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man, but man to himself. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them, 2 Cor. v. 19. See Mr. Fuller's publication, entitled The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems compared ; which is admired by some of the Calvinists, but condemned by others of them, as not coming up to the full standard of orthodoxy*.
But to ascertain the real sentiments of this body of Christians, recourse should be had to the Assembly's Catechism, which is taught their children, and may therefore be supposed to contain a just account of their religious opinions. The reader is here referred to two small volumes on the subject; the one by Mr. Pye Smith in favour of Calvinism; the other by Mr. T. Belsham, as a reply to it.
AND SUPRALAPSARIANS. AMONG the refinements of Calvinism are to be ranked the distinctions of the Sublapsarians and Supralapsarians. The Sublapsarians assert, that God had only permitted the first man to fall
* Dr. Toulmin and Mr. Kentish replied to this work, whilst Dr. Priestley and Mr. Belsham, against whoin it was written, did not think proper to answer it.
SUBLAPSÁRIANS AND SUPRALAPSARIANS. 13
into transgression, without absolutely pre-determining his fall : whereas the Supralapsarians maintain that God had from all eternity decreed the transgression of Adam, in such a manner that our first parents could not possibly avoid this fatal event. Dr. Doddridge, in his Lectures, has thus stated these abstruse distinctions: The Supralapsarian and Sublapsarian scheines agree in asserting the doctrine of predestination, but with this difference, that the former supposes that God intended to glorify his justice in the condemnation of some, as well as his mercy in the salvation of others, and for that purpose decreed that Adam should necessarily fall, and by that fall bring himself and all his offspring into a state of everlasting condemnation : the latter scheme supposes that the decree of predestination regards man as fallen by an abuse of that freedom whicla Adam had, into a state in wbich all were to be left to necessary and unavoidable ruin, who were . not exempted from it by predestination,” Re. cent divines, who have gone to the height of Supralapsarians, are Mr. Brine and Dr. Gill. Were any thing more necessary to elucidate this subject, it might be added that the term Supralapsarian is derived from two Latin words, Supra, above, and lapsus, the fall; and the term Subo. lapsarian, from Sub, below or after, and lapsus, the fall,
Calvin, in his Institutes, states and defends at large the principles of the system. It is written in elegant Latin, is dedicated to Francis the First, King of France, and the dedication has been admired for its boldness and magnanimity.
For a defence of Calvinisin, see Edwards on the Will, Brine's Tracts, Dr. Gill's Cause of God and Truth, and Toplady's Historic Proof of the Calvinism of the Church of England.
ARMINIANS. THE Arminian favours the tenets of Arminius, the disciple of Beza, and latterly an eminent professor of divinity at Leyden, who flourished about the year 1600. Thinking the doctrine of Calvin with regard to free-will, predestination, and grace, directly contrary to the mild and amiable perfections of the Deity, he began to express his doubts concerning them in the year 1591; and upon further enquiry, adopted sentiments more nearly resembling those of the Lutherans than of the Calvinists. After his appointment to the theological chair at Leyden, he thought it his duty to avow and vindicate the principles which he had embraced ; and the freedom with which he published and defended them, exposed him to the resentment of those that adhered to the theological system of Geneva.
The controversy thus begun in the lifetime of Arminius, ended not with his death, and for a long time roused the violence of contending pas. sions*. His tenets include the five following propositions : Ist. That God has not fixed the future state of mankind by an absolute unconditional decree ; but determined from all eternity, to bestow salvation on those whom he foresaw would persevere to the end in their faith in Jesus Christ, and to inflict punishment on those who should continue in their unbelief, and resist to the end his divine assistance. 2dly. That Jesus Christ, by his death and sufferings, made an atonement for the sins of all mankind in general, and of every individual in particular: that, however, none 'but those who believe in himn can be partakers of this divine benefit. 3dly. That mankind are not totally depraved, and that depravity does not come upon them by virtue of Adam's being their public head, but that mortality and natural evil only are the direct consequences of his sin to posterity. 4thly. That there is no such thing as irresistible grace in the conversion of sinners. And, 5thly. That those who are united to Christ by faith, may fall from their faith, and forfeit finally their state of grace. Thus the fol
,* Arminius's motto was a remarkable one." A good conscience is a paradise."
lowers of Arminius believe that God, having an equal regard for all his creatures, sent his Son to die for the sins of the whole world ; that men have the power of doing the will of God, otherwise they are not the proper subjects of approbation and condemnation ; and that, in the present imperfect state, believers, if not particularly vigilant, may, through the force of temptation, fall from grace, and sink into final perdition. The Arminians found their sentiments on the ex- . pressions of our Saviour respecting his willingness to save all that come unto him ; especially on his prayer over Jerusalem, his Sermon on the Mount, and above all, on his delineation of the process of the last day, where the salvation of men is not said to have been procured by any decree, but because they had done the will of their Father, who is in heaven. This last argument they deem decisive; because it cannot be supposed that Jesus, in the account of the judgment day, would have deceived them. They also say, the terms in the Romans respecting election, are applicable only to the state of the Jews as a body, without a reference to the religious condition of individuals, either in the present or future world.
Dr. Whitby, the commentator, who was originally a Calvinist, has written a large and elaborate defence of Arminianism ; and the reader should consult Dr. Taylor's Key to the Epistles to the Romans, which has been much admired,