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Again, they tell us that believers are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God! How could there be a more solemn exaltation of the sovereignty of converting grace? Here is another instance“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;" and then in the same breath as the motive for so doing, "for it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure !" Could the Apostle have written thus, if he had been trained amid the theological discussions of our times? Could he, in such a case, have placed these two sentiments so near together, and in such a remarkable relation to each other, without having it suggested to his mind, that there was an enigma to be solved here? Truly, if this illuminated man could be recalled from glory to arbitrate that vexed question, How are these things to be reconciled ? Truly, it might be doubted whether he would know what to say. All that we should have a right to expect from him would be a simple, unqualified re-assertion of the great doctrines of divine and human agency. And no man would be entitled to deny the fact of their mysterious consistency, till he had first shown that there is nothing incomprehensible in his own body, life, and spirit, nor in the universe around him. Nay, we will concede the claim to an intelligent rejection of this fact to him who can solve every philosophical difficulty about a stalk of wheat. We can only say, that the doctrines of divine and human agency must each rest upon the basis of separate, appropriate, and all-sufficient evidence ; and their concurrence must be irresistably

inferred from the fact, that they are distinctly and conclusively proved true.

These doctrines will stand, like Jachin and Boaz, as the brazen columns in the temple not made with hands, the temple of sacred truth. They are like the pillars of Hercules, at once impregnable positions, and the grand bound-marks of the limits of safe investigation. So far is the one from aiming at the demolition of the other, that like the castles of the Dardanelles, they hurl the marble balls of their immense ordnance in a tremendous cross-fire upon the invading armament of errour. Or, to use a milder figure, these doctrines, flowing from the same capacious urn, part, like a divided stream, the better to compass their object, and bring to their triumphant confluence the larger tributes they may gather in separate courses.

From the apostolic age to the fifth century, the state of things in respect to these doctrines seems to have remained up

much the same. Numerous controversies sprung up within that period, and were carried on with superabundant zeal :.. but every reader of ecclesiastical history, (especially Neander's, which contains almost the omne scribile on the subject of the opinions of that age,) knows that the subjects of man's natural depravity and the work of the Holy Spirit did not come up for discussion. Some of the Greek fathers seem occasionally to hint at some difficulties about these points, especially when opposing Gnostic views of the origin of evil. The Eastern Church was convulsed by contests caused by the esoteric notions of the spirituals (Tusiparixoí,) or platonizing sects who were carried away by excessive antijudaizing prejudices, which was one of the ultraisms of that day. The polemics of the Western churches were chiefly taken with matters of ecclesiastical discipline. But no where do we find that the great points of contention during the subsequent fourteen centuries, came up distinctly during that earlier period.

It was near the beginning of the fifth century when the controversy respecting the character of man, and the facts and principles of moral government commenced. And be it remembered, that he who first excited this wasting contest was not a follower of the stricter school. Pelagius, a British monk, a man distinguished by his talents of popular qualities, appears to have found the “old divinity” of the gospel in quiet possession of the ground. Down to his day, the fathers had continued to treat the subject as the apostle's had done, plainly and practically, without sharp discriminations, and without exciting cavils and jealousies. This man was the first to suspect, that the unsystematic preaching of his times had allowed the element of divine agency to have an undue preponderance in the plan of moral government. To correct this supposed tendency, he published some views which were thought to make too much of man's ability and moral nature, and in the same proportion to detract from the honours of divine grace in the work of salvation. This called into the field a giant with his mace of might,” the renowned Augustine.

It was thus that the contest began. The varying success with which it has ever since been protracted, is detailed at length in the common ecclesiastical histories. Time would fail us to tell of the disputes of the later fathers, of the conflicts of the schoolmen and monks of the middle ages, of Molinists

and Jansenists in the Romish communion, and Calvinists and Arminians among the protestant sects. It is still a matter of absorbing interest to the great body of Christians, who have missed their way amid pathless speculations on the high themes

Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate,
Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.

What is the present state of the controversy? After all that has been said, and all that has been written, after all that has been published from the solid folio to the airy tract, is there any immediate prospect of a happy settlement of it? Does it not seem as though there were a cycle whose revolutions at stated intervals reproduce the antiquated views of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelaganism, with an air of imposing novelty ? It almost appears as if on this subject man had done with "seeking out many inventions,” and were content to rediscover the obsolete contrivances of other times, and then to claim that no person shall make, vend, or even understand them, without obtaining a right from the new patentees.

It is wonderful to see how differently different minds will be affected by the philosophy of religion, though they view it alike. To say nothing of dead and living orthodoxy, observe the opposing tendencies of Arminian views as held by high churchmen in England, and by decayed Congregational Churches in Massachusetts. Where this different state of mind exists, it appears as if approximation of principles produced repulsion of parties : as the rapidity of the dividing stream increases where the banks come nearer together. Thus the icy Arminians in this country, instead of assimilating with the more fiery believers in the same system of theological philosophy, have been swept onward to Unitarianism. And so the new scheme which of late has taken ground between the old-fashioned orthodoxy of New-England, and the Arminianism of the Wesleyans, finds less favour at the hands of the latter, than the more rigid system does. The old divinity holds, that man is totally depraved by nature. Arminianism teaches, that he is naturally, but not totally depraved. The “new divinity” maintains, that he is totally, but not naturally depraved. It may not be easy to explain, why it is that the Methodists regard the new theology with so much

aversion, unless it be that they consider the point of total depravity all but true, and that native depravity is the more vital of the two, and that consequently it is a greater heresy to deny the latter than to confess the former. Or possibly it offends them to see, as they suppose, their coat of arms quartered with that of their opponents on the same shield :—to see the latter sailing under the hoisted ensigns of both parties.

But no "school," whether ten or ten hundred years old, can advance any thing really new against the approved Calvinistic standard. They have not of late brought up any thing in the shape of argument, objection, or answer, which has not been urged by the men, women and children of the last forty generations. Is not this dispute a repeating decimal ? And may we not say emphatically, The thing that has been, is the thing that shall be ?

Shall we conclude, then, that the whole discussion should cease at once? By no means. It would be sad indeed if this long pending chancery suit should bring no good to any body. But perhaps little advantage can be derived from prosecuting it in the old way. It is time that the whole of this contested field were resurveyed, the old Bible landmarks restored, and men convinced by some means of the necessity of no longer exceeding those limits which afforded full scope for the inspired minds of the apostles. Different schools of theology have pushed their peculiarities to the utmost extremes ; and unable to get any farther apart, are facing about, and gazing at each other, and wondering what shall next be done. Is there not a class of divines which has avoided extremes, and clustered around the great central point of Bible orthodoxy, to which all these ultras may return and attach themselves?

Perhaps the hour is drawing nigh, when all parties will piously reconsider their points of agreement and disagreement: and when it will be discovered, on a full comparison of views, instituted from a common ground of first principles, that what one class of evangelical divines intend to reject, is virtually-is actually rejected by all; and that what is desired by one is really and truly conceded by all. No doubt the confusion of tongues in the metaphysical Babel has caused many of the separations; and the misapprehension of terms and phrases may be justly made the scape-goat to bear away the sins of numerous schismatics. It may, possibly, be as

certained by and by, that there ever has been a unity of the Spirit hidden and mistaken under a diversity of forms, and these conflicting appearances may ultimately be reconciled by the discovery of some great master principle; even as the rise of vapours and the fall of stones are now ascribed to one general law.

The controversy respecting the principles of moral government, by which men move in a determinate and preestablished course by the joint influence of divine and human agency,

has been as if some astronomer should be stricken with the suspicion, that philosophers had ascribed too much to the influence of the centripetal power in holding the spheres to their appointed orbits. The good man's sense of the injustice done to the centrifugal power would lead him

assign to it an undue preponderance in regulating the planetary motions. The learned world must then engage in the dispute with the utmost ardour, striving to adjust the respective claims and relative importance of these two powers, devising theories for reconciling their seeming counteraction, and some, at length, would be carried so far by the passion for consistency, as to deny even the existence of one or the other of these forces, and to explain all the movements of the heavenly bodies by virtue of its opposite alone.Meanwhile the mighty orbs, regardless of these dissensions, move on as before, without breaking the regularity of their stately dance!

So it is with the government of God, in which divine and human agency combined to produce the prescribed system of events, wholly unaffected by the contentions of partizan minds. The discussions of centuries have not altered a single fact in the case.

It is strange with what confidence the fatalist and the free-willer look for, and find, their respective sentiments in the Bible. They read it with an absolute certainty, that it contains their several schemes of doctrine. And what would be the effect, if a preacher should present these topics just as the Bible presents them? Would not both of these men claim him as their own ? Would not both hear him complacently, without a suspicion of heresy? And would not the man who walks in the “ media via," and holds the truth that lies between, and is compounded of, the twowould he not give his more intelligent verdict that such a preacher was a Bible man?

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