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ON THE ALLEDGED IMPIETY OF CALVINISM
"The IMPIETY of CALVINISM."* the Trinity, the Divinity of Christ, Anecdotes of the Life of Bp. Watson. P. 169. Alónement, and the work of the
tbe Incarnation, original Sin, the
Holy Spirit ? If Bishop Watson were now alive, These six Articles are admitted, who uses this phrase, and wishes by multitudes, who dislike the pame the Church of England “a com- of Calvinism; and I should think plete purgation from the dregs of none would dare to deny that they popery, and the impiety of Calvin- are maintained, not only by the ism;" I should like to ask him Honrlies, but by the Articles and wherein he supposes the latter con- Liturgy of the Church of England. sists?
Whatever else is left undetermined, Does it consist partly in what as to doctrine, these points are not. Calvinists hold in common with The Bishop, in the account he many who would earnestly decline gives us of his life, professes and that name? e. g. In the Doctrine of shews a good degree of honesty and
. The late venerable Dr. Ryland, sent this paper, accompanied by a note, addressed to one of the Editors, who received it on the 10th of May. The same person having had the melancholy gratification of seeing the Doctor at his house in Broadmead a few days before his death, was asked by him, whether it had been received, and whether he thought it could be made out? &c. &c. These circumstances are mentioned to prove the importance which, even in the near prospect of death, he attached to the subject, and how solicitous he was for its appearance. It might, therefore, be considered as the dying avowal of the inestimable man just as he was “ finishing his course.” We earnestly hope the day will never come when such Calvinism as this will be opposed in the Baptist churches; nor when the work, entitled “the Reign of Grace," by the late Abraham Booth, will be considered as too high Calvinism !"
The following is a copy of the note referred to: the original is in a very altered hand to what the Doctor generally wrote :“MY DEAR BROTHER,
“ I cannot possibly transcribe this afresh, but though there are several interlineations, yet all may be easily made out by a little attention.
“ If yon choose to put it in the Magazine, I hope you will see to it, that it is pripted correctly. Twelve Lord's days 4 I have been kept from public worship; my cough is much better, but I am extremely weak.
“What the Lord intends to do with me I know not, but he is infinitely wise and good, and in his hands I would leave myself. I hope our brethren will pray for me, that God may be glorified, whether by my life or my death. " I am not able to write more, and remain your cordial Brother,
" JOHN RYLAND.” + The Doctor was confined from the first Lord's day in February. A sermon he had written for that day, as a funeral discourse, remains in his Bible, but he was not able to deliver it. VOL. XVII.
independency; but, if he could be their recovery is connected with the into induced, by the highest honours, or most glorious display of God's no one the greatest emoluments of the ral perfections ? establishment, to subscribe the Ar Would Bishop Watson account it cainzticles, or to read the Service of the an impious doctrive to say, that all to fix the Church, while he disbelieved these mankind are in a sinful and misera. doctrines, and only waited for an ble condition? Does not all his ir, opportunity to get them set aside; tory, and especially scriptural his-sain I cannot think that he possessed tory, prove ibis ? Has not God, what the apostle termed godly sin- ever since the fall, treated our race w hin cerity.
as guilty? Did he not so treat the eph bis Impiety is surely a heavy charge. whole world at the time of the flood! of Can it be brought against all who Did he not testify the depravity of the believe, as they apprehend at least, the antediluvians ? Did he not re- 16 on the authority of divine Reve- peat the same testimony after the lation, that there is a mysterious food ? and is not the Bible full of powiedient distinction in the divine nature, so the strongest declarations respecting the best that in the unity of the Godhead the guilt and depravity of man! by kelnes there are three persons, in whose Does not the history of all nations pe un names Christians ought to be bap- prove it? and especially the history til God tized, and who sustain, whild act of the Israelites? Though Moses a nohto ing in the most perfect unison, dif- denies that they were chosen be
pret by di ferent offices, in the economy of cause they were better or more righRedemption? Or, would it be teous than other vations, yet is it more pious to say, We will believe rational or philosophical to suppose
, nothing, even on the authority of that they were essentially worse than Revelation, at which we could not other people? Do not the Jewish at least shrewdly guess without it; historians and prophets give ample nor will believe, on that authority, evidence of their great wickedness any fact, the mode of which we through all their generations ? Does .cannot understand ; nor do we think not their ill usage of the messengers, trish it credible, that there shoald be which God sent to them, and the any thing in the divine nature to rejection and murder of the prowhich we cannot find a parallel, mised Messialı prove it? Does not either in our own nature, or in that the apostle conclude all mankind, of any other creature?
both Jews and Gentiles, under a Is there any thing impious or in- charge of sin ? Does not the uvi. credible in the doctrine of the In- versal prevalence of idolatry and carnation ? Is it impossible that war prove human depravity? Does God should make himself visible to not Paul trace up the introduction his creatures? or that he should of sin, misery, and death, to the permanently unite bimself to a cre- fall of Adam? Is it then an impious to ated nature? Would not his doing thing for the Church of England to so be a wonderful pledge of his love admit this humiliating truth? to creatures and the more so, for Is it an impious thing to suppose of the to his assuming the nature of the low- that an atoning sacrifice was neces. est and most degraded species of sary, in order to the forgiveness of rational being? Is not the redemp- sin, consistently with the perfection of innumerable multitudes of tions of God, ihe support of his ruined immortals from sin and mi- moral government, and the honour sery, an object worthy of peculiar of his law? Is it impious to supdivine interposition; especially when pose, that God would not graut
salvation to sinners, unless he could But leaving the general topic of shew himself to be righteous as well Predestination, let us consider the as merciful? Is there any impiety subject of personal Election. Cerin believing, that Christ died the tain it is, that God, in the days of just for the unjust, that he might Moses, did claim a right to be grabring us to God? that he gave him- cious to whom he would be graci. self for us, that he might redeem us ous, and to shew mercy on whom from all iniquity? that he bare our he would shew mercy. Is it then sins, in his own body on the tree ? impious to believe that salvation is that in him we have redemption not of him that willeth, of his own through his blood, even the for- native choice; nor of him that run. giveness of our sins, &c.?
neth, of his own native strength; Is there any impiety in believing but of God, that sheweth mercy? that God can make a bad man a Does not God, in a vast variety of good one that he can turn the other instances, act as a sorereign disobedient to the wisdom of the iu tbe bestowment of his favours, just ? that he is the Author of all especially of those favours which : true boliness ? that he can give re- are granted to sinners ? Consider
pentance unto life ? that faith is the how was his sovereignty displayed gift of God ? that all holy thoughts in the selection of Israel, to parand right desires in man, are pro- take, for many ages, of such singuduced by divine influence that the lar privileges, while he seemed to Holy Spirit can renew a sinner in overlook all other nations, and leave the spirit of his mind ? that he can them to walk in their own ways. write the divine law in the heart, Reflect how very differently the and cause us to walk in the way of blessings of civilization, of liberty, holiness?
of good government, and the adOr to come to downright Calvin- vantages resultiog from the knowism, let us see what impiety there ledge of revealed truth, have been is in either of the five points, which hitherto dispensed: and shall it be distinguish Calvinists from Armini said to be impious to suppose, God ans. Would the Bishop have dared is not bound to dispense his favours, to deny, either the divine Presci. to all the wicked children of men, ence, or the divine Omnipotence ? at the same time, and in an equal If God foreknow all events per- degree? We acknowledge that his fectly, and can prevent whatever revealed will requires those who enhe pleases, then he does nothing in joy these blessings, to use the best time, but what he always intended means in their power to extend to do; and he suffers nothing to them; and the prophecies of his take place, but what he determin- word encourage us to hope, that ed, for wise and holy reasons, to they shall hereafter be enjoyed by permit to come to pass : e.g. That all nations ;' but God evidently acts Joseph's brethren should sell him as one who does not consider him. for a slave; that Pharaoh should self a debtor to his apostate crearefuse to let Israel go; that Sibon tures. The case of idiots, and of should reject the fair proposal made those who are born deaf or blind, to him by Moses ; or that Judas illustrates the same truth. should betray Christ; yet all these With respect to such persons as sinners acted as freely, and inex. admit the doctrine of the Atonement, cusably, as they could have done, I have often wondered how they, if if God had known nothing about they truly understand its import, them, either beforehand, or even can object to the doctrine of Elec
2 B 2
at the time.
tion. If the guilt of man was so till it began to be effected, by the great as to need to be expiated by power of the Holy Spirit. But now the sacrifice of God's incarnate Son, í infer, from his having drawn me surely the gift of Christ must be the by his loving kindness, that he had most wonderful instance of divine loved me with an everlasting love. sovereignty that ever was, or can be Is it impious to suppose that my conceived. They that needed such loving him is the consequence and a ransom could never deserve that évidence of bis first loving me? Are God should provide it. But if he not the most powerful motives to has done this freely, surely it would humility, gratitude, and obedience, be impossible to see any wisdom in the natural consequences of this its being left to chance, or to the doctrine? We most readily allow good inclinations of depraved crea- it would be inconsistent and imtures, whether any happy conse- pious to say, because God has quences should ever follow from the graciously, predestinated us to be sufferings of the blessed Redeemer; conformed to the image of his Son, or whether he should see such fruits therefore we need not be anxious to of the travel of his soul, as could bear his blessed likeness ;' but this give him full satisfaction. Would inference we utterly abhor. God have sent his Son to atone for where is the impiety of attributing the guilt of sinners, if he had not repentance, faith, holiness, and known that his Spirit could conquer obedience, wherever they are really their depravity? Is it then impious found, to the effectual operation of to suppose God bas absolutely de. the Spirit of God, and from hence creed that he shall have a sufficient alone inferring that he designed reward? or would it be more pious from eternity to produce that change to admit, that man's self-will may which he has effected in time? expose, to a real disappointment, As to the death of Christ, which all the efforts of divine mercy, wis. we have already observed, must be dom, and power, to turn a sinner considered as an astonishing into God?
stance of sovereign goodness, since Is it indeed an idea which would nothing but the greatness of our promote piety, and especially hu- guilt rendered such a sacrifice nemility, so essential a part of the cessary; is it impious to suppose, piety of a saved sinner, to fancy that the Saviour, in laying down his ihat God elected me, because he life, had a special regard to the sal. foresaw that I should not be so ob- vation of those who shall actually stinate in impenitence and unbelief enjoy the benefits of his redempas others; but should be found, tion? We think, indeed, that some without any special influence of his ofour brethren have carried the metaSpirit on my heart, pliable, obedi- phorical idea of Debtor and Creditor ent, and well disposed? And must too far, who seem to suppose there I be charged with impiety, if I as. must have been just so much sufcribe my cordial acceptance of the fering endured by the Saviour, as Saviour to the invincible efficacy of would exactly suffice for the sins of his grace, and thence infer, that he ibe number saved. We think this had chosen me in Christ Jesus, be- idea savours of creature littleness; fore the foundation of the world, shall I say of peity retail arithmetic. that I might be holy and blameless If fewer had been saved, I apprebefore him in love? I grant, that hend the Saviour would have sufI knew pothing of this gracious de- fered no less; nor if a greater numsigo, nor was it possible I should, ber, would he bare needed to suffer
more. The dignity of the Sufferer mighty to save,
"God hath com. put such a value ou bis sacrifice, mitted 10. us the word of reconciliaihat if all the sinners on earth had tion. Now, then, we perform an been saved and glorified on the foot- embassy for Christ, as though God ing of his obedience to death, God did beseech men by us, we pray would not have been exposed to them in Christ's stead, Be ye reany reflection on his moral charac- conciled to God." We assure them ter. The law was honoured more that all things are ready, and invite by' his obedience, than it could them to the feast which the great have been honoured by the eternal King has made for the nuptials of obedience of Adam and all his pos. his Son: but, alas! with one acterity; and the evil of sin is more cord they begin to make excuse; affectingly displayed in the suffer- though there is nothing to hinder ings of Immanuel, than it could them from accepting the invitation, have been displayed in the suffer. but wilful ignorance of their own ings of all mankind, had they en- perishing condition, alienation from dured the curse of the law for ever. God, aversion to Christ, and love But I must own I can scarcely call to sin and to the world. by a milder name than impiety, that This leads me to another branch feeling which could induce an emi- of Calvinism, the entire corruption nent Arminian to say,
of human nature, or the enmity of “ Take back my intrest in the Lamb,
the carnal mind to God, and its reUnless the Saviour died for all.” fusal of subjection to his law, with Surely the person who penned those the utter unwillingness of sinners to lines, could not have, at the time, stoop to salvation by grace, and any just idea of the necessity of the cordially accept of the mediation of Atonement !
Christ. Is it impious to believe Hitherto, it is but a small part of that these sinful dispositions are so the human race who have heard of predominant in the human heart, the Redeemer; however Calvinists that none but God can conquer will yield to none in their zealous them? Is there any impiety in creendeavours to spread the glad diting the testimony of the prophet, tidings all over the globe.
that the heart of man is deceitful strenuously maintain, that wherever above all things, and desperately the gospel is fully published, every wicked ? and in supposing that even one who hears it has an equal war
men of learning deceive themselves, rant to apply to the Saviour; and when they talk of a self-determin is assured of his being as willing as ing power in their wills, by which lie is able to save all that come they can choose, at any time, what unto God by him. I own, indeed, they now bate, and can turn themthat I should think it impiety tó selves from sin to boliness, without deuy, that God had a right to have any influence from above? We adopted a different method from ascribe to sipners, as that in which that which he has wisely chosen their inability, either to obey the He might have sent an angel to make law, or to embrace the gospel, known the gospel to ihose only chiefly consists, a depraved dispowhom he intended actually to save ;
sition of mind, which is averse to and no injustice could have been the retaining God in their knowcharged upon him.
But he has ledge, to the owning of his authochosen to send pardoned sinners to rity, or to their placing their hapfell their fellow-criminals, that he piness in God. They are under the has laid belp upon one who is influence of sinful selfisliness, which