Page images
PDF
EPUB

see

the Homilies; and the consequence is, that they

or suppose they see, that they are all Calvinistic. The most enquiring among them become dissatisfied with their ministers, when they strongly suspect that the desk and the pulpit are at variance. They then discover, at least, they think they discover, that the modern doctrine which they hear preached in the church, is very different from that which was taught by the reformers, and by those excellent men who drew up her formularies. By degrees, they wish to learn what the Calvinists' have to alledge in their own behalf,—they are astonished to perceive the prevailing similarity between their scheme of doctrine and that which they find in the Liturgy and the Thirty-nine Articles—and infer that their own teachers have apostatized from the faith of their pious ancestors.

§ 13. In order to cure this growing process, it would be at least prudent, instead of waging a war of extermination against the Calvinists, to preach the established doctrines more plainly and faithfully, appealing to the judgment and the consciences of the people, as well as to the scriptures. This method, when accompanied with holy tempers, upright conduct, and watchful prudence, would do more towards preserving the church from danger, than ten thousand weekly moral essays intermixed with bitter

invectives against Calvinistic and Methodistic • fanaticism.' In the one case, they might reasonably hope to attach the people to their own church upon principle; in the other they are labouring to the utmost of their ability to drive them away. The one method addresses itself to the understanding, to the cool judgment, to the best feelings of an audience; the other to the prejudices, the bigotry, and the angry passions of unprincipled or ignorant men.-I do not presume to dictate in this matter, but have simply taken occasion to state my opinion frankly and impartially.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. V.

QUOTATIONS FROM THE CHRISTIAN FATHERS, PRODUCED

BY THE BISHOP, EXAMINED).

Sect. I.

Quotations from the Fathers which have NO BEARING

on the points in question.

$1. The subject stated. How we ought to estimate the sentiments of

the Fathers. § 2. Quotations which relate to what belongs to men and to God, from Cyril. 3. Concerning what is not excusable, from HILARY. $ 4. The consequence of not believing, from AMBROSE. $5. Concerning divine assistance, from JEROME and AUGUSTINE. $6. The act of sin voluntary, from AOGUSTINE. $7. Christians the subjects of two births, from AUGUSTINE. $ 8. The danger of falling into opposite extremes, from AUGUSTINE. $9.-12. Errors condemned, from AUGUSTINE and CHRYSOSTOM. $13. Certainty of divine promises to those who are willing, from CHRYSOSTOM. 14. Concerning divine permission, from CHRY.

$ 15. Concluding remarks.

COSTOM.

$ 1. Were I to say, that more than one half of the pile of quotations from the Fathers, consisting of about two hundred and forty pages, produced by the Bishop of Lincoln against Calvinism, has no bearing on the point in question, I should be far from transgressing the boundary of truth. Of the other moiety a considerable part militates against the Bishop's avowed principles; a part consists of quotations which are doubtful, only in expressions against the Calvinists, but

1

not in meaning; and the remainder appears to be unscriptural both in language and in sentiment. Before we proceed to particulars, it may be proper to premise, that these uninspired Fathers lived in the infancy of the Christian church--that they have no just claim to superiority over the moderns, who, in many respects, are their superiors, as they are their seniors in point of advantages—that the controversies agitated in their days were very different from those under consideration—that we possess the same scriptures that they possessed that the rules of just criticism are now better understood, than in their days—that a more accurate logic may be naturally expected in the present age, than that to which they were accustomed-and that, notwithstanding their zeal, piety, and elo

many instances, they are very indifferent guides in controversial theology. The ultimate appeal must be to the genuine sense of the inspired volume.

i

quence, in

2. Some of the quotations relate to what belongs to men and to God. Thus Cyril of Jerusalem says, ““ It belongs to me to speak, to

you to give attention, to God to make perfect.** Again, “' It belongs to God to give grace, but to you to receive and preserve it. Do not there

* Refut. p. 347A.

« PreviousContinue »