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and zeal, and more humility, and a less saturnine temper, than Calvin: their plain, literal, unsophisticated, and therefore genuine meaning, has been restored; and that mystical interpretation, with respect to election and predestination, so erroneously adopted between two and three hundred years ago, has been justly exploded by most or all men of erudition, though unhappily retained by the lower order of Calvinists. At the period of the Reformation, the minds of all men on the continent, both in politics and religion, were in a raging fever: the Pope was in the most violent agitation, from the increasing progress of the Reformation: Charles the Fifth and Francis the First were contending not only in general for dominion, but particularly who should be King of the Romans; and^ as it suited their secular purposes, they alternately threatened and favoured the German Princes, the Pope, and the Reformers: the Calvinists and Lutherans opposed each other, as both these did the Pope; and, in this theological ferment, the opinions of Melancthon and Arminius, the only two men whose minds seem to have been actuated with true charity, and the unpersecuting spirit of the Gospel, were not heard or attended to. At the Synod of Dort, the English Doctors opposed the doctrine of unconditional decrees: and though the Calvinists, by the favour of secular power, triumphed at this famous Synod, Mosheim remarks, that immediately after it the doctrine of absolute decrees lost ground from day to day; and that from the period of the assembling of this celebrated Synod to the present time, the Arminians have had the pleasure of seeing the decisions and doctrines of the Synod of Dort, relative to the points in debate between them and the Calvinists, treated with something more than mere indifference; beheld by some with aversion, and by others with contempt. He further adds, what is still more remarkable, and therefore ought not to be passed over in silence, " We see the city of Geneva, which "was the parent, the nurse, and the guardian "of the doctrine of absolute predestination "and particular grace, not only put on "sentiments of charity, forbearance, and "esteem for the Arminians, but become it"self so far Arminian, as to deserve a place "among the Churches of that communion." Thus it would be doing great injustice to many Calvinists of learning, piety, and vir

tue, to imagine, because they adopt Calvin's creed in most points, that they do so universally; especially with respect to his doctrine of absolute decrees. In reality, the difficulties which attend this doctrine are entirely insuperable; they so offend reason, common sense, and Scripture, so evidently call in question that wisdom, justice, and goodness of God, that equity and lovingkindness towards the human race, which, in his holy word, God declares he delights in exercising towards it, that no man of sense or reflection can for a moment believe in it, can possibly imagine it proceeds from God, or have any other source than in the heated imagination of enthusiasts; who, as Montesquieu observes in his Persian Letters, consult and expound Scripture not so much with a design to explain its true meaning, as to establish and support their own superstitious systems: and however Calvin may be exempted from this charge in other respects, no man is more justly liable to it than himself, in his absurd and impious doctrines of absolute and unconditional election and predestination; and by his horrid assertion, that before their birth even some men are des-: tined and foreappointed to eternal damna


tion. By excluding salvation and repentance to poor afflicted sorrowing souls, to whom God and his Son freely offer both, Calvin is guilty of an offence like that of the lying prophets mentioned in Ezekiel, who are reproached by God for making the hearts of the righteous sad, whom he had not made sad: and when our blessed Saviour, by his merits and oblation of himself, once offered for the sins of the whole world, has opened the gates of the kingdom of heaven to all believers, Calvin has dared, has impiously and mercilessly dared, Avithout warrant from God, our Saviour, or his Apostles, to shut them against half mankind! Mr. Locke observes, that the animal, mineral, vegetable, and solar systems are so perfect, that no man was ever able to point out any defect in them, or any way in which they could be improved: the intellectual system of God exhibits the same perfection as it relates to man, and consists in God's having been pleased to endue him with reason, conscience, and a moral sense; and given him infallible directions in his holy word as to the accomplishment of the duty he requires of him to perform, with perfect ability (by the assistance of divine grace duly iinplored) to perform it; and has annexed such temporal and eternal rewards, as are sufficient to stimulate and determine every rational being to its performance. But an intellectual system, formed on the principle of absolute decrees, and asserting that God doomed a large portion of the human race to eternal damnation before their birth, evinces no such perfection:. on the contrary, it would be unworthy of even a wise or good man ; for it is a system formed on such arbitrary, partial, cruel, and unjust principles, as any good man would be ashamed to act on, or good monarch would observe or establish in his kingdom. It is a system which represents, the Almighty God of heaven and earth not, as he is pleased to proclaim himself, "mer"ciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in "goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, "trangression, and sin/' &c. but as an object only of dread and fear; and it contradicts those natural and intuitive ideas of right and wrong, of goodness and justice, which are planted by God in the human heart, and exist in it prior to all reasoning. However, therefore, a few deluded bigots or frantic enthusiasts may be influenced or persuaded to

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