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away the Scriptural doctrine of redemption, or justification, and that of the new-birth, the beginning of sanctification, or, which amounts to the same, explain them as you do, suitable to your doctrine of original sin; and what is Christianity better ihan heathenism?”
This, we trust, is still the opinion of the Methodists, and that their great prosperity and popularity in the religious world will be followed by no deteriorating consequences. It is sincerely to be wished that they would review their ground, and advert to their first principles, and hold them fast with a tenacious hand, and never suffer fanciful theories to be prejudicial to their usefulness.
I feel a pleasure in being able to quote a passage from the British Review, to confirm my opinion of Dr. Taylor's Key to the Romans. In their review of Bishop Watson's Life, they say, “ Perhaps the English language does not produce a more erroneous and mischievous theological treatise than that of the Key to the Romans, by Taylor of Norwich, so strongly commended by the Bishop. It is the work of a Socinian, and is calculated to shake some of the fundamental principles of religion. Nor is it the least singular part of the author's vindication of the unscriptural doctrine of justification maintained by Dr. Taylor, that the only authority he produces for it is that of Crellius, the Socinian antagonist of Grotius. We should not hesitate to say, that the insertion of this single treatise renders the Theological Tracts a very dangerous addition to the library of any young or ill-informed divine. And yet, this apostle of liberality declares, with regard to the unfavourable reception of his Tracts, that he did not conceive such bigotry could have been found on the bench.”
Review of " Remarks occasioned by reading an ' Appendix to a
Tract entitled, "The True Gospel no Yea and Nay Gospel. By Dr. Hawker: Tending to prove, that the Doctrine of Absolute Reprobation is without foundation ; and also, that it was the uniform practice of Christ and his Apostles to invite all men, indiscriminately, to a participation of the blessings offered in the Gospel. By D. SHEPHERD.”
That multitudes of upright Christians, who in life and death have adorned the doctrine of God their Saviour, admitted into their creed the tenets usually denominated Calvinistic, is acknowledged without hesitation by all pious and well-informed Arminians. The grand reason why so many of the wise and good embraced those tenets heretofore, and why so many of the same description maintain them now, is, that they are generally found associated with the distinguishing doctrines of Christianity. Thus associated, they have been, and still are, embraced, without examination, by thousands who are real Christians, loving God and all mankind." Most of these possess sense and candour sufficient to preserve them from the absurdity of confounding Calvin's peculiarities with the articles of the Christian faith. They lament, it is true, that their pious brethren who maintain the doctrine of general redemption, are not better informed; but, persuaded that they are substantially sound in the faith, they extend to them the right hand of fellowship. With such promoters of peace and love, we wish, as much as possible, to decline all controversy. The points still at issue between them and us are matters of opinion, on which men equally famed for sense, learning, and piety, have decided differently. This being the case, what man of candour, general knowledge, and true piety, after the many unhappy contests which have taken place betwixt Calvinists and Arminians, would wish, by a renewal of the controversy, to excite them, Alexander like, to "fight all their battles o'er again.” Some warm-headed young men, and a few old bigots, who seem to think that they know every thing, may be found occupying Calvinian as well as Arminian ground, from which they blow the trumpet of contention, challenging to the combat all who refuse submission to their decisions; but it is to be hoped that pious Calvinists and Arminians will find better employment than, at their untimely call, to prepare for the battle.' With respect to the narrow-souled and cold-hearted individuals, whether Calvinists or Arminians, who maintain that the reception of their peculiarities is necessary to salvation, they may be considered as a sort of spiritual pirates, in a state of hostility against the peace and prosperity of the universal church.
* British Quarterly Review for August, 1818, page 134. VOL. XLII. AUGUST, 1819.
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Influenced by these pacific sentiments, which we conceive to be strictly compatible with Christian orthodoxy, the sole reason why we notice the pamphlet before us, is, not that it is anti-calvinistic, but that it combats the opinion, “ That Christ and his Apostles never made a general offer, invitation, or call to mankind." That a sentiment so destitute of truth, and so replete with mischief, should have dropped from the pen of Dr. Hawker, is to us a matter of serious regret; a sentiment which, if adopted and acted upon by any considerable number of respectable ministers, whether in or out of the church, would probably be productive of as mischievous a controversy as that which took its rise from the gross Antinomian doctrines maintained by Dr. Crisp, in the
17th century. The effects of that ruinous and destructive controversy, which, with little or no intermission, raged for about 30 years, and which was chiefly carried on by Calvinists against each other, ought to be held up as a beacon, to warn Calvinist ministers of the present day, of the risks which they must necessarily run, if, by refinements upon doctrines, which, to say the least, are incapable of proof, they cease to offer salvation, upon Gospel terms, to all who come under their ministry. Let the sentiment quoted from Dr. Hawker be avowed by any candidates for orders in the Church of England, and, opposed as we are to unnecessary tests, we should consider any bishop justifiable in refusing them ordination ; not on the ground of their Calvinistic sentiments, but because they cannot, from principle, invite every man to partake of Gospel salvation. At first, we had it in contemplation to quote some paragraphs from Mr. Shepherd's work, in which he satisfactorily proves that Christ, the apostles, and prophets invited sinners, indiscriminately, to partake of covenant blessings; but, on second thought, we judge our doing so to be neither necessary nor expedient. Are we, in the 19th century, which is an age of Gospel light, as well as of destructive error, to make it a matter of popular debate, whether the Gospel ought to be preached “to every creature ?" and consequently, whether "every creature" is to be invited to partake of its benefits. The religious world is not so lost to reason, common sense, and respect to the oracles of God, as to make those questions a matter of controversy. Did the pretended philosopher who affirmed that snow is not white, deserve a laboured confutation? or Bishop Berkley, who seriously maintainted that there is no such thing as matter in the universe? The common sense of mankind, without the trouble of reasoning, decided against those visionaries; and Scripture, common sense, and the practice of Christian ministers in every age, decide against the absurd and unscriptural notion, that the blessings of the Gospel are not to be offered to all who come under its sound.
We shall, before we conclude this article, furnish our readers with some extracts from three Calvinistic divines, one of whom officiated in the Established Church, and the other two amongst the Dissenters.
We shall begin with the pious, learned, and judicious Hooker, than whom few ever wrote with less passion or prejudice, or manifested more of a truly Christian spirit. In answer to the objection against praying that all men may be saved, he replies: “In praying for deliverance from all adversity, we seek that which nature doth wish to itself; but by entreating for mercy towards all, we declare that affection wherewith christian charity thirsteth afier the good of the whole world; we discharge that duty which the Apostle himself doth impose on the church of Christ as a commendable office, a sacrifice acceptable in God's sight, a service
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according to his heart, whose desire is to have all men saved, & work most suitable with his purpose, who gave himself to be the price of redemption for all.”" " It becometh not us, during life, altogether to condemn any man, seeing that (for any thing we know) there is hope of every man's forgiveness, the possibility of whose repentance is not yet cut off by death. And therefore charity, which hopeth all things, prayeth also for all men.”
Honest and pious Matthew Henry, in his “ Communicant's Companion,” thus addresses an unayakened sinner: “Know, that though thy condition is very sad, it is not desperate. Thou hast yet space given thee to repent, and grace offered thee. O refuse not that grace ; slip not that space. Leave thy sins, and turn to God in Christ.” “Poor sinner, how I pity thee; I would gladly help thee! The Lord pity thee, and help thee! He will
, if thou wilt pity thyself. Wilt thou be persuaded by one that wishes thee well, to exchange the service of sin, which is perfect slavery, for the service of God, which is perfect liberty.”
In the following terms, Joseph Alleine addressed, from his prison, the unconverted part of the congregation at Taunton, with respect to whom he had for years laboured in vain: “Truth hath said, you shall surely die, if you go on in this estate. Oh, for the love of God and ‘of yoаr souls, I beseech you to awake, and bestir yourselves to get the saving knowledge of God. You that are capable of learning a trade to live by, are you not capable of learning the way to be saved ?" "And is it not a pity you should wish to perish for ever for want of a little pains, and study, and care to get the knowledge of God ?" 6 Return, O sinners: what! will you run into everlasting burning with your eyes open ?"
It appears that the sound, practical divines, from whose writings the passages now quoted, are taken, had no thought of so acting upon their theory of unconditional election and reprobation, as to find any difficulty in offering salvation to all whom they addressed from either the pulpit or the press. They, in common with many other holy and laborious ministers of Christ, had sense, grace, and practical views of religion, sufficient to preserve them from the absurdity of making, what they termed the secret things of God, any rule of their own conduct, or that of others. They never thought of acting upon the theory in question; hence, both in private life, and in their public ministrations, they generally conducted themselves as if the Calvinian controversy had never existed. “ It is presumption," they were wont to say, 66 to pry into God's ark. Our weak eyes cannot behold this glorious sun. Duty is ours; secret things belong to God; and hence, St. Paul, who penetrated as deeply into those mysteries as any mere man has ever done, finding himself on the brink of an unfathomable ocean, and not daring to procced farther, exclaimed,
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! Howo unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !
Thus losing view of their peculiar opinions, they preached the word; were instant in season, and out of season ; and reproved, rebuked, and exhorted, with all long-suffering and doctrine. Let all our modern Calvinist ministers faithfully copy the example of those men of God, so shall none of them open the flood-gates of Antinomianism, by making the (supposed) decrees of God a pretext for not offering Gospel salvation, upon Gospel terms, and that, indiscriminately, to perishing sinaers.
We are aware that certain dignitaries (and we are sorry on that account) will, on reading Dr. Hawker's pamphlet, consider all the evangelical clergy, unless they disavow it, as men who dare not offer salvation to all their parishoners. But we trust that the great body of those pious ministers will purge themselves from so foul and digraceful a blot.
THE WORD OF GOD ILLUSTRATED.
. To the Editor of the Methodist Magazine. The explanation given of 2 Cor. iv. 3, and 4, in your Magazine for February, is ingenious, and not altogether unsatisfactory; yet, perhaps, Dr. Macknight's version of the passage deserves attention.
“If, therefore, our gospel be veiled, it is veiled to them who destroy themselves ;"* (€ TOUS atrodauusvois, mid. voice ;) “ by whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, in order that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine to them.”
The persons to whom this passage, thus rendered, would apply, are, I apprehend, the same with the “false apostles;”
ministers of Satan," seducing teachers, spoken of in the 11th chapter; from whom, on account of their pertinacious opposition, the evidence of truth was judicially withheld, even as the cloud which veiled the conducting glory, was turned towards the Egyptians, and occasioned their overthrow.
It appears to me that this sense of the passage agrees well with the context, and also with the state of things in the Corinthian church, in which it is evident that factious teachers had caused much grief to the Apostle, and detriment to the church. One erroneous leader in particular, had so prevailed with the people, that, I have no doubt, he is designated in the 12th chapter as “the messenger of Satan,” and a "thorn to the flesh,” from which St. Paul
• Or, To those who are perishing.- DoDDRIDGE.