Reformation Era Scholars who Moved Away from Limited Atonement

I thought some others might find this interesting:

The Appendix of The Life of John Goodwin (Thomas Jackson, 1872) has a list of some scholars (Reformation Era to the mid 1800s) who moved away from Limited Atonement to “enlarged views of Divine Philanthropy”. The author includes himself in the list, as well as Luther, Calvin (?!), and others. Very interestingly, a number of those listed were involved with the proceedings in Dort. (Goad, Davenport, Tilenus, Hales of Eton).

APPENDIX.

It is a fact, which is highly worthy of attention, that several of the greatest divines, who have adorned the different Protestant churches by their learning, talents, and virtue, were, in the early part of their lives, “straitened in their bowels” respecting the extent of CHRIST’S REDEMPTION, and as they advanced in years and knowledge, they entertained enlarged views of the Divine Philanthropy. The following are some of the examples of this kind which may be specified:

MELANCTHON

Luther’s friend and coadjutor, was at first Luther’s scholar, and drew from him his earliest religious opinions. But being a learned and dispassionate man, pursuing truth, he saw his errors and abandoned them; and espoused sentiments concerning the respectiveness of God’s decrees, widely different from those he had formerly held. [A circumstance which is very conveniently passed over in silence by Dr. Cox, his late English biographer.] — Pierce’s Divine Philanthropy Defended, p. 14, Edit. 1657.

LUTHER

Also went on long as he at first set out, with so little disguise, that whereas all parties had always pretended that they asserted the freedom of the will, he plainly spoke out, and said the will was not free, but enslaved. Yet, before he died, he is reported to have changed his mind on this and other kindred subjects : for though ho never owned that, yet Melancthon, who had been of the same opinions, did ; for which he was never blame by Luther. — Burnet on the Seventeenth Article.

ARMINIUS

Himself was education at Geneva, and in the early part of his life embraced those doctrines concerning predestination, which Calvin and Beza had taught in that city. Afterwards, however, when actually engaged in vindication of those doctrines, he was convinced that they were indefensible; and embraced the principles of those whose religious system extends the Divine benevolence and the merits of Jesus Christ to all mankind.— Mosheim’s Eccles. Hist. Vol. V. p. 440, Edit. 1806.

DANIEL TILENUS

Professor of Divinity at Sedan, a man not less acute in judgment, than versed in all kinds of learning, distinguished himself by decided hostility to the sentiments of Arminius. Convinced at length by the arguments of his opponents, he changed sides; and proved the genuineness of his conversion by submitting to share with the Remonstrants in those severe persecutions which were inflicted upon them by the Dutch Calvinists. — Brandt’s History of the Reformation, Vol. II. p. 137, Edit. 1721.

DR. THOMAS JACKSON

President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, is thus characterized by the noted Prynne : “Dr. Jackson is a man of great abilities, and of a plausible, affable, courteous deportment. — Of late he hath been transported beyond himself with metaphysical contemplations. The University of Oxford grieves for his defection” [from the doctrine of absolute predestination] . — Anti-Arminianism, p. 270, Edit. 1630.

BISHOP ANDREWS

Is generally allowed to have been one of the most learned and pious men of the age in which he lived. Concerning him, Dr. Pierce observes, “That that inestimable bishop, in his most mature and ripest years, was very severe to those doctrines which are commonly called Calvinistical, is a thing so known, that I cannot think it will be denied.” — Divine Purity Defended, p. 125, Edit. 1657.

DR. CHRISTOPHER POTTER

Provost of Queen’s College, Oxford, who was esteemed by all who knew him, as a divine of an amiable disposition, and of great probity, industry, and learning, has given a pleasing account of his conversion from Calvinism to the Armiman tenets; and the piety and meekness of temper displayed in the narrative add weight to his judgment, and are honourable to the cause for which he pleads. — Collection of Tracts on Predestination, p. 225, Cambridge, 1719.

DR. THOMAS PIERCE

One of the ablest opponents of Calvinism that system has ever had, states concerning himself: “I was, in my childhood, of the opinions [concerning Election, Reprobation, &c.] Mr. Barlee doth now contend for. But, through the infinite mercy of God, I have obtained conversion: and being converted from the practice, as well as from the opinion, which I was of, I will, to my poor utmost, endeavour to confirm or convert my brethren.” — Divine Philanthropy Defended, p. 15.

THE EVER-MEMOBARLE HALES, OF ETON

Who was a Calvinist in his younger days, used frequently to say, that when he heard Episcopius argue in favour of General Redemption at the Synod of Dort, he “bade John Calvin good night.” — Hales’s Golden Remains, Preface.

MR. SAMUEL HOARD

Author of a very able work entitled, ” God’s Love to Mankind Manifested,” — a work which produced a considerable effect among the national clergy, in the early part of the seventeenth century, — says, ” I have sent you here my reasons which have moved me to change my opinion in some controversies, of late debated between the Remonstrants and their Opponents.” — See the tract itself, p. 1, Edit. 1G38. W1tiston’s Memoirs, Vol. I. p. 10, Edit. 1749.

DR. THOMAS GOAD

Was a person every way eminent, having the repute of a great and general scholar, exact critic and historian, a poet, orator, schoolman, and divine. He was a member of the Synod of Dort, and acquitted himself there with great applause, in opposition to the opinions of the Remonstrants. He at length saw cause to alter his judgment ; and, in defence of those principles ho had formerly opposed, wrote a very able work entitled, “A Disputation concerning the Necessity and Contingency of Events.”— Echard’s History of England, Vol. II. p. 122, Edit, 1718. Collection of Tracts on Predestination, Preface.

ARCHBISHOP USSHER

Who is generally acknowledged to have been one of the most learned men in Europe, in the early part of his life held the doctrines of strict Calvinism; but as he advanced in years, avowed his belief of General Redemption; and is said, before his death, to have expressed his dislike of the whole doctrine of Geneva. — Pierce’s Christian’s Rescue from the Grand Error of the Heathen, Appendix, Edit. 1G58. — Bird’s Fate and Destiny Inconsistent with Christianity, p. 74, Edit. 1726. — Parr’s Life of Ussher, Appendix, p. 61, Edit. 1G86. — Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Biography, Vol. V. p. 504, Edit. 1810.

DR. ROBERT SANDERSON

Professor of Divinity in the University of Oxford, and afterwards Bishop of Lincoln, has given an interesting account of the progress of his mind, from the sublapsarian scheme, to the mild sentiments of Melancthon and Arminius. — Hammond‘s Pacific Discourse concerning God’s Grace and Decrees, p. 8, 1660.

MR. RICHARD BAXTER

At the commencement of his theological career, was eager in his attachment to the peculiar doctrines of Calvin. But when his judgment was more matured, though he still maintained the absolute Election of some men to Life Eternal, he contended strenuously for General Redemption, and for Universal Grace. — Baxter’s Catholick Theologie, Preface.

BISHOP DAVENANT

Appears to have undergone a change of sentiment similar to that of Baxter. For Archbishop Ussher “freely declared himself for the doctrine of General Redemption, and owned that he was the person who brought both Bishop Davenant and Dr. Preston to acknowledge it.” — Calamy’s Abridgment of Baxter’s Life and Times, p. 405, Edit. 1713.

DR. DANIEL WHITBY

Says, “They who have known my education, may remember that I was bred up seven years in the University, under men of the Calvinistical persuasion; and had once firmly entertained all their doctrines.” The zeal with which he afterwards opposed those doctrine’s, in his Commentary on the New Testament and in his Discourse concerning the Five Points, is universally known. — Whitby on the Five Points, Preface.

CALVIN

Himself, according to Dr. Watts, is entitled to a place among those divines whose attachment to the doctrines of limited mercy and partial redemption abated as they advanced in years. After noticing the difference between his sentiments as expressed in his Institutions and in his Commentaries, the Doctor says, ” It may be proper to observe, that the most rigid and narrow limitations of grace to men are to be found chiefly in his Institutions, which were written in his youth. But his Comments on Scripture were the labour of his riper years, and maturer judgment.”— Works, Vol. III. p. 472, Edit. 1800.


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2 Comments

Filed under Calvinism, history, limited atonement

2 responses to “Reformation Era Scholars who Moved Away from Limited Atonement

  1. SLW

    Found that very interesting.

  2. >It may be proper to observe, that the most rigid and narrow limitations of grace to men are to be found chiefly in his Institutions, which were written in his youth.Calvin basically didn't just expand but refined his Institutes through several editions up until four years before his death. To say his position on limited atonement in his Institutes is a product of his youth is just not the case. I've been encountering Arminians who lately have been coming on like atheists using very hard language about God, I hope you're not one of them.

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