We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; we also remembered the 450th anniversary of Mr. (Bp., Salisbury) John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed defense, An Apology of the Church of England. In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. Our book for October 2014 is Francis Turretin's 3-volume "Institutes of Elenctic Theology" at: http://www.amazon.com/Institutes-Elenctic-Theology-vol-set/dp/0875524567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412273572&sr=8-1&keywords=turretin+elenctic. Our book for November 2014 is Calvin's magnum opus, the "Institutes of Christian Religion" at: http://www.amazon.com/Calvin-Institutes-Christian-Religion-Volume/dp/0664220282/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1415127336&sr=8-2&keywords=calvin%27s+institutes. Our book for December 2014 is Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer
Sunday, October 31, 2010
The Theology of the Reformation
Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield
Reprinted from The Biblical Review, ii. 1917, pp. 490-512 (published by The Biblical Seminary in New York; copyrighted).
Charles Beard begins his Hibbert Lectures on The Reformation with these words: "To look upon the Reformation of the sixteenth century as only the substitution of one set of theological doctrines for another, or the cleansing of the Church from notorious abuses and corruptions, or even a return of Christianity to something like primitive purity and simplicity - is to take an inadequate view of its nature and importance." He wishes us to make note of the far-reaching changes in human life which have been wrought by what we call the Reformation, to observe the numerous departments of activity which have been at least affected by it, and then to seek its cause in something as wide in its extension as its effects. He himself discovers this cause in the "general awakening of the human intellect," which had begun in the fourteenth century and was being "urged on with accelerating rapidity in the fifteenth." In his view the Reformation was merely the religious side of what we speak of as the Renaissance. "It was the life of the Renaissance," he affirms, "infused into religion under the influence of men of the grave and earnest Teutonic race." He even feels justified in saying that, in the view he takes of it, the Reformation "was not, primarily, a theological, a religious, an ecclesiastical movement at all."
That there is some exaggeration in this representation is obvious. That this exaggeration is due to defective analysis is as clear. And the suspicion lies very near that the defect in analysis has its root in an imperfect sense of values. To point us to the general awakening of the human intellect which was in progress in the fifteenth century is not to uncover a cause; it is only to describe a condition. To remind us that, as a result of this awakening of the human intellect, a lively sense had long existed of the need of a reformation, and repeated attempts had been vainly made to effect it, that men everywhere were fully alive to the corruption of manners and morals in which the world was groveling, and were equally helpless to correct it, is not to encourage us to find the cause of the Reformation in a general situation out of which no reformation had through all these years come. The question which presses is: Whence came the power which achieved the effect - an effect apparently far beyond the power of the forces working on the surface of things to achieve?
There is no use in seeking to cover up the facts under depreciatory forms of statement. It is easy to talk contemptuously of the "substitution of one set of theological doctrines for another," as it would be easy to talk contemptuously of the substitution of one set of political or of sanitary doctrines for another. The force of the perverse suggestion lies in keeping the matter in the abstract. The proof of the pudding in such things lies in the eating. No doubt it is possible to talk indifferently of merely working the permutations of a dial-lock, regardless of the not unimportant circumstance that one of these permutations differs from the rest in this - that it shoots the bolts. The substitution of one set of theological doctrines for another which took place at the Reformation was the substitution of a set of doctrines which had the promise and potency of life in them for a set of doctrines the issue of which had been death. What happened at the Reformation, by means of which the forces of life were set at work through the seething, struggling mass, was the revival of vital Christianity; and this is the vera causa of all that has come out of that great revolution, in all departments of life. Men, no doubt, had long been longing and seeking after "a return of Christianity to something like primitive purity and simplicity." This was the way that an Erasmus, for example, pictured to himself the needs of his time. The difficulty was that, rather repelled by the Christianity they knew than attracted by Christianity in its primitive purity - of the true nature of which they really had no idea - they were simply feeling out in the dark. What Luther did was to rediscover vital Christianity and to give it afresh to the world. To do this was to put the spark to the train. We are feeling the explosion yet.
The Reformation was then - we insist upon it - precisely the substitution of one set of theological doctrines for another. That is what it was to Luther; and that is what, through Luther, it has been to the Christian world. Exactly what Luther did was for himself - for the quieting of his aroused conscience and the healing of his deepened sense of sin - to rediscover the great fact, the greatest of all the great facts of which sinful man can ever become aware, that salvation is by the pure grace of God alone. O, but, you will say, that resulted from Luther's religious experience. No, we answer, it was primarily a doctrinal discovery of Luther's - the discovery of a doctrine apart from which, and prior to the discovery of which, Luther did not have and could never have had his religious experience. He had been taught another doctrine, a doctrine which had been embodied in a popular maxim, current in his day: Do the best you can, and God will see you through. He had tried to live that doctrine, and could not do it; he could not believe it. He has told us of his despair. He has told us how this despair grew deeper and deeper, until he was raised out of it precisely by his discovery of his new doctrine - that it is God and God alone who in His infinite grace saves us, that He does it all, and that we supply nothing but the sinners to be saved and the subsequent praises which our grateful hearts lift to Him, our sole and only Saviour. This is a radically different doctrine from that; and it produced radically different effects on Luther; Luther the monk and Luther the Reformer are two different men. And it has produced radically different effects in the world; the medieval world and the modern world are two different worlds. The thing that divides them is the new doctrine that Luther found in the monastery at Wittenberg - or was it already at Erfurt? - poring over the great declaration in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans: "The righteous shall live by faith." Émile Doumergue puts the whole story into a sentence: "Two radically different religions give birth to two radically different civilizations."
Luther himself knew perfectly well that what he had done for himself, and what he would fain do for the world, was just to substitute a new doctrine for that old one in which neither he nor the world could find life. So he came forward as a teacher, as a dogmatic teacher, as a dogmatic teacher who gloried in his dogmatism. He was not merely seeking for truth; he had the truth. He did not make tentative suggestions to the world for its consideration; what he dealt in was - so he liked to call them - "assertions." This was naturally a mode of procedure very offensive to a man of polite letters, like Erasmus, say, who knew of nothing that men of culture could not sit around a well-furnished table and discuss together pleasurably with open minds. "I have so little stomach for 'assertions,'" he says, striking directly at Luther, "that I could easily go over to the opinion of the sceptics - wherever," he smugly adds, "it were allowed me by the inviolable authority of the Sacred Scriptures and the decrees of the Church, to which I everywhere submit, whether I follow what is presented or not." For this his Oliver he certainly got more than a Roland from Luther. For Luther takes occasion from this remark to read Erasmus a much-needed lecture on the place of dogma in Christianity. To say you have no pleasure in "assertions," he says, is all one with saying you are not a Christian. Take away "assertions," and you take away Christianity. No Christian could endure to have "assertions" despised, since that would be nothing else than to deny at once all religion and piety, or to declare that religion and piety and every dogma are nothing. Christian doctrines are not to be put on a level with human opinions. They are divinely given to us in Holy Scripture to form the molds in which Christian lives are to run.
We are in the presence here of what is known as the formal principle of the Reformation. The fundamental meaning of it is that the Reformation was primarily, like all great revolutions, a revolution in the realm of ideas. Was it not a wise man who urged us long ago to give especial diligence to keeping our hearts (the heart is the cognitive faculty in Scripture), on the express ground that out of them are the issues of life? The battle of the Reformation was fought out under a banner on which the sole authority of Scripture was inscribed. But the principle of the sole authority of Scripture was not to the Reformation an abstract principle. What it was interested in was what is taught in Scripture; and the sole authority of Scripture meant to it the sole authority of what is taught in Scripture. This of course is dogma; and the dogma which the men of the Reformation found taught in Scripture above every other dogma, so much above every other dogma that in it is summed up all the teaching of Scripture, is the sole efficiency of God in salvation. This is what we call the material principle of the Reformation. It was not at first known by the name of justification by faith alone, but it was from the first passionately embraced as renunciation of all human works and dependence on the grace of God alone for salvation. In it the Reformation lived and moved and had its being; in a high sense of the words, it is the Reformation.
The confusion would be ludicrous, if it were not rather pathetic, by which the correction of abuses in the life whether of the Church or of society at-large, is confounded with the Reformation. Luther knew perfectly well from the beginning where the center of his Reformation lay, and did not for a moment confound its peripheral effects with it. Here, indeed, lay the precise difference between him and the other reformers of the time - those other reformers who could not reform. Erasmus, for example, was as clear of eye as Luther to see, and as outspoken as Luther to condemn, the crying abuses of the day. But he conceived the task of reform as a purely negative one. The note of his reform was simplicity; he wished to return to the "simplicity of the Christian life," and, as a means to that, to the "simplicity of doctrine." He was content with a process of stripping off, and he expected to reach the kernel of true Christianity merely by thoroughly removing the husk which at the moment covered and concealed it. The assumption being that true Christianity lay behind and beneath the corruptions of the day, no restoration was needed, only uncovering. When he came to do the stripping, it is true, Erasmus found no stopping-place; he stripped not only to the bone but through the bone, and nothing was left in his hand but a "philosophy of Christ," which was a mere moralism. Peter Canisius, looking at it formally, calls it not inaptly, "the theology of Pyrrhus." Luther, judging it from the material standpoint, says Erasmus has made "a gospel of Pelagius." Thus at all events Erasmus at once demonstrated that beneath the immense fabric of medieval Christianity there lay as its sustaining core nothing but a bald moralism; and by dragging this moralism out and labeling it "simple Christianity," has made himself the father of that great multitude in our day who, crying: Back to Christ! have reduced Christianity to the simple precept: Be good and it will be well with you.
In sharp contrast with these negative reformers Luther came forward with a positive gospel in his hands; "a new religion" his adversaries called it then, as their descendants call it now, and they call it so truly. He was not particularly interested in the correction of abuses, though he hewed at them manfully when they stood in his way. To speak the whole truth, this necessary work bored him a little. He saw no pure gospel beneath them which their removal would uncover and release. He knew that his new gospel, once launched, had power of itself to abolish them. What his heart was aflame with was the desire to launch this new gospel; to substitute it, the gospel of grace, for the gospel of works, on which alone men were being fed. In that substitution consisted his whole Reformation.
In his detailed answer to the Bull of Excommunication, published against him in 1520, in which forty-one propositions from his writings were condemned, Luther shows plainly enough where the center of controversy lay for him. It was in the article in which he asserts the sole efficiency of grace in salvation. He makes his real appeal to Scripture, of course, but he does not neglect to point out also that he has Augustine with him and also experience. He scoffs at his opponents' pretensions to separate themselves from the Pelagians by wire-drawn distinctions between works of congruity and works of condignity. If we may secure grace by works, he says, it means nothing that we carefully name these works works of congruity and refrain from calling them works of condignity. "For what is the difference," he cries, "if you deny that grace is from our works and yet teach that it is through our works? The impious sense remains that grace is held to be given not gratis but on account of our works. For the Pelagians did not teach and do any other works on account of which they expected grace to be given than you teach and do. They are the works of the same free will and the same members, although you and they give them different names. They are the same fasting and prayers and almsgiving - but you call them works congruous to grace, they works condign to grace. The same Pelagians remain victors in both cases."
What Luther is zealous for, it will be seen, is the absolute exclusion of works from salvation, and the casting of the soul wholly upon the grace of God. He rises to full eloquence as he approaches the end of his argument, pushing his adversaries fairly to the ropes. "For when they could not deny that we must be saved by the grace of God," he exclaims, "and could not elude this truth, then impiety sought out another way of escape - pretending that, although we cannot save ourselves, we can nevertheless prepare for being saved by God's grace. What glory remains to God, I ask, if we are able to procure that we shall be saved by His grace? Does this seem a small ability - that he who has no grace shall nevertheless have power enough to obtain grace when he wishes? What is the difference between that, and saying with the Pelagians that we are saved without grace - since you place the grace of God within the power of man's will? You seem to me to be worse than Pelagius, since you put in the power of man the necessary grace of God, the necessity of which he simply denied. I say, it seems less impious wholly to deny grace than to represent it as secured by our zeal and effort, and to put it thus in our power."
This tremendous onslaught prepares the way for a notable declaration in which Luther makes perfectly clear how he thought of his work as a reformer and the relative importance which he attached to the several matters in controversy. Rome taught, with whatever finessing, salvation by works; he knew and would know nothing but salvation by grace, or, as he phrases it here, nothing but Christ and Him crucified. It was the cross that Rome condemned in him; for it was the cross and it alone in which he put his trust. "In all the other articles," he says - that is to say, all the others of the forty-one propositions which had been condemned in the Bull - "those concerning the Papacy, Councils, Indulgences, and other nonnecessary trifles (nugae!)" - this is the way in which he enumerates them - "the levity and folly of the Pope and his followers may be endured. But in this article," - that is, the one on free will and grace - "which is the best of all and the sum of our matter, we must grieve and weep over the insanity of these miserable men." It is on this article, then, that for him the whole conflict turns as on its hinge. He wishes he could write more largely upon it. For more than three hundred years none, or next to none, have written in favor of grace; and there is no subject which is in so great need of treatment as this. "And I have often wished," he adds, "passing by these frivolous Papist trifles and brawls (nugis et negotiis), which have nothing to do with the Church but to destroy it - to deal with this."
His opportunity to do so came when, four years afterward (1524), Erasmus, egged on by his patrons and friends, and taking his start from this very discussion, published his charmingly written book, "On Free Will." It is the great humanist's greatest book, elegant in style, suave in tone, delicate in suggestion, winning in its appeal; and it presents with consummate skill the case for the Romish teaching against which Luther had thrown himself. Separating himself as decisively if not as fundamentally on the one side from Pelagius and Scotus - in another place he speaks with distaste of "Scotus his bristling and prickly soul" - as on the other from the reformers - he has Carlstadt and Luther especially in mind - Erasmus attaches himself to what he calls, in accordance with the point of view of his time, the Augustinian doctrine; that is to say, to the synergism of the scholastics, perhaps most nearly in the form in which it had been taught by Alexander of Hales, and at all events practically as it was soon to be authoritatively defined as the doctrine of the Church by the Council of Trent. To this subtle doctrine he gives its most attractive statement and weaves around it the charm of his literary grace. Luther was not insensible to the beauty of the book. He says the voice of Erasmus in it sounded to him like the song of a nightingale. But he was in search of substance, not form, and he felt bound to confess that his experience in reading the book was much that of the wolf in the fable, who, ravished by the song of a nightingale, could not rest till he had caught and greedily devoured it - only to remark disgustedly afterward: "Vox, et praeterea nihil."
The refinements of Erasmus' statements were lost on Luther. What he wished - and nothing else would content him - was a clear and definite acknowledgment that the work of salvation is of the grace of God alone, and man contributes nothing whatever to it. This acknowledgment Erasmus could not make. The very purpose for which he was writing was to vindicate for man a part, and that the decisive part, in his own salvation. He might magnify the grace of God in the highest terms. He might protest that he too held that without the grace of God no good thing could be done by man, so that grace is the beginning and the middle and the end of salvation. But when pressed to the wall he was forced to allow that, somewhere in "the middle," an action of man came in, and that this action of man was the decisive thing that determined his salvation. He might minimize this action of man to the utmost. He might point out that it was a very, very little thing which he retained to human powers - only, as one might say, that man must push the button and grace had to do the rest. This did not satisfy Luther. Nothing would satisfy him but that all of salvation - every bit of it - should be attributed to the grace of God alone.
Luther even made Erasmus' efforts to reduce man's part in salvation to as little as possible, while yet retaining it at the decisive point, the occasion of scoffing. Instead of escaping Pelagianism by such expedients, he says, Erasmus and his fellow sophists cast themselves more deeply into the vat and come out double-dyed Pelagians. The Pelagians are at least honest with themselves and us. They do not palter, in a double sense, with empty distinctions between works of condignity and works of congruity. They call a spade a spade and say candidly that merit is merit. And they do not belittle our salvation by belittling the works by which we merit it. We do not hear from them that we merit saving grace by something "very little, almost nothing." They hold salvation precious; and warn us that if we are to gain it, it can be at the cost only of great effort - "tota, plena, perfecta, magna et multa studia et opera." If we will fall into error in such a matter, says Luther, at least let us not cheapen the grace of God, and treat it as something vile and contemptible. What he means is that the attempted compromise, while remaining Pelagian in principle, yet loses the high ethical position of Pelagianism. Seeking some middle-place between grace and works, and fondly congratulating itself that it retains both, it merely falls between the stools and retains neither. It depends as truly as Pelagianism on works, but reduces these works on which it nevertheless depends to a vanishing-point. In thus suspending salvation on "some little thing, almost nothing," says Luther, it "denies the Lord Christ who has bought us, more than the Pelagians ever denied Him, or any heretics."
To the book in which Luther replied to Erasmus' "On Free Will," matching Erasmus' title, he gives the name of "On the Enslaved Will." Naturally, the flowing purity of the great humanist's Latinity and the flexible grace of his style are not to be found here. But the book is written in sufficiently good Latin - plain and strong and straightforward. Luther evidently took unusual pains with it, and it more than makes up for any lack of literary charm it may show by the fertility of its thought and the amazing vigor of its language. A. Freitag, its latest editor, characterizes it briefly, in one great word, as an "exploit" (Grosstat), and Sodeur does not scruple to describe it roundly as "a dialectic and polemic masterpiece"; its words have hands and feet. Its real distinction, however, is to be sought in a higher region than these things. It is the embodiment of Luther's reformation conceptions, the nearest to a systematic statement of them he ever made. It is the first exposition of the fundamental ideas of the Reformation in comprehensive presentation, and it is therefore in a true sense the manifesto of the Reformation. It was so that Luther himself looked upon it. It was not because he admired it as a piece of "mere literature" that he always thought of it as an achievement. It was because it contained the doctrinae evangelicae caput - the very head and principle of the evangelical teaching. He could well spare all that he had ever written, he wrote to Capito in 1537, let them all go, except the "On the Enslaved Will" and the "Catechism"; they only are right (justum). He is reported in the "Table Talk" (Lauterbach-Aurifaber) to have referred once to Erasmus' rejoinder to the book. He did not admit that Erasmus had confuted it; he did not admit that Erasmus ever could confute it, no, not to all eternity. "That I know full well," he said, "and I defy the devil and all his wiles to confute it. For I am certain that it is the unchangeable truth of God." He who touches this doctrine, he says again, touches the apple of his eye.
We may be sure that Luther wrote this book con amore. It was not easy for him to write it when he wrote it. That was the year (1525) of the Peasants' Revolt; and what that was in the way of distraction and care, anguish of mind and soul, all know. It was also the year of his marriage, and has he not told us with his engaging frankness that, during the first year of his married life, Katie always sat by him as he worked, trying to think up questions to ask him? But what he was writing down in this book he was not thinking out as he wrote. He was pouring out upon the page the heart of the heart of his gospel, and he was doing it in the exulting confidence that it was not his gospel merely but the gospel of God. He thanks Erasmus for giving him, by selecting this theme to attack him upon, a respite from the wearing, petty strifes that were being thrust continually upon him, and thus enabling him to speak for once directly to the point. "I exceedingly praise and laud this in you," he writes at the end of his book, "that you alone, in contrast with all others, have attacked the thing itself, that is, the top of the question (summam caussae), and have not fatigued me with those irrelevant questions about the papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trumperies (nugae) rather than questions - in which hitherto all have vainly sought to pursue me. You and you alone have seen the hinge of things and have aimed at the throat; and for this I thank you heartily."
It was in no light, however buoyant, spirit, however, that Luther entered upon the discussion. In a very moving context he writes: "I tell you and I beg you to let it sink into the depths of your mind - I am seeking in this matter something that is solemn, and necessary, and eternal to me, of such sort and so great that it must be asserted and defended at the cost of death itself - yea, if the whole world should not only be cast into strife and tumult, but even should be reduced to chaos and dissolved into nothingness. For by God's grace I am not so foolish and mad that I could be willing for the sake of money (which I neither have nor wish), or of glory (a thing I could not obtain if I wished it, in a world so incensed against me), or of the life of the body (of which I cannot be sure for a moment), to carry on and sustain this matter so long, with so much fortitude and so much constancy (you call it obstinacy), through so many perils to my life, through so much hatred, through so many snares - in short through the fury of men and devils. Do you think that you alone have a heart disturbed by these tumults? I am not made of stone either, nor was I either born of the Marpesian rocks. But since it cannot be done otherwise, I prefer to be battered in this tumult, joyful in the grace of God, for the sake of the word of God which must be asserted with invincible and incorruptible courage, rather than in eternal tumult to be ground to powder in intolerable torment under the wrath of God." This was the spirit in which Luther sustained his thesis of "the enslaved will." It is the spirit of "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel." It is the gospel which he has in his hands, the gospel for the world's salvation, and necessity is laid upon him to preach it.
The gospel which Luther had it thus in his heart to preach was, to put it shortly, the gospel of salvation through the grace of God alone. There are two foci around which this gospel revolves: the absolute helplessness of man in his sin; the sole efficiency of grace in salvation. These complementary propositions are given expression theologically in the doctrines of the inability of sinful man to good, and of the creative operation of saving grace. It is the inability of sinful man to good that Luther means by his phrase "the enslaved will." Neither he nor Erasmus was particularly interested in the psychology of the will. We may learn incidentally that he held to the view which has come to be called philosophical determinism, or moral necessity. But we learn that only incidentally. Neither he nor Erasmus was concerned with the mechanism of the will's activity, if we may be allowed this mode of speech. They were absorbed in the great problem of the power of sinful man to good. Erasmus had it in mind to show that sinful man has the power to do good things, things so good that they have merit in the sight of God, and that man's salvation depends on his doing them. Luther had it in his heart to show that sinful man, just because he is sinful and sin is no light evil but destroys all goodness, has no power to do anything that is good in God's sight, and therefore is dependent utterly on God's grace alone for salvation. This is to say, Luther was determined to deal seriously with sin, with original sin, with the fall, with the deep corruption of heart which comes from the fall, with the inability to good which is the result of this corruption of heart. He branded the teaching that man can save himself, or do anything looking to his own salvation, as a hideous lie, and "he launched point-blank his dart at the head of this lie - taught original sin, the corruption of man's heart."
Erasmus, of course, does not fail to put his finger on the precise point of Luther's contention. He complains of the new teachers that they "immensely exaggerate original sin, representing even the noblest powers of human nature as so corrupt that of itself it can do nothing but ignore and hate God, and not even one who has been justified by the grace of faith can effect any work which is not sin; they make that tendency to sin in us, which has been transmitted to us from our first parents to be itself sin, and that so invincibly sin that there is no commandment of God which even a man who has been justified by faith can keep, but all the commandments of God serve no other end than to enhance the grace of God, which bestows salvation without regard to merits." It outraged him, as it has outraged all who feel with him up to to-day - as, for example, Hartmann Grisar - that Luther so grossly overdraws the evil of "concupiscence," and thus does despite to that human nature which God created in His own image. Luther was compelled to point out over and over again that he was not talking about human nature and its powers, but about sin and grace. We have not had to wait for Erasmus to tell us, he says, "that a man has eyes and nose, and ears, and bones, and hands - and a mind and a will and a reason," and that it is because he has these things that he is a man; he would not be a man without them. We could not talk of sin with reference to him, had he not these things; nor of grace either - for does not even the proverb say: "God did not make heaven for geese"? Let us leave human nature and its powers to one side then; they are all presupposed. The point of importance is that man is now a sinner. And the point in dispute is whether sinful man can be, at will, not sinful; whether he can do by nature what it requires grace to do. Luther does not depreciate human nature; his opponents depreciate the baleful power of sin, the necessity for a creative operation of grace; and because they depreciate both sin and grace they expect man in his own powers to do what God alone, the Almighty Worker, can do.
He draws out his doctrine here in a long parallel. "As a man, before he is created, to be a man, does nothing and makes no effort to be a creature; and then, after he has been made and created, does nothing and makes no effort to continue a creature; but both these things alike are done solely by the will of the omnipotent power and goodness of God who without our aid creates and preserves us - but He does not operate in us without our cooperation, seeing that He created and preserved us for this very purpose, that He might operate in us and we cooperate with Him, whether this is done outside His kingdom by general omnipotence, or within His kingdom by the singular power of His Spirit: So then we say that a man before he is renovated into a new creature of the kingdom of the Spirit, does nothing and makes no effort to prepare himself for that renovation and kingdom; and then, after he has been renovated, does nothing, makes no effort to continue in that kingdom; but the Spirit alone does both alike in us, recreating us without our aid, and preserving us when recreated, as also James says, 'Of His own will begat He us by the word of His power, that we should be the beginning of His creation' (he is speaking of the renewed creature), but He does not operate apart from us, seeing that He has recreated and preserved us for this very purpose that He might operate in us and we cooperate with Him. Thus through us He preaches, has pity on the poor, consoles the afflicted. But what, then, is attributed to free will? Or rather what is left to it except nothing? Assuredly just nothing." What this parallel teaches is that the whole saving work is from God, in the beginning and middle and end; it is a supernatural work throughout. But we are saved that we may live in God; and, in the powers of our new life, do His will in the world. It is the Pauline, Not out of works, but unto good works, which God has afore prepared that we should live in them.
It is obvious that the whole substance of Luther's fundamental theology was summed up in the antithesis of sin and grace: sin conceived as absolutely disabling to good; grace as absolutely recreative in effect. Of course he taught also all that is necessarily bound up in one bundle of thought with this great doctrine of sin and grace. He taught, for instance, as a matter of course, the doctrine of "irresistible grace," and also with great purity and decision the doctrine of predestination - for how can salvation be of pure grace alone apart from all merit, save by the sovereign and effective gift of God? A great part of "The Enslaved Will" is given to insistence upon and elucidation of this doctrine of absolute predestination, and Luther did not shrink from raising it into the cosmical region or from elaborating it in its every detail. What it is important for us at the moment to insist upon, however, is that what we have said of Luther we might just as well, mutatis mutandis, have said of every other of the great Reformers. Luther's doctrine of sin and grace was not peculiar to him. It was the common property of the whole body of the Reformers. It was taught with equal clarity and force by Zwingli as by Luther, and by Martin Bucer and by John Calvin. It was taught even, in his earlier and happier period, by that "Protestant Erasmus," the weak and unreliable Melanchthon, who was saved from betraying the whole Protestant cause at Augsburg by no staunchness in himself, but only by the fatuity of the Catholics, and who later did betray it in its heart of hearts by going over to that very synergism which Luther declared to be the very marrow of the Pope's teaching. In one word, this doctrine was Protestantism itself. All else that Protestantism stood for, in comparison with this, must be relegated to the second rank.
There are some interesting paragraphs in the earlier pages of Alexander Schweizer's "Central Doctrines of Protestantism," in which he speaks of the watchwords of Protestantism, and points out the distinction between them and the so-called formal and material principles of Protestantism, which are, in point of fact, their more considered elaboration. Every reformatory movement in history, he says, has its watchwords, which serve as the symbol by which its adherents encourage one another, and as the banner about which they gather. They penetrate to the very essence of the matter, and give, if popular, yet compressed and vivid, expression to the precise pivot on which the movement turns. In the case of the Protestant revolution the antithesis, Not tradition but Scripture, emerged as one of these watchwords, but not as the ultimate one, but only as subordinate to another in which was expressed the contrast between the parties at strife with respect to the chief matter, how shall sinful man be saved? This ultimate watchword, says Schweizer, ran somewhat like this: Not works, but faith; not our merit, but God's grace in Christ; not our own penances and satisfactions, but the merit of Christ only. When we hear these cries we are hearing the very pulse-beats of the Reformation as a force among men. In their presence we are in the presence of the Reformation in its purity.
It scarcely requires explicit mention that what we are, then, face to face with in the Reformation is simply a revival of Augustinianism. The fundamental Augustinian antithesis of sin and grace is the soul of the whole Reformation movement. If we wish to characterize the movement on its theological side in one word, therefore, it is adequately done by declaring it a great revival of Augustinianism. Of course, if we study exactness of statement, there are qualifications to be made. But these qualifications serve not to modify the characterization but only to bring it to its utmost precision. We are bidden to remember that the Reformation was not the only movement back toward Augustinianism of the later Middle Ages or of its own day. The times were marked by a deep dissatisfaction with current modes of treating and speaking of divine things; and a movement away from the dominant nominalism, so far back toward Augustinianism as at least to Thomism, was widespread and powerful. And we are bidden to remember that Augustinianism is too broad a term to apply undefined to the doctrinal basis of the Reformation. In its complete connotation it included not only tendencies but elements of explicit teaching which were abhorrent to the Reformers, and by virtue of which the Romanists have an equal right with the Protestants to be called the true children of Augustine. It is suggested therefore that all that can properly be said is that the Reformation, conceived as a movement of its time, represented that part of the general revulsion from the corruptions of the day - the whole of which looked back toward Augustine for guidance and strength - which, because it was distinctively religious in its motives and aspirations, laid hold purely of the Augustinian doctrines of sin and grace, and built exclusively on them in its readjustments to life.
We may content ourselves with such a statement. It is quite true that the Reformation, when looked at purely in itself, presents itself to our view as, in the words of Fr. Loofs, "the rediscovery of Christianity as religion." And it is quite true that purely Augustinian as the Reformation is in its conception of religion, it is not the whole of Augustine that it takes over but only "the Augustine of sin and grace," so that when we speak of it as a revival of Augustinianism we must have in mind only the Augustinianism of grace. But the Augustinianism of grace in the truest sense represents "the real Augustine"; no injustice is done to historical verity in the essence of the matter when we speak of him as "a post-Pauline Paul and a pre-Lutheran Luther." We have only in such a phrase uncovered the true succession. Paul, Augustine, Luther; for substance of doctrine these three are one, and the Reformation is perceived to be, on its doctrinal side, mere Paulinism given back to the world.
To realize how completely this is true we have only to look into the pages of those lecture notes on Romans which Luther wrote down in 1515-1516, and the manuscript of which was still lying in 1903 unregarded in a showcase of the Berlin Library. Luther himself, of course, fully understood it all. He is reported to have said in his table talk in 1538 (Lauterbach): "There was a certain cardinal in the beginning of the Gospel plotting many things against me in Rome. A court fool, looking on, is said to have remarked: 'My Lord, take my advice and first depose Paul from the company of the Apostles; it is he who is giving us all this trouble.'" It was Paul whom Luther was consciously resurrecting, Paul with the constant cry on his lips - so Luther puts it - of "Grace! Grace! Grace!" Luther characteristically adds: "In spite of the devil" - "grace, in spite of the devil"; and perhaps it will not be without its value for us to observe that Luther did his whole work of reestablishing the doctrine of salvation by pure grace in the world, in the clear conviction that he was doing it in the teeth of the devil. It was against principalities and powers and spiritual wickednesses in high places that he felt himself to be fighting; and he depended for victory on no human arm. Has he not expressed it all in his great hymn - the Reformation hymn by way of eminence? -
A trusty stronghold is our God . . .
Yea, were the world with devils filled.
Watson in E
Bairstow: Lord, thou hast been our refuge
Sunday 10 October
Matriculation Service at St. John's College, Cambridge
Tuesday 5 October
The martyrdom of Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer by John Foxe
(John Foxe (1517-1587) was a writer and academic, best known for his work Acts and Monuments which is usually called Foxe's Book of Martyrs.)
These reverend prelates suffered October 17, 1555, at Oxford, on the same day Wolsey and Pygot perished at Ely. Pillars of the Church and accomplished ornaments of human nature, they were the admiration of the realm, amiably conspicuous in their lives, and glorious in their deaths.
Dr. Ridley was born in Northumberland, was first tauht grammar at Newcastle, and afterward removed to Cambridge, where his aptitude in education raised him gradually until he came to be the head of Pembroke College, where he received the title of Doctor of Divinity. Having returned from a trip to Paris, he was appointed chaplain by Henry VIII and bishop of Rochester, and was afterwards translated to the see of London in the time of Edward VI.
To his sermons the people resorted, swarming about him like bees, coveting the sweet flowers and wholesome juice of the fruitful doctrine, which he did not only preach, but showed the same by his life, as a glittering lanthorn to the eyes and senses of the blind, in such pure order that his very enemies could not reprove him in any one jot.
His tender treatment of Dr. Heath, who was a prisoner with him during one year, in Edward's reign, evidently proves that he had no Catholic cruelty in his disposition. In person he was erect and well proportioned; in temper forgiving; in self-mortification severe. His first duty in the morning was private prayer: he remained in his study until ten o'clock, and then attended the daily prayer used in his house. Dinner being done, he sat about an hour, conversing pleasantly, or playing at chess. His study next engaged his attention, unless business or visits occurred; about five o'clock prayers followed; and after he would recreate himself at chess for about an hour, then retire to his study until eleven o'clock, and pray on his knees as in the morning. In brief, he was a pattern of godliness and virtue, and such he endeavored to make men wherever he came.
His attentive kindness was displayed particularly to old Mrs. Bonner, mother of Dr. Bonner, the cruel bishop of London. Dr. Ridley, when at his manor at Fulham, always invited her to his house, placed her at the head of his table, and treated her like his own mother; he did the same by Bonner's sister and other relatives; but when Dr. Ridley was under persecution, Bonner pursued a conduct diametrically opposite, and would have sacrificed Dr. Ridley's sister and her husband, Mr. George Shipside, had not Providence delivered him by the means of Dr. Heath, bishop of Worcester.
Dr. Ridley was first in part converted by reading Bertram's book on the Sacrament, and by his conferences with archbishop Cranmer and Peter Martyr.
When Edward VI was removed from the throne, and the bloody Mary succeeded, Bishop Ridley was immediately marked as an object of slaughter. He was first sent to the Tower, and afterward, at Oxford, was consigned to the common prison of Bocardo, with archbishop Cranmer and Mr. Latimer. Being separated from them, he was placed in the house of one Irish, where he remained until the day of his martyrdom, from 1554, until October 16, 1555.
It will easily be supposed that the conversations of these chiefs of the martyrs were elaborate, learned, and instructive. Such indeed they were, and equally beneficial to all their spiritual comforts. Bishop Ridley's letters to various Christian brethren in bonds in all parts, and his disputations with the mitred enemies of Christ, alike proved the clearness of his head and the integrity of his heart. In a letter to Mr. Grindal, (afterward archbishop of Canterbury,) he mentions with affection those who had preceded him in dying for the faith, and those who were expected to suffer; he regrets that popery is re-established in its full abomination, which he attributes to the wrath of God, made manifest in return for the lukewarmness of the clergy and the people in justly appreciating the blessed light of the Reformation.
This old practiced soldier of Christ, Master Hugh Latimer, was the son of one Hugh Latimer, of Thurkesson in the county of Leicester, a husbandman, of a good and wealthy estimation; where also he was born and brought up until he was four years of age, or thereabout: at which time his parents, having him as then left for their only son, with six daughters, seeing his ready, prompt, and sharp wit, purposed to train him up in erudition, and knowledge of good literature; wherein he so profited in his youth at the common schools of his own country, that at the age of fourteen years, he was sent to the University of Cambridge; where he entered into the study of the school divinity of that day, and was from principle a zealous observer of the Romish superstitions of the time. In his oration when he commenced bachelor of divinity, he inveighed against the reformer Melancthon, and openly declaimed against good Mr. Stafford, divinity lecturer in Cambridge.
Mr. Thomas Bilney, moved by a brotherly pity towards Mr.Latimer, begged to wait upon him in his study, and to explain to him the groundwork of his (Mr. Bilney's) faith. This blessed interview effected his conversion: the persecutor of Christ became his zealous advocate, and before Dr. Stafford died he became reconciled to him.
Once converted, he became eager for the conversion of others, and commenced to be public preacher, and private instructor in the university. His sermons were so pointed against the absurdity of praying in the Latin tongue, and withholding the oracles of salvation from the people who were to be saved by belief in them, that he drew upon himself the pulpit animadversions of several of the resident friars and heads of houses, whom he subsequently silenced by his severe criticisms and eloquent arguments. This was at Christmas, 1529. At length Dr. West preached against Mr. Latimer at Barwell Abbey, and prohibited him from preaching again in the churches of the university, notwithstanding which, he continued during three years to advocate openly the cause of Christ, and even his enemies confessed the power of those talents he possessed. Mr. Bilney remained here some time with Mr. Latimer, and thus the place where they frequently walked together obtained the name of Heretics' Hill.
Mr. Latimer at this time traced out the innocence of a poor woman, accused by her husband of the murder of her child. Having preached before King Henry VIII at Windsor, he obtained the unfortunate mother's pardon. This, with many other benevolent acts, served only to excite the spleen of his adversaries. He was summoned before Cardinal Wolsey for heresy, but being a strenuous supporter of the king's supremacy, in opposition to the pope's, by favor of Lord Cromwell and Dr. Buts, (the king's physician,) he obtained the living of West Kingston, in Wiltshire. For his sermons here against purgatory, the immaculacy of the Virgin, and the worship of images, he was cited to appear before Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, and John, bishop of London. He was required to subscribe certain articles, expressive of his conformity to the accustamed usages; and there is reason to think, after repeated weekly examinations, that he did subscribe, as they did not seem to involve any important article of belief.
Guided by Providence, he escaped the subtle nets of his persecutors, and at length, through the powerful friends before mentioned, became bishop of Worcester, in which function he qualified or explained away most of the papal ceremonies he was for form's sake under the necessity of complying with. He continued in this active and dignified employment some years.
Beginning afresh to set forth his plow he labored in the Lord's harvest most fruitfully, discharging his talent as well in divers places of this realm, as before the king at the court. In the same place of the inward garden, which was before applied to lascivious and courtly pastimes, there he dispensed the fruitful Word of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, preaching there before the king and his whole court, to the edification of many.
He remained a prisoner in the Tower until the coronation of Edward VI, when he was again called to the Lord's harvest in Stamford, and many other places: he also preached at London in the convocation house, and before the young king; indeed he lectured twice every Sunday, regardless of his great age (then above sixty-seven years,) and his weakness through a bruise received from the fall of a tree. Indefatigable in his private studies, he rose to them in winter and in summer at two o'clock in the morning.
By the strength of his own mind, or of some inward light from above, he had a prophetic view of what was to happen to the Church in Mary's reign, asserting that he was doomed to suffer for the truth, and that Winchester, then in the Tower, was preserved for that purpose. Soon after Queen Mary was proclaimed, a messenger was sent to summon Mr. Latimer to town, and there is reason to believe it was wished that he should make his escape.
Thus Master Latimer coming up to London, through Smithfield (where merrily he said that Smithfield had long groaned for him), was brought before the Council, where he patiently bore all the mocks and taunts given him by the scornful papists. He was cast into the Tower, where he, being assisted with the heavenly grace of Christ, sustained imprisonment a long time, notwithstanding the cruel and unmerciful handling of the lordly papists, which thought then their kingdom would never fall; he showed himself not only patient, but also cheerful in and above all that which they could or would work against him. Yea, such a valiant spirit the Lord gave him, that he was able not only to despise the terribleness of prisons and torments, but also to laugh to scorn the doings of his enemies.
Mr. Latimer, after remaining a long time in the Tower, was transported to Oxford, with Cranmer and Ridley, the disputations at which place have been already mentioned in a former part of this work. He remained imprisoned until October, and the principal objects of all his prayers were three-that he might stand faithful to the doctrine he had professed, that God would restore his Gospel to England once again, and preserve the Lady Elizabeth to be queen; all of which happened. When he stood at the stake without the Bocardo gate, Oxford, with Dr. Ridley, and fire was putting to the pile of fagots, he raised his eyes benignantly towards heaven, and said, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." His body was forcibly penetrated by the fire, and the blood flowed abundantly from the heart; as if to verify his constant desire that his heart's blood might be shed in defence of the Gospel. His polemical and friendly letters are lasting monuments of his integrity and talents. It has been before said, that public disputation took place in April, 1554, new examinations took place in October, 1555, previous to the degradation and condemnation of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. We now draw to the conclusion of the lives of the two last.
Dr. Ridley, the night before execution, was very facetious, had himself shaved, and called his supper a marriage feast; he remarked upon seeing Mrs. Irish (the keeper's wife) weep, "Though my breakfast will be somewhat sharp, my supper will be more pleasant and sweet."
The place of death was on the northside of the town, opposite Baliol College. Dr. Ridley was dressed in a black gown furred, and Mr. Latimer had a long shroud on, hanging down to his feet. Dr. Ridley, as he passed Bocardo, looked up to see Dr. Cranmer, but the latter was then engaged in disputation with a friar. When they came to the stake, Mr. Ridley embraced Latimer fervently, and bid him: "Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it." He then knelt by the stake, and after earnestly praying together, they had a short private conversation. Dr. Smith then preached a short sermon against the martyrs, who would have answered him, but were prevented by Dr. Marshal, the vice-chancellor. Dr. Ridley then took off his gown and tippet, and gave them to his brother-in-law, Mr. Shipside. He gave away also many trifles to his weeping friends, and the populace were anxious to get even a fragment of his garments. Mr. Latimer gave nothing, and from the poverty of his garb, was soon stripped to his shroud, and stood venerable and erect, fearless of death.
Dr. Ridley being unclothed to his shirt, the smith placed an iron chain about their waists, and Dr. Ridley bid him fasten it securely; his brother having tied a bag of gunpowder about his neck, gave some also to Mr. Latimer.
Dr. Ridley then requested of Lord Williams, of Fame, to advocate with the queen the cause of some poor men to whom he had, when bishop, granted leases, but which the present bishop refused to confirm. A lighted fagot was now laid at Dr. Ridley's feet, which caused Mr. Latimer to say: "Be of good cheer, Ridley; and play the man. We shall this day, by God's grace, light up such a candle in England, as I trust, will never be put out."
When Dr. Ridley saw the fire flaming up towards him, he cried with a wonderful loud voice, "Lord, Lord, receive my spirit." Master Latimer, crying as vehemently on the other side, "O Father of heaven, receive my soul!" received the flame as it were embracing of it. After that he had stroked his face with his hands, and as it were, bathed them a little in the fire, he soon died (as it appeareth) with very little pain or none.
Well! dead they are, and the reward of this world they have already. What reward remaineth for them in heaven, the day of the Lord's glory, when he cometh with His saints, shall declare.
In the following month died Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester and lord chancellor of England. This papistical monster was born at Bury, in Suffolk, and partly educated at Cambridge. Ambitious, cruel, and bigoted, he served any cause; he first espoused the king's part in the affair of Anne Boleyn: upon the establishment of the Reformation he declared the supremacy of the pope an execrable tenet; and when Queen Mary came to the crown, he entered into all her papistical bigoted views, and became a second time bishop of Winchester. It is conjectured it was his intention to have moved the sacrifice of Lady Elizabeth, but when he arrived at this point, it pleased God to remove him.
It was on the afternoon of the day when those faithful soldiers of Christ, Ridley and Latimer, perished, that Gardiner sat down with a joyful heart to dinner. Scarcely had he taken a few mouthfuls, when he was seized with illness, and carried to his bed, where he lingered fifteen days in great torment, unable in any wise to evacuate, and burnt with a devouring fever, that terminated in death. Execrated by all good Christians, we pray the Father of mercies, that he may receive that mercy above he never imparted below.
Oh, how Arminians hate God. Here's their wicked impiety, these belittlers and blasphemers of His Majesty and these wicked self-extollers singing "O Solo M'io."
95 Theses Society of Evangelical Arminians
In light of the anniversary of Luther's posting of his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany (October 31, 1517), Rebekah Reinagel, one of our members, offers 95 theses regarding Calvinism. You can find these 95 theses of 2010 below and in the attachment.
To my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, I have written here regarding the doctrines of Calvinism. I write only to glorify the name of the pure and holy triune God, who deserves all glory, honor, and praise both now and forever.
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. The doctrines of Calvinism dishonor the pure and holy name of the Lord by teaching unbiblical concepts about His character, and thereby inadvertently portraying the Lord God Almighty as unloving, unjust, the inventor and instigator of all sin, in discordance with His own nature, and without full Sovereignty over creation.
2. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, referred to Himself as “I AM.” God is pure essence. The name Yahweh is based on a Hebrew name YHWH, which is a form of “to be.” It reflects the existentialism of God. Whoever He is, He is.
3. His every choice is sovereign, but sovereignty does not imply the freedom of God to go against His own nature, but rather implies the subjection of all creation to the decrees of God, which are always in accordance with His nature.
4. God is the Father of Lights, without variation or shadow of turning, and light emanates from a light source in every direction.
5. God consistently acts in accordance with his nature, not because he is under any obligation to any created being, but rather because it is who He is.
6. Nowhere in the Bible is found the teaching that God acts in exactly the same way toward all creatures, or even toward all men. However, it would be illogical and unbiblical to take this to mean that God is not the same Being and essence toward all.
7. Therefore, if God is a God of justice, He is just toward all. If God is wise, He is wise toward all. If God is all-powerful, He is all powerful toward all. If God is love(agape), He is love(agape) toward all.
8. Any doctrine which teaches that God is love only toward some, and not toward others, denies God's intrinsic nature.
9. God is absolutely Sovereign over all creation. This fact is seen clearly and referred to many times throughout the Bible. Yet nowhere does the Bible teach that this absolute Sovereignty involves micromanaging every aspect of creation.
10. The book of Corinthians teaches that a Christian can determine some choices in his heart, stand steadfast according to those, and make decisions, without any necessity, but rather in power and authority over his own will.
11. Those who have not been born again are slaves to sin, and those who have been regenerated are slaves of righteousness. Therefore, any free agency, or authority over ones own will does not imply freedom from slavery. An unregenerate person with free agency is one who can choose between one sin and a different one.
12. Therefore, though the will of man always be enslaved to one entity or another, the claim that no man can determine any of his own choices, or have authority and power over his will is without Biblical support.
13. Calvinism maintains that God could not possibly be sovereign, if His creatures have any authority over their own decisions. It may as well be asked whether a king can rightly be called king, if his kingdom has free agents as subjects.
14. In the earthly case, a subject can freely choose not to pay taxes, and the king, having more power, can choose to have the subject burned at the stake. Other subjects might then decide that although they want to avoid paying taxes, they also don't want to be burned to death, and therefore might freely choose to pay taxes.
15. If human kings can exercise power over their subjects, how much more is God, with His infinite tact and power, able to reign over His subjects without His reign being threatened by allowing them to have responsibility and authority over their own will.
16. God's Sovereignty, therefore, is not threatened by the choices of “free” creatures. While it takes little skill to orchestrate the activities of those whose minds are completely under your power, it takes much wisdom and strength for a Sovereign to reign completely over any number of free agents.
17. Calvinism denies the power and sovereignty of God, by teaching that He does not have the freedom to create, or to be Sovereign, over creatures who would be able to determine their own choices.
18. Let it said that God is under no obligation to give His creatures authority over their own will, but He is certainly free to do so if it pleases Him, while remaining in perfect Sovereign control over the universe.
19. Free agency in creatures only can exist if the Sovereign wants it to exist. Therefore, there is no tension between God's sovereignty and man's free agency, since man's free agency only exists, and is upheld, by God's decree, according to the good pleasure of His will.
20. Jehovah has the power to shuffle history. He chose the line of the Messiah; He chooses who your family is. No matter what man chooses, God's plans happen. The Lord is God, and nothing is too hard for Him. Though a man may mean an act for evil, yet God can work it for good, according to His foreknowledge and plans.
21. The Lord God sovereignly chooses where and when any of us are born. If God knew that Pontius Pilate would not have condemned Jesus to death, then there would have been no reason for God to allow Pontius to exist at that time in history, and in that position of authority.
22. We know that nothing happens without God's knowledge, whether in the past, present, or future. God, being timeless, is not only capable of knowing His own actions, but also is capable of seeing through time and knowing all actions and thoughts of any creature.
23. The doctrine of Calvinism that denies that God has this power of foreknowledge, but claims that He is limited to being able to know any detail of the future if, and only if, He Himself directly caused it is without logical or Biblical grounding.
24. It is based on this unscriptural principle that the claim is made: “God from all eternity did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.”
25. This teaching denies the goodness and benevolence of God and invests him with all the attributes of sheer cruelty and maliciousness, insofar as it holds that he made the universe as it is, and, for his own pleasure and glory plunged it Himself into all the miseries, temporal and eternal, which it endures or is to endure.
26. These miseries cannot be the just punishments of sins, in the Biblical meaning of “justice,” for He causes the sins; and if he caused them and damns the universe for them, it renders the cruelty more revolting.
27. It will be said that God caused the action of sin, but that man is responsible for his evil motives. Yet if nothing can happen, save that it be foreordained and inspired by God, then God has irreversibly caused the wicked motive as well.
28. We know that God is the most righteous and holy of beings, who is too holy even too look upon sin. Every perfection is found in Him, and His character defined what is righteous and holy, of which the law is only a dim shadow.
29. The system of Calvinism denies God's righteousness by teaching that God is the sole, original, voluntary originator of sin, that he chose its existence when as yet it did not exist, and decreed it when, but for his decree, it never could have been, thus declaring that he preferred some sin to universal holiness--if, indeed, his own decree was his choice.
30. This insults the purity and holiness of God, making him not, indeed, the most holy, but the only unholy being in the universe, the cause and source of all impurity, in addition to being the cause of all creatures.
31. The doctrine makes God the mastermind and moving force behind the fall of man from innocence to that dreadful state of damnable depravity into which every child is now born.
32. Speaking now into the lives of believers, if nothing happens but by God's decree, then God must unchangeably degree every sin of every christian, clearly showing that He prefers that the elect should commit a great deal of sin after they are regenerated, rather than be holy.
33. Holy Scripture gives believers the promise that God will not allow them to be tempted beyond what they are able, and with every temptation will also make the way of escape.
34. If this promise be true, along with the other verses, then the claim that God foreordained, secretly decreed, or otherwise inspired all sin, in such a way that no being could decide or act contrarily to, is scripturally unfounded.
35. The Lord God is also known as “the God who provides.” Just as He provided the ram for Abraham to make the sacrifice with, He also provided animals for the Israelites throughout the years to sacrifice, and provided the atonement of His own Son for sin once and for all.
36. God also provides supernatural strength when He gives a command, such as when He commanded Lazarus to come forth from the grave. The Lord, who is merciful, gives the command to all men everywhere, that they should repent. With the command, He, the God who provides, also provides a supernatural grace that they will be able to respond in repentance.
37. This undeserved grace was given freely and without reserve, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon the whole world, and through creation, clearly showing His invisible attributes, His eternal power and Godhead.
38. From the doctrine of original sin, we know that every child born into the world is born with a sinful nature, and is enslaved to sin. Thus, those who repent do so not because they are morally-neutral, or without an enslaved will, but solely because of the provision of God's unmerited grace.
39. Those who turn away from the grace of God, turning their back on Him, and committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit are justly judged and finally condemned. Their damnation is just, for the wages of sin is eternal death.
40. Though God gives grace to all, He is Sovereign and unquestionable in His choice of who to have mercy on, and who to harden. God hardens the hearts of the wicked, and brings their destruction to pass in a way that glorifies Himself.
41. God is Lord of all creation, and Lord over all salvation. We cannot answer back to him and complain about who He has chosen to save.
42. Those who would deny that God has the ability and authority to justly grant undeserved salvation on a conditional basis deny God's absolute sovereignty, power, and wisdom.
43. Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our salvation, and is the one who suffered a violent death for the sake of sinful man. If it pleases Him to give grace to everyone, we do not have the right to answer back to Him. Furthermore, does He not have the right to give undeserved salvation conditionally, in accordance to the good pleasure of His sovereign will?
44. Throughout the entire New Testament, salvation is shown to be both conditional upon faith, and also undeserved.
45. Grace given to believers is conditional, and yet undeserved. Believers rightfully deserve nothing good from God, and yet God grants grace to those who fulfill the condition of having humility.
46. When God chooses to save someone, even if He chooses in His good pleasure to only save those who meet His condition, it must be a work by His power, and His power alone. Man cannot save himself, nor can he assist in his own salvation somehow.
47. Those who deny God's freedom to grant salvation, based on His chosen condition that a person must have faith, on the basis that it would be a works-based-salvation deny the many Scriptures which teach clearly that faith is not a work.
48. Scripturally, a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. Those who are denied salvation are denied because they did not seek it by faith, but by the works of the law. Faith and works are not at all biblically equivalent.
49. Additionally, the teaching of Calvinism denies that God is able to give man enough grace that he could accept God's gift of salvation, and yet not so much that he cannot resist it.
50. This teaching denies God's complete power over creation, and proposes that God does not offer salvation to all, with only the proof that God did not have the choice to give man the grace to accept or resist His command to repent and believe.
51. Generally, the logic given to defend this view of God's impotence is that since the unregenerate man is dead is sin, he is completely unable to do any spiritual good, and cannot have faith until he is first made alive by regeneration.
52. Speaking from the perspective of logic, this view is inconsistent since if death implies inability, then moral death would imply inability to do moral good or moral evil, even as a dead man can neither walk to help someone, nor walk to go and hurt them.
53. However, the idea that death is primarily inability is a pagan concept which proceeds from mere observation of those who have physically died, without faith in any sort of afterlife.
54. According to the Word of God, death is not mainly inability, but separation. From human logic, it made seem obvious that a dead man cannot do anything, but the Scriptures show that a dead man is able to do many things in the afterlife, and it is only his old body which is thrown off like old clothes.
55. The initial death, spiritual death, was the separation of our spirits from God. Physical death is the separation of a person from this physical universe. The second, death is the final and eternal separation of a person from God.
56. Death does include inability, even as life includes inability. The rich man in Christ's story, though able to speak, was unable to go back and warn his brothers. In life, you cannot fly like a bird, and in death, you will not be able to beat God at a game of chess.
57. Therefore, God is perfectly powerful, and fully capable of granting grace to those on earth, in order to, if He pleases, allow His fallen creature to accept or else reject His gift of eternal life, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
58. The denial of God's power in giving grace, and Sovereignty over His choice of who to save results in doing further violence to His character, insomuch as it leads to the belief that God is not love toward all men.
59. We know from the Bible not only that God is loving, but that God is love. God neither owes love to men, nor owes salvation to men. Rather, His love is completely undeserved, is an intrinsic part of His holy character, and is displayed for His glory
60. The claim that Christ did not provide salvation for all of mankind denies the character of God, in that it denies the love of God.
61. Love that inspires no action is not true love, and therefore those who hold that God loves the non-elect, while simultaneously withholding grace that they could repent, hold to a contradiction.
62. If God had decided ahead of time not to die for, or give salvific grace to a person, is it not still love to allow them to live, experience the blessings of life, such as rain on the just and the unjust?
63. No, but rather every sin will magnify the torments of the damned. Now, why were they permitted to live to commit personal sins and thus increase their torments? Why? Not that they might repent; not that they might turn and live. This was eternally impossible. Why, then, were they permitted to live? For this--that they might have an opportunity to increase their damnation a million-fold.
64. They are called to return unto God, to repent, to believe in Christ, to a holy life--no one of which calls could they possibly obey. And yet, for not obeying, every time they refuse, their damnation is increased.
65. It could have been a mercy in God to have sent them to hell when they breathed their first sweet breath upon a mother's bosom.
66. And here let me ask, why shall Calvinists demur when we charge them with holding to infant damnation? The fact is, they hold to no other kind of damnation.
67. If Christ did not die for those who are damned, then they are not damned for unbelief. Otherwise, it must be said that they are damned for not believing a lie.
68. Our Lord Jesus Christ said “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "
69. Then, especially, when drawing nigh the city, he wept over it and said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together... but you were not willing!”
70. Him in whose mouth was found no guile, Calvinism makes full of deceit void of common sincerity, in claiming that He calls those that cannot come--those whom he knows to be unable to come--those whom he can make able to come, but will not--how is it possible to describe greater insincerity?
71. This doctrine represents Him as mocking his helpless creatures by offering what he never intends to give. It describes Him as saying one thing and meaning another--as portraying a love which he had not.
72. Furthermore, the teaching that God does not give those He has destined for damnation the ability to repent, when He calls them to repentance, makes God a liar in His claim that He desires for all men to repent and be saved.
73. If God does not, in Spirit, in truth, or in action, love(agape) all men, then we as Christians are given contradictory commands throughout Scripture:
74. For righteousness is conforming to the character of Christ, and to be like Christ is to fulfill the law.
75. Love is the fulfillment of the law, and the Scripture calls us to imitate Christ, and therefore to love is to imitate Christ. If we do not love, we do not abide in Christ, but are in darkness until now.
76. We are all called to be holy as God is holy, and the law is summed up in two commands: Love God, and Love your neighbor as yourself.
77. Love your neighbor, imitate Christ, and be Holy as God is holy are three commands that must not contradict.
78. The teaching that God does not love the non-elect in Spirit, in truth, and in action puts these commands in contradiction to each other, and makes Christians have to choose between obeying the command to love, and the command to imitate Christ.
79. According to the Scripture, inspired by God, and penned by the Apostle John, God is love. This Scripture is not in contradiction with the Scriptures which state clearly that God hates all unrighteous, and hates the wicked themselves with a burning passion.
80. God hates the wicked enough to desire their eternal destruction, and yet loves them enough to desire that they repent, be reborn, and therefore be perfect and therefore without need of destruction.
81. Insomuch as we read in the Psalms that the Lord, who is holy, hates all those who do wrong, we also read that we were wicked, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Yet while we were sinners, Christ loved us enough to die for us so that we would no longer be wicked.
82. He was raised up, like the bronze serpent was raised up for the snake-bitten Israelites, to provide healing for all of them, but only to enact healing through those who looked upon it.
83. Similarly, though Christ died for every sinful man, woman, and child, thus providing salvation for all, through His infinitely precious blood, yet He procured and enacted salvation only toward the elect, which are those who believe. The atonement is universal in scope, and provisional in application.
84. Whoever believes on Christ is promised eternal life. But those who do not believe on Christ are condemned already. Therefore, salvation is not procured for or applied to the unbelievers.
85. However, nowhere in the Word of God is found the doctrine that Christ did not die to provide salvation for all. This teaching, in fact, is directly contrary to multitudes of express declarations of revelation and to the whole tenor of divine teaching.
86. It is contrary to those passages which teach that Christ died for all men, for every man, for the whole world; It is contrary to those Scriptures which contrast the death of Christ with the fall of Adam; It is contrary to those Scriptures which require all men to believe on and accept Christ; It is contrary to those Scriptures which represent the cause of the sinner's damnation as being his rejection of Christ and unbelief in him.
87. It is contrary to those Scriptures which teach that some for whom Christ died may perish. “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” “There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them.” “Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.”
88. It is contrary to those Scriptures which represent the Lord as not willing the destruction of sinners, but as regretting their folly and desiring them to turn and live; It is contrary to those Scriptures which represent God as a being of universal love; It is contrary to those Scriptures which represent him as impartial.
89. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God's throne, but God's justice, in addition to love, is lost in the teachings of the doctrines of Calvinism.
90. In the New Testament, God commands all men everywhere to repent, and we are told that we shall not escape if we neglect so great a salvation. Yet if the reprobate are not able to believe, then they are required to perform an absolute impossibility.
91. If all the non-elect are inevitably and necessarily damned, then they are punished unavoidably--they are placed in circumstances where such damnation is the consequence of that over which they have not, and never did have, any control.
92. This teaching, along with the teaching that God causes each act of sin unavoidably, not only goes against Scriptural proclamation, but also goes against the sharp conviction given by the conscience of every man.
93. God requires of his subjects only conformity to himself--to his own moral excellencies---but he affirms of no obligation on himself to work impossibilities; and does he impose obligations on his subjects which he himself refuses to assume?
94. He does not regard it as an excellence in himself to work that which is impossible for Him; does He then command it as a virtue in his subjects? If indeed God does not work true impossibilities, then how can it be thought that He will require of his creatures that which He Himself cannot do?
95. The doctrine that man is held responsible for all sins which God causally determined that they do, and then the non-elect damned for not believing on Christ, which would be an impossibility for them, completely contradicts and undermines the system of responsibility, culpability, and justice, as set forward in the Word of God.
From the works of Martin Luther (1483-1546)
The Reformation View of Roman Catholicism
From the works of Martin Luther (1483-1546)
What is the whole papacy but a beautiful false front and a deceptively glittering holiness under which the wretched devil lies in hiding? The devil always desires to imitate God in this way. He cannot bear to observe God speaking. If he cannot prevent it or hinder God’s Word by force, he opposes it with a semblance of piety, takes the very words God had spoken and so twist them as to peddle his lies and poison under their name. (What Luther Says, II: 10007)
Since the papal church not only neglects the command of Christ but even compels the people to ignore it and to act against it, it is certain that it is not Christ’s church but the synagogue of Satan which prescribes sin and prohibits righteousness. It clearly and indisputably follows that it must be the abomination of Antichrist and the furious harlot of the devil. (What Luther Says, II: 1019)
The negotiation about doctrinal agreement displeases me altogether, for this is utterly impossible unless the pope has his papacy abolished. Therefore avoid and flee those who seek the middle of the road. Think of me after I am dead and such middle-of-the-road men arise, for nothing good will come of it. There can be no compromise. (What Luther Says, II: 1019)
Let him who does not want to be lost and go to the devil be on his guard with all diligence and earnestness against the papacy and its doctrine, and let him never again accept even the most insignificant and smallest part of the papacy’s teaching, no matter what it may cost him. Let him flee from the papacy and its following as from the devil incarnate himself, and let him by no means be silenced by the sweet, slippery words of hypocrites or be persuaded that yielding and conceding something for the sake of peace is a matter of little consequence and that the bond of love should not be disrupted for the sake of something trifling (as they represent and rationalize this to be). Come now, there is assuredly no joking in this matter; eternal salvation and eternal damnation are involved. (What Luther Says, II:1019-1020)
Can anything more horrible be said than that the kingdom of the papists is the kingdom of those who spit at Christ, the Son of God, and crucify Him anew? For they do crucify Christ…in themselves, in the church…and in the hearts of the faithful…Therefore let everyone who is honestly given to piety flee out of this Babylon as quickly as possible…. For so great are its impurity and its abomination that no one can express them in words; they can be discerned only by eyes that are spiritual. (What Luther Says, II: 1020)
My dear pope, I will kiss your feet and acknowledge you as supreme bishop if you will worship my Christ and grant that through His death and resurrection, not through keeping your traditions, we have forgiveness of sins and life eternal. If you will yield on this point, I shall not take away your crown and power; if not, I shall constantly cry out that you are the Antichrist, and I shall testify that your whole cult and religion are only a denial of God, but also the height of blasphemy against God and idolatry. (What Luther Says, II: 1069)
Ah, my dear brother in Christ, bear with me if here or elsewhere I use such coarse language when speaking of the wretched, confronted, atrocious monster at Rome! He who knows my thoughts must say that I am much, much, much too lenient and have neither words nor thought adequately to describe the shameful, abominable blasphemy to which he subjects the Word and name of Christ, our dear Lord and Savior. There are some Christians, wicked Christians indeed, who now would gloss things over to make the pope appear against in a good light and who, after he does so and has been dragged out of the mud, would like to reinstate him on the altar. But they are wicked people, whoever they may be, who defend the pope and want me to be quiet about the means whereby he has done harm. Truly, I cannot do this. All true, pious Christians, who love Christ and His Word, should, as said, be sincerely hostile to the pope. They should persecute him and injure him…. All should do this in their several calling, to the best of their ability, with all faithfulness and diligence. (What Luther Says, II: 1072)
What kind of a church is the pope’s church? It is an uncertain, vacillating and tottering church. Indeed, it is a deceitful, lying church, doubting and unbelieving, without God’s Word. For the pope with his wrong keys teaches his church to doubt and to be uncertain. If it is a vacillating church, then it is not the church of faith, for the latter is founded upon a rock, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Matt.16:18). If it is not the church of faith, then it is not the Christian church, but it must be an unchristian, anti-Christian, and faithless church which destroys and ruins the real, holy, Christian church. (Luther’s Works, vol. 40, Church and Ministry II, The Keys, p.348)
All this is to be noted carefully, so that we can treat with contempt the filthy, foolish twaddle that the popes present in their decrees about their Roman church, that is, about their devil’s synagogue (Rev.2:9), which separates itself from common Christendom and the spiritual edifice built up on this stone, and instead invents for itself a fleshly worldly, worthless, lying, blasphemous, idolatrous authority over all of Christendom. One of these two things must be true: if the Roman church is not built on this rock along with the other churches, then it is the devil’s church; but if it is built, along with all the other churches, on this roc, then it cannot be lord or head over the other churches. For Christ the cornerstone knows nothing of two unequal churches, but only of one church alone, just as the Children’s Faith, that is, the faith of all of Christendom, says, "I believe in one holy, Christian church," and does not say, "I believe in one holy Roman church." The Roman church is and should be one portion or member of the holy Christian church, not the head, which befits solely Christ the cornerstone. If not, it is not a Christian but an UN-Christian and anti-Christian church, that is, a papal school of scoundrels. (Luther’s Works, Volume 41, Church and Ministry III, Against The Roman Papacy, An Institution Of The Devil, p.311)
These arrogant and unlearned papists can’t govern the church because they write nothing, they read nothing, but, firmly saddled in the pride of possession, they cry out that the decrees of the fathers are not to be questioned and decisions made are not to be disputed, otherwise one would have to dance to the tune of every little brother. For this reason the pope, possessed by demons, defends his tyranny with the canon "Si papa." This canon states clearly: if the pope should lead the whole world into the control of hell, he is nevertheless not to be contradicted. It’s a terrible thing that on account of the authority of this man we must lose our souls, which Christ redeemed with his precious blood. Christ says, "I will not cast out anybody who comes to me" (John 6:37). On the other hand, the pope says, "As I will it, so I command it; you must perish rather than resist me." Therefore the pope, whom our princes adore, is full of devils. He must be exterminated by the Word and by prayer. (Luther’s Works, vol.54, Table Talk, No.441, p.330)
I believe the pope is the masked and incarnate devil because he is the Antichrist. As Christ is God incarnate, so the Antichrist is the devil incarnate. The words are really spoken of the pope when it’s said that he’s a mixed god, an earthly god, that is , a god of the earth. Here god is understood as god of this world. Why does he call himself an earthly god, as if the one, almighty God weren’t also on the earth? The kingdom of the pope really signifies the terrible wrath of God, namely, the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. (Luther’s Works, vol.54, Table Talks, No.4487, p.346)
A fascinating read. Enters into the hostility that Wesley and fellow semi-Pelagians directed at this Calvinistic Anglican labouring near Exeter.
We offer a small quote below.
The Works of Augustus M. Toplady, Volume 1 By Augustus Toplady, 473ff.
The Judgment of our English Reformers.
Very little need be said, to prove the Calvinism of those illuminated divines, who were made by providence, the instruments of extending and fixing the English reformation. The whole series of our public service, the uniform tenor of our articles, and the chain of doctrine asserted in each book of homilies, are a standing demonstration, that the original framers and compilers believed in, and worshipped, the God of their fathers, after that way which papists and Arminians term heresy.
Even Mr. Sellon does not, in bis 7th page, so much as attempt to call in question the Calvinism of our reformers. Finding himself hard drove, he fairly gives up the point: exclaiming, however, at the same time, that the reformers brought their Calvinism with them from the church of Rome. " Let me tell you," says the angry conceder, " that our first reformers, in the point of predestination, did say over those lessons which they had learned in. the Roman schools." I agree with my adversary, in acknowledging, that the reformers were predestinarians ; but I pity his weakness in venturing to assert, on, the lame authority of Christopher Potter, that those excellent men imported their doctrine of predestination from Rome. I have already shown, that it has, for ages and ages back, been the ruling endeavour of popery, to stifle, demolish, and exterminate, the whole system of Calvinism both root and branch. You might as reasonably affirm, that the glory which beamed from the face of Moses, was kindled at hellfire ; as insinuate, that we are indebted to Rome for any of our Thirty-nine articles.—Mr. Sellon's concession, however, induces me to offer him a plain query. To what end have you scribbled a libel, with a professed view to Arminianize the liturgy, articles, and homilies, which you yourself acknowledge to have been composed by Calvinistic divines ? Can any man in his senses, really believe, that a set of predestinarians would draw up a plan of national faith and worship on the Arminian model? Impossible. Your quotation, therefore, from Christopher Potter, which you have adopted for your own, has stabbed the whole hypothesis of your pamphlet to the very heart.
In vain do Messieurs Wesley and Sellon disconsolately walk arm in arm, round about our established. Zion, surveying her walls, and shaking their heads at her bulwarks ; but unable either to find, or to make a breach, whereat to enter. Happy would they deem themselves, could they prove that the reformers were Arminians. But, alas! the church of England was settled under king Edward VI. long before Arminius himself was born ; and afterwards resettled by Elizabeth, when the same Arminius was an infant in his cradle. Pelagians were (if I may so phrase it) the Arminians of those times : and pelagians are, expressly and by name, branded for " vain talkers," in the ninth article. It clearly follows, 1. That the original compilers of the articles were not pelagians. And, 2. That they could not be Arminians: for Arminius was then unborn and unbegotten (*).
Bishop Burnet himself, as I have elsewhere observed, was compelled to grant, that, " In England, the first reformers were generally Sublapsarians (t):" tacitly admitting, that the rest of those apostolic men were (dreadful news to Mr. Sellon !) Supralapsarians (u). I could corroborate this assertion, if need required, from other very plain and conclusive passages, scattered through Burnet's historic writings. Waving, however, at present, the farther testimonies of that prelate; I shall adduce the attestations of two more modern historians: neither of whom can incur the remotest suspicion of leaning toward Calvinism. These are, Mr. Tindal, the reverend continuator of Rapin; and David Hume, Esq.; whose history, considered merely as a composition, does honour to the author and the age. I hegin with the former.
" In England, a middle course was steered :" [i. e. we admitted the doctrines, but rejected the discipline of Geneva.] " Though the articles of religion are a plain transcript of St. Austin's doctrine, in the controverted points of original sin, predestination, justification by faith alone, efficacy of grace, and good works; yet are they composed with such a latitude." No quibbling, good Mr. Tindal. If the articles of the church of England, respecting those tenets, are "a plain transcript of St. Austin's doctrine;" it irresistibly follows, that they only, who believe as St. Austin did, can honestly subscribe to Austin's articles. For, of what value is a fence, whose chasms and apertures are of " such a latitude," as to admit the very persons, whom it was professedly planted to exclude? To imagine, that the reformers, who had, themselves, gone so heartily and strongly into the doctrines above-mentioned; and who, moreover, digested those doctrines into a national creed, to continue as the standing test of ministerial orthodoxy; to imagine that these identical reformers would leave such loopholes of evasion, as would counteract the very design of that test, and render the test itself null and void; is equivalent to supposing, that a man would first fortify the door of his house with as many bolts and bars as he can, and then purposely leave his door on the latch, that every intruder, who pleases, may enter in.
Mr. Tindal proceeds. " The most rigid Calvinist can give his assent to all the thirty-nine articles, except three, which relate to the discipline of the church." Thirty-six, then, out of the thirty-nine, are most rigidly Calvinistic : else, the most rigid Calvinist could not " give his assent to all the articles except three." And even those three may be both assented and subscribed to, with full purpose of heart,
by every man who is a Calvinist in matters of doctrine only.—" For though the doctrine of the church of England, as it stands in the articles and homilies, agrees with that of the Calvinists; yet the discipline is entirely different." I grant that the discipline of our church is " entirely different" from that mode of discipline embraced by some Calvinists: and may it ever continue so. In nothing did the wisdom of our reformers more strikingly appear, than in connecting the purest doctrines with the best form of ecclesiastical government and discipline. A species of discretion, in which the foreign leaders of the reformation were not so happy.—Now, on weighing the collected amount of Mr. Tindal's (x) testimony, I would submit this natural question to the reader: Would
(x) The passages, here cited from that writer, occur in the third volume of his Continuation (octavo 1758) p. 275.—I cannot pass over, without a moment's animadversion, what this historian imprudently advances, respecting the liturgy of the church of England. " The liturgy," says he, p. 276. " or common prayers, were chiefly taken from the offices of the church of Rome."—This, 1 well know, is a pretty general opinion. But 1 cannot help believing it to be unjustly founded. The agreement, between some parts of our public service, and some parts of the Romish missals, falls extremely short of proving the main point.' We use the Lord's Prayer (for example) in common with the papists: yet we receive it, not from Rome, but from the New Testament. A pen, not altogether contemptible? affirms, that the compilers of the liturgy examined not only the popish forms, but likewise " all other service books then in use. These they compared with the primitive liturgies: and whatever they found in them consonant to the holy scriptures, and the doctrine and worship of the primitive church, they retained and improved; but the modern corruptions and superstitious innovations of latter ages, they entirely discharged and rejected." See Downes' Lives of the Compilers, p. 150. What I shall farther add, I give from an authority incomparably more decisive Rnd respectable.—" Our church of England," says bishop Stillingfleet, " hath omitted-none of those offices wherein all the ancient churches were agreed: and where the [primitive] British or Gallican [church] differed from the Roman, our [present] church hath not followed the Roman, but the other. And therefore our dissenters do unreasonably charge us with taking our offices from the church of Rome." Stillingfleet's Origines Britannicae, chap. iv. p. 237—The Gallican liturgy (extremely different from the Roman) was intro
the English reformers have established a summary of doctrines " agreeable to that of the Calvinists," if the said reformers had not been Calvinists themselves ? To solve this enquiry, we need only propose another: would such men (for instance) as Pelagius and Arminius, have drawn up such articles, in particular, as the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14
Let us next attend to the florid and ingenious Mr. Hume. " The first reformers in England, as in other European countries, had embraced the most rigid tenets of predestination and absolute decrees : and had composed upon that system, all the articles of their religious creed. But these principles having met with opposition," [viz. about sixty years after}, from Arminius and his sectaries, the controversy was soon" [i. e. soon after the rise of Arminianism in the Dutch provinces, at the period aforesaid} " brought into this island, and began here to diffuse itself (y)" Again : " All the first reformers adopted these principles," viz. the principles of " Absolute decrees (z)." No wonder, therefore, when the Arminians started up to oppose the ancient faith, that, " Throughout the nation, they laid under the reproach of innovation and heresy. Their protectors were stigmatized; their tenets canvassed; their views represented as dangerous and pernicious (a)."