« PoprzedniaDalej »
(the names) of every visible saint, whether they be elect or not; or such a Book as is capable of receiving a man at one time, and of blotting him out at another, as occasion requires. O, how happy is he who is not a visible, but an invisible saint ! He shall not be blotted out of the Book of God's eternal grace and mercy.”—P. 2403.
In his Confession of Faith, he says, “ I believe that Election is free and permanent;--that it doth not forestall or prevent the means which God appointed to bring us unto Christ; but rather putteth a necessity upon the use thereof.—I believe that the Elect are considered in Christ always; and that without Him, there is neither election, grace, nor salvation.-I believe that there is not any impediment attending the Election of God, that can hinder their conversion and eternal salvation;
-(but) we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.” In the article from which these extracts are made, Reprobation is not even named; and there is no article on the subject in his Confession.- Works, vol. i. p. 262.
There is a curious Map (by himself) in the old Folio Edi. tions of Bunyan's Works, "showing the order and causes of Salvation and Damnation," on a group of white and black Medals. The white Medals are hung from the Covenant of Grace; and Election is the highest of them : the black are hung from the Covenant of Works, and Reprobation is the highest. But it is hung by the black line of justice, as the former is by the white line of grace.-Vol. i. p.
414. I might multiply proofs of Bunyan's moderation on this subject, from his works : but I prefer to illustrate it by facts. Now John Denne, his chief opponent, who hated Calvinism even more than open Communion (if I understand his logic) treated him respectfully as a Calvinist. Denne's logic, if it would not puzzle Aristotle himself, would astound him by its alternate weakness and force. He must, however, have reduced Bunyan, and Calvinists of all grades, to a dilemma, when he dared him to reconcile with his assertion that God was no respecter of persons, his denial that God had any re. spect to qualifications, in showing mercy.
“If he respect neither Persons nor Qualifications," Denne argues,
6 then there is nothing else about man to consider. He has nothing to respect in choosing or refusing.”-Old Tract. In like manner, Bishop Fowler's answer to the Treatise on Justifica. tion, pours all its abuse upon Bunyan's Lutheranism on that point, and lets his Calvinism alone. Besides, both Dr. Owen
and Henry Jesse were his friends : a sure proof that he was no hyper-calvinist.
On these grounds I venture to reject the claims of the Treatise on Reprobation to be Bunyan's, as they now appear. They rest upon no ground but their place in Hogg's edition. True ; that was edited by Mason, the author of the Notes on the Pilgrim's Progress; a man incapable of fraud. He was, indeed, a high Calvinist; but he was a higher Moralist. It is doubtful, however, if Mason read all the Treatises he admitted into his edition of Bunyan. If he did, he was no critic. He admitted - The Exhortation to Peace and Unity," although it abounds in classical references, and scholastic phrases, and fine writing. Almost any other man would have asked how John Bunyan came to quote Plutarch, Cambden, and Stillingfleet's Irenicum. If Latin words did not startle him, the Indian word Habamach (the evil Spirit) ought to have done
Besides, the author, whoever he was, was evidently familiar with both Gnostic and Grecian history. His worli is, however, quite in Bunyan's spirit, and smacks occasionally of his style; and thus it misled Mason. And yet, the only passage in it, very like Bunyan, is the question, “Why should I be thought to be against a fire in the chimney, because I say it must not be in the thatch of the house ?" But even this is an apology for not making “ the laying on of hands” essential to Church fellowship, although the writer believed it to be an apostolic ordinance. I am not sure that Bunyan regarded Imposition of hands in this light. I am, however, quite sure that he never would have enforced Baptism, as an initiatory ordinance, which this work does, without assigning reasons for such a change in his opinion; nor would he have made Baptism a condition of communion, without saying that he did not mean immersion only.
Thus Mason mistook in one instance certainly ; and therefore he may have been heedless in the former. It is not meant by all this, however, to say that Bunyan
dif. ferent views of Reprobation from those in the Treatise: but that he did not write the Treatise. It is unlike both his head and heart. It is not too clever for him ; but it is too cold. blo ded. Its style also, like that of the tract on Unity, is not Saxon. Whoever, therefore, ascribed the dialectics of the one, or the literature of the other, to Bunyan, betrayed as much ignorance of him, as the author of the Decretals of Isodorus did of the primitive Bishops, when he made the contem.
poraries of Quintilian and Tacitus speak the monkish Latin of the ninth century.
In regard to Bunyan's own Calvinism, the Pilgrim's Pro. gress is not an unfair representative of its spirit. It never silences nor shackles him, either in inviting all sinners to be. lieve the Gospel, or in warning all saints against apostacy. It is, however, as a theory, very imperfect, although superior to that of many. Its grand defect is,—that it argues from the Remnant elected out of the Jewish Church when she was ju. dically blinded, as if that remnant was a fair specimen of Elec. tion until the end of time, and amongst all nations. Bunyan's is not the only Calvinism which does this. This, indeed, is the fault of all Calvinism, which deserves the name. Armini. anism, however, does not mend the matter, by eschewing this fault. Sovereignty evidently reigns, notwithstanding all derials of Election. In this dilemma, Paul's one maxim, that God shows mercy according to the counsel and good pleasure of His own Will, is worth more than all the Calvinism and Arminianism in the world, to a man who wants mercy for himself. For as Calvinism cannot tell him what the Will of God towards him is; and as Arminianism dare not tell him that he can force the Divine Will, nor that he can be saved against that Will, he has thus no alternative but to throw himself upon the good pleasure of Sovereign Grace, or to aban. don himself to despair. When will it be generally understood, that Paul's argument in the Romans regarded the range of election amongst the divorced Jews, and not amongst the be. trothed Gentiles ? It was not Paul who threw the WILL of the Testator into Chancery. His object in the Epistle is, to take it out of the Chancery, into which the Jewish converts had thrown it, in order to disinherit the Gentiles. Accordingly, it is only of the Jews he says, that there was but a remnant elected.
B UN YAN'S TRINITARIANISM.
I'r is, of course, no information to the public, to say that Bunyan was a Trinitarian. Even the Unitarians, fond as they are of claiming men of genius and renown, have been unable to press John Bunyan into their schedule, notwith. standing all his catholicity, and his demonstrations (“to boot," as he would have said) of the proper humanity of the Son of Mary. It is, however, not very obvious why he thought it necessary to defend or define his Trinitarianism. The Uni. tarian holders of old orthodox endowments may find no diffi. culty in naming the Latitudinarians, who alarmed Bunyan; but ordinary readers feel themselves at a loss. Poor Biddle was dead before Bunyan entered the field. Besides, Dr. Owen, in 1665, had “washed the paint from the porch of Mr. Biddle's fabric, and shown it to be a composition of rotten posts and dead men's bones, whose plaister being removed, their abomination lies naked to all.”—Pref. Vind. Evan. And as Biddle was too early for Bunyan, Matthew Caffin, the General Baptist, was too late. It seems to have been in 1692, that Caffin expressed his Socinianism “ with great freedom."
- Taylor's Gen. Bapt. How then are we to account for Bunyan's solemn protests and warnings against Antitrinitari. anism?
It is not easy to answer this question, without bringing the orthodoxy of the General Baptists of that age into more doubt than the great bulk of them deserve. There were almost Socinians amongst them; but the proceedings of the Assembly in the case of Caffin, prove that the body were upon the whole Trini. tarian. These proceedings, however, prove also, not only that there were Latitudinarians, not a few, on this subject ; but also that there was something in both the letter and spirit of their original Confessions of Faith, which could be wielded by either party with much plausibility. This is the case, now that they form two distinct Bodies. Both the or thodox and the heterodox General Baptists appeal to the same Confessions : and each with more reason than either seems inclined to acknowledge. It was, however, to the Confessions of Faith, which both call the Creed of their Founders, that Bunyan referred when he showed, “How a young or shaken Christian should demean himself under weighty thoughts of the Trinity, or the plurality of Persons in the Eternal Godhead.” -Works, vol. ii. p. 1107.
The facts of the case are these ; whatever use either party may make of them. The Confession signed by Grantham, Caffin, &c. on behalf of 20,000 Baptists, and presented to the King at the Restoration, runs thus, 1. We believe, and are very confident, that there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.-3. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ by whom are all things, who is the only-begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, yet as truly David's Lord as David's root.—7. That there is one Holy Spirit, the precious gift of God, freely given to such as obey him, that they may thereby be thoroughly sanctified. There are three that bear record in heaven ; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit.-Crosby, vol. ii. Appendix, p. 79.
Now there is Trinitarianism here, certainly ; but, as certainly, put in a strange order. Not in this order, nor in these phrases, except in the quotation from John, did « The Seven Churches in London, commonly but unjustly, called Anabaptists,” state their faith in 1646. 66 The Lord our God is but one God; but in this Infinite Being there is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit;-each having the whole divine essence; yet the essence undivided ; all infinite without any beginning; therefore but one God.”—Crosby. vol. i. Appendix, p. 7.
It was this difference between the two great Confessions, which alarmed'Bunyan. And even Taylor, the candid historian of the General Baptists, says, in reference to these times,
On this sublime subject, two parties may be discerned amongst the General Baptists." "The much more respectable both for numbers and character,--spoke with great caution in their explanations of the essence and attributes of the Infinite