either set of doctrines, and the
opinion of the Christian Fathers on these matters, for which no“ body chooses now to contend"-Very true; because this question has long since been set at rest, by its being determined in favour of Arminianism. The combatants on Calvin's side are not now the Puritan divines, who in learning and abilities were at least equal to their opponents. In the hands of such men, the close examination of this point, so far from being accounted of trifling consequence, at that period excited much interest. But those mighty ones have passed away; and, with them, the qualifications requisite for conducting with any probability of success that part of the controversy. Their places are occupied by men, the primary object in whose tuition has apparently been to qualify them for quibbling on the oracles of God, and for controverting his plainest and most gracious declarations. Ashamed of speaking out as distinctly as Father Calvin had done, they invent a new vocabulary of terms in which to shroud their meaning; and, instructed in the art of display, they utter with an air of plausibility this jargon, which they nick-name Metaphysics. But on the minds of men who study things as well as words, and
Latin, by one Mr. John Allen; that is, he being a literary jobber, has been employed to amend and
who wish to attach a correct idea to every expression which they hear or read, the labours of these modern retailers of Calvinism will have no baneful effect. They can only operate and impose on the unthinking, or those who have been educated under strong prejudices, or on those who have their own special reasons for wishing that Calvinism in
any of its modifications may in the end prove to be a true system.
The latest scion grafted on Calvinism, and that which is in most fashionable repute, is the scheme invented by the late Doctor Williams. In the construction and completion of it, which was the work of several years, this pious man thought that he was doing God service. The allusion which has already been made to it, is a proper indication of its tendency. His name, rather than those of Doctor Whitby's admirers, is introduced here, for the purpose of evincing how far prejudice can actuate the mind even of a good man, and cause him to misrepresent what he does not like and is unable to refute. In the direction for the choice of books, at the close of his “ Christian Preacher,” which is dedicated to his students, he has given his opinion of this work, among others. And when it is viewed as announcing the fears of an enemy, it must be construed into negative praise of no mean consideration. His words are, “ Whitby's Discourse on the Five Points, Election, Redemption, Origi“ nal Sin, Efficacious Grace, and Perseverance, is a bold effort to overs turn the leading doctrines of the Protestant Reformers, by learned
obscurity, artful sophistry, and disgusting tautology.”—It would seem, from this abridged and false title, in connexion with what follows it, that Whitby had written against the doctrines enumerated: Whereas, in truth, this great man did not write against the scriptural doctrine of Election, but against the doctrine of the absolute and unconditional election of some men to life eternal, and, what Calvin considered to be its inseparable attendant, the eternal and unconditional reprobation of all the residue of mankind. * He did not
oppose the doctrine of the Redemption of men by the sacrificial death of Christ; his object was to vindicate this glorious doctrine in its scriptural extent, against the encroachments which have been made upon it, in comparatively modern times, by Calvin and his disciples. The term “efficacious grace” is ambiguous, and does not occur in Whitby's title-page. He undertakes to prove, that the grace
"Many indeed, as if they wished to avert odium from God, admit ELECTION in such a way as to deny that any one is REPROBATED. But this is puerile and absurd, because ELECTION itself could not EXIST without being opposed to REPROBATION. Whom God PASSES BY, therefore, he REPROBATES, and from NO OTHER CAUSE than his DETERMINATION ! exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines for his children.”
Calvin's Institutes, by Allen; Lib. iü, Cap. 23, Sec. 1.
of God is so far “efficacious” as to produce, in the minds of all who hear the gospel, during their probationary state, moral power to comply with its requirements; and to refute that doctrine which represents “the elect” as necessitated to repent and believe the gospel, while the immense multitude of the non-elect are required on pain of everlasting damnation to do that, which God in his word declares to be impossible,—to come to Jesus Christ without being “drawn" by a divine influence. (John vi, 44.) The like may be said of the “Perseverance of the Saints:" Whitby's object is to refute the Genevan doctrine which secures eternal salvation to those who have once been sanctified, though they should afterwards, like David, fall into the most horrid crimes.
With regard to Original Sin, it is well known that it is not one of “the Five Points” in dispute between Calvinists and Arminians; and, consequently, there is no discourse on it in Doctor Whitby's book, nor is it once mentioned in his title-page. Why Doctor Williams, in giving the title of it, neglected to mention the discourse on the Freedom of the Will, and inserted Original Sin in its place, his friends must explain. Whether done by mistake or design, it is equally disreputable to his 'accuracy and candour. How correct his report of its contents is, may be inferred from the following observations:
He charges Doctor Whitby with making “a bold effort to over“ turn the leading doctrines of the Protestant Reformers.” He might with greater truth have accused him of an effort to overturn “the leading doctrines” of the Popish Jansenists and Dominicans and of the Mahometan Fatalists. Some of the Reformers did not rea ceive
any of the peculiarities of Calvinism as the truths of God; and of many more of them it could not with propriety be said, that Calvin's dogmas were their “ leading doctrines.”+ If it be a sin to disbelieve and endeavour to overturn a doctrine patronized by a Reformer, then Dr. Williams himself must plead guilty. For, to the grief of many of his Calvinistic Friends, to whom the preterition of the greater portion of men was a familiar and comfortable idea, he has attempted (with what degree of success, is another question,) to separate the doctrine of unconditional election from that of unconditi
+ When the Protestant religion began first to be published, there was a variety of opinions among the Reformers upon the subject of predestination; for Luther, Calvin, and Beza maintained one sys. tem, while Erasmus, Mclancthon, Bullinger, Sarcerius, Latimer, and many other eminent Divines, were of contrary sentiments; and they were followed in the University of Heidelberg by George Sohnius, at Cambridge by Peter Baro, in the United Provinces by John Holman, Anastatius, Veluanus, Hubert Duifhusius, Snecanus, and other considerable men. But notwithstanding these diffe rences, a brotherly charity and harmony was prescrved among them.-See Brandt's Life of Arminius. Heylin's Historia Quinqu-Articularis. General Dictionary, Article, Arminius, Note [A].