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it a mere determination of the mind, founded on considerations of whose nature the determination itself can give us no certain information? As one man may make the change from one motive, and another from another, one from real love to the pursuit chosen, and another from extraneous reasons, it is evident the change of purpose does not imply, nor necessarily involve a change in the affections. When, therefore, Mr. Finney tells his hearers that the change required of them, is a change analogous to that which takes place when a man alters his determination as to his profession, and that this is all that is required, all that is necessary to make a sioner a Christian, he is justly represented as making religion to consist in a mere determination of the mind. Whatever
Whatever may be his esoteric sense, this is the meaning his words convey, and his hearers, we have no doubt, in nine cases out of ten, receive. This impression would be further confirmed by their being told, that it is a very simple change, effected by a simple volition of their own minds; and that it is a very easy change, it being as easy to purpose right as wrong. The reviewer's defence of this mode of representing a change, which is said in Scripture to be effected by the mighty power of God, strikes us as singularly weak. He tells us, “there are two different senses in which a moral act may be said to be easy or difficult to a man; the one referring to the nature of the act, and the capacity of the agent, that is, his possession of the requisite powers for its performance; and the other referring to the disposition and habit of his mind in reference to the act.” p. 11. Thus we may say, it is as easy to be generous, as covetous; and that it is very difficult for a covetous man to be generous. It is admitted, then, that it is very difficult for a man to do any thing contrary to the disposition or habit of his mind, and of course it must be exceedingly dificult to make an entire and radical change in the affections. But Mr. Finney says it is very easy to change th& heart-to alter one's purpose. Would not this prove that he supposed the thing to be done was not the thing which the reviewer represents to be very difficult? Does it not go to confirm the impression that he makes the change in question to consist in a mere determination of the mind, to the exclusion of a change in the affections? When the ease of the work to be done, is urged as a motive for doing it, we have a right to suppose that an easy work is intended. But the transferring the affections from one object to another of an opposite character; to love
VOL. IV. No. II.-2 P
what we have been accustomed to hate, and to hate what we have been in the habit of loving, is a difficult work, and therefore, not included in a mere alteration of one's purpose, which is declared to be, and in fact is, so easy. Not only, therefore, the mode of expression employed, in describing a change of heart, but the illustrations of its nature, and the mode of enforcing the duty, are adapted to make precisely the impression which Mr. Rand received from the sermon, that conversion, in the judgment of the preacher, is a very trifling affair, effected as easily as a change in our plans of business; and we have reason to know that this is the impression actually produced on the minds of hearers by the preachers of this class; and on the minds of the friends and advocates of the new sys. tem themselves. Such, we think, is the natural and fair impression of the popular mode of representing the subject. And we very much question whether the metaphysical explanation of it amounts to any thing more. It is one of the most singular features of the review under consideration, that although the writer seems willing to take shelter under any great name, his principal reliance is on the advocates of Emmonism. Yet it so happens that his system and theirs are exactly the poles apart. In the one, divine agency is exalted to the real exclusion of that of man; in the other, very much the reverse is the case. According to the one, it is agreeable to the nature of sin and virtue to be created; according to the other, necessary holiness is no holiness, there cannot be even an instinct” for holiness, to borrow President Edwards's expression. The same expression, therefore, in the mouth of the advocate of the one theory, may have a very different meaning from what it has in that of an advocate of the other; and even if the idea be the same, its whole relations and bearings are different. It is not, then, to the followers of Dr. Emmons we are to go, to learn what is meant by the immanent volit ons, primary choices, or governing purposes of the New Divinity. We must go, where the reviewer himself, in another part of his pamphlet sends us, to the advocates of the new system itself. We find that when they come to give their philosophical explanation of the nature of regeneration, it amounts to little more than the popular representations of Mr. Finney. In the Christian Spectator, for example, we find regeneration described, as the choice of God as the chief good under the impulse of self-love, or desire of happiness. The sinner is, therefore, directed to consider which is adapted to make him most happy, God or the world; to place the case
fairly before his mind, and, by a great effort, choose right. This, as we understand it, is a description, not of an entire and radical change in the affections, but of a simple determination of the mind, founded on the single consideration of the adaptatio: of the object chosen to impart happiness. If I determine to seek one thing, because it will make me more happy than another, (and if any other consideration be admitted, as determining the choice, the whole theory is gone, this is a mere decision of the mind, it neither implies nor expresses any radical change of the affections. On the contrary, the description seems utterly inappropriate to such a change. Does any man love by a violent effort? Does he ever, by summoning his powers for the emergency, by a volition, and in a moment, transfer his heart from one object to another? Was it ever known, that a man deeply in love with one person, by a desperate effort, and at a stroke, destroyed that affection and originated another? He may be fully convinced his passion is hopeless, that it will render him miserable; but he would stare at the metaphysician who should tell him, it was as easy to love one person as another; all he had to do was to energize a new volition and chose another object, loving it in a moment with all the ardour of his first attachment. As this description of an immanent volition, does not suit the process of a change in the affections in common life; as no man, by a simple act of the will, and by a strenuous effort, transfers his heart from one object to another; so neither does it suit the experience of the Christian. We have no idea that the account given in the Spectator of the process of regeneration, was drawn from the history of the writer's own exercises, nor do we believe there is a Christian in the world who can recognise in it a delineation of his experience. So far as we have ever known or heard, the reverse of this is the case. Instead of loving by a desperate effort, or by a simple volition effecting this radical change in the affections, the Christian is constrained to acknowledge, he knows not how the change occurred. "Whereas I was blind, now I see,” is the amount of his knowledge. He perceives the character of God to be infinitely lovely, sin to be loathsome, the Saviour to be all he needs, but why he never saw all this before, or why it all appears so clear and cheering to him now, he cannot tell.
We cannot but think that the impression made by the mode of representation adopted by the New Divinity of this important subject, is eminently injurious and derogatory to true religion. That the depravity of the heart is practically repre
sented as a very slight matter, that the change and the whole change necessary to constitute a man a Christian, is represented as a mere determination of his own mind, analogous to a change of purpose as to his profession; that a sense of his dependence on the Spirit of God is almost entirely destroyed, and of course the Spirit himself dishonoured. This latter evil results not merely from the manner in which the nature of the change of heart is described, and the ability of the sinner to effect it is represented; nor from the fact that this dependence is kept out of view, but also from the ideas of the nature of agency and freedom of the will, which, as we have before had occasion to remark, appear to lie at the foundation of the whole system, as it has been presented in the Christian Spectator, and from the manner in which the Spirit's influence is described by many of the most prominent advocates of the theory. These views of human agency are such that God is virtually represented as unable to control the moral exercises of his creatures; that notwithstanding all that he can do, they may yet act counter to his wishes, and sin on in despite of all the influence which he can exert over them consistently with their free agency. If this be not to emancipate the whole intelligent universe from the control of God, and destroy all the foundations of our hopes in his promises, we know not what is. When sinners are thus represented as depending on themselves, God having done all he can, exhausted all his power in vain for their conversion, how they can be made to feel that they are in his hands, depending on his sovereign grace, we cannot conceive. What the nature of the sinner's dependence on the Spirit of God, according to Mr. Finney, is, we may learn from the following illustration. • To illustrate the different senses in which making a new heart," the reviewer, “may be ascribed to God, to the preacher, to the truth or word of God, and to the sinner himself, Mr. F. supposed the case of a man arrested, when about to step over a precipice, hy a person crying to him, stop. And said, This illustrates the use of the four kinds of expression in the Bible, in reference to the conversion of a sinner, with one exception. In the case supposed, there was only the voice of the man who gave the alarm; but in conversion, there is both the voice of the preacher and the voice of the Spirit; the preacher cries stop, and the Spirit cries stop too.
p. 28. On this subject, however, the advocates of the system profess not to be united. Mr. Finney and others maintain, that there is no mystery about the mode of the Spirit's operation; the review
er is inclined to think there is; the one says there is no direct and immediate act;" the other, if he must adopt a theory, is disposed to admit that there is an immediate influence on the mind. The reviewer lays little stress on the difference, as both views, he says, have not only been held by many Calvinistic divines, but in connexion with a firm belief of the absolute necessity, and universal fact of the special agency of the Holy Spirit in producing conversion. We are aware of the diversity of representation as to this special point, among orthodox writers, but we are fully persuaded, that whatever may be the private opinions of those who preach as Mr. Finney is represented to have done in this sermon, the impression made on their audience of the necessity of divine influence, of the sinner's dependence, is immeasurably below the standard of the divines to whom the reviewer appeals in their justification. For an audience to be told, that all the Spirit does for them is to tell them to stop; that, antecedently even to this infuence, they may and can do all that God requires; and, what is part of the system of the Spectator, that subsequently, or during the utmost exertion of this influence, they may and can resist and remain unconverted, is surely a representation from which those divines would have revolted, and which has a necessary tendency to subvert what the reviewer calls the fundamental doctrine of the absolute necessity of the special agency of the Holy Ghost in producing conversion.
We believe that the characteristic tendency of this mode of preaching, is to keep the Holy Spirit and his influences out of view; and we fear a still more serious objection is, that Christ and his cross are practically made of none effect. The constant exhortation is, to make choice of God as the portion of the soul; to change the governing purpose of the life; to submit to the moral Governor of the universe. The specific act to which the sinner is urged as immediately connected with salvation, is an act which has no reference to Christ. The soul is brought immediately in contact with God; the Mediator is left out of view. We maintain that this is another Gospel. It is practically another system, and a legal system of religion. We do not intend that the doctrine of the mediation of Christ is rejected, but that it is neglected; that the sinner is led to God directly; that he is not urged, under the pressure of the sense of guilt, to go to Christ for pardon, and through him to God; but the general idea of submission (not the specific idea of submission to the plan of salyation through