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the elect of God, an assured faith in the promise of God, revealed to us in his word; by which faith, we apprehend Christ Jesus, with the graces and benefits promised in him.” That all men will not be delivered from this state of corruption, into which by the sin of Adam, they are fallen, but those only who are elected of God in Christ Jesus, is plainly taught in the eighth article:-“ For that same God and Father, who of mere grace, elected us in Christ Jesus his son, before the foundation of the world was laid, appointed him to be our head, our brother, our pastor, and the great bishop of our souls: but because that the enmity between the justice of God, and our sins was such, that no flesh by itself could, or might have attained unto God, it behoved that the Son of God should descend unto us, and take to himself a body of our body, flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, and so become the Mediator between God and man, giving power to so many as believe on him, to become the sons of God, as himself also witnesseth, • I pass up to my Father and your Father, unto my God and unto your God, by which most holy fraternity, whatsoever we have lost in Adam is restored again, and for this cause we are not afraid to call God our Father.” And in the ninth article they say; “ that our Lord Jesus Christ offered himself a voluntary sacrifice to the Father for us, that he suffered contradiction of sinpers, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions
that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father, which sinners had deserved —that they are blasphemous against Christ's death, and the everlasting purgation and satisfaction purchased to us by the same," who affirm the contrary.
As to their views of the nature of the satisfaction made by Christ, nothing could be more satisfactory, nothing more decisive than those selections which have been laid before the reader, yet as to the extent and precise objects of the atonement, there is nothing here very specific; but the same reasoning which has been applied to the articles of the church of England, may be applied to the Scotch Confession. The Presbyterian form of church government, which gave all the
ministers, as co-presbyters, equal power, in the adoption of creeds, and put it out of the power of one priest, or a few priests, to alter the standards of the church; rendered it impossible to change the system, or introduce errors into it, without the consent of a majority of the clergy; and formed a strong barrier against the inroads of erroneous principles. The church too, was recognised at the same time, in Scotland as a regular and independent empire, of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the only king and head: and as a body possessing, by delegation from the Redeemer a right of self-government, and of regulating its systein of doctrine and worship, agreeably to the principles contained in the scriptures of truth. All the civil concerns of the nation were, at the same time, rendered subservient to the interests of this kingdom of Messiah. The nation was considered as bound to regulate all its civil operations according to the laws of Heaven, revealed in the Bible. Thus we see advances made in the work of reformation at this early period, in North Britain, beyond any thing attained to in the continental churches and nations. We have a whole nation both in its civil and ecclesiastical capacity, professing a belief in the atonement of Christ, and the two great ordinances of social order among men—the ecclesiastical government and civil government, harmonizing in their pious efforts to extend, among all ranks, the knowledge of this salutary truth. All this was modelled upon a plan proposed by John Calvin, which he doubtless derived from the church of God under the Old Testament dispensation, and in which plan, he proposed to unite all Christian churches into one great visible society, holding the faith in unity, and rendering all things subservient to its promotion.
In England the case was very different. The monarchy was proud and powerful, not held in check by the nobility as in Scotland, but both claiming and exercising the power of controling the church in all her operations, regulating her creed, and imposing upon her such doctrines as it thought proper; and such a form of government as might
best subserve the interests of the throne, and increase its splendour. Hence, though under Elizabeth, who succeeded Edward VI., the knowledge of divine truth became more extensively diffused; and the mass of the people taught more generally, to place all their hopes of salvation, in the mediation and satisfaction of Jesus, while they relinquished all reliance on popish ceremonies, and priestly absolutions; yet the episcopal form of goveroment as derived from the church of Rome, was still retained. In the shell which had contained the kernel of popish errors, was inclosed that of truth, which was tainted by the former corruptions; and that holy, spiritual worship, founded upon the atonement, as actually made, was never practised in England, to the same extent as in Scotland. Still there were, in the established church of the former, very many great and devout men, and besides these, a very powerful body of Christians ardently and zealously attached to the truths and the order of primitive times, who were known by the name of Puritans, and who were wholly adverse to the episcopal form of church government. They also embraced in the fullest manner the creed of the Genevan school, in relation to the doctriaes of grace. They also contended for the liberties of the subject, in opposition to the despotic power of the crown, and thus rendered their cause popular. The spirit of the nation was roused, and the people assumed so high a tone, that an invitation was given to reform the church.
The act of parliament calling the assembly of divines at Westminster, passed on the 12th of June, 1643, and William Twisse was appointed by the parliament to be the moderator of that body. The express object of this clerical convocation, was to consult with relation to the doctrines, discipline, and worship of the church of England. Previously to this time the diffusion of learning through England, had been prodigious. The impulse was given about the time, when through the influence of Cranmer, the professors from the continent had been invited to Oxford university. Ancient languages, especially Latin, Greek and Hebrew, the physical sciences, and moral philosophy had been culti
vated with remarkable success. The clergy especially, had become a very learned body, and they had contributed amply toward the elucidation of the system of grace, by applying the force of their genius, and their attainments in literature to biblical criticism. In no kingdom of Europe, were there so many truly learned and eminent men as in Scotland and England; and the nation generally had become sensible of the importance of divine truth. But the public mind was exceedingly distracted by the contending claims of opposing systems.
The ablest divines in England, with many distinguished members of parliament, were selected, as the members who were to compose the assembly. The number of divines was ninety-six, among whom we find the distinguished names of Calamy, Chalmers, Whitaker, Arrowsmith, Lightfoot, Gattaker, Burrows and Twisse. Commissioners were also appointed from Scotland, of their most distinguished divines, Henderson, Rutherford, Gillespie, Bailie and Douglass, and John, earl of Cassils, John Lord Maitland, and sir Archibald Johnston of Narristown. There was probably never a more splendid constellation of learning, talents and piety collected together than that which this assembly comprised. They met in king Henry VIIth's chapel, on the first of July, 1643. Besides various other instruments, relative to their system of ecclesiastical order, they formed that celebrated instrument, known by the name of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. For precision of thought, accuracy of arrangement, and correct views of the system of grace, the church has never been favoured with any uninspired works so perfect as these. This system is one of the most glorious fruits of the reformation.
We shall exhibit, on the doctrine of the atonement, a few extracts from it. The third chapter of the Confession relates to the divine decrees, in the fifth section of which we have these words:" Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable
purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverence in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or moving him thereunto, and all to the praise of his glorious
And article sixth:-“ As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by his Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted and sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually justified, called, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only."
Article seventh:-" The rest of mankind God was pleased according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures; to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious justice.”
Of original sin, they say (chap. iv, art. 2.) “ By this sin," the sin of our first parents, “they fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and so became dead in sin, and so wholly defiled in all their faculties, and parts of soul and body."
And in article fourth:-“ From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made. opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to evil, -do pro. ceed all actual transgressions."
Again article sixth:-“Every sin both original and actual, being a transgression of the righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature, bring guilt upon the sinner, whereby he is bound even to the wrath of God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all its miseries, spiritual, temporal and eternal."