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The doctrines of Hopkins are utterly repugnant to all such representations of the nature of love, and faith, as are contained in the preceding page of Calvinism. In his dialogue, between a person whom he calls a Calvinist, and another, denominated a Semi-Calvinist, he attempts to prove that Paul was actually willing to be damned for his countrymen. Paul, he says, was actuated by the love of being in general; and if the salvation of his brethren the Jews, was a greater good than his everlasting, personal felicity, he was willing to be accursed from Christ, if his rejection might be their reconciliation. Hence he argues, that all good men must possess the same kind of disinterested benevolence, which dwelt in the great apostle.
"God has revealed it to be his will to punish some of mankind for ever. You know not but you are one of them. Whether you shall be saved or damned depends entirely upon his will: and supposing he sees it most for his glory, and the general good, that you should be damned, it is certainly his will that you should be damned. On this supposition, then, you ought to be willing to be damned; for, not to be willing to be damned, in this case, is opposing God's will, instead of saying, thy will be done." Life of Hopkins, p. 151.
"Without which submission it is impossible a man should be saved." "So there is no other way for us, not to turn enemies to God ourselves, but to be willing that some of our fellow men should be enemies to him for ever." "But as soon as we cease to be thus willing to be given up to sin, we are given up, and turned enemies to God and all good."
Life of Hopkins, p. 151, 156, 157.
See Note D. at the end of the chapter.
ON THE LOVE OF BEING IN GENERAĹ.
The Hopkinsian writers are excessively fond of the science of abstraction They have certainly displayed much ingenuity in their attempts to reduce all things to their first principles. But it is thought by their opponents, that scriptural doctrines are not the proper materials for chemical experiments, and chemical decomposition. The word of God is already a simple declaration of the divine will; and all endeavours to reduce the first principles of revealed religion, tend rather to promote infidelity, than to subserve the cause of Christ.
"Holiness is, in the holy scripture, reduced to one simple principle, Love, and made to consist wholly in this, by which is evidently meant disinterested good will to being in general, capable of happiness, with all that affection necessarily included in this." Hopkins' Syst. Vol. 1. p. 350. "Upon this it may be observed, that a person may have and exercise a proper regard for himself, and desire and seek his own interest and happiness, without the least degree of the self-love which is opposed to disinterested benevolence, or which is not implied in it. The person who exercises disinterested good will to being in general, must have a proper and proportionable regard to himself; as he belongs to being in general, and is included in it, as a necessary part of it. It is impossible he should love being in general, or universal being, and not love himself; because he is included in universal being. And the more he has of a disinterested, universal benevolence, and the stronger his exercises of it are, the more regard will he have to his own being, and the more fervently will he desire and seek his own interest and happiness." Hopkins' Syst. Vol. 1. p. 351.
The REV. ROBERT HALL has given an admirable confutation of this reasoning. The reader will be gratified with a copious extract from his sermon on "modern infidelity."
"It is not the province of reason to awaken new passions, or open new sources of sensibility, but to direct us in the attain ment of those objects which nature has already rendered pleasing, or to determine among the interfering inclinations and passions that sway the mind, which are the fittest to be preferred. Is a regard to the general good then, you will reply, to be excluded from the motives of action? Nothing is more remote from my intention: but as the nature of this motive has, in my opinion, been much misunderstood by some good men, and abused by others of a different description, to the worst of purposes, permit me to declare, in a few words, what appears to me to be the truth on this subject.
"The welfare of the whole system of being must be allowed to be, in itself, the object of all others the most worthy of being pursued; so that, could the mind distinctly embrace it, and discern at every step what action would infallibly promote it, we should be furnished with a sure criterion of right and wrong, an unerring guide which would supersede the use and necessity of all inferior rules, laws, and principles.
"But this being impossible, since the good of the whole is a motive so loose and indeterminate, and embraces such an infinity of relations, that before we could be certain what action is prescribed, the season of action would be past; to weak, shortsighted mortals, Providence has assigned a sphere of agency, less grand and extensive indeed, but better suited to their limited powers, by implanting certain affections which it is their duty to cultivate, and suggesting particular rules to which they are bound to conform. By these provisions, the boundaries of virtue are easily ascertained, at the same time that its ultimate oba ject, the good of the whole, is secured; for, since the happiness of the entire system results from the happiness of the several parts, the affections, which confine the attention immediately to the latter, conspire in the end to the promotion of the former; as the labourer whose industry is limited to the corner of a large building, performs his part towards rearing the structure, much more effectually than if he extended his care to the whole,
"As the interest, however, of any limited number of persons may not only not contribute, but may possibly be directly opposed to the general good; the interest of a family, for example, to that of a province, or, of a nation to that of the world; Providence has also ordered it, that in a well regulated mind there springs up, as we have already seen, besides particular attachments, an extended regard to the species, whose office is twofold; not to destroy and extinguish the more private affections, which is mental parricide; but first, as far as is consistent with the claims of those who are immediately committed to our care, to do good to all men; secondly, to exercise a jurisdiction and control over the private affections, so as to prohibit their indulgence, whenever it would be attended with manifest detriment to the whole. Thus every part of our nature is brought into action; all the practical principles of the human heart find an ele< ment to move in, each in its different sort and manner, conspiring to maintain the harmony of the world and the happiness of the universe."
To these remarks, contained in the body of the discourse, Mr. Hall has subjoined the following in a note.
"It is somewhat singular, that many of the fashionable infi. dels have hit upon a definition of virtue, which perfectly coincides with that of certain metaphysical divines in America, first invented and defended by that most acute reasoner, JONATHAN EDWARDS. They both place virtue, exclusively, in a passion for the general good, or, as Mr Edwards expresses it, love t● being in general; so that our love is always to be proportioned to the magnitude of its object in the great scale of being; which is liable to the objections which I have already stated, as well as to many others, which the limits of this no will not permit me to enumerate. Let it suffice to remark, 1. That virtue on these principles is an utter impossibility; for the system of being comprehending the great supreme is infinite, and therefore to maintain the proper proportion, the force of particular attachment must be infinitely less than the passion for the general good; but the limits of the human mind are not capable
of any emotions so infinitely different in degree. 2. Since our views of the extent of the universe are capable of perpetual enlargement, admitting the sum of existence is ever the same, we must return back at each step to diminish the strength of particular affections, or they will become disproportionate, and consequently on these principles vicious; so that the balance must be continually fluctuating, by the weights being taken out of one scale and put into the other. 3. If virtue consist exclusively in love to being in general, or attachment to the general good, the particular affections are, to every purpose of virtue, useless, and even pernicious; for their immediate, nay, their necessary tendency is, to attract to their objects a proportion of attention, which far exceeds their comparative value in the general scale. To allege that the general good is promoted by them will be of no advantage to the defence of this system, but the contrary, by confessing that a greater sum of happiness is attained by a deviation from, than an adherence to, its principles; unless its advocates mean by the love of being in general, the same thing as the private affections, which is to confound all the distinctions of language, as well as all the operations of mind. Let it be remembered, we have no dispute what is the ultimate end of virtue, which is allowed on both sides to be the greatest sum of happiness in the universe; the question is merely, what is virtue itself? or, in other words, what are the means appoint ed for the attainment of that end?
"There is little doubt from one part of Mr. Godwin's work, entitled "Political Justice," as well as from his early habits of reading, that he was indebted to Mr. Edwards for his principal arguments against the private affections; though with a daring confidence he has pursued his principles to an extreme, from which that most excellent man would have revolted with horror! The fundamental error of the whole system arose, as I conceive, from a mistaken pursuit of simplicity; from a wish to construct a moral system without leaving sufficient scope for the infinite variety of moral phenomena and mental combination, in consequence of which, its advocates were induced to place virtue exclusively in some one disposition of mind, and since the passion for the general good is undeniably the noblest and most extensive of all others, when it was once resolved to place virtue in any