Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Here, again, it is perfectly evident that Dr. Ware was in the right, and Dr. Woods as evidently was in the wrong. In the “Lectures,” he attempts to escape the difficul. ty in the case of Adam by supposing, and apparently maintaining, that his “ disposition was changed”; “ that God, in a sovereign manner, withheld the influence of his Spirit, which was necessary to shield him from the influence of temptation,” “ prior to his actual disobedience”!!* That explains it with a vengeance. God changed a holy being into an unholy one to enable him to sin! “Tell it not in Gath! publish it not in the streets of Askelon ! lest the daughters of the uncircum. cised triumph!” It must have cost the benevolent writer of these “ Lectures" a struggle to pen such a sentiment. We honor his courage; - that is too cool a word, his heroism. We will not force him to a more unpleasant and revolting task by following back the difficulty, and asking where the depravity was which could do such a deed as he says was performed, before Satan's temptation could be effectual upon the innocent pair. We forbear. . The desperateness of the condition of the whole argument is shown very clearly by the desperate means that are resorted to for its rescue from utter annihilation.

We return to the analysis of the argument in the “ Letters.” Resort is now had to Scripture. Philosophy will not answer; facts will not answer. Those passages are quoted which are usually quoted on such occasions. Dr. Ware interprets them differently, maintains that they refer not to man's nature, but to his acquired condition ; not to man's state in infancy, but to man's condition as an adult. He further maintains, that in all cases where children are mentioned, they are spoken of favorably, as being “ of the kingdom of heaven," as being models for Christians. And here, too, in our opinion, he is clearly in the right. Dr. Woods, in his “ Lectures, quotes a passage from Howe's “ Living Temple,” which is directly to the point.

“ As for them that could never hear the Gospel, or infants incapable of receiving it, we must consider the Holy Scriptures were written for those that could use them, not for those that could not; therefore, to have inserted in them an account of God's methods of dispensa

Works, Vol. II. pp. 544, 545, 546.

tion towards such had only served to gratify the curious and unconcerned, not to instruct and benefit such as were concerned." * The Bible does not refer to infants when it speaks of sinners, and of all men as being sinners. It speaks of adults, of those arrived at the age of judgment and reasoning. Would that Dr. Woods understood this. It would have saved him much irrelevant reasoning in these “ Lectures” and “ Letters."

We are not satisfied with the argument on this subject. It does not reach the case. It will not pass through the fire. It is no fault of the Abbott Professor. It inheres in the subject. No man can but fail. It is an argument against reason, consciousness, and Scripture, and it cannot prevail

. Let those who wish to see the very best argument in favor of an impossibility read it. They will find their wits sharpened, if their understandings are not enlightened. They will probably be grieved that Dr. Woods has been pleased so often to call all arguments against him “cavils against the doctrines of God's holy word”; “ speculations, abstract reasonings, conjectures”; "empty notions, imaginations, surmises, dreams, originating in minds disordered and dark, ..... in proud and unbelieving hearts.” † He even goes so far as to say, that “the spirit in which they originate would, if permitted to prevail, demolish the whole fabric of religion. With those who indulge this spirit, just and sober reasoning has no influence, and truth becomes a dream...... Its proper residence is the carnal mind which receives not the truth in love." $ If this is in accordance with the taste of the writer, or with his judgment, or with his feel. ings, we are sorry. But we cannot help it. There is no remedy in our power. We must say of him, as he says of another, “ We will let him alone till he finds out his mistake.” There is a very frequent declaration made by Dr. Woods in this part of his “ Lectures," whose utter worthlessness has impressed itself so deeply on our minds by its repetition, that we cannot pass it by silently. He avers that the tendency of the Calvinistic view of human nature and man's agency is not to make men feel less guilty, and become less active in repentance and good

* Works, Vol. II. p. 345. # Works, Vol. II.

p.

366.

+ Works, Vol. II. pp. 280, 282.

deeds, than other men, and he appeals to the lives of “Calvin, Owen, Watts, Edwards, and Brainerd,” in confirmation of his assertion. He then says, that the contrary view makes men proud, self-confident, more disposed to sin, less likely to repent. Suppose we ask him, in turn, to look at Channing, the Wares, the Peabodys, Greenwood, Tuckerman. Such appeals to denominational pride will do for a popular speech, though poor for that, but in a “ Lecture” room, and from a theological chair, they will not do at all.

The other two subjects named, as being especially demanded by the present state of inquiry, are the “ Divine Purposes," and " Atonement.” We shall be obliged to pass them without comment, as also the doctrine of à Regeneration," upon which we were especially desirous of making some remarks. We regret this the less, however, as we have already given our readers a pretty good idea of the character of the work, and the method in which the subjects which come up for consideration are handled. We have read it with interest. We advise those who read at all, to read what is best on the subjects examined. We are not convinced. Our opinions are dearer to us than before. We have not been alarmed when we have been called “ carnal-minded” and “proud” and “cavillers." We rather pitied the weakness of a cause that was thought, by its shrewdest, not to say ablest advocate, to need such defences. We have found some passages which were not according to our taste, but we were not grievously harmed by them. We have met some statements of such a character, that it is very difficult to understand how the writer could make them. We could about as easily understand the doctrine of the "Divine Purposes.” We have met with some arguments which were made of very poor stock, and very poorly put together. The writer undertook an iinpossible task, and was often in great straits. He was sometimes obliged to manufacture his materials, as well as work them up.

He must have experienced the truth of Job's declaration, “ Man that is born of woman is full of trouble.” " How often," says he, “ have I been troubled with the thought” of the condition of the non-elect.” His " disquieted” mind was often” haunted with the “ deformity and horror” of that doctrine. We sympathize with him, we do not wonder at his disquietude. But he will find when his reward is given him, that there is no such doctrine as that whose ghost has spread gloom and “horror" over his mind here. We doubt not he will rejoice to find that his fears were all fictions, his difficulties all imaginations. While we dissent entirely from very many of the writer's views, and detect a want of cogency in many of his arguments, we thank him for these volumes. Within the limits of our reading, there is nothing superior to them, on the subjects which he treats, from the Calvinistic point of view. They will make a part of the permanent volumes of every theologian's library, who wishes to refer to the ablest production of the last half-century which that school of theology has given to the world.

R. P. S.

Art. II. — THE STATE AND STATESMANSHIP.

Let us suppose that our next neighbor were President of the United States, or that we lived in England, and that our next neighbor were Queen of England; that we talked with this person, President or Queen, weekly, daily, - about the weather, the crops, the cholera, the Great Exhibition, — about any thing. If it were so, we venture to say, that a great change would come over our minds with regard to this personage. The President, for instance, would become Mr. Fillmore, a very pleasant gentleman, of an agreeable countenance and amiable manners; we should like Mr. Fillmore very well, and say he was not proud at all. Mr. Fillmore would become a man, like the rest of us. It has been justly said, that no man is great to his valet de chambre."

The king of France, to whom a common man could not speak but at the annual levee, and a common Frenchman never, was, to his household and body-servants, a very active and amiable old gentleman, that they lived with and served : he was sick one day; he was troubled another day, and wore a clouded brow; and they were anxious and careful for him.

But put a thing at a distance from us, - surround it with conditions inaccessible to us, of wealth, splendor, rank, office, power, — let its whole mode of life and action be strange and unknown to us, and then it becomes a mystery. Such a mystery, more or less, is the government. Such a mystery is the high official person, - the king, the cabinet minister. It is well for the world, on some accounts, that it has been so. If it was the fate of the world to have bad kings, vicious, voluptuous, unprincipled men to reign over it, as was inevitable to arbitrary and irresponsible power, it was well that some veil of mystery, some cordon sanitaire, should be thrown around to keep off the contagion from the people.

But we have fallen upon other ways of administration; and we deem it desirable that we should take off this veil of mystery from public affairs and public men. We do not want to see legislators, senators, presidents, to be better than they are, it is true; but then we do not wish to see them to be worse than they are. We would not have any veil of official mystery cut them off from our candor and sympathy. When that veil is suddenly rent by the stroke of death, the actors behind it appear often as humbled and weeping men, and a new sympathy, a sense of human brotherhood, is awakened between us and them; solemn visitants from another world, thoughts of conscience and of God, and of judgment and eternity, take their place in the senate-chamber and at the council-board. We remember such a scene in our own supreme legislative council. A senator, much esteemed and beloved, had suddenly died; and his remains, according to the usage, were brought to the senate-chamber for the last solemn rites. Beneath that pall of death reposed the form which a few days before had stood up there, in the vigor of health and early manhood. A col. league and friend of his, an admiring friend, though of an opposite party, came there pale and trembling from a sick bed, to pay with his brother senators the last homage to their departed associate. He rose and spoke of him; and as he uttered with difficulty a few words of affection and eulogy, -as, pausing and tasking his strength with each succeeding sentence, he repeated the beloved name of his friend, coupling it with some epithet of admiration and description of his character, - slowly, and one by VOL. LI. 4th S. VOL. XVI. NO. I.

4

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »