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by liis obedience to the divine law that Christ made a satisfaction to that law in our stead, since this obedience was his duty, considered as a man; and therefore, being obliged to obey this law himself, his observance of it could not merit any thing for others from the Supreme Being. This opinion, as every one may see, tended to confirm the doctrine of the Romish church, concerning the merit of good works, the natural power of man to obey the commands of God, and other points of a like nature. These less important concessions were followed by others of a much more weighty and momentous kind, of which some were so erroneous, that they were highly disliked and rejected, even by those of the French protestants themselves, who were the most remarkable for their moderation, charity, and love of peace."
with his usual malignity and bitterness, reproaches the Protestants with their inconstancy. The learned Basnage has endeavoured to defend the Reformed Churches against this charge, in the second volume of his Histoire de l'Eglise, p. 1533. But this defence is not satisfactory. Op To Dr. Mosheim, who speaks more than once of the Reformed Church and its doctors with partiality and prejudice, this defence may not appear satisfactory; it has nevertheless been judged so by many persons of uncommon discernment; and we invite the reader to judge for himself.
ISP ii It does not appear to me that any one, who looks with an unprejudiced eye, can see the least connexion between the opinion of Piscator, which I shall not here either refute or defend, and the popish doctrine which maintains the merit of good works ; for though we are not justified, i. e. pardoned or treated as if we had not offended, in consequence of Christ's active obedience to the divine law, yet we may be so by his death and sufferings; and it is really to these, that the Scriptures, in many places, ascribe our acceptance. Now a person who ascribes his acceptance and salvation to the death and mediation of Christ, does not surely give any countenance to the doctrine of the strict and rigorous merit of works, although he should not be so sharpsighted as to perceive the influence wbich certain doctors attribute to what is called Christ's active obedience. But let it be observed here, in a particular manner, that the opinion of Piscator is much more unfavourable to popery than our author ima. gined, since it overturns totally, by a direct and most natural consequence, the popish doctrine concerning works of supererogation, which is as monstrous an absurdity in morals, as transubstantiation is in the estimation of common sense. For if Christ, in his universal and perfect obedience to the divine laws, did no more than he was morally obliged to do by his character as a man, is it not absurd, is not impious, to seek in the virtue of the Romish saints, all of whom were very imperfect, and some of them very worthless mortals, an exuberance of obedience, a superabundant quantity of virtue, to wbich they were not obliged, and which they are supposed to deposite in the bands of the popes, wbo are empowered to distribute it, for love of money, ainong such as have need of it to make up their accounts ?
DPk This affirmation is groundless, and I wish it were not liable to the charge of malignity. The accusation that Dr. Mosheim brings here against the Reformed Churches in France is of too serious a nature not to require the most evident and circumstantial prooss. He has, however, alleged none, nor has he given any one instance of those weighty and momentous concessions that were made to popery. It was not indeed in his power either to give arguments or examples of a satisfactory kind; and it is highly pro. Lable, that the unguarded words of Elias Saurin, minister of Utrecht, in relation to the learned Lewis Le Blanc, professor of Sedan, which dropt from the pen of the former, in bis Examen de la Theologie de M. Jurieu, are the only testimony Dr. Mosbeim had to allege, in support of an accusation, which he has not limited to any one person, but inconsiderately thrown out upon the French churches in general. Those who are desirous of a full illustration of this matter, and yet have not an opportunity of consulting the original sources of information, may satisfy their curiosity by perusing the ar
The controversy excited
xiv. The doctors of Saumur revived a controversy, that had for some time been suspended, by their attempts to reconcile the doctrine of predestination, as it had been taught at Geneva, and confirmed, better byen at Dort, with the sentiments of those who represent the Deity as offering the displays of his goodness and mercy to all mankind. The first person, who made this fruitless attempt, was John Cameron, whose sentiments were supported and further illustrated by Moses Amyraut, a man of uncommon sagacity and erudition. The latter applied himself, from the year 1634, with unparalleled zeal, to this arduous work, and displayed in it extraordinary exertions of capacity and genius ; and so ardently was he bent on bringing it into execution, that he made, for this purpose, no small changes in the doctrine commonly received among the reformed in France. The form of doctrine he had struck out, in order to accomplish this important reconciliation, may be briefly summed up in the following propositions ; "That God desires the happiness of all men, and that no mortal is excluded, by any divine decree, from the benefits that are procured by the death, sufferings, and gospel of Christ.
“That, however, none can be made a partaker of the blessings of the gospel, and of eternal salvation, unless he believe in Jesus Christ;
“ That such indeed is the immense and universal goodness of the Supreme Being, that he refuses to none the power of believing ; though he does not grant unto all his assistance and succour, that they may wisely improve this power to the attainment of everlasting salvation;
“ And that, in consequence of this, multitudes perish, through their own fault, and not from any want of goodness in God."
ticles of Beaulieu and Amyraut, in Bayle's Dictionary; and the articles Pajon and Papin, in M. de Chauffepied's supplement to that work. Any concessions' that seem to have been made by the Protestant doctors in France to their adversaries, consisted in giving an Arminian turn to some of the more rigid tenets of Calvin, relating to original sin, predestination, and grace; and this turn would undoubtedly have been given to these doctrines, had popery been out of the question. But these concessions are not certainly what our historian had in view; nor would he, in effect, have treated such concessions as erroneous.
I See Jo. Wolfg. Jaegeri Historia Eccles. et Politica, Sæcali xvii. Decenn. iv. p. 522.
O This mitigated view of the doctrine of Predestination has only one defect; but it is a capital one. It represents God as desiring a thing, i. e. salvation and happiness, for all, which, in order to its attainment, requires a degree of his assistance and succour, which he refuseth to mony. This rendered grace and redemption universal only in words, but partial in reality, and therefore did not at all mend the matter. The
Those who embraced this doctrine were called Universalists, because they represented God as willing to show mercy to all mankind; and hypothetical Universalists, because the condition of faith in Christ was necessary to ren*der them the objects of this mercy. It is the opinion of many, thąt this doctrine differs but little from that which was established by the synod of Dort; but such do not seem to have attentively considered either the principles from whence it is derived, or the consequences to which it leads. The more I examine this reconciling system, the more I am persuaded, that it is no more than Arminianism or Pelagianism artfully dressed up, and ingeniously covered with a half transparent veil of specious, but ambiguous expressions; and this judgment is confirmed by the language that is used in treating this subject by the modern followers of Amyraut, who express their sentiments with more courage, plainness, and perspicuity, than the spirit of the times permitted their master to do. A cry was raised, in several French synods, against the doctrine of Amyraut; but after it had been carefully examined by them, and defended by him, at their public meetings, with his usual eloquence and erudition, he was honourably acquitted." The opposition he met with from Holland was still more formidable, as it came from the learned and celebrated pensof Rivet, Spanheim, Des Marets, and other adversaries of note; he nevertheless answered them with great spirit and vigour, and his cause was powerfully supported afterward by Daille, Blondel, Mestrezat, and Claude." This controversy was carriedon,for a long time, with great animosity and little fruit to those who opposed the opinions of the French
Supralapsarians were consistent with themselves, but their doctrine was harshfand terrible, and was founded on the most unworthy notions of the Supreme Being; and, on the other hand, the system of Amyraut was full of inconsistences ; nay, even the Sublapsarian doctrine has its difficulties, and rather palliates, than removes the horrors of Sipralapsarianism. What then is to be done ? from what quarter shall the candid and well-disposed Christian receive that solid satisfaction and wise direction, which neither of these systems is adapted to administer ? These he will receive by turning his dazzled and feeble eye from the secrel degrees of God, which were neither designed to be rules of action nor sources of comfort to mortals here below; and by fixing his view upon the mercy of God, as it is manisested through Christ, the pure laws and sublime promises of his gospel, and the respectable equity of his present government and his future tribunal.
m See Aymon, ' Actes des Synodes Nationaux des Eglises Reformees en France,' tom. ii. p. 571, p. 604. Blondel, 'Actes Authentiques des Eglises Reformees touchant la paix et la charite fraternelle,' p. 19–82, edit. of Amsterdam, published in 4to. in the
n Bayle's Dictionary, vol. i. at the articles Amyraut and Blondel; and vol. ii. at the article Dailte. See Christ. Pfaffius, De fornmila consensus, cap. i. p. 4.
The contests occasioned by
innovator. For the sentiments of Amyraut were not only received in all the universities of the Hugonots in France, and adopted by divines of the highest note in that nation, but also spread themselves as far as Geneva, and were afterward disseminated by the French protestants, who fled from the rage of persecution, through all the reformed churches of Europe. And they now are so generally received, that few have the courage to oppose or decry them.
xv. The desire of mitigating certain doctrines of the reformed church, that drew
upon it the heaviest censures from both the Roman catholics and some oce protestant communions, was the true origin of the and Cappel
. opinion propagated, in the year 1640, by De la Place, concerning the imputation of original sin. This divine, who was the intimate friend of Amyraut, and his colleague at Saumur, rejected the opinion generally received in the schools of the reformed, that the personal and actual transgression of the first man is imputed to his posterity. He maintained, on the contrary, that God imputes to every man his natural corruption, his personal guilt, and his propensity to sin; or, to speak in the theological style, he affirmed, that original sin is indirectly and not directly imputed to mankind. This opinion was condemned as erroneous, in the year 1642, by the synod of Charenton, and many Dutch and Helvetic doctors of great name set themselves to refute it;" while the love of peace and union prevented its author from defending it in a public and open manner. But neither the sentence of the synod, nor the silence of De la Place, could hinder this sentiment from making a deep impression on the minds of many, who looked upon it as conformable to the plainest dictates of justice and equity; nor could they prevent its being transmitted, with the French exiles, into other countries.
In the class of those who, to diminish or avoid the resentment of the papists, made concessions inconsistent with truth, and detrimental to the purity of the protestant religion, many place Lewis Cappel
, professor at Saumur, who, in a voluminous and elaborate work,' undertook to
• Aymon, Synodes des Eglises Reformees de France, tom. ii. p. 680. p Christ. Eberh. Weismanni Histor. Eccles. Sæc. xvii. p. 817.
This work, which is entitled Arcanum Punctuationis Revelatum, is still extant, with its Vindicia, in the works of Cappel, printed at Amsterdam, in the year 1689, in folio, and in the Critica Sacra V. T. published in folio at Paris, 1650.
prove that the Hebrew points were not used by the sacred writers, and were a modern invention added to the text by the Masorethes. It is at least certain, that this hypothesis was highly agreeable to the votaries of Rome, and seemed manifestly adapted to diminish the authority of the Holy Scriptures, and to put them upon a level with oral tradition, if not to render their decision still less respectable and certain." On these accounts, the system of this famous professor was opposed, with the most ardent efforts of erudition and zeal, by several doctors both of the reformed and Lutheran churches, who were eminent for their knowledge of the Hebrew language, and their acquaintance with oriental learning in general.' xvi. Though these great men gave offence to many, by
the freedom and novelty of their sentiments, yet Lewis le Blanc. they had the approbation and esteem of the greatest part of the reformed churches; and the equity of succeeding generations removed the aspersions that envy had thrown upon them during their lives, and made ample amends for the injuries they had received from several of their contemporaries. This was far from being the case of those' doctors who either openly attempted to bring about a complete reconciliation and union between the reformed and Romish churches, or explained the doctrines of Christianity in such a manner as lessened the difference between the two communions, and thereby rendered the passage from the former to the latter less disgusting and painful. The attempts of these peacemakers were looked upon as odious, and in the issue they proved utterly unsuccessful. The most eminent of these reconciling doctors were Lewis le Blanc, professor at Sedan, and Claude Pajon, minister of Orleans," who were both remarkable for
17r It was also Cappel, who affirmed, that the characters which compose the Hebrew text, were those that the Chaldeans used after the Babylonish captivity, the Jews having always made use of the Samaritan characters before that period.
Is This absurd notion of the tendency of Cappel's liypothesis is now hissed almost entirely out of the learned world. Be that as it may, the hypothesis in question is by no means peculiar to Cappel; it was adopted by Luther, Zuingle, Calvin, the three great pillars of the Reforination; as also by Munster, Olivetan, Masius, Scaliger, Casaubon, Drusius, De Dieu, Walton, and Bochart, those eminent men, who have cast such light on sacred philology; so that Cappel had only the merit of supporting it by new arguments, and placing it in a striking and luminous point of view.
i See B. Jo. Christ. Wolfii Biblioth. Hebraica, p. ii. p. 27.
D’u It is difficult to conceive, what could engage Dr. Mosheim to place Pajon in the class of those who explained the doctrines of Christianity in such a manner, as to diminish the difference between the doctrine of the Reformed and Romish Churches. Pajon was indeed a moderate divine, and leaned somewhat toward the Arminian sys