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can be placed, Campbell, and Hales, Lardner, Watson, Paley, and Gregory, with a numerous host beside; in learning and talents equal to any of the adversaries of the faith, and in moral worth and weight of character not to be mentioned in connexion with such men. If their invaluable writings have in some measure superseded those of Baxter, it is not because they contain stronger arguments, or more ingenious reasonings, but because they are better adapted to the peculiar forms which infidelity has more recently assumed. While grateful for their labours, it is proper we should remember, that their predecess sors did worthily in their time. They in fact cleared the ground, and laid the foundation of that noble structure which more modern architects have succeeded in rearing. +
+ The latest work in this department of literature, which I have seen, is The Divine Origin of Christianity, deduced from some of those Evidences which are not founded on the Authority of Scripture.' By John Sheppard, 2 vols, 12mo. 1829. The author of this work is well known to the public by his beautiful little work on private devotion : the present, is of an entirely different character; but does no less credit to his talents, his learning, and his acuteness. He is quite a Baxter for his scrupulosity in weighing and balancing proofs; and much more judicious in his manner of urging them. The work is in some danger of repelling superficial readers; both the arrange. ment and the learning of it require more study than they who wish to arrive at the knowledge of all science and art by the shortest road, are generally disposed to give to any subject. But the lover of close argument and satisfactory information, 'will be amply repaid by the studious examination of these volumes.
Introductory ObservationsAphorisms of Justification'- Animadversions on
the Aphorisms by Burgess, Warren, Wallis, Cartwright, and LawsonOther Antagonists' Apology'-Molinæus, Crandon, Eyres-'Confession of Faith'_'Perseverance'-_ Kendal - Barlow-Shepherd — Saving Faith' ~Dissertations 'on Justification’-On Justifying Righteousness'—Controversy with Tully- Original Sin - Universal Redemption'— Catholic Theology'— Methodus Theologiæ'-End of Doctrinal Controversies'— General View of Baxter's Doctrinal Sentiments—Strictures on his Manner of conducting Controversy-Conclusion.
The doctrinal works of Baxter, which naturally follow his writings on the evidences of religion, with the controversies in which they involved him, occupied a large portion of his active and useful life. It will be expected, therefore, that a full account of this class of his writings, and of his peculiar theological sentiments, should be given in this chapter. Though I have not shrunk from labour, in endeavouring to accomplish the task which I have voluntarily undertaken, I frankly confess that this part of it has been more difficult than any other; and I fear it may not afford the reader all the satisfaction he anticipates or desires. The immense extent of Baxter's writing on disputable subjects; the peculiar character of his mind-subtle, acute, and versatile, in an extraordinary degree; the manner in which he was assailed by the men of all parties and of all creeds, which led to a great diversity of defence and attack on his part; his favourite scheme of union and reconciliation - involving a variety of concessions, and tempting him to avail himself of many refined and untangible distinctions, are some of the causes and sources of those difficulties which belong to the attempt to ascertain his precise sentiments, and correctly to represent the design of his voluminous productions.
Whatever view may be taken of his opinions on various subordinate subjects, it is certain that on all matters of essential and vital importance in the evangelical system, he held those truths which are most surely believed among all genuine Christians. He had, indeed, his own mode of explaining certain points, which a man who thought so much and so independently must have had. He was not formed to be an implicit believer in human creeds, or to follow in the steps of any uninspired master. On the other hand, he had no ambition to be the founder of a new school of theology; for, though his name has been prefixed to a class, that class has never constituted a separate party, but, in as far as it has existed, has been found among persons of various parties : few even of whom would probably have been acknowledged by Baxter himself as altogether of his mind, and still fewer of them, perhaps, would have acknowledged him as their apostle.
The time has been when it would have been dangerous to the reputed orthodoxy of an individual who should have professed great respect for the doctrinal views of Baxter. High Arminians on the one hand, and high Calvinists on the other, agreed to revile him. Baxterianism was a term of reproach, readily applied to many who were sounder in the faith than some of those who arrogated to themselves the exclusive apa pellation of orthodox. That time, however, has passed away. The character of Baxter has outlived all the reproaches fulminated against it, and we may now, without fear of dishonour, state his opinions, analyse his doctrines, and defend or advocate his cause where we believe it to be just. It is my business to give a faithful statement of matter of fact, “ neither to extenuate, nor set down aught in malice,” respecting our author ; with
whom I sometimes agree, and sometimes differ, on the topics discussed in this chapter.
In 1649, Baxter began his career of authorship by a small publication, entitled “ Aphorisms of Justification.” This work deserves attention, not so much on its own account, for he acknowledges it was written “ in his immature youth, and the crudity of his new conceptions,”u as because it contains the germs of his leading sentiments, and was the occasion of the greater part of the doctrinal controversies in which he engaged. The professed object of it is, to explain the nature of justification, the covenants, satisfaction, righteousness, faith, works, &c. This he attempts in a series of eighty theses, or propositions, with their respective explanations. That he did not succeed to his own satisfaction, he freely acknowledges; and that it was still less satisfactory to others, appears from the numerous animadversions and defences which it occasioned. He blames himself for deficiency and incautiousness, and for meddling imprudently with Dr. Owen. “It was overmuch valued,” he says, “ by some, and overmuch blamed by others; both contrary to my own esteem of it. It cost me more than any other book that I have written; not only by men's offence, but especially by putting me on long and tedious writings. But it was a great help to my understanding, for the animadverters were of several minds, and what one approved another confuted, being further from each other than any of them were from me.”
Among those who furnished him with strictures, some in manuscript, and some in print, were, Mr. Anthony Burgess, to whom, and Richard Vines, the work was dedicated; Mr. John Warren ; Dr.John Wallis, one of the scribes to the Westminster Assembly, and well known for his mathematical talents; Mr. Christopher. Cartwright, of York, a Presbyterian minister of considerable learning; and Mr. George Lawson, of whom Baxter gives rather a long description. But I must give his own account of these individuals, as it contains some things worthy of being recorded.
u The copy of the Aphorisms used by me is one of the second edition, which was pretended to be printed at the Hague, 1655, but in reality was printed surreptitiously by a Cambridge bookseller. This copy contains many marginal notes, and alterations of the text, in the band-writing of Mr. Baxter. Of these the expression quoted above is part. Many of these notes and altera. tions discover the progress of the writer's mind, and the amiable candour by which it was distinguished. At the head of one thesis, he says, “ There is nothing in this section worth reading."
“The first that I craved animadversions from was Mr. Burgess, and with much ado, extorted only two or three letters against justification by works, as he called it; which, with my answers, were afterwards published; when he had proceeded to print against me what he would not give me in writing. .
“ The next and full animadversions which I received, were from Mr. John Warren, an honest, acute, ingenious man, to whom I answered in freer expressions than others, because he was my junior and familiar friend; being a school-boy at Bridgnorth when I was preacher there, and his father was my neighbour. Next to his, I had animadversions from Dr. John Wallis, very judicious and moderate, to which I began to write a reply, but broke it off in the middle, because he little differed from me.
“The next I had, was from Mr. Christopher Cartwright, of York, who defended the king against the Marquis of Worcester. He was a man of good reading, as to our later divines, and was very well versed in the common road; a very good Hebrician, and a very honest, worthy person. His animadversions were most against my distinction of righteousness into legal and evangelical, according to the two covenants. His answer was full of citations out of Amesius, Whittaker, Davenant, &c. I wrote him a full reply; and he wrote me a rejoinder; to which, my time not allowing me to write a full confutation, I took up all the points of difference between him and me, and handled them briefly, confirming my reasons for the ease of the reader and myself.