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[76] the fearsome tenets of their preachers. The doctrines of total depravity and eternal damnation struck terror into the heart of the sinner. Now it was by a sort of incantation, by a promise of immediate assurance of salvation, that the itinerant removed this terror. It was, then, in a skilful way that Chauncy met such practices. The places where the revivalists had been at work were called the burnt-over districts. To prevent future conflagrations it was then necessary to start a back-fire. This Chauncy did by removing the unreasoning terror of the old doctrines. But it was necessary to do more. In place of the old faith, which, though a painful thing to hold, men were loath to abandon, there must be brought a new and emollient doctrine. New England's nervous diathesis called for something to soothe the system. This came to be found in the exchange of pessimism for optimism; in the replacing of a dread judge by a benevolent deity, belief in whom would give a steady and lasting satisfaction. By 1784 Chauncy, as opposer of the new lights, had learned his lesson. The heart must be appealed to as well as the head. So his argument is built up from below, benevolence being first defined as “that quality, in the human mind, without which we could not be the objects of another's esteem.”

With this hint taken from the learned English divine, Samuel Clarke, his American disciple shows how the old doctrines will dissolve of themselves. Out of the five points of Calvinism two were obviously inconsistent with benevolence. One of these was irresistible grace, as the correlate of irresistible power; the other was eternal damnation, as the correlate of total depravity. One reason, therefore, why Chauncy attacked the ranters was that they were reactionaries. But the cruel old penal view was bound to pass away of itself. Men's minds had entered the deistic drift. The arguments of rationality became the telling arguments.

“Some later writers”-and the remark is evidently directed against Edwards-“might make the infinitely benevolent God, the grand and only efficient, who has so connected a chain of causes that His final result should be the everlasting damnation of a great number of the creatures His hands had formed .... But such metaphysical reasoning does not stand the test of experience. There is too much skill and contrivance displayed in the formation ”

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