Изображения страниц

"The purposes of God do not precede omniscience, though in the order of nature they do precede foreknowledge" (p. 161). "In the possession of omniscience, he looks out upon the whole range and compass of possible things. But everything, at this stage, is barely possible. I can adopt this plan, that, or the other, — anything, everything, within the range of possibility.' As yet nothing is fixed, nothing determined on; and of course nothing future is certain, or can be foreknown. But among all the possible plans of operation presented to the Omniscient mind, instantly and intuitively the best plan is discovered, and instantly it is preferred or adopted. It is adopted in all its branches and particulars—in all its endless ramifications. Everything embraced in this plan (and everything is embraced in it) is now settled and certain, and becomes at once the object of foreknowledge. It could not be foreknown before, because it was not certain before " (pp. 161-162). The questions arise whether Dr. Pond does not use the term omniscience here in a peculiar sense, and whether in its stead he should not have used the terms "infinite skill or wisdom." Is not omniscience the knowledge of all things future, as well as present and past, and if omniscience precedes the decrees, does not foreknowledge, which is a necessary part of omniscience, precede them also?

Of course, Dr. Pond denies that the "foreseen good character of believers is the ground or reason of their election"; but he as strenuously denies that the "purposes of God, in respect to this important matter, are capricious, arbitrary, and without reason. He must be supposed to have had the best reasons for choosing some, rather than others, to everlasting life; though in no case, except where he has made a particular revelation, can we so much as conjecture what these reasons were. To the apostle Paul, the reason of his election and consequent conversion was revealed: "For this cause, I obtained mercy, that in me, first, Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting" (1 Tim. i. 16). But, except in the case of this great apostle, I am not aware that a particular revelation on this subject has ever been made" (p. 172).

After considering the works of God in creation and providence, Dr. Pond proceeds to discuss the truths relating to the nature of the mind, the will, holiness, sin, the apostasy, etc. In regard to the freedom of the will he says: "Moral freedom consists in exercising the will one way while conscious of the power to exercise it in some other way; or in preferring, choosing, some one thing while conscious of entire natural ability to choose some other thing. In other words, it consists in voluntarily yielding to the strongest motives, or in doing as we please, while conscious that we could do differently. This is freedom. It is all the freedom that we need, or of which we can conceive; and this always exists where there are the human faculties, and more especially the faculty of will" (p. 279). "We ask a companion, who is with us in the fields, to leap to the top of a precipice,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


fifty feet high. He 'I cannot.' But having clambered to the top, we ask him to leap down. He says again, 'I cannot.' His answer is the same in both cases. He is unable either to leap up or to leap down. But clearly, the inability in the two cases is not of the same nature. My friend could not leap up the precipice if he would; but he might break his neck by leaping down, if he were so inclined" (pp. 282, 283). "It is demanded by those who deny natural ability, whether we mean to say that depraved man is able, of himself, to turn to God and do his duty. Before answering this question, we must be permitted to ask how much is intended by it. If you mean to inquire whether man is able to do his duty independently of God, without the support of his hand and the direction of his providence, we answer, no. In this sense we can do nothing of ourselves. We cannot act at all, or subsist a moment. It is in God that we live, and move, and have our being.' But if you mean to ask, whether men are naturally able to do their duty, without the special aid and influences of the Holy Spirit, we answer, yes. The Holy Spirit is given, not to impart new natural ability, but new moral ability; not to bestow new natural faculties, but to stir us up to new obedience — to make us willing to exert the faculties we have, in the service and for the glory of God" (p. 286). "The moral cannot is not altogether synonymous with will not. It expresses indisposition, aversion, unwillingness, with much greater emphasis and strength. It is sometimes said of sinners that they will not come to Christ. But when their criminal aversion to Christ is to be set forth in all its energy the moral cannot is used. No man can come to me, except the Father, which has sent me, draw him.' It would but feebly set forth the moral perfection of an angel to say that he will not sin against God. We rather say, he cannot. It would be an equally inadequate use of terms to say of Satan that he will not submit to God, and return to his duty. He cannot. Yet in both these cases the cannot is altogether of a moral nature" (p. 288). "We need the Spirit, not to increase our natural ability


to give us any new faculties or natural powers. The difficulty lies, not in our want of faculties, but in the abuse of them. But we do need the influences of the Spirit to overcome our moral inability, the natural aversion of our hearts to God, and to make us willing in the day of his power willing to use the faculties he has given us in his service and for his glory" (p. 291).

But while thus insisting on the freedom of the will, Dr. Pond does not fail to insist on the influence of motives, and on the fact that the will uniformly yields to the strongest motive. "If the will were not under the influence of motives, and if the degree of influence exerted was not in proportion to the strength of the motives urged, then what propriety in using motives with men to persuade them to do their duty, or to do anything else, and in making these motives as impressive as possible? On this ground, poor preaching would be as likely to prevail as good preach

ing, and men would be as likely to be converted without preaching as with it. But as mankind are constituted, ministers of the gospel have every encouragement for a skilful and powerful application of motives. There is just as much room for skill in adapting motives, and earnestness in enforcing them, as though everything depended on their instrumentality; as, indeed, under God, it does. To be sure, God is the grand moving power in the moral world, as in the natural; but then he operates in both by means, and in accordance with established laws; and this is one of the laws of mind, that the will is always as the strongest motive. Let, then, the minister of Christ adapt his motives wisely, and urge them efficiently, and make them as impressive as possible, and he will be proportionally the more likely to be successful; not because he, by his eloquence, can convert or sanctify the soul, or because motives alone can do it, but because God works by motives in turning the hearts of sinners to himself, and it is an established law of his operation, that the stronger the motive, the more likely to prevail" (p. 281).

On the nature of holiness and sin the remarks of Dr. Pond are equally explicit. Speaking of the ambiguities of that chameleon word "disposition," he says: "This word occurs in common conversation, and in our discussions on moral subjects, in the three following senses: 1. There is the ulterior disposition — a state of mind, and not an exercise; a proclivity, preparation, or disposition (using the word in its most literal, etymological sense) for the performance of an action. In this sense the disposition may operate as a motive; but is not an exercise, and has not, in itself, any moral character. 2. There is the sentient disposition —an emotion, a feeling, lying altogether in the region of the sensibilities; a motive to action, but not action, and possessing as before (except as far as it is yielded to), no moral character. 3. There is the voluntary disposition, which is an internal, voluntary affection, which has a moral character, which prompts to ontward action, and in which the right or the wrong of the outward action entirely consists. Here, it will be seen, are three obviously different senses of the word 'disposition'; -and the same may be said of the parallel word 'inclination'; — and when these are confounded (as they frequently are) no wonder that confusion and error should be the consequence" (p. 285; see also pp. 262, 263). Speaking of the "possibility of our first parents falling in the manner they did," he remarks: "Some have thought their apostasy wholly unaccountable. They were perfectly holy. Their propensities, feelings, and habits were all holy. They had, in fact, a holy principle, a holy nature. How then could temptation reach such minds? How could it overcome them? On the supposition that our first parents had a holy nature previous to their fall, something back of and distinct from all holy affections, and which could express itself in nothing but holy action, I do not see how they could fall. They certainly could not, unless

their holy nature was changed; and no being but their Creator was able

to change it. But there is no reason to suppose that they had such a nature as this. The evidence from reason and from facts is all against it. They had all the human faculties, fully developed, in a pure and perfect state. And up to this time they had constantly exercised their faculties in the most proper manner. Their thoughts, their affections, their words, their actions, all had been holy. And in these, all their holiness consisted. It was an active holiness, comprised essentially in supreme love to God, and a disinterested love to the creatures of God. In other words, it was an active and perfect obedience to the divine law. And all that their fall involved was, for this to be changed into active disobedience. There was no holy nature, back of and distinct from all that was active within them, requiring to be changed, but only a change in their active exercises and affections, from those which were holy to those which were sinful” (p. 336).


The "law of paradise" is thus described: "The threatening to our first parents before they fell must not be confounded with the consequences of their fall. An endless train of evils has resulted from the fall, reaching not only to our first parents, but to their posterity forever. Indeed, an endless train of blessings has flowed, indirectly and consequentially, from the fall, including all the blessings of redemption. But it would be preposterous to regard all these consequences, one way and the other, as included in the original threatening to Adam. We must distinguish therefore, as I said, between the simple threatening and the consequences of the transgression.

"In order to understand the threatening referred to, we must bear in mind (what has been before stated) that our first parents in Paradise were under law mere law. The precepts enjoined on them were those of the law. The rewards which they enjoyed and anticipated were those of law, dispensed to them, and to be dispensed, on the ground of law. It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that the threatening under consideration was one of law. In other words, our first parents were threatened, in case of transgression, with the proper penalty of the divine law. The passage including the threatening is parallel to those in which it is said: The soul that sinneth, it shall die.' 'The wages of sin is death.' As our first parents were under a dispensation of law, they were threatened, in case of transgression, with the proper penalty of the law; the same that was inflicted on the sinning angels-eternal death. This would include, of course, spiritual death a being dead in trespasses and sins; since none will suffer the pains of eternal death who are not in a state of spiritual death, or who, in other words, are not entirely sinful. "Most evangelical Christians regard the threatening before us as including spiritual and eternal death; and some represent it as including also temporal death. But manifestly, if it includes eternal death, it cannot include temporal death; since the two ideas are incompatible. Temporal VOL. XXIV. No. 94.


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

death is a dissolution of the connection between soul and body; eternal death is the destruction of soul and body in hell. Suppose then eternal death to have been included in the threatening, and to have been immediately executed—as it must have been but for intervention of the gospelupon the transgressors. There would have been no room, in that case, for temporal death. It could not possibly have ensued. Soul and body must have gone to destruction together, and could not have been separated.

"There is another consideration going to show the truth of what has been stated. Christ came into the world to redeem his people from the curse of the divine law that curse which hangs over every sinner, and was denounced upon Adam, in case he fell in sin. But Christ does not redeem his people from temporal death. They still suffer that. It follows that temporal death makes no part of the proper penalty of the law - that penalty which was originally denounced upon our first parents.


[ocr errors]

Temporal death, from the very nature of it, belongs not to the dispensation of law, but to that of grace. It is indeed a bitter fruit of sin; but it is such a fruit as can be tasted only under a dispensation of grace. Accordingly, the first intimation which we have in the scriptures of temporal death is found subsequent to the promise of a Saviour. It was in connection with the great gospel promise, but subsequent to it, that God said to our first parents: 'Dust thou art, and to the dust shall thou return.'" Gen. iii. 19" (pp. 330-332).

"Adam was not threatened with the sin and ruin of his posterity, in case he ate the forbidden fruit, but rather with that eternal death which is the proper penalty of the law. And besides; where is the justice or propriety of thus punishing Adam in his posterity? Where is the justice of it, so far as his posterity is concerned? This would be, not to visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children consequentially, but to punish the child for its father's sin -a thing which God has declared that he can never do. (See Ezek. xviii. 20.) And where is the justice of such punishment, so far as Adam is himself concerned? If Adam repented of his sins, and was forgiven, and has gone to heaven, why should he continue to be punished in his posterity? Or if he died in his sins, and has gone to perdition, he is suffering the full reward of them in his own person; and why should he be punished in his posterity? In every view, therefore, this theory of punishment appears to be unfounded” (p. 359).

From the clear views of Dr. Pond in regard to the nature of sin and penalty, it is easy to infer his views in regard to the atonement, which he supposes to consist in the death of Christ. He says: "Some have believed that by suffering for us, Christ literally paid our debt to divine justice. So taught Anselm in the twelfth century, and Aquinas in the thirteenth, and many others of later date in both the Romish and Protestant churches. But to this theory there are insuperable objections. In the first place, the demands of strict governmental justice against us are not of the nature

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »