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good man, Arminius, is to this day.dignified, for having made a firm and noble stand against wanton free grace. . The bạnishment or deprivation of Grotius, Episcopius, and other Dutch divines, is no secret. And it is well known that in England Mr. Baxter, Mr. Wesley, and Mr. Sellon, are to this day “ an abhorrence to all Antinomian fesh."
I am sorry to say, that, all things considered, these good men have been treated with as much severity
. by Protestant Antinomians, as ever Luther, Melancthon, and. Calvin were by Popish Pharisees. The Antinomian and Pharisaic spirit run as much into one, as the two arms of a river that embraces an island. If they divide for a time, it is only to meet again, and increase their mutual rapidity. I beg leave to speak my whole rind. It is equally clear from Scripture and reason that we must believe in order to be saved consistently with God's mercy; and that we must obey in order to be saved consistently with his holiness. These propositions are the immovable basis of the two Gospel axioms. Now if I reject either of them, it little matters which. If I blow my brains out, what signifies it whether I do it by clapping the mouth of a pistol to my right or to my left temple ?
Error moves in a circle : extremes meet in one. A warm Popish Pharisee, and a zealous Protestant Antinomian, are nearer each other than they imagine. The one will tell you that by going to mass and confession he can get a fresh absolution from the priest for any sin that he shall commit. The other, whose mistake is still more pleasing to flesh and blood, assures you that he has already got an eternal absolution, so that “ under every state and circumstance he can possibly be in, he is justified from all things, his sins are for ever and for ever cancelled.”
But, if they differ a little in the idea of their imaginary privileges, they have the honour of agreeing in the main point. For, although the one makes a great noise about faith and free grace, and the other about works and true charity, they exactly meet in narrow grace and despairing uncharitableness. The Pharisee in Jerusalem asserts, that “out of the Jewish Church there can be no salvation,” and his companions in self election heartily say. Amen! The Pharisee in Rome declares, that “ there is no salvation out of the apostolic, Romish Church," and all the Catholic elect set their seal to the antichristian decree. And the Antinomian in London insinuates, (for he is ashamed to speak quite out in a Protestant country,) that there is no salvation out of the Calvinistic Predestinarian Church. Hence, if you oppose his principles in ever so rational and Scriptural a manner, be supposes that you are
quite dark,” that all your holiness is “self made," and all your « righteousness a cobweb.spun by a poor spider out of its own buwels.” And if he allows you a chance for your salvation, it is only upon a supposition, that you may yet repent of your opposition to his crrors, and turn Calvinist before you die. But might not an inquisitor be as charitable? Might he not hope that the poor heretic, whom he has condemned to the flamos, may yet be saved, if he cordially kiss a crucifix, and say, “ Ave, Maria!” at the stake?
And now, candid reader, look around, and see what these seemingly opposite errors have done for Christ's Church. Before the reformation Christendom was overspread with superstition and fanaticism;
and since, with lukewarmness and infidelity. But let us descend to particulars.
What has Pharisaism done for the Church of Rome? It has publicly rent from her all the Protestant kingdoms, and secretly turned against her an innumerable multitude of Deists: for while bigots continue ridiculous bigots still ; men of wit, headed by ingenious infidels, continually pour undeserved contempt upon Christianity, through the deserved wounds which they give to Popery. They represent Christ's rational and humane religion as one of the worst in the world, unjustly charging it with the persecuting spirit, and horrible massacres of those Catholics, so called, who, mangling the truth, and running away with one half of the body of Christian divinity, disgrace the whole by childish fooleries, and worse than barbarian uncharitableness. And what does Pharisaism for the Protestant Churches?
So far as it prevails, spreads it not around its fatal leaven, a general indifference about heart-felt religion? Turns it not the lively oracles of God into a dead letter, the sacraments into empty ceremonies, the means of grace into rattles, to quiet a guilty conscience with; the precious blood of Christ into a common thing, his hallowed cross into an inglorious tree, external devotion into a cloak for secret hypocrisy; and some acts of apparent benevolence into the rounds of a ladder, the bottom of which reaches hell, and behold spiritual fiends (all manner of diabolical tempers) are seen continually “ ascending and descending on it?":
Does it not incline us to despise those who are eminently pious, as if they were out of their senses; to despair of those who are notoriously wicked, as if they were absolute reprobates : and to prefer a popular imitator of Barabbas to a meek follower of Jesus? Does it not prompt'us to lay an undue stress upon trifles, and make an endless ado about some frivolous circumstance of external worship, while we
pass over judgment, mercy, and the love of God??? And by that means does it not confirm modern Herodians in their Antinomianism, and modern Sadducees in their infidelity? In a word, does it not render the stiff neck stiffer, the blind understanding blinder, the hard heart stouter, the proud spirit more rebellious, more indifferent about mercy, more averse to Gospel grace, more satanical, readier for all the curses of the law, and riper for all the woes of the Gospel ?
But let us consider the other extreme. What has Calvinism done for Geneva? Alas! It has in a great degree shocked and driven it into Arianism, Socinianism, and infidelity. See the account lately given of it in the French Encyclopedia, article Geneva. Many of the clergy of Geneva (says judicious Mr. D'Alembert) no longer believe the divinity of Jesus Christ, of which Calvin their leader was a zealous defender, and for which he had Servetus burned, &c. They believe that there are punishments in another world, but only for a limited time. Thus purgatory, which was one of the chief causes of the reformation, is now the only punishment which many Protestants admit after death. A new proof this that man is a being full of contradictions. To sum up all in one word, the religion of many pastors at Geneva is perfect Socinianism.” What good has Calvinism done in England ? Alas! very
little. When a bow is bent beyond its proper degree of tension, does it not
fly to pieces? When you violently pull a tree toward the west, if it recovers itself, does it not violently fly to the east ? -Has not this
generally been the case with respect to all the truths of 'God, which have been forced out of their Scriptural place one way or another ? Calviñism, in the days of Oliver Cromwell
, was at the very same height of splendour at which Popery had attained in the days of King Henry the Eighth, and they share the same downfall. Mole ruunt sua. At the reformation, the first grand doctrine of Christianity, (salvation by grace through faith,) which had been forced out of its place, and almost broken by the Papists, flew back upon them with such violence that it shook the holy see, frightened the pope, and made some of the richest jewels fall from his triple crown. In like manner the second grand doctrine of Christianity, (salvation, not by the proper merit of works, but by the works of faith as a condition,) which had beer served by the Antinomians just as the first Gospel axiom by the Papists, recovering itself out of their hands, flew back upon them with uncommon violence at King Charles' restoration ; by an indirect blow shook two thousand Calvinistic ministers, out of their pulpits ; and getting får beyond its Scriptural place, began to bear hard upon, and even thrust out the grand doctrine of salvation by grace. Thus, the absurdity and mischief of Antinomianism began to drive again the generality of English Protestants into Pharisaism, Arianism, Socinianism, or open inddelity ; that is, into the state in which most of the learned are at Rome and Geneva.
I grant that near forty years ago some clergymen from the university of Oxford returned to the principles of the reformation, and zealously contended again for salvation by grace, and for unịversal obedience. By the Divine blessing upon their indefatigable endeavours, faith and works met again, and for some time walked undisturbed together. A little revolution then took place: practical Christianity revived, and leaning upon her fair daughters, truth and love, took å solemn walk through the kingdom, and gave a foretaste of heaven to all that cordially entertained her.
She might, by this time, have turned this favourite isle into a land flowing with spiritual milk and honey, if Apollyon, disguised in his angelic robes, had not played, and did not continue to play his old game. Nor does he do it in vain. By his insinuations men of a contrary turn rise against practical Christianity. Many of the devout call her heresy, and many of the gay name her rank enthusiasm. In the meantime she drops a tear of tender pity, prays for her mistaken persecutors, and quietly retires into the wilderness. Lean obedience is soon driven after her, to make more room for speculative faith, who is so highly fed with luscious food and wild honey, that she is quite bloated, and full of humours. Nay, in some she is degenerated into an impatient, quarrelsome something, which calls-itself orthodoxy, or the truth, and must be treated with the greatest respect; while charity, cold, sickly, and almost starved for want of work, is hardly used with common good manners.
In a word, Antinomian Christianity is come, and makes her public entry in the professing Church. A foolish virgin, who assumes the name of free grace, walks before her, and cries, “ Bend the knee, bow
the heart, and entertain the old, the pure, the only Gospel.”. An ugly black boy, called free wrath, bears her enormous train, and with wonderful art hides himself behind it. While thousands are taken with the smiles and cheerfulness of wanton free grace, (for that is the virgin's right name) and for her sake welcome her painted mother, a grey
eaded seer passes by, fixes his keen eyes upon the admired family, sees through their disguise, and warns his friends. This is highly resented, not only by all the lovers of the sprightly, alluring maid, but by some excellent people, who, in the simplicity of their hearts, mistake ner for the celestial Virgin Astrea. Mr. H. and Mr. T., two of her champions, fall upon the aged monitor; and to the great entertainment . of the Pharisaic and Antinomian world, who do the best to tread down nis honour in the dust,
'While they are thus employed, a rough countryman, who had taken the seer's warning, throws himself full in the way of Antinomian Christianity, and tries to stop her in her triumphal march., Wanton free grace is a little disconcerted at his rudeness, she reddens, and soon shows herself the true sister of free wrath. To be revenged of the clown, she charges him with guess what-a rape?. No: but with being great with “ the scarlet whore,” and concerned with the Romish “man of sin.” If he is acquitted of these enormities, they say that she is determined to indict him for murder or “forgery ;” and if that will not do, for highway robbery, or “execrable Swiss slander.” The mountaineer, who “ counts not his life 'dear,””. stands his ground, and in the scuffle discovers the black boy, lays fast hold of him, and notwithstanding the good words that he gives one moment, and the floods of invectives which he pours out the next, he drags him out to public view, and appeals to the Christian world. Et adhuc sub judice lis est.
But leaving England, the scene of the present controversy, I ask, What does Calvinism at this day for Scotland, where national honours are paid to it, and where for some ages it has passed for the pure Gospel ? Alas! not much, if we may depend upon the observations of a gentleman of piety and fortune, who went last year with an eminent minister of Christ to inspect the state of spiritual Christianity in the north, and brought back this melancholy account :—"The decay of vital religion is yet more visible in Scotland' than in England.”
Should, by this time, some of my readers-be ready to ask what Arminianism has done for Holland and England, Į reply: If by Arminianism you mean the pure doctrine of Christ, especially the doctrine of our free justification through Christ; by the instrumentality of faith in the day of a sinner's conversion, and by the evidence of the works of faith afterward : if you mean, as I do, a system of evangelical truth, in which the two Gospel precepts, believe and obey, are duly balanced, ảnd faith and works kept in their Scriptural place; I answer: That under Christ it has done all the good that has been done; not only in Holland and England, but in all Christendom.
Be not then mistaken: when ministers, leaning toward speculative Antinomianism, have done good, it has not been by preaching, wanton free grace, and by shackling the free Gospel, but by powerfully enforcing the truth as it is in Jesus ;” by crying aloud, “ Believe, tħou lost sinner, and be saved by grace: obey, thou happy believer, and
evidence thy salvation by works: and whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely, for all things are now ready.” So far as they have started aside from this guarded, and yet encouraging Gospel, they have pulled down with one hand what they built with the other ; they have tried to make up the Pharisaic, by widening the Antinomian gap; they have departed from what we call Christianity, and what you are at full liberty to call Arminianism, Baxterianism, or Wesleyanism.
To return : I observed, just now, that Antinomianism drives us into Pharisaism, Socinianism, and infidelity: but might I not have added fatalism, the highest degree of fashionable infidelity? And after all, what is fatalism, in which the greatest infidels unanimously shelter themselves in our day? Is it not the beginning or the end of high Calvinism, whose emblematical representation may be a serpent forming a circle while it bites its tail, with this motto, in sese volvitur error, “ After a large circuit error ends where it began?”. If high Calvinism is the head, is not fatalism the tail ?
For my part I shall not wonder if some of our high Predestinarians find themselves, before they are aware, even at Hobbes' or Voltaire's feet, humbly learning there the horrible lessons of fatalism. Nay, if I am not mistaken, they perfectly agree with the French philosopher in the capital point. One might think that they have converted him to their orthodoxy, or that he has perverted them to his infidelity. Candid reader, judge of it by the following extract of his lecture on destiny :
"Homer (says he) is the first writer in whose works we find the notion of fate. It was then in vogue in his time. Nor was it adopted by the Pharisees till many years after: for these Pharisees themselves, who were the first men of letters among the Jews, were not very ancient, &c. But philosophers needed neither the help of Homer, nor that of the Pharisees, to persuade themselves that all things happen by immutable decrees, that all is fixed, that all is necessary.” Now for the proof :
“ Bodies (adds he) tend to the centre ; pear trees can never bear pine apples; a man cannot have above a certain number of teeth.” And directly flying from teeth to ideas, he would have us infer, that we can no more arrange, combine, alter, or dismiss our ideas, than our grinders; and that an adulterer defiles his neighbour's bed as necessarily as a pear tree produces pears. He even adds, “ If thou couldst alter the destiny of a fly, thou shouldst be more powerful than God himself.”. (See Diciionaire Philosophique Portatif, Londres, 1764, pp. 163, 164.)
This ingenious infidel is quite as orthodox (in the Calvinistic sense of the word) in his article on liberty :-“What does then your free will consist in, (says he,) if it is not in a power to do willingly what absolute necessity makes you choose ?” Nay, he is so staunch a Predestinarian, so complete a fatalist, that he maintains no one can choose even or odds without an irresistible order of all-directing fate.
And he concludes by affirming that all “ liberty of indifference,” that is, all power to do a thing, or to leave it undone at our option, without the necessitating agency of fate, “ is arrant nonsense.” (See the same book, page 243, &c.)
Thus the most subtle, self-righteous infidel in France, by going full