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one essay on the “ Efficacy of the Word of God”; and twenty-five sermons.
There is but very little new matter in the last two volumes. Most of it had appeared before in controversial pamphlets and religious periodicals. The whole, however, has been subjected to revision, which with Dr. Woods was a careful, painfully careful scrutiny. The whole work is preceded by a most beautiful “ Dedicatory Address” to his “ Beloved Pupils.” It is a noble monument of a life-long labor. It is the refined gold of a remarkably acute, cautious, laborious mind. For thirtyeight years its author had occupied a position second to none in this country in furnishing means for thorough and extensive theological inquiry. He had
He had also the experience of twelve years, or thereabouts, in the ministry, before he entered upon the labors of his professorship, so that, in fact, we have in these five volumes the best thoughts, in their best dress, of a distinguished theologian, who had been maturing, revising, and correcting his opinions, with the aid of the best lights of the last half-century.
We hesitate not to say, that it will be an enduring monument to his learning and acuteness. We thank him for it most heartily. We have read recently the principal part of it. There are parts of it which we shall read again. If Dr. Woods, with his profound sagacity, his extensive erudition, his acute perception, his instinctive and acquired wariness, his practised adroitness, and half-century of discipline and experience, cannot defend, vindicate, and establish Calvinism, no one can do it. He understands as well as any living theologian the weak points in his system, and he knows well how to cover them from discovery and attack, or how to defend them most successfully when assailed. He knows very well, too, how to take to the bush when the battle is too hot in the open field, and to disappear under a cloud of interrogations which so blind and bewilder an unpractised controversialist, that he thinks he is answered when he is only confused.
We think we can see the wonder which sat upon the faces of the class when some puzzling question had been answered in the true Yankee fashion of asking half a dozen others.
We say, then, that here is a standard and complete vindication and support of Calvinism, as far as it can be vindicated and supported. If this is not conclusive, nothing can be. If Dr. Woods has not put the Five Points out of the reach of “ weapons unanointed," then no one can do it. We know that there is very much spurious Calvinism under that name; and Dr. Woods knew it too, very well, as we shall show as we go on. But we are not speaking of that new light which emulates the brightness of the old. We are speaking of the real article, the genuine faith, once delivered to the saints by John Calvin, or earlier by Augustine. There has been a sad declension in orthodoxy in New England. This work will show how sadly the Church has forsaken, if not its first love, its first opinions, and how far it has floated past the anchorage ground of Andover. We are well enough aware that many of our Evangelical friends will not admit that Dr. Woods is the exponent of orthodoxy, or that he is their chosen champion. All this shows what we have just asserted to be true. Young orthodoxy has rejected the fathers. There is weeping and lamentation “because the children are not." There is much spurious coin in circulation bearing the image and superscription of Calvin. As far as we are concerned, it is a matter of indifference; but there is a moral element in the matter of some importance. There is, we will not say a pretence, but a claim, that the Evangelical body are all of one household of faith; that there is unity of opinion among its members; that it is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Now this is not true. We ask no pardon of our orthodox friends for speaking out so bluntly about it. They know it as well as we do; and we do not like to see false colors. Dr. Woods is the champion of “ Calvinistic orthodoxy," not indeed as it has been modified, and emasculated by recent philosophers. He does not use a rasp, it is true, as some of his older brethren did when they would stab an opponent. He has a keen and richly set rapier.
The style of Dr. Woods, which we are reminded by our last remark that we must say something about, is simple and clear.
There is not a passage which we remember in the whole five volumes which is turgid or affected. The style is a model in this respect; and it is as clear as it is simple. The most difficult points in
metaphysics are stated in language which is perfectly transparent. Perspicuity is a marked characteristic of the style of the whole work. A reader is not compelled to go over a passage twice to learn its meaning.. Certainly Dr. Woods should have the credit of attaining to remarkable purity, simplicity, and perspicuity in writing. We were as distinctly impressed with this peculiarity of his Works as by any other one thing in them. We happened to be reading Chalmers's “ Institutes of Theology" at the same time that we were examining Dr. Woods's Works, and were forcibly struck by the different styles of the two men,
the one rendering what was clear obscure, and what was obscure invisible, covering up his ideas, if he had any, under a mass of involved, parenthetical sentences, which made a passage through them as difficult as that through a hemlock swamp, leaving you in your exit in perfect confusion as to your whereabouts and what-about; the other removing particle by particle the dust from before your eyes, lifting up, speck after speck, the fog that hung over the subject, laying down proposition after proposition with crystal clearness, and evolving light from darkness, order from chaos, till the whole subject was as transparent before your eyes as the sea of glass seen in the vision of the Apocalypse. Let this suffice for what we have to say of the position of Dr. Woods, of his ability to maintain his opinions, of his being an exponent of Calvinisın or orthodoxy as it was, and of his remarkably excellent style of composition.
There is another characteristic of the Lectures" which we wish to notice in passing. It is the religious tone which appears in them. They are not dry, scientific discussions of truth, with as little allusion to God and duty as would be found in a treatise by an atheistic astronomer on his favorite science. The crying fault of theology is, that it is divorced from religion, devotion. When one enters a lecture-room of theology, it is like entering Ezekiel's valley of dry bones. Bones, dry bones, very dry bones, of old bodies of divinity, and decomposed systems of theology, are lying thickly all around him, without life, skin, or flesh; and apparently without the possibility of ever having them. We belong to the old-fashioned class of persons who believe that piety, a devout, religious spirit, is as necessary to a clear perception of the truths of theology, as logical acuteness and vigorous ratiocination. “ To pray well is to study well” in theology. Dr. Woods has remembered this. There is a religious spirit breathing all through these “ Lectures," which gives the fragrance of sanctity to them. A student enters upon their study as a devotee enters a cathedral, not as a cabinetmaker enters his shop. There is a constant liability, in the study of theology, to forget the reality in reasoning upon the abstraction; to forget that God, Christ, heaven, hell, man, eternity, regeneration, holiness, sin, are solemn facts, not metaphysical abstractions, - momentous realities, not ideas to be put into the alembic of logic to be melted down, transmuted, and coined over at pleasure ; not articles of jugglery, which, after all manner of fantastic tricks have been played with them, are to be thrown aside because we are tired of them. The state of the heart is as important as the state of the head to one who would seek the truth in theology. The steam which rises up from the heated passions, indulged appetites, and worldly desires of the heart, will as effectually obscure the mental eye, and cloud its vision, as the mists and vapors which rise from the morass will dim the light and obstruct the penetrating power of the telescope which is pointed towards the heavens. Nothing, in our opinion, has done more to infuse the leaven of the pride of philosophy and “ profane and vain babblings” into theology, than the divorce which has been made between it and piety. It has been looked upon simply as a science, not as a lifegiving power. It has been assumed that the Almighty could be found out to perfection, and men whose beards were not grown have undertaken to measure the depth and height and breadth and length of His wisdom, love, and justice, the whisper only of whose attributes we have heard. Theology is studied with a deep curiosity, it may be, but not with sanctified affections. Theological schools are entered by men who desire, not to preach the Gospel, but to find out whether there is any Gospel to preach; not to proclaim Jesus as the Saviour of the world, but to learn whether any Jesus ever was in the world. Hence a theological school, instead of being the residence of young men whose hearts are all in a glow to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, who feel that a woe is upon them if they preach not the Gospel, and who
have entered the school of the prophets to prepare them. selves for that work, may be thronged with those who are like the Athenians, desirous to hear or to tell some new thing, who are not certain yet whether there are any “ riches” at all in Christ, and who find it convenient to avail themselves of eleemosynary aids for a few years, while they gratify a natural curiosity in learning whether Jesus is the Christ, or whether they are to look for another. This peril in theological schools cannot be too carefully resisted. We thank Dr. Woods for having set an example worthy of all imitation, by infusing into all his “ Lectures" a spirit of devotion, reverence, piety. The attempt made in some systems of theology, and especially in many German authors, to press out every spark of life, every drop of blood, in condensing theology into a science, is ruinous. So far has this process been carried in some works, that they cannot even be called “bodies” of divinity. Nothing is left but the bony structure. They cannot be dignified with any better name than “skeletons,” and are dry at that. Dr. Woods is in earnest. He believes what he says. His belief is, if possible, too hard. His convictions are so strong, his belief is so deeply rooted, that he often is uncandid without knowing it. does not seem to be aware, at times, that there is any ground for any other belief, or opportunity for any other conviction, but his own. Hence, in the midst of the greatest apparent endeavor to be candid, there is a very great lack of candor. We do not suppose that Dr. Woods intended to misrepresent the opinions of other Christians, or to insinuate that other theologians were hollow-hearted and impious; yet he has done both. His earnest conviction of the truth of his own system causes him to undervalue the evidence on which other systems rest, and the candor and piety of those who adopt them. There is no other ground on which it is supposable that such declarations could have been made. It may be well to illustrate this by some quotations. “ Now I maintain," says Dr. Woods, “ that the doctrines of the orthodox, as set forth in their creeds and systems, are substantially true, and that it has been this predominant element of truth which has been an offence to the unbelieving."
* Works, Vol. I. p. 91.