« ForrigeFortsæt »
that these gentleman propose to defend their cause, we have done with them.
There is in this Review a singular jumbling together of propositions so inconsistent and contradictory in their very terms, that, when compared together, they present nothing but a series of absurdities. We give a specimen that happens to open before us, p. 11. In commenting on a passage of Calvin, the reviewers say ;
• Professor N. may ask *** are not men as really created by God now, as Adam was, and if [as Calvin asserts in the passage which is the subject of comment) they came into the world with a corrupt nature, is not God the author of that corrupt pature? We answer, not of necessity; it may be, and Calvin, to say the least, might believe, that men now are the voluntary authors of their own corruption, as Adam was of his own corruption.' Neither Calvin nor any one else, we imagine, except a believer in the doctrine of pre-existence, could suppose that men are the voluntary authors of that corruption, with which they come into the world.- Again, the two following sentences occur in the same paragraph, p. 6.
Calvin siys that Original Sin [vitium originis, the sin with which we are born,) is the hereditary depravity and corruption of our nature.' But he might have been as philosophical in his opinions as Unitarians are, and yet have believed that men make their whole nature corrupt, and that this thus becomes a seed of sin even in infancy.' That is to say, he might have been so philosophical as to believe, that men produce that corruption of their own natures, with which they are born, and inherit hereditary depravity from themselves. These are pretty fair specimens of the consistency, perspicuity, and precision of the writers of this review; and yet they have the effrontery to say in the very commencement of it, whether in earnest or in jest, we will not pretend to assert, the strength of orthodoxy lies in that accuracy of statement, which shall expose by its own perspicuity and precision, the misrepresentations and evasions of its doctrines.'
No sort of reliance can be placed upon the account, which these reviewers give of the individual opinions of any writer, whom they cite. Of Turretin, for example, they would give their readers to understand, that he regarded original sin, as consisting merely, in a state of privation,' p. 5, and that he did not regard as sinful, the nature of a man as created. The truth with respect to this writer is, that knowing nothing of him but two quotations which they found in Ridgeley's Body of Divinity, (their great storehouse of knowledge on the subject in controversy,) and these being quotations unluckily of such a character, and so introduced, as to be very likely io lead one into mistake, the reviewers referred to him confidently in support of opinions, which no Calvinist ever held, and which are expressly contradicted on the very page of Turrettin from which Ridgeley's quotations are taken. Turrettin* (in his Locusix. Quaest. 12. De Propagatione Peccati,) undertakes to answer the question : "How is origi nal sin propagated from parents to children ? We may answer this question,' says he, in two ways, either generally, or par. ticularly. In the first place, generally, that the mode of this propagatin is an impure generation, by which those who are corrupt and sinners produce a corrupt and sinful offspring. For as a man generates a man, and a leprous person a leprous child, so it ought not to seem strange, that a sinner should beget a sinner. It is no objection to this,' he says, that it would seem that a moral quality cannot be propagated by natural generation. For, &c. &c. His particular answer is ; That there are three steps in the propagation of sin. The first is conception. The next step is the creation of the soul, which is creat ed by God without any stain, sine ulla labe, but destitute of original righteousness, neither pure, nor impure, but not pure. It is from what is said by Turrettin in relation merely to this branch of the subject, the creation of the soul, that Ridgeley's quotations are taken, which the reviewer has unwittingly supposed, give a view of the whole of his doctrine. But the third step, still to come, in the propagation of sin, consists “in the union of the soul with the body, for then sin, which had existed only in its beginnings and rudiments, assumes its proper form, and is com. pleted. As man is constituted man by this union, so also sin is made complete, consisting not merely in privation, the want of original righteousness, but having also a positite nature in the existence of an opposite state of iniquity.'
Here too we may adduce the authority of Turrettin in direct contradiction to a statement made by this reviewer, the substance of which he repeats over and over again, and which seems indeed to be essential to his argument. In order to prove something, we cannot say what, he says, p. 6: Calvin explicitly affirms that original sin comprises perversity of heart and also personal wickedness, terms which were never used by any writer to denote any thing but voluntary states of mind, and which according to every just principle of interpretation, as necessarily suppose the moral agency of the subject, as they do his existence. Now, strange as it may seem, Turrettin—this writer whom to use the elegant expression of the reviewer, nobody can flout, and cer. tainly one in the highest rank of Calvinistic authorities--makes it his special purpose in Locus IX.,t. Quaest. 2. as professed in
*Institutio Theolog. Elenct. Lugd. 4to. 1696. p. 706 and seqq. New Series--ool. V.
+ Ibid. p. 652.
the title of this part, to prove, against the Papists and Socinians, that it is not of the essence of sin that it should be voluntary, or that the agent should act knowingly and willingly. It is not true,' says he, that all sin is voluntary. For this cannot be said of original sin, which precedes all use of the will, or of liberty; and which, though it exists in the will as the subject of it, yet does not derive its origin from it.' Such is unequivocally the doctrine of Calvinism, and of all Calvinistic authorities; with which fact the assertions and insinuations and reasonings of this reviewer may be compared. How far, in all this, it may be charitable and right to suppose him only under a mistake, we leave it for his own conscience, and the judgment of our readers to determine.
Once more; according to this reviewer, p. 9., President Edwards, when he speaks of the state in which man comes into the world as involving a propensity, tendency, proneness, liability, &c.' does not decide whether this tendency,! dispo
• sition, proneness, &c. be a voluntary or involuntary state of mind, whether the subject be accountable for it, or not.' Again on the same page : Thus he [President Edwards] does not as
• sert that this propensity is in itself sinful, and deserving of pun. ishment. These assertions, though essential to the course of his argument, so far as we can understand it, are entirely false. On the contrary, Edwards lays it down as an axiom in the first chapter of his work on Original Sin,* that all moral qualities, (all therefore which can render one sinful, and deserving of pun. ishment,) all principles of virtue or vice lie in the disposition of the heart. Having assumed this, he says, he shall proceed to
" consider whether we have any evidence, that the heart of man is naturally of a corrupt and evil disposition. This, he says, is what is strenuously devied by many who are enemies to the doctrine of original sin." "He then immediately unfolds the main argument. The way we come by the idea of any such thing as disposition or tendency,' (evidently regarding the words as synonyinous in relation to his subject, as, of course, they must be,)
is by observing what is constant or general in event. He says, that he does not know that it is expressly denied by any, that if in the course of events, it universally or generally proves, that mankind are actually corrupt, this would be evidence of a prior corrupt propensity in the world of mankind.' Edwards here evi. dently uses the words disposition,' tendency,' and 'propensity,' as equivalent, and makes all moral qualities to lie in the disposition, tendency, or propensity of the heart. But in the heart, according to Edwards, there is, prior to any evil acts, a disposition, tendency, or propensity to all evil, and to nothing but evil. Prior to any evil acts, therefore the heart is thoroughly sinful,
* Works vol. vi. p. 130.
and man deserves the extreme of punishment.-So clearly and expressly, in the very outset of bis work, does Edwards contradict the statements of the reviewer respecting him. But the whole tenour of bis book, and many particular passages, equally plain with that just given, are in such direct opposition to the statements of this writer, that we confess we cannot reconcile them with his honesty, except on the supposition, that he has never read the book he professes to quote.
There is another characteristic of this writer quite as marked as any we have mentioned. lu p. 15, he says, Professor N. then, has never had any doubt that Calvinistic writers abundantly contradict the doctrine, that God creates inen with a sinful nature,' ***
• If Calvinists, as Mr. N. concedes, have abundantly denied the doctrines charged upon them,' &c.-On the contrary, those who will take the trouble to look, will find that Mr. N. says, 'It would, I confess, be a strange thing, if Calvin, or the Westminster Divines, or Edwards bad any where EXPRESSLY contradicted the doctrines of their creed; and of consequence if any express contradiction was to be found of those passages, which I bave produced from their writings in which these doctrines are stated. None such has been brought forward by the conductors of the Spectator. We had niarked several other instances of equally gross prevarication in the reviewer's references to Mr. N.
But we are absolutely sick of exposing the errors and misstatements of this writer. The Conductors of the Christian Spectator may complain ever so piteously of the hard treatment, which they may think they have received from Mr. Norton; but if they continue to lend their columns and their name to publications like the one before us, it is difficult to conceive of any treat ment, which shall be too hard in the way of severity. They should remember, too, that they commenced the attack by charg, ing Mr. N. with a gross, deliberate and intentional misrepresentation. This charge was either true or false. The turpitude of a base calumny was to attach somewhere. Mr. Norton had but one alternative before him, either to bear it himself, or throw it back upon
his accuser. The latter he has done with complete success; and he has only done it with the severity, which the occasion justified and demanded. We do not use, nay we do not think it right to use, the same language towards a convicted calumniator, which might justly be expected from us towards one who is merely in an error, or, perhaps, has committed an indiscretion. The severity, therefore, with which Mr. Norton bas exposed the errors and absurdities of a writer, who took advantage of an anonymous publication to defame his moral character, has left no honest mind any other cause of regret, but that the correction has not been received more meekly, and with better promise of amendment.,
The Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers was attended this year by more than two hundred clergymen; a num. ber probably much greater than bad assembled at any previous meeting of that body. The usual business relating to the charita, ble object of the association was transacted. Dr. Pierce, of Brookline, was chosen second preacher for the next year. The convention attended religious services at the church in Brattle-square, and listened to an excellent discourse by Dr, Woods, of andover, from 2 Cor. x. 4. The preacher considered the nature of the Christian warfare; the appropriate instruments for conducting it; and the manner in which they ought to be employed; and exhibited a view of his subject, and discussed it in a spirit, highly creditable to bimself, and universally gratifying, as far as we are informed, to his numerqus audience. After divine service the convention dined together at the invitation of the Boston churches. The collection at the meeting-house, was $314, 91.
The matter of the greatest interest which came before the convention at this meeting, was the report of the committee appointed in 1822, to prepare an answer to the question proposed by the North Worcester Association ; • What is a christian church, with which we ought to hold communion as such? We have forborne to als lude before to this affair, because we have supposed that it might become necessary for us to bring it to the notice of our readers with some formality, and we were unwilling to create an apprehension which might be spared, or to have the appearance of wishing to ex; cite a prejudice. "In the course of it, we have become acquainted with several facts, with which the event dispenses us from acquainting the public. But as it has now become a subject of general cufiosity, we are called upon to give some account of the proceeding, and of our own views in relation to it.
At the meeting of the Convention in May, 1821, an application was presented from the Old Colony Association, for an answer to the question; .What is a Congregational church, with which we may have fellowship as such ? ln reply to a doubt which arose as to the existence of any such association, Rev. Mr. Torrey, of Plymouth, its scribe, pamed the three gentlemen who composed it, and attested its vote, directing the application which had been made. After some conversation, in which it was strongly urged, that the consideration of such questions was foreign to the objects of the convene