M.B. Riddle:

1) The germ of the controversy was the position attributed to Dr. Taylor, “that no human being can become depraved but by his own act, and that the sinfulness of the race does not pertain to man’s nature.” In connection with this, regeneration was regarded as the act of man’s own will or heart; and the primary cause of this right choice was found in self-love, or a desire for the greatest happiness. (Some of these positions have been disclaimed by Dr. Taylor and his friends.) He claimed to be in accord with the New England Calvinism, represented by the two Edwardses, Bellamy, Hopkins, and Dwight. His position on the doctrine of original sin was not Augustinian: over against Dr. Taylor he asserted depravity of nature and the federal headship of Adam, but did not accept immediate imputation. He denied the self-determining power of the will, or the power of a contrary choice, and would not limit the definition of sin to voluntary transgression of known law. He accepted the distinction of Edwards between natural and moral ability, and denied most resolutely the “happiness theory.” By discriminating between an unlimited atonement and limited redemption, he sought to preserve the doctrine of individual election. Regeneration he regarded as “effected, not by moral suasion, or by the efficiency of any means whatever, but by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit, changing the moral disposition, and imparting a new spiritual life to the soul.” The controversy, as was usual at that time, was carried on with speculative and dogmatic weapons, though both parties appealed to Scripture.     M.B. Riddle, “Tyler, Bennet,” in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, [1912] ), 12:46.

Nahum Gale (1812-1876):

2) To those who entertain this opinion, I would commend the following extract from an article in the Princeton Review for July, 1831. The orthodoxy of this work will not be questioned….

Again,–the founders of this seminary believed that the only ground of pardon and salvation to sinners, is the atonement of Christ, and that Christ, by his obedience and death, honored the divine law, satisfied divine justice, and thus rendered it consistent for God to pardon sinners who repent and believe in Christ. They repudiated the theory that the sufferings and death of Christ were intended only to exert a moral influence on the minds of men. They believed that his sufferings were truly vicarious; that he suffered in the room and stead of sinners, 80 that the demands of justice are as fully answered in the case of those who repent and are pardoned, as in the case of those who remain impenitent and are destroyed. They believed that the atonement is of infinite value; that it is sufficient to expiate the sins of all men; and that, on the ground of it, pardon and eternal life are sincerely offered to the whole human race. They did not believe that Christ died for all men, with a design to save all, or to do all in his power to save them. But they believed that he died for all in such a sense as to render it consistent and proper for God to invite all men to come to Christ and be saved, and to make it apparent that those who perish are justly condemned, not only for transgressing the law, but for rejecting the gospel. They made a distinction between atonement and redemption. The former they considered unlimited, the latter limited. Redemption, they supposed, included the application of the atonement, in the sinner’s effectual calling; and they supposed, of course, that none but the elect are actually redeemed. They believed that the only ground of the sinner’s justification is the imputed righteousness of Christ, which is received by faith alone.

They believed that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, and that regeneration is effected, not by moral suasion, or by the efficiency of any means whatever, but by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit, changing the moral disposition, and imparting a new spiritual life to the soul. They believed this to be a sovereign work, and that God hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.

They believed that those who are made the subjects of renewing grace, were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and that they are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation.

They believed that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust, a day of final judgment, and a state of eternal and unalterable retribution for the righteous and the wicked.

These are the prominent doctrines which were held by the founders of this seminary, and for the maintenance of which the Institute was established. They are embodied in the creed to which all the trustees and professors are required annually to give their assent.

That I have given a true exposition of their creed, I feel a good degree of assurance, having been somewhat intimately acquainted with the men. A goodly number of them are still living, and to them I confidently appeal as witnesses of the truth of my representations.      Gale, Nahum, A Memoir of Rev. Bennet Tyler, (Boston: J.E. Tilton and Company, 1860), 74, 77-79.  [Underlining mine.]

[Notes: 1) I am still in the process of tracking down the original article as cited by Gale. 2) When referencing the seminary, Gale means the newly founded Theological Instituted, of which Bennet Tyler was the principal founder. This seminary later became the Hartford Seminary. 3) When Gale speaks of the faculty, he, therefore, refers to Bennet along with the rest of the faculty.]

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