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FICTITIOUS AND GENUINE CREED:
"A CREED FOR ARMINIANS,"
BY RICHARD HILL, ESQ.
TO WHICH IS OPPOSED
FOR THOSE WHO BELIEVE THAT
CHRIST TASTED DEATH FOR EVERY MAN.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE
CHECKS TO ANTINOMIANISM.
In doctrine show uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned: that he who is of the contrary part may be ashamed, Titus ii, 7, 8.
TO FICTITIOUS AND GENUINE CREED.
In which the author gives an account of Mr. Hill's new method of attack, and makes some reconciling concessions to the Calvinists, by means of which their strongest arguments are unnerved, and all that is truly Scriptural in Calvinism is openly adopted into the antiCalvinian doctrine of grace.
We should be deservedly considered as bad Protestants if we were not "ready always to give an answer with meekness to every man, [much more to Mr. Hill, a gentleman of piety, learning, reputation, wit, and fortune,] who asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us." We confess, that after the way which our opponents call the heresy of the Arminians and Perfectionists, we worship the God of our fathers; believing what is written in the Scriptures concerning the extent of redemption by price and by power.
Concerning the extent of Christ's redemption by price, we believe, that "he, by the grace of God, tasted death" to procure initial salvation "for every man,” and “eternal salvation for them that obey him :" and concerning the extent of his redemption by power, we are persuaded that, when we come to God by him, he is able and willing to "save to the uttermost" our souls from the guilt and pollution of sin here, and our bodies from the grave and from corruption hereafter.
With regard to our extensive views of Christ's redemption by price, Mr. Hill calls us Arminians: and with respect to our believing that. there is no perfect faith, no perfect repentance in the grave; that the Christian graces of repentance, faith, hope, patience, &c, must be perfected here or never; and with respect to our confidence that Christ's blood fully applied by his Spirit, and apprehended by perfect faith, can cleanse our hearts from all unrighteousness before we go into the purgatory of the Calvinists, or into that of the Papists; that is, before we go into the valley of the shadow of death, or into the suburbs of hell ;with respect to this belief and confidence, I say, Mr. Hill calls us Perfectionists and appearing once more upon the stage of our controversy, he has lately presented the public with what he calls, "A Creed for Arminians and Perfectionists,” which he introduces in these words:"The following confession of faith, however shocking, not to say blasphemous, it may appear to the humble Christian, must inevitably be adopted, if not in express words, yet in substance, by
every Arminian and Perfectionist whatsoever; though the last article chiefly concerns such as are ordained ministers in the Church of England." And as among such ministers, Mr. J. Wesley, Mr. W. Sellon, and myself, peculiarly oppose Mr. Hill's Calvinian doctrines of absolute election and reprobation, and of a death purgatory; he has put the initial letters of our names to his creed; hoping, no doubt, to make us peculiarly ashamed of our principles. And indeed so should we be, if any "blasphemous" or "shocking" consequence" inevitably" flowed from them.
But how has Mr. Hill proved that this is the case? Has he supported his charge by one argument? No: but among some consequences of our doctrine, which are quite harmless and Scriptural, he has fixed upon us some shocking consequences, which have no necessary connection with any of our doctrines of grace. We apprehend, therefore, that by this method Mr. Hill has exposed his inattention more than our "heresy."
If Mr. Hill had said, before a thousand witnesses, I hold ten guineas in my right hand, and ten in my left, could the author of the Checks wrong him, or expose his own candour, if he insisted upon the truth of this consequence: "Then Mr. Hill holds twenty guineas in both his hands?" And if Mr. Hill protested ever so long that he holds but fifteen in all, and that I am a " calumniator," for saying that he holds twenty; would not all the witnesses, who are impartial, and acquainted with the proportion of numbers, clear me of the charge of calumny, and accuse Mr. Hill of inattention? Again: if I had said, before the same witnesses, that I have two guineas in my right hand, and two in my left; and if Mr. Hill, to keep his error in countenance, by bringing me in guilty of as great a mistake as his own, fixed the following consequence upon my assertions: "Then you hold seven guineas in both your hands!" would he not expose himself more than me? And would not all the candid spectators declare, that although I have a right to maintain that ten and ten make twenty, my opponent cannot reasonably assert that two and two make seven. The justness of this illustration will appear to the reader, if he cast a look upon the creed which I have composed for an Antinomian, with Mr. Hill's principles. The doctrines that it contains are all his own, and they are expressed chiefly in his own words, as appears from numerous quotations, in which I refer the reader to the pages where he has publicly maintained the tenets which I expose. But Mr. Hill has not produced in his Arminian creed one line out of my Checks, from which any shocking or blasphemous doctrine flows by "unavoidable" consequence. If he had, I protest, as a lover of truth, that I would instantly renounce the principle on which such a doctrine might be justly fathered; being persuaded that the pure light of a pure doctrine can never be necessarily
productive of a gross darkness: although it may accidentally be obscured by occasional difficulties, as the sun may be darkened by interposing clouds.
Some readers will probably think that I have made the Calvinists too many concessions in the following pages: but I am persuaded that I have granted them nothing but what they have a Scriptural right to; and God forbid that any Protestant should grant them less! At the synod of Dort, the Arminians being sensible that a gratuitous election can be defended by reason and Scripture, would debate first the doctrine of gratuitous, Calvinian reprobation, which is flatly contrary to reason and Scripture. The Calvinists, on the other hand, being conscious that the strength of their cause lay in maintaining a gratuitous election, and hoping that the gratuitous reprobation would naturally skulk under that election, insisted that the doctrine of election should be debated first. The Arminians would not consent to it, so that nothing was properly discussed: and the Calvinists, having numbers, and the sword on their side, deposed their opponents as obstinate heretics. While we disapprove the severity of the Calvinists, we blame the Arminians for provoking that severity by refusing to clear up the doctrine of election. And improving by the mistakes of both parties, we make the reconciling concessions which follow:
1. We grant that there is an election of distinguishing grace: but we show that this election is not Calvinian election; thousands being partakers of the partial election of distinguishing grace, who have no share in the impartial election of distributive justice; two distinct elections these, the confounding of which has laid the foundation of numberless errors. See Scripture Scales, sec. xii.
2. We grant the Calvinists that initial salvation is merely by a decree of Divine grace through Jesus Christ. But we assert that eternal salvation is both by a decree of Divine grace and of distributive justice; God rewarding in Christ, with an eternal life of glory, those believers who "by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honour, and immortality."
3. We grant, that although God, as a judge, "is no respecter of persons;" yet, as a benefactor, he is, and of consequence has a right to be, so far a "respecter of persons," as to bestow his favours in various degrees upon his creatures; dealing them to some with a more sparing hand than he does to others.
4. We grant, that although God punishes no one with eternal death for original and necessary sin; yet when sin, which might have been avoided by the help of creating or of redeeming grace, has been voluntarily and personally committed; God does punish (and of consequence has a right to punish) with eternal death some offenders more quickly than he does others; his showing, in such a case, mercy and justice