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pel; and therefore that the only period, in which the meaning of thefe doctrines could be infallibly known, was during the lives of the apoftles, and their immediate followers. Have then the advantages of that revelation, which profeffed to be of univerfal and perpetual use, been confined to the period of its firft propagation? or has the certainty, which it was intended to give to the fondest hopes of man, been enjoyed only by thofe favoured few, who were bleffed with the extraordinary illuminations of the fpirit of God? It is much more reafonable to fuppofe that the will of God is intelligible by every one, whofe mind is not biaffed by finful prejudice, and who forms his opinions of the doctrines of fcripture from a view of the united force and beautiful analogy of all its declarations. Nor do we hesitate to affirm that it is poffible to trace every corruption of the facred doctrine to fome depraved principle in the human heart. This principle indeed is fometimes fo concealed from view, that a man, acting under its influence, imagines that he is fearching for truth with the utmost fairness and impartiality. Vanity, fkepticifm, depraved inclinations, and love of novelty have been the parents of innumerable errours. Thefe, nourished by party spirit, and fupported, in many cafes, by the firm conviction of those, who adhere to them, have maintained their ftrength. When men are influenced by fuch motives, they cannot examine with impartiality. Detached portions of fcripture are made the foundation of a new fyftem of doctrines, and other paffages are explained with the previous determination of making them accord with it, or perhaps with the firm affurance, that they would do fo. If this be the way,
the method of obtaining forgivenefs. Two oppofite opinions on this important fubject cannot be equally acceptable to God; cannot afford the fame firm fatisfaction and confolation to man. If, therefore, chriflianity be a divine revelation, its doctrines must have been expressed in such a manner, that they may be easily understood by every fincere, unprejudiced inquir
The goodness of God would lead him to adapt his infructions to the circumitances of his creatures; and, though fome of the doctrines are, from their own nature, incomprehenfible by our limited faculties; yet our obligation to believe them can be clearly perceived. Chriftianity is a divine revelation, in which God has given a plain and unequivocal declaration of his commands, and we cannot fuppofe that it is a matter of indifference, in what fenfe we receive them; or that he will be fully fatisfied with our obedience, though we pervert his precepts and misinterpret his laws. In human governments no fuch perverfion would pafs unpunished. The lawgiver may relax his feverity in favour of fuch, as are unacquainted with the particular terms of the law or of fuch, as are unable, from the want of intellectual faculties, to exercise their judgment concerning it. Every other fubject is fuppofed capable of understanding, in what fenfe he fhould obey the laws of his fovereign; and, if he do not observe them, he is punished accordingly. In like manner the divine threatenings must be fulfilled against thofe, who, from corrupt paflion, willingly misinterpret the facred oracles.
To this it is objected, as matter of fact, that men of fincerity and candour, differ widely with regard to the effential doctrines of the gof
in which men are led, by falfe principles, to form erroneous opinions in religion, their errours will be laid to their own charge; they have not been occafioned by any unneceffary obfcurity in the divine revelation. But here the queftion recurs, who are in the right? What is the interpretation of feripture which may be regarded, as exclufively true? Are they not dogmatical and conceited, who maintain that they alone, of all christians, have examined without prejudice, and difcovered, with infallible certainty, the true meaning of the oracles of God? To this we reply, that there are fyftems of doctrine demonstrated to be pure by evidence, which our opponents cannot reasonably refift. Thefe are the articles and confeffions of faith of this and a neighbouring church. Whatever may be the errours of either in the form of difcipline or worship, or in other matters not effential; their fyftems of doctrine are perhaps the pureft, which could have been expected in any works of human compofition. Nor is this merely a prefumption, drawn from the manners of the times, when they are compofed, or from the great piety and integrity of the compilers; but it is an affertion, the truth of which may be proved by an appeal to the coincidence of these doctrines with the fentiments of the immediate followers of the apostles. If this coincidence can be fhown, it completely demonstrates the purity of our religious doctrines to every one, who admits the conclufiveness of historical evidence. For, whatever may have been the early corruptions of the christian church, it is not credible, that the contemporaries and immediate fucceffors of the apoftles could have ignorantly, or willingly perverted the facred doctrines. This was fo far from
being the cafe, that they manifested on all occafions the greatest zeal in preferving them inviolate. The rife of every new herefy was obferved by them with a mixture of aftonishment, indignation, and forrow, which manifefted that, till that time, they had been united and firm in the belief of one fyttem of doctrines. Now, it has often been fhown (and no one has ever been able to prove the contrary,) that the doctrine of our church corresponds exactly with the faith of the primitive chriftians; or, in other words, with the faith of the infpired writer. The doctrines, which we hold, are not the inventions of men, nor the perverfions of fcripture truth; they are coeval with the firft promulgation of the gofpel; for it cannot be shown, that they were introduced at a later period. In the darkness of Popish ignorance fome of them were almost extinguished; but whenever learning and reverence for the fcriptures began to revive, the pure doctrines of Chrift fhone forth with renewed luftre. They were received by our venerable reformers, as the greateft bleffings of Heaven, and worthy of being kept and defended with a fortitude, which tortures and death could not overcome. Shall then their defcendants permit themselves to be deprived of fuch bleffings, from the unmanly fear, that their firm, though modest defence of them, would be illiberally ftiled the effect of a dogmatick and conceited fpirit? [To be continued.]
The Church of Scotland.
THE following anecdote of Calvin, while it does much honour to his moral and religious character, is a curious hiftorical fact, which deferves to be generally known. It was related at Geneva, by Deodati, one of Calvin's succeffors, to
the firft Lord Örrery, who flourished under the reign of Charles the firt. The extract is taken from The ftate letters and memoirs of the right Hon. Roger Boyle,' page 4, 5.
Eckius being fent by the pope, legate into France, upon his return refolved to take Geneva in his way on purpose to fee Calvin; and if occafion were, to attempt reducing him to the Roman church. Therefore, when Eckius was come within a league of Geneva, he left his retinue there, and went, accompanied but with one man, to the city, in the forenoon. Setting up his horfes at an inn, he inquired where Calvin lived, whofe house being fhown him, he knocked at the door and Calvin himself came to open it to him. Eckius inquiring for Mr. Calvin, he was told he was the perfon. Eckius acquainted him, that he was a stranger; and having heard much of his fame, was come to wait upon him. Calvin invited him to come in, and he entered the houfe with him; where difcourfing of many things concerning religion, Eckius perceived Calvin to be an ingenuous learned man, and defired to know if he had not a garden to walk in. To which Calvin replying he had, they both went into it; and there Eckius began to inquire of him why he left the Roman church, and offered him fome arguments to perfuade him to return; but Calvin could by no means be inclined to think of it. At laft, Eckius told him, that he would put his life in his hands; and then faid he was Eckius the Pope's legate. At this difcovery, Calvin was not a little furprifed, and begged his pardon that he had not treated him with that refpect which was due to his quality. Eckius returned the compli
ment, and told him if he would come back to the Roman church, he would certainly procure for him a Cardinal's cap. But Calvin was not to be moved by fuch an offer. Eckius then asked him what revenue he had? he told the Cardinal he had that house and garden, and fifty livres per annum, befide an annual prefent of fome wine and corn; on which he lived very contentedly. Eckius told him, that a man of his parts deferved a greater revenue; and then renewed his invitation to come over to the Romifh church, promising him a better ftipend if he would. But Calvin giving him thanks affured him he was well fatisfied with his condition. About this time dinner was ready, when he entertained his gueft as well as he could, excufed the defects of it, and paid him great refpect. Eckius after dinner defired to know, if he might not be admitted to fee the church, which anciently was the cathedral of that city. Calvin very readily answered that he might; accordingly, he fent to the officers to be ready with the keys, and defired fome of the fyndicts to be there prefent, not acquainting them who the ftranger was. As foon therefore as it was convenient, they both went towards the church, and as Eckius was coming out of Calvin's houfe, he drew out a purse, with about one hundred pistoles, and prefented it to Calvin. But Calvin defired to be excufed; Eckius told him, he gave it him to buy books, as well as to exprefs his refpect for him. Calvin with much regret took the purfe, and they proceeded to the church, where the fyndicts and officers waited upon them; at the fight of whom Eckius thought he had been betrayed, and whispered his thoughts in Cal
vin's ear; but Calvin affured him to the contrary. Thereupon they went into the church; and Eckius, having feen all, told Calvin he did not expect to find things in fo decent an order, having been told to the contrary. After having taken a full view of every thing, Eckius was returning out of the church; but Calvin ftopped him a little, and calling the fyndicts and officers together, took out the purfe of gold which Eckius had given him, telling them that he had received that gold from this worthy ftranger, and that now he gave it to the poor, and fo put it all into the poor box that was kept there. The fyndicts thanked the stranger, and Eckius admired the
charity and modefty of Calvin. When they were come out of the church, Calvin invited Eckius again to his houfe,but he replied that he muft depart; fo thanking him for all his civilities, offered to take his leave. But Calvin waited upon him to the inn, and walked with him a mile out of the territories of Geneva, where with great compliments, they took a farewell of each other.'"
Eckius was a very learned divine, profeffor in the univerfity of Ingolstadt, memorable for his oppofition to Luther, Melancthon, and other reformers in Germany. He died in 1543, aged 57. See Hoffmanni Lexicon, Tom. 2, page 130, or Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 6th, p. 296. Af. Mif. Mag. Review of New Publications.
decry and reproach it, asunworthy of God and religion; and of those who speak of it, as among those myfterious, controverfial, and fpeculative points, which it is best not to meddle with."
The author, who appears to have had correct ideas of the human heart, anticipates much oppofition from the prejudices of men, in treating fo unpopular a fubject.
The modeft and humble manner in which he folicits the attention of his audience, is worthy of notice. As the direction, given to the hearers, deferves the attention of every ferious and candid inquirer after truth, we tranfcribe the author's words with pleasure.
teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, when faith in doctrines above our comprehenfion is deemed fuperftition, the following obfervations, contained in the preface, may be seasonable and appropriate.
The doctrine of Predestination "is embraced by us, because we find it in our Bible. This it is, that makes us Predestinarians and Calvinists: For Calvin, nor Augustine, nor any names whatever, are any thing to us, but as they speak from the Holy Scriptures. These are our only oracles. What we find there, we believe and profess, though incomprehensible to our weak and shallow minds, which are by no means the measure of truth, And we think we act a perfectly rational part, as well as reverent before the high God, the infinite Intelligence, in bowing our understandings to his revelations respecting truth and duty, even where we cannot answer every scruple or objection, for reconciling seeming oppositions."
The words which Mr. Cooper has felected, as a text for his difcourfes, are contained in the epiftle to the Romans, viii. 29, 30. In the first fermon, after noticing the chapter preceding the one from which his fubject is taken, our author observes, that the "words" of his text are commonly called the golden chain of falvation," and divides it into four parts; Foreknowledge and Predeftination, Election, Juftification, and Glorification. After having made a few obfervations on each of these important fubjects in their order, he observes,
"It is not my intention to speak of all these privileges in the order, in which they stand connected in our text; and I have but lately discoursed concerning two of them, effectual calling and justification. My present purpose therefore is, to treat only of that, which is the ground of them all, and from which they result, namely, Election, or Predestination unto Life.”
He then proceeds to expatiate on the importance and excellence of the doctrine, and to vindicate it from the objections of thofe," who
"And now, my hearers, let me crave, and, as I speak in the name of Christ, I may demand your reverent and serious attention. Let me entreat you to
lay aside prejudices, if you have entertained any, against this doctrine, and to receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls. Let me desire you to stop all censures, till I have finished the subject, if, through the good hand of our God up
on us, I may be allowed to do so.
"And let me further ask you, before proceed, to lift up your heart to God in some such secret petition as this, 'Lord! if this doctrine be according to thy mind and will, suffer not my mind to be prejudiced against it; but help me to receive it in the love of it, and to improve it to all those holy, saving purposes, for which thou hast revealed it in thy word.' If any will not do thus, let me tell them, their minds are not rightly disposed to hear, nor can they be looked upon to be sincere inquirers after truth."
In the first discourse the author defcribes the doctrine of election in the terms of the 17th article of the church of England; which article he obferves, agrees with the affembly's catechifm. Thefe he calls "the publick Standards," and the truths contained in them he undertakes to explain in eight diftin&t propofitions. Upon fubjects fo