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est good—thus establishing the principle that the end sanctifies the means--that the evidence that this was the best possible moral action in bis power, was decisive, and altogether sufficient to authorize and require him so to believe—that he did so believe, and with a design to promote the general good and to please his Maker, he did the deed. Now, Dr. Tyler, himself being judge, how shall the accused be fairly convicted of malice prepense? Let Dr. Tyler condemn the accused on any principle, which will not also condemn his Maker..
If Dr. Tyler should say that the objections which we have brought against this theory, are the same as those which the enemies of sound doctrine commonly charge on the doctrine of the divine purpose respecting sin, we answer, that this is more city said than proved. It is indeed readily confesser, inat these ob jections have been often chance on that form of the doctrine which is taught by Gurpralapsarian calvinists; viz. the theory that God prelcis the existence of sin rather than holiness in its stead. But it admits of a question, whether these objections were ever alledged against the true doctrine, the simple naked fact, that God, for some reason purposes the existence of sin. Who :: among Arminians, or even Unitarians, at least in this age, would den ny the universality of God's providential government and purposes, as the basis of confidence and submission under all evil? Pres. Edward says, “I trust that there is no christian divine but what will allow that it is agreeable to God's will so to order and dispose things—that this perfect wickedness should be a necessa- . ry (i. e. as he explains the term, certain) consequence.” It is: then, we think, much to be doubted whether the doctrine of God's purposes in its simple form, has ever, at least to any important es .. tent, been directly assailed by these objections. It seems to us, : that it is only when this doctrine is modified, or rather essentially in changed, either by those who have taught, or by those who op- i pose it, into the identical form given it by Dr. Tyler, that it has ever had to encounter these objections. This view of the subject is strikingly confirmed by those instances of caviling and objec : tion in the scriptures, to which we have already adverted. We have shown that the objections in these instances, were based on the self-same doctrine which is taught by Dr. Tyler, viz. that God prefers sin to holiness; and that this doctrine is explicitly. denied, in the one instance, with the severity of apostolic rebuke, and in the other, under the solemnity of an oath from God. we may advert to our own experience, we are confirmed in these ja views of the subject by all our intercourse with others. We even think it will be found in respect to that large class of evangelical: Arminians, who professedly deny the doctrine of decrees, that in their distinct recognition of the duty of submission under all evil,
they do really and practically believe the doctrine, that the providential purposes of God extend to all actual events. They may and they do deny the doctrine of decrees, when presented under this name. But in so doing, we apprehend, they deny and intend to deny simply the doctrine, that God presers the existence of sin rather than of holiness in its stead; and thus in fact only deny a perversion of the true doctrine. That doctrine, we trust, will be rescued from this perversion; and the simple but sublime truth, that the purposes of God extend to every event, instead of being a theme of endless controversy, become the professed, as it is the actual faith of all true christians.
We have thus examined the two principal theories of Dr. Tyler, and endeavored to test their correctness, by following them out into their necessary consequences. This mode of reasoning, we know, has been condemned by many, as irritating and painful to those against whom it is directed. In the present case, however, Dr, Tyler has led the way and set us the example. He has done right, for it is the only kind of reasoning which can be used, to any great extent, in detecting errors in first principles. In what way can we expose the many false axioms which have come down to us, sanctified by authority, and embraced without examination, except by comparing their results with the infallible decisions of common sense, and pronouncing them, what they are, absurdities and contradictions ? Such is the mode of reasoning wbich peculiarly distinguishes the inquiries of Edwards into subjects of this nature. Should it be said that many mysteries hang over the origin and perpetuation of sin in this world, we freely grant it, but mystery is one thing and absurdity quite another. Should it be urged, that equal or greater absurdities pertain to. any other view which can be taken of these subjects, we answer that we cannot feel the force of such a reply. It can be no reason for continuing to maintain a scheme which is encumbered with the grossest absurdity, that equal absurdities (if this be so) belong to other schemes. God can never hold us responsible for the belief of what is plainly involved in absurdity and contradiction. While we conscientiously think, that such is the character of the two theories under consideration, we are very far from intimating however that the conclusions which we have urged upon Dr. Tyler, form any part of his belief; and we are equally far from intending any disrespect or unkindness towards him, in subjecting bis scheme to this rigid examination. Associated as we have been for many years with Dr. Tyler, in the most endearing relations of christian enterprise and communion, no difference of opinion, we trust, will ever weaken those sentiments of mutual regard which were formed and cherished, when he was numbered among us as one of the conductors of the Christian Spectator.
Before we leave this topic, we have one thing more to say respecting ourselves. Efforts have been industriously made in many parts of our country, to hold forth the conductors of this work, as responsible for a long and painful controversy, which tends, it is said, to distract the church, and to waste the strength and exasperate the feelings of the ministry, in refined speculations of no practical use. The charge is utterly unfounded. The two theories which we have now examined, embrace almost absolutely every topic, involved in what has been called the New Haven controversy. If these theories are false, as we contend they are, if they do encumber the orthodox system with the absurdities and contradictions which have now been pointed out, if most of the objections urged against this system by its enemies, have really been founded on these theories, and not on the doctrines of NewEngland calvinism --ihen the discussion in which we have engaged, is one of momentous, practical importance to our churcbes and the cause of Christ at large. Without claiming any exemption from the ordinary errors of men in relation to this subject, we do insist, that the character which the discussion has assumed at every step, has been forced upon us by our brethren, who have come forward to oppose our sentiments. lo entering on the subject in our Review of Taylor and Harvey, we distinctly presented the two theories now considered, as the only topics worthy of serious discussion. We explicitly stated, that we had no anxiety to establish any peculiar theories or solutions of our own, in the room of those which we opposed. In respect to the certainty of sin, we simply rejected the theory of a specific propagated propensity to evil, and contended with Edwards, that the acknowledged facts of the case would account for this certainty, without any additional supposition, hypothesis, or theory in the case ; and that at all events, if we could not discover the ground of this certainty, the certainty itself remained unaltered.* lo calling in question the theory, that sin is the necessary means of the greatest good,' we stated expressly (in common with Dr. Taylor in the sermon under review,) ihat we had “ no wish to establish the contrary assumption,” (p. 384) sor we considered it important in no other light than as offering a possible alternative, in renouncing the theory to which we objected. How then have our brethren met us on the two points at issue, as thus stated from the very commencement of the discussion? By turning 10stantly aside to attack what they called our theories,—by charging us in the face of our most solemn protestations, with maintaining
* Page 365-6.
that men are not sinful—are even holy—by nature; and that God could not prevent the existence of sin ! Thus assailed with misrepresentation and obloquy, branded as Arminians and Pelagians, we have been repeatedly driven in self-defense, to dwell on topics which we have never regarded as of the least importance, when compared with the great questions at issue, “Is sin a propagated, essential property of the human soul? Is it the necessary means of the greatest good ?” Compelled in this way by our brethren themselves, to turn aside from these momentous questions to the discussion of points on which we had never wished to dwell, we have been next charged, with disturbing the peace of the church, by incessantly harping on favorite theories, and hazardous speculations of our own, to no profit. At every step in this progress, we have endeavored to bring back our brethren to the real points at issue-to obtain a fair discussion of the two questions stated above, without any regard to our own theories or suppositions, whether right or wrong-but years have passed away, volumes literally have been written upon the subject, and yet not ten pages have been produced in support of the position, that sin is a propagated quality of the soul, or the becessary means of the greatest good. We call the attention of the public to this striking fact. We ask our brethren in what way it can be explained, without a frank confession, that it is much more easy to find fault with others, than to support those favorite theories, on which they imagine the calvinistic system to depend ?
But if we know any thing about the present state of the publie mind, the controversy can never have an end, until the questions stated above, are fairly met and finally settled. A very large and increasing body both of the clergy and laity, whose devotion to the cause of Christ and the doctrines of grace, place their characters above all reproach, are utterly dissatisfied with the two theories which have now been examined. They find them a perpetual theme of obloquy among the enemies of divine truth, and a latal impediment in a multitude of instances, to the progress of revivals of religion. They will never rest till objections of the kind which we have now stated are fully obviated, and the subject relieved of the difficulties in which it is now involved. It is not then in the spirit of controversy, but from an earnest desire of peace, that we would press upon Dr. Tyler and the brethren who agree with him, the indispensable necessity of meeting the question here. If this is not promptly and fully done, if the objections now presented are not wholly set aside, by some other means than an appeal to names and systems of theology, the public will not hesitate to decide that it cannot be done by argument.
Art. VII.-DOUGLAS ON ERRORS IN RELIGION.
Errors regarding Religion. By JAMES Douglas. Crocker & Brerrster, Bustoa
Jonathan Ltaviti, New-York.
We have taken up this work, not so much for the purpose of examining its contents in detail, as of laying before our readers the result of our own reflections on some of the principal topics which are here discussed. The author is already well known to the American public by his eloquent work on the advancement of society. His views on every subject are large and comprehensive. The structure and habits of his mind are those of a pbilosopher, dwelling less upon insulated facts than great principles. The leading characteristic of his mind is generalization on the broadest scale';-an admirable quality when properly directed, but peculiarly apt to seduce the mind into false though ingenious theories. Of this we have a striking instance, in Mr. D,'s attempt to reduce all the errors in religion, which have prevailed in countries destitute of revelation, to two classes, politheism, as the faith of the vulgar, and pantheism, of refined and philosophic minds. These two systems are directly opposed to each other; and it would be singular if the human mind, in all its wanderings from religious truth, had made it a uniform rule never to wander, escept into these two extremes. We should rather expect the whole interval between them to be filled with various forms of error, and there have been in fact many false systems of belief which were neither polytheistic nor pantheistic. Such was that of the aborigines of this country, who believed in one great spirit, possessing a distinct individuality. Still it must be admitted, that Mr. Douglas has shown great ingenuity in tracing out the various forms of pantheism, as well in the philosophy of the Greeks and Romans, as of the eastern nations of Asia, the heretics of the Jewish and christian churches, and the mystics of modern times. This part of the work will repay the attention bestowed upon it by those who are interested in such inquiries,—who are curious to examine the various forms of error, which may derive their existence from a single false principle.
It is a just remark of Mr. Douglas in his introduction, and one which is of great importance in its applications, that “ error, to be believed, must include a considerable proportion of truth." The human understanding cannot be so imposed upon even by a depraved inclination, as to assent to a system of entire and unmingled falsehood. Truth is the natural and appropriate object of the mind. False and inconsistent views of things are in themselves, unsatisfying. The mind never rests in them, unless under