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are, is exclusively my own, the fruit of a right use. of my free will? In this respect I owe no gratitude to God; it is all my own doing? Will he even say, To myself primarily this change is owing, and only to God as aiding my good inclinations, which were owing to myself? Surely even the Pharisee, with his formal, “ God I thank " thee, that I am not as other men,” acknowledging in words to whom the glory of every thing good was due, will rise up in judgment against such nominal Christians as do not, even in words, “ give God the glory!"7
CYPRIAN. "That in baptism the old man dies, and the new man is born, the blessed apostle shews and proves, when he says, he has saved us by the washing of regeneration. If regeneration 'be in the washing, that is, in baptism.'!
Cyprian certainly thought that an extraordinary efficacy attended the due administration and due reception of baptism : and he seems to have been confirmed in the sentiment by what he experienced in his own case. Yet, had he not previously been a penitent believer, his baptism would have been attended by an insincere profession, to which we have no reason to think God gives any special blessing : but, if he was a penitent believer when baptized, whatever or however he, and many others, have spoken on the subject, he was previously regenerated: for “ whosoever “ believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of “ God," ? and the blessing which he received was the increase of his faith and love, and the confirmation of his hope, and of his purpose of devoting
Cyp. Ref. 340. Tsyérintas, 1 John v. 1.
himself wholly to God our Saviour,“ the Father, “the Son, and the holy Spirit,” into whose name he was baptized. Cyprian, no doubt, spoke of regeneration as in baptism : bút he did not mean the external administration alone, the outward sign apart from the thing signified; but of the two as going together.— It appeared to me a harsh and difficult thing, as my manners then were, to obtain what divine grace had promised, namely, that a man should be born again; and *that, being animated to a new life by the salu
tary washing of regeneration, he should strip himself of what he was before, and, though the body remained the same, he should in his mind ' become altogether a new creature. How can so great a change be possible, said I, that a man should, suddenly and at once, put off what nature and habit have confirmed in him?'...' After the 'filth of my former sins was washed away in the • laver of regeneration, and divine light from
above had infused itself into my heart, now pu'rified and cleansed; after, through the effusion of the Holy Spirit from heaven, the new birth had made me a new creature indeed ; immediately, and in an amazing manner, dubious things began to be cleared up; things once shut were opened; dark things shone forth; and 'what before seemed difficult, and even impossible, now appeared easy and practicable. I saw that, which was born after the flesh, and had "lived enslaved by wickedness, was “ of the earth
earthly ;” but the new life, now animated by the - Holy Ghost, began to be of God.'1
Cyprian in Milner's Ecclesiastical History, vol. I. p. 369, 370
LACTANTIUS. "Lactantius's esteem and authority in the church of God is but very small; forasmuch as he was uninstructed in the scriptures,
and was furnished with a small share of Chris*tian learning.'! · EUSEBIUS. In the quotation from Eusebius, I feel myself opposed as a Christian, but not as a Calvinist : for were I an Anticalvinist, unless I were also a Pelagian, I must decidedly protest against many of his tenets. He, who forgets or denies our fall in the first Adam, is not likely to keep any fast hold of our recovery in “ the second “ Adam, the Lord from heaven." The Arians
and Unitarians have always laid claim to him, 'and of their opposers many have given him up. '-He seems to have been neither an Arian, nor 'an Athanasian, but one who endeavoured to steer 'a middle course, yet inclining more to the Arians than to the Athanasians. When he died, Aca
cius succeeded him in the see of Cæsarea; a ' learned man, who had been his disciple, and his intimate friend, and who was of the Semiarian party.'2_- The pure Arians—and the Homoiou
sians, or Semiarians, (such as Eusebius, and · Macedonius,) both alike denied the divinity, and
asserted the creation of the Holy Ghost.'3 Eusebius's character as a scholar, and a faithful historian, I am not concerned with ; but as authority in doctrinal discussions he is entitled to no regard. -I cannot think that Anticalvinists in general
" Nelson's Life of Bishop Bull.
Bp. Pearson on the Creed—Art. “ I believe in the Holy * Ghost."
will be satisfied, to have it intimated, by quotations from writers whose orthodoxy in the great doctrines of Christianity is very equivocal; and by such quotations as lead us far off from every thing peculiarly Christian ; that Calvinism cannot be effectually refuted, except by the aid of Arians, or Semiarians, Pelagians, and others, whose sentiments have always been considered as heretical. Such a method of argumentation (grounded on human reasonings and authorities,) in fact leaves the Calvinist in full possession of all the evidences of the divine original of Christianity, as proof of his peculiar sentiments.
[But many Anticalvinists have much more plausible things to urge in favour of their opinions. The subject also is indeed so awfully deep and mysterious; and I am so conscious of my incompetency to reason one step beyond what revelation clearly states; and so convinced, that there are things, more absolutely essential to Christianity, than these disputed tenets ; (though I think them highly important, and exceedingly useful ;) that I am in no degree disposed to take every advantage, which falls in my way, in attempting to support them. The scriptures are divinely inspired; the grand truths, held by many Anticalvinists, concerning original sin, salvation by grace, the Trinity, the deity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit ; the atonement and intercession of Christ; the renewal and sanctification and consolations of the Holy Spirit; justification by faith ; eternal judgment; heaven and hell; are most certainly true, whether the doctrines of personal election, and the final perseverance of all real Christians, be scriptural or not. I would most earnestly “ pray “ the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," that all, who either maintain or oppose these doctrines, may keep at a distance from every argument, which even appears to combine their peculiar sentiments with the general truth of Christianity, or the grand principles of the gospel. Let all confine themselves to arguments, which clearly retain the stamp of Christianity; and in a mild, calm, pious, and praying spirit, weigh what can be said on each side, in so difficult and solemn an argument: and then, perhaps, mutual explanations and concessions may make way for our“ endeavouring,” with some hope of success, to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of “ peace.” But, if Calvinists, or at least a large part of them, are at one time to be ranked with atheists and infidels, as not less dangerous than they ;' and at another, shewn to resemble the most detestable heretics of antiquity : 2 and in the mean while pressed with authorities, containing as little Christianity as the same number of pages from Plato and Cicero would do: and if the Calvinists, thus assailed, should have recourse to similar methods of defence and retaliation: we may indeed pray for meekness and patience, but all hope of conciliation is wholly out of the question.]