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truth. When episcopacy was regularly established in Scotland, anno 1610, it became the creed of the church, as was acknowledged by the Scotch Bishops in their Declinator (as it was termed) against the rebellious assembly of Glasgow, in the year 1638, and even at the restoration of episcopacy, anno 1661, this very Confession' was restored to its former authority, as appears from the language of the Test-act of 1681, which enforces the due observance of it.
The church of England, in framing her XXXIX Articles of Religion, to which, in common with that church, the episcopal church of Scotland does now adhere, although in the XVIIth Article, Of 'Predestination and Election,' the description is somewhat fuller than that which the Scottish reformers had subscribed two years before, cannot, as has been frequently shewn, with any degree of propriety be regarded as countenancing the doctrine of Calvin; since, though building on Augustine's foundation, the church of England is most cautious in expressing its belief, and restricts God's promises to the general tenour of Holy Scripture; since not a word is said of reprobation; and since the whole body of occasional offices, in the book of Common Prayer, is found to express the sentiments of the church to be of a different stamp from the sentiments of Calvin. For some time after the Reformation, the church of Ireland seems to have leaned to the rigid side of the predestinarian controversy; until that,
that, under the administration of the Earl of Strafford, in 1634, the Irish church was prevailed upon to adopt the Articles of the church of England, along with its own. The subscription of its clergy was therefore for a while required to both; but it is now thought sufficient, that they subscribe the XXXIX Articles of the United Church of England and Ireland.
Of all the councils or synods which, since the æra of the Reformation, have ever assembled for the purpose of establishing a standard of protestant belief, that motley meeting of creed-makers, which sat down at Westminster, in 1643, and which was honoured by the attendance of six commissioners from the Scotch covenanters, went the most roundly and boldly to work, in expressing their sentiments on the deep and dark subject of predestination. In the third chapter of their Confession of Faith,' entitled ' • Of God's eternal Decree,' these violent reformers are not afraid to declare, that, by the 'decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, 'some men and angels are predestinated to everlasting life, and others fore-ordained to everlasting death, who are thereby so particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain ' and definite, that it cannot be either increased or ' diminished ':' and, in the seventh Article, their opinion is thus daringly declared The rest of • mankind
I See Westminster Confession, ch. III. Art. 3. and 4.
'mankind God was pleased' (not only as Calvin at first taught), 'to pass by,' (but as Beza further avowed), and to ordain them to dishonour and 'wrath for their sin, to the praise of his glorious 'justice'.' How the framers of this Confession' intended that its doctrines should be applied, we may learn from a sermon preached about that time before the House of Commons, in London, by Mr Robert Baillie, one of the Scottish Commissioners, and the one, of the whole party, whose good sense and moderation were prized the most. This reverend gentleman, taking occasion to quote our Saviour's prayer for his enemies, Father, for'give them, &c. had the boldness, I might have said, the blasphemous impiety, thus to restrict the language of the prayer- Father, forgive them
saith Christ, of MANY of his crucifiers !' Besides the freedom so arrogantly taken with the words of him who spoke as never man spake,' this restriction, introduced by Mr Baillie, may be said to include two very unwarrantable suppositions :-first, That there were of the eternal elect among Christ's very crucifiers. And secondly, That there were some of his enemies, for whom he, who taketh away the
sin of the world,' and enjoined his disciples to pray for their most despiteful enemies, had not even common charity. This Westminster Confession ' of Faith' was first sanctioned in that rebellious English Parliament, whose acts and deeds can
* See Westminster Confession, ch. III. Art. 7.
never be forgotten, while there is a sovereign on the throne of these realms. It soon fell into merited disuse in England; but in Scotland, to the utter exclusion of the former Confession of Faith, already noticed, it was read and ratified in the Parliament of 1690; and continues, with all the rigours of reprobation, to be the enjoined doctrinal standard of the Scottish establishment to this day.
HAVING in the preceding Letter given a brief historical detail of the doctrine of predestination,* from its first simple appearance about the time of Augustine, till the period of its assuming that variety of human devices, which at last invested it with all the horrors of reprobation, I shall not attempt, in resuming the subject, to argue against this darling article of Calvinistic divinity, from the dangerous consequences flowing from it-consequences which have wrought the temporal, and, I fear, the eternal ruin of thousands of the human race. For such
is the infatuation which attends the predestinarian, strictly so called, that he either does not see, or, if he does see, will not admit the destructive tendency of his creed; much less acknowledge, that like the corrupt tree, it is to be known by its fruits-by the most presumptive security, or the most frantic despair. What I mean to offer to the theological student's particular notice, in this Letter, is that perversion of Scripture, which marks the character of the complete predestinarian. Thus to stamp his system of divine reprobation with the necessary validity, he adduces the instances of Cain, of Esau, of Pharaoh, of Saul, &c. as so many cases in point; withdrawing them from the particular relation which they evidently have to the economy of revealed truth, and appropriating them to the general relation, which they evidently have not, to the case of mankind at large; while, at the same time, there is nothing in the instances of Cain, of Esau, of Pharaoh, of Saul, &c. on which an eternal decree of damnation can, after all, be founded,
Even in the case of Pharaoh, apparently a case more in point than any other, although it be expressly said, that Jehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart, neither the context, nor the mode of expression, requires that we carry this obduracy of heart back to God's eternal decree, or forward to Pharaoh's future state. This obduracy of his heart appears to have been interposed for a particular purpose-even to further the design for which Jehovah had raised 2D2 • him