The Judgment of the Council of Trent, concerning the Doctrines called Calvinistic

by Augustus Toplady

Luther died in the year 1546. The first session of the council of Trent had been held in the year preceding. After many and long adjournments, infinite wrangling, chicanery and intrigue, the council broke up for good, A. D. 1563. During these eighteen years, five pontiffs, successively, occupied the Roman chair; viz. Paul III. Julius III. Marcellus II. Paul IV. and Pius IV. The acts passed by this council, in the course of their five and twenty sessions, most glaringly demonstrate that church's unabated abhorrence of the Calvinistic doctrines. Nay, if Petavius is to be believed (and, on a subject of this sort, there is no reason to question the testimony of that learned Jesuit), the council of Trent was called together, as much on Calvin's account as on Luther's: the condemnation of those [1] two reformers (whose doctrine concerning predestination, was one and the same) being, according to that historian, one of the main objects in view. I slightly touched on the tridentine decisions, in my former vindication [[244]] of the church of England. I shall, here, consider them more diffusively. The decrees of the council of Trent are the genuine, avowed, indisputable standard of popery. From them I extract the ensuing passages. Whoever reads them, will at once see, that Arminianism is the central point wherein popery and pelagianism meet.

“If any one shall affirm, that man's free-will, moved and excited of God, docs not, by consenting, co-operate with God the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification; if, moreover, any one shall say, that the human will cannot refuse complying, if it pleases; but that it is unactive, and merely passive; let such an one be accursed[2].

[[245]] “If any one shall affirm, that, since the fall of Adam, man's free-will is lost and extinguished; or that it is a thing merely titular, yea, a name without a thing, and a fiction introduced by satan into the church; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that all works done before justification, in what way soever they are done, [[246]] are properly sins, or deserve the displeasure of God, &e. let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall say, that the ungodly is justified by faith only, and that it is by no means necessary that be should prepare and dispose himself by the motion of his own will; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that men are justified, either by the imputation of Christ's righteousness alone, or by a mere" [i. c. gratuitous] "remission of sins, to the exclusion of inherent grace and charity shed abroad in their hearts by the holy Spirit; or shall say, that the alone bounty of God is the grace by which we arc justified; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that justifying faith is no more than a reliance on the mercy of God as forgiving our sins for the sake of Christ; or that we are justified by such a reliance only; let such an one he accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that a regenerate and justified man is bound to believe that-be is certainly in the number of the elect; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, with positive and absolute certainty, that he shall surely have the great gift of perseverance to the end; let him be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the grace of justification does not accrue to any, but to those who are predestinated unto life; and that all the rest" [viz. all who are not predestinated to life] “are called, indeed, but do not receive grace, on account of their being predestinated to evil; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the laws of God are impossible to be kept even by such as are justified and in a state of grace; let him he accursed." [By keeping the laws of God, the church of Rome evidently means a sinless obedience.]

[[247]] “If any one shall affirm, that the man who is once justified, cannot thenceforth sin" [i.e. so sin, as to perish finally], “nor lose grace; and, consequently, that he who falls and sins" [viz. unto death] “was never really justified; let such an one he accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that good works do not preserve and increase justification; but that good works themselves are only the fruits and evidence of justification already had; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the righteous, if they endure to the end by well doing and keeping God's precepts, ought not, through God's mercy and Christ's merits, to expect and look for an eternal recompence for those good works which they have wrought in God; let such an one be accursed.

“If any one shall affirm, that the good works of a justified man are so the gifts of God, as not to be at the same time, the merits of the justified person himself; or that the justified person does not himself merit increase of grace, eternal life, and an increase of glory, by those good works which he performs through God's grace and Christ's merits, that is to say, if he die in a state of grace; let such an one be accursed."

And now, what opinion can the reader form of Mr. Sellon's veracity? Must not he, who dares to insinuate that “predestination is held by ten papists out of eleven," be either a man of no reading, or a man of no truth? Admit the first, and he is too mean for contempt. Admit the last, and he is too bad for correction.

“But, it may be, the church of Rome, in the present century, differs from the church of Rome in the year 1503." By no means. The members of that church are, for the most part, true and steady to her principles. Would to God I could say as much concerning the members of our own. By [[248]] continuing the historical chain, we shall quickly and clearly see, that popery and Arminianism have been ever since, as good friends as they were in the days of Wickliff, or at the breaking up of the council of Trent. I shall give two famous instances. The conduct of the Romish church toward Jansenius; and, more recently, toward father Quesnell, will plainly show, that popery and Calvinism are as far from shaking hands as ever.


[1] Vule Petavii Rationar. Temp. Par. 1. 9. cap. 12. sub init.

[2] Si quis dixerit, liberum hominis arbitrium, à Deo motum et excitatum, nihil co-operari assentiendo Deo excitanti atque vocanti, quo, ad obtinendam justificationis gratiam, se disponat ac præparet, neque posse dissentire si velit, sed veluti inanime quoddam nihil omninò agere, merèque passivè se habere; Anathema sit. Cone, trid. sess. vi. canon 4. p. 40. My edition is that of Paris, 1738.

Si quis liberum hominis arbitrium, post adæ peccatum, amissum et exstinctum esse dixerit, aut rem esse de solo titulo, imo titulum sine re, figmentum denique à Satanâ invectum in Ecclesiam; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 5. *** This fifth canon was particularly levelled at the memory of Luther, who had asserted, in so many words, that, ever since the fall, free-will is res de solo titulo; yea, titulus et nomen sine re.

Si quis dixerit, opera omnia, quæ ante justificationem fiunt, quacunque ratione facta sint, verb essè peccata, vel odium Dei mereri, &c. Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 6.

Si quis dixerit, solâ fide impium justificari, et nullâ ex parte necesse esse eum suæ voluntatis motu præparari atque disponi; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 9.

Si quis dixerit, homines justificari vel solâ imputatione justitiæ Christi, vel solâ peccatorum remissione, exclusâ gratiâ et charitate quæ in cordibus eoruin per Sp. S. diffundatur atque in illis inhæreat; aut etiam gratiam, quâ justificamur, esse tantùm favorem, Dei; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 11.

Si quis diverit, fidem justificantem nihil aliud esse quàm fiduciam divinæ misericordiæ, peccata remittentis propter Christum; vel eam fiduciam solam esse, quâ justificamur; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 12.

Si quis dixerit, hominem renatum et justificatum teneri ex fide ad credendum, se certò esse in numero prædestinatorum; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 15.

Si quis magnum illud usque in finem perseverantiæ donum se certò habiturum absoluta et infailibili certitudine dixerit; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 16.

Si quis justificationis gratiam non nisi prædestinatis ad vitam contingere dixerit; reliquos verò omnes qui vocantur, vocari quidem, sed gratiam non accipere, utpote divinâ potestate prædestinatos ad malum; Anatliema sit. Ibid. can. 17.

Si quis dixerit, Dei præcepta homini etiam justificato, et sub gratiâ constituto, esse ad observandum impossibilia; Anathema sit. Ibid, can. 18.

Si quis hominem semel justificatum dixerit amplius peccare non posse, neque gratiam amittere, atque ideò eum qui labitur et peccat nunquam verè fuisse justificatum;——Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 23.

Si quis dixerit, justitiam acceptam non conservari, atque etiam augeri, coram Deo, per bona opera; sed opera ipsa fructus solummodò et signa esse justificationis adeptæ, non autem ipsius augendæ causam; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 24.

Si quis dixerit, justos non debere pro bonis operibus quæ in Deo fuerint facta, exspectare et sperare æternam retribution, à Deo, per ejus misericordiam et Jesu Christi meritum, si benè agendo et divina mandata custodiendo, usque in finem perseveraverint; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 26.

Si quis dixerit, hominis justificati bona opera itâ esse dona Dei, ut non sint etiam bona ipsius justificati merita; aut, ipsum justificatum bonis operibus, quæ ab eo per Dei gratiam, et Jesu Christi meritum, cujus vivum membrum est, fiunt non verò mereri augmentum gratiâ, vitam æternam, et ipsius vitæ æternæ, si tamen in gratiâ decesserit, consecutionem, atque etiam gloria augmentum; Anathema sit. Ibid. can. 32.

These and the other canons and decrees of this antichristian synod, down to the seventh session inclusive, are refuted by the great Calvin, with admirable force, conciseness, and perspicuity, in a tract of his, entitled, Acta Syn. Trill, cum Antidote: first published A. D. 1547, and since inserted into his Tract at Theologici, reprinted together in 1612.

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