RPM, Volume 16, Number 29, July 13 to July 19, 2014

Systematic Theology

By R. L. Dabney, D. D., LL. D.

Syllabus and Notes of the Course of Systematic and Polemic Theology
Taught In Union Theological Seminary, Virginia.

Table of Contents:

Note To The Reader

Preface to the Second Edition

Section One—Defending the Faith

Chapter 1: The Existence of God

What is Theology? It's Divisions.

Is Natural Theology a Science?

Two Arguments for God's Existence.

Argument of S. Clarke, of J. Howe, of Breckinridge.

Teleological Argument.

Teleological Argument applied in instances.

Ethical Argument Consensus Popularum Universe a Singular effect.

Atheistic theory of Infinite Series.


[Lectures 1 & 2]

Chapter 2: Evolution

Theory stated.

Tendency Atheistic.

Theory not proved.

Does not weaken Teleological Argument.

[Lecture 3]

Chapter 3: Divine Attributes of God

How many does Reason infer?








Reason infers also Omnipotence, Omniscience, Rectitude, Goodness. Optimism.

Man's Duties to God.

[Lectures 4 & 5]

Chapter 4: Materialism

Attempted Use of Doctrine of "Correlation of Forces."

Theory of Physical Basis of Life.

Connection between Materialism and Atheism.

Moral Results of the latter.

[Lecture 6]

Chapter 5: Immortality of the Soul and Defects of Natural Religion

Testimony of Consciousness, of Reason, of Conscience, of Natural Theology.

Natural Analogies for Pardon doubtful.

Natural Theology Deficient for Warrant and Guarantee.

Necessity of a Revelation.

[Lecture 7]

Chapter 6: Sources of Our Thinking

Important Theological Question of Innate Ideas.

Primitive Ideas must be Granted.

Metaphysical Skepticism.

Tests of a Primary Truth.

Axioms are Such.

Spirituality, Identity, Reality of the Objective, Cause for every Effect are Intuitively seen.

Belief not Derived from Association, or Experience.

True Doctrine of Causation.

The Final Cause.

All Judgments Intuitive and Necessary, if Valid.

Origin of our Moral Judgments.

Selfish System of Hobbes.

Utilitarian Ethics.

Selfish System of Paley.

Sentimental Theory of Dr. A. Smith.

Ethical Theories.

True Theory of Moral Distinction and Obligation.

Moral Judgments are Rational.

The Moral Emotion.

Schemes of Hutcheson, Jouffroy and Brown.

Supremacy and Authority of Conscience.

Essentials to Moral Responsibility.

[Lectures 8 & 9 & 10]

Chapter 7: Free Agency and the Will

Man's Free Agency denied by Theological Fatalists and Sensualistic Necessitarians.

Freedom and Necessity defied.

Theory of Indifferency of the Will Theory of Certainty, and Efficiency of Motives.

Motives Defined.

True Doctrine Sustained and Objections Answered.

[Lecture 11]

Chapter 8: Responsibility and Province of Reason

Moral Character of Dispositions and Desires.

Responsibility for Beliefs.

Province of Reason in Revealed Theology of Protestant System.


Prelatic System.

[Lecture 12]

Chapter 9: Arminian Theory of Redemption—Part 1

Five Points of the Remonstrants.

Wesleyan View of Original Sin.

Doctrine of Common Sufficient Grace Refuted.

Grace in Regeneration Invincible.

The Soul Passive in its Quickening.

No Salvation for the Heathen without Scripture Instrumentality.

[Lecture 48]

Chapter 10: Arminian Theory of Redemption—Part 2

Conditional Decrees Implied in Synergism.

The Result Conditioned and not the Decree.

Argument of True Nature of the Will Stated, Calvinistic View Agreeable, Arminian Inconsistent thereto.

Motive and Disposition Defined.

Free—Agency of the Natural Will, though decisively Determined to Carnality.

Inability does not Supersede Responsibility.

Regeneration Perfects Free—Agency.

Hence Responsibility in both States.

[Lecture 49]

Chapter 11: Faith

Kinds of Faith.

Temporary and Saving, Different.

Christ the Special Object of Saving Faith. Implicit or Intelligent? View of Romanists refuted, of Protestants sustained.

Elements in Saving Faith.

Sin of Unbelief.

Historical Faith Distinguished.

Faith the Fruit of Regeneration Objections and Answers.

Fides Formata of Rome, Distinction. Assurance ',' of faith Distinguished.

The Suitable Organ of Justification.

[Lecture 50]

Section Two—Basic Doctrines of the Faith

Chapter 12: Revealed Theology: God and His Attributes

Names and Titles applied to God.

God's Attributes, Defined, Classified.

Scriptural evidences of God's Unity, Spirituality, Simplicity, Immensity, Eternity and Immutability.

Scriptural account of Knowledge and Wisdom.

Meaning of His Simple, His Free, and His Mediate Knowledge.

Free Knowledge of the Future Acts of Free Agents.

Scriptural Evidence of His Will and Power.

Omnipotent over Free Agents.

Distinction between Decretive and Preceptive Will.

Antecedent and Consequent Will.

His Will Absolute.

Is God's Will the sole source of Moral Distinctions God's Moral Attributes.

Absolute and Relative, Distributive and Punitive Justice Defined and Proved from Scripture.

God's goodness.

Its Relations to His Love, His Grace and His Mercy.

Scriptural Proofs.

Truth and Faithfulness Defined and Established.

God's Holiness.

Defined and Proved.

God's Infinitude.


[Lectures 13 & 14 & 15]

Chapter 13: The Trinity

The Terms, Trinity, Essence, Substance, Subsistence, Person, Derived and Defined.

Three Tendencies of Opinion on Trinity; the Patripassian, Sabellian and Arian Schemes Stated and Refuted.

Orthodox Doctrine of the Trinity Stated and Defended.

Rationalistic Explanations of the Greek Scholastics, of Thomas Aquinas.

Proof of Trinity from Revelation.

[Lecture 16]

Chapter 14: The Divinity of Christ

Argued from His Pre-existence.

In the Old Test.

Theophanies, and Angel of the Covenant.

Augustine's Difficulty answered.

Divine Names, Attributes, Works and Worship given to Christ.

[Lecture 17]

Chapter 15: The Divinity of the Holy Spirit and of the Son

History of the Doctrine of Holy Spirit.

The Orthodox Doctrine.

Personality of the Holy Spirit, and the Divinity of the Holy Spirit argued from Scripture.

Objections answered.

Controversy on the Procession of Holy Spirit examined.

Divinity of second and third Persons proved by offices in Redemption.

[Lecture 18]

Chapter 16: Personal Distinctions in the Trinity

Son's Generation and Filiation; Orthodox, Arian, and Socinian Views of.

Ante—Nicene Greek Speculations on.

Eternal Generation Proved. Procession of Holy Spirit.

[Lecture 19]

Chapter 17: The Decrees of God

His Acts Classified.

Decree Proved by God's Intelligence, His Power.

Different from Fate.

Distinction between permissive and efficacious.

Properties of the Decree, Unity, Eternity, Universality (including creatures' acts),

Efficiency Unconditionality, Freedom and Wisdom.

Objections answered.

[Lecture 20]

Chapter 18: Predestination


Proposition, a Definite Election of Individual Men to Salvation, Proved, from Decree from Original Sin, from Scripture Testimonies by Providence Evasions Considered.

Predestination Eternal, Efficacious, unchangeable, etc.


Predestination of Angels, Different from that of Man.

Schemes of the Sublapsarian and Supralapsarian Examined.

Hypothetic Scheme Examined.

Arminian Scheme Stated and Refuted.

God's Decree of reterition.

Its Grounds. Proved.

Predestination Consistent with Justice with Holiness, and with Benevolence of God.

Practical Effects of the Doctrine.

[Lectures 21 & 22]

Chapter 19: Creation

Terms Defined.

Creation out of Nothing.

The Atomic, Pantheistic and Platonic Schemes Refuted.

Proofs from Scripture, from Reason, and Objections to the Eternity of the Universe and Matter.

No Creature can be Enabled to Create.

The Creative Week.

Theories of Modern Geologists concerning the Age of the Earth.

Their Grounds and modes of Reconciling them with Mosaic History.

[Lecture 23]

Chapter 20: Angels

Existence and Personality of Angels.

Their Qualities.

Their First Estate Probation and Issue thereof.

Offices of the Good Angels.

Personality and Headship of Satan.

Powers of Bad Angels.


Demoniacal Possessions.


Personal Christian Duties Resulting.

[Lecture 24]

Chapter 21: Providence


Theory of Epicurean, of General Providence.

Of Pantheist.

Concern of Providence in Phys.

Causes and Laws.

A Special argued from a General Providence.

Doctrine Proved, from God's Perfections, Man's Moral Intuitions Course of Nature and Human History, Dependence of Creatures, from Scriptures.

Objections Answered.

Relation of Providence to Rational Acts of Free Agents.

God's Agency in Man's Spiritual Acts; in Man's Sins.

Doctrine of an Immediate Concursus.

The True Doctrine Sustained.

[Lecture 25]

Chapter 22: Effectual Calling

Application of Redemption by Holy Spirit.

Sin Necessitates the Call.

Common and Effectual Calling.

Designs of God in Common Call; His Sincerity therein.

Scripture Argument Objections considered.

Agent and Instrument of Regeneration.

Pelagian and Semi—Pelagian View of Regeneration.

Correct View Sustained.

Is the Operation of the Spirit Mediate?

Dick's View.

Definition of Doctrine.


How Moral Opinions Arise.

[Lectures 46.& 47]

Chapter 23: Justification

Importance of correct views of the doctrine.

Scripture idea of.

Roman Catholic view Justification not by inherent grace and its works.

Both pardon and adoption.

Both Christ's active and passive obedience is the ground of it.

What is adoption?

Works cannot justify.

James reconciled to Paul.

Christ's work was not to lower the Law.

Faith not our Imputed Righteousness.

But Justification only on account of Christ's merit.


Justification an Act.

How related to the Judgment Day?

Faith only instrument of Justification.

How related to Sanctification?

To good works?

Antinomian result rejected.

[Lectures 52 & 53 & 54]

Chapter 24: Repentance

Repentance of two kinds.

Legal and Evangelical Repentance.

Author of True Repentance.

It follows new birth.

How related to Faith.

Yet no Satisfaction for Guilt.

Fruits meet for Repentance.

[Lecture 55]

Chapter 25: Sanctification and Good Works

Sanctification Defined.

How related to New Birth and Justification.

Agent and Means.

Never Perfect in this life.

Wesleyan view.

Sanctification is of the whole man: and progressive.

Evangelical good work what?

Merit what?

Congruous and Condign.

None in Believer's works.

Nor Natural Man's.

Concilia Perfectionis rejected.

Supererogation refuted.

Standards of Sanctification.

Value of Christ's Example.

[Lectures 56 & 57]

Chapter 26: Perseverance of the Saints

Differing views of.

Perseverance Defined and Proved.

Objections to reconciled.

Tendency of the Doctrine.

[Lecture 58]

Chapter 27: Assurance of Grace and Salvation

Distinguished by Confession from Faith.

Doctrine of Rome, and of first Reformers, touching.

Not of the Essence of Saving Faith.

The Grace attainable.

Means: Self—examination, asserted.

Objections: as, e. g.,

Fostering carnal security.

The Witness.

[Lecture 59]

Section Three—The Condition of Man

Chapter 28: Man's Estate of Holiness and the Covenant of Works

Man's Origin.

Man's Person, Body and Spirit. In the "Image of God."

Man's Original Righteousness.


Views of Pelagians and Socinians, and of Romanists Refuted.

The True View Established.

Natural Relation of Man to God's Will.

Covenant of Works, Proof of its Institution and Extent to Posterity.

The Condition and Seal of the Covenant.

Probation Temporary.

[Lecture 26]

Chapter 29: The Fall and Original Sin

Sin and Guilt Defined.

Adam's First Sin.

Effects of Sin in Adam.

The Tempter.

Sentence on Him.

Effects of Adam's Fall on His Posterity, According to Pelagian; Lower Arminian; Wesleyan; and Calvinistic Theory.

Origin of Souls.

History of Opinions.

Args. of Traducianists and Creationists examined.


Depravity Total.

Its Existence in the Race proved, from Experience; from Scripture.

Imputation of the Guilt to Posterity, Defined and Proved.

Objections to Args. for Native Depravity Considered.

Objections to Imputation, from Scriptures; from Absence of consent to Adam's Representation; from its Supposed Injustice from God's Goodness, Answered.

Theories of Mediate and Immediate Imputation Examined and Correct View Sustained.

Importance of the Doctrine from its Connection with other Doctrines of Redemption.

[Lectures 27 & 28 & 19]

Section Four—God's Law

Chapter 30: The Decalogue, or Ten Commandments


Moral Distinction Intrinsic and Eternal.

Of Moral Obligation.

Uses of Law under the Covenant of Grace.

Origin and Divisions.

Rules of Interpretation.

The Law Perfect.

[Lecture 30]

Chapter 31: The First Table of the Law—Commandments 1-4

Scope of the 1st Commandment.

Roman Catholic Idolatry.

Args. against Saint, Angel and Relic Worship.

Scope of 2nd Commandment.

Image Worship.

Excuses of Rome Examined.

Scope of 3rd Commandment.

Lawful Oaths and Vows.

Diversity in the Observance.

Opinion of Papists, Lutherans, Socinians the Anglican Church, Calvin, and the Arminians each Examined.

True Doctrine Westminster Assembly.

Sabbath Command Moral and Perpetual, Proved by Decalogue, by Tradition.

New Test.

Argument Anti—Sabbatarian View.

The Lord's Day the Christian Sabbath.

Practical Argument.

[Lectures 31 & 32]

Chapter 32: The Second Table of the Law—Commandments 5-10

Scope of 5th Commandment.

Parents represent all Superiors.

Extent of the Promise.

Scope of 6th Commandment.

Animal Life, Capital Punishment, Defensive War, Moral Character of Dueling.

Scope of 7th Commandment.

Adultery and its Punishment.



Limits of Consanguinity.


Scope of 8th Commandment.

Origin of Right of Private Property.


Buying and Selling under the Law of Charity.

Scope of 9th Commandment.

Grounds of Duty of Veracity.

Its practical importance.

Evil Speaking.

Are all Deceptions Lies?

Scope of 10th Commandment.

Roman Catholic Division of it.

The Decalogue only from God.

What does every Sin deserve?

[Lectures 33 & 34 & 35]

Section Five—God's Relationship with His People

Chapter 33: The Covenant of Grace

God's Remedy.

Terms defined.

Covenant of Redemption, Proof of.

How related to the Covenant of Grace.

The Original Parties to the Covenant.

Motives of God to the Covenant.

Conditions Pledged, by Christ, by the Father.

Instrumental Condition required of Men.

Faith the only condition.

One in all Ages.

Opinion of Socinians, of Anabaptists, of Remonstrants thereon.

Two Dispensations, why?

The Gospel Preached to Adam.

The Development of Grace.

A Mediator.

Sacrificial Types.

Additional Revelations to Patriarchs, Eternal Life Promised.

Covenant of Sinai, not a Covenant of Works.

True Nature of this Covenant.

Difference of Old Dispensation from New.

No Limbus Patrum.

Old Testament Saints Redeemed at Death.

[Lectures 36 & 37 & 38]

Chapter 34: Mediator of the Covenant of Grace

Mediator what?

Why Needed in the Covenant of Grace.

Jesus the Mediator of Old Testament.

Hypostatic Union, Views of Gnostics, Eutychians, Nestorians and Orthodox thereon; the Ground of Efficacy of Christ's Work.

Impeccability of Christ.

Does Christ Mediate in both Natures?

Necessity of each.

Necessity of Christ's Prophetic Work, Socinian view of.

Christ the Only Mediator.

Argument of Rome refuted.

Angelic Mediation.

Christ's Anointing.

Christ's Offices Three, Why?

His Prophetic Work, its Modes and Periods.

Christ the True Priest.

Functions of the Priesthood.

Its Peculiarities.

Necessity of Satisfaction Proved against Socinians, etc.

God's Motive Satisfying His own Justice.

False Theories of Penalty Refuted.

Title to Penalty Correlative to Title to Reward.

[Lectures 39 & 40 & 41]

Section Six—Christ, Man's Hope

Chapter 35: The Nature of Christ's Sacrifice

Redemption Foreshadowed in Providence.

Intervention Costs a Penalty.

Substitution Unusual among Men, Why?

Terms Defined.

The very Penalty.

Theory of Christ's Death as held by Socinians, Theory of Moral Influence, and Theory of Governmental Influence Stated and Refuted.

Christ's Proper Substitution and Vicarious Sacrifice Proved.

Conditions of Efficacy of this Atonement.

Socinian and Semi—Pelagian Objections to Doctrine of Vicarious Satisfaction considered.

Design of God therein and Extent of that Design.

Theories of Pelagians, Wesleyans, Hypothetic Universalists (Amyrant), Calvinists.

Proofs of latter and former refuted.

Difficulties of the Subject.

Christ's Satisfaction not Commercial.

The Design and Result Co—extensive.

God's Volitions from a Complex Motive.

Objections Solved.

[Lectures 42 & 43]

Chapter 36: Results of Christ's Sacrifice

Penance and Purgatory.

History of.

Roman Catholic Doctrines Stated, with their Args. and Replies.

[Lecture 44]

Chapter 37: Christ's Humiliation and Exultation

Did He Descend into Hell?

Calvin's View.

Exaltation, Session at Father's Right—hand.

Resurrection of Christ Proved.

Its Importance.

Christ's Priestly Intercession, its Grounds, Objects, Mode, Duration.

Christ's Kingdom, the Extent of His Powers, its Duration.

[Lecture 45]

Chapter 38: Union to Christ

By what similitudes described?

Its results to believers.

Its instrumental and essential bond.

How it resembles and differs from the union of the Father and the Son—and that of the divinity and humanity of the Son.

It is not merely that of a Leader and his followers.

It is not a partaking of the substance of the Godhead.

Indwelling of the Holy Spirit in this union.

The union indissoluble.

[Lecture 51]

Section Seven—The Practices of the Church

Chapter 39: Prayer

Definition and Parts.

Proper Objects.

Grounds of Duty.

Objections to, from God's Perfections, and Stability of Natural Law.

Rule of Prayer.

Extent of warrant for.

Secret, Social, etc.

Model of.

Physical Prayer.


[Lecture 60]

Chapter 40: The Sacraments


Sacraments are Seals.

Parts of Sacraments.

Qualities of Elements.

Sacramental Union what?

Sacraments only Two: Under each Dispensation.

Spurious Roman Catholic Sacraments.

Doctrine of Intention.

Opus Operatum.

Are they Necessary to Salvation?

By whom Administered?

The Indelible Character Rejected.

[Lectures 61 & 62]

Chapter 41: Baptism

A Permanent Ordinance.

Signification of Baptismal Regeneration.


John's Baptism.

Baptism of Christ, for what?

Mode of Baptism and Meaning of Words.

Mode of for all Ages and Climates.

Mode best Suited to Significance.

Analogy of Figurative Baptisms.

Mode of New Testament Cases.

Ecclesiastical Results of Immersionists' Dogma.

Primitive Mode.

Proper Subjects, Who?

Baptism of Infants not Unreasonable.

Argued from Infant Membership and Abrahamic Covenant.

Argued from Unlikelihood of their Exclusion.

From Great Commission.

Proselyte Baptism Implies Infant Baptism.

Baptism of Houses.

Infants Addressed as in the Church.

Historical Argument.

Infant Baptism does not Corrupt Church.

Relation of Baptized to Church.

[Lectures 63 & 64 & 65 & 66]

Chapter 42: The Lord's Supper

Definition, Names and History.

Elements and Sacramental Acts.

Doctrine of Real Presence.



Doctrine of Calvin as to Real Presence compared with that of Zwinglius and Westminster.

Supper not a Sacrifice.

Private Communions Disapproved.

Laity should have the Cup.

Proper Administerer.

Sacramental Efficiency, what?

[Lectures 67 & 68]

Section Eight—Life After Death for Believers

Chapter 43: Death of Believers

Why Death befalls the Justified.

Souls Immortal.

Benefits received by Justified at Death.

Sanctification then complete.

No Intermediate Place.

Sleep of Souls rejected.

[Lecture 69]

Chapter 44: The Resurrection

Speculations on.

Doctrine Defined.

Qualities and Identity of Resurrection bodies.

Objections dissolved.

Doctrine proved from Scripture.

How Dated to Christ's.

Two Resurrections and Pre—Adventism.

[Lecture 70]

Chapter 45: General Judgment and Eternal Life

Purposes of such Judgment.

Proofs of Time, Place, etc.

The Judge Christ.

Saints Assessors.

Who Judged?



Nature of Saints Blessedness.

Place of.

[Lecture 71]

Chapter 46: Nature and Duration of Hell Torments

The Punishment of Wicked, what?

Speculations as to Duration.


Objections of to Scripture Doctrine.

Meaning of Bible Words.

Everlasting punishments proved.

[Lecture 72]

Section Nine—The Church and the World Around It

Chapter 47: The Civil Magistrate

True theory of Civil Government.

Social Contract Theory.

Civil and Natural Liberty, what?


Objects and Limits of civil Powers.

Higher Law and Private Judgment.

Passive Obedience.

Right of Revolution.

[Lecture 73]

Chapter 48: Religious Liberty and Church and State

Religious Liberty and Private Judgment Established.

Persecutions for opinions rejected.

High Theory of Church Establishments rejected.

Chalmers' Theory considered.

Proper Relations of Church and State.

Civil Powers over.

[Lecture 74]


Appendix A:

Geologic Theories and Chronology.

Must concern Theologian.

Flow to be treated by him.

Burden of Proof against Revealed Facts lies on the Geologist.

His, a posteriori Argument Circumstantial.

Hence Invalid against Credible "Parole" Evidence.

When pushed to extreme, Atheistic.

Appendix B:

Apostolic Succession and Sacramental Grace Shown to be a Blunder.
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