« PreviousContinue »
" (6.) Lastly. What shall I say in conclusion about the congregations of the Lutherans and Anabaptists? These people
which every Arminian, who knows the nature of the scriptural system he has espoused, can readily subscribe. To the commencement of the subjoined paragraph no evangelical Arminian will object, because it is cautiously expressed : “There is a distinction between men in God's eternal purpose ; but that con. cerns not us to meddle with further, than to know it in general. God knoweth who are His, and who are not His: But in time the Holy Spirit distinguisheth, and ranks men as they were distinguished before all worlds, and as they shall be .at the day of judgment. The beginning of that distinction which shall be afterwards, is in this life: A seal maketh the impression of an image. The prince's image useth to be in his seal : So is God's image in his, which destroyeth the old image and print that was in us before. The work of sanctifying grace upon the heart is a seal. Whom the Spirit sanctifieth, Hle saveth. The Lord 'knoweth who are his : But how shall we know it? By this seal, Let every one that nameth the name of THE LORD, depart from iniquity, not only in heart and affection, but in conversation : and that shall be a seal of his Sonship to him. None are children of God by adoption, but those that are children also by regeneration : None are heirs of heaven, but they are new. born to it. This seal of sanctification leaves upon the soul the likeness of Jesus Christ, even grace for grace. This love the Spirit teaches the heart; and love teaches us not only our duty, but to do it in a loving and acceptable manner. It carries out the whole stream of the soul with it; and rules all, whilst it rules, and will not suffer the soul to divert to by-things, much less to contrary. The graces that are conversantabout that condition of which the Spirit assureth us, as Faith and Hope, are purging and purifying graces, working a suitableness in the soul to the things believed and hoped for : And the excellency of the things believed and hoped for, hath such an effect upon the soul, that it will not suffer the soul to defile itself. Our hopes on high will lead us to ways on high ; therefore whilst these graces are exercised about these objects, the soul cannot but be in a pleasing frame."
An Arminian ought to object to some of the following sentences, because it must be his wish to see the humble relentings, and the subsequent reconciliation, · of a contrite spirit, described with greater accuracy: “But oft it falls out, that our own spirits, though sanctified, cannot stand against a subtle temptation strongly enforced : God therefore super-adds his own Spirit. Guilt often prevails over the testimony of blood ; that of water, by reason of stirring corrups tions, runneth troubled : Therefore the third, the immediate testimony of THE SPIRIT, is necessary to witness the Father's love to us, to us in particular, saying, I am thy salvation : Thy sins are pardoned! And this testimony the Word echoeth unto, and the heart is stirred up and comforted with joy unexpressible: So that both our spirits and consciences, and the Spirit of Christ, JOINING IN ONE, strongly witness our condition in grace that we are the sons of God."
It is also on such points of Assurance as the following, that an Arminian is at issue with a Calvinist. “Sometimes after this sealing," says Dr. Sibbes, there may be interrupting of comfortable communion, so far as to question our condi. tion. Yet this calling into question comes not from the Spirit, which, where it once witnesseth for us, never witnesseth against us: But it is a fruit of the flesh not fully subdued ; it is a sin itself, and usually a fruit of some former sin. Now, an Arminian believes, that, if this “ interrupting of comfortable commu. nion" proceeds from a sinful act, on the part of a believer, by such an act he has unchristianized himself. What then is the work of the Holy Spirit ? Hav. ing " once witnessed for” the man, will He “never witness against him ?” Just the contrary : For Christ says, “ When the Comforter is come, He will reprove (or convince] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." "The
have divided and are now dividing the Church into parties, on account of the right understanding or practice of one ceremony or another. Though at the same time they contribute nothing by such efforts towards the promotion of solid piety, either by instilling it with more efficacy, or by establishing it with greater firmness; on the contrary, they injure religion the more by their too pertinacious contests about their own opinions. Though the observance of ceremonies must, as far as possible, be accurately retained, because they have been prescribed by God; yet they are the shadows and representations of the inward probity of the soul, rather than the effecters of it by their own nature, or, as the
man, who by his own sinful act has disinfranchised himself, must therefore always experience this “ reproving" or convincing influence before he can hope to find the Holy Spirit approach him as THE COMFORTER. An Arminian also trembles at that fearful declaration of the Lord of Hosts : “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.” From the solemn exhortations, in the New Testament, neither to grieve nor to quench the Spirit, he acknowledges the solemn import of this passage: “ Now the just shall live by faith : But if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb. x, 38.) On those who believe in the possibility of a man “ drawing back” from the good and right ways of the Lord, such texts must have a proper deterring effect; but they are lost on others, who consider a falling away from grace to be impossible. But the language which the Doctor here employs, is only another version of the soothing Calvinistic axiom, “ Once in grace, always in grace!” • For the same reason, the phraseology of the following sentence is exceedingly reprehensible : “Sometimes God leads his children to heaven through some foul way, by which he lets them see what need they have of washing by the blood and Spirit of Christ; which, otherwise, perhaps they would not so much value: When they grieve the Spirit, and the Spirit thereupon grieves them, and that grief proves medicinal; the grief which sin breeds, consumes the sin that bred it."
God never leads his children through any foul way: On the contrary, all his exhortations direct them to the way of holiness. His children indeed sometimes sinfully run into a way which is displeasing to his purity: They cry to Him out of the deeps, into which their sins have plunged them. God hears their cry : In great mercy he brings them up out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, sets their feet upon a rock, and establishes their goings. (Psalm xl, 2.) To assert, therefore, in opposition to the uniform tenour of Scripture, that God leads his children to heaven through some foul way,” is to make God at once the Author of sin, and affords an alarming inlet to all the desecrating deductions of Antinomians. How different is the fine description which Isaiah gives, (xxxv, 8,) of the way to heaven by the Gospel ! “And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called THE WAY OF HOLINESS; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those : The wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” The holy provisions of the Gospel for the salvation of man are entirely of this sanctifying character ; and God is not so deficient in means for effecting the purification of his people, as to require the aid of sin for its own destruction.
These brief animadversions on the words of Dr. Sibbes, in the substance of which that pious divine had the concurrent testimony of his Puritan brethren, will shew the point of difference between the Arminian and the Calvinistic signi. fication given to the Assurance of salvation :" While in the former sense it is applied solely as a Divine evidence of a christian's present experience, in the latter it is presumed to be an evidence of absolute election and continued per. severance.
expression is, by means of opus operatum. We must never be so foolish, as to place the principal part of our religion in external rites ; because God desires now to be worshipped in spirit and truth, and is most urgent concerning the cleansing of the heart. But charity herself is lost, while such long disputes are maintained about the bond of charity; and purity of soul is disturbed and violated, while contests without end are indulged about the baptism of water. It was a declaration of the prophets, which has often been repeated, and must now again be inculcated, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. But a principal part of mercy consists, in not injuring or disturbing those who are in error, but in nourishing them in the bosom of the Church, that they may by this method become better instructed. Knowing, therefore, that the kingdom of God consists not of meat and drink, but of righteousness and peace, and that we are saved in baptism, not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but by the answer of a good conscience towards God, We Remonstrants recommend, offer, and exercise CHRISTIAN LIBERTY in no matters more readily than in external rites, if we are not able to persuade other people to embrace our sentiments on this subject which we defend as true.".
SVII.-THE DESIGN OF THIS WORK,
Tuese extracts display with tolerable fidelity the real bearings of Arminianism: It now remains that I render to the public some account of the origin and progress of this production. Upwards of two years ago, I had nearly completed a translation of the First Volume of the Works of Arminius, which also comprises a Memoir of his Life and Writings, more ample than any that had been previ. ously published either in English or Latin. It was my desire to derive from his private letters and other authentic sources of information, the rise and gracious aspect of his doctrines, and the workings of his ingenuous mind while weighing in the balances of the sanctuary the apparently opposite propositions to which I have already alluded, (p. xi.) and I wished to publish these, with a brief account of his learned Dutch cotemporaries and the spread of his principles in foreign countries. My design, how. ever, I soon found, was too comprehensive to be executed in an adequate manner in one volume. Of English Arminianism, respecting the commencement of which the greatest misrepresentations have prevailed, I could give no account: And as I was. desirous of presenting to the public a Syllabus of the doctrines of the Dutch Remonstrants who succeeded Arminius, I resolved to reprint Bishop Womack's Examination of Tilenus before the Triers.
The close of that pamphlet contains an excellent English translation of the Tenets of the Remonstrants, which were presented to the Synod of Dort, and to which the pious Bishop has added
some scriptural proofs and valuable comments. When I had nearly printed the whole of the Tenets, I obtained possession of a copy of Mosheim's History of the Synod of Dort by John Hales, which I had not seen when I wrote the notes to Arminius. The perusal of that very interesting volume offered me the first excuse for increasing the size of this work. : For I found that the learned and amiable ecclesiastical historian had adopted the same mode as I had done, of ascertaining the sentiments and proceedings of the Dort Synodists, by a careful attention to the garbled accounts given in heir own Acts, and by comparing those accounts with the despatches which HALES and BALCANQUAL transmitted, generally every week, to the English Ambassador at the Hague, and with other Calvinistic, yet tolerably impartial, documents. That there should be a degree of similarity between his deductions and mine, was not wonderful, since both had pursued one course; but the points of coincidence with regard to sentiment and language were so numerous and striking, as to induce me to translate some of his remarks, which, while they elucidated Bishop Womack's pamphlet, confirmed the view I had given, in the work just cited, of that Calvinistic Convention.
This was the first temptation which I felt to augment the size of the publication. But in translating, for the benefit of the mere English reader,* the Latin Theses of Parker, which Bishop Womack had appended to the conclusion of his pamphlet, and had enriched with his own able annotations, another temptation presented itself. I had been long acquainted with the secret history of those Theses, and had often smiled at the eulogies bestowed upon them by some predestinarian writers,t who must have had an uncommon grasp of intellect, if they could collect from Parker's barbarous language the exact opinions which it was his purpose to convey. These Theses constituted in reality an additional futile attempt to modify Calvinism, so as to conceal under the harshest and most recondite terms of scholastic jargon, its objectionable and half-discarded dogmas. · In introducing them to the notice of the reader, the editor, who gives us the initials
.* I know, that, by this attempt at translation, I shall be liable to the just remark of Bishop Womack : (page 194:) " The reason why these Theses yet " remain untranslated, is this,-no man could, in my opinion, render them into * English so as to be grasped by the comprehension of mortals, or could himself “understand them when translated.” If, therefore, the reader cannot understand the translation, the cause of his mental failure must be ascribed to the Theses, and not to himself.
* RICHARD BAXTER, in his Saints' Rest, (Pt. i, c. 8,) when describing ** the people of God,” speaks in the following fulsome manner of PARKER'S Theses : « They that would see this work of God on the soul handled most 5'exactly, judiciously, scholastically, and briefly, let them read Mr. Parker's " excellent Theses de Traductione Peccatoris ad Vitam. If you cannot get the - book, it is in the end of Amesius against Grevinchovius, but maimed of fifteen * Theses left out."
bf his name H. S., has extolled them as “ entirely-studded with gems," and has described, in the language of hyperbole, the reputed victories achieved by various Calvinistic authors over their supine Arminian adversaries. His mention of these individuals of differ. ent denominations, suggested to me the first idea of illustrating the history of Arminianism during the interesting period between 1600 and 1662, by brief memoirs of six or seven of the principal Calvinists whose names are cited in the Preface to PARKER'S Theses, and by elucidatory extracts from their productions, and from those of their learned cotemporaries in various parts of Europe. -In Appendix A, therefore, I have given some account of MACCOVIUS, who with the younger Parker was joint author of the Theses; and in B, have corroborated one of the Prefacer's most judicious hints.
In Appendix C, the reader will find a biographical notice of John CAMERO, and a description of the system of religious doctrines of which he was the author, and which is commonly known in England under the term BAXTERIANISM. The extracts which I have given from the letters and pamphlets of Grotius, Courcelles, Du Moulin, Rivet, Amyraut, Poelenburgh, and others,
furnish a fair history of the nature of this system and its progress. - A long note, in page 714, affords a still clearer view of its consequences. I have reserved some valuable observations from Episcopius, for insertion in “ WOMACK's Calvinists" Cabinet Un. locked." -As Camero received his death-blow from one of the furious zealots, who, in those days, had begun to manifest a spirit of insubordination in almost every State throughout Europe, in which Calvinistic churches were planted; I have in a summary manner exposed the origin of that spirit, and have traced it from the Genevan Fathers down to the æra immediately previous to the memorable Synod of Dort.
In Appendix D, I have more minutely marked the spread of the same restless and revolutionary spirit, in a biographical account of Dr. William Twisse, the famous Moderator of The Assembly of Divines at Westminster. The contents of that Appendix, which occupies nearly three-fourths of the present volume, (in two parts,) I shall specify in a separate article. But, as the conclusion of Appendix D is inserted in the commencement of the second volume, part of which is already printed off, I proceed to the enumeration of the particulars it embraces. An entire and interesting chapter on Cromwell's “ Triers and Ejectors,” from Jackson's Life of Goodwin, occupies the first place in the second volume, and is succeeded by the Rev. Tobias Conyers's celebrated dedication, to the Protector, of his English version of "the Declaration" of Arminius. The state of society and of public morals, at the beginning and the termination of the Civil Wars, is afterwards exhibited from various unexceptionable