페이지 이미지

escaped this dogma, by a few providential strokes from the pen of John Wesley! And how lamentably strange it is that the latest great system of theology published by an eminent Methodist scholar affirms that this erased passage is believed by every Methodist ; that, indeed, the whole thirty-nine, the predestinarian seventeenth included, is standard with Methodism; and that this statement, without modification or annotation, is installed in “The Course of Study” of our American Methodist Episcopal Church! Very plausibly it might be argued from such high authorities that Methodists themselves are maintainers of the rightfulness of Infant Damnation !

Next, it is clear that infant regeneration has been extensively held by the Protestant Churches from the time of the Reformation until now. A limited infant salvation was based upon infant regeneration, and that upon infant baptism. And infant baptismal regeneration was as truly held by the Puritan as by the Churchman. This may be illustrated by the title of a book given by Dr. Prentiss, published at Oxford in 1629 : “BAPTISMAL REGENERATION OF ELECT INFANTS, Professed by the Church of England, according to the Scriptures, the Primitive Church, the present Reformed Churches, and many particular divines apart. By Cor. Burges, Dr. of D., and one of his Majestie's Chaplaines in Ordinary. According to his mercy he saved us with the laver of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” It closes with a Latin quotation from Augustine to the effect that “ Sacraments effect what they symbolize in the elect alone.” That the Presbyterian Church holds to infant regeneration is conclusive enough from the following passage in the “Confession of Faith :” “ Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when and where and how he pleaseth.' This corrects the error of those Methodist thinkers who, a few years ago, supposed that infant regeneration is an intrinsic absurdity and a heresy hitherto unknown in the Church. And when Gilbert Haven broached that doctrine in our Quarterly it was humorously retorted in one of our“ Advocates” that his initials, G. H., stood for Great Heretic. Wesley, it is said, believed originally that baptism regenerated; but whether he ever held that it regenerated internally and efficiently, or only externally and declaratorily, we are not so clear, not having

thoroughly examined the record. In his earliest tract on baptism we believe that it will be found that he expressly declares that God's grace is not tied to ordinances. But certainly he did believe in infant regeneration.

We might well call our readers' attention to the dissertation in the latter part of Dr. Prentiss' article on PROBATION. It is, he says, a modern word. He finds it earliest in “ that able work,” Dr. Daniel Whitby's treatise on the “ Five Points.” A little more than a quarter of a century later Bishop “ Butler employs it as a key to the moral government of God in the world.” But Dr. Prentiss maintains that the idea of probation belongs to natural religion, and not to the Bible. To the elect, whose salvation is eternally secured, he tells us there is no probation, no conditional trial, but only a “training” to a fixed result. To the reprobate, whose wills are fore-ordainedly and administratively secured to final impenitence, there is no opportunity, no trial, no chance, no hope!! They are damned before born, without a possibility of escape! Of course, for both classes, and equally, there is no probation. We need not say how thorny would be the pew-cushion of most Methodists in listening to such a Gospel! There is no chance of damnation for the pre-eternally elect; there is no chance of salvation for the pre-eternally fore-ordained reprobate. This reprobate's will is sealed to unrepentant sin. And thus, with all the doctor's irenics, no doubt perfectly sincere, we have the old fatalistic story. It is just as Wesley concisely expressed it : “ The elect will be saved, do what they will; the reprobate will be damned, do what they can.” To a Methodist, PROBATIONnot the word, but the thing—forms the very soul of the whole Bible. It begins with Adam, and ends with the closing eschatology of the Apocalypse. Obey and be saved, disobey and be damned, is the entire biblical strain. With Adam it was the obedience of works; under Christ it is “the obedience of faith.” To unfold those alternatives before the perceptions of men, and before “the autonomy" of their free, unnecessitated, undecreed will, is the work, purpose, and life of the Law and the Gospel. And this difference between the two Churches is. not merely metaphysical. It makes two different Bibles. And so when our Methodist fathers came to America their success was not due, as some say, to "their preaching the doctrines

Fourth SERIES, VOL. XXXV.-48

[ocr errors]

common to all evangelical Churches." They every-where found it necessary to sweep away predestinarianism in order to make way for the offer of a free salvation. Before that sweep predestinarianism is fading and almost ready to vanish away. More and more the public mind revolts from a fatalistic Gospel. And it is only by the banishment of that dark dogma that a free Gospel can overspread the earth.

How that dogma can be retained in the minds and hearts of great, good, and humane men, as most surely it is, is to us the most insoluble of psychological problems. And here is the only way we know to our Irenicum. We drop doctrinal differences, and we can unite with Presbyterians in every good word and work. Who doubts the profound piety in the great Presbyterian body? Who does not rejoice in their stalwart efforts to benefit the world? Who does not recognize in that Church a great bulwark of Christianity-a bulwark alike against wickedness, against infidelity, and against the man of sin? Who does not admire the ability, the piety, and the scholarship of the Presbyterian ministry ?-a scholarship most richly exhibited in this Presbyterian Quarterly, to the perusal of which we heartily commend every scholarly Methodist.


(Macon, Georgia.)-1. Demands and Difficulties of Infidelity; by Rev. W. Har. rison. 2. Wesleyan Arminianism; by Professor Wilbur F. Tillett, A.M. 3. The Church and Education ; by Rev. W. P. Lovejoy, A.M. 4. Idealism and Realism; by J. M. Long, A.M. 5. Co-Education of the Sexes; by Rev. J. O. Swinney. 6. Law: Nature and Origin; by Rev. William I. Gill, A.M. 7. Studies in Psychology-Visions ; by Rev. W. J. Scott. 8. Endowment of the Ministry ; by Rev. S. W. Cope. 9. God Revealed in Nature; by Rev. W.

Spillman. Among the articles of this number our attention is specially attracted by that on “Wesleyan Arminianism," written by Professor Wilbur F. Tillett, of Vanderbilt University. Mr. Tillett has within the past year been elected to the theological chair in the Vanderbilt, as successor to the late Dr. Summers. He is a graduate of Princeton, but is a firm and manly opponent of the anti-Arminian specialties of Princeton theology. His statements of our doctrines are clear, fresh, and authoritative. He bears the honored name of Wilbur Fisk, and is a true representative expositor of Wilbur Fisk's theology.

We are especially attracted by his lucid statement of the opposite views held by the Calvinian and Arminian thinkers

on the topic now prominent before the mind of the religious public, namely, the doctrine of hereditary guilt derived from Adam. His representation of the Calvinian view is as follows:

As a result of this fall all of Adam's race became sinners, and as such as justly punishable as was Adam, the guilt of whose sin is imputed to them, he having acted as their federal representative. Original sin, consisting of the guilt of Adam's sin and the corruption of his nature, is conveyed by natural generation to each of his descendants, which renders them as justly punishable as Adam became by actual, voluntary transgression, sin meriting punishment because it is sin, regardless of its voluntary or involuntary origin. Out of this race of fallen men, all of whom merited punishment and could have been justly left to bear the just consequences of their sin, God determined to save some; the reason for the election of some rather than others, or rather than all, being entirely in the divine mind.-Page 406.

We here call special attention to the strict logic by which the justice of arbitrary election and reprobation results from hereditary guilt. If all the race are guilty of or for Adam's sin ; if their being born of guilty Adam “deserves God's wrath and damnation,” then it is perfectly right for God to damn them eternally, and he is under no obligation to make any provision for their salvation. It is, then, perfect fatuity to say, as Watson seems to maintain, they deserve damnation provided an atonement is provided to save them ! That is saying they deserve damnation provided it is secured that they be not damned—which is saying nothing at all. They deserve a damnation which can never be justly executed! How absurd it is to say that, if there be an atonement provided, they do “deserve damnation,” but if there be no rescuing provision, then they do not "deserve damnation ! ” Surely the subsequent atonement cannot affect the antecedent desert. Is it the atonement that makes them damnable? Can God, by any subsequent provision of his own, create a desert of damnation that did not before intrinsically exist ? And would it be justice in God to doom them for a desert of his own arbitrary creating and fixing upon them where it did not in its own nature previously exist? And is it not clear that when these thinkers require an atonement to render this desert just and real they do not themselves believe that it is truly just and real? We say they only imagine they believe it ; for the

simple reason that it contradicts our fundamental axiomatic intuition of right, than which no certainty is more absolutely certain. And is it not clear, too, that the atonement provided is just as factitious as the guilt? It must be a fancy atonement that expiates a fancy desert of damnation. Two negatives may make one affirmative, but two falsehoods cannot make one truth. And then if this universal born desert of damnation is real, the universal consignment to hell is just, and God is justly at liberty to damn the whole or save a part at his own arbitrary volition. “Hereditary guilt,” therefore, involves all those particularities of Calvinistic doctrine against which Arminianism has always protested. The Arminianism, so-called, that admits “ hereditary guilt” completely crosses and contradicts itself. It denies the basal axiom that free volition is necessary in order to responsibility. And as birth is, on the divine side, a mode of creation, it affirms the Calvinian dogma that God may justly create a man bad, and then damn him for being the bad that he has created him. Happily Wesley has saved Methodism from that damnable dogma.

And what is monstrous in this doctrine of “hereditary guilt” is the fact that it affirms the rightfulness of the infant's damnation! It

“Damns him from his mother's womb." It damns him at birth, and damns him in the cradle, and at his mother's breast. And if it does not execute that damnation to all eternity and in hell, it affirms such damnation to be just and right. It shuts the Arminian's mouth from maintaining that the eternal damnation of the dying infant is unjust.

Professor Tillett thus states the case of Adam's offspring :

Adam having sinned thus freely, it follows: That God was under no obligation to provide for him a second time a way of salvation, but could justly have punished him at once with death, temporal, spiritual, and eternal. Two alternatives were now before the divine mind after Adam had sinned : either to put Adam to death at once without offspring, or to permit him to be the father of a race of fallen beings like himself, and provide some way of salvation for them. If God permitted Adam in his fallen state to beget children, sinful and corrupt like himself, then he could not justly have left them to perish, but was morally bound to provide for them some way of salvation. They did not stand their probation in Adam, and hence God neither imputes the guilt of Adam's sin to them, nor are they justly punishable for

« 이전계속 »