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to be in his own proper element, wielding the instrument which God had put into his hand. That he might have his time for study, was the great reason why he relinquished his pastoral visits in the usual form ; and near the close of life, he said himself that he thought he had acted wisely in so doing. “If I were to live my life over again,” said he, “I would pursue the same course.” Others, who are the best acquainted with his talents, and who have seen the effects of the course which he pursued, generally think that he acted wisely. And even strangers, who are familiar with the productions of his pen, have expressed the same opinion. A remark which dropped from the lips of Rev. Gordon Hall, a little before he left his country for India, gives us the impressions of a devoted missionary, of no ordinary discernment, on this subject. While this man of God was residing at Andover, a conversation took place among the students upon the duty and importance of pastoral visits. In this conversation, some one stated the fact that Dr. Emmons did not visit his people, except on special occasions, and that the omission was the result of a sincere conviction that he could do them more good by spending his time in his study. Hall then replied, “ Though I admit that pastoral visits are important, and may with propriety occupy a proportion of most ministers time, yet I do think that the man who can write as Dr. Emmons does, ought not to be diverted from his studies by these things."
The subject of this Memoir was a warm friend of liberty. He espoused the cause of the people in the time of their contest with the British crown, and gave his influence in favor of the general principles and measures by which the unrighteous de. mands of the mother country were resisted. Though a minister of the gospel, truly devoted to his work, and peculiarly scrupulous in regard to every thing which had the appearance of inconsistency with his high vocation, yet he always felt that he had important duties to perform as a citizen. He carried his religion into every department of life, and acted in reference to the affairs of state, with the same regard to the authority and glory of God and the present and future good of mankind, which he maintained in the discharge of his professional duties. He believed that human governments ought to be based upon the great principles of equity and justice which are inculcated in the scriptures, and that those who rule over men ought to be just, ruling in the fear of God." He therefore felt it to be his duty, not only to pray for all that were in authority, but to use his influence in every proper way to put good men into office, and to sustain them in iheir efforts to maintain a righteous government. He believed that the right of suffrage belongs to rninisters as truly as to other men, and VOL. 1.
that they are under esssentially the same obligation to use it as any other class of citizens; and with the same independence which was characteristic of him in all other cases, he uniformly went to the polls and deposited his vote for the man of his choice. He was no partisan either in his feelings or conduct. He fomented no political disputes, attended no caucuses, and used none of the arts, intrigues, or management which are common among politicians in securing their object. But he always had his opinion, spoke it freely, and acted with openness and decision according to it. He was unwilling to have his people believe, as many seem to do, that religious principle is useless in politics, while it is of acknowledged importance in every thing else. He taught them their obligations not only to act as citizens, but to act righteously in all their civil, as well as religious concerns. He looked at the conduct of politicians and the actions of civil governments, as they are suited to affect both the temporal and spiritual interests of men. Though he believed that Christ's "kingdom is not of this world,” yet he knew that the kingdoms of this world were destined to exert an important influence upon the church, and the church upon the world. As he watched the effects of every civil movement in his own town upon the cause of religion there, so he watched the movements of the great men of the nation and of the world, and considered with the deepest interest their probable influence upon the kingdom of Christ. It is impossible that such a mind as his, tracing, as it did, causes to their remotest conceivable effects, should not feel a very deep interest in political as well as religious action. It is not strange, especially if we consider the times and circumstances in which he lived, that he frequently touched upon subjects which had a political bearing. He could not have taught the people the obligations which he saw them under, without it. He could not have reproved the sins which he saw committed in “high places," without it. He could not have warned either his own people or the public against the dangers to which he saw them exposed, without it. On the Sabbath his discourses were uniformly confined to subjects strictly religious. But on Fast and Thanksgiving days, he would often introduce others of a somewhat secular or political character, with a view to show the people not only the bearing which these things had upon their temporal condition, but their moral and religious aspect.
In the choice of these topics, he was guided by the circumstances of the times. If he saw among the people a general opposition and insubordination to righteous auihority; he would preach upon the duty of “obedience to magistrates.” If the rulers were oppressive in their measures, and regardless of the
repeatedly expressed wishes of their constituents; he would preach and publish a discourse upon “the rights of the people.” If he saw a general destitution of religious principle in the community, and a tendency to substitute expediency for duty; he would raise his voice, and under the sanction of the word of God proclaim that “gain is not godliness.” When the people became divided among themselves in respect to the principles of government, and began to cherish towards each other alienated and hostile feelings; he would endeavor to check the rising tide by a discourse upon “the ruinous tendency of divisions.” If he discerned a spirit of skepticism and unbelief generally prevalent among the people, especially in the higher ranks of society; he would warn them of the de. moralizing influence of infidelity." The origin and extent of human authority, the importance of good government, the proper means of sustaining it, the character of the good citizen, and the obligations which the members of every civil community are under to each other as well as to God, with numerous other topics of a similar character, he was accustomed to discuss on Fast and Thanksgiving days. The principles which he illustrated and applied were sound and important. Few, if any, of his political opponents would deny either the truth or importance of his principles; although they did object, and would probably now object to the application of them which he occasionally made. The candid and intelligent of all par. ties may now read the sermons, which he preached in times of the highest political excitement which the country has ever seen, and they will not only approve of the general sentiments advanced, but admire the manner in which they are illustrated. They will of course differ in regard to the propriety, or impro. priety of their application. A gentleman in his immediate vicinity, who was always known to be among his opponents in politics, was not long since heard to say, “ I often heard the Doctor preach what were called his political sermons, about which so much noise was made at the time, and I always liked him. The principles which he advanced were true, and such as I believe the Bible inculcates." It was understood at the time this was said, that the gentleman did not, in every case, approve of their application. To suppose that under all the exciting circumstances in which the Doctor lived, he never cherished an opinion too favorable to the conduct of his own party, or too unfavorable to that of his opponents; that the appli. cation of the great principles which he illustrated was always with strict impartiality, would be to suppose him more than a
But no intelligent and candid man will deny that the discourses to which allusion is now made, embrace subjects of the highest moment both to rulers and people; that these subjects are discussed with singular plainness and fidelity; that they may be read and studied with great profit by men of all political parties; and that, if carried out into general practice, the stability of our government, and the lasting prosperity of the nation would be secured.
His love of liberty, and the independence with which he maintained its great principles may be seen also from the fact that he preached against slavery while it was sanctioned by the laws of his own State, and persons were actually held in bondage by many of its citizens. In consequence of a discourse which he delivered on this subject, a member of his church, who owned a slave, immediately set her at liberty. She afterwards became a member of his family, lived in it twenty-three years, died there, and left her little property to his children. It is remarkable that he resembled Edwards and Hopkins, not only in the leading principles of their theology, but in their hostility to involuntary servitude, and in the fearless and decided manner in which they raised their voice against this sin.
Much has been said respecting the theological opinions of Doctor Emmons. While not a few have received them, and thought them an improvement upon the theology of the age, others have considered them both false and dangerous. In the latter class, there are many well meaning and intelligent men, some of whom have read his works, and understand his system. But it is a fact which cannot be questioned, that those among the reputedly orthodox who consider his system essentially false, are generally speaking, persons who are partially or wholly unacquainted with his writings. A perusal of his works is that only which can give the reader a full and accurate knowledge of his opinions. But from the following document found among his papers after his decease, the complexion of his theology may at once be seen.
I have endeavored to show,
1. That holiness and sin consist in free voluntary affections or exercises.
2. That men can act freely under the divine agency.
3. That the least transgression of the divine law deserves eternal punishment.
4. That right and wrong are founded in the nature of things.
5. That the posterity of Adam are guilty of no sin, but their own free voluntary selfish affections.
6. That God exercises mere grace in pardoning or justifying penitent believers through the atonement of Christ, and mere goodness in rewarding them for their good works.
7. That the hearts of sinners are, by nature, totally depraved.
8. That God has a right, nothwithstanding their total depravity, to require them to turn from sin to holiness.
9. That preachers of the gospel ought to exhort sinners to love God, repent of sin, and believe in Christ immediately.
10. That sinners do not perform one holy and acceptable act until they exercise pure disinterested love.
11. That sinners must exercise unconditional submission to God, before they can exercise saving faith in Christ.
12. That men are active and not passive in regeneration.
These are doctrines which I have preached in the general course of my ministry, some of which I have endeavored to set in a clearer light than I have ever seen done by any others.
This outline of Christian doctrines will not be thought to comprise all the subjects on which he preached and wrote. They are but a few of the many which were made familiar to his people, and which are now to be found in his publications. Nor will it be thought, that all these are doctrines which are peculiar to him, or which no one else believed or taught before him. The object of this outline is merely to indicate the topics on which the leading features of his instruction might be seen.
The question has sometimes been asked, What has Doctor Emmons taught that is new? or what are the improvements which he has made in theological science? A full and definite answer to these questions would require a more extensive and perfect knowledge of theological opinions, than the writer pretends to possess. He does not hesitate to say, however, that Dr. Emmons has applied the principle of voluntary action to the subject of theology more successfully than any divine that has gone before him. If he was not the first that discovered the truth that all sin and holiness consist in action, or in voluntary exercises of the mind, he was the first to make an extensive use of this principle in explaining the doctrines of