Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

then must we do? We cannot contend for what we most entirely disapprove; we cannot adopt the sentiments of the Anticalvinists; we cannot be silent, without pleading guilty to numerous accusations which, through misapprehension or misrepresentation, are brought against us. It only remains for us to endeavour to please God, however incapable of pleasing man; that we may “ have rejoicing in the testimony of our con“ science, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, “ not by fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God,

we have our conversation in the world ;” and so, patiently and meekly bear the consequences.' Its forbidding aspect. That which has a “ for* bidding aspect, in one circle, assumes a very attractive aspect in another: and the author of these remarks has been in situations where a Calvinistic creed, and the character of being a most decided Calvinist, were essential to popularity, to favour, and to worldly interest: and he has experienced far more painful effects in opposing what he deemed the errors of professed Calvinists, or rather Antinomians who called themselves Calvinists, and who branded him as an Arminian, than he has the least fear of experiencing from Anticalvinists. But he can truly say before God, that he never “ shunned to declare” what he thought“ the whole counsel of God," either from the pulpit or the press, through fear of incurring reproach, contempt, or opposition from either party. He knows nothing of reserves, where faithfulness in his ministry, and where the glory of God is concerned; as it is probable this publication will prove. So far from thinking that Calvinism, or the doctrines now called Calvinism, have in themselves a ‘forbidding aspect' except to the pride and corrupt passions of the human heart; he firmly believes that they are most glorious and lovely in themselves, and will appear so to all holy creatures in the bright world of light and felicity. But they are “ strong meat,” and not meet food for babes : they are not proper to be dwelt on very particularly in public preaching; and still less in tracts or discourses intended to excite the attention of the careless and ignorant. “I have many things to say unto you, but ye « cannot bear them now." “I have fed you with “ milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were “ not able to bear it; neither yet now are ye able, “ for ye are carnal, &c.” “ Strong meat belong“ eth to them who are of full age; even to those “ who by reason of use have their senses exercised “ to discern good and evil.”—“Also in all his

epistles,” (the epistles of Peter's “ beloved bro“ther Paul,” who“ wrote according to the wisdom

given to him,") “ are some things hard to be “ understood, which they that are unlearned and “ unstable wrest, as they do the other scriptures, “ to their own destruction.”] These scriptures shew that there may be good reasons for speaking on what we really believe, in respect of these subjects, with caution, and with respect to circumstances, and to the capacity of the recipients : reasons, perfectly distinct from the fear of reproach from man; from the many, from the wise, from the learned, from the powerful. But, if we do not believe what our predecessors (from whom we inherit the title of Calvinists, whether we will or not,) believed, are we bound to come forward and avow those parts of the system which we are convinced are unfounded and unscriptural :-Did I really believe all that is contained in the quotations from Calvin, or in the Lambeth Articles, no fear of stigma, however deep, should deter me from avowing my belief, in the most perspicuous language which I am capable of using. But I do not believe several things contained in these, (whether my assertion be credited or not ;) and therefore I plainly declare that I do not ; though I am aware I shall not escape censure from other quarters for this avowal.- Their Master.' Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri. “One “ is our Master, even Christ; and all we are bre« thren." The writer of these remarks was as much what is called a Calvinist as he is at present, before he ever saw one line of Calvin, or Augustine, or Beza, or almost of any Calvinism, except that of the scriptures and of our articles. Nor had he at all learned it from either preaching or conversation : of the former he had scarcely heard any thing; and, as to the latter, his evangelical friends made a point of not speaking on the subject, unless interrogated upon it. 1777 he adopted the outlines of his present creed. · In 1779 he published • The Force of Truth, an ' authentic narrative;' in which he avowed his sentiments on this subject. In 1786 he published a Sermon on Election and Final Perseverance, (when exposed to reproach as an Arminian,) which accords exactly to his present sentiments.' He

'John xvi. 12. 1 Cor. ii. 1-3. Heb. v. 12-14. 2 Pet. iii. 15, 16.

In the year

never saw one line of Calvin till after the first edition of that sermon was published: nor has he at all altered his sentiments on these subjects by what he has since read of Calvin and Calvinistic writers. It may be indecorous to speak thus concerning himself: but with what justice can he be called a disciple of Calvin ? Such a charge on the whole body demands an explicit answer.

It may also be fairly apprehended that many of the. evangelical clergy could, if called to it, make a statement not dissimilar on the subject: and it may confidently be said, that none of them believe these doctrines because they are contained in the works of Calvin ; but because they judge that they are contained in the holy scriptures; and are confirmed in this conclusion by those Articles, which they have ex animo subscribed. We have no need to quote the words of any human, or foreign, author ; when we can prove our tenets sufficiently from the word of God, and from our authorized books. We appeal to the authority of no master: for Christ alone is our Master; and Calvin has no authority except what he derives from the word of God. We do not shrink from avowing the articles of the Calvinistic creed, except where we think any positions unscriptural. We not only virtually, but openly, allow a few things in Calvin, and many in some persons called Calvinists, to be indefensible. We do not say

that · Calvinism is not to be judged of by the doctrines of Calvin ;' but that our doctrines are to be judged of by the word of God, and, as ministers of the establishment, by our Articles, &c, and not by the writings of Calvin.

We only

allow the name of Calvinists to prevent circumlocution : but, if being Calvinists implies having Calvin, instead of Christ, for our master, we indignantly disclaim it. 66 Was Calvin crucified “ for us? Or were we baptized in the name of “ Calvin ? " Veneration for so eminent a man, and humble consciousness of inferiority, may, and often does, keep us silent, even when we disapprove of some of his positions; but we must speak fully what we think, when thus called to do it.-We profess a sort of moderate Calvinism;

purged of its most offensive tenets.' And do we not believe what we profess? We would“ prove “ all things” by the touchstone of scripture ; “ and hold fast that which is good,” and that only. Our appeal is not to reason and common sense,' to determine what is, and what is not, derogatory

to the perfections of the Deity,' but to the holy scriptures; to “ the law and to the testimony.” Nor do we regard whether our views be 'any

longer Calvinism' or not, provided they accord to the oracles of God: but even these are deemed by multitudes liable to most serious objections ; and must they also be modified and explained away for fear of these objections :]

• Calvinism, in reality, will not bear defalcation, or admit of partial adoption. It has at least the ' merit of being so far consistent with itself. Its

peculiar doctrines, considered as a system, are ‘so connected and dependent upon each other, that <if you embrace one you must embrace all ; and,

if the falsehood of one part of the system be * proved, the whole falls to the ground. I cannot 'but suspect that many Calvinists deceive them

« EdellinenJatka »