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changing the essential properties of the soul itself; for then it would not be a human soul. Can "stones and trees,” remaining stones and trees, be made the subjects of holy moral affections, even by omnipotence? Can the soul of the sinner' then remaining what it is, in its essential properties, be on the principles of Dr. Tyler, the subject of a moral transformation, even by the power of God? Self-consistency on his part, requires therefore that as a matter of real conviction and belief, he should cry in still deeper notes, wo to the world! We be all dead men !”
Further; Dr. Tyler maintains, what may be termed PHYSICAL REGENERATION. By this we mean, a change in the sinner, prior to, and distinct from, right voluntary action, i. e. right action done in view of motives. Speaking of truth as rendered efficacious by the special agency of the Holy Spirit, he says,—“But how? unless by a direct influence upon the heart, PREPARING IT* to receive the truth and yield to the motives, which truth presents.” p. 42. Now it will not be claimed that the mind acts right, before it yields to the motives, which truth presents. Is then this act, the same thing as this preparation of the heart thus to act? Plainly not. Here then, Dr. Tyler has unequivocally asserted the necessity of a change of heart, prior to, and distinct from, right action.
Again he says, “I do not feel authorized to say, that God cannot regenerate a person in sleep or in a delirium,or that he cannot, independently of motives, produce a state of mind, which shali MANIFEST itself in right moral action, whenever motives shall be presented to it.” p. 43. Of course, the state of mind here spoken of, is not itself right moral action, but prior to it and manifesting itself in it. Besides, a moral act, says Dr. Tyler, is “ an intelligent act.” But such an act cannot exist in sleep or in delirium.
Therefore regeneration in sleep or delirium is a change prior to right moral action.
Dr. Tyler afterwards describes this change more fully. are so constituted, he says, that when an object is presented to the mind, we like or dislike it, are pleased or displeased; and these feelings when exercised towards moral objects, are of a moral nature.' p. 60. In the same connection, he distinguishes liking, or disliking, being pleased or displeased, from “an act of preference;" “i. e. a preference which implies a comparison of objects and a choice between them.” Now we ask what such a state of mind can be, except a mere constitutional feeling-a feeling towards its object, existing by the same laws of physical necessity, by which the sensation of hunger, or any similar feeling, exists in view of its object. We ask again, if it results from the fact that we are so constituted,' how is the feeling to be avoided? If, for example, man is so constituted, that he is pleased with God, as he is with an
* When the scriptures speak of the preparation of the heart by God, it is not something prior to right moral action, but that action itself.
object of natural beauty, how can he in any sense, commit sin. If on the contrary, he is so constituted, that he cannot but be displeased with God, or cannot but be pleased with opposite objects, how can he in any sense, become holy, or avoid sin ? Nothing can be plainer, than that if these things are so, the very constitutional properties of the being must be changed, or a holy being cannot in any sense, become sinful, nor a sinful being become holy.
Dr. Tyler's illustrations accord well with these views. “God makes use of the truth in renewing the heart as he makes use of light in causing vision. No man can see without the light of the
Neither can any man exercise holiness without the light of truth. But pour light forever on the eyes of a blind man, and it will not remove his blindness.” p. 42. Now this illustration is not after the scriptural mode," which have eyes to see, and see not.” In other words, voluntary wilful blindness is not the obstacle ; but blindness, because there are no eyes which can see. There is not the requisite physical organ,-no constitutional capacity-no natural power. Eyes therefore, or what is equivalent, must be literally created, before the man can see, in any sense of the word. To apply this illustration, a new constitutional property of the mind must be literally created in the sinner, or he CANNOT in any sense, exercise holiness.'
We say then that Dr. Tyler clearly teaches, that the depravity of man is a physical depravity, and that the change in regeneration is a PHYSICAL change.
Such, if we mistake not, is the fundamental error that pervades all Dr. Tyler's reasonings, on the subject in discussion. They are in perfect keeping, with the three-fold impossibility, that a sinner should so use truth as to obey it; as well as his constant assumption, that there is no susceptibility in man to truth, but the selfish principle; which, in the very nature of things, must hate truth the more clearly it is seen. Dr. Tyler never seems to have thought that the moral inability of a sinner to perform right moral action, lies in that certainty of continued sin, which coexists, and is perfectly consistent with, every power and property of moral agency.
Dr. Tyler, we know, will revolt from these exhibitions, which his language, fairly interpreted, makes of this part of the subject. We know, that he often asserts the sinner's natural ability, and clearly sees the importance of this truth, when contemplating man in his moral and accountable relations. But it is plain, that when he speaks of the sinner's dependence, the necessity of divine influence in regeneration, and the ground of this necessity, he lays that ground in some constitutional defect, or natural inability ? This unfortunate inconsistency, even in superior minds, when contemplating a subject under different aspects, is no uncommon fact. It is this inconsistency, with the kindred error, of exhibiting the present performance of duty as hopeless through the assumed want of divine grace, which it was our object to expose, and if possible to correct.
Dr. Tyler asks, "what difficulty is avoided, by resorting to this distinction, between using the means of regeneration, and regeneration (conversion) itself.” We answer, a difficulty which is one of the most common, and one of the most calamitous imaginable. We mean the difficulty, resulting from certain modes of exhibiting the doctrine of dependence. If the change in regeneration is voluntary action, then the sinner will never be the subject of it, without voluntarily acting it. But he never will act thus, while he believes, either that he cannot, or that he shall not ; i. e. while he regards the action as hopeless. Believing this, under each successive call to duty, he will never obey it, and will die in his sins. But if our views be correct, then under the call to duty, the sinner is to believe first, that no new physical power or property is to be created in the soul, to qualify him to perform his duty; and secondly, that it may prove to be the fact, through grace, that he shall perform it, if he applies himself to the work. Some preachers, we believe, are fairly understood by their hearers, to deny these truths; and the effect on the minds of their hearers is, a settled conviction of the utter hopelessness of the immediate performance of duty. They place themselves therefore in the attitude of passive receivers of a divine gift. The monitions of conscience are often greatly checked; and perhaps all hope of eternal life is abandoned, under the idea that all present action is in vain, without some new and peculiar influence of the Holy Spirit. It may indeed be true, that after a longer or shorter process of sinful conviction, truth may so prevail over error in the mind, as to put the sinner at last upon direct action in obeying it; or to using the means of regeneration in the immediate performance of duty. But numerous and fearful are the instances, in which sinners remain in a state of anxiety, only abusing and perverting truth, or return to stupidity in sin; because they do not know that the way, and the only way, in which duty ever was, or ever will be done, is by putting themselves directly to its performance.
Such then are the errors and such the calamitous results, which we believe are avoided by the principles that we have advocated. It is very unexpectedly and with extreme regret, that we have been called upon, in self-defense, to show that they are involved in the principles laid down by Dr. Tyler. We are persuaded, that he has not been aware of the impressions, which such representations of the sinner's inability and dependence, are fitted to produce. We cherish the hope, that he will yet view the subject under some new aspects. We believe he must see, that to deny the existence of a constitutional susceptibility to the motives presented in the gospel, is to assert the necessity of a physical change in regeneration; and thus to establish the doctrine of natural inability.
But however this may be, we shall never cease to cherish
for Dr. Tyler those sentiments of respect and esteem, which are the fruits of a long and endeared intimacy, at the period when he was himself associated with us in the support of this work. If, in exhibiting our views, we have entered too far into that minute analysis of mental states and acts, which the writings of Stewart and Brown have made familiar to the publicif the imperfection of language, or the use of technical terms, has led to a misconception of our meaning—if any obscurity of statement has resulted from the continual interruptions to which we are subjected, in the discharge of varied and laborious duties, none can regret the fact more deeply than ourselves. But we rejoice to see, that exactly the same views are advanced by an able writer on the Means of Repentance, in the last number of the Biblical Repertory conducted at Princeton; and as they are not stated in an abstract manner, we hope they will not be misunderstood.
Another friend, as we gather from Dr. Tyler's statement, has misconceived our meaning--the brother “whose praise is in all the churches.” His judgment was formed, like that of Dr. Tyler, not only before he had heard us through, but with mistaken views as to the import of our language. If there is a man on earth, who urges the motives of the gospel upon the awakened soul, on the assumption that that soul has a constitutional capacity to feel those motives, it is the brother in question. If there is a man, who enjoins "thoughtfulness," "strenuous effort," etc. he is the man.
Who that was ever associated with him in those scenes of thrilling interest, which reduce to nothingness all other scenes of earth, can forget the indescribable earnestness of manner, with which he is accustomed to say, to the impenitent, “Now you will attend to this subject,” “You will not forget it,” “You will not give it up.” Nor did he ever think, that they would be thus brought forward to the act of giving God their hearts, either from holy motives or from sinful motives; but, under grace, from that impulse to escape impending ruin, and to secure their true interests, which the whole tenor of his preaching is so wonderfully adapted to excite.
To conclude; we still hope, that Dr. Tyler will one day acknowledge that his anxiety and forebodings on our account have been without foundation. His love of truth and his recollection of early friendships, will make him rejoice to do so, even though he should “incur the disgrace of being found a false prophet."
ERRATA.-In our last No. p. 592, 12th line from bottom, for quieter read gentler : p. 595, 8th line from bottom, for face read save: p. 596, 16th line from bottom, for sermons read volumes.--In our present No. p. 59, 5th line from bottom, for is read are: p. 168, 11th line from bottom, for unrenewed read renewed. On p. 192, 7th line from bottom, the words, “ if he wills right,” were omitled in a few sheets of the impression.
*** Our readers will perceive that our present No. contains thirty-two pa. ges of extra matter.
VOL. II.--NO. II.
Art. 1.-REVIEW OF THE FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
PRISON DISCIPLINE SOCIETY. Fourth Annual Report of the Board of Managers of the Prison Discipline
Society. Boston, 1829. 8vo. pp. 96. When a man is accused of having violated the laws of his country, the liveliest interest is often felt in his situation; and the sympathies of the community are enlisted either in his favor or against him, according to their preconceived opinion of his guilt or inno
But when his trial is ended, and the sentence of a court has consigued him to the sufferings and degradation of a prison, all this interest dies away in the one last, cold inquiry, “is he safely lodged within those walls from which he cannot escape ?” When this question is answered, the multitude turn away, satisfied if bars, and bolts, and chains guard the space between them and their brother; and thenceforth view him as a ruined man, an outcast from human society and human compassion. Seldom do they trouble themselves with the inquiry, whether, in those gloomy cells, he suffers more or less than strict justice demands; and whether, when the term of his confinement expires, he shall be restored to his family, and to the world, a penitent, reformed man, and through the remainder of his life, sustain the character of an industrious, and useful citizen; or whether he shall come forth from his den like some malignant fiend, to ravage and destroy. We are aware, that much of the apathy which has existed for ages on this subject, is owing to ignorance of the real condition of these unhappy men, and of the lamentable want of discipline, as well as the shameful abuses, that have existed in prisons. The cry of ten thousand enormities and abominations which have existed within these gates of perdition, has seldom reached the public ear; although like the cry of Sodom, it has risen up to heaven. But since the days of Howard, a few have been found like him, to VOL. II.