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and grammatical meaning, must bear the sense, which some one of the ancient fathers was pleased to put upon it. It is not yet decided, so as to be put beyond all reasonable doubt, whether the doctrines of the gospel were more corrupted by those, subsequent to the apostolick age, whom the church, in after ages, canonized as saints, or those whom it anathematized as hereticks. Origen three hundred years after his death was excommunicated, and Chrysostom, who was condemned, and, I acknowledge, used most scandalously, in his life-time, was received to communion, and canonized, thirty-five years after his death: yet it is not easy to determine which of the two deviated the furthest from the simplicity of apostolick doctrine. Only Origen opened the way, by corrupting christianity with vain philosophy.—I am not attempting to prepare the reader, for a vindication of the doctrines of Calvinism, should it be proved, that they greatly resemble, or fully coincide with, the opinions of the ancient hereticks mentioned in this chapter: but merely to shew. (by his Lordship's own concession,) that as christianity began to be corrupted even in the apos 'tolick age,' subsequent testimonies are of no autho rity; and the appeal must be exclusively made to "the oracles of God." Men speak of antiquity and novelty in respect of doctrines; but we appea! to the Scriptures, as most ancient, and protest against the novelty of all subsequent authors. We do not appeal to Augustine or Calvin, but to the prophets and apostles and why should we not be as able to understand their writings, as the ancient fathers
were: who generally were brought up, either in secular employments, or in heathen philosophy, and who were, by the almost universal consent of learned men, very incompetent criticks and expositors, very illogical reasoners, and very superficial theologians? I cannot but think, that even his Lordship's quotations, (not to say the remarks which have been made on them,) put this matter beyond all doubt, with attentive impartial judges. I shall, however, at present urge the matter no further. The acknowledged early corruption of christianity, even while the apostles were living, is a sufficient answer to the argument deduced, from the proximity of some of these ancient fathers to the apostolick age. Few individuals, when young, had perhaps even seen an apostle; two or three of them, had probably, conversed at least with St. John; that is, when by their youth they were incompetent to enter into the depth of St. John's instructions, much more, many years after, of accurately reporting them; while others had received, by hearsay, traditions concerning the doctrine of the apostles. But " To the law and to "the testimony." The " The "testimony of the LORD "is sure, making wise the simple:" and these conversations and traditions, even if more unequivocally authenticated than they are, must be very uncertain and unsatisfactory.
P. DX1. l. 17. "I find, &c." No doubt any one may find this: and, I can also find, in the quota
'I find that some of the first heretics maintained opinions in a bigh degree resembling what are now called Calvinistic doctrines.'
tions, which have been considered, and even in my own remarks on them, opinions, which resemble many doctrines maintained by the papists; and some of these, in a great degree resembling them.' No heretick or papist renounces all truth, by running into error, in some particulars; nor does any heretick or papist spoil the truth, which he retains with his errors: else we must renounce the doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the atonement, and many other essential principles of christianity, as in a high dregree resembling the doctrines held 'by the papists. On the other hand, that man approaches far nearer, in his self-confidence, to infallibility, than any one ought to do; who thinks, that he himself is quite clear of mixing error with the scriptural truths, which he zealously maintains. But if hereticks retained one single truth, and if Calvinists maintain one single error; two distinct cases occur, in which the tenets of both, however opposite in other things, may coincide. As we ought not to renounce the great doctrines of christianity, retained in the church of Rome, and almost buried under the mass of her corruptions: so we must not renounce the doctrines of original sin, regeneration, justification by faith alone, no, not even personal election to eternal life, and the final preservation of every true believer even if it should appear that certain hereticks, and those of the vilest sort, held the same tenets in some particulars. No one will say, that any man ever was so heretical, as not to hold one true doctrine. Must then that one true doctrine be given up by all christians, because such and such
detestable hereticks maintained it? This is a species of argumentation, which ought never to be adopted by any person, who would impartially debate controverted questions. It ought not to be enquired, who did, or who did not, maintain the doctrine; but whether it be, or be not, according to "the oracles "of God." He, who goes off from this ground, shrinks from the enquiry, What hath God said ?' and endeavours to support himself, either against "the oracles of God," or independently of them: by claiming credit from human authority; or by loading his opponent with odium, from coincidence, real or supposed, with reprobated characters.-If a protestant, so called, avow those doctrines, in which popery essentially consists, he may justly be classed with papists: and if Calvinists maintain those tenets, in which the heresy of the proscribed hereticks con sisted, let them be proscribed along with them: but not so, if either the one, or the other, agree in those things, in which the essence of popery or heresy does not consist. No one, in the least degree conversant with ecclesiastical history, even in the earlier. times, much more in subsequent ages, can doubt; but that, when any man, of influence and authority, or learning and eloquence, chose to render his competitor or opponent odious, and to persecute him even unto death; either from personal resentment, or the odium theologicum: he had little to do but to call him by the name of some reprobated heretick; ; and he would soon be hunted out of the world, as not fit to live. The fable of the man and the lion, in those days when beasts could converse and reason Oo
is well known. Had lions been painters, instead of men, it would not have been so common, for pictures to represent men victorious over lions: and if the writings of the hereticks, had not been destroyed by those, who called themselves orthodox; (as confident a name at least, as evangelical clergy;) we might have had a very different history of the church. But almost all our information, concerning hereticks, is from their avowed opposers and persecutors; and if all the information, which may reach posterity, concerning the Calvinists, should be derived from their opposers; (though not direct persecutors ;) what dreadful ideas would our descendants form of us! I speak not this, in exculpation of ancient hereticks, especially of those, whom his Lordship thinks we greatly resemble: but to shew, that we must abide, exclusively, by the oracles of God; and the ministers of the establishment, as such, must be judged by our authorized books,
P. DXII, DXIII. I must refer the reader to the Refutation itself, for the quotation of these pages, which contains, as far as I can judge, an unintelligible jargon. Thus far I can find no one shade of resemblance, between the sentiments of the Valentinians, and the tenets of Calvinism; and I have some hope, the reader will give me credit, that if I did, I would adduce it. We read indeed,' They affirm, * that they themselves shall be entirely and com
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