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the following statements. "Predestination, or doctrines much inclining towards it, have, on the whole, prevailed in the Christian churches of the west since the days of Augustine and Aquinas. Who were the first formidable opponents of these doctrines in the church of Rome? The Jesuits,-the contrivers of courtly casuistry, and the founders of lax morality. Who, in the same church, inclined to the stern theology of Augustine? The Jansenists,—the teachers and the models of austere morals. What are we to think of the morality of Calvinistic nations, especially the most numerous classes of them, who seem, beyond all other men, to be most zealously attached to their religion, and most deeply penetrated with its spirit? Here, if any where, we have a practical and decisive test of the moral influence of a belief in necessarian opinions. In Protestant Switzerland, in Holland, in Scotland, among the English Nonconformists and the Protestants of the North of Ireland, and in the New-England States, Calvinism was long the prevalent faith, and is probably still the faith of a considerable majority. Their moral education was at least completed, and their collective character formed, during the prevalence of Calvinistic opinions. Yet where are communities to be found of a more pure and active virtue?”
The accusations brought against evangelical writers and professors, as requiring too much, or making no sufficient allowance for the weakness of human nature; as rigid, austere, enemies to innocent amusements; as setting themselves up as better than their neighbors; as righteous over much; are also concessions in point; as are also the topics of ridicule having reference as they do to the fastidious strictness of our ancestors and of evangelical professors; to which we may add the invidious names given to them of Puritan Methodist, &c. To all this it may be added, that, sound morality has never in any country or age been so elevated, and so extensively prevalent as in those communities where the evangelical doctrines have been most universally believed, and most diligently taught, in families and schools, and in the sanctuary. It has been said I am sensible, that, these salutary effects of the evangelical system are produced by the truths contained in it in common with the liberal system, and in spite of the errors it embraces, and not by them Does the truth, then, mingled with absurdity and falsehood, produce better effects than the truth simple and undefiled as in the liberal system it is claimed to be. If it is the truth held in common by the evangelical and liberal systems, which produces these good effects, why does not the liberal system alone produce the same effects. Allow me to suggest another solution.
The evangelical system requires a stricter morality, enforced by more powerful motives. It adopts as its rule, the moral law, unmitigated; and its sanctions of eternal life and death. A law which the opposite system regards as too strict, and as set aside or mitigated in accommodation to human frailty; and whose sanctions are regarded as nothing; or as a salutary temporary discipline;—or as annihilation;—or as a matter of entire uncertainty. Now is it strange that lax requisitions, and feeble uncertain sanctions, do not produce the strict and vigorous morality of the law of God. What would human laws avail, should expositors and judges say, “Men are too wicked to allow of our interpreting the laws strictly. They must not be understood to mean exactly what they say, or to threaten exactly what they speak.” Perfect honesty, or truth, or purity is not to be expected; a little fraud, and theft, and perjury, and violence they allow, in accommodation to human weakness; and threaten the greater crimes with no punishment, or only a beneficial temporary discipline, or exile from the state, or—we know not what.
Again, the evangelical system produces the best attendance on the public worship of God; and, of course, if the moral tendency of each were the same, that would produce the strictest morality, which commanded most extensively and deeply the attention of men. That the doctrines of the evangelical system do this, is claimed by Witherspoon as true in his day in Scotland; and by Overion as true in England, and is admitted by Unitarian writers, and denied by no one.
It is also admitted in this country recently, as a matter of notoriety “which none will question." It is accounted for, it must be acknowledged, in a way not favorable to the moral tendency of evangelical sentiments. It is on the ground of the intolerable strictness of liberal preaching; so strict and terrifying, that few, besides the more pious and exemplary, can abide it. The whole pleasure-loving, voluptuous and dissipated community being driven panic-struck, by Unitarian denunciation to the horns of the altar in evangelical churches; where, by "smooth preaching,” and the hope of impunity in sin, their fears may be allayed, and their consciences quieted.
The faith delivered to the saints produced Revivals of religion.
The preaching of it was attended with sudden anxieties, and deep convictions of sin, and sudden joy in believing; followed by reformation and a holy life. Nor was this the effect of miracles, or itself a miraculous event in the common acceptation of the term. Miracles, merely, produced no suoh effects. It was under the preaching of the word, that men were pricked in their hearts, and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?” And it was by the moral transformation, which attended the apostolic answer to this question, and not by the power of miracles, that the Gospel defied opposition, and spread during the first three hundred years. There was no resisting it. Conviction attended the word; and a joyful obedience to the faith followed. The very chiefs of opposition, exchanged their weapons of annoyance for the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit,
And do not the same convictions of sin attend the preaching of the evangelical system; and does it not extend its victories in the same manner? By argument merely we convince few, and reclaim none. But there is an efficacy in evangelical preaching on the conscience and on the heart; against which nor learning, nor talents, nor prejudice, nor wrath itself, afford effectual protection. Multitudes who virulently hated, and verily thought that they ought to oppose, evangelical doctrines, and revivals of religion, have been con
vinced of their mistake, and sin; and have embraced joyfully the doctrines, which they reviled. Many, who preach the liberal system, can bear witness that they have lost, in this way, again and again, the very pillars of their societies. Defections of the same kind are frequent still, and clothe evangelical doctrines and revivals of religion with a terrifying power.
The faith delivered to the saints was efficacious in the sudden reformation of those who had been long under the do- . minion of vicious habits.
The apostle enumerates the habits of crime, which prevailed ainong pagans; and, then writing to the church of Corinth, says, “And such were some of you.” But, while the liberal system despairs, professedly, of any sudden reformation from vicious habits, as against the established laws of the moral world; and is unable to produce an instance in which a vicious person has been reformed, by abandoning the evangelical and adopting the liberal system; and, while reformation from vicious habits, is a rare event, if it exist at all, under liberal preaching, it is a frequent event for profligates, on abandoning their confidence in the liberal system and adopting the evangelical, to manifest a most salutary and abiding change of character and conduct. In almost all the revivals of religion, which are now prevailing in our land, there are some to whom it may be said, “And such were some of you, but ye are washed,” &c.
Dr. Chalmers' who preached the liberal system twelve years, and after this the evangelical, says, “And here I cannot but record the effect of an actual though undesigned experiment, which I prosecuted for upwards of twelve years among you. For the greater part of that time, I could expatiate on the meanness of dishonesty, on the villany of falsehood, on the despicable arts of calumny,-in a word, upon all those deformities of character, which awaken the natural indignation of the human heart against the pests and the disturbers of human society. Even at this time I certainly did press the reformations of honor, and truth, and integrity among my people; but I never once heard of any
such reformations having been effected amongst them. If there was any thing at all brought about in this way, it was more than ever I got any account of. I am not sensible, that all the vehemence with which I urged the virtues and the proprieties of social life, had the weight of a feather on the . moral habits of my parishioners. And it was not till I got impressed by the utter alienation of the heart in all its desires and affections from God; it was not till reconciliation to Him became the distinct and the prominent object of my ministerial exertions; it was not till I took the scriptural way of laying the method of reconciliation before them; it was not till the free offer of forgiveness through the blood of Christ was urged upon their acceptance, and the Holy Spirit given through the channel of Christ's mediatorship to all who ask him, was set before them as the unceasing object of their dependance and their prayers; it was not, in one word, till the contemplations of my people were turned to these great and essential elements in the business of a soul providing for its interest with God, and the concerns of its eternity, that I ever heard of any of those subordinate reformations which I aforetime made the earnest and the zealous, but I am afraid at the same time, the ultimate object of my earlier ministrations."*
The faith delivered to the saints produced a spirit of missions,
On the day of Pentecost the number of disciples was one hundred and twenty. And on that day the scales of Jewish prejudice fell from their eyes; and the spirit of missions descended upon their hearts; and, in three hundred years, without colleges, or theological seminaries, or the press, or governmental aid; but, in opposition to its dire hostility, they evangelized the world. And are not the great movements, now making to evangelize the world, conducted chiefly under the auspices, and by the charities of those, who adopt substantially the evangelical system. Are not all the denominations in the world, who believe in the Divinity
* Chalmers' Farewell Discourse addressed to his parishioners of Kilmany in his series of Discourses, pp. 110, 111, 112.