Page images

verbatim, or by giving an epitome of their sentiments, in their own expressions. To avoid the charge of misrepresentation, when any author is quoted, his ancient mode of spelling, and even his ungrammatical construction of sentences, have been retained. Lest it should be thought that the writer translated the works of Calvin and Witsius to suit his own purpose, he has used Norton's translation of the "Institution," and the common rendering of the "Economy of the Covenants." The quotations from "Witsii Exercitationes in Symbolum," were necessarily rendered into English, by the writer, because he could find no translation of that work.


In the first column of the Contrast may be found the doctrines of Calvin; in the second, the collateral doctrines of ancient and modern confessions, or of distinguished individuals of the Cal vinistic school in the third the opinions of Hopkins, chiefly extracted from his System of Divinity and in the fourth, the collateral propositions or reasonings of some of the most able writers, who call themselves, and are called, Hopkinsians. Calvin and his followers are arranged on the first page; and on the next page, in opposing ranks, stand Hopkins and his adherents.

Instead of the publications of individuals, confessions of Hopkinsian churches would have been introduced, had any such public standards been found. These churches are commonly of the congregational order, and almost every pastor, if he dislikes the form of his predecessor, by the consent of his people, forms for himself a short confession of faith, to be used in the admission of persons to sealing ordinances.

It is not pretended, that all the ancient confessions, which are introduced into this work, are orthodox in all points. It is sufficient that they are Calvinistical upon the subjects, concerning which there is a debate between the friends of Calvin and Hopkins. One principal design in taking copious extracts from them, was, by exhibiting a harmony of public standards of faith, to show the extensive spread of Calvinism, and the general agreement of all the reformed churches, in all the leading doctrines of Christianity. To those who cannot procure these Confessions, it is hoped that this work will prove not only a contrast

between truth and error, but a valuable harmony of public standards of doctrine.

So far as it was practicable, the work has been divided, not only into chapters, but sections, that the heads of agreement or opposition, might be easily distinguished. The heads of agreement, which have found a place here, were necessary to give a connected view of each system Without an exhibition of some fundamental principles, which both parties admit, and from which one or the other wanders, it would be difficult to oppose any thing more than fragments of systems. At the bottom of many pages the reader will find explanatory notes, and at the end of the chapters, long notes, which will give him a general view of the mode of reasoning which is adopted by the oppoSince the notes are some of them founded upon the Calvinistical system, and some of them on the Hopkinsian theory, they will tend to make the contrast more complete.


It is proper here, to state, that no personal reflections are intended, and that the gentlemen whose works may be thought to suffer by the contrast are distinguished for talents and piety. It will not follow, however, that they may not be erroneous; or that John Calvin, who published his Institution, when only twentyfive years of age, was not in the vigour of youth, more scriptural in doctrine than they. No disrespect is intended by the author, when he says, in the language of Elihu, whose words were not censured by the Holy One, "great men are not always wise, neither do the aged understand judgment." He would render to each his due; and he knows that while they are opposed, they are to be respected No individual of them is charged with supporting every doctrine which appears under the caption of Hopkinsianism; nor is the Saint of Newport made answerable for the metaphysical speculations which have taken their origin from his writings. Hopkins would have recoiled from what is now considered the perfection of his system. In like manner, many divines who maintain one or two principles of Hopkinsianism, utterly disclaim the body of divinity with which these members are connected. At the same time, it is believed, that the first principles of Hopkinsianism being granted, he who would be consistent with himself, must subscribe to the sentiments of

the Massachusetts Missionary Magazine before it was united with the Panoplist, and acknowledge Dr. Emmons to be the prince of philosophers.

Most reasoners do not admit all the legitimate inferences which might be drawn from their own premises. It is well they do not. The writer has no disposition to accuse those persons, whose errors are opposed, of wilfully dishonouring God and his testimony of grace. Neither would he attribute to them the inferences which they disclaim. When one of the same school, however, has taken the principles of a former writer, and openly avowed the inductions to be legitimate; we may say, that the foundation and superstructure, in our opinion, correspond; while one must answer for laying the corner stone, and the other, for what he has built on it.

Should any class of men say, that they are impeached in the following work; the writer has forewarned them that he has simply charged to individuals what they have individually written. If any writer has been misrepresented, it will be a matter of regret to the author, when convinced of the fact and he pledges himself to make, so far as possible, reparation.

For the doctrines which are approved in this work, the author holds himself accountable to the ecclesiastical judicatories of the church to which he belongs. If any sentiment is supported, or any doctrine condemned, contrary to the Presbyterian Standards, he refuses not to answer for his writings, and abide the decision of those brethren to whom he is bound to submit in the Lord.

The whole work is committed to the public, with an earnest wish that it may prove beneficial to all who shall read it; and especially to those who think themselves either Calvinists or Hopkinsians, while they understand neither one system nor the other.











1. God reveals to all mo- 1. The same doctrine is ral agents, in some manner, taught in the Con. P. C. U. S. so much knowledge of him- Con. C. Scot. and Say. Plat. ch. self and their duty as to ren- 1. sec. 1.* Con. R. D. C. Art. 2. der them inexcusable for their and of the Protestant French sins. churches, A. D. 1559.

Calvin's Institution, Book 1,

ch. 3, passim.

2. "To attain to God the Creator, it is needful to have the scripture to be our guide." "Therefore not in vain he hath added the light of his word, that thereby he might be known to salvation."

Inst. B. 1. ch. 6. sec. 1.

2. A revelation is necessary to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is essential to salvation.

Con. P. C. U. S. p. 1. Con. R. D. C. Art. 2. Say. Plat. p. 13. and Con. C. Scot. ch. 1. sec. 1.

3. The commonly received 3. The same doctrine is books of the Old and New Tes- taught in the Con. P. C. U. S.

The characters Con. P. C. U. S. are used for the Confession of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America: Con. C. Scot. for the Confession of the Church of Scotland, composed by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, A. D. 1643, and approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, A. D. 1647; which is now the standard, so far as the articles of faith are concerned, of all the different denominations of Scotch churches in America. Say. Plat. denote the confession of faith, called the Saybrook Platform, which was adopted by the churches in Connecticut, in New-England, A. D. 1708, printed 1710, and re-printed under the inspection of the General Association, in 1810. This was a copy of the Savoy Confession, which was adopted, by a general synod, convened in Boston, A. D. 1680. The Westminster Confession had been previously assented to, in 1648, by the unanimous vote of the Elders and Messengers, from the churches in Massachusetts, convened in Cambridge. Con. R. D. C. signify the Confession of the Reformed Dutch Churches, which was adopted by the Synod of Dortrecht, in 1619, and is now the standard of the Reformed Dutch Churches in America.

« PreviousContinue »