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ed in holy scripture as the most impious of men ; for instance, Coré, Judas the Iscariote, the Sodomites, &c. They were a branch of Gnostics who, to the most abandoned morals, added errors still more execrable and impious. Besides the Creator of the universe, for whom they professed the most frantic enmity, they worshipped an imaginary Principle, a Being of superior dignity,—more wise and powerful than he. They pretended that Cain was son of this Supreme divinity, while Abel was only the offspring of the former. "Judas they fancied to have been endowed with extraordinary knowledge and wisdom, and that his motive for betraying our Blessed Saviour to the Jews, was his foresight of the advantages which his death would procure for mankind. Accordingly their gratitude compelled them to express a due acknowledgement of the favor, and to offer Judas extraordinary honours. They had a gospel which they ascribed to him; and from this circumstance they were also denominated Judaites. They rejected the Mosaic law, and the dogma of a future resurrection; exhorted mankind to demolish as far as in them lay the works of the Creator, and to commit without re
morse all sorts of crimes; maintaining the equally absurd and | impious doctrine, that evil actions were conducive to salvation.
They imagined angels to preside over sin, and to assist their votaries in committing it: hence they invoked them on such occasions, and paid to them a kind of homage. In a word, their perfection consisted in laying aside all sense of shame, and perpetrating without a blush the most dishonest actions.
Most of their abominable tenets were contained in a book which they entitled the Ascension of St Paul; in which--under the guise of revelations to that apostle in his famous rapt to heaven, they taught their blasphemous impieties. In the days of Tertullian, a woman of the sect; named Quintilla, appeared in Africa, and perverted many. Her proselytes were called Quintillianists. It appears that this abandoned woman had, if possible, improved upon the infamies of the Cainites.
We should with difficulty be induced to believe, that an entire sect of men could have proceeded to such an excess of mental depravity, were it not attested by the most respectable fathers of the church. We derive our narrative concerning them from St Ireneus, Tertullian, St Epiphanius, Theodoret and St Augustine, who all agree in their account; and the two first on the list were contemporary with these maniacs. The extravagances of fanatics of latter times help not a little to accredit those of ancient heretics. Hornbec (Controv. p. 390) instances a certain Anabaptist, whose ideas, with respect to Judas, were similar to those of the Cainites. Hence we may infer, that when once the understanding is seduced by the cor, ruption of the heart, there is no error, no impiety so wicked and absurd, of which our perverse nature is not capable.
CALVINISM—The doctrine of John Calvin, a famous reformer, born at Noyon in France in 1509, and deceased at Geneva in 1564. The better to form a correct idea of Calvinism, it will be of service to attend a little to the spirit of its author. Instructed by one of the emissaries whom Luther and his fellowreformers had sent into France, he undertook to form a system of theology in unison with the opinions of his teachers-a task. which hitherto none of the innovating apostles had attempted. This, Calvin flattered himself he should accomplish by his book entitled Institutio Christiana, which appeared in print in 1.536. In this work he lays down as an uncontrovertible maxim, that the only rule of faith to a true believer, is---Holy Scripture; and that God himself reveals to him by a particular inspiration of the holy spirit, its truth and proper meaning.
But how we are infallibly to distinguish between this pretended inspiration and the fanaticism of an impostor, he has not thought proper to acquaint us.
Compelled to abandon his native country, he retired to Geneva, where Farel and Viret had already introduced the principles of the German reformers. Here he quickly forced himself into notice by declaiming against a decree of the synod of Berne, which had presumed to new model the public liturgy. Doubtless Calvin thought himself more fully inspired than this reforming synod. Unfortunately, the synod thought otherwise; and poor Calvin was once more obliged to retreat, though not long after, upon a favourable change of system at Geneva, he was recalled; assumed a kind of absolute religious monarchy ; established a consistory ; regulated at pleasure the form of service, the rites to be observed in the celebration of the Lord's
&c. and invested his consistory with full powers to issue censures and excommunications. Thus this self-commissioned preacher, after inveighing with pious zeal against that authority which the pastors of the
catholic church challenged as essential to their ministry, himself usurped an authority a hundred times more absolute and tyrannical, and forced the inspiration with which he had complimented each individual of the faithful-respectfully to acquiesce.
The translator of Mosheim, who pretends that Calvin surpassed all the other reformers by his erudition and talents, is obliged to own that he pushed his temerity, his morose severity and turbulent disposition to still greater lengths. (Vol. 4, p. 91, note.) And what admirable qualities are these-of an apostle! But the consistency of protestants will easily excuse in Calvin and other sectarists of the age, on account, say they, of their superior merit and virtues, what in the Roman pontiffs they are pleased to ascribe to ambition and lawless despotism, unpardon
able in then, though never carried to half the excess. In what then, it may be asked, did the extraordinary virtues of this furiously crabbed reformer consist ? Was it, forsooth, in that christian meekness and forbearance with which, impatient of control, he persecuted even unto death men who, in dissenting from him, thought themselves inspired like himself, and by his own principles had a divine right to follow what appeared to them the dictates of the Holy Spirit? But, in lieu of scripture and the private inspiration of each individual, Calvin found it more convenient now to substitute--his own tyrannical authority as the sole rule of faith at Geneva ; and condemned to the flames poor Servetus his fellow reformer, because he could not recognise in the Word of God the same sense and doctrines which he (Calvi!) pretended to discern; while at the same time he zealously declaimed against magistrates for prosecuting heretics in France.
Nor has the Calvinism of latter times ceased to be practically inconsistent. It has always taught Holy Scripture to be the sole rule of faith, and that God enlighteneth every believer to discover its true meaning; also, that the sentiments of the fathers, the decrees of councils, the decisions of the church itself, are mere human authority to which no man is obliged to yield assent; and still it has pot ceased, in flat contradiction to all these principles-to hold synods, to draw up professions of faith, to condemn reputed errors, and to excommunicate those that professed their adhesion to them. Thus has it treated the Socinians, the Anabaptists and Arminians; who had all an equal title, even on Calvinistic grounds, to commence reformers, as the Calvinists themselves, or their master Calvin. A deist of our times who received his education in the very focus of Calvinism, with much energy and propriety charges the whole sect with this glaring contradiction.
“ Your history," says he, “ is full of facts which prove you to have exercised an inquisition most intolerant and severe; and that, instead of suffering the persecutions of others, the reformers soon became themselves relentless persecutors. . ... The protestant clergy arrogated to themselves the exclusive right of defining, regulating and pronouncing upon every thing : each one imperiously dictated to others his own peculiar fancies as a supreme
law... What man was ever more sarcastic, more imperious, more positive, and more divinely infallible in his own conceit than Calvin ? The smallest opposition, the least objection was enough in his estimation to devote the rash man that made it, to the stake: it was a work of Satan, and consigned him to damnation. Servetus was not the only person whose presumption in thinking otherwise than Calvin,"cost him his life.”
“ Most of his fellow reformers," continues he, “ were, like him, intolerant and violent; all of them so much the more
criminal, in proportion as they were inconsistent ; that bigoted
orthodoxy which they affected to maintain, was itself a heresy Ed according to the principles of the sect.” (Deuxieme Lettre nim , ecrite de la Montaigne, p. 49, 50, 68.)
A protestant must be blind indeed, to imagine that holy dic
scripture is the only rule of his faith. Before he reads this pri
divine book, a youth is already taught by the lessons in his caare techism and those of his instructors--to predetermine the scrip30le tural meaning; and this is the inspiration which conducts hina
in the perusal of the sacred book. In fact, a Lutheran never the fails to recognise în scripture the sentiments of Luther ; a So
cinian, those of Socinus; a member of the church of England, ed the tenets of the Episcopalians; just as a Presbyterian thinks he
there recognises the doctrines of Calvin. This fundamental de. fect in the general system of the reformation is alone sufficient to point out its absurdity.
It is hard to conceive what solid answer Calvin and his col. leagues would have been able to return a well instructed catholic,
that should have argued with them to the following effect : “ You i
pretend yourselves commissioned by Almighty God to reform the church, while, in reality, you have received your mission neither from any lawful pastor, nor from any christian church whatever. Of course your mission must be extraordinary and
miraculous. Make good your claim by miracle, as Moses, n Jesus Christ and his apostles--all have set you the example. Lu
ther and divers others declare themselves reformers as well as 3 you: you do not coincide with them ; you teach in many in
stances a quite different doctrine; you censure and condemn E
each other. Which of you am I to believe in preference? You propose to me the sacred scripture as the only rule of my faith ; but you refuse to acknowledge as scripture, many books which the catholic church assures me are such ; and how shall we decide this important point, which scripture itself leaves undetermined ? You present me with a French translation of the
Give me some secure pledge of the fidelity of your translation, of which I am not qualified myself to judge. You say, I must not listen to the authority of men; you yourselves are mortal men ; consequently I must not yield obedience to your's, in any thing that you may please to tell me. As holy scripture is the sole rule of faith, it is needless for you to preach, or to expound the word of God at all. I can read as well as you; it is my duty there to' find 'what God reveals, and not your's to point it out. You promise me the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to instruct me in the true sense of scripture : very well; this inspiration itself dictates to me, that you are preaching falsehood; and that the catholic church alone is privileged to teach the truth."
The reasoner with his arguments Calvin would quickly have
ordered to execution. " Such monsters," he says, “ must be choaked with fire and smoke, as was here done in the case of Mi. chael Servetus a Spaniard.” (Calvin's Letter to Mons. du Poét.) The sanctity of Calvin's doctrine or of Calvinism, consists principally in the following heads.
1. Absolute predestination and reprobation, independent of the foreknowledge which God has of the good or evil works of each particular person, purely because it is his will, without the least regard to the merits or demerits of men ! 2. According to Calvin, God gives to the predestinate faith and justice inamissible, and imputes not to them their sins! 3. In consequence of original sin, the will of man is enfeebled—to such a degree, that it is incapable not only of any good work meritorious of salvation, but of any action whatever, that is not vicious and imputable as sin! 4. He teaches, that it is impossible for man to resist evil concupiscence, and that free-will consists barely in being exempt from coaction or force, and not from necessity! 5. That we are justified by faith alone; consequently, that good works contribute nothing to salvation; and that the sacraments have no other virtue but that of exciting our faith! 6. That Jesus Christ is not really present in the sacrament of the eucharist, and that we therein receive him by faith only. He admits only two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper: all exterior worship, and the entire discipline of the catholic church, he absolutely rejects.
To perfect his new system of theology, Calvin ransacked the various errors of almost every sect, ancient as well as modern; those of the Predestinarians, the Donatists, the Iconoclasts; those of Vigilantius, of Berengarius, the Albigenses, the Waldenses, the Beguardæ, the Fratricelli, the Wicklefites, the Hussites; and finally, those of Luther, and the Anabaptists. In reference to the blessed eucharist, he does not close in with Zuinglius who took it to be a mere figure of the body and blood of Jesus Christ: on the contrary, Calvin says we verily receive both the one and the other, yet by faith only! Nor does he admit Luther's scheme of impanation or—the presence of the body and blood of Christ together with the bread and wine, any more than transubstantiation with the catholics. Bebold here three different and materially discordant methods of explaining what Holy Scripture says regarding the blessed sacrament, devised by the three inspired chiefs of the reformation! According to Zuinglius, the words of Jesus Christmthis is my body-mean only-this is the sign of my body. Calvin maintains, that they import something more; since Jesús Christ had promised to give us his flesh to eat. (John 6. 52.) Then, resumes Luther, the body of Jesus Christ is truly present-together with the bread and wine. Not so, cries Calvin: for if we once admit a real presence, we must of necessity admit the catholic transub