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ON THE ALLEGED IMPIETY OF CALVINISM.

The Impiety of Calvinism."

Anecdotes of the Life of Bishop Watson. p. 168.

IF Bishop Watson were now alive, who uses this phrase, and wishes the Church of England, “ a complete purgation from the dregs of Popery, and the impiety of Calvinism,” I should like to ask him, Wherein he supposes the latter consists?

Does it consist partly, in what Calvinists hold in common with many who would earnestly decline that name ? e. g. in the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the incarnation, original sin, the atonement, and the work of the Holy Spirit ?

These six articles are admitted, by multitudes, who dislike the name of Calvinism ; and I should think none would dare to deny, that they are maintained, not only by the Homilies, but by the Articles and Liturgy of the Church of England. Whatever else is left undetermined, as to doctrine, these points are not.

The Bishop, in the account he gives us of his life, professes and shows a good degree of honesty and independency; but, if he could be induced, by the highest honors, or the greatest emoluments of the Establishment, to subscribe the Articles, or to read the service of the church, while he disbelieved these doctrines, and only waited for an opportunity to get them set aside; I cannot think that he possessed, what the Apostle terms godly sincerity.

Impiety is surely a heavy charge. Can it be brought against all who believe, as they apprehend at least, on the authority of divine revelation, that there is a mysterious distinction in the divine nature, so that in the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, in whose names Christians ought to be baptized; and who sustain, while acting in the most perfect unison, different offices in the economy of redemption?. Or would it be more pious to say, We will believe nothing, even on the authority of revelation, at which we could not at least shrewdly guess without it; nor will we, on that authority, believe any fact, the mode of which we cannot fully understand ; nor do we think it credible, that there should be any thing in the divine nature to which we cannot find a parallel, either in our own nature, or in that of any other creature?

Is there any thing impious or incredible in the doctrine of the incarnation? Is it impossible, that God should make himself visible to his creatures ? or that he should permanently unite himself to a created nature? Would not his doing so, be a wonderful pledge of his love to creatures? and the more so, for his assuming the nature of the lowest and most degraded species of rational beings ? Is not the redemption of innumerable multitudes of ruined immortals from sin and misery, an object worthy of peculiar divine interposition ; especially when their recovery is connected with the most glorious display of God's moral perfections ?

Would Bishop Watson account it an impious doctrine, to say

that all mankind are in a sinful and miserable condition? Does not all history, but especially scriptural history, prove this ? Has not God, ever since the fall, treated our race as guilty ? Did he not treat the whole world so, at the time of the flood ? Did he not expressly testify the depravity of the Antediluvians ? Did he not repeat the same testimony after the flood ? and is not the Bible full of the strongest declarations concerning the guilt and depravity of man? Does not the history of all nations prove it ? and especially the history of the Israelites ? Though Moses denies that they were chosen because they were better or more righteous than other nations, yet is it rational or philosophical to suppose,

that they were essentially worse than other people ? Do not the Jewish historians and prophets give ample evidence of their great wickedness, through all their generations ? Does not their ill usage of the messengers which God sent to them, and the rejection and murder of the promised Messiah prove it?

it ? Does not the Apostle conclude all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, under a charge of sin ? Does not the universal prevalence of idolatry and war prove human depravity? Does not Paul trace up the introduction of sin, misery, and death, to the fall of Adam? Is it then an impious 'thing, for the Church of England to admit this humiliating truth?

Is it an impious thing to suppose, that an atoning sacrifice was necessary, in order to the forgiveness of sin, consistently with the perfections of God, the support of his moral government, and the honor of his law ? Is it impious to suppose, that God would not grant salvation to sinners, unless he could show himself to be righteous as well as merciful ? Is there any impiety in believing, that Christ died the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God ? that he gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity? that he bare our sins in his own body on the tree? that in him we have redemption, through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins ? &c.

Is there any impiety in believing, that God can make a bad man a good one? that he can turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just ? that he is the author of all true holiness ? that he can give repentance unto life? that faith is the gift of God ? that all holy thoughts and right desires in man, are produced by divine influence ? that the Holy Spirit can renew a sinner in the spirit of his mind ? that he can write the divine law in the heart, and cause us to walk in the way of holiness?

Or, to come to downright Calvinism, let us see what impiety there is in either of the five points, which distinguish Calvinists from Arminians. Would the Bishop have dared to deny either the divine prescience, or the divine omnipotence? If God foreknows all events perfectly, and can prevent whatever he pleases, then he does nothing in time, but what he

always intended to do; and he suffers nothing to take place, but what he determined, for wise and holy reasons, to permit to come to pass ; e. g. that Joseph's brethren should sell him for a slave, that Pharaoh should refuse to let Israel go, that Sihon should reject the fair proposal made to him by Moses, or that Judas should betray Christ; yet all these sinners acted as freely and as inexcusably, as they could have done, if God had known nothing about them, either beforehand, or even at the time.

But leaving the general topic of predestination, let us consider the subject of personal election. Certain it is, that God, in the days of Moses, did claim a right to be gracious to whom he would be gracious, and to show mercy on whom he would show mercy. Is it then impious to believe, that salvation is not of him that willeth, of his own native choice, nor of him that runneth, of his own native strength, but of God, that sheweth mercy ?

Does not God, in a vast variety of other instances, act as a Sovereign in the bestowment of his favors; especially of those favors which are granted to sinners ? Consider, how was his sovereignty displayed, in the selection of Israel, to partake, for many ages, of such singular privileges; while he seemed to overlook all other nations, and leave them to walk in their own ways. Reflect how very differently the blessings of civilization, of liberty, of good government, and the advantages resulting from the knowledge of revealed truth, have been hitherto dispensed : and shall it be said to be impious to suppose, that God is not bound to dispense his favors to all the wicked children of men, at the same time, and in an equal degree? We acknowledge, that his revealed will requires those who enjoy these blessings to use the best means in their power to extend them; and the prophecies of his word encourage us to hope, that they shall hereafter be enjoyed by all nations ; but God evidently acts as one who does not consider himself a debtor to his apostate creatures. The case of ideots, and of those who are born blind or deaf, illustrates the same truth.

With respect to such persons as admit the doctrine of the atonement, I have often wondered how, if they truly under

stand its import, they can object to the doctrine of election. If the guilt of man was so great, as to need to be expiated by the sacrifice of God's incarnate Son, surely the gift of Christ must be the most wonderful instance of divine sovereignty that ever was, or can be conceived. They that needed such a ransom could never deserve that God should

provide it. But if he has done this freely, must it not be impossible to see any wisdom in its being left to chance, or to the good inclinations of depraved creatures, whether any happy consequences should ever follow from the sufferings of the blessed Redeemer? or whether he should see such fruits of the travail of his soul, as would afford him full satisfaction? Would God have sent his Son to atone for the guilt of sinners, if he had known that his Spirit could not conquer their depravity ? Is it then impious to suppose, that he has absolutely decreed that his Son shall have a sufficient reward? Or would it be more pious to admit, that man's self-will may expose to a real disappointment, all the efforts of divine mercy, wisdom, and power, to turn a sinner to God?

Is it indeed an idea which would promote piety, and especially humility, so essential a part of the piety of a saved sinner, to fancy that God elected me, because he foresaw that I should not be so obstinate in impenitence and unbelief as others; but should be found, without any special influence of his Spirit on my heart, pliable, obedient, and well-disposed? And must I be charged with impiety, if I ascribe my cordial acceptance of the Saviour, to the invincible efficacy of his grace, and thence infer, that he had chosen me in Christ Jesus, before the foundation of the world, that I might be holy and blameless before him in love? I grant, that I knew nothing of this gracious design, nor was it possible I should, till it began to be effected by the power of the Holy Spirit: but now I infer, from his having drawn me by his loving-kindness, that he had loved me with an everlasting love. Is it impious to suppose that my loving him is the consequence and evidence of his first loving me? Are not the most powerful motives to humility, gratitude, and obedience, the natural consequences of this doctrine? We most readily allow, that it would be inconsistent and impious to

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