The Down Grade Controversy
From the April 1887 Sword and Trowel
We are glad that the article upon "The Down Grade" has excited notice. It is not intended to be an attack on any one, but to be a warning to all. We are asked whether Methodists are upon "The Down Grade," and we are happy to reply that we do not think so. In our fellowship with Methodists of all grades we have found them firmly adhering to those great evangelical doctrines for which we contend. This, however, is no answer to the historical fact that Arminianism has been the route by which the older dissenters have traveled downward to Socinianism; neither is it a reply to the charge that not a few have in these days gone far beyond Evangelical Arminianism, and are on the road to Unitarianism, or something worse. We care far more for the central evangelical truths than we do for Calvinism as a system; but we believe that Calvinism has in it a conservative force which helps to hold men to the vital truth, and therefore we are sorry to see any quitting it who have once accepted it. Those who hold the eternal verities of salvation, and yet do not see all that we believe and embrace, are by no means the objects of our opposition: warfare is with men who are giving up the atoning sacrifice, denying the inspiration of Holy Scripture, and casting slurs upon justification by faith. The present struggle is not a debate upon the question of Calvinism or Arminianism, but of the truth of God versus the inventions of men. All who believe the gospel should unite against that "modern thought" which is its deadly enemy.
On all hands we hear cries for unity in this, and unity in that; but to our mind the main need of this age is not compromise, but conscientiousness. "First pure, then peaceable." It is easy to cry "a confederacy," but that union which is not based upon the truth of God is rather a conspiracy than a communion. Charity by all means; but honesty also. Love, of course, but love to God as well as love to men, and love of truth as well as love of union. It is exceedingly difficult in these times to preserve one's fidelity before God and one's fraternity among men. Should not the former be preferred to the latter if both cannot be maintained? We think so.
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