« AnteriorContinuar »
tem, which maintains the doctrine of human depravitysalvation by Christ-justification by faith, and sanctification by the Holy Spirit, stands on very different grounds from that of either the Pelagians or Semi-Pelagians. It may, notwithstanding, be admitted that there have not been wanting some who have sheltered their Pelagian, nor others perhaps even their Socinian, errors, under the name of Arminianism.”*
Both Calvinists and Arminians stand exposed to dangers peculiar to themselves. The Minister of Christianity who adopts, what is called the Calvinistic system, will do well to take care that while he preaches the doctrines of grace, he do not throw into the shade the practical duties of the Christian life, and that he guard his hearers against every approach to Antinomianism. Antinomianism is the dead sea of religion, where every thing is either indurated or putrified. In these waters the celebrated Prynne must have been dipped, before he could declare in his Perpetuity “ Let any true saint of God be taken away in the very act of any known sin, before it is possible for him to repent, I make no doubt or scruple of it, but he shall as surely be saved, as if he had lived to have repented of it.” This sentiment, which Archbishop Laud so justly reprobated, and which Dr. Marsh, in his Strictures so justly censures, is utterly inconsistent with the sound doc. trine that cannot be reproved.- The Arminian Preacher has need to take care, that he not only believe the doctrines of grace, but that he also in the public instruction he communicates, give them that prominence which is necessary to the faithful discharge of his duty.
• Mr. Adams's Religious World Displayed, Vol. II, p. p. 254, 255.
as a good steward of the mysteries of the Gospel, as well as of its pure morality: that the morality which he inculcates, rise infinitely above that which any system of heathen philosophy knew; not the cold and calculating morality of general expediency, but that which flows from vital religion, the love of God shed abroad in the heart, by the influence of the Holy Ghost.
It is strange that Mr. Evans should have represented Episcopius and Grotius as Arminian writers. The latter certainly was so in the first part of his life, and in his early productions; but his writings before his death, were of a very different kind. Both these writers were of the political party to which this name was affixed, but both of them were Pelagians, if not Unitarians.
They agreed indeed with Arminius in some points, as they did with Calvin in others; but with respect to original sin, justification by grace, and the necessity of Divine influence they differed from Arminius completely. Dr. Taylor's Key to the Epistle to the Romans, Mr. Evans says, has been much admired on the subject of Arminianism. We wish he had informed us by whom it has been admired. Mr. Belsham and other Unitarian writers have certainly approved and admired it, as its tendency is to set aside the most important doctrines of the Gospel. follower of Arminius, though he may meet with some things that accord with his own sentiments, will think of it in general, just as every Calvinist thinks, that it is subversive of the peculiar truths of Christianity, and utterly irreconcilable to common honesty, because its design is not avowed, but covered by the pretence of explain. ing, what it means to destroy. Mr. Fellows too, is made by Mr. Evans to take his place among the Arminians, and by the side of Mr. Wesley. Had the pious father of the
Methodists heen alive, he certainly would have thought himself in strange company, and begged permission to retire from such society, to some more congenial to his sentiments. I believe he would much sooner have taken a chair by the side of Calvin himself. If Calvinists and Arminians differ, the difference is between those who either are, or may be the disciples of the blessed Redeemer. But those who oppose the doctrines of Grace neither are, nor can be considered by either of them as persons who build upon the same foundation with themselves. Mr. Fellows differs from the general body of Socinians in admitting the immortality of the soul, though he seems scarcely to believe in the doctrine of the resurrection. Dr. Taylor believed in the personality of the Holy Ghost, but in other respects the difference between him and the Unitarians is extremely small. Were we to recommend the writings of a divine of the Church of England, or of the Church of Scotland, as a fair specimen of the senti. ments of the society of the Friends, we should do exactly what Mr. Evans has done, when he refers to the writings of such men for an account of Arminianism. Misrepresentations of this kind are attended with the very worst effects. They are so many traps set to catch the simple, and those who are off their guard, of whom there are too many in all societies. To prevent this, we have no doubt was Mr. Benson's intention in cautioning the Me. thodists to beware of being led astray by the Sketch, which warning has given so great offence to Mr. Evans as to disturb the ordinary tranquillity of his mind. The Editors of a periodical work, conducted with considerable abilities, have fallen into so gross a mistake, though of a different kind, as to call Hooker, whose sentiments were decidedly Calvinistic, an Arminian.--Writers of the Semi-Pelagian school have been numerous, such were Archbishop Newcombe, Bishops Bull, Warburton, &c. &c. &c.
ON EVANGELICAL RELIGION.
Those are called Evangelical Ministers and writers, who consider the state of man as that of a fallen and guilty creature; the atonement made by the obedience and sacrifice of the Son of God, and the consequence of it, justification through faith in his blood ; regeneration by the spirit and grace of Christ, as fundamental truths of Christianity, and who give them in their sermons or writings that prominence, which they appear to them to hold in the Gospel of reconciliation. They do not consider the practical and relative duties of Christianity as things of less importance than the truths we have mentioned, but admit both of them to be equal in their proper places. In repentance toward God, and in faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, they lay the foundation of their system, and on this foundation they teach men to build themselves up in their most holy faith, adding to it every virtue, being steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the way and work of the Lord. No men more decidedly enforce the practice of good works, and the absolute necessity of them, not only to salvation, but as an eminent and essential part of it. They are careful, however, to distinguish good from dead works, vital religion from mere decency, and the obedience which springs from a lively faith, working by
love to God and to man, from that which knows no higher motive than self love. Of their system Christ is the sun, not a mere satellite revolving around orbs, and appended to them for some secondary purpose, but the day-spring from on high, the fountain of light, life, and joy. It is in his rising with healing under his wings, that they expect the shadow of death to be turned into the morning, the wilderness and the solitary place to become glad, and the desert to blossom as the rose. To the grace which He is exalted as a prince and a saviour to bestow, they look for those powerful energies which raise men from the death of sin, to sit with their Saviour in heavenly places, and to abound in the works of righteousness, which are by him to the glory of God.. Of their morality,' the supreme love of God is the radical principle, which, being shed abroad in the hearts of men by the Holy Ghost, kindles a spirit of devotion to God that is fervent; and to men, a charity that burns with a constant flame.
Of Evangelical preaching, the effects have been as conspicuous and incontrovertible, as they have been important and salutary. That they are far from being universal must be acknowledged; for the Gospel, like all other medicines, can operate a cure only when it is received, The ministers of Christianity, like their Divine Master, have generally had to complain “ Lord who hath believed our report? and to whom has the arm of Jehovah been revealed ?” The numbers of those who have derived the highest blessings from Evangelical preaching are sufficient to arrest the attention, and to extort a confession of its happy effects, even from some of those who appear to be decidedly hostile to it. A late writer of this kind observes, “ Nor ought we to be insensible of the multitudes that have been reclaimed from the most abandoned profligacy, VOL. II.