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ever, are the main things; and if esty and unpretending plainness, is these are high in merit, and valua- truly worthy of a great mind; and ble for important instruction, they in those respects it may well put to never die. They will receive at- the blush the high-wrought diaries tention. They will not fade from of inward experience, which some, the understanding. They will live, it is to be apprehended, substitute in their impress on the age. for more visible and tangible excel.
What shall we say, then, of the lence, and by which too, we fear, contents of these volumes ? Much some have offered up incense to of the matter, indeed, has already their own reputation, under the prebeen spread before the public. The text of celebrating the Divine goodpreachers and theologians, now on ness. the stage of active life, have had The Sermons of Dr. Emmons are access, from their youth, to many strikingly clear and instructive ; and of these sermons; and whether all the strictly logical method in which have read them or not, their rays he ever advances in his reasonings, have been diffused, more or less carries all, who concede to him his directly, on all, who-excuse the premises, unfailingly with him to illustration-have revolved, if not his conclusions. If there are a few as primaries around the central points in the statement of some docbody, as secondaries around the trines which we cannot adopt as primaries.
true, yet these points are so obviThese volumes contain, beside ously peculiar and hard to be digestthe Sermons of Emmons and an ed, that we do not apprehend their Autobiography, a Memoir by the becoming very current among the editor, and Reflections of a Visitor, body of the faithful or their teachby Prof. E. A. Park. The Memoir ers; while, on the other hand, there presents a very clever account of is in them so much of deep and perthe peculiar character and habits of manent instruction, which is valuathe man, the scholar, and divine; ble to the Christian in his duties and and the few prominent occurrences trials, and awakening to the impeniof a personal, domestic, or paro- tent in their guilt and danger, that, chial nature, in a life which, though we trust, they will live to instruct and spared to extreme old age, was impress other generations. “The passed, with uniform regularity, in audiences who heard Emmons," the study of one long cherished said a sagacious critic, a quarter of domicil, and in labor for one ever a century ago,“ have heard more constant and beloved people. truth, and are better instructed,
The Reflections of a Visitor, to waiving all peculiar and discriminabe appreciated, must be read; and ting points, than those who heard when read, cannot fail to be appre- Davies and Witherspoon; and," he ciated. And who can spend an adds, “I frankly declare, that I hour more pleasantly or profitably, would as lief be thought the writer than to visit the study of a keen of the sermons of Emmons, as of eyed, New England veteran in the. Watts or Baxter, Hall or Fuller, ology, long conversant with the Sherlock or Tillotson, Saurin or social, political, and religious world, Claude, Bossuet or Bourdalue." and hear him give out, in brilliant There are those indeed who, look. apothems, the precepts of practical ing at his sermons as they would at wisdom; and see him smite, with specimens of the fine arts, affect to the quick-sprung, pointed shafts of turn away in disgust from this one wit, the follies of his age or pro- single and ever-repeated model of fession.
writing; and demand more of the The Autobiography, in its mod variety and freshness of the various
departments of the literary world, It has not been biblical : at least before they can accord to him the in the sense of adopting only the praise of good writing. Emmons, forms of statement contained in the say they, wrote nothing but ser- Bible ; yet who, in arranging the mons, and these, after one pattern contents of the Bible into a connectonly. Well, we commend him for ed and dependent system of truth, sermon-making-for adhering to his ever thought of expressing the proper business as a preacher, and whole in the words and phrases not turning aside to the business of alone of the vernacular translation ? book-making and publishing. And But that it has not diligently sought whether there is as much of literary the contents of the Bible, or that it excellence in a sermon, well writ- has not succeeded so far, at least, ten, as in ,
novels, history, or other as to arrive at its great doctrines, forms of composition-cuique sua we will not admit. Yet, in respect opinio—we dispute not about tastes. to the narration, the poetry, the Yet we know that men are of differ- epistolary correspondence, the forms ent temperaments, and have differ- of composition, the diversities of ent gifts; and in order that each style, the nice shades of expresone may exercise his gifts in the sion, the original tongues, the vari. church to edification, there must be ous writers, the external history, diversity of operations. One may which characterize the Bible as a write his sermons after this pattern, book, it has not, we admit, been so and another after that, and a third studious, as thorough scholarship in still may have his own way; yet Scriptural criticism and interpreta. among models and patterns, with tion would demand; as would enatheir respective excellences, one ble the preacher to be the expert may be the more excellent way. expositor of portions of Scripture,
We have chosen, however, in the as well as the thorough handler of present article, to look at Emmons distinct topics of truth; or as would as the theologian, rather than the best serve the theologian in gather: preacher; and to estimate his influ. ing all, and exactly, the texts which ence upon the theology of New give their attestation on any particEngland. We refer not to the ular part of divine truth. Yet in number or weight of those persons the latter respect, in which alone who have imbibed all his peculiar the doctrinal is concerned, New views, and who may be called, in a England, for aught we see, stands, good sense, his partisans; but rath- in its past history, on as high an er, to those traces which his firm elevation as her nearest kindred, and bold hand, guided by his clear her Presbyterian cotemporaries, (to and discriminating mind, has left say nothing of other denominations;) on the theology of his times. all alike having their proof-texts
The theology of the Congrega. furnished to hand, in the confession tionalists of New England has ever of the Westminster Assembly. The been distinguished as doctrinal or fact is, the means of thorough bibli. systematic; employed on the study, cal learning were not in the posses. statement, and proof of divine truth, sion of our fathers. The private as a system ; a system, harmonious study and small library of the coun. in its parts and in its relation to all try minister, was the resort of the truth; a system, consonant with the theological student, and the systemdictates of reason and revelation; atic questions of his teacher, his sole a system, which furnishes the deep chart in theology. Yet in introduand immovable basis of all true cing a more thorough system of knowledge, and right feeling and theological education into our coun. practice on the subject of religion. try, the Congregationalists took the lead; and we can now point to one flocks, but to the progress, among of the indomitable sons of New them, of experimental and practical England who, thirty years since, religion. Indeed, in the invariable first erected the standard of biblical and necessary relation of doctrine studies on the hill of Andover, and to right experience and practice, is who, boldly facing the prejudices of to be found the true secret of the the times, succeeded to effect an intense study of her orthodox theentire change, and still lives to en- ologians. They have earnestly joy the wide-spread fruit of his sought the truth of God, as that labors, and receive the honor of which best serves them to minister, two hemispheres.
at the altar and in the sanctuary, Nor has the theology of New unto edification; to define the naEngland been historical. Her sons ture of gracious affections, and mark have ever been trained to minister out the limits of practical duties; to at the altar, as the freemen of the discriminate between the counterLord; who were never in bondage feits and pretexts which sustain a to any man or set of men, and who, false hope, and the marks and eviin their independence, stand respon- dences which ascertain the true; to sible alone to their Master in heav- separate, in their audiences, the been, and, subordinately to him, to liever from the unbeliever, the saint the individual churches over which from the sinner, with a clearness to they labor; never allowing to the carry conviction to the conscience ; traditional documents of men the to urge the one class to turn instantweight of independent evidence of ly from their evil ways unto the truth; never quoting them, as such, Lord, and lead the other forward in in their theological writings, or in the way of holiness and life, with their preaching; always, in assent- all the appropriate motives that can ing to formulas of doctrine, taking be gathered from the boundless field them for the substance rather than of divine truth. the expression, and employing them Emmons, true to the principles for symbols of fellowship, which of the fathers in grounding all exmark the mere outlines of a com- hortation in the pulpit on knowledge, mon habitation in faith and polity, was ever strenuous to maintain, that and not for complete summaries of " a systematical knowledge of the all theological knowledge; not as Gospel is as necessary in order to the Ultima Thule of discovery; not form a plain, practical, and profitaas the eternal ocean barrier, staving ble preacher, as to form a consisoff all further progress with the de. tent, thorough, and deep divine." cree, Hucusque. The proofs are And if any one would seek after abundant in the unshackled freedom the great object, which held the of debate, that has ever marked the deeply logical and metaphysical thediscussions of our fathers in their ologians of New England intent on assemblies, their published pamph- the study of divine truth, he will lets and magazines.
find it, in the power they thus seThe theology of New England, cured to their instructions in the as we said, has been distinguished pulpit-in their increased ability to as the systematic. We intend not, make their hearers understand, ad. by this statement, that her preach- mit, and feel the force of that truth. ers, when in the pulpit, confine Nor can a better view of the rationthemselves to the mere science of ale of their practice in the pulpit be theology : for it has been eminent- presented, than is given in the volly true of them, as a class, that they umes before us, in the sermons enhave made the science subservient, titled the Wise Preacher and Ra. not only to the instruction of their tional Preaching. Vol. I.
We are aware that the cry of met. head, is far more easy than to show aphysics and metaphysical preach- what, in order to convince men, a ing has been raised against Emmons religious teacher is to substitute in and many of the Congregationalists; the place of conclusive argument; as if their pastors and teachers, or how, in using such argument, he many of them at least, had, with is to proceed without tasking his own misiaken views of their office, con- thinking powers. Paul before the verted their churches into mere lec- heathen at Athens; Paul before the ture-rooms and schools of theology, Jews at Antioch ; Paul writing to and as if they had substituted their Christian converts at Rome and Ga. own thoughts and reasonings in the latia, is the logical reasoner, the place of revelation. True, as a profound metaphysician, the close body, they aimed to instruct as well thinker; and if his successors in as exhort and rebuke; and deemed the ministry of the Gospel, divested it important to be precise in state- of the apostolic office and the gui. ment and conclusive in reasoning, dance of inspiration, would follow as well as vivid in description or fer- out the arguments he has left, or vid in appeal. For this cause they imitate his manner in stating and were often noted, like Emmons, for defending the system of divine truth, adhering to those principles of logic they are to reason closely and con. and metaphysics which lie at the clusively, and to think intently that basis of all sound instruction and they may so reason. doctrine. They were not content But we are not pretending that to criticise the language and settle the preacher should act merely as the meaning of a text of Scripture the teacher and defender of truth, merely, but considered the substance nor is there any occasion to vindi. of the declaration, when ascertain cate the Congregational preachers ed, as a truth, which, unless a mat- of New England from the charge ter of pure revelation, like the Trinity, could be commended to the con
*« Numbers there are who defend the science both of believer and unbe- doctrines of grace by a constant appeal to liever as true ; and they handled it chapter and verse;' and they do well. as such, by referring, not merely to
At the same time it will not be pretended,
that ihis is the only mode by which truth a string of Scriptural declarations to
may be stated and defended.” show that by correct interpretation Science, • falsely so called,' has been they assert or imply the same thing, a means of perverting the simple truthis but also, to some first principles or
* * * * but it is also an of the Gospel;
undeniable fact, that false interpretations truths, which reason recognizes or
of Scripture have corrupted the schools which revelation teaches, to show of moral philosophy." that the truth in question necessarily ics as if faith in the pure Gospel were in
" To make use of the term “metaphys.' follows, as a logical consequence, danger, is a weakness, to which a reflecting from such premises, and that men mind might be expected to rise superior. cannot escape from it and the Scrip- --Williams's Essay on the Equity of Ditural testimony which asserts it, rine Gorernment. without contradicting the dictates of thrown abundance of contempt and rail.
" Many of the moderns have their own reason and conscience. Jery upon the very name of metaphysics ; This is to hold the mind of others bui this science *
is so necessary to a to the truth, in the only lawful or just conception, solid judgment, and just successful way ; whether in the pul- times it is introduced as a part of logie,
reasoning on many subjects, that somepit or out of the pulpit, whether in and not without reason. And those who addressing believers in revelation utterly despise and ridicule it, either beor unbelievers. To reproach this tray their own ignorance, or will be sup
posed to make their wit and banter a method as metaphysical, and as
refuge and excuse for their own laziness." spinning arguments out of one's own -Watts's Logic.
of inculcating nothing but a mere ing this system, in applying it to belief in the system of divine truth. men for the purposes of redemption, The elder and younger Edwards, the Calvinistic theologians were Bellamy, Smalley, Strong, Dwight, early called to encounter strenuous though in their preaching powerful opposition, not only from unbeliev. and expert, as reasoners, to estab- ers but from other bodies of profeslish truth, ever aimed to reach the sed Christians; and in their own hearts and lives of their hearers ; history, have been called to witness using God's truth not only for doc- some of the practical errors that trine, but for reproof, for correction, have been engrafted on the system for instruction in righteousness. Nor or arisen out of it. The indepen. can this be denied of Hopkins, dent spirit of the New England PuSpring, and Emmons, who, in some ritans ever led them to reject the respects, advanced beyond the com- authority of hierarchy in every monly received and admitted theol. form ; all her ministers at the altar, ogy of the Congregationalists. Em- and all the members of her churches, mons, by far the clearest of all in bowing only to the authority of the statement, the most transparent and Great Head of the Church, and easy in style, the most sternly severe seeking all truth, not from popes, in logical order and method, is never councils, or the fathers, but, in the content to leave his position merely true spirit of Protestantisın, from as true, and established as such by the Bible alone. They consented his reasonings : but at the close, to dwell together in the old manor standing behind the impregnable of Calvinism, not because it particbreastworks of the truth, he ever ularly pleased Calvin or was a mo. sends, with unerring aim, his pointed del of his devising-for each of her arrows to the conscience and the ministers considered himself on a heart; in other words, availing him. level with Calvin, having access, as self of such plain and necessary in. he had, to the immediate sources of ferences from the established truth truth—but because they believed it as serve to refute error, to reveal to be constructed after the divine the state of men's hearts to them. pattern and model, at least in all its selves, to alarm the careless and un grand compartments; and that, in believing, and comfort believers, and it, they could dwell together, in es. to urge the one to immediate repen- sential unity and fellowship, as the tance and the other to progress in house of God. Yet the building of the Christian life.
the sixteenth century, rapidly put But we must return to the science up and in troublous times, it might of theology which, among the Con. be expected, the lapse of centuries gregationalists, we have said, has or the constant inspection and trial ever been regarded and pursued as of freeborn heirs would give occa. the deep and only effective source sion, if not to remodel and reconof all true religious experience and struct, at least to repair and improve, correct practice.
in some of the materials found to be The creed of the orthodox Con- defective, or some of the proportions gregational churches has ever been, that were wanting in symmetry. for substance of doctrine, that which There might be differences of opin. is expressed either in the Westmin. ion whenever a change was propo. ster or Savoy Confessions, or in the sed ; and some controversy might Articles of the Church of England; arise, in the house, between those, embracing, on the great subject of who would venerate the precise form divine grace, the doctrines which of the old step-stone or architrave of have been usually called the Cal. the entrance, and those, who saw a vinistic. In upholding and defendo change in them to be more conve