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petually urged against the clergy of the established church, and is considered to be the head of their offence, it is not unimportant to observe, that a complete refutation of it is furnished by a well-informed and impartial writer, in his "Church History" of those times, when it is said that one kind of doctrine alone "was heard and approved of."
"Now also, (anno Elizabethæ 38) began some opinions about predestination, free-will, perseverance, &c. much to trouble both the schools and the pulpit; whereupon Archbishop Whitgift called an assembly of divines at Lambeth, who resolved on the nine articles, thence called the Lambeth articles." These, it is well known, were designed to maintain the peculiar opinions of Calvin, and to establish them as the principles of the church of England; and the proposed addition of them is in itself an argument that the same tenets were not inserted in the Thirty-nine Articles. It does not appear, however, from the historian's relation, that they were "generally approved of," or acknowledged; "for when these articles came abroad into the world, men's brains and tongues, as since their pens, were employed about the authority of the same, and the obedience due unto them. Some almost equalled their authenticalness with the acts of a synod, requiring the like conformity of men's judgments to them; others maintained the contrary. But a third sort, offended with
the matter of the articles, thought that the two archbishops and the rest at this meeting deserved censure, for holding an unlawful conventicle: for they had not express command from the queen to meet, debate, and decide such controversies. Those of the opposite party were not solemnly summoned and heard, so that it might seem rather a design to crush them, than to hear the truth." *
This report deserves the greater attention, because though Fuller treats the subject with extreme caution, yet he evidently favours the authors of the Lambeth articles, and says, "their testimony is an infallible evidence, what was the general and received doctrine of England in that age about the forenamed controversies;"† notwithstanding his own statement plainly contradicts this conclusion. That statement, there
* Fuller's Church History, book ix. p. 229, 30, 31. † Id. id. p. 232.
+ This assertion of Fuller's is nearly equivalent to that which we are combating, and very probably, the source from which it was derived. It is a remarkable instance of the bias by which even an honest mind is warped in favour of its own prejudices; for that it is wholly untenable, the premises on which his conclusion rests, sufficiently evince. They amount to this; that an unauthorized assembly of divines passed certain resolutions agreeable to their own opinions, in order to suppress the opinions of their opponents.
The very act of this meeting, and the motive which called it together, shew the prevalence of those sentiments which it condemned. This, as will presently be seen, is confirmed by Strype.
fore, is in direct opposition to the bold and unwarranted declaration, "that in Elizabeth's reign there were no other doctrines generally heard and approved of:" and in James the First's reign the Hampton-Court conference will convict Mr. Willat of palpable misrepresentation.
In that conference, Dr. Reynolds * proposed an alteration of the sixteenth article to this effect: “Whereas it is said, After we have received the Holy Ghost, we may depart from grace, those words may be explained with this or the like addition, yet neither totally nor finally; to which end it would do very well, if the nine orthodoxical assertions concluded on at Lambeth might be inserted into the book of articles."
The Bishop of London replied, "Upon the first motion concerning falling from grace, may your Majesty be pleased to consider, how many in these days neglect holiness of life, presuming on persisting in grace, upon predestination, If I shall be saved, I shall be saved. A desperate doctrine, contrary to good divinity, wherein we should reason rather ascendendo, than descendendo; from our obedience to God, and love to our neighbour, to our election and predestination. As for the doctrine of the church of England touching predestination, it is in the very next paragraph, viz. We must receive God's promises in such wise," &c.
* Dr. Reynolds was a non-conformist.
King James: "I approve it very well, as consonant to the plan of St. Paul, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
It appears that "the Nine Assertions" were drawn up to appease a dispute in the university of Cambridge, against a proposition there delivered by the dean of St. Paul's, viz, "That whosoever, though before justified, did commit any grievous sin, as adultery, murder, &c. do become, ipso facto, subject to God's wrath, and guilty of damnation until they repent. Against this doctrine some did oppose, that persons once truly justified, though falling into grievous sins, and though they never repented of them, through forgetfulness, or sudden death, they nevertheless were justified and saved." King James.—" I dislike this doctrine, there being a necessity of conjoining repentance and holiness of life with true faith; and that is hypocrisy, and not justifying faith, which is severed from them."†
"It may be observed," says Strype, "concerning the seventeenth article, which treats of predestination and election, that it is drawn up without any mention of absolute reprobation, or decreeing the cause thereof, which seems to have been to prevent any scruple that might arise to any Protestant against subscribing the said article: for we are to know that among those that now professed the gospel, and had suffered persecution + Id. p. 13.
* Book X. p. 11.
for it under Queen Mary, there were considerable numbers differing from the rest, that followed some foreign divines of great name in the point of predestination, denying the doctrine of God's being any cause of the sins of men, and thereby of their damnation."* The same author, in his Life of Whitgift, says, "That till about the year 1595, Calvin's way of explaining the divine decrees was not entertained by many learned men in the university of Cambridge;" and again, "Although Calvinism prevailed much in her (Elizabeth's) reign, both in the schools and in the pulpit, yet it was not understood to be certainly the sense of our articles, even by those who held this doctrine." Nay, they acknowledged "That indeed the book speaketh very dangerously of falling from grace, which is to be reformed, because it too much inclineth to their error," meaning the error of those who are now called Arminians. †
By God's blessing, the "Nine Assertions of Lambeth" were never sanctioned by authority, nor received as articles of our church; and happy had it been if the opinions to which they
* Annals, ch. xxviii. p. 293. A.D. 1562.
+ Life of Archbishop Whitgift, p. 35, 435.-These passages from the Life of Whitgift are cited by Dr. Nowell in his Answer to the author of Pietas Oxoniensis, where several other extracts from the works of our reformers prove them to have been no less repugnant to the tenets of Calvin, than the clergy of the present day.