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Even Mr. Sellon does not, in his 7th page, so much as attempt to call in question the Calvinism of our reformers. Finding himself hard drove, he fairly gives up the point: exclaiming, however, at the same time, that the reformers brought their Calvinism with them from the church of Rome. me tell you,” says the angry conceder, “that our first reformers, in the point of predestination, did say over those lessons which they had learned in the Roman schools.” I agree with my adversary, in acknowledging, that the reformers were predestinarians; but I pity his weakness in venturing to assert, on the lame authority of Christopher Potter, that those excellent men imported their doctrine of predestination from Rome. I have already shown, that it has, for ages and ages back, been the ruling endeavour of popery, to stifle, demolish, and exterminate, the whole system of Calvinism both root and branclı. You might as reasonably affirm, that the glory which beamed from the face of Moses, was kindled at hellfire; as insinuate, that we are indebted to Rome for any of our Thirty-nine articles.-Mr. Sellon's concession, however, induces me to offer him a plain query. To what end have you scribbled a libel, with a professed view to Arminianize the liturgy, articles, and homilies, which you yourself acknowledge to have been composed by Calvinistic divines ? Can any man in his senses, really believe, that a set of predestinarians would draw up a plan of national faith and worship on the Arminian model ? Impossible. Your quotation, therefore, from Christopher Potter, which you have adopted for your own, has stabbed the whole hypothesis of your pamphlet to the very heart.
In vain do Messieurs Wesley and Sellon disconsolately walk arm in arm, round about our established Zion, surveying her walls, and shaking their heads at her bulwarks; but unable either to find, or to make a breach, whereat to enter. Happy would they deem
themselves, could they prove that the reformers were Arminians. But, alas! the church of England was settled under king Edward VI. long before Arminius himself was born ; and afterwards resettled by Elizabeth, when the same Arminius was an infant in his cradle. Pelagians were (if I may so phrase it) the Arminians of those times : and pelagians are, expressly and by name, branded for “ vain talkers,” in the ninth article. It clearly follows, 1. That the original compilers of the articles were not pelagians. And, 2. That they could not be Arminians: for Arminius was then unborn and unbegotten (s).
Bishop Burnet himself, as I have elsewhere observed, was compelled to grant, that, “In England, the first reformers were generally Sublapsarians (t):" tacitly admitting, that the rest of those apostolic men were (dreadful news to Mr. Sellon !) Supralapsarians (u). I could corroborate this assertion, if need required, from other very plain and conclusive passages, scattered through Burnet's historic writings. Waving, however, at present, the farther testimonies of that prelate; I shall adduce the attestations of two more modern historians : neither of whom can incur the remotest suspicion of leaning toward Calvinism. These are, Mr. Tindal, the reverend continuator of Rapin ; and David Hume, Esq. ; whose history, considered merely as a compo
(s) He was born at Oudewater, in 1560. (t) Expos. of the 17th Article.
(u) The Supralapsarians suppose, that, in the decree of election and preterition, God did not consider mankind either as fallen or unfallen; but chose some, and rejected others, considered merely as beings that should infallibly exist.-The Sublapsarians suppose, that the elect were chosen, and the reprobate passed by, not merely as creatures; but complexły as sinners. Each hypothesis has been adopted by some of the best and greatest men that ever lived. Calvinism is the general name, under which, the partizans of both are comprehended. The church of England system, as I shall show hereafter, is, strictly speaking, formed on the Sublapsarian principle: though with such moderation, as not to exclude the former.
sition, does honour to the author and the age. I begin with the former.
“ In England, a middle course was steered :" [i. e. we admitted the doctrines, but rejected the discipline of Geneva.] Though the articles of religion are a plain transcript of St. Austin's doctrine, in the controverted points of original sin, predestination, justification by faith alone, efficacy of grace, and good works; yet are they composed with such a latitude." No quibbling, good Mr. Tindal. If the articles of the church of England, respecting those tenets, are “a plain transcript of St. Austin's doctrine;" it irresistibly follows, that they only, who believe 'as St. Austin did, can honestly subscribe to Austin's articles. For, of what value is a fence, whose chasms and apertures are of “ such a latitude,” as to admit the very persons, whom it was professedly planted to exclude ? To imagine, that the reformers, who had, themselves, gone so heartily and strongly into the doctrines above-mentioned; and who, moreover, digested those doctrines into a national creed, to continue as the standing test of ministerial orthodoxy; to imagine that these identical reformers would leave such loopholes of evasion, as would counteract the very design of that test, and render the test itself null and void ; is equivalent to supposing, that a man would first fortify the door of his house with as many bolts and bars as he can, and then purposely leave his door on the latch, that every intruder, who pleases, may enter in.
Mr. Tindal proceeds. “ The most rigid Calvinist can give his assent to all the thirty-nine articles, except three, which relate to the discipline of the church.” Thirty-six, then, out of the thirty-nine, are most rigidly Calvinistic: else, the most rigid Calvinist could not "give his assent to all the articles except three.”
And even those three may be both assented and subscribed to, with full purpose of heart, by every man who is a Calvinist in matters of doctrine only.-" For though the doctrine of the church of England, as it stands in the articles and homilies, agrees with that of the Calvinists; yet the discipline is entirely different.” I grant that the discipline of our church is “entirely different” from that mode of discipline embraced by some Calvinists: and may it ever' continue so. In nothing did the wisdom of our reformers more strikingly appear, than in connecting the purest doctrines with the best form of ecclesiastical government and discipline. A species of discretion, in which the foreign leaders of the reformation were not so happy.--Now, on weighing the collected amount of Mr. Tindal's (a) testimony, I would submit this natural question to the reader: Would
(a) The passages, here cited from that writer, occur in the third volume of his Continuation (octavo 1758) p. 275.—I cannot pass over, without a moment's animadversion, what this historian imprudently advances, respecting the liturgy of the church of England. “ The liturgy,” says
276. or common prayers, were chiefly taken from the offices of the church of Rome.”—This, I well know, is a pretty general opinion. But I cannot help believing it to be unjustly founded. The agreement, between some parts of our public service, and some parts of the Romish missals, falls extremely short of proving the main point. We use the Lord's Prayer (for example) in common with the papists : yet we receive it, not from Rome, but from the New Testament. A pen, not altogether contemptible affirms, that the compilers of the liturgy examined not only the popish forms, but likewise 6 all other service books then in use. These they compared with the primitive liturgies : and whatever they found in them consonant to the holy scriptures, and the doctrine and worship of the primitive church, they retained and improved; but the modern corruptions and superstitious innovations of latter ages, they entirely discharged and rejected.” See Downes' Lives of the Compilers, p. 150. What I shall farther add, I give from an authority incomparably more decisive and respectable." Our church of England,” says bishop Stillingfleet, “ hath omitted-none of those offices wherein all the ancient churches were agreed: and where the [primitive] British or Gallican [church] differed from the Roman, our (present] church hath not followed the Roman, but the other. And therefore our dissenters do unreasonably charge us with taking our offices from the church of Rome." Stillingfleet's Origines Britannicæ, chap. iv. p. 237.-The Gallican liturgy (extremely different from the Roman) was intro
the English reformers have established a summary of doctrines “ agreeable to that of the Calvinists,” if the said reformers had not been Calvinists themselves ? To solve this enquiry, we need only propose another: would such men (for instance) as Pelagius and Arminius, have drawn up such articles, in particular, as the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th ?
Let us next attend to the florid and ingenious Mr. Hume. “ The first reformers in England, as in other European countries, had embraced the most rigid tenets of predestination and absolute decrees : and had composed upon that system, all the articles of their religious creed. But these principles baving met with opposition,” [viz, about sixty years after], from Arminius and his sectaries, the controversy was soon” [i. e. soon after the rise of Arminianism in the Dutch provinces, at the period aforesaid]
brought into this island, and began here to diffuse itself (y).” Again : “ All the first reformers adopted these principles,” viz. the principles of “ Absolute decrees (2).” No wonder, therefore, when the Arminians started up to oppose the ancient faith, that,
Throughout the nation, they laid under the reproach of innovation and heresy. Their protectors were stigmatized; their tenets canvassed; their views represented as dangerous and pernicious (a).”
Hitherto, we have dealt in generals. We shall now (though so plain a case is far from requiring it) descend, briefly, to particulars.
duced, it seems, into England, in the beginning of the fifth century: and is said to have been originally framed by Polycarp and Irenæus. The learned bishop gives a large account of this ancient form of worship ; proves it to have been the basis of that now established ; and points out a great variety of particulars, in which it differed from the form imposed by the Roman' bishops. See ibid. from P.
216 to p. 237.-Edit. 1685.
(y) Hume’s Hist. of Engl. vol. vi. p. 211.--Octavo edit. 1767. (z) Ibid. vol. v. p. 572. (a) Ibid. vol. vi. p. 211.