Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

wholly out of place here. The truth of God is the means of regeneration. If the sinner is using that truth in the act of obeying it, (and nothing short of this, did we admit to be a using of the means in question) what we ask can be better do? If he is actually performing his duty for the first time, what can be required of him in its place? We might turn the question upon Dr. Tyler, and ask : while the sinner is" apprehending the excellence of the divine character," while he is regarding it as the greater good, prior to the “consequent” preference, what is he doing? Is he holy? Then is he holy, before he is holy. Is he sinning ? Then sin is necessary to holiness. It remains for him to inform us, whether these acts which are necessary, as he tells us; to the act of the will, as the ground or reason of it, proceed “from a holy heart or a sinful heart, or no heart at all?”

But let us hear Dr. Tyler still farther. He says, “Is the selfish principle suspended by the interposition of God or by an act of the sinner. Not by the act of the sinner; for if I understand the reviewer, he supposes that those mental acts which constitute the using of the means of regeneration, precede the act of divine interposition.” p. 16. Now, in our second number, we unequivocally referred the suspension and final cessation of the selfish principle to the Spirit of God, operating through divine truth. Speaking of the tendencies of that truth, we said, “when, by the strivings of the SPIRIT, they are perpetuated and increased, then it is that the selfish principle not only suffers temporary suspensions, but grows weaker and weaker, in each instance of its returning activity and doininion : until at some point before the heart fixes on God, the power and influence of this principle wholly CEASE from the mind.”

p. 228. Could a stronger declaration be framed, that the suspension referred to, results from “the interposition of God ?” Again, on page 223, we said, “Nor do we intend to imply, that the strivings of the Divine Spirit are not necessary to overcome counteracting tendencies, and to continue that process of fixed contemplation and deepening emotion, which are requisite to a change of heart.” Is not “ the

selfish principle” the great “counteracting tendency” to the influence of divine truth? In our concluding number we again stated, in direct terms, that the selfish principle is suspended by the influence of the divine Spirit.” It is therefore with no little surprise and regret, that we find Dr. Tyler so eager and determined to fasten upon us the imputation of denying, what we have explicitly declared to be our firm belief. His charge is founded on a single passage in our first number, which we give below. * Whether the construction which Dr. Tyler has

* All that our present object requires us to say on these topics is, that regeneration in the popular import of the term is an event which depends on ihe Vol. II.

23

still 56

put upon that passage when taken by itself, is natural or not; ordinary candor should have induced him to accept our subsequent declarations on this subject, as decisive evidence that we did not mean what he supposed us to say.

What we intended to state in that sentence, will be obvious from a brief explanation. In our view, as we have shown, regeneration in the widest and most comprehensive sense of the term is all dependent on divine interposition. Regeneration in its restricted sense, is of course dependent on that interposition. Now, if any one should choose to embrace under regeneration in its restricted sense, more than we had done, (i.e. more than the final act of the will,) we had no objection. And to meet this case our sentence was framed. We therefore said, that “whatsoever part” (not here deciding how much) of regeneration in the comprehensive sense, “is produced by divine interposition,”

some part of the process” (to wit, some part of regeneration in the comprehensive sense) "is preliminary to such (i. e. divine) interposition” in “that which in the LIMITED use of the word may be called regeneration." In other words, that some acts comprehended under regeneration in its widest sense, must be “preliminary” to the act of God which produces regeneration in any restricted sense of the term. Those acts therefore we said were properly a using of the means of regeneration. But we did not say, as Dr. Tyler makes us, that “they precede the act of divine interposition.” We only said that they were preliminary to that "act of divine interposition" which secures regeneration in the restricted sense of the term. And we elsewhere affirmed, that they all sprung from such interposition. But says Dr. Tyler, “ Does the reviewer mean that there are two acts of divine interposition in the same indivisible moment ?” We answer, that we have supposed it to accord with theological usage, to distinguish the strivings of the Spirit, from the renewing act of the Spirit. Does Dr. Tyler still ask, how there can be two acts in the same indivisible moment? We ask him, how there can be, as he represents the fact to be, two acts of the sinner, viz. "an intelligent act," and " an act of the will or heart," and yet the "complex act” be “ instantaneous?" But

says Dr. Tyler, “How is the selfish principle suspended ? On this point, the reviewer has given us no information.”

p.

15.

1

interposition of the Holy Spirit ;- that it so depends on this interposition, that whatsoever part of that process of mental acts and states which, in the popular use of the term, constitute regeneration, is produced by this divine interposition, some part of the process is preliminary lo such interposition, and preliminary also to that which, in the limited use of the word, may be called regeneration; and that whatever acts be regarded as thus preliminary, they are to be regarded and spoken of either as using the means of grace, or as usiog the means of regeneration. p. 19.

We confess, that we hardly know what to say in respect to this assertion. We stated so explicitly, and in so many forms, that the suspension of the selfish principle is to be traced (under God) to self-lovė or the desire of happiness, as appealed to by divine truth,* that we must leave it with Dr. Tyler to explain his peremptory denial of this plain matter of fact. Should he say that he did not understand us in this case, to be accounting for the suspension of the selfish principle, we ask him, why he did not? Did we not in fact thus account for it?

Perhaps however Dr. Tyler meant to say, that we have given no information on this point, which is satisfactory to him. This we can easily account for. Let us, for example, suppose the avaricious principle to suffer momentary suspensions in the breast of a miser; and the result to be, that he does occasionally a generous act. Let us imagine some one to account for this fact, by saying that very powerful appeals were made, in these cases, to the miser's feelings of tenderness and compassion. Now it is easy to see that this explanation would be wholly unsatisfactory to any one, who had previously assumed that no such feelings did or could exist in the miser's bosom—that all his actions were to be resolved into the single principle of avarice. Thus Dr. Tyler, in his philosophy, constantly assumes, that there is no principle of mental action in the mind of sinners, except the selfish principle. He is therefore utterly unable to see how any other principle can occasion the mental acts and states, which have been specified; and when it is expressly stated, and abundantly proved, that some other principle does occasion them, “no information is given on the point," because, on Dr. Tyler's philosophy, the fact cannot be explained. Let him re-consider his views as to the essential properties of a moral agent; let him admit that man is such an agent, in respect to every natural qualification to obey his Maker, let him admit that the laws of moral action are not violated in regeneration, and his philosophical difficulties will vanish. He will then see that in order to a sinner's acting right in the first instance, it is not necessary that he should act“ with a holy heart, or a sinful heart, or no heart at all ;" but simply with the powers and properties of a moral agent.

. Will Dr. Tyler then maintain, that it is physically impossible so to divest any object of present affection, of its attractions, by an assurance from God of infinitely greater good in Himself; and so to invest it with the appalling evils which the love of it involves, as to yacate the mind, even for a moment, of all its influence? Cannot the Holy Spirit so affect and use the powers and susceptibilities of the human mind, that when such truth as God's truth is presented

* Vid. pp. 22, 3, and 226--8.

to the mind, the effect now supposed shall be associated with the exhibition? Cannot He, whose prerogative it is to transform the heart itself, so throw over the object of the sinner's affections, the terrors of coming vengeance, that that object shall cease to dictate those acts and states which next occupy the mind? Is there no possible way in which this suspension of the selfish principle can be accomplished ? If not, then how can the heart ever exercise holy love? If the selfish principle must dictate every mental act or state, then either selfishness must dictate holy love, i. e. enmity itself must love, or love is utterly impossible. In a word, if love is ever produced in the heart of the sinner, it must either be dictated by the selfish principle; or that principle must cease to act, i. e. must be suspended, in the order of nature, prior to the exercise of love.

We shall now avail ourselves of the aid of Dr. Tyler himself. Speaking of the manner in which the change in regeneration is produced, he says, " he (the sinner) now loves, what before he hated." “In his last act of rebellion, he was a moral agent. In his first act of obedience, he is a moral agent.” p. 41. is not this saying in the most explicit terms, that the last act of rebellion had existed and ceased, before the first act of obedience was rendered ? Now he loves, what before he hated," says Dr. Tyler. How could this be, if the hatred, the act of rebellion, had not been renounced, and had not actually ceased from the mind? Vid. also, p. 30.

We have here a striking instance of what frequently occurs, that facts which are denied and argued against, when regarded as subversive of preconceived opinions, are still shown to constitute an unalterable part of the mind's belief, in him who denies them. These facts or truths are so well known, that though expressly denied in one connection, they will be asserted and reasoned upon in another, without awakening the consciousness of self-contradiction. This, we believe to be the true solution of a man's so often arguing as to facts in one way, and stating them in another.

We now pass, in the second place, to consider Dr. Tyler's SEVEN QUERIES, which are designed to present in a single view, what he maintains to be the “ legitimate consequences” of our system. These we shall examine in order.

1. In the first, he charges us with representing regeneration, as “ a gradual and progressive work." p. 27. Now we stated that regeneration, in the restricted and theological import of the word, is a simple act. Dr. Tyler will not therefore pretend, that in this sense of the term, we did or could represent regeneration as

gradual and progressive.” But we have shown that theologians do generally represent moral action as belonging erclusively to acts of the will. It follows therefore that “the commencement of holiness," i. e. regeneration, is considered by theologians to be, what we described it, "a simple act." In other words, they use the term in its restricted import. Why then does Dr. Tyler charge us with denying regeneration to be “ an instantaneous change in the sense in which it has ever been understood to be instantaneous by calvinists?” Can any thing be more instantaneous than a simple act? Is it not on this very ground that Dr. Griffin, and others, have declared regeneration to be instantaneous ?

But Dr. Tyler maintains that, as we embrace “the using of the means” under regeneration in the comprehensive sense of the term, we do in fact make regeneration gradual and progressive. But has he rightly apprehended the nature of those acts, which we described as a using of the means in question? When we affirmed that regeneration never takes place without the solemn contemplation of divine truth, we maintained that this contemplation does not belong to that class of mental acts which are dictated by the selfish principle. We then pointed to another class—to acts resulting from a simple desire of happiness, and stated, that in this class alone, were those acts to be found, which constitute a using of the means in question. But did we affirm or intimate, that all acts belonging even to this class, were a using of these means? Far from it. On the contrary, in a formal statement, (p. 16,) we confined this “using of means” to acts DIRECTLY associated with a change of the will or heart, whenever that change takes place. We made those acts a part of regeneration in the comprehensive import of the term ; and declared that in union with this change of the will or heart, they constitute “one act,” which involves no measurable duration, and which takes place “in a moment of time."* According to this limitation, (had we said nothing more,) we were authorized to expect our subsequent language to be understood. Were we led, for example, in analyzing this complex act, to make use of terms which, in themselves considered, would imply succession or duration of time. We had guarded against misconception on this point. The act, though complex, we had described as instantaneous; and stated the using of the means in question, to be directly associated with a change of the will or heart.

But Dr. Tyler cites various passages, and says "they evidently describe a series of acts and states which cannot be regarded as simultaneous." Be it so. But in these passages, without exception, we were speaking of acts, (and the passages themselves show the fact most clearly,) which are so imperfect in degree through counteracting influences, that instead of resulting in regeneration and becoming the means of it, they often result in a more absolute confirmation in iniquity. Vid. pp. 222, 227, 696. The error of Dr. Tyler, in these instances consists in representing us as maintaining that all acts or states of mind dicta

By the phrase “in a moment of time," we mean, what we suppose Dr. Tyler to mean, when he says "as instantaneous as ary voluntary act, can be supposed to be.” p. 13. An instance of the correct use of this phrase, which, may illustrate our meaning, occurs in Luke iv. 5.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »