« הקודםהמשך »
with the freedom of man, but how to reconcile the conduct of God toward man, as a moral agent, with his own prescience,-how to assign a congruity to warnings, exhortations, and other means adopted to prevent destruction, as to certain individuals, with a certain foresight of that terrible result. In this, however, no attribute of God is impugned. On the contrary, both justice and mercy require such divine conduct. The difficulty, then, resolves itself into a mere matter of feeling, which, of course,-as we cannot be judges of a nature infinite in perfection, nor of proceedings which, in the unlimited range of God's government, may have bearings and connections, beyond all our apprehensions,—we cannot reduce to a human standard. Is it then to adjust a mere matter of feeling, that we make these outrageous interpretations of the word of God in what he hath spoken of himself?' p. 201.
In this part of his work, Mr. W. abundantly maintains, that, in point of fact, there can be no question as to the previous certainty of moral actions; and concludes his reasoning on this subject by quoting, with high approbation, the arguments of Edwards, to show the irrational and unscriptural consequences which follow a denial of the certainty of all events. We commend this portion of the volume to the faithful study of every Methodist, and of those in particular, who have imbibed the absurd and almost impious notion, borrowed by Dr. A. Clarke from the philosophy of Chevalier Ramsay, that God does not choose to know all he can know.
Notwithstanding these admissions, it is true, that, in another part of this book, Mr. Watson deals out his anathemas, and pours forth his strong reasons against what he calls Calvinism, though with a good degree of coolness, yet with all the resolution of a decided follower of Wesley and Fletcher. It turns out to be a fact, however, that he battles chiefly with difficulties of his own creating, and with theories, which, though they have been held by some Calvinists, yet, properly speaking, form no part of the Calvinistic system. With him, as with our Wesleyan brethren generally, it is too much the case, that, at the very mention of Calvinism, all frank inquiry quits its sway over his judgment, his power of just discrimination is suspended, a dark cloud settles down upon bis sober reason, his imagination fills with horrid spectres, his soul swells with loathing, and he spurns and detests, rather than discriminates and reasons. With respect to God's counsels or purposes, Calvinism contends for nothing which he has not conceded. It contends for the doctrine of moral necessity; or, which is the same thing, the previous certainty in the divine mind of “whatsoever comes to pass,”—a denial of which we regard as constituting a peculiarity of Arminianism,-at the same time it contends for man's moral freedom, as ardently, and far more consistently than Mr. Watson or any of his admirers. To reconcile certainty with human liberty, different Calvinists have adopted different theories ;
but many prefer to rest in the conclusion of our author. There is a difficulty in conceiving how foreknowledge should be absolute, and man remain free. Such knowledge lies beyond our comprehension, and is too wonderful for us. It is better to abstain from such speculations; we willingly give them up; they cause us to tread irreverently upon holy ground; we would not break through and gaze. But no Calvinist, while maintaining the certainty of all events, has ever professedly denied man's freedom. The annals of the church furnish no such instance. We ask, when was there, where is there such a Calvinist? It may, perhaps, be said, that some bave adopted theories which involve such a denial. This may be so; but theories are not doctrines. Have they ever admitted such a consequence? Have they formally made such a denial? Did Augustine, Calvin, Beza, Gomarus, or Edwards, deny, that man is a free moral agent? We repeat it, that theories adopted to show the harmony between the different parts of a theological system, are not doctrines. And if in any case they are shown to be irrational and monstrous, they prove nothing against the system itself. Suppose some Calvinists, in attempting to reconcile the two doctrines in question, have adopted unhappy theories, which have tended to “ darken counsel by words without knowledge:” this by no means proves Calvinism to be a dreadful heresy. Why will not such men as Mr. Watson see this, and make the proper distinctions? Why should any man, who admits, that whatever comes to pass is previously certain in the divine mind, immediately and peremptorily deny this fact, and recoil from it, as from a serpent, whenever he hears it uttered by a Calvinist?
It is not from a spirit of ill-will towards our Methodist brethren, that we have made these remarks. We are not conscious of cherishing such feelings toward any denomination of christians. On the contrary, we sincerely desire to see the walls of partition broken down, and all those who are at heart evangelical in their views, brought to regard each other as brethren, belonging to the same great family, ready to proffer and to receive the hand of christian fellowship. To accomplish such a result, we feel it necessary, so far as we can, to disabuse the minds of those who have imbibed, as we conceive, incorrect views of the leading doctrines of the bible, as maintained by either side of the Calvinistic and Arminian controversy. Neither are wholly right; neither are altogether wrong; and a spirit of mutual concession is indispensable. The advocates of both have resorted, in many cases unintentionally, no doubt, to weak argumentation, to invidious appeals, and to mutual misrepresentation, to attain success. We are confident, that nothing more is necessary than a fair statement of what is meant by either party, to secure a union adequate for all useful purposes, in such a system of truth, as is self-consistent and scriptural, and such as commends itself at once to the common-sense of all. It is in the hope of aiding in so desirable an end, that we have now endeavored to point out some mistaken statements and erroneous arguments in the volume before us.
We have not intended to say any thing at variance with such a purpose; and should we bave so erred, we commend ourselves to that charity which " is kind” and “hopeth all things.' At the same time, however, we do not mean to disguise our conviction, that the effect of certain views, and modes of stating them, adopted by our Methodist brethren, especially in their practical bearing, are calculated to retard the progress of the kingdom of Christ. We have not time to specify particulars; but our foregoing remarks on Watson, and the general tenor of various articles which have appeared in our pages, will enable any one to understand our meaning. We now take our leave of the work. No formal review has been intended, and we have glanced at some of its contents farther than we at first designed. If our notice of it shall aid in making our readers more fully acquainted with the state of theology in the Methodist communion, to which Mr. Watson belonged, our object will be attained.
ART. III.-A TRANSLATION AND EXPOSITION OF ROMANS IX.
22, 23, 24. In the common version of the scriptures, this passage is translated in the following manner:
“What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction ; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
The translation which the writer would propose, is the following:
Now if God, willing to show his wrath, and make his power known, endures with much long-suffering, vessels of wrath fitted to destruction, and endures them, in order that he may make known the riches of his glory on vessels of mercy, which he prepares beforehand unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles; hath he not the right?
This translation varies from the common version in the following respects :
i. “What,” which in the common version is supplied by the translators at the beginning of the passage, is here omitted.
2. Aè, the translation of which is omitted in the common version, is here rendered as a particle of transition, “ Now.”
3. “Vessels of wrath and mercy," to which the definite article is prefixed in the common translation, are here rendered as they stand in the original, without the article.
4. The verbs in the aorist tense, (which tense is designed to represent an action either as customary, or as without a precise limitation affixed to it in the past or by the present, translated in the con mon version in different tenses, are here placed in the indefinite present. The writer would not object, however, to the use of the imperfect tense, were it employed without reference to any precise time in the past : as, God endured, and prepared beforehand.
5. The common version does not supply, in any manner, the omissions which must be supplied, in order to render the sense complete. This may be said to belong to the interpreter of the sacred writings, rather than the translator. Yet the authors of the common version have not deemed this wholly beyond their province, as will be seen, (to mention no other cases,) by recurring to Heb. vii. 8, 20. It seems to be required in the present case, because the passage, unless something be added to fill up the vacuities in the language, conveys no definite sense whatever. The translation proposed, endeavors to supply the ellipses in the manner indicated by the words printed in italics.
Yet, as a determination of the manner in which we shall supply the manifest deficiencies of the language, amounts, in the present case, to an exposition of the sense of the whole passage, the question arises, whether the writer has here suggested a correct mode of supplying them; and to this question his remarks shall now be directed.
The passage is obviously elliptical in two respects. First, the whole passage is a question, commencing with the hypothetical conjunction, "si," " if”; and should be followed, therefore, before the sense can be complete, with some result or conclusion. On the condition or supposition, that certain things are true, -what then? Why, the previous question of the apostle will tell us what follows. He had just asked, “Hath not the potter power,' eğeolav, right, etc.? Now if God,-on the condition or supposition, that God has been and is acting in the manner which I now state, “bas he not the right?”
But, secondly: The question itself, or the supposition, is not fully stated. “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,” etc. Did what, for such a purpose? The apostle does not state. He leaves it to the sense of his readers to supply. Now there are only two methods in which we can supply the omission, which are at all plausible, and between these our choice lies. One method is, to supply the words “ hath called them," at the close of verse 23. Thus: if God, willing to
make known his wrath, endured the vessels of wrath, and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, etc., called them. This mode of supplying the ellipses divides the question into two implied assertions: God, to make known wrath, has endured,—to make known mercy, has called. The other method is that which the writer has suggested in the translation above, repeating the declaration, “endured them," after the conjunction xai, at the beginning of verse 23. Thus: If God, willing to show wrath, endured vessels of wrath with much long-suffering, and-endured them—for the purpose, that he might, etc., has he not the power ?
I will now, before advancing the proofs which sustain the latter reading, and the exposition which grows out of it, place the two expositions of the text, between which the decision is to be made, side by side, that the question to be decided may be more obvious, and the reasons advanced in the argument be seen more clearly in their application. Ore reading gives this sense. The
reading which I propose gives this sense. God endures with long-suf- God, while willing to show wrath, sering those who are vessels still endures those who are fit vessels of wrath for the sake of show-of wrath, with much long-suffering, ing wrath, and calls those and endures them for the sake of showwho are vessels of mercy foring mercy in preparing from them vesthe sake of showing mercy. sels of mercy.
For rejecting the first and adopting the second reading, I present the following reasons.
1. The second reading only, seems consistent with the language. The article is omitted before oxsún in both cases, and its insertion would seem necessary, if a definite number were intended. But, if all mankind are originally vessels of wrath, fit for destruction, and God endures them to carry on a work of redemption among them, and to prepare from them vessels of mercy; and if the apostle intended to express this fact; he could not have adopted phraseology essentially different from that he has done ; he must have used oxsún indefinitely, without the article. Besides, if, as the first reading implies, the apostle intended to assert that forbearance is designed for showing wrath, and that calling is designed for showing mercy, and he were desirous of placing these two purposes side by side, why does he adopt phraseology so very serent in the two cases, to express the same idea of purpose, θέλων ενδείξασθαι-ίνα γνωρίση ? Again: The first reading requires the whole clause, iva quwpion, etc., to be understood as expressing merely the final end which God would secure, and not the means. But I ask, whether the clause itself does not fully suggest the means, as well as the end? In order to make known the riches of