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The character of the book is wholly religious, and the plan of the author, is first, to convince of sin and condemnation ; next to point out the inefficacy of repentance, without atonement, and the impossibility of atonement by any other than the Lord Jesus Christ as “ God manifest in the flesh ;" and then to press compliance with the conditions of salvation.
These general views are presented in a clear and perspicuous light, and, for the most part, are happily illustrated. As we passed along, we thought the author less happy in the fifth Letter; but on reading the sixth and seventh, we found our interest revived, and more than revived : and we closed the eighth and last, with great satisfaction.
Appended to the Letters are several original hymns, with two selected; all which are very well, being adapted to the general subject of the Letters and suitable to be read in connexion with them.
As a specimen of the author's manner, we select the following paragraph, on the subject of faith, from his seventh Letter.
“ You see, my dear brother, that the heart must be interested, or faith is not genuine. You are required to believe in Christ as your only Saviour and to receive Him as the object of your supreme affection. Love to the world is inconsistent with such an affection for Christ. Unless you have thus received Christ, your speculative faith is utterly vain. He will be satisfied only with your heart-your whole heart. You must so commit yourself to Him as to feel yourself wholly at his disposal-ready to be guided by Him and to follow Hiin wherever He leads the way. This is the only way in which you can give practical evidence of living faith."
7. Twenty-Third Annual Report of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions ; October, 1832. Boston: Crocker & Brewster. 1832.
The Reports of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions have been wont to be valuable documents, but for interesting and important matter no one which has hitherto appeared, has been more so than this, which we here notice. Besides the usual topics embraced in similar documents, it contains an appendix embracing the act of the incorporation of the Board, and the laws and regulations by which its various, complicated and extended business is regulated and managed. By these it may be seen what its object is, and how it seeks to accomplish it; and any one, we think, who will interest himself to look over the Report, cannot fail to be impressed with the greatness, grandeur and unspeakable importance of the missionary enterprise. Besides the act of incorporation and the laws and regulations of the Board, the appendix contains their memorial also, in relation to the Indians, with the reply of the Secretary of War, the Mandate of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the memorial of the Prudential Committee in relation to refunding the value of the Missionary buildings and improvements in the Choctaw nation. There are other things of interest, but these we must pass. We can only say that, as it is always desirable that the reports of our public bodies should be generally circulated, so we hope this Report in particular may be universally read and considered.
[Concluded from p. 18.] The next subject is the doctrine of irresistible grace. Under this name, I have denied the doctrine, “that the sinner, under the renewing influence of the Divine Spirit, resists that influence, until it becomes a natural impossibility for him to resist it any longer.” Dr. Tyler supposes, that this is not the doctrine of irresistible grace. I think otherwise. Indeed, I know that this doctrine has ofien been taught. Even Dr. Tyler, though in some of his remarks he seems to deny it, does also maintain substantially this very doctrine. I had said, " that in all cases the grace of God may be resisted by man as a free moral agent, and that when it becomes effectual to conversion, it is unresisted." These are
These are “the positions," to which Dr. Tyler objects. Of course, Dr. Tyler must hold, that when the grace of God becomes effectual to conversion, it is not unresisted, but resisted ; and that in some cases, it cannot be successfully resisted by man, as a free moral agent. What is this, but maintaining that sinners resist the influence of the Spirit in conversion, and resist it, until it becomes naturally impossible to resist it any longer ?
Further—Dr. Tyler, quoting again the statement" that in all cases, the grace of God may be resisted by man as a free moral agent," says—“ Consequently, it is in the power of every sinner, if he should be so inclined, to render it impossible for God to convert him. Who then can tell, that another sinner ever will be converted ?" This is virtually saying, that it is not in the power of every sinner, if he should be so inclined, to render it impossible for God to convert him; in other words, that God VOL. VI.-NO. II.
can exert an influence on the mind of sinners in their conversion, which it is naturally impossible for them to resist. It is also virtually saying, that unless we believe that God will in fact exert such an influence, no one can tell that another sinner will ever be converted. Now this is the doctrine of irresistible grace in its fullest form and strongest import; for what influence is more absolutely irresistible, than that which sinners have no natural power to resist? That this is the very doctrine which Dr. Dwight denies, is equally manifest. He says, “But that he (the Spirit of God) will exert a regenerating agency on the human mind, which man has not a natural power to resist, or which man could not resist if he would, is far from being satisfactorily evident to me. Indeed, I am ready to question, whether this very language does not lead the mind to views which are radically erroneous.” He further says, “ That it is an unresisted agency IN ALL CASES,
unquestionable ; that it is irresistible in any, does not appear. Ought not Dr. Tyler, before he further impugns my orthodoxy on this point, first to settle this question in regard to Dr. Dwight?
But says Dr. Tyler, on the supposition that sinners can, as moral agents, resist the grace of God in all cases, “who then can tell that another sinner will ever be converted ?"_I answer, every one who has read and believes the Bible. But Dr. Tyler means, if he means any thing to his purpose, that unless we can infer a priori, i. e. merely from the nature of the subject, or merely from the nature of moral agency and the power of God, that he can convert sinners, there is no proof that he can. I have before had occasion to point out Dr. Tyler's error in representing me as denying that there is any evidence, that God can convert sinners, even from the word of God, when I have only said, that this cannot be proved by a priori reasoning. I now call on Dr. Tyler to prove by this kind of reasoning, that God can convert another sinner. How shall Dr. Tyler do this? Why, if at all, by proving that a bejng who can sin, cannot sin. The position for Dr. Tyler to prove is, that a moral agent remaining such, will not sin. But to prove this from the nature of the case, Dr. Tyler must prove, that under some possible preventing influence, the moral agent cannot sin. For if he can sin under every such influence, then, for aught Dr. Tyler can show to the contrary, by a priori reasoning, he will sin. Before, then, Dr. Tyler can prove a priori, that such beings will not all continue in sin, he must prove that under the supposed influence they cannot, i. e. he must prove that beings who can sin, cannot sin.
Now, it is to no purpose for Dr. Tyler to say, that the Scriptures teach, that God can convert sinners. Dr. Tyler must know, that I have never denied this. The question is, can Dr. Tyler prove this by a priori reasoning, or from the nature of the subject ? Let him fairly and manfully address himself to the real point of the difficulty as above presented. Until he does this, let him not think that reflecting minds will not see the fallacy of his reasoning.
I cannot leave this topic, without attempting to show Dr. Tyler an incongruity into which his mind seems to me almost constantly to fall, in regard to the sinner's ability. No man, not even Pelagius, goes further in asserting the sinner's complete power to right or wrong moral action, than Dr. Tyler, when the question before his mind respects the sinner's obligation to right action. But no sooner is the subject changed, no sooner does it respect the mode of accounting for the univer: sality of sin, than Dr. Tyler becomes the zealous advocate of a propagated constitutional propensity to sin-an inherent property of man's very nature, which amounts to an utter disqualification-an absolute natural inability for right moral ac. tion. More especially, when the power of the sinner is distinctly recognized in connexion with the doctrine of divine influence, then, as the only safeguard of this important truth, he is, as we have seen, eager and unqualified in maintaining a natural impossibility on the part of the sinner, to resist the grace of God. When a mere natural possibility of this is asserted, Dr. Tyler, who, on other occasions assures us, that 'the sinner has all the power he can possess,' asks in devout consternation, “Who can tell that another sinner will ever be converted ?" He thus rests all his hopes of the future conversion of sinners on the fact, that God can, and of course, that he will, use an influence for this purpose, which it shall be naturally impossible for them to resist. And now, what is this, bat to deny in every such case, the sinner's moral agency altogether? For what kind of moral agency is that which does not include the porcer to resist the grace of God and continue in sin? If this power is 'overcome,' in such a sense, that the sinner cannct resist the grace, through a natural impossibility, what is this but converting the soul by physical compulsion--what but crushing and destroying moral agency in the very act of securing moral action—what but the absurd achievement of making the sinner willing against his will ?
In my letter to Dr. Hawes, I said, that “when grace becomes effectual, it is unresisted.” Now, as I claimed, Dr. Tyler changed the import of this passage, by representing me as saying,
" that the sinner ceases to resist before the grace of God converts him.” In reply to this representation, I asked, “ how will Dr. Tyler show that cotemporaneousness is the same thing as priority ?” Without even noticing this reply, and therefore, without attempting to vindicate himself in thus changing the import of my statement, he appeals again to what I had said in the Christian Spectator. Now suppose what we may, respecting what I said in the Spectator, how is Dr. Tyler justified in charging me with saying, in my letter to Dr. Hawes, what I did not say?
But how stands the case, in regard to the passages in the Spectator ? Dr. Tyler put a construction or meaning on these passages, which I had already disclaimed. This he did, as I have claimed, in defiance of all usage, and of abundant definitions and explanations of my language to the contrary. On this ground, I said, “If I ain right in this, then Dr. Tyler perverts my language. If I am not, still Dr. Tyler has been assured, that I reject the meaning which he im.putes to me. Who then would expect Dr. Tyler to quote the language again, and still persist in giving it that meaning ? Is not this charging opinions on me, which he knows I do not maintain ? He can now take which side of the alternative he pleases; and, take which he will, he has charged me with holding opinions, with decisive evidence before him, that I do not hold them.”
What course then does Dr. Tyler take? He insists that he has not perverted my language-that it will not admit of any other meaning, than that which he gives it. Be it so. On this point then, we difler. But it is the only point in the case on which we do differ. Dr. Tyler was assured, that if the language must have the meaning he gives it, it is as remote from expressing truth, in my view, as it is in his own. He knew, of course, that the meaning charged on my language was not my real meaning; and all he can say is, that my words express, in his opinion, a different meaning from that which he knew I intended to express. Dr. Tyler, therefore, charges me with holding opinions which he knows I do not hold!
But what are these opinions? The first is, that before God will interpose to renew the sinner's heart, he must give up his idols-he must submit to divine authority, and cease to be a rebel.” The other is, “that the reason, why the sinner prefers the world to God is, that he has mistaken the true way of securing his highest happiness." ---Now Dr. Tyler asks “ when and where I have explained the passages (on which he founds these charges) and attempted to show that they will