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All this is very good ;--but this is not all which he has writen on this subject. He has adopted theories which, in the udgment of many at least, tend to sap the foundation of this andamental doctrine of the Christian faith. Although he exlicitly admits the influence of the Holy Spirit in regeneration; et in view of many things wbich he has written, it is difficult o see what necessity there can be for this divine influence. In his letter, which contains bis creed, he says,
" I do not believe that the grace of God can be truly said to be iresistable in the primary proper import of this term. But I do believe hat in all cases, it may be resisted by man as a free moral agent; and hat when it becomes effectual to conversion, it is unresisted."
I am not disposed to vindicate the use of the term irresistible, is applied to this subject. But that the idea intended to be conveyed by it, by those divines who have been in the habit of usang it, is correct, I have no doubt. They meant by it the same as efficacious or invincible. They taught that sinners do always resist the Holy Ghost; but that in regeneration their resistance is overcome or subdued, by the almighty energy of the Holy Ghost. They called renewing grace, irresislible grace, because it overcomes the utmost resistance which the sinner makes.But this idea, if I understand bim, Dr. Taylor discards. He says, when grace "becomes effectual to conversion," "it is unresisted;”-that is, the sinner ceases to resist, before the grace of God converts him. But I would ask, what necessity is there for the grace of God to convert him, after he has ceased to resist? That I do not mistake the meaning of Dr. Taylor in this passage, will appear by comparing it with some other passages of his writings. Observe the following:
“But how obviously does the sinner, entertaining such views, overlook or disregard the decisions of eternal truth? How obviously do such desires, and all acts dictated by them, proceed on the assumption that God may interpose to save, while the sinner holds the affections of his heart still riveted to earth; and this when the plainest annunciation of God to him is, renounce that idol or perish forever; and this when God in his word and providence forbids the hope of any saving interposition while the sinner's heart still clings to the forbidden object. Whence comes this delusion? The world-his idol, his god, the sinner will not renounce—and now to avoid the power and pressure of the truth that, continuing to cherish the love ofit, perdition is inevitable, he vainly dreams in the face of God's testimony, that he may, and even must continue to cherish the idol of his heart and yet that God may interpose to save :--And thus he desires that it should be. And what is this but assuming that God may, and desiring that he would, so depart from the immutable principles of his government, as to interpose to save him, while in heart a rebel, and still resolved to be so?” Christ. Spect. for 1829. pp. 29, 30.
Dr. Taylor here assures us, that the word and providence of God forbid the hope that he will interpose to renew the heart of the sinner while he clings to his idols—that it is the immutable principle of his government," not to interpose in the sinner's behalf, " while in heart a rebel, and still resolved to be so.” According to this representation, before God will interpose to renew the sinner's heart, he must give up his idolsmust submit to the divine authority, and cease to be a rebel.But when all this is done, what necessity is there for divine in terposition ?
Why is it necessary that the sinner should be renewed by the power of the Holy Ghost! This necessity results solely froto the perverseness and obstinacy of the sinner's beart. But according to Dr. Taylor's theory, the perverseness and obstinacy of his heart are removed antecedent to regeneration. The selfish principle is suspended. He ceases to sin and ceases to resist. Every thing, indeed, which can be rationally supposed to render the agency of the Holy Spirit necessary in renewing the heart, is removed.
Again ; Dr. Taylor says, « This self-love or desire of happiness is the primary cause or resson of all acts of preference or choice which fix supremely on any object. In every moral being who forms a moral character, there must be a first moral act of preference or choice. This must respect some one object, God or Mammon, as the chief good, or as an object of supreme affection. Now, whence comes such a choice or preference! Not froin a previous choice or preference of the same object, for we speak of the first choice of the object. The answer which human consciousness gives, is, that the being constituted with a capacity for happiness, desires to be happy; and knowing that he is capable of deriving happiness from different objects, considers from which the greatest happiness may be derived AND AS IN THIS RESPECT HE JUDGES, OT estimates their relative value, so HE CHOOSES or prefers the one or the other as his chief good. While this must be the process by which & moral being forms his first moral preference, substantially the same process is indispensable to a change of this preference." Christ Spect. for 1829. p. 21.
According to this representation, every moral being chooses what he judges will be most for his happiness. The reason, therefore, that the sinner prefers the world to God, is that be has mistaken the true way of securing his highest bappiness.What then is necessary to effect his conversion ? Nothing but Jight to correct his mistake. So soon as he shall be convinced that more happiness is to be derived from God, than from the world, self-love will at once prompt him to change the object of bis preference. Where, then, is the necessity of the influences of the Holy Spirit, to renew the heart?
This subject might be pursued to a great length. There are very many things in Dr. Taylor's writings relating to the doc. trine of regeneration, which I am constrained to regard as erroneous, and of dangerous tendency. But I cannot dwell upon them now.
As a suitable Appendix to the above, we insert the following from the Vermont Chronicle of the 22d ult. :
“Dr. Taylor says, . This self-love or desire of happiness is the primary cause or reason of all acts of preference or choice which fix supremely on any objeét. In every moral being who
forms a moral eharacter, there must be a first moral act of prefference or choice. This must respect some one object, God or Mammon, as the chief good or as an object of supreme affection. Now, whence comes such a choice or preference ? Not from a previous choice or preference of the same object, for we speak of the first choice of the object. The auswer which human consciousness gives, is, that the being constituted with a capacity for happiness, desires to be happy; and knowing that he is capable of deriving happiness from different objects, considers from which the greatest happiness may be derived, and AS IN THIS RESPECT HE JUDGES, or estimates their relative value, so HE CHOOSES or prefers one or the other as bis chief good. While this must be the process by which a mural being forms his first moral preference, substantially the same process is indispensable to a change of this preference."-Christ. Spect. for 1829. p. 21.
“Does Dr. Taylor here mean to teach, that “the primary cause or reason" of all acts whatsoever, holy or unholy, is the sama the desire of happiness? That, when holiness is chosen, it is chosen only as a means of enjoyment? That the saint and the sinner differ only in this—that the one chooses the right, and the other a wrong way, to be happy! If not, what does he mean? Or,rather,what does he say? The question may be stated in other forms. In the language which prevailed twenty-five years ago,-is holiness to be loved for its own sake, or only as a means of enjoyment? In the language of this "age of action,” is it possible for a man to do a right action because it is right; or must be also know that he shall gain something by it, before he can feel a sufficient inducement to perform it ? Considerations of interest will prevail with any one. Is a Christian a man with whom the consideration duty will prevail, unaided by the consideration of interest? In yet other words, is the idea of duty, by which some men are led, any thing but acorrect a pprehension of what is for their own interest? Yet again, is Paley's definition of virtue correct, -that it consists in “doing good to mankind in obedience to the will of God, for the sake of everlasting happiness ?" If not, wherein is it erroneous ?
To us, the passage which we have quoted from, Dr. Taylor seems to annihilate the distinction between right and wrong, and to teach that the only moral distinction between men consists in the different degrees of sagacity with which they seek their own interests. This, of course, strikes at the very foundation of morality, and leaves us no ground for a distinction between reoforse and regret, or between penitence and the sorrow of this world.
"Will Dr. Taylor admit this interpretation of his words ? Will he, deliberately, maintain the ground which he seems to us to have taken? We have conversed with several leading men among his disciples, and can find no one of them who is willing to take that ground, or who confidently denies that Dr.
Tayler takes it. Some of them, indeed, admit that he does, and avow their disagreement with him therein.
“ Here, we repeat it, appears to us to be the parting point in this controversy ; not the point, according to their views on which men are counted as on one side or the other,--for thes are counted, and allow themselves to be counted, just as it hape pens,--but the point at which the syslems part. Admit what we conceive to be Dr. Taylor's position in the above extract, and most, if not all, of his positions about sin and about regeaeration, will follow irresistibly. Reject it, and they are cut up by the roots.”
GOD'S SECRET AND REVEALED WILL.
In the last number of the New-York Evangelist, there is an article on Predestination; in which, among many valuable remarks, there are some things exceptionable. The writer says, " The doctrine of predestination does not teach nor imply, that God prefers the present amount of sin in the universe to boliness in its stead. God is sincere in all his declarations. He is sincere in the expressions of his abhorence, and in bis prohibitions of sin. Hence that system which makes God have two wills, a secret and a revealed one, in opposition to each other -which makes him say openly, that sin is “that abominable thing," in whole and in part, “which bis soul hateth," and yet to say secretly, in bis heart, that it is that necessary thing, which his soul desires-virtually charges the infinitely Holy One with being an infinite hypocrite."
It is certainly much to be regretted, that any man should es.. press himself in such language while treating on so serious s subject. The above paragraph is intended as a caricature of tbe sentiments of the great body of the orthodox, who have maintained that there is a distinction between God's secret and revealed will;-or, his will of command, and will of decree.But suppose we should deny this distinction : let us see to what consequences it will lead us. If God's will of command, and will of decree are the same; then what God has commanded, he has also decreed. When he commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he decreed that he should not eat of it ; consequently Adam frustrated the divine decree. The same is true in regard to every sinner, in every instance in which he has trausgressed the divine law. And is it so ? Does man every time he sios, defeat the purposes of his Maker ?
In the very article from which the above extract is taken, the writer admits, that “God hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass."
But how can this position be maintained without adopting the distinction which he ridicules? If God bath foreordained what
soever comes to pass, he hath foreordained some things which he has forbidden; for it will not surely be denied that some things which are forbidden, have come to pass. If then we deny this distinction, to be consistent, we must give up the doctrine of foreordination altogether.
It is no contradiction to say that a thing may be in one senso agreeable to God's will, and in another sense, not agreeable to bis will. Viewed in itself, it may be very undesirable ; but viewed in connection with other things it may be very desirable. In itself considered, God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Punishment is his strange work. But all things considered it is his pleasure that the wicked should die ; for " the day of vengeance is in his heart.”
In itself considered, God has no pleasure in the afflictions of bis people ; for “he doth not afflict willingly.” But all things considered, it is his pleasure to afflict them; for “whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth.”
In itself considered, God had no pleasure in the sufferings of his Son. But all things considered, it was his pleasure that bis Son should suffer; for it pleased the Lord to bruise him."
This distinction is very obvious; and without adopting it, itis impossible to reconcile different parts of the scriptures with each other, and the perfections of God with facts.
Selected for the Hopkinsian Magazine..
THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. [It may not be known to all our readers, that the religious observance of the fourth of July, began as early as the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. At that eventful period, when our Fathers still heard the confused noise of battle, and saw garments rolled in blood, and when the result of the arduous contest was known to Him only who seeth the end from the beginning; they felt their dependence upon the Supreme Governor of the world for success to their righteous cause, and humbly implored his protection and blessing. A similar spirit would lead their descendants to acknowledge, with fervent gratitude, their obligation to God for the confirmed possession and full enjoyment of their civil and religious rights and liberties. On no occasion, is religious homage more becoming a favored people, than on the anniversary of our Independence ; and, on no occasion, are forgetfulness of God, noisy mirth, and bacchanalian riot, more unbecoming and . monstrous, than on that memorable day of our nation's birth.
The following is the introduction to Rev. Mr. GORDON's ser