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CAREFUL AND STRICT
MODERN PREVAILING NOTIONS,
FREEDOM OF WILL,
WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO BE ESSENTIAL
MORAL AGENCY, VIRTUE AND VICE, REWARD AND PUNISHMENT, PRAISE AND BLAME.
MANY find much fault with the calling professing Christians, that differ one from another in some matters of opinTon, by distinct names; especially calling them by the names of particular men, who have distinguished themselves as maintainers and promoters of those opinions; as the calling some professing Christians Arminians, from Arminius; others Arians, from Arius; others Socinians, from Socinus, and the like. They think it unjust in itself; as it seems to suppose and suggest, that the persons marked out by these names, received those doctrines which they entertain, out of regard to, and reliance on, those men after whom they are named; as though they made them their rule; in the same manner, as the followers of Christ are called Christians; after his name, whom they regard and depend upon, as their great Head and Rule. Whereas, this is an unjust and groundless imputation on those that go under the forementioned denominations. Thus (say they) there is not the least ground to suppose that the chief Divines, who embrace the scheme of doctrine which is, by many, called Arminianism, believe it the more, because Arminius believed it; and that there is no reason to think any other, than that they sincerely and impartially study the holy Scriptures, and inquire after the mind of Christ, with as much judgment and sincerity, as any of those that call them by these names; that they seek after truth, and are not careful whether they think exactly as Arminius did; yea, that, in some things, they actually differ from him. This practice is also esteemed actually injurious on this account, that it is supposed naturally to lead the multitude to imagine the difference between persons thus named and others, to be greater than it is; yea, as though it were so great, that they must be, as it were, another species of beings. And they object against it as arising from an uncharitable, narrow, contracted spirit; which, they say, commonly inclines persons to confine all that is good to themselves, and their own party, and to make a wide distinction between themselves and others, and stigmatize those that differ from them, with odious names. They say, moreover, that the keeping up such a distinction of names has a direct tendency to uphold distance and disaffection, and keep alive mutual hatred among Christians, who ought all to be united in friendship and charity, however they cannot, in all things, think alike.