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    April 6, 1888

    “Historical Necessity of the Third Angel’s Message. No. 6” The Signs of the Times 14, 14, pp. 216, 217.

    HOWEVER sharp the contention was at any time between those who would have it that God decreed that man should sin, and those who held that he only permitted it, their differences were all laid aside whenever and wherever there appeared those who “thought it their duty to represent the Deity as extending his goodness and mercy to all mankind.” For both the Supralapsarians and Sublapsarians held alike to the decrees of unconditional election and reprobation.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.1

    This new controversy arose in the early part of the seventeenth century, and is known as the Arminian controversy, from James Arminius, professor of divinity in the University of Leyden, who was the originator of it. Arminius had been educated a Calvinist, at the College of Geneva, and because of his merit, had been chosen to the University of Leyden. After leaving Geneva, and as he grew older, his mind more and more revolted from the doctrine of Calvin on predestination, and he embraced the scriptural doctrine that the grace of God is free to all, and brings salvation to all men, and that none are prohibited, by any decree, from its benefits, nor are any elected thereto, independent of their own actions, but that Christ brought salvation to the world, and every man is free to accept or reject his offer as he chooses. But as Calvinism was at that time flourishing in Holland, the teaching of Arminius drew upon him the severest opposition.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.2

    Arminius died in 1609, and Simon Episcopius, one of his disciples, carried the work forward with unabated vigor, and in a little while the controversy spread through all Europe, and created as much tumult in the Calvinist Church as Calvinism had formerly caused in the Lutheran. And the stubbornness of the Lutherans was repeated on the part of the Calvinists. With these, also, some sought to bring the contending parties to an accommodation, but with no success. At last, in 1618, by the authority of the States General, the national synod was convened at Dort, to discuss the points of difference and come to an agreement.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.3

    Deputies assembled from Holland, England, Hesse, Bremen, Switzerland, and the Palatinate; and the leading men of the Arminians came also. Episcopius addressed the assembly in a discourse, says Mosheim, “full of moderation, gravity, and elocution.” But his address was no sooner finished than difficulties arose, and the Arminians found that instead of their being called there to present their views for examination and discussion, it was that they were to be tried as heretics; and when they refused to submit to the manner of proceeding proposed by the synod, they were excluded from the assembly, and the famous synod of Dort tried them in their absence, and, as a natural consequence, they were pronounced “guilty of pestilential errors,” and condemned as “corrupters of the true religion;” and all this after the solemn promise made to the Arminians that they should be allowed full liberty to explain and defend their opinions, as far as they thought necessary to their justification.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.4

    After this the doctrine of “absolute decrees” lost ground from day to day; and the way in which the synod had treated the Arminians only increased their determination, and besides drew to them the sympathy of many, so much so indeed that the whole provinces of Friesland, Zealand, Utrecht, Guelderland, and Groningen, never would accept the decisions of that assembly.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.5

    Immediately after this, too, the controversy over the Cartesian philosophy entered the Calvinist Church, and set it all awhirl again, and kept it so.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.6

    James I. came to the English throne in 1603. He had been raised a Puritan, and therefore that party supposed they would be greatly favored by him as king. Accordingly, before he reached London, they presented to him a petition signed by eight hundred and twenty-five ministers from various countries, desiring a redress of ecclesiastical “abuses,” and asking for a conference. On January 14, 15 and 16, 1604, the king summoned to Hampton Court, the Archbishop of Canterbury, eight bishops, five deans, and two doctors, of the Church of England, “who were to oppose all innovation.” To meet these he called four members of the Puritan party.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.7

    James, to avenge himself for the humiliations that had been put upon him by the Puritans in Scotland when he was a boy, sided with the Episcopalians, and became the chief talker in the conferences of the three days. This so pleased the bishops that one of them (Bancroft, of the divine right contest before mentioned) fell upon his knees with his eyes raised to James, and cried out, “I protest, my heart melteth for joy that Almighty God, of his singular mercy, has given us such a king as cine Christ’s time hath not been.” And the archbishop (Whitgift) was so transported with joy as to declare that “undoubtedly his majesty spoke by the special assistance of God’s Spirit.”SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.8

    Whether these men were exactly in the right in speaking thus may safely be questioned; but there was one grand result of this Conference: James ordered a new translation of the Scriptures, by which we have our present “King James’s” version. When his delegates returned from Dort, and reported what had been done, James gave the Puritans another snub, by expressing in strong terms his dislike, and declared that the position of Arminius on the divine decrees was preferable to that of Calvin.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.9

    After James came Charles I., a rigid Episcopalian, and therefore a bitter opponent of all dissenters, Puritans as well as others, and through Laud carried things with a high hand. He finally pushed civil matters so far, that he brought upon his kingdom the civil war, and by that, through Cromwell, the complete ascendancy of the Puritans. When affairs had grown somewhat quiet after the close of the civil war, there were peace-loving men in England who wished to heal the divisions between the Episcopalians and the Puritans; but about all the recognition they received was to be called atheists, Deists, Socinians, and to cap the climax, a new epithet was invented, Latitudinarians.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.10

    After the Commonwealth, came Charles II., who reduced everything again to the jurisdiction of bishops. After him came James II., who tried to bring the kingdom under the papal rule. This danger, of course, led all to make common cause against it, till finally, to save the kingdom to Protestantism, William of Orange, with his wife Mary, daughter of James II., was invited to come over from Holland and take the kingdom and reign. In 1688 they came; James ran away to France, and the kingdom was settled upon William and Mary jointly, and pledged to a Protestant succession forever. But as soon as James was out of the kingdom, and the bishops were required to take the oath of allegiance to the new king, many of them discovered all at once that James was king by “divine right,” and that it was treason to swear allegiance to any other while he lived. It mattered not though he had, like the coward that he was, basely run away in disguise; no matter though he in his flight had thrown the great seal of the kingdom into the Thames, and by thus throwing away “that mystic symbol of legal government” had left the realm a prey to every unlawful element;—no matter for all this and more, they refused to take the oath of allegiance to one of the best rulers that England once saw. This caused a division and endless discussion within the Episcopalian Church. Those who refused to take the oath were denominated Nonchurch and High Church, those who took the oath were called Low Church. This controversy lasted through the century, till James, William, and Mary all were dead, and Anne succeeded.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.11

    In 1650, another tumult arose in England. The Quakers began their preaching, and excited great commotion and fearful persecution, till in 1680, William Penn obtained a grant of a portion of land in America, to which his brethren might go and be secure.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.12

    In the eighteenth century, both in England and on the continent, infidelity caused the principal portion of controversy. Under the leadership of Voltaire, and the patronage of Frederick the Great, it grew stronger and stronger, until it finally culminated in the barbarities of the French Revolution that so shocked the world. In England, however, there were some notable controversies on other subjects. In the early part of the century, William Whiston (the translator of Josephua) revived the Trinitarian controversy, by boldly announcing himself as an Arian. He was followed soon by Samuel Clark, a prelate of the English Church. But that which caused the greatest commotion of the whole century in religious circles, was started in 1738, by John Wesley’s preaching of conversion, and a “present, free, and full salvation” by the “witness of the Holy Spirit.” Wesley was a member of the Established Church of England, and his “doctrines offended the clergy.” “The churches were shut against him,” and he had to preach in the open air. But “immense crowds” flocked to hear him. In 1740, the clergy, not content with excluding the preachers of these doctrines from their pulpits, “repelled them and their converts from the Lord’s Supper.” Being thus cut off from all fellowship or recognition by the orthodox, there was no course open but to establish communion amongst themselves, to have their own meeting-houses, and for the preachers to administer the sacrament themselves. The trials, perplexities, and persecutions of the early Methodists are too well known to require any further mention in this place; though it might not be out of place for us to express the wish that the Methodists now would call to mind the former day, whenever unpopular doctrine is brought to their notice.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.13

    In 1747 the Baptists, or Anabaptists, as they were also called, were brought into particular notice again by Mr. Whiston’s openly joining their communion. The controversy on the immortality of the soul was again revived by Dr. Priestly’s asserting the unconciousness of the dead.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.14

    In the nineteenth century, the first prominent movement was in relation to the second coming of Christ. In 1827 it began in England, and in 1833 of Christ. In 1827 it began in England, and in 1833 in this country by William Miller. This, however, was not so much a controversy as a warning voice, and it soon spread to all nations.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.15

    We ask our readers to look over again the subjects that have formed this course of controversy for in our next we shall present the point which is the object of these articles, that is, the necessity for the Third Angel’s Message to bring into prominence the commandments of God. And by reviewing what we have now given, the truth which we shall present in the next will be more plainly seen. J.SITI April 6, 1888, page 216.16

    (Concluded next week.)

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