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thereby be to them the reverse. To take this ground, would be like saying, that because he is good, he must to be consistent be bad, and thus be even,
" Thoroughsped Arminian ground.” And is it, then, one part of such ground to say, that saints are moral agents; that they bare moral goodness in them; and that they are praise worthy, and rewardable? Who then takes this ground. Those saints, however, who do take it, should be consistent, and claim the praise which they deem their due, instead of saying, “ Not unto us, pot aple us; but to thy name," &c.
I did not say that God performs acts before he has an esercise, but that he acis before be has an exercise. And that he does, is as evident as that a cause precedes its effect... Choosing and choice are po more the same, than thinking and thought, or talking and talk, or writing a piece of composition, and the piece of composition itself, Is this article wbich I now write, the writing of it. No more is choice choosing, but is the result of choosing, and therefore follows ite Choice is a word expressing a mere circumstance of choosing; and this is the whole of it,
To say that God causes his own voluntary exercises, is no more than saying that he chooses, or that he exercises voluntarily, and is therefore no absurdity at all. And so far is it from alsurd to say that he is caused (not irresistibly, however) to cause bis own voluntary exercises by motives, that it would be the height of absurdity, and highly derogatory to his character to say of him, that he is oot isduced or caused to make choice as he does by motives,
“ Choosing a choice.” No such phrase can, I am fully confident, be found in any of my numbers; but if there can be, I will retract it. I do not believe that men cause their voluntary exercises by choosing a choice, any more than by choosing to choose. They cause them by choosing.
It is not in very deed the murderous will that is to blame, but the murderer, Certainly that ought to be hung ibat is to blame about a murder. Now which do men hang, the murderous will or the murderer? But the murderer it seems is to blame for his murderous will. So then the murderer is the one that is to blame. Now is the murderous will to blame too? I hardly think any one will venture to say so in black and white.
Men have no power to do differently from what they will, while they thus will; but the self-determining system leaves them the power of changing their will, and then of doing differently. Heace their blame for doing wrong. The Hopkinsian scheme, howeves, does not even give them this chance, but obliges them to will, and consequently to act, just as they do.
Men do not cause ibeir voluntary exercises by aets, but by acting, which precies those exercises. Acts and exercises are the same. I do not intend to say ibat men cause their exercises by exercises, but hy exercising. By wbat do men cause blows? By striking, pot by blows, I bere is as much difference between choosing and choice; as much priority and succession, as between striking and blows: and it would be as incorrect to say, that a man holds that men cause their blows by blows preceding them, because he bolds that they cause their blows by striking, which of course precedes the blor; as to charge one with hoiding that men cause their choice by a previous choice, merely because he believes that they cause at big choosing
Why do men choose as they do, if they are possessed of a selfdetermining power? Because they are possessed of that power,
Were they not possessed of it, but inclined by another, they would perhaps choose differently.
The denial of a self-determining power leaves all beings, not excepting God bimself, unable to will in any other manner tban they do. To talk of ability to will, and yet to deny the power to set one's choosing faculties in motion, is out of the question. Natural powers, what are they? The question is, not whether a man has arms and legs, perves and muscles; not whether he has a choosing capacity or faculty; but whether he has the faculty or power to make those legs walk, those arms tail, that choosing faculty choose. If he lacks this spring, one might as well talk of the natural power of a grist-mill to grind corn, and blame it for not grinding, as to talk thus of a man, and blame him for not walking and toiling and willing. But he has the natural powers to will, say Hopkinsians. What are those powers? we ask. Why, everything but the power of setting those natural powers in motion. But has he the natural power, or any power at all, either to set or to keep those natural powers in motion? O no. So then it amounts to this: He can choose if God causes him to choose. And so could Balaam's ass speak, when God caused it to speak. But to say that man, devoid of the faculty of moving himself, body or soul, can, even when move ed in a particular way by Omnipotence, move differently, is a misuse of that same word can. We probably admit all that Hopkinsians mean by it, viz, that the same legs that are walking in one direction could and would, if under the same influence to go in another direction, go so But where is the ability without that influence; and where the blame, if the influence is of God: In the will, say Hopkinsians. But assertion is not proof; nor is a proposition ever so closely adhered to, demonstration. To say that men are to blame for a will which God makes them have, is not making it apa
Common sense revolts at it; yea, and will revolt, What though I feel willing to do wrong? Il my willingness is not caused by myself, why am I to blame i feel so, be sure; but I did not make myself feel so: I was not the cause of my feeling so. Men blame the cause, not the effect. The fact is, the Hopkinsian scheme is directly against the established rules of right and wrong, and the order and fitness of things.
I have yet, dear Sir, to learn the difference between God's being determined and caused to choose. I see no difference. Nor can I see how he can choose without being caused to eboose, any more than man; nor yet, how he can be caused to choose otherwise than by motives,
“ Bus and besides.” What is the difference between saying but the exercise, and besides the exercise; and what the difference ben tween either of these modes of speech and this: “ Does not include the exercise, but every thing else in man which is requisite to the exercise." But, Sır, 1. do not admit that man has all the natural powers requisite to volition, untssy be has a self-determining power. He cannot, of himself will without this, unless he can will without beginning to will. There would be a physical impossibility in the case.
« The ground or reason of God's choice.” I see no meaning in these words, if they do not signify the cause of his choice. What else can they mean? And what is this ground or reason?
I will close this number by summing up some of the difficulties attending the Hopkinsian view of volition.
1. It makes even Gòd not the author or cause of his own acis of will, but leaves them uncaused and motireless.
2. It blames and praises beings for wills which are not at their option to have or reject.
3. It teaches that men can have wills different from those which the Almighty is determined they shall have.
4. It says that a being could not choose of himself without choosing to choose to choose to choose to choose, &c. or without choosing without a choice; both of which are absurdities and impossibilities a but both of which, he, with natural powers already occupied on choosing as resistless faie causes, can perform?
5. It makes the will requisite to itself, teaching that a being easnot of himself will in a certain manner, without first baving the very will to will with. The destitution of this will, it denominates mori al inability to cause it!
6. In short, it is virtual Fatality, making every thing that transpires unavoidable, and teaching that whatever is, is right.
Such, dear Sir, are some of the consequences resulting from this sentiment; but a volume would hardly suffice to enumerate all its ! gross and numerous absurdities. Sentiments so at variance with all the ideas of justice which God has given us, and with plain common sense, I for one, shall need something more to convince me of a their truth, than the fear of being denominated a semi-Arminian. € May God preserve me from being a slave to any system. Names are trifles. * Arminian or Calvinist, however, I am neither. But I am determined to exercise my own judgment, and never adopt ar absurd system, because it happens to be prevalent for the time be *s ing, and which in due time will be known in church history as an error of days gone by.
But all discussions must come to a close, and the one or the other must give over first. It is the privilege of an Editor in whose work a discussion is carried on, to write last. I propose therefore te un make my next number my final one, unconcerned for the truth, T which is great, and will prevail.
SOCINIANISM. It was about the year 1546, that the heresy of Socinianism sprang dise up and spread' into many countries, particularly in Poland and Moravia. It was derived from Laelius Socinus, who settled at Zurich, and propagated his opinions with considerable success These were formed into a more regular system by Faustus Socious,
1 his nephew and heir, and attacked some of the essential articles of Christianity.
The Socinians denied the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the Divinity of our Saviour. They own him to have been an illustrious prophet; but at the same time, teach, that he was born of the Firgin Mary a mere, though an extraordinary man: and they affirm that the Holy Ghost does not constitute a distinct Person; but is only a simple virtue or attribute of Deity; neither do they acknow
be ledge his Divine Agency upon the minds of men.
They exalt the powers of man, and assume as a fundamental principle, that every thing in religion must come within the grasp of the human intellect, and that nothing should be admitted which exceeds our understanding. Thus, though they acknowledge the
acred original of the scriptures, yet they file them down and contrue then after their own manner, and take a licentious liberty in aodifying the doctrines of the gospel, so as to suit their own conracted notions and imperfect views. They open a wide door for rror, and an endless variety of religions; as the faculties of the uman mnd in individuals are as various in respect of extent and apacity, as the faces of mankind. They do not consider the narow limits of human comprehension, the feebleness of our frame, xhat inadequate conceptions we have of every thing around us, ind even of our very selves; that there is an important difference betwixt a partial and a perfect perception of truth, and what it is highly just and proper, that the reason of man should stoop to the revelations of heaven.
Injurious as these Unitarians were by their principles and proceedings, to fair criticism, to true philosophy, and sound Christianity; yet were their notions adopted by many. Their leaders exerted themselves with unwearied zeal, published many books with a view to support their system, but which had a tendency to pervert the scriptures, and detached a number of missionames into different countries, to make proselytes and erect congregations. They differed from other sects in the manner of propagating their opinions. For while most address themselves to the vulgar; these principally applied to persons of rank and wealth, and courted the patronage of learned men.
Yet did not they escape the severest censure, and the warmest opposition. Many elaborate treatises were published for their refutation; and the world presented an unusual spectacle, when Catholics, Calvinists, and Lutherans, forgetting their peculiar dissensions, united in one body to bear down the growth of Socinianism.--Dr. Nisbet's Ecc. Hist. p. 802.
TENURE OF THE MINISTERIAL OFFICE. It is well known, that from the first settlement of New-England to the present time, a Minister, regularly ordained over a Church and people, has been considered as holding his office for life. The contract respecting his temporal support, could be dissolved by mutual consent only, or by a manifest dereliction, on his part, of ministerial character and duty. But recently, an opinion has been entertained, and seems to be spreading in the community, that it would tend to promote the public good, if Ministers were made to hold their office at the will of the people whom they serve, or at most for a limited term of years. In pursuance of this opinion, several Ministers have lately been settled for a short period, as five years, or less; while others have consented to have the contract between them and their people, dissolvable at the will of either party, by giving a short notice. Whether this novel practice is leading to a desirable state of things, and will be ultimately conducive to the usefulness of the ministry and the good of the people, ought to be made a subject of serious enquiry. The following sentiments of a very intelligent and judicious layman, on this subject, are worthy of special attention. Extract from the “ Opinion” of Chief Justice Parsons, in the case of Avery
vs. Inhabitants of Tyringham. Mass. Rep. vol. 3. « A consideration of the nature and duties of the ministerial office, is important in determining its tenure. It is the duty of a Minister to adapt bis religious and moral instruction to the various classes comprising his congregation. He ought therefore to have a knowledge of their situation, circumstances, habits, and characters, which is not to be obtained but by a long and familiar acquaintance with them."
“ Vice is to be reproved by him, in public and private: and the more prevalent and fashionable are any bad habits, the more pecessary it is for the faithful Minister to censure them, and to rebuke those who indulge them. But if it be a principle, that his office and support depend on the will of his people, the natural tendency of such a principle, by operating on his fears, will be to restrais him from a full and plain discharge of his official duties. And it may be added, that the same principle, by diminishing his weight and influence, will render his exhortations and rebukes unavailing and ineffectual. And as it cannot be for the interest of the people to hold a power, probably dangerous, and certainly inconvenient to themselves, I cannot believe that a tenure at will, whence this power results, can accord with the nature and duties of the office. And it may be also observed, that, if the tenure of his office be at will, a Minister, after a life of exemplary diligence in the exercise of his official duties, may, when oppressed with the infirmities of age, be removed from office and be dismissed to poverty and nego lect. A consequence of this power in a parish, will be the deterring of young men of information and genius from entering into the clerical profession; and devolving the public instruction in religion and morals on incompetent persons, without talents, education, or any suitable qualifications. Thus an office, which, to be useful, ought to attract our respect and veneration, will be the object of general contempt and disgrace. And an effect of this kind, surely, every good citizen would wish the laws to prevent, so far as the laws may have power.”
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, has under its care 19 Synods—92 Presbyteries—1993 ordained Ministers, and 205 Licentiates--making 1598 Preachers of the Gospel--195 candidates for the sacred office 2070 churches, or congregations, under the spiritual government of so many Sessions, and *?.816 communicants.