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ings; I mean the primitive fathers of the Christian Church. " It deserves to be .con
sidered,” says Whitby, “ that all antiquity, “ till the time of St. Auftin, do with one con“ sent concur in the interpretation of the Pseud. “ Ambrofius on this passage of St. Paul, Those " whom he foreknew would be devoted to his “ service, them he chose to the promised re66 ward.” And Vossius declares, what Whitby and others have noticed after him, thats all “ the Greek Fathers always, and all the Latin 66 Fathers who lived before St. Austin, were “ wont to say, that they were predestinated to “ life, of whom God forefaw that they would “ live piously and righteoully; or, as others
say, of whom he foresaw that they would “ believe and persevered.” Nay more; when Prosper undertook to be the advocate of Auftin's opinions concerning absolute election, he not only found himself unable to anfwer the objections advanced against the doctrine, that it contrary to the opinion of the Fathers “ and the sense of the Churche," and " that
• Discourses, p. 60. ,
• Græci Patres semper, Patrum Latinorum vero illi qui ante Auguftinum vixerunt, dicere folent, eos efle prædeftinatos, ad vitam, quos Deus pie recteque vi&turos prævidit ; sive, ut alii loquuntur, quos prævidit credituros et perseveraturos. . V'ujj. Histor. Pelag. lib. vi. thes. viii.
: Multi ergo fervorum Chrifti, qui in Maffiliensi urbe consistunt, in fan&itatis tuæ fcriptis, quæ adversus Pelagianos hæreticos condidifti, contrarium putant Patrum opinioni et ecclefiaftico fenfui, quicquid in eis de vocatione electorum se. tundum Dei propofitum disputasti. Profperi Epift. ad Auguftinum, cap. ii.
" the things which he brought forward from 6. St. Paul's epiftle to the Romans had never “ been so understood by any of the ecclefiaftical “ menf;" but himself also frankly acknowledgeds, that “ having revised the opinions of " those, who had gone before on this fubject, “ he found them almost all agreeing in one and “ the fame sentiment, whereby they under* stood the purpose and predestination of God « according to his prescience; that for this “ cause God made some men vessels of honour, « others of dishonour, because he forefaw the “ end of every one, and foreknew what, under " the aid of divine grace, would be the will “ and actions of each." Nor is that a trifling confeftion, which (as Grotius remarks ") was freely made by Calvin, Beža, and others of the fame opinion; that the Fathers of the apos stolical and primitive times thought and spoke differently from them on these points · Se that it was not without high authority that Melanáhon, himself perhaps the most learned of the Reformers, a man pronounced by Calvin to be “ acute and prudent and well exercised “ in the Scriptures k," and of whom it is well known that Cranner and our English Reformers entertained the highest opinion, and with whom, there is every reason to believe, that they concurred in their theological fenti
f Obstinationem suam vetuftate defendunt; et ea, quæ de epistola Apostoli Pauli, Romanis fcribentis, ad manifestationem divinæ gratiæ prævenientis electorum merita proferuntur, å hullo unquam Ecelefiafticorum ita effe intellecta, ut nunc fentiuntur, affirmant. Ibid. cap. iii.
* Illud etiam qualiter diluatur, quæfumus patienter 'inlipientiam noftram ferendo demonstres ; quod, retractatis priorum de bac re opinionibus, penè omniuio par invenitur et una fententia, qua propofitum et prædestinationem Dei fecundum præfcientiam receperunt: ut ob hoc Deus alios vafa honoris, alios contumeliæ fecerit, quia finem miulcus jufque præviderit, et fub ipfo gratiæ adjutorio, in que futurus effet volumtate et actione, præscierit. Ibid. c. viii. At Ambrosius, Origenes, Hieronymus censuerunt, Deum fuam gratiam inter homines difpenfare, prout ea quemque bene ufurum præviderit. Adde et Augustinum in cà fuiffe aliquando sententia. Ibid. sect. 8.
• Brandt's Hift. of the Reformation, book xxiv. vol. ii. p. 213.
Hæc omnia, quæ pofuimus, controversia apud multos
carent, maxime gratuita fidelium elećtio. Vulgo enim existimant Deum, prout cujusque merita prævidet, ita inter homines difcernere : quos ergo fua gratia non indignos fore præcognoscit, eos in filiorum locum cooptare; quorum ingenia ad malitiam et impietatem propensura difpicit, eos mortis damnationi devovere. Sic interpofito præscientiæ velo, electionem non modo obscurânt, fed originem aliunde habere fingunt. Neque hæc vulgo recepta opinio folius vulgi est; habuit enim fæculis omnibus magnos authores. Calv. Inft. lib. ii. c. xxii. f. 1.
* See Winchester on the Seventeenth Article, p. 60. and Heylyn's Quinquart. Hift. part. ii. chap. viii. sect. 2.
ments, differed from some of his brethren on the continent concerning these mysterious doctrines; and expressed himself in terms, not only inconsistent, but pointedly and strongly at variance, with the system of Calvin; and reprobated some of his fundamental principles, as heresies which the ancients most severely condemned; as “ the dreams of enthusiasm," “ the dotage of Stoicism,” and “ the ravings « of Manichæan madness!."
This statement of the scriptural significations of the term election, may perhaps ferve to guard the inexperienced and unwary against much misrepresentation, which I apprehend to be employed, and much misconception which prevails, on the subject; and to supply them with a clue for unravelling several detached passages, some of them, we allow, not deftitute of intricacy, which have been repeatedly explained, but are still continually forced upon our notice. It appears to me indeed to be a vital objection to the doctrines of Calvin, that they are grounded upon an imperfect and parç tial view of revelation, and rest upon a dubious at least, if not a decidedly false, interpretation of such detached paffages, instead of being established on a comprehensive survey of holy writ: otherwise tenets could never be maintained, which are fo incompatible with the notions, which the Holy Spirit gives us, of God's attributes and his moral government of the universe; with the general conditions of the Gospel covenant ; and with the promises of God, as they are generally set forth to us in holy Scripture.
'Non igitur repugnes Evangelio ; non indulgeas diffiden. tiæ ; non cogites, ut fomniant Enthufiaftæ, expectandum effe violentum motum, quo te rapiat Deus etiam repugnantem, et iterum ruentem in scelera, &c. Melancthonis Comm. in Rom. ix. Op. vol. iv. p. 160.
His et fimiliter dictis confirmati, veram et perpetuam ecclefiæ fententiam conftanter amplectamur, et nequaquam applaudamus Stoicis et Manichæis furoribus, qui funt contumeliofi adversus Deum, et pernitiofi vitæ; qui fingunt homines neceffario fcelera facere; et recte intelligamus dieta, quæ contra veram fententiam detorquentur ad Stoica deliramenta. De Caufa Peccati, Op. vol. ii. p: 237.
Repudianda eft et Cyclopica cavillatio quorundam veterum et recentium, qui dicunt, non ideo peccare Deum, quia impellat ad mala, quia Deo nou fit lex pofita. Hæc Cyclopica imaginatio execranda est, &c. Ibid. p. 238.
But I am venturing upon a point, not foreign indeed from my purpose, but requiring a fuller investigation than it can receive at the present opportunity. I shall here. therefore quit the subject for the present with exhorting you, not to suffer yourselves to be puffed up with a vain conceit, that you are absolutely elected to eternal happiness; or to be depressed with an equally rain apprehension, that you are absolutely reprobated and condemned to