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his authority as supreme and paramount. I am sorry to add, that, in this respect, there seem to be several little microscopic Calvins about this city, growing fast in strength and stature.
Could the decline of the Christian church be traced to its real causes; could the seeds of those fatal errors, the germ of those deep apostacies be discovered, which have spread ruin and darkness through Christendom, they would appear to lie in this, viz. & substitution of the authority of men for the word of God. Their language is, " that is, indeed, the word of God, but I am its expositor, and you must follow my expositions." Hence have origipated creeds, formularies, liturgies, confessions of faith, standards, bulls. But this is not the end. These creeds and standards are but ink and paper. They must have an expositor. One is at hand.
These expositors are the men, and wisdom shall die with them.” It is the invariable policy of ambitious men to keep one on the pinnacle of power and grandeur. They then have nothing to do but sbove and clamber. But these men are far from doing as Calvin did. Calvin rose by his own energy and merit. These men are endeavouring to ascend the slippery steep on the merits and favour of Calvin.
It is, I believe, but four or five years since a number of wise heads were laid together to beat down and crush the errors of a set of men denominated Hopkinsians, who, by the by, follow Hopkins about as much as I wish to follow Calvin. What method did they take !—They employed a catspaw to write a book entitled THE CONTRAST. In the solemn trumpery of 500 pages there are a great many instances called up, in which these Hopkinsians are said to differ from Calvin ; as though this was sufficient to condemn them. But in order to effect this dreadful work, this writer, or his masters rather, were obliged to get both Hopkins and Calvin on the rack, to garble, dissect, distort, and misrepresent many passages, in the most huge and flagrant manner. But no matter; many people were inade to believe that Hopkins differed from Calvin; and that was sufficient. If Calvin believed that a rat's tail was five inches long, and Hopkins asserted it was seven, it was abundant; “ the Contrast” was clearly and ably made out; and Hopkins was in an error, though the rat's tail had never been measured.
But I shall here despatch what I have to say of Calvin in a few words:
-I believe in many doctrines, perhaps in most, taught by Calvin, but not in all. He was a man of great energy of mind and decision of character, and I trust a religious man. The haughtiness and acerbity of bis temper I dislike, and, as an ecclesiastical pioneer and legislator, he more resembled Lycurgus than Solon. From the persecution he suffered, one might have imagined his mind would have been blanched from such foul stains as intolerance and persecution ; but it was the spirit of the age in which he lived :-"fuit temporum culpa non ejus." Could Calvin have lived a century ;-could his designs have been ripened into action, and his wishes crowned with success, he would bave made Geneva the head of the Protestant church, and himself the head of Geneva. If in this and some other respects he resembled Cromwell, he differed from him in that he was a far better, more upright and honest man. Less bold and intrepid than Luther, less amiable and benevolent than Melancthon, he was more acute, penetrating, and industrious than either, and was the most thorough, severe, and independent reformer of the three.
When you rouse a nest of prejudices, especially those which are fortified by interest and popularity, you may be assured they will sting like wasps and hornets : nay, they would often" sting their victim dead," had they power. This has been the true source of religious persecution. Love of truth never raised a persecution: that frightful demon “is made of sterner stuff.' It springs from ambition--a desire to govern the opinions of others; and a religious ambition is by far the worst, the most rancorous, the most hateful and unreasonable specimen of its kind that ever infested the world; it is a direct invasion of the rights of consciencet-an atrocious and infamous invasion
of the rights of God and man. A man wishes me to think as he does, in order that I may subserve bis purposes : not considering that I have the same right to my opinions that he has to his.
For emple, I have my own opinions concerning Original Sin, Depravity, and Alonement. Why should a man be angry at me because I think for myself on these subjects? Why should he, when he meets me in the street, cock up his nose, knit his eyebrows, shrug his shoulders, look askance, and glide by me like a basilisk, whose very silence tells me how much venom he has got in his bag ? I should not define these traits so readily and so closely, but I have seen them so often, that I am like the English sculptor who has visited Italy, and of course takes nothing from the descriptions of others. It is not merely because he is a nascent microscopic Calvin—or, if I may so speak, a Calviniculus, and therefore wishes me to think like his great master. No:--he is not so disinterested as all that. It is because I dare be independent enough to think differently from him, and, therefore, do not follow in his train. His own conscience will not allow him, for a moment, to harbour the idea that he is led to this conduct from the love of truth. The love of truth renders men meek, amiable, and candid-generous, affectionate, and condescending. Besides, who is to be the judge of truth ?-I have the same right to judge for myself that he has. We are both equally accountable to God for our opinions.
We know not how the heavenly bodies move: yet we perceive their motions uniform, grand, and beautiful. The constitution under which creatures exist in this world, though it is mysterious, yet we perceive it to be universal, regular, and unalterable. One of its first and most obvious laws is, that all creatures, which come into being in a series of generations, have power to propagate that series, and that every creature shall produce its own likeness. Whatever of mystery there inay be in this constitution, it appears upon inspection to be necessary, useful, and beautiful. If a bramble could spring from the grape, a thorn from an olive tree ;-if a dove could produce a serpent, or a lamb could spring from a tiger, all order and harmony-all security, usefulness, and beauty, would fall sacrifices to universal disappointment, confusion, deformity, and misery.
Man, though the noblest of terrestrial creatures, by the sovereign constitution of his Maker, exists under this general law:and it is admitted and believed, that, had our first parents remained in a state of rectitude, they would have continued happy and immortal; and that all their posterity would have, in these respects, been like them. Whatever mankind derive from their first parents must, by the divine constitution, resemble the source from whence derived; and experience shows that they have derived a nature, which, when matured into action, will act sinfully. Hence their nature is properly said to be corrupt, and they are in scripture called, “ degenerate plants of a strange vine.” But blame cannot be charged to the account of any creature prior to, and exclusive of, the consideration of his own voluntary disposition and conduct.
I beg the reader to examine the preceding few remarks; to devest himself of all prejudice in favour of names and authorities, and he will perceive that they are almost self evidently true. If the subject may be illustrated by the analogy which it bears to the constitution of the natural world, Adam was constituted the head of the human race, in the same sense that the first apple tree was constituted the head of all apple trees; or the first lion the head of all lions; and all lions acted in the first lion, as all mankind acted in Adam.
The word of God teaches that the human race were ruined by the fall of our first parents. It was so from the sovereign constitution already stated. “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, wherefore death bath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” If, in consequence of Adam's fall, all his posterity derived from him a sinful nature, then it is proper to say, that, “by the offence of one, many were made sinners;" and so, of necessity, "by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.”
If nothing depended on the exposition of these passages of St. Paul, it must be admitted that this mode of expounding them is fair and liberal. Indeed, it is clear, that by these expressions he means to allude to the grand constitution already explained, and which experience every moment illustrates before our eyes. But important cousequences flow from a right understanding of these and sundry similar passages of scripture. For, if they are understood to establish the idea that Adam's crime, guilt, and character, are in fact transferred to his descendants, prior to the consideration of their own moral character; if they are condemned for his act, independently of their own, then the first principles of immutable and eternal justice are supervened and destroyed, and innumerable solemn and express declarations of holy writ are contradicted.
“ Wbat mean ye that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrens' teeth are set on edge ?-As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold! all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, 60 also the soul of the son is mine. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, nor the father the iniquity of the son. Hear now, O house of Israel, is not my way equal, are not your ways unequal ?"
But these words were addressed particularly to the house of Israel. What then? They go, unequivocally, to the main point for which I contend; and establish it with great force and clear
God here condescends to vindicate his character from the charge thrown on it by the house of Israel, which was that his way was unequal. He, therefore, by a solemn oath, declares they shall no longer use that proverb, which indicates the imputation of guilt, and transfer of character from father to son. “ All souls are mine. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,” &c. The equality and justice of the divine government are predicated on this declaration, and do certainly depend essentially on the truth of it: and it is fairly and strongly implied, that, were the son condemned for the sin of his father, the wuy of God would not be equal.
Some, indeed, evade these remarks and conclusions by saying, humorously, that Ezekiel was rather inclined to Arminianism. Alas, for poor Ezekiel and James ! they neither of them stand very high in the opinion of the hyper-calvinist: they were rather lax.
It never entered into the heart of any of the sacred and inspired writers, from Moses to St. John, that Adam's posterity