Page images

I now present the reader with a brief character of Dr. Twisse's performance, depicted by the able hand of the greatest master of Casuistic Theology then in Europe. * It is a testimony that will be viewed as most impartial because it was written by Bishop Sanderson before he became a convert to the system of Arminius, and prior to that ultimate change of sentiment which is described in


305.+ : In 1632, out cometh Dr. Twisse his Vindiciæ Gratiæ, a large volume purposely writ against Arminius. And then notwithstanding my former resolution, I must needs be meddling again. The respect I bore to his person and great learning, and the long acquaintance I had had with him in Oxford, drew me to the reading of that whole book. But from the reading

*" Another little story I must not pass in silence, being an argument of Dr. Sandersou’s piety, great ability and judgment as a casuist. Discoursing with an honourable person, [Robert Boyle, Esquire,] (whose piety I value more than his nobility and learning, though both be great,) about a case of conscience concerning oaths and vows, their pature and obligation, in which (for some particular reasons), he then desired more fully to be informed : 1 commended to bim Dr. Sanderson's book, De Juramento, wbich having read, with great satisfaction, he asked ine, if I thought the doctor could be induced to write eases of conscience, if he might have an honorary pension allowed him, to furnish him with books for that purpose? I told him I believed he would : and, in a letter to the doctor, told him what great satisfaction that honourable person (and many more) had reaped by reading his book De Juramento, and asked him, whether he would be pleased, for the benefit of the church, to write some tract of cases of conscience ? He replied, that he was glad that any had received any benefit by his books ; and added further, that if any future tract of his could bring such benefit to any, as we seemed to say his former had done, he would willingly (though with out any pension,) set about that work. Havivg received this answer, that honourable person, (before-mentioned,) did, by my hands, return fifty pounds to the good doctor (whose condition then, as most good men's at that time were, was but low,) and he presently revised, finished, and published that excellent book, De Conscientia. A book little in bulk ; but not so, if we consider the benefit an intelligent reader may receive by it. For there are so many general propositions concerning conscience, the nature and obligation of it explained and proved with such firm consequence and evidence of reason, that he who reads, remembers, and can (with prudence) pertipently apply them hic et nunc to particular cases, may, by their light and help, rationally resolve a thousand particular doubts and scruples of conscieuce. Here you may see the charity of that honourable person in promoting, and the piety and industry of the good doctor in performing that excellent work."-Bishop MORLEY's Letter to I. Walton.

+ In a paragraph immediately preceding the one which is quoted, Dr. Sanderson speaks thus in allusion to Arriba's treatise De Concordia Gratiæ et Liberi Arbitrii : “ From the result of his whole performance I was confirmed in this opinion, that we must acknowledge the work of both grace and free-will in the conversion of a sinner. And so likewise in all other events, the consistency of the infallibility of God's fore-knowledge at least, (though not with any absolute but conditional predestination,) with the liberty of man's will, and the coutingency of inferior causes and effects. These, I say, we must acknowledge for the ot!; but for the to tws, I thought it bootless for me to think of comprehending it. And so came the two Acta Synodalia Dordrectana to stand in my study, only to fill up a room to this day.”-In the last sentence he intimates, that peither the Dort Acts of the Contra-Remonstrants, nor those of their opponents, gave him at that period the satisfaction which he desired.

[ocr errors][merged small]

of it, (for I read it through to a syllable,) I went away with many and great dissatisfactions. Sundry things in that book I took notice of, which brought me into a greater dislike of his opinion than I had before. But especially these three: FIRST. That he bottometh very much of his discourse upon a very erroneous principle, which yet he seemeth to be so deeply in love with, that he hath repeated it (I verily believe) some hundreds of times in that work: to wit this, that whatsoever is first in the intention, is last in execution, and E CONVERSO. Which is an error of that inagnitude, that I cannot but wonder, how a person of such acuteness and subtilty of wit could possibly be deceived with it.* All logicians know, there is no such universal maxim as he buildeth upon. The true maxim is but this, Finis qui primus est in intentione, est ultimus in executione : In the order of final causes, and the means used for that end, the rule holdeth perpetually: But in other things it holdeth not at all, or but by chance; or not as a rule, and necessarily:-SECONDLY. , That, foreseeing such consequences would naturally and necesa sarily follow from his opinion, as would offend the ear of a sober christian at the very first sound, he would yet rather ; choose not only to admit the said harsh consequences, but professedly endeavour also to maintain them, and plead hard for them in large digressions, than to recede in the least from that opinion which he had undertaken to defend.—THIRDLY. That seeing (out of the sharpness of his wit) a necessity of forsaking the ordinary Sublapsarian way, and the Supralapsarian too, as it had diversly been declared by all that had gone before him, (for the shunning of those rocks, which either of those ways must unavoidably cast him upon,) he was forced to seek out an untrodden path and to frame out of his own brain a new way, (like a spider's web wrought out of her own bowels,) hoping by that device to salve all absurdities which could be objected ; to wit, by making the glory of God (as it is indeed the chiefest,) so the only end of all other his decrees, and then making all those

*I ought to be a little longer, that I may tell my reader the pretty jest of Dr. Twisse his arguing, against all his friends and admirers without exception; and though he builds upon a fallacy, yet his friends are so far from having seen where it lies, that they have swallowed it down as a postulatum; and because they use it as a medium against the doctrine of the Remonstrants, Doctor Twisse hath ruined their cause for ever.

• If Repro• bation presupposeth a mass corrupted, it must needs presuppose mankind created. But if the creation was sooner in God's intention than dam' nation, then damnation shall be sooner in execution than creation. In the

same manner, If God did sooner intend to permit origival sin than to • damn, it would follow that man should be damned before original sin is permitted to enter into the world; (for what is first in intention must be last in execution,) all which things are so foolish, as not to enter into a man who is in his wits.' Here we see it is evident, that Dr. Twisse doth heap the greatest disgraces upon the Calvinistical opinion in the Synod at Dort, that can be possibly imagined. For he affirmeth it to infer the grossest absurdities in the world. Pierce's Divine Purity Defended.

other decrees to be but one entire co-ordinate medium conduce ing to that one end, and so the whole subordinate to it, but not any one part thereof subordinate to any other of the same. Dr. Twisse should have done well to have been more sparing in imputing the studium Partium to others, wherewith his own eyes (though of eminent perspicacity) were so strangely blindfolded, that he could not discern, how this his new device, and his old dearly beloved principle, (like the Cadmean Sparti,) do mutually destroy the one the other."*

* This is a very shrewd remark by the Bishop, and proves him worthy of the applause which he has received for his profound knowledge of Scholastic Divinity. For it is evident, that if Dr. Twisse's principle of the inverse order of intention and execution be adopted in this case, it must necessarily be destructive of the new way frarned out of his own brain"-making the glory of God the only end of all other his decrees, and then making all those other decrees to be but one entire co-ordinate medium, &c.

But the most amusing part of this affair is to see Dr. Twisse not only employing this subterfuge for the support of his own novel scheme, but wishing his readers to believe, that other eminent Predestinarians really intended to convey the same meaning, though they have not expressed themselves so accurately as himself. Thus, when speaking of Piscator's plan for the execution of the Divine Decrees, which, to secure bis sinking system, that great man afterwards altered, the Doctor says : “ Piscator lays down eight subordinate decrees of God, according to their execution which succeeds gradually in spaces of time. The First of those decrees he wishes to be that of manifesting the glory of God by means of mercy towards the elect, and of justice towards the reprobate.-The Second, that of saving the elect and damning the reprobate. The Third, that of justifying and sanctifying the elect, but not the reprobate.-The Fourth, that of calling the elect, but not the reprohate.-The Fifth, that of reconciling the elect through Christ the Mediator, but not the reprobate.-The Sixth, that of electing certain men from the fall, and of reprobating the rest:-The Seventh, that of the permission of sin in Adam.-The Eighth and last, that of creation. But, in this series of the Divine decrees, which was framed by Piscator, there are many things abhorrent to all Scholastic method, as well as to that of Theology and Philosophy, When any opinion, how true soever it may be, is improperly explained, or when it is stated in a manner that is unscholastical, or, rather, contrary to the practice of the Schools, we must not be surprised if it have a greater tendency to create hatred and aversion, than to procure due credence. For who is it that does not instantly perceive, how the salvation of the elect possesses nothing which agrees with the manifestation of God's mercy ? For the angels are also elect, and have obtained salvation, yet not through mercy. Again, the damnation of the reprobate has no greater congruity with the manifestation of God's justice. For damnation is the act of a Judge, and ought to proceed according to vindicative justice. But not the least trace of justice appears in the damnation of the reprobate. For justice condemns no man except him that has merited condemnation : But to be a reprobate does not by any means imply to be deserving of damnation. It is only the damnation of a sinner which resplendently displays God's justice; and it is only the salvation of an unhappy being that makes God's mercy conspicuous, &c. But the decree which he appropriates to the Sixth place, concerning electing certain individuals and reprobating others, is completely untheological, for two reasons : First. Because it places the decree of electing and reprobating between decrees that are quite heterogeneous, whether we regard those which precede it or those which follow. For they are all described and enunciated by their

objects, which objects of the Divine decrees are in reality temporal acts of God; for instance, creation, the permission of sin, reconciliation, vocation, justification and sanctification, and lastly, the manifestation of Divine mercy and justice. But election and reprobation are not the temporal acts of God, and therefore are not to be forced into the same ranks with

Dr. Thomas Pierce has also made the following remarks upon

the treatment which some eminent men received from Dr. Twisse, on account of the reputed moderation of their Predestinarian sentiments :


God's temporal acts. Yet I do not deny, that it appeared to Piscator as if some temporal act was granted, which was distinguished from vocation and called election ; and as if another temporal act was distinguished from induration aud called reprobation. But on this point he is singular,haviug no one, as far as I know, either as his leader or his companion.-SECONDLY. But Piscator's decree is untheological on another account. For, while he states 10 decree, except in the Sixth place, concerning electing particular men and reprobating others, he grants, by this very circumstance, that the first decree concerning the manifestation of God's mercy and justice is an indefinite decree, and is not applied to particular persons, except in the sixth place, But the ascription of indefinite decrees to God, is contrary, every

scholastic usage, and against all christian sobriety. The Jesuits abhor this, as something by far too dishonourable to the Divine Majesty.-LASTLY. He multiplies God's decrees beyond all the bounds of propriety, since the whole intention respecting things that are to be done is completed solely by two formal decrees, of which one concerns the end, and the other the means conducing to that end. Besides, there is great weakness in the foundation of this order of Piscator, which is derived from the administration of things gradually succeeding each other in the execution of the Divine decrees. For by no reason in the world does it follow, because creation precedes the permission of sin, and because both of them precede the salvation and damnation of men, that therefore the permissiou of sin in the Divine intention preceded the creation, or that hotb of them were in the Divine intention posterior to the salvation of some or the damnation of others. When these remarks are duly considered, that accusation vanishes away at once which states it as an objection and reproach, against those who place the origin of Predestination in a mass uncreated, as though they were attempting to introduce and establish certain tyrannical counsels and decrees. For that accusation rests on no other foundation than this-according to the assertions of those who hold the first opinion, the decree of damning is stated to have been prior to that of creation, and to that of permitting sin.”—In a succeeding paragraph, he again utters " the burden of his song against his old friend Peter Du Moulin, thus, “But by a corrupt mass they undoubtedly understand a mass vitiated likewise by actual transgressions, and thus contend that no men, except such as are finally unbelieving and 'impenitent, are the objects of reprobation. Of this description was the patronage which Peter Du Moulin afforded to the orthodox cause, but which was not so much a defence of that cause as a prevarication. This was the reason why this otherwise famous divine not only assisted the cause of the Arminians beyond all reason, but likewise entirely overturned whatever arguments he had formerly advanced with sufficient orthodoxy."

In the second Chapter of his third Digression, Dr. Twisse alludes again to the preceding order, the invention of Piscator, and thus relates the alterations which were ultimately made in it: " In his last answers to Conrad Vorstius, Piscator retracted this method, and came at length to distribute the Divine decrees in the following order: To the First place he assigned the decree of creation : To the Second, the permission of sin: To the Third, election and reprobation : To the Fourth, the reconciliation of the elect through Christ, but not the reprobate: To the Fifth, the effectual calling of the elect, but not of the reprobate : To the Sixth, the justification and sanctification of the elect, but not of the reprobate: To the Seventh and last place, that of blessing the elect with life'eternal, but of damping the reprobate with everlasting destruction. From these particulars it is manifest, that, according to Piscator and his last and more reformed opinion, the Divine decrees concerning the creation of men and the permission te sin are prior to the decree respecting their glorification. I by no means deny, that the series of the Divine decrees has been recently placed in this order by

“Dr. Twisse himself hath said the same thing not only of Mr. Calvin, but of all the rest of his own party, as he himself calls them the professed Enemies of Arminius, who place the object of

[ocr errors]

that reverend theologian. But it is impossible for me either to divine how that celebrated professor was brought to adopt this opinion, or adequately to express my wonder at his having embraced it; because it is found to disagree so materially with the doctrine which he always held on Predestination. But I suspect that it was produced rather by the influence of other persons, than by the exercise of his owu judgment : 'Or it arose at least from the circumstance of that famous divine being confounded at that vulgar argument which has imposed on many persons, which, as we have already said, [page 479,] has been recommended with vast pomposity by Arminius, and which has been repeated by Vorstius without so much parade.” He then applies his " old principle” of the inverse order of the Divine intention and execution, and, in his summary way, proves Piscator's order to be incorrect. The metaphysical doctor cominences the next chapter by saying, “ But it is to me a matter which admits of no controversy, that Piscator has in this passage propounded right sentiments; and the only fault is, that he has expressed the meaning of his mind in an improper manner. For it was his wish to say, that, by what method soever God might first intend the end, then the means and after that the means of the means, &e., he at the same time decreed those means to be committed to execution in the order following, that is, "the creation should first take place, then the permission of the fall, after• wards the calling to faith and repentance, and, as consequences, justifica'tion and vocation, and lastly, glorification. That this was the real meanivg of Piscator's sentiments, I gather from these circumstances : He professes his desire to make this the order of the Divine decrees concerning the means, therefore he supposes the existence of a previous Divine decree concerning, the ends, wbich are, according to Piscator, the manifestation of the glory of his mercy in the salvation of some men, and that of his justice in the destruction of others: God therefore previously decreed to exercise his mercy in bringing some to glory, &c. What is this but the decree of glorification ? Therefore the decree of glorification does not occupy the last place but the first, though glorification itself be the last in the execution of those means which appertain to the manifestation of the glory of the Divine mercy. Wherefore I persuade myself that Piscator wished to say nothing more than,

that God had so ordained the execution of all the means, as to cause the 6 creation first to take place, then the permission of the fall, and in like order, until glorification should at last take place.' Amandus Polanus, in his Syntagma Theologiæ, (lib. iv, c. 9,) bas stumbled against the same stone of an inaccurate proposition.” After quoting the proposition, Dr. Twisse thus proceeds : “ Pardon me, ye sacred ashes of this erudite doctor, or, as a preferable expression, the reverence due to the name of a most pious and at the same time a most learned divine who is now in his grave,-i.e., I pray that no one will consider me offending, in want of the reverence which such a great man bas deserved, while I press that I desire greatly to behold in his words an accurate method of philosophizing. For the enunciation of them appears to me so inelegant and disorderly, as to render it nearly impossible to affix any tolerable sense to them.”-In the same chapter, the famous Keckerman receives similar treatment at the doctor's hands : and this is a fair specimen of his conduct towards his friends, who, if they differed in the least from him, were immediately charged with " inaccuracy, disorder, inconsequent argu- : mentation," and other grievous defects. But he generally tenders them a profusion of compliments, and styles them “ learned, celebrated, great scholastics, of vast attainments,” &c; while the offending Arminians, several of whom were in every respect superior to any of his Calvinistic heroes, are abused without mercy, and not allowed to possess the common qualifications of rational beings. See notes, pages 482 and 492.

In the extracts produced in this note, the reader who is skilled in Metaphysics will discovers the mutually destructive" operatiou of the doctor's two inventious; and cannot fail of being amused with his laboured attempts to put such a construction on the words of Piscator, Polanus, Keckerman, and

« PreviousContinue »