« הקודםהמשך »
denominations of Christians, the said resolution does, in effect, go to restrain our ecclesiastical judicatories from expressing the doctrines of our public standards, in so far as those doctrines do not accord with those of other denominations.-6. Because the resolution unjustly charges the Synod with introducing a spirit of jealousy and suspicion against ministers in good standing, and thus with proceeding in a manner calculated to disturb the peace and harmony of ecclesiastical judicatories; whereas the real design of the Synod was to repel the assaults of error, delusion and heresy: and the true tendency of their proceedings was, by cutting off the occasion of collision of sentiments, to maintain the peace and harmony of their churches.-7. Because the Synod, in their Pastoral Letter, does not even seem to be unfavourable to revivals of religion: and because the said resolution does, therefore, seem to countenance an unfounded suspicion, on this subject, by noticing an apparent capability of its being construed as expressing an opinion unfavourable to revivals of religion.”
Signed by, the Rev. James Snodgrass, the Rev. John E. Latta, the Rev. Alexander Boyd, the
Rev. Robert F. Ñ. Smith, and Mr. John M Kissick, an elder.
Instead of five Protestants there were ten ministers, and two elders; so little credit is due to the writer of the letter to the Hopkinsian of the West. When Dr. Miller reported the resolution which was adopted by the Assembly, he said, that if the report which he had prepared were calculated to approve of one of the pecu: liar tenets of Hopkinsianism, which he cordially detested, he would hold up both hands against its adoption: and surely Dr. Miller ought to be a judge of the meaning of his own language. A writer in the American Centinel,” for June 21st, 1817, states, that two members of the Assembly who signed neither of the foregoing documents, prepared a protest for themselves, which they signed, and exhibited to many; and that after the adoption of the approving and condemning resolution, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Blatchford, and the Rev. Mr. Chester moved for a reconsideration of it, that the last paragraph respecting revivals might be expunged. Their motion did not prevail.
It has been said, and published too, that the Synod were trepanned into the adoption of their famous Resolution and Pastoral Letter. Our readers will judge of the truth of such assertions as this, from the fact, that at the next meeting of the Synod, which was held in Harrisburgh in October, 1817, it was “ Resolved that the Synod still approve the sentiments of their Pastoral Let. ter of last year, atterly disclaiming the opinion, which appears to have prevailed of its containing any thing unfriendly to revivals of religion, inasmuch as these are the objects of their most ardent desires and supplications." It was also “resolved that the Synod will continue to resist every encroachment of error, by all constitutional means:"_and “that the Presbyteries under the care of this Synod be enjoined to be careful in their admission and examination of candidates for the gospel ministry.” These resolutions were adopted in the absence of the conductor of this Review, to whom more credit has been given for the firm stand which the Synod have made against error, than he deserves. The reverend Synod of Philadelphia is a firm, and for the most part unanimous body, that consists of more members than are ordinarily present at the General Assembly: so that, when their delegates are not permitted to vote, as in all cases relating to themselves, nearly one third of the Assembly has no influence on a decision. This will account for several decisions in that judicatory.
The protests have alluded to the proceedings of the General Assembly in two instances of trial for heresy. This supreme court of the church acted boldly and and nobly in the case of the Rev. William C. Davis, and the Rev. Hezekiah Balch. The errors of the first of these gentlemen were not principally of the Hopkinsian school, but of a new character. Mr. Davis did, however, teach, that the nature of things, and not the will of God, is the standard of right and wrong; that God himself is as firmly bound in duty (not obedience) to his creatures, as his creatures are bound in duty or obedience to him; and that God cannot justly condemn any man for not doing that which he has lost his ability to perform; which are Hopkinsian tenets, and which the Assembly condemned as calculated to mislead, and as erroneous. The errors of Mr. Balch were almost exclusively Hopkinsian, and came directly from his preceptor, Dr. Emmons. In relation to these we shall give some extracts from the minutes of the Assembly. Upon the first article of Mr. Balch's creed it was decided,
“ That Mr. B. is erroneous in making disinterested benevolence the only definition of holiness, or true religion; because this may perplex the minds of those not accustomed to abstract speculations—is questionable in itself,—and may convey the idea, that an absolute God, or a God out of Christ, is the object of the highest affection to the renewed mind.
“Upon the second article they remark,-That Mr. B. has confounded self-love with selfishness, in an abstract speculation calculated to puzzle plain Christians, and lead to unprofitable disputes.
“Upon the third article they remark,-That the transferring of personal sin or righteousness, has never been held by Cal. vinistic divines, nor by any person in our church, as far as is known to us; and therefore, that Mr. B.'s observations on that subject appear to be either nugatory, or calculated to mislead. But with regard to his doctrine of original sin, it is to be observed, that he is erroneous in representing personal corruption as not derived from Adam; making Adam's sin to be imputed to his posterity in consequence of a corrupt nature already possessed, and derived from we know not what; thus, in effect, setting aside the idea of Adam's being the federal head, or representative, of his descendants, and the whole doctrine of the covenant of works.
“ It is also manifest that Mr. B. is greatly erroneous in asserting, that the formal cause of a believer's justification is the imputation of the fruits and effects of Christ's righteousness, and not that righteousness itself; because righteousness, and that alone, is the formal demand of the law, and consequently the sinner's violation of the divine law, can be pardoned only in virtue of the Redeemer's perfect righteousness being imputed to him, and reckoned as his. It is also not true that the benefits of Christ's righteousness are, with strict propriety, said to be imputed at all; as these benefits flow to, and are possessed by, the believer, as a consequence of his justification, and having an interest in the infinite merits of the Saviour.
“With regard to the twelfth article, it is remarked, that his observation upon love, as exercised by the human race, so far as it may be applicable to a state of infancy, is unintelligible; and that though a distinction may be made between regeneration and conversion, yet the terms in which the article is expressed, are exceptionable, as they seem to discourage the use of the means of grace.
“With regard to the thirteenth article, it is remarked, that in making repentance and faith to proceed wholly from love or charity, Mr. B. has expressed an opinion unnecessary and improper.”
“ In regard to the subject of indecent language, alleged to have been used in the pulpit by Mr. B. it is remarked, that, if he was not misunderstood by the witnesses, he has notwithstanding declared such a deep and suitable abhorrence of all such language in public discourse, as renders it unnecessary to take any further notice of it.
“On the whole, your committee recommend that Mr. B. be required to acknowledge before the Assembly that he was wrong in the publication of his creed; that in the particulars specified above, he renounce the errors therein pointed out; that he engage to teach nothing hereafter of a similar nature; that the Moderator admonish him of the divisions, disorder, trouble, and inconvenience, which he has occasioned to the church, and its judicatories, by his imprudent and unwarrantable conduct, and warn him against doing any thing in time to come that may tend to produce such serious and lamentable evils: That if Mr. B. submit to this, he be considered as in good standing with the church; and that the reference and queries of the Synod of the Carolinas be considered as fully answered by the adoption of these means.
“ From this decision Mr. Langdon and Mr. Williams dissented. This decision was read to Mr. B. and he having requested time for further consideration, the indulgence was granted.
« On motion, Resolved, (two-thirds of the house consenting) to reconsider, in the decision on the case of Mr. B. these words, 'he renounce the errors therein pointed out.' It was moved that these words be striken out of said decision. This motion was determined in the negative; and Mr. Irwin and Mr. Langdon asked and obtained leave to have their dissent from the opinion of the Assembly in this last vote, entered on the minutes.
“Mr. B. appeared before the General Assembly, and made the following declaration, viz. "I do fully acknowledge that I was wrong in publishing my creed. I do solemnly declare, however, as in the presence of my final Judge, that I never did entertain the ideas, nor intend to teach the doctrines, which are pointed out as errors in the statement of the Assembly. But as I cannot so well judge as the Assembly what ideas my language actually conveys, and the Assembly declares that my language has conveyed these ideas and doctrines to their minds, I do cheerfully and fully renounce them as wrong and improper, and I do solemnly and sincerely engage, in reliance on divine grace, never hereafter to teach or preach what the Assembly have stated as erroneous. And I do finally and cheerfully submit myself to the admonition which the Assembly may see meet to give for my irregularities, which I acknowledge to deserve censure, and for which I am sincerely sorry.' Whereupon the Moderator gave Mr. B. the solemn admonition agreed to; and the Assembly declared themselves fully satisfied in the case of Mr. B. and that he is and ought to be considered as in good standing with the church: and the whole transaction was concluded
The Rev. Messrs. Langdon and Williams were de. legates from New England, so that Mr. Willson justly says in his “ Historical Sketch,” that “there was not one dissenting voice among the Presbyterian delegates to the General Assembly." We are sorry to learn, from the same respectable historian, that Mr. Balch having confessed his errors, continued to propagate them. If he had withdrawn from the Presbyterian connexion, in consequence of a conscientious rejection of some portion of our Confession, and had then laboured to convince men of the truth of his opinions, we should have commended his honesty, whatever we might have thought of his reasonings. Until we can see eye to eye” upon the great doctrines of grace, and the fundamental principles of church government, there must be different sections of the visible church; and we wish the blessing of God upon every truth which may be inculcated by any of them; but confusion to their errors.
It is frequently asked, what is Hopkinsian error? If any would be informed, we refer them to the article of Calvinism in Miss Hannah Adams' last edition of her View, or Dictionary of Religions, which presents several of the prominent points of difference between Calvinists and those whom she denominates Hopkinsian Calvinists. We shall venture to give a brief sketch of a pretty