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myself from adding, that, with respect to the particular points disputed between the Arminians and Calvinists, she is Arminian, and not Calvinistic. In the sense in which I have said the Church of England is not Arminian, I have also said that she is not Calvinistic; 80 that I should not have stood clearer of this alledged contradiction, if, agreeably to what the Christian Observers would have wished me to say, in order to preserve my consistency, I had said, that the generality of her ministers are Calvinistic.
The truth is, that this performance is no less a criticism of my Second Letter to Mr. Overton, than of iny Tract on Catechising. I have, it seems, aífirmed in that Letter, that John Wesley was a Calvinist. What I have affirmed of John Wesley I have fully proved by quotations from his own writings; namely, that though he did not maintain the doctrine of absolute election and reprobation, he espoused the Calvinistic notions of salvation by faith only, instantaneous conversion, final perseverance and assurance.
I have also said, what must be sufficiently evident in itself, that, if Mr. Wesley separated from the Church of England without any reason with respect to doctrines, that is, without supposing the doctrines of that Church not to be sufficiently Calvinistic, as be must liave done if he was an Arminian, it will be difficult to reconcile his separation with honesty; for it is acknowledged by his adınirers, that he established a discipline, which differed from episcopacy only or principally in his own assumption of the episcopal office. It has indeed been said, that Mr. Wesley, in the latter part of his lite, Jamented his having leaned so much to Calvinism ; 'but this, if true, does not prove that he was not then in some degree Calvinistic; much less does it prove, that he had not formerly been so in a very considerable degree. For though, as Dr. Kipling has shewn, a person cannot, with any self-consistency, be a Calvinist by halves, he may be so by giving up self-consistency. Mr. Overton at least can have no difficulty in admitting, that there may be such a thing as moderate Calvinism.
It is another allegation against me, that I have ex. tolled Dr. Kipling's Treatise without qualification.
I have said, what I still think to be true, that Dr. Kipling bas clearly proved the Liturgy and Articles of the Church of England to be, in many instances, utterly inconsistent with the opinions held by Calvinists. In saying this,
however, I did not mean to express my agreement with every conclusion which Dr. Kipling bas drawn. I think, though Dr Kipling it seems does not, that many Calvinists, whether from the force of prejudice, or otherwise, are firmly persuaded, that the artides are Calvinistic, though not so completely Calvinistic as some of them may wish ; and that, therefore, in subscribing to them as such, far from “committing a crime closely bordering on perjury,” they act conscientiously.
Mr. Overton and his associates are very fond of comparing themselves, and making a common cause, with such men as Archbishop Secker, Bishop Hall, and Bishop Beveridge. To this I can only say, that they have set laudable examples before their eyes, and that, when their opinions and conduct shall in all points agree with the opinions and conduct of those cininent and pions men, they may rest assured of my hearty commendation. What impression it may inake on the Archbishop of York to be informed, that there are at least forty evangelical ministers of the Church of England within a day's ride of his archiepiscopal residence, I do not know. Of this I am certain, that, since the fact is so, it is a great consolation to me to find, that Mr. Overton, the sun of these dependant luminaries, is duly sensible of the beneficial effects which inay be expected from catechising; and, if my publication on this subject should answer no further purpose than that of drawing forth the explicit acknowledgment, thus promulged by the Christian Observer, that it is the duty of evangelical as well as of other ministers, to be diligent in catechising, and to make a fair and proper use of the Church Catechism, I shall think my pains employed upon it amply repaid.
I ain, Sir,
FOR THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
Cursory Remarks upon some Parts of the Rev. Thomas Ro
binson's “ Christian System Unfolded.”
HE weakness and unprofitableness of the information
to be derived from the Holy Scriptures, those Scriptures which were given by inspiration of God himself, which St. Paul tells us were written for our learning, and are profitable, not only for reproof and correction, and instruction in righteousness, but also for DOCTRINE, so profitable as to be ABLE to make us wise unto salvation; this weakness and unprofitableness of what Mr. R. (vol.ii. p. 60) is pleased to term “ external revelation," and which, in his Scripture Characters, (vol. iv. p. 286 or 345) he says, will not of itself produce any proper religious conviction, is a favourite topic with him, and he professes to prove this insufficiency from these very Scriptures themselves. For this purpose, he demands liberty while he appeals to the law and to the testimony, to form his own conclusions. See Christ. Syst. vol. ii. p. 41. What is this but modestly to demand, that his interpretation of Scripture may be taken in preference to every other? Will he permit the Papists, while they appeal to the law and to the testimony, to form their own conclu- . sions? Do not all the varying divisions of Christians appeal to the law and to the testimony.? and will he allow. them to follow their own conclusions? or, will he say,
that he alone is right, and every body else mistaken? and will he, by this claim to infallibility, justify his fellow-students at college, in bestowing upon himn the title of Pope?
In vol. ii. p. 63, he speaks of sincere believers, and p. 68. of true believers, as possessing a knowlege of divine. things, which, he says, they DERIŅE (immediately) from God alone; for they do not, it seems, derive it mediately, i. e. by the Scriptures. Now I ask, first, whether sincere believers and true believers mean the same persons? If they do, then true believers may believe a lie; for every body knows, that men may sincerely believe a falsity,
Vol. X. Churchm. Mug for April, 1805. LI And
And, what are we tou nderstand by deriving knowlege from God? Men may receive knowlege from God, if he pleases to give it them, (1 Corin. xi. 23, xv. 3.) but I never heard, nor is it ever said in Scriptare, that the prophets and apostles derived knowlege from God. So far from it, the word derive does not once occur in the Bible. Men may derive knowlege from the Holy Scriptures; but then this derivation is in consequence of the voluntary exertion and exercise of their own faculties: whereas the knowlege vouchsafed to men immediately from God, came not by the will of inan; but holy men declared this knowlege, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
This derivation of knowlege from God alone, Mr. R. tells us, is effected by the secret manifestation (what is a secret manifestation? a silent speech?) of divine glory, or by the infusion of light into their minds. This infusion of light is called a spiritual illumination of the mind, and (p.63,) a spiritual irradiation of the understanding; and by these they who receive them, (why not who derive them?) are delivered from difficulties, by which others are embarrassed and confounded. By this divine information, they are made acquainted with the sufficiency of Christ's atonement (p. 76,) a peculiar discernment is given from above of the righteous character and government of God, of the authority, extent, and spirituality of his law, of our own depravity, guilt, and condemnation; such a discernment, as is NOT at all to be ACQUIRED from the closest attention to, and the most diligent study of the HOLY SCRIPTURES. Now, if I understand what is meant by the sufficiency of Christ's atonement, it is exactly the same as the VALIDITY of bis atonement. Do then these sincere and true believers exactly agree in this knowlege which, in consequence of their prayers for it, they derive from God alone, and which they declare (pp. 84, 85,) they are sure and certain, from their own experience, that they have so derived ? Nobody doubts, but that Mr. R. biniself is a sincere and true believer, whatever be the meaning of these words. As little can they doubt but that he has used the means, which he mentions p. 66, incessant and importunate cries to Heaven. Now, in bis Scripture Characters (vol.iii. p. 29 or 35,) he tells us, that Christ's atonement is valid or sufficient, because the same nature, which sinned, atoned; wbile Dr. Hawker, a no less sincere and true believer, for any thing that appears to the
contrary, and as little to be suspected of neglecting the proper means of deriving this divine knowlege from God himself, tells us, that the divine nature (which could not sin) alone gave validity to the atonement. See his Essay upon the Divinity of Jesus Christ, p. 8. But as the Holy Spirit cannot contradict himself, (p. 75,) to which of these two illuminated and irradiated persons are we to give credit? Or, are we to believe, as Mr. R. (p. 59) tells us, though the Bible does not, that the understanding, like all the other faculties, has suffered by the fall, and that this illumination does not repair the loss, though Mr. R. (p. 59) says it belongs to the Holy Spirit so to do.
At p. 74. we are told, that the Spirit reveals no new truth” and “ conveys no fresh information, which is not already contained in the Scriptures;” for that “ the written word is a full declaration of the divine will,” contrary to what we are told, pp. 65, 66. Now, the words new and old are correlative terms, and necessarily imply each other. Old truths mean whatever truths a man is already acquainted with; new truths, such truths as a man is an utter stranger to at the time of the information. How then, I ask, did these sincere and true believers become acquainted with these old truths? For, unless they were acquainted with them at the time they were revealed by the Holy Spirit, they must be new truths. They could not becoine acquainted with them from reading the Holy Scriptures, because the closest attention to, and the most diligent study of these Scriptures, is ineffectual to this purpose. They are, therefore, contrary to what is affirmed, new truths; or rather, by a. curious juggle, the truths derived immediately froin God himself by these zealous partizans of modern inspiration are both new and old at the same time. What regard can possibly be paid to the writings of a man, who, in the eagerness of a blind and blundering zeal, thoroughly contradicts-himself, and overleaps the bounds of reason, sense, and meaning? If we at all understand words, and pay any regard to ideas, God himself cannot discover to men what they already know. He may cause them to attend, but this is not to reveal. Whatever is revealed must at the time of the revelation, be unknown; that is, it must be new knowlege. So thought St. Paul, who, however zealous, was not zealous enough boldly to disregard all common sense, and set all reason at defiance. L12