« EdellinenJatka »
Mark, xvi. 16. John, iv. 14. vi. 40. xvii. 3. 1 John, iii. 9. ii: 19. Jude, 24, 25.
Such were the doctrines of the old Calvinists, and such in substance are those of the present times. In this, however, as in every other denomination, there are considerable shades of difference.
Some think Calvin, though right in the inain, yet carried things too far ; these are commonly known by the name of Moderate Calvinists. Others think that he did not go enough ; and these are known by the name of High Calvinists
. It is proper to add, that the Calvinistic system includes in it the doctrine of three co-ordinate persons in the Godhead, in one nature, and of two natures in Jesus Christ, forming one person. Justification by faith alone, or justification by the impated right eousness of Christ, forms also an essential part of this system. They suppose that on the one hand our sins are imputed to Christ, and on the other, that we are justified by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us ; that is, Christ the innocent was treated by God as if he were guilty, that we, the guilty, might out of regard to what he did and suffered, be treated as if we were innocent and righteous.
Calvinism originally subsisted in its greatest purity in the city of Geneva ; from which place it was first propagated into Germany, France, the United Provinces, and Britain. In France it was abolished by the revocation of the edict of Nantz. It has been the prevailing religion in the United Provinces ever since 1571. The theological system of Calvin was adopted and made the public rule of faith in England under the reign of Edward VI. 1 The church of Scotland also was modelled by John Knox, agreeably to the doctrine, rites and forin of ecclesi. astical government established at Geneva. In England, Calvinism had been on the decline from the time of queen Elizabeth until about sixty years ago, when it was gain revived, and has been on the increase ever since. The major part of the clergy, indeed, are not Calvinists, though the articles of the Church of England are Calvinistical.
Čatvin considered every church as a separate and independent body, invested with the power of legislation for itself. He proposed that it should be governed by presbyteries and synods composed of clergy and laity, without bishops, or any clerical subordination ; and maintained that the province of the civil magistrate extended only to its protection and outward accommodation.
OF THE ARMINIANS.
The Arminians derive their name from James Arminius, à disciple of Beza, and an eminent professor of divinity at Ley.
den, about 1600, who is said to have attracted the esteem and applause of his very enemies by his acknowledged candour, penetration and piety.
The principal tenets of the Arminians are comprehended in the five following articles.
1. That God has not fixed the future state of men by all absolute unconditional decree ; but determined from all eternity to bestow salvation on those who persevere unto the end in their faith in Jesus Christ ; and to inflict everlasting punishments on those who continue in their unbelief, and resist unto the end his divine succours.
2. That Christ, by bis sufferings, made an atonement for the sins of all mankind in general, and of every individual in particular; and that his death hath put all men in a capacity of being justified and pardoned, on condition of their faith, repentance, and sincere obedience to the laws of the new covenant. John ii. 2. ii. 16, 17. Heb. ii. 9. Isa. i. 19, 20. 1 Cor. viji. 11.
3. That mankind are not totally depraved ; and that the sin of our first parents is not imputed to us, nor shall we be hereafter punished for any but our own personal transgressions. Jer, xxxi. 29, 30.
4. That there is a measure of grace given to every man to profit withal, which is neither irresistible nor irrevocable, but is the foundation of all exhortations to repentance, faith, &c. Isaiah i. 16. Deut. x. 16. Eph. iv. 22.
5. That true believers may fall from their faith, and forfeit finally their state of grace ; and they conceive that all commands to persevere and stand fast in the faith, shetv that there is a possibility of believers falling away. See Heb. vi. 4, 5, 6. 2 Pet. ii. 20, 21. Luke xxi. 35.
It appears, therefore, that the followers of Arminius believe that God, baving an equal regard for all his creatures, sent his Son to die for the sins, not of the elect only, but of the whole world ; that no mortal is rendered finally unhappy by an eternal and invincible decree, but that the misery of those who perisha arises from theinselves; and that, in this present imperfect state, believers, if not peculiarly vigilant, may, through the force of temptation, and the influence of Satan, fall from grace, and sink into final perdition.
They found these sentiments on the expressions of our Saviour, respecting his willingness to save all that come unto him ; especially on his prayer over Jerusalem ; on his Sermon on the Mount"; and, above all, on his delineation of the process of the last day, in which the salvation of men is not said to bave been obtained by any decree, but because they have done the will of their Father, who is in heaven." This last argument they deem decisive. They also say, that the terms respecting election in the Epistle to the Romans, are applicable only to the state of the Jews as a body, and relate not to the religious consideration of individuals, either in this world, or the next.
The religious principles of the Arminians have insinuated themselves more or less into the established church in Holland, and affected the theological system of many of those pastors who are appointed to maintain the doctrine and authority of the synod of Dort. The principles of Arminius were early introduced into various other countries, as Britain, France, Geneva, and inany parts of Switzerland ; but their progress is said to bave been rather retarded of late, especially in Germany and several parts of Switzerland, by the prevalence of the Leibnitzian and Wolfian philosophy, which is more favourable to Cal. vinism.
OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
The Church of England dates its origin from the time of the Reformation, when Henry VIII. shook off the Pope's authority and took upon himself the title of “ Head of the Church,” as he had been previously, dignified by his Holiness with that of * Defender of the Faith. The last of these titles, which are hereditary in the Crown of England, was obtained as a reward for a book the king had written on the Seven Sacraments, against Luther's book, “Of the Captivity of Babylon.” The first title was an assumed one ; but suon obtained legal sanction by the consent of the nation at large ; taken up because the pope refused to sanction Henry's Divorce from Queen Catherine, his affections having been transferred to Anne Boleyn. The Archbishop of Canterbury, who took apon bimself to annul the former marriage, was solemnly condemned by the pope ; and Henry, out of revenge, annulled his connexion with, and threw off his obedience to, the papal see. He became supreme head of the church himself, and he may be said to have been the founder of the Church of England. Its principles, however, are grounded on those of the Reformation, having in many respects, a resemblance to the Lutheran tenets and practice.
The religious tenets or doctrines of this church are to be found in the book of Homilies, consisting of short moral and doctrinal discourses, and in the Thirty-Nine Articles, which, with the three Creeds and Catechism, are inserted in the Book of Com. mon Prayer. Concerning some of the doctrines professed by the Church of England, her members are not agreed : a very great majority of the clergy insisting upon it that the church is not Calvinistic, in regard to the doctrine of predestination, irresistible grace, and the final perseverance of the saints ; whilst a very respectable and increasing portion of the clergy and laily maintain, with great confidence, that the 17th article roundly and plainly asserts the great and important doctrine of predestination, as tought by Calvin and the first reformers. The
warna, not to say acrimonious, disputes which this difference of construction put upon the articles has occasioned, have tended to increase the number of dissenters, whose interests are greatly promoted by that part of the clergy usually denominated Calvinistic, or evangelical.
The great Earl of Chatham said openly in the House of Commons, that we have a Popish liturgy, a Calvinistic creed, and an Arminian clergy :” since that time, the clergy are many of them become professors of the Calvinistic doctrines ; and, perhaps, on a rigid examination of the Articles, Homilies, and Prayers, it would be difficult to put any other construction upon many parts of them, particularly of the 17th article.
Leaving this point, respecting the Calvinism or Arminianisma of the Church of England, to be decided amongst the members themselves, we shall lay before the reader an impartial account of ber doctrines, worship, rites, and ceremonies, collected, as they ought to be, from those acknowledged formularies, and standards of faith, the book of Homilies, the book of Common Prayer, including the thirty-nine Articles, the Liturgy, &c. and such other works of authority as are usually referred to on this subject.
It cannot with truth be denied, that the Liturgy abounds with the purest sentiments of devotion, and the genuine principles of the Christian faith. The language breathes the highest spirit of piety, often in a style of the most eloquent and affecting pathos. In it are found some of the very best specimens of our English style of composition.
A committee was appointed to compose this Liturgy, at the head of which was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was the chief promoter of the Reformation, and had a principal hand in all the steps made towards it.
This Liturgy, compiled by martyrs and confessors, together with divers other learned bishops and divines ; and being revised and approved by the archbishops, bishops and clergy of both the provinces of Canterbury and York, was then contirmed by the king, A. D. 1548.
About the end of the year 1550, or the beginning of 1551, some exceptions were taken at some things in this book, which were thought to savour too much of superstition ; on which account it was again revised and altered, under the inspection of Bucer and Martyr, two foreign reformers, and again confirmed by Act of Parliament ; but both this and the former Act, made in 1543, were repealed in the first year of Queen Mary. But upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, the second book of King Edward was again established, with some slight altera. tions and corrections ; and in this state the Liturgy continued, without any farther alteration, until the first year of King James the First, when a few small alterations were made ; and thus it remained till the time of Charles the Second, when the whole book was again revised. The commission for this purpose was dated March 25, 1661, and empowered twelve bishops and
twelve presbyterian divines to make such reasonable and neces. sary alterations as they might jointly agree upon. In a word, the whole Liturgy was then brought to the state it now stands, and was unaniinously subscribed to by both houses of Convocation, on Friday, December 20, 1661 ; and being brought to the House of Lords the March following, both Houses very readily passed an Act for its establishment, when the thanks of the lords were ordered to the bishops and clergy, for the great care and industry shown in the review of it.
The Creed, commonly called “the Apostles' Creed,” forms an essential part of the doctrines of the English Church, aud from its great antiquity, is of high authority. It is asserted that the genuineness of this creed may be proved from the unanimous testimony of antiquity, in the writings of the fathers. Clemens Romanus, in his epistle (A. D. 65), saith, “ that the apostles having received the gift of tongues, while they were together, by joint consent composed that creed, which the church of the faithful now holds.” This matter is largely set down by Ruffinus, in his preface to the exposition of the creed, and affirmed, not only by him, but a cloud of unexceptionable witnesses, whose words are too long to insert, and their names too many to men. tion. Irenæus, Origen, Tertullian, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Ruffinus, and many other orthodox fathers, whose testimonies will show, that this creed was composed by the apostles themselves, and has been received as such by the most learned and judicious Christians, from the first planting of the Christian faith down to the present time. In a word, the ancients quote the creed as well as scripture to confute heresies, and seem to have given it the same honour, because it is indeed the same thing called therefore the compendium of the gospel, and the epitoine of holy writ.*
St. Augustine, writing on the creed, has the following remark, “ Say your creed daily, morning and evening to God. Say not, I said it yesterday, I have said it to-day already ; say it again ; say it every day ; guard yourselves with your faith : and if the adversary assault you, let the redeemed know, that he ought to meet hin with the banner of the cross and the shield of faith." . When the worshippers in the Church of England come to the second article in this creed, in which the name of Jesus is mentioned, they make obeisance, which the church (in regard to that passage of St. Paul, that at the name of Jesus every knee should box- Phil. ii. 10) expressly enjoins in ber eighteenth canon ; ordering," that when in time of divine service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present ; testifying by these outward gestures their inward huinility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment, that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true eternal Son
*Many able writers do not admit the Creed to be so ancient as the Apostolic age, though they believe it to have been composed soon aftes.