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the disputed points. There was a privilege, however, granted to the professor, provided he could obtain the consent of the synod of Anjou, to answer those foreign divines who had written against his hypothesis. This was designed to give him an opportunity of replying to Rivetus, Des Marets, and Spanheim, divines of Holland, who had em. barked in the controversy against him with a noble zeal, and with very great ability. The two former had been originally French divines, but owing to their attachment to the truth, and their boldness in defending it, they had fallen under the displeasure of the government, and had retired to the Low Countries. Spanheim was his principal antagonist, and the synod of Anjou gave Amyraut the privilege of replying to him. Thus by a strange kind of indecision and lenity, the controversy was permitted to rage in all its fury, while it was nominally prohibited. Amyraut, however, had greatly the advantage of his antagonists in point of effect. His answers to Spanheim and the other Holland divines, were published in the French language, extensively circulated and read, while the works of his opponents were written in a language unknown, except to the learned, they had comparatively few personal friends, and hence but few could, or would read their works. As to the affairs of the church in France, it amounted to nearly the same thing, as if they had given Amyraut full privilege to write and publish his opi. nions, while the friends of truth were prohibited from entering the lists with him. From all these considerations, however irresistible the reasonings of the Holland divines might be, they could produce but little effect in France, and their power in checking the torrent of error, which was overflowing the reformed church there, and undermining the foundations of the whole fabric, which had been erected with great labour, was almost nothing.
The chief work of Spanheim, in this controversy, was his Vidicæ Vindiciarum, which was edited by his son after his death, with a preface written by Rivetus. It probably contains the substance of all that was written against the Amyraldists, as the disciples of Amyraut have been called. It is
a work of great labour, and replete with solid argument and sound criticism. Both Amyraut and the Holland divines permitted a considerable degree of feeling and warmth of passion to enter into the controversy. It is evident that Spanheim, and the other orthodox divines who were his coadjutors, considered the best interests of the reformed church, and the beautiful harmony of the Christian system, put in jeopardy by the doctrines of the Salmurensian divines. Spanheim, in the posthumous work alluded to, reasons from a great variety of topics against the doctrine of hypothetical decrees, and general, indefinite atonement. He argues in favour of absolute election and definite atonement from the particularity of the first promise, made to our fallen ancestors in the garden of Eden; and the contrast between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; and from its particular fulfilment in his posterity, as in the families of Noah, Abraham, and Israel; from the limited economy of the gospel under the Old Testament dispensation, as confined to the Jewish nation; from the nature of the sacri. fices, as indicatiog a substitution, precisely in the room of sinners; from the divine justice demanding the acquittal of all those for whom the price of redemption was paid; from the mediatory character, as the representative and surety of his spiritual seed; from the situation of the millions of the human family who were actually suffering the effects of the wrath of God in the mansions of everlasting misery, at the very time when Messiah was offering up to his Father the atoning sacrifice, and hence could receive by it no benefit; and from the unchangeableness of the divine character, who cannot will that man shall be saved, and yet not bestow upon
him that faith which is his own gift, and without which the sinner must inevitably perish. From all these and various topics of argumentation, with a very extensive and minute examination and collation of scripture texts, he reasons that God did not, that he could not, upon the scriptural plan, destine Christ to be the redeemer of any but those who shall be actually saved. He charges his adversary with giving false views of the character of God; with misa
taking the nature of the Christian system; and with exhibits ing false views of the nature of the gospel. He meets and overturns all the objections which, with great subtilty of reasoning, extensive and prodigious learning, had been collected by his antagonist. He certainly triumphs in the judgment of every impartial reader who attends with care to the controversy.
The Gallic synod, however, had opened the floodgates of error, and no efforts of a foreign individual could arrest the torrent, or retard its course. It spread over France with astonishing rapidity. The friends of orthodoxy, alarmed at the mischief which, too late, they perceived had been done, fled in dismay from the overwhelming deluge that poured in upon them. Those who embraced the hypothesis vainly fancied that they had found out a means to heal all the divisions which had rent the church from the commencement of the reformation. They thought that the Arminians, at least, could cordially unite with them; and they even extended their views to the Roman catholics. For this purpose, they courted the reigning catholic princes, who were lying in wait and plotting against them to their destruction. Amyraut preached with great vehemence the doctrine of passive obedience; the divine right of kings; and non-resistance; and was warmly supported by those who espoused the hypothesis. Thus, while the Amyraldists were breaking down the fair fabric of truth, which their fathers had erected, they were actively employed in giving their power to the beast, and endeavouring to support one of those thrones of iniquity with which God has declared that “he will have no fellowship.”
Still, a majority of the ministers were sound in the faith. Their practical errors were a relaxation of discipline and a spirit of accommodation, which induced them to pass, without censure, those who from the pulpit and the press, violated the canons of their church and their own solemn oaths, sworn at their ordination to the ministry. Though in compliance with a mandate from the king, a general sy
nod had blotted the name of the synod of Dort out of the oath imposed upon those who were entering on the ministry, and had permitted Amyraut and his coadjutors to escape without censure, yet they often expressed the most decided disapprobation of these novel tenets.
Under the head of errors rejected, we have this strong reprobation of their opinions. “ Those who teach that God's election to eternal life, is of divers kinds, the one general and indefinite, the other definite and particular, and this again is incomplete and revocable, not peremptory but conditional, or else complete and unchangeable, peremptory, or absolute; item, that there is an election to faith, and another unto life and salvation, so that election unto justifying faith, may be without a peremptory election to salvation--these are nothing else but the inventions of brain sick men.”
The general synod of Alençon received a letter from the church of Geneva, signed on behalf of the whole, by Tronchien, Diodate, Chabray, Prevost and Paulient. It warns them, in very strong terms, to beware of the errors, which had been introduced at Saumur, and advises the Gallic church,“ to grub them up by the roots.” This advice is enforced by a great variety of considerations, but chiefly from the situation in which the church was then placed. A work written by Rivetus on the same subject, and containing an elaborate refutation of the Salmurensian errors, was received, by the same synod, accompanied by very strong recommendations from many of the most distinguished Protestant divines of that age, among whom we find the names of Polyander, Wallæus, Thysius, Triglandius, Bogerman, Sertaurius, Majorinus, Altingius and Francis Gomar.
Du Moulin also wrote to this synod a very spirited, and eloquent letter, which reprobates in strong terms the policy of permitting these noxious subtilties to spread abroad in the church. Some have said that the doctrines in question, were the same in reality with those of Calvin and the Ge. nevan school generally. Let us hear what Du Moulin, who had the very best opportunities of information on this subject, thought respecting it. In his letter to the synod of
Alençon, he says, ".nor can any one deny but that one third part at least of Cameron's works, is spent in the confutation of Calvin, Beza, and the rest of our reforming doctors, yet, notwithstanding these blemishes, I cannot find in him that doctrine which is now vented by those, who boast themselves to be his disciples and followers, and cover themselves with the shield of his authority. I cannot find where he saith that the distinct knowledge of Jesus Christ is not necessary to salvation, nor that he saith that Jesus Christ died equally, and alike for all men; nor doth he teach that the reprobates may be saved if they will, or that God hath counsels and decrees that may be frustrated, and shall never obtain their effect; nor farther, can I find where he saith that God hath taken away from (all) men their natural impotency to believe and convert themselves to him; nor that he reduceth the regenerating spirit to a mere suasion.” Such is a summary of the Salmurensian errors, by a man who lived at the time when they were broached; and also the views which he had as to their opposition to the doctrines of the early reformers. Though such testimony is satisfactory, we do not need it while we can have access to their writings.
All these warnings, however, could not excite the judica. tories to eradicate the errors by inflicting the censures of the church. Men were permitted to remain in the ministry in open
violation of their most solemn oaths, and while they were tearing down the pillars of truth. They had also another admonition to arrest the progress of these errorsthe general corruption of manners, which began to prevail about the time that the Salmurensian errors commenced their career. Even enemies admit that the most rigid Cal. vinists have been, generally, the most virtuous class of Christians. The times of the greatest orthodoxy, have always been marked by the greatest piety. What Bayle, though an enemy, is forced to say of the purity, and the stern integrity of Calvin's character, is generally true of his sincere disciples. While the doctrines of his school, in other words the doctrines of the Bible, prevailed in France, the re