A school of Puritan writers, which included the New England divines, ultimately found in the doctrine of the Covenant of Grace the answer, which academic physics could not furnish, to the problem of securing guarantees for rational order in a universe governed by super-rational absolutism. Yet before we examine this ultimate creation of the Puritan genius, we must consider another set of preconceptions which conditioned it no less than did the physics, for the problem was posed not only in the natural universe, but more urgently in a particular portion of the universe, in the constitution and psychology of man. If the divines were forced to balance special enactment against habitual regularity in such phenomena as tides and earthquakes, they were doubly pressed to reconcile them in matters of human behavior, and above all in the process of regeneration, for the question persisted: if God enacts events in sequences within the realm of nature, must He not also ordain sequences within the realm of grace? If He establishes a succession of "means" for combustion, surely He must create one for conversion! Yet it was well understood that nowhere was the divine will more capricious, more arbitrary, than in choosing men for everlasting life; nowhere did God less heed physical causes and environmental factors than in His elections. Before the preachers turned to their Bibles to heal the imperfections of physics, they had already phrased the issue, or to speak more accurately, it had been phrased for them, in the accepted language of contemporaneous psychology. Because regeneration worked a change within the soul, they could not describe the method of grace without presupposing a certain method of the soul.
Their psychological doctrine existed ready made, and they themselves contributed no ideas or propositions to it. 1 There is no need here to review