Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

ed Predestinati. And in the ninth century the followers of the German monk, Godescalus, were called after these first professors," Predestinarians. Tliey taught that God, who must necessarily know all things before he created man, decreed those things which should come to pass; and that to deny this would be to allow that there was a power superior to him, by whom these things were ordained; therefore they held, that his purposes and decrees were eternal, as nothing future can be predicated concerning him.

Calvin taught, that God predestinated a certain number to eternal life before the foundation of the world, independently of any merit in themselves. That his grace which operates in them irresistibly, against the power of their own will, forces them to accept the terms of salvation by Christ: this they call irresistible grace.

The principal tenets of Calvinism have been called, the jive points, viz. predestination, original sin, particular redemption, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. But there is no necessity for these distinctions; there is no difference between particular redemption, irresistible grace, the perseverance of the saints and predestination; for predestination comprehends them all. Whoever are predestinated are also particularly redeemed, are to have irresistible grace, and must of necessity persevere to the end. So that these five points, which were so called by the synod of Dort, are properly resolved .into two points, viz. predestination and original sin.

They hold, that all who were not thus elected before the foundation of the world, God has been pleased to reject, and that in his eternal council he separated them from the elect vessels of mercy, as monuments of his wrath, to satisfy his offended justice.

[graphic]

Others of the Calvinists have been more moderate, and have held, that God was always as a tender father, reconciled to man; but that man, "who loved darkness rather than light, because his deeds were evil," was not reconciled to God. And in proof of this they quote 2 Cor. v. 18. "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ." And again, ver. 20. "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."

Calvin condemned the doctrines and practice of the church of Rome, respecting the invocation of saints, the worship of images, purgatory, confession, prayers for the dead.

PRESBYTERIANS

Also believe in election and reprobation. They are so called from npea-fivTipas, an elder; because they hold that the first Christian churches were governed by presbyters and elders, which kind of government they have adopted. They believe that the authority to preach and minister is given by the imposition of the hands of the presbytery, who are the general body of the ministers in an assembly, all possessing equal powers, equal offices, and equal honours; consequently, that a presbyter is the highest order in the church of Christ. They pray standing, after the manner of the Agoniclytae in the eighth century.

- As there are several sects who profess to be Unitarians, it becomes necessary to make a distinction, not only with regard to some particulars of their opinions, but also with respect to the name of the founder, or reviver of such opinions, whose name has been chosen to point. out their own sect."

ARIAN UNITARIANS.

They are so named from Arius, a priest of Alexandria, who published his opinions at the beginning of the fourth century; which so disturbed the church, that a grand council was convened at Nice, of nearly all the bishops of Asia, Africa and Europe. Arians hold the following opinions:

They deny the existence of three persons in the divine nature, and maintain that the soul which animated the body of Christ, was a pre-existent spirit, superior to the highest cherubim and seraphim, but that he was not produced out of the substance of the Father; created, not begotten. They therefore reject the worship of Christ, deny that his death was a satisfaction for the sins of men, and that man is to be saved by his own works and merit. They admit that this great spirit is the Logos, or medium by whom God created all things, but yet a creature produced out of nothing, the maker of angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, powers, the whole hierarchy of heaven, and all material nature. Thus, that he 13 the passive instrument of the infinite Jehovah, and under him the supreme administrator of the divine providence. That by him was given the divine dispensations, the communications to the patriarchs and prophets; and that he appeared to Moses, to Abraham, to his chosen People, and led the Hebrews through the wilderness, as 'he representative of the supreme Jehovah, agreeably

- ,-' to that declaration, "behold mine angel shall go before thee."

S0CINIAN UNITARIANS.

The reviver of the Unitarian doctrines in Europe was Faustus Socinus, an inhabitant of Sienna in Tuscany; and his followers have been called after him Socinians. They believe that Jesus Christ was no more than man: that he was the natural son of Joseph and Mary, and that he had no existence prior to his birth: that on account of the very extraordinary things which were to be done for the church, the Almighty translated him to heaven, by that divine power which they call the Holy Spirit, and opened to him his divine will respecting man: that he descended to promulgate the divine truths he had received, and thus became, under God, the founder of the religion which was called after him, the Christian religion.

They do not believe that the death of Christ is a propitiation for sin: consequently they deny the atonement, the imputed righteousness of Christ, and altogether reject the idea of a compensation, or of a satisfaction to divine justice. They believe that the Holy Ghost is not a distinct person, but by the appointment of the Father, Christ is become, under him, an object of invocation and worship, and that on account of this dignified situation, to which it has pleased the Father to raise him, he is called God by the sacred writers.

They believe, that there is no original sin in us, as it implies an imperfection in nature: that we have a free will to do good, and that it is in our power to fulfil the law: that the cause of election and reprobation is not from God, but in ourselves, and that he doth not predestinate any person to salvation: that man being born spotless, and without sin, has the power in himself, independent of divine grace, to repent, and to become holy and acceptable to God; consequently, that the divine favour is only to be obtained by our own works and merits: that the Gospel is not superior to the law, as the law qualified man for the kingdom of heaven. There are other professors of Unitarianism, who reject the name of ^ocinians, and called themselves

UNITARIANS.

These professors believe in the sole, exclusive and incommunicable divinity of God; deny the personal existence of the Holy Spirit, and on this ground declare it to be contrary to scripture and reason to worship any other being than the one supreme Jehovah, who is the only object of prayer and adoration. They ascribe neither attributes, nor works, nor honours to Christ, which reason and revelation appropriate to God. Not believing in the pre-existence of Christ, they declare him to be the natural son of Joseph and Mary, and that all the benefits we derive from him consist in the bright example he set before us. These professors are in the strictest sense Unitarians, because they maintain the unity of God to the total exclusion of Christ, and acknowledge him only as a prophet of God, a mortal man, but "the most complete character that Was ever exhibited to the world."

These opinions were propagated in the early ages »>f the chutch, by the Ebionites, by the Carpocratians in

« IndietroContinua »