Sidor som bilder
[ocr errors]

when he tells us some creatures shall be always miserable under punishment, as to believe, that the eternal happiness of every creature and the greatest happiness of the whole, are incompatible; and cannot come together into that plan or scheme of existence and government, which are the best possible. Id. 120.

Dr. Beecher._" God loves holiness, and abhors sin, and was able to prepent its eristence. He could have forborne to create whom he foresaw would rebel, or he was able to keep them from falling. But he did not do it. Abhorring evil with all his heart, and able to keep it out of his dominions, he permitted it to enter.”

Sermon at the Funeral of Obookiah. p. 5. Dr. Payson.—“Why God should permit angels or men to fall, we cannot tell. That he did permit them to fall is certain; because had he thought proper, he could doubtless lure prerented their apostacy." Sermons. p. 43.

Christian Spectator.—" Now, it is possible, that many things, which in themselves are right, would not be for the best, on the whole; and on the other hand, that many things are, on the whole, for the best, which in themselves are wrong. I say this is possible ;-nay, it is certain. The wars and bloodshed, the despotism and bondage, the subtiity and dishonesty, the folly and sin which overspread the earth, though in themselves wrong, are on the whole for the best." Vol. I.


447.* Will Dr. Taylor, or the Reviewer, affirm, that all these writers whom I have quoted, and all who adopt their views are Supralapsarian Calvinists, or high Hopkinsians? Or will Dr. Taylor take it upon him to assert, that their views are adopted only by myself "AND A FEW OTHER MEN,” while they are rejected by “the great majority of the orthodox clergy ?"

Again-I am represented as maintaining that God is reduced to the necessity of choosing between two evils, and that he is not perfectly happy. These positions I attempted to show, are involved in the theory of Dr. Taylor. This he does not deny; but he insists that they are equally involved in the theory which I maintain. He says “Dr. Tyler himself reduces the great God to the necessity of choosing between two evils.” He asks also, "Will Dr. Tyler deny, that sin is truly contrary to the divine will—that God is exceedingly displeased with it? Let Dr. Tyler then show how God can be exceedingly displeased with it, and yet be perfectly happy.” I reply, that although God views sin as an evil in itself, and is exceedingly displeased with it, yet in view of the good which he can bring to pass by overruling it, and counteracting its evil tendencies, it is his pleasure that it should exist. And if the system is on the whole the best system ; if it will result in a greater amount of good than any other system of which the divine mind could conceive; then God must contemplate it with perfect and infinite satisfaction; and it is impossible to

* The reader is requested to consult the whole article from which this extract is taken, that he may see the difference between the views inculcated by the Christian Specialor in 1819, and those inculcated in the same work in 1832.



[ocr errors]

conceive that he could be more happy than he now is. According to this supposition, he was not reduced to the necessity of choosing between two evils ; for the system which he has chosen, taken as a whole, is, (to adopt the language of Dr. Dwight) a perfect system of good.” But according to the theory of Dr. Taylor, the present system is very imperfect-a system which will issue in infinitely less good than a system of perfect holiness. It is a system of course, on which God must look with everlasting regret. If all his creatures would obey his law, he would be more happy than he now is : and consequently he is not now perfectly happy. This Dr. Taylor admits. He says, “ It is admitted that what men have done to impair the blessedness of God by sin, has not failed of its results in the actual diminution of his blessedness, compared with what it had been, had they obeyed his perfect law.” p. 693.

Again, I am represented as having attempted to explore the counsels of God," and " to solve the difficulties” which relate to the divine permission of sin. Dr. Taylor says, “ Dr. Tyler, Dr. Woods and others, are the men who speculate and theorize, and profess to fathom these high counsels of God." He also quotes a passage from Dr. Dwight as applicable to me, in which he compares

" the attempts to solve the difficulties of this subject to those of an emmet, which from the top of his mole hill should undertake to survey the world around him, and propose plans for the improvement of the human race.”

Now is this a fair representation ? Have I said, or intimated, that there is no mystery attending the divine permission of sin ? Far from it. I have gone no farther in accounting for the existence of sin, than Dr. Dwight, whose cautions on this subject, Dr. Taylor seems to think are so peculiarly applicable to me. Dr. Dwight, as we have seen, maintained as fully as I have done, that God could have prevented sin, and secured universal holiness in his moral kingdom. He also maintained that God has planned a perfect system of good, and that the actions of voluntary beings, will all be made to conspire to the accomplishment of this plan. Consequently he did maintain, that God permitted sin, because he saw it to be, on the whole, best that it should exist. This is as far as I have gone. What are the particular reasons why sin is permitted-in what ways God will overrule it for good--or why he could not have secured as much good by preventing, as by permitting sin-I have not undertaken to show. The Reviewer in the Christian Spectator, does indeed represent me as maintaining, that "those who are lost, are doomed exclusively

[ocr errors]

to sin and everlasting burnings, that the smoke of their torment inay endear heaven to the saved, and result in joys, which otherwise they could never know! Celestial spirits, if they utter truth in their songs, praise God---not that he vindicates his law and sustains his throne by the punishment of beings who have violated any will of his--but for exactly fulfilling the sole purpose of their creation; they praise God for that peculiar delight—those higher and exquisite raptures, which they could enjoy only by means of the agonies of others in everlasting fire !- Dr. Tyler will have it, that a benevolent God could not be satisfied with the perfect holiness and perfect happiness of all his moral creatures; but to raise to some higher conceivable perfection the happiness of those who are saved, they must owe it in no stinted measure to the eternal agonies of the damned ! Such is God-such is heaven, according to this theory.” pp. 478, 479.

This carricature reminded me of the “Great central gallows" of Dr. Channing ;--and permit me to say, that while it seems to have been drawn for a similar purpose, it contains a no less palpable and gross misrepresentation. I ask the Reviewer, if, when he penned this paragraph, and other similar paragraphs in this Review, he realized what he was doing ? I ask him with what feelings he can contemplate the use which is made of these representations, by the enemies of evangelical truth?

I have not, as I said, undertaken to show, how God will bring good out of all the evil which exists. That he can bring good out of evil to some extent, Dr. Taylor admits. That he can do it to any extent he pleases, I infer from the perfections of his character, and from the declarations of his word. That sin exists is certain. That God is a benevolent being, none will deny. That "infinite benevolence must accomplish all the good it can,” is a position of Dr. Taylor's. That Almighty power can accomplish all the good it desires, is a position to my mind, equally plain. Indeed, what do we mean when we say, God is Almighty, unless we mean that he can do whatsoever he pleases? If then, it is, on the whole, his pleasure that all his creatures should be holy, he would never have suflered sin to come into being. Thus far, the subject, to my mind, is plain. Farther than this I do not go. I maintain with Dr. Dwight, that God can plan, and carry into ef

A PERFECT SYSTEM OF Good; and that "it can not be proved that the existence of sin, will in the end be a detri

a ment to the universe ;"—and here I leave it.

II. My views on the subject of depravity, are entirely mis


fect 6


represented. Both Dr. Taylor and the Reviewer represent me as maintaining that depravity is a physical attribute--that

the very constitution of the mind is depraved”—that depravity is “an inherent property of man's very nature, which amounts to an utter disqualification-an absolute natural inability for right moral action"-and that man 6 is led to disobey rather than obey God, by the same cause, or the operation of the same physical law of his being, as that by which the lion is led to feed on flesh and not on grass."

Now what have I said to justify this representation ?

I have maintained, it is true, that the nature of man since the fall, differs as really from his nature before that event, as the nature of the lion differs from the nature of the ox. But is this maintaining that they differ in the same sense ? When the prophet says, Can the Éthiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots ; then may ye also do good, who are accustomed to do evil—does he alfirm, that sinners are unable to do good in the same sense that the Ethiopian is unable to change his skin, and the leopard his spots ? And when Dr. Taylor said in his Concio ad Clerum, " We say that the lion by nature eats flesh-the ox by nature eats grass--the tree by nature bears bad fruit” —and when he added, “ We mean by this, that the nature of the thing is such, that uniformly, in all its circumstances, it will be the cause or occasion of that which we assert ; 'that the lion, for example, is of such a nature, that he will eat flesh--so when the Apostle asserts, that mankind are by nature sinners, he must mean, that such is their nature,” &c.-Does the Reviewer suppose, that Dr. Taylor meant to affirm that the nature of a moral being, is the same as that of a lion, or an ox, or a tree? Why, then, is such a construction put upon my language ?

I have maintained that mankind possess a native, hereditary propensity to evil; but I have not undertaken to tell in what this propensity consists ; nor do I pretend to be able to tell. That there are natural propensities, nobody doubts; yet who can explain them? Who can tell what it is in the nature of man, which lays the foundation of that affection which all parents feel for their children, and which we denominate natural affection? Why is one man naturally mild, gentle, kind, patient—and another naturally peevish, fretful, morose, irrascible? That such distinctions exist, and that they have their foundation in the natures of different individuals, nobody questions; yet who can explain it ?

Dr. Taylor seems to suppose that a natural propensity to evil, “ amounts to an utter disqalification—an absolute natural


inability for right moral action." But is it so ? Has not the drunkard a propensity to drink? And has he ceased to be a moral agent, and is he doomed to drunkenness by “a natural and fatal necessity ?" That wicked men have propensities to various kinds of sinful conduct, cannot be denied. But who ever supposed that these propensities imply the destruction of moral agency, and "amount to a natural inability for right moral action ?" Why then, should it be supposed that if mankind come into the world with a propensity to evil, they are “doomed to sin by a natural and fatal necessity ?" Dr. Taylor may be assured that I hold to no natural propensity to evil, which involves such a consequence. While I maintain that all men are naturally inclined to evil, I maintain that they are laid under no natural necessity to sin, but are as free and voluntary in every act of sin, as Adam was in his first transgression.

Again-I have maintained, that human nature is not what it would have been if sin had never existed, but has undergone some change in consequence of the apostacy. But what this change is, I have not undertaken to tell :—much less have I affirmed that it is a change in the physical structure of the mind. Adam was naturally inclined to obey God. His posterity without exception, are naturally inclined to disobey him. This is plain matter of fact; and it is the truth of this fact, which we affirm when we say, that mankind possess a natural bias, or propensity to evil.

The Reviewer says, “ We suppose Dr. Tyler to believe, that this propensity to sin, is itself sinful, or as another writer affirms, is “the essence of all sin.'' That I have affirmed this, or any thing which necessarily implies it, I presume the Reviewer will not pretend. On what ground, then, is this sentiment imputed to me? Simply on the ground that it has been believed by others. Whether this is just, or candid, I submit to the conscience of the Reviewer.

Had the Reviewer interpreted my language, as the Reviewer of Norton's Views of Calvanism, in the Christian Spectator for April, 1823, interpreted the language of Edwards, he would not have given this representation of my views. Edwards mentioned as explicitly as I have done, that mankind possess a native hereditary propensity to sin. Yet the writer* of the article just referred to, says,


" Whether this tendency, disposition, proneness, &c. be a voluntary or involuntary state of mind, whether the subject be accountable for it or not, he [Edwards) does not decide.”'- " If President Edwards pronounces this an evil, depraved propensity, he is careful to tell us in what sense it is evil,

* This writer, it is well known, was Dr. Taylor himself.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »