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'nounced every individual of the human race to 'be guilty of sin, that the promise of justification ' and life through faith in Christ might extend to all, both Jews and gentiles, who shall comply 'with the condition of sincerely believing in his ' name.'1
This accords for substance to our views, and indeed establishes the grand doctrine for which we would contend; though we might in a few particulars not choose to adopt exactly the language employed.
This doing must be undeviating obedience, ' &c.' Does not this passage fully coincide with all that sober Calvinists advance, concerning an impossible law ?2 I would also intreat the reader to bear in mind the expression, who shall comply ' with the condition of sincerely believing in his 'name' for, if the faith which justifies must be 'sincere,' much of the reasoning on our not being continued in a justified state by faith, falls to the ground of course. 3
'Irenæus, lib. i. cap. 20, says, that Simon Magus, mentioned in the Acts, c. viii. taught, that men were saved according to his grace, and not according to just works;' (Transl.) which is a 'clear proof how early the doctrine of justification by faith was corrupted, and that salvation by grace without good works was considered as an 'heretical doctrine. Irenæus lived in the second century, and his authority cannot be questioned.
1 Ref. 113, 114.
Book I. c. ii. § 5. On Impossibility. 3 Ref. 130, 138.
This corruption is the more remarkable, as St. 'Paul seems to have guarded against it.'1
No sober man will deny, or can doubt, that St. Paul and all the apostles entered most solemn protests against the error, as congenial to the corrupt nature of man, as it is contradictory to the true spirit of Christianity, 2 that any man can be finally saved by grace through faith without good works:3 and I would plead for no Calvinist, or evangelical minister, so called, who does not unite in this solemn protest, decidedly and frequently. Indeed we may well conclude that to be the apostolical doctrine, against which the same objections are advanced as were made against the doctrine of St. Paul; of which the same perversion is made by men of corrupt minds, as of his doctrine; and which produces the same holy fruits in all who truly believe, as those manifested in the lives of the primitive Christians.
But the testimony of Irenæus concerning Simon Magus is, I apprehend, not in the least to the point.
'He (Irenæus) says, that one of the doctrines ' of Simon Magus was, that those who trust in him ' and his Helena should have no further care, and 'that they are free to do what they like; for that 'men are saved according to his grace, but not ' according to just works.'4
Those who trust in him and his Helena-are 'saved by his grace; that is, by the grace of Simon Magus! not by the grace of God, or of
Ref. 117, Note.
" Eph. ii. 8, 10.
* Rom. vi. 1, 15. iii. 8.
4 Ref. 515.
Christ.-Simon Magus is the only masculine antecedent; and this was clearly the meaning of Irenæus. It is indeed next to incredible that any man should openly avow such presumptuous and pestilent blasphemies: but it is almost equally incredible that any one should invent them if he did not.
This man (Simon) was glorified by many as god; and taught that it was he himself, who in'deed appeared among the Jews as the Son; but ' in Samaria, descended as the Father; and came 'to the other nations as the Holy Spirit. But that "he was the sublimest virtue, that is, the Father, "who is above all things; and he endured to be called, whatever men call him' (or God). This person ded about with him a certain woman called Helena; one who hired out herself for 'gain, (quæstuariam,) whom he himself had re' deemed from Tyre, a city of Phœnicia; saying, 'that she was the first conception of his mind, "the mother of all, by whom, in the beginning, 'he conceived in his mind to make angels and ' archangels.' 1
Irenæus might well consider Simon Magus's doctrine as heretical and abominable: but that any man of learning, and of a serious mind, should venture the assertion, that Calvinists accede to this heresy, to Simon Magus's heresy, about faith in him and his Helena, is most extraordinary, and might seem almost as incredible, as the things recorded concerning this wretched man.
The quotations which have been produced in the three preceding chapters, from the writings ' of the ancient fathers, and from the works of Calvin, not only prove that the peculiar tenets of Calvinism are in direct opposition to the doctrines maintained in the primitive church of 'Christ, but they also shew that there is a great similarity between the Calvinistic system and 'the earliest heresies. The assertion of Simon Magus, who is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, and called by ecclesiastical historians 'the first Christian heretic, that "men are saved according to his grace, and not according to just 'works," contains in it the essence of Calvinism; and it clearly appears that Irenæus considered 'this as an heretical opinion.'1
"The original of this train of heretics' (Valentinus, Basilides, Saturninus, the Manichees, and others) is to be fetched from Simon Magus, whose 'assertion was, that Christ had neither come, nor 'suffered any thing of the Jews. Wherefore, mak'ing himself the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, he 'affirmed that he had appeared only in shew, (putativè,) in the person of the Son, and so that ' he had suffered as the Son among the Jews; that ' in truth he suffered not, but in appearance only. -Now what Simon Magus said of himself when he made himself the Son, those who followed 'said of Christ.' 2 That is, they said that Christ did not suffer in reality, but in appearance only. Hence it is manifest that Simon meant, that men ' are saved by his grace, and not according to just
2 Bp. Pearson.
'works.' He was the Messiah, by whose grace, and that of his Helena, men must be saved! and might be saved, if they trusted in them, however wicked they had been, and still continued!
As to this charge against Calvinists, I do not at all think that all the authority, and learning, and rank of any man, or any number of men, on earth, will ever influence one reflecting person to regard it as entitled to the least credit, or even to much notice; so that a formal confutation of it is quite superfluous.
Many of the ancients, and among them Augustine, think that the Epistle of James, and the First of John, and that of Jude, and that which ' is called the Second of Peter, were written against
those, who, corruptly interpreting Paul's epistles, 'said that faith without good works was sufficient 'for salvation.'1
There can be no doubt but many things in these epistles were written against the sentiments here mentioned; whether the persons who held them inferred them from a perverse interpretation of St. Paul's epistles, or not.
'St. James uses the word faith, not in the sense ' in which it was used by St. Paul when speaking ' of justification, but in the sense in which it was ' used by those whose opinions he is combating, namely, bare belief, without producing inward purity or practical obedience: this is evident, by 'his attributing the faith, of which he is speaking,