Gambar halaman

ceedings of the new Assembly, called the Assembly of Divines ; but made up also of so many of the Lords and Commons, as might both serve as well to keep them under, and control their

IV. That the churches' discipline being established, a national Synod be convocated, that may frame a confession of faith, to which may be called a competent number of Foreign divines. However, since so many have been so earnest of late to be in charity with the Roman church, that they have been uncharitable to the reformed churches ; let canons be made in the Synod, and an act of Parliament for union with other Protestant churches in matter of doctrine: and all the fire-brands of these late innovations in the church, that have made us a laughing-stock to the neighbour churches, be sharply censured, if not cut off as banes of the church, especially the first raisers of altars, such as Heylin, Pocklington, and the like.

“ V. That in that synod, if the English Liturgy be retaived, to the end it be received all over England without exceptions, it be reformed and repurged from many corruptions, and from a great deal of dross among the gold, and the good matters that are therein contained.

“ VII. That, above all, the holy doctrine of Justification by Faith only, which is the main hinge of salvation, be strongly established by an especial canon according to the tenets of all Protestant churches, which canon be sworn and subscribed unto, by all that have taken, and hereafter shall take orders or Ecclesiastical promotions. This being the greatest plague of the church of England, that many men dignified in the church, and masters of colleges, fellows and scholars in the University, defend openly the justification by works, which is flat Popery, and the ready way to bring in indulgences, auricular confession, purgatory, and the tyranny of the clergy over the consciences.

“ VIII. That likewise the doctrine of the necessity and efficacy of the sacraments, especially of baptism, be mainly and distinctly established and explained according to the tenets of all the other reformed churches; since it hath been of late very usual among our time-servers, and those ministers that are as much taken with conformity as they love non-residency and plurality of livings, to be enamoured with all the Popish and Arminians' opipions, and to hold and teach baptism of water to be of absolute necessity to be saved; that it doth blot out sins, and regenerate, Ex opere operato and vi nuda actionis by the bare strength of washing; and that it works necessarily, in the baptized party, faith and the habit of true sanctification ; and have grounded their poisonous tenets upon some passages of the liturgy that were not dashed out, nor explained by the reformers of the Roman breviary in King Edward's days ; as be the words in the catechism, the children baptised have all things necessary to salvation, and are undoubtedly saved. And in the prayer after baptism, where thanks is given to God för regenerating the infant with his Holy Spirit. Since then such places have been a stumbling-block to weak ones, and have given fair opportunity of erring to malicious spirits, that, in the task expected of reformning the English liturgy, they be corrected and amended.

IX. That bowing before of the communion-table, or toward the east, be forbidden under the punishment of deprivation of beneficed men and expulsion of scholars out of the colleges, and the communion-table be kept in the vestry avd removed from the eyes of the people but in the time of the communion, to avoid the creeping idolatry.

“X. That the crucifix in a piece of hanging, and other superstitious figures which sometimes in the year are set over the communion-table of many churches and chapels, be removed and abolished; and that the authors or renewers of that superstition be severely punished.

“ XI. That the authors of Popish and Arminian books be called in question, and that the pleasure of our late sovereign King James, of blessed memory, be executed, who sent his divines to the Synod of Dort, that the church of England afterwards should be bound by the decisions made there, and that canons be made conformable to the determination of our divines in that Synod.

“XII. That if bishops are thought fit to be retained, there be no more such distance between a bishop and an ordinary minister ; and that bishops


actions, as to add some 'countenance unto them in the eye of the people. A convocation had been appointed by the King when he called the Parliament, the members whereof being be po more called lords, and that they be enjoined to preach diligently, as is the duty of their place and office.

“ XII. That if some of them sit in Parliament, it be upon wool-sacks, and have no more privileges by their office and places than the Judges, the lord-keeper and treasurer: and that a certain pumber of deputies from the national Synod, whether bishops or other, be assisting both in the higher House and lower House, for delivering their advices upon any clauses of acts, that may intrench upon the churches' privileges, or are contrary to doctrine or good manners."

On some of these unprecedented propositions I now proceed to offer a few brief remarks:

11. In the Second of these Motions may be perceived the kind of men whom these violent Calvinists wished to compose the contemplated Assembly of Divines. All of those who are wamed were men conspicuous for their attachment to Calvin's peculiarities, with the exception of Archbishop Usher, who, though at that period an adınirer of the French Universalists, was afterwards a convert to the scriptural opinions of Arininius, and thought that “ without this universal free invitation of all by God were made good, all preaching to convert sinners as yet in their sins from the evil of their ways, would want a firm foundation.” He also declared, “ that all men can will, and that so many will not, it is because they resist God's grace, alledging Acts vii, 51, Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in hearts and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost : As your fathers did, so do ye. This and much more he then declared aud concluded in these words : Bishop Overal was in the right, and I AM OF HIS MIND.'”—See Dr. Pierce's Appendix to the Self-revenger exemplified in Mr. William Barlee.

III. The Third Motion relates to the establishment of the Presbytery, and conveys a severe rebuke to Archbishop Laud. The Fourth embraces the ad. vice as the Second and Third. The Fifth Motion is given here in an abbreviated form : but this is quite sufficient to shew the ulterior designs of the party.

VII. The undeserved stigma on the Church of England contained in the Seventh Motion, shews the vile spirit of misrepresentation which actuated these ecclesiastical reformers. What “ especial canon" of their formation could more fully and explicitly establish “ the holy doctrine of Justification by Faith only,than our Eleventh Article does, explained as it is by the three succeeding Articles ? But it is this explanation, particularly ibat part of it expressed in the Twelfth Article, which is the chief stumbling-block to high Calvinists : Good WORKS, which follow after justification, are pleas“ing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true “ and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently “ kuown as a tree discerned by the fruit.” This language of the Twelfth Article must have proved very unsavoury to Peter du Moulin ; because, instead of making the Calvinistic axiom of “once in grace always in grace" the index of a lively faith,” it assigns that honourable office to “ Good WORKS which follow after justification," as the only scriptural standard of true and lively faith and of advances in christian holiness. When our Lord said, “By their FRUITS shall ye know them ;"-" by this shall all men know, that ye are my disciples ;. He established a plain and obvious test by which

the soundness of the faith of believers, and the unfruitful profession of deceivers and hypocrites, might be tried. And one of his Apostles informs us : “Even SO FAITH, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." This is a just and significant rule, accommodated to the understandings of men the most ignorant, and easy of application. What did the Du Moulins and their Calvinistic brethren endeavour to substitute in the place of such a just and scriptural test? They were then engaged in an attempt to adjust their doctrine of the individual Assurance of eternal salvation to the circumstances of their people, and to make it usurp the peculiar province of “Good WORKS which follow after justification.”. See pages 141, 142. The evils of this baneful substitution were soon but too apparent. Among their most celebrated authors,

lawfully chosen and returned, were so discountenanced and discouraged by the votes of the lower House, the frequent tumults raised in Westminster by the rascal rabble, and the

scarcely two can be found who agree together in the tokens by which a christian believer may judge of his having obtained.possession of this assurance : For, while some of them elevate it so Ligh, and make it to consist of such a multitude of particulars as to place the attainment of it beyond the reach of the greatest saint on earth,-others of them state a mourning over inbred corruption, or a sorrow for sin, to be proof sufficient of the actual possession of this assurance; and thus, in the latter case, the sinner, who is occasionally troubled with remorse of couscience, has no reason to labour under any apprehension concerning the safety of his condition.

VIII. In the Eighth Motion the reader will perceive what opinions were entertained by Du Moulin and the majority of the Presbyterian Calvinists, concerning the recently.agitated topic of BAPTISMAL REGENERATION. Every learned man,

who is aware of the laudable jealousy evinced by our Church about every doctrinal proposition or interpretation of scripture that does not bear the unequivocal impress of Christian Antiquity, and every man who has enjoyed the rare felicity of reading the productions of the Ancient Fathers, in their original languages, or even in translations, must have arrived at this conclusion—that the Church of Eugland in her formularies ascribes no greater efficacy to baptism than do the whole of the early Christian Fathers. When the Calvinists say,no grace is communicated by this sacrament,they desert at once the chieffoundation for the necessity of infant-baptism,and oppose their modern notions to the full stream of christian antiquity. No orthodox and moderate man, who yields full credence to this tenet of our Church, ever ventures to say, that the grace communicated in baptism cannot be resisted; and the patrons of it make it one of those talents entrusted to us by our Divine Master, who says, concerning it and all other Divine gifts,

Occupy [or trade] till I come: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and be shall have more abundance.” (Luke xix, 13, 26.) Bishop Womack bas with much ability and moderation stated the doctrine of the Church on this important topic, in the preceding pages 25—28; and a subsequent long note on the authority of the Ancient Fathers will shew the cue veneration for their admirable productions, which is manifested by allorthodox men, but especially by the English Arminiaus. I deliver no peremptory opinion respecting the merits of the baptismal controversy as it has been latterly conducted in England; though it will be apparent, I think, to every wellinformed mind, that while the contest between the moderate men of both parties has seemed to consist in the use of convertible terms which have been either misunderstood or ill-defined, it has been maintained by the violent partizans on both sides, as if it had been constituted the only proper criterion of a man's attachment to the rigours of Semi. Pelagianism or to those of Antinomianism.

From the artful connection, in this Eighth Motion, between alleged 66 Popish and Arminian opinions,” the reader might be induced to suppose that Arminius and his followers taught all that is there attributed to the

Church of Rome, on the subject of baptism. But this is a palpable false. hood : And the Calvinists must be told, that the modern ARMINIANS of the Church of England hold no other opinions on this point than those which were openly avowed by the British CALVINISTs at the Synod of Dort. The ever-memorable John Hales, himself as warm a Calvinist at that time as any of the British Deputies, informs us, in bis Letters from that Synod, Dec. 2, 1618, They past to the question which was proposed in the name of the Churches of Amsterdam, concerning the baptizing of the children of Ethnic Parents. The English first exhibited their minds in writiug to this effect : That infants, if they were justly taken,--as if they were given, or bought, or the like, (for it might not be lawful fraudulently or violently to take them from their parents,)-OUGHT TO BE BAPTIZED. For so it is recorded of Abraham, that he circumcised every one in his house, even those whom he

had bought with his money. But if they were adulti, they might not be • baptized till they made profession of the christian faith. With these

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

preparatives for a war against the King, that they retired unto their houses, but still continued undissolved, and were in a capacity of acting as a convocation, whensoever they should

agreed the Bremenses and the Professors.-On the contrary, the Helvetians and South-Hollanders concluded, that the infants of Ethnic parents ought NOT TO BE BAPTISED, till they came to be of years to declare their faith.'Their chief reason was, · Because baptism was a sign of the covenant: But • the infants of Ethnic parents are not born within the covenant, and there

fore they cannot be partakers of this sign.' After a further account of the debate, he thus states, on the 6th of Dec., the final determination of that Assembly : “ Then followed the decree of the Synod concerning the question moved by those of Amsterdam about the baptism of children born of Ethnic parents. The decision consisted of two parts. The first concerned the adulti, and it was this : “ That such as were of years and capacity should be dili• gently taught and catechized, and then, if they did desire it, they should • be baptized. The second concerned infants, and it was, - That till they

to years of discretion, they should by no means be baptized.' A strange decision, and such as, if my memory or reading fail me not, no church either ancient or modern ever gave.. When it was objected, What, if they were in danger of death ? their answer was, that the WANT OF BAPTISM would not • prejudice them with God, except we would determine, as the Papists do, that baptism is necessary to salvation. Which is as much to UNDERVALUE the necessity of baptism, as the Church of Rome doth OVERVALUE it.” The concluding brief remark, by Hales, is an accurate exposition of the GOLDEN MEAN observed by the Church of England.

Allusion has been made (page » to an excellent modern work, on the Lutheran or Melancthonjan complexion of our public formularies, a topic which has elicited the energies of other eminent writers : And the COMMON SCRIPTURAL ORIGIN of the creed of the English and Saxon Churches, as well as their agreement with the stream of Christian Antiquity, are on no point more obvious than on that of baptism. The Ninth Article of the Augsburgh Confession says : “ Our churches teach concerning baptism, that it is necessary to salvation, as a ceremony instituted by Christ; that the grace of God is offered through baptism; that infants must be baptized ; and that, when infants have been commended to God by baptism, they are received into the favour of God, and become his children ; as Christ himself testifies when he speaks of the little ones in his Church, (Matt. xviii, 14,) It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones perish.The Saxon Confession is still more express; the following is an extract from the Fourteenth Article : "Let those whose age capacitates them for understanding the doctrine, retain such a sense of this covenant; and, being confirmed by this attestation, let them believe that their sins are remitted to them, and that they really are the members of the Church of God, and let them with true faith call upon the true God," &c.

In further confirmation of these remarks, I translate the following long note from an approved Lutheran author, the judicious Mosheim,

who, in his comment upon the last quotation from Hales's letter, says: Though the Calvinists are commonly, and certainly not without good reason, accused of teaching, that the sacraments have no efficacy on the minds of men, and • that they are only invested with the power of serving as signs;' yet it is evident, that various dissensions have arisen among them concerning the effect of the sacraments, and that, while some of them have made a near approximation to our [the Lutheran),opinion, particularly in the doctrine of baptism, others of them have receded from it to a still greater distance. Peruse the learned disputations and collections of Peter Jurieu in his Justification of the Morality of the Reformed, (pt. ii, p. 8,) and of J. CLAUDE, in his Posthumous Works, (tom. v, p. 79, both of whom were among the most respectable and renowned men of their body. It is therefore neither matter of surprize that the opinions of the Dort Fathers were not unanimous concerning the baptism of those infants who are descended from parents that are aliens from Christ, nor that they confirmed the opinion of those members who thought that the children of heathens ought not to be baptized in their infau

be thereunto required, and might do it with safety. But, being for the most part well affected to the church of England, they were not to be trusted by the Houses of Parliament, who then de

cy.. The Dutch divines, and those who are attached to the Heidelberg Confession, generally indulge this belief, • That the virtue of baptism is only

two-fold, (1.) to adumbrate or betoken the Divine benefits which are procured for us by Christ, and (2.) to make us assured that those benefits are truly conferred upon us,' or, in the phrase of their own choice, 'to seal unto the Divine covenant.' The Thirty-Fourth Article of the Belgic Confession, though in some parts it does not express itself with sufficient perspicuity, explains baptism in such a manner as still to appear favourable to our sentiments, and to ascribe to baptism true regeneration and renovation : Which was undoubtedly the cause why the (Dutch) Professors differed from the rest of their countrymen, the latter of whom preferred to follow that doctrine of the Heidelberg Catechisın which we have already stated. See the Catechetical Explanations of Zach. URSINUS, (p. 357,) and the smaller Dutch Catechism in Bentheim's Hollandischen Schulund Kirchen-Staut. (P.1, c. vii, p. 218.) Wherefore when Herman Witsius, who was in other respects endowed with much moderation, had perceived that Peter Jurieu, Louis Le Blanc, and some others were inclined to our opinions on this point, he undertook their refutation, and, in bis Dissertation on the Efficacy of Baptism in Infants, he openly taught, that all the efficacy of baptism consists in the

confirmation and assurance of the grace that had been promised, such efficacy being only [moralis] formal, and entirely distinct from that which is real. (Miscel. "Sacr. com. ii, p. 648.) See also Elias SAURI's Examination OAM.Jurieu's Theology, in which M. Jurieu is strongly reprehended.

“ Since therefore this opinion [of the unreal efficacy of baptism] was espoused by many of the members of the Dutch Synod, they could not do otherwise than decree, that baptism must not be conferred on infants, whose case was at that time under discussion. For if the power of baptism was only such as to serve for a seal or ratification of the covenant, what man is there who does not instantly perceive, that this benefit is to be imparted to none except those who have been previously united to God in covenant? But it is a matter placed beyond all controversy, that the infants, descended from parents who have turned aside from Christ, cannot possibly be considered

as any part of God's covenant-people.' In compliance with the design of my, subject, I refrain at present from displaying the difficulties in which the Calvinists are involved by means of this their sentiment. The immense disadvantage which they must experience in their attempts to defend infantbaptism, so long as they adhere to this opinion,-has already been demonstrated by other writers. This circumstance does not escape the observation of the Mennonites or Anabaptists, [who entirely deny the administration of the rite to infants,] as may be seen by consulting one of the most recent defenders of that sect, Herman SCHYN, in his Historical Account of the Mennonites. (C. iv, p. 88, 102.)

“ On the contrary, the greatest portion of the British divines confess, 'that the sacramento, in which baptism is included, are the instruments of • Divine Grace.' This doctrine they are commanded to teach, by the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh Articles of the English Confession. It may be proper here to quote a part of the Twenty-fifth Article : Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and of God's good-will towards us, by the which He doth work’invisibly in us, and doth not only QUICKEN but also streNGTHEN and CONFIRM our faith ' in him.' It would be too great a labour and foreign to my purpose, to collect together all the testimonies of the English divines that have strenuously inculcated this doctrine of their National Confession ; it will be sufficient to notice, that Samuel WARD and John DavenANT, both of whom were present at the Synod of Dort, have contended for this doctrine in their published writings. Concerning Ward, the fact is obvious enough from the copious Disputation about the Force and Efficacy of Infant-baptism, which was maintained between him and Thomas Gataker, and which is publıshed in the


« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »