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and the other, “ rigid peculiarities of Calvinism,” essential to our being in covenant with God, and that they represent all who do not receive these “ peculiarities” as given up to uncovenanted mercy, it is difficult to answer it as it deserves, without speaking of its author in a manner in which I cannot permit myself to speak of a Christian minister. It is no arrogance to say that I am probably as familiar with the writings of Calvinistic divines as Mr. How : and I can solemnly declare, that to the best of my recollection, I never met with one who expressed such a sentiment, or who gave the least reason to suppose that he held it: nor do I believe that Mr. How ever saw or heard of one. On the contrary, I have scarcely ever opened a volume by the most zealous Calvinist, in which a question of this kind was discussed, without finding an acknowledgment, either express or implied, of the sincere piety, and of course the covenant title to heaven, of many who were far from being Calvinists. But you will find, my brethren, before you have completed the perusal of these sheets, some apology for Mr. How. You will clearly perceive that he is not acquainted with the writings of Calvin, and that he does not understand the system of doctrines which is distinguished by the name of that great reformer.
Mr. How, in his zeal to prove that Presbyterians are even more uncharitable than such highchurch-men as himself and others, endeavours to throw great odium on a clause in the 10th chapter of our Confession of Faith, which is in the following words:“ Much « less can men, not prosessing the Christian religion, be saved, in 66
any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame “their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that " religion which they do profess; and to assert and maintain that “they may, is very pernicious, and to
very pernicious, and to be detested." All that these words are intended to assert, is, that none of our fallen race can be saved in any other way than through Christ. The slightest perusal is sufficient to ascertain that this their real meaning. But, even if the language of the clause itself had left this point doubtful, all doubt would be removed by attending to another clause in the same chapter, and only five lines distant from that which we are considering, which expressly recognizes the possibility of some being saved, who have never had an opportunity of hearing the gospel preached. The doctrine, then, of the passage alluded to by Mr. How, is simply this, that it is false and pernicious to teach that men may be saved in any other way, than through the atoning sacrifice, and sanctifying spirit of Christ. A position in which one would imagine all professing Christians, except Socinians and Universalists, must, without hesitation, concur. But Mr. How exceedingly dislikes it, and is determined to hold it up to detestation and abhorrence, as asserting that none who have not been favoured with the preaching of the gospel can possibly be saved ; and as consigning the whole heathen world to inevitable perdition. By what management does he attempt to do this ? By faithfully transcribing the clause, and laying it before his readers in a fair and unmutilated form ? Not at all. Had he done this, his purpose would have been defeated. Every reader would instantly have recognized in the language of our Confession of Faith, a perfect coincidence with that of the scriptures. But by a contrivance, which, it will hereafter be seen, is not unusual with this gentleman, he first essentially alters the passage, and then presents it, regularly marked with inverted commas, as if it were the real language of the article. What that language in fact is, you have already seen. Mr. Howo declares that it is as follows. “ They who having “ never heard the gospel, know not Jesus Christ, and believe not "in him, cannot be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their « lives according to the light of nature.” Letters, p. 25. Having thus taken out of the passage an important clause which it does contain, and added to it what it does not contain, he holds it up to his readers as consigning to inevitable perdition, the whole heathen world. And assuming this as the acknowledged construction, he vehemently declaims against it as “uncharitable," “ cruel,” a "position of deep-toned horror," and calculated to fill the ra"ional mind with dismay.”
But the most wonderful part of the story is yet to be told. It is a fact, that one of the thirty-nine articles of Mr. How's own church, contains precisely the same declaration that he, with so much violence, condemns in our Confession of Faith. The article referred to, is the eighteenth, which is in the following words. “ They also are to be had accursed, that presume to say, that every 6 man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeih, so
* See particularly Acts 4. 12. John 14. 6. John 17. 3. Gal, 1. 6, 7, 8,
" that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the “ light of nature. For holy scripture doth set out unto us only the “ name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.” The only difference worthy of attention, is, that the Presbyterian Confession of Faith pronounces the doctrine, that men may be saved otherwise than by Christ,“ pernicious” and to be “ detested.” Whereas, the episcopal article, more harshly, declares, that the persons who hold it, are to be had accursed. This article Mr. How has solemnly subscribed, and the doctrine contained in it, he has canonically sworn to preach and support. And yet he declares " he has no power to express the feelings with which this most detestable doctrine fills his bosom." To what can we ascribe this conduct? I am unable to think of it without the deepest astonishment and horror!*
In a note, in a former edition of this work, to p. 17, of my introductory letter, I expressed myself in the following terms. “ Several distinguished writers in Great Britain, who have “ lately espoused with much warmth, the exclusive episcopal " notions under consideration, do not scruple to assert, that “ all who are in communion with the episcopal church are " in communion with Christ, and in the sure road to salva
tion. They deny that there is any pledged or covenanted mercy; " in other words, that there are any promises given in the gospel to
persons who are not in communion with that church, however, “sincere their faith and repentance, and however ardent their piety. " And, accordingly, they turn into ridicule every attempt to distin
guish between a professing Episcopalian, and a real Christian.” With this passage Mr. How is much offended. He not only rebukes me with great severity for penning a paragraph so " calculated to deceive and inflame my readers; but he goes further, and declares that the sentiment which I ascribe to the writers in question, is not held by them; and that I “ought to know, and cannot but know," that they do not hold it. Thus charging me in pretty direct terms with writing a known and deliberate falsehood.-p. 14, 15.
* The passage which Mr. How refers to the Confession of Faith is really to be found in the larger catechism, in the answer to the 60th question. As it contains, however, nothing essentially different from the article quoted either from the Confession of Fuith, or from the 18th article of the episcopal church, no further remark seems necessary.
As I had mentioned no names, and as Mr. How, of course, could not certainly know to what particular writers I alluded, it is somewhat singular that he should venture a contradiction with so much confidence and indecorum. But as neither delicacy nor caution enter into the plan of controversy which this gentleman has adopted, I no longer wonder at any extremes of his rashness or violence. The truth is, that in the paragraph above stated, I have not only not intentionally misrepresented any one, but am also still persuaded that I fell into no real error. But, however this may be, all that I said, was advanced on the authority of a respectable divine of the church of England, now living, who expresses himself in the following words. “Mr. Daubeny, in like manner, sees no differ
ence between the true church of Christ, and the national church ;
represents professed membership with this national society as “ forming the line of distinction between the world which lieth in 6 wickedness and a state of condemnation before God, and those 66 who are in a state of sanctification and salvation; and speaks “ indiscriminately of all who have been regularly baptized, and 6 remain in the established communion, as “ members of Christ's “ body,” « partakers of Christ's spirit,” the peculiar property of “ Christ,” and as having " a peculiar interest in him :'' in other « words, as “ translated from the world,” delivered from the "
powers of darkness,” and heirs with Christ of an eternal king66 dom." Guide to the Church, p. 15, 16. 171, 172. 234, and
passim. « Every Christian,” that is, every professed Christian, " he says again, after being called to reconsider the subject, who
is “ living in a state of communion with the church, namely, “ with that “ visible society” of Christians, where the episcopal “ form of government is to be found, is in the sure road to salva“ tion.” Appendix, Letter 7, 452. Antijacobin Review, Feb.
1800, p. 145. The distinction between the national establishment, and the true church of Christ, Mr. Daubeny teaches, is unnecessary,"
,” and a “ false distinction.” “ That,” he says, may be a true church in which the pure word of God is not
preached.” Appendix, p. 252, 475, 476. Mr. Polwhele con“ siders it among the greatest extravangancies, to think unfavour"ably of the state of many, “ who every Lord's day attend the " the service of the church. Letter to Dr. Hawker, p. 38. Dr. “ Paley, Dr. Croft, and their admirers, teach that the scripture
" titles of “ elect," “ called," "saints," being in Christ," &c. " were intended in a sense common to all Christian converts,” and 66 that, “ the application of such titles to distinguish individuals “amongst us, the professors of Christianity, from one another,” “ argues the greatest ignorance and presumption. Dr. Paley's, “ Visitation Serm. at Carlisle, 1777, p. 11, 12. Dr. Croft's “preface to his Thoughts, &c. and Mr. Clapham's Sermon. In “ further conformity to this doctrine, the scripture terms and “phrases, “ conversion,” “ regeneration,” the becoming a dead “ to sin,” and “ alive from the dead," the being made “ sons of
God, from children of wrath,” these divines tell us, now mean "nothing," that is, as they explain it," nothing to us, or to any
one educated in a Christian country.” What Mr. How himself may think of his own prudence, after reading these extracts, I know not; but I should suppose that others could be at no loss what opinion to form on the subject.
Mr. How refers frequently, and with much triumph, to a passage toward the close of my letters in which he considers me as having advanced a claim as high and offensive as his own, and also, as having contradicted myself. The passage alluded to, is one which occurs in discussing the doctrine of uninterrupted succession, and is in the following words. “ If, as we have proved in the foregoing “ letters, the right of ordination, according to Scripture and primi“ tive usage, belongs to presbyters, it is evident that the succession “ through them, is as valid as any other : or rather, to speak more “properly, it is only so far as any succession flows through the “ line of presbyters, that it is either regular or valid. It is the laying “on of the hands of the presbytery, that constitutes a scriptural
OVERTON's True Churchmen Ascertained. 2d Edit. p. 115–118. I will probably be contended by Mr. How and his friends in this controversy, that Mr. Overton, though a good churchman, is not accurate in his representation. He has indeed been loaded with much abuse by many for his fidelity. But it unluckily happens, that the editors of the Christian Observer, though warm Episcopalians, and men of great talents and learning, fully justify M. Overton in the substance of his representation. They think, it is true, that he scarcely does justice to Mr. Daubeny ; but they acknowledge at the same time, that Mr. D. has too frequently expressed himself in a manner calculated to give countenance to the opinions ascribed to him.