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Erskine's Poems - by Rev. Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)

Calvinistic Articles on the Christian Faith

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Poems written against the heresy of Arminianism.

The following selections have been taken from “The Beauties of Erskine.”

Arminian doctrine, which aboundeth in our day, makes the efficacy of the gospel depend upon man’s free will; but we have not so learned Christ; he hath made surer work, and all the efficacy to depend upon his free grace. The Father’s promise to the Son secures it; “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.”

Let Arminians maintain at their peril their universal redemption, but we must maintain at our peril the universal offer. The Arminian doctrine is to be rejected as robbing Christ of the glory of his free grace, in electing from eternity, and effectually calling in time, ascribing so much to man’s free will.

No wonder Paul the legal spirit curse,
Of fatal errors such a feeding nurse.
He, in JEHOVAH’s great tremendous name,
Condemns perverters of the gospel-scheme.
He damn’d the sophist rude, the babbling priest
Would venture to corrupt it in the least;
Yea, curst the heav’nly angel down to hell,
That daring would another gospel tell.
Which crime is charg’d on these that dare dispense
The self-same gospel in another sense.

Christ is not preach’d in truth, but in disguise,
If his bright glory half absconded lies.
When gospel-soldiers, that divide the word,
Scarce brandish any but the legal sword.
While Christ the author of the law they press,
More than the end of it for righteousness;
Christ as a seeker of our service trace,
More than a giver of enabling grace.
The king commanding holiness they show,
More than the Prince exalted to bestow;
Yea, more on Christ the sin-revenger dwell,
Than Christ Redeemer both from sin and hell.

With legal spade the gospel-field he delves,
Who thus drives sinners in unto themselves;
Halving the truth that should be all reveal’d,
The sweetest part of Christ is oft conceal’d.
We bid men turn from sin, but seldom say,
Behold the Lamb that takes all sin away!
Christ, by the gospel rightly understood,
Not only treats a peace but makes it good.
Those suitors therefore of the bride, who hope
By force to drag her with the legal rope,
Nor use the drawing cord of conqu’ring grace,
Pursue with flaming zeal a fruitless chase;
In vain lame doings urge, with solemn awe,
To bribe the fury of the fiery law:
With equal success to the fool that aims
By paper walls to bound devouring flames.
The law’s but mock’d by their most graceful deed,
That wed not first the law-fulfilling Head;
It values neither how they wrought nor wept,
That flight the ark wherein alone ’tis kept.
Yet legalists, DO, DO, with ardor press,
And with prepost’rous zeal and warm address,
Would seem the greatest friends to holiness:
But vainly (could such opposites accord)
Respect the law, and yet reject the Lord.
They shew not Jesus as the way to bliss,
But Judas-like betray him with a kiss
Of boasted works, or mere profession puft,
Law-boasters proving but law-breakers oft.

From A Legal Strain of Doctrine, found in Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets

The more proud nature bears a legal sway,
The more should preachers bend the gospel-way:
Oft in the church arise destructive schisms
From anti-evangelic aphorisms;
A legal spirit may be justly nam’d
The fertile womb of ev’ry error damn’d.

Hence dare Arminians too, with brazen face,
Give man’s free-will the throne of God’s free grace;
Whose self-exalting tenets clearly shew
Great ignorance of law and gospel too.

From: A Legal Spirit the Root of Damnable Errors, found in Erskine’s Gospel Sonnets

The Arminian’s Address
Arise, ye dead, Arminius cries,
Arise, ye dead in sin;
Unstop your ears, unclose your eyes,
And a new life begin.

Why will ye die, ye wretched souls?
Ye dead, why will ye die?
Quicken and make your spirits whole,
To life eternal fly.

The Answer
Deluded seer! but man will lie
Still senseless as a stone!
And you yourself stand fooling by,
Till both are quite undone:

Unless Almighty power be moved
By God’s free will, not thine,
To quicken both and make his love
On both your hearts to shine.

From “The Beauties of Erskine” (1745).

An Extra Poem for the Reader…

Arminians Like Plato

by C. Matthew McMahon

Tis’ like Sir Plato and His cave

Are all free will believer naives

Inside they wrest to know the “sun”

Yet in their way they are undone

For trapped within the stony walls

Their minds do think in fallen brawls

Their wants to lie outside the cave

Believing still their debt is paid

And in the cave they know the truth

But to its substance stand aloof

They do not know the outer sphere

And have not seen it, I do fear

Plato died and was no more

Within the cave, though at the door

His cosmic world not so in fact

But unreal fancies with want and lack

Free will believers are the same

So close to heaven yet far in vain

With Plato in the cave they stand

Still needing grace from God’s good hand.

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