« הקודםהמשך »
in a fort, they would set up their banners in God's name, and go forth to action Action is essential to life. But there must be a necessity for action, or,—such is man's sloth,-he will not act. Hence the little spirituality, as a general thing, of rich churches. The luke-warm Laodiceans it would seem were rich as to their worldly resources; for “thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” says Jesus in his message to them; while the church in Smyrna, which he commends without rebuke, appears to have been poor; “I know thy works, and tribulation, and POVERTY, (but thou art rich,) etc.” So the churches of Macedonia of their “ deep poverty” abounded in spiritual things. I do not say that poverty is a desirable thing in itself; but it is less an enemy to grace, than great wealth laid up in funds. *
None are supinely good : with toil and pain,
And various arts, the steep ascent we gain. It is among the evils of funds, that they give an undue influence to unworthy and wicked persons. They are a public bonus, thrown among the many, in the disposal of which the veriest heathen in the place has as loud a voice as the most worthy inhabitant. They give such persons a consequence in society which they never would purchase for themselves by their own liberality and public spirit. They sometimes give them an afflicting control over the society. Viewed as an instrument of power, they are a temptation to wicked men ; who if they can find means to get a legal possession of them, are little concerned about moral right. I could mention an instance of a society,—and it is but one among many which might be mentioned,—where a party, enlarging itself with all the wicked that could be induced to join it, was able by its majority of votes to control the fund and house, and appropriate them to a most unworthy, deposed man, (to say no worse of him,) for a series of years ; a thing which never would have been done, had the support of their pseudo-minister depended upon the purses of those who employed him, and not upon the bequests of the pious dead.
Finally; funds are liable to be perverted. In how many instances are they now employed for the support of heresies, in this and other countries? How many Unitarian churches, American and English, are subsisting by this means, living upon the spoils of the piety of former orthodoxy ? Guard them as you will, experience has shown it to be difficult to secure them from perversion.
I do not suppose that all the evils which I have mentioned, and others which might be mentioned, exist in every case. Perhaps in many instances none of them are experienced. The evils are, of course, modified by circumstances,-by the manner in which funds are constituted, by their amount, and by the habits of the people. As a general thing, however, the objections appear to be well-founded. *
* When a certain bank failed, a few years since, in Connecticut, and carried down with it the treasured funds of a large number of ecclesiastical societies, may not the designed destruction of those funds have been among the providential reasons of the failure of the institution ? Were not those funds the Jonah of the ship? And how is it with those societies now? Are they not more vigorous, and more blest than they were before ?
As a means of supporting the gospel, funds, then, do not appear to be the mode which is either best adapted to the nature of man, or most consonant to the will of God. They are of doubtful efficacy to hold societies together, and to perpetuate religion. They operate through selfishness, which is itself an enemy to the cause. The more selfishness is fostered in the support of religion, the more certain it is that religion will eventually fail. It is not selfishness, or the bonds of selfishness, that can hold men together in a healthful religious capacity. It must be principle that does this. Principle, and a living, active interest, with looking to God, are infinitely better than funds.
And it seems to me preposterous, that one generation should think to discharge the duties of all posterity. God never designed this. Has he not made it as much the duty and privilege of one generation to support the gospel as of another,--as much our children's as ours ? We cannot discharge them from the duty, we ought not to deprive them of the privilege. And, especially, if funds be attended with so many evils, as we have seen, we ought not to bequeath those evils to our children.
Let our children, or those who come after us, support the gospel for themselves. It is their privilege to do so, as it has been ours.
We leave them our lands and means; our churches and our bibles : let us also leave them our example, and our prayers ; and trust that the God of their fathers will be the children's God.' pp. 193—200.
ART. VI.—THE SCRIPTURAL VIEW OF DIVINE INFLUENCE,
AS OPPOSED TO PELAGIAN AND OTHER VIEWS. It has been a doctrine held by all who have called themselves christians, in every age of the church, that God, in some sense, either by direct agency or in some other mode, is the author of holiness in the human heart. "Respecting what that mode is, in which he is its author, however, there has been much diversity of sentiment. The principal reason of this difference of opinion on the subject, is, that men have not gone to the bible, the only source of information on the point, and having ascertained clearly what it says, rested satisfied with its instructions. There has been a constant tendency in men to speculate on the subject; and there has been much which may be called a presumptuous leaning to their own understanding.
A history of religious funds would be an instructive document. So would the history of other funds. Our Connecticut School Fund, for example. That it has bad a favorable influence on primary education, in our State, on the whole, is very questionable.
It is proposed at this time to state, as definitely and concisely as possible, the scriptural view of this doctrine, as opposed to Pelagian and other erroneous views of it.
The general fact, that God is the author of holiness in the human heart, is every where taught us in the inspired volume. It is said of men, that they cannot come to Christ except
the Father draw them;" while it is also said, that they “ shall be willing in the day of his power." Men in becoming christians are said to be “born of God;" to be “begotten again by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ;" to be “ called according to his purpose;" to be “chosen of God;" to be " sanctified of God;" to be “ his workınanship, created in Christ Jesus." The faith of saints is spoken of as the “gift of God," and Christ is called its author and finisher."
But it is unnecessary to repeat further proof of the general fact, that God is concerned in the production of holiness in the human heart. This doctrine is not denied by any, so far as we are aware, who prosess a faith in the bible.
There are, however, as we have said, diversities of sentiment respecting the sense in which God is the author of holiness in men. One class holds, that it is by a peculiar and supernatural influence.
Another class denies that there is any peculiar and supernatural agency in this thing ; that is, they deny that God is the author of holiness in the human heart, in any different sense from that in which he is the author of sin. Under these two general classes are comprised, of course, all who have any opinion on the subject. It will be our object to show, that the view of the former, in opposition to the latter, is the scriptural view.
There are belonging to the latter general class,—the class which denies any peculiar, supernatural influence,—two more specific classes, which it will be necessary to consider separately. At the head of one, according to the assignment of theologians, stands Pelagius, of ancient times. At the head of the other stands Dr. Hopkins, of a later age.* We ask pardon for having brought these two so unequally distinguished wames together in such proxinity. For we only mean to assert, that they are in such a sense one, as that they both come under the same general class ; while in another most material sense they are two, and perfect antipodes one to the other.
But to their opinions. The Pelagians hold, that God is the author of holiness in the human heart, not by any direct, special agency, but as he is the author of that system of truth wbich is
Perhaps it might be said with more truth, that Dr. Emmons stands at the head of this class, since it is not clear that Dr. H. would bave carried out bis principles as far as Dr. E. has done.
the means of their sanctification. They grant that the scriptures ascribe holiness in men to God as its author ; but they construe these passages just as they do those which ascribe sin in man to God as its author. God, they would say, was the author of penitence in Paul, just as he was the author of hardness of heart in Pharaoh ; not by any direct and special agency in either case, but by an ordinary providential influence in both. For, they would say, the scriptures ascribe these different things alike to God; and since we cannot suppose, that God produced the sin of the one, by any direct and special agency, so neither have we a right to suppose, that he produced the holiness of the other by any such agency. Hence, according to their view, when the bible ascribes holiness in men to God as its author, we are to interpret the language upon the principle, “ Quod facit per alium facit per se," what he does by another he is said himself to do. As, for example, when it is said, “ Solomon built the temple," we are not to understand the language as asserting, that Solomon had himself put the stones and mortar and timber together ; but as asserting simply, that the temple was built according to his will and under his general direction. This is the Pelagian view of the doctrine.
The view of Hopkins, or, as we choose to designate the opinion, the view of the advocates of what is called the “divine efficiency scheme,” is as follows:- They agree with the Pelagians in denying any peculiar agency of God in the production of holiness, and in maintaining that he is in the same sense the author both of holiness and sin; while they differ from the Pelagian scheme respecting the manner in which God is the author of holy and sinful action. For, though with them they say, that God produces all actions in men, both holy and sinsul, in the same way; yet, in opposition to them, they hold that this way is by a direct and special agency. Thus they differ from the first mentioned general class, in making God the author, in the same sense, both of holiness and sin ;* and they differ from the Pelagians, in making bim the author of holiness and sin by a direct and special agency. For proof that God is the author both of holiness and sin, by a direct and special agency, when arguing with their orthodox brethren,--and it is this scriptural argument which we wish to consider, they appeal to the bible and to their own concessions. You admit, say they, that, according to the bible, God is the author of holiness by a direct and special agency. But if you admit this, you must admit that he is the author of sin in the same manner. If you hold to
* We do not mean to assert, that this is the whole difference between them and their orthodox brethren. For there has been, and is now, a difference of opinion as to the philosophical nature of that direct and special influence in the produce tion of holiness, to which both alike hold. We have omitted an examination of this puint, since the range of the subject did not require it. Vol. VII.
the former, you must hold to the latter ; and there is no mode of avoiding the latter but by giving up the former, and going over to the Pelagian scheme. For, say they, the scriptures equally ascribe sin and holiness to God's agency, and as explicitly declare him to be the author of the one as of the other.
Hence if you interpret those passages which ascribe holiness to God as its author, in such a sense as to make him the author of it by a direct and special agency,—and this you admit must be the way,—then you must interpret those which ascribe sin to him, as its author, in the same manner. You must not, say they, bring in the principle, “What he does by another he is said himself to do,” in respect to sin, and not in respect to holiness. They deny, that there is any warrant for applying this principle in respect to one class of pas. sages, and not in respect to the other.
In confirmation of this view of the subject, and in answer to certain objections, they also say, that in the language of the scriptures, there is on these subjects an exact parallelism; if they ascribe holiness in the human heart to God's agency, with equal explicitness they ascribe sin also to God's agency; if they ascribe sin to man, as in the text “ Pharaoh hardened his heart," so they ascribe holiness to man, as in the text, “ Ye have put off the old man, and put on the new man.” Hence they infer, that, in whatever sense God is the author of holiness in the human heart, in the same sense he is the author of sin.
Here then, as they claim, and that too with no little degree of satisfaction, we are in a dilemma between Pelagianism on the one side, or the scheme which involves direct divine agency in the production of sin on the other. But is this claim well-founded? Is it true, that we are in a dilemma between these two schemes? Is there no way in which we can, on scriptural ground, hold to direct special agency in the production of holiness, and not in the production of sin? For we must confess, that we are not willing to give up the former beloved doctrine, nor are we willing to adopt the latter, to us, unwelcome one. We hold, that there is a way opened in the scriptures by which we may escape from both horns of this supposed dilemma. Yea farther, we hold, that if we take the scriptural view of this subject, so far are we from being obliged to adopt one or the other of these schemes, we cannot adopt either. Here then, we propose to state the scriptural view of the subject.
Were those general or less specific forms of expression, which ascribe holiness in man to God as its author, such as we have already quoted, all the texts on the subject, we should feel shut up to one or the other of these schemes just specified. In that case, as we think, the reasoning of the advocates of " Divine Efficiency” would be conclusive. For, while these texts would teach us the fact of