Page images
PDF
EPUB

In consequence of the above papal fulmination, Quesnell (whose crime only consisted in his having a little more spiritual light than most of his brethren) was first banished from Paris ; then, thrown into a dungeon at Brussels, from whence, after almost four months imprisonment, he found means to make his escape into Holland, where he died A. D. 1719, after an exile of about fifteen years. The bull itself, by which bis 101 propositions were condemned, is to this very day, so strictly enforced in France, that the clergy of that kingdom (though, generally, less bigotted than the clergy of other popish countries) will not administer the last offices to a dying person, until he has solemnly declared his detestation of the doctrines which those propositions contain. What a front, then, must Mr. Sellon have, to insinuate, that ten papists, out of eleven, hold the doctrine of grace; when, even in France, where popery sits much lighter than in any other unreformed nation, not a single papist, though lying on the bed of death, is permitted to receive the sacrament, until he has, with his dying breath, disavowed the doctrine of predestination in all its branches.

Let me further ask the calumniator, whether he ever knew a single person, who, from being a doctrinal Calvinist, was perverted to the church of Rome ? But I myself have known several Arminians, who were carried over to popery with very little difficulty; and, from being half protestants, easily commenced complete Romanists (t). . Ask your friend

66

articles” [i. e. to the plain sense of the Calvinistic articles of the church of England]; “ but in this case, he ought not to subscribe them at all. For if he can bring himself to assent and to subscribe them in a catholic” [i. e. in a popish-Arminian]

sense, I would desire to know what security the church has, that he does not put the like catholic sense (with which he may be furnished by the Jesuits) upon those articles which concern transubstantiation and purgatory ?"

(t) How natural and easy the transition is, from Arminianism to avowed popery, is evident, among others, from the examples of

and dictator, Mr. John Wesley, whether numbers of his followers have not, from time to time, gone off to

Bolsec and Bertius, abroad; and, at home, from those of William Barrett, and Godfrey Goodman, bishop of Gloucester.

Jerom Bolsec was originally a Carmelite friar of Paris. From motives either of conscience, or of secular interest, he forsook bis order; and, leaving France, made open profession of the protestant religion. Among other places, he went, says Bayle, “ to Geneva, as a physician; but, finding that he did not distinguish himself to his satisfaction in that profession, he set up for divinity; and dogmatized, at first, in private, on the mystery of predestination, according to the principles of Pelagius, and afterwards had the boldness to make a public discourse against the received opinion. As soon as his conversation with certain persons, to infect them with his pelagianism, was known, Calvin went to see him, and censured him mildly: afterwards, he sent for him to his house, and endeavoured to reclaim him from bis error. But this did not hinder Bolsec from delivering in public, an insulting discourse against the decree of eternal predestination. It is thought, that he was the bolder because he imagined that Calvin was not among his auditors. He had such a thought, because he did not see him [sitting] in his (usual] place. The reason was, Calvin, not coming in till after the discourse was begun, kept himself hid behind the crowd." (Bayle's Hist. Dict. vol. ii. art. Bolsec). Mr. Samuel Clark, a pious, learned, and laborious writer of the last century, informs us (see his Marrow of Ecclesiastical History, part i. p. 298, 299), that Bolsec delivered this harangue, October 16, 1551, taking for his text, these words, “ He that is of God, heareth the words of God: whence he took occasion to preach up free-will

, and that predestination was out of works foreseen.” Calvin himself (see Bayle, ut supr.) in a letter which he wrote to the Swiss churches, says, that among other things asserted by Bolsec, on the above, or a similar occasion, the wretch spoke to this effect: that “ men do not therefore obtain salvation, because they are elected; but are therefore elected, because they believe; and that no man is reprobate by the bare decree of God, but only those who deprive themselves of the common election.” Being, after several fruitless efforts to reclaim him, banished from Geneva, he retired into the territory of Bern; where, says Mr. Clark, “ he was the cause of many and great stirs.” After being twice expelled from thence, on account of his turbulent behaviour, he returned into France; and,“ presently after, when he saw the [French] churches under affliction, he fell back to popery, loading the reformed churches with many reproaches.” Thus did this man's tenets of free-will, conditional predestination, universal grace, and salvation by works, ripen him for a relapse to the church of Rome.

VOL. I.

S

the mother of abominations ? particularly in Bristol : where, I have been credibly informed, the Romish

Those principles had the same effect on Peter Bertius. He was an intimate friend, and devoted admirer of Arminius. This gradually prepared bim for his subsequent apostasy to popery. Arminius died the 19th of October, 1609. And who so fit to deliver his funeral oration (or, in modern language, to preach bis funeral sermon), as his good friend and coadjutor Bertius ? Preached by him it accordingly was, on the 22d of the same month, which was the day of Arminius' interment. And to this very hour, the said funeral oration (notwithstanding the orator’s revolt to the church of Rome a few years after) stands prefixed to all the editions of Arminius' works, which I have ever seen : as if popery and Arminianism were fated to be inseparable. I do not recollect to have met with the exact æra of Bertius' declaring himself a papist. But, in the collection of archbishop Usher's Letters, annexed to his Life by Dr. Parr, I find the following paragraph, in a letter from Dr. Ward to that prelate: “ Your lordship was partly acquainted with a business which I had undertaken, to answer one chapter of (cardinal] Perron's latest work, set out after his decease. Since that time, Petrus Bertius, the remonstrant [i. e. the Arminian] is turned Roman catholic, and hath undertaken the translation of that whole book into Latin.” This letter is dated September 25, 1622. In one from bishop Usher, to the same Dr. Ward (who was master of Sidney college, Cambridge, and succeeded bishop Davenant in the Margaret professorship of divinity), the excellent prelate tells him, "I do very well approve the judgment of them, who advised you to bandle the controversies mentioned in that chapter of cardinal Perron's book, which Bertius pretendeth to have been the principal motive of his verifying the title of his old book, Hymenæus Desertor. tion of the motives to his perversion, I saw before I left England: than which, I never yet did see a more silly and miserable discourse proceed from the hands of a learned man. Let. I. and liii. p. 82. and 85. Thus easy, quick, and ready, is it to pass from the religion of James Arminius, to that of cardinal James Davy du Perron!

A sadly memorable instance of the same kind, happened in our land some years after. Godfrey Goodman, the unworthy bishop of Gloucester, who had long swam with Laud in almost every measure that conduced to the extension of Arminianism, civil tyranny, and ecclesiastical

pomp,

at length declared, in his last will, that he died - in the faith and communion of the mother church of Rome.” But I dismiss so shocking an event, with that observation of the apostle:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for, if they had been of us, they would doubtless have continued with us.” Yet must I subjoin the remark of Echard : “ As this was the only apostate English bishop since the reformation ; so he was the only one who left children to beg their bread.” Ech. Hist. of Engl. vol. ii. p. 782

His ora

priests cry him up (not without reason) as a very moderate and a very useful man (u).

SECTION V.

The Objection, drawn from the supposed Calvinism

of Thomas Aquinas, refuted : with a Word concerning St. Austin.

But, it seems Austin and Aquinas were two champions for predestination :” and “ their names,” I am farther told, “ have as much weight, in the church of Rome, as they have with (X)" the vicar of Broad-Hembury. I am apt to think, that Mr. Sellon's acquaintance, either with St. Austin's

The case of William Barrett, fellow of Gonville and Caius college, Cambridge, is well known. I have already given a sketch of his history, and taken notice of his revolt to popery, in my former pamphlet, entitled, The Church of England vindicated from the charge of Arminianism, p. 48. &c.

(u) Many specimens might be given of Mr. Wesley's lax protestantism. Among them, every considerate reader must rank the following paragraph: Justification by works is not the fundamental doctrine of popery; but the universality of the Romish church, and the supremacy of the bishop of Rome. And to call any one a papist, who denies these, is neither charity nor justice” (page the 9th of a twopenny tract, written by Mr. John Wesley, and entitled, A Letter to a Gentleman at Bristol, 1758). According to this reasoning, a man may hold transubstantiation, ecclesiastical infallibility, purgatory, image worship, invocation of saints and angels, &c. &c. and yet be a good protestant all the while! The French clergy (for instance) who put a query on the pope's supremacy, but are (or, at least, generally profess themselves to be) stiff Romanists in most other points, cannot, in Mr. Wesley's estimation, be with “ charity and justice,” considered as papists ! Does not such a bare-faced concession look as if the conceder himself was fearful (and upon very good grounds) lest, without a prudent caveat of that kind, the charge of popery might fall heavy on somebody else? (2) Sellon, p. 3.

writings, or with those of Aquinas, is, at best, extremely slender. However, his bare mention of those foreign names may serve to give Mr. Wesley's old women a huge idea of “ brother Sellon's purdigious larning."

Whatever may be said for the truly admirable bishop of Hippo; it is certain, that the ingenious native of Aquino was by no means a consistent predestinarian. He had, indeed, his lucid intervals : but, if the Arminians should find themselves at a loss for quibbles, I would recommend to them a diligent perusal of that laborious hair-splitter; who will furnish them, in their own way, with many useful and necessary quirks, without the assistance whereof, their system had, long ago, lost its hold even on the prejudiced and the superficial.

Of all Aquinas' numerous writings (which are said to amount to 17 folio volumes), I have only his Summa Theologiæ, and his Commentaries on the gospels, and St. Paul's epistles. To collect all the Semipelagian passages, with which those two performances are fraught, would be a task equally prolix and unprofitable. My citations, therefore, shall be few and short: but such as may suffice to evince, that this scholastic papist does, in many material points respecting the present argument, shake hands from his grave, with his younger brethren, the modern Arminians. “ The Book of Life," says he, o is the enrolment of those who are ordained to life eternal. Whoever is in present possession of grace, is, by virtue of that very possession, deserving of eternal life. The ordination, however, sometimes fails : for, some people are ordained to have eternal life, by the” [inherent] “ grace they possess; which eternal life, they, notwithstanding, come short of, by the commission of deadly sin. They who are appointed to life eternal, not by God's predestination, but only through the grace” (they are partakers of ],

are said to be written in the Book of Life, not abso

« PreviousContinue »