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unaided human nature: she did not dispute or set aside the philosophical grounds of responsibility, and the capacity of man to choose the good and seek the highest possible elevation of his being. She assumed these ; and, without waiting any longer for what he might do, she took up the facts of what he had done, and brought in a glorious and efficient remedy for the evils of which he
had failed to relieve himself. Pelagius, therefore, not only failed in his anthropological and psychological analysis; he failed also in perceiving the just relations of Christianity, considered as a system of truth, to philosophy in general, and its universal and intense necessity considered as a remedy for human guilt and fallibility. In doing away from human nature all fixed depravity, and in resolving the recovery of moral purity into obedient acts of will, he did away the necessity of the supernatural influences of the Holy Spirit. He indeed believed that these influences were actually given; but they were given, not as indispensable to holiness, but as enabling the Christian to attain to higher degrees of holiness than were possible without them.
He believed in the atonement of Christ for all who had actually sinned: but, according to him, there were some who had not sinned. No one would dispute the position that a sinless man stands in no need of an atonement: and the only difficulty Pelagius would have to encounter, would be to find a sinless
An individual under his system, if convicted of actual transgression, would rely upon the atonement of Christ, just as any other Christian. His exertions for the attainment of holiness would be most energetic; and he would not neglect prayer for the Holy Spirit. If any one should profess never to have sinned, it would not appear difficult to convince him of his folly.
Under the system of Augustine on the other hand, with the same reliance upon the atonement, there would, if legitimately carried out, be a less energetic appliance of a moral discipline for self-purification.
In estimating the systems of Augustine and Pelagius comparatively, we must consider their legitimate tendencies theoretically, and their actual results historically.
1. The legitimate tendencies of Pelagianism, theoretically considered, are in some points highly dangerous. It may be granted, in Christian charity, that Pelagius was himself a good man: it must be acknowledged, also, that his representations of the freedom and ability of man are calculated to quicken the
sense of responsibility, and to rouse to great activity in duty, But, in removing the attention from an inherent depravity, and insisting upon the sinlessness of some men, and in giving the influences of the Holy Spirit only a secondary place in the work of sanctification, his system would naturally cause men to think lightly of the moral evils of the world,
encourage a false security, and lead to self-deception,
introduce a confident self-reliance, to the neglect of prayer for the Holy Spirit-and beget self-righteousness, instead of humility, penitence and faith. The historical results have but too faithfully realized the theoretical tendencies.
2. The legitimate tendencies of Augustinism, theoretically considered, have dangerous points likewise. It is impossible for any one to embrace in his convictions of personal guilt the sin of Adam. On this ground, therefore, no one can be made to realize his responsibility. If any one could be made to believe, that all his present acts of sin spring out of an inherited corruption, by necessity, and that no freedom to good remains in man, all sense of responsibility would perish, and a reckless and unbridled licentiousness would ensue. Again: could any one be induced practically to receive the doctrine, that redemption and grace are limited to an elect number, and that thus, all exertions after salvation are not only impossible to any but the elect, on account of original sin, but would be unavailing if they were possible, the hardened repose of the fatalist would inevitably ensue.
The historical results of Augustinism, however, have not generally answered to its theoretical tendencies. We cannot easily theorize
away our sense of guilt, or our consciousness of freedom of will. Hence, while Augustinism was proclaiming to men their responsibility, based upon their participation in Adam's sin, of which those acts are the necessary consequences; they simply felt their responsibility, and passed by the tortuous theory, which, in seeking to explain, would have destroyed it.
Hence, again, while Augustinism was proclaiming its limited redemption, its absolute election, and the slavery and inability of the will, men, when awakened to the awful question of eternal life or death, thought only of the richness of the divine grace, and the free, universal and urgent offer of pardon and salvation through the cross of Christ; and, instead of pausing to settle metaphysically their freedom and ability, strove mightily to “enter in at the strait gate," and to “lay hold on eternal life.” And even the most orthodox preachers, when they had left the schools of theology, and came forth into “ the fields ripe unto the harvest," found themselves constrained to forget their “excellency of speech” and “wisdom of words," to preach simply “Christ and him crucified,” and to urge men to “flee from the wrath to come.” Augustinism became thus a philosophy of the schools, and a form of doctrine, by which to test the so-called orthodoxy of candidates for the ministry; but, as if by common consent, was laid aside in the practical exposition of the gospel.
There were also in Augustinism several points, which, taken under a general consideration, and out of their strict philosophical connection, were well calculated to invigorate the Christian virtues,-such as the views taken of the deep depravity and guilt of man, of the majesty of God and the authority and purity of his law, of the efficacy of the divine grace, and the agency of the Holy Spirit; and herein lay the vitality of this system. Pelagianism, on the contrary, was calculated to draw away the attention from these points; and herein lay its weakness and its dangerous tendencies. The Bible, in opposition to Augustinism, evidently bases the responsibility of man upon his actual freedom and ability; and, in opposition to Pelagianism, maintains his depravity and his need of the supernatural grace of the Holy Spirit, for regeneration and sanctification.
In conclusion, we must advert to a cardinal error into which both Augustine and Pelagius fell,—an error which has been perpetuated to mar the beauty of Christian theology, and the peace of the church. Neither of them distinguished between the dogmas which they derived from philosophical speculation, and the facts and affirmations of the gospel ; but they wove both together into one motley web. Their theology was, in part, philosophy, and, in part, gospel truth. But each claimed the authority of the Bible and reason for his whole system. The separate and distinct elements incorporated, were each made responsible for the whole. Had they been perfect philosophers, the union of the two elements would have taken place easily and harmoniously; and the two men would likewise have harmonized. But just so far as they were bad or imperfect philosophers, their theology became exceptionable and defective.
As differences in philosophical speculation are frequently immense; nay, as these speculations do even contradict each other, it follows that theologies constructed in this way must prove essentially hostile. Thus it was with Augustine and Pelagius. And what was the result? The disputant, who succeeded in gaining the suffrages of synods and councils, had all his philosophical errors baptised into the pure light of truth, and handed down to future generations, as an awful and unquestionable orthodoxy. The disputant whom synods and councils condemned, notwithstanding the degree to which he embraced the gospel, and the philosophical truths which may have been contained in his system, was branded as a heretic, and his name and doctrines were handed down to posterity as utterly accursed and anathematized.
In subsequent ages of the church, the spirit of this controversy has reappeared. Bishops and pastors have left their simple and noble work of teaching and comforting the ignorant and miserable from the pure gospel, to deal in subtle and unprofitable points of philosophy; and have changed a system of plain revelations into an elaborate and intricate Mosaic-work of dogmas. Men of high genius, of varied and extensive acquirements, of the worthiest principles, and devoutly attached to the gospel of Christ have been subjected to the severest rebukes of the hierarchy, have been degraded, driven into exile, and loaded with popular infamy, because they chose to philosophize less, or philosophized to a better purpose than the received authorities, or, perhaps, because they halted upon a mere technicality. The unlearned, the professors in the ordinary walks of life, have been drilled into the use of abstruse forms of speech; expressing their attachment to Christianity, and affording evidences of faith to their ecclesiastical judges, from their skilful and ready use of set and approved phrases, rather than from the spontaneous outbursting of inward experiences in the language of nature, and by a pure and unimpeachable life. Even children, instead of learning the simple hosannas, wherewith they were wont to greet the presence of the Saviour, have had their mouths filled with rigid formulas of nicely-balanced philosophical orthodoxy. Honest and good Christians, who had their Bibles by heart, and who could talk, and pray, and sing, both with the spirit and the understanding, if left untrammelled, have been held in fear and hesitancy lest they should use an unlucky word that might savor of heresy. There has been both the tyranny of ecclesiastical power, and the tyranny of an artificial public opinion; and men who were entitled by their gifts to walk forth with an open brow, and to use a ready and fearless speech, have been compelled to skulk along cautiously, and to drawl out their words in thoughtful measure and combination. The church has been distracted with logomachies; and her great lights have been forever discussing, shaping, lopping off
, adding to, remodifying, attacking or defending systems of theology,
while multitudes of poor men have been left in ignorance and sin. Bibles, with heavy covers and iron clasps, have been worn out in the handling to furnish texts for polemical discourses, instead of being multiplied to meet the wants of the world. We have been toiling to make truth more perfect ere we could consent to give it a universal diffusion, although Christ said : Preach it-preach this gospel which I have given you to every creature.
Men are ever ready to bow to the authority of the hoary and venerable Past. The old principles of theological construction, and the old models have been obsequiously followed. We are still teaching in our schools old philosophies under the holy name of Christianity; and Christianity amid the murky light of old philosophies. Bacon, in his review of the progress of Natural Science, under the glorious and glowing conviction of the upward growing of the noble mind of man into a purer light, a wider reach of vision, and a more intimate converse with Truth on her empyreal seat, dared to pronounce antiquity the feeble infancy of our race. As yet, there has been too faint an echo of the Baconian oracle in our schools of theology.
Might we imbibe some of the Baconian boldness and good intent, though we should fail of gaining, in high measure, his far-reaching insight, we would suggest, as we are able to conceive them, the parts of a just theological education.
1. The student of theology should receive a preliminary discipline in general science and literature, profound and elegant, that the immortal mind may be richly fed, and drawn out to vigorous exertion; and learn both to know and to trust to its high capacities.
2. The great study should be that of the Scriptures in the original tongues,-together with antiquities, sacred and profane,--and general history in its connections with the sacred narrative and the prophecies. The great aim here should be to arrive at a clear and simple knowledge of all the facts and affirmations of the Bible in all that relates to the redemption of man from the great evil under which he labors, to the duties he is called to perform, and the hopes of the glorious future which he is permitted to cherish. These facts and affirmations should