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it should render Calvinists, as well as their opponents, more reverently cautious, what words they use, in the warmth of controversy, when, on any account, the glory of God, in his dispensations or decrees, is even remotely concerned. “Let God be true and every man a liar.' "*
Dr. Kipling, Mr. Fellows, and several other writers, have charged Calvinism with impiety, and with having a tendency to promote immorality, in direct opposition, not only to the testimonies of its candid, but also of some of its violent enemies, as well as to all the evidence of stubborn facts. Even Dr. Priestley confesses that Calvinism was favourable to piety. The Monthly Reviewers observe, “ It is but justice to this sect to remark, that its members are in general exemplary for their piety and virtue.”+ Bishop Burnet, a man of true piety, though an Arminian, in his exposition of the seventeeth Article of the Church of England, speaks of Calvinists in the most respectful terms. “A Calvinist is taught by his opinions, to think meanly of himself, and to ascribe the honour of all to God; which lays in him a deep foundation for humility: he is also much inclined to secret prayer, and to a fixed dependence on God ; which naturally both brings his mind to a good state, and fixes it in it. And so though perhaps he cannot give a coherent account of the grounds of his watchfulness and care of himself, yet that temper arises out of his humility and his earnestness in prayer.” The man whom he celebrates, as having possessed the noblest sense of Divine things that he ever found in a human breast,
• Remarks on the Refutation of Calvinism, by Bishop Tomline, Vol. 11, p. p. 181, 182. † Monthly Review for March, 1806, p. 314. VOL. II.
was Archbishop Leighton, and every person who is acquainted with his writings knows, that in sentiment he was decidedly a Calvinist. We have often heard pious members of the Church of England, who were Arminians, complain, that those forms of prayer that in later times have been composed for its occasional services, had much less of that unction and holy fire, which are so refreshing and warming to pious minds, in the old liturgy of the Church. It is well known that the liturgy was composed by men who were moderate Calvinists.
With respect to the charge that Calvinism is destructive to morality, it is an argument against facts, and the only thing that those who bring it can say, is, that if its tendency be not immoral, it ought to be so. There is no country in Europe, wherein punishments are so seldom inflicted by the Magistrates, as in Scotland, because there is none in which the tone of morals is so high, and general information and good man ners so widely diffused. But, upon the maxims of these gentlemen, we should expect to find it the nursery of the most flagitious crimes, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. There is no country where Calvinistic principles are so general, so popular, or carried to so high a pitch.
Bishop Horsley, in his Primary Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of St. Asaph, though decidedly an Arminian, speaks of Calvin and Calvinists in respectful terms. _“If ever you should be provoked to take a part in these disputes, of all things, I entreat you to avoid what is now become very common, acrimonious abuse of Calvinism and of Calvin. Remember, I beseech you, that some tenderness is due to the errors and extravagances of a man, eminent as he was in his day, for his piety, his wisdom, and his learning; and to whom the Reformation in its beginning is so much indebted. At least take e. special care, before you aim your shaft at Calvinism, that you know what is Calvinism, and what is not; that in that mass of doctrine, which it is of late become the fashion to abuse under the name of Calvinism, you can distinguish with certainty between that part of it which is nothing better than Calvinism, and that which belongs to our common Christianity, and the general faith of the Reformed Churches: lest, when you mean only to fall foul of Calvinism, you should unwarily attack something more sacred and of a higher origin. I must say that I have found a great want of discrimination, in some late controversial writings, on the side of the Church, as they were meant to be against the Methodists; the authors of which have acquired much applause and reputation, but with so little real knowledge of their subject, that give me the principles upon which these writers argue, and I will undertake to convict, I will not say Arminians only and Archbishop Laud, but upon these principles I will undertake to convict the fathers of the Council of
Trent, of Calvinism. So closely is a great part of that which is most ignorantly called Calvinism interwoven with the very rudiments of Christianity. Better were it for the Church if such apologists would withhold their services.”
To suppose that Calvinists must necessarily be persons of weak intellects, and destitute of learning and philosophical talent, though it is a supposition that has often been made, is one that betrays a strange excess either of ignorance or of prejudice. Among them we find the second man and writer, whose abilities adorned this island, or perhaps the globe which we inhabit. Among them we find the names of Lord Bacon, Hooker, Sir M. Hale,
Cranmer, Hooper, Jewel, Ridley, Hall, South, Beveridge, Owen, Baxter, Watts, Doddridge, Witherspoon, Edwards, Erskine, Cowper, &c. &c. &c. All of them were men of no mean powers, and some of them writers of the first rate that this, or any other country has produced. Nor have the walks of Calvinism been less distinguished for exemplary goodness, and the most diffusive charity, than for literary eminence. Few in modern times will bear a comparison, in whatsoever things are pure, in whatsoever things are lovely, in whatsover things are of good report, with John Thornton, with John Howard, or with David Dale, and many other names that might be mentioned; and the history of the world, since the age of the Apostles, cannot furnish us with any whose virtues shone with a brighter light, or whose influences were attended with more healthful rays.
Though it is utterly inconsistent with our present plan, to enter further into the merits of the Calvinistic controversy, justice requires that when we treat of systems of religion and their adherents, we should endeavour to wipe away the unjust aspersions which have been cast upon them. Let the controversy between Calvinists and Arminians he decided, not by an appeal to our own reasonings on this high subject, to determine what is the most fit and consistent system ; an appeal too often made by both parties; but by a patient and impartial examination of the doctrines of Revelation, and an humble submission to its decisions. There may be reason to suppose, from the imperfection of our knowledge, and the general fondness of men for system, that the questions on divinity are not many, in which there is nothing but truth on the one side, and nothing but error on the other.
OF ARMINIANISM AND ARMINIANS.
THOSE who assume the name of Arminians, are per. haps by much the most numerous body of Protestants, both in England and in most other parts of Europe ; but it is comparatively a small part of that body who closely adhere to all the doctrines believed and taught by Arminius. His sentiments have been shamefully misrepresented by some Calvinists, and even by many who professed to range themselves under his standard. Scotch Calvinists, forming their sentiments of Arminianism, rather from the writings of those in their own country who adopted some of his tenets, than from a complete investigation of the works of Arminius, have often committed themselves on this subject. English Calvinists have likewise repeatedly fallen into the same mistake. The former are certainly something more excusable than the latter. The number of pious men who have adopted and defended the Arminian hypothesis in Scotland, has been comparatively small. Almost all its strenuous and open defenders, though they agreed with Arminius in opposing the doctrines of absolute election, agreed with him in nothing besides. Mr. Simson and Mr. Campbell, and many others who have been called Arminians, were nearly as much opposed, (the article of absolute decrees being excepted) to the sentiments of Arminius, as they were to those of Calvin. In England, there has long been a succession of men who, though not Calvinists, have been strenu