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In the sixth chapter, the author endeavours to show, that the odious tenets of the ancient hereticks, which our sentiments are stated to resemble, are so far distant from resemblance with our's, that contrariety may be far more justly predicated concerning them.
On the seventh book, containing quotations from Calvin, it has been his grand object to prove, what positions of this eminent man were scriptural and tenable; and what speculations must be considered as unscriptural, or at least as intruding improperly into things not revealed: and also, that our being called Calvinists, not by our own free consent, does not bring us under any obligation; to embrace all Calvin's sentiments, or make us liable to have them imputed to us for our condemnation; unless we copy his offences.-Much less are we answerable for the Lambeth articles, or those of the Synod of Dort.
In the last chapter the author takes the liberty of beginning the history of Calvinism, long before either Calvin's or Augustine's days, even from the times of Moses and the prophets; and also of pointing out some inaccuracies in his Lordship's statement of these subjects.
At the conclusion he has added an Appendix of translations, from several of the confessions of the reformed and Lutheran churches, to which he especially requests the careful attention of the reader, both for the importance of them in the argument, and for the excellent instruction which they contain; for, in this respect he considers them as the best part of the publication,
Aston Sanford, Nov. 16, 1811.
THE REFUTATION, &c.
ON THE PREFACE.
IT being the plan of this Publication, to follow 'The Refutation of Calvinism,' from page to page, without any other method, it is needless to detain the reader, with any formal introduction.
The preface contains little, which requires to be adduced, in this place; being chiefly a prospectus of the publication; and some anticipated remarks on the evidence, which the author is about to bring forward, and which he considers as fully conclusive on the subject. One passage, however, may be noticed.
Page vi. vii. 'If Calvinists, &c.'* The word pretend seems to be here used, instead of maintain, or, contend. It will appear, in the course of the work, which of these tenets modern Calvinists in general, and the evangelical clergy in particular, do maintain, and which they do not; and in what sense they understand them.
• If Calvinists pretend that absolute decrees, the unconditional election and reprobation of individuals, particular redemption, irresistible grace, ' and the entire destruction of free-will in man in consequence of the fall, 'were the doctrines of the primitive church of Christ,' &c.
His Lordship, though he says, 'The design of the 'following work, is to refute the peculiar doctrines of 'the system of theology, which was maintained by Cal'vin,' undoubtedly intends to refute modern Calvinists: and therefore, their tenets should, in the first place, have been stated, with precision and accuracy.
In addition to the multifarious quotations, which have been made, from authors of discordant sentiments; or, perhaps, in preference to some of them; a collection of passages should, in fairness, have been brought, from the works of that company, whose opinions were to be refuted. The want of this must be sensibly felt by all serious and impartial inquirers after truth; by all readers who, in the true spirit of an English jury, desire to have the witnesses examined, and the counsel heard, on both sides, even before they hear the judge sum up the evidence, and deliver his charge; much more, before they bring in the important verdict, on which the property, the liberty, the reputation, the country, or even the life, of a fellow-citizen depends.
But, waving this for the present: if, by the primitive 'church of Christ,' the church, during the lives of the apostles, and the other writers of the New Testament, be meant, we admit its authority, in the most unqualified sense; and would maintain no opinions, which we cannot prove from their writings. If, however, the primitive church include the writers after the close of the sacred canon, to the middle, or conclusion, of the fourth century, or during any part of that period, we avowedly disclaim its authority: we appeal from fallible fathers and councils to the infallible apostles; and we neither pretend, nor maintain, that the former held the same doctrines which we do; nor do we allow the contrary. "To the law and to the testimony." Holy scripture 'containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that
'whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not required of any man, that it should be believed, as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.'*
This subject, however, and others coincident with it, will require a more particular consideration, in the remarks on the fifth and sixth chapters of the Refutation.
• Art. vi.