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the depravity of man, he says, "the precise notion of man's depravity is, the loss or privation of the supernatural principles of holiness." "Sin in the abstract, is a moral defect or privation. It is not itself any thing positive, it is not any thing real."
Such were the sentiments of the last Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, who called himself a Calvinist. And it is manifest, that if he had any Calvinism at all, it was not Hopkinsian Calvinism; it was a Calvinism so moderate, so much diluted and softened down, | as not to give offence to the most decided Arminian. Indeed, Dr. Spring shows, that Dr. Tappan coincided with Whitby, Taylor, and other open and avowed Arminians, in his interpretation of the cardinal texts which Calvin and Edwards cite to prove the doctrine of total depravity. And if Whitby himself proceeded from Arminianism into Arianism and Socinianism, it is not strange that |
those who were taught his princi ples have done the same.
The foregoing extracts abundantly show, that, not Hopkinsians, but their opposers, have been the immediate predecessors of Unitarians, and have last occupied the ground that is now overspread with Socinianism.
Reader, remember the words of Cotton Mather: "Corruptions will grow upon the land, and they will gain by silence: It will be so invidious to do it, no man will dare to speak of the corruptions; and the fate of Amycle, will come upon the land. Are not those corruptions which led the way to Socinianism in New-England now growing upon this land? and are they not gaining by silence? Who will venture to raise his voice against them, so as to be heard? Alas! "what will become of these churches in time?"
A Son of the Pilgrims.
After a short and pertinent Intion should, leads naturally and troduction, which, as an introducdirectly to the subject presented by the Text, Mr. Weeks proposes the following plan of discourse:
"I. To show that God has decreed, or foreordained, whatsoever comes to pass.
II. That he executes his decrees by his own agency.
III. Attend to some objections which are made to this doctrine.
And then conclude with an improvement of the whole."
In support of the first proposition, that God has decreed or foreordained, whatsoever comes to pass, he argues, 1st, from the infinite power, wisdom and goodness of God; 2dly, from the Divine foreknowledge; and, Sdly, from the declarations of sacred scripture.—
This argument occupies the first, and part of the second sermon.
In support of the second proposition, that God executes his decrees by his own agency, he argues, 1st, from the nature of creatures; 2dly, from the nature of our motions and actions, as being effects; and 3dly, from the testimony of the sacred writers. This argument, which is conducted with much ability and industry, closes the third sermon. N In the fourth sermon, Mr. Weeks proceeds to what appears to have been his main object, viz. thirdly, to attend to objections. Under this Under this head, he states and answers no less than fifteen objections; which, it is believed, comprise the substance of all that ever has been, or ever can be alleged, against the doctrine of Divine decrees and agency. This discussion of objections contiuues to the close of the eighth sermon. The ninth and last contains an Improvement of the subject in fourteen Inferences.
Such are the outlines of these short, but comprehensive sermons. They are written in a style, pure, perspicuous and nervous, neither above the apprehension of the illiterate, nor offensive to the taste of the learned and refined. This is the style, which we consider, as ever best adapted to the pulpit; from which instruction should be conveyed, clearly and forcibly, to all classes of hearers. But, the style of these sermons, though a good model, is not their highest excellence: they are chiefly valuable for the conclusive and cogent reasoning, by which they support the doctrine contained in their text, and the lucid and very satisfactory answers, by which they obviate the various objections, which have been made against it. We have, indeed, never seen the plausible objections to the Divine government of the moral world, so fully and completely answered, in any other work of the kind.
The doctrine of Divine decrees and agency, is one of the plainest and most obvious doctrines of the Bible, as well as one of the most practical and useful. It is level to the capacity of a child, and lies upon the face of sacred Scripture, from beginning to end. It is in answering the subtle and abstruse objections, invented by its acute and sophistical opposers, that metaphysical reasoning is principally necessary. And in this part of the work, Mr. Weeks shows his ingenuity and strength. As specimen, we here present an extract from his Answer to the first objection, which he introduces
"OBJECTION 1. It is said that this doctrine destroys free agency, and makes men machines; that if God worketh all things, then creatures do not work any thing; that if God, by his agency, causes every thing that takes place, then creatures have no agency at all and God is the only agent in the uni
ANSWER. To understand this objection, and ascertain its force, it will be necessary to enquire what is a free agent, and what is a machine. A free agent is one who chooses or wills. If an object is set before any being, and he exercises choice respecting it, he is a free agent. A machine has no will.
It never chooses. The brute animals choose, and are therefore free agents. But they have no perception of right and wrong, and therefore, are not moral agents.Men have conscience, by which they feel the distinction between right and wrong, and are, therefore, free moral agents The machines with which we are acquainted have no intelligence, no reason, and no conscience, as well as no will. They are not only incapable of choice, but incapable of perception too. A being, however, with intelligence, reason and conscic would be a machine
still, if he had no power of choosing. He could not be a free agent. Free agency, therefore, consists in choosing, and in nothing else. If any thing else is necessary to free agency, what is it? Is it that our acts of choice should come to pass by chance, without any cause? Is a free agent one whose actions have no motive, are guided by no reason, and directed to no end? Is a free agent like one exposed in the open sea, upon a single plank, without compass, oar, or sail, the sport of winds and waves? Such free agency no one can desire. If our actions come to pass by mere chance, without any cause, then intelligence, reason, and conscience are worse than useless. It would be better to be a machine, in the hands of a wise and benevolent artist. It would be better to be a senseless block, than to be thus the sport of mere, blind contingence, and have intelligence, reason, and conscience, to aggravate our misery. But this supposition is impossible, for nothing comes into existence without a cause. it necessary, then, to our free agency, that we should cause our own acts of choice? This is the ground usually taken by those who deny the doctrine which has been supported in these discourses. Let us, then, examine it carefully. It is thought that we cause our own acts of choice, and that no one can be a free agent unless he does so; and consequently, that if God should cause our acts of choice, it would destroy our free agency.Perhaps, however, it can be shown, that it is not essential to free agency that we should cause our own acts of choice; and not only so, but that it is impossible we should cause them, impossible in the very nature of things. It will be admitted by all, that God is a free agent. If, therefore, it is necessary to free agency that a being should cause his own acts of choice, God
must cause his. But this he does not do. His acts of choice have no cause, for they are eternal.— Since therefore, God does not cause his own determinations. or acts of choice, and God is a free agent, it follows, that a being may be a free agent without causing his own acts of choice. But it is not only unnecessary for us to cause our own acts of choice, in order to be free agents; but it is impossible that we should cause them. In what way can we cause them? If we do it, we must do it voluntarily or involuntarily, that is, intentionally or unintentionally. Do we do it involuntarily, that is, without intending it? But if we do it without intending it, there is no free agency in that. Whatever we do involuntarily, we do as machines; or rather, it is not we that do it at all. Do we, then, cause our own acts of choice voluntarily? Do we do it by intending to do it? But to say we intend to do it, is the same as to say, we determine to do it, we choose to do it. Do we, then, cause an act of choice, by choosing to put it forth? Do we choose to choose? Here, then, are two acts of choice, by one of which we caused the other. But what caused the first of them? Did we cause that, by choosing it? There is no other way in which we could cause it. Did we choose to choose to choose? Here, then, are three acts of choice, the first causing the second, and the second causing the third. But what caused the first? Did we cause that by a previous choice, and that previous choice by another previous to it, and so on? What, then, caused the first in the whole series? Did we cause that? If we caused that, it must have been by choosing or willing it. That is, we caused our first act of choice by another previous to it, or by one before the first, which is absurd. It is, therefore, impossible in the nature of
ing, but the contrary.
things, for any being to cause his own acts of choice. And consequently, free agency does not consist in causing our own acts of choice. But it consists simply in choosing. If an object is presented to our minds, and we exercise choice respecting it, we are free agents, and it is impossible for any being in the universe to be more so. The doctrine supported in these discourses, is, that God causes us to choose. But free agency consists in choosing. Therefore if God causes us to choose, he causes us to be free agents. To destroy our free agency, and make us machines, he must cause us Nor to choose. This doctrine, therefore, is so far from destroying free agency, that it is the very thing which secures it. There is no lib-tency of these two doctrines; and erty possible or conceivable great er than of acting voluntarily. But when God causes us to choose, he causes us to act voluntarily. When God causes us to choose, therefore, be causes us to enjoy and exercise the greatest liberty that is possible for any being in the universe, the greatest liberty that can be desired, or that can be conceived. The doctrine which has been sup-utes, while it is man that walks in ported in these discourses, therefore, is so far from infringing upon the doctrine of free agency, that the doctrine of free agency rests upon it, as upon a foundation
that cannot be shaken.
while they ascribe to God an agency in causing all the actions of men, they speak of those actions as truly and properly the actions of men. According to them, it is God that gives repentance, while it is man that repents. It is God that gives faith, while it is man that believes. It is God that causes man to walk in his stat
God's statutes. And it is man that works out his own salvation, while it is God that works in him both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
But some say that, if God causIf it be absolutely necessary to es us to choose, then it is God's the impartiality of a Reviewer, to choice, and not ours; we have no find some fault with the work rechoice at all. It is God in us that viewed; perhaps we might say, wills and does, loves and hates that the distinction, so often made, and performs all our actions, and between the secret and revealed we do nothing. Let us ask any will of God, and which is recogsuch person whether he breathes.nized by Mr. W. pp. 116, 117, is Do you breathe, or not? You cer- not perfectly accurate. That tainly do. But God causes you to God's will of command and will breathe. And it is not God's of decree are distinct, must be adbreath, but your own. And God's mitted But, that his will of comcnusing you to breathe, has no mand is the same as his revealed tendency to stop you from breath-will, and his will of decree the same
as his secret will, may be questioned: for though all God's commands are revealed, yet all his decrees are not secret. He has been revealing his decres, every day, by his Providence, ever since time began.Many of his decrees, and those also which respect the free actions of men, have been revealed in the predictions of his word. His will of decree, that Pharaoh should refuse to let Israel go, was as clearly revealed to Moses, as his will of command to let them go: and his will of decree, that Judas should betray his Lord, was as clearly revealed to the traitor, as his will of command, that he should love Christ and abstain from murder. Many other instances might be mentioned, in which the free actions of men were revealed both to themselves and others, before those actions were performed. God's revealed will, therefore, appears to be that part of his will, whether of command or decree, which has been made known to men, either by Providence or prophecy; and his secret will to be that part of his will, whether of command or decree, which has not yet been made known to men. From whence it follows, that God's secret and revealed will can never be in opposition to each other. These re
marks, however, do not in the
least affect the soundness of Mr. Week's reasoning, in the place referred to; since his argument depends wholly upon making a proper distinction, as he has done, between God's will of command and his will of decree.
It may be doubted, whether Mr. Weeks is perfectly correct, in representing dependence as furnishing a reason for humility, and as ex
cluding boasting. pp. 186, 187. A proper sense of one's depen dence, is undoubtedly inconsistent with an independent, selfsufficient spirit; but it is not so clear, that a sense of dependence is inconsistent with a proud spirit, or that our dependence is the proper reason why we should be humble. Humility is thought to consist in abasing one's self for sin, and accepting the punishment of one's iniquities. And if so, the obligation, which men are under to be humble, arises from their sinfulness and guilt, and not from their dependence. The holy Angels have abundant reason to be meek, condescending and submissive; but they have no reason, strictly and properly speaking, to
If to boast, be to lay claim to merit; then, if we could perform good deeds independently, we should not have ground to boast, until we had done more than our duty. We cannot, indeed, give ourselves credit, i. e. bring God in debt, by our good deeds; because, when we have done all that is commanded, we are but unprofitable servants, having only done our duty. But, if saints are not commendable and rewardable for their good deeds, because they are dependant upon the agency of God for the performance of them; it seems to follow, that, for the same reason, sinners are not blameable and punishable for their evil deeds.
This little volume is handsomely printed, with but few typographical errors, and those not material. It deserves to be printed in a larger type and form. We conclude, with recommending it to the attentive and prayerful perusal of all