Page images

persons called by his name? Can this mode of proceeding be justified by his lordship’s bare assertion, that “ Calvinism will not admit of par"tial adoption; and that if you embrace one of “its tenets you must embrace all ?” The absurdity as well as disingenuousness of this polemical artifice is too evident to need further animadverston.

The comparison in the sixth chapter between the Calvinists and some of the earliest heretics must not be passed over entirely unnoticed. Without estimating Dr. Tomline's capacity of discernment far below the common standard, it is impossible to attribute to any conceivable motive of fair or candid controversy the plentiful shower of absurdities and impieties discharged in that chapter against the devoted objects of his lordship's theological hostility ; like so many Indian arrows, barbed in order to lacerate where they enter, and dipped in poison to insure the mortality of their wounds. The whole compass of language furnishes no terms too severe to be employed in the reprobation of such weapons of episcopal warfare. But veneration for the mitre forbids the use of any language against a prelate, that could express half the indignation which the perusał of that chapter must necessarily exa cite in every ingenuous mind. It is most devoutly to be wished, that every theologian would study that “charity" which " rejoiceth in the truth.”

While the modern preachers, writers, and pri

vate Christians, whom his lordship is opposing, do not coincide in all the sentiments contained in the writings of Calvin, and while they disclaim the reception of any principles of religion on his authority, or that of any uninspired man; they do not in general refuse the name of Calvinists, as a term of distinction, easily understood, and superseding the necessity of those tedious circumlocutions which must otherwise be frequently employed. The propriety of the term they consider as sufficiently supported by their agreement with the leading principles adopted by that eminently great and good man, notwithstanding their rejection of some tenets which he thought necessary appendages, but which they consider as unnecessary incumbrances of the general system.

Dr. Tomline asserts, that the Church of England is ANTI-CALVINISTIC. Perhaps the shortest method of overturning his lordship's position is by establishing an opposite one. To effect this scarcely any thing will be requisite but a selection and comparison of extracts from different writings.

I shall therefore proceed, without further introduction, to adduce passages from Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, which contain his sentiments on Original Sin, Free Will, Regeneration and Sanctification by the Holy Spirit, Justification, Faith, Good Works, Predestination and Election; and which, I apprehend,

also express the sentiments of Calvinists in general on these important subjects. In comparison with these will be exhibited extracts from the Formularies of the Church of England. And in contrast to the extracts from both these sources, especially the latter, I shall make some quotations from his lord

ship, accompanied with a few observations.


ORIGINAL sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk;) but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inciined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation.—Art. 9.

We be, of ourselves, of such earth as can bring forth nothing but weeds, nettles, brambles, briars, cockles, and darnel. Our fruits be declared in the 5th chapter to the Gajatians. We have neither faith, charity, hope,


Original sin is an hereditary pravity and corruption of our nature, diffused through all the faculties of the soul; rendering us obnoxious to the wrath of God, and producing in us those works which the Scripture calls works of the flesh.

These two things should be distinctly observed: first, that our nature being so entirely vitiated and depraved, we are, on account of this very corruption, considered as convicted and justly condemned in the sight of God, to whom nothing is acceptable but righteousness, innocence, and purity.

The other thing to be remarked is, that this depravity never ceases in us, but is perpetually producing new fruits, those works of the

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The ninth article is so very explicit, that it seems scarcely possible to misapprehend any part of its meaning. For two hundred and fifty years it has been understood to assert the total loss of original integrity, and the entire corruption of human nature by the fall of Adam. It was reserved for Dr. Tomline to discover that this expression “man is very far gone from original righteousness” implies that original righteousness is not entirely lost,” (p. 50.) In another work his lordship states, that when the 39 articles were compiled and subscribed in 1562, they “were drawn up


[ocr errors]

in Latin only; but in 1571 they were subscribed by the members of both houses, both in Latin and English, and therefore the Latin and English copies are to be considered as equally authentic." Consequently, we should avail ourselves of both, in order to ascertain the meaning with the utmost possible precision. The clause in the English article is so evidently at variance with the implication advanced by his lordship, that it is difficult to conceive the possibility of such an inference being deduced from it by any one not previously interested in warping it from its real meaning. But the expression in the Latin is still more conclusive against him.

• Ab originali justitia quam longissime distet”—which, with all due submission, I venture to translate, “man is gone to the farthest possible di. stance from original righteousness." But what degree of righteousness can be possessed by those who are gone to the farthest possible distance from it, remains for his lordship to ascertain. If, after reading the foregoing implication, a person could feel surprise at any thing advanced by his lordship, it would be at his assertion, that this is the plain and obvious sense of the, passage.”—The Bishop tells us, that " the Assembly of Divines in the reign of Charles the First proposed to omit the words ! man is


far froin original righteousness, and to substitute for them, ‘man is wholly deprived of original righteousness.!--And it is curious to observe, that he imputes this proposal to an attachment “ to the peculiar tenets of Calvin," and a wish to reform our articles according to the Calvinistic Creed.” But the above ex. tract shows that Calvin did not altogether approve of


« PreviousContinue »