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ARTICLES OF THE SYNOD.
- The Articles of the Synod of Dort, Heylin 'introduces in this manner :- Because particular 'men may sometimes be mistaken in a public doctrine, and that the judgment of such men, being collected by the hands of their enemies, may be unfaithfully related; we will next look on the conclusions of the Synod of Dort, which is to be conceived to have delivered the genuine sense of all the parties, as being a representative of all the Calvinian Churches of Europe, (except those of France,) some few Divines of England being added to them. Of the calling and proceedings of this Synod we shall have occasion to speak further in the following chapter. At this time I shall only lay down the results thereof ' in the five controverted points, (as I find them
abbreviated by Dan. Tilenus,) according to the heads before mentioned in summing up the doctrine of the Council of Trent.''
A few things may here be noted.-Is it very probable that such decided Anticalvinists, as Heylin and Tilenus should be impartial, in their account of this celebrated Synod? Is it to be supposed that there was no difference of sen
' Refutation of Calvinism, p. 566.
timent among the persons of whom it, was composed ? Were four divines an adequate representation of all the Calvinişts in England ? Were other protestant countries represented in any great degree more adequately? Were not the leading men greatly embittered with personal enmities, and the spirit of persecution and resentment? Did not political interests, and the spirit of party, still more embitter the spirits, or sway the deliberations and conclusions of the Synod? And therefore are all the Calvinists, who lived at that time, or who now live, or who ever shall live, to be judged according to the proceedings of the Synod of Dort? It would be no difficult undertaking, by such a procedure, to fix very heavy charges on the whole body of Anticalvinists in Europe and in the world: but attempts of this kind prove nothing, except a disposition to act the part of a special pleader in the controversy, rather than that of an impartial judge.
Thus I wrote in reviewing Tilenus's representation of the Articles of the Synod, as given in the “Refutation of Calvinism :' for, having met with the same report of the articles in other publications more favourable to Calvinism, I had no suspicion that these were not the real articles of the Synod, but an abbreviation (yet with several clauses also added,) by avowed opponents. But the Christian Observer first excited my suspicions upon the subject, and led me to inquire after a : true copy of those articles, which are indeed immensely more discordant with the abbreviation than I could have previously imagined. But let the attentive reader judge, by a comparison of
the following literal translation of these articles, as contained in the Sylloge Confessionum, (printed at Oxford, 1804,) with the pretended abbreviation.
ON THE FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE,
Art. 1. As all men have sinned in Adam, and have become exposed to the curse and eternal death, God would have done no injustice to any one, if he had determined to leave the whole human race under sin and the curse, and to condemn them on account of sin ; according to those words of the Apostle, “ All the world is “ become guilty before God:” Rom. iii. 19. “All “ have sinned, and come short of the glory of “ God :" 23. And, “The wages of sin is death :" Rom. vi. 23.
2. But “ in this is the love of God manifested, " that he sent his only begotten Son into the “world, that every one who believeth in him should “ not perish, but have everlasting life.” 1 John iv. 9. John iii. 16. · 3. But that men may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends heralds of this most joyful message, to whom he willeth, and when he willeth; by whose ministry men are called to repentance, and faith in Christ crucified. For, “How shall “ they believe in him of whom they have not “ heard ? and how shall they hear without a
· Gal. iii. 10, 22.— In every person born into the world, it .. (original sin) deserveth God's wrath and damnation.’ Art. ix.
“ preacher ? and how shall they preach except “ they be sent?” Rom. x. 14, 15.
4. They who believe not the gospel, on them the wrath of God remaineth: but those who receive it, and embrace the Saviour Jesus with a true and living faith, are, through him, delivered from the wrath of God, and receive the gift of everlasting life (ac vità eterná donantur). 1:
5. The cause or fault of this unbelief, as also of all other sins, is by no means in God, but in man. But faith in Jesus Christ, and salvation by him, is the free gift of God; as it is written : “ By grace “ are ye saved, through faith, and that not of 6 yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. ii. 8. In like manner, “ It is freely given to you to believe “ in Christ.” Phil. i. 29.2
6. That some, in time, have faith given them by God, and others have it not given, proceeds from his eternal decree; for, “Known unto God « are all his works, from the beginning of the “ world :" Acts xv. 18. Eph. i. 11:3 according to which decree, he graciously softens the hearts of the elect, however hard, and bends them to believe : but the non-elect he leaves, in just judgment, to their own perversity (malitice) and hardness. And here, especially, a deep discrimi
"Rom. vi. 23.
See Art. x. * Eph. i. 4, 5. iii. 11. 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14. 2 Tim. i. 9, 10. Tit. i. 2. 1 Pet. i. 2. 20. Rev. xiii. 8. xvii. 8.
• Predestination to life is the everlasting purpose of God, • whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, he hath
constantly decreed by his counsel, secret to us, to deliver from ' curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out • of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salva
nation, at the same time both merciful and just, a discrimination of men equally lost, opens itself to us; or that decree of election and reprobation which is revealed in the word of God. Which, as perverse, impure, and unstable persons' do wrest to their own destruction, so it affords ineffable consolation to holy and pious souls.
7. But election is the immutable purpose of God, by which, before the foundations of the world were laid, he chose out of the whole human race, fallen by their own fault from their primeval integrity into sin and destruction, according to the most free good pleasure of his own will, and of mere grace, a certain number of men, neither better nor * tion, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which are * endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according
to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they • through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely, &c.' Art. xvii.
"As the godly consideration of predestination and our election 'in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to
godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members, and drawing up their minds to high and heavenly things; as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation, to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love to God; so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's predestination, is a most dangerous downfal, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness (recklessness) of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.' Art. xvii. Whatever method of interpretation be adopted, as to the different parts of this our article; they who cordially approve it cannot consistently object to this article of the Synod of Dort, which is entirely coincident with it; and at least not more decided and explicit.