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Bernard Mandeville on academic charity

I shall leave this subject with what is not common among divines of different opinions, a bright example of moderation and humanity, which it is the interest of every country, all clergy men should follow. Melanchton was the head of the Synergists, a sect of German divines in the sixteenth century, who thinking, that Luther’s hypothesis about free-will was too hard, taught, that men are not converted by God’s grace, without the concourse of their will. Every body knows how absolute a predestinarian Calvin was, and what clamors were raised against him on this head, that he was represented as having broached the most monstrous doctrine, and made God the author of sin in the most execrable manner.

Yet Melanchton had a sincere value and friendship for Calvin, and wrote in defense of him on several occasions. He knew, that that great man abhorred the impieties that were laid to his charge, and that in none of his works he had ever ascribed any thing to God, but what was just and holy; but well, that he had taught, that the conduct of God surpassing finite capacities, was not too narrowly pried into; that his judgments are a mysterious abyss we ought not to meddle with, and that his ways are incomprehensible. This Melanchton demonstrated to the other’s enemies, always extolling the piety and good intention of Calvin, notwithstanding the disagreement of their opinions.

Calvin believed, that the supreme Empire of God, and the rights of a providence worthy of the infinite being, required an absolute predestination. Melanchton believed that the goodness, holiness and justice of the supreme being required we should be free in our actions. These were their principles. Both aimed at the same thing, the greatest glory of God. The candid Melanchton being convinced of this, as well as the difficulty and the inexplicableness of the matter they differed about, was always ready to do Calvin justice, admired his vast parts and erudition, and owned him for his fellow laborer in the ministry of the gospel.

Bernard Mandeville, Free Thoughts on Religion, the Church, and National Happiness

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