Ten Thousand Sages

William Cowper (1731-1800) writes something that appears to be consonant with the gospel-denying, Christ-dishonoring doctrine called “inclusivism.”

Ten thousand sages lost in endless woe.

For ignorance of what they could not know;

That speech betrays at once a bigot’s tongue.

Charge not a God with such outrageous wrong.

Truly not I — the partial light men have;

My creed persuades me, well employ’d, may save;

While he that scorns the noon-day beam, perverse.

Shall find the blessing unimproved a curse.

Let heathen worthies, whose exalted mind.

Left sensuality and dross behind.

Possess for me their undisputed lot,

And take unenvied the reward they sought;

But still in virtue of a Saviour’s plea.

Not blind by choice, but destined not to see.

Their fortitude and wisdom were a flame.

Celestial, though they knew not whence it came.

Derived from the same source of light and grace.

That guides the Christian in his swifter race;

Their judge was conscience, and her rule their law;

That rule, pursued with reverence, and with awe.

Led them, however faltering, faint, and slow.

From what they knew, to what they wished to know.

But let not him, that shares a brighter day,

Traduce the splendour of a noontide ray.

Prefer the twilight of a darker time.

And deem his base stupidity no crime:

The wretch who slights the bounty of the skies.

And sinks while favour’d with the means to rise.

Shall find them rated at their full amount;

The good he scorn’d all carried to account.”

— William Cowper, Complete Poetical Works

Several months ago (back in April if memory serves) my brother in Christ requested a compilation of the characteristics of Tolerant Calvinists (or tolerant Reformed). A dictionary definition for a “characteristic”:

“A feature that helps to identify, tell apart, differentiate, or describe recognizably; a distinguishing mark or trait…A DISTINCTIVE.”

So, a Reformed doctrinal distinctive?  A Reformed consensus? Some doctrine that characterizes ALL Reformed persons without exception?  A doctrine or belief that is exclusive to Reformed heretics?

As seen in Cowper (and LOTS of others housed at this LINK), a species of ignorant-yet-devotional zeal trumping doctrinal knowledge (cf. Romans 10:1-4) is THE CONSENSUS. But other non-Reformed persons such as C.S. Lewis and John Wesley ALSO held to a form of this insidious inclusivist doctrine. So I continue to have difficulty in precisely and neatly classifying the diverse (and similar) ways that diverse false religionists have diversely written concerning their collective wonder at the beast and the healing of its deadly wound.

“And I saw one of its heads, as having been slain to death, and its deadly wound was healed. And all the earth wondered after the beast…And all those dwelling in the earth will worship it, those of whom the names had not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb having been slain from the foundation of the world. If anyone has an ear, let him hear” (Revelation 13:3, 8-9).