William Perkins,. D. D., Fellow of Christ' s College, Cambridge, was a Theological writer at the close of the sixteenth century. As will be seen from the following strictures on one of his treatises, he advocated views highly Calvinistic. The following |Examination, etc,| was written by Arminius, in 1602.
Reverend Sir, and Beloved Brother in Christ, -- While I was lately, and with eagerness, examining a certain library, abundantly supplied with recently published books, a pamphlet presented itself to me, entitled |A Christian and Perspicuous Discourse concerning the Order and Mode of Predestination, and the extent of Divine Grace.| When I observed that it bore your name, which was already well known to me by previously published works of a high character, I thought that I must diligently read and consider it, and see whether you, who are devoted to the most accurate learning, could remove, in that work, the difficulties which have long disquieted my mind. I, therefore, read it once and again, with impartiality, as far as I could, and with candour, as you desire. But, in reading, I perceived that all my difficulties were not removed by your work, while I thought that some things, written by you, deserved to be examined in the light of truth. Accordingly, I judged it not improper to commence a friendly discussion with you concerning your treatise. This I do, with the greater freedom and confidence, because, in the second page of your pamphlet, you say, to the encouragement of my mind, that you |have written these things, that, by those devoted to theological investigation| -- among whom I willingly reckon myself -- |they may be read without prejudice or acerbity of mind, duly weighed, and judged by the pure word of God.| This I undertake, and pledge myself to do according to my ability; asking of you that in return, you will, with the same disposition, read my remarks, weigh them, and examine and judge them by the rule of the same Scriptures. May God grant that we all may fully agree, in those things which are necessary to His glory, and to the salvation of the church; and that, in other things, if there can not be harmony of opinions, there may at least be harmony of feelings, and that we may |keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.|
With this desire, then, expressed at the beginning of our discussion, I enter on the subject itself, following in the track, which, in your writing, you have pursued before me. I will commence with your |Epistle to the Reader,| and then proceed, with the divine help, to the treatise itself.