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held exhibited in as regular columns, as regiments drawn up for a review, no fewer than eight of them. Upon the right flank stood Calvinism duly uniformed, and on the left Deism in full dress, proceeding from right to left along the line. I perceived in formidable array stood Hopkinsianism, Universalism, Arminianism, Arianism, Sabellianism and Socinianism. Turning next to the forepart of your book, four other columns appeared. At the head of the first stood the venerable Calvin himself, The second was formed by his allies or disciples; such as Witsius, Beza, &c. and supported by multiplied references to numerous creeds, confessions and catechisms. The third was headed by Hopkins, seated in "divinity chair," as leader of a sect. And in the last column, as his genuine disciples, appeared Emmons, Spring, Weeks, &c.
Without designing to derogate in any wise from the true merit or deserved reputation of any of the forementioned celebrated reformers and divines, or from the credit of their respective systems, I could not on reviewing this "assemblage" of names, creeds and sectarian "Isms," but regret the imbecile propensity in human nature, so servilely to bow down to the dictation of dogmatical sect leaders; subjecting themselves thereby to oppressive yokes, and to the egregious folly of turning from the pure streams of scriptural instruction, to the sinks of human errours and corruptions. Nor could I refrain from contrasting with submission so abject, the more noble conduct of the Bereans, who judiciously made the scriptures alone, the test of truth and errour,
Instead then of making Calvinism or Anticalvinism, in whatever shape or under whatever name they may appear, the test of what we are to believe or to reject, would it not, Sir, be more wise to adopt the Holy Scriptures, as the only infallible criterion of faith and practice? And instead of enlisting under the banner of John Calvin, Samuel Hopkins, James Arminius, or of any other sectarian chieftain of ancient or of modern times, to become only the followers of that teacher, whose disciples were first called christians at Antioch?
By classing Hopkinsianism, Arminianism, and other "Isms," in the ranks of Heresy, you have thrown the Gauntlet and invited to a combat on controversial ground. By adducing Calvinism as the true test of christian doctrines, you have given your opponents a decided advantage over you; as they must all consider the Holy Scriptures to be the only true test-and your substitution of Calvinism therefor, as an unequivocal and very unhappy departure from orthodox christianity. Controversial discussions on religious subjects are by many devout persons deplored and deprecated. That you judge very differently, is manifest from your Contrast. And so far as respects simply the question of the expediency of controversy on religious subjects, you undoubtedly have better authorities on your side, than can possibly be adduced against you.
Christ himself was a triumphant controversialist, when with resistless argument he assailed the strong holds of errour to the conviction or confusion of disputatious Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. His divinely
inspired apostles, having "A mouth and wisdom given them, which their adversaries were unable to gamsay
or resist," nobly maintained the
truths of the gospel
And when the gross
against the errours of the world. errours of Papal superstition and domination had through ages blinded, corrupted and oppressed the christian church through a great portion of the world, the instruments of reformation were principally the efforts of Wickliff, Luther, Calvin, Zuingle, and of other controversial champions. Truth is never obscured, but brightens beneath the test of strict investigation. It is errour only, that shrinks from, and suffers by scrutinizing research. Well timed and well conducted controversy, hath on its side the enhancing interests of truth, the example of illustrious reformers, the approving and prospering sanctions of Divine Providence, the faithful and successful efforts of Apostles, the illuminating and exciting influence of the Holy Spirit, and the hallowed example of that Teacher, who in due time shall ascend the judgment throne, and thence award to true and to false teachers, and to every man, according as his works shall be. It is not therefore controversy itself that should be deplored or deprecated, but its abuse. It is the interference of party zeal, of an uncandid disposition, and of malignant passions that should be denounced. Controversy, guided by knowledge, accompanied by candour, governed by truth, and sweetened by love and good will, becomes innocent as the Lamb-gentle as the Dove, industrious as the Ant, penetrating as the eye of the Eagle, and luminous as the meridian sun.
Such, sir, should be the controversy deemed admissible, amongst men professing the religion of that divine master, who declared that those who were not against him were for him, who never tolerated persecution, nor gave countenance to railing accusations, and who never authorized his disciples to class all those who might in some respects not "follow them," as holding rank only, with hereticks.
On some particulars of Calvinism and of Hopkinsianism, I will animadvert in my next.
WHEN the elevation and weight of character, the talents, and fervent piety of ministers denominated Calvinists are duly appreciated: When the memories of the pious dead of this denomination are with veneration recollected, and its living luminaries duly respected and esteemed; it is not without some unpleasant feelings of regret, that a publick avowal of dissent can be made, from some opinions tenaciously maintained by a denomination deserving of honour and esteem. But where duty appears imperiously to command, obedience must implicitly be yielded.
As preparatory to discussions involving Hopkinsian and Calvinistick principles, I have here to observe ; 1st. That when hereafter Calvinism shall be named or implied, no other doctrines will thereby be intended, but only such as are comprized within the appellation, The five points of Calvinism.
2d. That by Hopkinsianism only will be meant the peculiarities of that system, whereby it stands distinguished from Calvinism, and from the tenets of other religious denominations.
And lastly, that as quotations will frequently be made from your Contrast, I shall, to save time, omit page, chapter and section: but when from other books, due reference will be made to page and author.
"GOD was the author, origin and positive cause of "Adams' sin." (Hopkins.) "By immediately acting "on the heart with energy, to produce the volition, "God produces every sinful act; and in this manner, "from the beginning to the end of life does God rep"robate every sinner who is lost." (Emmons.)
Unable to express my unqualified dissent from this tenet, in better terms than is done by two of your venerable friends, permit me, Sir, to adopt theirs.
"To say that the Spirit from the Lord, which in"fluenced Saul and others, was the Holy Ghost, is "blasphemy." (Calvin.)
"To make God the author of sin, is such dreadful "blasphemy, that the thought, cannot without hor"rour, be entertained by any christian." (Witsius.)
But this tenet, to be seen in all its unrighteous deformities, requires that we follow it up in its legitimate consequences. For in strict agreement with this doctrine, we must contemplate the Infinitely Blessed God, as Almighty Creator, erasing his own image from the heart and mind of Adam and Eve, and in its place inscribing on both the image of Satan, in pro