Whose Voice Do You Hear?
"My sheep, saith Christ, hear my voice, and I know them, and they
follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
O, most worthy Scriptures! which ought to compel us to have a faithful
remembrance, and to note the tenor thereof; which is, the sheep of Christ
shall never perish.
"Doth Christ mean part of his elect, or all, think you? I do hold,
and affirm, and also faithfully believe, that he meant all his elect,
and not part, as some do full ungodly affirm. I confess and believe
assuredly, that there shall never any of them perish: for I have good
authority so to say; be- cause Christ is my author, and saith, if it
were possible, the very elect should be deceived. Ergo, it is not possible
that they can be so deceived, that they shall ever finally perish, or
be damned: wherefore, whosoever doth affirm that there may be any (i.e.
any of the elect) lost, doth affirm that Christ hath a torn body."1
The above valuable letter of recantation is thus inscribed: "A
Letter to the Congregation of Free-willers, by One that had been of
that Persuasion, but come off, and now a Prisoner for Religion:"
which superscription will hereafter, in its due place, supply us with
a remark of more than slight importance.
John Wesley, A Friend of Rome?
To occupy the place of argument, it has been alleged that "Mr.
Wesley is an old man;" and the Church of Rome is still older than
he. Is that any reason why the enormities, either of the mother or the
son, should pass unchastised?
It has also been suggested, that "Mr. Wesley is a very laborious
man:" not more laborious, I presume, than a certain active being,
who is said to go to and fro in the earth, and walk up and down in it:2
nor yet more laborious, I should imagine, than certain ancient Sectarians,
concerning whom it was long ago said, "Woe unto you Scribes, hypocrites;
for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte:"3 nor, by any
means, so usefully laborious, as a certain diligent member of the community,
respecting whose variety of occupations the public have lately received
the following intelligence: "The truth of the following instance
of industry may be depended on: a poor man with a large family, now
cries milk, every morning, in Lothbury, and the neighbourhood of the
Royal Exchange; at eleven, he wheels about a barrow of potatoes; at
one, he cleans shoes at the Change; after dinner, cries milk again;
in the evening, sells sprats; and at night, finishes the measure of
his labour as a watchman."4
The Quarrel is With the Wolf
Mr. Sellon, moreover, reminds me (p. 128.) that, "while the shepherds
are quarrelling, the wolf gets into the sheep fold;" not impossible:
but it so happens, that the present quarrel is not among "the shepherds,"
but with the "wolf" himself; which "quarrel" is
warranted by every maxim of pastoral meekness and fidelity.
I am further told, that, while I am "berating the Arminians, Rome
and the devil laugh in their sleeves." Admitting that Mr. Sellon
might derive this anecdote from the fountain head, the parties themselves,
yet, as neither they nor he are very conspicuous for veracity, I construe
the intelligence by the rule of reverse, though authenticated by the
deposition of their right trusty and well-beloved cousin and counsellor.
Once more: I am charged with "excessive superciliousness, and
majesty of pride:" and why not charged with having seven heads
and ten horns, and a tail as long as a bell-rope? After all, what has
my pride, or my humility, to do with the argument in hand? Whether I
am haughty, or meek, is of no more consequence either to that, or to
the public, than whether I am tall or short: however, I am, at this
very time, giving one proof, that my "majesty of pride" can
stoop; that even to ventilate the impertinences of Mr. Sellon.
Arminianism at Home in Rome
But, however frivolous his cavils, the principles for which he contends
are of the most pernicious nature and tendency. I must repeat, what
already seems to have given him so much offence, that Arminianism "came
from Rome, and leads thither again." Julian, bishop of Eclana a
contemporary and disciple of Pelagius, was one of those who endeavoured,
with much art, to gild the doctrines of that heresiarch, in order to
render them more sightly and palatable. The Pelagian system, thus varnished
and paliated, soon began to acquire the softer name of Semipelagianism.
Let us take a view of it, as drawn to our hands by the celebrated Mr.
Bower, who himself, in the main, a professed Pelagian, and therefore
less likely to present us with an unfavourable portrait of the system
he generally approved. Among the principles of that sect, this learned
writer enumerates the following:
"The notion of election and reprobation, independent on our merits
or demerits, is maintaining a fatal necessity, is the bane of all virtue,
and serves only to render good men remiss in working out their salvation,
and to drive sinners to despair. "The decrees of election
and reprobation are posterior to, and in consequence of, our good or
evil works, as foreseen by God from all eternity."5
Is not this too the very language of modern Arminianism? Do not the
partizans of that scheme argue on the same identical terms? Should it
be said, "True, this proves that Arminianism is Pelagianism revived;
but it does not prove, that the doctrines of Arminianism are originally
Popish:" a moment's cool attention will make it plain that they
are. Let us again hear Mr. Bower, who, after the passage just quoted,
immediately adds, "on these two last propositions, the Jesuits
found their whole system of grace and free-will; agreeing therein with
the Semipelagians, against the Jansenists and St. Augustine."6
The Jesuits were moulded into a regular body, towards the middle of
the sixteenth century: toward the close of the same century, Arminius
began to infest the Protestant churches. It needs therefore no great
penetration, to discern from what source he drew his poison. His journey
to Rome (though Monsicur Bayle affects to make light of the inferences
which were at that very time deduced from it) was not for nothing. If,
however, any are disposed to believe, that Arminius imbibed his doctrines
from the Socinians in Poland, with whom, it is certain, he was on terms
of intimate friendship, I have no objection to splitting the difference:
he might import some of his tenets from the Racovian brethren, and yet
be indebted, for others, to the disciples of Loyola.
Papists and Predestination
Certain it is, that Arminius himself was sensible, how greatly the doctrine
of predestination widens the distance between Protestantism and Popery.
"There is no point of doctrines (says he) which the Papists, the
Anabaptists, and the (new) Lutherans more fiercely oppose, nor by means
of which they heap more discredit on the reformed churches, and bring
the reformed system itself into more odium; for they (i.e. the Papists,
& etc.) assert, that no fouler blasphemy against God can be thought
or expressed, than is contained in the doctrine of predestination."7
For which reason, he advises the reformed world to discard predestination
from their creed, in order that they may live on more brotherly terms
with the Papists, the Anabaptists, and such like.
The Arminian writers make no scruple to seize and retail each other's
arguments, as common property. Hence, Samuel Hoord copies from Van Harmin
the self same observation which I have now cited. "Predestination
(says Samuel) is an opinion odious to the Papists, opening their foul
mouths, against our Church and religion:"8 consequently, our adopting
the opposite doctrines of universal grace and freewill, would, by bringing
us so many degrees nearer to the Papists, conduce to shut their mouths,
and make them regard us, so far at least, as their own orthodox and
dearly beloved brethren: whence it follows, that, as Arminianism came
from Rome, so "it leads thither again."
The Jesuits and Predestination
If the joint verdict of Arminius himself, and of his English proselyte
Hoord, will not turn the scale, let us add the testimony of a professed
Jesuit, by way of making up full weight. When archbishop Laud's papers
were exam- ined, a letter was found among them, thus endorsed with that
prelate's own hand: "March, 1628. A Jesuit's Letter, sent to the
Rector at Bruxels, about the ensuing Parliament." The design of
this letter was to give the Superior of the Jesuits, then resident at
Brussels, an account of the posture of civil and ecclesiastical affairs
in England; an extract from it I shall here subjoin: "Father Rector,
let not the damp of astonishment seize upon your ardent and zealous
soul, in apprehending the sodaine and unexpected calling of a Parliament.
We have now many strings to our bow. We have planted that soveraigne
drugge Arminianisme, which we hope will purge the Protestants from their
heresie; and it flourisheth and beares fruit in due season. For the
better prevention of the Puritanes, the Arminians have already locked
up the Duke's (of Buckingham) eares; and we have those of our owne religion,
which stand continually at the Duke's chamber, to see who goes in and
out: we cannot be too circumspect and carefull in this regard. I am,
at this time, transported with joy, to see how happily all instruments
and means, as well great as lesser, co-operate unto our purposes. But,
to return unto the maine fabricke:--OUR FOUNDATION IS ARMINIANISME.
The Arminians and projectors, as it appeares in the premises, affect
mutation. This we second and enforce by probable arguments."9
The Sovereign Drug Arminianism
The "Sovereign drug, Arminianism," which said the Jesuit,
"we (i.e. we Papists) have planted" in England, did indeed
bid fair "to purge our Protestant Church effectually. How merrily
Popery and Arminianism, at that time, danced hand in hand, may be learned
from Tindal: "The churches were adorned with paintings, images,
altar-pieces, & etc. and, instead of communion tables, alters were
set up, and bowings to them and the sacramental elements enjoined. The
predestinarian doctrines were forbid, not only to be preached, but to
be printed; and the Arminian sense of the Articles was encouraged and
propagated."10 The Jesuit, therefore, did not exult without cause.
The "sovereign drug," so lately "planted," did indeed
take deep root downward, and bring forth fruit upward, under the cherishing
auspices of Charles and Laud. Heylyn, too, acknowledges, that the state
of things was truly described by another Jesuit of that age, who wrote:
"Protestantism waxeth weary of itself. The doctrine (by the Arminians,
who then sat at the helm) is altered in many things, for which their
progenitors forsook the Church of Rome: as limbus patrum; prayer for
the dead, and possibility of keeping God's com- mandments; and the accounting
of Calvinism to be heresy at least, if not treason."11
Arminianism From the Pit
The maintaining of these positions, by the Court divines, was an "alteration"
indeed; which the abandoned Heylyn ascribes to "the ingenuity and
moderation found in some professors of our religion." If we sum
up the evidence that has been given, we shall find its amount to be,
that Arminianism came from the Church of Rome, and leads back again
to the pit whence it was digged.
1. Strype, u.s.
2. Job 1:7 with 1 Peter 5:8.
3. Matt. 23:15.
4. Bath Chronicle, for Feb. 6, 1772.
5. Bower's Hist. of the Popes, vol. 1, p. 350.
6. Bower ibid.
7. Arminius, in Oper. P.115. Ludg. 1629. (See book for Latin.)
8. Hoord, In Bishop Davenant's Animadversions, Camb. 1641.
9. Hidden works of darkness, p. 89, 90. Edit. 1645.
10. Tindal's Contin. of Rapin, vol. 3 octavo, 1758.
11. Life of Laud, p. 238.