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Art. III. Ref Regeneration; alu Tenets
a more copious and glorious world, will become accessible to the excursions of his thought, and delight his retired meditations. And if he has learnt to convert all his attainments to the wisest use, he will feel the dignity of his spiritual nature, will exult in the tried expansiveness of his powers, and realize that invisible system in' which at times he had hardly been able to believe. Art. III. Refutation of Calvinism ; in which the Doctrines of Original
Sin, Grace, Regeneration, Justification, and universal Redemption, are explained, and the peculiar Tenets of Calvin upon those points are proved to be contrary to the Scriptures, to the Writings of the ancient Fathers of the Christian Church, and to the public formularies of the Church of England. By George Tomline, D.D. F. R. S. Lord Bishop of Lincoln, and Dean of St. Paul's, London. 8vo. pp. 590,
Price 12s. Cadell and Davies, Rivingtons, &c. 1811. THE fate of Calvinism, in this country, has been rather
remarkable. In the infancy of our ecclesiastical establishment, its most distinguished members embraced the doctrines of that system, if not in their most rigorous, at least in their milder form; and never mentioned the name of Calvin with. out paying homage to superior talents, ennobled and adorned with piety and virtue. The violent opposition of the Puritans to our religious polity, induced James the First to renounce the principles to which he had professed perpetual and inviolable attachment. Many of the diguitaries of the church followed the example of the sovereign. The zeal and diligence of these men, in favour of the new tenets they had espoused,--the part which the Presbyterians and Independents acted in our civil wars—and, above all, the bold and successful efforts of the latitudinarian divines and their successors, to reduce the fundamental principles of religion to a very few simple and generally acknowledged articles, and support them by the deductions of reason rather than the authority of revelation, silently effected a thorough revolution in the religious persuasion of the clergy. At Jength, from the pulpit and the press, from the professor's chair and the bishop's throne, learned and dignified sons of the church rejected, impugned, and loaded with every term of reproach, the doctrines which she had explicitly avowed in her articles, expatiated upon in her homilies, and indus. triously interwoven with her very forms of devotion.
The discourses of a semipagan spirit and character substituted, in consequence of this change, for the evangelical sermons of her martyrs and confessors, were, by and by, discovered to possess but little efficacy, in reclaiming the pro
Migate, in rousing the indifferent, or in keeping alive the spirit of devotion. Her enemies began to triumph; while some of her members attempted to justify, and her more eminent prelates concurred to lament, this general and pernicious detection. Almost in our own recollection, a race of men, professing to adhere to her genuine doctrines, and to revive the spirit of her original founders, arose, who were assailed, from all quarters, by the various weapons of reasoning, nrisrepresentation, invective, ridicule, and abuse. Though at first patient, these men were at last roused to defend themselves: they replied that they merely inculcated the doctrine they had solemnly promised to maintain ; and ventured to inquire, whether for this good work they deserved to be stoned. The answers to this defence, though of a very discordant nature, were highly curious and, even amusing. Some maintained, that, though the formularies of the church, in their literal and original meaning, were favourable to the tenets of these methodists or Calvinists, yet, like every thing human, they were subject to the despotism of time, and had, in the course of years, acquired a sense utterly irreconcilable with the absurd, enthusiastical, nonsensical, blasphemous interpretations that were now attempted to be given them. Others alledged, that, as the belief of the articles was by no means supposed in those who subscribed them, (these articles not having been framed for the establishing of consent touching true religion,' but for the suppression of a few pesti. lent sectaries,) a man was not the more to be justified for inculcating opinions agreeable to the doctrine of the church, unless these opinions had, at the same time, the support and concurrence of reason. A third party, who agreed with the two foriner in stigmatizing the revivers of the ancient doctrine as. Calvinists, methodiscs, enthusiasts, and so forth, pretended that the church was decidedly hostile to the sentiments of Augustin and Calvin, even in their least exceptionable form; and that, in propagating contrary tenets, they were merely ner instruments, expressing the genuine and original sense of of her articles, homilies, and liturgy. To this class belongs his Lordship of Lincoln; and in support of it he has been at immense labour in compiling the large volume on which we now propose to make some animadversions,
The plan on which this work is put together, though rather: agreeable to the fashion, seems liable to considerable objections. Though it consists of eight chapters, only four of them, making about half the volume, are original composi. tion. Besides that this part might have been very much compressed without any detrinient to the argument, the VOL. VII.
the point is too are bound being persons in a con
whole body of extracts might have been entirely omitted. If a clear and impartial account of Calvin's tenets, as adopted by his followers in this age, had been interwoven with the refutation, and it had been fairly made out, that, as held by them, these tenets are at variance with the doctrine of scripture and the church, most persons would have been perfectly satisfied, without being put to the fatigue of labouring through three hundred pages of extract, which most unfortunately, too, is in many instances very immaterial to the points in dispute. His Lordship's part of the work is, therefore, unnecessarily dilated, and the authorities with which he has so prodigiously augmented its bulk, contribute very little to his purpose; since, instead of being inserted in the body of the book to illustrate or confirm the text, they are all thrown confusedly together, and it is entirely a matter of conjecture, to which part of his statement or reasoning he intended any particular extract should be applied.
*Among notorious delinquents, he who discovers the least degree of perverse and mischievous feeling, is, perhaps, intitled to a share of commendation. On this ground, his Lord. ship, compared with the vulgar assailants of the Calvinistic or evangelical doctrine, merits the praise of liberality, and moderation. In proof of this we may alledge, among others, the following sentences. “It must be acknowledged that Calvin was a man of piety and of considerable talents and attainment.'* " These doctrines have been adopted and maintained by some persons eminent for their learning, and in high stations in the church.'+ 'I am most ready to allow that many Calvinists have been pious and excellent men; and I am fully satisfied that there are in these days zealous Christians of that persuasion, who would be among the first to deplore any evil which might befal our constitution in church or statet.' This looks well; and if his Lordship’s example should prove contagious, affords the hope of better days. We may expect that those, who are only guilty of adhering to the doctrine of our Hookers, our Halls, and our Ushers, will be treated, if not as men of great discernment, at least as persons of unquestionable piety and exemplary virtue.
The merit of his Lordship, after all, is but comparative. He must be considered through the whole of this learned volume, as beating the air, as fighting a shadow, or it will be almost impossible, we fear, to acquit him of unfairness and disingenuity. Every person at all acquainted with the writings of modern Calvinists, knows, that they do not adopt Calvin's * P. 541. + P. 283.
I system in all its pecnliarities and to its full extent. They assert, as his Lordship very prudently insinuates, that their system of Calvinism is not to be judged of by the doctrines of Calvin himself ; that they profess a sort of moderate Calvinism; Calvinism reduced and qualified; purged of its most offensive. teners, and retaining only those which are less revolting to reason and cominon sense, and less derogatory to the perfections of the Deity: '* To impugn Calvinism, therefore, as explained in the writings of the reformer, is egregious trifling. His Lordship authorizes us himself to say, that the modern advocates of the system disavow its most exceptionable features. Why then is it Calvinism in its most obnoxious form, Calvinism exaggerated and even caricatured, that he has here attempted to refute? Indeed this mode of attack, it is evident, is worse than useless. So far from having any tendency to reclaim his Lordship's Calvinistic contemporaries, from what he holds up as a dangerous and pernicious heresy, it will rather serve to confirm their persua. sion, that what they believe is true:-the enemy has refused to meet them on their own ground, and there at least they are safe. Nor will they fail to improve this suspicious circumstance to the discredit of his Lordship and his coadjutors. “ If it was for the purpose," they will say, “ of guarding the simple and unstable against the infection of fatal error, of recovering us from delusion, and confirming us in the doctrine of scripture, and not of bringing odium on our persons, and suspicion on our character, Why does he all along argue as if we believed articles, which, he acknowledges, we disavow! Why does he attribute to us principles which we abhor ? Why has he not the honesty to state, that, though we maintain a total depravity of human nature, in consequence of the fall, we suppose it consists in the perversion not in the destruction of the facul. ties?--that we represent the influence of the Holy Spirit as certain, rather than as irresistiblein its effects; since, operating on the will itself, and whatever is capable of opposition, it brings them into captivity to the obedience of Christ ?—that the change of views and dispositions we denominate regeneration, and deem essential to the enjoyment of eternal life, is such a revolution as includes “ putting off the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and putting on the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness"? that while we believe we are justified by faith without the works of the law, we at the same time describe the
faith by which we obtain this invaluable blessing, as natu- rally fruitful of good works, which, we add, are the only suffi
• *.P. 569.
cient evidence of its being in our possession ?-_and, finally, that, if we consider the Supreme Being as the disposer of human destinies, he also appears to us, as scattering blessings, and withholding his hand agreeably to the views of his infinite understanding ; as bending his creatures into a compliance with his purposes, by motives, which though certain in iheir operation, impair not the liberty, nor infringe on the responsibility of moral agents; and as adjusting and directing the successive as well as sinultaneous events of time, so as to raise an harmonions universal song to the praise of his own attributes, from the order and happiness of his creation ? We have therefore to complain of a gross and injurious misrepresentation of our system. Without the courage to give a fair account of our opinions, this Prelate has had the confidence to attribute to us doctrines which we reprobate, and charge us with consequences which no man has seriously and honestly deduced from our principles.”
It is not to be concealed, that those who are pressed by the authorily of reason to renounce their errors, but who are yet determined to retain them, frequently justify their obstinacy by complaining of an adversary's unfairness. And this, perhaps, might be supposed the case in the present instance,
were it not for two circumstances, which we apprehend will induce all impartial and unprejudiced persons to admit that the foregoing remonstrance is by no means unfounded.
! The first of these circumstances is a striking inconsistency in the reasoning, both of Dr. Tomline, and other enemies of the modern Calvinists. At one time we are taught to believe, that these Calvinists are the most innocuous beings in the world. Such, it is averred, are their views of human nature, of divine providence, and the privileges of true Christians, that they must of necessity pass their lives in a state of total inactivity, making no efforts for their own safety or that of their fellow creatures. No mischief can be apprehended from them: their errors, be they what they may, must be confined to themselves, and are not at all likely to outlive them. When other views, however, are to be answered, we find these harmless religionists, all of a sudden, endowed with a powerful and inexhaustible energy. In town and country, at home and abroad, they appear intent on nothing but making proselytes. Immense crouds attend upon them, whether they preach in the church or the conventicle; and, so far as regards the appearance of devotion and virtue, they seem models worthy of general imitation. Both these accounts cannot be true. The Calvinists cannot be at once indolent and active;--at once devoid of all energy and diligence, and the