صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني


what is denominated moderate Cal- | 1702, was not Hopkinsian Calvinvinism; that this sunk down into a compound of Antimonianism and Arminianism, and that this

In 1744, the Rev. Thomas Prince, minister of Boston, pub

gave place to Arianism and Socin-lished an account of the revival of


religion, which had taken place there, in the three or four préceding years. From this account, we learn one or two important facts. He came to Boston in 1717; at which time both Increase and Cotton Mather, were still living, and there were six other Congregational ministers besides himself, making nine in all, in that town; and, as he says, "all most happily agreeing in the doctrines of grace," that is, in such views as Cotton Mather has expressed above. Of course, Hopkinsian sentiments did not then prevail And at the publication of his work in 1744, he says, "As to the doctrinal principles of those who continue in our congregations, and have been the subjects of the late revival, they are the same as they have been all along instructed in?"

The following extracts will show what kind of Calvinism prevailed in Cotton Mather's day. He quotes with disapprobation the well known Richard Baxter, as saying, with reference to some in his time, "They feign Christ to have made such an exchange with the elect, as that having taken all their sins, he has given them all his righteousness; not only the fruit of it, but the thing in itself. They forge a law, that God never made, that saith, thou or thy surety shall obey perfectly, or die.They infer, that Christ was made the legal representative person of every one of the elect, taken singularly; so that what he did for them, God reputeth them to have done by him. Hereby, they falsely make the person of the Mediator to be the legal person of the From comparing these declarasinner." On these quotations tions with the above extract from from Mr. Baxter, Cotton Mather Cotton Mather, relative to Mr. remarks as follows:-"These Baxter's views, I should conclude, things, which our churches with that the prevailing opinion was, amazement behold Mr. Baxter that Christ died for the elect onthus calling fictions, falsehoods, ly, and that he made such an exforgeries, were defended by Mr. change with them as to take all Norton; nor do our churches at their sins, and give them all his this day consider them as any oth-righteousness; that Christ satisfied er than glorious truths of the gospel; which, as they were maintained by Mr. Norton, so two divines, well known in both Englands, Nathaniel and Increase Mather, and a third, a worthy minister of the gospel, Mr. Samuel Willard, now living in the same house from whence Mr. Norton went unto that house not made with hands, have, in their printed labours, most accurately expressed them and confirmed them."

Thus we see, that the Calvinism which prevailed in Boston in

the law by obeying its precept in their place, and then by suffering its proper penalty, being literally punished in their stead. Whether these views of atonement and justification are correct or not, they are certainly not the views of Hopkinsian Calvinists.

Another important fact which is to be gathered from Mr. Prince's history, is this: It was not then the practice for churches to examine applicants for admission as to their Christian experience, and to make that a condition of admission.

[ocr errors]

Speaking of the year 1735, he says, "The general decay of piety seemed to increase among us in Boston. And for the congregation I preach to, though for several years some few offered themselves to our communion, yet but few came to me in concern about their souls before." Again, speaking of the time of the great earthquake, he says, "Though people were then generally frighted, and many awakened to such a sense of their duty as to offer themselves to our communion; yet very few came to me then under deep convictions of their unconverted and lost condition. Nor did those who came to me then, come so much with the inquiry, what shall we do to be saved? as to signify that they had such a sense of their duty to come to the Lord's table, that they dare not stay away any longer." Speaking of Mr. Tennent's preaching, in 1741, he says, "Mr. Tennent being so exceedingly strict in cau-qualifications necessary for full tioning people from running into communion, to be diametrically churches, taking the sacred cove- opposite to each other; the Pastor nant, and receiving the Lord's sup- insisting upon it as necessary to per, the seal thereof, until they the admission of members to full had saving grace, that divers communion, that they should make brought to a very hopeful disposi- a profession of sanctifying grace; tion, were through fear and dark-whereas the brethren are of opinness kept from coming into full communion. So far did Mr. Tennent's awakening ministry shake their hopes and hinder them, that those whom I apprehended to be thirsty, and thought myself obliged to encourage, I found the impressions of his preaching had discouraged. As to my own opinion, it seems to me, that where there is a thirst for Christ and his spiritual benefits, that thirst is raised by the Spirit of Christ; and in raising such a thirst, he qualifies for them, shows his readiness to satiate it, invites, requires, and gives sufficient grounds for coming to him, at these pipes of living waters." And And he quotes Mr. Webb, as saying of

those admitted to his church, "By far the greater part have since giv. in hopeful signs of saving conversion."

From these extracts it appears, that though Mr. Tennent thought a change of heart necessary to qualify an applicant for admission to the communion of the church, it was not the prevailing opinion in Boston. If any thought it their duty to come, and expressed their desire to enjoy the privilege, they were admitted, though they exhibited no signs of a saving conversion. Hopkinsians have always opposed this lax practice in the admission of members, as they have done the lax practice of baptizing according to the half way covenant. President Edwards was dismissed from his people in Northampton, in 1750, on this very account. The Council say, "Finding the sentiments of the Pastor and church concerning the

ion that the Lord's supper is a converting ordinance, and consequently, that persons, if they have a competency of knowledge and are of a blameless life, may be admitted to the Lord's table; although they make no such profession." Mr. Stoddard, the predecessor of Mr. Edwards, had been of the same opinion with the church; and from several passages in the writings of President Edwards, it is evident that such had been the prevailing opinion and practice in New-England for many years.

President Edwards in his Narrative of surprising conversions, speaking of the year 1734, ob

serves, "about this time began the great noise that was in this part of the country about Arminianism, which seemed to appear with a very threatening aspect upon the interest of religion here. The friends of vital piety trembled for fear of the issue.

on themselves as in a Christless condition, seemed to be awakened by it, with fear that God was about to withdraw from the land, and that we should be given up to heterodoxy, and corrupt principles."

This shows that Arminianism was then making an alarming progress in New England.

published in 1749, says, “A considerable part of the religious appearances that were six or seven years ago, especially towards the latter part of that extraordinary season, was doubtless of the same sort with the religion of the SepMany who looked up-aratists; but not all." This was his deliberate opinion, after he had taken time for mature reflection and full examination. And he considered this false religion as singularly adapted to promote the progress of error. He complains much of a prevailing disposition to confound true and false religion together, and says, "it is attended with very many most dismal conIn 1740, and several succeeding sequences; multitudes of souls are years, there was a great religious fatally deluded about themselves, excitement, under the preaching and their own state; and thus are of Whitefield and others. But so eternally undone. Some of the great had been the declension and most dangerous and pernicious enso extensive the progress of error, emies of religion in the world, that the work was wholly opposed (though called bright Christians,) by great numbers of ministers and are encouraged and honoured, who churches. And though there was, ought to be discountenanced and no doubt, a great revival of true shunned by every body; and prejreligion, yet there was also, in the udices are begotten and confirmed opinion of Edwards, Brainerd, in vast multitudes, against every and other judicious eye witnesses, thing in which the power and esa great deal of false religion too. sence of Godliness consists; and Antinomian views of doctrine and in the end, Deism and Atheism experience were embraced and are promoted." Brainerd speaks encouraged by many; such as that often, in his writings, of the presaving faith consists in an individ- valence of such notions in many ual's believing that Christ died parts, and especially mentions for him in particular; that this is his feeling himself called upon to made known to him by some extra- bear his dying testimony against ordinary discovery, vision, dream, such errors in Boston, where a or revelation, or mysterious im- distinguished individual not nampression upon his mind, which ed, had openly appeared as their was called the direct witness of public and strenuous defender.the Spirit, upon which the individ- Before passing from this part of ual begins to love God, because the subject, let it be carefully obhe supposes God loves him and in-served, that these remarks of tends to save him. Such notions President Edwards respecting the of religion appear to have been extensive prevalence of false religembraced by the Separatists, ac-ion, and its tendency to promote companied with much reliance up- the spread of error, were made on sudden impulses of the feelings, some years after the great revival and other supposed revelations. when the permanent effects had Edwards, in his life of Brainerd, begun to develop themselves.

Again: The practice oflicensing | men to preach the gospel, without a particular examination into their religious experience and belief, which has so much favoured the progress of error in later years, appears to have been begun, even then; as well as the practice of softening down the truth to suit the taste of opposers;-both which practices, Hopkinsians have always opposed. The biographer of Edwards says of him, He looked upon those, who calling themselves Calvinists, were for softening down the truth, that they might conform it more to the taste of those who are most disposed to object against it, were really betraying the cause they pretended to espouse; and were paving the way not only to Arminianism, but to Deism. In this view of things, he thought it of importance that ministers should be very critical in examining candidates for the ministry, with respect to their principles, as well as their religious dispositions and morals.And on this account he met with considerable difficulty and opposition, in some instances." This unwillingness to examine or to be examined, no doubt, then, as since, proceeded from a wish to keep in the dark, and to propagate error without detection. Edwards, in his farewell sermon at Northampton, in 1750, advises his people, in choosing a successor, to take care, that he be a man of thoroughly sound principles in the scheme of doctrine which he maintains; and says, "This you will stand in the greatest need of, especially, at such a day of corruption as this is. And in order to obtain such a one, you had need to exercise extraordinary care and prudence. I know the danger.I know the manner of many young gentlemen of corrupt principles, their ways of concealing them



selves, the fair, specious disguises they are wont to put on, by which they deceive others, to maintain their own credit, and get themselves into others' confidence and improvement, and secure and establish their own interest, until they see a convenient opportunity to begin more openly to broach and propagate their corrupt ten


Labour to obtain a man who has an established character, as a person of serious religion and fervent piety. The present time, which is a time wherein religion is in danger, by so many corruptions in doctrine and practice, is, in a peculiar manner, a day wherein such ministers are necessary. Nothing else but sincere piety of heart is at all to be depended on, at such a time as this, as a security to a young man, just coming into the world, from the prevailing infection, and thoroughly to engage him in proper and successful endeavours to withstand and oppose the torrent of error, and prejudice against the high, mysterious, evangelical doctrines of the religion of Jesus Christ, and their genuine effects in true experimental religIn the same sermon, he says, "Another thing that vastly concerns the future prosperity of this town, is, that you should watch against the encroachment of error; and particularly Arminianism, and doctrines of like tendency. You were, many of you, as I well remember, much alarmed with the apprehension of the danger of the prevailing of these corrupt principles, near sixteen years ago

[ocr errors]

But the danger then was small in comparison of what appears now. These doctrines, at this day, are much more prevalent than they were then; the progress they have made in the land, within these seven years, seems to have been vastly greater than at any time in the like space before.

And if these principles should greatly prevail in this town, as they very lately have done in another large town I could name, formerly greatly noted for religion, and so for a long time, it will threaten the spiritual and eternal ruin of this people." He does not name the town, but he undoubtedly means Boston. These seven years, within which error had so greatly prevailed, were the last years of the great revival, and those immediately following. The increase of true religion then, had not promoted the cause of truth, so much as the prevalence of false religion had accelerated the progress of error.

Again: The University of Cambridge has always been intimately connected with Boston; and it is reasonable to infer, that the prevailing sentiments of the one have been those of the other. A late Southern traveller, was doubtless correct in saying, "Cambridge is the strong hold of Unitarianism in this country." Now, did Hopkinsian Calvinism precede, and lead the way to Unitarianism, in that university? No: far from it. The last Professor of Divinity there, that was called a Calvinist, Dr. Tappan, was so far from being a Hopkinsian, that, in 1784, he maintained an open and public controversy with Dr. Spring on the doctrine of total depravity, and the doings of the unregenerate.This was previous to his election as Professor, and probably contributed to that event. The question in debate was, as Dr. Tappan states it," Is any thing required of men, as duty, which does not involve holy love?" He affirms that there is, and Dr. Spring de

nies it.

[blocks in formation]

He says, "Persons in a state of unrenewed nature, may perform some things which are their duty, or which, in some respects are truly right." Of the commands of the gospel, he says, "these commands are designed to excite sinners to seek that grace which may enable them to a saving compliance; and not to put them upon a vain and hopeless effort to believe of themselves." "The primary intention of such directions is, that they should attend them in the best manner they are able, antecedently to true faith and holiness." That God encourages men to attend the means of grace while unregenerate, that he has let them know that this is not only the most likely, but the only way to obtain regeneration and salvation, it necessarily follows, that such an attention is not in itself sinful, but right, and their duty." "Many of the exercises of unregenerate persons under the gospel are the effect of a divine influence upon their minds. Whenever men under the gospel attend its external duties in a serious engaged manner, they are inwardly moved to it by the Spirit of God. Depraved nature, left to itself, would never lead to these exercises; they are therefore to be ascribed to grace. may, therefore, certainly conclude, that such exercises are not in themselves sinful, but right." Dr. Spring urged, that it is the sinner's immediate duty to repent. But Dr. Tappan says, "Attending means while impenitent implies a present delay of the end. Sinners cannot the same moment possess the end, and barely use means to obtain it. Something is enjoined on the sinner which is antecedent to repentance, and must be previous to it." "It is the sinner's


duty to consider his sad state, to seek the grace of repentance, till Divine grace renews him." Of

« السابقةمتابعة »