« ÎnapoiContinuă »
That the active obedience of Christ is utterly excluded from having any thing to do in a sinner's justification, is evident from what has already been said. But this point is brought up again and again; for no doctrine is more offensive to errorists than imputed righteousness. Against this they are accustomed to direct their heaviest artillery most unsparingly, claiming meanwhile to be Calvinists, and to agree with the reformers.
The very first inference from the discourse last mentioned is: "If forgiveness be the only thing which God bestows upon man, then we may justly conclude, that his atonement did not consist in his obedience but in his sufferings." The second inference is: "If forgiveness be all that God bestows upon man through the atonement of Christ, then forgiveness is not only a part, but the whole of justification. Calvinists have found great difficulty in explaining justification to their own satisfaction, or to the satisfaction of others. The reason is, that they have endeavoured to make it appear, that justification contains something more than pardon or forgiveness. The Assembly of Divines say, that Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.' Agreeably to this, our Calvinistic divines generally maintain that justification consists of two parts, namely pardon of sin, and a title to eternal life. Pardon they suppose is granted on account of Christ's death or passive obedience; and a title to eternal life is granted on account of his righteousness or active obedience. But we find no warrant in scripture for thus dividing justification into two parts, and ascribing one part to the sufferings of Christ, and the other part to his obedience." And this rejection of Christ's righteousness is intended to make way for the righteousness of the creature. For in the next inference we have the following words: "This subject shows that there is no inconsistency in maintaining that believers are justified entirely on Christ's account; and yet that they shall be rewarded for all their virtuous actions entirely on their own account.". The third inference from this discourse is as wide of the old standards of orthodoxy, as any thing which we have yet mentioned. It is this: "If all that God bestows on men for Christ's sake is forgiveness, then there is no propriety in directing sinners to go to Christ for a new heart or sanctifying grace. Christ did not die for
sinners to procure their regeneration, but to procure their pardon and justification after they are regenerated." These quotations will be abundantly sufficient to put the intelligent reader into full possession of Dr. Emmons's theory of justification.
We have dwelt long enough on the peculiar opinions of Dr. Emmons on the mediatorial work of Christ, and its consequences. It is now proper that we should take some notice of his views of the work of the Spirit in regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and perfection in holiness. Among his sermons we find one on special grace, in which one proposition which he maintains is, that God is able to make sinners willing, by an act of his power. The doctrine of this sermon is sound; but why call this exertion of divine power, 'special grace'? However much the deceitful and desperately wicked heart of man may abound in evil thoughts and malign passions, they are all, according to his monstrous theory, to be ascribed to God, who produces just as much wickedness, as will most glorify his own name, in the greatest happiness of the universe. As there is nothing in the mind but exercise, the soul cannot be, as Calvinistic divines have taught, passive in regeneration; but is active; for regeneration is nothing else than the exercise of love, produced by an act of divine power, that is, by the will of God that such an exercise should now exist. "When the Spirit of God renews a sinner, he instamps his own moral image on him, which consists in holiness and we know that all holiness consists in love." In the sermon from which this is taken, he maintains two propositions: the first is, "That the Spirit of God in regeneration produces nothing but love-And secondly, that he does produce love." From this his first inference is: "If the Spirit of God produces nothing but love, then there is no ground for the distinction between regeneration, conversion, and sanctification. In regeneration he produces holy exercises, in conversion he produces holy exercises, and in sanctification he produces holy exercises."-" But systematic divines generally use them to signify very different things. They use regeneration to denote the Spirit's operation in producing a new heart or a new nature, or a new principle, which is prior to, and the foundation of all holy exercises. They use conversion to signify the Spirit's operation in producing love, repentance and faith; which are implied in embracing the gospel. And they use sanctification for the Spirit's operation
in producing all future exercises of grace. But the scripture makes no such distinction." His second inference is, that "men are no more passive in regeneration, than in conversion and sanctification."-" But if there is no new principle or nature produced in regeneration, but only love, which is activity itself—and it is universally allowed that men are active in exercising love to God or man," then are men active in regeneration. Accordingly the scripture requires men to be active in regeneration, conversion, and sanctification." And in the first inference from the sermon on the Duty of sinners to make a new heart,' he says, "If the making a new heart consists in the exercising of holy instead of unholy affections, then sinners are not passive in regeneration. It has been the common opinion of Calvinists, that a new heart consists in a new taste, disposition, and principle, which is prior to and the foundation of holy exercises. And this notion of a new heart has led them to suppose that sinners are entirely passive in regeneration. But if a new heart consists in new holy exercises, then sinners may be as active in regeneration as in conversion."
The next inference is, that "if sinners are free and voluntary in making them a new heart, then regeneration is not a miraculous or supernatural change." Sound theologians have not generally been in the habit of calling regeneration a 'miraculous change,' but with one consent, have denominated it a supernatural change; nor should these two things have been confounded. That it is a supernatural change, that is, not produced by the mere efforts of nature without divine aid, Dr. Emmons himself every where asserts; and surely that which exceeds the powers of nature, and can only be effected by the power of God, may with propriety be called supernatural. Unless he means that, all other exercises of mind being produced by the same power, this operation stands on the same footing with every other exercise of mind, and is therefore merely natural.
In the sermon, 'On the treasures of a good heart,' we have the same views reiterated. A good heart contains good affections, good intentions, good desires, good volitions, good passions; but there is no renewed nature; for, according to the philosophy of this system, there is no nature in man-nor taste -nor principle, distinct from the active exercises of the mind. We need not dwell, therefore, any longer, on this part of the subject; the reader is in possession of the whole theory of mind, as held by Dr. Emmons and his followers. It will only be
necessary to repeat, what the reader has remarked above, that these views lead, of course, to an entirely new order in the succession of the various exercises of piety in the mind. Formerly it was believed, that first the mind must be divinely illuminated, that this new spiritual light produced faith, and faith, as Paul says, worked by love; that from these immediately flowed godly sorrow, working repentance and other graces. The earlier advocates of the New Divinity, however, denied the necessity of any illumination of the understanding, and made the heart, that is the seat of the affections and volitions, the only subject of moral qualities, whether good or evil. Regeneration, according to them, was the creation of a new heart, taste or principle, from which holy affections proceeded. But Dr. Emmons has declared both to be in error, and has given us the following, as the true order of exercises in the regenerate soul. "Love," says he, "must be before either repentance or faith." Next after love comes repentance. "True repentance naturally and almost instantaneously follows true love to God. And as repentance follows love, so faith follows both love and repentance. When the sinner loves he will repent, and when he repents, he will exercise, not merely a speculative, but a saving faith." Although the mere order of the exercises of piety does not seem to be a matter of any great importance, and our views of it must depend on the philosophy of the mind which is entertained by us; yet Dr. Emmons considers it a matter of great moment, and manifests more zeal for his own opinions, on this subject, than on most others. If time permitted, it would be easy to show the arrangement to be preposterous.
Another peculiarity in Dr. Emmons's system of holy exercises is, that every act must be called perfectly holy or perfectly sinful. The imperfection of saints, in this life, does not therefore consist in having exercises which are partly sinful and partly holy, which he maintains to be impossible, but in having their holy exercises interrupted by the occurrence of such as are sinful. Hence the Christian is perfect during the time that he experiences holy exercises, and absolute perfection would be the state of the mind, if these holy exercises were to continue. He seems to have no idea of sin consisting in defect, or in the want of a sufficient degree of love; and yet this is a thing obvious on the most superficial glance at the subject. Many are conscious that they love God, but how few are there who would venture to say that their love and gratitude is at any moment as intense as
it should be? The appeal may, on this point, be very properly made to the conscious experience of the Christian.
The only other subject which we shall mention, as belonging peculiarly to the New Divinity, and especially to that form of the system called Hopkinsianism, is, that the use of means by the unregenerate is altogether useless, and should never be enjoined or encouraged. They insist that the use of means by an unbelieving, impenitent sinner, cannot possibly be acceptable to God, or have any influence in promoting his conversion. This subject has, however, been so frequently discussed, and the scriptural principles are so obvious, that we will not protract this article with further remarks, especially as we do not find that Dr. Emmons has given it any prominence in his works. Those who wish to see the subject ably discussed, are referred to Dr. Dwight's discourses on the means of grace.'
It was our purpose to trace the connexion between Dr. Emmons's system, and the still newer theory which has sprung up in New England, and which, from its author, has received the denomination of Taylorism; but the prescribed limits have already been transcended, and we must abruptly conclude.
It would be a pleasing task, if space were left us, to distinguish between the man and the system; to point out the singularities of his peaceful, recluse life, and the history of his conflicts in theology; to show how private religious emotions survived, even amidst a system of opinions subversive of grace, when fairly carried out. But we cannot hope for attention to discussions so protracted. This is our reason for not giving some account of the life of Dr. Emmons, for which the sketches of Dr. Ide and Professor Park afford abundant materials. Those, however, who would be much interested in the details will probably purchase the volumes, especially if the system of opinions which they comprise should find means of awakening a new interest in its behalf among the clergy of New England. That the reprint of these works will afford occasion for many a new discourse, assertory of Emmonistic errors, we do not doubt. Be it so: those who love such views of God and Redemption are not quite extinct; their right to propagate their opinions is undoubted; and our only request is, that when they teach, they should so far reverence the memory of the great Reformer, as never to call it Calvinism.
VOL. XIV. -NO. IV.