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“ If, however, these difficulties are traced up to some fundamental positions, that are not contradictory, but whose existence is only inconceivable to our faculties,-if each of these positions must be separately admitted, although their union is mysterious and unaccountable—it is not adding to the difficulty, it is a natural and probable conclusion, that many consequences from each of
those fundamental positions separately taken should be deducible, · which are no more reconcilable with each other in our appre• hensions, than the original truths are from which they are derived.' To dwell upon these subordinate truths, these consequences of the original positions, to set them in array against each other, to represent him who holds the one side as necessarily contradicting the other, and to demand an explicit disavowal of every tenet connected with the one, before we will acknowledge that a man really believes the other, is the sure way to perpetuate strife, and to defeat the practical good which may be derived from both opinions. If that God made every thing, knowing beforehand all that would come to pass and all that men would do, be an undeniable truth-if nevertheless He deals with man as if he were free to act, and rewards and punishes him according to this trialand we cannot comprehend how both these things should be true together,—we yet can believe them both to be true, and so believe ing, we may well conclude that many of our occasional reason. ings concerning these things must be infected with the same apparent incongruity that strikes us in the enunciation of those first principles. We ought not to wonder at these difficulties ; we ought rather to expect them. Strife must be endless, if we are not to rest till they are all explained and harmonized : and error, not truth, will prevail, if either position be so established as to exclude the other. Let us however carefully bear in mind that these are not contradictions but apparent incongruities and the same answer which we give to those who press us with the main difficulty, must in all reason be allowed to cover these also.
“ The book of God's word speaks a plainer language, but not a contradictory language to the book of God's works. He has bountifully bestowed upon us in this life, chequered as it is, gifts and blessings to animate our hopes and to reward our obedience: but He bids us receive them as flowing from his free gracemas no
“This power of God knows no exceptions ; it is absolute and unlimited : And while it embraces the vast, it carries its resistless influence to all the minute and unnoticed diversities of existence: It reigns and operates through all the secrecies of the inner man: It gives birth to every purpose: It gives impulse to every desire: It gives shape and colour to every conception : It wields an entire ascendancy over every attribute of the mind; and the will, and the fancy, and the understanding, with all the countless variety of their hidden and fugitive operations, are submitted to it: It gives movement and direction through every one point in the line of our pilgrimage. At no one moment of time does it abandon us : It follows us to the hour of death, and it carries us to our place and our everlasting destiny in the region beyond it.” -Such assertions as these require no comment !
man's right, though they be every man's hope-as objects of prayer to Him, no less than of exertion in themselves and He would have us still awfully regard Him as knowing from all eternity whatever has been, is, or will be.
* In the dispensation, therefore, of those greater gifts and better promises which his written word has made known to mankind, we cannot but expect, that the same assertion of universal sovereignty, of absolute knowledge, and unbounded power, extending to all that we now do or shall do hereafter, would frequently be made. It is the seal of revelation set to one of the earliest conclusions of human reason. But we must also expect, that as in the natural world the trial of our virtue is apparently the main object, and the dispensations of providence seem to be especially designed to make us feel how much depends upon ourselves in this state of earthly discipline, so the trial of our faith should be set forth in Scripture as one grand purpose of our present being—that the more God has done for us, the more we should be called upon to do for ourselves that if to secure His temporal blessings, virtue and prudence and industry are demanded on our part, still more to render ourselves capable of this glorious reward, we should be exhorted to lay aside every sin, and to labour. in every branch of duty with redoubled diligence that if, in the course of human affairs, men are wont to be disheartened by adversity and by the success of wicked men, insomuch that their belief in an over-ruling Providence is apt to be shaken or impaired, so in those severer trials which assail a Christian, still stronger and more distinct assurances of support should be given, still plainer declarations that God's purpose cannot ultimately be foiled by any powers of darkness—that He will not forsake his elect—but that He will comfort and cheer them through all the perils and hardships of their earthly pilgrimage. Lastly, if the general laws of the creation be not so propounded to us here, as to encourage negligence or presumption, but to awaken a lively sense of our dependence upon God, and of the necessity of prayer to Him for the continuance of his blessings-so we might well expect that the course of a Christian would in his written word be represented as anxious though full of hope as liable to be stopped or turned aside or even frustrated by temptation as needing a perpetual renewal of God's assisting grace, and a careful improvement of all those means of grace, which, if they shall appear to have been bestowed upon us in vain, will certainly be regarded as aggravating the guilt of sin, and will increase our condemnation."
In this Introduction it is unnecessary to exhibit even the outlines of Arminianism, since they form a great part of the subject of this volume, and may be studied to better advantage in the admirable Woaks of Arminius which have been lately translated . into English. But as these highly benevolent principles have
been frequently (and I may add purposely ) misrepresented, I subjoin a brief exposition of them from the pen of a Calvinist, who, notwithstanding the prejudices of his party, has produced one of the most impartial, correct, moderate, and comprehensive accounts of the scriptural system of Arminius, that have been published in the English language, and one that contains a manly refutation of the errors with which that system has been falsely charged :
“ Arminianism, strictly speaking, is that system of religious doctrine which was taught by Arminius, professor of divinity in the university of Leyden. If therefore we would learn precisely what Arminianism is, we must have recourse to those writings in which that divine himself has stated and expounded his peculiar tenets. This, however, will by no means give us an accurate idea of that which, since his time, has been usually denominated Arminianism. On examination, it will be found, that in
many important particulars, those who have called themselves Arminians, or have been accounted such by others, differ as widely from the nominal head and founder of their sect, as he hiinseif did from Calvin and other doctors of Geneva. indeed, certain points, with regard to which he has been strictly and uniformly followed by almost all his pretended adherents ;* but there are others of equal or of greater importance, dogmatically insisted on by them, to which he unquestionably never gave his sanction, and even appears to have been decidedly hostile. Such a distinction, obvious as it must be to every attentive reader, has yet been generally so far overlooked, that the memory of Arminius is frequently loaded with imputations the most unreasonable and unjust. He is accused by the ignorant and the prejudiced, of introducing corruptions into the Christian church, which he probably never thought of, and which certainly have no place in his works. And all the odium which his followers have from time to time incurred by their varied and increasing heterodoxy, has been absurdly reflected upon him, as if he could be responsible for every error that may be sent abroad under the sanction of his name. Whatever be the number or the species of these errors, and in whatever way they may be associated with his principles, it is fair to the character of Arminius, and useful to the interests of religious truth, to revert to his own writings as the only source from which we ought to derive information concerning the Arminian scheme. And by doing so it may be discovered, that genuine unadulterated Arminianism is not that great and dangerous heresy which among a certain class of Christians it is too often represented to be; and that though it
• That in which Arminius has been “uniformly followed” by his adherents, is the foundation of his system the Divine Foresight of Faith and Perseverance in those who are finally saved.
may still be thought less scriptural and less logical than Calvinism,* yet it does not deserve to be reprobated as wholly inimical to the grace and glory of the gospel.
“ Having made these preliminary remarks, we shall now endeavour to give a short and correct view of Arininianism in the proper sense of that term. Arminianism is to be considered as a separation from Calvinism, with regard to the doctrines of unconditional election, particular redemption, and other points necessarily resulting from these.t The Calvinists held, that God had elected a certain portion of the human race to eternal lise, passing by the rest, or rather dooming them to everlasting destruction; that God's election proceeded upon no prescience of the moral principles and character of those whom he had thus predestinated, but originated solely in the motions of his free and soves reign mercy; that Christ died for the elect only, and therefore, that the merits of his death can avail for the salvation of none but them; and that they are constrained by the irresistible power of
• « Less scriptural" than Calvinism it cannot be, even according to this writer's own showing in the preceding paragraphs. As to Arminianism being “ less logical," I wish the test of this fact might be made by a comparison between Dr. COPLESTONE's account of the agency of Divine Providence, which I have just quoted, and that lately given by Dr. CHALMERS in his sermon on Predes tination, from which I have already given an extract, (pages 16 and 17,) and in which he advances sentiments as unscriptural and illogical as those which I have produced from Archer, page 438. Till I saw that sermon, the shocking and incautious expressions in which filled me with horror, I had always supposed that the active and benevolent Dr. Chalmers was the author of the very able article ARMINIANISM, in Dr. BREWSTER's Edinburgh Encyclopædia.
But if by “ Logical" the author means “ Metaphysical,” (a very common mistake in these days,) the point will be readily conceded ; and of that field of speculative divinity, the Calvinists will be left in undisturbed possession, provided they will receive, in the spirit of meekness, the observations made by Bishop Womack in a succeeding page. (196.)
+ The difference between Arminianism and Calvinism, even on the Five Points, is far less than many persons imagine. In no work have I seen this trifling difference so clearly and ably stated, as in Goodwin's Agreement and Distance of Brethren, which I have quoted in other parts of this Introduction, and which it is my intention soon to republish for the benefit of the present generation.
# In the year 1623, the famous James CAPELLUS, at that time Professor of Divinity at Sedan, published two Theological Theses, the first of which was On the Controversies that agitate the United Provinces, and in which, among other charges against the Arminians, he adduces the following: “ But the “ Arminians detract greatly from the Power of God, since they represent the “ numerous attempts and the mighty struggles of Divine Omnipotence as capable “ of being always overcome by man, and assert, that they are, in fact, every day “ successfully resisted.”
The reply which the eloquent Episcopius returned to this false representation, is worthy of attentive consideration : " These expressions are unappropriate ; because nothing can be detracted from Divine Power, where that Divine Power is not exerted. In the conversion of man, Capellus supposes God to employ his ordinary power, which at all times, and by its own force, produces its effect.'Those persons against whom he disputes, deny this assertion by the subjoined argument: “Wherever that power is employed, which, at all times, and by its divinegrace to accept of him as their Saviour. To this doctrine, that of Arminius and his legitimate followers stands opposed: They do not deny an election; but they deny that it is absolute and uncon. ditional
. They argue, that an election of this kind is inconsistent with the character of God, that it destroys the liberty of the hue man will, that it contradicts the language of scripture, and that it tends to encourage a careless and licentious practice in those by . whom it is believed. They maintain, that God has elected those only who, according not to his decree, but to his foreknowledge and in the exercise of their natural powers of self-determination, acting under the influence of his grace, would possess that faith and holiness to which salvation is annexed in the gospel scheme. And those who are not elected are allowed to perish, not because they were not elected, but merely and solely in consequence of their infidelity and disobedience; on account, indeed, of which infidelity and disobedience being foreseen by God, their election did not take place. They hold, that Christ died for all men, in the literal and unrestricted sense of that phrase ; that his atonement is able, both from its own merit, and from the intention of him who appointed it, to expiate the guilt of every individual ; that every individual is invited to partake of the benefits which it bas procured ;* that the grace of God is offered to make the will * own force, produces its effect, there is no place left either for precepts, promises,
or threatenings, and therefore none either for obedience or disobedience, for reward or punishment. It is the will of Him who commands any thing, that • his commands should be performed by him to whom he issues those commands: • But when he performs that thing himself, it is not his will that it should be
performed by another ; otherwise, he would, at the same time, be both willing and unwilling for it to be performed by another.—But wherever no place is left to precepts, there is none left to obedience or disobedience, and consequently
none to promises or threatenings, to rewards or punishments.'-Now, when Arminius says, (in the words of Capellus,] that it is in the power of man successfully to resist or overcome the numerous attempts and the mighty struggles of Divine Power,' he does not represent man as capable of placing a still greater pover in opposition to Divine Omnipotence : For what man, except an atheist, would make such an affirmation ? But he only wishes to convey the idea, that it is possible for man to place his disobedience and contumacy in opposition to the Divine influences, commands, exhortations, supplications, protestations, insti. gations, and inspirations--all of which undoubtedly are numerous attempts and mighty struggles : So that, when God wills and demands obedience from man, it is possible for man to be unwilling to obey, and thus to render himself guilty and kable to punishment. In this act (of opposition to God's will] no power, properly so called, is posited, that can, in the least degree, derogate from the power of God. For simple disobedience is only a free willingness or unwillingness, by which man is said metaphorically to overcome God, because to the Divine Will he opposes a contrary will, and thus withdraws himself from obedience to God.” &c.
One of the most forcible of the numerous passages of Scripture, which clearly express the intentional freeness and universality of God's invitation to his lost and offending creatures, is that solemn ministerial commission which Christ gave to his eleven Apostles, and through them to his chosen messengers in all succeeding ages : " Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He * that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall