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leaves no room for the propriety of making our election sure, and is attended with an unscriptural and absolute reprobation, as odious as free-wrath, and as dreadful as cnsured damnation.
This merciless and absolute reprobation is the fundamental error of the rigid Papists, as well as of the rigid Calvinists. Take away this Popish principle, "There is no salvation out of the church: a damning reprobation rests upon all who die out of her pale," and down comes persecuting Popery. There is no pretext left to force Popish errors upon men by lire, faggots or massacres; and the burning of heretics gives place to the charity, which hopeth all things. Again: Take away this principle of the rigid Calvinists; "There is absolutely no redemption, no salvation, but for a remnant according to the new covenant, and the election of God's partial grace; an absolute reprobation, and an unavoidable damnation, rest upon all mankind besides:" Take away, I say, this principle of the rigid Calvinists, and down comes unscriptural Calvinism, with all the contentions which it perpetually
XIV. The rigid Papists, who set up as defenders of the doctrines of justice, and yet hold Popish reprobation, are full as inconsistent as the rigid Calvinists, who set up as defenders of the doctrines of grace, and yet hold Calvinian reprobation for Popish and Calvinian reprobation equally confound the gospel-dispensations, and leave divine justice and grace neither root nor branch, with respect to all those who die unacquainted with Christianity, that is, with respect to far the greatest part of mankind.
XV. To couclude: Milton says some. where," There is a certain scale of duties, a certain hierarchy of upper and lower commands, which for want of studying in right order, all the world is in confusion." What that great man said of the scale of duties and commands may with equal propriety be affirmed of the scale of evangelical truths, and the hierarchy of upper and lower gospel dispensations. For want of studying them in right order, all the church is in confusion. The most effectual, not to say the only way of ending these theological disputes of Christians, and destroying the errors of levelling Pelagianism, antinomian Calvinism, confused Arminianism, and reprobating Popery, is to restore primitive harmony and fulness to the partial gospels of the day; which can be done with ease, among candid and judicious enquirers after truth, by placing the doctrine of the dispensations in its scripturelight; and by holding forth the doctrines of grace and justice in all their evangelical brightness. This has been attempted in the Two-fold Essay, from which these inferences are drawn. Whether this well-meaning at
tempt shall be successful with respect to one, is a question, which thy reason and candour, gentle Reader, are called upon to decide.
The Plan of a general Reconciliation, and Union, between the moderate Calvinists and the candid Arminians.
By the junction of the doctrines of grace Two-fold Essay on Bible, Calvinism, avd Biand justice, which, I hope, is effected in the ble-Arminianism, the gospel of Christ recovers its original fulness and glory, and the two gospel-axioms are equally secured. For, on the one hand, the absolute Sovereignty, and partial Goodness of our Creator and Redeemer, shine as the meridian blaze of day, without casting the least shade upon his Truth and Equity: You have no election of free-grace without a reprobation of free-wrath. And on the other hand, the impartial justice of our Governor and Judge, appears like an unspotted sun, whose brightness is perfectly consistent with the transcendant splendour of free-grace and distinguishing love. The elect receive the reward of the inheritance with feelings of pleasing wonder, and shouts of humble praise. Nor have the reprobates the least ground to say, that the Judge of all the earth does not do right, and that they are lost merely because irresistible power necessitated them to sin by Adam without remedy, that they might be damned by Christ without possibility of escape. Thus the gracious and righteous ways of God with man are equally vindicated, and the whole controversy ter minates in the following conclusion, which is the ground of the Reconciliation, to which moderate Calvinists and candid Arminians, are invited.
Bible-Calvinism, and Bible-Arminianism, are two essential, opposite parts of the gos pel, which agree as perfectly together, as the two wings of a palace, the opposite ramparts of a regular fortress, and the different views of a fine face, considered by persons who stand, some on the right, and some on the left hand of the beauty, who draws their at tention. Rigid Calvinists and rigid Arminians are both in the wrong; the former, in obscuring the doctrines of impartial justice: and the latter in clouding the doctrines of partial grace: But moderate Calvinists, and candid Arminians, are very near each
Rigid Calvinists are persons who hold the Manichean doctrine of absolute necessity, and maintain both an unconditional election of free-grace in Christ, and an unconditional reprobation of free-wrath in Adam. Moderate Calvinists are men, who renounce the doc trine of absolute necessity, stand up for the election of free-grace, and are ashamed of the reprobation of freehear of an unconditional election, make more of freewrath. Rigid Arminians are persons who will not will than of free grace, oppose God's gracious sove
other, and very near the truth; the difference there is between them being more owing to confusion, want of proper explanation, and misapprehension of each other's sentiments, than to any real inimical opposition to the truth, or to one another. And, therefore, they have no more reason to fall out with each other, than masons who build the oppo. site wings of the same building; soldiers, who defend the opposite sides of the same fortification; painters, who take different views of the same face; or loyal subjects, who vindicate different, but equally just, claims of their royal master.
Since there is so immaterial a difference between the moderate Calvinists, and the candid Arminians; why do they keep at such a distance from each other? Why do they not publicly give one another the right hand of fellowship, and let all the world know, that they are brethren, and will henceforth own, love, help, and defend each other as such? That no essential difference keeps them asunder, I prove by the following argument. If candid Arminians will make no material objection to my essay on Bible-Calvinism;
reignty, deny his partiality, and condemn Calvinism in an unscriptural manner. Candid Arminians are people, who mildly contend for the doctrines of Justice, and are willing to hear with candour, what the judicious Calvinists have to say in defence of the doctrines of
In my preparatory Essay, I have expressed myself as one, who sometimes doubts whether Arminius did see the doctrine of election in a clear light. It may be proper to account here for a degree of seeming inconsisteney into which this transient doubt has betrayed me. Having been long ill, and at a distance from my books, I have not lately looked into Arminius's works; nor did I ever read them carefully through, as every one should do, who positively condemus, or elears him. And if I have somewhere positively said, that he was not clear in the doctrine of election, I did it: I. Because I judged of Arminius's doctrine by that of the Arminians, who seem to be in general, (as I have been for years) unacquainted with the distinction between the election of grace and that of justice.-2. Because at the synod of Dort, the Arminians absolutely refused to debate first the point of election, which the Calvinists wanted them to do. Whence I concluded, that Armin
ius had not placed that point of doctrine in a light strong
and if judicious Calvinists will not condemn my essay on Bible-Arminianism: as unscriptural it is evident that the difference between them it not capital: and that it arises rather from want of light to see the whole truth clearly, than from an obstinate enmity to any material part of the truth.
Nor is this a sentiment peculiar to myself: I hold it in common with some of the most public defenders of the doctrines of grace and justice. The Arminians will not think that Mr. J. Wesley is partial to the Calvinists: and the professing world is no stranger to Mr. R. Hill's zeal against the Arminians. Nothing can be more opposite than the religious principles of these two gentleman: nevertheless they both agree to place the doctrines, which distinguish pious Calvinists from pious Arminians, among the opinions, which are not essential to genuine, vital, practical Christianity. Mr. Wesley in his thirteenth Journal, page 115, says in a letter to a friend, "You have admirably well expressed what I mean by an opinion, contradistinguished from an essential doctrine. Whatever is compatible with love to Christ, and a work of grace, I term an opinion, and certainly the holding particular election and final perseverance is compatible with these."
What be adds in the next page, is perfectly agreeable to this candid concession. "Mr. H-and Mr. N-hold this, and yet I believe these have real christian experience. But if so, this is only an opinion: it is not subversive, [here is clear proof to the contrary] of the very foundations of christian experience. It is compatible with love to Christ, and a genuine work of grace. Yea, many hold it, at whose feet I desire to be found in the day of the Lord Jesus. If then I oppose this with my whole strength, I am a mere bigot still.” As Mr. Wesley candidly grants here, that persons may hold the Calvinian opinions, which Mr. Hill patronizes, and yet be full of love to Christ, and have a genuine work of grace on their souls: so Mr. Hill in his late publication entitled, A full answer to the Rev. J. Wesley's remarks, page 42, candidly acknowledges, that it is possible to hold Mr. Wesley's Arminian principles, and yet to be ́serious, converted, and sound in Christian experience. His words are: "As for the serious and converted part of Mr. Wesley's congregations, as I by no means think it necessary for any to be what are com nonly called Calvinists in order that they may be Christians, I can most solemnly declare, however that they may judge of me, that I love and honour them not a little, as I am satisfied, that many who are muddled in their judgments, are sound in their experience." These two quotations do honour to the moderation of the popular preachers, from whose writings they are extracted. May all the pious Arminians and Calvinists abide by their
decisions! So shall they find that nothing parts them but unessential opinions; that they are joined by their mutual belief of the essential doctrines of the gospel; and therefore, that if they oppose each other with their whole strength, they are "mere bigots still." To conclude this reconciling argument; If there be numbers of holy souls, who are utterly strangers to the peculiarities of rigid Calvinism and rigid Arminianism; if both the Calvinists and Arminians can produce a cloud of witnesses, that their opinions are consistent with the most genuine piety, and the most extensive usefulness; if there have been many excellent men, on both sides of the question, who (their opponents being judges have lived in the work of faith, suffered with the patience of hope, and died in the triumph of love; and if, at this very day, we can find, among the clergy and laity, Calvinists and Arminians, who adorn their Christian profession by a blameless conduct, and by constant labours for the conversion of sinners or the edification of saints, and who [the Lord being their helper] are ready to seal the truth of Christianity with their blood:-If this, I say, has been, and is still the case; is it not indubitable, that people can be good Christians, whether they embrace the opinions of Calvin, or those of Arminius; and by consequence, that neither rigid Calvinism, nor rigid Arminianism, are any essential part of Christianity.
And shall we make so much of non-essentials, as, on their account, to damp, and perhaps, extinguish the flame of love, which is the most important of all the essentials of Christianity? Alas! what is all faith good for; yea, all faith adorned with the know. ledge of all doctrines and mysteries, if it be not attended by charity? It may indeed help us to speak with the tongues of men and angels, to preach like Apostles, and to talk like Seraphs; but, after all, it will leave us mere cyphers, or at best as sounding brass, a pompous nothing in the sight of the God of love. And therefore, as we would not keep ourselves out of the kingdom of God, which consists in love, peace, and joy; and as we would not promote the interests of the kingdom of darkness, by carrying the fire of discord in our bosoms and filling our vessels with the waters of strife, which so many foolish virgins prefer to the oil of gladness, let us promote peace with all our might. Let us remember, that, "In all the churches of the saints, God is the author of peace;" that "his gospel is the gospel of peace:" that "he hath called us to peace ;" and that" the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." Let us" study to be quiet; following peace with all men; and pursuing [especially] those things, which make for peace in the household of faith :" Nor let us
turn from the blessed pursuit, till we have attained the blessing offered to peace-makers. The kingdom of love, peace, and joy, suffereth violence; it cannot be taken and kept, without great and constant endeavours. The violent alone are able to conquer, for it is taken by the force of earnest prayer to God, for his blessing upon our overtures of peace; and by the vehemence of importunate request to our brethren, that they would grant us an interest in their forgiving love, and admit us, for Christ's sake to the honour of union, and the pleasure of communion with them. It is an important part of the good fight of faith working by love, to attack the unloving prejudices of our brethren, with a meekness of wisdom, which turneth away wrath with a patience of hope, which a thousand repulses cannot beat off; with a perseverance of love, which taketh no denial: and with an ardour of love, which floods of contempt cannot abate. May God hasten the time when all the soldiers of Christ shall so learn and practice this part of the Christian exercise as to overcome the bigotry of their brethren! Nor let us think, that this is impossible: for if the love of Christ has conquered us, why should we despair of its conquering others? And if the unjust judge, who neither feared God, nor regarded man, was nevertheless overcome by the importunity of a poor widow; why should we doubt of overcoming, by the same means, our fellow christians, who fear God, rejoice in Christ, regard men, and love their bre thren? Let us only convince them by every christian method, that we are their brethren indeed, and we shall find most of them far more ready to return our love, than we have found them ready to return our provocations or indifference.
Should it be asked, what are those chris. tian methods, by which we could persuade our Calvinian or Arminian brethren, that we are their brethren indeed? I answer, that all these methods center in these few scriptural directions; "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Love your opponents, though they should despitefully use you. Bless them, though they should curse you: pray for them, though they should persecute you. Wait upon them, and salute them as brethren, though they should keep at as great a distance from you as if you were their enemies: "For if you shew love to them who show love to you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only [who kindly salute you] what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?" But treat them as God treats us: So shall you" be the children of your Father who is in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise and sendeth his rain upon us all. Be ye therefore perfect, even as he is perfect." No bigot ever observed these
gospel-directions. And it is only by observ ing them, that we can break the bars of party-spirit; and pass from the close confinment of bigotry, into the glorious liberty of brotherly love.
These scriptures were probably before the eyes of a laborious minister of Christ, when he drew up some years ago, a plan of union among the clergy of the established church, who agree in these essentials: "1. Original sin, 2. Justification by faith: 3. Holiness of heart and life: provided their life be answerable to their doctrines." This plan is as follows. But what union would you desire among these? Not an union of opinions. They might agree or disagree, touching absolute decrees on the one hand, and perfection on the other. Not an union in expression. These may still speak of the imputed righteousness, and those of the merits of Christ. Not an union with regard to outward order. Some may still remain quite regular; and some quite irregular; and some partly regular, and partly irregular."-[Not an union of societies. Some, who do not see the need of discipline, may still labour without forming any society at all: Others may have a society, whose members are united by the bands of a lax discipline. And others, who have learned by experience that professors can be kept long together without the help of a strict discipline, may strengthen their union with those who are like-minded, by agreeing to observe such rules as appear to them most conducive to the purposes of divine and brotherly love.]-"But these things being as they are, as each is persuaded in his own mind, is it not a most desirable thing, that we should First, Remove hindrances out of the way? Not judge one another, not envy one another? Not be displeased with one another's gifts or success, even though greater than their own? Nor wait for one another's halting; much less wish for it, or rejoice therein ? Never speak disrespectfully, slightly, coldly, or unkindly of each other? Never repeat each others faults, mistakes or imfirmities; much less listen for, and gather them up? Never say or do any thing to hinder each other's usefulness; either directly or indirectly? Is it not a desirable thing, that we should, Secondly, Love as brethren? Think well of, and honour one another? Wish all good, all-grace all gifts, all success, yea rather than our own, to each other? Expect God will answer our wish, rejoice in every appearance thereof, and praise him for it? Readily believe good of each other, as readily as we once believed evil ? Speak respectfully, honourably, kindly of each other? Defend each other's character: speak all the good we can of each other recommend one another where we have influence: each help the other on in his
I do not see why such a plan might not be, in some degree, admitted by all the ministers of the gospel, whether they belong to or dissent from the establishment. I would extend my brotherly love to all Christians in general, but more especially to all protestants, and most particularly to all the protestants of the established church,* with whom I am joined by repeated subscriptions to the same articles of religion, by oaths of canonical obedience, by the same religious rites, by the use of the same liturgy, by the same prerogatives, and by the fullest share of civil and religious liberty. But, God forbid, that I should exclude from my brotherly affection, and occasional assistance, any true minister of Christ, because he casts the gospel-net among the Presbytarians, the Independents, the Quakers, or the Baptists! If they will not wish me good luck in the name of the Lord, I will do it to them. So far as they cordially aim at the conversion of sinners, I will offer them the right hand of fellowship, and communicate with them in spirit. They may excommunicate me, if their prejudices prompt them to it: they may build up a wall of partition between themselves and me; but in the strength of my God, whose love is boundless as his immensity, and whose mercy is over all his works, I will leap over the wall; being persuaded that it is only daubed with untempered mortar, and made of Babel-materials. Should not christian meekness, and ardent love, bear down party-spirit and the prejudices of education? The king tolerates and protects us all, the parliament makes laws to ensure toleration and quietness, peace and mutual forbearance: and shall we, who make a peculiar profession of the faith which works by love, and binds upon us the new commandment of laying down our lives for the brethren :-shall we, I say, be less charitable and more intolerant than our civil governors, who perhaps make no such profession? Let bigoted Jews and ignorant Samaritans dispute whether God is to to be worshipped on Mount Moriah or on Mount Gerizim: let rigid churchmen say, that a parish-church is the only place where divine service ought to be performed, whilst stiff Dissenters suppose, that their meeting-houses are the only Bethels in the land; but let us ber the reconciling words of our Lord, “The who profess moderation and charity, rememhour cometh, and now is, when true worship. pers shall worship God (every where) in spirit and in truth: For the Father seeketh such
The plan of a particular reconciliation and union between the professors, who receive the xXXIX Articles will be laid before the public in a separate tract, if the author's days are lengthened a little. The consistency of the moderate Calvinism and Arminianism contained in these Articles, will form the ground of that plan.
(catholic and spiritual persons) to worship him;" and not such partial and formal devotees, as the Jews and Samaritans were in the days of our Lord.
But to return to our plan of reconciliation might not some additions be made to Mr. Wesley's draught; for it is from a letter pub. Jished in his thirteenth Journal that I have extracted the preceding sketch of union? Might not good men and sincere ministers, who are bent upon the inheriting the seventh beatitude, form themselves into a Society of Reconcilers, whatever be their denomination, and mode of worship? Interest brings daily to the Royal Exchange a multitude of Merchants, ready to deal with men of the most opposite customs, dresses, religions, and countries: And shall not the love of peace, and the pursuit of love, have as great an effect upon the children of light, as the love of money, and the pursuit of wealth, have upon the men of the world? There is a Society for promoting Religious Knowledge among the Poor:-some of its members are church-men, and others Dissenters: some are Calvinists and others Arminians; and yet it flourishes, and the design of it is happily answered. Might not such a society be formed for promoting Peace and love among professors? Is not charity preferable to knowledge? And if it be well to associate, in order to distribute Bibles and Testaments, which are but the letter of the gospel: would it not be better to associate, in order to diffuse peace and love, which are the spirit of the gospel? There is another respectable Society for promoting the Christian Faith among the Heathen: and why should there not be a society for promoting unanimity and toleration among Christians? Ought not the welfare of our fellow christians to lie as nea: our hearts, as that of the heathen? There are in London, and other places, associations for the preventing and extinguish ing of fires. As soon as the mischief breaks out, and the alarm is given, the firemen run to their fire-engines; and without considering whether the house on fire be inhabited by Church-men or Dissenters, by Arminians or Calvinists, they venture their lives to put out the flames: and why should there not be as sociations of peace-makers, who the moment the fire of discord breaks out in any part of our Jerusalem, may be ready to put it out by all the methods which the gospel suggests? Is not the fire of hell, which consumes souls, more to be guarded against, than that fire which can only destroy the body?
Should it be asked, what methods could be pursued to extinguish the fire of discord, and kindle that of love? I reply, that we need only be as wise as the children of this world. Consider we then how they proceed to gain their worldly ends; and let us go and do as much to gain our spiritual ends.
Many gentlemen, some laymen, and others
clergymen, some church-men, and others Dis senters, wanted lately to procure the repeal of our Articles of Religion. Notwithstanding the diversity of their employments, principles, and denominations, they united, wrote circular letters, drew up petitions, and used all their interest with men in power to bring about their design.-Again; some warm men thought it proper to blow up the fire of dis content in the breasts of our American fellowsubjects. How did they go about the dan gerous work! With what ardour did they speak and write, preach and print, fast and pray, publish manifestoes and make them circulate, associate, and strengthen their asso. ciations, and at last venture their fortunes, reputations, and lives in the execution of their important project! Go, ye men of peace, and do at least half as much to carry on your friendly design. Associate, pray, preach, and print for the furtherance of Peace. When ye meet, consult about the means of removing what stands in the way of a fuller agreement in priciple and affection, among all those who love Christ in sincerity: and decide if the following queries contain any hint worthy of your attention.
Might not moderate Calvinists send with success circular letters to their rigid calvinian brethren; and moderate Arminians to their rigid Arminian brethren, to check rashness, and recommend meekness, moderation, and love? Might not the Calvinist ministers, who patronize the doctrines of grace, display also the doctrines of justice, and open their pulpits to those Arminian ministers who do it with caution? And might not the Ar minian ministers, who patronize the doc trines of justice, make more of the doctrines of grace, preach as nearly as they can like the judicious Calvinists, admit them into their pulpits, and rejoice at every oppor tunity of shewing them their esteem and confidence? Might not such moderate Calvinists and Arminians as live in the same towns, have from time to time a general sacrament, and invite one another to it, to cement brotherly love by publicly confessing the same Christ, by jointly taking him for their common head, and by acknowledging one another as fellow-members of his mystical body? Might not some of the ministers, on these occasions, preach to edification on such texts as these: "Christ asked them, what was it that ye disputed among your selves by the way? But they held their peace for by the way they had disputed, who should be the greatest and he saith unto them, If any man desireth to be first, the same shall be last of all." "Know ye