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this manner. « He asked Goodwin, one of his preachers, • if the doctrine was true, that the elect could never fall, or suffer a final reprobation ?' Nothing more certain, replied the preacher. Then am I safe,' said the Protector, · for I am sure that once I was in a state of grace.' -But let the doctrine be fully stated, that perseverance in the favour of God can never be separated from perseverance in his image, in holiness of heart and life, and even those who do not subscribe to the doctrine of final perseverance, must allow it to be perfectly harmless.
From the review we have taken of the Calvinistic controversy, two things appear to be evident. The first is, that the grounds of dispute are now considerably altered, and that almost the whole subjects of controversy between Calvinists and Arminians are reduced to absolute election, and final perseverance. The second is, that Calvinists differ greatly among themselves. Some still consider preterition, if not reprobation, as a necessary part of the system, while others consider both of them as spots and stains upon the doctrine of absolute decrees. Some Calvinists consider the fall of man as the subject of a Di. vine decree. Others entirely disapprove of such a sentiment, and think it inconsistent with the honour of the Divine perfections. Some contend for particular, and others for universal redemption. According as they take higher or lower ground on these subjects, they are called high, or low Calvinists.
Dr. Marsh, in his reply to Dr. Milner's Strictures, has taken some paips to show, that in Calvinism there can be no degrees. “On the subject of Predestination therefore
can have no such thing as half a Calvinist, or a moderate Calvinist. If a man agrees with Calvin on that point he is altogether a Calvinist, on that point. If he
does not agree with Calvin on that point, he is not at all a Calvinist on that point.”—p. 84. It certainly does not require great penetration to perceive, that on any point a man is a Calvinist just so far as on that subject he agrees with Calvin; and that so far as he differs from Calvin, he is on that point no Calvinist. But this able writer does not appear to have attended to the origin of these anomalous forms of expression, a high, or a moderate Calvinist. It has long been the practice of those who oppose the doctrine of absolute election, to give the name of Calvinists to all who embrace that tenet, whether they embrace or do not embrace the whole system of Calvin. Very few of the Clergy of the Church of England, who believe in the doctrine of absolute election, carry that point nearly so high as Calvin does, in his Institutes, and therefore they do not adopt the name of Calvinists, being conscious that though they adopt a part, they dissa prove of some other parts of the system of that divine. Even a glance at Mr. Scott's remarks might have satisfied Dr. Marsh, that they for whom Mr. Scott apologizes, neither assume that name, nor wish to have it imposed on them. But, in defiance of their remonstrances, their antagonists call them Calvinists. Dr. Marsh cannot be ignorant that many who have believed in the doctrine of absolute election, have entirely disbelieved the doctrine of repro. bation, and also of preterition, and rejected particular, believing in universal redemption. On the latter subject he must allow them to have been Anticalvinists, though on the subject of absolute election, they were Calvinists. The absurdity of fixing the name of Calvinists on all who believe in absolute decrees, they think does not belong to those who do not assume, but to those who impose the
Some persons, however, as appears by the quo
tation from Dr. Williams, glory in the name, and whether they have a right to it or not, they have no reason to complain of hardship in the imposition of it.
Too many, both Calvinists and Arminians, in contend. ing for their opposite systems, have taken a latitude of expression highly indecorous and irreverent, hy arguing as if the dignity and glory of the Divine attributes and government, must stand or fall with their opposite conclusions. The remonstrances of that pious and excellent man, Mr. Scott, on this subject, it is to be hoped, will be attended to by those who adopt his sentiments, and not despised by those who have come to a different conclusion, on the subject of the decrees. “ It is greatly to be wished, that they who engage in religious contro. versy, would reverently avoid all language, that even seems to impeach the conduct of God, on the supposition that their own tenets are not true. Are we so completely infallible, that we should speak a word implying, that if we be mistaken, God is? On this unhappy subject, no tongue can express the irreverence, nay the blasphemy which has been uttered by eager disputers.
I am conscious, that I have no need or inclination to adopt any argument of this kind : but should I drop one word, implying, by fair construction, such a connexion between my sentiments and the honour of the Divine perfections: that, if the former are erroneous, this is exposed to impeachment, or even doubt ; I will promise before God, publicly, with shame to retract it, when pointed out to me. Whether Calvinism be true or false, God is infinitely wise, righteous, holy, faithful, good, merciful ; worthy of all reverence, adoration, love, confidence, hovour, and obedience, from all rational creatures, to all eternity. It would, indeed, be a blessed effect of this publication, if
it should render Calvinists, as well as their opponents, more reverently cautious, what words they use, in the warmth of controversy, when, on any account, the glory of God, in his dispensations or decrees, is even remotely concerned. Let God be true and every man a liar.' "*
Dr. Kipling, Mr. Fellows, and several other writers, have charged Calvinism with impiety, and with having a tendency to promote immorality, in direct opposition, vot only to the testimonies of its candid, but also of some of its violent enemies, as well as to all the evidence of stubborn facts. Even Dr. Priestley confesses that Calvinism was favourable to piety. The Monthly Review- · ers observe, “It is but justice to this sect to remark, that its members are in general exemplary for their piety and virtue.”+ Bishop Burnet, a man of true piety, though an Arminian, in his exposition of the seventeeth Article of the Church of England, speaks of Calvinists in the most respectful terms. " A Calvinist is taught by his opinions, to think meanly of himself, and to ascribe the honour of all to God; which lays in him a deep foundation for humility: he is also much inclined to secret prayer, and to a fixed dependence on God ; which naturally both brings his mind to a good state, and fixes it in it. And so though perhaps he cannot give a coherent account of the grounds of his watchfulness and care of himself, yet that temper arises out of his humility and his earnestness in prayer.” The man whom he celebrates, as having possessed the noblest sense of Divine things that he ever found in a human breast,
• Remarks on the Refutation of Calvinism, by Bishop Tomlinc, Vol. 11, p. p. 181, 182. † Monthly Review for March, 1806, p. 314. VOL. II.
was Archbishop Leighton, and every person who is acquainted with his writings knows, that in sentiment he was decidedly a Calvinist. We have often heard pious members of the Church of England, who were Arminians, complain, that those forms of prayer that in later times have been composed for its occasional services, had much less of that unction and holy fire, which are so refreshing and warming to pious minds, in the old liturgy of the Church. It is well known that the liturgy was composed by men who were moderate Calvinists.
With respect to the charge that Calvinism is destructive to morality, it is an argument against facts, and the only thing that those who bring it can say, is, that if its tendency be not immoral, it ought to be so. There is no country in Europe, wherein punishments are so seldom inflicted by the Magistrates, as in Scotland, because there is none in which the tone of morals is so high, and general information and good man ners so widely diffused. But, upon the maxims of these gentlemen, we should expect to find it the nursery of the most flagitious crimes, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. There is no country where Calvinistic principles are so general, so popular, or carried to so high a pitch.
Bishop Horsley,. in his Primary Charge to the Clergy of the Diocese of St. Asaph, though decidedly an Arminian, speaks of Calvin and Calvinists in respectful terms. “If ever you should be provoked to take a part in these disputes, of all things, I entreat you to avoid what is now become very common, acrimonious abuse of Calvinism and of Calvin. Remember, I beseech you, that some tenderness is due to the errors and extravagances of a man, eminent as he was in his day, for his piety, his wisdom, and his learning; and to whom the Reformation