« VorigeDoorgaan »
mianism? It would be difficult to bring an answer which would prove satisfactory to such a vehement opposer of Calvinism, as Heylin : but to all moderate men, the objection has already been sufficiently refuted.
P. Dlxix. 1. 19. · Calvinism, &c.”? Why may not the opinions of Calvin be in part scriptural, and in part unscriptural; as well as those of any other uninspired man? Who conferred this most extraordinary prerogative on him, above all other men in any age or nation ? No uninspired man can be supposed infallible; and if fallible, he may err, and why must his whole system fall to
I'Calvinism, in reality, will not bear defalcation, or admit of partial adoption. It has at least the merit of being so far consistent with itself. Its peculiar doctrines, considered as a
system, are so connected and dependent upon each other, that if you embrace one, you must embrace all; and if the falsehood of one part of the system be proved, the whole falls to
the ground. I cannot but suspect that many Calvinists deceive ' themselves more than they deceive others. They seem not
to take a complete view of their own system. They contem• plate certain parts, and keep others entirely out of sight. They • dwell with pride and satisfaction upon the idea, that they them• selves are of that small number whom God has predestinated
to salvation, without reflecting that it is incompatible with the
character of an infinitely just and merciful Being, to consign ' the far greater part of his rational creatures to inevitable and · eternal torment. They flatter themselves that their own con'duct is governed by divine grace, though it may be denied to
others, who have an equal claim to the favour of their Maker.
They cherish the persuasion, that the infallible guidance of the ? Spirit will ultimately lead them to heaven, though they may
occasionally sin, without considering that irresistible grace must
be equally inconsistent with human freedom, and with the violin • tion of the commands of God.'
the ground, if the falshood of some things be admitted ? And why are
inhibited from distinguishing between his errors, and his well grounded opinions ? What evidence from Scripture, from reason, from common sense, can be adduced in support of this assertion? Was ever 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 truth ?-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 ordi. nary 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, on this ground, will escape condemnation ? Must we be forced, against our judgement and conscience, to embrace all, if we embrace
one doctrine of the system:--His Lordship has ranked
various doctrines, which have generally been con* șidered, 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 aclopt a supralapsarian Calvinistick creed, without the least reserye; under the charge either of prevarication and hypocrisy, or self deception Consistency howeyer is not our object, but truth. Me
taphysical speculations are often employed, to supply · the supposed deficiency of revelation, and to make
the system consistent. As a metaphysician I may approve the logical conclusion; when, aș a theologian, I must add, . It is not a part of revelation, and I
must exclude it from my creed, from my publick instructions, pay, from my thoughts, as far as possible. For not season, but revelation, is the
standard of truth, “ Secret things belong to God." * Not one step dare I proceed, except as the Scrip'ture leads the way, and it appears as much an act ‘of submission to the divine teaching, to be will
ingly ignorant of what God has not sevealed, as ' to receive with the simplicity of a little child what - he has revealed. As there is a foolish wisdon,
so there is a wise ignorance, in not prying into • God's ark, nor enquiring 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 deceitful 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 self-preference most predominate; and with him we leave our cause. If some of us ' have not a complete 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 to almost the entire exclusion of all other subjects and pursuits, for more than thirtyfive years: He has endeavoured to view each part, minutely, separately, and in connexion 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 understanding in the way of godliness. - A just and merciful God cannot consign any part, either greater or sinaller, 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. As no sinner has any claim to the favour of his Maker, but “ God “ has mercy on whom he will have mercy.”—If 'none are guided to heaven, who sin occasionally :' the apostles, who acknowledged, that “in many
things we offend all,” have not been guided thither, (I suppose, however, it is meant, who take occasion to sin, encouraged by their principles,) and none, who sin habitually, and impenitently, will reach the mansions of blessedness, whether Calvinists or Anticalvinists.
I have already produced some extracts from one of our bishops, who lived in the seventeenth century;
shewing, that he thought some things tenable, and 3
others untenable, in the system commonly called Calvinism: and I shall conclude these remarks on this. chapter, by some quotations from a more modern bishop, to the same effect. 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, acrimonious abuse of Calo vinism and of Calvin. Remember, I beseech you • that some tenderness is due to the errors and ex