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Notwithstanding all this, the same Episcopius was pleased to deny the necessity of believing the eternal generation of the Son, (which with him appears to be the same with denying his eternal existence, and consequently, the necessity of believing the received doctrine of the Trinity. And he denied the necessity of so believing, as for several other reasons, so principally for this, because the Scripture had neither directly nor indirectly declared the necessity of the doctrine, though it had taught the truth of ito,
But then again I must observe of him, that he seems to me, not so properly to have denied the necessity of believing that doctrine, (in our sense of necessity,) as the necessity of pronouncing an anathema upon the impugners, which he conceived must follow upon the other, and which he interpreted to such a rigid sense, as to mean sentencing the men directly to hell fire, or to everlasting damnation. This last particular was what he chiefly, or solely hesitated upon, when he came to explain: or he would be thought, at least, to mean no more ; as appears from his own words, in his answer to the Leyden DivinesP;
esse, prout et quatenus ea in Scriptura traduntur. Episcop. Instit. lib. iv.
269. • Hactenus ergo de veritate articuli hujus agimus, restat, ut videamus de ejus credendi necessitate.-Argumenta pro parte negante mihi longe videntur præponderare. 1. Quia nuspiam in Scriptura id necessarium creditu esse asseritur, nec per bonam nedum necessariam consequentiam ex ea elicitur. Episcop. Instit. lib. iv. c. 34. p. 338.
Certum est iis, qui sic errant, in Scripturis nuspiam, nec diserte, neque in terminis, neque per manifestam consequentiam, anathema dici. Quod autem in Scripturis non est, etiamsi verissimum sit, necessarium tamen dogma non esse ipsi doctores in synopsi sua adferunt. Episcop. Opp. vol. ii. p. 295.
P Author iste diserte et in terminis Socinianos inter eos collocat quibus salus abjudicanda non est. Id nuspiam fecerunt Remonstrantes. At anathema illis non dicunt. Esto: sed nec negant anathema illis dicendum esse. Quid ergo ? 'Eri youts, neutrum dicunt.-Ne quid præcipitent, malunt relinquere tam severum ac grare judicium Deo et tempori usque dum causas satis graves habebunt, ut in alteram partem cum certa animi fiducia descendant.--Ex altera parte occurrere vident diram ac funestam anathematos atque æterne condemnationis sententiam : a qua tantopere se abhorrere profitentur, ut eam nisi plenissime persuasi ferre non audeant adeoque ferre illicitum sibi credant. Episcop. Respons. ad Specim. Calumn. p. 295.
as also from his manner of wording the question in his Institutions, and elsewherer.
But that Episcopius did not deal fairly and uprightly in this matter may be made appear from several considerations; as, 1. Because he aggravated the business of an anathema beyond what he had reason for; which makes it look like pretence. 2. Because he was not consistent with himself, either in his doctrine or conduct. 3. Because he has laid down a very fallacious rule for judging of necessaries. 4. Because he has done the like in other instances also, and with as little reason, only to afford shelter for the Socinians.
1. I say, first, he has aggravated the matter of an anathema beyond what he had reason for. When St. Paul delivered over to Satan, the design of it was kind and salutary, that “ the spirit might be saved in the day of " the Lord Jesus s.” If men must not have warning given them of their evil ways, all friendly reproof is at an end ; and it will be unlawful to tell them, however just or necessary the occasion be, that they are in a dangerous state, and upon the verge of destruction. The declaring such a case publicly, if it be right and true, is an eminent act of charity both to them and to the world.
But further; every anathema upon a doctrine is not an anathema, in Episcopius's sense, upon the persons teaching itt. The doctrine may be censured as pernicious and detestable, and yet the patrons of it believed to be in a salvable state, on account of invincible ignorance, or prejudices, or some unhappy warmth of temper, or enthusiastic disorder of mind. It is no certain consequence, that we must therefore condemn the men to hell fire, or presume to erase them in our opinion out of the Book of Life, only because we pronounce their doctrines false, or wicked, or subversive of the Gospelu.
9 Utrum scilicet præcise ad salutem scitu et credilu necessarium sit, Jesum peculiari isto quem adstruximus modo Filium Dei esse, iisque qui id negant, aut in dubium vocant, ac proinde id confiteri non audent, anathema sit dicendum ? Episcop. Institut. lib. iv. c. 34. p. 338.
Stabat jam animo Remonstrantium hæc sententia; nulli doctrinæ, pulli homini anathema dicere, nisi cui Deus ipse unathema dicit, vel expressis verbis, vel sic, ut per consequentiam omni exceptione majorem et cuivis obviam, id Deum dicere colligi possit. Deum non reperiunt anathema dicere, &c. -Absit a Remonstrantibus, ut tam promptam habeant spongiam qua ex albo vitæ æternæ infinitas animarum alioquin sanctissimarum myriadas expungant, ob ignorantiam earum rerum, quæ sufficiunt ad doctissimi cujusque industriam exercendam ut eas possint intelligere, aut si forte eas intelligant, adeo tenues ac subtiles sunt ut eas persuadere aliis pæne impossibile sit. Apolog. pro Confess. Remonstrant. p. 136.
1 Cor, v, 5.
Farther, merely renouncing, or refusing communion with some persons, may sometimes not amount to any judicial censure at all, but may be only taking due care of our own salvation, and conscientiously providing that we be not found partakers in other men's sins.
These things considered, it is plain that Episcopius's so tragical exclamations against denouncing an anathema upon the Socinian doctrines, or against renouncing communion with the men, were carried too far, and aggravated beyond reason. He might have condemned their doctrines as pernicious or dangerous; and he might have declared the doctrine of the Trinity highly important, or generally necessary to salvation, without passing any such terrible sentence upon particular men: which yet if he had, might reasonably have been construed as no more than a friendly warning, and a declaration of his sense.
2. I observe farther, that he was not very consistent with himself, either in his doctrine or his conduct, so far as concerns our present article. It appears from the public
· Distinguendum judicium de hominibus, a judicio de rebus ipsis. De hominibus, præstat judicium cobibere, eosque Dei judicio relinquere, saltem nisi apertissimæ judicandi rationes adsint: de rebus ipsis, dogmatibus nempe, cultibus, regimine, ex Dei verbo judicare licet. Alphons. Turretin. de Articul. Fundament. p. 39.
Adest quippe, et in vitiis, tque peccatis, ita ut in ignorantia atque erroribus, duplex remedium : alterum ex parte nostra, nimirum pænitentia, sen generalis seu particularis ; alterum a parte Dei, puta ejus misericordiu ; quorum ope ut peccatis gravissimis, ita et gravissimis erroribus veniæ locum dari posse, a nemine negari potest. Alphons. Turretin. de Articulis Fundamental. p. 5.
Confession of himself and friends, and from what I have cited besides, that he held the doctrine of the Trinity, as commonly received, to be true, certain, and clear: and yet when he comes to justify himself in his refusing to condemn the Socinians, or their doctrines, there he falls to talking of the obscurity of those articles which the Socinians rejected, such as few besides the learned were able to understand, scarcely they, and fewer could believe*. Now one would be glad to know of what kind of things he is there speaking. If he intends his reflection upon the appendages to the main doctrine, or upon scholastic subtilties, (some true and some false,) those were not the things, or however not the only things, which any one could blame the Socinians for rejecting; so that this kind of excuse is entirely wide and foreign, and the making use of it is playing upon his readers : but if he means the main doctrine of the Trinity, for the rejecting whereof the Socinians highly deserve censure, why does be here represent it as obscure, or scarce credible, when at other times he admits it as a clear and a certain truth? I see no way of reconciling Episcopius to Episcopius in things so contradictory and inconsistent.
As to his conduct, there was a farther inconsistency in his condemning the Calvinistical doctrines of absolute predestination &c. as impiety and blasphemy, and that publicly, and yet refusing to do the like by the Socinian tenets, which certainly had no more claim to favour than the other. And how far was such a censure short of denouncing an anathema against the Calvinists for holding them; though at the same time he professed not to pronounce any anathema where God had not pronounced one? Where could he find any Scripture anathema against absolute predestination, (though I must own I dislike the doctrine as well as he,) or where could he find it said in terms, or by plain consequence, that it is necessary to salvation to believe it conditionul, more than he might find
* See the last quotation from the Apology &c.
for the belief of the doctrine of the Trinity also, if he pleased ? His conduct therefore appears, in that instance, to have been inconsistent, and not of a piece with itself. It was objected to the Remonstrantsy, that they made blasphemers of the Calvinists, but easily passed over the Socinians without such censure : and all the excuse made for it was, that the Calvinistical doctrines were very notorious, and the Calvinists had been very severe, cruel, and inhuman in their way of supporting them?. But surely the Socinian blasphemies were as notorious as'any could be: and how could the Calvinistical doctrines (supposing them bad) be ever the worse, or amount to blasphemy or impiety ever the more, for the cruelty of their patrons and abettors? There is no just or consistent account to be given of this unequal conduct, except it be this ; that blasphemies of adversaries (supposing them such) are real blasphemies, and deserve an anathema; but blasphemies of friends, or of brethren in affliction, are innocent, and deserve no anathema at all. When the Remonstrants have said all they can, they will not be able to persuade the Christian world that those Calvinistical doctrines (though I take them to be wrong) are worse than the Socinian ;
, Secundum membrum est, quod Remonstrantes, cum in declaratione sententiam suam de prædestinatione et articulis ei annexis declarent, doctrinam Ecclesiarum Reformatarum non modo xar' vídeow rejiciant, sed eam quoque impietatis ac blasphemiæ condembant; in hac tamen doctrina (sc. Trinitatis) hæreticos nullos, aut hæretica nulla dogmata improbent, damnent, aut anathemate percutiant. Vid. Apolog. pro Confess. Remonstr. p. 135.
z Nec enim mirum est Remonstrantes doctrinam istam Calvinisticam rejecisse passim in sua declaratione, et quæ ex ea consequnntur, impietates et blasphemias damnasse ex professo, a cæteris autem ex professo damnandis abstinuisse. Istud ut facerent, gravissimas causas habebant: nam sententia ista hæretica Calvini jam nota erat, vel pueris a furno et lacu redeuntibus : patroni ejus non damnaverant tantum contrariam veritatem, sed etiam intolerabilem ecclesiis suis judicaverant; professores exautboraverant &c.Istam sententiam ut coloribus suis ad vivum depingerent (Remonstrantes) necessarium erat; idque eo magis quod eam, prout jacet, pestem credant, et venenum religionis omnis, cum qua forte hæresis nulla alia comparari mereatur; et tamen nihilominus eam, ut fundamentum et basin religionis pene totius Christianæ statui et propugnari videant. Apolog. pro Confess. p. 135. 136.