Page images
PDF
EPUB

might make himself known to the people by the novelty of his doctrines, selected for himself certain subjects to be publicly discussed ; among which (not to speak of those which are not applicable to our present purpose) this was one of the chief: That our Lord Jesus Christ was not crucified and put to death for the redemption of the whole world, that is, not for the salvation and redemption of all mankind, but only for those who are saved. Which is the same as if he had said, only for the predestinated. This sentiment of Godeschalcus was discussed and condemned first by the Synod of Mentz,* and afterwards by Hincmar, Archbishop of Rheims, who assembled another Synod, and committed Godeschalcus himself to confinement in a monastery, that he might not disseminate bis errors. They published also some opinions opposite to the sentiments of Godeschalcus, in which what regards our present case is as follows, (Bibl. Pat. vol. 9. p. 1093. Eccl. Lugd.) Our Lord Jesus Christ, us no man is, was, or will be, whose nature was not assumed by Him, so no man is, was, or will be, for whom He did not suffer, although all are not redeemed by the mystery of his passion. But this definition of Hincmar of Rheims, and the other Bishops who adhered to it, was disapproved of at Leyden, where Remigius presided. Therefore they undertook an examination of the four opinions of Hincmar which were opposite to those of Godeschalcus; and particularly of that opinion of Godeschalcus, which referred to the death of Christ, of which they speak thus, We would wish that nothing should be spoken or defined confusedly and inconsiderately on this subject; since it has its own depth and difficulty, which should be diligently searched out from the truth of the Holy Scriptares and the authority of the orthodor Fathers, and not determined by our presumption. And they so far disapproved of the definition of Hincmar which was opposed to the doctrine of Godeschalcus, that they wrote about it in this manner : (Bibl. Pat. vol. 9. p. 1058. Eccl. Lugd.) What else can we answer respecting this your definition,

• This Synod was assembled in the year 848, by Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mentz. Mosheim's account of the circumstances that fol. lowed, as affecting Godeschaleus, is highly interesting.

but that we would earnestly request and admonish those who gave it, that they would endeavour vigilantly and faithfully to examine, lest by consideriig too little what has been said, they should speak such things contrary to the faith and their own consciences, and destroy their own definition by the things before spoken of. Nor did the Church of Leyden think it sufficient to refute in writing some things which were contained in those definitions of Hincmar, but, together with the Bishops of Arles and Vienne in the Synod of Valence, confirmed canons in which some things are restored which they thought blameable in the opinions of Godeschalcus, and some things also which they judged worthy of reproof in those of the adversaries of Godeschalcus. Omitting the rest, we mention only those things which were discussed and confirmed respecting the present controversy against Hincmar, and those who favoured his views. They, as you have heard, determined, That no man ever had been, was, or would be, for whom Christ did not suffer. But the Church of Leyden distributed the whole hnman race, as it were, into certain classes. The first order is of those who are elected lo eternal life; of whom none can perish, and who are all saved. The second is of those i hat believe, who by a right faith receive the grace of baptism, and by it are cleansed from their sins, but afterwards turn away from the faith, and die in their unbelief. The third is of those who being as yet in unbelief, are nevertheless by the mercy of God to be called to the faith, and to be cleansed by baptism. They profess that Jesus Christ came into the world and was crucified for these three classes of mankind, that he might save them. Two other classes of mankind are excluded from the benefit of the death of Christ. One is of those who from the beginning of the world until the coming of Christ, died in their impiely. The other is of those who since the advent and passion of Christ even to the end of the world, shall continue in unbelief. (Eccl. Lugd. p. 1094 and 1058.) To which plainly agree the decrees of the Council of Valence, in the fourth and fifth canons. But in these different opinions of Hincmar and Remigius two things are to be observed : One is that Remigius and the council of Va

lence, although they did not approve the sentiment of those who extended the death of Christ to all men individually, yet they have not confined it to the predestinate alone. The other is, That in this difference of opinions, those ancient Fathers cultivated the peace of the church, and did not interrupt it in order to accuse each other of heresy. Which may evidently be collected from the words of the church of Leyden, which after the refutation of the opinions of their adversaries, adds these words (Eccl. Lugd. p. 1063), We much wish that their opinion, although it proceeds from their piety, yet for peace sake, and the venerated piety of the most blessed Fathers, may not be renewed. Therefore no dispute should be engaged in by one against the other, nor should one sentiment be condemned rather than the other. And because it may truly happen that there is something concealed in this matter, through our ignorance, nothing should be rashly defined, so that in whichever mode of speaking any one may acquiesce, he should not be esteemed a heretic, unless he become such through his contentiousness. I wish that in this litigious age we had before our eyes this specimen of Christian charity and modesty, by which, as it appears to me, that tempest which was excited by the preaching of Godeschalcus was so happily settled and appeased. For in the following ages I find no contests about the aforesaid controversy. At length theological questions came into the hands of the Schoolmen, who, although they were fruitful artificers of disputes, yet were unwilling to renew this subject. To them it seemed sufficient to teach that Christ died for all sufficiently, for the predestinated effectually ; which, since no one could deny, no handle was given for using the saw of contention. The Doctors of the Reformed Church also from the beginning spoke in such a manner on the death of Christ, that they afforded no occasion of reviving the contest. For they taught, That it was proposed and offered to all, but apprehended and applied to the obtaining of eternal life only by those that believe. At the same time, they judged it improper to mingle the hidden mystery of Election and Preterition with this doctrine of the Redemption of the human race through

Christ, in such a manner as to exclude any one, before he should exclude himself by his own unbelief. Let us hear their own words. Philip Melancthon constantly admonishes that we should not unseasonably mix the speculation of predestination with the promises of the Gospel. In his Common-places, On the promises of the Gospel, page 195, he writes thus : As it is necessary to know that the Gospel is a gratuitous promise, so it is necessary to know that the Gospel is an universal promise, that is, that reconciliation is offered and promised to all mankind. It is necessary to hold that this promise is universal, in opposition to any dangerous imaginations on predestination, lest we should reason that this promise pertains to a few others and to ourselves. But we declare, that the promise of the Gospel is universal. And to this are brought those universal expressions, which are used constantly in the Scriptures, such as, GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE EVERLASTING Ife. And the reason why all do not obtain the promises of the Gospel, is because all do not believe it. Calvin in many places gives his opinion in the same manner. On the same words, John iii. 16, God so loved the world, &c. he says, He hath put an universal mark, both that he might invite all men promiscuously to the participation of life, and that he might leave the unbelieving without ercuse. For this is the meaning of the word wORLD. For although there is nothing found in the world worthy of the Divine favour, yet he shews himself to be propitious to the whole world ; since he calls all without exception to believe in Christ. A little afterwards : It appears that Christ is set before all, but God opens the eyes of the elect alone to seek him in faith. And on Rom. v. 18, He makes grace common to all, because it is set before all, not because it is actually extended to all. For although Christ suffered for the sins of the whole world, and through the goodness of God is offered to all indifferently, yet all do not apprehend him. So likewise Bullinger,* on Rev.

• BULLINGER (Henry), a native of Bremgarten, in the Canton of Zurich, born 1504. When only twelve years old he was sent to school at Emeric, with little more provision than the clothes upon his back, and for

v. Serm. 28, The Lord died for all: bui all are not partakers of this redemption, through their own fault. Otherwise the Lord excludes no one but him who excludes himself by his own unbelief and faithlessness. Benedict Aretius* has similar expressions on 1 Tim. ii. Christ, says he, died for all, yet notwithstanding all do not embrace the benefit of his death, because by their own wickedness, and the corruplion of their nature, they despise the offered grace. To these I add Musculus,t who in his Common-places speaks thus (On the redemption of the human race, page 151); The title of this section professes what is for our purpose, viz. The redemption of the human race. After a few words, he adds, We know that all are not partakers of this redemption ; but the perdition of those who are not saved by no means hinders this redemption from being called universal, since it is not destined

three years supported himself by singing in the streels. He then removed to Cologne, where, applying closely to literature, and becoming acquainted with the works of Melancthon, he adopted the opinions of the Reformers, and having abandoned the Romish church, counected himself closely with Zuingle, accompanying him to Berne, to the disputations held there in 1528. His friend falling in the battle fought between the Catholic and Protestant Cantons, on the 11th of October, 1531, Bullinger succeeded him as pastor of Zurich, where he had taken refuge, and wbile in this capacity, defended in 1545 the tenets of his brethren against the censures of Luther, resisting at the same time the attempts of Bucer to bring about a compromise between the two sects respecting the eucharist. He also distinguished himself by the effectual resistance which he made against the proposed treaty, by which a number of Swiss mercenaries were to be taken into the service of France, on the ground that it was inconsistent with Christianity for any one to let himself out for the purpose of killing those who had never injured him. He died at Zurich in 1575, leaving behind him ten volumes of printed controversial treatises, with several manuscript pieces. It is a singular proof of the opinions of the early Reformers respecting the celibacy of the Clergy, that at the age of sixty, with eleven children, Bullinger thought it necessary to publish an apology for continuing a widower. Bayle. Strype's Annals.

• ARETIUS (Benedict) an Ecclesiastic of Berne, in Switzerland, emi. nent as a botanist and theologian. In the former science he published an account of Alpine plants, which is highly spoken of. In Divinity, on which he gave lectures at Marpurg, his works are-A Commentary on the New Testanient, and Examen Theologicum, in folio, which it is said was printed twelve times in three years. He died in 1574.

+ Vide page 214 of this Vol. Note

« PreviousContinue »