« PreviousContinue »
he says: “This calling in the aid of an odious appellation, is a very convenient and summary inode of confuting an opponent. It has a special advantage when the name which is substituted for argument, is so indefinite and mysterious, that the reader is in no danger of discovering its meaning. Fatalism is commonly understood to be something heathenish. But it has assumed such a diversity of forms, that it is sufficiently unintelligible to answer the purpose of an argument, which is most efficacious when least understood. It would be a more simple, if not a more satisfactory mode of reasoning, to offer direct proof of the reality of contingent self-determination.- Whatever was meant by the Fatalism of the ancients, it did not imply that all the changes in the world are under the guidance of a Being of infinite wisdom and infinite goodness.- -It is urged that the Fatalists refer every change to a cause. So do believers in selfdetermination; not excepting even acts of the will. Is it Fatalism to believe, that he who formed the soul of man can so touch the springs of its action as to influence the will, without interfering with the freedom of its choice? chain of causes, suspended from the throne of nonentity, to be likened to the purposes and agency of the omniscient Creator? Is it Faialism to believe, that motives may have a real influence in determining volition, and that they may be presented by the providence of God; that the state of the heart has also some concern in giving direction to our acts of choice, and that this native or acquired state is not always the product of chance ? -The object of our inquiry is to learn whether moral acts are determined by accident. If they are not, does it certainly follow that they must be subject to the Fates of the heathen? Is the authority over the heart so divided between fate and contingence, that what is not ascribed to one, must of necessity belong to the other? Is there no room left for any effectual influence from infinite wisdom and benevolence ?",
“The suggestion that a denial of contingent self-determination leads to Pantheism, is as indefinite in its application, as the charge of Fatalism. The doctrine of Pantheism, as held by Spinoza and his followers, is that the universe is God. What has this to do with the dependence of volition on the state of the heart, and the influence of motives?
-If in God we live and move and have our being, does
it follow that our life is his life, our motion his motion, our existence his existence? Is it Pantheism to believe that he worketh in us both to will and to do? Does such
agency his imply, that he only acts in the case ? that there is neither willing nor acting on our part? that there is really but one agent in the universe ? See Day on the Will, Sect. I.
This duty is sometimes thought to militate against the doctrine of Edwards, and to prove that our volitions do not always follow our strongest desires, or that we do not always choose according to our strongest motive, or according to what is the most agreeable. The anonymous writer of the essay says: “ Do you not at times practise self-denial, and does this consist in choosing that which is at the time of choice the most agreeable ?" Again he says: “ The Bible never teaches that self-denial consists in choosing that which seems most agreeable.” pp. 298, 299. Now, in my opinion, the duty of self-denial does plainly and strikingly exemplify the principle that we are governed by the strongest motive. When a Christian denies himself
, he does indeed act against certain inclinations and desires, which operate as motives. Sometimes these are very strong. And how could they be overcome without something stronger ? Why does the Christian deny these inferior desires and motives ? He is influenced to do it by love to Christ, which is an affection of a higher and nobler kind than any which he denies. It is his supreme, his commanding motive. He is willing even to lose his life for Christ's sake. Luke 9:21. He hates his earthly relations in comparison with Christ, that is, he loves Christ above them, and under the influence of this motive, he forsakes them, when duty requires. So the apostles acted. Love to Christ constrained them. Under its influence they chose to deny themselves in regard to all their worldly inclinations. It was the most agreeable to them, as friends and followers of Christ, to do this. It was most gratifying to their supreme desire. Suppose any one should deny himself, without this higher affection, this superior motive, would it be Christian self-denial ? The desires of the natural, unrenewed mind are very strong, and no one ever did or ever will deny and subdue them, unless he has a motive of superior strength. The strong man cannot be disarmed
SECOND SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. I.
and overcome, except by one that is a stronger than he.” Luke 11:22.
If a man half believes the doctrine of Edwards; or if he believes it under a misapprehension of what it is ; or if he believes it with a true apprehension of its nature, but gives it undue importance, compared with other portions of divine truth; or if he entertains the speculative belief in a heart destitute of holiness ;-in either of these cases, the conse. quences of his belief will probably be pernicious. And it is the same with regard to all moral and religious truth. But let a man of clear understanding, and decided, ardent piety, like Edwards, Brainerd, Calvin, Hopkins, or Fuller, rightly apprehend and cordially believe this doctrine, and the consequences will be, in a high degree, salutary. The men who speak of the bad influence of believing Edwards' scheme, are those who do not believe it. But what intelligent, good man ever believed it, without experiencing happy effects from it? The great body of ministers in New England since the days of Edwards, have embraced his theory. They have all along heard it alleged by Arminians and other opposers of the theory, that it has a bad practical tendency. But they have never discovered such a tendency. It has been lodged in the minds of multitudes of the wisest and best men. But they have all found its influence to be directly favorable to morality and piety. While those who declaim against it, and say that the belief of it has a pernicious effect, are those who do not cordially believe it. I will only add, that my full conviction is, that the doctrine of Edwards, in all its essential parts, is the doctrine of the Bible, presented in a scientific form, and arrayed against hurtful errors ; that it tends to honor God, to humble man, and to promote growth in grace, and that those who reject it and embrace any of the antagonist doctrines, will suffer loss.
There are many other important subjects suggested by the essay, on which I have so freely remarked. But I can proceed no farther.
The questions proposed in the last number of the Repository by " Inquirer," appear to me worthy of special consideration, and in compliance with the wishes of the Editor, I intend to make such a reply as I may find convenient, in a future number of the Repository.
1–Psychology; or, A View of the Human Soul ; including An
thropology: being the substance of a course of Lectures, delivered to the Junior Class of Marshall College, Penn., by Frederick A. Rauch. New-York: M. W. Dodd,
1840. pp. 388. Dr. Rauch, who is already favorably known to our readers, is a native of Germany, where he received his education, under the best advantages. He is now at the head of Marshall College in Pennsylvania, an institution which, while it aims at the general promotion of literature in our country, has particular reference in its origin and design to the German population of that state, and embraces a theological department designed to train men for the ministry in the German Reformed Church. The work before us is the substance of a course of Lectures delivered to the undergraduates, and is designed as a text-book in that College.
A foreigner publishes a book in this country under some disadvantages, similar to those which an American experiences who publishes a book in France or Germany. There is the difficulty of acquiring an intimate acquaintance with the idiom of our language; the difficulty of becoming familiar with our habits and modes of thought the difficulty of becoming so thoroughly conversant with the opinions that are prevalent in philosophy and religion, as not to arouse prejudice, or alarm the apprehensions of the community; and perhaps not the least obstacle in his way is the feeling, that, if a foreigner among us publishes a book, he writes for his own countrymen particularly who reside here, and not for the community at large. These difficulties are increased, if the author happen to be from Germany. The language is one of the most unmanageable of all the numerous tongues which the unhappy builders of Babel have spread over the earth; and nothing is more difficult than for a German to become perfectly familiar with the idiom of our language, and to think and write like an American. The prevalent opinions too in Germany are materially different from those which prevail in this country, on the great subjects of morals, philosophy, and religion ; and much as a foreigner may desire and design to conform to the usual sentiments in this land, and much as he
in heart accord with evangelical Christians here, still it is difficult to avoid phrases and modes of speech which will seem to savor of the neology of Germany, and which will excite alarm when the author little intended or expected it. There are not a few, moreover, in our land, who look with suspicion on every thing that comes from Germany, and who are ready to regard it as prima facie proof that an author is a skeptic, or a neologist, who happened to be born in the land even of Luther, and who publishes a book on any subject whatever. This number, we believe, is rapidly diminishing; and the time will come, we trust, in this land of freedom, when every book shall be judged by its own intrinsic worth, and not by the country from which the author happened to come, nor from the prejudiced opinion of any self-constituted tribunal.
We are happy to perceive that Dr. Rauch has succeeded in overcoming, to a remarkable degree, the difficulties above referred to. In general the style is simple, pure, and direct. In the main, too, he has mastered our modes of thinking, and has become well acquainted with the prevailing views of morals, philosophy and religion in our land.
If there are disadvantages, however, under which a German is placed, who publishes à book in our language and country, there are also great advantages which a ripe scholar from a German university has. The vast amount of learning in that language, and the rich collection of facts on all subjects that can claim the attention of the human mind, furnish peculiar facilities for enabling a native German to prepare a work that shall be useful; and we regard it as a very valuable accession, when those who come to dwell with us are disposed to employ the materials thus accumulated, with so much toil, to further the cause of education and piety.
work before us relates to one of the most interesting subjects, to man himself. We would have preferred a somewhat different title to the work-a title that would better convey an idea of its nature and design, than the word psychology or anthropology; but the following partial summary of the contents will show that the subjects discussed are interesting to every man, and open a vast field of inquiry. Introduction. Chap. I. Difference between man and animal. Chap. JI. Life. The prin. ciple of individual life, instinct, the ingenuity of animals, relation of instinct to man. Part I. Anthropology. Ch.I. The influence of nature upon man~of the sun, moon, earth, races, national differences, etc.;msexual difference; temperaments