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any man so erroneous that he maintained no one truth? Must that one truth be rejected because he held it? Does his Lordship hold no tenet in common with Calvin? And, if he does, is he bound on that account to adopt Calvin's whole creed? or to renounce that one tenet?-But it has at least, the merit of being so far consistent, ' &c.'-So said Dr. Priestley. He stated supralapsarian Calvinism: And,' said he, this is consistent, however absurd: but between this and ' rational religion there is no consistent medium.' It is well-known that Dr. Priestley's rational religion fell much below the ordinary standard of Socinianism, and approximated to Deism. Is there then no medium between supralapsarian Calvinism and Dr. Priestley's rational religion? May we class all who depart from the former among the disciples of Priestley? No, we may not: nor ought we, for the very same reasons, to be charged with holding all the tenets of Calvin. Dr. Priestley's assertion was as good an argument as any other man's assertion; but assertion is not proof. Suppose the consistency, spoken of, does actually exist, must we be condemned for inconsistency? Alas! what writer will, on this ground, escape condemnation? Must we be forced, against our judgment and conscience, to embrace all, if we embrace one doctrine of the system?-His Lordship has ranked various doctrines, which have generally been considered as common to Calvinists and Arminians, among those which he has undertaken to refute and must a man either give up all these doctrines totally, or adopt a supralapsarian Calvinistic creed, without the least reserve; under the charge either of prevarication and hypo
crisy, or of self-deception. What may appear to be consistency, however, is not our object, but truth; which, if we can but attain, we shall not fear being found really inconsistent. Metaphysical speculations are often employed to supply the supposed deficiency of revelation, and to make the system appear consistent. As a metaphysician I may approve the logical conclusion, when, as a theologian, I must add,' It is not a part of revelation, and I must exclude it from my creed, from my public instructions, nay, from my thoughts, as far as possible. For not reason, but revelation, is the standard of truth. "Secret things belong to "God." Not one step dare I proceed, except as the scripture leads the way; and it appears as much an act of submission to the divine teaching, to be willingly ignorant of what God has not revealed, as to receive with the simplicity of a little child what he has revealed.'
'In order to know the mind of the Spirit, the 'communications of the Spirit, and the expression ' of those communications in written language, 'should be consulted. These are the only data upon which the inquiry should be instituted. But, no: instead of learning the designs and 'character of the Almighty from his own mouth, 'we sit in judgment upon them; and make our 'conjectures of what they should be take the precedency of what they are. What thinkest thou?' is made the principle of their creed,'Let the principle of 'What thinkest thou?' be exploded; and that of 'What readest thou? be 'substituted in its place.'-Who can avoid, in this 'connexion recollecting the frequent recurrence
in the New Testament of the question "What "readest thou?" "Have ye not read?"&c. Man must learn the truth, as it comes from God, by reading, understanding, and believing the word of God; and not by abstract reasoning and speculation.
'As there is a foolish wisdom, so there is a wise 'ignorance, in not prying into God's ark, nor inquiring into things not revealed. I would know ' all that I need, and all that I may; but I leave 'God's secrets to himself. It is happy for me, if 'God makes me of his court, though not of his 'council.'-It is obvious enough for each party to' suspect,' that those of the other party 'deceive 'themselves:' but it would be more salutary to suspect ourselves, and to pray earnestly to God to preserve us from the fatal effects of our disposition to" trust in our own hearts," "which are deceit❝ful above all things and desperately wicked." It is equally natural to charge one another with 'pride and self-complacency:' but God alone is able to determine on which side pride and selfpreference most predominate; and with him we leave our cause.-If some of us have not a com'plete view of our own system,' it must be owing either to natural incapacity, or to some judgment of God in leaving us to be blinded. The author, for one, has studied theological subjects, and the scriptures especially, (he trusts he may say without arrogance,) most indefatigably, and almost to the entire exclusion of all other subjects and pursuits, for nearly forty years: he has endeavoured to view each part, minutely and separately, and also in conBp. Hall.
nexion with every other part: and he who searches the heart knows, that in all his studies his prayer has constantly been offered to the Giver of all wisdom, to free and purify his intellectual eye from all the darkening effects of prejudices and corrupt passions; and to make him of good understand'ing in the way of godliness. A just and mer'ciful God cannot consign' any part, either greater or smaller, of his rational creatures to inevitable ' and eternal torment,' or to the least degree of punishment, except they deserve it by their sins: and, if they do, he might justly consign the whole to eternal misery: indeed nothing but mercy and grace rescues any of them from it. Provided we use the appointed means, we may expect that our conduct will be guided and governed by divine grace, though it be denied to others, who do not use the appointed means. But, if the special preventing grace of God, which inclined us to use these means, should incline others also, the same divine guidance and assistance will be equally vouchsafed to them.
I shall conclude my remarks on this chapter with the following quotation from Bishop Horsley. 'If ever you should be provoked to take a part in 'these disputes, of all things I entreat you to ' avoid, what is now become very common, acri'monious abuse of Calvinism and of Calvin. Re"member, I beseech you, that some tenderness is due to the errors and extravagancies of a man, ' eminent as he was in his day, for his piety, his wisdom, and his learning; and to whom the reformation, in its beginning, is so much indebted. At least, take especial care, before you
'aim your shafts at Calvinism, that
' what is Calvinism, and what is not; that, in that
mass of doctrine, which it is of late become the 'fashion to abuse under the name of Calvinism,
you can distinguish, with certainty, between 'that part of it, which is nothing better than Calvinism, and that which belongs to our common 'Christianity, and the general faith of the reformed churches: lest, when you mean only to 'fall foul of Calvinism, you should unwarily attack something more sacred, and of a higher origin. 'I must say that I have found a great want of 'discrimination in some late controversial writ'ings on the side of the Church, as they were meant to be, against the Methodists: the au'thors of which have acquired much applause and ' reputation, but with so little real knowledge of their subject, that, give me the principles upon 'which these writers argue, and I will undertake 'to convict, I will not say Arminians only, and "Archbishop Laud; but, upon these principles, I 'will undertake to convict the fathers of the Council of Trent of Calvinism. So closely is a great part of that which is now ignorantly called 'Calvinism interwoven with the very rudiments ' of Christianity. Better were it for the church if 'such apologists would withhold their services. 'Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis.
'But the true lesson to be drawn from the failure ' of such disputants is, that it is not for every one, who may possess somewhat more than the ordinary share of learning, to meddle with these difficult subjects."1
'Bp. Horsley's last charge to the clergy of the diocese of St. Asaph.