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It should be added, however, that in seasons of revival, when the feelings of people were interested, and they were willing to converse on the subject of religion, Dr. E. changed his plan of pastoral labor, and sought opportunities of conversation with them out of his study. After a lecture at the meeting house, he would sometimes request those who desired conversation with him to tarry; and not unfrequently more than half the congregation would stop, either to converse or to hear.
In estimating the learning of Dr. E., we must keep in mind the period and the circunstances under which he was educated, and the class of subjects to which he would naturally be led to confine his attention. As a critic on the original Scriptures, who had waded, with the Germans, through all the mysteries of Hebrew philology, and become deeply versed in Oriental literature, he was not learned. He was educated at a period when these studies were but little valued or attended io in this country, and they should not be expected of him. Nor was he learned, in all the minutiæ of Sacred Geography, or Ecclesiastical History, to the extent to which some are learned at the present day. But if an intimate and extended acquaintance with all those branches of English literature, which stood in any way connected with his profession, gives claim to the reputation of learning, Dr. E. was learned. Or if a thorough and profound acquaintance with that noblest of all sciences which has to do with God, his government, and the destinies of immortal beings-which takes hold alike on the heights of heaven, and the depths of hell, and reaches from eternity to eternity, gives claim to the reputation of learning, Dr. E. was learned. In the science of theology, from top to bottom, from beginning to end, in all its departments and ramifications, so far as these are laid open to the view of mortals, he was perfectly at home. He had an extent and an accuracy of knowledge here, in comparison with which not a few of our modern critics upon Hebrew points and sacred localities are but pigmies.
Of the theological opinions of Dr. E. our limits forbid us to go into a prolonged discussion. They lie naked and open in all his writings, and may be easily gathered from the volumes before us. He was not a Calvinist, in precisely the sense of Calvin, or of the Westminster Confession ; and yet he claimed to be, and was in the main, a very thorough, con
sistent, supralapsarian Calvinist. He believed in the literal universalily of God's purposes and providence ;—that “he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass,” and “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” He believed, of course, in the doctrines of personal and eternal election and reprobation. He believed that man is a free, accountable agent, under the government of God, having all that moral liberty that he needs, or that a creature can possess. He believed that all sin and holiness are in their natures actual, being the properties of voluntary exercises and actions only. He believed that sin came into the world, not because God could not exclude or prevent it, but because he saw that he could over-rule its existence for a greater good; and that the plan of redemption was adopted, not as a remedy for the evils of the fall, but on account of its own inherent, most excellent character and results, tending to advance the divine glory in the highest possible degree, and thus promote the greatest possible good of the intelligent universe, as a whole. He believed that, in consequence of the apostacy of our first parents, all men are naturally and totally depraved, so that from the moment of birth to the moment of regeneration, there is nothing of a moral nature in them which a holy God can approve. He believed that the Lord Jesus Christ, the second person in the adorable Trinity, took upon him our nature and flesh, and by his sufferings and death on the cross, made full expiation for the sins of the world. He believed that regeneration is an instantaneous change in the internal exercises or affections of those who experience it, of which the Holy Spirit is the immediate and efficient author, but in which the subject of it is free and active. He believed that pardon or justification is all of grace, the sole ground of which is the provided atonement, and the proper condition of which is faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. He believed that, though it is possible for regenerated persons to fall away, and in themselves they are in danger of it, so that they need motives and warnings against it, yet it is certain that they never will-being kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." He believed in the resurrection of the body, the general judgment, and a future and endless state of reward for the righteous, and of punishment for the wicked. In point of church government, Dr. E. was thoroughly Congregational, not only holding to the proper inde
pendence of individual churches, but thinking it important to guard their independence with peculiar vigilance.
We have given this brief synopsis of the leading theological sentiments of Dr. E., not for the information of those who have read his works—they need no such imformation ; but to show with how much propriety he claimed to be a Calvinist, and to vindicate him, in the eyes of some who have not read his works, from the charge of dangerous, heretical innovations.
But it will be asked, perhaps, “Did he make no innovations ? Was the charge of “ New Divinity," so long and often urged against him, altogether without foundation ?" These questions may be answered, in part, in his own words:
“I was early and warmly attached to genuine Calvinism which I believed to be built upon the firm foundation of the gospel itself. This system, I have thought and still think, is the very form of sound words, which the apostles and their successors taught, long before Calvin was born; and which has been constantly maintained by those who have been just. ly called Orthodox, in distinction from Heterodox christians, ever since the propagation of the Christian religion. But Calvinism has lost much of its purity and simplicity by going through so many unskilful hands of its frienils. This has given great advantages to its enemies, who have clearly discovered and successfully attacked some of its excrescences and protuberances."
"I know that some Calvinists maintain that the first sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity ; that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers for their justification ; that sinners are under natural inability to turn from sin to holiness ; and that Christ made atonement for the elect only. I grant, these are gross absurdities, or mere wens and protuberances, which must be pared off from true Calvinism, in order to make it appear consistent with both reason and Scripture. Accordingly, modern Calvinists readily surrender ir formerly untenable outposts, and now find it more easy to defend their citadel against all attacks of their most numerous adversaries."
The question as to Dr. Emmons' innovation or improvements in Christian theology may be further answered in the language of Dr. Ide:
“ If he was not the first that discovered the truth that all sin and holiness consists in action, or in voluntary exercises of the mind, he was the first to make an extensive use of this principle in explaining the doctrines of the gospel. By common consent, the · Exercise scheme’is his. He not only be. lieved with others, that much of the sin and holiness of men consists in their voluntary affections, but that all of it does ; and this principle he carried out in all its bearings upon the subject of human depravity, the connection of Adam with his posterity, the doctrine of regeneration, the free agency and accountability of man, and the government of God. From this principle it follows that the depravity of mankind is not a corrupt nature inherent from Adam, but their own volunta. ry opposition to God; that regeneration consists not in the implantation of a new principle distinct from the affections of the mind, but in a change in the affections themselves from sin to holiness; that God does not require men to alter the nature which he has given them, or to make themselves new faculties or powers, but to exercise that holiness of heart, for which he has given them the requisite capacity."
" That mankind are free and active while acted upon, or that they are free moral agents while doing that which the agency of God disposes them to do, is a distinguishing feature of Dr. Emmons' theology." " He believed that God exercised a real, a universal and a constant agency over all his intelligent creatures, and that at the same time they enjoyed the most perfect freedom conceivable. He never made the agency of God limit the freedom of the creature, or the freedom of the creature counteract the will of God. In all his addresses to God, and descriptions of his character, he speaks to and of him, as doing all his pleasure in heaven above, and on earth beneath. In all his addresses to man, he speaks to and of him, as a free moral agent, capable of doing or not doing the whole will of God, and as accountable for the manner in which he improves the powers which God has given bim.'
The doctrine of the Divine agency or efficiency, especially as exerted in the production of evil, has been often urged as an objection to Dr. E. And it must be confessed that he has used language, particularly in his sermon on Reprobation," which, if it were somewhat modified, would be less
• Vol. iv. Serm. 24.
likely to be misunderstood and perverted. But what is that Divine agency or efficiency, by which God has made and governs the world, and by which he turns and controls the hearts of men ? It consists altogether, according to Dr. E., in the Divine will. In creating the world, God simply willed that it should be, and it was. The changes also which take place, in both the natural and the moral world, are brought about by the mere will of God. The agency of God in the conversion of Paul was but the will of the Holy Ghost, that Paul should turn voluntarily from sin to holiness. And the agency of Godin hardening the heart of Pharaoh, so that he should refuse to let the people go, was but the will or choice of God, all things considered, that his heart should thus be hardened. And do not all consistent Calvinists—all those who hold to the universal decrees or purposes of God, believe as much as this ?
The following specimens of Dr. Emmons' manner of illustrating this difficult subject, in familiar conversation, are presented by Prof. Park.
• Do you
believe that God is the efficient cause of sin ?' No,' was the reply. Do you believe that sin takes place according to the usual laws of nature ?' · Yes.' 1 What are the laws of nature according to Newton ?' • They are the established modes of the Divine operation.' 'Do you approve of that definition ?' · Yes.' • Put those things together.' Dr. Emmons was always satisfied, if a man would adopt the common definition of the laws of nature and would believe that sin takes place according to these laws. Again, he once asked a teacher of theology, 'Do you believe that God is the efficient cause of sin ? •No.' Do you believe that he created the world by his mere volition ; that he willed, and it was done ?' · Yes.'
believe that his will is creative ; that he has only put forth a volition for an event, and the event takes place ? Yes.' • Do you believe that on the whole he willed sin to exist ?' · Yes.' • Was not his will crea then ?' se.- there any more harm in causing a thing to be, than in willing it to be?' Pause,
My theory is, that God caused moral evil in the act of willing it; and you believe that he performs that act. I believe that he caused it in no sense morally different from that in which you believe he willed it. Where then is the great discrepancy between you and me?!”.