juxta quod omnes in Christum credentes remiffionem peccatoruin & vitam æternam reipsâ confequantur.” III.“ In ecclesia, uti juxta hoc promissum evangelicum falus omnibus offertur, ea eft administratio gratiæ suæ, quæ fufficit ad convincendum omnes impænitentes & incredulos, quod sua culpa voluntaria, vel neglectu, vel contemptu evangelii perierint, & beneficia oblata amiserint.”

great severity

These are opinions very different from yours, and plainly affert universal redemption and freeagency. It was indeed in a great measure owing to the heats and violence, with which matters were carried in that synod, and the of the horrible decrees there framed, that our English Divines, who attended that fynod, began to have less reverence for the doctrines of Calvin. Thus it fared with the learned Mr. Hales, who went thither a rigid Calvinist: “ but there I bid Jobn Calvin good night,” said he to his friend Mr. Farindon a. And Bishop Hall, one of these Divines, published afterwards a small piece entitled, via media, “ the way


peace in these five busy articles, commonly known by the name of Arminius.Here he endeavours to reconcile both parties by setting forth such propositions, as he thought both might agree in; and tells us that the Church of England, in her articles, goes a mid-way betwixt both. Among these propofitions (though I cannot subscribe to all of

a Mr. Farindan's letter prefixed to his Golden Remains.“


them) there are these following; viz. “God does
neither actually damn, or appoint any soul to dam-
nation, without the confideration and respect of
fin.” “God pitying the woful condition of man,
fallen by his free-will into fin and perdition, fent
his own Son that he should give himself a ransom
for the fins of the whole world."
upon the will, God does not overthrow the nature
of the will, but causech it to work after its own na-
tive manner, freely and willingly." So much for
the famous fynod of Dort !

“ In working


You had better have forborne to put us in mind of what passed in the succeeding reigns, or to have made mention of THAT HONOURABLE House of Commons. I desire you to consider what faction it was, which then prevailed towards the overthrow of the Church. Was it not that of the Puritans? And were not the doctrines of Calvinism their leading principles ? Did they not hold these very tenets of election, absolute predestination &c. which you so warmly espoufe ? These were the men who cried out, à The Church, The Church,--the Temple of the Lord are we; who called themselves "" the elect people of God,” “ his sheep,” “his chosen, " " his faints;" who fancied themselves acting under the influences of the spirit, and guided by his inspiration : and under this persuasion

broke out into creason and rebellion, murdered the best

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

a P. 73.


of Kings, and overthrew our excellent couftitution both in church and state. The doctrines which you would father upon Cranmer and Ridley were really those of Prynn, Hugh Peters, Marshall, Owen, and others, who composed the assembly of Divines, “ most of whom were (according to my Lord Clarendon 3) declared and avowed enemies to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England; some of them infamous in their lives and conversations; and most of them of very mean parts in learning, if not of scandalous ignorance, and of no other reputation than of malice to the Church of England."

We come now to the articles of religion. With regard to them, I would observe in general that they were drawn up with great moderation, and those in particular which treat of these difficult points of free-will &c. were purposely worded in general terms, that persons who were of different perswasions in several particulars relating to them might yet agree in the general doctrines there delivered. They went (as Bishop Hall observes) a mid-way between both, guarding against the extremities on each side ; on one hand condemning the Papists, who ascribed a merit to good works, and on the other the Antinomians, who denied the necessity of them. We have an instance of the like moderation in the 23d article, which teaches that

a Hift. Reb. vol. 1. b. 5. p. 415.

it is not lawful for any man to take upon himfelf the office of publick preaching or ministering the facraments in the congregation before he be lawfully called;” and that “ those we ought to judge lawfully called, which be chosen and called to this work, by men who have publick authority given them in the congregation to call and send minifters into the Lord's vineyard.” Who these men are is not here determined. The compilers were not willing to condemn or unchurch the reformed churches abroad, where episcopacy was not established, and therefore prudently avoided determining the question, whether episcopal ordination is neceffary. Those who hold, and those who deny the necessity of episcopal ordination, may both subscribe to this article: those only are condemned by it, who hold that a man may preach without any lawful vocation. The same moderation the compilers of our articles have observed in the points before us. The Protestant churches abroad were divided in these points : some held with Luther, and some with Calvin. Cranmer and Ridley therefore, and the other compilers of our articles, expressed them purposely in general terms, so as to include all moderate men on both sides, and condemn only the extremities on either.

But we are told that “ a these articles were drawn up on purpose to prevent diversity of opinions, and

a P. 32,



therefore the compilers of them were particularly careful to avoid the possibility of an ambiguous expresion.” The very fame objections were fome time ago made by Dr. Clarke, and have been lately renewed by the author of the Confessional, and have received a sufficient answer both from Dr. Waterland and the Letter-writer a. “ The compilers could only mean diversity of opinions about opinions expressed and decided in the articles, and not about others.”

[ocr errors]

The same Letter-writer distinguishes between general propositions and ambiguous or equivocal ones ; and so did Dr. Waterland before him b. “ It is not fairly suggested (says that excellent writer) that when men of different sentiments, as to particular explications, subscribe to the same general words, that they subscribe in contradictory, or even in different senses. Both subscribe to the same general propositions, and both in the same fense, only they differ in the particulars relating to it: which is not differing, (at least it need not be) abour the sense of the article, but about particulars not contained in the article." His meaning may be illustrated by the following instance: We all sub'fcribe to this proposition, viz. Subjects ought to be obedient to their lawful fovereign ; though we may differ about the motives of thatobedience, and the authority on which it is founded; fome

a Letter 2d, p. 136.
b Case of Arian subscription, p. 40.


« VorigeDoorgaan »