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As to the question, whether men ought or can be willing to be damned, if this be necessary for the glory of God and the greatest general good, I refer you to my letter to Mr. Fuller on that subject, and to a MS. Dialogue between a Calvinist and an anti-Calvinist, which I propose to get transcribed and send to you with this; in which you will see a solution of the following words in your letter: “ It seems strange that a man should, from love to God, be willing forever to hate God, and blaspheme him."
Before this point is dismissed, I shall make some remarks on your following words: “What call have they to be willing to be damned, when God assures them that Christ is able and willing to save them, and can be glorified more in their salvation than in their damnation ?" God does not assure any one of this but them who are sure that they do embrace the gospel, and are true Christians. They who are not assured of this cannot know that Christ is willing to save them, or that he can be more glorified in their salvation than in their damnation, and of the latter you appear to be speaking, by what goes before. If such can be sure of all this, they must be equally sure that all mankind will be saved; for Christ will in every instance do that which is more for his glory than the contrary; and we are most sure that he will save every one whose salvation will be more for his glory than his damnation. I know you are opposed to the doctrine of universal salvation; perhaps I misunderstood your words, and they may be taken in another sense.
I come now to that which is to you the most puzzling point - the divine agency in respect to sin. You think we spend too much time, and take more pains, in explaining and vindicating the divine agency in the existence of moral evil than in proving that God is the Author of all moral good. Perhaps this is not strictly true. I appeal to my system, where, perhaps, I have said as much on this point as any writer, in the chapter on the Divine Decrees, yet not exclusive of any other important doctrine. It is of importance that the divine character should be vindicated in the existence of sin under his government, as well as in other events. And is it not proved to every candid mind that the divine will and agency is as necessary for the existence of moral evil as of any other event, and that it is abundantly asserted in Scripture; and that they who attempt to account for the existence of sin in any other way will find it is attended with as many difficulties and great absurdities? - that the divine character may be vindicated, and his holiness and infinite benevolence or goodness is not sullied in the least, but gloriously manifested and displayed, and sin as criminal, and the sinner as blamable, as if God had no will or agency respecting the existence of it? You say, the evil consequence which men will draw from this doctrine, to their own hurt, will be fixed on their minds so as not to be removed by any thing we can say; therefore it were better not to mention it. May not this be as truly said of many, if not all the most important doctrines of divine revelation? and the mouths of objectors cannot be stopped. The same consequences which you have mentioned, and worse, have been, and now are, drawn by millions from the doctrine of predestination, of the decrees of God, particular election, etc.; yet you believe and preach up, and labor abundantly to explain and vindicate them, let who will violently oppose and abuse them by drawing the worst and most destructive and blasphemous consequences from them.
You want to know how we would obviate the consequences which the Hindoos in India infer from this doctrine, that God is the Author of all sin. We answer, we do not know the particulars of their doctrine, and that it is the same with ours, but presume it is quite different and absurd. But if it be the same which we hold, we have already shown, and abundantly proved, that the inferences which they or any one else make are wholly groundless and unreasonable. Witness President Edwards on Freedom of Will, Dr. West on Moral Agency, and the chapter on the Divine Decrees, before mentioned.
But you wish us to make the matter so clear as to be easily understood by the most unenlightened mind, and made obvious to every Sooder and Hindoo in India. You have set us a hard task indeed, but we take leave to set you another, which when you have performed, we promise to do ours. The inferences from the doctrine of the decrees of God, and many other doctrines which you hold and preach, which have been and are now made by the millions of British Hindoos and Sooders, from the highest lords, bishops, doctors of divinity, and the clergy, down to the lowest and most ignorant peasant, are wrong and absurd, and the inferences you make from these doctrines are right, and agreeable to Scripture. Now, if you will make the matter so clear and plain as to be easily understood, not only by the learned, judicious, and attentive, but the most unenlightened mind, and to become obvious and plain to the lowest and most stupid and ignorant person in Britain, then we shall think it an easy matter to perforın what you request.
I can give no information concerning the MSS. of President Edwards, which were in the hands of Dr. Edwards when he died. I had not seen him for a number of years before hisVOL. II.
death, and fear they have fallen into hands who will let them sink into oblivion.
I have just entered on the eighty-third year of my age, and do not expect to preach or live much longer. Wish you may live many years, and do much good in the cause of Christ. Hope after that to meet you where Christ will abundantly reward his faithful servants.
I remain your assured friend and fellow-servant in the gospel,
S. HOPKINS. Rev. Dr. RYLAND.
P. S. December 3. — Since the above was written, Dr. Hopkins has been very sick, so as life was despaired of; is now recovering, but unable to write or to read a word. He has had the above transcribed, and desires me to add, that he wishes the Rev. Dr. Ryland, Rev. Mr. Fuller, and Sutclif would consult together, and write and send the result. And, if they have no objection, perhaps the correspondence may be printed. Dr. Hopkins recommends Dr. Hart, of Preston, and Dr. Strong, of Hartford, as correspondents with whom you will be pleased. With very great respect, I am, reverend sir,
Your friend and servant,
ELIZABETH HOPKINS. Rev. DR. RYLAND.
[The following is one of the letters referred to in the Memoir, p. 222, etc., which were addressed by Dr. Hopkins to one of his English friends. It is one of the many proofs that Hopkins did a great work in enlightening the minds of men on the subject of saving faith.]
Rev. AND DEAR Sir: I have lately been reading Hervey's Dialogues and Letters, which I some time ago heard you speak favorably of. I have been entertained and well pleased with the performance. The doctrines of man's depravity, and the sinner's justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, are, I think, set in a strong and convincing light. The ingenious author has a peculiar talent at expressing his sentiments in elegant and charming language, suited — so far as I can judge — to the taste of this polite age; and the lively and entertaining descriptions of nature interspersed will, I hope, draw on many to read, who otherwise never might have taken the pains to inquire into these important articles of the Christian faith; and it is a pleasing circumstance to me that a clergyman of the church of England should be willing and able so well to defend those doctrines, which, though fully and clearly expressed in the articles of that church, and solemnly subscribed by all its clergy, are rejected by almost all the clergy and laity of that communion in this land, and if not disowned, yet neglected by the writers of that denomination at home. And, indeed, for some reason or other, these doctrines, zealously professed in former ages, and the truth of them sealed by the blood of thousands, have, at this day, but very few able advocates publicly to espouse their cause, while their adversaries are triumphing as having demonstrated them to be most absurd and blasphemous.
Is it not a pity that Mr. Hervey so peremptorily declines this noble and important combat for the future? When strength and skill are so much wanted, is it not to be lamented that so able a combatant should leave the field ? Where shall we find a man to supply his place ? Must we not hope and pray that, if Mr. Hervey's resolution has been too sudden, the great Head of the Church will lead him as resolutely to reverse it? And as his declining state of health is mentioned as the principal reason for his withdrawing his pen from the further public defence of these precious and important doctrines, you will, I trust, join with me in praying for his restoration to health, and the lengthening out of his precious life. And I have at present something further to wish to pray for; even that, wherein Mr. Hervey and your friend are not of the same mind, God would reveal even this unto us. (Phil. iii. 15.) For I am not so happy as to agree with him in every article; yea, I must beg leave, till I can have further light, to dissent from him in a very important one. I cannot approve of his definition of faith, and of much that he says in illustrating and proving it to be proper and genuine. If I had opportunity of representing the difficulties in my mind against that par. ticular, to the author, who appears to be possessed of such an uncommon state of sagacity, meekness, candor, and love of the truth, I should hope to give or receive that light which might be satisfactory. But as this privilege is denied to an obscure American, I have presumed to reply to you, reverend sir, and with leave to represent my difficulties and offer my objections to you, desiring, that if you find that I misunderstand this ingenious and justly-esteemed author, or that my objections have no weight, you would be so good as to show me wherein my mistake lies.
Mr. Hervey's definition of faith you will find in his third volume, Letter 10, p. 217, and it is repeated in Dialogue 16, and is as follows: "Faith is a real persuasion that the blessed Jesus has shed his blood for me, and fulfilled all righteousness in my stead ; that, through this great atonement and meritorious obedience, he has purchased, even for my sinful soul, reconciliation with God, sanctifying grace, and every spiritual blessing."
I have the following objections in my mind against this definition of faith :
I. I do not see what ground or foundation there is for such a faith in divine revelation. I do not find it any where revealed in the Bible that Christ died for me, etc. I find no such declaration or proposition there; and, therefore, I do not see what ground I have to believe this proposition from any thing revealed in the Bible. The gospel declares that Christ died to save sinners; that all that accept of him and rely upon him for salvation are interested in all the benefits of his death. This, therefore, I have reason to believe; but how shall I believe that I have an interest in his death, that my sins are pardoned, etc., unless I am conscious that I comply with the condition on which all this is offered and promised in the gospel ? The invitations and promises of the gospel are a sufficient ground for my believing that Christ is an allsufficient Savior; that he, with all his benefits, is freely offered to every sinner that will accept of him and trust in him ; that, therefore, I am invited to come to him, and trust in hinn for salvation ; that the invitation is made to me, and the promises are all mine, if I do comply with the invitation. But if I do not, none of the promises belong to me, and I have no interest in the saving benefits of Christ. Therefore, while I do not accept of, or comply with, the invitation, I have no ground to believe that any of the promises and benefits of the gospel are mine, or belong to me; but on the contrary, I have reason to believe and be assured that eternal life does not belong to me, but that I am pointed out as one on whom the wrath of God abideth. I can, therefore, have no further reason to believe that Christ died for me, that my sins are pardoned, etc., than I have evidence that I am willing to receive these blessings as they are offered; for it is by my thus receiving them that they become mine. If, therefore, I believe they are mine, unconditionally, my faith (if it can be called such) is wholly without any foundation from divine revelation; yea, is contrary to the express declaration of Scripture, and must be, therefore, a mere delusion.
This objection is made by Theron, p. 279; but I conceive it