« السابقةمتابعة »
comply with this invitation, but that this grace may be resisted and rendered ineffectual by the sinner's perversity. Whether true believers necessarily persevered, or whether they might fall from "be damned." Christian ministers are commanded to propose the Gospel in its glorious plenitude, and with the meekness and perseverance of Christ himself, "to every creature," as an appointed merciful test of that creature's obedience or dis. obedience to the Heavenly Calling: And that this test is not a mockery with respect even to those who finally neglect or despise the Divine Invitation, is clearly proved, both by the tender expostulations of Christ with those who rejected his proffered benefits, and by many equally striking passages in the Old and New Testaments. (See pages 127, 128.) To this use of the Gospel, as a DIVINELYAPPOINTED TEST to all moral agents, to whom "its sound is gone forth," St. Paul adverts, when he informs the Romans, (xvi, 26,) that the Gospel is now, "according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." He speaks in a similar strain at the commencement of the same epistle, (i, 5,) "By the Son of God we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations," &c. immediately subjoins the purpose for which this grace and faith are bestowed: "Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ, beloved of God, called to be saints." When attention is paid to this calling, God "giveth more grace" His promise is, "To him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundantly." After this manner "his Divine Power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature," &c. (2 Pet. i, 4.)
But on this subject, the following remarks, from John GOODWIN's Agree ment and Distance of Brethren, are exceedingly appropriate: "We are not able, to conceive how the Gospel can with simplicity, truth, and clearness of sense and notion, be preached unto every creature under heaven, in this or any like tenor of words, If thou believest, thou shalt be saved, unless it be granted and supposed, that Christ died for all and every man, or in case it should be said to any man for whom Christ did not die, If thou believest, thou shalt be saved: Such a saying cannot be justified, nor avouched for truth; because where a commodity is not, it cannot be had upon any condition or terms whatsoever. Now certain it is, that there is no salvation in Christ for any man, but only for those for whom he died. Therefore, to encourage such a man to believe, for whom Christ died not, by saying unto him, that, in case he believes, he shall be saved,-is but to feed him with ashes, or to make him glad with lies. For how should such a man be saved, yea, though he should believe, for whom there was no salvation purchased by Christ; especially considering that his believing in Christ would not invest Christ with any more salvation, than was in him before, and, consequently, whether he believed or no? The Synod of Dort itself, in some of its members, saw and acknowledged the con vincing force of this argument; though their heart, it seemeth, served them not to displease their company for the truth's sake.-We judge, that our brethren's doctrine, asserting that Christ died only for those few who will, in conclusion, be actually saved,' will not abide the touch of that golden touch-stone of doctrines, the description of the Gospel, delivered by the Apostle, 1 Tim. vi, 3, [the doctrine which is according to godliness.'] If a minister of the Gospel should go and preach this doctrine to a numerous auditory of souls, that God "hath given his Son Jesus Christ to die for the salvation only of a small handful of men and women in the world (comparatively,) and that none of them who were now before him had any certainty, that they or any of them were of this "number; yea, and that the best amongst men had very little ground to hope or think, that he should be one of these few, and that the rest of mankind, let them do the best that they are able, shall, notwithstanding, be certainly damned;' (for all this is nothing but the evident and express import of our brethren's doctrine :)
their faith, and forfeit their state of grace, was a question which Arminius left unresolved,* but which was soon determined by his followers in this additional proposition, that saints may fall from the state of grace in which they are placed by the operation of the Holy Spirit. This, indeed, seems to follow as a corollary, from what Arminius maintained respecting the natural freedom and corruption of the will, and the resistibility of divine grace.
"In this way, the Arminians suppose that they get free of all the absurdities and dangerous consequences which they allege to be involved in the Calvinistic scheme; and, at the same time, detract nothing from the freeness and sovereignty of divine grace that can be reasonably considered as essential to them. Whether must not such a message as this, being believed, directly cause a fearful despon dency of heart and soul, a general hanging down of hands amongst them, a quenching of all desires, and consequently of all endeavours, either to apply themselves to the means of believing, or to the exercising of themselves unto godliness in one kind or other? Or doth such a doctrine as this any ways agree with that declaration which the Angel made concerning the Gospel unto the shepherds Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all people.'-We judge that Christ died for all those who stand bound to believe, or to depend on him for salvation. Because God is never found to encourage, exhort, or call men unto, but constantly to dissuade and take men off from, vain dependencies, and from trusting in those, whether persons or things, which are not able or like to help them. Instances hereof, we are able, if need were, to produce very many. Now that all men without exception, considered as men, stand bound to believe, or to depend on Christ for salvation, is to us out of question. There fore, we cannot but judge that he died for all men. That doctrine which directly tends to separate and divide between the creature and the Creator, blessed for ever, or to create and raise jealousies and hard thoughts in the former against the latter, cannot be evangelical, nor consonant to the Truth, which is according to godliness: But such we judge our brethren's doctrine clearly to be, which denieth Christ's dying for all men without exception."
• That Arminius did not leave this question "unresolved," will be seen in a succeeding page, (156,) and is further confirmed by a note in his Works, vol. i, p. 601. The reason why he did not express his thoughts so fully on this Point, as on the other Four in the Calvinistic controversy, will be found in his reluctance to deliver any decisive opinion on subjects which he had not fully investigated. There are difficulties in it, which are not apparent at first sight to a cursory observer; and if Arminius had entirely co-incided with the moderate Calvinists on this point, he would only have imitated some of the staunchest of the early English Arminians, who believed in the Final Perseverance of the Saints in the sense which the Calvinists attach to this phrase. In this, however, as well as in other articles of his creed, he gave sufficient proof of the venerable guides whom he followed, on all topics about which he felt the least hesitation: These were the Ancient Fathers of the Church, whose "concurrent testimony" or 66 general consent," in the purest ages of Christianity, was, to him and to all our great Protestant Reformers, a safe but not an infallible rule for the interpretation of the doctrines of Scripture. Had he not been cut off at an immature age, he would have favoured the world with his chaste and scriptural views of this interesting subject.
The admission in this paragraph, which truth has extorted, is exceedingly important. The Arminians undoubtedly "succeed in their views to all the extent" which they desire, when "they get free of all the absurdities and dangerous con
they succeed in these views to all the extent they imagine, may be justly disputed. But they certainly take away something of that harsh and forbidding aspect, with which Calvinism, in its broad undisguised form, seems to cloud the religion of mercy and benevolence.
"It may now be proper to mention some tenets with regard to which Arminianism has been much misrepresented. If a man hold that good works are necessary to justification;* if he main
sequences which they allege to be involved in the Calvinistic scheme," the sole object contemplated by Arminius when he opposed the desecrating dogmas of the Genevan Reformer and of his more incautious successors. That some who call themselves ARMINIANS are Arminiores Arminio, is as true, in fact, as that there are some among their opponents who are more Calvinistic than Calvin himself? Men of this class may perhaps be too sanguine in "imagining," that Arminian ism solves ALL the difficulties of Divine Revelation or Providence, a result to which, it has already been shewn, (page xi,) it makes no pretensions.
It has been granted in a preceding paragraph, (page xx,)" that Arminianism does not deserve to be reprobated as wholly inimical to the grace and glory of the Gospel." In the notes to the Works of Arminius, (vol. i, pp. 593-636,) I have adduced copious proofs of the fact, that Arminianism ascribes far greater efficiency and strength to Divine Grace, from its commencement to its consummation, than Calvinism does; and that the latter scheme, though in general very scriptural in its description of the immediate visible effects of Grace in Conversion, "allows this holy principle to be afterwards so inoperative in the elect, as to suffer them to serve the law of God only with one part, with that which is regenerate,' and to serve the law of sin with the other part, with that which remaineth of corruption.' This doctrine beats down the legitimate aspirings of Divine Grace after a holy conformity to God, and to controvert and explain away the positive commands of God our Saviour concerning personal sanctity."
"The Arminians suppose," therefore, with great justice, in the words of this liberal Encyclopædist," that they detract nothing from the freeness and sovereignty of Divine Grace that can be reasonably considered as essential to them :' And it is no slight additional praise, if, in the words of the same author," they take away something of that harsh and forbidding aspect with which Calvinism seems to cloud the religion of mercy and benevolence."
The following quotation from Dr. COPLESTONE's Enquiry into the Doctrines of Necessity and Predestination, exhibits in a favourable view the tenets of the early Arminians on this point:
"Man cannot bear to be told that his nature is a corrupt, a fallen, and a sinful nature: That the carnal, or in other words, the natural mind is at emnity with God: That if he seeks to be reconciled with God, he must seek it alone through the merits of a Redeemer. To Him, not to his own doings, however diligently he may labour in the regulation of his own mind, or in the service of his fellowcreatures, to his Saviour he must refer the whole merit and the whole efficacy of his salvation. That Saviour hath said, that he came to seek and save them that were lost. And every man who would be his disciple, let him be the wisest and most virtuous of men, must believe that he himself was one of those lost creatures whom Christ came to save. He must not only acknowledge with his lips, but in his heart he must feel, that in the sight of God his best deeds are nothing worththat however they may tend, as they certainly will tend, to make him happier upon earth, they have no power whatever to raise him to heaven.
"Nay, more than this, if he trust to himself, if he indulge himself in setting a value before God upon any thing that he does, these very deeds will be the instrumental cause of his ruin: They will lead him from that gate through which
tain that faith includes good works in its own nature; if he reject the doctrine of original sin; if he deny that divine grace
alone he can enter, and will carry him farther and farther in a wrong direction. His good works will never bring him to Christ, but if he lay hold on Christ in sincerity of faith, He will easily and quickly bring him to good works. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is emphatically called the door of the kingdom of heaven. No man cometh to the Father but by Him. If then there be in any man's breast a secret longing after self-righteousness if there be a dispo sition, however faint, to justify himself by his own performance any lurking conceit that he, being so much better than others, stands less in need of that atoning merit than the worst of his fellow-creatures, let not such an one think that he will receive any thing from the Lord. He may, perhaps, upon examina tion find, that he has exercised himself in doing what he thinks his duty-that he has abstained from excess-that he has dealt justly, and worked diligently for the good of mankind-that he has even practised many of those virtues which are most truly Christian--that he has been kind, patient, humble, charitable, meek, forgiving—yet if his heart be a stranger to God, giving its affections not to things above, but to things on the earth, if he suffer it to plead any one of these services as entitled to reward from God, or as fit even to bear his inspection, he is still in his sins he will be left to wander on according to his own wayward fancies, and will never find the gate of salvation.
"In thus turning from the lying vanities of self-righteousness to the true and living God, he must not flatter himself that the change is his own work. He must not take credit to himself for the victory, but must give God the praise for having called him out of darkness into his marvellous light. 'No man cometh 'to me,' said our Lord, except my Father draw him.' 6 To God then be our thanks and praise rendered, as the giver not only of our natural, but of our spiritual life. He is, as our Church often confesses, the Author of all godliness. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth. It is God that worketh in ⚫ us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' His grace brought us to the knowledge of the truth, and unless we resist or neglect his gracious influence, in spite of all the powers of darkness, his grace will preserve us in it.
"Here then we may seem to have arrived at a point where the difficulties of the Christian pilgrimage are to end. And here, if we accept the Calvinistic doctrine of indefectible grace and final perseverance, they do end. But how contrary is this not only to the natural light of reason which God has implanted in us, but to the whole tenor and complexion of the Christian doctrines as revealed by our Lord and as inculcated by the Apostles ?
"Does not our blessed Lord himself, in his character of Son of Man, express all that feeling of uncertainty about the faith of his followers, which is so natural to the human heart, and so descriptive of the contingency of what is to come? "Simon, Simon, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.'
"Or again, if we pursue the whole train of St. Paul's reasoning, or of any one of the Apostles, shall we not find the same anxiety for the future, both in the case of themselves individually, and of those whom they address, which indicates the still undetermined nature of their spiritual condition? 'Be not high-minded,
but fear.-Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. If he draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.-If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die. I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any ' means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.'
"It is, in this point of view, that the Calvinistic doctrine appears to be most dangerous, and most at variance with the example of Apostolical teaching. They continually represent election in Christ as a reason why the true Christian is zealous of good works. Undoubtedly it is a reason, and a powerful one-but the Apostles
is requisite for the whole work of sanctification; if he speak of human virtue as meritorious in the sight of God; it is very gene
take pains to represent it as a reason not why he is so, but why he ought to be. Put on therefore,' says St. Paul to the Colossians,put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, 'long-suffering.'
To these monstrous doctrines, with which Arminianism has been often branded, the writer might have added, "the great antipathy, evinced by many members of "the Church of England, against the bare mention of the abiding and comfortable influence of the Holy Spirit, though such scriptural indwelling and consolation "are recognized in every portion of the public formularies of the Church, and "especially in her Seventeeth Article.”—Âccording to the doctrine of that Article, "the godly consideration of Predestination and Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons," Arminians as well as Calvinists," and such as feel in themselves the working of the SPIRIT OF CHRIST, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things: as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God," &c.
When I peruse the theological tirades uttered by several modern writers against this immediate Divine Influence on the hearts of men, both in the work of Conversion and in that of Sanctification,-an influence which is one of the numerous scriptural "promises" that are "YEA and AMEN in Christ Jesus," and which is amply recognized in the public formularies of every Protestant Church in Europe, but which is stigmatized by these imprudent and unskilful divines as " Enthusiasm," when I peruse their curious productions, I am sometimes tempted to think, that were St. Paul deputed to put to them the question which he once addressed to the early disciples at Ephesus, "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?," (if the mere historical faith in the general truth of the Scriptures of these moderns may be dignified with the appellation of "Christian belief,") the blessed Apostle would receive nearly a similar answer to that which the Ephesians delivered, "We have not so much as heard Lexcept from a few misguided enthusiasts,] whether there be any Holy Ghost!" In one sense at least, the reply would be appropriate; for such men ingenuously acknowledge, that they have never had any personal experience of the hallowing Impulses of the Holy Spirit,-without which, nothing human is holy, nothing is strong, and without which, Christianity itself, as explained by these frozen moralizers, would be only a skeleton of doctrines very little superior to the abstract theories of moral virtue invented by Plato, Seneca, or Epictetus. But, on this subject, one of the inspired interpreters of the will of God has well remarked, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Few men have marked with greater abhorrence, than I have done in various parts of this volume, the perversion of this Divine Influence, when it is no longer applied to the spiritual interests of the man and his actual progress in personal holiness, but is extended to matters beyond himself, and erroneously confounded with the sanguine wishes and the inward persuasion of his own spirit respecting a change in Church or State, or other subjects equally alien to the sanctifying purposes, for the accomplishment of which the aids of the Holy Spirit have been promised. But though I have strongly reprehended such perversions of the doc. trine of DIVINE GUIDANCE AND COMFORT, yet it is no test of " true philosophy," (a distinction to which these objectors aspire,) to repudiate a revealed verity, because it is liable to be abused either by the weak or the wicked. There is not a blessing, of this or any other class, which Heaven in its illimitable bounty has bestowed on man, that might not be rejected with as great a sem