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´╗┐Title: Calvinistic Controversy - Embracing a Sermon on Predestination and Election and - Several Numbers, Formally Published in the Christian - Advocate and Journal.
Author: Fisk, Wilbur
Language: English
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CALVINISTIC CONTROVERSY:

EMBRACING A SERMON

ON PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION,

AND SEVERAL NUMBERS,

FORMERLY PUBLISHED IN THE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE AND JOURNAL.

BY REV. WILBUR FISK, D. D.

NEW-YORK,

PUBLISHED BY B. WAUGH AND T. MASON,

For the Methodist Episcopal Church at the Conference Office, 200
Mulberry-street.

_J. Collord, Printer_.

1835.



"Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835, by B. Waugh and
T. Mason, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern
District of New-York."



CONTENTS.

Advertisement

Sermon on Predestination and Election

I. Reply to the Christian Spectator

II. A proposition to Calvinists

III. Indefiniteness of Calvinism

IV. Brief sketch of the past changes and present state of Calvinism in
this country

V. Same subject continued

VI. Predestination

VII. Predestination, continued

VIII. Moral agency and accountability

IX. Moral agency and accountability, continued

X. Moral agency as affected by the fall, and the subsequent provisions
of grace

XI. Same subject continued

XII. Objections to gracious ability answered

XIII. Regeneration

XIV. Regeneration, continued

XV. Regeneration, continued



ADVERTISEMENT.

The numbers following the sermon on predestination and election, were
written at different times, and in some instances at quite distant
intervals from each other. This will be received, it is hoped, as an
apology for any want of connection or uniformity of style, which the
reader may notice. And if any farther apology be necessary, it may be
found in the fact, that the entire contents of the volume as it is now
presented, were written in the midst of other pressing duties.--And the
same reason has prevented my giving the work such a thorough revision,
as it should have had, before it was presented to the public, in the
more set and imposing form of a book. Such a form was not originally
thought of--and now that this is called for, the author is well aware
that the public might expect a careful revision and correction of the
whole. From this however, he must, of _necessity_, be excused. He has
been able to do little more than correct the typographical errors. If
the public have it, therefore, it must go "with all its imperfections on
its head." Only let it be understood, that _I do not send it out_. The
publishers say it is called for; and I consent that it may go. The
doctrines I believe, will stand the test of reason and Scripture,
although some of the arguments by which they are defended may be found
defective.

It was my original design to have added one or two numbers on election;
but upon farther reflection, it appeared to me that enough had been said
in the sermon on that point; and that at any rate, if Calvinian
predestination, and the Calvinistic views of moral agency and
regeneration, were found to be fallacious, the whole superstructure must
fall of course. On these points therefore, we may safely rest the entire
question between us and the Calvinists.

W. Fisk.

_Wesleyan University, April_ 28, 1835.



A DISCOURSE

ON

PREDESTINATION AND ELECTION.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ,
to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, Ephesians i, 4,
5.

In this passage, the kindred doctrines of predestination and election
are brought into view. To discuss them, to notice some errors respecting
them, and to exhibit what is believed to be the Scriptural and rational
view of these doctrines, is the proposed object of the present
discourse. In doing this, much that is new cannot be expected. The whole
ground of this controversy has been examined and re-examined; and the
various arguments, on both sides, have been urged and opposed, by the
most able polemics in philosophy and theology. The most, therefore, that
can now be expected, is to give a concise view of the subject, in a form
and manner suited to the present state of the controversy, and to the
circumstances of the present congregation.

It is hoped, at least, that the subject may be investigated in the
spirit of Christianity; and that there will be no loss of brotherly and
Christian candour, if there be no gain, on the side of truth. Yet, in a
desire to give no offence, I must not suppress the truth, nor neglect to
point out, as I am able, the absurdity of error, and its unprofitable
influences on the minds of those who propagate or receive it. The truth
should be spoken, but it should be spoken in love. Neither the subject,
nor the age, nor the occasion, will admit of temporizing. With these
views, we come to our subject, by examining,

I. Predestination in general;

II. Predestination, in its particular relation to the doctrine of
election.

I. By predestination, we understand an efficient predetermination to
bring about or accomplish any future event. But as God alone has
knowledge to comprehend futurity, and power to direct and control future
events; predestination, in a _proper_ and _strict_ sense, can only be
used in reference to him. And with respect to God, predestination is
that efficient determination which he has maintained from eternity,
respecting the control, direction, and destiny of the laws, events, and
creatures of the universe.--That God hath a predetermination of this
kind, there can be no doubt; and therefore, on this fact, there can be
no dispute. But the ground of controversy is, the unlimited extent to
which some have carried this idea of predestination. Calvin, on this
subject, says, "Every action and motion of every creature is governed by
the hidden counsel of God, so that nothing can come to pass, but was
ordained by him." The Assembly's Catechism is similar:--"God did, from
all eternity, unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass." And Mr. Buck
defines predestination to mean, "The decree of God, whereby he hath, for
his own glory, foreordained whatever comes to pass." With these
definitions, which, it is seen, are the same in substance, agree all the
Calvinistic divines in Europe and America.--To this view of
predestination, others, and we confess ourselves of that number, have
objected. We believe that the character and acts of intelligent beings,
so far at least as their moral accountability is concerned, are not
definitely fixed, and efficiently produced, by the unalterable purpose
and efficient decree of God. Here therefore we are at issue. We believe,
with the rigid predestinarians, that God hath fixed the laws of the
physical and moral world, and that he hath a general plan, suited to all
the various circumstances and contingencies of his government; but that
it is no part of this plan, efficiently to control and actuate the human
will. So far, therefore, as these ultra-predestinarians go beyond us,
they affirm what we deny; and of course the burden of proof falls upon
them. We shall first, then, hear and answer the arguments in defence of
their system, and then bring up our arguments against it.[1]

The supporters of this system endeavour to establish their views by a
threefold argument--the foreknowledge of God--the necessity of a
plan--and Scripture testimony.

1. The first argument is founded on foreknowledge. It is sometimes
contended that predestination and foreknowledge are the same. This,
however, by the more judicious, is not now insisted on. For it is
self-evident, that _to know_, and _to decree_, are distinct operations;
and to every one acquainted with the common definition of the terms,
they must convey distinct and different ideas. And if these are distinct
operations in the _human_ mind, they must be also in the _Divine_ mind,
unless it can be shown that these terms, when applied to God, have an
entirely different meaning from that by which they are understood among
men. And as this cannot be pretended, the more common and plausible
argument is, that the foreknowledge of God necessarily _implies_
predestination. "For how," they ask, "can an action that is really to
come to pass, be foreseen, if it be not determined? God foreknew every
thing from the beginning; but this he could not have known, if he had
not so determined it." "God," says Piscator, "foresees nothing but what
he has decreed, and his decree precedes his knowledge." And Calvin says,
"God therefore foreknows all things that will come to pass, because he
has decreed they shall come to pass." But to this idea there are
insuperable objections. Prescience is an essential attribute of the
Divine nature. But a determination to do this or that, is not essential
to the Divine nature. For aught we can see, God might determine to make
a particular planet or not to make it, and in either case the perfection
of his nature is not affected. But _to know_, is so essential to him,
that the moment he ceases to know all that is, or will be, or might be,
under any possible contingency, he ceases to be God. Is it not absurd,
then, to say the least, to make an essential attribute of Deity depend
upon the _exercise_ of his attributes?--the Divine prescience depend
upon his decrees and determinations? It would seem, by this argument,
that, if not in the order of time, at least, in the order of thought,
and in the order of cause and effect, the exercise of an attribute
preceded the attribute itself; and, in short, the attribute must be
exercised, as a cause, to bring it into existence! To this monstrous
conclusion we are led by following out this argument. And connected with
it is another, equally monstrous and absurd. If God must predetermine
events in order to know them, then, as the cause is in no case dependent
on the effect, the decrees of God must be passed and his plan contrived,
independently of his knowledge, which only had an existence as the
effect of these decrees. What must be the character of that plan, and of
those decrees, which were formed and matured without knowledge, we will
not stop to examine, for the idea borders too closely upon the ludicrous
to be dwelt upon in a serious discourse. And yet I cannot see how this
conclusion can be avoided, reasoning from such premises. It seems to us,
therefore, altogether more consistent to consider that, in the order of
cause and effect, the exercise of the Divine attributes is consequent
upon their existence; and that the plan of the Almighty is the result of
his infinite knowledge; and that the decrees of his throne flow forth
from the eternal fountain of his wisdom. This idea, moreover, accords
with the Scriptures:--"For whom he did foreknow, he also did
predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son." "Elect according
to the foreknowledge of God the Father." In these passages
predestination and the decree of election are most clearly founded on
foreknowledge. This, therefore, must settle the question: God foreknows
in order to predestinate; but he does not predestinate in order to
foreknow.[2]

But foreknowledge is pressed into this argument in another form. "The
foreknowledge of God," it is said, "is tantamount to a decree; because,
inasmuch as God cannot be in a mistake, whatever he foreknows must take
place--his knowledge makes it certain." This is indeed shifting the
argument; for if God's knowledge makes an event certain, of course it is
not his predetermination. But, according to this notion, every thing
contained in the idea of predestination is implied in foreknowledge,
which is only throwing the subject back on the ground first glanced at,
that knowledge and decree are both one, which is obviously absurd.
Beside, such an idea would make the scriptures that represent God's
foreknowledge as distinct from his decree and antecedent to it, worse
than unmeaning: "Whom he did foreknow, them he did predestinate," would
mean, "whom he did predestinate, them he did predestinate"--and, "Elect
according to the foreknowledge of God," would only mean, "that the
decree of election was _according_ to the decree of election!" the
absurdity of which is too apparent to need comment. And it may be urged,
farther, in reply to this argument, that knowledge or foreknowledge
cannot, in the nature of things, have the least possible influence in
making an event certain. It is not at all difficult to conceive how the
certainty of an event can beget knowledge; but if any one thinks that
knowledge is the cause of certainty, let him show it--to me such a
connection is inconceivable. Whatever God foreknows or foresees, will
undoubtedly come to pass. But the simple question is, Does the event
take place because it is foreknown, or is it foreknown because it will
take place? Or, in other words, Does God know an event to be certain
because it is certain, or does his knowing it to be certain make it
certain? The question thus stated, at once suggests the true answer; for
he would be considered a fool or a madman who should seriously assert
that a knowledge of a certainty produced that certainty. According to
that, a certainty must exist in order to be foreknown; and it must be
foreknown in order to exist! From all which it appears that
foreknowledge can have no influence in making a future event certain.
Since, therefore, foreknowledge is not predestination; and does not,
according to Scripture or reason, follow predestination as a
consequence, and has no possible influence in making an event certain,
no proof can be drawn from the Divine prescience in favour of the
doctrine that _God hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass_.

2. But predestination is argued from the necessity of a Divine plan. "It
cannot be conceived," it is said, "that God would leave things at
random, and have no plan. But no alteration of his plan can take place
upon condition that his creatures act in this or that way." But this
argument is easily answered, at least for the present. For it assumes
what ought to be proved; and what has not, to my knowledge, ever been
proved, viz. that to deny Calvinian predestination, is to deny that God
has a perfect plan. We acknowledge and maintain that God has a plan, one
part of which is, to govern his responsible subjects, without
controlling their will, by a fixed decree--to punish the incorrigible,
and save those who repent and believe. Does such a plan imply the
necessity of a change, "on condition that his creatures act in this or
that way?" If, indeed, it was necessary for God to decree an event, in
order to foreknow it, this inference might be just. But as this is seen
to be false, it follows that a perfect God, whose eye surveys immensity
and eternity at a glance, and who necessarily knows all possibilities
and contingencies; all that is, or will be, can perfectly arrange his
plan, and preclude the possibility of a disappointment, although he does
not, by a decree of predestination, fix all the volitions and acts of
his subjects. Even in human governments, where the rulers can have no
knowledge of the individuals who will transgress, or of the nature and
extent of the transgressions, the principles and plan of government
undergo no change to accommodate themselves to the contingent acts of
the subjects. How absurd, then, to suppose that the all-wise Ruler of
the universe will be subject to disappointment, unless he predestinate
the transgressions of sinners, and the obedience of his saints! The
truth is, in my view, this idea detracts from the wisdom of God; for the
perfection of his plan, as they maintain it, is predicated on the
imperfection of his attributes. But our view of the Divine plan accords
well with our idea of his infinite nature. Over the universe, and
through eternity, he throws his all-pervading knowledge--as he is in
every point of wide immensity, so he is in every moment of long
eternity--and can such a God be disappointed?

3. "But," say the advocates of this system, "supposing there are
difficulties in this subject, the Scriptures abound with passages which
at once prove the doctrine." If this is true, then indeed we must
submit. But the question is, where are these passages? After such a
strong assertion, it would probably appear surprising to one
unacquainted with this subject, to learn that there is not a single
passage which teaches directly that God hath foreordained whatsoever
comes to pass. Yet this is the fact. If this doctrine is taught in
Scripture, it is in an indirect manner. Nor will it follow, because God
hath predestinated some things, that he hath, therefore, decreed all
things. All those passages then which have been so frequently quoted as
proof of this doctrine, which only go to prove, that God hath
predetermined certain events, are not proof in point. Where are the
passages that say he hath decreed all things? We know of many which say
of certain events that have come to pass, that God did not _command_
them, nor _will_ them; so that the abundant Scripture proof seems
altogether on the other side of the question. It is argued, however,
that certain acts of moral agents, even those acts for which they are
held responsible, are, according to the Scriptures, the results of God's
predetermination, and therefore it is reasonable to infer that all are.
This general conclusion, however, is not contained in the premises;
nevertheless, if the premises are true, if it can be proved from
Scripture that God holds his creatures responsible for the results of
his own decrees, such Scripture proofs would be strong arguments to ward
off the objections that are brought against this system. For if it is
consistent with a righteous God to make a moral agent responsible for
one event which was the result of a Divine decree, upon the same
principle, perhaps, he might make him responsible for all, though all
were decreed. Let us then look at those scriptures, "As for you," says
Joseph to his brethren, speaking of their injustice to him, "ye thought
evil against me, but God meant it for good." Now without stopping here
to inquire whether Joseph was inspired to utter this sentiment, we are
ready to acknowledge, that there are a number of similar scriptures
which teach that, in the results of the wicked acts of wicked men, God
had a design and a controlling influence, and thereby made them
subservient to his own purposes. He hath wisdom and power "to make the
wrath of man praise him, and to restrain the remainder of wrath." But
does he therefore decree the wrath itself? And is this wrath necessary
to the accomplishment of his purposes? As well might it be said, that
because a government, in quelling a rebellion, replenished its exchequer
from the confiscated estates of the rebels, therefore that government
decreed the rebellion, and was dependent upon it for the prosperity of
the nation. Let it be distinctly understood then, that to overrule and
control the _results_ of an act is altogether different from making the
act itself the result of an overruling and controlling power.

Again it is said, "The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even
the wicked for the day of evil." That the Lord hath made all things for
his own glory, is a proposition easily understood, and doubted, I trust,
by none; and this is evidently the meaning of the former member of this
passage. The latter clause, if it helps the cause for which it is quoted
at all, must mean, that the Lord has predestinated men to be wicked,
that he might make them miserable. But it is not necessary to make the
text speak this shocking sentiment. We should do the text no violence to
explain it thus--The Lord hath destined the wicked for the day of evil,
and this shall be for his glory.

But there is another class of passages like the following:--"He doeth
according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants
of the earth." "He worketh all things after the counsel of his will." "I
will do all my pleasure." But these passages establish nothing, in
opposition to our views, unless it should first be proved, by other
passages, or in some other way, that it is God's will and pleasure to
work _all things_, even wickedness, in the wicked. These scriptures
prove that all _God's works_ are in accordance with his own will and
pleasure; and that he will accomplish them in spite of the opposition of
sinners. If it pleases him to form his moral government, so as to leave
the responsible acts of his subjects unnecessitated by his decree, this
he will do, for "he will do all his pleasure."

But there is still another class of texts, which are supposed to favour
the doctrine we are opposing, more than any others, viz. those passages
which seem to represent God as bringing about and procuring the
wickedness of the wicked. Like the following:--"And I will harden
Pharaoh's heart, that he should not let the people go." "Now therefore
the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy
prophets." "He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts." "Him,
being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye
have taken, and by wicked hands ye have crucified and slain." On these
and similar passages it may be remarked, that God blinds men and hardens
their hearts judicially, as a just punishment for their abuse of their
agency. And for this act of his, in blinding and hardening them, he does
not make them responsible. But he holds them responsible for that degree
of wickedness which made it just and necessary to give them over to this
hardness of heart and blindness of mind. And since there are wicked men
and lying spirits, they become fit instruments in deceiving and
tormenting each other; and therefore God gives them power and liberty to
go abroad, "deceiving and being deceived." But how does this prove that
God hath decreed sin? The idea that God hath made sin and wicked spirits
the instruments of hardening and tormenting the incorrigible sinner, and
finally of shutting the door of hope against him, has no kind of
affinity to the idea, that he decreed the sin which occasioned this
hardness, or ordained the wickedness of this lying spirit.

As to the passage from the Acts, none of us deny but that Jesus Christ
was delivered up to suffer and die, by the determinate counsel and
foreknowledge of God; but it is most emphatically denied, that this or
any other scripture proves, that the taking and slaying of Jesus Christ
by wicked hands, was the result of the determinate counsel and
foreknowledge of God. If any think otherwise, let them prove it.

Having stated and, as our time would permit, examined the arguments in
favour of the sentiment we are opposing, we are prepared to urge against
this doctrine, not only that its arguments are unsound and insufficient,
but also that the system itself is liable to the most serious and
formidable objections.

1. This doctrine of predestination makes God the author of sin. Some
acknowledge this, and expressly assert, that God is the "_efficient_
cause" of sin. Others affirm it in fact, while they deny it in word.
Take for instance the words of Calvin. "I will not scruple to own," he
says, "that the will of God lays a necessity on all things, and that
every thing he wills, necessarily comes to pass." In accordance with
this, Piscator, Dr. Twiss, Peter Martyr and others tell us, that "God
procures adultery, cursings, and lyings"--"God is the author of that
act, which is evil"--"God, by his working on the hearts of the wicked,
binds them and stirs them to do evil." They deny, however, that God is
the author of sin, because they say, "God necessitates them to the
_act_, and not to the _depravity_ of sin:" or, that "God does not sin
when he makes men sin, because _he_ is under no law, and therefore
cannot sin." But these are miserable shifts. Has not the _deformity_ of
sin come to pass? Then God has decreed this deformity. To deny this, is
to give up the doctrine. But to acknowledge it, is to own that God is as
much the author of the deformity, as he is of the act. Again, God
doubtless decreed that sin should be _sin_, and not _holiness;_ and it
came to pass as sin, because it was so decreed. Is he not then the
direct procuring cause? A thousand turns of this kind, therefore, are
nothing but evasions. The _fiat_ of God brought forth sin as certainly
as it made the world.

We are often told, when we quote Calvin and his contemporaries, that
these are old authors; that modern Calvinists do not hold thus, and that
they ought not to be accountable for these writers. But the fact is, we
make them accountable only for the logical consequences of their own
doctrine. The whole system turns on this hinge, "God foreordains
whatsoever comes to pass." For he that, by his will and decree, produces
and causes sin, that makes sin a necessary part of his plan, and is the
author of the very elements and materials of his own plan, must be the
proper and sole cause of sin, or we have yet to learn the definition of
common words, and the meaning of plain propositions. The distinction
therefore, of _ancient_ and _modern_, of _rigid_ and _moderate_
Calvinists, is more in word, than in reality. And it would add much to
the consistency of this system, if all its advocates would acknowledge,
what is evidently deducible from the premises, that God is the efficient
cause of sin.

2. This doctrine of predestination destroys the free agency, and of
course the accountability of man. That it destroys free will was seen
and acknowledged by many predestinarians of the old school. And the
opposers of Mr. Wesley and Mr. Fletcher violently assailed them on this
subject. Mr. Southey informs us, in his Life of Wesley, that the
Calvinists called this doctrine of free will, "a cursed doctrine"--"the
most God-dishonouring and soul-destroying doctrine of the day"--"one of
the prominent features of the beast"--"the enemy of God"--"the offspring
of the wicked one"--"the insolent brat of hell." Others, and the greater
part of the Calvinists of the present day, endeavour to reconcile the
ideas of _necessity_ and _free agency_. Man, they say, sins voluntarily,
because he chooses or wills to sin; therefore he is a free agent. Hence
they exhort sinners to repent, and tell them they can repent if they
will. By which they mean, the only impossibility of their repenting, is
in their will--their _cannot_ is their _will not_. This has led many to
think that there is no difference, between their preachers and the
Arminians. But let us look at this subject a little, and see if there is
not some sophistry concealed in this dexterous coil of words. God,
according to this doctrine, secures the end as well as the means, by his
decree of predestination. And therefore, as Calvin says, "every action
and motion of every creature is governed by the hidden counsel of God."
The will, therefore, in all its operations, is governed and irresistibly
controlled by some secret impulse, some fixed and all-controlling
arrangement. It is altogether futile, then, to talk about free agency
under such a constitution; the very spring of motion to the whole
intellectual machinery is under the influence of a secret, invincible
power. And it _must_ move as that power directs, or it is the hand of
Omnipotence that urges it on. He _can_ act as he _wills_, it is true,
but the whole responsibility consists in the volition, and this is the
result of God's propelling power. He wills as he is _made_ to will--he
chooses as he _must_ choose, for the immutable decree of Jehovah is upon
him. And can a man, upon the known and universally acknowledged
principles of responsibility, be accountable for such a volition? It is
argued, I know, that man is responsible, because he _feels_ that he acts
freely, and that he might have done otherwise. To this I reply, that
this is a good argument, on our principles, to prove that men are
free--but on the Calvinistic ground, it only proves that God hath
deceived us. He has made us _feel_ that we might do otherwise, but _he
knows_ we _cannot_--he has _determined_ we _shall not_. So that, in
fact, this argument makes the system more objectionable. While it does
not change the fact in the case, it attributes deception to the
Almighty. It is logically true, therefore, from this doctrine, that man
is not a free agent, and therefore not responsible. A moral agent, to be
free, must be possessed of a self-determining principle. Make the will
any thing short of this, and you put all the volitions, and of course
the whole moral man, under foreign and irresistible influences.

3. Another strong objection to the doctrine we oppose, is, it arrays
God's secret decrees against his revealed word. God commands men not to
sin, and yet ordains that they shall sin, In his word, he sets before
them, in striking relief, motives of fear and of hope, for the express
purpose, as he informs us, "that they sin not;" but by his
predestination and secret counsel, he irresistibly impels them in an
opposite course, for the express purpose, as this doctrine informs us,
to secure their transgression. _His_ rule of action is in direct
opposition to _our_ rule of duty. And yet he is the author of both! Is
God at war with himself, or is he sporting and trifling with his
creatures? Or is it not more probable than either, that the premises are
false? When or where has God ever taught us, that he has two opposing
wills? A character so suspicious, to say the least of it, ought not,
without the most unequivocal evidence, to be attributed to the adorable
Jehovah. In his word, we are taught, that he is "of _one_ mind"--that
his "ways are equal;" and who can doubt it? We are told, it is true, to
relieve the difficulty, that this seeming contradiction is one of the
mysteries of God's incomprehensible nature. But it is not a _seeming_
contradiction, it is a _real_ one; not an insolvable mystery, but a
palpable absurdity. _God prohibits the sinful act--God ordains and
procures the sinful act--God wills the salvation of the reprobate, whom
he has from all eternity irreversibly ordained to eternal death!_ When I
can embrace such opposite propositions by calling them mysteries, I can
believe that two and two are more than four, that all the parts are less
than the whole, and that a thing may be made to exist and not exist at
the same time and explain them by a reference to the mystery of God's
incomprehensible nature.

4. In close connection with the foregoing objection, it may be added,
that this system mars, if it does not destroy, the moral attributes of
God. If he holds men responsible for what is unavoidable--if he makes
laws and then impels men to break them, and finally punishes them for
their transgressions--if he mourns over the evils of the world, and
expostulates with sinners, saying, "How can I give thee up--my heart is
melted within me, my repentings are kindled together,"--"O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem! how oft would I have gathered you, and ye would not,"--and
still he himself "impels the will of men," to all this wickedness--if I
say God does all this, where is his veracity? Where is his mercy? Where
is his justice? What more could be said of the most merciless tyrant?
What, of the most arrant hypocrite? What, of Satan himself? What does
this doctrine make of our heavenly Father? I shudder to follow it out
into its legitimate bearings. It seems to me, a belief of it is enough
to drive one to infidelity, to madness, and to death. If the supporters
of this system _must_ adhere to it, I rejoice that they can close their
eyes against its logical consequences, otherwise it would make them
wretched in the extreme, or drive them into other dangerous theoretical
and practical errors. Indeed, in many instances it has done this--which
leads to another objection to this doctrine.

5. It puts a plea into the mouth of sinners to justify themselves in
their sins, and leads to Universalism and infidelity. They reason thus:
Whatever God decrees is according to his will, and therefore right. And
God will not punish his creatures for doing right. Whatever God decrees
is unavoidable, and God will not punish his creatures for what is
unavoidable. But "every action and motion of every creature is governed
by the hidden counsel of God." Therefore God will not punish any of his
creatures for any of their acts. Now, who can point out any fallacy in
this reasoning? If therefore predestination be true, Universalism is
true, according to the universally acknowledged principles of justice.
And it is a notorious fact, that modern Universalism, which is
prevailing so generally through the country, rests for its chief support
on the doctrine of predestination. Others having seen, as they thought,
that the Scriptures would not support the doctrine of Universalism, and
that matter of fact seemed to contradict the above reasoning, inasmuch
as men are made to suffer, even in this life, for their sins, have
leaped over all Scriptural bounds into infidelity and philosophical
necessity. I have personally known numbers who have been driven, by the
doctrine we object to, into open infidelity. And it is well known, that
the doctrine of fate, which is closely allied to Calvinian
predestination, is the element in which infidelity "lives and moves and
has its being." And can this be the doctrine of the Bible? How much is
it to be regretted, that our worthy pilgrim fathers should have sowed
this Geneva seed in our happy country! The evils done to the Church are
incalculable.

These, candid hearers, are some of the objections we have to this
doctrine--objections so serious, and, as we think, so obvious, that you
may well ask, What has induced good men to advocate it so long? It is,
doubtless, because it stands connected intimately with the doctrine of
unconditional election, and what have been called by Calvinists "the
doctrines of grace." But for unconditional election, predestination
would not be desired, even by those who now hold to it; and but for
predestination, unconditional election could not be maintained. Hence
these have very properly been called "twin doctrines," and must stand or
fall together. Let us pass then to the next proposition.

II. We come to examine predestination in its particular relation to
election.

Several kinds of election are spoken of in the Scriptures. There is an
election of individuals, to perform certain duties appointed by
God:--thus Christ was God's elect, for the redemption of the world; and
Cyrus was elected by him to rebuild the temple. There is an election of
whole communities and nations to the enjoyment of certain peculiar
privileges, political and ecclesiastical, relating of course to this
life:--thus Jacob and his descendants were God's chosen people, to the
enjoyment of religious and national privileges, from which Esau and his
descendants, together with the whole Gentile world, were excluded; and
thus, too, subsequently, the middle wall of partition, made by the
former decree of election between Jew and Gentile, being broken down,
the Gentiles became equal sharers with the Jews in the privileges of the
new covenant, called the "election of grace." This election is
unconditional, and is believed to be the one spoken of in our text, and
many other passages of Scripture. Of these, however, I shall speak more
particularly in another place.

There is a third election--an election unto eternal life, and this is
the one which has given rise to the great controversy in the
Church.--Those who contend for predestination, as objected to by us,
maintain that, "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his
glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and
others foreordained to everlasting death. Those of mankind that are
predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world, hath
chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, _without any foresight of
faith or good works_." Others, and this also is our doctrine, hold that
"God did decree from the beginning, to elect, or choose in Christ, all
that should believe unto salvation, and this decree proceeds from his
own goodness, and is not built on any goodness of the creature; and that
God did from the beginning decree to reprobate all who should finally
and obstinately continue in unbelief." Thus it is seen, from the
statement of the two doctrines, that ours is an election of character,
and so far as it relates to individuals, it relates to them only as they
are foreseen to possess that character; whereas the other relates
directly to individuals, without any reference to character. It is an
absolute act of sovereignty--God elects them for no other reason or
condition than because he chooses. He makes no account of man's agency
or responsibility in this decree of election, but it precedes and is
entirely independent of any knowledge of the character of the elect. Our
views of election, on the contrary, make it conditionally dependent on
the responsible agency of man. In the one case, the sinner is made to
receive Christ, because he is elected; and in the other, he is elected,
because he receives Christ. From this difference, too, proceed other
differences. The Calvinistic election, to be consistent with itself,
requires that, as the end is arbitrarily fixed, so the means must be
also--hence the doctrines of irresistible grace, effectual calling, and
infallible perseverance. Calvinian election, therefore, stands
intimately allied to Calvinian predestination; and the whole forms a
chain of doctrines differing materially from ours. And here we
acknowledge we have a position to prove as well as our opponents. We
assert that election to eternal life is conditional; they, that it is
unconditional. We will first attempt to prove our position--then state
and answer the arguments in favour of unconditional election--and
finally, urge some objections against unconditional election and
reprobation.

1. Our first argument in favour of conditional election to eternal life,
is drawn from the position already established, that the decrees of God
are predicated on his foreknowledge. And especially, that the decree of
election to salvation, according to the Scriptures, is founded on the
Divine prescience. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through
sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood
of Jesus Christ." "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be
conformed to the image of his Son." These scriptures seem to us
decisive, that the decree of election rests on foreknowledge, and that
this election is made, not according to the arbitrary act of God, but on
the ground of sanctification and obedience. The doctrine, therefore,
that men are predestinated to eternal life, "without any foresight of
faith or good works," must be false.

2. The rewardableness of obedience, or the demerit of disobedience, can
only exist in connection with the unnecessitated volitions of a free
moral agent. The Scriptures abundantly teach, that to be saved, man must
believe and obey; and hence they command and exhort men to believe and
obey, and promise them the reward of eternal life if they do this, and
criminate them, if they neglect it. But, according to the doctrine of
free agency already explained, man's obedience or disobedience, if it
has any just relation to rewards and punishments, must rest, in its
responsible character, upon the self-determining principle of the will.
And if this view of the will be correct, there is an _utter
impossibility_ of an unconditional election. For the very act of God,
imparting this self-determining principle to man, renders it impossible,
in the nature of things, for the Almighty himself to elect a moral
agent, unconditionally. The argument stands thus--The Scriptures make
man a responsible moral agent; but this he cannot be, if his will be
controlled by foreign and unavoidable influences, therefore it is not so
controlled: that is, man has within himself a self-determining
principle, in the exercise of which he becomes responsible. This being
established, we argue again--The doctrine of unconditional election
necessarily implies irresistible grace, absolutely impelling and
controlling the will. But this would be to counteract God's own work,
and to destroy man's accountability; therefore there is no such
irresistible grace, and, of course, no such unconditional election. And
since there is an election to eternal life, spoken of in the Scriptures,
it follows conclusively, if the foregoing reasoning be sound, that this
election is conditional.--Hence we may bring forward, in one
overwhelming argument, all the numerous and various Bible conditions of
salvation, as so many Scripture proofs of a conditional election.

3. The cautions to the elect, and the intimations of their danger, and
the possibility of their being lost, are so many Scripture proofs of a
conditional election. Why should the saints be exhorted "to take heed
lest they fall?" "lest there be in them an evil heart of unbelief, in
departing from the living God?" "lest a promise being left of entering
into rest, any should come short?" lest _they_ should "also be cut off?"
Why should St. Paul fear lest, after having preached to others, he
should be a castaway? Either there is, or is not, danger of the elect's
being lost. If not, then all these passages are not only without
meaning, but savour very strongly of deception. They are false colours
held out to the elect, for the purposes of alarm and fear, where no fear
is. Will it be said, that possibly some of those addressed were not of
the elect, and were therefore deceiving themselves, and needed to be
cautioned and warned? I answer, they had then nothing to fall from, and
no promise of which to come short. Besides, to warn such to _stand
fast_, seems to imply, that the Holy Spirit cautioned the reprobates
against the danger of becoming the elect, which idea, while it intimates
a very ungracious work for the "Spirit of grace" to be engaged in,
clearly indicates, that there was danger of breaking the decree of
reprobation! We ask again, therefore, What do these scriptures mean?
Will it be said, as some have argued, that these warnings and cautions
are all consistent, because they are the very means by which the decree
of election is made sure? But let it be understood, that the end is
fixed, before the means; because Calvinism tells us, that this election
is "independent of any faith or good works foreseen," and that "God's
decree lays a necessity on all things, so that every thing he wills
necessarily comes to pass," and is therefore sure, "because he has
decreed it." The moment, therefore, God decrees an event, it becomes
sure, and to talk of danger of a failure in that event, implies either a
falsehood, or that God's decree can be _broken_. But Calvinists, I
presume, will not allow that there is any danger of counteracting or
frustrating the plan of the Almighty. Hence there is no danger of the
elect's coming short of salvation. All the exhortations, cautions, and
warnings therefore, recorded in the Scriptures, are false colours and
deceptive motives. They are like the attempts of some weak parents, who
undertake to frighten their children into obedience, by superstitious
tales and groundless fears. God knows, when he is giving out these
intimations of danger, that there is no such danger; his own eternal,
unchangeable decree had secured their salvation before the means were
planned--all this if election is unconditional. But far be this from a
God of truth. If he exhorts his creatures to "make their election sure,"
_he_ has not made it sure.--If he teaches them to fear, lest they fail
of the grace of God, there is doubtless real danger. The conclusion
therefore is irresistible, that Cod hath suspended his decree of
election to eternal life, on conditions; "He that believeth: shall be
saved."

4. This accords also with Christian experience. What is it that produces
much fear and trembling in the mind of the awakened sinner? Why does he
feel that there is but a step between him and destruction? Is it fancy,
or is it fact? If it is imagination merely, then all his alarm is
founded in deception, and he has either deceived himself, or the Spirit
of God hath deceived him. In either case, this alarm seems necessary, in
order to lead him to Christ. That is, it is necessary for the conversion
of one of the elect that he be made to believe a lie. But if it be said,
that it is no lie, for he is really in danger, then we reply again, the
decree of God hath not made his election sure, and of course, therefore,
it is conditional.

5. Express passages of Scripture teach a conditional election. We have
time only to notice a few of them. Matt. xxii, 14, "For many are called,
but few are chosen." This passage, with the parable of the wedding that
precedes it, teaches that the _choice_ was made subsequently to the
call, and was grounded on the fact, that those chosen had actually and
fully complied with the invitation, and had come to the wedding duly
prepared. John xv, 19, "If ye were of the world, the world would love
you, but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of
the world, therefore the world hateth you." This passage teaches that
Christ's disciples were once of the world, and that he had chosen them
out of the world, and this _choice_ evidently refers to that time when
they became of a different character from the world; for then it was,
and in consequence of that election, that the world hated them.--2
Thess. ii, 13, "Because God hath from the beginning, _chosen_ you to
salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the
truth." Here is a condition plainly expressed. This is not an election
_unto_ sanctification, but an election _through_ or _by_ sanctification
and faith unto salvation.

From the whole then it appears, that the Holy Scriptures, the Divine
attributes and government, and the agency of man, stand opposed to an
unconditional, and are in favour of a conditional election.

In opposition to these arguments, however, and in favour of
unconditional election, our opponents urge various scriptures, which, as
they think, are strong and incontrovertible arguments in favour of their
system. And as these scriptures are their strong and only defence, it is
proposed that they should be noticed. The limits of this discourse,
however, will admit of but a short notice, and that not of individual
texts, but of classes of texts.

1. The first class of passages that we will now examine, which are
supposed to favour the idea of unconditional election, is those that
speak of a predestination _unto_ holiness. Our text is one of the
strongest instances of this kind, "He hath chosen us from the foundation
of the world, that we should be holy--having predestinated us unto the
adoption of sons," &c. See also Rom. viii, 29, "For whom he did
foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his
Son," and "whom he did predestinate--he called--justified--and
sanctified." The argument upon these and similar passages is, that the
decree of predestination could not be founded on their faith or
holiness; because they were predestinated to _become_ holy--the decree
of predestination had their holiness for its object and end. But if
these passages had an allusion to a personal election to eternal life,
they would not prove unconditional election, "because," to use the
language of another, "it would admit of being questioned, whether the
choosing in Christ, before the foundation of the world here mentioned,
was a choice of certain persons _as men merely_, or as _believing_ men,
which is certainly the most rational." This exposition must necessarily
be given to the passage from the Romans, since those who were the
subjects of predestination, were first _foreknown_: foreknown, not
merely as existing, for in this sense _all_ were foreknown, but
foreknown, as possessing something which operated as a reason why _they_
should be elected, rather than others: foreknown doubtless as believers
in Christ, and as such, according to the plan and decree of God, they
were to be made conformable to the image of Christ's holiness here, and
glory hereafter. And according to the same Divine plan, the order of
this work was, 1. The call; 2. Justification; 3. Glorification. And this
interpretation, which so obviously upon the face of it is the meaning of
the passage from Romans, would also be a good meaning to the passage in
Ephesians, if that passage should be understood in reference to personal
election. But I do not so understand it; and I think any unprejudiced
reader, by looking at the context, and especially from the 9th to the
11th verses inclusive, in this chapter, and at most of the 2d chapter,
will perceive that the apostle is here speaking of that general plan of
God, which had been fixed from the beginning, of admitting the Gentiles
as well as the Jews to the privileges of the covenant of grace, on equal
terms and conditions. Thus the middle wall of partition was to be broken
down between Jew and Gentile; and this was the mystery which was
concealed for ages, not being understood even by the Jews themselves,
but then by the Gospel was brought to light. According to this plan, the
Ephesians and all other Gentiles were chosen or elected to these
Christian privileges, the very design and purpose of which were to make
them holy; and in the improvement of which, according to the prescribed
conditions of faith in Christ, and repentance toward God, they should
become his adopted children.

This fore appointing of the Gentiles to the privileges of the gracious
covenant, is the election most spoken of in the New Testament.--And the
reason why it was so often introduced, especially in the writings of
Paul, who was the chief apostle to the Gentiles, was, because the Jews
so uniformly and earnestly opposed this feature of Christianity. They
could not be reconciled to the idea, that the peculiar and distinctive
character of their theocracy and ecclesiastical policy should be so
changed, or that the dealings of God with the world should be explained
in such a manner as to give _them_ no superior claims, in the privileges
of the Divine covenant, over the Gentiles. They considered themselves to
be God's elect and favourite people, but the Gentiles were reprobates.
The apostles felt themselves under the strongest obligations to oppose
these notions, not only because, if allowed, they would operate as a
barrier to the diffusion of the Gospel among the heathens, and thus the
designs of Divine mercy to the world would be thwarted, but also because
these Jewish sentiments were in direct opposition to the grace of God.
They implied, that the original design of God in favouring the Jews, was
founded, not upon his mere mercy and grace, but upon some goodness in
them or their fathers. Hence they not only limited the blessings of the
Gospel, but they also corrupted its gracious character, and thereby fed
their own Pharisaic pride, and dishonoured God. This will open the way
for explaining many other scriptures which the Calvinists press into
their service.

2. Especially will it assist in explaining those passages which speak of
election as depending solely on the sovereign will of God. The strongest
of these are in the ninth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. This
portion of revelation is the strong hold, as is supposed, of Calvinism.
Whereas, we humbly conceive that _there is not one word_ in the whole
chapter, of unconditional and personal election to eternal life. It is
only necessary to read that epistle carefully, to see that the apostle
is combatting that exclusive and Pharisaic doctrine of the Jews, already
alluded to, and is proving in a forcible strain of argumentation, from
reason and Scripture, that the foundation of the plan of salvation for
sinners, was the goodness and unmerited love of God--that all, both Jews
and Gentiles, were sinners, and therefore stood in the same relation to
God--all equally eligible to salvation, and must, if saved at all, be
saved on the same terms. To prove this, he argues strenuously, that
God's favour to the Jews, as a nation, was not of any goodness in them,
but of his own sovereign will and pleasure, so that his covenant of
favour with the Hebrews, and his covenant of grace which embraced the
Gentiles, was "not of works, lest any man should boast," "not of him
that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
The apostle shows them, too, that the covenant made with Abraham was not
for circumcision, nor for the works of the law, so far as it affected
him or his posterity, because it was made while Abraham was in
uncircumcision, and on the condition of faith. He argues farther, that
this election of the Jews to the enjoyment of these national and
ecclesiastical privileges, was not because they were children of
Abraham, for Ishmael was a child of Abraham, and yet he and his
posterity were rejected; nor yet because they were the children of
Abraham through Isaac, because Esau and his posterity were reprobated
from these national privileges, while Jacob and his posterity were the
chosen seed--not chosen to eternal life, because many of them perished
in sin and unbelief, but to the peculiar privileges of God's covenant
people. And all this because it was the good pleasure of his will. And
as a sovereign, he had the same right to elect the Gentiles to the
enjoyment of the covenant of mercy, and upon the same conditions of
faith. The apostle concludes this reasoning by an argument which cuts
off entirely the idea of unconditional personal election and
reprobation. He informs us, that the reason why the unbelieving Jews did
not attain to personal righteousness, was "because they sought it not by
faith, but as it were by the works of the law;" and the Gentiles
attained to personal righteousness, because they sought it by faith.
Hence, those that were not his people, became his people, and those that
were not beloved, became beloved--and these, "not of the Jews only, but
also of the Gentiles." Whereas, if the doctrine we oppose be true, the
elect were _always_ his people, and _always_ beloved, and that because
he pleased to have it so. That portion of Scripture, therefore, on which
Calvinism leans for its greatest support, not only affords it no aid,
but actually teaches a different doctrine. There is indeed something of
mystery hanging over the providence of God, in bestowing peculiar
advantages on some, and withholding them from others. But on this
subject much light is cast from various considerations which we have not
time to enlarge upon; but especially from that wholesome and consistent
Scripture doctrine, that "it is required of a man according to what he
hath, and not according to what he hath not." This removes at once all
complaint of Jew and Gentile, and authorizes the reply, so often
misapplied, "Who art thou that repliest against God?" As a sovereign,
God has a right to make his creatures differ in these things, so long as
he requires only as he gives. But this differs as widely from the
Calvinistic idea of sovereignty, as _justice_ from _injustice_, as
_equity_ from _iniquity_. In fact, God no where in the Scripture, places
the election of individuals to eternal life, solely on the ground of his
sovereignty, but uniformly on the ground of their complying with the
conditions of the covenant of grace. Hence his people are a _peculiar
people_--his sheep _hear his voice and follow him_--they are _chosen out
of the world_--they are _in Christ_, not by an eternal decree of
election, but _by faith_--for "if any man be _in Christ_, he is a _new
creature_"--and of course, he is not _in him_, until he is a "new
creature"--then, and not before, they become his, and he seals them as
such, "In whom, _after that ye believed_, ye were sealed with the Holy
Spirit of promise." But if they were elected from eternity, they would
be his when they did not _hear his voice_, and were not _new creatures_.

3. From what has been said, we can easily answer a third class of
scriptures which the Calvinists dwell upon to support their system
--viz, those which declare salvation to be of _grace_ and not of
_works_. Of these there is evidently a large catalogue of very express
and unequivocal passages. Take two or three for an example of the whole,
"Even so then, at the present time, there is a remnant, according to the
election of grace, and if it be by grace then it is no more of works,
otherwise grace is no more grace; but if it be of works, then it is no
more grace, otherwise work is no more work." "By grace ye are saved."
"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of his children, &c, to the
praise of the glory of his grace." "Not by works of righteousness which
we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of
regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Now we profess to believe
these scriptures as unqualifiedly and as cordially as the Calvinists;
and we think them perfectly in accordance with our views of election.
For we believe, as has been already stated, that God's plan for saving
sinners originated entirely in his love to his undeserving creatures.
There was nothing in all the character and circumstances of the fallen
family, except their sin and deserved misery, that could claim the
interposition of God's saving power. The way of executing his gracious
plan, and rendering it available in any case, he of course, as a
sovereign, reserved to himself. And if he saw that a conditional
election was best suited to the principles of his government, and the
responsibility of man, shall it be said, this cannot be, for it destroys
the idea of grace? _Cannot_ a conditional election be of grace? Let the
intelligent and candid answer. Even many of the Calvinists acknowledge
that _salvation_ is conditional, and yet it is of grace; for "by grace
ye are saved." Now if salvation is conditional and yet of grace, why not
election? Let Calvinists answer this question.

But that our doctrine of election is of grace, will appear evident, I
think, from the following considerations. 1. It was pure unmerited love
that moved God to provide salvation for our world. 2. The Gospel plan,
therefore, with all its _provisions_ and _conditions_, is of grace. Not
a step in that whole system, but rests in grace, is presented by grace,
and is executed through grace. 3. Even the power of the will to choose
life, and the conditions of life, is a _gracious power_. A fallen man,
without grace, could no more choose to submit to God than a fallen
angel. Herein we differ widely from the Calvinists. They tell us man has
a _natural_ power to choose life. If so, he has power to get to heaven
without grace! We say, on the contrary, that man is utterly unable to
choose the way to heaven, or to pursue it when chosen, without the grace
of God. It is grace that enlightens and convinces the sinner, and
strengthens him to seek after and obtain salvation, for "without Christ
we _can do nothing_." Let the candid judge between us, then, and decide
which system most robs our gracious Redeemer of his glory, that which
gives man a _native_ and _inherent_ power to get to heaven of himself,
or that which attributes all to grace. 4. Finally, when the sinner
repents and believes, there is no merit in these acts to procure
forgiveness and regeneration, and therefore, though he is _now_, and _on
these conditions_, elected, and made an heir of salvation, yet it is for
Christ's sake, and "not for works of righteousness which he has done."
Thus we "bring forth the top stone with shouting, crying _grace_,
_grace_, unto it." Having gone over and examined the arguments in favour
of unconditional election, we come to the last part of our subject;
which was to urge some objections against this doctrine.

1. The doctrine of the unconditional election of a part, necessarily
implies the unconditional reprobation of the rest. I know some who hold
to the former, seem to deny the latter; for they represent God as
reprobating sinners, in view of their sins. When all were sinners, they
say God passed by some, and elected others. Hence, they say the decree
of damnation against the reprobates is just, because it is against
_sinners_. But this explanation is virtually giving up the system,
inasmuch as it gives up all the principal arguments by which it is
supported. In the first place, it makes predestination dependent on
foreknowledge; for God first foresees that they will be sinners, and
then predestinates them to punishment. Here is one case then, in which
the argument for Calvinian predestination is destroyed by its own
supporters. But again if God must fix by his decree all parts of his
plan, in order to prevent disappointment, then he must fix the destiny
of the reprobates, and the means that lead to it. But if he did not do
this, then the Calvinistic argument in favour of predestination, drawn
from the Divine plan, falls to the ground. Once more: this explanation
of the decree of reprobation destroys all the strongest Scripture
arguments which the Calvinists urge in favour of unconditional election.
The passages, for instance, in the ninth of Romans, which are so often
quoted in favour of Calvinian election, are connected with others,
equally strong, in favour of unconditional reprobation. When it is said,
"He will have mercy on whom he will have mercy," it is said also, "Whom
he will he hardeneth." He that "makes one vessel unto honour, maketh
another unto dishonour." He that says, "Jacob have I loved," says also
in the same manner, "Esau have I hated." Now if these relate to personal
election to eternal life, they relate also to personal reprobation to
eternal death. But if there is any explanation, by which these are
showed not to prove unconditional reprobation to eternal death, the same
principle of explanation will, and _must_ show, that they do not prove
Calvinistic election. From henceforth, therefore, let all those
Calvinists who profess not to believe in unconditional reprobation,
cease to urge, in favour of their system, any arguments drawn from the
foreknowledge of God, or the necessity of a Divine plan, or from those
scriptures that are most commonly quoted in favour of their doctrine.
But when they do this, their system must necessarily fall; for all its
main pillars will be removed. But I have not done with this objection
yet. Whoever maintains that "God hath foreordained whatsoever comes to
pass," must also hold to unconditional reprobation. Does it come to
pass, that some are lost? Then this was ordained. Was sin necessary, as
a pretence to damn them? Then this was ordained. From these and other
views of the subject, Calvin was led to say, that "election could not
stand without reprobation," and that it was "quite silly and childish"
to attempt to separate them. All, therefore, who hold to the
unconditional election of a part of mankind to eternal life, _must_, to
be consistent with themselves, take into their creed, the "horrible
decree" of reprobation.--They must believe that in the ages of eternity
God determined to create men and angels for the express purpose to damn
them eternally! That he determined to introduce sin, and influence men
to commit sin, and harden them in it, that they might be fit subjects of
his wrath! That for doing as they were impelled to do, by the
irresistible decree of Jehovah, they must lie down for ever, under the
scalding phials of his vengeance in the pit of hell! To state this
doctrine in its true character, is enough to chill one's blood--and we
are drawn by all that is rational within us, to turn away from such a
God with horror, as from the presence of an Almighty Tyrant.

2. This doctrine of election, while it professes to vindicate free grace
and the mercy of God, destroys them altogether. To the reprobates, there
is certainly no grace or mercy extended. Their very existence, connected
as it necessarily is with eternal damnation, is an infinite curse. The
temporal blessings which they enjoy, the insincere offers that are held
out to them, and the Gospel privileges with which they are mocked, if
they can be termed grace at all, must be called _damning grace_. For all
this is only fattening them for the slaughter, and fitting them to
suffer, to a more aggravated extent, the unavoidable pains and torments
that await them. Hence Calvin's sentiment, that "God calls to the
reprobates, that they may be more deaf--kindles a light, that they may
be more blind--brings his doctrine to them, that they may be more
ignorant--and applies the remedy to them, that they may not be healed,"
is an honest avowal of the legitimate principles of this system. Surely,
then, no one will pretend, that, according to this doctrine, there is
any grace for the reprobate. And perhaps a moment's attention will show,
that there is little or none for the elect. It is said, that God, out of
his mere sovereignty, without any thing in the creature to move him
thereto, elects sinners to everlasting life. But if there is nothing in
the creature to move him thereto, how can it be called _mercy_ or
_compassion?_ He did not determine to elect them because they were
miserable, but because he pleased to elect them. If misery had been the
exciting cause, then as all were equally miserable, he would have
elected them all. Is such a decree of election founded in love to the
suffering object? No: _it is the result of the most absolute and
omnipotent selfishness conceivable_. It is the exhibition of a character
that sports most sovereignly and arbitrarily, with his Almighty power,
_to create, to damn, and to save_.

Some indeed pretend that, at any rate, _salvation_ is of grace, if
election is not, because God saves _miserable_, _perishing_ sinners. But
who made them miserable perishing sinners? Was not this the effect of
God's decree? And is there much mercy displayed in placing men under a
constitution which necessarily and unavoidably involves them in sin and
suffering, that God may afterward have the sovereign honour of saving
them? Surely the _tenderest_ mercies of this system are cruel--its
brightest parts are dark--its boasted mercy hardly comes up to sheer
justice, even to the elect; since they only receive back what God had
deprived them of, and for the want of which they had suffered perhaps
for years; and to obtain which, they could do nothing even as a
condition, until God by his sovereign power bestowed it upon them. And
as for the reprobates, the Gospel is unavoidably to them, a savour of
death unto death. To them Christ came, that they might have death, and
that they might have it more abundantly. Thus, turn this system as you
will, it sweeps away the mercy and goodness of God, destroys the grace
of the Gospel, and in most cases, transforms even the invitations and
promises into scalding messages of aggravated wrath.

3. The doctrine we oppose makes God partial and a respecter of persons;
contrary to express and repeated declarations of Scripture. For it
represents God as determining to save some and damn others, without
reference to their character, all being precisely in the same state. To
deny this, is to acknowledge that the decree of election and reprobation
had respect to character, which is to give up the doctrine. Some indeed
pretend, that the decree of election was unconditional, but not the
decree of reprobation. But this is impossible; for there could be no
decree of election, only in view of the whole number from which the
choice was to be made; and the very determination to select such a
number, and those only, implied the exclusion of all the rest. If it be
said, as the Sublapsarians contend, that the decree of election did not
come in until all were fallen, or viewed in the mind of God as fallen;
and therefore since all might have been justly damned, there was no
injustice to those who were left, though some of the guilty were taken
and saved; we reply, That even this would not wholly remove the
objection of partiality. But we need not dwell here, because we have a
shorter and more decisive way to dispose of this argument. The truth is,
it does not cover the whole ground of our objection. Had God nothing to
do with man until his prescient eye beheld the whole race in a ruined
state? How came man in this state? He was plunged there by the sin of
his federal head. But how came _he_ to sin? "Adam sinned," says Calvin,
"because God so ordained." And so every one must say, that believes God
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. Taking all the links together,
they stand thus:--God decreed to create intelligent beings--he decreed
that they should all become sinners and children of wrath--and it was
so. He then decreed that part of those whom he had constituted heirs of
wrath, should be taken, and washed, and saved, and the others left to
perish; and then we are told there is no unjust partiality in God, since
they all deserve to be damned! What a singular evasion is this! God
wishes to damn a certain portion of his creatures, and save the rest;
but he cannot do this without subjecting himself to the charge of
partiality. To avoid this, he plunges them all into sin and ruin, and
forthwith he declares them all children of wrath, and heirs of hell. But
in the plenitude of his grace, he snatches some from the pit of ruin,
and leaves the rest in remediless wo! Is such a supposition worthy of
our righteous God?--Does it accord either with his justice or wisdom?
Reason, with half an eye, can see through the flimsy veil, and discover
the weakness of the device. I know an attempt has been often made to
charge these consequences upon our system, as well as upon the
Calvinistic doctrine. For if it is acknowledged that man is born
depraved, and this depravity is damning in its nature, does it not
follow, it is asked, that all deserve to perish? And therefore God may
elect some and justly pass by the rest. I answer--Although all moral
depravity, derived or contracted, is damning in its nature, still, by
virtue of the atonement, the destructive effects of derived depravity
are counteracted; and guilt is not imputed, until by a voluntary
rejection of the Gospel remedy, man makes the depravity of his nature
the object of his own choice.--Hence, although abstractly considered,
this depravity is destructive to the possessors, yet through the grace
of the Gospel, _all_ are born free from condemnation. So the Apostle
Paul, "As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to
condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon
all men, unto justification of life." In accordance with these views
also, the ground of condemnation, according to the Scriptures, is not
our native depravity; but the sinner is condemned for _rejecting
Christ_,--for _refusing_ to occupy upon the _talents given_,--for
_rejecting light_,--for _quenching the Spirit_,--for _unbelief_. Here
then is the difference on this point between the Calvinists and us. They
hold that God, by his decree, plunged Adam and all his race into the pit
of sin, from which none of them had the means of escape; but by an
omnipotent act of partial grace, he delivers a part, and the remainder
are left unavoidably to perish. We, on the contrary, believe that by
Adam's unnecessitated sin he, and in him all his posterity, became
obnoxious to the curse of the Divine law. As the first man sinned
personally and actively, he was personally condemned; but as his
posterity had no agency or personal existence, they could only have
perished seminally in him. By the promise of a Saviour however, our
federal head was restored to the possibility of obtaining salvation,
through faith in the Redeemer. And in this restoration, _all_ the
seminal generations of men were included. Their possible and prospective
existence was restored; and their personal and active existence secured.
And with this also, the possibility of salvation was secured to all. To
such as never come to a personally responsible age, this salvation was
secured unconditionally by Christ; to _all_ those who arrived to the age
of accountability, salvation was made possible, on equal and impartial
conditions. Thus, while on our principle, there is not the slightest
ground for a charge of partiality; on the Calvinistic principle, the
charge seems to lie with all its weight. It makes God, in the worst
sense of the terms, _partial, and a respecter of persons_.

4. This doctrine is objectionable, because, contrary to express and
repeated passages of Scripture, it necessarily limits the atonement. It
will surely not be expected, that we should attempt to prove that Christ
"tasted death for every man"--that he "gave himself a ransom for
all"--that he "died for all"--that he became "a propitiation for the
sins of the whole world"--because, these are so many express Scripture
propositions, and rest directly on the authority of God. And while these
stand, the doctrine of particular and unconditional election must fall,
for the two doctrines are incompatible. That particular election and
partial redemption must stand or fall together, has been acknowledged,
and is still maintained by most Calvinists; and therefore they have
endeavoured to explain away those passages, which so clearly declare
that "Christ died for all." But in this work they have found so many
difficulties, that others, and among them most of the Calvinistic clergy
in New-England, have acknowledged a general redemption, and have
undertaken to reconcile with it the doctrine of particular election and
reprobation. But this reconciliation is as difficult as the other. To
say nothing now of the utter uselessness of making an atonement for the
reprobates, unless for the purpose of making their unavoidable damnation
more aggravated, we would ask, What is the object of the atonement? Let
these very Calvinists themselves answer. They tell us, that its object
was, to open the way, by which it might be possible for sinners to be
saved. But has the atonement made it possible for the reprobates to be
saved? If so, then perhaps they will be saved, and therefore the idea of
unconditional election and reprobation is false. But if the atonement
has only made it possible for the elect to be saved, then it was made
only for the elect. Let the supporters of this system choose which horn
of this dilemma they please; either will destroy their doctrine. For as
it is absurd to talk about redeeming grace and Gospel provisions,
_sufficient_ to save those who are eternally and effectually excluded
from these blessings, so it is idle to talk about a redemption for
_all_, which includes provisions sufficient only to save the _elect_.
Not even the fiction of a _natural ability_ in all men to serve God and
get to heaven, will help this difficulty. For allowing, in the argument,
that the reprobates have ability to serve God and gain heaven, without
grace, and in spite of God's decree, still, as this is called a
_natural_ ability, it is plain it is not the fruit of the atonement. It
is equally irrelevant to argue that the atonement may be said to be
universal, because it contains enough to save the whole world, if they
would or could embrace it, and it is only their excessive depravity
which renders it impossible for them to receive the atonement. For this
is the same as to say, that a physician has an efficient remedy to heal
his patient, only he is so sick he cannot take it. This excessive
weakness is that for which the physician should prescribe, and to which
the medicine should be applied. And if it does not come to this it is no
medicine for this case. So the atonement, if it is not a remedy for
man's extreme depravity, it is no provision for him. If it does not give
a gracious power to all sinners to embrace salvation, it has
accomplished nothing for the depraved reprobate. Since, therefore,
according to Calvinism, the atonement provides for the reprobate neither
natural nor moral ability to serve God, nor makes it possible for him to
be saved, it follows, that the atonement is made only for the elect. But
as this is contrary to the word of God, the doctrine that leads to this
conclusion must be false.

5. If time would permit, I might here notice at some length several
objections to this doctrine:--Such as that it takes away all motives to
repentance, by giving the sinner just cause to say, "If I am to be
saved, I shall be, do what I may; and if I am to be damned, I must be,
do what I can;"--it leads to the idea of infant damnation--it weakens
the zeal and paralyzes The efforts of devotion and benevolence--it
destroys the end of punishment, the original design of which was to
prevent sin, but which, according to this doctrine, was designed merely
for the glory of God; and sin was ordained for the purpose of giving God
an opportunity of glorifying himself in punishing it. These and others
might be dwelt upon with effect; but passing them all, I hasten to the
conclusion of my arguments, by urging only one more objection to the
system I am opposing.

6. We are suspicious of this doctrine, because its advocates themselves
seem studious to cover up and keep out of sight many of its features,
and are constantly changing their manner of stating and defending their
system. A little attention to the history of the controversy between
predestinarians and their opposers, will show the truth and force of
this objection. The charge that Calvinism covers up and keeps out of
sight some of its most offensive features, does not lie so much against
its advocates of the old school, as those of the modern. With the
exception of some logical consequences, which we think chargeable upon
the system, and which they were unwilling to allow, these early
defenders of unconditional election came out boldly and fearlessly with
their doctrine. If modern Calvinists would do the same, we should need
no other refutation of the system. But even the early supporters of
Calvinism, when pressed by their opponents, resorted to various forms of
explanation and modes of proof, and also to various modifications of the
system itself. Goodwin, in his work entitled, "Agreement of Brethren,"
&c, says:--"The question, as to the object of the decrees, has gone out
among our Calvinistic brethren into endless digladiations and
irreconcilable divisions," and then goes on to mention nine of these
"irreconcilable divisions" that prevailed at his day. At the present day
these school subtleties are not so prevalent, but numerous changes of a
more popular cast, and such as are suited to cover up the offensive
features of the system, are now introduced. The modern defence of this
doctrine consists chiefly in the dexterous use of certain ambiguous
technicalities which, in this theology, mean one thing, and in common
language another. And this is carried to such an extent, that it is now
a common thing to hear parishioners contend strenuously that their
pastors do not hold to predestination, when it is well known to some, at
least, that they do; and that they are exerting themselves to spread the
sentiment.

This is a subject, permit me here to say, on which I touch with more
reluctance than upon any other point involved in this controversy. To
represent the thing as it is, seems so much like accusing our brethren
of insincerity and duplicity, that nothing but a regard to truth would
induce me to allude to it. Whether this arises from an excessive but
honest zeal for their system, or whether it is supposed the cause is so
important, and at the same time so difficult to be sustained, that the
end will justify what, in other cases, would be judged questionable
policy, and hardly reconcilable with the spirit of a guileless
Christianity, is certainly not for me to decide. With respect to their
motives, they will stand or fall by the judgment of Him that trieth the
reins. But the course, at any rate, seems very reprehensible. Take one
instance:--All sinners, we are told, may come to Christ _if they will;_
and therefore they are criminal if they do not.--Now this mode of speech
corresponds very well with Scripture and reason. And who, that had not
been specially instructed in the dialect of this theology, would
understand that this mode of speech, according to Hopkinsian technics,
implied an inability and an impossibility of obtaining salvation? And
yet this is the fact: for though, according to this system, if we have a
will to come to Christ, we _may_, yet by a _Divine constitution_ it is
as much impossible to have this will as it is to break the decree of
Jehovah,--Hence all such modes of speech are worse than unmeaning; they
have a deceptive meaning. They mean one thing in this creed, and another
thing in popular language. It never occurs to the generality of mankind,
when they are told they may do thus and thus, _if they will_, that there
is a secret omnipotent influence impelling and controlling the will.
They suppose these expressions, therefore, mean that, independent of all
irresistible foreign influences, they have, within themselves, the power
to choose or not to choose: and yet the real meaning of the speaker
differs as much from this, as a negative differs from an affirmative.

In perfect accordance with the foregoing, is the common explanation that
is given to the doctrine of election and reprobation. Reprobation is
kept out of sight; and yet it is as heartily believed by modern
Calvinists, as it was by John Calvin himself. It is taught too; but it
is taught covertly. And yet when we quote old-fashioned Calvinism, in
its primitive plain dress, we are told _these are old authors;_ we do
not believe with them: "if we had lived in the days of our fathers, we
would not have been partakers with them in _their errors_," and yet
"they are witnesses unto themselves, that they _are the children_ of
them" who taught these errors. They recommend their writings, they
garnish their sepulchres, they teach their catechisms to the rising
generation; they say, even in their Church articles of faith, "We
believe in the doctrines of grace, as held and taught by the _fathers_
and _reformers_ in the Church,"--and especially do they hold to that
root and foundation of the whole system, "God hath, from all eternity,
foreordained whatsoever comes to pass."

Since I have alluded to Church articles, it will be in support of this
objection to say that the written creeds of Churches partake of this
same ambiguous character. They are either expressed in texts of
Scripture, or in doubtful and obscure terms; so that different
constructions can be put upon them, according to the faith of the
subscriber. And instances have been known, in which articles of faith
have been altered, again and again, to accommodate scrupulous
candidates. And yet their candidates for holy orders, and for
professorships, in their theological institutions, are required to
subscribe to a rigid Calvinistic creed. In this way it is expected,
doubtless, that the doctrine will be maintained and perpetuated, though
in other respects public opinion should be accommodated. How would
honest John Calvin, if he could be introduced among us, with the same
sentiments he had when on earth, frown upon the Churches that bear his
name! He would not only call them "silly and childish," but he would,
doubtless, in his bold, blunt manner, charge them with disingenuousness
and cowardice, if not with downright duplicity, for thus shunning and
smoothing over and covering up the more repulsive features of their
system. How would he chide them for shifting their ground, and changing
their system, while they nevertheless pretend to build on the same
foundation of predestination! He would, we believe, sternly inquire of
them what they meant by saying, all sinners, not excepting reprobates,
may come to Christ and be saved?--why they pretended to hold to
election, and not to reprobation?--how they could reconcile general
redemption with particular election?--and especially would he frown
indignantly upon that new doctrine, lately preached and defended, in
what has been supposed to be the head quarters of orthodoxy in New
-England, by which we are taught that derived depravity is not any taint
or sinful corruption of our moral constitution, but consists,
exclusively and entirely, in _moral exercise!_ But probably he would get
little satisfaction from those who profess his creed and bear his name.
They would tell him that the old forms of this system were so repulsive,
the people would not receive them; and that, being hard pressed by their
antagonists, they had thrown up these new redoubts, and assumed these
new positions, not only to conceal their doctrine, but if possible to
defend it. And as he could get little satisfaction of _them_, he would
get less from us.--Could we meet the venerable reformer, we would thank
him for his successful zeal and labour in the Protestant cause; but we
would expostulate with him for giving sanction and currency to his
"horrible decree." We would tell him he had committed to his followers a
system so abhorrent to reason, and so difficult to be supported by
Scripture, that they had been _driven_ into all these changes in hope of
finding some new and safe ground of defence; and that, while we
considered this as a striking and convincing argument against the
doctrine itself, we viewed it as auspicious of its final overthrow; that
these changes, refinements, and concealments, were symptoms that the
doctrine was waxing old, and was ready to vanish away.

But I must conclude this discourse. To your serious consideration,
Christian brethren, I commend the sentiments contained in it. Whatever
you may think of the discourse itself, I cannot fail, I think, of
escaping censure. Those who accord with the sentiments here defended,
will of course approve; and those who believe in predestination will of
course be reconciled to the preaching because God hath decreed it. It
hath come to pass that I have preached as I have, and therefore it is a
part of the Divine plan. It hath come pass that Arminianism exists, and
therefore this is a part of the Divine plan. We beg our brethren who
differ from us, not to fight against God's plan if they say it is right
for us to fight against it, because this also is decreed--I answer, This
only confirms our objections against the system, for it arrays the Deity
against himself. From all such inconsistencies, _may the God of truth
deliver us_. Amen.



NUMBER I.

REPLY TO THE CHRISTIAN SPECTATOR.[3]

This sermon had been before the public almost two years before it
received any notice, so far as the author is informed, from any of the
advocates of predestination. After the third edition was announced,
there were several passing acrimonious censures in some of the
Calvinistic periodicals, which did not affect the merits of the question
at issue between us and the predestinarians. At length the Rev. Mr.
Tyler, of this city, (Middletown, Conn.) published a sermon which was
evidently written in reference to the sermon on predestination. This
sermon of Mr. T. might have been noticed; but its general positions were
so indefinite, and its modes of illustration so vague, it seemed hardly
calculated to narrow the field of controversy or hasten a decision of
the question at issue. For example: Mr. T. defines election to be "the
eternal purpose of God to renew, sanctify, and save every man whom he
wisely can, and no others." With such a proposition there certainly can
be no controversy, for it leaves the subject more vague, and the point
in dispute more confused than before a definition was attempted. There
are two errors, the antipodes of each other, which, in all controversy,
and especially religious controversy, ought to be carefully guarded
against. The one is an attempt to make the subjects of difference more
numerous and consequential than they are in truth; and the other is an
attempt to cover up real differences under indefinite propositions and
ambiguous terms. Both these errors may be the result of honest motives:
the former may arise from a jealous regard to the truth, and the latter
from a love of peace. Both, however, are injurious; for neither does the
one promote the cause of truth, nor does the other secure a permanent
peace. Indeed, bringing antagonist principles into contact gives an
additional impulse to their repellent forces, so that a transient union
produces, in the end, greater discord. Though the controversy in the
Church, between Calvinists and Arminians, has been long and injurious;
yet, as an individual, I never can sign a _union creed_ of doubtful
terms and ambiguous articles. Nor can I deem it worth my while to
contend about such terms and articles. I should fear the searching
interrogatory of Him who questioned Job: "Who is this that darkeneth
counsel by words without knowledge?" In the present controversy there is
danger of this ambiguity also from a less commendable principle than a
love of peace, viz. an adherence to old symbols of faith to avoid the
imputation of a change; while, at the same time, to escape the force of
unanswerable argument, vague propositions, ambiguous definitions, and
equivocal terms are made the bulwark of defence. This principle was
alluded to in the sermon on predestination; and although it has given
great offence to some of the Calvinists, and is represented by the
author of the review which we are about to notice as being "utterly
unworthy of the attention of a person who is honestly inquiring after
truth;" yet it seems to me he knows little of his own heart who thinks
himself incapable of such a course. Nor does it seem _utterly unworthy_
of an honest inquirer after truth to mark the effects of arguments upon
systems, since the changes effected in those systems, by the arguments
urged against them, show the strength of the one and the weakness of the
other. If; therefore, I should undertake to answer Mr. Tyler's sermon,
my strictures would consist chiefly in pointing out its indefiniteness
and incongruity. But this, without convincing, might give offence. And
although I see no way of continuing the controversy, as the Calvinists
now manage it, without alluding to this course of the advocates of
predestination, yet I am happy to say there is less of it in the
"review" before us than is common in modern treatises on that subject.
Though it is a laboured article of about forty-three pages, yet it is
generally in a manly style, and sustained by a train of close and
skilful argumentation. It would afford me great pleasure to be able to
equal the reviewer's ingenuity, and still more to throw into my reply
the serenity of his spirit. I have little occasion, however, in the
present case, to dread his talents or lose my temper; for if I
understand the reviewer, though his essay bears upon it, if not the
"rugged," at least the decided "aspect of controversy" with my sermon,
he is nevertheless in principle an Arminian. I allude now more
especially to his views of predestination. On election there is
evidently a greater difference between us; and yet it strikes me when a
man discards Calvinian predestination, consistency would require that
the peculiarities of Calvinian election should be discarded also. At any
rate, as the settling of the former question will have a very strong
bearing upon the other, I shall confine myself in this article to
predestination. I am not certain that I understand the reviewer; but his
candour authorizes me to believe that he will explain himself frankly,
and correct me if I misunderstand him. If we are agreed on this point we
ought to know it, and give over the controversy. If we are not, let us
know the precise ground of difference. And in either case we shall be
the better prepared to pursue the question of election.

The question in dispute is simply this: What relation is there between
the decrees or purposes of God and the responsible acts of man? The
Arminian views on this question, as I understand them, are these: God,
as a Sovereign, in deciding upon his works, had a right to determine on
such a system as pleased him; but, being infinitely wise and good, he
would of course choose, in the contemplation of all possible systems, to
create such a one as, all things considered, would bring the most glory
to himself, and the greatest good to the universe. In infinite wisdom he
decided that such a system would be a _moral government_, consisting of
himself, as the supreme and rightful Governor, and of intelligent
subjects, having full and unrestrained power to obey or disobey the
mandates of their Sovereign. He foresaw that one of the unavoidable
incidents of such a government would be the possible existence of moral
evil; and, in glancing through the proposed system, he foresaw that
moral evil would _certainly_ exist, involving innumerable multitudes in
its ruinous consequences. He did not approve of the evil; he did not
decree that it should exist: but still evil was a remote result of a
decree of his: for although he foresaw that _if_ he made such free
agents, and governed them in the manner proposed, they would certainly
sin, yet he determined, notwithstanding this _certainty_, to make these
agents and govern them as proposed. He determined, however, that they
should be under no necessity of sinning, either by his decree, or by the
circumstances in which they should be placed; but if they sinned, it
should be their own free choice. As he foresaw they would sin, he also
determined upon the plan he would pursue in reference to them as
sinners, and arranged, in the counsels of his own infinite mind, the
extended concatenation of causes and effects, so as to make the "wrath
of man praise him," and deduce the greatest possible good from the best
possible system. Such, it is believed, is Arminianism--such is
Methodism--such is the doctrine of the sermon--and such are the dictates
of the Bible and of sound philosophy.

The next question is, What is the doctrine of the reviewer? He shall
speak for himself. On page 612, of the review, he asks the question,
"But in what sense are we to understand the position that he (God)
purposes the existence of sin?" He proceeds to answer: "Not necessarily,
in the sense of his preferring its existence in his kingdom to its
non-existence, &c. In affirming the doctrine of predestination we affirm
no more necessarily than that God, with the knowledge that these beings
would sin in despite of the best measures of providence and government
he could take, purposed to create them and pursue those measures, not
for the sake of their sin, but for the good which he nevertheless saw it
was possible to secure in his moral kingdom. This would be a purpose
with respect to the existence of sin, a purpose to permit its existence,
rather than to have no moral system."--Again, page 613: "Nothing more
(touching free agency) is implied in the purpose spoken of than a
CERTAINTY _foreseen_ of God, that if he creates and upholds that being,
and pursues wise and good measures of providence, he (the being) will at
a given time, fully choose in a given way." In page 612 he says, "God
confers on them (mankind) in their creation the powers of free agency,
and he uses _no influence_ in his providence or government to procure
their sin." Page 614, "He (God) most obviously has no will opposed to
his law, though with a foresight of their conduct he should purpose to
permit their sin, rather than dispense with the existence of a moral
kingdom." But it is useless to multiply quotations. Suffice it to say
that the reviewer's whole ground of defence against the arguments of the
sermon, on the question of predestination, is solely this Arminian
explanation of the doctrine of predestination. He acknowledges, nay
boldly asserts, in a strain "of rugged controversy" with his brethren
who may differ from this view of the subject, that there is no other
explanation by which the arguments of the sermon can be avoided--that
is, as I understand it, the only way to avoid the arguments against the
doctrine of Calvinian predestination is to give it up, and assume the
Arminian sentiment on this subject. If the reviewer does not mean this,
he will of course explain himself fully, and point out the precise
difference between his views and those of the Arminians. If, on this
subject, the reviewer is an Arminian, he has too much candor, I trust,
not to acknowledge it frankly, and too much moral courage to be afraid
of the name. If he is not, the cause of truth and his own consistency of
character imperiously demand an explanation. Until this point,
therefore, is decided, farther arguments on the merits of the question
in which we are supposed to be at issue, are useless.

I am not, however, quite ready to dismiss the review. I stated at the
commencement it was difficult to pursue this controversy without
alluding to the manner in which it had been conducted on the part of our
Calvinistic brethren; but that there was less ground for objection in
this article in the Spectator than in most others. There are some things
in this article, however, that I cannot justify. I will state them
frankly, though I trust in Christian friendship. I cannot approve of the
reviewer's use of terms: though, to my understanding, he has evidently
given the doctrine of predestination not merely a new _dress_, but a new
_character_, yet he more than intimates that it is the old doctrine with
only a new method of explanation; and seriously and repeatedly complains
of the author of the sermon for "confounding the _fact_ of God's
foreordaining the voluntary actions of men with this or any other
_solution_ of that fact or theory as to the _mode_ in which it comes to
pass." And so confident is the reviewer that he still believes in the
_fact_ of predestination, in the old Calvinistic sense, that in stating
his sentiments on this subject he uses the same forms of expression
which Calvinists have used, when their meaning was as distant from his
as the two poles from each other. He tells us, for instance, that "God
determined that the events which take place should take place in the
very manner in which they do, and for the very ends." Now if the writer
mean what the words naturally imply, then he believes that, in the case
of a finally impenitent sinner, God predetermined that all his sins
_should_ take place in the manner they did, and for the very end that he
might be damned! Again he tells us, "God, in his eternal purpose, has
predetermined all events." And, quoting from the Assembly's Catechism,
"God, from all eternity, did freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever
comes to pass," he tells us that this expresses essentially the views
entertained by the orthodox Congregationalists of New-England, among
whom, I suppose of course, he would include himself. Now, after what I
have said of the reviewer's Arminianism, I doubt not but some of my
readers will be startled at these quotations, and be ready to accuse me
of great credulity in the judgment I have formed of the writer's
sentiments. I shall exculpate myself, however, by saying, in the first
place, that if there is any contradiction in the writer's sentiments or
language, it is not my fault, but his; and if I should attempt to
reconcile them, perhaps the reviewer would not thank me for my
officiousness. Beside, after what has been said, I feel safer in
understanding the reviewer in an _Arminian sense_, because he and some
others take it very ill of me that I have represented them as
Calvinists. But, in fairness to the reviewer, it is presumed that he
will not consider himself justly chargeable with contradiction. He has
used these old terms, it is true, and thus has _subscribed_ to the
Calvinistic creed as positively as the staunchest Calvinist; but then,
let it be understood, he has _explained_ that creed, and defined the
terms, and protests against being held responsible for any other
construction than his own. Hence by God's predetermining that sin
_should_ take place, in the very manner, and for the very ends it
does--by God's foreordaining whatsoever comes to pass--he only means
that God foresaw that sin would certainly take place, and predetermined
that he would not hinder it, either by refraining from creating moral
agents, or by throwing a restraint upon them that would destroy their
free agency. In short, that he would submit to it as an evil unavoidably
incident to the best possible system, after doing all that he wisely
could to prevent it! This is _foreordaining sin!!_ This is
_predetermining_ that it _should be!!!_ I cannot but express my _deepest
regret_ that a gentleman of the reviewer's standing and learning should
lend his aid and give his sanction to such a perversion of language--to
such a confusion of tongues. We do not complain of the doctrine
contained in the _explanation;_ but we protest, in the name of all that
is pure in language, in the name of all that is important in the
sentiments conveyed by language, against such an abuse of terms. Alas
for us! When will the watchmen see eye to eye! when will the Church be
at peace! while our spiritual guides, our doctors in divinity, pursue
this course? By what authority will the reviewer support this
definition? Do the words _predestinate_, or _foreordain_, or _decree_
mean, in common language, or even in their radical and critical
definition, nothing more than _to permit--not absolutely to hinder--to
submit to as an unavoidable but offensive evil?_ The reviewer certainly
will not pretend this. Much less do they mean this when used in a
magisterial or authoritative sense, to express the mind and will of a
superior or governor toward an inferior or a subject.--What is the
_decree_ of a king? What is the _ordinance_ of a senate? What is the
official determination of a legislative body? Let common sense and
common usage answer the question. Not a man probably can be found, from
the philosopher to the peasant, who would say these words would bear the
explanation of the reviewer. Yet it is in this official and
authoritative sense that theologians, and our reviewer among them, use
these terms. The Assembly's Catechism, as quoted by himself, says, "God,
from all eternity, _did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own
will, freely and unchangeably ordain_," &c. Now it would be a gross
insult to common sense to say of such language as this, in the mouth of
an earthly potentate, that the sovereign meant by this nothing more than
that he permitted the existence of certain unavoidable, and in
themselves, highly offensive evils in his kingdom, because he could not
remove them without embarrassing the essential operations of his
government. There is not, probably, a clearer case in the whole range of
philology.

But the use of these terms by those who believe as I understand the
reviewer to believe, is the more unjustifiable, because they are used by
most Calvinistic authors in a different sense.--Why, then, should the
reviewer, believing as he does, continue to use them in the symbols of
his faith? Different persons might give different answers to such a
question. For one, I would prefer he should answer it himself.

I cannot approve of the reviewer's censures upon my manner of treating
the doctrine of predestination. He accuses me of confounding the
_doctrine_ itself, with _modes_ of explanation. He says they are
perfectly distinct; and though some may have been unfortunate in their
modes of explanation, and though he acknowledges my arguments bear
against such, yet the _fact_ of the doctrine itself is not thereby
affected. His mode of explanation, for example, he thinks untouched by
the arguments of the sermon. But his mode of explanation, as we have
seen, turns the doctrine into _Arminianism_. And it would, perhaps, be
no difficult matter to show, that any explanation of the doctrine, short
of doing it away, would be exposed to all the weight of the arguments
urged in the sermon. But the sermon was never written to oppose those
who hold to the decrees of God in an Arminian sense. Why then does the
reviewer complain of the sermon? Why does he so "deeply regret" that the
author of the sermon "should come before the public with an attack on
the faith of a _large part_ of the Christian community, conducted in a
way so obviously erroneous and unjust?" The sermon was against
Calvinism, not Arminianism. It is true, the reviewer may say, the sermon
alludes, in some parts, to the Calvinism of New-England, and therefore
he felt himself implicated. But he certainly was not unless he is a
New-England _Calvinist_--unless he believes that "God foreordains
whatsoever comes to pass," in the proper sense of those terms. Indeed,
it seems that Calvinism, in its proper character, is as obnoxious to the
reviewer, as to the author of the sermon; and the former seems to have
taken this opportunity to show the _nakedness_ of the system, and bring
into notice a better doctrine. If so, is it safe that the reviewer
should still accord to them their old symbols of faith? And is it just,
that the author of the sermon should be held the defendant on the
record, when the execution is issued against Calvinism itself? In answer
to the former question, I would say, it is utterly _unsafe_, and never
will be approved of, I believe, by Arminians. With respect to the latter
question, if it is _safer_ to attack Calvinism in this indirect way, I
will not object, though it may seem at present to my disadvantage. But I
cannot see that it would be safer--an open bold front always ends best.
What if it should subject the reviewer, and the theological doctors in
New-Haven generally, to the charge of heresy? Still they ought not to
shrink from their responsibilities--they occupy a commanding influence
among the Churches and over the candidates of their theological school,
and that influence should be openly and decidedly directed to
discountenance error. They should remove it, root and branch. Especially
should they discard those old symbols of faith, which are not only in
themselves, in _their true and proper meaning_, a reflection upon the
clerical character, and a _black spot_ upon an otherwise orthodox creed,
but are also especially obnoxious, because they are the very articles
which the great body of the Calvinists have maintained, in a sense
widely different from that of the reviewer. At the head of these stands
Calvin, the author of the system, in the Protestant Church. Calvin, who
says, "I will not scruple to own that the will of God lays a necessity
on all things, and that every thing he wills necessarily comes to pass."
"Adam fell, not only by the _permission_, but also by the _appointment_
of God. He not only _foresaw_ that Adam would fall, but also _ordained_
that he should." "The devil and wicked men are so held in on every side,
with the hand of God, that they cannot conceive or contrive or execute
any mischief, any farther than God himself doth not _permit_ only, but
_command_--nor are they held in fetters, but compelled also, as with a
bridle, to perform obedience to those commands." Calvin, it seems, was
far from thinking that _appointment_ only meant _permission_, or that to
_ordain_ only meant certainty _foreseen_. In this he was correct: in
this he has been followed by a host of writers down to the present day,
and copied in numerous ecclesiastical symbols, in different parts of
Christendom; and does not the reviewer know that these terms are
understood by Hopkins and Emmons, and all the Calvinists of that school,
in a sense widely different from his explanation, and in a sense, too,
much more in accordance with the _proper meaning_ of the terms? Does he
not know that a great majority of the Calvinists of the United States,
and perhaps in New-England, even understand these terms, as indeed they
ought to be understood, when used in reference to sin, as expressing a
preference of sin, in that part of the Divine plan where sin occurs, to
holiness in its stead? Indeed, as I understand the reviewer, from the
days of John Calvin down to the present hour, there is, on this point,
between the great body of Calvinists and himself, almost no likeness,
except in the use of words. Theirs is one doctrine--his another. Why,
then, does he oppose the opposers of Calvinism, and thus keep error in
countenance? Especially, why does he hail from that party, and hoist
their signals, and then, alter _seeming_ to get the victory, by
espousing the very cause of the assailed, encourage the _Calvinists_ to
triumph, as if _their_ cause had been successful? Is this justice to the
author of the sermon? Is it the best way to promote truth? But I
forbear. The reviewer's subsequent explanations may remove these
difficulties. At any rate, the cause of truth will doubtless advance.
The appearance of this review has given additional strength to the
sentiment, Calvinism "is waxing old, and is ready to vanish away." The
dogma that "God has predetermined all events, and elected (in a
Calvinistic sense) out of our guilty world all who shall be heirs of
salvation," withers at the touch of advancing truth, and is fast losing
credit in the Christian Church.

Since writing the above, I have seen an inquiry of a correspondent in
one of the Calvinistic papers, in these words, "Why do our Calvinistic
writers retain the words which seem so sadly to perplex our Arminian
brethren, when it is certain that we do not attach the signification to
them which they always pretend?" and then instances in the word
"foreordain." The editor, in reply, gives as a reason for using these
words, that they are Scriptural; and seems to deem it necessary that
they should _persist_ in this use until we submit. This reply of the
editor reminded me of a remark of Mr. Tyler, in his sermon already
alluded to: "The Calvinist contends that God resolved, from eternity, to
permit all the sins and miseries which were to take place; and this he
calls, in the language of the Bible, _foreordination_." Now, not to stop
here, to show that no true Calvinist would ever call _foreordination_
and _permission_ the same thing, for Calvin has, as we have seen,
clearly distinguished the two words from each other, I beg the privilege
of adding a thought or two on this idea of Scripture authority for the
use or these terms. For if it is only because the Scriptures use these
words in this sense, that they _persist_ in using them, I think we may
easily settle this question. Let it be shown that the Scriptures use
"foreordination," or "predestination," in the sense of mere
_permission--not absolutely hindering_. Again: let _one passage_ be
shown in which it is said, God "predestinates" all things, or
"foreordains" whatsoever comes to pass. If this cannot be done, how
futile, how more than absurd is it, to talk about using these words,
because the Scriptures use them! To use Scripture words out of the
Scripture sense, and then appeal to Scripture to sanction this use, is
as sad a perversion of the Scriptures as it is of logic. Indeed, to give
such a meaning to the word predestinate, is at once to take away the
principal scriptures quoted by the reviewer, and others, to prove
Calvinistic election. See Eph. i, 5; ii, 10; Rom. viii, 29. Does
predestination in these passages mean merely _to permit_, or not _to
hinder?_ and do these passages teach a personal election to eternal
life? Is this all the Calvinists mean by the _election_ of _sovereign
grace_, not of man, nor of the will of mans but of God? Alas! for the
elect! If man does not elect himself, and God _only predestinates_, that
is, _permits--does not hinder_ his election; who, we ask, will elect
him? How does error destroy itself! These gentlemen may take which
ground they please; they may either acknowledge that Bible
predestination means an _efficient purpose of God_ to accomplish an
object, and then meet the sermon on the issue there proposed; or they
may interpret these words as the reviewer has, and then give up those
passages which they consider their strong hold, in favour of Calvinian
election. In either case their system must suffer serious loss. Nothing
could be more unfortunate, I think, than this appeal to the Bible to
sanction such an abuse of terms. As to the word foreordain, I do not
recollect that it occurs in our translation. Jude 4, has "before of old
ordained," &c, but it is in the original very different from the word
rendered predestinate. The allusion is to characters that were
proscribed for their sins, and designated for deserved punishment. The
original for predestinate, proorizo, is used in only one place, so far
as I can find, with any direct reference to a sinful act, Acts iv, 28.
This passage is quoted by the reviewer. But the determination here
spoken of, he himself informs us, relates to "the purpose of God to make
an atonement for the sin of the world, by means of the death of Jesus
Christ." Hence the predetermination of God, in this instance, probably
refers to the _work_ of atonement, without including therein any special
decree in respect to the means of the suffering. Christ _could_ have
suffered, even unto death, in the garden without any human means. But
inasmuch as these men had the murderous purpose, God "chose to leave
Christ to their power," &c, therefore _decreed_ the atonement, but
_permitted_ the means. This seems to be the most rational construction.
But whatever Calvinists may think of this passage, the Scriptural use of
the word is clearly on the side of its _proper_ meaning--an
_authoritative ordinance_ that the thing predestinated _shall be_.

I will avail myself of this opportunity to correct one or two errors of
the reviewer, respecting the sentiment of the sermon, which had escaped
my notice. He says, my "view of predestination is a determination of God
to produce a given result by his _own immediate_ and _efficient_
energy." This is a mistake. I said nothing about _immediate energy;_
this is an essential misrepresentation of the sermon. Again: "On Dr.
Fisk's principle, it is impossible for God to use the voluntary agency
of any creature, to accomplish any valuable end in his kingdom, and yet
leave that creature accountable for his conduct." This is so manifestly
incorrect and unjust, that I am sure I need only call the attention of
the reviewer to it a second time, to secure a correction from himself.



NUMBER II.

A PROPOSITION TO CALVINISTS.

The communication below contains a proposition from Dr. W. Fisk, which,
however much we dislike theological controversies, we believe is
appropriate and interesting at this time. Such a discussion, under such
arrangements, will give the merits of the controversy to both sides; and
will, at least, convince all of one truth--that the Methodist Episcopal
Church seeks not concealment from the world or her members, as charged
by her adversaries. But it will develop a still more important truth,
and that is, what are the settled and definite opinions of the old or
the new school in the Calvinistic Churches. It is known to all the
world, that there is great difficulty in ascertaining what are the
theological opinions of those ancient Churches of the land. They seem to
be as far apart from each other as they are from Arminianism; and their
replies and rejoinders to each other are as severe as if directed
against us. The discussion must be interesting and profitable, carried
on by two such persons as Dr. Fisk and his opponent, and under the
steady supervision, as to temper and manner, of third parties as
proposed.--Eds.

I have just received a pamphlet of about forty-eight pages, containing a
series of letters, in answer to my sermon on predestination and
election. These letters are written by the Rev. David Metcalf, of
Lebanon, Connecticut, and purport to be an answer, not only to the
doctrinal part of the sermon, but to the "charges," as the writer is
pleased to call them, contained in the sermon, and published afterward
in a specific form, first in the Connecticut Observer, and then in the
Christian Advocate and Journal.

It will be recollected by your readers, that I pledged myself to
vindicate my statements against any responsible person, who, with his
own proper signature, would come forward and deny them: or if I failed
to support them, I would retract what I had written. This pledge Mr.
Metcalf calls upon me to redeem; not indeed by bringing forward my
proofs, or by making a reply; but, having thrown in his plea, he
supposes that the cause is decided, and has himself made up the
judgment, and issued the execution, and forthwith comes forward, and
claims his damage. His words are--"Of the author of the sermon we claim
a public acknowledgment of his errors, and make justice and equity the
ground of our claim." Again, "If Dr. F. makes no public retraction from
the ground taken in his sermon--if after he shall receive these letters,
[!!] remembering also what is said in the Christian Spectator's review
of his sermon, he shall allow another copy of it to be printed, I think
he will find it difficult to convince any intelligent candid man, that
he is not guilty of breaking the ninth commandment," &c. The intelligent
reader, who has studied human nature, will know how to make suitable
allowances for the dogmatical and premature decisions, and high claims
contained in the foregoing extracts. It is not an uncommon thing, that a
zealous advocate succeeds in _convincing himself_ of the truth of his
cause; but utterly fails with respect to all others. I do not say, that
this writer will not gain his argument; but it requires more
"foreknowledge" than I am disposed to accord to him, to affirm this as a
"certainty." I demur against this hasty manner of making up the
judgment. I wish to be heard in defence of my statements, and have
objections also to bring against his statements, and supposed proofs and
arguments.

In the first place, I object to him, that he has not come out and joined
issue specifically and directly on any one of my "charges," but talks
for most part in general terms, about the unfairness, injustice, and
misrepresentations of the sermon. This circumstance would, of itself,
free me from any obligation to notice these letters, on the ground of my
pledge in the Observer. But yet, as I feel the most perfect readiness to
discuss this subject, and as I hope the cause of righteousness may be
served thereby, I will willingly proceed in this controversy, both as to
doctrine and policy, provided we can secure some suitable public medium,
through which to prosecute the discussion. And on this point Mr. M.
complains bitterly of the former editors of the Advocate and
Journal--for he had applied, it seems, for the privilege of having his
letters inserted in that paper, and was refused, on the ground that "the
sermon was not published in the Advocate, and therefore justice did not
require that its answer should be." Now, since these letters are
professedly an answer to the _whole sermon_, the editors, I think, were
perfectly consistent with their former statements, in refusing to
publish them. If Mr. M. had confined himself to the charges in the
Observer, the editors would undoubtedly have given the subject a place
in the columns of the Advocate: as it was, however, I think the charge
of injustice and unfairness made against the editors by Mr. M. is
entirely gratuitous and _unjustifiable_. If it was expected to produce
an _effect_ on the public, by such a complaint, I think such an
expectation will be disappointed in all places where the subject is
understood. And that this was the expectation appears evident from
another charge against Methodist preachers, in the following words:--"It
is supposed to be the common sentiment, if not 'the common talk in our
land,' that the Methodist preachers have a strong aversion against their
hearers reading our writings. The reason of this, in part, is supposed
to be, that they choose to have their people receive all their knowledge
of our creed from their statements of it, instead of ours; lest they
should be convinced, by our arguments, of the truth of our belief." Now
this charge we wholly and positively deny, and challenge the writer for
the proofs of what we know to be, not only an ungenerous, but an unjust
allegation. Nothing can be farther from the whole genius of Methodism
than this. Does not the reverend gentleman know, that a great portion of
our members in New England are those who were once members of
Calvinistic congregations? Does he not know that they were trained up in
these doctrines from their infancy, and have heard them explained and
defended from their earliest recollections? Does he not know that
Methodism has made its way against the impressions of the nursery, the
catechetical instruction of the priest and the school master--the
influence of the pulpit and the press, and in maturer age against the
still stronger influence of academies and colleges? Does he not know,
also, that all this has been done in this generation? And shall we now
be told that Methodists examine but one side of the question? How
astonishing such a charge, from a man who can make any pretension to a
knowledge of ecclesiastical matters in our country! Does not this writer
know, also, that the editors of the Advocate, and others, have called
loudly, and almost continually, for information upon this subject, that
we might know what the Calvinistic standards are, and ascertain what
Calvinism is? and shall we now be told, that Methodists are ignorant of
the Calvinistic faith, and, what is worse, the preachers strive to keep
them in ignorance, and that with the base purpose of keeping them from a
conviction of the truth! We say, if Calvinism is essentially what it was
from five to thirty years ago, we know its character as well as we ever
can know it. If we do not understand it now, it is either because we
have not _natural ability_ to understand it, (and therefore. Calvinism
itself being judge, we are not criminal,) or it is because the teachers
of Calvinism have not had _natural ability_ to make it plain. But if
Calvinism is not essentially what it was, we ask what it now is? If it
is changed in the hands of its supporters, how much has it changed? Is
it Calvinism still, or has it lost its identity? In what does the
identity of Calvinism consist? Shall we take the Rev. Mr. Metcalf's
answer to these questions? Shall we take the Christian Spectator's
answers? Mr. M. appears fully to agree with the Spectator, for he makes
frequent reference to it, with great apparent approbation. And yet two
numbers of this periodical have been issued since my reply to the review
of my sermon in that work, in which reply I stated my understanding of
the reviewer's doctrine of predestination, and requested to be informed
if I was incorrect; and neither my reply nor my request has been
noticed. And yet, let it be understood, that in the last number there is
a very laboured article, to show that Dr. Taylor does not differ
essentially from the orthodox Calvinistic faith heretofore received.

It is also known, that though Drs. Woods, Griffin, Tyler, Green, and
various others, come out and charge a portion of their brethren with a
serious and dangerous dereliction from the Calvinistic faith, yet the
accused, in their turn, strenuously maintain that they preserve the old
landmarks unremoved, and the essential principles of Calvinism
unimpaired; and that it is a calumnious charge to say they have departed
from the faith of the party.

How shall we judge in this matter? If we think, from our understanding
of their writings, that some of them have changed their views, and we
ask them if they have, they are silent. If their brethren charge them
with changing, they deny it; and, standing up before the world and
before the Churches, and before their God, pronounce _deliberately_ and
_emphatically_, the old symbols of faith, as a test oath to prove their
orthodoxy. Should we doubt their repeated asseverations? Mr. M., or
somebody else, might write another pamphlet to screw us into repentance
and confession, for bearing false witness against our neighbour. But if
we hold them to the old doctrine, which we have had a good opportunity
of learning, from our youth up, we are accused of misrepresentation, and
of bearing false witness. None but the advocates of the New-Haven
divinity have, to my knowledge, taken a public stand against my sermon;
and _they_ oppose it because _they_ say it is a misrepresentation of
their doctrine.

This, therefore, seems to us to be the state of the case with respect to
these gentlemen--We make a representation of Calvinism as we have found
it, and have heretofore understood it--they object, because this is not
their belief, and therefore we break the ninth commandment! Their own
brethren charge _them_ with a departure from the old doctrines, and they
deny it! and charge them in turn with bearing false witness! In the
midst of our perplexity on this subject, while we are looking every way
for light, up comes Mr. M. and tells us, we are unwilling our people
should know what Calvinists believe!! Is this generous, or just? We
repel the charge, and demand proof. And in the mean time, as a farther
proof that the charge is unfounded, I will, Messrs. Editors, with your
consent and approbation, make a proposition to Mr. Metcalf. It is
certainly desirable, that both Calvinists and Methodists should hear
_both sides_. Mr. M. seems very desirous to enlighten the Methodists.
This is very well. But we also wish to enlighten the Calvinists. To
accomplish this, the discussion on both sides should be put into the
hands of the people on both sides. If, then, some reputable and
extensively circulated Calvinistic periodical will publish my sermon,
and the discussion which _has_ arisen, or _may_ arise out of it, on both
sides, the Christian Advocate and Journal will publish Mr. M.'s letters
and the discussions which shall follow; provided always, that it shall
be submitted to the respective editors, whether the pieces are written
in respectful and becoming style and language; and provided also, that
the Calvinistic editor shall, by consenting to this arrangement, he
considered as thereby acknowledging, that Mr. Metcalf is a suitable man
to manage the controversy in behalf of the Calvinists, and that you,
Messrs. Editors, by consenting to the arrangement, will thereby consent
that you are willing to trust the controversy in my hands, to be managed
in behalf of the Methodists. To give an opportunity for the Calvinistic
periodical to be prepared, I shall wait a reasonable time, when, if the
offer is not complied with, I shall want the privilege, perhaps, of
occupying the columns of the Advocate, by the insertion of a few numbers
touching the present Calvinistic controversy, both as relates to their
own differences, and also as relates to the general question between
them and us.



NUMBER III.

INDEFINITENESS OF CALVINISM.

THE readers of the Christian Advocate and Journal will recollect the
proposition, made to the Rev. David Metcalf, in the 8th No. of the
present volume, on the subject of his review of my sermon. This
proposition has not been complied with on the part of Mr. M., and
according to the following extract from the New-York Evangelist, no
compliance can be expected:--

"We have seen," says the editor of the Evangelist, "in the Advocate,
since Mr. Metcalf's work was published, a letter from Dr. F., in which
he shows his desire that the discussion shall still go forward. There is
one condition he exacts, however, which we think impracticable. It is,
that some person should be designated, by a sort of common suffrage, as
the champion of Calvinism. Now the truth is, Calvinists, as a class, are
rather remarkable for thinking for themselves; and of course, while
there are great principles on which, as a class, they all agree, there
are many things which will be held or stated differently, by different
minds. Consequently, we can, each of us, defend ourselves, and defend
Calvinists as a class; notwithstanding, each one may think his fellow
holds some errors, and therefore, in his contest with Calvinism, Dr. F.
must assume to himself the responsibility of selecting those doctrinal
points and modes of statement which distinguish _Calvinists as a class_.
And when he has found these principles, we hope he will either confute
or embrace them."

I have copied the above for the farther notice of the public, not only
as a remarkable paragraph in itself, but also as having an important
bearing on the present controversy. There are several things in it
worthy of special notice.

In the first place we see, if other editors think with this one, and
that they do, we are left to infer from their not offering their
periodicals for the controversy, there is no hope that my proposition
will be accepted. We then have the reason--because there is one
impracticable condition. But why impracticable? The editor tells us,
"Dr. F. exacts that some person should be designated by a sort of common
suffrage to be the champion of Calvinism." I cannot believe the editor
means to misrepresent me; and yet he has done it. My words are,
"Provided that the Calvinistic _editor_ shall, by consenting to this
arrangement, be considered as thereby acknowledging that Mr. Metcalf is
a suitable man to manage the controversy on the part of the Calvinists."
Here is nothing said about a "sort of common suffrage." In case of
compliance by Mr. Leavitt, or any other editor, the only vote to be
polled and counted would be his own. Not a very extensive suffrage this!
And if Mr. L. thinks the condition impracticable, it must be owing to
_moral inability_ existing in his own mind, growing out of the belief
that Mr. Metcalf _is not a suitable person_ to manage this controversy.
Hence it is well I took the precaution I did; for Mr. M. is a stranger
to me; and I do not wish to engage in a controversy on this subject with
any man who is not, by his class, considered responsible. Perhaps Mr.
Leavitt knows of some one, who would be suitable, in his judgment, and
who would accept of the offer; or perhaps he himself would be willing to
engage in the discussion. I do not wish to confine it to Mr. M.; nor do
I wish to be considered in the light of a general challenger who is
seeking an adventure. The subject is an important one, and I am willing
to discuss it with any candid responsible man. We were most unjustly, as
I believed, accused of keeping our people in ignorance of Calvinism, and
of preventing them from reading on the other side, for the base purpose
of preventing them from being convinced of the truth. To render the
subject fair and equal, therefore, and to wipe off this aspersion, I
made the proposal; and if Mr. M. is not a suitable man, let some other
be found.

But we are informed farther in this paragraph, that one great difficulty
in complying with my condition is, that "Calvinists, as a class, are
remarkable for thinking for themselves," &c. If the editor designs to
say, as the natural construction would imply, that the whole class are
remarkable, in their character as Calvinists, for thinking and believing
differently and independently of each other, then his proposition is a
contradiction. They, _as a class_, are remarkable _for not being a class
at all_, having no properties or qualities in common! His argument also
would require this construction, because he is showing why no one could
be the proper champion of the class, for the reason that, as a class,
they did not think alike. If _Calvinism_ be a general term, it includes,
in its extension, all those individuals or sub-classes of individuals,
and only those, that hold certain doctrines in common, and it embraces
all those doctrines, and only those that are held in common by the
class. If, therefore, there is any such class, then most certainly they
think alike in all those things that constitute them a class; and by
consequence, any one of the number, otherwise competent, would be
qualified to represent and defend the class as such, however much he
might differ from many of "his fellows," in other things. If, therefore,
there is any force in the argument, that it is impracticable for any one
of the number bearing the name, to become the champion of _the class as
such_, because they differ so among themselves, it must arise from the
fact, that there are no "great principles" held in common among them,
and, of course, there is _no class_. All the writer says afterward,
therefore, about "great principles in which they all agree," is mere
verbiage, signifying nothing. For if we give it any meaning, it would be
a contradiction of what he had stated before, and a complete
nullification of the only argument adduced as a reason for not complying
with my proposal. There is another reason why I think the above a fair
view of this subject. In the same paragraph it is said, "Therefore, in
his contest with Calvinism, Dr. F. must assume to himself the
responsibility of selecting those doctrinal facts and modes of statement
which distinguish _Calvinists as a class_." This is more unreasonable
than the requisition of Nebuchadnezzar, when he commanded the wise men
to _make known the dream_, as well as the interpretation. Would an
intelligent and ingenuous man, such as we have a right to expect a
religious editor to be, give such an answer, under such circumstances,
if he could have told us what Calvinism is? We have been accused, not by
Mr. Metcalf only, but by Calvinists of the old school, and the new
school, and _all the schools_, that we misrepresent them, that our
preachers make it their business to misrepresent them,--that my sermon
was a most scandalous misrepresentation, and that we studied to keep our
people ignorant of what Calvinism is. When this is replied to, by
entreating and conjuring those who bear the name of Calvinism, to tell
us what it is; and when we offer to discuss the subject, in their own
periodicals, and give them an opportunity to discuss it in ours, and to
inform our people, in their own way, on this doctrine--a death-like
silence on the subject reigns throughout the whole _corps editorial;_
until at length the Evangelist speaks,--We cannot comply; we each and
all, as a class, are so remarkable for thinking for ourselves, it is
impracticable for any one to state and defend those doctrinal facts
which _distinguish us as a class_, and therefore Dr. F. must assume to
himself the responsibility of selecting them!! If Calvinists cannot
agree in their own system, and cannot trust any of their fraternity to
state and defend it in behalf of the class, why do they accuse us of
willful misrepresentations, in stating their system? Why, in short, do
they not begin to doubt whether, _as a class_, they have any system? It
is time for those who bear the name to know, and for the public to be
distinctly informed, whether there is any thing _real_ represented by
the term Calvinism? If there is, then, whether the term is a common or a
proper noun? If it is a common noun, or a general name, then, what are
the qualities, the properties, or doctrines designated by it? If no one
can tell,--if those who "write about it, and about it," week after week,
think it _impracticable_ to define or describe those doctrines for the
class, because they think so differently, of course it follows, if the
name is retained, it is not a general, but a _proper name_, and belongs
only to individuals. And though it has been assumed by many individuals,
yet it has in each case an individual definition, which by no means
enters into the definition of the term, as assumed by any other
individual. And therefore it is as inconsistent to talk about the _class
of Calvinists_, as it is to talk about the class of Johns or Joshuas,
and as absurd to infer that two men are in any of their real
characteristics alike, because each is called _Calvinist_, as to argue
that the editor of the Evangelist and Joshua, the son of Nun, belonged
to the same class, because both are called Joshua. And this appears to
me to be very nearly the true state of the case. Calvinism, as
designating a class, has always been rather vague and unsettled in its
definition, from the days of John Calvin himself. And this was one of
the offensive objections brought against it in my sermon--an objection,
however, that has been abundantly confirmed by recent events. As I wrote
and published of another doctrine some years since, so I may say of
Calvinism now. It is a proteus that changes its shape before one can
describe it--an _ignis fatuus_, that changes its place before one can
get his hand on it. And here I will stop to say, It will avail nothing
for any one to take offence at this statement. It is not because I
dislike men who are called Calvinists, that I thus speak. I know many of
them personally, and esteem them highly, but of their doctrine, and
their system, and their name, I must speak freely. And the best
refutation they can give, is to come out if they can, and define and
explain their system. I care not what shape it is presented in; I am
willing to meet it. If it puts on an Arminian character and dress, like
the review in the Christian Spectator, I will only ask the privilege of
baptizing it anew, and giving it a legitimate name. But as there seems
now little hope of being permitted to meet it in the manner proposed, it
only remains that I proceed, according to promise, to "occupy the
columns of the Advocate with a few numbers, touching the present
Calvinistic controversy, both as relates to their own differences, and
as relates to the general question between them and us."

I cannot but think this an important moment to look into this subject.
The signs of the times indicate that the spirit of inquiry is abroad,
and the old platforms are shaken. In this breaking up of erroneous
systems, there is danger of extremes and extravagancies, more to be
dreaded, perhaps, than the old errors themselves. Hence, the necessity
for every man who _has_ the truth to be on his guard against the
currents, new and unprovided for, that may otherwise drive him from his
safe moorings: and hence the necessity also, that he who has weighed
anchor, and is afloat upon the unexplored sea of philosophic speculation
should be aware of the rocks and the quicksands on the opposite shore.
An abler hand than mine is certainly needed on this occasion; such a one
I hope may be found. But in the mean time I will, as I am able, say a
_few things_, with the sincere prayer that I and my readers may be led
into all truth.



NUMBER IV.

SKETCH OF THE PAST CHANGES AND PRESENT STATE OF CALVINISM IN THIS
COUNTRY.

In the former No. it was seen that the indefiniteness and mutability of
the Calvinistic system had thrown a kind of irresponsibility around it;
which renders this controversy, in many respects, extremely
unsatisfactory. This might, at first, lead to the conclusion, that
farther discussion would be useless. On farther thought, however, it
_may_ appear, that this very circumstance will render the controversy
both easier and more promising. This diversity of opinions has produced
serious discussion among the predestinarians themselves, and has thrown
the system open to public view, and driven its advocates to a clearer
statement of their respective opinions. The effervescence, in short,
growing out of this excitement, has led to a more distinct analysis of
the system, and of course to a clearer discovery of its constituent
parts. Their arguments against each other, and the logical consequences
which they urge against each other's views, are, in many cases,
precisely the same that we should advance, and have often urged, in
opposition to predestination. Much of the work, therefore, is prepared
for us, and brought forward in a way to produce an effect among
Calvinists themselves, where we could not be heard.

To understand this subject however fully, and to follow out this
discussion advantageously, it will be necessary to glance at the
different changes and modifications of the Calvinistic system; and to
take a brief survey of the present state of the parties.

The religious faith of our puritanical fathers is too well known to need
a delineation here. This faith was at an early day defined and formally
recognized, in the Cambridge and Saybrook platforms. The first
refinement (improvement it can hardly be called) upon this ancient
faith, was the metaphysical theory of Dr. Hopkins. The leading dogmas of
this theory were, that God was the _efficient cause_ of all moral
action, holy and unholy; and that holiness consisted in disinterested
benevolence. Insomuch, that the answer to the question, "Are you willing
to be damned?" was deemed a very good criterion by which to judge of a
religious experience. While the doctrine of predestination was in this
manner _going to seed_, and bearing its legitimate fruits, in one
direction, it received a remarkably plausible modification in another.
The atonement, which was formerly limited to the elect, was now extended
to all; and the invitations of the Gospel, instead of being restrained,
as before, to the world of the elect, were extended to the world of
mankind. But as it would be useless to hold out invitations to those who
could not accept of them, another refinement was introduced, and man was
found to possess a natural ability to receive salvation, although he
laboured under an invincible moral _inability_, which would for ever
keep him from Christ, until drawn by irresistible grace. This discovery
led to other refinements in language, so that a kind of technical
nomenclature was formed, out of words in popular use, which words, by an
accompanying glossary, were so defined as to correspond with the
Calvinistic system. Thus, "You can repent if you will," meaning,
according to the technical definition, "You can repent when God _makes_
you willing," and so of the rest.

This theory, sustained as it was by Dr. Hopkins, Dr. Emmons, and others,
gained many proselytes, and seemed likely, at one time, to become the
universal creed. Its metaphysical abstrusities and distinctions gave it
an interest for the student; and its plausible and commonsense terms
gave it popularity with the people. In the mean time, however, several
causes conspired to introduce a great revolution in the religious
sentiments of many, which, as it has had a very important influence in
modifying Calvinism itself; I must here stop to notice; I allude to the
introduction of Unitarianism and Universalism. The proximate causes of
the introduction of these sentiments were, among others, probably the
following. The Antinomian features of old Calvinism had introduced into
the Churches a heartless Christianity and a very lax discipline. It was
natural, therefore, when religion had come, in point of fact, to consist
chiefly in external performances, for its votaries to seek a theory that
would accord with their practice. Unitarianism was precisely such a
theory. It is also to be noticed, that the state of formality and
spiritual death that prevailed, was greatly increased by the withering
alliance which then existed between the Church and civil government.
This revolution was undoubtedly hastened also by the ultraism, on the
one part, and the technical inconsistencies on the other, of the
Hopkinsian theory. The elements had been long in motion, and at length
they united in an array of numbers and influence that wrested the
fairest portions of their ecclesiastical domain from the orthodox
Churches of Mass., and turned them over, together with the richly
endowed university of the state, into the hands of the Unitarians.

In Connecticut, Unitarianism, as that term is commonly understood among
us, has not prevailed. There is, I believe, but one Unitarian pastor,
properly so called, in the state. This sentiment, however, prevails very
extensively in this and all the other New-England states, as well as in
many other parts of the union, under the name of Universalism; a
sentiment which differs but little from Socinianism, and had its origin
doubtless from the same source. About half a century since, a
Calvinistic clergyman, as he was supposed to be to the day of his death,
left a posthumous work, which was published, entitled, "Calvinism
Improved." It was merely an extension of the doctrines of unconditional
election and irresistible grace to all instead of a part. From the
premises, the reasoning seemed fair, and the conclusions legitimate.
This made many converts. And this idea of universal salvation, when once
it is embraced, can easily be moulded into any shape, provided its _main
feature_ is retained.--It has finally pretty generally run into the semi
infidel sentiments, of _no atonement--no Divine Saviour--no Holy Ghost_,
and _no supernatural change of heart;_ as well as "no hell--no devil--no
angry God." It may be a matter of some surprise, perhaps, to a
superficial observer, or to one not personally acquainted with the
circumstances of the case, why, in leaving Calvinism, these men should
go so far beyond the line of truth. But in this we see the known
tendency of the human mind to run into extremes. The repulsive features
of the old system drove them far the other way. It ought to be
remembered, also, that there were few, if any, who were stationed on the
medium line, to arrest and delay the public mind in its fearful recoil
from the "horrible decree." Had Methodism been as well known in
New-England fifty years ago, as it now is, it is doubtful whether
Universalism or Unitarianism would have gained much influence in this
country. Late as it was introduced, and much as it was opposed, it is
believed to have done much toward checking the progress of those
sentiments. And perhaps it is in part owing to the earlier introduction,
and more extensive spread of Methodism, in Connecticut, that
Unitarianism has not gained more influence in the state. This is
undoubtedly the fact in the states of Vermont, New-Hampshire, and Maine,
where Methodism was introduced nearly as early as those other
sentiments. The result has shown that the foregoing supposition is
corroborated by facts in those cases where the experiment has been
tried. These remarks may not now be credited, but the time will come,
when the prejudices of the day are worn out, that the candid historian
will do the subject justice. But to return--though Unitarianism and
Universalism are believed to be dangerous errors, yet, as is often the
case, they have contributed much, doubtless, to detect the errors and
modify the features of the opposite system. Simultaneously with them,
the Methodists have engaged in opposing the Calvinistic dogmas. This
close examination and thorough opposition, with such other causes as may
have cooperated in the work, have driven some of the peculiarities of
the Hopkinsian theory into disrepute, more suddenly even than they rose
into credit. The sublimated doctrine of disinterested benevolence was so
like "an airy nothing," that even the speculative minds of the shrewdest
metaphysicians could not find for it "a local habitation," in heaven or
on earth; and the almost blasphemous dogma, that God was the efficient
cause of sin, was more abhorrent, if possible, than even the horrible
decree of reprobation. Both, therefore, with the exceptions hereafter
mentioned, disappeared. The former, being of an ethereal character,
silently evaporated into "thin air;" but the other, being of a grosser
nature, and withal more essential to the system itself, _settled to the
bottom_, and is now rarely visible, except when the hand of controversy
shakes up the sediment. The doctrine of universal atonement, however,
was retained, and the theological vocabulary was not only retained, but
enlarged and improved. So that from that day to this, we hear but little
of the doctrine of reprobation, or of the decrees of God, but much is
said of God's "electing love," his "Divine sovereignty," and "gracious
purposes." By which is meant, according to the glossary, the doctrine of
unconditional election and reprobation, and of absolute predestination.
The scriptures, also, which used to be quoted to prove the direct
efficiency of God, in producing sin and securing the condemnation of the
reprobate, receive a different explanation, varying but little, if any,
from the Arminian interpretation of those passages. It cannot be
doubted, I think, but there has been quite a change in the views of the
great body of the Calvinists--and yet not so great and so thorough a
change as appearances and terms might at first view seem to indicate. It
is not easy to _eradicate_ old prejudices. And it is often found that
the mind will cling to the first principles of a favourite system, even
after the other parts are so modified as that the new principles would
supplant the old, if suffered to be carried out into a consistent whole.
In every such case, much labour and argument will be spent in trying to
unite the old with the new; but in every instance the rent becomes
worse. This leads to a kind of vacillating policy, and an ambiguous
course of argument, accompanied with reiterated complaints, that the
opposers of the system misunderstand and misrepresent it. And it would
be no wonder if the constant friction in the incongruous machinery
should chafe the mind, and lead to a dogmatic and an impatient spirit.
How far this corresponds with the existing facts, in the Calvinistic
controversy, others can judge. In my own view, the peculiar
circumstances of the case, connected with the known character of the
human mind, fully account for the _apparent_ tergiversation and changing
of argument, in this controversy, without criminating the _motives_ of
our predestinarian brethren, as some have unjustly accused me of doing.
The different parts of the system have lost, in a measure, their
original affinities, and yet they have some partial and irregular
attractions, which lead them to unite in unnatural and grotesque forms.
And as there is no common consent and settled mode of operating among
the many who are experimenting upon the materials, there are various
sectional and individual formations, which are inconsistent with each
other. And their incongruity is the more apparent from the unanimous
effort (which I believe is the only work of union in "the class") to
amalgamate each and every variety with the old substratum of the
system,--"God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass."

The completion of this historical sketch, together with a view of the
present state of the Calvinistic parties, may be expected in the next
number. After which it is proposed to proceed to an examination of the
doctrines in dispute.



NUMBER V.

SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

One modification of Calvinism remains to be mentioned. It is known by
the name of the "New Divinity." The theological doctors connected with
Yale college are the reputed authors of this system. It is evident,
however, that the tendency of the Calvinistic theory has been in this
direction for a number of years. The "New Divinity," so alarming to some
of the Calvinists, is only the ripe fruits of the very plants which they
have long cultivated with assiduous care. And why should they start back
at results which they have long laboured to produce? This theory, in the
first place, is an attempt to make the doctrine, and the technical terms
alluded to, coincide. In the second place, it is designed, by a new
philosophy of predestination, to get rid of the "logical consequences"
that have always pressed heavily upon the old system. Finally, it is a
device to reconcile the doctrine of depravity with the former current
sentiment, that man has _natural ability_ to convert himself and get to
heaven without grace. The two pillars of the new system are, 1. "Sin is
not a propagated property of the human soul, but consists wholly in
_moral exercise_." 2. "Sin is not the necessary means of the greatest
good;" or, in other words, "Sin is not preferable to holiness in its
stead." The Calvinistic opposers of this theory tell us that these
sentiments have been held and taught to some extent for the last ten
years. They were more fully and more openly announced, however, by Dr.
Taylor, of the theological school belonging to Yale College, in a concio
ad clerum preached Sept. 10th, 1828. From the time of the publication of
this sermon the alarm has been sounded, and the controversy has been
carried on. The opposers of the new doctrine call it heresy; and in a
late publication they seem to intimate that Dr. T. and his associates
are nearly if not quite as heretical as the author of the sermon on
predestination and election. The doctor and his friends, on the other
hand, strenuously maintain that they are orthodox; and to prove it, they
repeat, again and again, "We believe that God did, for his own glory,
foreordain whatsoever comes to pass." The Christian Spectator, an ably
conducted quarterly journal, is devoted chiefly to the defence of this
theory, aided by the New-York Evangelist, and several other minor
periodicals, and by a very respectable body of the clergy. What
proportion, however, have embraced this system is not known; but many,
both in and out of Connecticut, have espoused the cause with great zeal.
The contest waxes warmer each year. Against the theory, Dr. Woods, of
the Andover theological seminary, Dr. Griffin, of Williams college, Dr.
Tyler, of Portland, the Rev. Mr. Hervey, of Connecticut, and several
others have entered the lists of controversy; and last of all, a
pamphlet, supposed to be the joint labour of a number of clergymen, has
been published, in which the New Divinity is denounced as heresy, a
formal separation of the Churches is predicted, and a withdrawal of
patronage from Yale college is threatened on the ground that "Yale will
become in Connecticut what Harvard is in Massachusetts." It is
uncertain, however, whether those ultra measures will be responded to by
the great body of the clergy in New-England. There is a party which
still adheres to the old--I may say, perhaps, to the _oldest_
modification of Calvinism in this country. This party are for
maintaining the old landmarks at all hazards, rightly judging that these
palliations and explanations of the system will ultimate in its
destruction. They are not numerous, but still respectable as to numbers
and talents. They are sustained in Boston by the Boston Telegraph, so
called, a weekly periodical, which does not hesitate to go the whole
length--_logical consequences and all_. Witness the following quotation
from a review of my sermon, in the number for Jan. 23d. Speaking of the
charge in the sermon, that Calvinism makes God the author of sin, the
writer says:--"The word author is sometimes used to mean _efficient
cause_. Now I am willing to admit that those scriptures which teach that
God has decreed the sinful conduct of men, do imply that he is the
efficient cause of moral evil. For his own glory and the greatest good
he said, _Let there be sin, and there was sin!!!_" The following is
another specimen of Calvinism from the same periodical. If any man
"affirms that man really chooses, and that his acts of will are caused
by his own free, voluntary, and efficient mind, then he is _no
Calvinist_." In this last quotation, as well as in the preceding, there
is the most direct opposition to Dr. Taylor, since he maintains, if I
understand him, that man's is an independent agency--that the human mind
is the originator of thought and volition. Thus are these two branches
of the Calvinistic family directly at variance with each other. And, in
fact, the Telegraph and its supporters are not only at variance with the
newest divinity, but with all the different degrees of _new, newer,
newest_, and denounce them all as heresy.

The present advocates of predestination and particular election may be
divided into four classes:--1. The old school Calvinists. 2.
Hopkinsians. 3. Reformed Hopkinsians. 4. Advocates of the New Divinity.
By the reformed Hopkinsians I mean those who have left out of their
creed Dr. Hopkins' doctrine of disinterested benevolence, Divine
efficiency in producing sin, &c, and yet hold to a general atonement,
natural ability, &c. These constitute, doubtless, the largest division
in the "class" in New-England. Next, as to numbers, probably, are the
new school, then Hopkinsians, and last, the old school. These
subdivisions doubtless run into each other in various combinations; but
the outlines of these four sub-classes are, I think, distinctly marked.

The preceding sketch has been confined mostly to the theological changes
in New-England; but it will apply, to a considerable extent, to other
parts of the nation. The Presbyterian Church, by reason of its
ecclesiastical government, is more consolidated, and of course less
liable to change than the independent Congregational Churches of the
eastern states. But the Presbyterian Church has felt the changes of the
east, and is coming more and more under their influence. It is now a
number of years since the "triangle," as it was called, was published in
New-York. This was a most severe and witty allegory, against the dogmas
and bigotry of old Calvinism. From this work this old theory has
obtained the epithet of "triangular." Whenever a man advocates the
doctrine of limited atonement, imputed sin, and imputed righteousness,
he is said to be "triangular." These old triangular notions are giving
place very rapidly to modern improvements. And although the most
strenuous opposition has been made in the General Assembly, in different
publications, and elsewhere, yet the votes in the last General Assembly
show, I think, that the whole Church is yielding herself up to the
resistless march of innovation. It may be doubted whether the state of
New-York is not emphatically the strong hold of the New Divinity, so far
as popular sentiment is concerned; and whether, indeed, with the
exception of New-Haven, there is not the greatest moral influence
enlisted there, for the propagation of the new theory.

Thus have I endeavoured to glance over the various modifications and
present characteristics of that mode of Christian doctrines called
Calvinism. Here a few suggestions present themselves, which, from their
relation to the present controversy, I will now set down.

It seems singular that, differing as they profess to, so materially, on
many points, each individual of each sub-class should feel himself
injured whenever Calvinism, under this common name, is opposed in any of
its features. The sermon on predestination was against _Calvinism_, and
lo! all parties rise up against the sermon. And yet, whether it object
to Calvinistic policy or to Calvinistic doctrine, the different parties
accuse their opponents of being guilty of the charge, but they
themselves are clear. I cannot think of a single important position
assumed by the sermon against predestination and election, which is not
sustained by Calvinists themselves in opposition to some of their
brethren; nor yet of a single charge against their policy, for their
changes and ambiguous methods of stating and defending their doctrines,
which has not been reiterated by professed Calvinists themselves against
their brethren. Thus the sermon is sustained by the Calvinists
themselves, and yet they all condemn it! If _some_ Calvinists think that
the objections of the sermon lie against some modifications of their
system, is it not possible that these objections have a more _general_
application than any of them seem willing to acknowledge? For example:
it is objected to predestination that it "makes God the author of sin,
destroys free agency, arrays God's decrees against his revealed word,
mars his moral attributes, puts an excuse into the mouth of the
impenitent sinner, implies unconditional reprobation, makes God partial
and a respecter of persons, necessarily limits the atonement," &c. These
charges, say the Calvinists, are very unjust, ungenerous--in fact, they
bear false witness against our neighbours. This is said by Mr. Metcalf,
and by others of the New-Haven school. And yet what says the Spectator,
the organ and oracle of that school? It says of Dr. Tyler, and of others
who oppose the peculiar views of Dr. Taylor, comprising, as we have
seen, the great majority of Calvinists, that their views "limit God in
power and goodness"--"make the worst kind of moral action the best"--"if
carried out in their legitimate consequences, would lead to
universalism, to infidelity, to atheism"--"they confound right and
wrong, and subvert all moral distinctions"--"according to these views,
mankind are bound to believe that they shall please and glorify God more
by sin than by obedience, and therefore to act accordingly"--"nothing
worse can be imputed to the worst of men than this theory imputes to
God"!!![4] Has the author of the sermon said more than this, and worse
than this, of Calvinism? And shall he be accused by these very men of
bearing false witness against his brethren? And let it be observed
farther, in justification of the sermon, that these charges in the
Spectator are made by men who have been brought up at the feet of the
Calvinistic doctors, and have themselves grown up to the character and
rank of doctors in theology. They know the system thoroughly; they have
made it the study of their lives, and have they testified to the truth
respecting this theory? _So then has the author of the sermon_. Such is
the testimony on the one side; and on the other we have decided
predestinarians acknowledging, as an article of their creed, what in the
sermon was urged as only a logical consequence. According to this
system, says the sermon, "the _fiat_ of God brought forth sin as
certainly as it made the world." Hear the Boston Telegraph:--"God, for
his own glory and for the good of the world, said, _Let there be sin,
and there was sin!_" Now I beg the reader to look at this subject for a
moment. For brevity's sake we will call the Boston Telegraph and its
supporters No. 1; the Andover theological seminary and its supporters,
which constitute by far the larger body of predestinarians in
New-England, No. 2; and the New-Haven divines and their supporters No.
3. The sermon charges predestination with making God the author of sin.
No. 2 says this is false: I neither believe it, nor is it to be inferred
from my premises. _It is true_, says No. 1: I am willing to admit that
God is the efficient cause of sin. He said, Let there be sin, and there
was sin. _It is true_, responds No 3, that all who hold and explain
predestination as Nos. 1 and 2 explain it, are exposed to the full force
of the objections in the sermon--against such views "the arguments of
the sermon are unanswerable." No. 2, in vindication, says that No. 1 is
on the old plan--very few hold with him in these days. And as for No. 3,
he is already a rank Arminian; and if he would be consistent, he must
give up unconditional election, and embrace the whole Arminian theory.
Thus do they destroy each other, and confirm the doctrine of the sermon.
And shall we still be told that we do not understand this doctrine? Have
anti-predestinarians misunderstood this from John Calvin's day to the
present? Does honest No. 1 misunderstand it? Does well instructed No. 3
misunderstand it? What then is Calvinism, that cannot, through the lapse
of centuries, make itself understood either by friend or foe? Is not
this, of itself, a suspicious trait in its character? Let us quote a
Calvinistic writer, whose sentiments are much in point, though aimed at
the New Divinity:--"It is a serious ground of suspicion," says this
writer, "that Dr. Taylor has failed, according to his own repeated
declarations, to render his speculations intelligible to others. It must
be granted that a man of sense, who is acquainted with the power of
language, can, if he is disposed, make himself understood." "Some of the
most intelligent men in the country have utterly failed to compass Dr.
T.'s meaning in argument: so that he declares again and again, I am not
understood--I am misrepresented. Who under such circumstances can
refrain from suspicion?" "Another suspicious circumstance in the case
is, that Dr. Taylor expresses himself in ambiguous terms and phrases,
which, though they are designed to influence the mind of a reader,
afford him the opportunity to avoid responsibility." See pamphlet by
Edwardian, pp. 28 and 29. If this is justly said of Dr. Taylor's
_recent_ theory, what shall we say of a system the advocates of which,
"according to their repeated declarations, have not been able to render
their speculations intelligible," after the theory has had exhausted
upon it the highly cultivated intellects of hosts of expositors through
successive generations? "Who, under such circumstances, can refrain from
suspicion?" especially since these advocates have learned "to express
themselves in ambiguous terms and phrases which, though they are
designed to influence the mind of a reader, afford them an opportunity
to avoid responsibility." To Calvinism it may truly be said, "Out of
thine own mouth will I judge thee." Let not the author of the sermon
then be accused of bearing false witness, when his testimony is
predicated on principles which Calvinists have laid down, and is also
corroborated by men of their "own class."

Will it be said, All this is not argument. I answer, The sermon, it is
supposed, contains arguments--arguments which professed predestinarians
themselves tell us are unanswerable against the prevailing modes of
stating and explaining the doctrine. Now let them be answered, if they
can be. Let them be answered, not by giving up predestination, in the
Calvinistic sense, and still professing to hold it--not by attempting to
avoid the logical consequences, by giving the system the thousandth
explanation, when the nine hundred and ninety-nine already given have
made it no plainer, nor evaded at all the just consequences, so often
charged upon it; and when these are answered, it will then be time
enough to call for new arguments.

Having prepared the way, as I hope, by the preceding numbers, for the
proper understanding of the controversy; and having, by the remarks just
made, attempted (with what success the reader must judge) to repel the
charges of misrepresentation and bearing false witness, made against me,
as the author of the sermon which gave rise to the controversy, I am now
prepared, in my next number to commence an examination of some of the
questions of doctrine, connected with this discussion. In doing which,
my object will be, to let "Greek with Greek contend" so far as to show,
if possible, the inconsistency of both, and then present the doctrine
which we believe to be the true system, and show how it stands untouched
by the conflicting elements around it as the immovable foundation of the
Church of God. I shall begin with the Divine purposes including
foreknowledge; then take up human agency and responsibility; and last,
regeneration, connected with the doctrine of human depravity, Divine and
human agency, &c. May He that said, "Let light be, and light was,"
"shine in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of
God, in the face of Jesus Christ."



NUMBER VI.

PREDESTINATION.

Definitions are the foundations of reasoning. Hence in any reply to my
sermon on predestination and election it was natural and fair that the
first inquiry should be, Are the definitions correct? The definition of
predestination assumed in the sermon was, that unalterable purpose and
efficient decree of God, by which the moral character and responsible
acts of man were definitely fixed and efficiently produced. On this
point the sermon joined issue. To this definition most of the notices
and reviews, to the number of six or seven, which I have seen, have
taken exceptions. The review in the Boston Telegraph, however, is not of
this number.--That, as has already been noticed, agrees with the charge
in the sermon, that "the _fiat_ of God brought forth sin as directly as
it made the world." We have only to leave those Calvinists, who accord
to that sentiment, to struggle, as they can, against the arguments of
the sermon--against the common sense of the world--against their own
convictions of right and wrong--and, I may add, against their own
brethren of "the class," some of whom have already publicly denounced
the sentiment as "horrid blasphemy." At this day of light, in which
_naked Calvinism_ is abhorred by most of those who bear the name of
Calvinists, it is hardly necessary to give a formal answer to such a
review. We approve of the _logical consistency_ of these men--we admire
the moral courage that, from assumed premises, pushes out a theory to
its legitimate results without flinching; but we are astonished at the
_moral nerve_ that can contemplate such results with complacency. For
myself I confess when I see this naked system of Calvinism fulminating
the curse of reprobation in the teeth of the miserable wretch whose only
crime is, that his God has made him a sinner, my heart recoils with
indescribable horror! Let him contemplate this picture who can. I covet
not his head or his heart.

Of others who have expressed their views of the sermon there are two
classes: 1. The conductors of the Christian Spectator and those who
favour their views; and 2. Those who in a former number were called
Reformed Hopkinsians. The latter comprehend the larger portion of
Calvinists in New-England, and probably in the United States. Their
views on predestination shall be noticed in another number. At present I
shall direct my remarks to the letters of Mr. Metcalf and to the first
and second notices of the sermon in the Christian Spectator. And here
let me say, once for all, that I do not consider either of these
gentlemen, or any who think with them, responsible for the doctrine of
predestination as stated and opposed in the sermon. This I hope will be
satisfactory. If these gentlemen should ask me why I published my sermon
in terms that included Calvinists generally, without making the
exception in their favour, I answer, 1. The views of Dr. Taylor and
"those who believe with him," on this particular point, were unknown to
me at the time. Nor is this strange, for it is but lately that those
views have been fully developed--never so fully before, probably, as in
Dr. Fitch's review of my sermon, already alluded to. 2. It never
occurred to me that any man or any set of men holding, in respect to
predestination, the doctrine of James Arminius, John Wesley, and the
whole body of Methodists, would call themselves Calvinists!! This is all
the apology I have, and whether or not it is sufficient, the public must
judge. By acknowledging the views of these gentlemen to be Methodistical
on the subject of predestination, I by no means would be understood to
say this of their system as a whole--the objectionable parts will be
noticed in their place. But whatever is true is none the less so for
being mixed with error. There are some things, however, to be regretted
and exposed in the manner in which these reviewers have expressed their
doctrine of predestination, and also in the manner in which they have
opposed the sermon and Arminianism generally. They complain of my
definition of predestination. Mr. M. thinks it is bearing false witness.
The reviewer thinks it is obviously erroneous and unjust. And yet they
themselves acknowledge that the sermon is an unanswerable refutation of
predestination as held by Dr. Tyler and others who oppose their views.
But what is a matter of the greatest surprise is the determination with
which these gentlemen persist in holding up the idea that their views
essentially differ from ours. Dr. Fitch, in his answer to my reply,
says:--

"There are three views, and only three, which can be taken of the Divine
purposes in relation to a moral kingdom:--

1. That God, foreseeing the certainty of the conduct of his creatures,
purposes merely to _treat them in a corresponding manner_.

2. That he, first of all, resolves _what the conduct of his creatures
shall be_, and next resolves on such measures as _shall bring_ them to
that conduct.

3. That, foreseeing the conduct which will certainly ensue on the
different measures it is possible for him to take, he purposes to
_pursue those measures which will certainly lead to the best possible
results_."

"The first view is that which we understood to be advocated by Dr. Fisk,
in the sermon we reviewed." The writer goes on farther to say that his
objection to this is, "that it is utterly deficient"--"that it passes
over in silence all those acts of God in creation and government by
which he determines character." Of course he means to say that the
_sermon_ advocated a theory which left out of the question all the
Divine influence in determining character. How strangely he has
misunderstood the sermon, let those judge who have read it. It teaches
that God hath fixed the laws of the physical and moral world: that he
has a general plan, suited to all the various circumstances and
contingencies of government; that God gives the sinner power to choose
life; that his grace enlightens and strengthens the sinner to seek after
and obtain salvation. In short, it must be obvious that no man who
believes in the Divine government and in Gospel provisions can leave
this influence out of his system. I will therefore venture upon the
following declaration, which it is presumed Dr. Fitch cannot gainsay,
namely, Dr. F. _never saw a man and never heard of a man_ that was a
believer in revelation, who left out of his creed all that conduct in
God which determines character. That such was not the character of my
creed, the reviewer might have learned in my reply to his first review,
if he could not from the sermon. In the reply it is said, "As God
foresaw men would sin, he also determined upon the plan he would pursue
in reference to them as sinners, and arranged in the counsels of his own
infinite mind the extended concatenation of causes and effects so as to
'make the wrath of man praise him,' and _deduce the greatest possible
good from the best possible system_."--And yet, strange to tell, in his
answer to my reply, the reviewer says as decidedly as if it were an
undisputed truth, "Dr. Fisk advocates the first," (meaning the first
view of the Divine purposes given above.) "We brought forward the
third," (meaning the third view.) "Now since the third upholds the fact
of foreordination, free from the objections of Dr. F., we have succeeded
in upholding the fact which Dr. F., as an Arminian, denies, and which
Calvinists maintain." Whereas he ought to have said, for he had my
statement for it directly before him, "Dr. Fisk advocates the third,"
and then he might have added, "Now since the third destroys the
Calvinistic doctrine of foreordination, therefore in assisting Dr. Fisk
to sustain the third we have succeeded in disproving the doctrine of
foreordination, which Arminians deny, and Calvinists have attempted to
maintain." In fact, as the reviewer says, there can be but those three
views taken of the Divine purposes; and since neither I nor any other
Arminian ever believed in the first, and as Dr. Fitch himself
acknowledges we are directly opposed to the second, it follows that we
must believe the third. But the third is the reviewer's creed: therefore
on this point he is an Arminian, or we are Calvinists.

That the reviewer's theory on predestination is about the same with the
Methodists' appears evident from the following quotations from Mr.
Wesley, in which it will be seen that not only does Mr. Wesley's creed
include all the Divine influence that goes "to determine character," but
also that God "pursues measures which will certainly lead to the best
possible results;" nay, that he does all that he _wisely can_ to exclude
sin from the moral universe. These are points for which the advocates of
the New-Haven theory strongly contend. Let them see, then, how in this
matter they have identified themselves with Arminians.

"To God," says Mr. Wesley, in his sermon on Divine providence, "all
things are possible; and we cannot doubt of his exerting all his power,
as in sustaining so in governing all that he has made. Only he that can
do all things else cannot deny himself--he cannot counteract himself or
oppose his own work. Were it not for this, he would destroy all sin,
with its attendant pain, in a moment. But in so doing he would
counteract himself, and undo all that he has been doing since he created
man upon the earth. For he created man in his own image--a spirit endued
with understanding, with will or affections, and liberty, without which
he would have been incapable of either virtue or vice. He could not be a
moral agent, any more than a tree or a stone. Therefore (with reverence
be it spoken) the Almighty himself cannot do this thing. He cannot thus
contradict himself or undo what he has done. But were he to do this, it
would imply no wisdom at all, but barely a stroke of omnipotence.
Whereas all the manifold wisdom of God (as well as all his power and
goodness) is displayed in governing man as man--as an intelligent and
free spirit, capable of choosing either good or evil."

Again. In the sermon entitled, The Wisdom of God's Counsels: "In the
moral world evil men and evil spirits continually oppose the Divine
will, and create numberless irregularities. Here therefore is full scope
for the exercise of all the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of
God in counteracting all the wickedness and folly of men and all the
subtlety of Satan, to carry on his glorious design, the salvation of
lost mankind." Now let me ask the reviewer, is this leaving out all the
Divine influence that determines character? Is not this maintaining
that, "in view of the measures that it was possible tor God to take, he
purposes to pursue those measures that will certainly lead to the best
possible result?" Is Dr. Fitch ignorant of what Methodists hold to? or
is he unwilling to identify himself with us? Ignorant of _my_ views he
could not be, I think, after reading my reply.--Why, then, does he
persist in talking of a difference where there is none?

Mr. Metcalf has taken a more correct view of the subject. After reading
my reply, he says, "if you will preach this doctrine to your Methodist
brethren thoroughly and forcibly, and sustain it with the strong
arguments on which the doctrine rests, if they do not call it Calvinism,
I will acknowledge they do not understand the term as I do. And if you
will preach in the same way to Calvinists, if they too do not call it
Calvinism, I will grant that even _they_ too sometimes differ about
terms. If you will take this course, I think when you shall see what the
doctrine will be called, the astonishment you express that it should be
regarded as Calvinism will wear away." Now how surprised Mr. M. will be
when he learns that we have always preached this doctrine as thoroughly
and forcibly as we could, and neither Methodists nor Calvinists ever
suspected it was Calvinism until he and those who believe with him
incorporated it into their creed, and _for some reason_ unknown to us,
called it Calvinism! And how surprised we all are to find that he who
was so anxious to be heard in the Christian Advocate and Journal, for
the purpose of informing Methodists what Calvinism was, and of
disabusing their minds of erroneous conceptions on this subject, himself
understands neither Methodism nor Calvinism!! Yet so it is, Calvinists
themselves being judges. Dr. Tyler, Dr. Griffin, Dr. Woods, the author
of "Views in Theology," the author or authors of the pamphlet by an
Edwardian, all condemn the New-Haven theory of predestination as
anti-Calvinistic, and as being essentially Arminian.

Dr. Fitch acknowledges that we agree in some of the first principles. In
reply to my answer he says, "It was certainly our intention to place
this contested doctrine on grounds which our Wesleyan brethren _could
not_ dispute, and it gives us pleasure to find that in this we have had
complete success!" There are two things a little remarkable connected
with this sentiment. One is, that the writer should so express himself
as to convey the idea that _he_ has traced up the subject to first
principles with much care, and, to his _great satisfaction, has
succeeded in convincing us_ of the correctness of his premises. Whereas
it is evident from the passages already given from Mr. Wesley, and from
the universal sentiments of the Wesleyan Methodists, that the New-Haven
doctors have _at length_ come on to our ground; and it gives _us great
pleasure_ to find that, from _some source_, arguments in favour of our
system have with them met with _complete success_. The other thing that
strikes me as remarkable is, that after the reviewer had acknowledged
that we were agreed in these first principles, he should immediately go
on to say, as has already been mentioned, that I and the Arminians hold
to the first view he has given of the three possible views that might be
taken of predestination, and deny the third; when at the same time the
third contains _those very first principles_ in which he says we are
agreed. This looks so much like a contradiction, almost in the same
breath, that I really know not what other name to give it. If these
gentlemen are disposed to come into the fortress of truth, and assist us
in manning our guns and working our artillery against error, we
certainly can have no objection. We are fond of help. But they must
pardon us if we revolt a little at the idea of their taking the lead in
this business, and accounting us as mere novices who have only learned,
and that too from themselves, some of the _elementary principles_. Nay,
they must not wonder if we refuse outright to be crowded from our
present commanding position in the fortress of truth, and to be placed
in front of our own batteries, merely to give our _new allies_ an
opportunity to blow us up _with our own ordnance!_

In reply to my objection to the reviewer that "it was an abuse of terms
to call the _permission of sin, not hindering it_, &c, a foreordination
or purpose that it shall be," &c, he has said, "If an evil, unavoidable
and hateful, is allowed by the Creator to come into his kingdom, in one
place and time rather than any other, and is thus _particularly disposed
of_ by his providence, because it is a disposition of it the best
possible, is there no purpose of God in relation to the thing? In doing
his own pleasure, in this case, does he not decide on the fact of the
entrance of sin into his kingdom just when and where it does?" Now I beg
the reader to go over this last paragraph once more, and then say if he
does not agree with me in the following sentiment, namely, there rarely
occurs in any writer an instance of so complete an evasion of a
contested question as is here exhibited. Is there no difference between
a "purpose in relation to a thing," and the foreordaining or decreeing
that the thing shall be? And pray what is meant by God's "deciding on
the fact of the entrance of sin into his kingdom?" You can make it mean
almost any thing. But taking the whole of Dr. Fitch's theory on the
subject, he means to say, doubtless, that since the entrance of sin was
unavoidable, God determined to restrain and control it so as to suffer
it to do the least harm possible--preferring holiness in its stead in
every place where it occurs. And this is foreordaining sin!! This is
predestination!! Let us illustrate this by a case in point. Cicero, a
Roman consul, knew that Cataline was plotting treason against the
commonwealth. Cicero perceived that this _hated treason_, though
unavoidable, was not wholly unmanageable. He determined therefore to
"make a disposition of it the best possible." He took his measures
accordingly. By these Cataline and the principal conspirators were
driven out of the city, and compelled, before their plans were matured,
to resort to open hostilities. Thus the citizens were aroused and
united, and the state saved. In this way the evils of the conspiracy
were suffered to come upon the commonwealth "in one place and time
rather than any other," and "were thus _particularly disposed of_" by
Cicero. In this case the consul had a special "purpose about the thing."
He determined to drive the conspirators into open war, rather than
suffer them privately to corrupt all they could, and then fill the city
with fire and slaughter. The question now is, and it is put not to the
reviewer, for he still persists in the use of his terms, but it is put
to the common understanding of community, Did the Roman consul ordain or
foreordain, or predestinate the treason of Cataline? If by common
consent all answer, No, such a statement is a libel upon the consul; and
if, in addition to this common understanding of the term, the
theological use of the term will not bear such a construction; if the
great body of the Calvinists of the present day, and of New-England
even, use the term in a different sense, it remains to be seen how the
New-Haven divines can stand up before the world and say, "We believe God
hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass."

Before closing this number I ought, perhaps, to say a few things, if not
in the defence, at least explanatory of that course of reasoning in the
sermon in which I undertook to show that foreknowledge is antecedent to
foreordination. To this Mr. Metcalf and others have objected because,
say they, God must first have determined to make moral agents before he
could know they would sin: therefore his knowledge or his foreknowledge
in this case must depend upon his determination. This objection, at
least so far as the New-Haven theology is concerned, is founded in
error. What says Dr. Fitch? "That God, _foreseeing_ the conduct which
will certainly ensue on the different measures it is possible for him to
take, _purposes_," &c. The sermon says, "God knows all that is, or will
be, or might be, under any possible contingency," and that "his plan is
the result of his infinite knowledge--the decrees of his throne flow
forth from the eternal fountain of his wisdom." Where is the discrepancy
here? God saw this general plan, as a whole, before he resolved upon its
adoption; (I speak now of the order of thought;) he saw, if he made free
moral agents, and governed them as such, sin would ensue. And he also
saw what he might do in that case to counteract and overrule it to his
own glory and the good of the universe.--And he judged, in his infinite
wisdom, that such a moral universe, notwithstanding the sin that would
certainly result from it, would, on the whole, be the best; and
therefore upon this _foreknowledge_ of the whole, God _founded_ his
determination to create the universe, and govern it as proposed. God's
foreknowledge of the _certainty_ of any event in this universe, it must
be acknowledged, depended upon his determination to create and govern
the universe. And in _this sense_ his purpose was _causa sine qua non_,
a cause without which any given event would not have happened, and
therefore could not have been foreseen as _certain_. But then it should
be remembered that there was a foreknowledge anterior to all this, and
which was, in fact, the foundation of all subsequent instances of
knowing or decreeing. It is therefore true in the sense in which the
sentiment is advanced and sustained in the sermon, that "God foreknows
in order to predestinate, but he does not (primarily) predestinate in
order to foreknow."

To conclude: from the view taken in this number it appears that one
class of Calvinists acknowledge that predestination is chargeable with
all that was included in my definition of it. Another, and a rapidly
increasing class, have given up Calvinian predestination, and, in all
but the name, have in that point come on to the Methodist ground. There
is still another class, who are evidently not Arminians, but still deny
the correctness of my definition of their doctrine. They say they are
not chargeable with such a doctrine, either directly or by inference. In
the next number, therefore, an attempt will be made to sustain from
their own positions this definition.



NUMBER VII.

PREDESTINATION, CONTINUED.

From my last number the reader will perceive that there are two classes
of Calvinists, so-called, with whom we have no need to contend; with one
there is no cause of controversy, because they have given up the
doctrine; and with the other there is no _need_ of controversy, because
their plain manner of avowing the doctrine, _logical consequences and
all_, renders any arguments against it unnecessary. Its character is too
monstrous and abhorrent to gain much credit. There is yet another and a
larger portion, who, while they reject the views both of the New-Haven
divines and of the old school and Hopkinsian Calvinists, are
nevertheless strongly opposed to the issue proposed in the sermon. They
deny, as appears from some public intimations and many private
statements, that I have given a fair representation of the doctrine.
They appear to manifest as much horror as an Arminian would to the idea,
that "the responsible acts of moral agents are definitely fixed and
efficiently produced by the purpose and decree of God,"--that these acts
"are the result of an overruling and controlling power,"--"that the
will, in all its operations, is governed and irresistibly controlled by
some secret impulse, some fixed and all-controlling arrangement." Hence,
I suppose, if it can be proved that these are the genuine
characteristics of Calvinism, the system itself will, by many at least,
be given up. At any rate, since the exception is taken to the definition
of the doctrine, it may be presumed, by sustaining this, we sustain our
own cause and refute the opposite. The present inquiry then is, are
these, in very deed, the characteristics of absolute predestination? I
shall endeavour to maintain that they are. Let the intelligent and the
candid judge.

1. It may be urged as a consideration of no small weight in this
question, that all but predestinarians, as well as many predestinarians
themselves, have entertained these views of the doctrine. With respect
to anti-predestinarians, I know of no exception; all unite, in charging
these things, directly or by consequence, upon the Calvinistic system.
And will Calvinists say, this is owing to prejudice and to a want of
understanding the subject? With what kind of modesty will they assume
that they are free from blinding prejudice in _favour_ of their own
doctrine, and all the world beside are prejudiced against it? It may be
asserted, as it often has been, that these doctrines are humbling to the
pride of the natural heart, and this is the ground of the universal
opposition to them! But this is a gratuitous assumption of what ought
first to be proved, viz. that these doctrines are true; and it also
exhibits a most reprehensible spirit of pride and Pharisaism--a spirit
that says to a brother, "Stand by, for I am holier than thou!" There
have doubtless been as many eminently pious Arminians as Calvinists, and
how is it, that these men have never had this doctrine so explained to
them as to be able to see it free from these charges?

But not only anti-predestinarians have universally entertained these
opinions of this doctrine; even the advocates themselves have, in a
great variety of instances, acknowledged the same. Mention has before
been made, (in the sermon,) of the opposition raised against free will,
by the Calvinists of Mr. Wesley's day--and quotations have also been
given from the early Calvinistic authors, showing how decidedly they
held that God moved the will to sin, by a direct positive influence. To
these we may add all the Hopkinsians of modern days, who openly
acknowledge "that those scriptures which teach that God has decreed the
sinful acts of men, do imply that he is the efficient cause of moral
evil." (See review of my sermon in the Boston Telegraph.) It should not
be forgotten, moreover, that the New-Haven divines, who have studied
Calvinism all their lives, with the best opportunities for understanding
it, inform us that the view of Calvinism which makes sin preferable to
holiness in its stead, is unanswerably exposed to all the objections
brought against it in the sermon. It is known too, that most of the
Methodists in New-England, and many elsewhere, were educated
predestinarians; but have revolted from the traditions of their fathers
for the very reason that Calvinism is what we have described it to be.
The Universalists are almost all predestinarians, and they understand
that this doctrine necessarily implies the _Divine efficiency_ in
producing sin; and hence they very consistently infer that God is not
angry with them, and will not punish them for being controlled by his
decrees.

Suppose now an intelligent person, who knew nothing of the arguments on
either side, should be informed of what is true in this case, viz. that
a great portion, probably on the whole by far the greatest portion of
predestinarians, and _all_ anti-predestinarians, understood the doctrine
of absolute predestination, as involving directly, or by consequence,
certain specified principles; but that a portion of predestinarians
persisted in denying that these principles were involved in the
doctrine; and suppose this intelligent person should be informed of the
additional facts, that these predestinarians had tried all their skill
at explanation and argument, generation after generation, but had never
succeeded in the view of the other party in freeing their doctrine from
these charges, nay, that they had so far failed of it, that many, very
many were leaving them, and adopting the anti-predestinarian system, for
the _very reason_ that they could not rid the system, in which they had
been educated, from those principles which were charged upon it--and
that even among those who had adhered to the old doctrine there were new
modes of explaining and stating the theory, constantly springing up,
until finally numbers of them _had explained themselves entirely out of
the doctrine_, and into the opposite sentiment; and that very many
others, by adhering to the doctrine, and following out the principles
involved in it, had come to the conclusion that there was "no hell"--no
judgment, and "no angry God." Suppose, I say, this intelligent man
should be informed of all these facts, and then be requested to
_presume_ whether or not these contested principles were involved in the
doctrine--what would be his judgment? I need not answer this question.
There is _strong_ presumptive evidence that the views in the sermon are
correct.

2. Another reason for believing that this doctrine is what we have
defined it to be, and involves in it the principles we have charged upon
it, is drawn from the terms in which it is expressed, and the manner and
circumstances in which these terms are used. The more common terms are
_decree, predestination, foreordination, predetermination, purpose_,
&c.--These are all authoritative terms, and carry with them the idea of
absolute sovereignty. But lest they should not be sufficiently strong
and imperious, they are, in this theory, generally accompanied by some
strong qualifying terms, such as _sovereign decree, eternal and
immutable purposes;_ and without any reference to other bearings, the
whole is placed on the ground of God's absolute and sovereign will.
These sovereign decrees, however, are not proposed to his subjects in
the light of a law enforced by suitable sanctions, and liable to be
broken. They are the _secret counsels_ of his own will; and so far from
being law, that often, perhaps oftener than otherwise, in the moral
world, they are in direct opposition to the precepts of the law. When
these decrees come in contact with the law they supersede it. Laws may
sometimes be broken, the decrees, never. God commits his law to
subordinate moral agents, who may break or keep them; but his decrees he
executes himself. It should also be understood that the advocates of
this theory, in their late controversy with Dr. Taylor, strenuously
maintain that sin, wherever it occurs, is preferable to holiness in its
stead, and is the _necessary means_ of the _greatest good_. The idea
that God, foreseeing what moral agents would do, under all possible
circumstances, _so ordered his works_ as to take up and incorporate into
his plan the foreseen volitions of moral agents, and thus constitute a
grand whole, as perfect as any system which involves a moral government
could be, they discard as rank Arminianism. Now is it possible that
decrees like these, concealed in the eternal mind of him that conceived
them--dependent solely on Almighty power to execute them, not modified
by subordinate agencies, but made to control these agencies with
absolute and arbitrary sway; can it be _possible_, I say, that such
decrees do not efficiently control and actuate the human will? Must not
he who, in this manner, forms and executes the general plan, also form
and execute all its parts? Must not he who gives the first impulse to
this concatenation of events, linked together by his eternal purposes,
follow up the whole with his continued and direct agency, and carry on
this work in every mind and through every emotion? Most assuredly he
must. His is, undoubtedly, according to this doctrine, that operative,
controlling and propelling energy that

   "Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
   Acts undivided, operates unspent."

And that we may be sure not to misrepresent the Calvinists on this
subject, let them speak for themselves. Dr. Hill, who is a modern, and
is reputed a moderate Calvinist, says:--"The Divine decree is the
determination to _produce_ the universe, that is, the _whole series_ of
_beings_ and _events_ that was then future." Dr. Chalmers, who has been
esteemed so moderate a Calvinist, that some had doubted whether he had
not given up absolute predestination altogether, comes out in his sermon
on predestination in the following language:--"Every step of every
individual character, receives as determinate a character from the hand,
of God, as every mile of a planet's orbit, or every gust of wind, or
every wave of the sea, or every particle of flying dust, or every
rivulet of flowing water. This power of God knows no exceptions: it is
absolute and unlimited. And while it embraces the vast, it carries its
resistless influence to all the minute and unnoticed diversities of
existence. It _reigns_ and operates through all the secrecies of the
inner man. It gives birth to every purpose, it gives impulse to every
desire, it gives shape and colour to every conception. It wields an
entire ascendancy over every attribute of the mind; and the will, and
the fancy, and the understanding, with all the countless variety of
their hidden and fugitive operations, are submitted to it. It gives
movement and direction through every one point of our pilgrimage. At no
moment of time does it abandon us. It follows us to the hour of death,
and it carries us to our place, and to our everlasting destiny in the
region beyond it!!!" These quotations need no comment; if they do not
come up to all we have ever charged upon this doctrine, there is no
definite meaning in words.

But we have another authority on this subject, which bears more directly
on the Calvinists of this country, the Assembly's Catechism. Dr. Fitch,
who is certainly as well qualified to judge in this matter as another
man, informs us, through the medium of the Christian Spectator, that
"the articles of faith prepared by that body, (the assembly of English
and Scotch divines at Westminster,) are considered as expressing
essentially the views not only of the Presbyterian Church in this
country, but also of the orthodox Congregational Churches of
New-England." It is known, also, that the Shorter Catechism has been
almost universally used by them in their families, and in the religious
instruction of their children. Here then we have a standard of faith,
which all the _classes_, I suppose, will acknowledge,--and what saith
it? After stating that the decrees of God are his eternal purpose,
according to the counsel of his own will, whereby, for his own glory, he
hath foreordained whatsoever cometh to pass, it goes on to say, "God
_executeth_ his decrees in the works of creation and providence," and
then for farther explanation adds--"God's works of providence are his
most holy, wise, and powerful, preserving and governing all his
creatures and all their actions." This is certainly an awkward sentence,
if I may be allowed to say this of the productions of an assembly which
has been characterised as a paragon of excellency in erudition and
theology. Its meaning, however, according to grammar and logic, must be,
that by his acts of providence God, in a most holy, wise, and powerful
manner, preserves and governs both all his creatures, and all their
actions. But as it seems to be a solecism to talk about _preserving
actions_, we will understand _preserving_ to belong to _creatures_, and
_governing_ to _actions_, and then it will be thus: God powerfully
preserves all his creatures, and powerfully governs all their actions:
and it is in this way he _executes_ his decrees. There are evidently two
methods of governing. That control which is made up of legal precepts,
and sanctions, and retributions, is called a government; not that all
the subjects of such a government always obey its ordinances, but if
they violate them, they are subjected to punishment. _This_ is evidently
not the kind of government that the assembly contemplated. It was a
government by which God _executed his decrees;_ but, as we have seen,
his decrees are not his laws, for they are frequently in direct
opposition to his laws. Decree and law are not only frequently opposed,
in respect to the moral action demanded by each, but even where those
demands are coincident they differ greatly in the _manner_ and
_certainty_ of their fulfilment. Of course government, by _executing
decrees_, is another thing altogether from government by _executing
laws_. But there is another kind of government. It is that _efficient
control_ of a superior, by which a being or an act is _made to be what
it is_, in opposition to _non-existence_, or a _different existence_.
Now this appears to be precisely the kind of government alluded to when
it said, "God _executes his decrees_ by powerfully _governing_ all the
actions of his creatures." That is, he efficiently produces and controls
all the responsible volitions, good and bad, of the moral universe. And
what is this, but affirming all that the sermon has affirmed on this
subject? If any one is disposed to deny that this is a fair exposition
of the Catechism, let him reflect that as he cannot pretend that
_government_ here means a _legal administration_, it will be incumbent
on him to show what other fair construction can be put upon it than the
one given above; to show how God can execute a secret decree, by his own
powerful act, in any other way than in the one already explained.

In corroboration of the foregoing views it should also be borne in mind,
that the Calvinists uniformly use these very same terms, _decree,
predestination_, &c, in the _same sense_, in reference to _all events_.
They say, God's decrees extend to all events, physical and moral, good
and evil, by which they must mean, if they mean any thing intelligible,
that his predestination bears the same relation to all events. If then
his decree of election embraces the means to the accomplishment of the
end, so also must his decree of reprobation. If his decree of election
requires for its accomplishment an _efficient_ operation, so also does
his decree of reprobation. If Divine agency is directly and efficiently,
requisite to produce a good volition, it must follow that it is in the
same sense requisite to produce a sinful volition.

To tell us a thousand times, without any distinction or discrimination,
that all things are _equally_ the result of the Divine decree, and then
tell us that the relation between God's decree and sin is essentially
different from the relation existing between his decree and holiness,
would certainly be a very singular and unwarrantable use of language.
How then, I inquire, does God produce holy volitions?--Why, say the
Calvinists, by a direct, positive, and efficient influence upon the
will, and in proof quote--"Thy people _shall_ be willing in the day of
thy power." Well, how, I ask again, does God execute his decrees
respecting unholy volitions? Consistency requires the same reply. But,
says the Calvinist, he need not exert the same influence to produce
unholy volitions, because it is in accordance with the nature of sinful
men to sin. Indeed! and is not this _nature_ the result of a decree? It
would seem God approaches his work of executing his decree _respecting
sin_, either more reluctantly or with greater difficulty, so that it
requires two steps to execute this, and only one the other. It is in
both cases, however, equally his work. This will be seen more clearly if
we turn our attention to the first sin; for it is certainly as much
against a perfectly holy nature to commit sin, as it is against an
unholy nature to have a holy volition. Hence the one as much requires a
direct and positive influence as the other, and therefore the passage in
the 110th Psalm, if it applies at all to a positive Divine influence in
changing the will, must have a much more extensive meaning, than has
been generally supposed. It should be paraphrased thus:--Not only shall
thy elect people, who are yet in their sins, and therefore not yet in a
strict and proper sense thine, be made willing to become holy in the day
that thou dost efficiently change their will, but also thy angels and
thy first created human pair, who were before their fall more truly
thine, as they were made perfectly holy, shall be made willing to become
unholy in the day that thou dost efficiently change their wills from
submission to rebellion. For if Divine efficiency is necessary to make a
naturally perverse will holy, it is also necessary to make a naturally
holy will perverse.

I am aware that we may be met here by this reply, that although God does
efficiently control the will, still it is in a way suited to the nature
of mind, and consistent with free agency, because he operates upon the
mind through the influence of moral suasion, or by the power of motives.
To this it may be answered, that the Calvinists generally condemn Dr.
Taylor's views of conversion, because they suspect him of holding that
motives alone convert the sinner; whereas they deem it necessary that
the Holy Spirit should act directly upon the will; if so, then, as I
have shown above, it is also necessary that there should be a direct
Divine influence upon the will of a holy being, to make him sinful. And
this more especially, since both changes are decreed, and both stand in
the same relation to the Divine purpose. But this doctrine of motives
leads me to another argument, viz.

3. That the view I have taken of predestination is correct, appears
evident from the Calvinistic doctrine of motives, especially when this
doctrine is viewed in connection with the Calvinistic theory of
depravity.

The doctrine of motives I understand to be this, that "the power of
volition is never excited, nor _can be_, except in the presence and from
the excitement of motives," (see "Views in Theology,") and that the mind
must necessarily be swayed by the strongest motive, or by what appears
to the mind to be the greatest good. Dr. Edwards, following Leibnitz,
incorporated this doctrine of philosophical necessity with the
Calvinistic theology. In this he has been followed by a great portion, I
believe, of the Calvinistic clergy. Without stopping here to attempt a
refutation of this theory, my present object is to show that it
necessarily fastens upon Calvinism the charges brought against it, and
sustains the definition that has been given to predestination. For since
God creates both the mind and the motives, and brings them together for
the _express purpose_ that the former should be swayed by the latter, it
follows conclusively that God _efficiently_ controls the will, and
produces all its volitions. And this is according to express Calvinistic
teaching:--"God," says the author of "Views in Theology," already
quoted, "God is the determiner of perceptions, and perceptions are the
determiners of choices." The inference therefore is plain and
unavoidable, _God is the determiner of choices_. The plea that God does
not produce volitions, by a direct influence, but indirectly, through
second causes, avails nothing. Although there should be ten, or ten
thousand intermediate links, if they are all arranged by our Creator in
such order as to produce the intellectual vibration intended, whenever
he pleases to give the impulse, what is the difference? In point of
efficient agency, none at all. Nor yet will it alter the case to say,
that "this effect is produced by God through such a medium as is suited
to the nature of the mind, and therefore it cannot be said, that God
does any violence to the will, or to man's free agency." God created the
_mind_, and the _means_ that were to influence it. He gave to mind its
nature, and to motives their influence and arrangement, for _this very
purpose_. Hence, unless man can unmake himself, he is _bound by the law
of his nature_ to act in all cases as he does. Why talk about a _free_
agency when it is such an agency as _must_, by _the constitution_ of
_God_, lead inevitably to sin and ruin! That old, and in the premises,
foolish reply, that man could do differently, _if he chose_, does not
help the case. It is only saying, the nature of man is such that it is
governed by his perceptions, and since "God is the determiner of
perceptions, and perceptions the determiners of choices," whenever God
pleases to alter the perceptions so as thereby to change the choice,
_then_, and not before, man can do differently. According to this
doctrine is it possible, according to the very nature of mind, for the
choice to be different until the perceptions are changed? And can the
perceptions be changed, until God changes them? To answer either or both
of these questions in the affirmative, would be to give up the doctrine
of motives. To answer them in the negative, would be to entail upon the
doctrine all that I have charged upon it. The advocates of the theory
may have their choice. Nor yet, again, will it destroy the force of this
argument, to say "man has an _unholy nature;_ and this is the reason why
the motives presented influence him to sin; therefore the guilt is
chargeable upon himself, and God is clear." For, in the first place,
this would not account for the first unholy volitions of holy angels and
the first human pair.

This argument presupposes that, but for the consideration of man's
_unholy nature_, the charge against the Calvinistic theory would be
valid. And inasmuch as here are cases in which the argument obviously
affords no relief to the system, it follows that in these uses, at
least, God is the efficient and procuring cause of unholy volitions--and
therefore the charges against predestination are established. But by a
little farther attention we shall see that this argument affords as
little relief to the system in the case of man as he now is. For this
first sin, which was itself the necessary result of the Divine
arrangement and of positive Divine influence, threw, if possible, a
stronger and a more dire necessity over all the coming generations of
men. For this act entailed upon man a depraved heart. Hence this corrupt
nature came upon man without his knowledge or agency. We trace it back
then, thus:--Man's love of sin was produced by the unholy choice of the
first pair--that choice was produced by perceptions--these perceptions
were produced by motives--and these motives were brought by God to bear
upon the minds which he had made for this very purpose--therefore God,
by design, and because he purposed it, produced our corrupt nature; and
then, for the express purpose of leading that unholy nature to put forth
unholy volitions, he brings those motives to bear upon our minds, which,
from the unavoidable nature of those minds, _must produce_ the sin
designed. It is thus that, according to his theory, our Creator binds
the human mind by the strong cords of depravity with one hand, and with
the other lashes it, by the maddening scourge of motives, into all the
excitement of unholy delirium; and then, for his own glory, consigns the
sinner over to the prison house of wo!! Turn this system, then, as you
will, you find this doctrine of predestination binding the human mind,
and efficiently producing all the volitions of the moral universe. The
strong arm of Jehovah not more directly and irresistibly moves and binds
the planets in their orbits, than it moves and controls, in the
mysterious circle of his eternal decrees, "all the actions of all his
creatures."

I know, as a closing argument, it is urged, whatever may be our
inferences, we all know that we are free, and that we are responsible,
because _we are conscious of it_. This is a most singular course of
reasoning, and seems to have been adopted to reconcile contradictions.
If this doctrine be true, I am not _sure_ that I am free, and that I am
responsible merely because I feel that I am. I am at least _quite_ as
conscious that I ought not to be held responsible for what is
unavoidable, as I am that I am possessed of moral liberty. Break down my
consciousness in one case, and you prepare the way for me to suspect it
of fallacy in another. And if I must give up my consciousness, between
two alternatives I will choose that which will not involve the
government of God in injustice, and myriads of intelligent beings in
unavoidable perdition. Hence, with Dr. Edwards' premises, which he holds
in common with Lord Kaimes, I would come to his lordship's conclusion,
viz. that God never intended to hold men responsible, and the universal
feeling of responsibility is a kind of pious fraud--a salutary delusion,
imposed as a check and restraint upon man here, but to be followed by no
unpleasant consequences either here or hereafter. But this would be
charging our Creator with both deception and folly--deception in the
delusive consciousness of responsibility, and folly in suffering Lord
Kaimes and others to disclose the secret, and frustrate the Divine
purpose! This cannot be. The charge of deception and of fallacy,
therefore, must be rolled back from consciousness and from the throne of
God upon the doctrine of predestination. And if the reaction should
crush the theory for ever, it would doubtless be a blessing to the
Church and to the world.

To conclude. For the reasons given, I must still maintain that the
charges contained in the sermon against that modification of Calvinism I
am now opposing, are just; and the definition assumed, is correct. If
the advocates of the system can clear themselves, or their doctrine, let
it be done. If not, let one of two courses be pursued--either let the
system be abandoned, or _let us have it as it is_.

I have dwelt the longer on this subject, because I am weary, and I
believe we all are, of hearing the oft-repeated complaint, "You
misrepresent us!" "You mistake our doctrine!"

In the next No., by the leave of Providence, the nature of human agency,
and the ground of human responsibility, will be examined.



NUMBER VIII.

MORAL AGENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY.

BY what has been said on the theory of Calvinistic predestination, it
will be seen, I think, that this system involves such necessity of moral
action as is incompatible with free agency. It is possible, I grant, to
give to the terms _will, liberty, free agency_, such a definition as
will make these terms, _thus defined_, compatible with the other
peculiarities of the Calvinistic system.--Both parties agree that man is
a free moral agent; both maintain that he is responsible; but we
maintain that what the Calvinists call free moral agency, is not such in
fact as is commonly understood by the term, nor such as is requisite to
make man accountable. Here, therefore, we are again thrown back upon our
definitions, as the starting point of argument. What is that power, or
property, or faculty of the mind, which constitutes man a free moral
agent? It is the power of choice, connected with liberty to choose
either good or evil. Both the _power_ and _liberty_ to choose either
_good_ or _evil_ are requisite to constitute the free agency of a
probationer. It has been contended that choice, though from the
condition of the moral agent it must of necessity be exclusively _on one
side_, is nevertheless free; since it implies a _voluntary_ preference
of the mind. Hence it is contended that the fallen and the holy angels,
glorified and lost human spirits, though some of these are confined in
an impeccable state, and the others have a perpetual and invincible
enmity to good, are nevertheless free agents. With respect to the free
agency of these beings, a question might be started, whether it is such
as renders them responsible for their _present acts_, the decision of
which might have some bearing on the subject under investigation; but
not such bearing as would make it important to discuss it here. If they
are responsible for their _present acts_, it must be on account of a
former probation, which by sin they have judicially forfeited. Or if any
one thinks otherwise, and is disposed to maintain that a being who is
not, and _never was_ so circumstanced as to render the choice of good
possible to him, is nevertheless a free moral agent, in any such sense
as renders him accountable, with such a sentiment at present I have no
controversy. Indeed such an opinion is so violent an outrage upon all
the acknowledged principles of justice, that to controvert it would be a
work of little profit.

It is certain that the moral standing of those angels and men whose
states are now unalterably fixed, differs materially from their
probationary state; and this difference renders their moral agency
unsuited to illustrate the agency of beings who are on probation. Man,
in this life, is in a state of trial; good and evil are presented before
him as objects of choice; and upon this choice are suspended eternal
consequences of happiness or misery. Of a being thus circumstanced, it
is not enough to say he is free to choose as he does, unless you can
say, also, he is equally free to make an opposite choice.--Hence, in
defining the free agency of man, as a probationer, we say, as above,
that it implies a power of choice, with full liberty to choose either
good or evil.

The foregoing definition, at first view, seems sufficient for all
practical purposes, and so indeed it would have been, if a speculative
philosophy had not thrown it into the alembic of metaphysics for
decomposition and analysis. It is doubtful whether this process has
subserved the cause of truth; nay, it is certain, I think, that it has
produced many perplexing refinements and speculations that have greatly
aided the cause of error. Into these abstrusities, therefore, it seems
necessary to follow this question, to try, if possible, to draw out and
combine the elements of truth.

Having defined free agency to mean _the power of choice_, &c, it is
asked again, _What is this power of choice?_ It is probable that the
different answers given to this question constitute the fundamental
differences between Calvinists and Arminians. To the above question
some, like the reply of the Jews to Christ, have said, "We cannot tell."
And they give this evasive reply perhaps for a reason similar to that
which influenced the Jews; they fear that a definite answer will involve
themselves or their theory in difficulty. This is a very convenient way
to avoid responsibility, but not indicative of much fairness, or
confidence in their cause. When men have involved their system in
apparent contradictions, it will hardly satisfy the candid inquirer
after truth to see them start aside from the very point that is to give
character to their whole system. We are told by men who reason upon
foreknowledge, &c, that "God hath decreed whatsoever comes to pass;" and
then we are told that all men are free, and they enter into a great deal
of metaphysical speculation about foreknowledge, the nature of voluntary
action, &c, to prove these positions; but when they are pressed upon
this point, "How can you reconcile with free agency that kind of Divine
efficiency necessary to secure the execution of the decrees, and that
kind of dependency of moral agents which this efficiency implies?" the
reply is, "We cannot tell--the how in the case we cannot explain." This
evasion might be allowable, perhaps, in either of the two following
cases: 1. If the apparent discrepancy of the two positions grew out of
what is _mysterious_, and not of what is _palpably contradictory;_ or,
2. If both propositions were so _clearly proved_, that it would do
greater violence to our reasons, and be a greater outrage upon all
acknowledged principles of belief, to disbelieve either of them, than it
would to believe them with all their apparent contradictions. With
respect to the first alternative, it appears to me, and doubtless it
would so appear to all whose prejudices did not mislead the mind, that
the want of apparent agreement between the two is not for lack of light
in the case, but from the natural incongruity of the things compared.
When you say, "God executes his decrees by efficiently controlling the
will of man," and say also, "The mind of man is free," both these
propositions are clear; there is nothing mysterious about them. But you
say, perhaps, "The mystery is in the want of light to see the
_agreement_ of the two; we cannot _see_ their agreement, but we should
not therefore infer that they do not agree." I answer, What is light, in
this case, but a clear conception of the propositions? This we have, and
we see that they are, _in their nature_, incompatible; and the more
light you can pour upon this subject, the more clearly must this
incompatibility appear. If you say that "perhaps neither you nor I fully
understand the meaning of these propositions;" then I reply, _We have no
business to use them_. "Who is this that darkens counsel by words
without knowledge?" And this is what I have already complained of; men
will reason themselves into propositions which they call doctrinal
facts, but which seem to the eye of common sense to have all the
characteristics of contradictions, and when we urge these contradictions
in objection, the objection is not allowed to have any weight, because
we do not fully understand the propositions. So then the propositions
must be received, _though we do not understand them!_ and though, as far
as we do understand them, they are obviously incompatible!! Is this the
way to gain knowledge, and to make truth triumphant? How much more
consistent to say, Since it is evident the mind is free, and since the
doctrine of predestination is apparently incompatible with that freedom,
therefore this doctrine should be exploded!

Or will this second alternative be resorted to? Will it be said that
both of these propositions are so clearly proved, that to deny them
would do greater violence to our reasons, and the principles of belief,
than to acknowledge them, notwithstanding their apparent incongruity?
Let us examine them. Of one of them we cannot doubt, unless we doubt all
primary truths, viz. That the human mind is free. It is presumed, if the
question come to this, that they must either give up human liberty or
the dogma of predestination, candid Calvinists themselves would not
hesitate; they would say, the _former_ must stand, whatever becomes of
the _latter_. If I am correct here, it follows that, predestinarians
themselves being judges, the doctrine of predestination is not so clear
as some other moral truths. But is there any thing clearer than that man
ought not to be held accountable for what is unavoidable? that he ought
not to be held to answer for volitions that are efficiently controlled
by a superior? To me this is as clear as consciousness itself can make
it, and I think it must be to mankind in general. If I am correct, then
we come to the conclusion at once, that to believe in the compatibility
of predestination with human liberty and accountability does more
violence to the laws of belief than it would to discard predestination.
Whatever, therefore, may _seem_ to be favourable to this doctrine,
should be sacrificed to a stronger claim upon our belief in another
direction. But, that the argument may be set in as strong light as
possible, let the evidence of predestination be adduced. What is it? It
is not consciousness certainly; and it is almost as clear that it is not
moral demonstration by a course of reasoning. The most I believe that
has ever been said, in the way of moral demonstration, has been in an
argument founded on foreknowledge, which argument, it is supposed by the
author, is fairly disposed of in the sermon on predestination, by
reasoning which has not, to his knowledge, ever been refuted. A
refutation has been attempted, I grant, by some of the reviewers of the
sermon, but the only apparent success that attended those attempts was,
as we have already seen, in consequence of their taking the very ground
of the sermon, and building the decrees of God upon a prior view and
knowledge of all possible contingencies. If consciousness and reasoning
are taken away from this doctrine, it has nothing left to stand upon but
testimony. And no testimony but Divine will here be of any authority;
and does revelation prove this doctrine? In the sermon on predestination
it was stated that "there was not a single passage in the Bible which
teaches directly that God hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass;"
and it is not known to the writer, that among the different reviews of
the sermon it has even been attempted to show that the statement was
incorrect. But if a solitary passage could have been adduced, should we
not have heard of it? The evidence from Scripture then, if there is any,
is indirect, and merely by inference. And even this indirect testimony
is far from being the best of its kind; so, at least, a great portion of
believers in revelation think.

Now, candid reader, if you have carefully followed the chain of thought
thus far, let me ask you to pause and propound for yourself, and
honestly answer the following question--"Is there so much evidence in
favour of predestination, that I should do more violence to my own
reason, and the laws of belief, by rejecting it, than I should by
believing that this doctrine is compatible with free agency and
accountability?" Indeed, Calvinists themselves have so felt the force of
these difficulties, when the terms predestination and free will have
been understood in their common and obvious sense, that they have
attempted a variety of explanations of these terms to do away, if
possible, the apparent discrepancy. These attempts have been the
principal cause of those changes and modifications in the Calvinistic
system, alluded to in a former number. The various explanations and
definitions that have been given to foreordination, have already been
noticed. We have seen how every effort failed of affording any relief to
the system, until we came down to the last; I mean that of the New-Haven
divines. This new theory does indeed avoid the difficulty, but avoids it
only by giving up the doctrine! Any thing short of this amounts to
nothing; it stands forth still the "_absolute decree_," fixed as fate,
and fixing, strong as fate, all the acts of subordinate intelligences.
Any _real_ modification of it is a virtual renunciation, and a
substitution in its stead of the public and consistent decree of Heaven,
"He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be
damned."

Not succeeding as was hoped in such a definition of predestination as
would harmonize the opposing propositions, repeated trials have been
made to define and explain _human liberty_ and the _power of choice_, so
as to _bend_ these into a coincidence with the _inflexible decree_. This
brings us back to the inquiry started above: "What is this power of
choice?" Now as this is a point more metaphysical in its nature than the
proposition embracing the decrees, so there is more ground for laboured
argument and refined speculation. Only one theory, however, needs to be
particularly noticed:--1. Because it is the most plausible of any other,
so that if this will not bear the test, it is probable no other will;
and 2. Because this is the theory which is now pretty generally, and
perhaps almost universally adopted by the Calvinists; I mean the
Calvinistic doctrine of motives. It is in substance this: the power of
choice is that power which the mind has of acting in view of motives,
and of deciding according to the strongest motive. The strength and
direction of volition are always in accordance with the motive. And this
relation between mind and motives is fixed by the very constitution of
our natures, so that it may be said there is a constitutional necessity
that the mind should be controlled by motives. These motives are
multitudinous and various.--All conceptions and perceptions of the mind,
from whatever cause, productive of pleasure or pain, exciting emotions
of love or aversion, are motives; or, more properly, perhaps, the causes
of these mental states are motives. Between these motives and the mind
there is such a connection, that the _former_ not only excite, but
control the _latter_, in all its volitions. The nature of this relation
is of course beyond the limits of human investigation: all we can say
is, such is the nature of motives and of mind. Such is the theory. The
arguments by which it is defended are in substance the following
--experience and observation. We are conscious, it is said, of acting
from motives, and it is universally understood that others also act from
motives. It is on this principle that we govern ourselves in our
intercourse with men; by this we calculate with moral certainty, in many
instances, what will be the conduct of a man in a given case; and, upon
such calculations, we form most of our maxims, and rules of conduct in
social life: nay, it is said a man that will act without a reason must
be insane--that, on this ground, whenever a man acts it is common to
inquire what _induced_ him. What motive had he? That even children, at a
very early age so readily recognize this principle, that they are
constantly inquiring why do you do this or that. Such are the strongest
arguments by which this theory is sustained--arguments too strong it is
supposed to be overthrown.

I object to the sovereign control of the mind by motives. But in
offering my objections, it should first be observed that no man, in his
senses, it is presumed, will deny that motives have an important
influence in determining our volitions. Nor is it necessary, in order to
oppose the doctrine of the controlling power of motives, to deny that
the power of volition may have been waked up to action, in the first
instance, by motive influence, or that the mind ever after may, in all
its volitions, be more or less under this influence. As these are points
which do not materially affect the question at issue between us and the
Calvinists, they may be left out of the discussion for the present. The
question is this--Has the mind a self-determining power, by which it can
spontaneously decide, independent of the _control_ of motives, or is the
mind absolutely controlled by motives? We maintain the former--our
opponents the latter. By establishing our position, we disprove
theirs--by disproving theirs we establish ours--and it is believed that
theirs can be directly disproved, and ours directly established; at
least so far as we can hope to arrive at demonstration on these
extremely difficult points.

1. My first objection to this doctrine of motive influence is, that most
of the arguments by which it is defended, as directly and certainly
prove that the Divine mind is subject to the absolute control of motives
as that human minds are. It is argued, that to maintain the doctrine of
spontaneous volition, independent of the _control_ of motives, involves
the absurdity, that "our volitions are excited without any intelligent
reasons whatever, and as the effect, consequently, of nothing better
than a mere brute or senseless mechanism." (_Views in Theology_, p.
163.)--Now if this has any bearing on the question, it relates not to
human mind and human volition merely, but to _mind in general_, and must
apply to the Divine mind. The same may be said, in fact, of most of the
arguments that are brought in favour of this doctrine. Calvinists are
convinced of this--and hence this also is a part of their creed. It was
defended by Dr. Edwards, and is thus avowed by Professor Upham, in his
System of Mental Philosophy. Speaking of the control of motives, he
says, "Our condition, in this respect, seems to be essentially the same
with that of the Supreme Being himself--he is _inevitably_ governed in
all his doings, by what, in the great range of events, is wisest and
best." (Vol. ii, p. 381.) Thus the Divine Being is, according to this
theory, and by the express showing of the leading advocates of the
theory, "_inevitably_" made a subordinate to a superior. It is believed
there is no avoiding this conclusion; and what then? Why then the
doctrine makes God a necessary agent, and leads to atheism! It is
nearly, if not exactly, the same as the old heathen doctrine of fate.
The ancient heathens supposed that Jupiter himself, the omnipotent
father of the gods and men, must yield to fate. Modern Christians teach
that there is a certain fitness of things, certain constitutional
relations, existing independent of the Divine will, which God himself
cannot supersede, but to which he must yield. How does this sink, at
once, both the natural and moral perfections of God! The exercises of
his wisdom and goodness are nothing more than the result of certain
fixed and irresistible influences. Fixed not by God himself, for that
would be to give up the doctrine; for in that case, in the order of
cause and effect, the Divine mind must have acted without control of
motive, if this law of motive influence did not exist until the Divine
volition willed it into being and if he could once act independent of
this control, he might so act for ever; and the argument built on the
absurdity of volition, without an intelligent reason, is contradicted.
But if that argument has any weight, it fixes, in the order of cause and
effect, a paramount influence eternally antecedent to the exercise of
the Divine mind, and controlling that mind with irresistible sway. This
is fate! This is atheism! Once set up an influence that controls the
Divine mind, call that influence what you will, _fitness of
things--fate--energy_ of nature--or necessary relation, and that moment
you make God a subordinate; you hurl him from his throne of sovereignty,
and make him the instrument of a superior. Of what use is such a Deity?
Might we not as well have none! Nay better, as it seems to me, if under
the control of his own native influence he is led to create beings
susceptible of suffering, and fix the relations of those beings to the
motives around them such, that by a law of their nature they are
"inevitably" led to sin and endless wo! Is it to be wondered at, that
many Calvinists have become infidels? This doctrine of motives is the
very essence of the system of Spinoza, whose deity was the _energy of
nature!_ The supreme controlling power of Dr. Edwards and his followers
is the _energy of motives_, which exists in the nature of things,
anterior to the will of God. Can any one point out any essential
difference between the two systems?

Such are the objections to _any arguments_ in favour of the doctrine
that motives "inevitably" control the volitions of intelligent beings
_in general_, involving of course the highest intelligence. But if any
are disposed to give up this doctrine, as essential to intelligent
volition in general, and choose to maintain it only in respect to the
volitions of some particular intelligent beings; then they must give up
all the strongest of their arguments. If God is free from this
_control_, they must acknowledge also, or give some reason for their
dissent, that he may, if he chooses, make and sustain subordinate
intelligences, having the same freedom from this control; and if they
acknowledge that there is nothing in the nature of the case that renders
this an impossibility, then they must show, if they can, that though God
_might_ constitute beings otherwise, he has _so constituted man_ as to
render him incapable of choice, except _when_ and _as_ motives direct,
by an inevitable influence. But in attempting this they must meet other
difficulties in their course, which, it is believed, will greatly
embarrass the system. These difficulties, however, together with the
arguments which I design to advance directly in favour of the opposite
view, must be reserved for another number.



NUMBER IX.

MORAL AGENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY, CONTINUED.

Another argument against the Calvinistic doctrine of motives is, that it
leads to materialism. The doctrine, it will be recollected, is this:
When the mind is brought into connection with objects of choice, it is
_inevitably_ led, by a law of its nature, to the selection of one rather
than of the other, unless there is a _perfect equality_ between them; in
which case I suppose, of course, the mind must remain in equilibrium;
for if it moves only by the influence of motives, and to the same degree
and in the same direction with motive influence, of course when it is
equally attracted in opposite directions it must be at rest! It is on
this ground that Leibnitz maintained that God could not make two
particles of matter in all respects alike; because, in that case, being
"inevitably" governed by motives in his decisions, he could not
determine where to place them, both having the same influence on his
mind for a location in the same place! The same writer represents this
motive influence, also, as frequently imperceptible, but not the less
effectual, and not the less voluntary! And to illustrate it makes the
following comparison:--"It is as if a needle, touched with a loadstone,
were sensible of and pleased with its turning to the north, for it would
believe that it turned itself independent of any other cause, not
perceiving the insensible motions of the magnetic power." This statement
of Leibnitz, who had paid great attention to this philosophical theory,
is important in several respects. It is, in the first place, an
acknowledgment that consciousness is against the doctrine; and it is
also a concession that the mind is _imposed upon_, in this matter, by
the Creator. But with respect to the argument, that this doctrine leads
to materialism, this quotation is important, because it shows that one
of the most _philosophical_, if not one of the most _evangelical_ of the
defenders of this doctrine, considered the law of motive influence
similar to the law of magnetic attraction, differing only in being
accompanied by sensation and a deceptive consciousness. And what says
its great evangelical champion in this country, Dr. Edwards? He compares
our volitions to the vibrations of a scale beam, the different ends of
which are respectively elevated or depressed as the opposite weights may
chance to vary. What is this but teaching that motions of mind are
governed by the same fixed laws as those of matter, and that volitions
are perfectly mechanical states of mind? What the advocates of this
doctrine charge on the opposite theory belongs, by their own showing, to
their own system.--_They_, not we, make choices the result of animal
instinct, or senseless mechanism. I know Professor Stuart, in his late
exposition of the Romans, seems to reprobate these comparisons; and
while he contends, as I should think, as strenuously as Dr. Edwards, for
a complete and efficient control of the Divine Being over all our
volitions, he appears to think that there is a great difference between
the laws of intellectual and material action. So, indeed, do we think.
But we think that difference consists in the mind's being free from that
control for which the professor contends; and we believe when he
contends for that control in the volitions of the mind, he contends for
that which, from the nature of the case, entirely destroys the other
part of his hypothesis, viz. that the operations of the mind are free,
and essentially different from mechanical motion or the laws of
attractive influence in the material world. If the attractive power of
motives over the mind is any thing different from the law of gravitation
or magnetic attraction, what is that difference? Should any one say, I
cannot tell; I ask then, How does he know but it is _that very power_
for which Arminians contend? Most probably it is that power. Or will it
be said, the difference between motive influence and gravity is
consciousness? I reply, Consciousness is no part of the relation between
motives and the power of choice. I see not indeed how it affects that
relation at all. And this the comparison of Leibnitz, already alluded
to, clearly illustrates. Look at that flowing stream; it hastens on most
freely, and by the law of its own nature down the gentle declivities or
more precipitous slopes of its meandering channel. Suppose now that
Omnipotence should impart consciousness to the particles of the
continuous current, it would then wake up to perceive the action and
feel the pleasure of its own delightful motions. It would roll on still
by the law of its own nature, and would feel that it was free to move
according to its own _inclination_ and voluntary tendency, for its will
would of course be in the direction of its _motive_, or in other phrase,
its _gravitating_ influence. But could it turn its course and roll back
its waters to their fountains? It could if it was so _inclined_. But its
present _inclination_ is toward the bottom of the valley or the bosom of
the ocean, and thither, by the relation that exists between its
particles and the gravitating influence of the earth, it rolls on _with
the utmost freedom_, though with the utter impossibility of changing its
own course, without an inversion of the gravitating power. Let the hand
of Omnipotence invert the slope of the mountain, and to! with the same
freedom these very waters roll back again to their original fountains!
Thus it is with the human mind. It is conscious of being free to move in
the direction of its inclinations, but require it to turn its course and
move in the current of its volitions, in an opposite direction, and it
would be utterly impossible, until Omnipotence himself should change the
motive influence.--"God is the determiner of perceptions, and
perceptions are the determiners of choices."

We see, therefore, that this doctrine of motive influence leads to
materialism, for it makes the analogy between mental and material action
so complete that it destroys all idea of _intellectual power_.
Philosophically speaking, there is no _power_ in the laws of nature.
What we express by the _power_ of attraction, or repulsion, or
decomposition, is nothing more than the uniformity of the Divine agency.
Does the earth attract elevated bodies to its surface?--This is not an
energy inherent in nature; it is the God of nature acting by a uniform
law. This is all that any intelligent man can mean by the power of
nature. We, however, use the word _power_ in an accommodated sense in
these cases, but always I think in connection with that portion of
matter that _appears_ to act, and not _that_ which is acted upon. The
magnet, we say, has power to attract iron, because iron is attracted
toward the magnet, and not the magnet toward the iron. The antecedent,
or that which takes the lead in the motion, is more properly said to
have the power, or is the efficient cause. If then we allow of the use
of the term power at all, to express the relation of cause and effect,
growing out of a philosophical constitution of things, the term should
be applied to the antecedent, and not to the consequent. In the case
before us, mental action is not the cause of the motive, but the motive
is the cause of the mental action: therefore we should say motives have
_power_ to act upon the mind, and the mind has a _susceptibility_ of
being acted upon. Dr. Reid has well observed, that a power to be acted
upon is no power, or "it is a _powerless power_," which is
philosophically absurd. Therefore we come to the conclusion that the
mind has no _power_ of _choice_, but has a _susceptibility_ of being
drawn into a state called volition by the power of motives. It will
avail nothing, as I conceive, to say that there is evidently a
difference between the susceptibility of the mind in this case, and the
susceptibility of matter in other cases, unless it be shown what that
difference is: for when that difference is pointed out, it will
doubtless be found to be what is in direct opposition to the motive
theory. It is the misfortune of the Calvinistic system that it often has
to assume positions to keep itself in countenance, which positions
themselves are a virtual abandonment of the system. So the New-Haven
divines have done to support predestination, and to this all Calvinists
are driven in their attempts to reconcile free will, or the power of
choice, with their doctrine of motives, dependence &c. We may be told in
the case before us, that "when the mind is acted upon it is then excited
to action." But how excited to action? Is the action any stronger than
the motive influence?--Is it carried beyond this influence? or in a
different direction? To answer any _one_ of these questions in the
affirmative is to give up the theory; but to answer them in the negative
is to attribute to the mind nothing more than the inertia of matter. The
_motives_ are (under God) the _agent_, the _mind_ is the _passive
object_, and the _volition_ is the _effect_. Can any one say then, on
this theory, that the mind has the power of choice? It has no power in
the first place, because its volitions are the result of philosophical
necessity; and it has no power, secondly, because it is not the cause of
its own volitions, but in these volitions it is the passive subject of
foreign influences. Now, so far as moral action is concerned, how does
this differ from materialism? It is true mental action differs from
material action in some associated circumstances; it is accompanied by
consciousness; but as consciousness of itself cannot give
accountability, and as it gains nothing in this respect by being
associated with such kind of mental action as results from philosophical
necessity, it appears plain that man is not accountable; and if not
accountable, it is more than probable that he has no future existence,
and thus again we are driven to materialism and to deism, if not to
atheism.

That man is not _accountable_ upon the principle we are opposing, might
have been made a distinct argument; but I have connected it with the
argument that this doctrine leads to materialism because they imply each
other. If materialism is true, we are not accountable, and if we are not
accountable, materialism is probably true; and both are true, as I
conceive, if the Calvinistic doctrine of motives is true.

It may, however, be urged by the advocates of this theory, that the mind
is not wholly passive, because we are conscious of putting forth a
mental energy and making a responsible volition; _that_ I am ready to
grant, but then our consciousness is a fallacy if this system be true;
and on the contrary, if consciousness be true, this system is false. I
believe no one who pays attention to his own mind will doubt of having
this consciousness. But does that prove the truth of this theory? It is
one thing to be conscious of having this energy of mind and responsible
volition, and another to be conscious that the theory in question is
true; indeed this consciousness destroys the theory.

Should it be urged in opposition to the alleged tendency of this system
to materialism, that different minds are not uniformly influenced by the
same motives, nor the same minds at different times, and therefore, in
this respect, it is evident that the laws of mind and of matter differ;
I reply, It is precisely so with matter; for _that_ attracts or repels
according to its different magnetic or electrical states; or should it
be urged that mind differs from matter, and shows itself to be possessed
of a peculiar energy, because it has power to suspend its decisions, to
review the subject, to investigate, &c; I answer, this it cannot do
without a motive; and this it _must_ do if the motive preponderate in
that direction, but not otherwise.

To have a proper view of this subject let us go back to the first
perception. Could the mind, according to this doctrine, act otherwise
than in coincidence with the motive influence of this perception; or
could it even suspend the volition this influence was calculated to
produce, until a second and more powerful motive was introduced? If it
could, then this doctrine is false; if it could not, then the mind, like
matter put in motion, must move on invariably in the same direction, and
with the same velocity of thought for ever, or until a new motive should
counteract the influence of the former! This is emphatically the _vis
inertia_ of matter. The bare statement of which seems sufficient to
overthrow the theory.

Another objection to this doctrine of motives is, it leads to the notion
of regeneration by _moral suasion_ merely. There has been much said of
late, by the various writers in the old and the _new_ school, on this
point. The new school are charged with holding that the _truth alone_,
without any immediate agency of the Holy Spirit, converts the sinner.
This is considered by the old school Calvinists as a fatal error. But
why so? If motives _govern_ the mind, with absolute sway, all you _need_
to convert a sinner, is to bring a motive strong enough to induce him to
choose God as his chief good, and he is converted. Until you do this
there is no conversion, it is impossible for the Holy Ghost to convert a
sinner in any other way than by motives, for choice of good we are told
is conversion; there is no choice without a motive, and the strongest
motive governs choice absolutely; therefore motive is the omnipotent
power that changes the sinner's heart. This is the legitimate result of
The Calvinistic premises. We have more than once had occasion to wonder
that Calvinists should revolt at the result of their own doctrines; here
we have another instance of it; here too we have the enigma of "_natural
ability_" unriddled. The human mind, by the constitution of its nature,
has the power of choosing according to the influence of the strongest
motive; and therefore, so far as this can be called a power, it has the
natural power to convert itself; and this is the reason why "_make you a
new heart_" is the burden of almost every sermon and exhortation in
modern preaching; all the sinner has to do is to choose, in view of
motives, and he is converted. And here, too, is unravelled that other
mystery which we have been so puzzled to understand, viz. that although
all possess the natural power to convert themselves, yet no man ever did
convert himself without the special interposition of the Divine agency;
for, observe, God keeps the motives in his own hands; "God is the
determiner of perceptions, and perceptions are the determiners of
_choices;_" that is, of _conversions;_ for to choose in a particular
way, is to be converted. Whenever, therefore, he is disposed to let the
sinner convert himself, according to his natural power; that is, when he
is disposed to overpower the mind by an irresistible motive, he brings
the motive and mind in contact, and _it is done_. Thus the sinner has as
much power to convert himself as he has to resolve to eat when he is
hungry; for all the power he has to do either, is a susceptibility of
being operated upon, and controlled by the strongest motive; and thus
you see, also, that _God_ converts the sinner, because he supplies the
motive that influences the choice; and here, too, is seen the occasion
for misquoting so frequently and misapplying so universally, that
passage in the Psalms: "[My] people shall be [made] willing in the day
of [my] power." That is, when God applies the controlling motive to
influence to a right choice, then shall the sinner, by a law of his
nature, _become willing to be converted_. Such are the wonderful
philosophical discoveries of modern theology! This is the way for man to
convert _himself_ by natural power, and this is the way for _God_ to
convert him, without the aid of _super_ natural power! Well might a
divine of this cast, whom I heard preach not long since, say of
regeneration, "There is nothing supernatural or miraculous in it." For
surely it is one of the most natural things in the world, according to
this theory, to be converted. It is only to be operated upon by a
motive, according to the law of his natural constitution, and the man is
converted.

This _philosophy of Christian experience_ has led modern orthodoxy to
the very borders of natural religion. Another step, and we can do
without a Holy Ghost or a Divine Saviour. We will sit down with the
philosopher in his study, and _work out_ a religious experience, as
philosophically as a skilful casuist can solve a question of morals; we
will show the _rationale_ of the whole process, and demonstrate it so
clearly, that infidels shall lose all their objections to the Gospel,
and be induced to "_submit_" to God with scarcely a change of theory.
Hereafter let no man say, that the work of regeneration is a
mystery--that in this work we cannot tell whence the regenerating
influence comes, or whither it goes; for it comes through the
philosophical channel of motive influence by which it introduces a
"governing purpose" into the mind, and the work is done. Let no man
hereafter say that his "faith stands not in the wisdom of man, but in
the power of God;" or "if any man would be wise let him become a fool
that he may be wise;" or "the wisdom of man is foolishness with God;"
for lo, the philosophy of regeneration is at length explained! and the
whole secret is found to consist in the philosophical relation between
motives and mind!! Can any one wonder, after this, that in Geneva, in
Germany, and in New-England, Calvinism has finally resulted in
Socinianism? And can any one help trembling for a large portion of the
orthodox Churches among us at the present day? Grant that there is an
increase of zeal, a greater stir among the people, more revivals, &c;
all these, with a good foundation, would promise well for the Church;
but we fear there is a worm at the root. By this it is not intended to
insinuate that the work is always spurious and the professed conversions
unsound. In many instances it is undoubtedly the reverse of this. It
might be expected after the people had been lulled for a long time under
the paralyzing opiates of old-fashioned Calvinism, that this new and
_apparently_ opposite theory should rouse many to action. "I had been
taught," said a man not far from this, "that I must wait God's time to
be converted, and I waited many years in vain; but more recently I have
been instructed that I might convert myself; I set about the work, and I
believe it is done!" Now this, which in the relation borders upon the
ludicrous, might have been a genuine conversion. His new views might
only have been sufficient to arouse him to a co-operation with the Holy
Spirit in his conversion; and this may have been the case with
thousands. In their practical effects two opposite errors may, in
individual cases, neutralize each other.--But is either therefore safe?
Will the general effect be salutary? Let the history of the Church
speak; and in view of that record I confess I fear for our common Zion.
But let not the old Calvinists lay this blame, and charge this danger
upon the new school; the new school doctrine is a legitimate scion from
that root which they have cultivated with such assiduity and care. It
grows out of the doctrine of motives, it springs from the idea of the
entire dependence of the human mind for each and all its volitions upon
the directing influence of Omnipotence, whatever may be the theory by
which that influence is explained.

Another argument in opposition to this doctrine is found in the
consideration, that we are constantly liable to disappointment in most
of our calculations respecting human agents.--Though we may judge
something of what will be the conduct of men in given circumstances, yet
our calculations are very far from coming up to mechanical exactness.
Motives have some influence; but that influence is very variable and
uncertain. Why is this? It is not so in matter; the same causes will
produce the same effects to the end of time. But we see many choose,
without being able to give what, _in their own estimation_, is a valid
reason; they did thus because they chose to do so; they act in defiance
of the strongest motives, drawn from whatever source. We see the
greatest possible caprice in the volitions of men; we see their minds
starting aside, and putting on the greatest possible and unaccountable
mental states, in a way and form that baffles all human calculation, and
will for ever baffle it. A man may spend all his life in trying to
reduce to uniformity the phenomena of human volitions, and thereby to
fix, in an unerring code, the laws that govern them, and he may hand his
labours to his successor, and so on to the end of time, and after all,
that living, spontaneous, thought-producing essence which we call the
human soul, will slide from our grasp and elude all our calculations. If
this consideration should have no direct weight in opposition to the
theory I am opposing, it will at least show the absurdity of defending
this system by what is called the _known regularity_ and _uniform
phenomena_ of human volitions. To talk of _uniformity_ here, is to talk
of, to say the least, what does not exist.

In the examination of this subject, we find that the arguments in favour
of the motive theory are generally of the negative kind; they are not so
much direct proofs of the truth of the theory, as they are attempts to
show the absurdity of denying it. But when statements of this kind are
accompanied by no arguments, they need only be met by a denial. "We are
conscious," say the theorists, "of being controlled by motives:" I
reply, we are not conscious of this control, but we are conscious of the
contrary fact. We know, indeed, that motives have their influence; but
we know also that the mind has an influence over motives, and probably a
greater influence than motives have over _it_. The mind is conscious too
of having an influence over itself, and of possessing a self-directing
energy, a spontaneous power, and its consciousness of responsibility is
predicated on this power of spontaneity. Only let the mind become
clearly conscious that motives beyond its power and influence have an
irresistible power in controlling its decisions, and you would as
certainly remove from man all sense of responsibility, as in those cases
now, where the spasmodic motion of the muscle is not the result of the
will.

It is said again, that to deny this control "involves the absurdity that
our volitions are exerted without any intelligent reasons, and are the
result of a brute or senseless mechanism." It appears to me, however,
that a system which represents the will as mechanically governed by
motives, as weights turn the scale beam, makes man a machine; while the
theory that gives the mind a spontaneous power and energy of its own,
makes him what he is, _an intelligent, responsible agent_.

Since, then, these negative arguments in favour of the theory that
motives control the mind, are _assertions_ and not _proofs;_ and since
the theory itself leads to _fate_, to _atheism_, to _materialism_, to
_conversion_ by mere _moral suasion_, to the subversion of _human
liberty_ and _moral responsibility_, we must believe the theory false.
But against the theory of the spontaneous power of the mind, none of
these objections lie. It accords too with consciousness; and is, in
fact, the only theory on which the responsibility of a moral agent can
be predicated. The opposite view claims our assent to two incongruous
and apparently contradictory propositions, between which there is not
only no agreement, but an evident repugnancy. This is the embarrassment
in the one case, and it is fatal to the theory.

If there are embarrassments in the other case, and what theory of mind
or matter has not its _inexplicables?_--these embarrassments are
evidently of another kind; it is not the want of light to see how two
antagonist principles can agree, the repugnancy of which must be the
more apparent as light increases, but it is from the known limits to
human knowledge. The principal embarrassment to the theory we defend is,
we cannot understand the _manner_ in which this faculty of the mind
operates. But this is no more difficult than to understand the manner in
which other faculties of the mind operate. To make this last statement
clear, the reader is desired to recollect that the mind is not divided
into parts and members like the body. When we talk of the _faculties_ of
the mind, we should understand the power that the entire mind has to act
in this or that way. Thus we say, the mind has the faculties of will and
of memory, that is, the mind, as a whole, has the powers of choosing,
and of calling up its past impressions. Now if any one will tell me
_how_ the mind remembers, I will tell him how it wills; and I have the
same right to ask him what causes the memory to remember, as he has to
ask me what causes the will to will. In both cases it may be said, the
mind _remembers_ and _wills_ because this is its nature--God _made it
so_. When you analyze until you come to the original elements, or when
you trace back effects until you come to first principles, you must
stop.--And if you will not receive these first principles because you
cannot explain them farther, then indeed you must turn universal
skeptic. I frankly acknowledge I cannot tell _how_ the mind acts in its
volitions. And let it be understood that the motive theory, with all its
other embarrassments, has this one in common with ours.--Can its
advocates tell me _how_ motives act upon the mind? True philosophy is an
analysis of constituent principles, or of causes and effects, but the
origin of these relations and combinations is resolvable only into the
will of the Creator. _It is so, because God hath made it so_. And the
nature of these relations is beyond the reach of the human mind. However
impatient we may be at these restrictions, they are limits beyond which
we _cannot_ go; and our only duty in the case is, submission.

I am aware, however, that what I have now said may, without farther
explanation, especially when taken in connection with a principle of
philosophy already recognized, be considered as an important concession
to my opponents. I have before stated, in substance, that in the
material world there is, strictly speaking, no such thing as _power;_
that the efficiency of the laws of nature is, in fact, the Divine energy
operating in a uniform way. "Let it be granted," a Calvinist might say,
"that what we call the operation of second causes is universally the
supreme Intelligence operating in a uniform way, and it is all we ask to
defend our system. Then it will be granted, that in each volition of the
human mind the operation of the will is nothing more than the energy of
the Divine mind operating in a uniform way."

To this I reply, Though matter, on account of its inertia, cannot in any
proper sense be said to have power, yet the same is not true of mind. If
any one thinks it is, then the supreme Mind itself has not power. In
other words, as both matter and mind are inert, and cannot act only as
acted upon, there is no such thing as _power_ in the universe! and thus
we again land in atheism. But if _mind_ has power, as all theists must
grant, then the _human_ mind may have power. If any one can prove that
it is impossible, in the nature of things, for the Supreme Being to
create and sustain subordinate agents, with a spontaneous power of
thought and moral action, to a limited extent, in that case we must give
up our theory. But it is presumed no one can prove this, or will even
attempt to prove it. We say, God has created such agents, and that they
act, in their responsible volitions, uncontrolled by the Creator, either
directly or by second causes. We are expressly told, indeed, that God
made man "in his own image;" his _moral_ image doubtless. Man, then, in
his own subordinate sphere, has the power of originating thought, the
power of spontaneous moral action: this, _this only_, is the ground of
his responsibility. Will it be said that this puts man entirely out of
the control of his Creator? I answer, By no means. It only puts him out
of the control of such direct influences as would destroy his moral
liberty. Does the power of moral action, independent of the magistracy
and the laws, destroy all the control of the civil government over
malefactors? How much less in the other case? God can prevent all the
mischief that a vicious agent might attempt, without throwing any
restraint upon his responsible volitions. It is thus that he "makes the
wrath of man praise him, and the remainder of wrath he restrains."

Let it be understood, then, from this time forward, by all, as indeed it
has been understood heretofore by those who have carefully examined the
subject, that when the Calvinists talk about "free will," and "human
liberty," they mean something _essentially different_ from what we mean
by these terms; and, as it is believed, something essentially different
from the _popular_ meaning of these terms. They believe in human
liberty, they say, and the power of choice, and we are bound to believe
them; but we are also bound not to suffer ourselves to be deceived by
terms. _Theirs_ is a liberty and power of a moral agent to will _as he
does_, and _not otherwise_. _Ours_ is an unrestricted liberty, and a
spontaneous power in all responsible volitions, to _choose as we do_, or
_otherwise_.

Thus far I have examined the mind in its power of choosing good or evil,
according to its original constitution. How far this power has been
affected by sin, on the one hand, or by grace, on the other, is a
question that will claim attention in my next.



NUMBER X.

MORAL AGENCY AS AFFECTED BY THE FALL, AND THE SUBSEQUENT PROVISIONS OF
GRACE.

MY last number was an attempt to prove that God created man with a
spontaneous power of moral action; and that this was the only ground of
his moral responsibility. It is now proposed to inquire how far this
power has been affected by the fall, and the subsequent provisions of
grace. The doctrine of the Methodist Church on these points is very
clearly expressed by the 7th and 8th articles of religion in her book of
Discipline.

1. "Original sin standeth not in the _following_ of Adam, (as the
Pelagians vainly talk,) but it is the corruption of the nature of every
man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man
is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature
inclined to evil, and that continually."

2. "The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot
turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and works, to
faith and calling upon God: wherefore we have no power to do good works
pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ
preventing us, (going before to assist us,) that we may have a good
will, and working with us when we have that good will."

It is not pretended here that any intellectual faculties are lost by
sin, or restored by grace; but that the faculties that are essential to
mind have become corrupted, darkened, debilitated, so as to render man
utterly incapable of a right choice without prevenient and cooperating
grace. As muscular or nervous power in a limb, or an external sense, may
be weakened or destroyed by physical disease, so the moral power of the
mind or an inward sense may be weakened or destroyed by moral disease.
And it is in perfect accordance with analogy, with universal language,
and with the representations of Scripture, to consider the mind as
susceptible, in its essential nature, of this moral deterioration. If
any one should say he cannot understand what this moral defect is, I
would answer by asking him if he can tell me what the essence of mind
is? And if he chooses to object to this kind of depravity, because he
cannot understand it, in its essence, he should turn materialist at
once; and then, as he will find equal difficulty to tell what the
essence of matter is, and in what its weakness and disorder essentially
consist, he must turn universal skeptic.--The simple statement is, _the
soul has become essentially disordered by sin;_ and as no one can prove
the assertion to be unphilosophical or contrary to experience, so I
think it may be shown from Scripture that this is the real state of
fallen human nature. And it may also be shown that this disorder is such
as to mar man's free agency. There is a sense, indeed, in which all
voluntary preference may be considered as implying free agency. But
voluntary preference does not necessarily imply _such a free agency_ as
involves moral responsibility. The mind may be free to act in one
direction, and yet it may so entirely have lost its moral equilibrium as
to be utterly incapable, of its own nature, to act in an opposite
direction, and therefore not, in the full and responsible sense, a free
agent. It is not enough, therefore, to say, "Free agency (of a
responsible kind) consists in the possession of understanding,
conscience, and will;" (see Christian Spectator for September, 1830;)
unless by _will_ is meant the spontaneous power already alluded to. The
understanding may be darkened, the conscience may be seared or polluted,
the will, that is, the power of willing, may, to all good purposes, be
inthralled; and this is what we affirm to be the true state and
condition of unaided human nature.

It will be farther seen that the above account of human nature does not
recognize the distinction of _natural_ and _moral_ ability. The fact is,
man's inability is both natural and moral; it is natural, because it is
constitutional; and it is moral, because it relates to the mind. To say
a fallen man has natural power to make a right choice, because he has
the faculties of his mind entire, is the same as to say that a paralytic
man has the natural power to walk, because he has his limbs entire. It
appears to me that the whole of this distinction, and the reasoning from
it, proceed on the ground of a most unphilosophical analysis of mind and
an unwarranted definition of terms. The simple question is, Has fallen
man, _on the whole_, the power to make a right choice, or has he not? We
say without grace he has not. And therefore fallen man is not, in the
responsible sense of that term, a free agent without grace.

This view of the subject is not novel in the Church. I readily
acknowledge that a doctrine is not therefore true, because it has been
held by many, and can be traced back to antiquity, unless it can be
proved to be Scriptural. The fact, however, that a doctrine has been
generally received in the Church, entitles it to respect and to a
careful examination, before it is discarded. Hence to those who have
only read modern Calvinistic authors on this subject, it may be a matter
of surprise to learn that not only the more ancient fathers, but even
St. Austin himself, the introducer of predestination into the Church,
and Calvin, and the synod of Dort, were all supporters of sentiments
substantially the same as are here vindicated--I say, those who have
only read modern Calvinistic authors will be surprised to learn this,
because these authors treat this doctrine as though it were so
unreasonable and absurd as scarcely to be tolerated in the view of
common sense. Though it may have an influence with some, in a paucity of
better reasons, to scout a doctrine from the Church by calling it
absurd, yet the candid will not readily give up an old doctrine for a
new, without good reason.

I had at first thought of quoting pretty freely from some of the
fathers, and especially from the early Calvinists, to show their views
on this point. But it may not be necessary, unless the statements here
made should be denied. Let therefore one or two quotations from Calvin
and from the synod of Dort, both of which I think Calvinists will
acknowledge as good Calvinistic authority, suffice. Calvin denies all
power to man, in his apostasy, to choose good, and says that,
"surrounded on every side with the most miserable necessity, he (man)
should nevertheless be instructed to aspire to the good of which he is
destitute, and to _the liberty of which he is deprived_." The synod of
Dort decided thus:--"We believe that God--formed man after his own
image, &c, _capable in all things to will_ agreeably to the will of
God." They then speak of the fall, and say, "We reject all that is
repugnant to this concerning the free will of man, since man is but a
_slave to sin_, and has nothing of himself, unless it is given him from
heaven." And speaking of the change by grace, they add, "The will thus
renewed is not only actuated and influenced by God, but _in consequence
of this influence becomes itself active_." And to show that Calvin did
not consider the voluntary acts of a depraved sinner as proof of free
will, he says, "Man _has not an equally free election of good and evil_,
and can only be said to have free will, because he does evil
voluntarily, and not by constraint;" and this he ironically calls
"egregious liberty indeed! if man be not compelled to serve sin, but yet
is such a willing slave that his will is held in bondage by the fettors
of sin." These quotations, I think, show satisfactorily that the early
Calvinists believed man to have lost his power to choose good by
apostasy, and can only regain it by grace. It is true, they generally
believed that whenever this grace was imparted to an extent to restore
to the mind the power of choosing good, it was regenerating grace. And
herein they differ from the Arminians, who believe that grace may and
does restore the power to choose good before regeneration. This,
however, does not affect the point now under examination, but involves a
collateral question, which will be examined in its proper place. One
thought more, and I pass to the arguments on the main questions in the
articles quoted above. These articles are taken from the 9th and 10th of
the articles of the Church of England. Our 8th is indeed identically the
same as the 10th of the Church of England; and the latter part of that
article, commencing, "Wherefore, &c," is taken substantially from St.
Austin himself. Thus much for the Calvinistic authority of the doctrine
we defend. To which, if it were necessary, we might add quotations from
Beza, Dr. Owen, a decided Calvinist, and many of the ancient fathers.
Nay, the Remonstrants declared, in the presence of the synod of Dort,
that this was "the judgment of all antiquity."

Let us now notice some arguments in favour of this doctrine.

1. The doctrine above stated, and now to be defended, must be true, as
is believed, since only this view of man's condition will accord with
the Scripture account of depravity. If the Scriptures teach that man is
constitutionally depraved, that a blight and a torpor have come over his
moral nature, comparable to sleep, to disease, and to death, how can it
be otherwise than that this should affect his power to choose good? Had
man any too much moral power in the first instance to constitute him an
accountable moral agent? And if he had not, has he enough now that his
mind has become darkened, his judgment perverted, and his moral powers
corrupted and weakened? Or will it be denied that the moral energies of
his nature have been impaired by sin? If not, how has he been affected?
Let any one spend a thought on this question, and decide, if he can,
what definite vicious effect can be produced on man's moral nature which
will not necessarily imply a weakening and an embarrassment of his
original power to a right choice. Should it be said that his power is
somewhat weakened, but he has enough left to constitute him free to
choose good, this would imply that before the loss he had more than
enough! Besides, such an idea would rest on the principle that man's
moral nature was not _wholly_ vitiated. It is said, I know, that all the
embarrassment which man has to a right choice is a disinclination to
moral good. But if this disinclination to good be derived and
constitutional, it exists in the mind previous to any act of choice, and
is therefore the very thing we mean--it is this very thraldom of the
mind which utterly incapacitates it to choose good. If it be asked
whether disinclination can ever be so strong as to destroy the freedom
of the will to act in one particular direction? I answer, most
unhesitatingly, Yes; and if that disinclination is either created or
derived, and not the result of an antecedent choice, the possessor is
not morally obligated to act in opposition to it, unless he receive
foreign aid to help his infirmities, and to strengthen him for a
contrary choice.

It follows then, I think, that we must either give up constitutional
depravity, or discard the notion that we can make a right choice without
Divine aid. And here, if I mistake not, we shall find the precise point
on which modern Calvinism has verged over into the New Divinity theory
of depravity. Perceiving that to acknowledge any depravity of man's
moral constitution would either imply the necessity of supernatural aid
in order to a right choice, or else free man from responsibility, Dr.
Taylor and his associates have resolved all depravity into _choice_ or
_voluntary preference_. They deny that there is any thing in the nature
of man, antecedently to his act of willing, that possesses a moral
character. Their idea is perfectly consistent with the notion of natural
ability; and that the advocates of the New Divinity have embraced this
idea is evidently a proof that they think closely and are seeking after
consistency, let it lead them where it will. The only wonder is, that
all who cleave to the dogma of natural ability do not follow them. The
doctrine of natural ability, if it is any thing more than a name,
appears evidently to be a part of the old Pelagian system, and should
never be separated from its counterpart--the doctrine of self conversion
and the natural perfectability of the human character. But this clearly
implies that there is no serious derangement or radical viciousness of
the moral man. Here, then, is another instance in which Calvinists in
general revolt at the legitimate results of their own system.

But while the New Divinity advocates have fearlessly removed an
important objection to their doctrine, they have, by this very act, as
it is believed, however little they may have designed it, set themselves
in fearful array against the Scripture doctrine of depravity and
salvation by grace, and have opened a wide door for the introduction of
numerous and dangerous heresies. It is true, they will not own that they
have gone very far from the old system. They think the doctrine of
natural depravity is asserted when they say, "nature is _such_ that he
will sin, and only sin, in all the appropriate circumstances of his
being." (See Dr. Taylor's Sermon.) But what this "nature" is, we are at
a loss to determine; as also what the "_such_" is that is predicated of
this nature; nor has Dr. T. told us how he knows that all men will sin
and only sin, when in fact they have natural power to avoid it; or in
what other than "the appropriate circumstances of their being" those are
who become regenerate. In fact, while this theory claims to be orthodox,
and thus to assimilate itself with the old theory, it has only exchanged
one inconsistency for a half score. Its advocates, to be consistent,
must come out plain and open Pelagians, and then meet the Scripture
doctrine of depravity and salvation by grace as they can, or they must
go back to their old ground, and endure the manifest inconsistency they
are now endeavouring to avoid; or, what seems to me better than either,
come on to the Arminian ground, which shuns all these difficulties,
while it maintains constitutional depravity and salvation by grace from
the foundation to the top stone, including of course a gracious ability
to choose life and gain heaven.

2. Another argument in favour of the _necessity_ of Divine grace, in
order to a right choice, is the fact, that God actually gives grace to
those who finally perish, as well as to those who are saved. Of this
fact the Scriptures afford decisive proof. They speak in general terms.
Jesus Christ "is the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into
the world." "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto
all men." They speak in special terms of the unregenerate--that they
_grieve_, _resist_, and _quench_ the _Spirit_ of _grace_, which
certainly they could not do if they had it not. But if they have the
operations of the Spirit, what are these operations? What is the Spirit
doing to the inner man? Will it be said he is bringing motives to bear
upon the mind? But what motives other than those found in the Gospel?
These the sinner has without the Spirit. If these motives can convert
sinners, any of us can convert our neighbours. "But," it is said, "the
Spirit makes the heart _feel_ these motives." Aye, truly he does, and
that not by operating upon the motives, but upon the _heart_, and this
is the very work we contend for. It is thus that the Spirit graciously
arouses and quickens the dead soul, and brings it to _feel_, and excites
it to _act_, in the great work of salvation.

Since, then, it must be granted that unregenerate sinners, and those who
are finally lost, have the operations of this Spirit of grace, let me
seriously inquire, For what purpose is this grace given? On the
Calvinistic ground it cannot be that they may have a chance for
salvation, and thus be without excuse; for this is secured without
grace. Since they have natural ability to come to Christ, the abuse of
that ability is sufficient to secure their just condemnation. So say the
Calvinists; and on this ground they maintain that the reprobates are
justly condemned. For what purpose, then, is this grace given? If we may
establish a general principle by an induction of particulars; if we may
judge of the design of the God of providence or grace, by noticing, in
any given case, the uniform results, then we can easily determine this
point. _God gives grace to the reprobates that their condemnation may be
the more aggravated_. The argument stands thus: God gives grace to the
reprobates for some important purpose. He does not give it that
salvation may be possible to them, for they are able to be saved without
it; he does not give it to make salvation certain, for this it does not
effect; nevertheless he gives them grace, the invariable effect of which
is to increase their condemnation. The only consistent inference;
therefore is, that he gives grace to the reprobates that they may have a
more aggravated condemnation. Here, then, we trace the Calvinistic
theory to one of these _logical consequences_ charged upon it in the
sermon, and which has been so strenuously denied by the reviewers--a
consequence which, revolting as it is, must nevertheless be charged upon
it still, unless its advocates can show why grace is given to the
reprobates when they have all necessary ability to repent and believe
without it.

3. On the ground of this doctrine, also, there would be some difficulty
in accounting for the necessity of giving grace, in all cases, even to
the elect. Why may not some of these repent without grace? Nay, why may
not some of the reprobates, in the plenitude of their natural ability,
repent and be converted, in despite of the decree of reprobation? Did
God foresee that they would not, and on that foresight predicate his
decree of reprobation? But that would be a _conditional_ reprobation,
and would therefore imply its counterpart--a conditional election. This
no class of Calvinists will admit. How happens it, then, that some of
these reprobates do not get converted, since they not only have natural
powers enough to make a right choice but have some grace beside? Is it
because God has fixed the barrier in something else, by which this
ability, grace, and all are rendered nugatory? But this would render
their condemnation unjust, Calvinists themselves being judges. They tell
us that the only just ground of condemnation is, that _the sinner will
not come to Christ_. Here, then, is the most extraordinary thing that
angels or men ever knew; for almost six thousand years there has been
upon our earth a succession of generations of sinners, and its the
present generation of them there are eight hundred millions. All of
these, throughout all their generations, have had no other obstruction
to salvation but what exists in their own will, and each and all have
had by nature all needful ability in the will to a right choice, and
have had a measure of grace super-added, and yet not a reprobate among
them all has ever made a right choice; and not one of the elect ever did
or ever will make such a choice until God, by an omnipotent act, "makes
his elect willing in the day of his power!!" This is a miracle to which
all the other miracles in the world are as nothing--a miracle which
Omnipotence alone can accomplish by a Divine constitution and an
all-controlling energy. Thus this doctrine destroys itself. It assumes
positions, with respect to free will, that cannot be maintained, only on
the supposition of an _efficient_ superior agency to direct the action
of that _free will_, in a course of sinful volition, in hundreds of
millions of cases, without a single variation, save where that variation
is the result of the same superior Power acting in the opposite
direction.

4. That the sinner receives aid by Divine grace to enable him to repent;
and that he could not repent, without this, appears evident from the
Scriptural representation of the ground of man's responsibility. "If I
had not come," says the Saviour, "ye had not had sin." "This is the
condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness
rather than light." "He that believeth not is condemned already,
_because_ he hath not believed in the only begotten Son of God."
"_Because_ I have called, and ye have refused, &c, I also will laugh at
your calamity." These and many other passages seem to imply that the
sinner is rejected on the ground of his neglecting offered grace. But if
this is the ground of his condemnation, it is not for the abuse of
natural power. I see no way for a plausible attempt even to get rid of
this argument, unless it should be attempted to raise a question
respecting the nature of this grace. It may be said that "these passages
only relate to gracious provisions, such as the atonement, the
Scriptures of truth, &c, and have no reference whatever to a gracious
influence upon the mind. The mind had sufficient strength to believe,
repent, &c, but something must be presented to believe in; and some
provision must be made to make repentance available." In reply I would
say, First, Even this shows that man could not have been saved from sin
without grace, and hence on this ground this theory would be involved in
the very difficulty which it attempts to throw upon our view of the
subject, viz., that grace is necessary to make men guilty, because none
can be guilty in a case where their course is unavoidable. But, leaving
this for another place, I would say farther, in reply to the above, that
the Scriptures do not represent this grace as confined to _external
provisions_, but on the contrary speak of it as operating upon and
influencing the mind, and that, too, in the very way for which we
contend. Look at a few Scriptural expressions, promiscuously selected,
and see how clearly they sustain our position. In the first place, to
give the argument full force, let us notice the Scripture account of
man's natural condition. He is "in darkness," "asleep," "dead," "without
strength," "sick," "deaf," "blind," "lame," "bound," "helpless;" and all
this in consequence of sin. Indeed, this is the very definition of his
sinful character and condition. If such language does not describe
_utter inability_ of the sinner to serve God, then no language can do
it. Now let us see what grace does. Its very design is to "awake the
sleeper;" to unstop deaf ears, and "open blind eyes;" to "lighten every
man;" to "strengthen with might by the Spirit in the inner man." "Christ
strengthens" the sinner, that he may "do all things." It is on the
ground that "God worketh in him to will and to do," that man is exhorted
to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling." "Thou
strengthenedst me with strength _in my soul_." But leaving farther
quotations of this kind, let the reader fix his attention on the stress
which the Scriptures lay upon the striving of the Spirit. All the
efficacy of the word is ascribed to the Spirit; and hence the apostle
declares that he "preached the Gospel, with the Holy Ghost sent down
from heaven;" that it "came, not in word, but in _power_." Indeed, "the
letter (of the word) killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." Hence the
frequent cautions not to "grieve" or "quench the Spirit." Now what, I
ask, can all these scriptures mean? Is there any plausibility in the
idea, that by such expressions nothing is meant but the general
provisions of grace in the Gospel economy? That no direct, gracious
influence of the Spirit upon the heart is intended? In fact, the new
idea of conversion by motives and moral suasion seems to be a device to
meet this very difficulty. The old Calvinists charge the advocates of
the New Divinity with holding that all the Spirit does in operating upon
the heart, is not by operating upon it directly, but indirectly _through
the truth_: which has given rise to the saying, "If I were as eloquent
as the Holy Ghost, I could convert souls as well as he." And if they do
hold this, it is no wonder, for indeed it is the legitimate consequence
of the doctrine of natural ability. They doubtless arrive at it
thus:--According to the Scriptures, man's responsibility turns on his
rejecting or improving the grace of God. That grace cannot be an
internal gracious influence upon man's moral nature, because that would
conflict with the notion of responsibility, on the ground of natural
power. These scriptures therefore can mean nothing more than that a
gracious atonement is provided, and a record of Divine truth made, and
now, in the use of his natural power, the sinner is required to judge of
and embrace this truth, which if he does, he in this sense improves the
grace of God, and is converted; but if he does it not, he grieves the
Spirit, and is condemned. Thus in the one case, if he is converted, it
is in the use of his natural power, "choosing in the view of motives;"
and in the other case, if he is not converted, it is in the use of his
natural power, refusing in view of motives. Is not this correct
reasoning? And ought not the New-Haven divines to be commended for
carrying out the system to its legitimate results? And ought not all to
follow them in this, who hold to natural ability? And yet no wonder that
they hesitate here, for cold and spiritless indeed must be that system
of religious experience that resolves the conversion of the soul into a
mere natural operation of choosing, through the influence of moral
suasion.

Leaving this system, therefore, to labour under its fatal
embarrassments, it may be seen, I think, that the system here vindicated
corresponds with the Scriptures and is consistent with itself; for it
makes man's responsibility turn upon grace improved or misimproved, and
it makes that grace an internal quickening influence, and a
strengthening energy upon the heart; and these different features of the
theory, when placed together, all seem at once to be compatible with
each other.

5. Express passages of Scripture teach the doctrine here maintained.

I need not now repeat the passages already referred to, in which the
state of the depraved heart is described, and which show, if any human
language can show it, that man is naturally "without strength." But my
object is to call the attention of the reader to some very direct and
express passages, to show that it is grace, and grace alone, that
enables the soul to do the will of God. "I can do all things," saith the
apostle, "through Christ who strengtheneth me." Query: would not the
apostle have thought it presumption to have said, I can do all things
without strength from Christ? Has he ever intimated such a sentiment in
all his writings? Does he not rather say, "We are not sufficient of
ourselves _to think any thing as of ourselves_, but our _sufficiency is
of God?_" This is the apostle's general language, and it is in perfect
accordance with the declaration of his Master, "Without me ye can do
nothing." "As the branch _cannot_ bear fruit of itself, except it abide
in the vine, _no more can ye_, except ye abide in me." "No man _can
come_ to me, except the Father draw him." "Likewise the Spirit Helpeth
our infirmities; for we know not what to pray for as we ought." "My
grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in
weakness." "The God of all grace--stablish, strengthen, settle you."
"For this cause I bow my knees to the Father, &c, that he would grant
you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with
_might_, by his _Spirit_, in the _inner_ man," "according to the power
that worketh _in us_." It is useless to quote farther. If these passages
do not show that our strength to do good is of grace, then it appears to
me the Holy Spirit must fail of an _ability_ to communicate that idea
through human language. Will it be said that some of these passages
refer to the regenerate, and therefore are not in point to meet the case
of the unregenerate? I would ask, in reply, whether regenerating grace
takes away our natural ability? Certainly if the regenerate can neither
think nor do any thing acceptable without grace, much more do the
unregenerate need this grace to enable them to make a right choice. And
yet in the face of these most explicit scriptures, we are repeatedly
told that man has natural power to make himself a new heart!

To the foregoing considerations, I might add, if any farther proof of
our doctrine were necessary, and if this paper had not been extended so
far already, the universal experience of all Christians. This appears,
from their language, to be the experience of Bible saints, under both
the Jewish and Christian dispensations. And what Christian now living,
but feels now, and felt when he first embraced the Saviour, that the
strength to do this was from God--directly from God, through grace. Hear
his prayers--he pleads his weakness--he asks _for strength_. And what
does he mean by that prayer? Does he ask for some external accommodation
and aid? No; he wants strength, _by the Spirit, in the inner man_. And
this is the prayer of all Christians, whether they advocate this notion
of natural ability or not. The sayings and writings also of these very
advocates of natural ability, so powerful is this feeling of dependence,
are often in perfect coincidence, with the doctrine we defend. A most
striking instance of this is found in Dr. Wood's pamphlet (page 97) in
opposition to Dr. Taylor, as follows:--"The common theory (of
Calvinistic orthodoxy) leads us to entertain low thoughts of ourselves,
especially in a moral view; and to feel that we are not of ourselves
_sufficient for any thing spiritually good_, and that, for whatever
holiness we now possess, or may hereafter attain, we are dependent on
Divine grace." What stronger gracious ability do Arminians hold to, than
this? "Not of ourselves sufficient for any thing spiritually good." And
is this the common theory of Calvinism? Then Calvinism here, as in other
points, is divided against itself. Indeed one would be induced to think,
were it not for the context, either that Dr. Wood differed from his
brothers generally, on this point, or was off his guard at this moment.
But he tells us, in this very paragraph, that he "does not differ at all
from the generality of ministers, in New-England, respecting the natural
powers and faculties of man, as a moral and accountable being." But he
fears the "unqualified language" which Dr. T. "employs respecting the
natural state, the free will, and the power of man." On reading this
last passage, I confess I am at a loss to know what to say or believe of
this Calvinistic opinion of natural power. Dr. Taylor's "unqualified
language" respecting "the power of man," I take to be a frank statement
of Dr. Wood's opinion, and that of other Calvinists. Dr. T. says man has
natural power _sufficient_ to make a right choice. Does not Dr. Wood say
this? He says he does not differ from "the generality;" and it is
notorious that this is the doctrine of the generality of those
ministers. Dr. Tyler, of Portland, one of Dr. Wood's coadjutors in
opposing Dr. Taylor, says, in a sermon[5] on free salvation, "There is
no reprobation taught in the Scriptures, which destroys human liberty,
or which impairs the sinner's _natural power_. Every man is a free moral
agent. Life and death are set before him, and he is _capable_ of
choosing between them." What language can be more "unqualified" than
this? It teaches us that man has _natural power_, which renders him
_capable_ to make a right choice. It is true, Dr. Taylor, and "those who
believe with him," carry out this doctrine into its legitimate and
practical bearings. On the ground of this power, they exhort sinners "to
make themselves new hearts." One of them, as reported to me by a
preacher, went so far as to say, in a public address, that sinners ought
to be ashamed to ask the aid of the Holy Spirit to convert them, since
they had power to convert themselves. And what objection can any, who
hold to natural power to choose life, urge against this? If, as Dr.
Tyler teaches, in his "Examination of Dr. Taylor's Theological Views," a
right choice implies regeneration; and if every man is _naturally
capable_ of a right choice, as taught by this same Dr. Tyler, and the
"generality" of his brethren, then it follows conclusively, and I see
not how any sophistry can cover up the inference, these sinners have
natural power to convert themselves. Instead therefore of hypocritically
pleading their own weakness, before a _throne of grace_, and asking for
mercy and grace to help them in their time of need, they ought to be
crimsoned with shame, for their folly and hypocrisy, turn away from
their impertinent suit, throw themselves upon the _resources of nature_,
and regenerate their own hearts. If however these gentlemen believe it
impossible for sinners to do this, then, taking their whole theory
together, this power is no power, and community, up to this hour, has
been deluded by unmeaning words--words which only serve to conceal the
deformity of a theological system, which, when thoroughly examined, is
found after all, to teach that the poor reprobate has no adequate power
by nature, and receives no available aid from grace to choose salvation,
and must therefore, from the imperious necessity of his nature and
condition, go down to interminable death.



NUMBER XI.

SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED.

It is not pretended that there are no difficulties in our view of the
subject. What important theory is there in philosophy, politics, morals,
or religion, against which some apparently plausible objection may not
be urged? But the inquiry in each case should be, Are those objections
fatal to the system? Or are the difficulties in the proposed system
greater than in some other view of the subject? For reasonable men will
refuse to be driven into the vortex of skepticism merely because there
are some difficulties and obscurities in all subjects of faith, which
the limitations to human vision will not permit us to penetrate. To form
an enlightened comparative view in the case before us, it will be
important that we glance at the different theories on the subject of
depravity and the ground of responsibility.

1. One form in which this subject has been held is, "That the sin of
Adam introduced into his nature such a radical impotence and depravity
that it is impossible for his descendants to make any voluntary efforts
toward piety and virtue, or in any respect to correct and improve their
moral and religious character, and that faith and all the Christian
graces are communicated by the sole and irresistible operation of the
Spirit of God, without any endeavour or concurrence on the part of man."
This of course makes the elect entirely passive in their conversion; and
consigns the reprobate to destruction for the sin of Adam, which, it is
maintained, is imputed to him by virtue of a federal relation; or at
best gives him over to unavoidable personal and eternal condemnation for
possessing a nature which he had no agency in bringing upon himself, and
from which he has no power to extricate himself. The difficulties of
this system are so numerous and so palpable, whether it be tried by the
standard of Scripture, of reason, or of common sense, that I need not
here allude to them. Suffice it to say that they have pressed so heavily
upon the Calvinists themselves as to baffle all their ingenuity and
invention at defence, and have driven them finally into all those
changes and modifications so frequently alluded to in this controversy.
I will here say in advance that, in my opinion, this, after all, is the
strongest position Calvinism can assume. The moment its advocates depart
from this, they must either, to be consistent with themselves, verge
over into the other extreme of Pelagianism, or strike off into the
"golden mean" of Arminianism. This may be more clearly seen in the
sequel.

2. Pelagianism is another, and an opposite theory. It has a variety of
shades, called Pelagian, Semi-pelagian, &c. Its varieties, however,
relate to some minor modifications of the relation of the human family
to Adam, touching natural evil, the death of the body, and greater
exposure to temptation. But there is a uniformity in the essential part
of the theory, which is, that human nature is free from sin or guilt
until it becomes guilty by _intelligent, voluntary exercise_. The
objections to this theory are, among others, as follows. It is in direct
opposition to the Scripture doctrine of native depravity--a doctrine
which has been often and ably treated of and defended by Calvinistic
and, Arminian divines--a doctrine which is embodied in a palpable form
in every man's own experience--a doctrine which not only flashes upon
the mind of the student in every page of the history of man, but also
upon the mind of the unlettered nurse in the earliest emotions of the
infant that struggles in her arms.

Another objection to this theory is, that it gives to infants, previous
to intelligent voluntary exercise, no moral character. Hence, should
they die at this age, as multitudes doubtless do, they would not be fit
subjects either for the rewards of heaven or the pains of hell. At the
Judgment, as they will not be subjects of praise or blame, they will
neither be on the right hand nor the left, and of course will neither be
sentenced to "everlasting punishment," nor welcomed "into life eternal."
If, however, they by any means go into a state of punishment, their
sufferings will be unjust; or if they are admitted into heaven, it will
not be a salvation by grace, nor will it be preceded by regeneration,
nor will their song be, "Unto Him that hath loved us," &c. This is not
only contrary to the whole Gospel system, but also is in direct
opposition to many scriptures, especially Rom. v, 18: "Therefore, as by
the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; so, by
the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto
justification of life." It also leaves infants involved in the natural
evils of diseases, pains; and death, not only without any assignable
cause, but also in direct opposition to the cause assigned by the
apostle--"And so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

A third objection to this theory is, that it destroys the Scripture
doctrine of regeneration. The Scripture account of this matter is, in
substance, that there is a radical change of our moral nature by the
efficient operations of the Holy Ghost. But as this doctrine makes sin
consist exclusively in exercise, so holiness must consist wholly in
exercise. The whole work, therefore, of regeneration is a mere change of
volition; and this volition is not the result of a preceding change of
moral constitution, but it is, like any other volition, produced by the
native power of the mind, under the exciting influence of motives. The
Holy Spirit, therefore, may well be dispensed with in this work. The
supernatural character of the change must be given up, and the whole
work is resolvable into a natural process. It is here worthy of remark
that this is not mere speculation. Such has, in fact, been the final
result of this theory, I believe, in every case where it has long been
defended. And hence, in close connection with this, the supernatural
efficacy of the atonement, and of course the Divine character of the
Redeemer, are found to be notions not at all essential to the system,
and somewhat discordant with the philosophy of its other parts, and are
therefore soon brought into discredit. And this, too, as may be seen by
the history of the Church, has been the practical result wherever
Pelagianism or Semi-pelagianism has been cherished. It has degenerated
into Socinianism. It may be said, then, in one word, that this doctrine
of Pelagianism does, in its teachings, tendencies, and practical
results, supplant and overthrow all the essential principles of the
Gospel system.

3. A third and intermediate theory on the subject of depravity and human
responsibility is the one presented and advocated in the preceding
number. This system is presented, in part, in the very language in which
the Ultra-Calvinists present theirs. Arminians, as well as "Calvinists,
say that the sin of Adam introduced into his nature such a radical
impotence and depravity that it is impossible for his descendants [who,
it is believed, are propagated in the moral likeness of their fallen
ancestor] to make any voluntary efforts [unassisted by grace] toward
piety and virtue, or in any respect to correct and improve their moral
and religious character." Thus far we go together; but this is a point
of divergency, from which we take very different directions. Instead of
going on to say "that the Christian graces are communicated by the
irresistible operation of the Spirit of God, without any endeavour or
concurrence on the part of man," we say that "the saving grace of God
hath appeared unto all Men;" and that this grace so enlightens,
strengthens, and aids the human mind, that it is thereby enabled to make
that choice which is the turning point, conditionally, of the soul's
salvation; and that it is by this same gracious aid that the man, when
he has this good will, is enabled "to work out his salvation" unto the
end. It is in this latter part of the statement that we are at issue
with the Calvinists; but we are at issue on both parts with the
Pelagians of every grade, including, of course, the advocates of the New
Divinity in our country.

To the foregoing statement of our doctrine it is proper to add that we
believe that the merits of the atonement are so available for and in
behalf of the whole human family, that the guilt of depravity is not
imputed to the subject of it until, by intelligent volition, he makes
the guilt his own by resisting and rejecting the grace of the Gospel;
and that being thus by grace in a justified state, the dying infant is
entitled to all the promised blessings of the new covenant, and will, of
course, have wrought in him all that meetness necessary to qualify him
for the gracious rewards of the saints in glory. Thus, according to this
system, the dying infant, as well as the dying adult believer, is
sanctified by the blood of the covenant, and saved by grace.

These are the three systems which are presented to the inquirer after
truth as the alternatives, and perhaps I may say the only alternatives
of choice, in reference to this subject. It is true, the doctrine of
_natural ability_ has been proposed as another alternative, holding an
intermediate place between the doctrines of native impotency as first
stated and of Pelagianism. And it may therefore appear to some, that I
ought, in my enumeration, to have given this as a separate and distinct
theory. My reason, however, for not doing this is, that there cannot, in
my opinion, be such a resting place between the doctrines of derived
constitutional depravity and Pelagianism. Natural ability that is any
thing more than a name--that is, in fact, an _ability_, destroys the
idea of constitutional depravity; and depravity that is any thing more
than a name--that is, in fact, _constitutional depravity_, destroys the
idea of natural ability. A striking proof of this is found in the fact
that a great portion of those divines in the Calvinistic Churches who
have been most decided in preaching up natural ability, have gone over
and embraced the New Divinity, which, as we have seen, abjures the
doctrine of constitutional depravity. The New-Haven divines are
certainly gentlemen of talents and of close thought; and they have been
following up this doctrine for a number of years, and it has landed them
upon the logical conclusion that _there is no such depravity_. But we
need not trust to the conclusions of the New Divinity advocates, to show
that the notions of natural ability and natural freedom from guilt and
sin necessarily and reciprocally imply each other. Why have Calvinists
left their old ground of natural impotency, and resorted to the dogma of
a natural ability? It is for the avowed reason that there can be no
guilt without an ability to avoid it. But since the sin of his nature is
unavoidable to the new-born infant, of course he can have no guilt, and
by consequence _no sin_, until he is capable of an intelligent moral
choice. Again: this same theory tells us that where there is no natural
ability there is no moral character. But as the infant cannot be
reasonably supposed to have ability to put forth an intelligent holy
volition, he can have no moral character, and of course no sin.

The only way to avoid this conclusion in connection with the assumed
premises is, to maintain that "the infant, from his birth, is a
voluntary agent; and thus, in fact, to a certain extent, sinful." And
would you believe, reader, that any reasonable man would resort to such
an idea for the sake of helping out a theory? _And yet it is even so_. A
paper lately published under the sanction of the New Divinity,
purporting to be an inquiry into "what is the real difference between
the New-Haven divines and those who differ from them," says, "The ground
has of late been taken (if we understand the discussions on this
subject) that mankind are literally _at birth_ voluntary and accountable
agents, and actual sinners against God; that the new-born infant is a
responsible subject of God's moral government, and actually sins with a
knowledge of his duty, and in the same sense with the adult sinner
violates moral obligation, does wrong, ought to be penitent, and to
change its moral character." And as a proof that this is the ground now
assumed, the same writer gives us a quotation from Rev. Mr. Harvey, who
has been one of the most active in this state in opposition to the
New-Haven divines, in which he says, "A moral being, for aught we know,
may commence his existence in an _active_, _voluntary_ state of the
will; he may be a voluntary agent from his birth, and thus, in fact, to
a certain extent sinful, and that without supposing that _depravity is
seated in any thing but the will_." This same writer also states that
Dr. Spring, in a treatise on "native depravity," a work which I have not
at hand, has advanced and defended the sentiment of "_actual_ sin from
birth." And has it indeed come to this at last, that this natural
ability, for which Calvinists have so strenuously contended, is nothing
more than the power the new-born infant has to commit actual sin on the
one hand, or "make himself a new heart" on the other! Alas for
Calvinism! To what miserable shifts--yes, I must call them _miserable_
shifts--is this system driven! On this subject I will not express myself
in accordance with my feelings. The respect I have for the intelligent,
learned, and pious gentlemen who have advanced this idea, restrains me
in this matter. Such a result, in the advocacy of a favourite theory, is
however in strict accordance with the known obliquity of the greatest
and purest minds. But while we respect the authors of such a theory, and
while we feel the necessity of taking heed to ourselves, lest we also
fall by the same example of prejudice, we cannot suffer our common sense
to be imposed upon by such gross absurdities. In this, however, we see
that, as before, in trying to maintain their _ability_, they gave up
their _depravity_: so here, in trying to establish their _depravity_,
they destroy their _ability_. Nay, what is still worse for this theory,
this very attempt to prove that infants are "_actual_ sinners from their
birth," is an indirect denial of the doctrine of derived depravity. Why
do these gentlemen wish to establish this point? Why, forsooth, in order
to show that men are _guilty_ from their birth, which is an
acknowledgment, of course, that they cannot prove them guilty only by
proving that they have intelligent moral exercise. Consequently it is a
concession that this exercise is the occasion and origin of their guilt.
This is not the first time that Calvinism, in trying to save itself, has
gone over and joined the ranks of its opposers. Can the reader see the
difference between this doctrine of actual sin from the birth, viewed in
connection with its origin and bearings, and the New Divinity, which
makes sin consist exclusively in moral exercise? Let these old-side
Calvinists, then, sheath the sword of controversy which they have drawn
against their brethren, and join in with them to defend, if possible,
the Pelagian doctrine which, it would seem, after all, they hold in
common stock. Has the Rev. Mr. Harvey been so active in getting up an
opposition theological school in Connecticut to teach that the infant
"commences his existence in an _active voluntary_ state of the will, and
is thus (_on this account_) to a certain extent sinful?" This is clearly
a work of supererogation--a useless expenditure of money and of talents.
The New-Haven Theological School is capable--alas! too capable of
carrying on this work, especially if Mr. Harvey and his friends will
cease their opposition, and unite in their assistance. Does Mr. Harvey
fear that the New-Haven divines will not begin their "_moral exercise_"
early enough to make it _natural depravity?_ They have given assurances
that they will not be particular on that point. Only allow that there is
no sin previous to the first intelligent act of choice--previous to the
corresponding power to make themselves new hearts, and they will be
satisfied. They have said already that "this capableness of sinning, if
it is not at the exact moment of birth, [and they do not affirm that it
is not,] commences so early in their existence, that it is proper, for
all the great purposes of instruction, to speak of it as existing from
the beginning of their days." Hence we see nothing between these
gentlemen on this point worth contending about. It will, however, be
important that all who hold to conversion by motives and mere moral
suasion should not put the commencement of these "moral exercises" so
far back that the subject cannot understand Gospel truth; otherwise they
may yet get into another difficulty as serious as the one they are
trying to avoid. But to the subject. It has been very distinctly shown,
I think, from the reasoning of the Calvinists themselves, and from the
nature of the case, that there can be no such intermediate theory as
they contend for, between the native impotency of old Calvinism and
Pelagianism. But as this is an important point, I will illustrate it
farther by an examination of the _seat_ of this Calvinistic depravity.
It is seen, by the quotation above from Mr. Harvey, that he considers
"depravity as seated in nothing but the will." And this is avowedly the
sentiment of at least all those Calvinists who believe in natural
ability. It is on this ground that they reiterate incessantly, "You can
if you will;" "There is no difficulty except what is found in a perverse
will." It is on this ground, also, that they tell us "a right choice is
conversion." They do not say a right choice is a _condition_ or a fruit
of the new birth; but _it is itself the new birth_. But to understand
this subject clearly, it is important to know what they mean by the
will. It appears to me they use this term with great indefiniteness, if
not latitude of meaning. If they mean by this what I understand to be
the legitimate meaning of the term "the mental power or susceptibility
of putting forth volitions;" then to say that all depravity is seated in
the will, is to be guilty of the gross absurdity of teaching that the
affections have not a moral character. If by the will, however, they
mean, as they frequently seem to mean, the affections themselves going
out in desire after some proposed good, then indeed they establish the
New-Haven theory, that all sin consists in moral exercise. Thus by
placing all depravity in the will, whether by this is meant the power of
willing, or the exercise of the affections, they, in the one case,
exclude sin from the affections altogether, and in the other affirm the
doctrine of Pelagianism. But if by the will they mean something
different from either of the above definitions, then I frankly confess I
know not what they mean. Should they however, change their ground, and
place the seat of this depravity in the constitution of man's moral
nature, as it exists anterior to any act of volition, then and in that
case they throw the subject back on the old ground of natural impotency;
for to talk of a natural power to change the moral constitution, as it
existed prior to choice, and which constitution must, by the law of its
nature, exercise a controlling influence over the mind, is the same as
to talk of a natural power to alter one's own nature, or to unmake and
remake himself. In this case we must have supernatural aid, or we must
remain as we are.

We shall not be fully prepared to judge correctly on this subject until
we have examined one more preliminary question, viz. What is the precise
meaning that we are to attach to the terms, _natural_ and _moral
ability_, as used by the Calvinists? To ascertain this, I have examined
such authors as I have had access to, with care; and I have been
particular to consult _recent_ authors, that I might not be accused of
charging old and exploded doctrines upon our opposers; and _various_
authors, that I might ascertain any varieties that appertain to the
different Calvinistic schools. In particular, the author of "Views in
Theology;" Dr. Griffin, in a late work on "Divine Efficiency;" Rev.
Tyler Thatcher, of the Hopkinsian school; and a doctrinal tract,
entitled, "Man a Free Agent without the Aid of Divine Grace," written,
it is presumed, by one of the divines of the New-Haven school have been
consulted. There is among them all a remarkable uniformity on this
point. If I understand them, the substance of what they say is, "Natural
power consists in the possession of understanding, conscience, and will;
and moral power is the _exercise_ of these faculties." Mr. Thatcher says
this in so many words.--The tract alluded to gives this definition of
natural power. Dr. Griffin says "their [sinners'] faculties constitute a
natural ability, that is, a full power to love and serve God, if their
hearts are well disposed." It certainly must appear, at the first
glance, very singular to every mind not embarrassed by theory, that
either the _possession_ of faculties, or the _exercise_ of faculties,
should be called _power_. The idea of _power_ is supposed, by the best
philosophical writers, to be undefinable, from the fact that it is a
simple idea; but here, strange to tell, we have it analyzed in two
different forms. Faculties are power--the exercise of faculties is
power. Now, although we cannot define power, every one doubtless has a
clear conception of it; and I humbly conceive that the common sense of
every man will decide that neither of the above definitions embraces the
true idea of power. The _exercise_ of faculties _implies_ power, it is
granted; but every one must see that it is not power itself. And
although the _faculties_ of the mind are sometimes called the _powers_
of the mind by a kind of borrowed use of the term power, just as the
limbs or muscles are called the _powers_ of the body, yet it requires
very little discrimination to see that as we may possess these powers of
the body entire, and yet they be defective from some cause, as to some
of their appropriate functions, so we may possess these powers or
faculties of mind entire, and yet they may be defective in that moral
strength necessary to a holy choice. Hence the possession of these
faculties does not even _imply_ power adequate to a holy choice; much
less are they _power itself_. I marvel therefore at these definitions of
moral and natural power, and am thereby confirmed in the opinion
advanced in my former number, viz. "That the whole of this distinction
(of natural and moral ability) and the reasoning from it, proceed on the
ground of a most unphilosophical analysis of mind, and an unwarranted
definition of terms." This may seem a strong statement from so humble an
individual as myself, in view of the many able minds that have adopted
the opinions here opposed. But neither their opinion nor mine will weigh
much, in this controversy, except as sustained by reasonable arguments;
and by such arguments the present writer expects to stand or fall. Look
then, reader, to both sides of this subject. Dr. Griffin himself seems
to be at a loss how to explain himself on this subject. When he wishes
to oppose the New-Haven divines, and guard against their error, he says,
"If you mean by power, an ability that works without Divine efficiency,
I hope I shall be the last to believe that." "And every body knows that
the mass of the New-England divines, from the beginning, have
acknowledged no such doctrine."

And why is _Divine efficiency_ necessary?--Because man has no ability
that will "work," without it. Thus the moment he sets up a guard against
Pelagianism, he throws himself back either upon our doctrine, or upon
the old Calvinistic doctrine of "native impotency." There is no standing
place any where else. The New-Haven divines are right, if natural
ability is right; and the time cannot be far distant when the love of
consistency will drive all, who hold to natural ability, either on to
the New Divinity ground, or back to old Calvinism. From this remark the
reader will see how much depends, if my views are correct, upon the
proper adjustment of this question. It is in fact the turning point,
which is to give a character to the theology of the Churches. Let us not
then be in haste to pass over it. Hear Dr. Griffin farther. "Now if you
ask me what is that power, which is never exerted without Divine
efficiency? I can only say, that, in the account of the Divine mind, it
is the proper basis of obligation, and therefore by the decision of
common sense, must be called a power." The doctor had a little before
told us, that this power was faculties--he is not satisfied with this;
and what well instructed mind, like the doctor's, could be? It is
something that forms the "basis of obligation," he knows not what it is.
He merely infers there is such a power, because men are held
responsible. But this inference will flow quite as naturally, by taking
the Arminian ground of gracious ability, and save the other difficulties
beside. At any rate, it will save the absurdity of holding to an
ability, that will not "work," without being strengthened by Divine aid,
and yet that this same ability is sufficient for all purposes of
obligation without that aid.

We shall find equal difficulty, if we take up and examine this
definition of _moral_ power. It is "the exercise of natural power." But
these same writers tell us that, while we have this natural power
sufficient without Divine grace to form a basis of obligation, "we are
entirely dependent upon God's grace for moral power"--in other words,
according to the definition of moral power, we are dependent upon grace
for the _exercise_ of our natural power--and since natural power means
the faculties of the understanding, will, and conscience--the statement
is simply and evidently this: we are dependent upon Divine grace for the
exercise of our understanding, conscience, and will, in making a holy
choice. Why? Because the understanding, conscience, and will are so
depraved by nature, that it is not in their nature to "work" in this
exercise, without this Divine grace. Is not this holding the gracious
ability after all? Is it singular then that Dr. Griffin should say, in
another place--"They (sinners) are bound to go forth to their work at
once, _but they are not bound to go_ alone: it is their privilege and
duty to cast themselves _instantly_ on the Holy Ghost, and not to take a
single step in their own _strength?_" Or is it any wonder that the
Christian Spectator should say, that "this statement of Dr. Griffin
brings him directly on the ground of evangelical Arminianism?" And is
this the ability that "the mass of the New-England divines have held to
from the beginning?" Not exactly. They only slide over on this ground
occasionally, when they are pressed hard with Pelagianism on the one
hand, and the old doctrine of passivity on the other. For the truth is,
as before remarked, they have not a single point to balance themselves
upon between these two, only as they light upon our ground.

There is still another difficulty in this moral power, as it is called.
It implies the absurdity, that power to obey God is obedience itself.
For a right exercise of our natural powers is obedience. But the right
exercise of our natural power is moral power--therefore

Our moral power to obey God is obedience!! And this will give us a clue
to the proper understanding of that oft-repeated Calvinistic
saying--"You have power to obey God, if your heart is rightly disposed,"
or in short hand--"You can if you will." Now the verb _will_ here
evidently means the right _exercise_ of the natural faculties--that is,
as shown above, it means obedience. Hence the whole and proper meaning
of this notable saying is--"You have power to obey God, _if you obey
him_." "You _can_ if you _do_." This is a sort of logic which, when
scanned down to its naked character, one would get as little credit in
refuting, as its abettors are entitled to for its invention and use. And
yet this is the logic which, in its borrowed and fictitious costume has
led thousands in our land to suppose that Calvinism, as it is now
modified, is the same, or nearly the same with Methodism.

There is still another striking solecism, necessarily connected with
this definition of power. It supposes it to have no actual existence,
until the necessity for it ceases. For in the order of cause and effect,
natural power effects the act of obedience; and this effect of natural
power, producing obedience, gives existence to moral power. Thus we have
power to obey, super-added to the power that has actually obeyed! If,
however, Calvinists say this is treating the subject unfairly, because
their very definition shows that they do not mean by it any thing which
_enables_ man to obey--I answer, that my reasoning went upon the ground,
that it was what they call it--_power;_ and if they do not mean power,
that is only acknowledging the position I started upon, that this
Calvinistic power is no power at all. And here I ask, in the name of
candour, What is the use of calling things by wrong names? What
confusion and error may not be introduced by applying common and well
defined terms in such a manner, that, when the things to which they are
applied, are defined, it is seen that the terms thus applied are worse
than useless; they directly mislead the mind! It is the direct way to
bring Christian theology and Christian ministers into distrust and
reproach.

One thought more, with respect to this moral power, and I will pass on.
The doctrine of Calvinism is, if I understand it, that God controls the
natural power of men, by means of their moral power. This some of them
expressly affirm. And to show that I am not mistaken with respect to the
others, let the reader carefully attend to the following considerations.
What is it secures the fulfilment of the Divine decrees, in respect to
the elect and the reprobate? Why do not some of the reprobates, in the
use of natural ability, repent and get to heaven? Because they have not
the moral power. Why do not some of the elect, in the use of the same
ability, fall into sin and finally perish? Because God makes and keeps
them willing in the day of his power--that is, he irresistibly imparts
to them this moral power. Thus, by means of this, which he keeps in his
own hands he executes his decrees. For God, of set purpose, so
constituted this natural power, that it does not "work" without Divine
efficiency. By moral power; therefore, natural power is controlled. Now,
to say nothing here of the absurdity of efficiently and irresistibly
controlling one power by another, and yet calling that other the essence
of free agency, and the basis of obligation--look at the absurdity in
another point of view. Since moral power is the exercise of natural
power, the former must be the _effect_ of the latter. And since,
according to Calvinism, natural power is controlled by moral power, it
follows conclusively; that the effect controls its cause!! And since the
cause must act, before the effect is produced, it follows that the
effect, before it has an existence, acts upon its cause to produce its
own existence!!! This is certainly a nullification of both cause and
effect: Such are some of the difficulties of these definitions of
power--definitions as contrary to the common understandings of men, and
the common laws of language, as they are to sound philosophy--definitions
which, if they were always understood, when the terms were used; would
make the propositions in which these terms are found, sound very
differently to the common ear. I trust therefore it has been made to
appear, that "this distinction of natural and moral ability, and the
reasonings upon it, are founded on a most unphilosophical analysis of
mind and an unwarranted definition of terms," and that, after all the
efforts of the Calvinists to find out another alternative, they will be
under the necessity, if they would be consistent, either of going back
to the old Calvinistic ground, of remediless impotency, or of advancing
on to the Pelagian ground of the New Divinity; or they must accept of
the Arminian theory of gracious ability. And that the reader may be
prepared to make his selection, I will here remind him of the arguments
adduced in favour of the latter doctrine, in the last number, while I
next proceed to answer more specifically the objections that have been
urged against it, which however for an obvious reason must be withheld
until the next number.



NUMBER XII.

OBJECTIONS TO GRACIOUS ABILITY ANSWERED.

In consulting different authors to find the strongest objections that
have been urged against our doctrine of ability by grace, I have fixed
upon the doctrinal tract, already alluded to, entitled, "Man a Free
Agent without the Aid of Divine Grace," as concentrating in a small
compass, and in a clear and able manner, the sum total of these
objections. I may not follow the precise order of this writer, and
possibly shall pass over some of his remarks as of minor importance; but
the substance of his reasoning shall receive such notice as I shall be
able to give it.

1. The first objection is, in substance, this: that without being a free
agent man cannot be _man;_ that free agency in fact enters into the very
definition of an intelligent, morally responsible being; and therefore
he must be such by nature.

This objection gains all its plausibility from the writer's definition
of free agency. "It consists," he says, "in the possession of
_understanding_, _conscience_, and _will_." Now we grant that the being
who possesses these is an intelligent voluntary agent. But these
faculties, as we have seen, may be disordered, so that, for all holy
purposes, they may be defective. The understanding may be darkened, the
conscience may be seared, the power to choose good may be weakened
either positively or relatively. _Liberty_ is a distinct faculty of the
soul; and as such is as subject to derangement as any other mental
susceptibility. It has, we say, suffered materially by the fall; so that
man has not his original aptitude or facility to good. And whether we
consider this as a weakness appertaining directly to the faculty of the
will itself, or whether we consider it a relative weakness, (which is
probably the more philosophical,) resulting from the loss of a moral
equilibrium in the mind, by reason of the uncontrolled sway of the
passions, in either case the primary cause and the practical result are
the same. Sin has perverted the soul, and given it an unholy declination
from righteousness to an extent which none but God can rectify. With
this view of the subject, the writer may call man a free agent if he
pleases; but he is only free to unrighteousness, and not to holiness.

Our objector was aware that his argument might be disposed of in this
way; and hence in a note he says, "Some writers speak of man, in his
natural state, as _free only_ to evil. But in what does such freedom
differ from mere instinct? With no power to do otherwise, how is he who
murders a fellow creature more criminal than the tiger, or even a
falling rock that destroys him?" The fallacy of this argument consists
chiefly in a misrepresentation of our theory. Instead of holding that
man "has no power to do otherwise," we believe, as much as this author,
that man has ample power at his command to do otherwise; but that this
power is of grace, and not of nature. Any farther supposed difficulties
growing out of this view of the subject will be explained, I trust
satisfactorily, as we advance.[6]

2. "Every man is conscious that he possesses the faculties which
constitute free agency."--Here again we must keep in view the writer's
definition. We shall find no difficulty in granting that every man is
conscious that he possesses the faculties of understanding, conscience,
and will; but that these, unaided by grace, constitute man free to a
holy choice, is denied; and this is the very question in debate. To
affirm it therefore in argument is begging the question.

It however, the author means to say, as his reasoning on this point
seems to imply, that man is conscious of being a free agent, in the
responsible sense of the term, this is also granted; but then this does
not touch the question whether this power is of grace or of nature. But,
says the writer, "When man, under the influence of grace, does choose
the good, he is not conscious of any new faculty or power to choose, but
only he uses that power in a different manner. The power or faculty
which chooses evil and which chooses good, is the same power differently
used." Whoever disputed this?--understanding by power a faculty of the
soul, as this author evidently does. We all acknowledge that the soul
gets no new faculties by grace; but we believe that the mind, in the
exercise of its natural faculties, is assisted by grace to make a right
choice. But, says the writer, in this connection, "Power to choose
between two objects is power to choose either." If the writer means to
say that power to choose either the one or the other of two objects _is_
power to choose either--this is an identical proposition: it is only
saying, _If a thing is, it is_. But if he means to say, when two objects
are presented to the mind, and the mind finds itself possessed of a
power to attach itself voluntarily to one, that therefore it has the
_same power_ to attach itself to the other, this is denied; and as no
proof is given or pretended by the objector, nothing but a denial is
necessary. On this point the founder of the Calvinistic school was
undoubtedly correct--philosophically and theologically correct--when he
said, "Man has not an equally free election of good and evil."

But that I may meet this objection founded on consciousness, full in the
face, I am prepared to assert, and I think prove, that man, so far from
being conscious that he has by nature adequate power to serve God, is
conscious of the very reverse of this. What truly awakened sinner has
not a deep conviction of his utter helplessness? How many experiences of
intelligent and pious Calvinists could I quote on this point? As a
specimen take that of the Rev. David Brainerd, who stands high in the
Church, not only among Calvinists, but among all Christians who know
him. I quote a passage from his experience quoted by Dr. Griffin: "I saw
that it was utterly impossible for me to do any thing toward helping or
delivering myself. I had the greatest certainty that my state was for
ever miserable for all that I could do, and wondered that I had never
been sensible of it before."--This passage is very strong; too
unqualified, perhaps, but it is the natural language of a weak sinner,
convinced, as all must be before they _can become strong_, of their
utter helplessness without grace. How fully does such a one prove the
truth of Scripture, that "the _natural_ man receiveth not the things of
the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither _can_ he
know them, for they are spiritually discerned;" that "no man knoweth the
Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him." Hence the
necessity that "the Spirit should take of the things of Jesus Christ,
and show them unto them." Indeed, but for this darkness and weakness of
the understanding, the penitent sinner would not feel the necessity of
the agency of the Spirit: nor would it in fact be necessary. It is on
this ground that the doctrine of natural ability has led to the idea of
conversion by _moral suasion_. Thus it is evident that a man may be
conscious of having an understanding, but at the same time be as _fully_
conscious that that understanding is too dark and weak for holy
purposes, unaided by grace. The same is also true of conscience.
Experience teaches us that it often becomes languid or dead, and needs
quickening. Hence the Christian often prays--

   "Quick as the apple of an eye,
      O God! my conscience make;
   Awake my soul when sin is nigh,
      And keep it still awake."

Hence also we pray God to alarm the conscience of sinners. So also we
learn from Scripture and experience that the conscience needs purging
"from dead works," for the very object that we may be able "to serve God
with filial fear;" we learn also that we may have "defiled consciences,"
"weak consciences," "seared consciences," &c. And here let it be
noticed, that whether we understand these passages as applying to the
regenerate or unregenerate, to derived depravity or contracted
depravity, the argument against the objector will in every case apply
with resistless force, viz. it shows that this faculty of the soul may
become so disordered as to have its original healthy action impaired,
and that in this case nothing can give it its original sensibility and
strength but the God who made it. If sin does disorder the conscience,
it disordered Adam's: and if he begat children in his own moral
likeness, then his posterity had a similar conscience. And therefore it
is necessary that, as by the offence of the first Adam sin abounded, so
by the obedience of the second, grace may abound in a way directly to
meet the evil.

Let us next examine the will. Are we not conscious that this also is
weak? How repeatedly does the awakened sinner resolve and fail! until he
becomes deeply impressed that he is "without strength!" He tries to keep
the law, but cannot; for he finds that "the carnal mind is not subject
to the law of God, neither indeed _can be_." Hear his complaint! and
that we may be sure of taking a genuine case, let us select a Bible
experience from Rom. vii; "I am carnal, sold under sin." (How much
liberty to serve God has a bond slave to sin?) "That which I do I allow
not; for what I would do that I do not, but what I hate that do I." "To
will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find
not," &c. (See through the chapter.) Hear him finally exclaim, in self
despair, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Why, Saul
of Tarsus! are you not conscious that you have understanding,
conscience, and will? Why make such an exclamation? Who shall deliver
you? _Deliver yourself_. No! such philosophy and such theology were not
known to this writer, neither as a penitent sinner, nor as an inspired
apostle. "I thank God, through Jesus Christ my Lord."--"The law of the
spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law [the
controlling power] of sin and death."

Should any one say that the apostle was not describing his _conversion_
here, but his experience as a Christian believer, I reply: If any thing,
_that_ would make the passage so much the stronger for my present
purpose; for "if these things are done in the green tree, what shall be
done in the dry?" If a saint--one who has been washed and renewed--finds
nevertheless that his will is so weak as to need the continued grace of
God to enable him to do the things that he would, much more is this true
of the unrenewed sinner. If this account of the apostle's experience
means any thing, _it is as express a contradiction of the doctrine, that
we have natural strength to serve God, as could be put into words_. And
I am bold to say that this is the experience of all Christians. And it
presents an argument against the doctrine of natural ability which no
metaphysical reasoning can overthrow--not indeed an argument to prove
that we have not understanding, conscience, and will; but to show that,
having these in a disordered and debilitated state, grace is
indispensable to aid them, in order to an efficient holy choice. How
often soever the judgment may be brought to a preference of the Divine
law, it will as often be carried away by the strength of the unholy
passions until it is delivered by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
_We are conscious therefore that we have not natural power to keep the
Divine law_.

3. But it is objected again, "that the Scriptures require us to use our
natural faculties in the service of God;" and hence the inference is,
that these faculties are adequate to this service.

It is certainly no objection to our doctrine, that the Scriptures,
dealing with man as he is, require him to use his natural powers to
serve God. With what other powers should he serve him? I again repeat
that the question is not, whether we have _mental faculties_, nor
whether man may or can serve God with these faculties, but simply
whether the command to obey is given independently of the considerations
of grace. We say it is not; and in proof refer to the Scriptures, which
give a promise corresponding with every command, and assurances of
gracious aid suited to every duty--all of which most explicitly imply,
not only man's need, but also the ground on which the command is
predicated. And with this idea agrees the alleged condemnation, so often
presented in the Scriptures: "This is the condemnation, that light has
come into the world, and men have loved darkness." "He that believeth
not is condemned already." "But they grieved his Holy Spirit, therefore
he is turned to be their enemy." "How shall we escape, if we neglect so
great salvation." These, and many other passages, show that the turning
point of guilt and condemnation is not so much the abuse of natural
powers, as the neglect and abuse of grace bestowed.

This point may be illustrated by Christ's healing the withered hand. He
commanded the man to stretch it forth. What was the ground of that
command, and what was implied in it? The ground of it was, that aid
would be given him to do it; otherwise the command to stretch forth a
palsied limb would have been unreasonable. And yet it was understood
that the man was to have no new muscles, or nerves, or bones, to
accomplish this with; but he was to use those he had, assisted, as they
would be, by the gracious power of God. So man, it is true, is commanded
to use his natural powers in obeying God; but not without Divine aid,
the promise of which is always either expressed or implied in the
command.

4. "The Scriptures ascribe no other inability to man to obey God, but
that which consists in or results from the perversion of those faculties
which constitute him a moral agent."

It is true, the Scriptures blame man for his inability--for inability
they certainly ascribe to him, and why? Because where sin abounded grace
has much more abounded. That sinners are perverse and unprepared for
holy obedience up to this hour is undoubtedly their own fault, for grace
has been beforehand with them. It met them at the very threshold of
their moral agency, with every thing necessary to meet their case. It
has dug about the fruitless fig tree. It has laid the foundation to say
justly, "What more could I have done for my vineyard?" If the sinner has
rejected all this, and has increased his depravity by actual
transgression, then indeed is he justly chargeable for all his
embarrassments and moral weakness, for he has voluntarily assumed to
himself the responsibility of his native depravity, and he has added to
this the accumulated guilt of his repeated sins.

5. It is farther objected, with a good deal of confidence, that
Arminians, after all, make man's natural power the ground and measure of
his guilt, since "no part of his free agency arises from furnished
grace, but it consists simply inability to use or abuse that grace, and
of course in an ability distinct from, and not produced by the grace."

Let us see, however, if there is not some sophistry covered up here.
Arminians do not mean that man's ability to use grace is independent of,
and separate from the grace itself. They say that man's powers are
directly assisted by grace, so that through this assistance they have
ability or strength _in those powers_ which before they had not, to make
a right choice. To talk of ability to use gracious ability, in any other
sense, would be absurd. It would be like talking of _strength_ to use
_strength_--of _being able to be able_. This absurdity, however, appears
to me justly chargeable upon the natural ability theory, taken in
connection with the Scripture account of this matter. The Scriptures
instruct us to look to God for strength; that he gives us "power to
become the children of God;" that he "strengthens with might in the
inner man, that we may be _able_," &c. This theory, however, tells us
that we have an ability back of this; an ability on which our
responsibility turns, and by means of which we can become partakers of
the grace of the Gospel. This is certainly to represent the Divine Being
as taking measures to make _ability able_, and adding power to make
_adequate strength sufficiently strong_.--Such is the work of
supererogation which this theory charges upon the Gospel, for which its
advocates alone are answerable; but let them not, without better ground,
attempt to involve us in such an absurdity. But the strongest
objections, in the opinion of those who differ from us, are yet to come.
They are of a doctrinal, rather than of a philosophical character, and
are therefore more tangible, and will, for this reason, perhaps, be more
interesting to the generality of readers. Let us have patience, then, to
follow them out.

6. _Doctrinal Objections_.--On the ground of gracious ability it is
objected that, 1. "As the consequence of Adam's fall, Adam himself and
all his posterity became incapable of committing another sin." 2. "Every
sinful action performed in this world, since the fall of Adam, has been
the effect of supernatural grace." 3. "Man needed the grace of God, not
because he was wicked, but because he was weak." 4. "The moral
difference between one man and another is not to be ascribed to God." 5.
"The posterity of Adam needed no Saviour to atone for actual sin." 6.
"This opinion is inconsistent with the doctrine of grace." 7. "There can
be no guilt in the present rebellion of the infernal regions." 8. "Is
not this grace a greater calamity to our race than the fall of Adam?"

I have thrown these objections together, and presented them in
connection to the reader, for the reason that they all rest mainly on
one or two erroneous assumptions, to correct which will be substantially
to answer them all.

One erroneous assumption of this writer is, that "there is no free
agency to do wrong, which is not adequate to do right." This writer
seems to think this a self-evident proposition, which needs no proof;
for although he has used it in argument a number of times, he has left
it unsustained by any thing but his naked assertion. This proposition
has already been denied, and an unqualified denial is all that in
fairness can be claimed by an antagonist to meet an unqualified
assertion. Our object, however, is truth, and not victory. Let me
request you then, reader, to look at this proposition. Can you see any
self-evident proof of this assertion? If the Creator should give
existence to an intelligent being, and infuse into his created nature
the elements of unrighteousness, and give to his faculties an
irresistible bias to sin, and all this without providing a remedy, or a
way for escape, then indeed all our notions of justice would decide that
such a being ought not to be held responsible. But this is not the case
with any of the sinful beings of God's moral government.--Not of the
fallen angels, for they had original power to stand, but abused it and
fell--not of fallen man, for in the first place his is not a created
depravity; but, in the case of Adam, it was contracted by voluntary
transgression when he had power to stand; and in the case of his
posterity, it is derived and propagated in the ordinary course of
generation: and in the second place, a remedy is provided which meets
the exigencies of man's moral condition, at the very commencement of his
being. This it does by graciously preventing the imputation of guilt
until man is capable of an intelligent survey of his moral condition;
for "as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men unto
condemnation: even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came
upon all men unto justification of life." And when man becomes capable
of moral action, this same gracious remedy is suited to remove his
native depravity, and to justify him from the guilt of actual
transgression; for "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It does
not appear, then, either from the obvious character of the proposition
itself; or from the condition of sinful beings, that "the same free
agency which enables a man to do wrong, will enable him also to do
right." Hence it is not true that Adam, by the fall, lost his power to
sin, or that there is now no sin in the infernal regions. It is true,
the writer tries to sustain this idea farther, by asserting that "_that_
ceases to be a moral wrong which is unavoidable; for no being can be
held responsible for doing what is unavoidable." This is little better,
however, than a reiteration of the former assumption. If the character
and conduct of a being are not _now_, and never _have been_ avoidable,
then indeed he ought not to have guilt imputed to him. But to say that
there is "no moral wrong" in the case, is to say that characters and
actions are not wrong in themselves, even where it would not be just to
impute guilt. And this is an idea which is implied also in another part
of this writer's reasoning; for he tells us that, according to the
doctrine of gracious ability "every sinful action performed in this
world, since the fall of Adam, has been the effect of supernatural
grace;" and that "man needed the grace of God, not because he was
wicked, but because he was weak," &c. This reasoning, or rather these
propositions, are predicated on the assumption, that there is no _moral
wrong_ where there is no _existing_ ability to do right: in other words,
that dispositions and acts of intelligent beings are not _in themselves_
holy or unholy, but are so only in reference to the _existing_ power of
the being who is the subject of these dispositions and acts.

But is this correct? Sin may certainly exist where it would not be just
to impute it to the sinner. For the apostle tells us that "until the law
sin was in the world;" and yet he adds, "Sin is not imputed (he does not
say sin does not exist,) where there is no law." The fact there are
certain dispositions and acts that are _in their nature_ opposite to
holiness, whatever may be the power of the subject _at the time_ he
possesses this character or performs these acts. Sin is sin, and
holiness is holiness, under all circumstances. They have a positive, and
not merely a relative existence. And although they have not existence
abstract from an agent possessing understanding, conscience, and will,
still they may have an existence abstractly from the power of being or
doing otherwise at the time. If not, then the new-born infant has no
moral character, or he has power to become holy with his first breath.
Whether the subject of this unavoidable sin shall be responsible for it,
is a question to be decided by circumstances. If a being has had power,
and lost it by his own avoidable act, then indeed he is responsible for
his impotency--his very weakness becomes his crime, and every act of
omission or commission resulting from his moral impotency, is justly
imputed to him, the assertion of our objector to the contrary
notwithstanding. Hence it is incorrect to say there is now "no guilt in
the rebellion of the infernal regions." It is of little consequence
whether, in this case, you assume that all the guilt is in the first
act, by which the ability to do good was lost, or in each successive act
of sin, which was the unavoidable consequence of the first. In either
case, the acts that follow are the measure of the guilt; and hence,
according to the nature of the mind, the consciousness of guilt will be
constantly felt, as the acts occur. For all practical purposes,
therefore, the sense of guilt, and the Divine administration of justice
will be the same in either view of the subject. The writer supposes the
case of "a servant's cutting off his hands to avoid his daily task," and
says, "this he is to blame, and ought to be punished;" but thinks he
ought not to be punished for his subsequent deficiencies. But I ask, How
much is he to blame, and to what extent should he be punished? His guilt
and punishment are to be measured, certainly, by the amount of wrong he
has done his master--that is, by every act of omission consequent upon
this act, which rendered these omissions unavoidable. Therefore he is
justly punishable for every act of omission; and you may refer this
whole punishment to the first act exclusively, or to all the acts
separately: it amounts to the same thing in the practical administration
of government and of justice. Indeed, to say that each succeeding act is
to be brought up and taken into the estimate, in order to fix the
quantum of punishment, is to acknowledge that these succeeding acts are
sins; else why should they be brought into the account at all, in
estimating guilt and punishment? Take another case. The drunkard
destroys or suspends the right use of his reason, and then murders. Is
he to be held innocent of the murder because he was drunk? or was the
whole guilt of the murder to be referred to the act of getting
intoxicated? If you say the former, then no man is to be punished for
any crime committed in a fit of intoxication; and one has only to get
intoxicated in order to be innocent. If you say the latter, then, as
getting drunk is the same in one case as another, _every_ inebriate is
guilty of murder, and whatever other crimes drunkeness _may_ occasion,
or has occasioned. Is either of these suppositions correct? Shall we not
rather say that the inebriate's guilt is to be measured by the aggregate
of crimes flowing from the voluntary act of drowning his reason? And so
in the case before us. Instead then of saying, that on our principles
"there is no guilt in the present rebellion of the infernal regions," I
would say that their present rebellion is the fruits and measure of
their guilt. Thus we see, that a being who has had power and lost it, is
guilty of his present acts.

And by examination we shall find that by how much we enhance the
estimated guilt of the first act, it is by borrowing so much from the
acts of iniquity which follow. And will you then turn round and say, the
acts which follow have no guilt? Why have they no guilt? Evidently
because you have taken the amount of that guilt and attached it to the
first act. And does this make these acts in themselves innocent? The
idea is preposterous. As well may you say that the filthy streams of a
polluted fountain are not impure in themselves, because but for the
fountain they would not be impure; as to say that the current of unholy
volitions which unavoidably flows from a perverted heart is not unholy
and criminal.

Another clearly erroneous assumption of this writer is, that if it would
be unjust for the Divine Being to leave his plan _unfinished_, after it
is begun, the _whole_ plan must be predicated on justice, and not on
grace. It is true, he has not said this, in so many words, but his
reasoning implies it. For he says this scheme of gracious ability
"annihilates the whole doctrine of grace." Because God, if he held man
accountable, was bound to give him this ability, as a matter of justice;
hence it is not an ability by grace, but an ability by justice. The
whole of this reasoning, and much more, goes upon the principle, that
the _completion_ of a plan of grace, after it is begun, cannot be
claimed on the scale of justice, without making the whole a plan of
justice. But is this true? Is not a father, after he has been
instrumental of bringing a son into the world, bound _in justice_ to
provide for and educate him? And yet does not the son owe a debt of
gratitude to that father, when he has done all this? If a physician
should cut off the limb of a poor man, to save his life, is he not bound
_in justice_, after he has commenced the operation, to take up the
arteries and save the man from dying, by the operation. And if he should
not do it, would he not be called a wanton and cruel wretch? And yet in
both these cases the persons may be unworthy. The son may show much
obliquity of moral principle, and yet the father should bear with him,
and discipline him. The man on whom the physician operated may be poor
and perverse. Here then are cases in which _justice demands that un
merited favour begun should be continued_, or else what was favour in
the commencement, and what would be favour in the whole, would
nevertheless by its incompleteness, be most manifest injustice. Such is
the state of the question in respect to the Divine administration. The
whole race of man had become obnoxious to the Divine displeasure, in
their representative and federal head, by reason of _his_ sin. This is
expressly stated: "By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to
condemnation." "In Adam all die." In this situation we may suppose that
the strict justice of the law required punishment in the very character
in which the offence was committed. Adam personally and consciously
sinned; and so, according to justice, he must suffer. The prospective
generations of men, existing seminally in him, as they had not
consciously and personally sinned, could, in justice, only experience
the effects of the curse in the same character in which they sinned,
viz. passively and seminally, unless provision could be made, by which,
in their personal existence, they might free themselves from the effects
of sin. Now God, in the plenitude of his wisdom and grace, saw fit to
make provision for a new probation for man, on the basis of a covenant
of grace, the different parts of which are all to be viewed together, in
order to judge of their character. In this covenant Adam had a _new
trial;_ and when the promise was made to him he stood in the same
relation to his posterity as he did when he sinned, and the curse was
out against him. If, by the latter, the prospective generations of men
were justly cut off from possible existence; by the former this
existence was mercifully secured to them. If by the corruption of the
race, through sin, the possibility of salvation was cut off, on all
known principles of administrative justice; by the provisions of grace
the possibility of salvation was secured to the whole race; and this
possibility implies every necessary provision to render grace available
and efficient, in accordance with moral responsibility. If "God, who
spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all," had not
"with him also freely given us all things" necessary for our salvation,
would not the Divine procedure have been characterized both by folly and
injustice? If his plan of grace had only gone so far as to have given us
a conscious being, without giving us the means of making that existence
happy, would it not have been wanton cruelty? And yet, taking the whole
together, who does not see that it is a most stupendous system of grace,
from the foundation to the top-stone? Let us not then be guilty of such
manifest folly, as to take a part of the Divine administration, and make
up a judgment upon that, as viewed independently of the rest, and then
transfer this abstract character to the whole. As in chemical
combinations, though one of the ingredients taken alone might be
deleterious, yet the compound may be nutritious or salutary, so in the
new covenant, if we separate legal exactions and penalties from gracious
provisions, the operations of the former may be unjust and cruel, yet
the whole, united as God hath combined them, may be an administration of
unparalleled grace. It is in this heavenly combination that "mercy and
truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
Now, therefore, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and _just_ to
forgive us our sins," for on this ground he can be "_just_ and the
justifier of them that believe." Although justice is thus involved in
the system, and to leave out part of the system would be manifest
injustice, yet the whole is the "blessed Gospel;" "the Gospel of the
grace of God." It is objected, I know, that the idea that, but for the
provisions of the Gospel, man would not have propagated his species, is
fanciful and unauthorized by Scripture. The Scriptures, I grant, do not
strike off into speculations about what God might have done, or would
have done, if he had not done as he has. This is foreign from their
design; and I am perfectly willing to let the whole stand as the
Scriptures present it. But when our opponents set the example of raising
an objection to what we think the true system, by passing judgment on a
part, viewed abstractly, we must meet them. On their own ground, then, I
would say, the idea that man would have been allowed to propagate his
species, without any provisions of grace, is altogether fanciful and
unauthorized by Scripture. Will it be said, that it seems more
reasonable, and in accordance with the course of nature, to suppose that
he would? I answer, It seems to me more reasonable, and in accordance
with the course of justice, to suppose that he would not. Whoever
maintains that the personal existence of Adam's posterity was not
implied and included in the provisions of grace, in the new covenant,
must take into his theory one of the following appendages;--he must
either believe that the whole race could justly be consigned to personal
and unavoidable wo, for the sin of Adam, or that all could be justly
condemned for the sin of their own nature, entailed upon them without
their agency, and therefore equally unavoidable; or he must believe that
each would have a personal trial on the ground of the covenant of works,
as Adam had. If there is another alternative, it must be some system of
probation which God has never intimated, and man, in all his inventions
has never devised. Whoever is prepared to adopt either of the two former
propositions is prepared to go all lengths in the doctrine of
predestination and reprobation charged upon Calvinism in the sermon that
gave rise to this controversy, and, of course, will find his system
subject to all the objections there urged against it. If any one chooses
to adopt the third alternative, and consider all the posterity of Adam
as standing or falling solely on the ground of the covenant of works,
such a one need not be answered in a discussion purporting to be a
"_Calvinistic_ controversy." He is a Socinian, and must be answered in
another place. All that need be done here, is to show the embarrassments
of _Calvinism proper_, the utter futility of all its changes to relieve
itself from these embarrassments, unless it plunge into Pelagianism and
Socinianism, or rest itself upon the Arminian foundation of gracious
ability. It is on this latter ground we choose to rest, because here,
and here alone, we find the doctrines of natural depravity, human
ability and responsibility, and salvation by grace, blending in
beautiful harmony.

Having noticed some of the erroneous assumptions on which the doctrinal
objections to our theory are based, the objections themselves, I think,
may all be disposed of in a summary way. We see, on our plan, that, 1.
Adam did not render himself incapable of sinning, by the fall, but
rather rendered himself and his posterity incapable of any other moral
exercise but what was sinful; and it was on this account that a gracious
ability is necessary, in order to a second probation. 2. Sin, since the
fall, has not been the result of supernatural grace, but the natural
fruit of the fall; and supernatural grace is all that has counteracted
sin. 3. "Man needed the grace of God," _both_ "because he was wicked,"
_and_ "because he was weak."--4. "The moral difference between one man
and another is--to be ascribed to God." How any one could think a
contrary opinion chargeable upon us, is to me surprising. It is more
properly Calvinism that is chargeable with this sentiment. Calvinism
says, Regeneration is a right choice. It says, also, that power to sin
implies power to be holy; and of course we become holy by the same power
as that by which we sin. And it farther says, that the power is of
nature and not of grace. Now let the reader put all these together, and
see if it does not follow most conclusively, that "the moral difference
between one man and another is not to be ascribed to God." But, on the
contrary, _we_ say the sinful nature of man is changed in regeneration
by the power of the Holy Ghost. 5. "The posterity of Adam" _did_ "need a
Saviour to atone for actual sin." For actual sin is the result, not of
gracious power, as this author supposes, but of a sinful nature
voluntarily retained and indulged. If our opponents charge us with the
sentiment, that grace is the cause of the actual sin of Adam's
posterity, because we hold that grace was the cause of their personal
existence, we grant that, in that sense, grace was a cause without which
the posterity of Adam would not have sinned. But if this makes God the
author of sin, by the same rule we could prove that God is the author of
sin, because he created moral agents--and if there is any difficulty
here, it presses on them as heavily as on us. But in any other sense,
grace is not the cause of sin. 6. "This opinion is," as we have seen,
perfectly "with the doctrine of grace." 7. "There is" _constant_ "guilt
in the present rebellion of the infernal regions." 8. "This grace is a
greater" _blessing_ "to our race than the fall of Adam" was a
"calamity;" for "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."

Thus I have endeavoured to _explain_, _prove_, and _defend_ the doctrine
of gracious ability, a doctrine always maintained in the orthodox
Church, until the refinements of Calvinism made it necessary to call it
in question; and a doctrine on which, viewed in its different bearings,
the orthodox Arminian system must stand or fall. I have been the more
minute and extended in my remarks from this consideration; and also from
the consideration that while this doctrine has of late been most
violently assailed by all classes of Calvinists, very little has been
published in its defence. If the reader has had patience to follow the
subject through, he is now perhaps prepared to judge whether our holy
volitions are the result of a gracious ability or of natural power.

Should I find time to pursue this subject farther, it would be in place
now to examine the doctrine of regeneration; in which examination the
nature of inherent depravity, and of that choice which is conditional to
the new birth, would be more fully noticed. "This will I do if God
permit."



NUMBER XIII.

REGENERATION.

An important error in any one cardinal doctrine of the Gospel will make
a glaring deformity in the entire system. Hence when one of these
doctrines is marred or perverted, a corresponding change must be made in
most or all of the others to keep up the appearance of consistency.

These remarks apply with special emphasis to the doctrine of
regeneration. As this is a focal point, in which many other leading
doctrines centre, this doctrine must of necessity give a character to
the whole Gospel plan. This might be inferred _a priori_ from the
knowledge of the relation of _this_ to the other parts of the Christian
system, and it is practically illustrated in the history of the Church.
There are those who believe, that by the various terms used in Scripture
to express the change commonly called regeneration or the new birth,
nothing is intended but some outward ceremony, or some change of opinion
in matters of speculative belief or the like. Some say it is baptism, or
a public profession of faith; others that it is a mere speculative
renunciation of heathen idolatry, and an acknowledgment of the Christian
faith; others that it is merely a reformed life; and a few maintain that
it is the change that we shall undergo by death, or by the resurrection
of the body. These persons, and all in fact who make the new birth
something short of a radical change of heart, are obliged, for
consistency's sake, to accommodate the other doctrines to their views of
regeneration. Hence they very generally deny constitutional or derived
depravity, the inflexibility and rigorous exactions of the Divine law,
the destructive character of sin, the atonement, the supernatural agency
of the Spirit upon the human heart, justification by faith, and the
like. Thus a radical error on one point actually leads to _another
gospel_--if gospel it may be called.

It does not come within the scope of my present design to enter into a
refutation of the foregoing errors. But from the disastrous results of
these errors we may infer the importance of guarding carefully and of
understanding clearly the Scripture doctrine of the new birth. Even
where the error is not so radical, as in the instances above alluded to,
the evil may be considerable, and in some cases fatal.

The Arminians and Calvinists agree in this doctrine, in so far as that
they both make it a radical change of moral nature, by the supernatural
agency of the Holy Ghost. But they differ in respect to the _order_ in
which the several parts of the change take place--in respect to the
manner and degree of the agency of the Holy Spirit, and also in respect
to the part which human agency has in the accomplishment of this change.
And in some, if not all of these points, Calvinists differ as much from
each other as they do from us.

It is my present purpose to point out some of the more prominent
Calvinistic modes of stating and explaining this doctrine, with the
difficulties attending them: after which I shall endeavour to present
and defend what we believe to be the Scripture doctrine of regeneration.

_First Theory_.--The notion that the mind is entirely passive in this
change, that is, that nothing is done by the subject of it, which is
preparative or conditional, or in any way co-operative in its
accomplishment, has been a prevailing sentiment in the various
modifications of the old Calvinistic school. It is not indeed pretended
that the mind is inactive, either before or at the time this renovation
is effected by the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, it is said that the
sinner is resisting with all the power of the mind, and with all the
obstinacy of the most inveterate enmity, up to the very moment, and in
the very act of conversion. So that the sinner is regenerated, not only
_without_ his _co-operation_, but also in _spite_ of his _utmost
resistance_. Hence it is maintained, that, but for the _irresistible_
influence of the Holy Ghost upon the heart, no sinner would be
converted.

1. One of the leading objections to this view of conversion is, that it
is inseparably connected with the doctrine of particular and
unconditional election. The two reciprocally imply each other, and must
therefore, stand or fall together. But this doctrine of particular and
unconditional election has been sufficiently refuted, it is hoped, in
the sermon that gave rise to this controversy; if so, then the doctrine
of passivity and irresistible grace is not true.

2. Another very serious difficulty which this theory of conversion has
to contend with is, that the Scriptures, in numerous passages, declare
that the Spirit of God may be _resisted, grieved, quenched_, and utterly
disregarded; and that the grace of God may be abused, or received in
vain. The passages to establish these propositions are so frequent that
I need not stop to point them out. But if this be so, then the grace of
God and the Spirit of grace are not irresistible.

3. It may be yet farther objected to this doctrine of the mind's
passivity in conversion, that it is a virtual denial of all gracious
influence upon the heart before regeneration. It has been shown in
previous numbers that man was not able to comply with the conditions of
salvation without grace--and that the gracious influences of the Divine
Spirit are given to every sinner previous to regeneration. But there
would be no necessity for this, and no consistency in it, if there are
no conditions and no co-operation on the part of the sinner in the
process of the new birth. Hence the advocates of this doctrine very
consistently maintain that the first act of grace upon the heart of the
sinner is that which regenerates him. Since then this theory conflicts
with the Bible doctrine of a gracious influence anterior to conversion,
it cannot be admitted.

4. This theory of regeneration removes all conditions on the part of the
sinner to the removal of the power and guilt of sin. It teaches that if
the sinner should do any thing acceptable to God, _as a condition_ to
his conversion, it would imply he did not need converting; that such an
idea, in fact, would be inconsistent with the doctrine of depravity, and
irreconcilable with the idea of salvation _by grace_. And this is the
ground on which the old Calvinists have so repeatedly charged us with
the denial of the doctrines of grace, and with holding that we may be
justified by our works.

There is something very singular in these notions respecting the
necessity of _unconditional_ regeneration, in order that it may be by
grace. These same Calvinists tell us that the sinner _can_ repent, and
ought to repent, and that the Scriptures require it at his hand. What!
is the sinner able and obliged to do that which would destroy the whole
economy of grace! which would blot out the Gospel and nullify the
atonement itself? Ought he to do that which would prove him a practical
Pelagian and an operative workmonger? Is he indeed, according to
Calvinists themselves, required in Scripture to do that which would
prove Calvinism false, and a conditional regeneration true? So it would
seem. Put together these two dogmas of Calvinism. 1. _The sinner is
able, and ought to repent._ 2. _The idea that the sinner does any thing
toward his regeneration destroys the doctrine of depravity and of
salvation by grace._ I say put these two together, and you have almost
all the contradictions of Calvinism converged to a focus--and what is
most fatal to the system, you have the authority of Calvinism itself to
prove that every intelligent probationer on the earth not only has the
ability, but is authoritatively required to give practical demonstration
that the system is false!! What is this but to say, "You _can_, and you
_cannot;_"--if you _do_ not, you will be justly condemned--if you _do_,
you will ruin the Gospel system, and yourself with it? Where such
glaring paradoxes appear, there must be something materially wrong in,
at least, some parts of the system.

5. But the inconsistency of this theory is not its only, and certainly
not its most injurious characteristic. In the same proportion as men are
made to believe that there are no conditions on their part to their
regeneration, they will be likely to fall into one of the two extremes
of carelessness or despair, either of which, persisted in, would be
ruinous. I cannot doubt but that, in this way, tens of thousands have
been ruined. We should infer that such would be the result of the
doctrine, from only understanding its character; and I am fully
satisfied that, in my own personal acquaintance, I have met with
hundreds who have been lulled in the cradle of Antinomianism on the one
hand, or paralyzed with despair on the other, by this same doctrine of
passive, unconditional conversion. Calvinists, it is true, tell us this
is the abuse of the doctrine; but it appears to me to be the legitimate
fruit. What else could we expect? A man might as well attempt to
dethrone the Mediator, as to do any thing toward his own conversion.
Teach this, and carelessness ensues, Antinomian feelings will follow--or
if you arouse the mind by the curse of the law, and by the fearful doom
that awaits the unregenerate, what can he do? Nothing! Hell rises from
beneath to meet him, but he can do _nothing_. He looks until he is
excited to phrensy, from which he very probably passes over to raving
madness, or settles down into a state of gloomy despair.

6. Another very decisive objection to this doctrine is, the frequent,
and I may say uniform language of Scripture. The Scriptures require us
to _seek--ask--knock--come to Christ--look unto God--repent--believe
--open the door_ of the heart--_receive Christ_, &c. No one can fail to
notice how these instructions are sprinkled over the whole volume of
revelation. And what is specially in point here, all these are spoken of
and urged upon us as conditions of blessings that shall follow--even the
blessings of salvation, of regeneration--and as conditions, too, without
which we cannot expect these blessings. Take one passage of many--"As
many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name." If any one doubts whether
"becoming the sons of God," as expressed in this text, means
regeneration, the next verse will settle it--"Which were born not of
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of
God," John i, 12, 13. The latter verse I may have occasion to remark
upon hereafter; it is quoted here to show that the new birth is
undoubtedly the subject here spoken of. And we are here expressly
taught, in language that will bear no other interpretation, that
_receiving_ Christ and _believing_ on his name are the conditions of
regeneration. If there were no other passage in the Bible to direct our
minds on this subject, this plain unequivocal text ought to be decisive.
But the truth is, this is the uniform language of Scripture. And are
there any passages against these, any that say we cannot come, cannot
believe, seek, &c? or any that say, this work of personal regeneration
is performed independent of conditions? I know of none which will not
fairly admit of a different construction. We are often met with this
passage--"It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of
God that showeth mercy." See Rom. ix, 16. But whoever interpreteth this
of personal and individual regeneration can hardly have examined the
passage carefully and candidly. But we are told again, it is God that
renews the heart; and if it is his work, it is not the work of the
sinner. I grant this; this is the very sentiment I mean to maintain; but
then there may be conditions--_there are conditions_--or else we should
not hear the psalmist _praying_ for this, in language that has been
preserved for the edification of all subsequent generations, "Create in
me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." This is a
practical comment on Christ's conditional salvation, "Ask and ye shall
receive."

Since then this doctrine of passive and unconditional regeneration
implies unconditional election--since it is in opposition to those
scriptures which teach that the Spirit and grace of God may be resisted
and received in vain--since it is a virtual denial of all gracious
influences upon the heart before regeneration--since it leads the
abettors of the theory into gross contradictions, by their endeavours to
reconcile the can and the _cannot_ of their system--since its practical
tendency is to make sinners careless, or drive them to despair--and
finally, since it contradicts that numerous class of scriptures, some of
which are very unequivocal, that predicate the blessings of regeneration
and justification upon certain preparatory and conditional acts of the
sinner--_therefore_ we conclude that this theory cannot be true.

_Second Theory_.--To avoid these difficulties, to make the sinner feel
his responsibility, and to bring him into action, a new theory of
regeneration is proposed. This constitutes a leading characteristic of
the New Divinity. It is the theory of _self-conversion_. Its advocates
maintain that there is no more mystery or supernatural agency in the
process of the change, called the new birth, than there is in any other
leading purpose or decision of the mind. It is true, they do not wholly
exclude the Holy Spirit from this work, but his agency is mediate and
indirect. He acts in some undefinable way, through the truth as an
instrument. The truth acts upon the mind, in the way of _moral suasion_,
and the sinner, in the view and by the influence of truth, resolves to
give himself up to God and to his service--and _this is regeneration_.
The preparation is of God--but the actual change is man's own work. The
God of providence reveals the truth and arranges the means for its
promulgation, the Spirit of grace applies it to the understanding, the
sinner looks at it, reflects upon it, and at length is persuaded to set
about the work, and regenerates himself!

That we may be the better prepared to meet this hypothesis, it should be
noticed that it is inseparable from the notion that all sin consists in
voluntary exercise, or in other words, in a series of sinful volitions.
Regeneration is a change from sin to holiness--and hence a regenerate
state is the opposite of a sinful state. If then a regenerate state is
nothing more than a series of holy volitions, an unregenerate state,
which is its opposite, is nothing more than a series of unholy
volitions. Thus it appears that this doctrine of regeneration by the act
of the will must stand or fall with the notion that all sin consists in
voluntary exercise. Any argument, therefore, brought against this latter
theory will bear with equal weight against this new idea of
regeneration. Bearing this in mind, we are prepared to object to this
doctrine,

1. That it is inconsistent with the doctrine of constitutional
depravity. This is granted by the supporters of the theory, and hence
constitutional depravity is no part of their system. All the arguments
therefore that have been adduced in favour of derived, inherent
depravity, or that can be urged in favour of this doctrine, will stand
directly opposed to this view of regeneration. The arguments in favour
of our views of depravity need not be repeated; and the reader is
referred to a previous number in which this point has been discussed.

2. Another objection to this theory of regeneration is, that it makes
_entire_ sanctification take place at the time of regeneration.
Conversion, holiness, are nothing more than a decision of the will; and
since the will can never be _more than decided_, of course the decision
at regeneration is the _perfection of holiness_. On this ground,
therefore, though Christians are exhorted to "cleanse themselves from
all filthiness of flesh and spirit, _perfecting holiness_ in the fear of
the Lord;" though the saints are commanded to "grow in grace," to
"confess their sins," that they may be "cleansed from _all
unrighteousness_," though some of the Corinthian Christians were "carnal
and walked as men," and for that reason were, after years of experience,
only _babes_ in Christ--still, if we embrace this sentiment, we must
call the convert, at his first spiritual breath, as holy as he ever _can
be_ in any of the subsequent stages of his experience! Surely the
apostles taught not this! And yet so strongly are men impelled forward
by their systems, this doctrine of perfect holiness at conversion is the
very sentiment that many of the advocates of the New Divinity are now
propagating--a clear proof that it necessarily follows from their theory
of conversion. This of itself, it strikes me, ought to destroy the
doctrine.

3. Another bearing of this hypothesis, and one which I think must prove
fatal to it, is, that the Scriptures represent this change to be chiefly
in the affections, whereas this doctrine makes it exclusively in the
will. That the Scriptures place the change in the affections chiefly, I
suppose will not be denied. If it should be, without stopping here to
quote specific passages, or use many arguments, one consideration alone
will be sufficient to set the question at rest.--True evangelical
holiness consists in love to God and man; and sin is loving the creature
rather than the Creator. The apostle brings into view both the
regenerate and the unregenerate state in this passage--"Set your
affection on things above, and not on things on the earth." Numerous are
the passages which teach that love to God is the essence of the
Christian character. The affections, therefore, are the seat of this
change. But we are told by this new theory the change is in the will. It
is only to resolve to serve God, and we are converted.--Either this
theory, therefore, or the Bible account of this matter must be wrong.

To avoid this difficulty, it may be said, that a change of the will
implies a change of the affections. But this is changing the
position--which is, that a decision of the will is regeneration. If
however this new position be insisted upon, it can be reconciled with
the phraseology used only by making a change of the affections a mere
_subordinate_ part of regeneration, whereas the Scriptures make the
change consist essentially in this. But there is still a more serious
difficulty in this idea, that the change of the will implies a change in
the affections. It necessarily implies that the affections are at all
times under the control of the will. But this is as unphilosophical as
it is unscriptural. It is even directly contrary to the observation and
knowledge of men who have paid only common and casual attention to
mental phenomena. The will is oftener enthralled by the affections, than
the affections by the will. Even in common and worldly matters let a man
try by an effort of the will to beget love where it does not exist, or
to transfer the affections from one object to another, and how will he
succeed? Will love and hatred go or come at his bidding? You might as
well attempt, by an act of the will, to make sweet bitter, or bitter
sweet to the physical taste. How much less can a man, by an act of the
will, make all things new, and transfer the heart from the grossness of
creature love to the purity of supreme love to God. The Apostle Paul has
taught us his failure in this matter. When he "would do good, evil was
present with him." "For," says he, "the good that I would do, I do not;
but the evil which I would not, that I do." And this is the fact in most
cases of genuine awakening. Resolutions are formed, but the current of
the unsanctified affections sweeps them away. Over the untowardness of
the unregenerate heart the will has, in fact, but a feeble influence;
and this is the reason why the man, struggling with the corruptions of
his heart, is driven to despair, and exclaims, "O! wretched man that I
am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

We shall see hereafter how the action of the will is indispensable in
regeneration; but not in this _direct_ way to change and control the
affections, by the power of its own decisions. When I find my will
capable of doing this, I must have an essentially different intellectual
character from the one I now have.

Since the Scriptures make the new birth a change of affections, and this
theory makes it a change of volitions; and especially since the
affections cannot be transferred from _earth_ to _heaven_ by a _mere act
of the will_, therefore the doctrine which teaches and implies these
views must be false.

4. This idea of the character of sin and of the new birth makes man
sinless, at particular times, even _without_ regeneration. I do not mean
by this that he is not obnoxious to punishment for past unholy
volitions. But if sin consists only in voluntary exercise, whenever the
mind does not act; or whenever its action is not under the control of
the will, there is nothing of sin personally appertaining to the
man.--When the action of the will is suspended by an all-absorbing
emotion of wonder or surprise--in sound sleep when the mental states, if
there are any, are not under the control of the will--in cases of
suspended animation, by drowning, fainting, or otherwise--in short,
whenever the mind is necessarily wholly engrossed, as is often the case,
by some scientific investigation, or matter of worldly business, not of
a moral character, then, and in every such case, whatever may be the
guilt for past transgressions, there is no personal unholiness. And by
the same reasoning we may show that the regenerate pass a great portion
of their time without any personal holiness!

5. According to the theory we are opposing, regeneration, strictly
speaking, means nothing. The work of grace, by which a sinner is made
meet for heaven, embraces two essential points, _pardon_ and _renewal_.
The former is not a positive change of character, but a relative change,
from a state of condemnation to a state of acquittal. But as
regeneration, if it have any appropriate meaning, cannot mean a mere
change of relation, any construction or system that forces such a
meaning upon it does, in fact, do it away. Hence, being _born again,
being renewed, being created anew, being sanctified, being translated
from darkness to light, being raised from the dead_, and numerous other
scripture expressions, are figurative forms of speech, so foreign from
the idea they are used to express, that they are worse than
unmeaning--they lead to error. But if these expressions mean any thing
more than pardon, what is that meaning? This doctrine makes the
principal change take place in the _neighbourhood_ of the will; not in
the will itself, meaning by that, the mental power by which we put forth
volitions. This _faculty_ of the mind is sound, and needs no change--all
the other mental susceptibilities are sound, the essence of the mind and
the susceptibilities of the mind are perfectly free from any moral
perversion. It is the mental _action_ that is bad.--What is there then
in the man that is to be changed? Do you say his volitions? But these he
changes every hour. Do you say, he must leave off wrong volitions, and
have right ones? This too he often does. "But he must do it with right
motives," you say, "this acting from _right motives_ is the regenerate
state." Indeed! Suppose then that he has resolved to serve God, from
right motives, what if he should afterward resolve, from false shame or
fear, to neglect a duty, is he now unregenerate? This is changing from
regenerate to unregenerate, from _entire_ holiness to _entire_
unholiness with a breath. Truly such a regeneration is _nothing_. But
you say, after he has once submitted, he now has a "governing purpose"
to serve God, and this constitutes him regenerate; aye, a _governing_
purpose that _does not govern_ him. Let it be understood, you cannot
divide a volition; it has an entire character in itself; and if it be
unholy, no preceding holy volition can sanctify it. Hence every change
of volition from wrong to right, and from right to wrong, is a change of
state, so that regeneracy and unregeneracy play in and out of the human
bosom in the alternation of every criminal thought or every pious
aspiration. Is this the Bible doctrine of the new birth? And yet this is
all you can make of it, if you resolve it into the mere action of the
will.

6. This doctrine of self-conversion, by an act of the will, is directly
contrary to Scripture. It would be tedious to me and my readers to quote
all those passages that attribute this work directly to the Holy Spirit,
and that speak of it as a work which _God himself_ accomplishes for, and
in us. There is one passage which is much in point, however, and is
sufficient of itself to settle this question. "But as many as received
him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that
believe on his name. Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," John i, 12, 13. This is a
two-edged sword--it cuts off, as we have remarked before, passive and
unconditional regeneration on the one hand; and also, as we may now see,
self conversion by an act of the will, on the other. I know not how
words can be put together, in so small a compass, better to answer the
true objects of destroying these two opposite theories of regeneration,
and asserting the true theory. Here is, first--the _receiving of
Christ,_ the _believing on his name_--this is the condition. Second,
Christ gives the "power," viz. strength and privilege, to become the
sons of God. This is the regeneration. Third--This becoming "the sons of
God," or being "born," is not in a _physical way_, by flesh and blood,
nor yet by _human will_, but of or by God. Can any thing be clearer or
more decisive?

Indeed the very terms, _regeneration, born, birth_, &c, imply of
themselves another and an efficient agent; and then to connect these
with the Divine agency, as the Scriptures have done some half dozen
times in the phrase, "born of God," and several other times in the
phrase, "of the Spirit:" to have this called being "begotten again," and
the like, is enough, one would think, if words have any meaning, to show
that man does not change his own heart. The same may be said of the
terms _resurrection, translation, creation, renewal_, and various other
terms the Scriptures use to express this change. Jesus Christ claimed
that he had "power to lay down his life, and _to take it again;_" but
this is the only instance of self-resurrection power that we read of;
and even this was by his Divine nature; for he was "quickened by the
Spirit," and raised "by the power of God." But these theorists teach
that man has power to lay down his life, and then, after he is "dead in
trespasses and sins," he has power to take his life again. Truly this is
giving man a power that approaches very near to one of the Divine
attributes. To Christ alone does it belong "to quicken whom he will." To
change the heart of the sinner is one of the Divine prerogatives, and he
that attempts to convert himself; and trusts to this, will find in the
end that he is _carnal_ still. For "whatsoever is born of the flesh is
flesh, but whatsoever is born of the Spirit is spirit."

Let me not here be misunderstood. I shall endeavour to show, in its
proper place, the conditional agency of man in this work. I have only
time to add, in this number, that I consider those scriptures which
press duties upon the sinner as applying to this conditional agency. And
even those strong expressions which sometimes occur in the Bible,
requiring the sinner to "make himself a new heart"--"to cleanse his
hands and purify his heart," &c, will find an easy solution and a
pertinent application in this view of the subject. For if there are
certain pending conditions, without which the work will not be
accomplished, then there would be a propriety, while pressing this duty,
to use expressions showing that this work was conditionally, though not
_efficiently_, resting upon the agency of the sinner.

In my next I shall endeavour to show that there is no intermediate
_Calvinistic_ ground between the two theories examined in this number.
If that attempt prove successful, and if in this it has been found that
the two theories examined are encumbered with too many embarrassments to
be admitted, then we shall be the better prepared to listen to the
teachings of the Scriptures on this important and leading doctrine of
the Christian faith.



NUMBER XIV.

REGENERATION, CONTINUED.

An inconsistency in any received theory is constantly driving its
supporters to some modification of their system. This is a redeeming
principle in the human mind, and greatly encourages the hope that truth
will finally triumph.

It has already been noticed that the doctrine of entire passivity, in
regeneration, is so pressed with difficulties that it has sought relief
in the opposite notion of self-conversion. But this latter hypothesis
is, in turn, encumbered, if possible, with still greater embarrassments.
The presumption therefore is, that the truth lies between them; and it
will doubtless be found, by a fair and thorough investigation, that this
is the fact. But here the question arises, Can _Calvinists_ consistently
occupy any such middle ground? In other words, retaining the other
peculiarities of Calvinism, can our Calvinistic brethren assume any
position between these two extremes which will avoid the difficulties of
both? A brief examination, it is hoped, will decide this question.

_Third Theory_.--Dr. Tyler is a highly respectable clergyman of the
Calvinistic faith, and is now at the head of the theological school in
East Windsor, Conn., which was got up with the avowed purpose of
counteracting the New-Haven theology. We should not therefore suspect
him of leaning too much toward the New Divinity. He tells us that the
only depravity is to be unwilling to serve God--that there is "no other
obstacle in the way of the sinner's salvation except what lies in his
own will"--that "to be born again is simply to be made willing to do
what God requires." What is this but the New Divinity? The will is here
made, most explicitly, the sole seat of depravity; and regeneration is
an act of the will. But every act of the will is the sinner's _own act_,
and therefore the agent, by that act of the will which constitutes
regeneration, converts himself.--Perhaps Dr. Tyler will say, the sinner
in this case does not convert himself, because he is "_made willing_."
God makes him willing "in the day of his power." It is remarkable what a
favourite phrase this is with the Calvinists. It is borrowed from the
third verse of the hundred and tenth Psalm, "Thy people shall be willing
in the day of thy power." Now although the word "made" is not in the
text; although there is not the _slightest_ evidence that the text
speaks of regeneration at all, but on the contrary, it is most evidently
intended to describe the character and conduct of God's people, viz. the
regenerate; and although every scholar, at least, among the Calvinists,
knows this as well as he knows his right hand from the left, yet we hear
it repeated by the learned and the ignorant, at all times and
places--"God's people are made willing in the day of his power." It is
not only a gross perversion of a Scripture phrase, but its repetition,
in this perverted sense, renders it wearisome and sickening. But,
waiving this, it becomes us to ask whether there is any more rational or
Scriptural ground for the idea itself than there is for this use of the
text. What is meant by making the soul willing? I confess I cannot
understand it. Is it meant that God _forces_ the soul to be willing?
This is a contradiction in terms. To say that God acts directly on the
will, and thus changes its determination by superior force, is to
destroy its freedom--is to produce a volition without motive or
reason--which would, at any rate, be an anomalous action of the will.
And what is still more fatal to the theory, it implies _no act_ of the
sinner whatever, but an irresistible act of the Divine power, which
therefore necessarily throws the theory back upon the doctrine of
passive conversion. There is no avoiding this conclusion, I think, on
the ground that God changes the action of the will, by an exertion of
power upon the will itself. If, to avoid this, it should be said that
the will is not changed by a direct act of power, but influenced to a
holy determination indirectly, through the medium of motives, presented
by the Holy Spirit--then and in that case we should be thrown forward on
to the self-conversion system. The sinner's voluntary act, by which he
regenerated himself, would be as truly and entirely _his own_ as any
other act of the will; therefore he would be self-regenerated. This
also would be regeneration, not by the Holy Spirit, but _by the truth;_
which is another feature of the New Divinity. This also would make all
depravity consist in the will, or rather in its _acts;_ which has been
shown in the preceding number to be unscriptural as well as
unphilosophical. This objection is valid, whether the depravity is
supposed to be in the _power_ of willing, or in the _acts_ of the will.
But since, in Dr. Tyler's view, to will in one direction is depravity,
and to will in another direction is regeneration, and since all that
motives _can_ do is, not to change the will itself, but only prompt it
to new voluntary states, it follows conclusively that Dr. T. makes all
holiness and all unholiness consist in volitions; and therefore the
_moral-exercise_ system is true; which is another feature of the New
Divinity. Truly I may repeat, we do not need another theological
seminary in Connecticut to teach this doctrine.

Finally, according to this theory of Dr. T., he and all those who reason
like him, are chargeable, I think, with a palpable paralogism--they
reason in a circle. They say, in the express language of Dr. Tyler, "All
men may be saved if they will"--"No man is hindered from coming to
Christ who is willing to come"--that is, since to will and to be willing
is to be regenerated, this language gravely teaches us, "All men may be
saved, if they _are regenerated_"--"No man is hindered from coming to
Christ (to be regenerated) who _is regenerated!_" And indeed this view
of regeneration not only makes learned divines talk nonsense, but the
Scriptures also. The invitation, "Whosoever will, let him come," &c,
must mean, "Whosoever _is regenerate_, let him come," and so of other
passages. Thus this theory of Dr. Tyler, and of the many who hold with
him, is so closely hemmed in on both sides, that it must throw itself
for support, either upon the doctrine of passivity, or self-conversion;
at the same time that in other respects it involves itself in
inconsistent and anti-scriptural dogmas.

But that we may leave no position unexamined, let us take another view
of the subject. Suppose, instead of saying regeneration is simply a
change of the will, it should be argued that a change of the will
implies a change of the affections, and this therefore is included in
regeneration. Then I would ask, whether this change of the affections is
in the order of cause and effect, or in the order of time, _prior_ or
_subsequent_ to the act of the will. If this change is prior to any
action of the will in the case, then the sinner has no voluntary
co-operation in the work; and this brings us up once more upon the
doctrine of passive regeneration. The heart is changed before the
subject of the change acts. If the action of the will precedes the
change of the heart, then this change will be effected in one of two
ways. Either this anterior volition does itself change the heart; or it
is a mere preparatory condition, on _occasion of which_ God changes the
heart. In the former case the man himself would change his own heart,
and this is self-conversion; and in the latter alternative we have a
conditional regeneration wrought by the Holy Ghost, and this is the very
doctrine for which _we contend_, in opposition to Calvinism. If it
should be said, this change of the will and this change of the heart
take place independent of each other, that would not help the matter,
since in this view the change of _heart_ would be passive and
unconditional. Thus whichever way this system turns, its difficulties
press upon it still, and it finds no relief. Indeed there can, as I
conceive, be no intermediate Calvinistic theory of regeneration, and
there _can be_ but two other alternatives--either God must renew the
heart, independent of all co-operation on the part of the subject of
this change--and this is the old doctrine of unconditional Divine
efficiency--or the first acceptable act of the will must be
regeneration; and this is the new doctrine of _self-conversion_. Let the
reader, let any one reflect closely on this subject, and I cannot doubt
but he will say with me, _There is no third alternative_. The nature of
the case will admit of none. The former theory may not contradict many
of those scriptures that speak of _Divine efficiency_ in the work of
grace upon the heart, but it is utterly incompatible with those that
urge the sinner to duty.--The latter theory corresponds well with the
urgent injunctions to duty, so abundant in the Scriptures, but is wholly
irreconcilable with those that speak of Divine efficiency. The true
theory must answer to both; and must also correspond with all the other
parts of the Christian system. Is there such a theory? Every honest
inquirer after truth will embrace it doubtless, if it can be
presented--for truth, wherever, and whenever, and by whomsoever
discovered, is infinitely to be preferred to error, however long and
fondly it may have been cherished. Such a theory I will now try to
present--and although I may fail in making it very explicit, and in
bringing forward all its defences, yet if the general outlines can be
seen and be defended, it will, I trust, commend itself to the favourable
notice of the reader.

_Scripture Doctrine of Regeneration_.--I approach this subject by laying
down the two following fundamental principles:--

1. The work of regeneration is performed by the direct and efficient
operations of the Holy Spirit upon the heart.

2. The Holy Spirit exerts this regenerating power only on conditions, to
be first complied with by the subject of the change.

The first principle I deem it unnecessary to defend farther than it has
been defended in the foregoing remarks. It is not objected to by any
orthodox Christians that I know of, only so far as the new views of
self-conversion, and of conversion by moral suasion, may be thought an
exception. And this we have reason to hope will be an exception of
limited extent and short duration. The sentiment conflicts so directly
with such a numerous class of scriptures, and with the most approved
principles of mental philosophy; and has, at the same time, such a
direct tendency to annihilate all the essential features of
regeneration, it cannot long find encouragement in a spiritual Church.
It may however make many converts for a time, for men are fond of taking
the work of salvation into their own hands; but if it should, between
such converts and the true Church there will ultimately be a separation
as wide as that which now separates orthodoxy and Socinianism.

The other fundamental principle seems to follow, almost of necessity,
from the scriptures that so abundantly point out the sinner's duty and
agency, in connection with his conversion. The principle, however, is
strenuously opposed by all classes of Calvinists. The opposite of this
is in fact the essential characteristic of Calvinism, if any _one_
notion can be so called; for however much the Calvinistic system may be
modified, in other respects, this is clung to as the elementary germ
which constitutes the identity of the system. Even the New Divinity,
which makes so much of human agency, does not allow it a _conditional
action_--it allows of no intermediate volition between the mental states
of worldly love and Divine love, as the occasion on which the transfer
is made, or the conditional hinge on which the important revolution is
accomplished. On the contrary, it considers the volition itself as the
transfer--the volition constitutes the _entire change_. Thus warily does
Calvinism, in all its changes, avoid conditional regeneration. Hence if
I were called upon to give a general definition of Calvinism, that
should include all the species that claim the name, I would say,
_Calvinists are those who believe in unconditional regeneration_. For
the moment this point is given up by any one, all parties agree that he
is not a Calvinist.

But why is conditional regeneration so offensive? Is it because the
Scriptures directly oppose it? This is hardly pretended. It is supposed,
however, by the Calvinists, that to acknowledge this doctrine would
require the renunciation of certain other doctrines which are taught in
the Scriptures. This lays the foundation for the objections that have
been made against this doctrine. It is objected that _a depraved sinner
cannot perform an acceptable condition until he is regenerated_--that
_God cannot consistently accept of any act short of that which
constitutes regeneration_--that _the idea of a conditional regeneration
implies salvation by works, in part at least, and not wholly by grace_.

I have mentioned these objections in this connection, not so much to
attempt, at this moment, a direct refutation of them, as to advert to
what I conceive to be the ground of the difficulty in the minds of those
making the objections. It appears to me that the difference between us
results principally from a difference of our views in respect to the
constitution and the constitutional action of the mind itself. The
philosophical part of our theology will be modified very much by our
views of the philosophy of mind. Let it be granted then:--

1. That the mind is possessed of a moral susceptibility, generally
called _conscience_, which lays the foundation of the notions of right
and wrong, and by which we feel the emotions of approval or disapproval
for our past conduct, and the feelings of obligation with respect to the
present and the future; and that even in an unregenerate state this
susceptibility often operates in accordance with its original design,
and therefore agreeably with the Divine will.

2. That the understanding or intellect, which is a general division of
the mind, containing in itself several distinct susceptibilities or
powers, may, in an unregenerate state of the mind, be so enlightened and
informed on the subjects of Divine truth as to perceive the right and
the wrong; and as to perceive also, to some extent at least, the way of
salvation pointed out in the Gospel.

3. That the affections and propensities (sometimes called the heart) are
the principal seat of depravity--and these are often arrayed in direct
hostility to the convictions of the judgment and the feelings of moral
obligation.

4. That the will, or that mental power by which we put forth volitions,
and make decisions, while it is more or less, directly or indirectly,
influenced by the judgment, the conscience, and the affections, is in
fact designed to give direction and unity to the whole mental action;
and it always accomplishes this, where there is a proper harmony in the
mental powers. But by sin this harmony has been disturbed, and the
unholy affections have gained an undue ascendancy, so that, in the
unregenerate, in all questions of preference between God and the world,
in spite of the judgment, of conscience, and of the will, the world is
loved and God is hated.

5. That in those cases where we cannot control our affections by a
direct volition, we may, nevertheless, under the promptings of
conscience, and in the light of the judgment, resolve against sin--but
these resolutions, however firmly and repeatedly made, will be carried
away and overruled by the strength of the carnal mind. This shows us our
own weakness, drives us to self-despair, until, under the enlightening
influences of grace, and the drawings of the Spirit, the soul is led to
prayer and to an abdication of itself into the hands of Divine mercy,
through Christ; and _then_, and on _these conditions_, the Holy Spirit
changes the character and current of the unholy affections--and _this is
regeneration_.

In laying down the preceding postulates I have endeavoured to express
myself with as much brevity, and with as little metaphysical
technicality as possible; for the reason that they are designed to be
understood by all. Bating the deficiencies that may on this account be
noticed by the philosophical reader, I think it may be assumed that
these, so far as the powers and operations of the mind are concerned,
embrace the basis and general outlines of what we call _conditional
regeneration_. I am not aware that they are in opposition to an one
principle of Scripture theology, or mental philosophy. And if this
process is found consonant with reason and Scripture, in its general
features, it will be easy to show that its relative bearings are such as
most happily harmonize all the doctrinal phenomena of the Gospel system.

We plant ourselves then upon these general positions, and as ability
will permit, or truth may seem to justify, shall endeavour to defend
them against such objections as may be anticipated, or are known to have
been made against any of the principles here assumed.

1. It may be objected perhaps that this is making too broad a
distinction between the different mental powers, giving to each such a
distinctive action and operation as to infringe upon the doctrine of the
mind's unity and simplicity. It is believed, however, the more this
point is reflected upon by an attentive observance of our own minds, or
the minds of others, the more satisfied shall we be that the principles
here assumed are correct. That there are these distinct properties of
mind no one doubts. It is in accordance with universal language, to
speak of the intellect, of the conscience, of the will, and of the
affections, as distinct properties of the mind. The properties of mind
are as clearly marked by our consciousness, as the properties of matter
by our senses. And although, in consequence of the invisibility of mind,
there is doubtless a more perfect unity in each individual mental
property, than in each distinct quality of matter, still each of the
mental qualities has its appropriate and distinctive character.
Calvinists themselves acknowledge this. They allow we have a moral sense
which tests good or evil, even in an unregenerate state; they allow the
intellect may perceive and approve of truth, even when the heart rejects
it; they allow that to perceive and to judge, to feel moral obligation
and to will, are distinct operations of the mind; and that our
perceptions and our conscience may be right, when our affections are
wrong. So far then we are agreed, and so far they make distinctions in
the mind, as wide as any that have been claimed in the principles above
laid down. Theologians, I grant, have, in many instances, confounded in
their reasonings the will and the affections. And this has also
sometimes been done by writers on the philosophy of the mind. But it is
most evident, I think, they have done this without good reason. Mr.
Locke says, "I find the will often confounded with several of the
affections, especially desire, and one put for the other." This he
thinks is an error, of which "any one who turns his thoughts inward upon
what passes in his own mind" will be convinced. Rev. Professor Upham, of
Bowdoin College, Maine, himself a Calvinist, as is generally supposed,
in a late excellent treatise on the will, asserts, and clearly proves, I
think, that "_the state of the mind, which we term volition, is entirely
distinct from that which we term desire_." Nay, he proves that desires
and volitions are often in direct opposition. Hence as love implies
desire, our volitions may often conflict with our love. And this is
precisely the state the awakened sinner is in when he "would do good,
but evil is present with him."

2. It may be said, and has sometimes been said, that this view of the
subject involves a contradiction; that it is the same as to say, the man
wills against his preference, or in other words, he wills what he does
not choose. I cannot answer this objection better than by an argument in
Professor Upham's work, already alluded to, in which he says, of a
similar objection on this very subject, "It will be found on examination
to resolve itself into a verbal fallacy, and naturally vanishes as soon
as that fallacy is detected." "It is undoubtedly true that the common
usage of language authorizes us to apply the terms choice and choosing
indiscriminately to either the desire or volition; but it does not
follow, and is not true, that we apply them to these different parts of
our nature in precisely the same sense." "When the word choice implies
desire at all, it has reference to a number of desirable objects brought
before the mind at once, and implies and expresses the ascendant or
predominant desire." "At other times we use the terms choice and
choosing in application to the will--when it is applied to that power,
it expresses the mere act of the will, and nothing more, with the
exception, as in the other case, that more than one object of volition
was present, in view of the mind, before the putting forth of the
voluntary act. It is in fact the circumstance that two or more objects
are present, which suggests the use of the word choice or choosing, in
either case." "But the acts are entirely different in their nature,
although under certain circumstances the same name is applied to them."
Hence he adds, "The contradiction is not a real, but merely a verbal
one. If we ever choose against choosing, it will be found merely that
choice which is volition, placed against that choice which is desire."
And this is nothing more than to say that volitions and desires may
conflict with each other, which we know to be the fact in numerous
instances.

If in reply to the foregoing, and in farther defence of the objection,
it should be urged, that there could be not only no motive for the
volition in this case, but that it would in fact be put forth against
all motive, since the feelings of the heart would be of a directly
opposite character, I reply, that it is not true that there would be no
motive for the action of the will, in opposition to the sinful
affections. It is seen already that the judgment in the awakened sinner
is against continuing in sin, and the rebukes of the conscience for the
past, and its admonitions for the future, are powerful motives in
opposition to the unholy affections. The feelings of compunction and of
moral obligation gain great accessions of strength, moreover, from the
terrors of the Divine law, which alarm the fears, and from the promises
of the Gospel, which encourage the hopes of the awakened sinner. And it
is especially and emphatically true that under the existing influence of
these fears and hopes, the voice of conscience is most effectual in
prompting the sinner to "flee from the wrath to come," and "lay hold on
the hope set before him." Can it be said then that there is no motive
for a volition, or a mental effort that shall conflict with the
unsanctified affections?

3. Again it is said, for every inch of this ground is disputed, that the
action of the mind under such motives is purely selfish, and cannot
therefore perform conditions acceptable to God. To this it may be
replied, that to be influenced by motives of self preservation and
personal salvation is not criminal; nay, it is commendable. In proof of
this but one argument is necessary. God moves upon our fears and hopes,
for the _express purpose_ of inducing us to forsake sin, and serve him;
and he applies these motives to man in his unregenerate state. This is
so obvious a fact, it is presumed none will deny it. But is it wrong for
us to be prompted to action by those considerations which God himself
urges upon us? If he attempts to excite our fears and hopes to prompt us
to a course of self preservation, can it be wrong for us to be
influenced by this means, and in this direction? I should hardly know
how to hold an argument with a man that should assert this--and yet
this sentiment is implied in the objection now under examination.
Beside, these acts conditional to regeneration are not wholly, perhaps
not chiefly, from motives of personal interest. Our moral feelings have
a great part in this work. And it is principally by arousing an accusing
conscience that fear and hope aid in the performance of the conditions
of regeneration. But whatever proportion there may be of the ingredients
of personal fear and hope in the feelings that enter into this
conditional action of the mind, it is certain that the fear of the
consequences of sin, and the hope to escape them, are not themselves
criminal, much less then are they capable of rendering a complex state
of the mind, of which they are but a part, unacceptable to God. Indeed
this objection to a mental act, merely because it is prompted by self
love, has always been to me a matter of wonder. Selfishness is a term
which we generally use in a bad sense, and we mean by it that form of
self love that leads us to seek our own gratification at the expense and
the injury of others, or in opposition to the will of God. But that self
love which leads us to seek our own highest interests, and especially
our eternal interests, without injury to others, and in accordance with
the Divine will, is never thought criminal, I believe, except where one
has a particular system to support by such a notion. But that system is
itself of a doubtful character which requires such an argument to
sustain it.

4. Another objection which has been made to one of the principles above
laid down is, that "it is the province of the will to control the
affections, and not the affections the will; and that the will always
possesses the power to do this, even in an unregenerate state." If so,
then man has power, at any time, by an act of the will, to love God. Let
him try--let that unholy sinner try. Can he succeed? You say perhaps,
for so the Calvinists have said, "He can if he will;" that is, he can
will to love God if he does will to love God! This is no great discovery
surely, and it is certainly no proper answer to the question. I ask it
again, Can he, by a direct act of the will, love God? Do you say, by
varying the form of the answer, "He can if he chooses?" If you mean by
choice the act of the will, this is the same answer over again, the
folly of which is so apparent. But if you mean by choice the desires of
his heart, then your answer amounts to this: If the desires of the heart
are in favour of loving God, he can, by an act of the will, love him.
But if the desires of the heart are in favour of loving God, the love is
already begotten, and there is no need of the act of the will to produce
it. In that case your proposition would be, the sinner can love God by
an act of the will, _if he loves him!_ the absurdity of which is too
evident to require comment. It is thus that the coils of error run into
each other in endless circles.

But, perhaps, to help the argument, if possible, it may be urged that
the will can decide in favour of a closer examination, and by voluntary
attention may get such strong perceptions of truth as will give it the
voluntary power over the heart. To this I would reply, in the first
place, this is giving up the argument, it is acknowledging that certain
preparatory acts of the will are necessary before the mind can love
God--but _this is conditional regeneration_. And it may be farther
maintained, in opposition to this sentiment that the mere perception of
truth, even when united with conscience, and personal fear and hope, is
not sufficient to give the will power over the unrenewed affections. In
proof of this, Scripture might be adduced; but reserving the Scripture
argument for the present, we may quote good Calvinistic authority in
proof that the will may be enthralled by the affections. Professor Upham
says, "Whenever there is a want of harmony in the mind, there is always
a greater or less degree of enthralment." And then he proceeds to show
how the mind may be enslaved by the _propensities_, _appetites_,
_affections,_ and _passions_. He illustrates; for example, the progress
of this enthralment in the case of an appetite for strong drink; which,
"like a strong man armed, violently seizes the will, binds it hand and
foot, and hurls it into the dust." Again he says, "There are not
unfrequently cases where the propensities and passions have become so
intense, after years of repetition, as to control, or in other words,
enthral the voluntary power almost entirely." (Treatise on the Will.)
Dr. Griffin, also an able Calvinistic writer, says, in decided terms,
"The judgment of the intellect and the decisions of the will are both
controlled by the heart."

The idea of the enthralment of the will, however, may be objected to on
another ground, viz. that if admitted it would destroy accountability,
since none are accountable for what they cannot avoid. But I have not
said they cannot avoid it; neither have I said we are not voluntary
either in keeping or discarding the unholy heart. I assert directly the
contrary. Every probationer decides whether he will be holy or happy.
But his decisions to be holy are effectual only when he seeks that from
God which he cannot do for himself. Then, and then only, will God give
him the victory over the old man, with the deceitful lusts of the heart.
_But this is conditional regeneration_.

Having said thus much in defence of the philosophy of the principles
laid down, the way is prepared to show that they accord with Scripture,
and to defend them with the doctrine which we build upon them from the
supposed Scripture objections which have been urged against them. But
this will furnish matter for another number.



NUMBER XV.

REGENERATION, CONTINUED.

In proposing and vindicating, in the preceding number, those views of
the philosophy of mind which are supposed to throw light upon the
process of regeneration, it was not intended to be intimated that a
knowledge of this theory is necessary in order to experience the new
birth. In the practical purposes of life men do not ordinarily stop to
analyze their mental states before they _judge_, _feel_, and _act_. They
have the _practical_ use of their mental faculties, and that suffices.
In this way the most ignorant and the most unphilosophical may be saved.
Why, then, it may be asked, is it necessary to enter into this analysis
at all? To this it may be replied, that whenever we can trace the
adaptation of the provisions of grace and the reason of the Divine
requirements to the known facts and laws of the human mind, it will
strengthen our confidence in the economy of grace, increase our
admiration of the wisdom and goodness of God, and sharpen our weapons of
defence against the cavils and assaults of an opposing skepticism. But
especially is this philosophical examination necessary whenever a
superficial or an erroneous philosophy would force upon us an erroneous
theology. The metaphysical mist with which some theories have veiled the
doctrine of regeneration, and the delusive and distorted views that have
resulted from this obscuration, may be removed and corrected by the
radiance of a pure philosophy. But as human philosophy is, at best, more
likely to err on these subjects than revelation, the former should
always be corrected or confirmed by the latter. How is it in the case
under examination? How do the assumed opinions correspond with
revelation?

Let us glance again at our positions. The principal points assumed
are--that there is often a conflict between the feelings of moral
obligation on the one hand, enlightened as they are by reason and by
grace, sanctioned as they are by fear and hope, and the unholy
affections on the other; that under the promptings of the moral feelings
the will frequently puts forth its strength to resist and subdue the
unholy affections, but in every such case the effort fails when unaided
by the sanctifying grace of God--and that victory is finally gained by a
conditional act of the will, through which, or on occasion of which, God
subdues the passions and changes the heart. These views have been
vindicated, as being in accordance with the philosophy of mind. The
question now is, Are they sustained by Scripture? I answer, _Yes, most
clearly_.

If the Apostle Paul had attempted, by a set argument, to illustrate and
affirm these views, he could not have done it better or more explicitly
than he has done in the latter part of the 7th, and the first part of
the 8th chapters of the Epistle to the Romans. "I see," says the
apostle, "another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind,
and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my
members." _The law of sin in his members_ was undoubtedly the carnal
mind, the unholy affections. These _warred_ against the _law of his
mind_, his enlightened judgment, his feelings of moral obligation; and
in this warfare the former were victorious, and carried captive the
will; so that "the good that he would, he did not, and the evil that he
would not, that he did." "To will was present with him," but "how to
perform, he knew not." See the entire passage, for it beautifully
illustrates our whole theory. Here is the conflict, the struggle between
conscience and sin; here is pointed out the seat of sin, viz. the
"flesh" or carnal mind, which is but another name for the unsanctified
affections and appetites; here is the will struggling to turn the
contest on the side of duty, but struggling in vain; every effort
results in defeat--_it is taken captive, and overcome_.--Despair finally
settles down upon the mind, as far as personal strength is concerned,
and the anxious soul looks abroad for help, and cries out, "Who shall
deliver me from the body of this death!" Then it is that deliverance
comes! Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners, sets him free!

Professor Stuart, of Andover, himself a Calvinist, has shown most
conclusively, what Arminians have long contended for, that this portion
of revelation refers specifically to the work of regeneration. But
whether this be granted by every Calvinist or not, no man can deny but
that the grand philosophical principles heretofore contended for, are
here fully illustrated--the same _division_ of the mind--the same
_conflict_--the same _thraldom_ of the _will_, and the same
_deliverance_, through _faith_ in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The same principles, in part at least, are recognized in Gal. v, 17,
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye _cannot_
do the things that ye _would_." In short, all those passages where the
difficulty of subduing the carnal mind, of keeping the body under, of
crucifying the old man, all those passages that speak of a _warfare_, an
_internal conflict_, and the like, recognize the principles here
contended for. These principles, so frequently adverted to in the
Scriptures, are proved to be in exact conformity with experience. Who
that has passed through this change, but remembers this conflict, this
war in the members? Who but recollects how his best resolutions were
broken as often as made; and how, after various and vigorous efforts,
his heart seemed to himself to grow worse and worse? He found secret
treason lurking in his bosom even when he was trying to repent of his
past disloyalty.

   "The more he strove against its power,
   He felt the guilt and sin the more."

Every additional effort sunk him apparently but the lower in "the
horrible pit and miry clay," until "the Lord heard his _cry_," until
"the Lord brought him up, and set his feet upon a rock, and established
his goings, and put a new song in his mouth."

That the Scriptures speak of a conditional action of the mind,
preparatory to the work of regeneration, appears from express passages,
as well as from the general tenor of that numerous class of scriptures
which enjoin duty upon the sinner, and predicate justification and
salvation upon those duties. John i, 12, has already been quoted and
commented upon, in which the new birth is suspended upon _receiving_
Christ, or _believing_ on his name. The many cases of healing the body,
by Christ, are evident illustrations of the healing of the soul. In
fact, we have good reasons for supposing that, in most of these cases at
least, the soul and body were healed at the same time; and this was
always on the condition of _asking_ and _believing_. John iii, 14, 13,
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son
of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life." Here our Saviour shows the analogy between
the cure of the Israelites by looking at the brazen serpent, and of
sinners by looking to Christ. But how were the Israelites healed? By the
conditional act of _looking_ at the brazen serpent. So looking at Christ
is the condition of healing the soul. Take away this condition and the
whole analogy is destroyed. Let this condition be understood, and the
text will accord with others, equally expressive of conditions. "Look
unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth." "Seek first the
kingdom of God and his righteousness." "Seek the Lord while he may be
found." God hath determined that all nations "should seek the Lord, if
haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from
every one of us." Will any one pretend to say that this looking and
seeking implies regeneration? This is mere assumption; where is the
proof? who would ever infer this idea from the Scriptures themselves?
What! is the sinner regenerated before the malady of his soul, the
poisonous bite of sin, is healed? Has he found the Lord before he has
sought him? And must he seek after he has found him? The _kingdom of
God_ is religion in the soul--it is "righteousness, peace, and joy in
the Holy Ghost;" and when we are regenerated, we have it in possession,
and have therefore no need to seek it. But we are commanded to _seek_
the kingdom of God; this, therefore, must be a work preparatory to, and
conditional of regeneration. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Take my yoke upon you," &c. To
be _restless_, and not to have on the yoke of Christ, is to be
unregenerate; but such are to _come_ and _take_ the yoke, and then, and
on that condition, they will find rest to their souls. "The Spirit and
the bride say, Come, &c, and whosoever will, let him come and take of
the water of life freely." To take of the water of life is to be
regenerate; but to this end we must _come_, and must first _will_ in
order to _come_. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear
my voice and open the door, I will come in and sup with him, and he with
me." Before Christ is _in_ the soul, there is no regeneration; but
before he will _come_ in, he knocks, and the sinner must first _hear_,
and then _open the door_, and on this condition Christ comes in and
imparts his grace.

But it is useless to proceed farther in quoting particular texts. They
might be extended indefinitely, with a force and pertinency that cannot
be evaded: all going to establish the fact that the work of grace on the
heart is conditional.

Will any one pretend to deny, that the unregenerate sinner is called
upon to _seek_, _ask_, _repent_, _believe_, &c? And what do such
scriptures mean? The acts of the mind here enjoined must _constitute_
regeneration, or they must follow regeneration as an effect of that
work, or they must precede it as a necessary and required condition. To
say that these acts are the very definition of regeneration itself--are
only synonymous terms to express this renewal of the heart, is to make
regeneration consist in _exercises_ merely--is in fact to make it the
sinner's appropriate and exclusive work; unless it can be shown that
this commanding the sinner to ask, &c, is nothing more nor less than a
promise that God will ask, seek, repent, and believe for him! But this
will hardly be pretended; and the idea that these acts do themselves
_constitute_ the new birth, has already been seen to be defective and
indefensible.

To suppose that these acts follow regeneration, as an effect or fruit of
the change itself, is to deny them that position and relation in which
they are actually placed by the word of God. It makes one seek, after he
has found; ask, after he has received; repent and believe, after he is
possessed of that salvation, to obtain which these duties are enjoined.
The phraseology to suit this theory, should evidently be of an entirely
different character. When the sinner asks what he shall do to be saved,
the answer should be--"_Nothing_ until God renews the heart; and then
as a fruit of this you will of course _seek_, _ask_, _believe_," &c. If,
indeed, the sinner is to do nothing until God renews him, why is it
necessary that he should first be awakened? Why is the command addressed
to him at all? Why does not the Holy Spirit immediately renew the heart,
while the transgressor is stupid in his wickedness, instead of calling
after him to _awake_, _flee_, and _escape_ for his life? Do you say you
can give no other reason than that it pleases God to take this course
with the sinner, and to call up his attention to the subject before he
renews him? I answer, then it pleases God that there should be certain
preparatory acts of the mind in order to regeneration: and this is in
fact admitting the principle for which we contend, and this more
especially if it be acknowledged, as it evidently must be, that these
preparatory mental states or acts are, to any extent, voluntary. Thus,
not only is the absurdity of making these acts the _result_ of
regeneration most apparent; but in tracing out the consistent meaning
and practical bearing of those scriptures that are addressed to the
unconverted, we find them establishing the third alternative, that these
acts of the mind are _preparatory_ to regeneration, and are the
prescribed conditions on which God will accomplish the work. Thus the
Scripture argument is found to confirm the philosophical view of the
subject, and both are strengthened by Christian experience. The doctrine
of conditional regeneration, therefore, is confirmed by a threefold
argument, no part of which, it is believed, can be easily overthrown.
Against it, however, there are several strong objections urged, which
have already been mentioned, and which we are now prepared to hear and
examine.

1. It has been objected, that to admit human agency and co-operation in
this change, is to deny salvation by _grace_. But how does this appear?
Suppose the very conditions are by a gracious appointment--suppose the
operations of a gracious system are in this way better adapted to a
moral government--suppose this conditional action of the mind to be
itself the result of a gracious influence, enlightening the
understanding, and quickening and arousing the moral sense--finally,
suppose these conditions not to be _efficient_, much less _meritorious_
causes, by which the mind either changes itself, or renders itself more
morally deserving of the Divine favour--I say suppose all this, and then
show if you can, how such conditions can detract at all from the grace
of this salvation.

2. It has been objected, that "since man never is what he ought to be
until he is renewed and made holy, therefore any act short of that which
either constitutes or implies regeneration cannot be acceptable to
God--God cannot consistently approve of any step that falls short of
man's duty. It is his duty to be holy, and therefore any thing short of
this is sin, and consequently cannot be accepted as a condition." We
should be careful to discriminate between things closely related, and
yet actually distinct from each other. It is one thing to be pleased
with the character of the mind as a whole, in view of its relations to
the Divine law and its necessary qualifications for heaven, and another
thing to be pleased with a particular mental state, or conditional
volition, in reference to its adaptation to a proposed end, or a
specific object. For instance: the Calvinists think that an awakened and
an anxiously inquiring sinner is in a more suitable state of mind to
receive the blessing of regeneration, than one perfectly stupid and
thoughtless. If they do not, why do they try to bring sinners to
thoughtfulness? Why do they try to awaken them to a sense of their
danger, and make them tremble under the view of the Divine displeasure?
Or why do they call their attention to Gospel provisions and a crucified
Saviour? Is not this a preparatory process? And have they the Divine
warrant for such a course? Is this the method which the Divine Being
takes to save his rebellious subjects? Then, doubtless, this method is
well pleasing to him: and in reference to this specific end he has in
view, he is pleased with each successive step in the process. He is
pleased when the shiner pays attention to the word; he is pleased when
he is awakened, and when he begins to tremble and inquire, "What shall I
do to be saved?" This is just as he would have it, and just as he
designed; although the entire character of the sinner is not acceptable
to him until he is made holy. The very principle, then, objected to by
the Calvinists is recognized by their own theory and practice. Now if we
say God is pleased to accept of the sinner's prayer, and faith, and
sorrow for sin, as a condition of what he will do for him, what
propriety is there in replying, God cannot accept of any thing short of
a holy heart? We know he cannot approve of a heart until it is holy; but
he can approve of certain feelings and volitions as suited, according to
the Divine appointment, to be the condition on which he will make the
heart holy. Do you ask on what ground he accepts of this? I answer, on
the ground of the merits of Christ; the ground on which the whole
process rests. God does not accept of the prayer, repentance, and faith
of the _regenerate_, because they are regenerate, and by reason of their
holiness; but their acceptance is wholly and continually through Christ.
Through the same medium and merits the prayer of the inquiring sinner is
heard and answered.

If your servant had left you unjustly, and deserted the service he was
obligated to perform, and you should finally tell him, if he would
return and resume his duties you would forgive the past, and accept of
him for the future, would it be inconsistent to say, you were pleased
when he began to listen to the proposal, and pleased when he took the
first and every succeeding step, as being suitable and necessary to the
end proposed, although, in view of _his_ duty and _your_ claim, you
would not be pleased with him, as your acceptable servant, until he was
actually and faithfully employed in your service?

Let it not be inferred from the above that I advocate a gradual
conversion. I do not. I believe when God renews the heart he does it at
once; but the preparatory steps are nevertheless indispensable to the
accomplishment of this work. And God is well pleased with the first step
of attention on the part of the sinner, and with every succeeding step
of prayer, anxious inquiry, feeling of moral obligation, purpose to
forsake sin, looking after and attempting to believe in Christ, not
because these are _all_ that he requires, but because they are the
necessary preparatives for what is to follow.

3. The foregoing remarks will prepare the way to meet a similar
objection to the last, and one to some extent the same in substance. It
is this: "Are these conditional acts of the mind holy or unholy
exercises? If holy, then the work of regeneration is accomplished
already, and therefore these cannot be the _conditions_ of that change.
If unholy, then they can be no other than offensive to a holy God, and
therefore cannot be conditions well pleasing to him." In addition to
what has been already said, having a bearing upon this question, it may
be stated that the terms holy and unholy may be equivocal, as used in
this connection; and thus the supposed dilemma would be more in words
than in fact, more in appearance than in reality. This dilemma is urged
in the argument under the idea that there can be but the two kinds of
exercises, holy and unholy. And this may be true enough, only let us
understand what is meant. If by holy exercises are meant those in which
the entire feeling is on the side of God, I readily answer, _No_, the
mind before regeneration has no such exercises. If by holiness is meant,
that the judgment and conscience are on the side of truth, I answer,
_Yes_, this is the state of the mind when it is truly awakened by the
Holy Spirit and by Divine truth. It is entirely immaterial to me,
therefore, whether the objector call the exercise holy or unholy,
provided he draw no special inferences from the use of a general term
that the positions here assumed do not authorize. Sure I am that the
objector cannot say there is nothing in the exercises of the
unregenerate, awakened sinner, such as God would have for the end
proposed, until he is prepared to say that a fear of the consequences of
sin, an enlightened judgment, the remorse of conscience for the past,
the feelings of obligation for the future, and the hope of victory over
sin through Christ, all combining to induce the sinner to flee for
refuge, and lay hold upon the hope set before him, are all wrong, and
not as God would have them? But when a man is prepared to say this, it
is difficult to see how he could be reasoned with farther, for he would
seem to have given up reason and Scripture. And yet who does not know
that these are the exercises of the soul awakened to a sense of sin and
its consequences, even while as yet his unholy affections hang upon him
like a _body of death_:--Yea, who does not know that it is this body of
death, from which he cannot escape, and this abhorrence of sin and its
consequences, that rein him up, and incline him to a surrender of his
soul into the hands of Christ, from whom, as a consequence, he receives
_power_ to become a son of God. "But what is the motive?" it is asked,
"is not this unholy?" And pray what does this inquiry mean? If by motive
is meant the moving cause _out_ of the mind; _that_ cannot be unholy,
for it is the Holy Spirit, and the holy word of God, that are thus
urging the sinner to Christ. If by motive is meant the judgments and
feelings of the mind, that prompt to these voluntary efforts to avoid
sin and its consequences, these are the enlightened understanding and
the feelings of obligation, already alluded to, which, I repeat, the
objector is welcome to call holy or unholy as he pleases; all I claim
is, they are what God approves of, and are the necessary conditions of
his subsequent work of renewing the heart.

But perhaps it may be asked here, Is not the sinner, in the performance
of these conditions, _partly_ converted? I answer, This again depends
entirely upon what you mean by conversion. If by conversion you
understand the whole of the preparatory work of awakening and seeking,
as well as the _change_ of the _heart_--then of course you would say he
is _partly_ converted. If you mean by conversion only a change of views
and a consequent change of purpose, by which the sinner determines to
seek, that he may find the pearl of great price--the blessing of a new
heart and of forgiveness, then you would say he is _wholly_ converted.
But if you mean, by conversion, the change of heart itself, the washing
of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, then not only is
not the work done, but it is not begun. The way of the Lord is prepared
and the renewal will follow.

Thus the objections that have been thought so formidable against the
doctrine of conditional regeneration are found, on a closer inspection,
to be more in appearance than in reality. They receive their influence,
as objections, rather from their indefiniteness and the ambiguity of
terms, than from any intrinsic force.

There is, however, one form more in which an objection may be urged in a
general way against the ideas of the new birth here advanced. And as I
wish fearlessly and candidly to state and meet, if possible, every
difficulty, it will be necessary to touch upon this. It may be urged
that "the only exercises that can be claimed as conditions of
regeneration on Bible grounds are _repentance_ and _faith;_ for
'repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ' are laid at
the foundation of all Gospel requirements. Whenever the awakened sinner
came to the apostles to know what he should do to be saved, they always
met him with, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be
saved.' Whenever the apostles went out to preach the Gospel, they
preached 'every where that men should repent.'" "But," continues the
objector, "if repentance and faith are the only duties or exercises
which can be claimed as conditions, it is evident there are no such
conditions; for repentance and faith, so far from being conditions of
regeneration, are either the new birth itself, or are Christian graces,
implying the new birth."

The premises, in the above objection, will not be denied. Repentance and
faith are supposed to be the Gospel conditions of regeneration. But it
is denied that these are necessarily regeneration itself, or that they
imply regeneration in any other sense, than as antecedents to it. There
are, it is acknowledged, a repentance and a faith that are Christian
graces, and imply the new birth. This is the faith that "is the
substance of things hoped for." It is that principle of spiritual life
which the Christian has in his soul when he can say, "The life that I
now live I live by faith in the Son of God." This is that repentance,
also, which keeps the soul continually at the foot of the cross, and
leads it constantly to feel,

   "Every moment, Lord, I need
   The merit of thy death."

But because repentance and faith are the necessary characteristics of
the Christian, and because they are the more perfect as the Christian
character ripens, it does not therefore follow that there are no
repentance and faith conditional to the new birth. The very fact that
repentance and faith were urged by Christ and his apostles, as the
initiatory step to salvation, proves the opposite of this. They do not
say, Repent and believe the Gospel, and this is salvation, but, "Repent
and believe, and ye shall (on this condition) be saved." And surely it
is unnecessary to prove here that salvation in the New Testament
generally means a meetness for heaven or holiness. Our blessed Saviour
was called Jesus, because he _saved_ his people _from their sins_.

Beside, it may well be argued, that faith and repentance are acts of the
mind, and cannot therefore be considered as the new birth itself, unless
the mind converts itself, especially since they are _enjoined duties_,
and must therefore be _voluntary_ acts. It is no where said that God
repents and believes for us; but it is expressly and repeatedly taught,
that God _renews_ us.--Repentance and faith, then, are our work, but
regeneration is his. I know it is said in one place, Acts v, 31, that
Christ was exalted "to _give repentance_ to Israel." But the _act_
itself of repentance cannot be said to be _given_. This would be an
absurdity. How can any one give me a mental _act?_ Hence Dr. Doddridge,
although a Calvinist, very candidly and very justly remarks, on this
passage, that "to _give repentance_ signifies to _give place_, or _room_
for repentance," to sustain which interpretation he quotes Josephus and
others who use the phrase in this sense. If then repentance and faith
are enjoined upon us, as _our duties_, and if they are every where
spoken of as prerequisites in the work of salvation, and as preparatory
steps and conditions to the process of holiness, how can it be otherwise
than that these are antecedent, in the order of nature, to regeneration?

It may farther be argued, in support of this view of faith and
repentance, that no sin can be forgiven until repented of--repentance
therefore must precede remission of sins. This I suppose Calvinists
allow, but they say that, in the order of nature, the heart is renewed
before sin is forgiven--and that repentance, therefore, which is either
the new birth itself, or the immediate fruit of it, is a condition of
justification, but not of regeneration. If this be correct, then the
soul is made holy before it is forgiven. But St. Paul informs us, Romans
iv, 5, that God through faith "justifieth the _ungodly_." If then there
be any antecedence in the order of the two parts of the work of grace,
we must suppose that justification has the precedence, and that
regeneration follows, and hence repentance and faith precede
regeneration. Indeed I cannot see why repentance is not as necessary to
remove the sin of the heart as to forgive the sin of the life. If God
will not forgive sin without repentance, will he renew the heart without
it? Has he any where promised this? If not, but if, on the contrary, he
every where seems to have suspended the working out of our salvation _in
us_, upon our repentance, then may we safely conclude--nay, then we must
necessarily believe that we repent in order to be renewed. The same may
be said of faith. Faith in fact seems to be the exclusive channel
through which every gracious effect is produced upon the mind. The
sinner cannot be awakened without faith, for it precedes every judgment
in favour of truth, and every motion of moral feeling, and of course
every favourable concurrence of the will. The sinner never could throw
himself upon the Divine mercy, never would embrace Christ as his
Saviour, until he believed. Hence the Scriptures lay such great stress
upon faith, and make it the grand, and indeed the only _immediate_
condition of the work of grace upon the heart. Repentance is a condition
only remotely, _in order_ to justifying faith; agreeable to the teaching
of Christ, "And ye, when ye had heard, afterward _repented_ not that ye
_might believe_ on him." But faith is necessary _immediately_, as that
mental state directly antecedent to the giving up of the soul into the
hands of Divine mercy. And shall we still be told that faith is not the
condition of regeneration? The order of the work seems to be--1. A
degree of faith in order to repentance. 2. Repentance, in order to such
an increase of faith as will lead the soul to throw itself upon
Christ.--3. The giving up of the soul to Christ as the only ground of
hope. 4. The change of heart by the efficient operation of the Holy
Spirit.--Now on whichever of these four stages of the process, except
the first, the objector lays his finger and says, _That_ is not a
condition of regeneration, for it is regeneration itself, it will be
seen that _that_ very part is conditional. If, for instance, he fix on
the second stage, and contend that that is regeneration, which I call
repentance _in order_ to regenerating faith; even _that_ would be
_conditional_ regeneration, for it is preceded by faith--and so of all
that follow. And surely no one will pretend that what I call the first
stage, the faith which precedes awakening and remorse of conscience, and
the exciting alternations of fear and hope in the anxious and inquiring
sinner, is regeneration. And if this first degree of faith is not the
change, then it is utterly inconsistent to talk of unconditional
regeneration, for this faith stands at the head of all that follows--it
is a mental act necessarily preparatory to the whole work. And as we
shall presently see, it is an act that depends upon the agency of the
will. Hence we are brought again to our conclusion, that the change
called the new birth is effected by the Holy Spirit, on the ground of
certain conditional acts of him who is the subject of the change.

"But the very _nature_ of repentance and of faith, the very _definition_
of the two mental states expressed by these terms," it is said, "proves
that a person, to possess them, must be regenerate; or at any rate, that
these states cannot be conditions of regeneration, to be performed by
the sinner." Let us attend for a moment to this objection in detail.

What is repentance? "It is," say some Calvinistic writers, "a _change of
mind_. The original means this, and so it should have been rendered; and
if it had been so rendered, it would have set this controversy at rest."
But what if we should grant (what I do not believe) that the original
word means this, and this only, still it would not follow that the
change of mind called the new birth is meant by this term. A change of
judgment is a change of mind--a change of purpose is a change of
mind--any change of the general current of feeling, such as that from
carelessness and stupidity in to a state of anxiety and earnest inquiry,
what shall I do to be saved? is a change of mind.--And such a change of
mind indispensably precedes regeneration. No person ever, from being a
careless, hardened sinner, becomes an anxious and earnest inquirer after
salvation, without an important change in his judgment, moral feeling,
and volitions. Hence this definition does not at all help the objector,
unless he can prove that the Scriptures always mean by this term that
change which they elsewhere call the new birth. Indeed, since we have
already shown that repentance is our work, and the renewing of the heart
exclusively God's work, it follows incontrovertibly, that the change of
mind called repentance is not the new birth.

If repentance meant that change of mind called the new birth, then the
regenerate would be _often born again_, and that, too, without
backsliding; for those who are growing the fastest in grace repent the
most constantly and the most deeply.

Again: it is objected, that "faith is not a voluntary state of mind, and
therefore cannot be considered a condition, performed by the sinner, in
order to regeneration." To believe is doubtless, in many instances,
perfectly involuntary. There are numerous cases in which a man is
obliged to believe, both against his will and against his desires. There
are other cases, again, in which the will is not only much concerned in
believing, but in which its action is indispensable in order to believe.
And the faith of the Gospel is pre-eminently an instance of this kind.
"Faith," saith the word, "cometh by hearing." But hearing implies
attention; and every deliberate act of attention implies an act of the
will. A man can no more leap, by one transition, from a state of entire
carelessness into the faith that justifies the soul, than he can make a
world. But he can take the steps that lead to this result. To believe to
the saving of the soul requires _consideration_, _self examination_, a
_knowledge_ of the object of faith, or the truth to be believed,
_earnest looking_, and _prayerful seeking_. But is there no act of the
will in all these? It is said that "the Spirit takes of the things of
Jesus Christ, and shows them unto us." And it is doubtless true, that
the soul cannot get such a view of Christ as encourages him to throw
himself unreservedly upon the mercy of the Saviour, until the Spirit
makes, to the mind's eye, this special exhibition of the "things of
Christ." But when does he do this? Does he come to the sinner when he is
careless and inattentive, and show him the _things of Christ?_ No! it is
only to the inquiring and self-despairing sinner, who is earnestly
groaning out the sentiment in the bitterness of his heart, "Who shall
deliver me from the body of this death?" And is there no voluntary
action in all this?

But it will perhaps be wearisome to the reader to pursue these
objections farther. I should not have gone so fully into this part of
the subject, but for the fact, that this sentiment of unconditional
regeneration is considered the strong hold of Calvinism. This point
moreover appears to have been but slightly handled by most of the
anti-Calvinistic writers; and therefore I have felt it the more
necessary to attempt an answer to all the most important arguments that
are adduced in opposition to our view of this doctrine. I am far from
thinking I have done the subject justice, and may have cause perhaps
hereafter to acknowledge that some of my minor positions are untenable,
and that some of my expressions need modifying or explaining, although I
have used what care and circumspection my time and circumstances would
permit in reference not only to the doctrine itself, but also in
reference to the forms of expression. And as it respects the leading
doctrines here inculcated, I repose upon them with entire confidence.
However the theory clashes with that of many great and good men, it is
believed to be the only theory that will consistently explain the
practice and preaching of these very men. It is, in my view, the only
theory that will satisfactorily and consistently explain those great and
leading principles by which evangelical Christians expect to convert the
world to Christ. And, if this be true, the sooner the Christian Church
is established on this foundation, the better. We have already seen that
a mixture of error in the essential doctrines leads to various mutations
from extreme to extreme of dangerous heresy. How long before the Church
shall be _rooted and grounded in the truth!_ May He who said, LET LIGHT
BE; AND LIGHT WAS, hasten that glorious day!

THE END.



Footnotes

[1] Many objections have been made, by the reviewers, to my manner of
stating the doctrine of predestination. It is objected, that the great
body of Calvinists believe, no more than the Arminians, that God
"efficiently controls and actuates the human will." On a careful, and I
hope, candid revision of the subject, however, I cannot satisfy myself
that the objection is valid. I am quite sure God must control the will,
or he cannot, as Calvinists teach, secure the proposed end, by the
prescribed means. It is readily granted that Calvinists deny _such a
control_ as destroys the freedom of the will. But it is the object of
the sermon and of the following controversy to show that Calvinistic
predestination is, on any ground of consistency, utterly irreconcilable
with mental freedom. How far this has been done, of course, each will
judge for himself.

[2] It seems, to the author of the sermon, but little better than
trifling, to object, as some have, to this argument on foreknowledge,
that "God must predetermine his works before he could certainly know
what would take place; and hence, in the order of cause and effect, he
must decree in order to know." It is readily conceded, that, in the
order of nature, the Divine Being could not foreknow that a world would
certainly exist, until he had determined to create it. But was there no
prescience back of this? Did he determine to create a universe,
independent of a view of all the bearings in the case? If so, he created
at random and in ignorance. If not, then a view of all the results
preceded his determination to create; and thus we are led irresistibly
to the doctrine of the sermon, that "God foreknows in order to
predestinate."

[3] The review of the sermon, in the Christian Spectator, is understood
to be from the pen of Doctor Fitch, professor of divinity in Yale
College.

[4] See Christian Spectator, Vol. iv, No. 3.

[5] A part of this sermon has lately been published, in a tract form,
and circulated with the _avowed_ purpose of counteracting the influence
of the sermon "on predestination."

[6] A man was afflicted with the hydrophobia. When his paroxysms were
coming on he was aware of it, and gave warning to his friends to be on
their guard, that he might not injure them. Suppose, however, he knew of
a sure remedy, but voluntarily neglected to avail himself of it. Would
he not in that case be guilty, not only of all the evils that might
result to others from his malady; but also of self murder? And yet this
man's madness was entirely beyond the direct control of his will.





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