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“ trines (as far as in them lay) not venerable, “ but ridiculous !” No man has more justly incurred this imputation than Calvin ; for, upon Calvin's interpretation of this part of Scripture, and maintaining, that God caused the fall of Adam, how ridiculous and unintelligible, as well as cruel and unjust, would be the following declaration of God to Adam: “ Because thou hast eaten of the “ tree, of which I commanded thee, say
ing, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is “ the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt “ thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” Thus Calvin first makes God the author of what (as the Scripture informs us) God himself imputes to Adam as sin ; and then Calvin makes God punish Adam, because he fell in obedience to his own will and pleasure.
There is another most abominable assertion of Calvin's, in the 22d chąp. p. 311. of his 3d book of Christian Institution, which equally contradicts both the letter and spirit of the Gospel. It has been just observed, that our blessed Saviour says to his Apostles, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the “ Gospel to every creature. He that be“ lieveth and is baptized shall be saved ; but
“ he that believeth not shall be damned." Now, in direct opposition to this, Calvin presumes to affirm as follows: “It is certain that “ the doctrine of salvation is wrongfully set
open in common to all men to profit effectually.” In the same chapter he makes another assertion, if possible, still more reprehensible, in these words : By outward
preaching all men are called to repent“ ance and faith; and yet not to all men is “ given the spirit of repentance.” Good God! that a simple, individual, uninspired Clergyman should thus dare to shut the gates of heaven and of mercy against the human race, which our blessed Saviour, when he had overcome the sharpness of death, opened to all believers ! that this Clergyman should presume to infer, and to assert, that the spirit of repentance would be withheld from any man desirous of availing himself of that gracious declaration of his merciful Creator, addressed to all his human creatures in these words by St. Peter; “ 'The “ Lord is not slack concerning his promise, “ but is longsuffering to us-ward ; not will
ing that any should perish, but that all “ should come to repentance !” In the 2d chapter of the Acts, the same Apostle says,
Repent, and be baptized, every one of “ you.” And in the 17th chapter he thus expresses himself: “ God commandeth all “ men every where to repent.” And that the greatest and most flagrant sinners are capable of repentance is decided beyond all dispute ; because to Simon Magus the sorcerer, who is reproached by St. Peter as a man, whose heart was not right in the sight of God, and as being in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity; to this man even St. Peter says, on his wanting to purchase the power of the Holy Ghost,
Thy money perish with thee, because thou “ hast thought that the gift of God inay
be “ purchased with money. Repent therefore “ of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if
perhaps the thought of thy heart may be forgiven thee.”
But there is a passage in the 3d chapter of Ezekiel still more in point, if possible: it is as follows: “ Son of man, I have made thee “ a watchman unto the house of Israel : “ therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
When I say 6 unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; “ and thou givest him not warning, nor “ speakest to warn the wicked from his
“ wicked way, to save his life; the same “ wicked man shall die in his iniquity ; but “ his blood will I require at thine hand.” Now this supposes so clearly and unequivocally a power in every wicked man to repent, that under any other supposition the whole passage would be perfect nonsense. Does not our great and merciful Creator thus proclaim his goodness to his frail and fallible creatures ? " When the wicked man “ turneth away from his wickedness that he “ hath committed, and doeth that which is “ lawful and right, he shall save his soul 66 alive. Because he considereth, and turneth
away from all his transgressions that he “ hath committed, he shall surely live, he “ shall not die.” Can any man, after this declaration, imagine that God would withhold the spirit of repentance from any human being, who properly employs his reason, " considereth," and is desirous of turning from his sins to God? No man can entertain this opinion who believes that man is a free agent, and a rational being, and that the God we worship is a God longsuffering, abundant in goodness and mercy, who pardons iniquity and sin, and who, instead of withholding the spirit of repentance, not
only freely offers it to every human being, but earnestly commands his adoption of it.
All these errors of Calvin are, I apprehend, to be imputed to that grand source of spiritual error, a mystical interpretation of those doctrines of Scripture which relate to our faith and practice, and to the attributes of the Deity, and which should be always understood and received in the plain, literal, unambiguous manner, in which they are expressed. To what else, but to a deviation from this rule, are we to ascribe those various sects, schisms, and heresies, which, under the names of Arians, Pelagians, Donatists, Gnostics, Socinians, Montanists, &c. &c. &c. have at different periods disgraced and infested the Christian Church?
In his Epistle to Timothy, St. Paul informs us the Scriptures were written for our information, and with the gracious intention of making us wise unto salvation; their meaning with reference to this heavenly end is accordingly expressed in terms adapted to the common sense of mankind : they tell us in the plainest and most intelligible manner what we are to believe, and what we are to practise. Though the opinions of the hea. thens on man's creation are ridiculous and