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author and of readers more learned than myself, I will now proceed to declare them in few words. I can pronounce no judgment on every particle and all the minutiæ, because I have glanced over various parts of the book with only a hasty eye. But, concerning the sum and substance of the whole disputation can truly testify, that I have never yet beheld any production of the same kind composed with greater erudition, acumen, judgment, and evidence of truth. This book will be placed as a votive offering to God for deliverance, by those persons of modest dispositions who have until now been tossed about by the waves of Arminius and his followers, and exposed to the peril of shipwreck. It will also prove a stone to those on whom it falls, and will grind them to powder who evince any reluctance to yield to the force of truth. (Mat. xxi, 44.) Our author's high deserts will undoubtedly be acknowledged by the whole Church of God, and particularly by those who retain any affection for the name of Perkins, which was far too long held captive under the sophistries of Arminius.* The vindica tion of Perkins had been formerly undertaken by several persons, and, among others, by the very celebrated Baines, who was the successor of Perkins in the office of pastor, and who was destitute of no qualification requisite for its completion except that of good health to endure such a labour. “But it was a fortunate circumstance, that after the most reverend Abbot had gained one palm of victory by his defence of Perkins against Bishop, a Papist, who strove to deform his [Perkins's] Reformed Catholic, this other triumph over Arminius t was
* This is a high commendation of Arminius, by one of the greatest vilifiers of his vame and reputation. Even Ames could confess, that “ the name of Perkins had theu been held too long captive" under what he terms “the sophis. tries of Arminius.” From this admission it is evident, that the ponderous labours of the different companies of divines at the Synod of Dori had left the plain and scriptural objections of Arminius without a reply: There was indeed an obvious reluctance on the part of those great men to combat his able reasoning; and in pursuance of that plan, they abandoned the Supralapsarianism of Perkius to its fate. Some of the meinbers of the Dort Synod occasionally engaged in reply, to the objections of Grevinchovius, Corvinus, and other defenders of Arminius; but they were exceedingly shy about auy encounter with the master himself. † Stephen De Courcelles devotes a whole chapter, in his treatise De Jure Dei, to prove,
" that Calvin and the most celebrated of his disciples place the object of Reprobation in man as not created;" and in confirmation of his argument, he states the following particulars_respecting the reverend Prolocutor of the Assembly of Divines : " Let Perkins be succeeded by Twisse, who was a very bitter defender of his dogmas against Arminius. He does not imitate most other writers, in cursorily glancing at this argument [of eternal and unconditional Reprobation) while treating upon a different topic ; but he explains the dogma in ten or eleven eptire tracts. It would be a superfluous labour to extract from them his peculiar opinions. I will quote only the arguments prefixed to a few of his chapters, from which the reader will easily collect the matter which will be found in them; and, if he consider such an object worth the labour, he may consult the passages themselves. The Third Digression in the fifth Chapter, concerning PredesLination, is said to prove that the object of universal Predestination was
reserved for the reverend Doctor Twisse, who studied Divinity under Professor Abbot, and, beyond all his other scholars, stood almost in the relation of a real son to him. May God long preserve to us this famous divine, and grant him an increase of all grace ! May he likewise impart a similar spirit to others, on whom he has bestowed equal endowments !".
This high commendation, though proceeding from a predestinarian friend, is well merited. But the man, who, from this character of the book, expects to find it a mere scholastic performance, will be egregiously disappointed. Mr. Reid has told us, (page 466,) “Dr. Twisse often affords considerable entertainment to his readers, by the vivacity of his genius and the ele. gance of his wit: He sometimes uses jocose or historical diversions," &c. This is very true: And if any learned man desired to peruse a work which embodies within itself a mass of witticisms and amusement, and in which the hopelessness of Calvinism is most conspicuously displayed, I would direct him to Doctor Twisse's Vindication. It contains many excellent scholastic discussions ; but before any one has read through half the work, he will perceive it to have been not without evident reason that the good Doctor employed such a fund of ridicule. Without this important auxiliary, he could neither have charged promiscuously through the ranks of half friends and real foes, nor have committed such dreadful havoc on all who opposed, if only in half a shade, his favourite Predestinarian opinions. But the parts in which the Doctor thus acts the Rhetorician, are extremely well-chosen, and prove him to have been a consummate master of the arts of attack and defence: For he
an uncreated mass ; and yet that no man is reprobated except through a consideration of sira,' that is, so far as sin is considered a means subordinate to the execution of that decree.--The Sixth Digression proceeds to • consider and refute Du Moulin's arguments for a corrupt mass, as milita
ting against the object of Predestination.'-The Seventh Digression propounds these questions: Which of the two opinions agree best with the doctrine of the Apostle delivered in the Ninth Chapter of the Epistle to the Romans,-that which lays the basis of Predestination in a corrupt mass-or that which lays it in an uncorrupted mass-or rather in a mass uncreated?' And he holds the affirmative respecting the last of these propositions. Lastly, in the Third Digression concerning Reprobation, it is asked, “Is sin the cause of Reprobation?' And he contends that it is not !
“ The testimony of this author [Twisse) ought to be of great weight, for two reasons. (1.) Because he wrote after the Synod of Dort, in which Amyraut thinks the contrary opinion was established; notwithstanding which, two editions of his work [the Vindication of the Grace, Power, and Providence of God,] were published at Amsterdam; it was received with applause by all the Calvinists in every part of Europe, and is even at this day (1645) perused by them with the highest admiration of its subtlety. (2.) Because in him we have the consent of all that part of the Church of England which adheres to Calvin : For he is the President of the Synod [the Westminster Assembly) which has now been sitting a few years in London. To that office he would not have been elected, unless he had been considered very pure in the faith : Indeed, he seems to have attained that dignity by the merit of his laborious performances in the controversy of Predestination against Arminius.”
torrents of wit whenever valid arguments are rare, or syllogistic difficulties appear iusurmountable. The Doctor's Vindication exhibits most decisive proofs of the deadly wound which Arminius had inflicted on the unballowing system of Supralapsarian Calvinism; and it must have been exceedingly galling to the men of that high party, to produce no plausible defence of the rigid scheme of Perkins till thirty years after it had been dissected and exposed by Arminius: And if, according to Professor Ames, the Modest Examination of Arminius continued such a length of time without reply, after all the labours of Dr. Twisse, to this day it remains unanswered. During that interesting period “ the subtle poison,” as it was then called, " of Armin nianism,” was suffered to work without much molestation, and its disorganizing effects upon the body ecclesiastic were soon apparent: Tilenus, one of the greatest divines in France, became a convert to the scriptural doctrines of General Redemption; Camero, Amyraut, Testard, and Cappel made considerable advances towards the same system; the English divines, who adhered to a Confession that was evidently Lutheran in its origin, began to advert to the first principles of their Church; and Du Moulin himself had found it necessary to abate that nuisance in Calvinism which rendered Unconditional Reprobation doubly revolting to the common sense of mankind by making it altogether independent of actual transgression. Other important changes and modifications had been effected in “ the received doctrine” of Calvin, when Dr. Twisse arose in defence of the ancient rigid belief of the Supralapsarians; and his production is an amazing treasury of almost all that can be said against the preceding modifiers of Absolute Predestination, though he was hiinself
among the most daring of those “unskilful innovators." His “ Preface to the Reader” details the course of his metaphysical studies after he left the University and hid himself in the privacy of a country parsonage. He made his approaches to the citadel of Arminianism, with all the caution of an experienced general, by overturning some of the arguments of Alvarez. This achievement he viewed as a good preliminary experiment, and thus relates its success : I congratulated myself and my good fortune on finding, that neither my mind nor my genius was yet exhausted in exploring the truth, but that I was much furthered in my studies by their more successful issue. After this prosperity in my first enterprize, I was excited to attempt other subjects which appeared to be involved in greater difficulty, and applied my mind to the contemplation of the doctrine of ideas. But on this topic all things rose in opposition to my progress : For I failed in the endeavour, and was quite disappointed in my wishes. On this account I considered it too painful to labour any longer in a subject which was arduous in itself, and which, as far as I could prognosticate,
would prove totally fruitless. For the sake therefore of a little mental recreation, I thought I would turn aside to search out the sentiments of the Arminians on efficacious grace and the mode of its operation : I had previously heard only by rumours, that on this subject a marvellous congruity existed between their doctrine and that of the Jesuits. I first looked into Corvinus, and cursorily examined him, &c. I confess that his arguments appeared very specious; but, when subjected to the test of a scholastic examination, they were found to have dissolved into airy nothings."--He then narrates various other encounters with the reasonings of Corvinus and the men of his persuasion; and, as a necessary consequence, his victory over them is minutely recorded. “ At length,” he says, “my spirit incited me to commence an examination of Arminius himself, and diligently to peruse his doctrine of Permission, because that topic seemed to me encompassed with great, if not with insuperable, difficulties. I approached to Arminius therefore on this point for the purpose of informing myself. Whatever might be the issue of this attempt, I augured that far more profit would arise from investigating the truth in that quarter; and, in the execution of my purpose, I digested the subject into certain sections, and sedulously pried into every thing. While I was engaged in the discussion of that article, I first discovered that this Hannibal [Arminius] is not only vincible, but an adversary of whom one need not be greatly afraid. The results of that discussion drew me into some scholastic studies, in which I had not previously been much exercised ; they related to the distinction of an act with regard to its substance and with regard to its malice,” &c.
Dr. Twisse then narrates in the same bragging style, several more reputed victories (in his own study) over the famous Dutch Professor. But the most amusing part of his “ Preface,"
* The Doctor informs his readers, that, in all these argumentative combats, he had followed the more rigid or Supralapsarian opinion, " which, with great appearance of probability, places the decree of bestowing salvation before the decree of conferring efficacious grace to believe and repent, and finally to persevere. Nay, my judgment was, that the decree of predestinating both to salvation and to damnation was prior even to the decree of creating For I had previously used my utmost endeavours in favour of a decree ihat was co-eval with, or at least not later than, the commencement of the creation; and I had tried to obtain support for such a decree, by means of all the arguments which I could possibly find in any direction : I was the more strougly animated to engage in the search, by sanguine hopes of success, which I had derived from certain meditations on this subject by the Jesuit Vasquez. But these my anticipations were completely premature : For I found the arguments which inclined to this point (the Sublapsarian opinion) were more specious than solid; and all those which favoured its opposite [Supralapsarianism] had their foundations in sound reason. But I perceived that Arminius was upbraiding Perkins with the more rigid opinion at every opportunity, and, through the aversion tbus excited against it, had fortified for himself a most compendious way to gain credence to his own sentiments. If therefore such a thing were possible, I
is that in which he describes the attainments of his adversary.
Nothing now remains,” he says, " but for me to give my reader a brief warning concerning Arminius and his school. When the name of Arminius first attained to some celebrity among us through the publication of his Lectures, the very mountains seemed to be in labour, especially through the laudatory effusion of Bertius, in that Oration which he composed on the death of Arminius, and prefixed to his Theological Disputations. And truly, in these times, it is nothing uncommon for the devil to have no small number of emissaries who are skilled in varied erudition and learning, and who, when thus armed, go forth to attack the truth. An indication of this may be perceived at present, in the eager studies of the Papists, and particularly of the Jesuits ;* concerning whom we may repeat the saying once applied to the Greeks by an Orator, I grant that they
are possessed of erudition and learning ; but they have never • attended to the cultivation of faith and religion. Yet the people of God have nothing to fear from the sons of Anak, as often as they rise up, exert all their strength, and make great attempts, as though they would close up every avenue, and hinder our approaches when with the spiritual arms of the Lord we endeavour to seize upon and possess the land: For they are bread for us.
Their defence is departed from them; and the Lord is with us: Fear them not. (Num. xiv, 10.) The sword of
wished to obtain at any price some clear refutation of such damnable sentiments (as those of Arminius].. Wherefore, laying aside all other matters, I again applied my mind to subject the order of the Divine decrees to more accurate studies.
This extract illustrates the motives of Dr. Twisse in devising the sundry novel and untenable arguments which he has introduced into his work in favour of bigh Calvjuism ; and, at the same time affords the true reason of the unmanly rage and impotent animosity against the ashes of Arminius, which disfigure
various parts of his performance. The defence of the Supralapsarianism of Perkins seems to have been, with him, an object of greater importance, than the discovery of the grand and obvious truths of the gospel ; and, acknowledging the incompetency of all previous arguments to overturn the solid objections of the amiable Dutch Professor, he began to rack his inventive brain for new modes of support to the ancient tottering system.
It is likewise important, on account of the aid, which, he candidly acknowledges, he had hoped to derive from the lucubrations of Vasquez the Jesuit. Some persons might suppose, from the manner in which the name of the Jesuit is introduced, that Dr. Twisse intended indirectly to charge the Sublapsarians with the crime of deriving from that impure source some props to their system. But such a supposition would be erroneous :. For that is not the only occasion on which the Doctor owns his vast obligations to the Jesuits, as well as to other Papists. On this subject, see page 267. Yet it certainly was his intention to state in that oblique manner the indefensible nature of Sublapsarian Calvinism.
* To understand the point of this violent Diatribe, and the reason why the name of the author of the Funeral Oration pronounced on the death of Arminius is united with that of Papists, the reader should be reminded of Bertius' defection to Popery on account of the bad treatment which he received from the Dutch Predestinarians. Many instances occur in this volume of a similar artful association of Popery and Arminianism, the intention of which may be easily decyphered.