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is marked by a refinement of statement, and multiplication of distinctions and divisions, and a subtlety of argument, instead of the more simple, experimental, and practical character of their predecessors. They seem to have been driven to this by the subtleties of papists and others who opposed them. This, however, led on to a more artificial and scholastic statement of divine truth than we find in the scriptures, and divines seemed disposed if not to go farther than divine revelation opened the way, yet, led by the departure of some from the doctrines of the Reformation, to state doctrines more guardedly, or more distinctly and explicitly, than the Sacred Volume does. Hence some began to maintain doctrines theoretically, rather than in the sweetness of holy love, and in the simplicity of faith.
Controversies sprung up in the Roman church between the Molinists and the Dominicans, similar to those which afterwards arose in the Protestant church between the Arminians and the Calvinists. Molina, in 1588, published a book on principles not dissimilar to those which Arminius or his followers afterwards maintained. The Dominicans maintained strenuously the doctrine of Augustine. Similar contests in the following century arose in the Romish church between the Jansenists and the Jesuits, and immense learning and acuteness were manifested on both sides. There have ever been discussions on these abstruse points ; nor is human ingenuity likely to solve difficulties which the scriptures have not removed, and the unhappy result has too often been that what is truly evangelical as well as what is holy, useful, and practical, is lost amid contentions on things beyond our reach.
The leading divines in Queen Elizabeth's reign must be considered as making rather a more distinct and explicit statement of Calvinistic doctrine than their predecessors. Calvin's Institutes were read in the schools by order of convocation. Indeed, an ultra Calvinism, which appears to have been maintained by some rather than the scriptural divinity of our first Reformers, led, as might be expected, to opposing statements in doctrine. With this a pertinacity on one side of adherence to, and on the other of rejection of, nonessential ceremonies grew and extended. Thus the attention of Christ's church was turned from vital truths; and a disputatious and unchristian spirit was excited. Yet to the contentions respecting ceremonies we are indebted for two of the ablest and most scriptural defences of our ecclesiastical establishment, Whitgift's Replies to Cartwright, and Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity. But Bishop Carleton observes, that in this time there was no difference between the Bishops and the Puritans on doctrine (there was a mutual consent on that subject) but only on discipline. He adds, The first disturbers of this uniformity of doctrine were Barret and Baro, in Cambridge, and after them Thomson.' This was in 1595. The University called Barret's sentiments, which were Arminian, divers Popish errors,' and the Lambeth Articles were framed to counteract them, and were approved by Archbishops Whitgift and Hutton. Queen Elizabeth and Cecil, with that foresight and wisdom for which they were distinguished, justly objected to these becoming part of the authorized documents of our national religion, on account of their being less moderate, and too precise and exclusive. Fuller observes respecting the Lambeth Articles, that their testimony is an infallible evidence what was the general and received doctrine of England in that age, about the forenamed controversies.'1
There was, however, in the Author's view, a serious evil in thus attempting to fathom the unfathomable mind of Jehovah. Where angels probably adore in silent submission, men with too little humility, and with pre
1 It may be well to add one or two testimonies to show how some leading men viewed the introduction of these sentiments of Baro.
Dr. Whitaker, Divinity Professor in Cambridge, soon after the first appearance of Barret's sentiments, gives this view of the case: 'The Church of England ever since the gospel was restored, has always held and embraced this opinion (the Calvinian) of election and reprobation. This, Bucer, in our University ; Peter Martyr at Oxford, have professed; two eminent divines who have most abundantly watered our church with their streams in the days of King Edward; whose memories shall always be honourable among us, unless we will be most ungrateful. This opinion their auditors in both our Universities; the Bishops, Deans, and Divines, who upon the advancement of our famous Queen Elizabeth to the crown, returned either from exile, or were released from the prisons into which they had been thurst for the profession of the gospel ; or saved from the hands of persecuting Bishops ; those by whom our church were reformed, our religion established, popery thrust out and quite destroyed; (all which we may remember, though few of this kind be yet living) this opinion I say they themselves have held and commended to us : in this faith have they lived, and in this they died, in this they always wished that we should constantly continue.' Dr. Samuel Ward, in a sermon to the clergy at Cambridge in
* This also I can truly add for a conclusion, that the universal church hath always adhered to St. Austin in these points ever since his time till now. The Church of England also from the beginning of the Reformation, and this our famous University, with all those who from thence till now have with us enjoyed the divinity chair, if we except one Foreign Frenchman (viz. Peter Baro), have likewise constantly adhered to him.'
There are some modifying considerations however to be connected with such statements. The Church of England, as far as it regards her authorized documents, is silent on many doctrines on which her private members have said much; and with great wisdom and charity forbears authoritatively to fix many points on which pious men differ.
sumptuous curiosity, have either opposed or evaded His plain declaration, or not stopping in the words of scripture, scrutinized the mind and character of the only wise God. How just was Carleton's view of this. In the matter of predestination I have ever been fearful to
meddle; it is one of the greatest and deepest of God's 11 mysteries. We are with reverence to wonder, and
with faith and humility to follow that which God has revealed in this point, and there to stay.' This evil is traced to its source, Job xi. 7-12. Col. i. 18. Dr. Owen excellently remarks on the purpose of God, We know it not, we cannot know it. It is not our duty to know it. The knowledge of it is not proposed as of any use to us. Yes, it is our sin to inquire any thing into it. It may indeed seem to some like the tree of knowledge of good and evil, to be pleasant to
eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise (as all secret forbidden things seem to carnal minds), but men can gather no fruit on it but death.1
The Irish Articles agreed upon in 1615, comprehend the Lambeth Articles, but contain a much fuller view of doctrine. They were never expressly revoked, though the Irish clergy now only have to testify their approval of the thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican church. For the Author's part he confesses that he is afraid lest those clear statements, which in order to make things distinct and meet the sophistries of learned objectors, express doctrines more perspicuously than the Holy Scriptures do, should fall under that
i Owen on the Spirit, folio, p. 523. 2 The Articles may be found in Neal's History of the Puritans. They were drawn up by Usher,
censure, the Lord knoweth the thoughts (or reasonings) of the wise that they are vain.
On the Continent similar discussions arose. They originated mainly with Arminius, who was a pupil of Beza's, and at one time approved of his and Calvin's views. About the year 1600, he was requested to write a confutation of some ministers at Delft who opposed Calvinistic views, and undertaking to do it, he embraced the opinions which he intended to confute. 1
The leading position of Arminius is, that God elects to salvation from foreseen faith and holiness : but it is with many modifications, and conceding that man could not by his natural ability believe. The leading position of Calvinists is, that men are elect, not for, but unto faith and holiness. 2 The innumerable modifications and ramifications of these positions have occasioned all that strife which has arisen on this subject. It will be obvious that the excess of one system is Antinomianism, and of the other, Pelagianism; but it would not be difficult to show that either position might be so guarded and qualified in itself or by other parallel doctrines, as on the one hand fully to provide for salvation by grace, and on the other to secure man'sres ponsibility, the obligations of the moral law, and every interest of holiness ; the points on which the true believer on either side will cordially meet. In the course of the discussions on both sides (if Doctor Owen's Display of Arminianism
| There are some curious particulars respecting Arminius in the Christian Review for September 1828, p. 493—510.
2 The Author's sentiments on this subject may be seen more at large in chapter vii.