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This treatise has been pronounced by Dr. Park, one of the acutest dialecticians and theological writers of our time, the "enigmatical treatise," and for the explanation of one of its dark phrases, the following “key” is proposed : “When we read in it of our evil propensities, we are to understand, first, that these are real choices and thus real sins, or secondly that they are the effects of our having transgressed the law in Adam, and are thus metaphorical sins, just as our wrong actions, implying a wicked motive, are sins by a figure of speech; or thirdly, that they are sinful. by a like metaphor, as they are occasions of our personal disobedience to law; or fourthly, that they are sinful by a double metonomy of cause for effect, or effect for cause." *
This method of interpretation is original and peculiar. It must find something in the treatise to build itself upon, or it would not have been suggested to a mind so acute and discriminating But the key is elaborate, and to tyros in theology will be perplexing. And if one such key is necessary to explain the riddle in two words of the treatise, how many would be required to unlock the whole of it? In the result of this exegesis, too, the sins,“ by figure of speech," are vastly out of proportion to the “real sins.” Besides, the turning of this key seems to lock out of the essay a somewhat fundamental idea which the author had carefully wrought into it,—that original sin is a real sinfulness which does not consist in choices. As it is, by his definition, “innate,” it cannot be a choice, and yet it is “à sinful depravity of heart.” It is a corrupt state in a MORAL sense, “which is opposite to what the law of God requires.” But, notwithstanding this method of interpretation, , the treatise is virtually yielded, as a piece of old-fashioned Calvinism,—too tight-ribbed and iron-bound to be made over into New Divinity. Hence it is frankly admitted that it “is not a perfect exponent of what is now termed the Edwardean faith.”+
But where shall we look for such an exponent, if not to his own works? And if the last, maturest, richest fruits of his life
+ P. 208.
* Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 9, p. 207.
and labors cannot be taken as such, on what can we rely? Is it quite just to make him responsible for a faith which was not his, and give the honor of his name to views which he discarded as erroneous ? Further, this mode of construing the essay involves a logical necessity for discrediting, as well as disowning it.
“ It was written amidst the constant alarms of an Indian war, and under many embarrassing influences of its author's frontier parish, and with a constitution shattered by fever and ague. Ill health prevented his revising it as faithfully as he had revised his other works, and when he had published only. a few sheets of it, death ended his labors. ... The principal regret which he is said to have felt in prospect of his untimely death arose from his inability to modify some things which he had written, and there are several reasons to believe that he meant to remove some verbal incongruities from the work which he had not finished with his wonted care, and which he had deemed it needful to publish with more than his usual haste.” *
The obvious intent of this apologetic treatment is to break the force of a certain something in this treatise which bears against the modern doctrine that “all sin consists in sinning," and in favor of the ancient one, that some sin consists in an “innate depravity of heart,” which is sinful. With the partisan aspects of the subject, we have nothing to do. Our present inquiry relates to what is historical and equitable. not able to see on what principles the complexion of Old Theology which the treatise bears, can be either accounted for or explained away by " the alarms of an Indian war," or by the effects of "fever and ague.” The usual influence of such providential dispensations upon such men as Jonathan Edwards, is to clear the mind of prejudice and error, not to darken it by them. The sickness, thus apologetically alleged, occurred nearly two years before he commenced this work. his constitution so shattered by it but that in the year following it he produced those remarkable dissertations on the End of
* Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 9, p. 208.
God in Creation, and on the Nature of True Virtue. Three years later, and five months after he had finished the treatise on Original Sin, in assigning several reasons adverse to his accepting the presidency of Nassau Hall College, he makes no reference to ill health. And the plans of Herculean labor with which he entered on his new field, quite preclude the idea of a shattered constitution.
Nor, so far as we can learn, can this strong leaning of the work be accounted for by any unusual haste in finishing, revising, or in publishing it. The general plan of which this Essay constituted an important part, had been maturing in his mind for ten years.
He was employed in its production nearly a year, and finished it, according to the date of the Preface, May 27, 1757. Nine months after, having it in hand meantime for any revision or alteration he might wish, he had printed only a few sheets, when death closed his earthly labors. The essay on the Will, which is a little longer than the one on Original Sin, was produced in the short period of four months and a half, and went to press in six or eight months after, showing that he took more than his wonted care" and time for finishing, revising and publishing this last work, rather than less.
We are not called to consider the question whether or not it is an “enigmatical treatise,” nor how far it may be regarded as an “exponent of what is now termed the Edwardean faith." But that it is fairly entitled to be taken as the author's last great work, deliberately matured, elaborately wrought out, carefully revised, and given to the world as an exponent of his own belief—of the genuine “ Edwardean faith,” a fair rendering of the facts in the case leaves no reason to doubt. It may have in it more or less of human imperfection and error. But for its strong leanings to the ancient and catholic faith, it admits' of no apology from ill health, the alarms of an Indian war, or any other cause. Jonathan Edwards, the disciple of Moses-like meekness and Johannic love, the matchless meta physician, the man of massive grandeur, and granite stability of Christian character, in his later utterances, gave himself to the church and the world with a deliberation and explicitness which perfectly define his theological position, and entitle his words to be taken without attenuation or apology, as the exponents of that position.
ART. IV.-ISAAC LA PEYRERE AND HIS BOOK,
In the year 1655, there was printed in the city of Amsterdam, without the name either of author or publisher, a book entitled * Praeadamitae, sive exercitatio super versibus XII, XIII et XIV capitis V epistolae D. Pauli ad Romanes, quibus inducuntur primi homines ante Adamum conditi; also Systema Theologicum ex Praeadamitarum hypothesi. As might be supposed, a volume appearing with such a title, in an eminently controversial age, made no little stir. The audacious novelty of the thesis of the book aroused much theological zeal, which has sometimes been excited even by a less adequate cause. Numerous refutations, by Protestants as well as by Catholics, soon appeared. Although the book was published anonymously, and even the printer thought it prudent to withhold his name, yet it soon became known that the author was Isaac La Peyrere, a Frenchman and a follower of the Prince of Condé.
He was born at Bourdeaux in 1594,4 and was reared a Protestant and a Calvinist. His family was of no mean rank, and
* It was published in two forms, 4to and 12mo, and is not even now a very rare book. There is good bibliographical authority for the statement that an English translation was issued in London in 1656.
| The writer of this sketch has seen only two of these refutations; one by J.C. Dannhawer us, Professor at Strasburg, entitled Praeadamita utis, sive fabula primorum hominum ante Adamum cauditorum explosama very whimsical book; the other by Philip le Prieur, under the title of Animadversiones in librum Praeadamitarum, contains a sober and learned argument.
# J. P. Niceron in his Mémoires pour servir a l'histoire des hommes illustres dans la république des lettres, 43 vols. Paris, 1729–41, has been the most diligent collector of all that is known concerning Peyrere.
his elder brother was an eminent advocate, and published a Hand-book of Legal Decisions which passed through several editions and was much used in the South of France, where the Parliament of Bourdeaux had jurisdiction. It is not known for what profession Peyrere was educated. It is certain that he knew little Greek and no Hebrew; and though he prided himself upon his acquaintance with Latin, yet the style of his works written in that language is not very good. Little is known of his early life. He seems to have entered the service of the Prince of Condé (the father of Louis de Bourbon, commonly called “the great Condé") when quite young, and he followed the fortunes of the family to the last. In what capacity he was employed is not recorded, but it is probable that he was a kind of private secretary. In 1643 he published his first work, entitled Du Rappel des Juifs, * which shows the fondness for curious speculation displayed so strikingly in the Prae-Adamitae.
In the following year he was attached, through the interest of his patron, to the suite of M. Thuillerie, ambassador of France to the Court of Denmark. While in Copenhagen he composed two narrativest afterwards published, in which he recounted the matters he had learned about Iceland and Greenland, regions at that time comparatively unknown.
* This book, like most books of the kind, maintains that the Jews will be restored to the temporal blessings which they enjoyed before their rejection. They will regain possession of the Holy Land, and God will raise up for them a king more righteous and victorious than any former ruler. This King will not be Christ, but a temporal monarch, and moreover King of France, as is proved by four reasons: 1. Because the titles “Most Christian" and "eldest son of the Church" have been given to the King of France par excellence. 2. Because it is to be presumed, that as the King of France has power against the King's evil which afflicts the bodies of the Jews, he will have power also over the obstinacy and unbelief which possess their souls. 3. Because the emblem of France is the lily, and in the Scriptures the beauty of the Church is compared to the beauty of the lily. 4. Because France will be the land in which the Jews will seek refuge from persecution and become Christians; for France is a free country and whosoever touches it is free. (See Memoires of Niceron. Vol. XII, p. 73.)
+ Bayle calls these narratives“ curious enough,” but Niceron says that they are both "curious and valuable, and that Peyrere no where in them seems the visionary which he appeared in his other works.”