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Dr Taylor's Theory as exhibited in the Christian Spectator for 1829.
Dr T every where denies divine efficiency, and limits the agency of the Spirit to the mere presentation of motives. Of course he must have the same views of predestination and election, (both of which he strenuously maintains,) that Dr Fitch has expressed. Dr T holds that God can create a being constitutionally qualified to act without being acted upon; that the angels are indepen. dent for holiness; that man would need no divine interposition but for his obstinate depravity; that this renders necessary a more urgent pressure of motives by the Spirit, to draw his attention from the world and fix it upon divine truth ;*
* Dr T has exactly revived the old Arminian doctrine, that the chief obstruction caused by bad affections lies in their drawing away the attention from divine truth; and that nothing is necessary on the part of God but to illumine the understanding by his Spirit. Dr Whitby says, (see Introduction,)“ Be it then so that we naturally have an aversion to the truths proposed in the Gospel; that only can make us indisposed to attend to them.-It therefore can be only requisite—that the good Spirit should so illumine our understandings, that we, attending to and considering what lies before us, should apprehend and be convinced of our duty." Nothing could more exactly express the views of Dr T.
that the Spirit can effectually arrest the attention of sinners at first, but it depends on them whether that attention shall continue or return to the world, that there is in man a constitutional susceptibility to the good exhibited in divine truth, founded in self-love or the desire of happiness; that consequently there is in the close consideration of truth a tendency to excite the love of truth; that as the Spirit does nothing but fix the attention upon truths most calculated to persuade, consideration only acts in a line with the Spirit, and has the same tendency in the moment of conversion as before; that consideration produces feeling and feeling consideration, while the Spirit, by the clear presentation of truth, promotes both; that without this consideration God cannot regenerate, for rival objects must be compared before God can be preferred to the world ; that by these means are excited supreme desires after God, not viewed in the glories of his character, but as the mere deliverer from punishment; that these desires are not selfish, because the supreme affection is detached from the world and fixed on deliverance from future punishment; that selfishness is thus suspended, and becomes weaker in every renewal of its power, until, just at the moment of conversion, it ceases altogether; that the means of regeneration are this consideration and the accompanying efforts to love; that the sinner cannot be said. to use the means of regeneration while he is selfish, and never therefore till that last moment when he makes the full and final effort to give his heart to God; that when he has got so far as to desire deliverance from punishment more than the world, (here is an infinite chasm in the
chain,) he is exactly prepared to give his supreme affection to God as soon as the vail which conceals the divine glory is taken away; that he himself penetrates this vail by concentrated attention, and then, by summoning all his powers to love, by one successful effort he rises up to divine affection.
In consistency with these views, Dr T's grand object is to put sinners upon exertion, not merely by urging their obligations, but by telling them that they may succeed and can succeed, and that God may be ready to regenerate them at once. This is all consistent with the plan. For as the exertions which the Spirit merely prompts, and which are actually successful, are made by themselves, and will succeed the sooner the sooner made; and as moral agents may reasonably be exhorted to these efforts, and are put upon them by such excitements; it comports with the system to hold out these encouragements. And if there is no divine efficiency, there is nothing false or dangerous in all this. But if there is divine efficiency, all language which contradicts it encourages a fatal selfdependence, which may feed a false religion but cannot promote the true.
Dr T strongly bolds to the doctrine of perseverance.
Now for the proof of all this. Dr T mentions approvingly “the reason commonly assigned for the necessity of a divine influence in regeneration.—This reason is not that truth and motives, viewed in relation to the moral agency of man, are insufficient to produce a change of heart, but that when presented to the mind of the sinner, their influence is counteracted by the perverseness of the
heart."* In the published correspondence between Dr Hawes and Dr T, Dr H says, “ The sinner's dependence,
-if I rightly understand your statement of it, is a dependence of his own creating, growing out of voluntary perverseness of heart.” Dr T replies: “The necessity of the influence of the holy Spirit in regeneration, results solely from the voluntary perverseness of the sinner's heart.” The necessity that God should conquer the rebel, doubtless is of the sinner's own creating; but here his very dependence for holiness is made his own fault. It follows that the angels are not dependent for holiness: and there is the self-determining power. In this same letter to Dr H, Dr T impliedly asserts what Dr Fitch so openly maintains, that God could not have prevented sin ; a point never admitted by any who believe either in divine efficiency or in the absolute dominion of motives. For if God can control one mind he can control all, and then he could have prevented sin. The passage is this. “I do not believe that sin can be proved to be the necessary means of the greatest good, and that as such God prefers it on the whole to holiness in its stead.—But I do believe that holiness as the means of good may be better than sin; that it may be true that God, all things caasidered, prefers holiness to sin in all instances in which the latter takes place, and therefore sincerely desires that all men should come to repentance, [but cannot make them repent;] though for wise reasons he permits, or does not prevent, the existence of sin.” Permits sin! And how could he prevent it? In no way but by refusing to create moral agents. As well