Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and much to inspire gratitude, admiration, and love of God; and to encourage hope, in his exercise of good will to men: for there can be no sinner so vile and hardened, but the same grace, which has softened, and humbled, and won his heart, would soften, humble, subdue, and win the heart of that sinner also.-So far is the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in “ having mercy on whom he will have mercy,” from being popular ; that, when stated as above, (as I trust most of the evangelical clergy do state it, who at all introduce it into their public instructions,) it is, in all places, except where the doctrine is well known, and overrated, and perhaps rather incautiously inculcated, by far the most unpopular part of our ministry. Many favourably receive our instructions in other respects, whose hearts revolt against this; and, after all the zeal of Calvinists to make proselytes, the small number of avowed Calvinists (in respect of personal election to eternal life,) found in this nation, compared with the mass of the population,

- not one in ten, to speak much within compass ; or even of the whole multitude of those who seem in earnest about religion ; is a full proof that every man who seeks popularity, in a new station, where Calvinism is not much known, must be very careful how he introduces the subject; for the hearts of his hearers will be sure to revolt against it. So far is man's proud and selfish nature from being easily fascinated by the doctrine !--It should be remembered, that all the followers of Mr. Wesley are in this respect decidedly and zealously. Anticalvinists; as well as several other companies which appear earnest in religion, and VOL. VIII.

R

a considerable proportion of evangelical clergymen and their congregations.

In tracing the coherence among the systems of modern theology, we may observe that the • doctrine of absolute decrees has ever been inti'mately connected with the enthusiastic spirit; as that doctrine affords the highest subject of joy, triumph, and security to the elect, and exalts them by infinite degrees above the rest of { mankind.''?

I should not have previously supposed, that a protestant bishop would deign to quote the infidel scoffer Hume, in such an argument; who, as it easily might be proved, shewed as much ignorance, when he presumed to write about religion, as he did sound discernment and accurate information on other subjects ; and who never, throughout his whole history, meets with any thing like Christianity, among papists or protestestants, Calvinists or Arminians, churchmen or dissenters, without shewing most clearly his bitter enmity and sovereign contempt of it ; and that always in proportion as the enemy to be assailed approximates to the religion of the New Testament. I disdain to answer Hume's accusation of enthusiasm. I only deny its truth; and I rejoice that his testimony is against us : it is the highest applause which such a man was capable of bestowing on religious characters.

I do not however deny, that these doctrines have been adopted and maintained by some per

. Quuted from Hume Ref. 283, Note.

sons eminent for their learning and in high stations of the church; but I think that the adoption

of these opinions may in general be traced, in 'writers of an early period, to the abhorrence of

the impious doctrine of human merit, which, it * has been frequently observed, was one of the • chief points of controversy with the church of “Rome, rather than to their unbiassed judgment of

the sense of scripture. I am most ready to allow - that many Calvinists have been pious and ex

cellent men; and I am fully satisfied that there 6 are in these days zealous Christians of that per

suasion, who would be among the first to deplore 'any evil, which might befal our constitution in

church or state. But I contend that Calvinism ‘is a system peculiarly liable to abuse.'l

The concessions in the former part of this quotation make a sort of honourable amends to the Calvinists, who before were classed with avowed infidels and atheists, as not less dangerous to our church than they. St. Peter was fully aware that these doctrines, as stated and enlarged on by“ his « beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom “ given unto him,” were peculiarly liable to abuse. 2 We also are aware of the same; and bestow great pains to distinguish between the genuine use of the doctrines, in rendering the believer humble, thankful, patient, meek towards all men, and joyful in temptations and afflictions; and the perversion of them, in feeding the pride of self-preference, buoying up carnal minds in false confidence; giving needless discouragement to the unestablished ; and fostering a hardness of spirit in those who Ref. 283, 284.

? 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.

[ocr errors]

take them up in a speculative and unscriptural manner, and not experimentally and practically.

* The perversion of its tenets has in former "times been made, by wicked and designing men,

the instrument of great mischief; and I fear that at the present moment the interests of real Christianity suffer not a little, and that the estab- lished church is in no small danger, from the - active hostility of those who profess Calvinistic doctrines.'!

- The perversion of these doctrines has been, and will be made the instruments of great mis

chief, by wicked and designing men ;' and so will be every tenet of Christianity, when perverted. But I apprehend that the established church is at present as much in danger from the active hostility of men professing Anticalvinistic doctrines, as. from Calvinists. The Socinian and Arian dissenters are zealous for the dissenting interest, and comprehend a large number ; the Wesleyan Methodists, that very numerous body, are Anticalvinists; and the success of the Calvinistic dissenters is not owing to their principles on these subjects, but to their evangelical doctrines in other respects, and their zeal in promoting them, along with their peculiar opinions concerning church-government, and against all establishments. This is fully known to those who are well acquainted with facts : for they who are the most systematical Calvinists are far from being the most zealous persons, either in promoting village-preaching, or in the other means, by which

Ref. 284.

numbers are drawn off from the established church. Indeed they who are decidedly Calvinists in judgment seldom introduce their principles very prominently, except “among such as are already gained to their side: for if, going into villages, and among those who are strangers to the peculiar doctrines of Calvinism, instead of shewing men their need of repentance, faith, renewing grace, forgiveness, in short, of the salvation of Christ, and urgently pressing them to accept of it; they should begin with predestination, election, nonelection, and topics of this kind ; they would not only act unscripturally, but would be left in empty rooms. Since those whom they proselyte, by preaching familiarly and zealously the simpler parts of Christianity, could not at present receive these doctrines, and would almost universally revolt against them. How far the general interests of real Christianity suffer by this, I am not prepared to say ; but the church of England is in no small danger, not so much from the active hostility of Calvinists, as from the zealous exertions and evangelical tenets of men who, however they may be thought inferior in all other respects, are certainly more earnest and active and intent in preaching, and in “ teaching from house to house,” than the parochial clergy in general are; and from these exertions being left to their full scope by the negligence of the clergy.

'Let the parochial clergy, by persevering zeal, combined with knowledge, and tempered by charity, be instant in their endeavours to heal the divisions which rend the church of Christ. Let

« AnteriorContinuar »