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of God in heaven, unless their souls were previously dislodged from their bodies by death : consequently, according to my view of the passage, our Lord, in the 14th verse, speaks of such little ones, and of such only, as actually die in infancy. Oh, but the word angels means guardian angels, appointed to take care of children. Before I can subscribe to this, I must see a grain or two of that necessary thing called proof. That children, no less than adults, are objects of angelic attention, in the course of providence, I am far from denying: but, in my present conceptions of the passage under consideration, I cannot believe that exposition to convey the true sense of this particular text. Among other reasons, the following is one: how can those superior spirits, who are (upon very probable grounds) supposed, very frequently, if not constantly, to attend on infants, be yet said to behold always the face of our Father, in heaven? In order, therefore, to prove, that the word angels, in this declaration of our Lord, means angels, properly so termed, it must be first proved, that angels, properly so termed, can be present in more places than one, at one and the same time. Oh, but angels may sometimes attend children on earth, and at other times be present in heaven :” likely enough: but the angels, here spoken of, are said always to behold the face or glory of God, and that in heaven; an affirmation which can never be reconciled to propriety, or even to truth, if they are supposed to be absent from heaven at any period, or on any occasion.
Oh, but if angels are long-sighted, they may see into heaven while they are on earth.” I never met with a treatise on the optics of angels, and therefore cannot say much to this hypothetical objection. On the whole, if “little ones in general,” whether they die young, or live to maturity, be (as Mr. Sellon contends) entitled to salvation, his own title to happiness is incontestible. If little reasoning, less know
ledge, and no regard to truth or decency, be a passport to the skies, this exotic star will glitter there, like a diamond of the first water.
In the mean while, I should be obliged to the said star, if he would, with the help of Mr. Wesley's irradiation, show me what becomes of departed infants, upon the Arminian plan of conditional salvation, and election on good works foreseen.
From two Arminians, let me, for a moment, pass to a third. It will be found, in the following Historical Disquisition, that I have made some use of Dr. Peter Heylin's testimonies in favour of the grand argument: and I admit his depositions, on the same principle by which men, of the most exceptionable cast, are sometimes allowed to turn king's evidence.
CHURCH OF ENGLAND.
Free-willers the first Separatists from the Church of
England.-Character and Vindication of King Edward VI.
TIME has been, when Arianism was more generally predominant throughout the Christian church, than even Arminianism is at present. The whole world, says history, wondered to see itself become Arian. It was Athanasius against all the world, and all the world against Athanasius.
Hardly were the clouds of Arianism dispersed, when the pelagian darkness overspread a considerable part of the ecclesiastical horizon; and its influence has continued, more or less, to obscure the glory of the Christian faith, from that period to this. Yet is the eclipse far from total. We have a multitude of names, even in our present Sardis, who defile not either their doctrinal or their moral garments; and there is very good reason to believe, that their number, in this kingdom, both among clergy and laity, is continually increasing.
It is no novelty for the doctrines of grace to meet with opposition; and, indeed, few doctrines have
been so much opposed as they. Swarms of fanatical sectarists were almost coeval with the reformation itself. Such is the imperfect state of things below, that the most important advantages are connected with some inconveniences. The shining of truth, like the shining of the sun, wakens insects into life, which otherwise would have no sensitive existence. Yet, better for a few insects to quicken, than for the sun not to shine.
I shall not here review the tares which sprang up with the protestant corn in Germany; but content myself with just observing, that there was one congregation of free-willers in London, during the reign even of the pious king Edward VI. and notwithstanding the vigilance of our first protestant bishops—I say, there was one congregation of freewillers; or, as they were then most usually called, free-will-men: and it should seem, that there was then, in the metropolis, no more than one conventicle of this kind, held by such as made profession of protestantism. For that valuable letter of recantation, preserved by the impartial Mr. Strype, and of which so large a part has been quoted in our Introduction, was inscribed (as before observed) with the following remarkable title: “A Letter to the Congregation of Free-willers.”
London, however, was not the only place in England where pelagianism began to nestle, while good king Edward was on the throne. Some of the fraternity appeared likewise in two of the adjoining counties : viz. in Kent and Essex. Observe, I call the free-willers of that age pelagians; because the new name of Arminians was not then known. The appearance of free-will-men in Kent and Essex is assigned by Strype to the year 1550, which was ten years before Arminius himself was born.
“ Sectarists,” says the historian, “ appeared now (viz. A. D. 1550,) in Essex and Kent, sheltering themselves under the profession of the gospel. Of