A Theological Reminiscence -- By: An Old Minister

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 075:300 (Oct 1918)
Article: A Theological Reminiscence
Author: An Old Minister

A Theological Reminiscence

An Old Minister

A sad experience in backsliding from the faith, during my Senior year at college, and for some time after, made me very glad to get back to Christ and the Church; and I naturally, and almost of necessity, accepted the teaching of the Church in which I had been born and reared. For sixty years or more, I preached the gospel, as I understood it, very sincerely and earnestly; and it is a great comfort to me now, to believe that my labors were owned and blessed of God to the edification of churches, and the salvation of precious souls. But all this time I was having my perplexities about some things connected with the gospel I was preaching. I was in the Old School branch of the Presbyterian Church. In the dear old Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania, I had heard the Calvinistic system of theology preached and discussed from my childhood up. As held and taught in the Old School churches in that Valley, it was called the System of the Five Points. These were: 1. The total and utter depravity of mankind; 2. God’s electing some to be saved for the glory of His grace, and passing by the rest, to be punished with everlasting torment for the glory of His justice; 3. His sending His Son into the world to die for the elect, and for them only; 4. His sending the Holy Spirit to regenerate and sanctify the elect; 5. The perseverance of the saints; or, the absolute certainty of every one of

the elect being saved. This was a logical system, and each one of the points was proved by texts of Scripture. I heard it said that here was a logical chain that all the powers of earth and hell could not break. It had satisfied and captured many of the strongest minds from the time of Augustine. John Calvin, with his splendid intellect, was captured by its logic. He did not know, what is well known now, that human logic cannot be applied to the deep things of God. So far as I know, Isaac Taylor, the great Christian philosopher of the nineteenth century, was the first to make it clear that our logic cannot be applied to the deep things of God. This he did in his Review of “Edwards on the Will.”

Some of my younger brethren may wonder how it was possible that, with so many statements of Scripture opposed to the above logical formula, we could hold to it. Well, I will tell you how it was in my case. While I was at the Theological Seminary, a volume written by an able minister of the Church of Scotland, was republished in New York. This book, by the Rev. William Symington, was entitled “The Atonement and Intercession of Jesus Christ.” It was recommended to us students. I purchased a copy, and found it to be well written and ably argued. In the chapter on the Extent of the Atonement ...

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