Theology Of Dr. Emmons -- By: E. Smalley

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 007:26 (Apr 1850)
Article: Theology Of Dr. Emmons
Author: E. Smalley

Theology Of Dr. Emmons

Rev. E. Smalley

Of some men the highest eulogy is their works. They live to bless their race; and when they ‘rest from their labors, their works do follow them.’ They can afford to dispense with the praises of men, for they are sure of the honor which cometh from God, and which is imperishable. If misrepresented and even maligned while living, they possess their souls in patience, and calmly ‘bide their time.’ As the sun appears brighter when the clouds that obscured it have passed away, so character becomes more beautiful when the prejudices which had clung to it have disappeared.

These remarks indicate the estimation in which we hold him, whose name is placed at the head of this article. He claimed for himself, and advocated for others ‘the right of private judgment.’ In the fearless exercise of this right he carefully examined whatever was proposed to his belief, and accepted no statements which evidently contradicted his own reason. Believing that it is hard to make valuable discoveries by following others, he was fond of pursuing independent investigations in untravelled paths. Like all original thinkers, he sometimes reached conclusions that startled by their boldness; but if they harmonized with his first principles and with the teachings of inspiration, it sufficed for his free spirit, whether others assented or demurred. Not unfrequently misrepresented, he could afford to be patient, for he had no doubt that the great principles of his system accorded with both reason and Scripture. As he approached the grave, this faith sustained and cheered him. Thus attended, ‘he feared no evil’ when called to pass ‘through the valley of the shadow of death.’ Now that he is gone, he needs not praise from men; for his best eulogy is the statement and defence of his views.

The following synopsis of Dr. Emmons’s theological teachings may be instructive to the student, and not uninteresting to the general reader. The points on which his opinions were in precise accordance with those of other evangelical divines, may be lightly passed over; while those which he made prominent in his system and on which his views are thought to be peculiar, will require a more minute statement and a fuller elucidation. That he had his peculiarities and attached great importance to them, need not be denied. That he loved independent investigation and is entitled to the merit of a true originality, must be conceded. At the same time, it is remarkable to what an extent his theological speculations agree with those of the divines who lived before him, whose praise is in all the churches. Let the following condensed view of them verify the truth of this assertion.

§ 1. Existence And Attribut...
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