Sivut kuvina

cession,) that, as Christianity began to be cor' rupted even in the apostolic age,' subsequent testimonies are of no authority ; and that the appeal must be exclusively made to “ the oracles of “ God.” Men speak of antiquity, and novelty in respect of doctrines ; but we appeal to the scriptures, as most ancient, and protest against the novelty of all subsequent authors.

I find that some of the first heretics maintained ' opinions in a high degree resembling.what are now called Calvinistic doctrines.'

No doubt any one may find this : and I also find in the quotations of the former chapter, 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 heretic or papist renounces all truth, by running into error in some particulars ; nor does any heretic 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 degree resembling the doc'trines 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 heretics retained one single truth, and if Calvinists maintain one single error; two distinct cases arise in which the tenets of both, however opposite in other things, may coincide. As we

3 Ref. 511.

one will

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 heretics, and those of the vilest sort, held the same tenets in some particulars. No

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 heretics 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 inquired, 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 inquiry, 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 heretics consisted, 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 of 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 that, when any man, of influence and authority, of 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 heretic ; 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, is well known. Had lions, instead of men, been painters, it would not have been so common for pictures to represent men victorious over lions : and, if the writings of the heretics had not been destroyed by those who called themselves orthodox, (as assuming a name at least, as evangelical clergy ;) we might have had a very different history of the church. But almost all our information concerning heretics 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 descendents form of us ! I speak not this, in exculpation of ancient heretics, 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.


* I do not understand what that creature is, ' whose faculty of desiring, being put in motion ' by an external cause, is consigned to necessity.''

'Clem. Alex. Ref. 517.

rous one.

I cannot well understand what the writer means. But did ever any man form an idea of such a being, as he seems desirous of describing :-Here I must be allowed to say, that his Lordship, in order to give effect to this chapter especially, ought, if possible, to have adduced quotations from modern Calvinists coinciding with these concerning the ancient heretics. Bishop Lavington, certainly no friend of our doctrines, adopted this plan in

comparing the enthusiasm of methodists and ' papists,' and with great success : and this gave a vast effect to his attempt, though I fear a pestife

No man, however he may disapprove the spirit of the writer and reject his conclusions, can read his book without feeling that they whom he assailed lay open to his rebuke; and that his arguments were at least plausible. I well remember the effect which the perusal of it almost forty years ago had on my mind, in increasing my prejudices against evangelical religion. But I am under no apprehensions that this chapter of the Refutation will produce similar effects on inquiring men : because when the opinions of the heretics are stated, there is not so much as an attempt made to prove that the Calvinists hold the same sentiments ; or even to point out to the reader, in what the resemblance consists : but he is left to make it out for himself. And, if he be not deeply versed in polemical divinity, he will seldom form any precise and distinct ideas on the subject. He may, however, be gratified to be assured, on high authority, that modern Calvinists resemble the most obnoxious of ancient heretics, though he cannot well perceive in what respects.-I am aware, that to make such a comparison as Bishop Lavington did would be a very laborious, if not an impracticable undertaking; and it would require the man who attempted it to do us an honour which is, I fear, not often conferred on us by Anticalvinists ; namely, that of carefully perusing our publications,

« EdellinenJatka »