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departments of the literary world, before they can accord to him the praise of good writing. Emmons, say they, wrote nothing but sermons, and these, after one pattern only. Well, we commend him for sermon-making-for adhering to his proper business as a preacher, and not turning aside to the business of book-making and publishing. And whether there is as much of literary excellence in a sermon, well written, as in novels, history, or other forms of composition-cuique sua opinio-we dispute not about tastes. Yet we know that men are of different temperaments, and have different gifts; and in order that each one may exercise his gifts in the church to edification, there must be diversity of operations. One may write his sermons after this pattern, and another after that, and a third still may have his own way; yet among models and patterns, with their respective excellences, one may be the more excellent way.
We have chosen, however, in the present article, to look at Emmons as the theologian, rather than the preacher; and to estimate his influence upon the theology of New England. We refer not to the number or weight of those persons who have imbibed all his peculiar views, and who may be called, in a good sense, his partisans; but rath er, to those traces which his firm and bold hand, guided by his clear and discriminating mind, has left on the theology of his times.
The theology of the Congregationalists of New England has ever been distinguished as doctrinal or systematic; employed on the study, statement, and proof of divine truth, as a system; a system, harmonious in its parts and in its relation to all truth; a system, consonant with the dictates of reason and revelation; a system, which furnishes the deep and immovable basis of all true knowledge, and right feeling and practice on the subject of religion.
It has not been biblical: at least in the sense of adopting only the forms of statement contained in the Bible; yet who, in arranging the contents of the Bible into a connected and dependent system of truth, ever thought of expressing the whole in the words and phrases alone of the vernacular translation? But that it has not diligently sought the contents of the Bible, or that it has not succeeded so far, at least, as to arrive at its great doctrines, we will not admit. Yet, in respect to the narration, the poetry, the epistolary correspondence, the forms of composition, the diversities of style, the nice shades of expression, the original tongues, the various writers, the external history, which characterize the Bible as a book, it has not, we admit, been so studious, as thorough scholarship in Scriptural criticism and interpretation would demand; as would ena. ble the preacher to be the expert expositor of portions of Scripture, as well as the thorough handler of distinct topics of truth; or as would best serve the theologian in gather. ing all, and exactly, the texts which give their attestation on any partic ular part of divine truth. Yet in the latter respect, in which alone the doctrinal is concerned, New England, for aught we see, stands, in its past history, on as high an elevation as her nearest kindred, her Presbyterian cotemporaries, (to say nothing of other denominations;) all alike having their proof-texts furnished to hand, in the confession of the Westminster Assembly. The fact is, the means of thorough bibli cal learning were not in the posses sion of our fathers. The private study and small library of the country minister, was the resort of the theological student, and the system. atic questions of his teacher, his sole chart in theology. Yet in introdu cing a more thorough system of theological education into our country, the Congregationalists took the
lead; and we can now point to one of the indomitable sons of New England who, thirty years since, first erected the standard of biblical studies on the hill of Andover, and who, boldly facing the prejudices of the times, succeeded to effect an entire change, and still lives to enjoy the wide-spread fruit of his labors, and receive the honor of two hemispheres.
Nor has the theology of New England been historical. Her sons have ever been trained to minister at the altar, as the freemen of the Lord; who were never in bondage to any man or set of men, and who, in their independence, stand responsible alone to their Master in heaven, and, subordinately to him, to the individual churches over which they labor; never allowing to the traditional documents of men the weight of independent evidence of truth; never quoting them, as such, in their theological writings, or in their preaching; always, in assenting to formulas of doctrine, taking them for the substance rather than the expression, and employing them for symbols of fellowship, which mark the mere outlines of a common habitation in faith and polity, and not for complete summaries of all theological knowledge; not as the Ultima Thule of discovery; not as the eternal ocean barrier, staving off all further progress with the decree, Hucusque. The proofs are abundant in the unshackled freedom of debate, that has ever marked the discussions of our fathers in their assemblies, their published pamphlets and magazines.
The theology of New England, as we said, has been distinguished as the systematic. We intend not, by this statement, that her preachers, when in the pulpit, confine themselves to the mere science of theology for it has been eminent ly true of them, as a class, that they have made the science subservient, not only to the instruction of their Vol. I.
flocks, but to the progress, among them, of experimental and practical religion. Indeed, in the invariable and necessary relation of doctrine to right experience and practice, is to be found the true secret of the intense study of her orthodox theologians. They have earnestly sought the truth of God, as that which best serves them to minister, at the altar and in the sanctuary, unto edification; to define the nature of gracious affections, and mark out the limits of practical duties; to discriminate between the counterfeits and pretexts which sustain a false hope, and the marks and evidences which ascertain the true; to separate, in their audiences, the believer from the unbeliever, the saint from the sinner, with a clearness to carry conviction to the conscience; to urge the one class to turn instantly from their evil ways unto the Lord, and lead the other forward in the way of holiness and life, with all the appropriate motives that can be gathered from the boundless field of divine truth.
Emmons, true to the principles of the fathers in grounding all exhortation in the pulpit on knowledge, was ever strenuous to maintain, that "a systematical knowledge of the Gospel is as necessary in order to form a plain, practical, and profita ble preacher, as to form a consis tent, thorough, and deep divine." And if any one would seek after the great object, which held the deeply logical and metaphysical theologians of New England intent on the study of divine truth, he will find it, in the power they thus secured to their instructions in the pulpit-in their increased ability to make their hearers understand, admit, and feel the force of that truth. Nor can a better view of the rationale of their practice in the pulpit be presented, than is given in the volumes before us, in the sermons entitled the Wise Preacher and Rational Preaching.
We are aware that the cry of metaphysics and metaphysical preaching has been raised against Emmons and many of the Congregationalists; as if their pastors and teachers, many of them at least, had, with mistaken views of their office, converted their churches into mere lecture-rooms and schools of theology, and as if they had substituted their own thoughts and reasonings in the place of revelation. True, as a body, they aimed to instruct as well as exhort and rebuke; and deemed it important to be precise in statement and conclusive in reasoning, as well as vivid in description or fervid in appeal. For this cause they were often noted, like Emmons, for adhering to those principles of logic and metaphysics which lie at the basis of all sound instruction and doctrine. They were not content to criticise the language and settle the meaning of a text of Scripture merely, but considered the substance of the declaration, when ascertain ed, as a truth, which, unless a matter of pure revelation, like the Trinity, could be commended to the conscience both of believer and unbeliever as true; and they handled it as such, by referring, not merely to a string of Scriptural declarations to show that by correct interpretation they assert or imply the same thing, but also, to some first principles or truths, which reason recognizes or which revelation teaches, to show that the truth in question necessarily follows, as a logical consequence, from such premises, and that men cannot escape from it and the Scriptural testimony which asserts it, without contradicting the dictates of their own reason and conscience. This is to hold the mind of others to the truth, in the only lawful or successful way; whether in the pulpit or out of the pulpit, whether in addressing believers in revelation or unbelievers. To reproach this method as metaphysical, and as spinning arguments out of one's own
head, is far more easy than to show what, in order to convince men, a religious teacher is to substitute in the place of conclusive argument; or how, in using such argument, he is to proceed without tasking his own thinking powers. Paul before the heathen at Athens; Paul before the Jews at Antioch; Paul writing to Christian converts at Rome and Ga latia, is the logical reasoner, the profound metaphysician, the close thinker; and if his successors in the ministry of the Gospel, divested of the apostolic office and the guidance of inspiration, would follow out the arguments he has left, or imitate his manner in stating and defending the system of divine truth, they are to reason closely and con. clusively, and to think intently that they may so reason.
But we are not pretending that the preacher should act merely as the teacher and defender of truth, nor is there any occasion to vindicate the Congregational preachers of New England from the charge
To make use of the term 'metaphysdanger, is a weakness, to which a reflecting ics' as if faith in the pure Gospel were in mind might be expected to rise superior. -WILLIAMS's Essay on the Equity of Divine Government.
thrown abundance of contempt and rail"Many of the moderns have lery upon the very name of metaphysics ; but this science ** *is so necessary to a just conception, solid judgment, and just times it is introduced as a part of logic, reasoning on many subjects, that someand not without reason. And those who utterly despise and ridicule it, either betray their own ignorance, or will be supposed to make their wit and banter a refuge and excuse for their own laziness." -WATTS'S Logic.
of inculcating nothing but a mere belief in the system of divine truth. The elder and younger Edwards, Bellamy, Smalley, Strong, Dwight, though in their preaching powerful and expert, as reasoners, to establish truth, ever aimed to reach the hearts and lives of their hearers; using God's truth not only for doctrine, but for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Nor can this be denied of Hopkins, Spring, and Emmons, who, in some respects, advanced beyond the commonly received and admitted theology of the Congregationalists. Emmons, by far the clearest of all in statement, the most transparent and easy in style, the most sternly severe in logical order and method, is never content to leave his position merely as true, and established as such by his reasonings but at the close, standing behind the impregnable breastworks of the truth, he ever sends, with unerring aim, his pointed arrows to the conscience and the heart; in other words, availing himself of such plain and necessary inferences from the established truth as serve to refute error, to reveal the state of men's hearts to themselves, to alarm the careless and unbelieving, and comfort believers, and to urge the one to immediate repentance and the other to progress in the Christian life.
But we must return to the science of theology which, among the Congregationalists, we have said, has ever been regarded and pursued as the deep and only effective source of all true religious experience and correct practice.
The creed of the orthodox Congregational churches has ever been, for substance of doctrine, that which is expressed either in the Westminster or Savoy Confessions, or in the Articles of the Church of England; embracing, on the great subject of divine grace, the doctrines which have been usually called the Calvinistic. In upholding and defend
ing this system, in applying it to men for the purposes of redemption, the Calvinistic theologians were early called to encounter strenuous opposition, not only from unbeliev ers but from other bodies of professed Christians; and in their own history, have been called to witness some of the practical errors that have been engrafted on the system or arisen out of it. The independent spirit of the New England Puritans ever led them to reject the authority of hierarchy in every form; all her ministers at the altar, and all the members of her churches, bowing only to the authority of the Great Head of the Church, and seeking all truth, not from popes, councils, or the fathers, but, in the true spirit of Protestantism, from the Bible alone. They consented to dwell together in the old manor of Calvinism, not because it particularly pleased Calvin or was a model of his devising-for each of her ministers considered himself on a level with Calvin, having access, as he had, to the immediate sources of truth-but because they believed it to be constructed after the divine pattern and model, at least in all its grand compartments; and that, in it, they could dwell together, in essential unity and fellowship, as the house of God. Yet the building of the sixteenth century, rapidly put up and in troublous times, it might be expected, the lapse of centuries or the constant inspection and trial of freeborn heirs would give occasion, if not to remodel and reconstruct, at least to repair and improve, in some of the materials found to be defective, or some of the proportions that were wanting in symmetry. There might be differences of opinion whenever a change was proposed; and some controversy might arise, in the house, between those, who would venerate the precise form of the old step-stone or architrave of the entrance, and those, who saw a change in them to be more conve
nient and symmetrical; yet they generally consented to live together still in the mansion, as one resting on the right foundation, and built after the model of the truth. It was only those who wandered after a new site and a new foundation, and sought to change the model of the superstructure, who ventured to erect for themselves the cold and shelterless abode of Unitarianism, or the sin-licensed house of Univer salism, that were stricken from the communion of the body.
The system of the orthodox faith embraces, as its strong and clear outlines, the doctrine of the total depravity and the condemnation of all who are in Adam; that of justification only through the righteousness of Christ the Redeemer; that of renovation and sanctification and preservation in holiness to the end by the Holy Spirit; and that of the purposes of God as to all his works and all their results in time and eternity.
In upholding and defending these great and essential outlines of the system of divine truth and grace, it is easy to see that subordinate and minor statements, made in the Institutes of Calvin, or in the extended formula of the Westminster Assembly, might be imperfect and defective; that statements made in one aspect of truth, when considered in other relations, might be not so precise and guarded as is necessary to the complete harmony of all truth; and that time and trial-either by means of practical errors which should be found to shelter themselves under any of these statements, or through the light which continued and increasing investigation into every department of knowledge, should throw on the whole connected system of truth-might lead to improvement by the substitution of statements more discriminating, more precise, and more obviously in harmony with universal truth.
Were we now to survey the broad
field of Protestant Christendom since the days of the Reformation, we might select many discussions, many controversies, many errors, and many advances in science and knowledge which have had an influence, under the providence of the Head of the Church, in advancing on the whole, the science of all sciences, that of the system of theology in the precise statement and arrangement of its various parts. Yet we look rather to the field of New England, that soil of the Puritansthe men of clear and piercing intellects and of honest and indomitable will-where devoted attachment to the cause of Christ and his church, and deep reverence for God and his truth, if any where, have marked those who minister at the altar, and who act as the defenders and teachers of divine truth. Here, the theologian, like Edwards, and Bellamy, and Emmons, is not the mere reader of other men's statements on the subjects of theology; not the committer, by rote, of human formulas, nor the beggarly wearer of the second-hand and cast-off clothing of human predecessors. He is the disciple, intent on acquiring the knowledge of truth; tasking his own powers to the work of investigation, and going with those powers to the right sources of knowledge; seeking after the teaching of God in his word and in his works, and, before this high authority, searching and testing all the teachings of his fellow servants. He is the disciple, learning the truth of God from God; and from such thorough discipleship in the investigation of divine truth at its high sources, qualified to teach that truth to others, in the clear statements and on the firm grounds which characterize his own faith, and constitute it a living faith in God.
Two errors have been found to take shelter under the statements of Calvin, the discussion of which has led the theologians of New England,