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• doing many other abominable and ungodly ' things, they [i, e: the Valentinians resembling * the Calvinists) inveigh against us—as idiots 6 and fools.' Surely this portrait, on a cool review, cannot be sanctioned by his Lordship as an exact portraiture! Why these are notions and this is conduct ‘peculiar' rather to infidel revilers, to the disciples of Paine or the licentious admirers of VOLTAIRE! 0 when will the ministers of Christ learn to "speak the truth in love,” and shew themselves worthy of their holy and divine Leader !
§ 9. There are many other things in the “ Refutation”, ascribed to Calvinists, which are peculiar to other seets; such as a claim to
private revelation,'-which is peculiar to enthusiasts, whose distempered phantasies, like Jonah's gourd spring up in one night and perish in another, as their falsehood becomes manifest, to the confusion of their prophetic authors. If any reputed Calvinists fall into such deliriums, we disown them, as having deserted sound principles. Again, to represent 'instantaneous con• version' as one of the “ favourite tenets of modern Calvinists,” is to confound their sentiments with those of another denomination of Christians. If this be a peculiarity of any class of Christians, it is to be found among those who agree with his Lordship in the chief points of
theological controversy ; and especially on the cardinal point of the sovereign power of free will to produce instantaneous conversion in connexion with the promised influences of the spirit; and who in this respect consequently stand opposed to modern Calvinism, which attributes more to the sovereign power of Grace. I must remark, however, that many of these Christian' brethren, controversy apart, unite with us occasionally in acts of religious worship, and in the exercise of kind affections. For men of this stamp, “who, from the fear of God, are cautious not to sin even in thought or word,” we have an unfeigned respect : and God forbid, that we should on any occasion regard them
as idiots and fools. While we disapprove of their creed in some respects, we can embrace them as fellow Christians in the arms of affection. We consider ourselves bound to respect and love those who" fear God, eschew evil, and work righteousness,” among all denominations. « Behold the fear of the: Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding."
§ 10. As to the notion imputed to us, that ' a continual progress in obedience-is : not
necessary on our part to secure salvation, if it be peculiar to any sect, it is to be found among practical Antinomians with whom we have no
fellowship, nor do they desire ours. But the most weighty charge, in the estimation of many who read the Bishop's Refutation, yet remains, viz. that the established church is in no small danger, from the active hostility of those who
profess Calvinistic doctrines.'* v Now for my own part I am at a loss to conceive how these doctrines' wear an unfavourable aspect on the
established church,' or in what manner those who ' profess' them are so peculiarly implicated in the alledged hostility. As Calvinists, of whatever description, we are in the habit of expressing our decided approbation of the doctrinal Articles of the Church of England, which we also 'consider as closely interwoven with its Liturgy. As Calvinistic dissenters, our chief objection lies against the plan of discipline, though many other dissenters (and I may add, a great number of persons who profess adherence to the established church,) are hostile to its doctrines. We strongly object indeed to the general principle of requiring subscription to articles of faith drawn up by any set of uninspired men, however excellent those Articles may be; persuaded that such requisitions have operated to the injury of real Christianity in every age, and that the arbitrary imposition of synodical decrees, canonical rites, and creeds,
* Refut. p. 284.
whether orthodox or heterodox, have kindled flames in the Christian church, from the second century to the present, which all the wisdom, meekness and patience of the best of men, have not been able to extinguish.
§ 11. Controversial equity requires, that I should notice, in this connexion, a conciliatory concession made by the Bishop in favour of many Calvinists. It is the following: 'I am most ready to allow that many Calvinists hayė been pious and excellent men; and I am fully 6 satisfied that there are in these days zealous
Christians of that persuasion, who would be among the first to deplore any evil which might • befal. our constitution in church or state.'* This is the voice of candour; but it is overpowered by a very grievous exception. • contend that Calvinism is a system peculiarly liable to abuse. The perversion of its tenets " has in former times been made, by wicked ' and designing men, the instrument of great « mischief.' It is but fair to ask, what good thing is there (virtue indeed excepted, as an ancient philosopher well observes,) which is not liable to abuse?' Are not the divine laws themselves, and “ the blessed gospel of the grace of God,” thus 'liable?' Nay, are not
* Refut. p. 284.
those tenets which are the very best, the most exposed to perversion, by wicked and designing men?' It is needless in this place to enter into the history of Calvinism, in order to establish its exculpation in comparison with the sentiments of its opposers; but I will venture to say, that the Canons of Councils, provincial and ecumenical, and Acts of Uniformity in religion, have been a thousand times more mischievous to ' the interests of real Christianity,' than Calvinism. I cannot indeed return the compliment, that these have been abused' and 'perverted, because it would be an implied acknowledgement, that in themselves they were good things; but I am constrained, by the fullest evidence, to regard them as an actual abuse of power.
§ 12 Before I dismiss the idea of the estàblished church being in danger' from Calvinism, may I be allowed to submit
individual opinion with regard to a 'danger,' a substantial, not an imaginary danger, which seems to menace it from another quarter, and appears to me far inore formidable. I allude to the modish practice of some of its own clergy to inveigh against Calvinism, as a frightful enemy. If I am not -mistaken, the natural tendency of this is to excite the attention of the people to enquire what it is, which is “every where spoken against.”. They examine the Liturgy; the Articles, and perhaps