Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

will be very satisfactory or conclusive. A minute examination of them will not be necessary, as the premises of the greater part of them, are either false in fact, or gross misconceptions of Calvinistic principles, or subversive of man's dea pendance upon God.

His first argument on election and reprobation, p. 18. attaches to God a want of power to gratify his own desires : for if God, as he says, really and unfeignedly desires the salvation of all men, he must be disappointed and grieved, really and unfeignedly, in the damnation of those who perish. Perhaps our author, however, thinks as Mr. Burgh expressed bimself in conversation with Mr. Toplady, “ God does all he possibly can to hinder moral and natural evil, but he cannot pre. vai) : men will not permit God to have his wish! Then the Deity,” said Mr. Toplady, “must needs be a very unhappy being.” “ Nat in the least,” replied Burgh, for he knows that he must be so disappointed and defeated, and that there is no help for it: and therefore he submits to necessity, and does not make himself unhappy about it *" Whether the Churchman has nerve enough to say this, or not, we are sure there is no difference, in fact, between him and Mr. Burghi. To say any thing more of this argument, therefore, we dcem superfluous.

His second argument, p. 20. to be valid, takes for granted that God will judge men according to his decree, which is not true : at least Calvinists do not say so; nor do their principles admit of such a conclusion. For they studiously, and on all occasions make, a distinction between God's purpose or decree, and God's command, or his revealed will. Of this notice has been taken already, as the reader will recollect. As the rule of our conduct is God's revealed will or cominand, so the rule of his judgment will be that same will. To talk, therefore, as our author does on the subject of faith in Christ, betrays a gross ignorance of the Calvinistic doc. trine, and a wanton perversion of all the principles of correct reasoning. God in his word regards men, not as elect and reprobate, but as sinners, subject to the curse ; and commands them to believe in Christ, for deliverance from that curse. Faith in Christ, is a saving grace, whereby a sinner receives and rests upon Christ alone for salvation, as he is offered to him in the Gospel. Since he is offered in the Gospel freely to all sinners, as a Saviour able and willing to save, they who reject him will be damned, not “ for not believing a lie," as the Churchman says, but for disobeying God's command, and denying his truth.

* Toplarly's Works, vol. 6. p. 229.

His third argument, p. 20, 21. mistakes the sufficiency of means as afforded by God, for the ability of the sinner, to use those means so as to obtain eternal life. No Calvinist disputes, that the means are sufficient. This is granted. But every Calvinist denies the ability of the sinner to use these means aright. They say, that there is such blindness in the understanding, such obstinacy in the will, and such pollution in the affections of a sinner, that without the Al. mighty power of the Holy Spirit exerted in his behalf, he will remain a sinner. But as this inability is not physical; as the sinner possesses all his mental faculties and bodily powers : as he is still a moral agent, he is justly subject to condemnation, for not improving aright the means which God affords. He acts freely in his treatment of these means, because he acts according to his views and his feelings. He sins from choice, not from constraint. He sins not on ac. count of God's decree, but by reason of his own love of sin. Before he can love holiness, his love of sin must be destroy. ed. How can this be effected? Can he who naturally loves sin, make himself love holiness? He must first hate sin before this can be effected. Common sense and reason teach us, that a power out of himself must produce this change : and this power, when it is exerted, must be irresistible, or the change never would take place. For, if it could be resisted, it would be, in every heart, since every heart by nature is equally wedded to sin, and equally prefers sin to holiness; and thus there could be no believer. Irresistible grace does, by no means, destroy the sinfulness of impenitence or unbelief; for impenitence and unbelief are the result, not of God's decree, but of man's corruption. As long as that corruption is subject to God's just displeasure, its fruits must be so likewise ; and the removal of these fruits, by the destruction of the reign of sin or corruption in the heart, can, by no means, render that sin or its fruits less condemnable. The offer of salvation, through Christ, is made to all sinners; it is addressed to sinners as possessing mental faculties and bodily powers, and therefore being moral agents, acting free. ly, because acting from choice. They are invited to accept of Christ as their Redeemer, and assured, if they do, they shall be saved Those who are left to themselves, reject the offer; but they who accept it, are constrained by God, who conquers their predominant passions, and makes them willing subjects in the day of his power.

Our author's first argument to prove the unreasonableness and mischievous tendency of the doctrine of final perseverance, p. 29. contains a gross, a libellous, and unpardonable

untruth. The Calvinists, who maintain this doctrine, never say that the elect, who fall into gross sins, are still the be. loved children of God. They, on the contrary, (and if the Churchman knew ANY THING about that which he condemns, he would, if he had ANY REGARD TO TRUTH, have stated, that they say, that sin in an elect is as much sin as in a reprobate : nay, more, abhorrent to God, because com ** mitted under peculiarly aggravating circumstances. This argument of the Churchman, like many others, only proves the truth of what we have said before, that he is a Spiritual Quixotte, mistaking one thing for another, as the Knight of La Mancha mistook wind-mills for giants. . The second argument he uses on this subject, discovers as much ignorance as the first. He supposes irresistible grace and final perseverance inconsistent with exhortations, threatenings, and promises; or, in other words, he supposes that the use of means is inconsistent with the exercise of Almighty power : and yet we know, and he knows, that God displays his infinite power as much through the instrumentality of means, as without them. When Calvinists speak of irresist. ible grace, they do not exclude the exhortations, threatenings, and promises' of God. They only exhibit the agency which gives effect to these exhortations, threatenings, and promises.' That agency, they say, being divine, is irresisti. ble by the elect; i. e. they who are chosen in Christ from before the foundation of the world, are constrained to yield to the exhortations, threatenings, and promises' of God, so that they cannot resist the power with which the same is impressed upon their hearts. Thus also, the Calvinistic view of final perseverance, includes the use of threatenings, exhortations, and promises' By their use, faith is strengthened in the elect, and they thus kept by God's power through faith thus strengthened, unto salvation. As God thus preserves the elect, they who have the faith of God's elect give all diligence to make their calling and election sure. They know, that the evidences of their election are to be found only in the agreement of their hearts and their lives with the precepts of the Gospel. Attention on their part, constant and steady attention, therefore, is requisite, because connected with the end of their election. This attention is paid to the exhortations, threatenings, and promises of God, so that they may be properly improved. The contrary view, which the Churchman gives on the subject, is his, and he is answerable for it. In p. 30, by his illustration, he has endeavoured to give currency to a falsehood, namely, that Calvinists teach the elect will be saved, without any attention on

their part. We say, and those who think with us, that the elect will be saved through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.' We say, and those who think with us, that the elect ( are created anew in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which God hath before odained, that they should walk in them. We leave our readers to judge who is the solemn blockhead, of whom our author speaks, the Calvinist, or his caricaturist? The man who libels truth, or who maintains it ? The man who slanders his opponents, or who gives them their due ?

In his third argument, p. 30. he mistakes the nature of irresistible grace; supposing it to be physical in its influence, instead of being moral; i. e. the favour of God, in the salvation of sinners, operates upon the body and not the soul. To this argument, the Churchman may put in his claim as exclusive inventor ; for we can assure him, the Calvinists disclaim it : and since he has palmed it upon their opinions, he ought at least to have adduced proof; but proof is too puzzling for an old fashioned Churchman ; he deals only in assertion. The Apostolic Episcopal Church, likes proofs, especially proofs drawn from the Scriptures, as little as the Apostolic Catholic Church.

The fourth argument offered, to be valid, takes for granted, that the rewards of believers are rewards of merit, and not of grace. As Calvinists reject the former, and the Churchman has put in no plea for them, we consider the latter as grant. ed; and therefore, the whole of this objection as futile. Moreover, our author talks of necessity as if it was compulsion ; and not the result of choice. The believer, who has been made a willing subject in the day of God's power, must needs do the will of God, because he chooses to do it. No compulsion is required; what he does is his own act, freely done ; and for this he receives a gracious reward.

The last argument is contradicted by fact. The doctrine of final perseverance, as held by Calvinists, constrains them

to give all diligence, to make their calling and election sure.' Though they have no doubt about the council of God, they have doubts about their own state. In these doubts, and the watchfulness and exertions which they produce, are to be found a victorious refutation of our author's objection : the more striking, when contrasted with the notorious carelessness and irreligion of a very large proportion of those who object to the Calvinistic doctrine, as relaxing the obligations to morality. Their conduct has, more than once, excited our astonishment. Surely, men who are so jealous for holie 1108s of life, so tremblingly alive for the performance of good

works, ought to be pre-eminent in their holiness and good works. But is it so ? Let the Churchman and his compeers answer. Let the public judge, who are the men, professing Christianity, that say, Praying Societies are injurious to their Church? Who are the men, whose profession of Christianity suffers them to countenance the theatre, that school of depravity, or to admit gambling in their families, or even to take God's most holy name in vain ? Are they Calvinists, or their opponents? We do not say, that Calvinists are free from these sins. But we say, that by committing these sins they contradict their profession. This is emphatically, and awfully, and pre-eminently the case with Presbyterian Calvinists, as any one may see who will take the trouble of consulting the Larger or Shorter Westminster Catechism. Into their secrets as professors of Jesus, and sworn not to be conformed to this world, we desire not to come, nor our honour to be united to their Christian assembly

From the nature of our author's reasonings, as he is please ed with great humour and self-conceit, to call his untruths, his mistakes and misrepresentations, the reader can judge for himself, what credit is due to the concluding view which is given, p. 43. of Calvinism, and which is drawn from these reasonings. The inference he draws from his preinises is like them, and the portrait, therefore, which he professes to give, is a miserable, a vile caricature.

We will now briefly notice his quotations from the liturgy of his own Church, which we freely grant, teaches the doctrine of general redemption. But this doctrine, in itself, however much we may disapprove of it, and however explicitly it is excluded from our standards, is considered by great and good men, as perfectly reconcileable with the doctrines of personal, unconditional election, and final perseverance. This was Bishop Hali's and Bishop Davenant's opinion This is the opinion of Mr. Scott, Rector of Ashton Sanford, and many other Episcopalean worthies. And in this country there is a large class of Calvinists, who advocate the universality of the atonement, in the most decided manner, and yet as decidedly maintain the other doctrines noticed above. But this is not all. The Liturgy of the Episcopal Church does certainly avow the doctrine of election, but instead of connecting it with redemption, by Christ, connects it with the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Thus, in the Catechisin, immediately after the quotation which the Churchman produces in proof of general redemption, it is added, • In God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God.' The 17th article, moreover, is as plain as language can make it, and unquestionably teaches the doctrine of elec

« AnteriorContinuar »