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´╗┐Title: On Calvinism
Author: Hull, William
Language: English
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Touton gar hapase psyche physikon nomon boethon aute kai symmachon
epi ton prakteon ho ton holon demiourgos hupestato. Dia men tou
nomou ten eutheian aute paradeixas hodon: dia de tes aute
dedoremenes autexousiou eleutherias ten ton kreittonon airesin
epainou kai apodoches axian apophenas geron te kai meizonon














When I venture to inscribe to you the following pages, I am fearless
of having applied to me Johnson's definition of a dedicator, "one
who inscribes his work to a patron with compliment and servility."
Adulation, Sir, from any quarter, _you_ would resent as an
indignity, and the tenor of my own life and writings will secure me
from the imputation of _servile_ deference to others, with whatever
reverence I may contemplate their rank, their talents, or their

When, Sir, under unusual circumstances, I engaged in the ministry of
the Church, the presentation which I received from the Chapter was,
on my part, unsolicited and unexpected, and, on yours, a favour done
on public principle to one who was personally unknown to you.

In respectfully presenting to your attention this short treatise, I
do not prejudge your opinion of its contents, whether favourable or
adverse. The responsibility rests exclusively with the writer.

But I cherish the persuasion that it contains no sentiments, and
expresses no feelings, which can be justly displeasing to a
dignified clergyman, who has firmly professed his attachment to the
great principles of the Church in times more dangerous to her
interests, and more difficult for her ministers, than any which have
heretofore occurred since the great Rebellion.

I have the honour to be, Sir,

your obliged and faithful servant,


Eaton next Norwich,

Sept. 1841.


That strenuous attempts are now in progress to propagate Calvinism
in its most objectionable forms, by impressing into its service that
spirit of earnest, but often misinformed piety which has been
awakened within the bosom of the Church, is too notorious to require
proof or to admit of refutation.

The following sheets have been written, and are now published, under
the solemn conviction, that the danger to be apprehended from the
extensive diffusion of this creed, both to religion and the Church,
renders it impossible that it should be allowed to pursue its
unmolested course, without correspondent efforts, on the part of
sound Churchmen, to counteract its baleful influence.

Superstition, which lays undue stress on outward forms, and
fanaticism, which gives credit to preternatural impulses, and
professes a particular kind of inspiration differing not at all from
infallibility, are the Scylla and Charybdis, through which, over
stormy waters or serene, we have to make our steady way. Both are
equally intolerant, and both are condemned by the genius of
Protestantism, the constitution of the Church, and the spirit of the

It is devoutly to be desired, that none who are more regardful of
truth than of party, that none who are alive to the real state of
the times, and to the character of the respective interests which
may hereafter be brought into unhappy collision, may hesitate,
through fear or favour, to act in this crisis with moral courage
tempered with holy charity. Let them discountenance all extreme
innovations, from whatsoever quarter they may proceed, or by
whatsoever distinguished names they may be sanctioned. Let them rise
with manly integrity above the mean suggestions of temporizing
policy, and look only to the substantial and permanent interests of
the Church, which are those of truth and charity, of freedom in
alliance with order, of Christianity in its most ennobling form, and
of the public welfare of the British Empire.

If the spirit of rigid Calvinism, under any plausible disguise,
should be widely diffused through the Anglican Church, we need no
prophetic mind to announce, that it will lead to consequences fatal
to her peace and liberty, introducing a spiritual despotism whose
power will be felt throughout the length and breadth of the land,
overawing, as in the days of John Knox, the majesty of princes, and
spreading its morbid gloom to the sequestered cottage of the
peasant, in the remotest regions and most unfrequented provinces.

History proves, that the men who are deeply imbued with this spirit,
merge all other interests in their devoted zeal to its propagation.

Those of that party who, like Mr. Noel, think "our venerable Church"
means no more than "our venerable _selves_," will be ready to betray
her into the hands of her adversaries, whensoever they may be deemed
strong enough to carry her outworks, and to supplant the orthodox
clergyman by the Calvinistic minister;--while those who reverence
the Apostolical succession, or the general order of the Church, will
form within our pale an intolerant party, intriguing for dominion,
restless and oppressive, never to be satisfied until they have
crushed or excluded all who have dared to profess their rejection of
the Calvinistic theology.

In the spirit already exemplified by the Pastoral Aid Society, for
the detection of whose sectarian principles we are indebted to the
Christian courage of Dr. Molesworth, they will throw obstacles in
the way of candidates for ordination or parochial cures, if they
come not up to the doctrinal standard of their _triers_: the
episcopal functions will be usurped or controlled by the ruthless
zeal of an ecclesiastical faction; the Church societies for the
extension of Christian knowledge and piety will lose their catholic
character, dwindling into ignoble channels for spreading abroad the
bigotry of an exclusive school; and gone for ever will be those
beautiful charities, and that liberal regard to the just exercise of
Christian and clerical freedom, which have been recently elicited,
and expressed with deliberate solemnity, in the correspondence of
the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, with the
reverend Canon Wodehouse, on the subject of subscription.

The author of this tract has aimed at conciseness, so far as the
nature of the argument would allow, not employing "those arts by
which a big book is made." But if the smallness of the work does not
seem to accord with the magnitude of the subject, it is not to be
inferred that the sentiments have been hastily formed or rashly
vindicated. For many years they have been taking deep root in the
mind of the writer; nor would he have engaged in the ministry of the
Church, but on the conviction, after serious inquiry, that her faith
was primitive and not Calvinistic.

He has spared no "plainness of speech," in his exposure of dangerous
error, but from principle and feeling he has abstained from the
malice of personal vituperation. His warfare is with pernicious
opinions, not with those who hold them, many of whom are impressed
with the religious persuasion, that what they have believed they
have received from divine teaching, and that in upholding their
creed they glorify God.

Such divine teaching as the Calvinist claims, and which, if it means
any thing, amounts to plenary inspiration, the writer does not
suppose to have superintended his own thoughts while engaged in the
composition of these pages. He would deem it unwarrantable
presumption to look for such miraculous effusion of the Spirit in
the ordinary condition of the Church. But he confidently believes,
that, to those who seek it in humble faith, such grace is given as
may purify the dispositions of the heart, and thus guard it from all
predilection for error and all prejudice against _the truth_.
Entertaining these views of the office of the Holy Spirit under the
evangelical dispensation, the writer humbly commits this work, not
executed without dependence on his preventing grace, to Him who is
the eternal source and the faithful patron of truth; uniting in the
prayer of this beautiful collect, with all those, who, whatsoever
their doctrinal views of religion, seek for truth as the richest of

"O Lord, from whom all good things do come; grant to us thy humble
servants, that by thy holy inspiration, we may think those things
that be good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same,
through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."


General remarks

Particular objections

I. Calvinism impugns the moral character of the Deity

II. Calvinism is not to be reconciled with the moral responsibility
of man

III. Calvinism is opposed to the constitution and the purposes of a
visible Church

IV. Calvinism is productive of positively injurious effects, on
individual character and on social happiness

V. Calvinism is not the doctrine of Scripture, nor of the Anglican

VI. Calvinism has led to the corruption of Christian doctrine, that
the Scriptures may be accommodated to extreme views of the divine





To St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in Africa, belongs the equivocal
distinction of having originated in the Christian Church a
controversy respecting the Divine decrees, a controversy which dates
its origin from the fifth century, and which, after the lapse of
thirteen hundred years, exhibits no symptoms of approaching to its
end. In the Roman Communion, it was the source of those bitter
animosities, which reciprocally exasperated the Jesuits and
Jansenists. The Protestant Churches, in the early days of the
Reformation, were disturbed by the agitation of this perplexed and
perilous subject. And when Calvin appeared as the vindicator of the
Divine sovereignty in predetermining the fates of men, he only
introduced to the Churches of the Reformation a doctrine which had
been transmitted from earlier times, but which, perhaps, he defined
with more precision, expounded with more fearless consistency, and
invested with the authority of his own great and illustrious name.
In the present discussion the word _Calvinism_ is used, not to
signify those doctrines of the Church which Calvin held in common
with the fathers of the Reformation, but those only which relate to
his extreme views of the Divine decrees, to his predestinarian
theology, and to his modification of other scripture truths to
render them harmonious with his principal tenets.

Whatever therefore may be the merits or the final result of this
grave and earnest controversy, it leaves untouched the corruption of
human nature, the deity and atonement of Christ, justification by
faith, the necessity of Divine influence to renew and purify the
heart, and the scriptural doctrine of predestination, according to
the fore-knowledge of God. This distinction is important; since, if
it be overlooked, the rejectors of Calvinism may be supposed to have
also rejected the capital doctrines of the Reformed faith. Fuller
has unwarrantably, perhaps undesignedly, given his sanction to this
imputation in his "Calvinistic and Socinian Systems compared[1]."
But the rejectors of _Calvinistic_ predestination may be not less
remote from Socinianism, and much nearer to genuine Christianity,
than the most rigid disciple of that eminent Reformer, who, in the
protestant city of Geneva, committed Servetus to the flames. The
Socinian controversy relates to doctrines, which are the common
faith of the Catholic Church; with the peculiarities of Calvinism it
has no concern. And it is worthy of remark, that if one class of
doctrinalists more than another symbolizes in any instance with
Socinians, the followers of Calvin form that class; since it is not
easy to discover where lies the essential difference between the
doctrine of _philosophical necessity_, as held by the greater number
of Socinians, and that of _predestination_, as maintained by

Both parties rest their dogmas on the same metaphysical grounds. At
the same time, as moral reasoners, the palm of superiority must be
awarded to Socinians, who reject most consistently the doctrine of
human corruption, and the atonement of Christ, together with the
correspondent doctrines of the Gospel, as altogether out of place in
a scheme which denies the freedom of human actions and reduces all
independent agency to that of the Deity alone; while the Calvinist
subjects the human race to an inevitable necessity of sinning,
denies to them individually, even the semblance of a probationary
course--makes them accountable, yet withholds the powers necessary
to a moral agent, and then most unrighteously dooms to perdition all
but the elect! In rejecting such a theory of religion, we reject not
the fundamental doctrines of Christianity; we only vindicate them
from objections, which, if unanswerable, are fatal; and we hold to
the Gospel with a firmer conviction and a livelier faith, when we
behold its accordance with the righteousness of the Divine
administration and with the moral constitution of man.

On a subject, which has been so long and so laboriously
investigated, and to the illustration of which the most vigorous and
profound of human intellects have directed their energies, it would
be vain to expect any novelty of argument. On either side, it may be
presumed, the question has been exhausted, or, that the human mind
has done all that its powers can accomplish, however unsatisfactory
or inconclusive, in some respects, the result.

It appears to the writer of these pages, on a calm and summary
review of the arguments by which the doctrines of _freedom_ and
_necessity_ have been respectively supported, that those reasonings
which are purely _philosophical_ or _metaphysical_ decidedly
preponderate on the side of Necessity. The prescience of the Deity
cannot, _on any known principle_, be reconciled with the contingency
which attaches to the actions or determinations of man, on the
hypothesis of freedom[2]. And, moreover, if every event requires a
cause, and every volition is guided by motives, what are called the
spontaneous acts of the mind must be the necessary result of motives
which direct and command its elections. "To say that in our choice
we reject the stronger motive, and that we choose a thing merely
because we choose it, is sheer nonsense and absurdity. And whoever,
with a sound understanding, will fix his mind upon the state of the
question, will perceive its impossibility."

But, all correct _moral_ reasoning ranges on the side of freedom. In
opposition to the subtle or forcible reasonings of the metaphysician,
every individual can plead his inward consciousness of voluntary
agency. He feels, he knows, that he is free. The exercise of the
moral sense, the judgment which the mind pronounces on its own good
or evil movements, the conviction of having done or neglected a
duty, the calm satisfaction of the virtuous mind, and the fierce
or sullen remorse of the criminal, are associated with the
insuppressible persuasion of liberty. Destroy this persuasion,
and virtue is despoiled of its loveliness, vice of its deformity.
But it cannot be destroyed. It is the voice of nature. The Creator
has so formed us, that we cannot throw off from ourselves the sense
of responsibility, nor regard our fellow creatures as unfit for
praise or blame, for love or hatred. Men treat each other as free
agents in all the transactions of human life, and God administers
the government of the world, on the principle that mankind are
capable of self-control, regulating their conduct by the hope of
reward or fear of punishment. If the consciousness of freedom be a
delusion, it follows that moral obligation, duty, reward, guilt,
punishment, are delusions, and that religion, however salutary in
its effects, is nothing better than a magnificent imposture.

Calvinism is an attempt to found the religion of Christ on the
doctrine of necessity, and to accommodate its truths, which suppose
and require free agency in man, to a dark and appalling fatalism.
But in a case like the present, in which metaphysical reasonings,
however profound or conclusive, so far as they go, are at variance
with practical truth, with consciousness, with the actual state of
things, and with the unquestionable procedures of the Divine
government, as confirmed by the scriptures, wisdom would seem to
dictate our adhesion to that side of the question, which is
supported by moral arguments.

In taking this part, it does not follow that we are to repudiate, as
totally without foundation, the philosophy and the metaphysics of
the necessarian--_aequo pretio aestimentur_. We may admit, that the
force of his argument, in the present imperfect state of human
knowledge, renders the question perplexed and difficult; that it
accounts for the divided opinions of the erudite and the devout, and
that it precludes the hope of a speedy termination of the
controversy. But in assigning to moral reasoning the superior
authority, we are governed by a just regard to the nature of the
question at issue, which, being related to the destinies of moral
agents, and the principles on which the Deity conducts his moral
government, must be determined, not by metaphysical, but by moral
arguments. When brought to this test, Calvinism appears utterly
indefensible, as being a system at variance with the attributes of
the Deity, and irreconcileable with the moral constitution of human
beings, and with the obligations laid upon them by their Creator. It
is falsified by facts.

That the predestinarian theology, which denies the freedom of the
will, is supported by names of great consideration, is cheerfully
granted. No man, for example, was ever endowed with a genius more
commanding, with logical powers more acute, with a faculty more
surprising of writing on recondite subjects with force, perspicuity,
and nervous eloquence, than President Edwards. Nevertheless, the
correctness of his views is not implicitly to be inferred from his
transcendant intellect and fervent piety.

All the great errors, which have been propagated in the Christian
Church, have found advocates in men of the first character for
intellectual power and moral dignity, or they would have passed away
with their authors into immediate oblivion.

In estimating the authority of Edwards as a theologian, it is
requisite that we should know the temperament and habits of that
very remarkable person. It is not, perhaps, generally considered,
that great as were the energy and acuteness of his reasoning powers,
he was less under the dominion of these than of his imagination and
feelings. In early life this is not unfrequently the case with
persons of imaginative character; but, commonly, the ardent
enthusiasm of youth gives way afterwards to the ascendancy of the
higher faculties. Edwards was, constitutionally, too much the
creature of dreams and impulses ever to escape from their control.
His gigantic mind was held in perpetual bondage. His natural
temperament was fostered throughout the whole period which moulds
and fixes the character, by his holding little converse with human
beings beyond the sphere of a particular religious community in an
obscure American town, and by an almost uninterrupted contemplation
of nature in her gloomy and awful forms, amid the silence of
uncultivated plains, and the solitude of interminable forests. The
profound feeling, the intense excitement, which accompanied his
early devotional exercises, were such as to insure a permanent
attachment to every principle and every impression of that
susceptible age. The visions of a warm, and often morbid,
imagination continued to be cherished with religious confidence and
love for ever afterwards. Every doubt, of what he once had received
for truth, was anxiously suppressed in the manhood of his mind as an
infernal suggestion; and the acuteness of his reasoning powers, by
supplying him at all times with an argument, for what he conceived
it _his duty_ to believe, served, not to emancipate him from false
apprehensions of truth, but to rivet upon him more firmly the chains
of ignorance or error. When argument was doubtful, a dogged
fanaticism supplied its place. This may be illustrated by a
particular instance, and bearing directly on the subject of our
present discussion.

It cannot be doubted, by any person qualified to appreciate his
writings, that his views of the Divine sovereignty are resolvable
into a system of absolute fatalism, so far as the actions and
destinies of men are concerned. Reason and conscience revolt from
the consequences involved in such a system; all our moral instincts
condemn it. But it was instilled into his mind by Calvinistic
instructors in the days of his boyhood; his imagination was
perpetually haunted by it; and having identified it with the truth
of divine revelation, which he held in religious veneration and awe,
he finally vanquished every doubt respecting it, not by the
deliberate exercise of his judgment, on a calm investigation of
evidence, but by the force of his religious feelings, and of his
ascendant imagination. Let him tell his own story.

"From my childhood up," he says, "my mind had been full of
objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing
whom He would to eternal life, and rejecting whom He pleased;
leaving them eternally to perish, and to be everlastingly tormented
in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I
remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced and fully
satisfied as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus
eternally disposing of men, according to his sovereign pleasure.
_But never could give any account, how, or by what means I was thus
convinced_, not in the least imagining at the time, nor a long time
after, that there was any extraordinary influence of God's Spirit in
it; but only that now I saw further, and my reason apprehended the
justice and reasonableness of it." In this extraordinary passage,
the most instructive he ever penned, he confesses, undesignedly but
clearly, that his faith in the Calvinistic theology did not rest on
those arguments by which he has confirmed so many others in that
tremendous creed, but was the result of supposed supernatural
illumination. The true solution would be, "Sit pro ratione

Much as we find to admire and revere in this eminent man, the
history of his mind forbids us to rely on him with implicit
confidence as an expositor of divine truth. His religion was
exalted, his genius wonderful, but the subordination of his judgment
to his imagination was an immense evil, producing an almost
superstitious dread of the operations of his own mighty mind,
suppressing its energies, its growth, and its expansion. He presents
an example, not less of the weakness than of the majesty of human
nature. We cease to wonder, when he describes the happiness of the
spirits of the redeemed in heaven, as being derived, in part, from
their listening to the groans and lamentations of lost souls in
hell. Nor can we doubt, that if he had been born and educated a
member of the Church of Rome, he would have lived and died, like
Fenelon or Pascal, a splendid ornament of that impure communion, a
conscientious advocate of that servile faith.

Calvinism has never had another advocate equally qualified with
Edwards to vindicate its awful dogmata; and if, by his own
confession, his most potent arguments would have failed to produce
conviction in his own mind, without God's special influence, we see
reason to suspect the validity of these arguments, until we have
proof that he did indeed receive from heaven miraculous
illumination. Such _special influence_ we may with propriety
question, since a claim to inspiration can be supported only by the
exercise of miraculous powers. Deny, therefore, the inspiration of
this profound writer, of which there is no proof, and we have his
own authority against the conclusiveness of his own arguments; since
he confesses that by their cogency alone they are insufficient to
produce conviction in opposition to our just and natural conceptions
of the righteous character of God.

Let us not, therefore, crouch with timid servility to great names.
The opinions of men of erudition, and genius, and holy zeal for
religion, are to be examined with modest deference, but not to be
received with implicit credulity. In the most enlightened and holy
men, who, since the decease of the apostles, have served God and his
Christ; in the fathers of the ancient Church; in those who headed
the Protestant Reformation, and lived as saints, or died as martyrs;
in Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, Knox, we discover humiliating proofs of
imperfection and fallibility. And, while the fundamental truths of
Christianity have been preserved in the Catholic Church, those
truths have been mingled or associated with errors so injurious and
degrading, that no blind faith is to be rested on any _human
authority_. Let us uphold the majesty of divine revelation, and
vindicate our right and our duty to interpret the sacred page--not
by the traditions of fallible men, not by the metaphysics of the
schools, not by the "special influences" which an enthusiastic mind
may construe into divine teaching, and which may be pleaded, with
equal truth or falsehood, for every form of error; but by a sober
reference to those moral perfections of the Deity, and to those
essential attributes of human nature, the knowledge of which lies at
the foundation of all sound religious belief. These are to be
learned from the Scriptures, and are the key to their right

Edwards, incomparably the most able advocate of Calvinism, since the
days of the reformer himself, is not a solitary example of the way
in which a zealous pleader may, unwarily, betray and weaken his own

Mr. Scott, in his "force of truth," gives an account of his own
conversion to Calvinism not very dissimilar to that of Edwards, and
not in any degree more honourable to the cause he proposes to
defend. The argument of that work may be summed up in few words. Mr.
Scott entertained a great dislike of Calvinistic doctrines. He
rejected the evidence by which they were supported, as being
insufficient to establish a creed which appeared to him most
objectionable. Yet, strong as were his prejudices against it, they
ultimately gave way, and, _therefore_, Calvinism must be the truth.
But, in both instances, the impression designed to be made on the
mind of the reader is the same, that is, that the Spirit of God
accomplished what the force of argument had failed to do. Mr. Scott,
therefore, adds his testimony to that of President Edwards,
confessing that Calvinism is not supported by proofs sufficient in
themselves to carry conviction to the human mind, without special
illumination from above; an illumination, which, assuredly, the
_religious opposers_ may as righteously claim, as the religious
defenders of Calvinism. For what Christian man does not pray for the
guidance of God's good Spirit? The dispassionate reader of "_The
Force of Truth_," will naturally say, that the arguments for the
Calvinistic creed were either sound or unsound. If the former, then
Mr. Scott was either very obtuse or very obstinate to resist so long
their power. If the latter, he acted with great weakness in yielding
at length to insufficient evidence, on the score of an undefinable
impulse. In either case, his name is divested of commanding
authority in the view of reasonable men. Yet it can hardly be
doubted, that this claim to _special teaching_ from the fountain of
wisdom and of truth, has done more, incalculably more, to awe the
minds of men into submission, and thus to obtain currency for their
opinions, than the _joint confession_ of these popular writers, to
the insufficiency of their own arguments, has availed to render
suspected the force of their reasoning. The impression made on the
generality of minds would be, that men so good, and so candid in
confessing their own obstinacy, could not be mistaken, in believing
themselves, at a subsequent period, to be inspired and infallible[3].

The advocates of Calvinism differ remarkably from each other in the
tone and spirit of their writings, as their habits of thought and
feeling are modified by circumstances. The American divines of the
school of Edwards have carried out his principles with unflinching
consistency, not hesitating to impute to the Deity, in unqualified
terms, the eternal decrees which fix the weal or woe of the human
race for ever. The cold and heartless manner in which these men
treat the subject, and the stoical apathy with which they
contemplate the result of their hard metaphysics, are extremely
remote from our usual conceptions of piety and humanity. Well might
that superlative woman, Mrs. Susanna Wesley, say, "The doctrine of
_predestination_, as maintained by rigid Calvinists, is very
shocking, and ought utterly to be abhorred." The dark spirit of
inflexible wrath which the American Calvinists have imputed to the
Deity, together with their coarse caricatures of the Gospel, may
account for, but cannot justify, the terms in which Dr. Chancing has
thought fit to assail _the orthodox faith_, confounding on all
occasions scriptural Christianity, as held by the Catholic Church,
with the dogmas of an extravagant creed. To understand his eloquent
and indignant declamations, we must read the transatlantic
expounders of the Calvinistic theology.

In general, the English writers of any name, are more guarded and
less unfeeling. They do not at once and directly charge God with
being the author of sin. The late Dr. Williams of Rotherham composed
a voluminous work on the subject, entitled "equity and sovereignty,"
in which he gives, what he considers, a new theory of the origin of
moral evil. To redeem the divine character from the imputation of
harshness in the decree of reprobation, he supposes mankind under a
_necessary tendency to moral defection_, as dependent and created
beings; and that it was in mere _equity_, that the wicked were
_left_, not decreed, to perdition. The hypothesis of Dr. Williams is
already exploded. It was examined and refuted by the Rev. William
Parry, of Wymondly, in a piece entitled "Strictures on the Origin of
Moral Evil." For reasoning, acute, profound, and perspicuous, both
metaphysical and moral, this work has seldom been surpassed. And the
devout and courteous spirit in which it is written, presents an
example, beautiful and instructive, of dispassionate controversy.

"Upon a review of the argument," Mr. Parry writes, "there appear to
be strong reasons for considering the whole of Dr. Williams'
hypothesis, to account for the origin of evil, as highly
objectionable, and worthy of rejection; because it is founded on a
false principle, which identifies physical and moral tendency; is
incompatible with the nature and phenomena of mind; involves the
existence of an antecedent fate or absolute necessity, which
controlled the divine operations; is inconsistent with the natural
and moral perfections of God, and the scriptural account of the
state in which man was created; is expressed in obscure and
inapplicable language; and is so far from agreeing with _equity_,
that, when taken together, it represents the Divine Being as having
at first, created intelligent and accountable creatures with such
powers as would enable them to sin, but with none which would enable
them to avoid it."

The theory of Dr. Williams found favour with many Calvinists,
because it assumed somewhat of a philosophical aspect, and was put
forth as a clear "_demonstration_." But some of its ablest defenders
have since abandoned it to that oblivion, from which no efforts can
save an elaborate speculation, ungrounded in reason or revelation,
and repugnant to common sense.

In England the public mind has been so powerfully and happily
influenced by the anti-calvinistic genius of the liturgy, offices,
and discipline of the Anglican Church, that the grossness and
extravagancy of the American divines have been tolerated chiefly by
those who have not fallen under her instructions, or who have not
had the advantage of a liberal education and extensive reading. In
general, whether within or without the pale of the Church, its more
intelligent advocates have, until lately, exhibited it in a modified
form, and thrown over it a veil of mystery which has hidden its most
appalling deformities from the sight, while by the less skilful or
sagacious only, it has been adapted more to the fears or affections
of women, than to the understandings of men. Unhappily, the grosser
representations of this doctrine are now coming into repute in
quarters where, formerly, they would not have been endured, and thus
afford another warning example of the "_facilis descensus Averni_."

But under all possible modifications, it is essentially erroneous;
and this small treatise has originated in no love of discord, or
taste for polemic excitement, but in a solemn sense of duty,--the
duty of aiding, in some humble measure, the more learned and
important labours of others who are "set for the defence of the
truth." The writer aims only at a _common sense_ view of the
subject, showing that Calvinism is a dangerous speculation, useless
for every holy and salutary purpose, inapplicable to the hopes and
the duties of a religious life, at variance with our knowledge of
God, our obligations as Christians, and all our finer sentiments and
more generous sympathies as men. So far as its influence is exerted,
it contracts the understanding and hardens the heart.

Bishop Tomline's "Refutation of Calvinism," is too well known and
justly appreciated to need recommendation from the writer of these
papers. Faber "on the Primitive Doctrine of Election," is an
important work, composed with logical precision, and founded on a
laborious analysis of the Scriptures. The intelligent reader will be
instructed and deeply interested by "An Inquiry into the Doctrines
of Necessity and Predestination," by Dr. Copleston, the Bishop of

From the latter work is extracted the following summary of the
peculiar and distinctive doctrines of the Calvinistic creed, in
which it is exhibited, not in a moderated and qualified form, as it
sometimes appears in the writings of individuals, but in its true
and undisguised character, as maintained by a grave assembly of
predestinarian divines.



That God, by an absolute decree, hath elected to salvation a very
small number of men, without any regard to their faith or obedience
whatsoever; and secluded from saving grace all the rest of mankind,
and appointed them by the same decree to eternal damnation, without
any regard to their infidelity or impenitency.


That Jesus Christ hath not suffered death for any other, but for
those elect only; having neither had any intent nor commandment of
his Father to make satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.


That by Adam's fall, his posterity lost their free-will, being put
to an unavoidable necessity to do or not to do, whatsoever they do
or do not, whether it be good or evil, being thereunto predestinated
by the eternal and effectual secret decree of God.


That God, to save his elect from the corrupt mass, doth beget faith
in them, by a power equal to that whereby He created the world and
raised up the dead; insomuch, that such unto whom He gives that
grace, cannot reject it, and the rest, being reprobate, cannot
accept it.


That such as have once received that grace by faith, can never fall
from it finally or totally, notwithstanding the most enormous sins
they can commit.




The existence of moral evil is a _fact_, not to be denied by any man
who reverences his own understanding; and that it seemed fit to the
Divine Wisdom to _permit_ its introduction into the world, is
equally beyond contradiction, unless we limit the divine power, and
suppose that, by a necessity antecedent to the divine will, and
controlling the divine conduct, the Deity himself acts, not
spontaneously but from coercion. That sin, with its awful
consequences, should even exist by _permission_, under the
administration of infinite benevolence, has been regarded by
theologians as one of the most perplexing mysteries of "the deep
things of God."

But Calvinism leads to the direct and inevitable conclusion, not
only that God has permitted the fall of angels and of men, but that
He is himself the original _author_ of their defection, and of the
guilt and suffering which have been incurred by disobedience. No
subtlety of argument, no special refinements or metaphysical
distinctions, no ingenious evasions can rescue from this fatal
conclusion the Calvinistic exposition of the divine decrees. If the
Creator in the construction of the human mind rendered it naturally,
morally, absolutely impossible, that man should maintain his
obedience to the divine law under the circumstances in which he was
placed--the act of transgression, be it what it may, must be traced
to the will and intention of the Deity--the _effect_, sin, guilt,
condemnation, undefinable misery, diffused over the face of the
creation, and coextensive with the numberless generations of the
family of man--the _cause_, God; that Being who is perfect reason,
perfect goodness, light without darkness, love without malevolence;
who cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man; with
whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning! Contrasted with
this monstrous compound of impiety and absurdity, which makes
infinite goodness the eternal source of infinite misery, there is
wisdom in the Manichaean doctrine of two conflicting principles,
holding a divided dominion over the universe, and contending, one
for the production of the universal degradation and wretchedness,
the other, for the purity and bliss of all intellectual and moral

The advocates of scriptural truth have not failed to expose, with
holy indignation and eloquent remonstrance, the inconsistency of
these views of the divine government with the entire scope and
spirit of the evangelic economy of grace. While the love of God to a
fallen world is the great theme of the apostolic ministry, and, in
language too explicit to be misunderstood, the propitiation of
Christ is said to be for the sins "of the _whole_ world,"--while, in
exact agreement with the consolatory declaration that God
"delighteth not in the death of a sinner," the apostles of Christ
are commissioned to "preach the gospel to _every creature_,"--we are
taught by Calvinism, that the God of truth is only mocking the great
mass of his miserable creatures with a semblance of mercy, from
whose tenderness they are excluded, and with promises and
invitations which He never designed should be accepted by them. A
dark and unrelenting fate has already sealed their destiny, and
their perdition is rendered inevitable before they have committed
those offences for which, as if in derision, they are commanded to
repent, in order that they may escape the wrath of the Almighty.
Thus, in total disregard of all that is holy and majestic in the
character of the Deity, He is described as a Being invested with the
most detestable of Satanic attributes, assuming the gentle
affections of a father, only to exercise more effectually the wanton
power of a tyrant, and treacherously inviting our confidence and our
love, when, with such falsehood and cruelty, as the most debased of
his creatures would not be able to perpetrate, He is only preparing
victims for his inexorable malice.

Let it not be said, in opposition to this, that we are imperfect
judges, in any particular case, of the rectitude of the divine
procedures; that our ignorance renders our decision in such a case
daring and presumptuous. We are _not_ ignorant of what is meant
either by justice or mercy. These moral qualities are essentially
the same in nature, whether in created beings or in their Creator.
The only difference is in degree. In the Deity they are _infinite_;
and, if infinite justice and mercy are compatible with conduct
which, on a smaller scale, would expose a human being to eternal
infamy, then are we disqualified for all just conceptions of the
character of God. If wanton cruelty be consistent with Divine
compassion, then may deception be reconciled with inviolable faith,
and they, who deem themselves to be happy in the electing love of
God, may awake at last to the fearful discovery, that, having
indulged in the dream of special grace, they are only reserved for a
destiny still more terrible than others, whom they had abandoned as
reprobate to the sovereign wrath of God! By what infatuation are men
induced to rely on any supposed distinctions in favour of
themselves, when they have removed the only grounds of confidence in
the righteous administration of the Deity?

It is an impressive feature in the works of rigid predestinarians,
that their own minds seem to partake of the fearful gloom with which
they depict the divine attributes. They appear awed and terror
-stricken with the stern aspect of the great Being whose moral
character they have distorted, until they tremble at the creations
of their own imagination. They write as men whose minds are rendered
morbid with mysterious fears, rather than brightened into holy
gladness, by a filial love of God. They seem to be vindicating with
servile dread a character, whose wrath they would deprecate, and
whose doubtful favour they would propitiate on their own behalf.
Even when they express their persuasion of their own interest in
"special grace," it is more in the spirit of men who are conscious
of being the favoured objects of capricious tyranny, than of that
serene and hopeful and cheering confidence which inspires the devout
heart, when it contemplates through a happier medium the beneficent
and universal Father. Nor is this unnatural. The moral character of
the Deity, as misrepresented by Calvinism, both unsettles all our
ideas of rectitude, and renders insecure our hold upon Infinite

That the mental disease of Cowper was intensely aggravated by
depressing views of the divine character, which he received from
Newton and others, and that the consolations which might have
soothed his mind, from a scriptural view of the grace of the gospel,
were neutralised or destroyed by his supposing himself the victim of
an _irreversible decree_, is clear to every impartial reader of his
most interesting and most melancholy life. Yet of his piety we have
this touching proof, that, amidst the wildest aberrations of his
intellect, and while oppressed with the conviction that he was
numbered with the reprobate, his persuasion of the rectitude of the
divine government never wavered; he acquiesced in the doom which he
believed to await him; and declared that if it were the will of God
that he should perish, he would not lift a finger to reverse his
fate! Who would not lament, that a mind thus tempered to pious
confidence, should be taught by a pernicious creed to distrust its
own interest in the love of God--a delusion which passed away only
in death!


Whatever extent we assign to the corruption of human nature, by
which its moral powers have been impaired, or the soul disqualified
for the due and proper use of those powers, it is plain that men are
still capable of acting, and of being treated as the subjects of
moral government. Calvinistic writers do themselves admit the
turpitude of sin and the loveliness of virtue--that vice entails
suffering, and that happiness is the consequence of a religious
conformity to the will of God. That is, setting aside all special
refinements by which they attempt to disprove that the present state
of man is probationary, they confess that _practically_ mankind are
treated as accountable beings whose guilt is punished and their
goodness rewarded. This broad and unquestionable fact defies
controversy. Although we may not be able to give a definition of
_freedom_ which may satisfy the philosopher, and although we may
concede to the opposers of the freedom of the will, that virtue and
vice--moral good and moral evil--are to be predicated, not of the
cause, whether it be freedom or fate, from whence our volitions
spring, but of the good or evil nature of the volitions themselves
--in whatever way these questions are decided, or, if we leave them
undecided, as being beyond the present grasp of the human intellect,
men are unquestionably subjected by the Deity to the laws of a moral
economy. They are, sooner or later, rendered happy in exact
proportion to their conformity to the commands of God, and miserable
if they remain rebellious.

And all we contend for is, that such a state of things can never be
explained on the supposition of absolute predestination or
inevitable necessity, founded on the irreversible decrees of Heaven.
The reason appears on a moment's consideration. The good or evil
nature of the volition belongs, on this hypothesis, not to the
created being, who is a passive instrument, without actual power
--but to the Creator, who is the only real agent, as well as the
efficient cause. The instrument by which He accomplishes his
purposes may be good or evil, the volitions of that instrument may
be characterised by whatever qualities you please, still, a mere
instrument is not an object of moral approbation or blame; no
responsibility attaches to it, and the condition on which it acts is
perfectly incongruous with all the ideas we have of reward or
punishment. These are inapplicable to a state of fatalism. The
volitions, and the actions they produce, are in reality those of the
Deity. To Him they belong, and to Him alone. On this critical and
decisive point all the great Calvinistic writers break down. While
they award to human beings the treatment due to moral agents, they
deny to them the attributes without which they cannot be responsible
for their actions.

To beings under moral government, personal agency is essential; but
Calvinistic fatalism reduces all agency to that of the Deity alone.
The human soul is moved mechanically by impulse from without, and
passively yields to an irresistible power.

It supposes the exercise of faculties by which we are made sensible
of our relation to the Deity, and our obligation to obey his laws.
Hence results the consciousness of rectitude or guilt, and all the
noble motives by which we are led to self-government and self
-renunciation--from a sense of duty, and with a view to future
happiness in the enjoyment of the divine approbation. But
Calvinistic necessity destroys the majesty of the human mind, as "an
arbiter enthroned in its own dominion, endowed with an initiating
power, and forming its determinations for good or for evil by an
inherent and indefeasible prerogative." It tells us that we have
neither power to act nor freedom to fall--that our sense of liberty
is delusive, that we are predestined to sin or to holiness by a
decree of the infinite mind, and that our fate has been sealed from
eternity! If we really believe it and act upon it, our moral
energies are for ever suppressed, and the consciousness of virtue
and of guilt must give way to the humiliating persuasion that we can
do nothing, and that we have nothing to do, but to yield to our lot
and await our doom, whether to be lost or saved!

The absurdity of such a theory of religion is a light consideration
compared with the perilous consequences it must produce, if it were
possible that the mass of ignorant and unreflecting creatures, of
which society is composed, should really believe it true and act in
accordance with their belief. Instructed to regard their present
conduct and future allotment, as being already determined, the
notion of a state of _trial_, in which they were accountable to God,
would be cast off, with all its salutary restraints upon the
passions, and all its noble incentives to a virtuous life. Nor would
it be possible to enforce the laws of morality by mere temporal
sanctions, the fear of exile, the dungeon, or the gibbet, when
conscience no longer enforced the dictates of religious faith. The
great auxiliary and support of all human authority is to be found in
that most noble attribute of human nature--_the sense of duty_,
which ceases to operate the moment we lose the consciousness of
freedom, believing that our thoughts, our actions, _ourselves_, are
but necessary links in an eternal chain of causes and effects.

Such a theory of religion renders it absurd to admonish mankind of
their _duty_, whether to obey the law of God, or to believe the
Gospel of Christ.

To this reasoning the Calvinist replies: "I acknowledge that men are
morally, spiritually dead. But at the command of God I would preach
to the dead: at his word the dead shall hear and live." But this
reply is irrelevant to the great points of the argument. It remains
to be proved, that God would be just in punishing as a crime that
spiritual death, of which, on the Calvinistic theory, He is the
author;--that it is possible for infinite goodness to subject
created beings to an inevitable _necessity_ of breaking his laws,
and then hand them over to perdition. This is the point which cannot
be evaded; and it is fatal to the predestinarian theology. Doubtless
God can raise the dead, literally or spiritually; but that does not
touch the question.


By the visible Church is meant the great body of persons who are
baptized into the faith of Christ, and openly profess his religion;
and the term is used in contradistinction to the invisible Church,
which consists of real, sincere, and spiritual disciples of our
Lord. These may be said to be invisible, since to search the heart
and penetrate its secrets, is the prerogative of God alone. The
truly faithful, as distinguished from the mere professors of
Christianity, will not be _seen_ in their distinct character until
the hour when the final judgment shall separate the righteous from
the wicked. "_Then_ shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in
the kingdom of their Father."

The visible Church, with her apostolic ministry, her worship, her
sacraments, and her various provisions for the edification of the
body of Christ, is instituted and constructed on the manifest
principle that the present is a probationary state, and that those
who by her ministrations are brought under the obligations of the
Christian covenant, are not thereby absolutely but conditionally
sealed to eternal life, which is suspended on their faithful
adhesion to Christ, and final perseverance in his holy ways.

In exact accordance with this statement, our Lord describes the
kingdom of heaven, or the Christian Church, as a field in which the
_wheat_ and the _tares_ grow up together until the harvest; and as a
net cast into the sea and gathering of _all kinds_ of fishes, bad
and good, which are afterwards to be separated.

Not a syllable occurs in the New Testament, not a single fact
transpires in the history of the apostolical Churches, to justify
the persuasion, that such only as were decreed to eventual
salvation, were received as members of the Christian community. Such
an order of fellowship, had it really existed, would have amounted
to a pre-judgment of characters, anticipating and superseding the
judicial sentence of the last day. In that case, to obtain an
entrance into the communion of the Church was virtually to be
proclaimed a member, not only of the visible, but also of the
invisible society of the redeemed, rendering needless all
exhortations to perseverance, and impossible all danger of apostasy.
But such an exclusive and select and judicial order of fellowship
never did and never can exist under the present dispensation, which
is essentially a mixed state, and one of probation, supplying the
means of _working out our own salvation_, and of _making our calling
and election sure_, but not requiring evidence of our effectual
calling and of our certain election to life previous to our
introduction to the worship and sacraments of the Church.

From the earliest records we have of the administration of
ecclesiastical affairs, as well as from all later history, we may
learn that the Catholic Church never aimed at the senseless project
of a pure communion, which, by excluding all but the finally elect,
should rival in sanctity the fellowship of the saints above.

The _worship_ of the Christian Church has always been open,
unrestricted, unconfined by classical distinctions, such as those of
the elect and the reprobate. The gates of the temple are closed
against none who would join in the celebration of its holy rites.
God is the Father of all; Christ the Saviour of all; the
manifestation of the Spirit was given for the profit of all; the
Gospel is to be preached to all. "And the Spirit and the Bride say,
Come, and let him that heareth say, Come, and let him that is
athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life

The same free and charitable principle has directed the
administration of the _sacraments_, a circumstance the more
remarkable, since, in the judgment of the most eminent Fathers of
the Church, these are the channels by which spiritual grace is
actually communicated to all who are rightfully baptized, and
religiously partake of the Lord's supper. The formularies of our own
branch of Christ's Catholic Church are so clear and definite on this
point, that every effort of ingenious casuistry to give them another
meaning, or to reconcile their use with the Calvinistic theology,
has ended in discomfiture. The _sacraments_ are "outward and visible
signs of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained by
Christ himself, as a _means_ whereby we receive the same, and a
_pledge_ to assure us thereof." This _grace_ is imparted, not as to
the elect and to them exclusively, but as to beings who are free and
responsible, who have to account for their use of this sacred and
inestimable gift, and who may forfeit its blessings by subsequent
guilt and final impenitence. The present state of our knowledge, or
rather ignorance of the philosophy of the human mind, may not supply
us with a satisfactory answer for those, who, in a cavilling or
sceptical spirit, ask, "How can these things be?" But it is the
doctrine of the Scriptures and of the Church, and it is perplexed
with fewer difficulties than will be found to press upon every other

Supposing the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination to be founded
in truth, the very existence of the visible Church in its present
form is a mystery which requires to be solved. No part of its
constitution or order harmonises with a scheme based on fatalism,
and limiting the grace of Heaven to a narrow section of the human

The Sabbath bell, joyously or solemnly, invites all who hear to come
to the house of God; and in the name of the "great congregation" the
minister of Christ addresses the Deity, saying, "_Our_ Father which
art in heaven!"

But Calvinism pronounces that God is _not_ "the lovely Father of all
mankind;" and, that while He has instituted the rites of religious
worship, and invites all to mingle in its sacred duties, He regards
the greater number as "_cursed children_," marked out for perdition,
"_before the morning stars sang together, or ever the sons of God
shouted for joy_."

The ministers of the Church administer to all adult converts from
paganism, Judaism, or Mahometanism, who make a credible profession,
and to all infants, whose sureties engage for their Christian
education, the rite of baptism, signifying the remission of past
sin, original or actual, and pledging the communication of whatever
grace is needful to remedy or assist the weakness of nature in the
moral warfare with temptation.

But Calvinism not only abjures this indiscriminate bestowment of
grace; but denies that even the elect are regenerated in baptism,
leaving it to the arbitrary determination of God's decree, at what
given period, and under what circumstances, they shall be,
instantaneously, and without regard to any foregoing state of mind
or habits of life, transformed into the beloved, and loving, and
lovely children of God[4]!

In a word, Calvinism supposes and requires an order of
administration totally distinct from that which actually exists in
the visible Church of God. And, accordingly, various Calvinistic
communions, which have separated from the Church since the
Reformation, have attempted a literal "fellowship of _saints_,"
presuming to discriminate from the mass of nominal Christians those
who have experienced the conclusive and saving change of Calvinistic
conversion, and admitting such only to the full enjoyment of Church
privileges and to the Lord's table. It seems not a little
surprising, that not only sagacious individuals but extensive
communities should persevere in an attempt which, in the nature of
things, can lead only to disappointment; for, the sincerity of that
species of conversion which is supposed to be final, of that grace
which is said to be irrevocable, can never be decided until the
Judge of all has pronounced his verdict. In the meantime, the terms
of communion _must_ agree in some measure with the actual state of
man; and when the matter is quietly examined, it appears that even
in Calvinistic communions the terms of membership are reduced to a
profession of the received "faith and order," and an assurance, on
the part of the initiated, that he believes himself to be a
converted person by God's special grace. This is all that is
required besides evidence of good moral character; more than this is
impracticable. The spirit of Calvinism can never be fully embodied
in a system of Ecclesiastical polity corresponding exactly with its
own nature, and marked by its own exclusiveness; for who shall
discern the elect?

This discovery appears to have been made by an eminent Calvinistic
clergyman of the present day, who, instead of coming to the
legitimate conclusion that Calvinism is therefore untenable, as
being an impracticable system, has recourse to a delusive theory of
ecclesiastical fellowship, which confounds the visible with the
invisible Church, or reduces the former to a mere nullity. According
to _his_ view of the subject, the Church of Christ consists, not of
the collective body of persons who may happen to be in fellowship
with any particular Christian communities, nor of the aggregate of
persons who throughout the world make an outward profession of our
holy faith, but of those, and those only, who "maintain the
doctrines of grace, and uphold the authority of Christ in the
world," with whatever denomination of Christians they are in
external fellowship. These, being the truly regenerate, are to
tolerate each other's differences on minor questions, to love each
other as being one in Christ, and to co-operate in every way for the
diffusion of their common principles throughout the world. Mr.
Noel's theory confirms the statement made in this section, that
Calvinism, which it is presumed he means by "the doctrines of
grace," denies the claim of any _mixed body_ of professing
Christians, such as the Anglican, or the Lutheran, or the Scottish,
or any other church, in its aggregate character, to be _a church_,
or a distinct branch of the Catholic Church. That is, Calvinism is
opposed to the constitution and the purposes of a visible church.
Mr. Noel's theory is fatal to its existence. For, when it is said of
those exclusively, who, in whatever denomination, "maintain the
doctrines of grace,"--"_and this one body is_ the church,"--it is
clearly proveable, that these persons have no intelligible grounds
on which to rest that high and exclusive pretension; _they are not_
the visible church.

These persons may, or may not, be members of the spiritual or
_invisible_ Church; _that_ is known only to the Searcher of the
heart. They may or may not be the most holy and sincere individuals
in the several churches or denominations with which they hold
external communion; _that_ also remains to be confirmed or refuted
by "the final sentence and unalterable doom." But they do not
constitute what is commonly understood by the visible Church of God.
They have no ministry, no worship, no administration of the
sacraments, visibly distinct from the mass of persons who are of the
same external fellowship with themselves; and the error of assigning
to them the distinction of being alone the true Church arises from
the ambiguity of the word _Church_, on which changes are rung,
producing a confusion of ideas--a double confusion of ideas,
"confusion worse confounded." What is the mental process by which
Mr. Noel arrives at this point? _First_, the invisible Church is
tacitly put and mistaken for the visible, the truly spiritual for
the nominal, it being assumed that we can know the hearts of others.
Then, _secondly_, this invisible Church is supposed to become
visible, and to be _alone_ visible, in the persons of those who
maintain the doctrines of grace; while the really external Church,
consisting of the entire body of professing Christians throughout
the world, vanishes out of sight, and is declared to have no
ecclesiastical existence! The truth is, that Calvinism and a visible
Church are incongruous ideas, and that no man, of whatever talent he
may be possessed, can make them harmonize. The Calvinist believes,
and is consistent in his belief, that the elect only are "the
Church," but since it is impossible to discriminate them from
others, it is impossible to unite them in an exclusive visible
fellowship. And, if it were possible, they would form such a Church
as never before existed. Calvinism is irreconcileable with the order
which has descended from the apostolic age, by the consent of the
Catholic Church, and with any visible constitution.

If Mr. Noel has succeeded in making converts to _his_ theory of a
visible Church, from the difficulty they find in detecting its
fallacies, it only proves, that

    "Sheer no-meaning puzzles more than wit."

The dissenter who, on objecting to a Church rate, said, that "If all
Churchmen were like Mr. Noel, neither he nor his brethren would
object to join them," does not seem to have been aware that they
were already members of Mr. Noel's Church. Or, what is more
probable, it was designed significantly to hint to that reverend
gentleman, that he was no more attached than themselves to the
Church of which he is a pastor, and whose ordination vows are upon
him,--and that with Churchmen who are prepared so to betray or deny
their Church, under an erroneous sense of duty, dissenters may
without difficulty form an alliance[5].


When Lord Chatham taunted the Church with having "a Calvinistic
creed, a popish liturgy, and an Arminian clergy," that illustrious
person was the author of a libel on this holy and apostolical
institution. Her creed is not Calvinistic, for it says nothing about
absolute predestination; her liturgy it not popish, for there is no
worship of saints or of the Virgin; her clergy are not Arminian, for
their moderation has preserved them, as a body, from all extremes in
doctrine, and _that_, as well as their unrivalled erudition and
intellectual power, has been the admiration of the most eminent
protestant divines and men of letters in Europe. And to her truly
scriptural character, especially her rejection of the Calvinistic
theology, with its gloomy, turbulent, and intolerant spirit, may be
traced the high tone of moral feeling and practical reverence of
religion which have honourably distinguished the people of England.
Happily, Calvinism in its palmy days was confined to the Puritanical
party, which made comparatively small progress within the pale of
the Church; while the most influential of her clergy, and the great
majority of her well educated laity, embraced the doctrines of a
more generous and scriptural theology. Without falling into
Pelagianism, a charge made by Calvinists on all who reject the
system improperly called "the doctrines of grace," they held the
great evangelic truth that Christ "_died for all_," and its
correspondent views of the benevolence of God, and the moral dignity
of human nature, impaired, but not destroyed, by the fall.

The principles of the remonstrants, without being servilely
embraced, influenced and modified the religious opinions of the
people of England, who were never generally favourable, either to
the dogmas or the discipline of the Genevan reformer, and to this
circumstance are we largely indebted for the manly and the moral
character of our country.

This statement, founded on the history of the Reformation and the
times which followed, is not intended as an indiscriminate attack on
the moral character of Calvinists. Many of them are to be classed
with the holiest of men; not because they are Calvinists, but
because their erroneous notions are rendered innoxious, by the
prevalence of a sincere piety, and by a secret and practical
disbelief of the principles which, in speculation or imagination,
they seem to hold.

It would be both unjust and uncharitable to judge any class of
persons simply by the creed they subscribe, or to impute to them the
consequences which might be supposed to follow from a rigid
adherence to its doctrines. There are antagonist principles at work;
there is the law written on the heart; there is grace to counteract
the tendency of false impressions; there is the love of God and of
man to render those who are truly good men superior to any bad
principles they have unhappily imbibed. Their Christianity is
dominant, and their Calvinism is made harmless.

But evil speculation has a tendency in all minds to lessen or
destroy the power of those dictates of conscience which are
honourable to us as moral agents; and it will counteract, so far as
it goes, the salutary influence of those scriptural truths which
still retain their hold upon the judgment or the feelings. In but
few instances, comparatively, can Calvinism be altogether harmless;
in the ordinary course of things, it is productive of results
positively injurious.

In persons of serious religion, it will produce opposite effects, as
they may be gentle and timid, or bold and presumptuous. In the
former, anxiety, fearful apprehension, deep distress, approaching to
despondency, lest the tremendous decree of reprobation should have
been recorded against them in the indelible page. In the latter, who
can bring a sanguine temperament of mind to the contemplation of the
subject, the effect may be, and often is, unbounded confidence,
leading to self-complacency and spiritual pride; the very natural
result of believing that they are special objects of the love of
God, and that their persuasion is a divine impulse, God speaking to
the heart. Spiritual pride may assume the aspect of profound
humility, and thus impose on its victim by the notion that he is
only magnifying the sovereign grace of Heaven in his election to
eternal life. But such is the weakness of human nature, that the
consciousness of this high distinction needs to be chastened by very
lofty views of the moral virtue required by Christianity, and by
very humbling conceptions of our own, to prevent a false and
dangerous elation of the heart.

And, in how many instances this consciousness is mere delusion, it
would seem almost needless to suggest. It is often professed under
suspicious circumstances by doubtful characters. Nothing can be more
groundless than the persuasion so commonly entertained by persons of
this creed, that to be fully convinced of the truth of the doctrine
is a sufficient ground of confidence that _they_ are therefore of
the number of the chosen people. The strongest conviction may be
deceptive. The firmest assurance may be the result of ignorant or
fanatical presumption. And whatever may be the readiness of this
class of persons to say, "My mountain standeth firm--I shall never
be moved," it cannot but be feared respecting many of them, that
they have yet to learn the very "first principles of the oracles of
God." The remarkable absence of humility and charity in these
"children of special grace" is alone enough to render their
Christianity questionable, exposes the dangerous nature of their
delusion, and proves the practical inutility of their scheme; since,
after all, without the evidence of a truly evangelical temper and
life, no inward assurance would satisfy a reflecting mind; and in
the possession of such evidence, no other assurance is needed.

The self-righteousness of the Pharisee is scarcely more to be
dreaded than the spiritual pride of the Calvinist, when it has
passed from under the control of holy wisdom. It assumes the
character of selfishness, bigotry, and the lust of intolerant

The same spirit of exclusiveness and domination, which pervades in
general their ecclesiastical polity, affects their allegiance to the
state. Under cover of abolishing episcopacy, the doctrinal Puritans
were the principal authors of that revolution which introduced the
Commonwealth after the fall of the monarchy; and their aim was the
exclusive _dominion of the saints_, that by political power they
might establish their own forms of Church government. Religion was
really their object, and they were not hypocritical in professing
it; but to accomplish their spiritual projects, they considered
themselves entitled to secular dominion; and their tyranny in Church
and State was so overbearing, that the nation, after the death of
Cromwell, eagerly threw itself into the arms of the Stuarts, almost
without a compact, rather than endure the sanctimonious intolerance
of Calvinistic patriots and republican saints[6].

The same leaven is still at work. The doctrinal Puritans of the
present day have the same lordly consciousness of a right to
dominion. They have declared their resolution to "stagger senates,
and smash cabinets" until their points are carried. They have given
to the nation a significant announcement of their claims to power,
by their politico-religious synod of Manchester. The imperial
parliament of these realms is, in future, it seems, to make its
fiscal arrangements, and legislate on points of purely political
economy, under the dictation of the Calvinistic divines of the
nineteenth century[7]. Doubtless, our future Chancellors of the
Exchequer will be selected from this body of sacred financiers.

While it produces effects so remote from those of true Christianity
in the _religious_ professors of Calvinism, on the mass of ignorant,
sordid, unreflecting, and worldly-minded persons, who are taught
these doctrines, its worst influences are seen to operate; and, as
the country was notoriously demoralized at the close of the
Cromwellian dictatorship, when Calvinistic divines had enjoyed a
long and signal triumph, so is the present age marked by a
degeneracy in the public morals, which has kept pace with the
progress of opinions of similar character and tendency. The rude
multitude is taught that there is no grace but _special_ grace, and
this produces recklessness and indifference, since no efforts will
avail if they are not to be partakers of these, to them, forbidden
streams of the river of the water of life. Or, perhaps, this gloomy
doctrine produces a sullen suspicion, vague and undefined, of the
rectitude of God, and thus alienates still more those hearts which
are already adverse to the Divine government.

Of all the mischievous extravagances of opinion, none has produced
more fatal consequences, than the notion, that God takes particular
delight in selecting the vilest of men for the object of his
electing love; and that the gross sinner is better prepared for the
grace of Christ, than they who have walked in the paths of virtue.

It is a melancholy but instructive fact, that in Calvinistic
families, the puritanical order and discipline which are often
highly commendable, have proved insufficient to counteract the
malignant effects of the doctrines inculcated on the minds of the
young. Instead of being taught that grace is given to all, and that
all are responsible for its use, they are instructed that this
blessing may perhaps be withholden. And no families have sent forth
into the world more affecting examples of worthless and unprincipled
young men, who have brought down the grey hairs of their excellent
but mistaken parents with sorrow to the grave!

If the unguarded preaching of "the doctrines of grace," and the
scanty instruction given on the great duties of practical religion,
have contributed to the demoralized state of the people, let it not
be supposed that other causes have been wanting to swell the tide of
corruption. From the Revolution, toleration has been gradually
enlarged, until all salutary restraints have been swept away, and
the glorious liberties of our country have degenerated, by a fatal
abuse, into unbridled licentiousness. The press is daily infusing
poison into the public mind. What once would have been punished as
_profaneness_ and _blasphemy_, is no longer noticed by the gentle
guardians of the law, and _treason_ has almost ceased to be a crime.
Liberalism has trampled over law, and the reigning evils have been
unhappily aggravated by those whose position in the state ought to
have dictated other conduct than that of making anarchical
principles the road to dominion.


The general tenor of the Holy Scriptures is so clearly against it,
that it is impossible to account for the facts or the doctrines of
the Bible on supposition of the truth of the Calvinistic theology:
Nor would it be needful to discuss the subject, however briefly, on
scriptural grounds, but for a few particular texts which are cited
against the current testimony of the word of God. It is said that
_one_ text, if plain and direct, is evidence enough for the
establishment of any doctrine. This may be a sound canon of
interpretation, where the one text admits but one meaning, and that
meaning is not opposed by conflicting evidence, but not otherwise.
In the present instance, there exists, in addition to the opposing
stream of Scripture testimony, the following strong presumption
against the Calvinistic view of particular texts. Supposing the
doctrine of Calvinistic fatalism to be correct, no explanation can
be given of the general tenor of Divine revelation, none which _can_
be made to harmonize with that doctrine. The entire history of
providence and redemption, as given in the Bible, proceeds on the
principle, not of fate, but of freedom; and if we are not free, we
are reduced to the suspicious and unworthy conclusion, that the
secret and the revealed will of God are at variance with each other;
that we are deceived by a scheme of things designedly arranged to
convey false impressions of truth, and that while God treats us now
as though we were accountable beings, He fixes our final destinies
without any regard whatsoever to our imaginary freedom and pretended

On the other hand, taking the general tenor of the sacred volume to
be the true representation of the moral economy under which we are
placed by the infinite wisdom of God, all the passages which are
cited by Calvinists, as being favourable to their cause, may be so
explained, and that without violence, as to accord with the current
testimony of the Scriptures to the freedom and moral agency of man.
A stronger presumptive argument cannot be conceived against the
claim of Calvinism to scriptural authority.

Let it be also distinctly observed, that the cause of Calvinism is
not served by those passages of Scripture which relate to the
election of individuals, or of nations, to certain privileges which
do not extend to the absolute enjoyment of eternal life. Of this
description is the ninth of the Romans. The subject of that
celebrated chapter is not the election of individuals to final
salvation, but the election of the Jews to the honor of being the
visible Church, and their subsequent rejection through open
unbelief. Nor does the allusion contained in it to the destruction
of Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea, yield an argument in favour
of Calvinistic reprobation. The fact that the infatuated monarch was
hardened in heart by _the leniency_ which spared him under so many
provocations and insults offered by him to the Almighty God, does
not prove, nor was it designed to prove, that he was the fated
victim of an eternal decree, whether in regard to his secular or
spiritual condition.

Nor can Calvinism plead for itself those texts which are supposed to
refer to the election of individuals to final salvation, but which
at the same time leave unsettled the important question at issue;
whether that election was absolute and irrespective of character, or
whether it was founded on the foreknowledge of their faith and
obedience. Such for example is the language of St. Paul, 2 Thess.
ii. 13, 14. All such passages leave the controversy undetermined,
proving only that the doctrine of election is scriptural, but not
fixing the sense in which it is to be taken, whether absolute or

The terms _election_ and _predestination_, with their correlates,
are of frequent occurrence in the New Testament, and with various
significations, which are to be explained by the particular subjects
to which they refer. But the _only_ texts which really bear on the
Calvinistic controversy, are those which may seem to represent
election as sovereign, arbitrary, and totally irrespective of the
faith and obedience of the elect; such are few indeed. Let us review
_that_ which is deemed by the advocates of Calvinism among their
most conclusive evidences. "That election," says Edwards, "is not
from a foresight of works, as depending on the condition of man's
will, is evident by 2 Tim. i. 9. 'Who hath saved us, and called us
with an holy calling, _not according to our works_, but according to
his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before
the world began.'" Edwards was not more remarkable for acuteness
and subtlety as a reasoner, than for his lax and indiscriminate
citations of Scripture. He appeals to this text with such
confidence, that he deems no analysis to be necessary. The bare
citation is enough.

But a brief examination of the passage will make it clear that it
yields no support to Calvinism. The Calvinist affirms "that God, by
an absolute decree, hath elected to salvation a very small number of
men without any regard to their faith and obedience whatsoever."
That is, the decree which insures the safety of the elect is not
founded on God's foreknowledge of their holiness and of their
perseverance in the faith. To show that this doctrine is supported
by the passage under our consideration, it must be proved, that when
the Apostle says, "not according to _our works_," he means our
_Christian_ good works, our faith, our repentance, our charity, our
evangelic obedience to Christ; of this, there is not the shadow of
evidence. On the contrary, the _works_ alluded to are those, whether
good or bad, which were done in a state of heathen or Jewish
depravity, at any rate done before believers exercised faith and
repentance, and were called to the privileges of the Christian
Church. No other interpretation will hold.

St. Paul states that God "hath saved us, and called us with an holy
calling." He then proceeds to trace this happy condition to its
sources. He begins with a negation. The antecedent cause of our
salvation and calling was _not our works_; we were not treated
_according to_ our works; not after the measure, the proportion, the
merit or demerit of our works: these might have brought punishment,
but could never have procured for us blessings so great and
undeserved. The real cause was _the purpose of God_ and _his grace_
given in Christ before the world began.

Here, _our works_ are put in distinct opposition to the purpose and
grace of God.

They could not, therefore, be our Christian works, done in a state
of salvation and subsequent to our obeying the holy calling. _These_
are the practical results, the _moral effects_, of our holy calling
according to the gracious purpose of God. These could never have
been done but for that holy calling. They could not therefore in any
sense be the _antecedent cause_ of that holy calling. In the order
both of nature and of time, both the gracious purpose and the holy
calling must have preceded these works. To tell any man of common
sense, that they were not the procuring cause of the grace from
whence they were themselves derived, was needless.

To one so intelligent as Timothy, such instruction was worse than
superfluous. Works could not hold the twofold relation of cause and
effect to God's grace. Nor can it be supposed that St. Paul was the
author of a solecism so obvious, as that of formally setting in
opposition to the _purpose_ and the _grace_ of God those evangelic
works, which were the moral effects of the influence of that grace
and of the execution of that purpose. The works alluded to were
those which might be done before men were partakers of the Christian
salvation, or independently of the dispensation of grace, and
according to _such_ works no man could be entitled to the blessings
of eternal redemption.

This important text lends no support to the Calvinist. It cannot be
cited in proof, that the election of God is arbitrary and
uninfluenced by his foreknowledge of the faith and obedience of his
chosen people, for the works here intended are _not Christian good
works_ done in faith. Edwards did wisely in not analyzing this text.

The same principle of interpretation is applicable to Titus iii. 5.
"_Not by works of righteousness_ which we have done, but according
to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and
renewing of the Holy Ghost." These _works_ are not those of the
truly regenerate, which being the _effects_ of the grace of Christ,
cannot be mistaken for the meritorious cause of the communication of
that grace. It is rather to be taken as a broad assertion, that the
blessings of the Christian covenant, are not the result or the
reward of human deserts; that apart from the redemption of Christ,
there are _no_ works of righteousness by which we can be saved; and
that while Christians are made really holy and good, their
sanctification is to be traced to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
In neither passage is there any statement on which to rest an
argument for the arbitrary and unconditional decree of the
Calvinist, nor for depreciating the intrinsic value of those really
good works which the Christian performs in faith. Calvinism has no
foundation in the word of God. It is in direct collision with that
sacred authority. St. Paul rests the divine election on the
foreknowledge of the Deity, and let his decision be final. "Whom he
did _foreknow_, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the
image of his Son."

The seventeenth Article of the Church accords with the Scriptures,
and its doctrinal statements are made almost entirely in the
language of the sacred writers, and of those eminent divines of the
Reformation who abjured Calvinism and adhered to the Bible. It is
drawn up with great moderation, says nothing of absolute decrees and
unconditional election, and it treats the subject practically. The
concluding paragraph relating to "curious and carnal persons" shows
that the venerable compilers of the Article rejected extreme views
of this doctrine, since these only could lead to "a most dangerous
downfall." But if the article itself be at all equivocal, it must be
interpreted by the formularies of the Church and by the Scriptures,
since no dogma is to be imputed to this holy branch of Christ's
Catholic Church, that is at variance with the attributes of God, the
moral constitution of man, the testimony of the Bible, and the
obligations of practical religion.

If Calvinism be the doctrine of our Church, then are the
_Catechism_, and the Order for the Ministration of _Baptism_, the
most absurd and delusive compositions by which the minds of men were
ever led astray.


It was not in the nature of things, that Calvinistic predestination
should be received as truth, without producing such a modification
of the entire system of divine revelation, as would impress on it a
new and completely different character. Christianity, in its
unadulterated simplicity, is distinguished by the consolatory views
it imparts of the benignity and grace of God, and by the direct and
cogent motives it suggests for holiness and righteousness of life.
But the first article of the Calvinistic creed throws a veil of
awful and suspicious mystery over the divine goodness, and
represents it "as the sun shorn of his beams." Having determined
that God is not the universal Father, nor "the Saviour of all men,"
but the projector of a scheme which predetermines the ruin of the
great mass of his creatures, Calvinism models to its own purpose all
those doctrines of Christianity which are in beautiful accordance
with the truth that "God is love." It denies that the atonement of
Christ was intended to make satisfaction for "the sins of the
_whole_ world." It announces that the non-elect are laid under an
irresistible necessity of sinning to destruction, and that no
spiritual grace is imparted to rescue them from the dominion of
native, incurable, uncontrolled depravity.

The gracious invitations and promises of the Gospel are reduced to
unmeaning terms, so far as the many are concerned. And while
Calvinism is denominated by its admirers "the doctrines of grace,"
it obliterates from the Scriptures every trace of sincere mercy, and
robs the diadem of heaven of its purest and brightest gem.
_Calvinism_ and _grace_ are heterogeneous terms, representing
discordant ideas.

The motives to a holy life, governed by piety and adorned with
virtue, must be impaired by the views here given of the Deity. No
human mind can be habituated to the contemplation of the divine
conduct, as it is seen distorted by the predestinarian theology, and
retain its just sentiments of what is right, what is just, what is
honourable, what is lovely in goodness. The man who imitates the God
of the Calvinist, that phantasm of a morbid or dreaming imagination,
cannot fail to have his moral sentiments corrupted, and to become
deceptive, shuffling, treacherous, and eventually insensible to the
misery of others.

The Calvinistic doctrines of _regeneration_ and _perseverance_ are
not calculated to rectify these evils. These are made to harmonize
with the fatalism which bears all men along with irresistible
energy, the reprobate to perdition, the redeemed to blessedness. The
new birth is described as a sudden transformation of our spiritual
nature, effected by sovereign grace, unconnected with the preceding
states of the mind, whether good or evil, and attended with the
communication of spiritual life which can never afterwards be
forfeited or lost. No sins, however enormous, can endanger the
elect, although they may for a time cloud their evidences. The
effects produced by this doctrine on the mind of that individual who
believes himself to be thus specially distinguished, must be of a
very dangerous kind, unless counteracted as it frequently is by
other principles, or restrained by the genuine spirit of
Christianity operating with antagonist energy.

It is this _necessary_ corruption of the great truths of the Gospel
that renders Calvinism an object of distrust and alarm. If it was a
mere speculation, which was intended, in the calm spirit of
Christian philosophy, to solve a problem in theology or morals,
leaving untouched the essential character of revealed religion, it
might pass without rebuke. But it weakens the moral sense, and it
leads to the subversion of all that is consolatory in our prospects
of the final destinies of the human race, leaving us no security for
the salvation even of the supposed elect; for what hope can repose
with confidence on the supreme Arbiter of events, when He is
believed to be the author of a religion which represents Him as
acting without any intelligible moral motive, destroying the
majority of the human race for offences not their own, and saving
the remnant without regard to their Christian virtues!

It is remarkable that, while in modern times many disavow their
belief in those views of the _divine decrees_ which form the basis
of the Calvinistic creed, and which have occasioned this corruption
of Christian truth, they still hold to these corruptions, and write
and preach on the implied principle that the grace of God is limited
by decree to those whom they specially designate his children. They
have been driven from the foundation, and still they cleave to the
superstructure. They assume the designation of _moderate_
Calvinists, not perceiving that the doctrines of particular
redemption, and special grace, and exclusive assumption of a filial
relation to God, are untenable when absolute predestination is
exploded. Calvinism, after all, is their creed, since the system to
which they adhere cannot rest on any other foundation.

It is to be inferred, therefore, that for persons of a certain
temperament this doctrine has charms so powerful as to negative the
calm dictates of the judgment, and practically to render the mind
insensible to the force of truth.

And what are its recommendations to those who embrace it?

1. Calvinism is both exciting and sedative, exciting to the
imagination, and sedative to the conscience. Thus it is accommodated
to two of the leading principles of human nature, the love of the
awful, the terrific, the deeply tragic, and the natural anxiety
which all men feel, to be rid of the consciousness of guilt and of
personal danger. Nothing can exceed the tremendous scenes opened to
the imagination by that system of theology, which dooms to perdition
the great mass of human beings, who are permitted by their Creator
to sport or suffer upon earth through a few rapid revolutions of
time, and are then swept away for ever into an abyss of ruin; while,
with confounding and dreadful mystery, the Author of their being is
represented as the great agent in this work of appalling desolation.
To redeem his character for mercy, He rescues an elect few, but
leaves the devoted multitude without pity and without hope, to
everlasting torment. Whether we contemplate this fearful character
of the Deity, or endeavour to realize the scenes which await the
departure of lost souls, or attempt in imagination to identify
ourselves with the happy spirits of the redeemed, who have escaped,
_they know not why_, the general destruction of all that is dear to
man, we must be sensible that all the ordinary conceptions of the
human mind are comparatively powerless for pity, or terror, or
intense expectation of what is to come.

At the same time its tendency, excepting in the case of a few
sensitive and tender spirits, is to deaden the consciousness of
guilt, to still the remonstrances of the self-convicted mind, and to
enable men of no religion and of no morals to hear these doctrines
proclaimed from the pulpit without any salutary disquietude of
heart. They do not really believe them, or they find in them an
apology for their corruption. It has sometimes been said, by way of
severe reflection, of a moral sermon, that it could not be the
Gospel, for that a Socinian might have heard it without offence. The
objection is very absurd; but what then ought to be the inference
drawn by the same persons, respecting the character of doctrines
which, although in speculation they are fearful and appalling to the
utmost, tend in reality to stupify the moral sense, and can be
listened to by the profane and the profligate with complacency or
apathy? While it explains their popularity, it is a presumption
against their truth.

2. This doctrine has the recommendation of freeing those who hold it
from anxiety about the practical part of religion, by substituting a
system of belief _purely speculative_. When examined in all its
bearings, it may be seen to consist of faith and assurance: faith in
the divine decrees; assurance of being numbered with the elect. Get
clear views of the divine sovereignty, believe that Christ died for
_you_ in particular, construe the persuasion of your safety into an
especial witness of the Holy Spirit; doubt nothing, fear nothing;
look entirely out of yourselves; and remember that there is a
finished salvation for the elect; and all is well! This is
Calvinism. And this is speculation. If repentance, self-government,
virtue, and the duties of Christian piety and obedience are
inculcated, these must be enforced on grounds not supplied by the
predestinarian theology, and irreconcileable with that scheme of
doctrine. Doubtless, the best writers of this school insist on
holiness of temper, and sanctity of life, and enforce these by
motives derived from the moral perfections of God, the turpitude of
sin, and the necessity of a renewed heart as being essential to
religion here and happiness hereafter. But all these considerations
are totally independent of the speculations of the fatalist, and are
rendered powerless as incentives to action exactly in proportion to
the practical influence of these speculations on the mind and the

Let the professor of Christianity give up his thoughts to eternal
decrees, and special grace, and the soothing dream of irrevocable
promises sealed to the heart by the clear witness of the Spirit, and
the moral conflict with sin and temptation will languish with the
salutary fear of danger. This is suited to the depraved indolence of
man. All false systems of religion have in view the indulgence of
this perilous but seductive peace. Any thing is acceptable to
corrupt human nature that supplies a substitute for the duties of
moral righteousness and a sublime virtue, lulling the conscience
into a state of artificial repose. And to produce this effect, no
scheme of religious belief, that ever emanated from the perverse
ingenuity of the human mind, was ever so perfectly contrived as the
Calvinistic notion of predestinating grace.

3. Of the multitudes of truly religious persons, who embrace this
doctrine or give their passive assent to it, but few are competent
to detect its fallacies, or to trace its evil consequences.

They are to be found chiefly among the lower ranks of life, or the
uneducated portions of the middle and the higher classes. If there
are any whose minds have been disciplined by sound instruction, and
expanded by liberal acquirements, they are, for the most part, the
children of Calvinistic families, who, having been taught to
reverence these opinions in their childhood, have not had energy of
mind to rise above their early impressions. That multitudes of
persons piously disposed, but without the requisite knowledge, or
intellectual culture, should be influenced by the arguments of men
skilful in dialectics, and zealous to make proselytes, cannot be
deemed matter of wonderment. Especially let it be noticed, that
these teachers and preachers know well how to appeal to ignorant
timidity and to sincere but unguarded piety.

They are told, that to reject these doctrines shows "a heart
secretly disaffected to the government of God," and daring to oppose
presumption and ignorance to the wisdom of the Eternal. As if it
were not the fact, that Calvinism has been viewed with abhorrence by
men of the humblest and the purest piety, by men of seraphic minds
and of the sublimest intellect.

They are also instructed to believe, that the grace of the Redeemer
is magnified by degrading human nature to the utmost, and making the
redeemed passive recipients of predestinated and exclusive grace.
But they do not perceive that Calvinism destroys all ideas of
_grace_, by making God the author of the misery which He affects to
pity, and by tracing the divine conduct to mere motiveless caprice,
to blind and arbitrary choice or rejection.

These distinctions are lost upon the superficial minds of the
multitude. And when they are told that Calvinism honours the
sovereignty of God, and exalts the grace of Christ, their religious
and holy feelings are enlisted in a cause which little deserves
these high and evangelic eulogies. While the love of God in Christ,
to themselves in particular, is made the prevailing topic, the
gloomy and suspicious parts of the system are kept in the back
ground, or positively denied.

If there be truth in the preceding remarks, the degree of popularity
which attaches to this view of religion, far from yielding a
presumptive argument in its favour, is, at least, a reason for
regarding it with suspicion. It has not the recommendation of being
the faith of the most numerous portion of the wise, of the holy, of
the virtuous. It appeals to the weaknesses rather than to the nobler
principles of human nature. It can never be the sincere and
cherished belief of an enlightened, community.

The advocates of this creed appear to be aware of this, and
therefore supply their want of conclusive argument by fulminations
intended to effect by fear, what more honourable means could not

They not only contend for the truth of their doctrine, they make the
belief of it essential to salvation. None are elect who do not
receive their views of election. All others are reprobate. "Shall I
tell you," says one of their most eminent men, "some of the ends
that may be answered by preaching this doctrine? One important end
is, to detect hearts which are unwilling that God should reign; to
lay open those smooth, selfish spirits, which, while they cry
Hosannah, are hostile to the dominion of Jehovah. The more fully God
and the system of his government are brought out to view, the more
clearly are the secrets of all hearts revealed." Men, who fancy
themselves impelled by a "special influence" to receive this creed,
may consistently pronounce judgment on those who reject it. The
absurdity in one case, is not greater than in the other. But their
attempts at intimidation will have no other effect with persons of
dispassionate reflection, than to render more repulsive those errors
which foster insolent conceit in vulgar minds, and encourage those
who appear to have but a superficial knowledge of themselves to pass
sentence of condemnation on the hearts of others.

Formally to disclaim a charge so gross and misapplied as that of
"hostility to the dominion of Jehovah," would be to treat it with
more respect than it deserves. But it may not be improper to remark,
that the charge proceeds with the worst possible grace from the
vindicators of a creed which obliterates from the divine government
every trace of wisdom, of rectitude, of goodness, and so represents
the Ruler of the word, as to make Him an object of detestation and
terror to his creatures. Other sentiments must inspire the heart
before we can reverence the divine administration, and unite in "the
song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty: _just_ and
_true_ are thy ways, Thou king of saints."



The writer of these pages has no personal knowledge of the author of
the tract, of whom he has only heard by report, that he is a zealous
minister and popular preacher. His writings indicate natural suavity
of temper. Having therefore no feeling of personal disrespect, he
deems no apology to be necessary for the freedom of his strictures
on a work which challenges attention and defies contradiction.

Mr. Noel has openly and dogmatically set forth a theory of the
visible Church and her fellowship, not only hostile to the Church of
England and fraught with absurdity, but propounded under the
alluring guise of Christian charity; a charity which has won for him
the applause of the professors of modern _liberalism_, because, on a
cursory glance, it appears to embrace all sects and denominations of
Christians. It is proper, therefore, to set the matter in a true
light, by showing that this liberality of sentiment is more specious
than real; that Mr. Noel is throwing out false colours, and that
while, in no measured terms, he condemns the supposed want of
brotherly-kindness in the members of the Church of England, his own
apparent liberality is resolvable into nothing else than
_Calvinistic exclusiveness and intolerance_.

Liberality is the order, the fashion, the idol of the day. In many
it takes the form of infidel indifference, regarding as equally
true, or equally false, every creed that is called Christian.

The charity of our holy and Apostolical Church is not thus lax and
indiscriminate. It rests not upon scepticism, but upon sound and
definable principles. It does not proceed on the assumption that all
creeds are equally good, but that men of all creeds have a political
right to follow the dictates of conscience, whether enlightened or
erroneous, in matters purely spiritual, and that they are
responsible only to God for their religious faith and worship;
indulging, at the same time, a charitable persuasion of the
sincerity and Christian goodness of multitudes who are believed to
be labouring under mistaken views of truth. This is true _Christian_
charity, which tolerates error, hopes well of misinformed but
sincere piety, breathes no malignant feelings, indulges in no
haughtiness of conscious superiority; but, after all, holds firmly
to its own persuasion of what is true and right, without the
smallest approach to a compromise of principles even with honest and
well-meaning error. This is the charity of the sound English
churchman, and this charity lies at the foundation of the religious
liberties of the British empire.

As churchmen we contemplate with reverence, our protestant,
episcopal, and apostolical communion. We believe that it rests on
"the foundation of Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself the
chief corner-stone." And we contend for the right of the Church to
demand from her own ministers faith in her doctrines, and to model
her own worship, and adjust her own ceremonies according to her own
holy discretion. But we compel no man to come in. We love and
cherish the chartered and constitutional liberties of our country;
and while we sympathize not with the errors which are tolerated, we
rejoice in the freedom, the just and evangelic freedom, which leaves
every man, without control or interference, to settle all points of
_religious_ duty with his conscience and his God. We do not feel
bound to attempt what would be impracticable, to construct a church
which should suit the caprices of all, and whose flexible creed,
like the vane which surmounts the steeple, should shift with "_every
wind of doctrine_;" but we allow the discontented to depart without
molestation, and we honour their conscientious scruples, while we
regret and condemn their errors.

With charity so large yet discriminating, founded on principles
which approve themselves to the judgment and the heart, we solemnly
protest against every charge of intolerance and bigotry that is
brought, by friend or foe, against our National Church.

But this does not satisfy Mr. Noel, who proposes, what appears at
first sight, a charity still more generous and comprehensive. The
Anti-paedobaptist and the Presbyterian, with all their germane
varieties, are not only to be treated with forbearance and regarded
with charity, but are all to form one fellowship, united and co
-operating in the great cause of their common Christianity. Take the
following passage. "And these" _Baptism_ and _Church government_,
"are two of the most important points which separate Christians.
Should they separate them? As well might the brothers of a family be
separated by the most trifling difference on some question of taste
or literature. . . . . . Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Baptists
and Paedobaptists, with all others, who differ on obscure and
undecided points, ought, if they have one Lord, one faith, one
baptism, one God, and one hope, under the influence of one Spirit,
who sanctifies them all, to be one in profession, in action, and in
heart." This passage, which is in the spirit of the entire tract, is
open to grave animadversion.

1. The points mentioned as being "most trifling differences," are
regarded by all theologians of any reputation as questions of great
moment, although not equally so with those which immediately touch
our salvation. Mr. Noel is altogether original in regarding either
the construction that is to be put on the sacrament of baptism, or
the degree of importance to be attached to the episcopal office, as
matters "most trifling."

2. The Baptists and Presbyterians, who look on these points with
other feelings than those of Mr. Noel, have considered them of
sufficient moment to justify their separation from the communion of
our Church. That separation is _their own_ "act and deed." And to
charge the Church, on this account, with bigotry, intolerance, and
want of charity, proves either consummate ignorance of ecclesiastical
history, or deliberate injustice to serve a party. Nevertheless,
the entire argument of the tract, proceeds on the assumption that
the Church is the guilty and impenitent party.

3. Under these circumstances, it is impossible that there should be
but "one profession," unless one of the differing parties can deny
its own faith, and profess what it does not believe. The Catholic
Church of England cannot, and will not, be guilty of that turpitude.
The members of _Mr. Noel's Church_ have declared, by their voluntary
separation, their determination to profess their own principles.

4. That which is most reprehensible in this charitable project of
hailing all sects as brethren is, that it is, after all, deceptive
and hollow. Mr. Noel does not intend a promiscuous fellowship with
various denominations. His charity is extended to those, and to
those exclusively, who, within these several communions, hold "the
doctrines of grace." All others he denounces as not being children
of God. That is, his union includes all those who think with
himself; Calvinists of every persuasion, and not a soul besides!
These are his "one body," and this one body is "the church." How
beautiful, how noble, how godlike is the charity of the Church of
England, which exists in unison with the love of truth, but embraces
with Christian affection even those who have quitted her fellowship,
contrasted with the drivelling and sectarian partialities of the
Calvinist who pronounces every man who differs from himself to be no
child of God! The charity of Mr. Noel resolves itself into
Calvinistic exclusiveness and intolerance.

If in these remarks there is any apparent severity, they are not to
be applied to the author, but to the principles of his work.
Calvinism obscures the finest intellect, and gives a false direction
to the most humane and generous feelings which can impart graceful
dignity to the Christian character.


Gilbert & Rivington, Printers, St. John's Square, London.

_By the same Author_.


DISCOURSES on some important Theological Subjects, Doctrinal and
Practical. 7_s_.


CHRISTIANITY. Part I. 2_s_. 6_d_. Part II. 2_s_.


The CONSOLATIONS of CHRISTIANITY, in four Discourses. 3_s_. 6_d_.




[1] Dr. Griffin in his "Lectures on Important Doctrines," broadly
charges the rejectors of Calvinism with embracing _another Gospel_,
and with being on the high road to infidelity. "And when they have
gone this length," he says, "in frittering away man's dependence on
grace, they are just prepared to place him completely on his own
works, to deny justification by faith, and of course, the proper
influence of the atonement; short of this these systems never stop:
and when they have gone thus far, there is but one step to a denial
of the divinity of Christ and the infinite demerit of sin. The next
step is _universalism_, and the next _infidelity_." Every
intelligent reader will know how to appreciate this senseless
dogmatism. The infidel might with equal propriety charge the
professors of Scriptural Christianity with being on the high road to
Calvinism, and prepared, by their faith in the corruption of human
nature, and the atonement of Christ, for the most extreme views of
the Divine decrees. Yet these bold and baseless assertions have
their weight with those for whom they are intended, and many weak
but good persons are held in passive bondage to these teachers and
their creed, through the holy fear of moving a step towards
infidelity. On the other hand, we might retort the charge. Calvinism
has made more infidels than any other corruption of Christianity,
excepting Popery. But we suggest this only in the way of _fair

The rejectors of Calvinism do not reject "the doctrines of grace,"
but the corruptions by which they have been dishonoured. They
maintain, that on the absolute predestinarian scheme, there is no
room for grace, such as the Gospel exhibits to the sinful and the
lost; and that their own views are not only more accordant with the
justice, but with the unmerited and infinite mercy of God. They
ascribe all true holiness to the Divine Spirit.

[2] Dr. Coplestone, now the Bishop of Llandaff, denies that the
foreknowledge of an event proves the _event to be necessary_. "_We_
may be unable to conceive how a thing not necessary in its nature
can be foreknown; for _our_ foreknowledge is in general limited by
that circumstance, and is more or less perfect in proportion to the
fixed or necessary nature of the things we contemplate, with which
nature we become acquainted by experience, and are thus able to
anticipate a great variety of events: but to subject the knowledge
of God to any such limitation is surely absurd and unphilosophical,
as well as impious; and, therefore, to mix up the idea of God's
foreknowledge with any quality in the nature of the things
foreknown, is even less excusable than to be guilty of that
confusion when speaking of ourselves."

But, with due deference to his lordship, this does not contradict
the statement in the text, that we are ignorant of any principle on
which _such prescience_ can be explained. Assuming, indeed, that any
events are contingent, that human actions proceed from freedom, and
not from necessity, we cannot deny that they come within the range
of infinite knowledge.

But the philosophical necessarian does not grant this postulate. He
assumes the existence of an infinite mind, to whose knowledge all
events are open, and thence infers the _necessity_ of these events.
He pleads that omniscience and contingency are incongruous ideas,
and, on the ground of pure metaphysics, it would be difficult to
refute him. But we demolish his theory by an appeal to facts. We
oppose the moral constitution and history of man, to the plausible
speculations of philosophy. In other words, the mere metaphysician
is a fatalist; and his position, in the present state of our
intellectual philosophy, can be successfully attacked only by an
appeal to facts and consciousness, and by moral argument. That sound
metaphysics and just moral reasoning cannot really be at variance is
certain, since there cannot exist contradictory truths. Our
metaphysics therefore are wrong, or there must be an unknown _third
principle_, by which they are to be reconciled with our moral
reasonings. But until we can detect the fallacies of the
metaphysician, or supply the _connecting link_ which is now wanting,
we must rest in the unsatisfactory conclusion that abstract
philosophy is with the necessarian, and that liberty and its
ennobling consequences, moral agency, and moral responsibility, rest
on the solitary basis of moral argument.

[3] On the "special _teaching_" claimed, in connexion with "special
grace," by the most popular writers of the Calvinistic school, the
reader may find some just and forcible remarks in Essays by W. and
T. Ludlam. Their fearless exposure of the erroneous statements given
by Milner, Robinson, Newton, Harvey, and others, more particularly
on the subject of divine influence, awakened the indignation of a
party whose pretensions, when tested by reason and revelation, were
proved to be groundless. Without attempting an indiscriminate
defence of their opinions or their arguments, we may recommend these
essays as being eminently worthy of attention in the present day,
when two distinct but zealous parties are aiming to establish
exclusive doctrines, by discountenancing the legitimate use of human
reason in religious inquiries--one resting on tradition, the other
on individual inspiration; neither of them seeming to remember, that
tradition may be pleaded for and against the same dogmata, and that
the private persuasions of one good man may be opposite to those of
another, who has, with equal earnestness and humility, prayed to be
directed into the knowledge of saving truth. The man of independent
mind will find in these essays, much to admire in their elucidation
of truth and detection of error, but more in their dauntless
defiance of those who represent the Bible as a "sealed book" to all
who are not visited with a special faculty for discerning its mystic
characters and hidden sense. In that case, the Scriptures are a
revelation _only to the elect_, who, to satisfy themselves and the
world, that _their interpretation_ is the only sound one, ought to
produce miracles as proof of their own inspiration, not less
unequivocal than those which vindicated the authority and
infallibility of the Apostles. Such opinions, although held by
religious men, are dishonourable to the Scriptures, and needlessly
degrading to the human mind.

[4] "There can be no approaches towards regeneration in the
antecedent temper of the heart. The moment before the change, the
sinner is as far from sanctification, as darkness is from light, as
death is from life, as sin is from holiness."

"Regeneration is an instantaneous change, from exclusive attachment
to the creature, from supreme selfishness, from enmity against God,
to universal love, which fixes the heart supremely on Him; and there
is no previous abatement of the enmity, or approximation towards a
right temper; the heart being at one moment in full possession of
its native selfishness and opposition, at the next moment in
possession of a principle of supreme love to God; acquiring thus, in
an instant, a temper which it never possessed before."--_Lectures on
Important Doctrines by Dr. Griffin_.

How extravagant in theory, how false in fact! The doctrine of the
Anglican Church on this; and all similar points, never appears so
wise, and sound, and scriptural, as when contrasted with the
speculative systems of men, who, to give harmony and consistency to
their notions, close their eyes to the real world of man, and create
for themselves an ideal universe, peopled by another order of
beings, and governed by a power unknown but to the dreamers

[5] The Presbyterian Church of Scotland is both Calvinistic and
National. But this fact does not militate against the argument of
this section; that Calvinism is opposed to the constitution and
purposes of a visible Church. Her creed and her discipline are at
variance. Her ministers are required to believe in the Westminster
Confession. And the great body of her people are said to be attached
to that system of doctrine. But her more educated classes reject it,
and the Scottish Church is a divided house.

[6] The prominent part taken by the doctrinal Puritans, in the
revolutionary movements which brought Charles I. to the block, is
proved by the concurrent testimony of the writers of those times. It
is amply illustrated and confirmed by Mr. Nichols in his "Calvinism
and Arminianism Compared."

The "Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson," by his widow Lucy, is not only
a work of great general interest, beautifully composed, and
combining with the life of an eminent person vivid sketches of the
times; but it illustrates the subject discussed in the text. Colonel
Hutchinson was a doctrinal Puritan, and one of the regicides. In
himself we behold all the elements of a great and noble character,
devout, humane, scrupulously conscientious, and of heroic courage;
every quality that might adorn the gentleman, the patriot, the
Christian. But his extreme principles induced a mistaken sense of
duty, which embittered his own days, and added to the calamities of
his country; after having been spared at the restoration, his gloomy
reserve and supposed readiness to act again the part of a rebel, if
opportunity should occur, led to his imprisonment in Sandown Castle,
where he died more ignobly than if he had been brought to the block.
It would have been more to the honour of the king, if he had at
first doomed him to a public execution, the proper death of a
regicide, or had left him afterwards unmolested; but the second
Charles was not less mean and malignant than his sire was
unfortunate. Of the character of the humbler class of the doctrinal
Puritans, the following hints are incidentally given in this work.

The name of Roundhead "was very ill applied to Mr, Hutchinson, who,
having naturally a very fine thick sett head of hair, kept it clean
and handsome, so that it was a greate ornament to him, although _the
godly of those dayes_, when he embrac'd their party, _would not
allow him to be religious_, because his hayre was not in their
cutte, nor his words in their phraze, nor such little formalities
altogether fitted to their humour; who were, many of them, so weake
as to esteeme rather for such insignificant circumstances, then for
solid wisdom, piety, and courage, which brought reall ayd and honor
to their party; but as Mr. Hutchinson chose, not them, but the God
they serv'd, and the truth and righteousness they defended, so did
not their weaknesses, censures, ingratitude, and discouraging
behaviour, with which he was abundantly exercised all his life, make
him forsake them in any thing wherein they adher'd to just and
honourable principles and practizes; but when they apostatized from
these, none cast them off with greater indignation, how shining
soever the profession were that gilt, not a temple of living grace,
but a tomb which only held the carkase of religion." In other words,
like other partisans, whose principles have degenerated into the
spirit of faction, he overlooked the baseness of ingratitude, and
worse immoralities, in his associates, so long as they maintained
the just and honourable character of traitors and rebels.

[7] The Manchester Synod, at which were present 620 ministers of
various denominations, was held in the year 1841, for the purpose of
discussing the _corn laws_, with a view to their abolition. The
professed object was the relief of the poor by procuring cheap
bread; the real object was the depression of the landed aristocracy,
and, through them, of the Clergy of the National Church, whose
tithes are regulated by the average value of corn. Had those
gentlemen been sincere in their lamentations for the manufacturing
poor, they would have long ago agitated the country for the
abolition of the Factory System, and the rescue of its miserable
victims from oppression and famine. That system must be strengthened
by the abolition of the corn laws, which would only aggrandize the
_great manufacturers_, and plunge the working people into deeper
misery, by throwing the agricultural poor out of employment, and
driving them to the towns and cities for occupation, thus glutting
the market with superfluous labour. Looking at some of those
individuals who took a leading part in the Synod, men of reputed
truth and probity in their customary habits, their disingenuousness
on this occasion supplies a striking proof of the power of faction
to impair the moral sense, especially when originating in hatred of
the Church. The great body of this Synod were ministers of
Calvinistic Churches. The "dissenting interest" has degraded itself
by assuming the character of a political faction.

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