« AnteriorContinuar »
puritj of his character, proved a remporary refuge ; but at length he was brought before Urbanus,' who “ having first made,' says Eusebius, trial of bis koowledge by divers questions of rhetoric and philosophy, as well as polite literature, required bim to sacrifice. When he saw that Pampbilus refused to obey his orders, and despised all his threatenings, he commanded that he should be tortured in the severest manner. When he had again and again torn his sides with his tormenting irons, the cruel wretch being; as it were, satiated with his flesh, though he had gained nothing but vexation and dishonour, ordered him to confinement in prison. After having lain in this dungeon for a year and some months, he was called to receive the crown of martyrdom, and thus to scal by his death those truths which it had been his chief concern to propagate by his life.
How many pleasing reflections does the contemplation of such a character afford us!'.
1. How vastly superior is Christianity to Paganism, and to all other systems.! Have we often beheld its high supremacy in point of Theory, here we may behold its infinite superiority in point of Infidence ! In Pamphilus we see an individual consecrating all his property for the relief of the necessities of the poor; exerti.ig all the powers of his mind in removing the mental darkness of mankind, and promoting their best interests; disregarding all the honours of the world, and relinquishing every thing wbich was counter to his benevolent purpose ; all this he did from the purest of motives, and without noise and ostentation; and at last he cheerfully resigned his life rather than disown those principles by which he had been hitherto conducted.-Christianity defies Heathenism to give such an instance of pure benevolence..."
2. What an excitement should such an example be to modern Christians! Did Pamphilus manifest an uncouquerable attach. ment to the Holy Scriptures ? Did he act so extensively for truth, and effect so much good in opposition to all the difficulties which then presented themselves? Was he 6 steady' to his purpose," under all the opposition he had to cope with ? : Did he devote all he possessed to the service of so glorious an interest?-and shall Dot we go and do likewise?" Shall we be content by merely admiring his conduct, without treading in his steps? If this great man did so much in Cæsarea, under the many disadvantages of that age, what might he have done in Britain now, that the art of Printing has afforded its wonderful facilities in the diffusion of the Gospel. Director of all hearts! God of thy Saints in all ages! grant us the favour which thou hast always borne towards thy people! Give us attachment to thy truth, zoal for thy glory, liberality in thy cause, and compassion for the miseries of man, that this Pamphilus, being deac, may ct live!
ON NAMES OF RELIGIOUS DISTINCTION. DEAR SIR,. To the Editori
I Beg leave to address to your readers some concise Remarks en the Letter of B. L., published in your last Number.
ļ. Your correspondent appears to take for granted that the distinguishing sentiments, and the relative difference, of Calvinists, Lutherans, &c. are to be estimated by those of the eminent persons from whose names the terms of denomination are derived. If this were the fact, the words in question would be almost obsolete ; for it is probable, that in such a sense, there may not be a Calvinist, or a Lutheran, or a Socinian, in the world. This error arises from not considering that the sense of these and similar words is fixed by the great law of language, Usage ; and that, as they designate large bodies of men, their proper meaning, thus ascertained by usage, is no more than a great and general coincidence. That differences of religious sentiment should exist among those who equally profess to be the disciples of Christ, is certainly to be lamented, on some accounts; though it would be easy to shew that this circumstance has been, upon the whole, instrumental of great advantage to the cause of Pure and Christian Truth. But, so long as these differences do actually exist; it is no matter of regret that there are names for them. The assumption of those names ought never to be represented as calling any 6 man Master upon earth,” but should be merely considered as concurrence in a scheme of general utility, for the avoidance of confusion and ridiculous circumlocution. I avow myself a Calvinist. For what reason? Do I make the Institutions and Comments of Calvin the directory of my faith? Or, though making the Scriptures my sole standard, do I understand and interpret those Scriptures in all respects as Calvin did ?--Certainly not; but I cheere fully assume this name of distinction, because I hold the leading and capital doctrines which were, not invented or discovered, but with singular ability asserted and defended, by that illustrious man; and, which have been decidedly maintained by persons called Calvinists, though with numerous variations on many points, both theological and ecclesiastical. In all this I am conscious of no more impediment in my searches after truth and detection of error, than I should have felt bad I never heard the name of Calvin. On the subject of these necessary names of distinction, I wish only to add, that we ought to be careful to use them in a clear and definite sense; and, to guard against their inappropriate application. Much is it to be deplored that the term Calvinism is audaciously usurped by some, whose system (if a wild and ina coherent mass can be called a system:) is a direct contradiction to all the fundamental doctrines of Calvin and of Christ.
2. On Lutheranism and Calvinism.- If we except certain ecclesiastical offices and ceremonies, and the doctrine of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in, or under, the sacramental elements, it does not appear that the doctrines explicitly taught by Luther differed from those of Calvin. It is, at least, certain that, on the points of Grace, Human Power, Predestina. tion, and Divine Providence concerning the sinful actions of men, the German Reformer asserted the same doctrines as the French; and that, in some passages, he expressed them in language more unguarded and unqualified than the accuracy and judgment of Calvin have permitted him to use. It has, however, been asserted that Luther, influenced by the arguments of Erasmus and the persuasions of Melancthon, considerably moderated, in the latter part of his life, the rigour of those sentiments which he had ad. vanced in his book de Serto Arbitrio. E
pt pas 662 But, some years after the death of Luther, certain of his professed followers set themselves, with all their might and acrimony, to widen the breach between their own party and those who coin cided with Zuinglius and Calvin on the sacramental question : they, therefore, did two things. (1.) They loaded the Calvin. ians (as they called their aptagonists) with most perverse calumnies and virulent abuse. Such, for example, as denying the Omnipotence of God; because they held the impossibility of the real body and blood of Christ being in the bread and wine : denying all grace to infants ; because they did not believe the baptismal water to be an absolate and efficient instrument of spi. rirual regeneration :-annulling the efficacy of the death of Christ; because they did not admit a real participation of his flesh and blood in the Eucharist: nor believe that, in the Hy. postatical Union, the Essential Properties of the Divine Nature in the Redeemer's Person, are infused into the Human Nature, and vice versa.it does bo
Drsa Soe (2.) They advanced, and urged with a zeal amounting almost to fury, certain sentiments and peculiar modes of expression, which it is very probable that Luther himself would have utterly Disa pproved. These principally related to the Person and Grace of Christ, the Two Sacraments and the Divine Decrees : and, in the retention of these peculiarities, they have been generally followed by the German Protestants, so that the term Lutheranism is always understood to comprize these notions; and thus to be distinguished from the system held by the Reformed Churches. * I shall subjoin a statement of the doctrines called Lutheray, in 'reference only to the last of the three heads above mentioned. Lutheran Divines maintain,
That Predestination, or Election (for they generally use these terms as synonymous) is the Decree of God, to save all those • * In the phraseology of Ecclesiastical History, the term Evangelical and Reformed, are contradistinguished. The former denominates the churches of the Lutheran persuasion; and the latter those of the Calvinistic.
who, he foresaw, would believe in Cbrist, and persevere in faith to the end of their lives. Some Lutheran' writers admit that this faith and perseverance are also objects of a divine and ef. . ficacious decree. The sentiment of these certainly amounts to the same thing as the Calvinistic mode of stating the doctrine. But they, in general, express themselves so ambiguously, as to leave it doubtful whether they do not consider persevering faith and holiness as conditions depending on the power and will of man in improving universal grace :-mand others openly maintain a Twofold Election : First, to Grace and Holiness ; and many who are thus elected fall and perish eternally: Secondly, to Glory, from perseverance foreseen. This latter class, l'apprehend, includes the majority.
That Christ, in all that he suffered for human redemption, intended to make, and actually did make, a most full and perfect satisfaction for all the sins of all men, both elect and reprobate, of every age and place, of all characters, states, and conditions :
That grace sufficient for salvation, together with all the new cessary means and causes of salvation, is given to all men ; that this grace is, in no instance, irresistible and incapable of being frustrated by man; and that the reason of the conversion of some men, and not of others, lies in their different states of mind and disposition, and not in a difference of grace conferred :
That it is the duty of every man, without any exception, to' believe that Christ died for him in particular..
Such are the sentiments, on the subject of Grace and Predestination, which the most approved Lutheran Divines strenuously maintain, as peculiarly distinguishing'their sect. They scarcely, if at all,' differ from the explication of those doctrines which Arminius himself gave; though Episcopius and many of the Remonstrants afterwards widened the difference.
3. On Arminius.—Your correspondent asserts, That even Arminius himself did not hesitate to subscribe to Calvin's doctrine, as it is explained in the 3d Book of his Institutes.' The public would, doubtless, be obliged to him, if he would furnish evidence of this assertion. Till some attempt at proof is made, I can only say that the allegation is exceedingly improbable. Whoever reads Arminius's plain and candid avował of his sentiments, in his Address to the States of Holland and West Fries, land, or in the Articles subjoined to his Letter to the Ambassador of the Elector Palatine, must perceive the impossibility of his subscribing Calvin's doctrine without flagrant dishonesty ; and it would be great injustice to his high character for integrity and piety, to suspect him of such duplicity. Indeed, the supposition is palpably absurd. The principal distinction of Arminius lay in his openly dissenting from the doctrines of Calvin, after professing them till about 1602 ; and in his defending that dissent
in the most undisguised and public manner. Hs died in 1609. His followers, the Remonstrants, or Arminians, have in general gone much farther than he did in their sentiments on the Five Controverted Points ; and few of them have imitated the modest, serious, and candid spirit which breathes in his writings. It is worthy of observation, that Arminius strenuously insisted that his doctrine was agreeable to the Confessions of the Protestant Churches (among which he particularizes the English); and that the doctrine of Calvin, Zanchius, Gomarus, &c. was inconsistent with those Confessions. These assertions, in my humble opinion, he completely failed to substantiate.
I hope your correspondont B. L., will forgive me, if I'informe him that every sentence (except the reference to Luther on the Galatians) in his short letter contains some erroneous assertion, or inaccurate statement. A person who writes for the public eye, especially in a work whose circulation is so extensive, should feel it a duty, previously to become acquainted with his subject.
I am, dear Sir, &c.
hd steadycafutely depende said the holy a podo, forgetting
: THOUGHTS ON GOOD WORKS
[Continued from page 15:] The Christian who is zealous of good works, will delight in the law of the Lord, after the inward man. It will be his meat and his drink to do the will of his heavenly Father. O! How I love thy Law!? will be the frequent breathing of his devout mind; it is my meditation all the day! The concern of his
heart about making progress in practical religion, will be as ; sincere and steady as if his justification before God, and his title
to life eternal, absolutely depended on that progress. I count not myself to have apprehended, said the holy apostle, after the most eminent attainments; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' Cæsar's maxim, That there was nothing done while there remained any thing to be done, is a dangerous maxim in a miud like his, ambitious of power and possessed of splendid military talents. But it is a safe and invigorating principle in a renewed heart, and bears the mind onward, and onward still, in the hallowed career of mortifying, through the Spirit, the deeds of the body; of doing justly, of loving mercy, and of walking humbly with our God.
Wherever this pure zeal inflames the soul, it will discover its strength in the corresponding activity of useful life. The mind will not be satisfied with cherishing holy and benevolent feelings,