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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 pestifeNo 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.
ON THE SEVENTH CHAPTER OF THE REFUTATION, CONTAINING QUOTATIONS FROM CALVIN, THE
LAMBETH ARTICLES, AND THE ARTICLES OF THE SYNOD Of dort.
HAD his Lordship avowed the purpose of refuting Calvin, or such doctrines contained in Calvin's works, as he deemed erroneous, and of bad tendency; quotations from this author, either as here adduced in the mass, at the beginning of the work, or as prefixed to each chapter, containing the obnoxious tenets which were about to be refuted, would have been highly proper; and would have given a lucid introduction to the whole design, or to each part of it. But, as it is most certain that his Lordship did not intend to refute Calvin, or his immediate disciples, exclusively; but modern Calvinists, and the evangelical clergy in particular; it may be doubted how far it is fair, thus to adduce the most objectionable passages from this writer, as uniformly maintained by us.-But, not to insist on this, it is probably the first instance in the annals of literature or of polemical divinity, for an author to reserve the tenets which he undertook to refute, till he had almost closed his refutation of them! Hitherto we have been in a degree of doubt and perplexity what opinions the writer intended to refute; but when the whole argument seems closed, then, and not before, come in the
crimes alleged against the culprits and concerning which witnesses have been produced, and counsellors have pleaded, and the court and attendant company have listened, without clearly knowing what was alleged, or of what crime the accused persons were supposed to be guilty. This is I must think, an uncommon method of procedure: but, though it seemed worthy of notice, I am by no means disposed to complain of it, since it certainly affords the prosecutor little advantage.
'We were elected from eternity, before the 'formation of the world, from no merit of our own, but according to the purpose of the divine pleasure.'1
I suppose that scarcely any man, who has heard of Calvin, does not know that this was his sentiment; and in this he surely coincided with St. Paul. "According as he has chosen us in him, "before the foundation of the world, that we "should be holy, and without blame before him "in love." "There is a remnant, according to "the election of grace: and, if by grace, then it "is no more of works." "Who hath saved us, “and called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his purpose "and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus "before the world began."2 Predestination unto life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid,) ' he hath constantly decreed by his counsel, secret ' to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those 'whom he had chosen in Christ out of mankind, 1 Calv. Ref. 538. 'Rom. xi. 5, 6. Eph. i. 4. 2 Tim. i. 9.
' and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. (Ut vasa in 'honorem efficta.)'1 "Vessels of mercy, which "God had afore prepared unto glory."2 The same kind of criticism, which explains these words of any thing, except eternal gratuitous election to everlasting life, might also with equal success be employed on those of Calvin. Let both be interpreted by the same rules, and they must both mean the same thing. Either Calvin's words do not express the obnoxious doctrines, or the words of the apostle and of our church do express it.
Is it not wonderful, that any one should as'cribe to the God of all mercy a decree which he 'himself confesses to be "horrible ?" And yet it 'must be acknowledged, that Calvin was a man of piety, and of considerable talent and attainment. To what absurdities and inconsistencies will not 'the human mind be carried by a blind attach'ment to system.'3
Horrible decree. HORRIBLE-Dreadful, terrible, shocking, hideous, enormous. (Johnson.)— HORRIBILIS. 1. Rough, rugged; 2. Horrible, terrible, dreadful, frightful. Horribile visu, portenta sequuntur. 3. Weighty, severe. 4. Also, awful, reverend. (Ainsworth.) The English word commonly suggests the idea of moral evil, as horrible wickedness: but the Latin word has no such meaning associated with it; and merely signifies tremendous, awful, reverend, to be viewed with terror, or with reverence, or both combined. "Horror hath taken hold of me, because of the 2 Rom. ix. 23. Ref. 541.