with increasing years it will become a staff to lean upon. In times of affliction, obloquy and persecution, the church has found in the decrees of God, and in the prophecies in which these decrees are published, her strong consolation. It is only upon the basis of the decrees that we can believe that ?all things work together for good? ( <450828>Romans 8:28) or pray ?Thy will be done? ( <400610>Matthew 6:10).
It is a striking evidence of the truth of the doctrine that even Arminians pray and sing like Calvinists. Charles Wesley, the Arminian, can write: ?He wills that I should holy be ? What can withstand his will? The counsel of his grace in me He surely will fulfill.? On the Arminian theory, prayer that God will soften hard hearts is out of place ? the prayer should be offered to the sinner; for it is his will, not God?s, that is in the way of his salvation. And yet this doctrine of Decrees, which at first sight might seem to discourage effort, is the greatest, in fact is the only effectual, incentive to effort. For this reason Calvinists have been the most strenuous advocates of civil liberty. Those who submit themselves most unreservedly to the sovereignty of God are most delivered from the fear of man. Whitefield the Calvinist, and not Wesley the Arminian, originated the great religious movement in which the Methodist church was born (see McFetridge, Calvinism in History, 153), and Spurgeon?s ministry has been as fruitful in conversions as Finney?s has. See Froude, Essay on Calvinism; Andrew Fuller, Calvinism and Socinianism compared in their Practical Effects; Atwater, Calvinism in Doctrine and Life, in Princeton Review, 1873; J. A. Smith, Historical Lectures.
Calvinism logically requires the separation of Church and State; though Calvin did not see this, the Calvinist Roger Williams did. Calvinism logically requires a republican firm of government: Calvin introduced laymen into the government of the church, and the same principle requires civil liberty as its correlate. Calvinism holds to individualism and the direct responsibility of the individual to God. In the Netherlands, in Scotland, in England and in America, Calvinism has powerfully influenced the development of civil liberty. Ranke: ?John Calvin was virtually the founder of America. Motley: ?To the Calvinists more than to any other class of men, the political liberties of Holland, England and America are due.? John Fiske, The Beginnings of New England: ?Perhaps not one of the medieval popes was more despotic than Calvin; but it is not the less true that the promulgation of his theology was one of the longest steps that mankind has taken towards personal freedom?.It was a religion fit to inspire men who were to be called to fight for freedom, whether in the marshes of the Netherlands or on the moors of Scotland.?
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