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times been strenuously advocated by the Calvinistic churches; but certain we are, that the mode of explaining them had been materially changed, and that in many particulars the system had received a new dress, if not a new body.
Things were at that period becoming more settled. The people had consented to receive an enlarged and improved edition of Hopkins' Universal Atonement, as containing the true Bible doctrine; and they seemed content to believe, as they were taught, "that the sinner could repent if he would," teachers not feeling themselves bound in their ordinary administrations to inform them that none would until God made them willing. The angry wave of contention between the parties of Orthodox and Unitarian into which the Churches had been divided, were fast subsiding, and all was becoming calm and peaceful, when a new storm broke upon them.
A controversy had been carried on for some time between Dr. Woods of the Andover school, and Dr. Ware, professor of divinity at Harvard. It was during this controversy that the peculiar sentiments of Dr. Taylor, then pastor of a Church in New-Haven, Conn., began to be known. He was understood by his friends to take the side of Dr. Ware, on the doctrine of original sin, and the moral character of infants. It was not long before Dr. Taylor's sentiments on these points began to be broached in New-Haven. Soon after the plan of a theological seminary in connection with Yale college was projected, which was finally carried into effect, and Dr. Taylor placed at the head of it. From the circumstances under which this institution was brought into existence, some have been led to conclude that it was designed as a stage to elevate Dr. Taylor, for the purpose of giving him the better opportunity to exhibit and defend his peculiar sentiments to advantage. After this institution went into operation, the tide of this new divinity daily rose, until its streams were sent out to water the Churches of Connecticut, and cause them to bring forth their increase. It was not, however, until the 10th of Sept., 1828, that Dr. Taylor's sentiments were fully and distinctly set forth in a tangible form. In a "concio ad clerum," preached by him at that time, are contained his remarks on Eph. ii, 3; the two main pillars of the system now dignified by the title of "New Divinity," an appellation once given to Hopkinsianism only. A review of Dr. Spring on Regeneration soon followed, in which the new-divinity mode of conversion was laid down as consisting in "desperate efforts," and a "suspension of the selfish principle." Those who had suspected that all was not right in New-Haven, now became fully convinced that their fears were well founded. The sentiments of Dr. Taylor were too distinctly avowed to be misunderstood, and their wide departure from Calvinism was too evident to be mistaken. Anxious, however, that all might be done that consistently could be, to retrieve the reputation of so eminent a divine, calls for explanation, retraction, &c., were made and echoed from every quarter. His positions were examined, arguments incessantly urged against them, and every opportunity given him to show himself a consistent Calvinist. In his attempts to do this, however, he utterly failed. It is true, he charged his opposers with misunderstanding his doctrine, and mis
representing his arguments, but has failed in making out either; and he must be considered as departing from the old paths of Calvinistic theology until he can place his theory in a light in which he has not yet exhibited it. In a letter to Dr. Hawes containing a statement of his faith, he has indeed adopted a phraseology very similar to that we find in the old Calvinistic creed; but in the notes subjoined, he has so explained and modified these expressions as to make them mean what, to the common sense of a plain reader, they would hardly be supposed to mean. After all his explanations and modifications, to place his views before the public, in the light in which it is presumed he wishes them understood, we think we are warranted by various authorities, in saying that Dr. Taylor teaches
1. That God has not foreordained the existence of sin, as foreordination is generally understood; but that he determined to create a world to which he foresaw sin would be incidental, and that so far as a determination to create under such circumstances is foreordination of sin, so far God has foreordained sin, and no farther.
2. That sin, as such, is not the necessary means of the greater good; and God does not, all things considered, prefer it to holiness in those cases where it exists.
3. That election is the purpose of God to save all who comply with the terms of salvation, connected with the certainty to the Divine mind, of the number and persons who will comply.
4. That depravity consists in unholy action. This is natural, because such is the nature of man that he will in all the appropriate circumstances of his being sin and only sin. Yet that nature which thus becomes the occasion of sin, is not itself sin, because this would be to make the cause of all sin itself sinful.
5. As there is no specific tendency to sin in the human mind, distinct from the natural appetites implanted in man at his creation, so regeneration does not consist in a change of constitutional propensities, but in the change of the choice or governing purpose.
6. The inability to comply with the terms of salvation, on the part of the sinner, consists wholly in disinclination, all having a natural ability to do the will of God.
7. Until conversion, the grace of God is resisted successfully by the sinner, and in conversion the selfish principle is suspended, and God's grace is not resisted; the sinner looking upon God and self, the objects of choice, chooses God as his governor, and his service as his supreme good.
Such are some of the peculiarities of the New-Haven theology. Against this theory, Dr. Griffin, of Williamstown college, Dr. Woods, of Andover, and Dr. Tyler, of the East Windsor school, arrayed a powerful opposition. In this they were aided by the Rev. Mr. Harvey, at present editor of the Watchman, a paper established at Hartford, Conn., in opposition to the doctrine of the new-school divinity. These gentlemen have made a united and firm stand against the New-Haven innovations, with how much success remains to be seen in after times.
On reviewing the brief sketch above, it will readily be perceived that there is a wide difference between the doctrines adopted by Dr. Taylor, and those set forth in the Boston Confession.
views on predestination, Dr. Taylor approaches very near to Arminianism. The only matter of surprise is, that the abettors of the scheme persist in calling that Calvinism which accords so nearly with what was taught by Arminius, Wesley, Whitby, and others of the same school; and which distinguishes the Arminian from the Calvinistic creed by one of the strongest points of difference between Dr. Taylor, however, probably has his object in view, and it may be deemed impertinent in us to interfere.
On the subject of depravity the New-Haven theology is undoubtedly Pelagian: and, as such, we cannot of course account it evangelical. It is calculated, in its very nature, to subvert the doctrines of the atonement and regeneration; and, thus far, at least, makes a deadly thrust at the very vitals of Christianity. The views set forth in this system on the subject of human depravity, when thoroughly imbibed, naturally prepare their advocates for farther departure from evangelical truth, until they land in the mazes of universal doubt, or downright infidelity. Dr. Taylor's views of regeneration in particular, appear to us singularly anomalous, and incapable of classification with any thing we ever saw in the shape of systematic theology. On these points we have noticed an inveterate warfare has been carried on between Dr. Taylor and his brethren above named; while on others, as the final perseverance of the saints, &c., they appear to be agreed.
What will be the end of these disputes it is difficult to predict. Whether Dr. Taylor and his adherents will go back to old Calvinism, (of which, by the way, there is little prospect,) or settle on the medium ground of consistent Arminianism, or whether they will adopt some newly modified theory, or finally push their speculations beyond all systems which are deemed in any wise evangelical, it is impossible, at this period, to tell. The probability, however, appears to be in favor of the latter. When we begin to sip at error's fountain, each draught prepares us for a larger one, until, like Behemoth drawing the waters of Jordan, we quaff the turbid fountain to its dregs. Such, there is reason to fear, will be the course of the New-Haven theologians. Separating from the old path, as they have, on the doctrine of depravity, it is hardly to be expected that they will steer clear of other errors which stand in intimate connection with this.
The principles of this new divinity are already widely spread through the country, and are exerting a strong influence in gaining adherents. We cannot but look with fearful apprehensions upon the result, if these views of depravity be carried out in their legitimate bearing to form a systematic consistent whole, and the theory become popular among the Churches. Then may it indeed be said, "What the locust hath left the palmer worm hath eaten." Already has the world been presented with a view of some of the results of the new theories and new measures of the day, in the distorted and misshapen creed of the Perfectionists—a creed far more worthy to have for its author Peter, the hermit, or one of the fanatical French prophets, than men theologically educated in the nineteenth century. Who, but such wild adventurers in theological speculations, could have put forth a creed which declares that the world came to an end and eternity commenced eighteen hundred years ago; that we 46
VOL. VII.-October, 1836.
are free from all law; that sin in believers is absolutely impossible; that the apostles were not Christians; and that Christ himself did not live to see the latter-day glory-a creed which by its very terms is calculated to overturn all order, and swallow up in the vortex of mad confusion every guardian principle ordained by the Author of our social existence to protect whatever is lovely and to be loved? It must be left to time, however, to develope the results of this division-for a division it really is, and bids fair to increase in its extension-among the Churches which range under the Calvinistic name in New-England.
The following quotation, from Dr. Fisk's Calvinistic Controversy, will show how they are classed at present, from the advocates of the parent, the old Boston Confession, to the youngest branch of the family. The language of the quotation is :
"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 new divinity. By Reformed Hopkinsians, I mean (says he) those who have left out of their creed Dr. Hopkins' doctrine of disinterested benevolence, Divine efficiency in producing sin, &c. ; yet hold to a general atonement, natural ability, &c. These constitute doubtless the largest division of the 'class' in New-England. Next, as to numbers, the new school; then Hopkinsians; and, last, the old school."
Such, then, are the subdivisions into which this great body is broken. Time was when they were .one. But a confusion of tongues has come among them, and they are scattered, and scattered probably never more harmoniously to unite. We cannot withhold our expressions of regret that this body of vigorous and enterprising Christians and Christian divines adopted at the first a creed containing elements so obnoxious-embracing, as many believe, the essence of fatalism—and subjected themselves to the task of expending their energies in endeavoring to sustain its peculiarities. Had it been a consistent Arminian creed, the ills the Church has been called to suffer might, we must be allowed to think, have been averted. But circumstances, it seems, were such, that there were, perhaps, no just grounds, at the time, to look for any thing other than an adoption of the Boston Confession.
That the evils which have followed could not, by some means, have been avoided, is matter of regret, on many accounts. It is painful to see things in operation calculated to sweep away the fair inheritance of the Churches in Massachusetts, and the very means which first caused these things employed to arrest their progress. It is painful to see bickerings and eruptions in a sister Church, and secessions from it. And it is especially painful to contemplate this state of conflict and strife, and to see that there are so many who love to have it so.
While the Calvinistic Churches have been passing through these scenes of commotion, those of the Arminian faith have had peace in their borders, and increased rapidly. To their influence, in part at least, is to be attributed the fact that Universalism has not prevailed as extensively as its sister error Unitarianism. The former came into being under circumstances in which the influence of Ar
minianism could be brought to bear upon it, and that influence was rendered evident, in checking the tide and arresting its progress; while the latter was kept at such a remove from this influence, that it could not sensibly affect it, and the flood has rolled on resistlessly. In every view of this subject the Arminian Churches are admonished of the importance of standing by the old landmarks. Let their system be placed before the public, and its distinctive peculiarities exhibited in a clear and explicit manner, so as to be examined and understood by all, and its efficacy will be felt in staying the desolation which seems so fearfully to threaten us. The time undoubtedly hastens when truth will prevail, and its benign influences be poured out like ointment upon the hearts of men. There may be years of darkness first. But that period will eventually arrive, bright and glorious, when men shall know the truth, and the truth shall make them FREE.
RELIGIOUS ANNIVERSARIES LATELY HELD IN LONDON.
A Review of the Proceedings at the Annual Celebrations of a number of Benevolent Institutions, held in London, during the months of April and May, 1836.
THE effect of the operations of benevolent enterprises upon the various states and conditions of society generally-uprooting inveterate prejudices and overturning institutions long consecrated to error and superstition-is so silent and gradual, that it is difficult to perceive at once the precise extent of it during any given period of time. Hence it is that efficient agencies are put in operation, and great moral enterprises carried on, while the multitude are scarcely sensible of any movements of the kind among them. Even those who are interested in them are not affected by the strong emotions of animating feeling, or impulses of inspiring hope, by observing steadily the slow and gradual progress of their labors, which a view of sudden and palpable changes is calculated to produce. But there is a method by which we may bring before the mind's eye a distinct view of the amount of good effected by any system of benevolent operations, during a given period, in a way calculated to produce all the effect of a sudden change. It is by comparing the extremes-the end with the beginning the condition of the people before, with what it was after such means had been employed for their benefit. The difference, in that case, will show the extent of the influence, as well as its character and tendency.
It is an interesting fact, that the institutions of benevolence-that benevolence which corresponds in its characteristic features to the spirit of the Gospel, as developed in the Acts of the Apostles and the conduct of primitive Christians—are of recent origin. The