« AnteriorContinua »
REFUTATION OF CALVINISM,
BY GEORGE TOMLINE, D.D. F.R.S.
LORD BISHOP OF LINCOLN, AND DEAN OF ST. PAUL'S, LONDON.
BY THOMAS SCOTT,
RECTOR OF ASTON SANDFORD, BUCKS.
"Be ready always to give an answer to every man, that asketh you a
'Take special care, before you aim your shafts at Calvinism, that you
IT has been regretted by many pious persons, that
the controversy, to which The Refutation' relates, has again been revived, and brought before the publick: but the author of these Remarks does not entirely concur in this feeling, or accord to the opinions which excite it. Veritas magna est, et prevalebit. It is true, that if the persons, whose principles are brought before the tribunal of the publick, in so energetick a manner, and by so high an authority, do not "take heed to themselves;" they may very easily both raise a tempest of acrimonious controversy, and expose themselves and the common cause to additional censure and reproach: but nothing is so unfavourable to the progress of genuine christianity, among mankind in general, nay, among the bulk of nominal christians, as a dead calm. Within the writer's remembrance, the Calvinists, especially the evangelical clergy, were so inconsiderable and neglected a company, that, except a declamation now and then in a visitation sermon, little publick notice was taken of them. But now, it seems, they are become so numerous and successful, that, unless more decided measures be adopted, there is danger lest "all the world should go after "them." And in this I do rejoice, yea, and will "rejoice."
It may be questioned, how far it would be advisable, in present circumstances, for any of our party, to commence a controversy: yet there can hardly be a doubt, but that it is incumbent on us to say something, to the publick arraignment of our principles, which The 'Refutation' contains.
Had that publication assailed those tenets exclusively, which are commonly called Calvinistick; these Remarks would, probably, not have been obtruded on the publick notice: but, as many doctrines which belong to our common christianity are deeply involved in the argument, the contest is no longer about unessential matters, but pro aris et focis. It is allowed, that the several doctrines, brought under consideration in the Refutation, have in reality a very intimate connexion or concatenation. Original sin, implying the total want, in fallen man, of what is good before God, makes way for the doctrine of special preventing grace, or regeneration by the Holy Spirit, in order to the true repentance, faith, and renewed acceptable obedience, of any of our fallen race. The remainder of this infection in the regenerate, rendering all which they do, imperfect or defiled; shows that justification must be of grace, in Christ, and by faith alone, not of works, from first to last: and that good works can, in this respect, do no more than evidence faith to be living and justifying: for, the alloy of evil connected with them needing forgiveness, they can do nothing either towards justification, or continuing us in a justified state. Regeneration also, being a new creation by the omnipotent power of
the Holy Spirit, "dividing to every one severally as he "will," must be purposed and intended: and, considering the prescience and unchangeableness of God, "the eter66 nal purpose which he has purposed in himself," can hardly be excluded; or the conclusion, that those, whom he thus regenerates, he will " keep by his power, "through faith unto salvation." Of this concatenation his Lordship is aware; and it would not have answered his design, to refute these latter doctrines, and leave the others unassailed. Numbers however do not allow or perceive this; and hold the grand outlines of the doctrine, here called Calvinistick, very decidedly and practically; either silently excluding personal election and final perseverance from their creed, or directly disavowing them.
But, besides the attempt to refute several doctrines, which are not generally considered as Calvinistick, but rather as "the faith once delivered to the saints;" for which we are required to "contend earnestly;"The 'Refutation' contains many statements of our doctrine which are erroneous, and arise from misapprehension; so that we are supposed to maintain tenets, not only which we disavow, but which the most systematical Calvinism, well understood, by no means includes: and some of these are so incongruous to others, that it is impossible for the same person to maintain both at the same time. Now we must either be willing, for the publick to conclude, that we plead guilty to these charges; (which would be, in our view, base treachery against the cause of truth; or we must come forward, and plead not guilty, and disprove the charges; showing