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opposing system. The transcendental, or rather the true Platonic doctrine, sweetly harmonizes with the high religious belief of a Tholuck, and others of that noble band, who are so strenuously resisting the progress of rationalism in Germany. Yet on others it has produced far different effects. Professing a hyper-spirituality, they have only given another name to the universal substance of the materialist. The two systems may seem at first to differ widely, yet when destitute of the saving element of that religious faith, without which all philosophy is a mass of contradictions, they terminate each in its peculiar pantheism.”
Now, without putting Edwards' system on the will in any of the preceding categories, we do nevertheless believe that it is contrary to the common consciousness and experience of mankind; and we also think that it is contrary to the common language of the Scriptures. And yet it is supported by mighty powers of reasoning, was constructed under a despotic sense of duty, and propounded to the world under the influence of the deepest piety, with more unmingled purity of motive than ever actuated any other philosopher. Its author had, indeed, what the builder of no other system ever dreamed of, an eye single to God's glory. It stands, therefore, as much by the strength of Edwards' piety, as it does by the power of his logic. And yet it rules the mind, so far as it does rule, not by conviction or affection, but by a sort of violent despotism. Its incursion on the intellectual world is like that of a marauding party, who have taken possession suddenly and violently of an unguarded border-land, and on the premises so occupied have built a huge, impregnable, frowning castle, from which, without legitimately owning a foot of ground, not even the piece it stands on, they overawe the whole country. In these circumstances you cannot successfully contend with them, and you cannot beat down their castle. There is no way but to spring a mine, if need be, a league under ground, and blow up the whole acre of land it covers, fortress and all, into the air.
Can this be done? In other words, can the premises of Edwards be successfully questioned and denied ? Was the whole psychological system, on which his doctrine of the will was built, fundamentally erroneous? If so, then we may carry the question by appeal. The cause has only to be removed from a lower to a higher court. We deny the jurisdiction of the court in which it has been tried. A psychology fundamentally different from Edwards' relieves the cause of its difficulties, and nothing else will. It is just as if a man, reasoning on the Py
nothin. Tom Edwaren tried." deny the wo be rem
thagorean scheme in astronomy, should undertake to prove that the earth does not move on its axis. Galileo and the inquisition disagree, and until the cause can be tried before an astronomical philosophy fundamentally different, he will be pronounced a heretic, and imprisoned, if not burnt. The time has been (we do not say that it is such now, neither do we say that it is not) when an inquisition existed in theological philosophy, and Edwards' book on the freedom of the will was put at the head of it. Every man's opinions must be imprisoned, or he himself must be branded as a heretic, whose mind did not come to the same conclusions with that great, good and powerful thinker. Even now the disposition is not wanting in certain quarters to make Edwards' book a sort of theological guillotine to a man's reputation. We oppose such a tendency, with our whole heart. It can never advance the cause of truth thus to swear in the words of a master. The good old maxim, Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri, is but an interpretation of the authoritative injunction of our blessed Lord, to call no man master on earth. Still more strongly does it hold, with church or individual, when we put it in the form, Compel no man to call another master. We abjure Popery in every shape; otherwise, we would go to Rome, and have it in puris naturalibus.
It is well to look abroad, and remember that there are psychologians and theologians also, out of our own horizon; and that even Calvinism itself may possibly not be in all conceivable circumstances the most absolutely perfect form which theological science shall ever assume in men's digests. Before Edwards lived, there were giants in theology and personal piety, who still do rule our spirits from their urns, but whose views never, by any violence, can be made to coincide with his; yet do men never dream of linking to the theological reputation of those great writers an affinity with those errors against which the philosophy of Edwards on the Will has been supposed the only safeguard. It has been with great propriety remarked, that it ought to assist in securing to new inquiries on the freedom of the will a candid hearing, and in banishing theological prejudice from ground where it should have no place, to remember that Howe, Charnock, Baxter and Bates, with their associated hundreds, preached the gospel in purity and with power, without holding such opinions as those advanced by Edwards, or rather while holding with all their souls the very opposite opinions in respect to the will. These holy men and profound theologians never dreamed that the maintenance of such views as those of Edwards was essential to the defence of the doctrines of grace. On the contrary, so far as can be gathered from their writings, the philosophical opinions of these men were precisely the same with some of those which Edwards counted so pernicious in their tendency. Let this be marked and remembered.
We are admirers, almost to idolatry, of John Howe and his gigantic intellectual and religious associates ; at the same time we yield supremacy to none in the feeling of pride and affection, which every son of New England cherishes towards the memory and the works of President Edwards. But neither to the one nor to the other, neither to canonized classes nor to individuals, could we ever consent to commit a dictatorial power over opinions, public or private. If we declared allegiance to any one man, it should be to such a holy mind as Edwards’. We love to record our unaffected admiration of the vigorous and all-absorbing piety of the man, the scholar and the metaphysican. Would that his opponents, wherever they are, possessed the half of it. Not even Bobert Boyle, nor Sir Isaac Newton, nor Henry More, can make any pretensions, though distinguished, every one of them, for depth of humility and piety, as well as philosophy, to that surprising advancement in the divine life, to that absorbedness in the divine glory, which characterized the first philosopher of New England. What entire purity of motive, what freedom from pride and prejudice, what contempt of an earthly reputation, what superiority to the last infirmity of noble minds, what searching discipline of the affections! As an accompaniment, and partly as the legitimate consequence of this,—the result of so gigantic an intellectual constitution under the guidance of affections so sanctified, — what largeness and comprehensiveness in his views of the scheme of redemption; what love of divine truth and submission to it; what clear insight and sublime conception of the divine plan; what stern and jealous upholding of the divine justice, along with the most ravishing idea and experience of the divine mercy !
It is true, that Edwards contemplated God rather as a Lawgiver than as a Saviour, rather in his hatred of sin than his condescension to sinners. And this was necessary. What would have become of our theology, if the starting-point in our investigations, and the correcting-point in our calculations, had been the divine mercy instead of the divine holiness. If Edwards erred anywhere, he was determined it should be on the side of the divine glory, and not of human imperfection. He was fond of the Who art thou, Oman, that repliest against God? He loved to exalt the Creator and to humble the creature. This makes his system very distasteful to all that class of proud pietists, who boast much of the dignity of human nature, the magnificence and all-sufficiency of human reason, the compassion of God for human frailty. There is no compassion out of Christ. It is but as a High Priest, adop ing the human nature as his own, and suffering for sinners, that God can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; at least there is no other ground for the exercise of such compassion. Rather than let the fact of such compassion abate man's hatred of his own sins, or his conceptions of the unbending, unalterable holiness and justice of God, Edwards would resolve even compassion itself into a mere expedient for the revelation of the divine glory.
Perhaps it was something of this feeling, this jealousy for God's sovereignty, and this unconditional abasement of sinful human nature, that made Edwards so careless, unconditional, and despotic in his denial of the element of contingency or independence in human volitions. The bias of his theological system found its extreme in his philosophical system; it was an extreme on the noblest side, to be sure, but the extreme even of truth becomes injustice and error. Some men, in hatred of a certain particular application of the maxim fiat justitia, ruat cælum, are ready to say fiat coelum, ruat justitia ; let heaven be maintained, though justice fall. One extreme is as bad as the other; and the maxim of the apostle holds good in philosophy as well as in theology or in practical life, that we may not do evil that good may come. To violate a man's consciousness, though it be by a sophistry which he cannot detect, a chain of logic in which he can find no flaw, may answer a present purpose, may serve for an emergency, but in the end it will prove no helper to the cause of truth. To do this in philosophy in order to support our particular views of religion, is just undermining the subjective foundations of both. If we may apply the admirable illustration of Mr. Coleridge, it is the wisdom of digging down the charcoal foundations of the temple of Ephesus, in order to keep up the fires upon its altars.
We should have preferred, had it been possible, that Edwards' mind should have got engaged on the subject of the will as a special province in mental philosophy without any particular or ultimate object, other than the love and investigation of all truth. We should like to have seen a system so excogitated. But it cannot be denied that Edwards wrote for a particular object, with a side view. No man can do this, and keep clear of distortion. The side purpose may be a good one, and yet its effect will be injurious in the delineation of the main subject. It will be like a side light, where the painter wants it from the ceiling or the dome. There are some portrait painters, who get a strong resemblance by seizing a particular feature or expression, no matter what becomes of the rest ; but this is a caricature rather than a likeness. So with the delineation of some philosophical or theological subjects. We believe that Edwards on the Freedom of the Will, in opposition to Arminius and his followers, was a very different book from what Edwards on the Will would have been, having no supposed enemies to contend with. The metaphysics of Edwards, remarks the author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm, did indeed “ demolish the metaphysics of Whitby. This was natural and fit; for the philosophy of Arminianism could no more endure a rigid analysis, than a citadel of rooks could maintain its integrity against a volley of musketry. But then (not to insist again upon the fact, that the ‘ Inquiry of Edwards has become almost the text book of infidelity) it has not in any sensible degree brought home the abstract argument to the purely theological difficulty.”
Moreover, it is one thing to be a metaphysical logician, and quite another to be a psychological reasoner. No man ever wrote, whose logic is so irresistible as Edwards. Admit his definitions, and you advance to his conclusions with a necessity as rigid as fate. He is like a Boa Constrictor. Allow him one coil, no matter where, and you are crushed and helpless, and the folds tighten with every movement. You may feel uneasy in his hands, and hardly dealt by, but there is no help. You are like a man in the nightmare, and as if a spell were laid upon you, your soul is frozen in the icy chain of his argument. But it is an argument that freezes all things, mind, matter, soul, intellect, sense, thought, feeling, emotion, being, the universe, God! If it were not for this, the book would be one of unmingled delightfulness; we should love to see its author demolishing one after another the errors of his opponents, taking their system for that which he represents it to be,—the doctrine of blind chance, the denial of causation, the denial, among other things, of the truth of entire human depravity, of the necessity of supernatural illumination, and of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. These being the things which he calls Arminian notions, we should like to stand by and see him break upon