Page images
PDF
EPUB

Inter-regnum ; but Dr. Womack is the first man whom I have found openly acknowledging his immediate obligations to the writings of the Dutch Divines. In Archbishop Laụd's days, popular as Arminianism is usually said to have been, no man would own himself to be an Arminian, or indebted to the Remonstrants for the change effected in his sentiments: The reason for this shyness I have given in the second volume, and an allusion to it will be found in page 688. Traces of this feeling may be seen even in that intrepid defender of the doctrines of General Redemption, John GOODWIN, who had nothing to fear or to hope from his Republican brethren, and who, in all his previous writings, never once made a direct avowal of his obligations to the illustrious and amiable Professor of Leyden, till after he had read and admired Dr. Womack's manly account of his departure from the ranks of the Genevan reformer. In doing this, however, Dr. Womack did not risk any part of his reputation; for his pamphlet was published anonymously, and few of his intimate friends knew him as the writer. His enemies knew still less about the matter, and outrageously charged other two eminent men with the publication.

After a perusal of the Examination of Tilenus, it will be perceived, that its style is far superior to the common style of that age: It is exceedingly chaste, and does not abound in Augustinian “quips and quirks," the jocose allusions and double meanings, which sometimes disfigured and sometimes enlivened the productions of the eminent men who flourished in that and the preceding century. But though Dr. Womack had been educated in a knowledge of many of those doctrines which are as much the doctrines of the Gospel as of Calvinism, I regret to find, in this masterly exposition of high Predes tinarian intolerance, the germs of those noxious crrors which, arising from a spirit of revulsion to some even of the excellences of Calvinism, became distinguishing tenets in the creed of the succeeding English Arminians. Yet, in humorously animadverting upon the errors of the domineering Predestinarians, it was almost impossible to avoid the extreme to which I have here adverted ; and such passages of the work as relate to experimental religion must be read with as much caution as those which contain the specious arguments of an Infidel, and of a Carnal, a Slothful, or a Tempted Professor.

But this pamphlet was written for the purpose of exposing not only a few of the doctrinal vagaries of the Republican Calvinists, but likewise the partial and cruel conduct of Cromwell's Commission of “ Triers," whom he had appointed to regulate the admission of persons into Holy Orders and consequently to ecclesiastical benefices. Of those Commissioners " the Independents formed the majority, and were the most active in the use of their delegated powers :” This therefore is an admirable specimen of the illiberality and intolerant views of that denomination of Christians. · The interlocutors in the Dialogue, though generally speaking in the same smooth style, were sufficiently distinguished from each other by the sentiments which they severally expressed, and were thus rendered objects of public vituperation. The peculiarities by which each of them was then known, not having been matters of cotemporary record, are now nearly lost to posterity. I think, however, it would not be difficult for a man of letters, accurately read in the singular lore of that period, to put his finger upon several passages in the Dialogue, and to say, “ This is verbatim one of Dr. Twisse's curious assertions,” and “ This is in the phraseology of Dr. Owen, Stephen Marshall, or Jeremiah Burroughes."? My reading qualifies me to pronounce, with any thing like certainty, only upon three of them: Mr. Narrow-grace was intended for PHILIP NYE; Mr. Know-little, for Hugh PETERS; and Dr. Dubious, for Richard Baxter. If it be objected, “ that Baxter was not one of the Trying Commissioners," it may be observed in reply, that this circumstance was not accounted essential to the author's design; for there is at least another dramatic personage introduced by name, who never had more than a sentimental existence in England: This is Dr. DAM-MAN, which was the significant name of one of the secretaries to the Synod of Dort, a person of the most rigid Calvinistic principles. If all the other portraits were as faithfully executed as that of Baxter, they must have been recognised by cotemporaries as striking likenesses. Baxter knew his own features in this faithful mirror;, and the sight of them

roused all his latent querulousness, to which he gave abundant utterance in the Preface to his Grotian Religion Displayed. When I first read the Rev. Thomas Scott's Articles of the Synod of Dort, I was strongly reminded of Baxter's complaints concerning the abridgment of those Articles, which will be found in a subsequent page. (39.) : John Goodwin had been Womack's precursor in opposing the Commissions of Triers and Ejectors. In 1657 he published a pamphlet under the title of “ The T'riers, or Tormentors, tried and cast, by the Laws both of God and Men," &c. In my friend Mr. Jackson's fine Life of Goodwin, the reader will meet with copious extracts from this most spirited and interesting pamphlet. Mr. Hickman, a celebrated Calvinistic skirmisher in those days, found himself aggrieved by the contents of Dr. WOMACK'S Examination of Tilenus. Whether, like Baxter, Hickman thought he had discerned his own face as in a glass, I have no means of ascertaining. If, however, he had made such a painful discovery, he was much too prudent to publish it to the world. But, for the sake at least of the good old cause itself, he published a pamphlet against the Examination of Tilenus, upon which Dr. Womack “let fall a few soft drops,” according to the expres sion in the title-page to his Calvinists' Cabinet Unlocked. Having adverted to some of the railing names, such as Ethiopian, Scribbler, this poor Fellow,—which he had “uncivilly” cast upon the assumed Tilenus, Dr. Womack informs his readers : “ Master Hickman may pass muster for a precious saint, as the present accounts are made below; but I am sure he can“ gather none of those flowers of rhetoric from the discourses of the holy angels that converse above. He chargeth that author (Tilenus] with impudence in abusing the Triers : But. I must tell him (on his behalf) when such schemes of rhetoric are used, -as they may be with wonderful advantage, being not only instrumental to illustrate and adorn a truth, but also to make it the more pungent and take impression,—the abuse imagined to result from them is ever, amongst wise men, ascribed to him that takes the impudence to make the application. And whereas he saith further, that the Synod of Dort, which Tilenus writes against, is a man made up of his

rather none cels that convence in abusing wes of rhetor

own ugly clouts ; I must tell you, he shall find before he hath read these papers half way through, that those clouts, as ugly as they seem to him, are genuine parts of that home-spun stuff which was warped, and woven, and milled too, by that very Synod of the town of Dort. Neither hath Tilenus set this web upon the tenter-hooks, nor torn any part, to make ugly clouts of it; but only used that liberty which is allowed to all artists of this kind, fairly to cut out of the whole piece such proportions as might best serve to clothe his discourse, in that fashion it is now represented in."

But, not content with vilifying Tilenus, Mr. Hickman 6 fell foul of” John Goodwin. As the brief answer which that redoubtable Arminian returned to his rancorous assailant, contains a remarkable confirmation of Dr. Womack's fidelity of execution, in the portraits which he has here given, I subjoin a copious extract from it:

“ I understand, by some of my friends, who have had the opportunity and leisure, (which I have not yet had,) to look into a book not long since published by one Mr. Hickman, a gentleman altogether unknown to me, and not heard of until of late, casting mine eye upon a piece of Mr. Pierce his writing, I found such a name there,--that this gentleman, pretending in the said book only an answer to Mr. Pierce touching some things in his writings at which he made himself aggrieved, two or three several times in this pamphlet stepped out of his way to ease his mind, perhaps his conscience, in remonstrating unto the world what high Remonstrant misdemeanours he had found in me. In one place of his book, (as I had the passage, transcribed by a steady hand, sent unto me,) having charged the English Tilenus with making the TRIERS to ask such questions, of those that come before them, as in all probability never came into all their thoughts to ask, upon this his probable misdemeanour he advanceth this Rhadamanthine and severe sentence, both against him and me: Which, saith he, is such a piece of impudence as no one hath ventured to imitate him [Tilenus] in, but that Ishmael of Coleman-street, [Goodwin, ] whose hand, being against all men, hath provoked all men, even to the common pamphleteer, to lift up a hand against him. The best is, in case

sk such questions me into all their thong this Rhada

Mr. Hickman's reproach here could be admitted for true, that Jeremy of Jerusalem was ' a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth, as well as that Ishmael of Coleman-street, and yet was a true prophet, and never the less like so to have been for the numerousness of his contests. --Noah also was “a preacher of righteousness, yet his proportion of opposers far exceeded mine; and the number of those who embrace my doctrine with their whole hearts, far exceedeth the number of those who, upon such ternis, received his.-Yea, our Saviour himself testifieth, that, in the church and nation of the Jews, they who had the more general approbation and applause were the false prophets, not the true : Woe unto them, when all men shall speak well of them; for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke vi, 26.)

“Whereas, he chargeth me with venturing to imitate TiLENUS, in making the Triers to ask such questions, of those who come before them, as in all probability never came into all their thoughts to ask: The truth is, that he chargeth me with the crime of such a courage or boldness whereof I was never conscious. I never made any venture to imitate Tilenus, in such an attempt as is here charged upon him; nor did I ever go before him in any such: I no where either challenge themi or charge them with asking such questions, of those that come before them, which in all probability never came into all their thoughts to ask. If I charge them with asking any questions in the case, they are only such which themselves and their own consciences know, that they do or did ask frequently, and from time to time. And for the questions which Tilenus himself maketh them to ask, as far as I remember, if they were not the same formally et in terminis, yet they were the same materially and in reality of import, which they were wont to ask. And for a man in his own words to report another man's sense uttered in his, is no such venturous piece of impudence !"

Without further Preface, I introduce my readers to Dr. 'Womack's very able pamphlet.

JAMES NICHOLS. ;

« PreviousContinue »