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hands he may chance to fall. Pursuing this course with the writers on whom he has made his sweeping constructive powers to bear, it is not surprising to hear Mr. A. come out, in a short conclusive paragraph, in the following truly nervous and sententious style:
“ The result of the whole is, that we have original sin, which is no sin; depravity without fault; inclination to evil without criminality; the penalty of the law inflicted on those who are not subjects of law; and wonderous.grace' to deliver us from a punishment which we do not deserve! Such is the jargon which is published by the highest authority as approved doctrinal views of the Methodist Church." Page 69.
Thus, if denunciation were argument, and if we were compelled to take mere assertion for conclusive reasoning and logical demonstration, the M. E. Church, with all her acknowledged accredited writers, would stand convicted of maintaining mere“ jargon, as approved doctrinal views ;” and that, too, by the grave decision of the reverend author of the “ Difficulties of Arminian Methodism.” We must, how. ever, beg leave to take an appeal from his decision to the tribunal of a candid and intelligent public. Methodist writers and Methodist doctrines are in the hands of an enlightened and discriminating world, at whose tribunal they may rest secure in the assurance of an impartial hearing and of a righteous judgment.
The next topic which Mr. A. brings under consideration, as connected with "original depravity,” is “ the moral character and future destiny of infants.” On this subject he remarks :
“ It has long been a favorite device of sectarian zeal, to misrepresent and hold up to abhorrence the views of the Presbyterian Church upon this topic. We are charged with maintaining the everlasting perdition of helpless infants, principally on two grounds : 1. Because our Confession nowhere expressly affirms, that all who die in infancy are saved. 2. A second ground of charge against Presbyterians, of teaching that some infants dying in childhood are lost, is, that our Confession employs the phrase "elect infants, which is said to imply that some who die in childhood are not elect. Not to repeat what has often been said, that the objected phrase is perfectly consistent with the persuasion that all infants, dying in infancy, are elected, or saved by grace, from among the guilty family of mankind; and of course, that they will not be wanting, when the Son of man shall.ga. ther together his elect from the four winds of heaven,' Matt. xxiv, 31. Not to urge the fact, that the Bible nowhere expressly affirms the sal. vation of all who die in infancy, and is still further from teaching that any of them are lost, (in these respects clearly followed by our Confession,) we rather choose to turn this Arminian battery upon those who have erected it, and try its power upon the strongholds of the enemy." Pages 69-72.
In immediate connection with the above, Mr. A. introduces a paral. lel between the phrase “elect infants,” as used by the Confession, and “elect children,” as used by the Methodist Discipline in the baptismal service. And this he regards as turning the “ Arminian battery upon those who erected it;" giving us a fine example of the frapk, candid, and Christian spirit, and style of argument in which his book is writ. ten. Moreover, in this supposed retort he seems to congratulate himself on the adroitness and effect with which he has wielded what he calls the “ argumentum ad hominem.” But, if the reader has a desire to have the Calvinistic view of this subject, in definite terms-a view for which many bave sought in vain, unless they could content themselves with mere implication, instead of clear and explicit decla. ration of real sentiments--let him gather it, if he can, from the following paragraph ; in which it would seem Mr. A. would have us believe he has given a synopsis, to use his own words, of what the Scriptures say upon the subject which is wrapped up in so many contradictions and inconsistencies:"
“Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from their estate of innocency. By the disobedience of one, many were made sinners,' Rom. v. • In Adam all die ;' because all have in him deserved to die. •By the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation.' Adam was a public person; he acted not for himself alone, but for his posterity; for them he was to stand his probation, and purchase the reward of life eternal; or for them to fall, and entail the penalty of the violated law: •they sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression. As a part of the threatened pe. nalty, they are shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin'--' by nature children of wrath.' Still they are moral agents, possessing freedom of will in the highest sense ; they act as they choose to act, are under no physical constraint or coercion, and their • inclination to evil' is their crime ; their love of sin their condemnation. The stronger their depraved affections, the more intensely they burn in the corrupt heart, so much the more vile is the act, so much the more deep and deserved the righteous retribution. If, in the providence of God, man is una. voidably a fallen creature, prone to evil as the sparks fly upward'if he has become so by the act of his original ancestor, appointed as his head and representative, let him not repine. Would it have been either more wise, or more merciful, to have ordered that each individual should enter the world in the infancy of his being, while yet his facul. ties of body and soul were in the imperfect and undeveloped state, then to stand his trial for weal or wo; or that one should be appointed, strong and vigorous, in all the perfection of original manhood, which the all-wise God pronounced . very good—that such a one should be given us, in whose hands should be placed our destiny, and by whose conduct should be decided the future character of his posterity! Could every child of Adam have looked on when the scheme was ordained in the councils of eternity, true modesty would have dictated the right answer to these inquiries. And had the result been, the establishment of the whole human family in perpetual holiness and happiness, every tongue would have celebrated the wisdom and benevolence of the ordi. nation.” Pp. 74, 75, 76.
Here, then, we have what Mr. A. fondly regards as the Scriptural view of this subject. We have given the whole paragraph, that the reader may be the better prepared to determine as to the faithfulness of this doctrinal portrait when compared with the inspired original. And what is the sum of the whole? Why, man is “ unavoidably a fallen creature he has become so by the act of his original ancestor” --but at this “ let him not repine." Because such an arrangement were better than " that each individual should enter the world in the infancy of his being, while yet the faculties of his body and soul were in the imperfect and undeveloped state, then [as an infant, of course,] to stand his trial for weal or wo--that one should be appointed strong and vigorous—in whose hands should be placed our [eternal] destiny !" Awful alternative! Who can help shuddering at the thought that every human being ever born into the world, by his Maker, has been so circumstanced as to have his eternal destiny placed in the "hands” of another in such a manner as to be liable not only to fall with him, and with him to suffer the eternal sanctions of the broken law--not merely to sin with him, or in him seminally, having at the time only a seminal existence--but in a sense involving personal guilt and liability to punishment; or else, as he enters into the world while yet " in the infancy of his being," with "undeveloped and imperfect faculties of body and soul, then to stand his trial for” eternal “ Weal or wo!"
But, admitting all Mr. A. says of the federal relation between Adam and all his posterity to be true-which, we think, is far, very far, from being admissible still he represents the Scriptures as saying not a word with regard to the influence which the atonement has had on the moral character, relations, and future destiny of infants, as they are born into the world, and die before the period of moral accountability. On these all-important questions there is a cautious reserve, if not a profound silence. Whatever may be the facts in the case, we strongly suspect, with regard to the author under review, that there is a reserved sentiment lying back which serves to him as a key to the whole matter, and which it was considered most prudent to conceal. Because the question, when pressed to its issue, must be decided in the affirmative or the negative: that is, all who die in infancy are saved, or they are not: they are“ elected,” or they are not. But which is true Mr. A. hesitates to decide. He seems disposed to avail himself of the common expedient adopted very generally by those who sub. scribe to the Calvinistic view of this subject, in order to escape both horns of the dilemma at once, saying that “ we must leave them in the hands of God, without determining their future condition-assured that he will do them no injustice.” This mode of settling the question is liable to several objections. First, It is applicable, properly, only to such as leave the world while uncertainty actually rests on their moral character. Nothing more can be said of such without the greatest presumption. But is this the case with infants? Of what class of human beings is the religious and moral character more deti. nitely fixed by the divine oracles, or may it be more clearly deduced from them? Or, to go a little further back, and inquire whether in reality they have a moral character? Taking up the question in this form-it must be conceded by all that they have, or have not, in a proper sense, a moral character. If they have not, they are incapable of both future happiness and misery ; and unless they are also divested of immortality, as they cannot without a moral character, good or bad, be fit subjects of either future happiness or misery, they must be as. signed to a place differing essentially from both. Let us next take for granted that they have a moral character, and that it is clearly defined in revelation ; but that their future condition is not distinctly stated, and cannot be satisfactorily determined—and to what issue are we irresistibly brought? Does it not strongly argue a serious and radical
imperfection in the system of revealed truth? This revelation is given to man; and in order to meet all the necessities of his condition, it describes every phase and aspect of his condition and character as they stand affected by the fall, and that system of salvation which this revelation professes to make known. But, on the principle just supposed, here is a character which is clearly defined; but that system of divine revelation, whose special object and design are to point out the fixed and governing relation between present probationary character and future retributive condition, as well as to instruct us how to obtain that character which has the promise of future happiness, and to avoid that which is threatened with future miserythat system of revelation has assigned to this character no certain condition in a future state! And were it even so, what wise end would be answered by concealing the future condition of infants ? On the contrary, the faith and hope of the pious parent can scarcely refrain from following the spirit of its dying child to the future world. And who will say the bereaved parent has not the right, or that it is impious to ask, “ Is my offspring happy with the church of the firstborn ?" Or will it be satisfactory to reply, “ They are in the hands of a just God: he will do them no injustice!" This is equally true of every man; we have nothing to fear, not even the most vile, from divine injustice--that of which the divine nature is utterly incapable. Hence, on this principle, we have no cause of solicitude for ourselves or any other person. Therefore it is to us infinitely more Scriptural and satisfactory to believe that the fallen state of helpless infancy is amply provided for in the gospel—that this class all stand or fall together--that the future state of all dying in infancy may be fairly deduced from Scripture without distortion, forced construction, perversion, or misapplication--and that all dying in that state are unconditionally saved.
But we cannot dismiss this subject without inquiring for a moment into another reserved principle involved in the Calvinistic view of this subject, and which is doubtless the key to the grand secret of the whole matter. It is that which the advocates of this system entertain of the divine sovereignty, considered as the cause and source of unconditional election ; and consequently its inseparable counterpart, reprobation. Because it cannot require argument to prove that the inevitable loss of some dying in infancy stands or falls with this doctrine. For if by the will, purpose, sovereignty, or decree of God, the eternal destinies of all men were fixed by an unchangeable decree from eternity, this is as true of the new-born infant as of the aged sire of fourscore years. To deny this, is to give up the doctrine, and discard the principle involved in the premises ; nor can it be denied without repudiating the standard Confession of the Presbyterian Church. This would be fatally disastrous to Calvinism proper. And to attempt to save the system, by saying the future retributive condition of the adult is determined by his present conduct, is to set aside the divine sovereignty in the Calvinistic sense, together with unconditional elec. tion; because it makes his salvation to depend on his own conduct, and not on the sovereign decree of God. At least, so it appears to us; and this we conceive is the common-sense view of the subject, whatever may be the efforts made by the advocates of the Calvinistic
view of the divine sovereignty, by hair-breadth distinctions and subtle reasonings, to evade the natural result and legitimate bearings of this feature of their own favorite system. And that those who have supported this notion of the divine sovereignty, when pressed by the unavoidable consequences of their doctrine, have been compelled to resort to various expedients in order to screen their system from its destructive results and tendencies, is sufficiently notorious. Some have taken refuge in the notion that infants, dying in that state, are annihilated. But this doctrine is utterly unsupported by the word of God. Others have included all who die in infancy in the number of the elect. But the question still remains, Does their election depend on their dying while infants? If so, are they not elected in view of this event? Or, which is tantamount, Is not their election conditional, taking place in time, and not in eternity ? In view of the whole, therefore, Mr. A. leaves us just where he found us. On the one hand, threatened by what appears to be the only legitimate deduction from his system, which goes to consign a part of the infant race, dying in that state, to eternal perdition; and, on the other, entirely disencum. bered of those torturing apprehensions by which many a parent has been haunted at the moment of their dissolution--after all that he has said in what he would have us receive as the Scriptural view of this subject. Here let us ask Mr. A.'s permission to put the question directly, Why should we be so unwilling to avow our real sentiments on the leading questions in theology, when we have sufficient Scriptural data on which to ground them? Or else, let us frankly acknowledge at once our want of such Scriptural data. Were this candidly done, the cause of truth would doubtless suffer less than from an ambiguous expression, or a studied and cautious concealment of our real senti. ments.
Letter III. presents the “ Difficulties” of Methodism in connection with the doctrine of the divine foreknowledge. This second class of difficulties is set forth with the author's usual perspicacity, candor, and marked respect for the intelligence and orthodoxy of Methodist writers. Although this letter occupies no less than fifty-four pages of the work, our review must be compressed within a much narrower compass.
The writer says :“ The foreknowledge of God seems never to have been a favorite in the body of divinity current among Methodists.” Page 79.
That this doctrine has always held its proper place with other kindred doctrines in the theology of Methodists, we believe can neither be denied nor disproved. But that it has ever had that imposing prominence which would eclipse others of equal importance, either in the sermons or writings of Methodist ministers, which it has received from Calvinist ministers, will not be contended. Holding foreknowledge and decree to be synonymous, or, at least, inseparable, and the latter occupying so large a space in the system, being in fact one of its most distinguishing characteristic features, it must be acknowledged that the doctrine of foreknowledge “ seems ever to have been regarded as a favorite in the body of divinity current among" the great body of Calvinists. But, should this want of favoritism for this doctrine be charged to Methodists either as their misfortune or their fault, the following declaration of Mr. A., asserting the confused and indiscri