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THE manner in which the author was brought to the determination, of adding the present work to all his former publications, will appear more fully in the introduction to the articles of the Synod of Dort. In general, he had erroneously adopted, and had aided in circulating, a gross misrepresentation of the Synod and its decisions, in his Remarks on the Refutation of Calvinism;? and, having discovered his mistake previously to the publication of a second edition of that work, he was induced to do what he could to counteract that misrepresentation, and to vindicate the Synod from the atrocious calumnies with, which it has been wilfully or inadvertently traduced. But other motives concurred in disposing him to give his attempt its present form and order.
1. A very interesting and important part of ecclesiastical history has been obscured and overwhelmed with unmerited disgrace, by the misrepresentations given of this Synod and its articles, especially in this nation; in which very few, even among studious men, know accurately the circumstances which led to the convening of this Synod, and the real nature and import of its decisions. To excite therefore others, more conversant in these studies, and better qualified for the service, to examine this part of ecclesiastical history, and to do impartial justice to it, is one object which the author has in view.
2. He purposes to prove, that the doctrines commonly termed Calvinistic, whether they be or be not the doctrines of scriptural Christianity, may yet be so stated and explained, without any skilful or laboured efforts, as to coincide with the strictest practical views of our holy religion; and so as greatly to encourage and promote genuine holiness, considered in its most expanded nature, and in its effects on all our tempers, affections, words, and actions, in relation to God and to all mankind.
3. In a day when these doctrines are not only proscribed in a most hostile manner on one side, 'but deplorably misunderstood and perverted by many on the other side ; the author desired to add one more testimony against these misapprehensions and perversions, by shewing in what a holy, guarded, and reverential manner the divines of this reprobated Synod stated and explained these doctrines; compared with the superficial, incautious, and often unholy and presumptuous manner of too many in the present day. And, if any individual, or a few individuals, should by this publication be induced to employ superior talents and advantages in counteracting these unscriptural and pernicious statements, his labour will be amply compensated.
4. The author desired to make it manifest, that the deviations from the creeds of the reformed churches, in those points which are more properly called Calvinistic, is seldom, for any length of time, kept separate from deviations in those doctrines which are more generally allowed to be essential to vital Christianity. It must, indeed, appear from the history with which the work begins, that the progress is easy, and almost unavoidable, from the controversial opposition to personal election, to the explaining away of original sin, of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, of justification by faith alone, and even of the atonement and deity of Christ: and that the opponents of the Synod of Dort, and the Remonstrants in general, were far more favourable to Pelagians, nay, to Socinians, than to Calvinists; and were almost universally unsound, in what are commonly called orthodox doctrines, and many of them far from conscientious in their conduct. Indeed, it will appear undeniable, that the opposition, made to them by the ContraRemonstrants, was much more decidedly on these grounds, than because they opposed the doctrine of personal election, and the final perseverance of true believers as connected with it.
5. The author purposed also, by means of this publication, to leave behind him, in print, his deliberate judgment on several controverted points. This must otherwise have died with him, or have been published separately,- for which he had no inclination. But he has here grafted it, in the form of notes or remarks, on the several parts of this work; and he trusts he has now done with all controversy.
It is doubtless vain to attempt any thing against many of those opponents, who succeed to each other, with sufficient variety as to the grounds on which they take their stand, and from which they make the assault; but in some respects nearly in the same course of misapprehension or misrepresentation, as to the real sentiments of those whom they undertake to refute. It suffices to say of them, “ Neither can they prove the things “ of which they accuse us :” and to say to them, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy 6 neighbour.” But indeed Calvinists seem to be no more considered as neighbours by many Anticalvinists, than the publicans, Samaritans, and gentiles were by the Scribes and Pharisees !
After all that has been published on these subjects, the groundless charges brought by many against the whole body cannot be considered as excusable misapprehension. They must be attributed either to intentional misrepresentation, to the inexcusable presumption of writing on subjects which the writers have never studied, and against persons, and descriptions of persons, of whose tenets, amidst most abundant means of information, they remain wilfully ignorant. A fair and impartial opponent is entitled to respect, but I can only pity such controvertists.
Aston Sandford, March 15, 1818.
SYNOD OF DORT.
CONTAINING THE HISTORY OF PRECEDING EVENTS ; :
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE TRANSLATOR.
THE TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION.
In perusing the following prefatory history, the reader should especially recollect, that it was drawn up and published by the authority and with the sanction of the States General, and the Prince of Orange, as well as by that of the Synod itself; and that, in every part of it, the acts, or public records in which the events were registered, are referred to, with the exact dates of each transaction. No history can therefore be attested as authentic in a more satisfactory and unexceptionable manner: for, whatever degree of colouring prejudices or partiality may be supposed to have given to the narration, it can hardly be conceived, that collective bodies, and individuals filling such conspicuous and exalted stations, would expressly attest any thing directly false ; and then appeal to authorities, by which the falsehood of their statement might at any time be detected and exposed. It should also be remembered, that preju