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OF all the devices formed by Satan, and employed to sully the glory of divine truth, that which is now commonly called ARMINIANISM, is thi most ancient, the most dangerous, and the most successful. Since the fall of man, it has existed in the world, in every age and in every country. It may be called the religion of our fallen nature; and will never want friends and advocates on earth, so long as the spirit of error and the corrupt heart are permitted to exert their wicked influence. It is a system of principles, stated in direct opposition to the sovereignty of God, displayed in the distribution of his favours among men ; and is utterly eversive of the whole plan of grace revealed in the gospel. It proclaims open war against the essential prerogative of Deity -his absolute right of determining the final state of rational beings, considered as guilty and fallen ; and makes the divine purpose entirely dependent on the creature's will. The great God is impiously dethroned, that the vile idol of free will may be exalted in his room.
The proud usurper, being seated on the throne, dares to arraign at his bar, every thing human and divine ; and presumes to judge, approve, or condemn every
article of the divine testimony, and every piece of divine conduct, as they appear right or wrong to the corrupt heart the depraved will.
This is a system founded in ignorance, supported by pride, fraught with atheism, and will end in delusion. But it is well calculated to gain general consent among all who were never thoroughly convinced of the evil of sin, nor felt the burden of guilt pressing their consciences ; nor have seen the purity of the divine law, their own lost and helpless state, and the absolute necessity of Christ's righteousness for justification and eternal life. The carnal heart is naturally proud, and regards, with fond attention, whatever tends to flatter its vanity and self-importance. Such is the palpable tendency of the Arminianism scheme. It gently whispers us in the ear, that, even in a fallen state, we retain both the will and the power of doing what is good and acceptable to God :that Christ's death is accepted by God as an universal atonement for the sins of all men; in order that every one may, if he will, save himself by his own free will, and good works :-that, in
the exercise of our natural powers, we may arrive at perfection even in the present life, &c. These, and the like unscriptural tenets, are so much adapted to the legal bias of the corrupt heart, that we need not wonder at the favourable reception they have met with in every period of the church.
If we consult the history of past ages, it will be found, that this set of corrupt principles has always occupied a chief place in the faith and profession of corrupt churches. In the latter times of the Jewish church, the body of that people were so strongly attached to this legal scheme, that they utterly rejected Christ and his righteousness, and went about to establish a righteousness of their own. The gospel church was no sooner planted, than the spirit of error began to work. The Arminian leaven in the heart was set a working by the Arminian or Judaizing teachers of those days, which produced such a strong fermentation in some churches, that they seem to have almost entirely departed from the faith. Of this melancholy change the church of Galatia presents an affecting instance. The apostles and other ministers of Christ, by their sermons, their disputations, and writings, laboured hard to stem the torrent, and prevent the infection from spreading through the church : But alas, this mystery of iniquity continued to work, through the fostering care of the father of lies, and by the craft and assiduity of his numerous emissaries. During the three first centuries of the
Christian church, it was continually on the increase ; and, about the beginning of the fourth, it broke out with open violence under the name of the Arian heresy.
This was little else but a new name clapt upon an old mass of error, which had been lying in detached fragments, up and down in the Christian world from the beginning. By Arius they were all gathered up and artfully formed into one complete system of falsehood and blasphemy. His •pposition was chiefly directed against the doctrines of Christ's Eternal Sonship- of his co-essentiality and co-equality with the Father : but his system included in its bosom the very essence of the Socinian and Arminian errors. In the year of our Lord 325,
the the church assembled in a general council at Nice, in Bythinia, to concert measures for checking the spreading infection. They drew up that admirable form of sound words, called the Nicene Creed, or Confession of Faith.
It was subscribed by all present; and even by Arius himself, that temporizing arch-heretic ; merely to serve a present turn, and with a fixed design of throwing off the mask as soon as a favourable opportunity should offer.
In a few years he openly retracted; and, gaining the ear of the Roman emperor, he filled the church with tumult and blood, and attempted to banish truth, and exterminate its professors from the earth.
The spirit of error and delusion seemed to be let loose from all restraint. Multitudes of new