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chief Divines, who embrace the Scheme of Doctrine, which is by many called Arminianism, believe it the more because Arminiui believed it: and that there is no Reason to think any other, than that they sincerely and impartially study the holy Scriptures, and inquire after the Mind of Christ, with as much Judgment and Sincerity, as any of those that call them by these Names; that they seek after Truth, and are not careful whether they think exactly as Arminius did; yea, that in some Things they actually differ from him. This Practice is also esteemed actually injur rious on this Account, that it is supposed naturally to lead the Multitude to imagine the Difference between persons thus named and others, to be greater than it is ; yea, as tho' it were so great, that they must be as it were another Species of Beings. And they object against it as arising from an uncharitable, narrow, contracted Spirit; which, they fay, commonly inclines Persons to confine all that is good to themselves and their own Party, and to make a wide Distinction between themselves and others, and stigmatize those that differ from them with odious Names. They fay moreover, that the keeping up such a Distinction of Names has a direct Tendency to uphold Distance and Difaffection, and keep alive mutual. Hatred among Christians, who ought all to be united in Friendship and Charity, however they can't in all Things think alike.
I confess I confess, these Things are very plausible. And I will not deny, that there are some unhappy Consequences of this Distinction of Names, and that Men's Infirmities and evil Dispositions often make an ill Improvement of it. Bat yet I humbly conceive, these Objections are carried far beyond Reason. The Generality of Mankind are disposed enough, and a great Deal too much, to Uncharitable ness, and to be censorious and bitter towards those that differ from them in religious Opinions: which evil Temper of Mind will take Occasion to exert itself, from many Things in themselves innocent, useful, and necessary. But yet there is no Necessity to suppose, that .the thus distinguishing Persons of different Opinions by different Names, arises mainly from an uncharitable Spirit. It may arise from the Disposition there is in Mankind ( whom God has distinguished with an Ability and inclination for Speech) to improve the Benefit of Language, in the proper Use and Design of Names, given to Things which they have often occasion to speak of, or signify their Minds about; which is to enable them to express their Ideas with Ease and Expedition, without being incumber'd with an obscure and difficult Circumlocution; And she thus distinguishing Persons of different Opinions in religious Matters may not imply, nor infer any more than that there is a Difference, and that the Difference is such as we find we have often occasion to take Notice of, and make Mention of. That which we
A 3 hav* have frequent occasion to speak of (whatever it be, that gives the Occasion) this wants a Name: and 'tis always a Defect in Language, in such Cases, to be obliged to make use of a Description, instead of a Name. Thus we have often occasion to speak of those who are the Descendants of the ancient Inhabitants of France, who were subjects or Heads of the Government of that Land, and spake the Language peculiar to it; in Distinction from the Descendants of the Inhabitants of Spain, who belonged to that Community, and spake the Language of that Country. And therefore we find the great Need of distinct Names to signify these different Sorts of People, and the great Convenience of those distinguishing Words, French, and Spaniards; by which the Signification of our Minds is quick and easy, and our Speech is delivered from the Burden of a continual Reiteration of diffuse Descriptions, with which it must otherwise be embarrassed.
That the Difference of the Opinions of those, who in their general Scheme of Divinity agree with these two noted Men, Calvin, and Arminius, is a Thing there is often Occasion to speak of, is what the Practice of the latter itself confesses; who are often, in their Discourses and Writings, taking Notice of the supposed absurd and pernicious Opinions of the former Sort. And therefore the making Use of different Names in this Cafe can't reasonably be objected against, or condemned, as a Thing which must come from so bad a Cause as they assign. Jt is easy to be accounted for, without supposing it to arise from any other Source, than the Exigence and natural Tendency of the State of Things; considering the Faculty and Dispositios God has given Mankind, to express Things which they have frequent occasion to mention by certain distinguishing Names. It is an Effect that is similar to what we fee arise, in innumerable Cases which are parallel, where the cause is not at all blame-worthy.
Nevertheless, at first I had Thoughts of carefully avoiding the Use of the Appellation, Jlrminian, in this Treatise. But I soon found I should be put to great Difficulty by it; and that my Discourse would be so incumber'd with an often repeated Circumlocution, in stead of a Name, which would express the Thing intended, as well and better, that I altered my Purpose. And therefore I must walk the Excuse of such as are apt to be offended with Things of this Nature, that I have so freely used the Term Arminian, in the following Discourse. I profess it to be without any Design to stigmatize Persons of any Sort with a Name of Reproach, or at all to make them appear more odious. If when I had Occasion to speak of those Divines who are commonly called by this Name, I had, instead of styling them Arrrtinian, called them these Men, as Dr. Whitby does Cahinifiic Divines; it probably would not have been taken any better, or thought to (hew a better Temper, or more good Manners, I have done as I would be
A 4 done done by, in this Matter. However the Term Cahintst is in these Days, among most, a Term of greater Reproach than the Term Arminian; yet I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for Distinction's Sake: tho' I utterly disclaim a Dependance on Calvin, or believing the Doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every Thing just as he taught.
But lest I should really be an Occasion of Injury to some Persons, I would here give Notice, that though I generally speak of that Doctrine, concerning Free-will and moral Agency, which I oppose, as an Arminian Doctrine ; yet I would not be understood, as asserting that every Divine or Author whom I have occasion to mention as maintaining that Doctrine, was properly an Arminian, or one of that Sort which is commonly called by that Name. Some of them went far beyond the Arminians: And I would by no Means charge Arminians in general with all the corrupt Doctrine, which these maintain'd. Thus, for instance, it would be very injurious, if I should rank Arminian Divines in general, with such Authors as Mr. Chubb. I doubt not, many of them have some of his Doctrines in Abhorrence; tho' he agrees, for the most Part, with Arminians, in his Notion of the Freedom of the Will. And on the other Hand, tho' I suppose this Notion to be a leading Article in the Arminian Scheme, that which, if pursued in its Consequences, will truly in