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But this negative evidence by no means constitutes the whole amount of the testimony which has descended to us.
Positive evidence, as equally preserved by Ecclesiastical History, is even still more, than negative evidence, decidedly adverse to each of the three Systems of Locke and of Calvin and of Arminius.
While, in the course of my researches, I was struck with perceiving negatively, that, in the early writings of the Church, not a vestige of those three Systems, as Systems, could be discovered : I was also struck with perceiving positively, that yet a fourth System, essentially different from all the three, in point either of IDEALITY or of CAUSAtion or of both IDEALITY and CAUSATION, was, by the earliest Church Catholic, received and delivered, as exhibiting the true sense and manner in which the scriptural terms Elect and Predestinate or Election and Predestination ought to be explained and understood.
2. A statement of this description, of course, implies the comparative modernness, and therefore real novelty, of any System, except that, which, on competent evidence, can legitimately claim to be primeval.
Hence, in reference to such modernness and such novelty, I may perhaps be permitted to subjoin a few remarks on the chronological origination of the three Systems at present before us.
(1.) At what precise time, the System, now denominated Arminianism, commenced, I am unable to say. It was received among the schoolmen, anterior to the age of the Reformation : but, in point both of IDEALITY and of CAUSATION, it was utterly unknown to the strictly earliest Church or the Church down to about the end of the second
(2.) As little am I able to specify the commencement of the System which I have distinguished by the appellation of Nationalism, if Locke were not its original author. Some specious passages in its favour, by which I mean in favour of its IDEALITY, may doubtless be produced from the writings of the ancient Fathers, though Locke does not profess to avail himself of their evidence: but, when these passages are carefully examined, they will prove to give no support to the System in question.
(3.) Calvinism, on the contrary, as that System is now usually termed, has its commencement marked with an uncommon degree of precision.
Wishing fairly to come to the bottom of the matter, and well aware that Augustine had taught the System long before the days of the celebrated Calvin, I employed my first season of leisure in carefully perusing the whole Pelagian Controversy of that eminent Father : during the course of which, and specially toward the conclusion of which, he is known to have copiously stated and to have vigourously maintained the System now under consideration.
The result was precisely what I had anticipated from my previous reading of the earlier Fathers.
When Augustine fully propounded his own views
of Election and Predestination, he was immediately charged with innovating upon the ancient doctrine of the Church, he was assured by the complainants that they had never before heard of such speculations, he was referred to the current System of the existing Catholic Church, and he was challenged to produce evidence that his new opinions had ever been advanced as the mind of Scripture by any of his ecclesiastical predecessors.
Nor was the matter thus taken up merely by the pelagian adversaries of Augustine : though, even if it had, since it purely related to a question of fact, small was the real consequence by whom it was taken up. The charge of unauthorised innovation was respectfully brought by persons, who concurred with Augustine in his opposition to Pelagianism, and whose doctrine in regard to Original Sin and Human Insufficiency and Divine Grace he himself acknowledged to be sound and correct.
Such, then, was the charge: and, as the charge rested upon the allegation of a fact, it clearly could not be set aside save by the process of shewing the allegation of the fact to be altogether false and unfounded.
Of this, Augustine was conscious: and, being driven to a reply, out of the whole mass of earlier ecclesiastical writers he ventured only even to attempt to produce three
These were Cyprian and GregoryNazianzen and Ambrose : all, far too modern, even if they had been to his purpose ; but all, either useless, or worse than useless, to him, in the way of evidence, even comparatively modern as they were. As for Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch (adduced, as they have recently been by Mr. Milner, in the capacity of witnesses), he does not appear so much as for a moment to have imagined, that they could in any wise be made useful to him in the way of testimony. Most important as they doubtless would have been in the character of witnesses, could they have been cogently and availably brought forward : Augustine passes them over, in total, though perfectly intelligible, silence.
The charge, therefore, we may pronounce to be fully established.
In point of fact, the System, now denominated Calvinism, was unheard of, until, at the beginning