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diamond, that "with the heart man believeth unto righteous ness-faith worketh by love-and without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” PHILONOMUS.
DR. TYLER'S EXAMINATION OF THE THEOLOGICAL VIEWS OF DR. TAYLOR.
THIS pamphlet of twelve pages, we have read with much satisfaction. It shows that the author has investigated his subject thoroughly, and of course, obtained very clear and distinct ideas upon it. It does appear to us, that Dr. Tyler has shown demonstrably, that much which Dr. Taylor has published on Decrees, Election, Native Depravity, Regeneration, &c., is grossly inconsistent with the eleven articles of his creed; and that, therefore, he is bound, in candor and honesty, publicly to retract, either his creed, or the errors inconsistent with it, which he has advanced. As it appears to us, Dr. Taylor's alternative is, either to acknowledge that he has advocated material errors; or to renounce his creed, and maintain the errors which he has propagated.
It is understood, that a "gentleman in New Haven has spoken for an opportunity to reply to Dr. Tyler," in the Spirit of the Pilgrims. Respecting the forth coming reply, we would adopt the language of the Vermont Chronicle : “What will be the exact shape of the answer, cannot yet be told. We presume, however, its apparent strength will lie more in attempts to show inconsistencies in Dr. Tyler, than in disproving those of Dr. Taylor. Such a reply, however, will be nothing to the purpose; as it is possible that there may be inconsistencies on both sides; so that proving them upon one Dr., will not prove that the other is free from them."
We think, indeed, that on the subject of Original Sin, Dr. Tyler, if not inconsistent with himself, is not perfectly consistent with scripture and truth. Although we admit such a connection between the first sin of Adam and the sinfulness of his descendants, that his sin rendered it certain, according to the Divine constitution or purpose, that they would all begin to sin as soon as capable of it; yet we do not learn from Scripture or reason, that a corrupt moral nature is propagated from the first man to his posterity, or that there is or can be, any moral nature distinct from free, voluntary exercises. We see noth
ing but absurdity in the supposition of a moral principle or taste, antecedent to all voluntary affections and exercises. As to the phrase "by nature," used by the apostle Paul, we agree with one of the best of all the expositors, Dr. Guire, of London, that it means, not something "in human nature which is hereditary," but simply what we all are in our “natural state, or by birth." [See his note on Eph. ii. 3.]
We copy the following articles from Dr. Tyler's Examination, for the gratification of such of our readers as do not read the Spirit of the Pilgrims, and have not access to Dr. Tyler's pamphlet.
The doctrine of decrees.
Dr. Taylor says, "I believe that the eternal purposes of God, extend to all actual events,sin not excepted; or that God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, and so executes these purposes, as to leave the free and moral agency of man unimpaired."
Yet, in this same letter, Dr. Taylor says,
"I do not believe that sin can be proved to be the necessary means of the greatest good, and that, as such, God prefers it, on the whole, to holiness in its stead; or that a God of sincerity and truth punishes his creatures for doing that which, on the whole, he prefers they should do. But I do believe, that it may be true, that God, all things considered, prefers holiness to sin in all instances in which the latter takes place."
How are these two parts of his creed to be reconciled? If it be true that God, all things considered, prefers holiness to sin in all instances in which the latter takes place;" it cannot be true that God has purposed or foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. For, according to this representation, it was, from eternity, God's will or choice, all things considered, that sin should not exist in a single instance. Consequently, it could not, in any sense, be his purpose, or his choice, that it should exist. To say that God prefers, all things considered, that sin should not exist; and at the same time to say that he has purposed or foreordained that it shall exist, is a palpable contradiction. It is the same as to say, that God chooses and does not choose the same thing at the same time.
Again; the Supreme Being is infinitely wise and infinitely good. It must, therefore, have been his design, from eternity, to bring to pass the greatest possible amount of good. Consequently, we cannot suppose that he has foreordained the existence of any thing which will not, in some way, conspire to the accomplishment of this end. If, then, the existence of sin is not, on the whole, for the best, and in this sense, "the necessary means of the greatest good," God would not have foreordained its existence. To suppose that he decreed that sin should exist, when he foresaw that it would be, on the whole, a detriment to the system, is to suppose that he acted without wis
dom or goodness. For what end did he decree its existence ↑ It must be for a good end or a bad end. If for a good end,thes it is "the necessary means of the greatest good." If for a bad end, then, he is a malevolent being. If, then,it cannot be proved, as Dr. Taylor says, that sin is "the necessary means of the greatest good;" it cannot in my opinion,be proved that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Again; the Scriptures teach us that God punishes men for their sins. Now, Dr. Taylor says he does not believe" that a God of sincerity and truth punishes his creatures for doing that which, on the whole, he prefers they should do." But if his "purposes extend to all actual events,sin not excepted," then he does, on the whole, purpose or prefer, (for these words here mean the same thing) that they should do the very things for which they are punished.
Again; Dr. Taylor says that God," for wise and good reasons permits, or does not prevent, the existence of sin." And yet he maintains that "God, all things considered, prefers boliness to sin in all instances in which the latter takes place."— Here he represents God as having wise and good reasons for not decreeing that state of things which he prefers; and, of course, as preferring that, against the existence of which there are wise and good reasons.
Again; It is a part of Dr. Taylor's theory, that "God could not prevent all sin, or the present degree of sin, in a moral system." "He would have prevented all sin in his moral universe, but could not." Yet he foreordained whatsoever comes to pass: that is, he foreordained that which he would have prevented, if he could. What can be a plainer contradiction? To say that God purposed the existence of sin, because, foreseeing that be could not prevent it, he suffered it to come into being, is an unwarranted use of language. If God did, all things considered, PREFER that sin should not exist then it was not in any sense his purpose that it should exist. Consequently, it has come into being, not according, to his purpose, but contrary to his purpose. So far as he had any purpose in regard to it, it was his purpose that it should not exist. He PREFERRED, all things considered, that it should not exist, and resolved to do all in his power to prevent its existence. Consequently he did not foreordain whatsoever comes to pass. Thus Dr. Taylor's theory saps the foundation of the second article of his creed.
The doctrine of regeneration.
Dr. Taylor has expressd his belief in relation to this doctrine in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth,and ninth articles of his creed. In these articles, he affirms that the change in regeneration is a moral change-that it is produced, not by moral suasion, but by the influence of the Holy Spirit-that the necessity of this divine influence results solely from the voluntary perversness of the sinner's heart-and that the renewing grace of God is special, inasmuch as it is designed to secure, and does infallibly secure the conversion of the sinner.
All this is very good ;-but this is not all which he has writen on this subject. He has adopted theories which, in the udgment of many at least, tend to sap the foundation of this undamental doctrine of the Christian faith. licitly admits the influence of the Holy Spirit in regeneration; Although he exyet in view of many things which he has written, it is difficult to see what necessity there can be for this divine influence. this letter, which contains his creed, he says,
"I do not believe that the grace of God can be truly said to be irresistable,in the primary, proper import of this term. But I do believe that in all cases, it may be resisted by man as a free moral agent; and that when it becomes effectual to conversion, it is unresisted."
I am not disposed to vindicate the use of the term irresistible, as applied to this subject. But that the idea intended to be conveyed by it, by those divines who have been in the habit of using it, is correct, I have no doubt. They meant by it the same as efficacious or invincible. They taught that sinners do always resist the Holy Ghost; but that in regeneration their resistance is overcome or subdued, by the almighty energy of the Holy Ghost. They called renewing grace, irresistible grace, because it overcomes the utmost resistance which the sinner makes.But this idea, if I understand him, Dr. Taylor discards. He says, when grace "becomes effectual to conversion," "it is unresisted; "—that is, the sinner ceases to resist, before the grace of God converts him. But I would ask, what necessity is there for the grace of God to convert him, after he has ceased to resist? That I do not mistake the meaning of Dr. Taylor in this passage, will appear by comparing it with some other passages of his writings. Observe the following:
"But how obviously does the sinner, entertaining such views, overlook or disregard the decisions of eternal truth? How obviously do such desires, and all acts dictated by them, proceed on the assumption that God may interpose to save, while the sinner holds the affections of his heart still riveted to earth; and this when the plainest annunciation of God to him is, renounce that idol or perish forever; and this when God in his word and providence forbids the hope of any saving interposition while the sinner's heart still clings to the forbidden object. Whence comes this delusion? The world-his idol, his god, the sinner will not renounce-and now to avoid the power and pressure of the truth that, continuing to cherish the love of it, perdition is inevitable, he vainly dreams in the face of God's testimony, that he may, and even must continue to cherish the idol of his heart and yet that God may interpose to save:-And thus he desires that it should be. And what is this but assuming that God may, and desiring that he would, so depart from the immutable principles of his government, as to interpose to save him, while in heart a rebel, and still resolved to be so?" Christ. Spect. for 1829. pp. 29, 30.
Dr. Taylor here assures us, that the word and providence of God forbid the hope that he will interpose to renew the heart of the sinner while he clings to his idols-that it is the immutable principle of his government," not to interpose in the sinner's behalf, "while in heart a rebel, and still resolved to be
According to this representation, before God will interpose to renew the sinner's heart, he must give up his idols-he must submit to the divine authority, and cease to be a rebelBut when all this is done, what necessity is there for divine interposition?
Why is it necessary that the sinner should be renewed by the power of the Holy Ghost? This necessity results solely from the perverseness and obstinacy of the sinner's heart. But according to Dr. Taylor's theory, the perverseness and obstinacy of his heart are removed antecedent to regeneration. The selfish principle is suspended. He ceases to sin and ceases to resist. Every thing, indeed, which can be rationally supposed to render the agency of the Holy Spirit necessary in renewing the heart, is removed.
Again; Dr. Taylor says,
"This self-love or desire of happiness is the primary cause or resson of all acts of preference or choice which fix supremely on any ob ject. In every moral being who forms a moral character, there must be a first moral act of preference or choice. This must respect some one object, God or Mammon, as the chief good, or as an object of supreme affection. Now, whence comes such a choice or preference? Not from a previous choice or preference of the same object, for we speak of the first choice of the object. The answer which human consciousness gives, is, that the being constituted with a capacity for happiness, desires to be happy; and knowing that he is capable of deriving happiness from different objects, considers from which the greatest happiness may be derived AND AS IN THIS RESPECT HE JUDGES, OF estimates their relative value, sO HE CHOOSES or prefers the one or the other as his chief good. While this must be the process by which a moral being forms his first moral preference, substantially the same process is indispensable to a change of this preference." Christ Spect. for 1829. p. 21.
According to this representation, every moral being chooses what he judges will be most for his happiness. The reason, therefore, that the sinner prefers the world to God, is that be has mistaken the true way of securing his highest happiness.What then is necessary to effect his conversion? Nothing but light to correct his mistake. So soon as he shall be convinced that more happiness is to be derived from God, than from the world, self-love will at once prompt him to change the object of his preference. Where, then, is the necessity of the influences of the Holy Spirit, to renew the heart?
This subject might be pursued to a great length. There are very many things in Dr. Taylor's writings relating to the doctrine of regeneration, which I am constrained to regard as erroneous, and of dangerous tendency. But I cannot dwell upon them now.
As a suitable Appendix to the above, we insert the following from the Vermont Chronicle of the 22d ult. :
"Dr. Taylor says, 'This self-love or desire of happiness is the primary cause or reason of all acts of preference or choice which fix supremely on any objeet. In every moral being who