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that the impious power claimed by church establishments is as much opposed to Scripture, as they are beginning to think it is inimical to reason, as they feel it is hurtful to their worldly comforts, and as all will ultimately acknowledge, it has been fatal to the improvement of man.
The power thus claimed by the Kirk of Scotland, is not an obsolete matter. The tender mercies of her churchcourts, and church officers,” are yet experienced by any one who making the Bible his guide in religion, dares to deviate in the smallest iota from the straight and rugged uniformity enjoined on her members and ministers. The Synod of Glasgow and Ayr has just terminated its sitting in this city. Among various other matters brought before this tribunal, was the case of the Rev. J. M. Campbell, minister of the Row Church, Dumbartonshire. This individual has for some time entertained and preached the doctrine that Christ died for every human being. One or two other ministers of the same Church have also advocated the same Christian sentiment. They have con nected with this Scriptural opinion some other views, particularly that though Christ-died for all, yet that it did not follow all would be saved, unless each individual also believed that Christ died for him individually, and unless he had a feeling of assurance, that in consequence of Christ's death he personally was not only pardoned, but likewise accepted and saved. A distinction was thus drawn between universal pardon and universal salvation, There was a glimpse of truth, a gleam of charity, but preconceived ideas and scholastic theology shut out the full, the meridian effulgence of the Sun of Righteousness.
Narrowed, therefore, as was Christian salvation, thougb not Christian pardon, still it was too diffusive, too benevolent for the reverend fathers, to whose custody " the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed.” By virtue of the power which they assume " to shut that kingdom," Mr. Campbell was indicted before the Presbytery, and latterly before the Synod, for heresy, in thus attempting, on what he deemed Scripture warrant, " to open” that kingdom to all assured believers. Mr. Campbell's defence
for the most part, manly and Christian. In depicting the love of God, in adducing Scripture evidence for the universality of the benefits of Christ's death, bis. argument was unanswerable. He affirmed that God's love to all, through Jesus Christ, was in accordance with the
words of the Bible, and to attempt to disprove God's love to all men, would be to disprove every act of kindness that had been shown to sinners since the creation of the world. He believed that the doctrine, that some men only were the objects of the love of God, had produced a great part of the practical disbelief of Christianity. He craved the Synod to reverse the judgment of the Presbytery, and thus declare it to be no heresy that Christ died for every human being. His reverend fathers and brethren would judge of him, and of his doctrines, not by Acts of Assembly, not by Confessions of Faith, but as they agreed or disagreed with the Oracles of Truth.
Had Mr. Campbell confined bimself to this part of his defence, he would have been triumphant, not indeed in the judgment of the Synod—no, no, that would be too great a marvel to expect; but what is better far—in the minds of the people at large. But he unfortunately endeavoured to sbow that he was right, not only by the Bible—there he was strong, and might challenge disproof
- but be also aimed to prove, that the standard works of the Church contained his views, nay, that even the very Westminster Confession went not against them. Here he was wrong. He left bis vantage ground, the Word of God, and lost himself amidst the sand of worldly authority, and man's traditions.
After prolonged debates, one being continued till three o'clock in the morning, and after various ministers bad spoken both in favour of, and against the views entertained by Mr. Campbell, and after having heard Counsel in defence likewise, the Synod referred the matter to the General Assembly. In the discussion, several speakers expressed their strong disapprobation, nay, their abhorrence of the doctrines denounced as heretical. Among those doctrines, the one that Christ died for every
human being was the chief. In expressing abhorrence of that doctrine, they agreed with the Confession of Faith, but repudiated the Bible. That Confession declares, “ These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.” The Bible affirms, “ As in Adam all die, so in Cbrist shall all be made alive." Supposing it were granted that the benefits to be derived from the death of the Saviour, were not represented in Scripture as universal, yet surely a benevolent heart might be forgiven for wishing that it were so. Surely, to express abhorrence at the idea that Christ is “the Saviour of the world,” is a feeling at war with mercy. Surely that heresy is of the most heinous description, which speaks evil of God our Father; and what but evil speaking of God is it, to describe him as wrathful and vindictive, to limit his goodness, and to believe that he wills the eternal damnation of myriads of his creatures?
'In uttering the language of abhorrence against other of Mr. Campbell's doctrines—that of assurance of faith-the abhorrers vindicated the Bible, but abjured the Confession! If the Confession do not inculcate that doctrine, there is no longer meaning in words. What does that Confession affirm? It says, “ All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them'a beart of flesh, renewing their wills, and by his Almighty power, determining them to that which is good.” “ This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from any thing at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit.” “ Such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace.” “ This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith, founded upon
the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which spirit is the earnest of our inheritance whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption."
All this is tolerably plain. It testifies that man can do nothing in the great work of his salvation-he is “altogether passive therein.” It is a matter of irresistible grace. But when that grace is sent, man knows it-he can be “ certainly assured” of it. He need entertain no " bare conjectural and probable persuasion” merely. His dependence is on no “fallible hope." His faith imparts to him “ an INFALLIBLE assurance," and that infallibility be acquires by “ the inward evidence.” A doctrine like this, reason at once rejects, and the Scripture nowhere teaches. Were it true, who has a right to question the vagaries of Joanna Southcote, or of Mrs. Buchan, or of the Pythoness of Fernicary? They say they bave “the inward evidence"—they feel the “ infallible assurance of faith," and what keeper of “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” can gainsay the witness of the Spirit? Is it for them to lift up the heel and turn traitors to the Confession to which they have sworn obedience? It was thus they twitted Mr. Campbell on universal pardon, let them look to themselves on assurance by faith.
What, then, are the doctrines of which these condemners of Mr. Campbell approve? If bis be heresy, what constitutes their orthodoxy? What, in fact, are the five distinguishing points of the Calvinistic theology? Not the Trinity—the deity of Christ-the Atonement. These the Church of Scotland holds in common with the Roman Catholic, and therefore these distinguish her not from Popery.
The five points of Calvinism, are:-Ist, That God, by an absolute decree, hath elected to salvation a very small number of men, without any regard to their faith or obedience whatever; 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.
2d, 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.
3d, That by Adam's fall, his posterity lost their free will, being put to an unavoidable necessity to do or not to do, whatever they do or do not, whether it be good or evil; being thereunto predestinated by the eternal and effectual secret decree of God.
4th, 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.
5th, That such as bave once received that grace by faith, can never fall from it finally or totally, notwithstanding the most enormous sins they can commit.
This is pure, unvarnished Calvinism. It is an abridged statement of the Calvinistic doctrines, as drawn up and sanctioned by the Calvinistic divines who composed the celebrated Synod of Dort. He who deviates in the smallest measure from these five points, is no longer a Calvinist. He is a heretic; and had he lived in the days when the stern Reformer of Geneva, not only held “the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” but likewise lorded over the civil magistrate as his vassal, the heretic would have expiated his heresy, as did Servetus, at the stake.
And do the members who compose the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, really believe these five points of Calvinism to be Christianity? Do they exhibit in their persons, that hitherto unattainable object of creeds and inquisitions uniformity in religion? Is there no paring down among them of these five points, here a little and there a little, in order to render them more compatible with benevolence and the Bible? If so, they might have spared their surprise and indignation and abhorrence at Mr. Campbell's sentiments, and directed them, in one full burst of Christian reprobation, at doctrines which degrade man and libel God, which render life cheerless and eternity a curse. The language which was forced from Calvin himself, when he contemplated the doctrine of infant damnation-infants whom the Saviour took in his arms and blessed_infant damnation, a doctrine which gives to the all-merciful Parent of the human family, the detested character of
Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears of that doctrine of infant damnation, Calvin himself declared, “ It is a dreadful decree, I must confess." Yes, dreadful it truly is; but not more dreadful, not more irradtional, not more at war with all the kindly cbarities of humanity, not more unscriptural, than are the five points which constitute the peculiarities and essentials of genuine Calvinism. But what
say the Scriptures, in relation to human salvation? Is it an uncertain sound which they utter with respect to the origin, the 'uses, and the termination of evil? Do they not beautifully, though figuratively, represent the Almighty as promising, that the seed of the woman should