Dr. Hodge And The New England Theology -- By: Enoch Pond
BSac 30:118 (April 1873) p. 371
Dr. Hodge And The New England Theology
It has long been understood that the Princeton theology differs somewhat from the standard orthodox theology of New England. These points of difference appear in the volumes which Dr. Hodge has recently published,1 and will be carefully noted by New England readers. On some few points, we are sorry to say, the author has misapprehended the views generally prevalent in New England, and (of course without intending it) has misrepresented them. He will be glad to be set right on these points; and a principal object of this Article — which is not intended as a review — will be to expose some of these misrepresentations.
Dr. Hodge speaks of President Edwards, Dr. Hopkins, and Dr. Emmons, as leaders in those explanations which he deems erroneous. But he goes on to say that “for many years their systems of theology had great influence in this country.”2 Now, it is true that their systems have a great influence, more especially in New England. Their theology, modified more or less to meet the views of individuals — is what is currently known as the New England theology. In speaking of misrepresentations, therefore, I shall not confine myself to the three great leaders whose names have been given; but shall include with them those, in general, over whom, as Dr. Hodge says, their writings have had “great influence “— those who would be willing to be regarded as Edwardeans. I premise this remark, and hope it may be remembered.
1. Dr. Hodge imputes to his New England brethren his own definition of the word “benevolence,” which definition to us appears imperfect and unsatisfactory. “By benevolence,” he says, “is meant the disposition to promote happiness.”3 To this definition he constantly adheres, and assumes that we do the same. And his mistake, in this respect, is the source of much misapprehension as to the views prevalent in New England. We do not limit our idea of benevolence to the simple desire to promote happiness, nor do we see any good reason why he should. According to its etymology, the word signifies a wishing well (bene volo) to its object; a desire for its good — its highest good. This is the sense given to the word by lexicographers. In this sense the word is constantly used by the most respectable New England theologians. If the object of benevolence is a
BSac 30:118 (April 1873) p. 372
merely sentient being, it may not look beyond its happiness; because happiness is the only good of which such a being is capable. But if the object is...
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