תמונות בעמוד

“consisted in believing that a compliance with that law was acceptable to the deity."

Dr. Williams states, p. 154, that “ faith in the sense of believing, implies several things;” and names four: “ first, a testimony; and a divine faith must have a divine testimony, in order to deserve that appellation.” We add, it must also proceed from the divinely gracious government of the sinner's mind too, before we would call it a divine faith. “ Secondly, a knowledge of the thing declared, or a sufficient acquaintance with the language in which the message is delivered,” is implied in every act of faith. This is requisite to a belief in the truth contained in a portion of testimony: but a statement, or proposition of a credible person, may be judg. ed, or believed, to be a true proposition, even while we do not understand the truth intended to be expressed by the terms used. This belief that a given proposition contains an expression of truth, which others might comprehend, while we do not, is consequent upon a previously formed opinion of the veracity and competency of the testifier. “Thirdly, a freedom of will,” he says is implied in every act of believing, “so that there is no compulsion, constraint, or influence whatever from God to believe a false testimony; though he may in equity and judgment leave the wicked to their own delusions to believe a lie;' and a freedom also from restraint in the exercise of the will, when truth is to be credited, is implied.” All this proceeds upon a false assumption, that the faculty by which we believe, is dependent in its operation on the faculty by which we will, or choose. Now the fact is, that we are often compelled to believe, against our will to believe; and often cannot believe a statement, when we would if possible accredit it. One asserts that our friend has defrauded us: we are unwilling to believe it, but from a variety of circumstances, we are constrained to believe the statement, in spite of our will. Instances of this kind occur every day. That God neither compels nor constrains any one to believe a lie; that he leaves some to judicial blindness; and that every man is always free in willing whatever he wills, are im. portant truths; the faculty of judgment, however, act

ing in relation to testimony, is dependent, by the laws of mind, not upon volition, but on some previous act of the understanding; upon some previous apprehension of the truth, upon some previous judgment concerning the testifier, or upon the remembrance of some former thought. The only way in which the will can effect our faith is an indirect one: for if we should will to believe Swift's Lilliputian history to be a statement of facts, faith would not follow the volition: nor should one tell us that fire can do no injury to our property, and we should will to believe him, could we believe his statement, however desirable it might be, when we saw our dwelling in flames. From volition we may fix our attention on such objects of apprehension, and upon such partial testimony, as are calculated to produce a belief corresponding with our wishes; so that the will must misguide our conception, our perception, our reason, or conscience, or memory, before it can lead the judgment astray, or render our acts of faith subservient to itself. If we will to perceive a present, perceptible object, to conceive of any object of which we can have any notion, or to be conscious of any present mental operation, we find by experience that the faculties of perception, of conception and consciousness immediately obey the will: and we find too, that if we will to recollect any past operation, the faculty of memory obeys the will, but less perfectly than either of the three before men. tioned; for though commonly we can, after some effort, recollect, yet not always is it in our power. But the faculty of judgment, by which we decide what propositions are true, and what false, whether matters of testimony, or perception, or apprehension; and the faculties of reasoning, conscience and feeling, refuse any imme. diate subordination to the will. Let the murderer will that his conscience shall approve of his bloody deed, and it will still disapprove and condemn. Let any one will to judge, that one dollar is equal to a thousand, or that black is white, and his judgment will be unchanged by his volition. Let any one will to infer any thing which does not first appear to him deducible from certain given premises, and his reasoning faculty will not in VOL. I.

2 X

No. 3.

consequence of the volition infer it. We give an instance: one judges that God is a good being; and that a good being ought to be loved; whence it is natural to one who has formed these two judgments, called premises, to infer, that God ought to be loved. Let him will to infer, that God ought not to be loved; or that God ought to be hated; and he cannot inter it from these premises, whatever may be his will on the subject, and whatever energy his will may derive from the depravity of his feelings.

The will, therefore, is not immediately essential to the operation of believing; and should we attend to any testimony so as to apprehend it to be reasonable, and so as to judge the author of it credible and competent, we might believe it, had we no faculty of will in existence. All our constitutional judgments, concerning self-evident propositions, are independent of the will; and our other judgments, with believing among the rest, after we have voluntarily apprehended the subject of a proposition and the evidence of its truth, are formed without any direct volition to judge, or believe, as we do.

Fourthly, a disposition, or principle,” is implied, says Dr. Williams, “and the nature of faith, as either dead or living, will be according to the defective or efficient principle. If the disposition be not spiritually alive, the most awful or exhilarating testimony will beget but a dead faith; but where the disposition is alive to God, or divinely spiritual, the testimony will beget a lively belief.” Def. p. 154. Dr. W. was certainly an excellent man, and frequently acute in his reasonings; but really we cannot understand this passage. To a disposition alive, and by implication a dead disposition, we cannot attach any meaning: and how the joint influence of disposition and testimony is to beget belief, we cannot conceive. Testimony is the object of faith, and not the generating cause of'it; and if by disposition be intended a desire, or a will to believe, or any other operation of the will, or the heart, (by which we mean the faculty of feeling,) we affirm that the general consciousness of mankind proves, that belief is not directly dependent on either, in any He calls this disposition a principle. If he intended that the faculties of the mind concerned in believing, are so disposed, that is regulated, as to have right views; and that this disposition of them in relation to the light of divine truth, the Spirit of God, and one another, is the foundation, or principle, (from principium), or the ultimate reason to be assigned why the mind believes, we subscribe to the doctrine, for it is sound philosophy.


The minute attention which we have paid to the use of the words disposition and principle, will be justified by those who consider, that these expressions, with those of natural ability, moral inability, and disinterested love, together with the doctrine of a direct agency of God upon the sinner's will, so as to create all his volitions, called moral exercises, whether holy or sinful, constitute the peruliar characteristics of modern, mingled, maimed Calvinism.

The doctrine of redemption comes next under consideration. Dr. Tomline charges the Calvinists with main. taining that Christ obeyed and suffered for the elect alone: and to this charge we plead guilty, and are willing to take the consequences. The Bishop's opponents, we are sorry to say, consider the doctrine of particular re. demption an obsolete tenet of Calvinism. Dr. Scott informs us, p. 332. Vol. I. that “urged by local circum. stances rather than by choice” he “avowed his dissent from the doctrine of particular redemption, as held by many professed Calvinists, especially among the dissenters,” “above twenty-four years since.” Dr. Williams is of opinion, that as Christ " assumed the nature of mankind indefinitely,” so “ he obeyed the law without limitation,” and suffered “the penalty threatened by it, to an equal extent.” Def. p. 184. It is, however, a mere assumption, not proved by himself or any one else, that the mediatorial obedience unto death was infinite, and admitted of neither increase nor diminution: and were this proved concerning his active obedience, it would not follow that his sufferings were infinite, either in measure or merit; and since all the sins of men are definite and finite, there was no need of sufferings so great, that they could not have been augmented, and even doubled, by a life of humiliation of sixty-seven years.

The Bishop of Lincoln teaches that “the benefits of Christ's passion extend to the whole human race; or that every man is enabled to attain salvation through the merits of Christ.” The atonement, according to his views, being made for every individual of the human race, actually brings every one into a salvable state, so that on condition of his exercising such faith as he possesses ability for, every one will be saved. Dr. Scott and Dr. Williams think, that in some sense Christ was a ransom for every child of Adam, and that the atone. ment is universal in its nature, but particular in its applition. By it, God is so situated, that according to his holy and wise sovereignty he can apply it to many or few sinners, and in consequence of it, all men, who have a na. tural ability but a moral inability to accept of it, and render a perfect evangelical obedience, may be saved. The opponents of Dr. Tomline, of course, agree with him in this, that the atonement brings all mankind into a salva. ble state; and that all mankind have natural ability to avail themselves of the proffered benefit of salvation: they disagree, however, about the actual reception of Christ's atonement, for Dr. T. teaches that the sinner exerts his natural ability so as actually to embrace it; while Dr. S. and Dr. W. think every sinner under an utter moral inability to make any use of thcir natural ability in this matter; and that he never will receive an offered salvation, until the moral inability is taken away, and a moral ability given by the grace of God. In giving this requisite ability for embracing Jesus, Dr. T. says the Calvinists teach, that God acts arbitrarily: Dr. W. maintains that this is true, and frequently uses the word for voluntarily, in defiance of the meaning commonly attributid to it. Dr. S. is more judicious, upon this point, and observes that “arbitrary will, in the common use of words, means the will of one, who is determined to have his own way, being possessed of power to enforce his decisions. ' Sic volo, sic jubeo; stet pro ratione volun. tas.' This, in general, is unreasonable, capricious, tyrannical; often in direct opposition to wisdom, justice, truth,

« הקודםהמשך »