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offence that kindled a flame of persecution in the Calvinists, which lasted for years, drove many of the Arminians into exile, immured others in prisons, silenced their preachers, suppressed their religious assemblies, and inflicted universally every species of severity. Even at the Synod of Dort, which was pretended to be summoned for the purpose of a mutual conference, the Ar. minians were treated as heretics, and rudely denied the privilege of explaining and defending their sentiments. They were dealt with as criminals, and condemned as guch.
The history of Holland during these disastrous times affords the most striking illustration of the influence of calvinistic principles, when allowed to act without opposition. The Calvinists were the stronger party; they professed to act wholly from motives of religion; and all the enormities practised on their opponents are justly ascribed to this source.
It will not be easy, perhaps, to trace the effects of calvinism with much precision in England. Civil and religious causes have been so much blended in that country since the origin of calvinism, as to render it a difficult task to distinguish between them. What with the Puritans, the favourers of the English Prelacy, and of Papacy, during the high commotions of church and state, it is impossible to tell how much should be put to the account of selfishness, party zeal, bigotry, the tendency of bad principles, or of a correct faith, and genuine piety. One thing, however, amidst this chaos of uncertainty, stands forth prominent and indisputa
* See Mosheim's Church History, vol. v. chap. 3. North American Review, vol. vi. p. 185. Oldenbarneveldt opposed the convocation of the Synod of Dort, and maintained, that the States-General had no authority on matters of religion. See Maclaine's Note in Moshiem's History, vol. v. p. 451.
ble. When the calvinists had dominion, they showed a spirit of intolerance not a whit inferior to that of their Genevan master, or their brethren at Dort. Wit. ness the ordinance of the Presbyterian parliament against heresy, in which it was decreed, that any one, who should be guilty of certain opinions, which were defined and declared to be heretical, “should suffer the pains of death, as in case of felony, without benefit of clergy."* This was walking in the precise steps of Calvin. It is a case of importance, because it discovers the feelings of the most intelligent and influential men among the calvinists, and is thus an accurate index to the impressions and inclinations of the less informed multitude.
It is hardly necessary to call your mind to the first settlers of New-England. The odious effects of their intolerance and persecutions are not to be forgotten by any one, who has looked at the history of those times. For the honour of religion, and even of humanity, we should be willing to have them forgotten. But when appealing to history for the influence of certain doctrines, justice and truth demand a fair report. The laws made against the heresies of Quakers by the early colonists were, if possible, more unhuman than those of the Presbyterian parliament. They were rigorously put in execution, and in several instances the punishment of death was actually inflicted.* The first Baptists, who came into the country, were also treated with great severity, and punished in various ways for their heresy. Now the persons, who ran into these excesses, were cal. vinists of the stricter sort," who embraced the doginas of this faith in their fullest extent, and even while committing these outrages against the laws of our common nature, imagined themselves acting under the imperious guidance of their religious principles.
* This act was passed May 2, 1648. Neal says, “This was one of the most shocking laws I have met with, and shows that the governing Presbyterians of these times would have made a terrible use of their power, if it had been supported by the sword of the civil magistrate.” Neal's History, vol, iii. p. 497. Among the heresies which were to be punished with death, was the denying, “That Christ is not God equal with the Father,-or that the Godhead and Manhood are distinct natures.” Imprisonment was threatened to such as main. tained, “That man by nature hath free will to turn to God, that the soul of man sleeps, when the body is dead,
that man is bound to beljeve no more than by his reason he can comprehend.” Ibid,
Such is the influence of calvinism as testified by his. tory. How far your appeal proves favourable to your position, let the impartial decide. The particulars here selected are leading features in the history of Calvinisın; and it is remarkable, that where the principles of this faith have been most prevalent, and met with least opposition, their evil effects have been most severely felt. In Geneva, where nearly all were calvinists, Castalio, Bolsec, and others were banished, and Servetus was murdered; in Holland, where opposition was stronger, and the influence of milder principles had some weight, the tide of persecution ran with less violence; in England, for similar reasons, its violence was still less, not theoretically, but practically, not in default of inclination, but of power, and of public countenance; in New England, the scenes of Geneva were again acted over,
“The Quakers,” says Belknap, “were at first banished, but this proving insufficient, a succession of sanguinary laws was enacted against them, of which imprisonment, whipping, cutting off the ears, boring the tongue with a hot iron, and banishment on pain of death, were the terrible sanctions.” History of New Hampshire, vol i. p. 90. For some curious remarks on this subject, and a further confirmation of what is here said, See Mather's Magnalia Christi, Book
because all were calvinists, and the natural asperity of their sentiments was not softened by intercourse with others, whose views were more rational and temperate.
I intended to examine your appeal to history in another light, but this letter has already extended so far as to leave me but little room. It would be to the purpose to make some inquiries into the historical grounds on which you boast of the epithets, strict, austere, and puritanical, as applied to calvinists. What has gained them the honour of having the exclusive appropriation of these epithets? I believe no calvinist has before thought of claiming them as tokens of the religious purity of his sect. Is it true, that they have ever been employed to denote the sincere religion of the heart? To call a man austere and puritanical, is at once to insinuate, that you have suspicions of his honest professions and latent piety. If I am not greatly mistaken, this is the universal sense of mankind; and if the inquiry were pursued, I have no doubt that the origin of these epithets would be found in the features of calvinism just portrayed. I would only infer, that the use of these words adds no strength, but rather weakness, to your argument for the moral tendency of calvinism.
I would make the same inference on another consideration. There has been no sect, probably, whom the world would more readily agree in calling austere, puritanical, and of the stricter sort, than the Pharisees of old, and yet our Saviour gives us no flattering picture of their morals or piety. Why may not the words have the same meaning, when applied to a modern sect, whether composed of calvinists, or those of any other faith? Do you reply, that the Pharisees were hypocrites and pretenders, thinking more of outward appearances, than of inward purity? That is true, and it is the very rea
son why we call them austere and puritanical. No one would apply these epithets to the apostles. But why not, except that their sincerity and piety were never doubted? If it had always been thus with all christians, if there never had been any one, qui aliud est, et aliud simulat, the use of these words, which you think an indication of the superior morals of calvinists, would never have been known.
I shall next examine your notion of Christian Charity, as stated under the fourth head of your Reply.
A THEOLOGICAL Paper has lately been commenced in Boston under the title of the CHRISTIAN REGISTER, and is published weekly. The following is an extract from the Editor's notice to the public, in the first number.
“The great object of the Christian Register will be to inculcate the principles of a rational faith, and to promote the practice of genuine piety. To accomplish this purpose, it will aim to excite a spirit of free and independent religious inquiry, and to assist in ascertaining and bringing into use, the true principles of interpreting the Scriptures. It will urge the importance and duty of subjecting our faith to the test of scripture and enlightened reason, and of rejecting from our creed, not only what is contrary to the general language of the Scriptures, but every thing that is not plainly and explicitly taught there.
"It will also enforce the duty of a serious and practical regard to the moral precepts of Christianity, by showing that the final favour of God toward us is to depend not so much upon what has been done to us, or for us by another, as upon the temper of mind we have our. selves cherished, and the course of moral conduct we have pursued. And it will earnestly recommend to all, the cultivation of the mild