Some comments by Wesley upon Toplady's presentation of Calvinism led to a controversy which was carried on with much bitterness on both sides.
As an interpreter of the mystical side of Calvinism and of the psychological conditions which correspond with the doctrines of grace Erskine is unrivalled.
Against the Calvinists the synod of 1672 therefore aimed its rejection of unconditional predestination and of justification by faith alone, also its advocacy of what are substantially the Roman doctrines of transubstantiation and of purgatory; the Oriental hostility to Calvinism had been fanned by the Jesuits.
Unitarian tendencies away from the Calvinism of the old Congregational churches were plainly evident about 1750, and it is said by Andrew P. Peabody (1811-1893) that by 1780 nearly all the Congregational pulpits around Boston were filled by Unitarians.
His Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians (1618, reprinted 1864) is a specimen of his preaching before his college, and of his fiery denunciation of popery and his fearless enunciation of that Calvinism which Oxford in common with all England then prized.
His best prose work is the Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England (London, 1774).
Before taking orders in 1658 he was in the habit of preaching as the champion of Calvinism against Socinianism and Arminianism.
It was convenient, too, to profess Lutheran sympathies, for Lutheranism was now an established, monarchical and comparatively respectable religion, very different from the Calvinism against which monarchs directed the Counter-reformation from political motives.
In the Habsburg hereditary dominions the traditional policy and Catholic fervour of the ruling house resulted, after a long struggle, in the restoration of the supremacy of Rome; while in Hungary the national spirit of independence kept Calvinism alive to divide the religious allegiance of the people.
On the problem of divine election Lutheranism and Calvinism remained divided.