Remarks On A Sermon Delivered By The Late Dr. Emmons Of Franklin Before The Norfolk Education Society, Dorchester, June 11, 1817 -- By: Leonard Withington

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 005:20 (Nov 1848)
Article: Remarks On A Sermon Delivered By The Late Dr. Emmons Of Franklin Before The Norfolk Education Society, Dorchester, June 11, 1817
Author: Leonard Withington


Remarks On A Sermon Delivered By The Late Dr. Emmons Of
Franklin Before The Norfolk Education Society, Dorchester, June 11, 1817

Rev. Leonard Withington

The reputation of Dr. Emmons as a theologian has been destined to undergo all that variety which arises from the different degrees of attention which the public has been disposed to pay to his works. He has made his first, his second and his third impression on the public mind; his first impression was a strong, and, perhaps we may add, a blind admiration from his own little school of followers, and deep condemnation from the rest of the religious world; then came a time when his principles were generally discussed; and, while every body accorded him the excellence of a most luminous style and a clear perception of the conclusions to which he was to arrive, together with their connection with the premises, still he was regarded by many as a writer of perverse ingenuity, more pleased with a paradox than a common truth, never startled at his own conclusions, if he could support them with a seeming demonstration; in a word, a man who was willing to waste his powers on recondite subtleties rather than in promoting useful knowledge or practical piety. We believe his works are fast making their third, and, perhaps, permanent impression. We hear it suggested, and we fully accord .with the suggestion, that few men stand as fair a chance, among New England authors, to be a classic as he. He had a double soul; he was not a mere Elève of the Hopkinsian school; he uttered truths deep as the foundations of human thought, and lasting as eternity. He wanted nothing to make him one of the profoundest of reasoners but a more extensive acquaintance with the history of human speculation. Most of the Hopkinsians, we suspect, were men of great acuteness but of narrow erudition. They went over ground already beaten and were sometimes deceived by sophistries which the world had rejected; still they were bold, whole souled men, and among them, none stood higher than the sage of Franklin. He was a perfect emanation of New England; close in his attention, deep in his insight, true to his convictions; earnest, consistent, luminous and sincere. We have heard him indeed censured for not knowing, or not distinguishing the cases when the pre-

mises support the conclusion from those in which the conclusion upsets the premises. But in this respect, Berkeley was more bold and paradoxical than he. Certainly no man can read him without many suggestions, which a mind far less fertile than that of the author of them, may work into permanent and useful truths.

The sermon on which we shall attempt a few remarks, was delivered more than thirty years ago. It is one of the happiest productions of...

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