Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Art. IV.-1. The Way of Salvation : a Sermon, delivered

at Morristown, New Jersey, Feb. 8th, 1929, by Albert BARNES. Seventh Edition. Together with Mr. Banes's Defence of the Sermon, read before the Synod of Philadelphia, at Lancaster, Oct. 29th, 1830; And his • Defence" before the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia, in Reply to the Charges of the Rev. GEORGE JUNKIN. New York: Leavitt, Lord, & Co. Boston: Crocker & Brewster.

1836. 12mo. pp. 226. 2. The Vindication, containing a History of the Trial of the

Rev. Albert Barnes, by the Second Presbytery, and by the Synod of Philadelphia. To which are appended, New-Schoolism in the Serenteenth, compared with NewSchoolism in the Nineteenth Century : By the Rev. GEORGE JUNKIN, D. D. Philadelphia : Wm. S. Martin. 1836. 12mo. pp. 159. Few events have occurred in this country, since its settlement, of a nature to give to liberal sentiments such an impetus, as the prosecution and acquittal of Mr. Barnes. This will probably be annong the last trials for heresy, which will ever occur in this land. The Angel of Truth is now unbound. Every man may now investigate the Scriptures for bimself, as well in as out of the Presbyterian church, with none to molest or make him afraid. Heresy is a word which can no longer shake the nerves of the most timid inquirer. A few years ago, Mr. Barnes was an obscure individual, with considerable talent, some learning, and more independence than was thought to be allowable under the iron yoke of Presbyterianism. There he would have remained, useful in bis sphere, but incapable of extensively influencing the church, either for good or evil. But persecution has made him a Hercules, or rather a Briareus, with his hundred hands, to pull down the bulwarks of Orthodoxy, from one end of the continent to the other. He has powersully enlisted the sympathies of the religious world, first as a confessor, and now as a conqueror; and it is hard to say in which capacity he is most glorified. His books are circulated through the length and the breadth of the land ; and thousands are now thanking him in their hearts, for vindicating for them the freedom of thought.

In the sketch we now intend to give of the prosecution and

acquittal of Mr. Barnes, it will not be necessary to enumerate the causes wbich have led to the present troubles, which distract, and threaten to dissolve, the Presbyterian church. We have already, in a former number of this work,* given, at some length, the train of events, which, in the opinion of the best informed of that denomination, bas led to the present state of things. That Mr. Barnes should have been the individual selected to bear the sins of the whole liberal party in that communion, seems to have been a matter of pure accident.

The sentiments for which he was arraigned and tried, have long been held in it, and, in many instances, without any effort to conceal them.

Mr. Barnes is a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary, and was first settled in Morristown, New Jersey. In February, 1829, during a revival in his congregation, he preached a sermon, which was afterwards published" by request,” entitled “The Way of Salvation,” in which he attempted to give an outline of the Christian system, as he understood it. It contained the germ of all he bas since developed in his various publications, and was orthodox enough, one would suppose, to satisfy any reasonable man. But so thought not some of his brethren.

About this time he received an invitation to become the pastor of a very ancient, numerous, and respectable society in Philadelphia, in the place of Dr. Wilson, lately deceased. This invitation he accepted, and preparations were made for his removal to the metropolis. In the mean time the sermon had been circulated, and weighed in the balances of orthodoxy and found wanting. Some passages, in particular, gave so much alarm to certain of the strictest sect, that they were determined to prevent his installation. They therefore sent in a protest against the leave granted by the Presbytery of Philadelphia, to the First Presbyterian Church, to prosecute the call. This protest, however, was overruled, and Mr. Barnes was installed.

It ought here to be said, that there had been a difference in opinion, and no litile alienation of feeling, among the Presbyterian clergymen of Philadelphia and the vicinity, before this time, which had been carried so far as to result in a separation, and the formation of a new Presbytery, on the principle of elective affinity, or, in other words, similarity of sentiments. It was the New-School Presbytery, it will be readily understood, who received and installed Mr. Barnes.

* For November, 1834.

Of this a formal complaint was made to the General Assembly, as an irregularity, and the authors of the protest were proceeding to take summary measures with the offenders, when they discovered, to their utter astonishment, that there was a majority of the whole Assembly in favor of what they, in their haste, were about to put down as heresy! Nay, as on their own principles a majority can decree what orthodoxy is, they were in fact the heretics.

In this position the affair rested for some years. In the mean time, New-Schoolism, as it is classically called, was understood to be on the increase. The Old-School men sounded the alarm that "the church was in danger;" but the more they sounded it, the more the heresy grew, and the wider the schism became. Mr. Barnes was publishing a popular work on the New Testament, in which the Apostolic writings were interpreted in consistency with his system, and it was meeting with unexampled reception and success. When he reached the Epistle to the Romans, the grand magazine of Calvinism, and was taking text after text from the foundation of that system, the zeal of the Old-School men could no longer be restrained. It was resolved that Mr. Barnes should be prosecuted for heresy, and his party put down ; or, at any rate, it should be ascertained whether the doctrines held by him “ were any longer to be tolerated in the Presbyterian church.” The instrument chosen on this occasion, was the Rev. George Junkin, D. D., president of Lafayette College, in Pennsylvania, - a man very well calculated to be the champion of Calvinism, by the especial fact of having apparently been asleep, like Rip Van Winkle, for the last twenty years.

Notice was likewise given to the Presbytery to which Mr. Barnes belonged, that charges were about to be preferred against him. But it was decided by them, that a notice by letter was not sufficiently formal, and so they refused to consider the case. This objection was afterwards waved, and the charges were received. They are ten in number, as follows:

I. Mr. Barnes teaches, “ That all sin consists in voluntary action.”

II. Mr. Barnes affirms, “ That Adam (before and after his fall) was ignorant of his moral relations to such a degree, that he did not know that the consequences of his sin would or should reach any farther than to natural death.”

III. Mr. Barnes teaches, “ That unregenerate men are able to keep the commandments, and convert themselves to God.”

IV. Mr. Barnes teaches, “ That faith is an act of the mind, and not a principle, and is itself imputed for righteousness.”

V. Mr. Barnes denies, “That God entered into covenant with Adam, constitutiny bim a federal or covenant head, and representative of his natural descendants."

VI. Mr. Barnes denies, “That the first sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity.'

VII. Mr. Barnes denies, “ That mankind are guilty, i. e. liable to punishment, on account of the sin of Adam.”

VIII. Mr. Barnes denies, " That Christ suffered the proper penalty of the law, as the vicarious substitute of his people, and thus took away legally their sins, and purchased pardon.”

IX. Mr. Barnes denies, “ That the righteousness, i. e. the active obedience of Christ to the law, is imputed to his people for their justification ; so that they are righteous in the eye of the law, and therefore justified.”

X. Mr. Barnes also teaches, in opposition to the standards, “That justification is simply pardon.'

Such are the charges which have occupied the time and attention of the grave and reverend body of the Presbyterian church, for two years past. Such are the doctrines attempted to be convicted of heresy, and, of course, their opposites established as orthodoxy, in the nineteenth century. The latter remind us of some old man we occasionally meet in the streets, belonging to the middle of the last age, in bis stockings and small-clothes, shoe-buckles and cocked bat, apparently unconscious that he belongs to a generation for ever passed away. Nor can we doubt that many of our readers will be nearly as much surprised, on conning thein over, as if they were on some fine Sunday morning to see Duns Scotus or John Calvin appear in the pulpit, arrayed in all the quaint and grotesque habiliments of their days. In these charges, if we were permitted to conjecture, we should recognise the handiwork of the venerable Dr. Green, of Philadelphia. They bear a strong impress of bis mind. Besides, his is the only mind, of which we have any knowledge, except that of the President of Lafayette College, which has stood absolutely still, amidst the advancement of the last fifty years.

In substantiation of the first charge, - that of teaching that all sin consists in voluntary action, - Dr. Junkin thus proceeds:

“ Now it would greatly relieve and shorten this discussion, if he would expressly admit or explicitly deny. Which does he do? Examine, critically, all he has said on the subject, and see how he comes up to the question; Do you teach this doctrine ? He gives no answer. You cannot tell whether he admits or denies. No man can tell. His whole answer is equivocal. He does not meet the question.

The relative value of this charge may appear inconsiderable. It is nearly allied, however, to more important errors.

If man has no sin upon him legally, for which he is punishable, prior to the period of moral agency or voluntary action, then, as we shall see, our Confession is in error. But, if all sin consists in voluntary action, and man is not liable to penal evil but as he is a sinner, so charged in law; then it will follow, that, prior to voluntary action, he cannot be a sinner : original sin he has none. So that the maintenance of this doctrine is a denial of the doctrine of original sin. That he teaches it, see 'Notes,' p. 249: 'In all this, and in all other sin, man is voluntary.' Here is language too plain to be misunderstood or explained away: it affirms the very point to be proved. Voluntary action is necessary to sin in man. It will surely not avail io assert that its design was not to teach any thing about the doctrine of what is commonly called original sin.' It does teach something, it denies that doctrine. It is a general proposition, the fifth in numerical order. If the sole object was, to show that in moral actions, man is voluntary, and not compelled like a mill-wheel, that object would have been attained without generalizing so as to deny original sin. The idea of compelling a voluntary agent is an absurdity, and need not detain us.

“ Proof 2, p. 123. “There is no reason to believe that they [men) are condemned to eternal death, or held to be guilty of his [Adam's] sin, without participation of their own, or without personal sin, any more than there is, that they are approved by the work of Christ, or held to be personally deserving, without embracing his offer, and receiving him as a Saviour.' Here personal transgression, - voluntary action on their part, must precede the possibility of condemnation to eternal death, - or being held guilty of Adam's sin. Prior to voluntary action, there is no liability to condemnation, no guilt. Comment here is unnecessary, but you will bear with a remark : and in making it, I wish to excite, in the brother accused, a salutary fear; and do not intend to insinuate that he is a thorough Pelagian. I know that here

« AnteriorContinuar »