Imatges de pÓgina

tempt to take any advantage of what
may appear to me to be incorrect in
her mode of expression. I willingly
yield to Mr. T. the palm for logical
acumen and definition; I only wish
to argue for truth and not for victory.
I am no polemic, and perhaps may by
some be considered as a busy intruder
in the literary republic: be that as it
may, I claim the right of rambling in
the field of inquiry, and the same
liberty I most ardently consent that
others should enjoy. I have early in
life read Hartley, Hume, Stewart,
Helvetius, Price, and other writers
on the human mind, and the conclu-
sions I drew from this mass of inquiry
were, that I must judge for myself;
and that if I pinned my faith upon the
sleeve of any individual indiscrimi-
nately, I was as likely to be wrong as
if I had no such literary authority
whatever. I revere their powers of
mind, and I give them credit for sin-
cerity; but, after all, I believe com-
mon sense to be the best touchstone
of opinions and practical merit.

Mrs. C. says, "It was the intention
of a gracious Providence by these
means, at that time, to preserve my
life." Now, what are we to under-
stand by the word "intention"? To
my conception, it implies the result
of choice or deliberation. Thus, if
this event is permitted to take place,
"all the salutary convictions will be
felt, which similar dangers and similar
deliverances are intended to produce;"
if it is not permitted, then those con-
sequences will be lost-therefore, it
shall proceed. If this be not a special
or miraculous interference for the par-
ticular purpose, there must surely be
an end to all attempt at argument:
or, at any rate, is it possible, after
mature consideration, to deny that
such was her view of the subject?
That the effect was produced by what
we agree to understand by a combina-
tion of natural causes, I admit; but I
cannot separate the idea from the con-
clusion, that she believed that these
natural causes or agents were pur-
posely and specially appointed by
Providence for the case in point. And
am I not right in believing that her
opinion was, that though these events
were apparently trivial and unconnect-
ed, taken distinctly, and in their re-
gular series; yet that the arrangement
and combination of them was produced

in her favour by the special "inten-
tion" of Providence? It was well for
the community that so valuable a life
should be protracted to a ripe old age;
but what had this event, taking it
throughout, to do with prolonging it?
Her death did not then take place
and to say that her life was prolonged
by these agencies that are often
employed to take away life or to re-
store it, at the very moment when it
is about to expire," appears to me a
strange and incomprehensible confu-
sion of ideas. In short, I think myself
fully warranted in the conclusion, that
the passage I quoted at full length
gives me no authority to extend her
conceptions of an overruling Provi
dence beyond those of kind and bene-
ficent protection. Is yehemoob i d

I very readily acknowledge that I
did not know from whence my quota-
tion was taken, of one event," &e.v
borrowed it solely from recollection.
Mr. T. indirectly, and somewhat ex-
ultingly, asks, whether I am compe-
tent to undertake a commentary on
the book which contains the passage b
Most assuredly I am not; but this I
can tell him, that when he shall be
prepared to explain all the gradations
which the sacred volume contains be
tween plenary inspiration and acknow-
ledged interpolations, I will take cares
to be ready, so that we may both enter
the arena together to TM

I come now to Mr. T.'s explanation
of the plans and proceedings of Provi
dence; and if I understand him right,
it is his opinion, that all possible
events, moral as well as physical, were
distinctly and separately appointed by
Omniscience from the creation of the
world, or from the profound and in-
conceivable depths of eternity. He
nevertheless appears somewhat un-
willing to admit an unlimited investi-
gation into the subject, and afraid of
the consequences of pursuing the ar
gument to its extremes, lest we should
be misled by "minute particulari-
ties," and lose sight of general princi
ples. It must, however, in my esti
mation, be a weak cause that will not
bear an examination in all its points;
and if some of them should be more
vulnerable than others, a disputant is
fairly authorized to make his attack
wherever it suits him best. By tracing
objections to their utmost extent we
frequently may arrive at indisputable

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conclusions; or, at least, may prove that the arguments of our opponents will fail them in what they may consider as fundamental data. ́ Such, for instance, as the doctrine of future punishment for moral depravity;-it appears consistent with all our preconceived principles of justice, that vice should be made to suffer for its turpitude; but when we attempt to vindicate eternal resentment and infinite misery as the retribution for finite errors and crimes, the reflecting mind must recoil with horror at the idea, and feel at once that no argument can establish such a monstrous proposition. Again, from dubious and appa rently contradictory passages in the Old and New Testament, we may contend till doomsday about the person and offices of Christ; but when the assertion is made that the God of universal nature died on the cross-it is in vain to urge another word with such an opponent there is no common principle of nind or language which is not thereby violated beyond the power of argument to restore.

To apply this reasoning to the doctrine of what is understood by the term of a Particular Providence, as advocated by Dr. Price and Mr. T. and to me it appears capable of proving that it is inconsistent even with their own statement and explanation. If, as Mr. T. contends, "Every thing which has happened, or is to happen in the universe, was immediately contemplated by the Divine mind, and formed from the beginning an essential part of the general plan; that every individual entered separately and distinctly into the views of his Creator; that not merely our existence, not merely our welfare in general, but every moment's existence, even the minutest circumstance which ministers to our welfare, was foreseen and provided for before time commenced his course: it also follows, that the execution, as well as the original design, is in the hands of the same great and wise Being, and that in every event that happens we behold the immediate exertion of divine pow er." Admitting this to correspond with the sentiments held by Dr. Price, then the Doctor is quoted as saying that to suppose otherwise," then the universe is a chaos; the character of the Parent of it is imperfect; all trust


in him, and all supplications to him are absurd, and no part of practical religion has any good foundation." I venerate the talents, the virtues and the memory of the Doctor, and respect the character of Mr. T., but I must not implicitly bow to their or any other authority; and with this feeling, the conclusions I draw from their own premises are diametrically opposite.

If every possible case in the natural world is under the "immediate exertion" of the Deity-then every atom of the universe has been operated upon from its first existence, by absolute and temporary volition; and in all its future combinations and chemical affinities and changes, it must wait the Almighty fiat before it can fulfil its decrees. ́What, then, is the human frame but part of the great and sublime mystery of universal organization, composed of primeval atoms, and acted upon by the same universal agencies? Not to enter into the metaphysical contentions about Materialism, as it relates to a future state of existence, it will not be denied, on Mr. T.'s hypothesis, that the present state of the human mind derives its hopes, its passions, its powers and capabilities from the organization of the tenement with which it is connected; that external causes influence every emotion of the heart, and regulate, if not absolutely controul, every opinion of the intellect; that certain relations will produce the same corresponding results, as well in the moral as in the physical world. But is there no difference between general, immutable and eternal laws, and immediate agency? If every thought and action of an intelligent being is the consequence of the immediate exertion of some power independent of his own choice or will, what can remain that should dignify him in any degree with the character of a free agent? And how can this be called a state of trial and probation-subjecting him to future reward or punishment according to his deserts, when every atom of his frame, every combination of external circumstances, and every impulse of his mind, was imposed upon him by an eternal decree, and altogether irresistible? Is this the "good foundation for practical religion"? What I understand by


3 x

religion, is the devotion of every faculty of body and mind to the performance of those duties we consider essential to the approbation of heaven -with the hope that future happiness will be the reward. But if all free agency is a mere delusion; if we are invariably the passive and helpless agents of appointed purposes, what then becomes of accountability? Are not the terms merit and demerit absolutely merged and confounded-and is it not upon this footing alone "that all supplications to the Deity are absurd"? If petitions are meant to influence the Divine mind either to perpetuate or to change his eternal purposes; how more than useless, how presumptuous inust they appear! and for what other purpose can they be presented?.

In the eternal and immutable de signs of Providence, as connected with the human race, it is utterly in vain for us to attempt to fathom his counsels, so as to explain the origin of evil, or why its continuance should be permitted. I like the reasoning upon that subject of your correspondent Mr. Hinton, in your Number for July. All inferiority implics imperfection; and as all creation, material and intellectual, must necessarily be inferior to its great and original Creator; it must, consequently, partake of some qualities, both physical and moral, which our limited views lead us to express by the term evil. That convulsions in the natural world produce many beneficial consequences, the most casual observation cannot overlook. What we can trace is sufficient to prove unity of design, and general benevolence of purpose; and we have no possible reason to doubt that the intellectual government of all sentient beings is under the same wise and immutable appointment. The natural impulse of the human heart appears to be gratitude for the blessings with which we are surrounded, and confidence in the protection of the benevolence which has brought us into being, with the capacity to enjoy its bounties, and to anticipate and trust in its future provision. The light of nature, teaches us that the best expression of gratitude is obedience, and that we are accountable for our conduct to the power which gave us our existence. This feeling, if indulged, will influence

every action of our lives and every principle of our minds, and is equally intelligible to the understanding of all mankind. What then is gained, or rather what an immense power, over the conduct of the human race is not surrendered, by the belief that we are all mere machines in the dark round of fixed and irretrievable fate; and that we are forced by external impulses to blunder through the bewildering perplexities of life, with no more responsibility than the unconscious and unreflecting brutes! Are not these the only rational conclusions that can be drawn from the opinions 1 am attempting to controvert; and if so, do they not fatally undermine all belief in revelation? For, to what purpose can revelation be applied, but to teach mankind their duties and obligations? And what is duty detached from honourable and voluntary service; or what merit is there in the mechanical performance of an automaton? As well may we talk of the duties of a steam-engine or of a mousetrap. I do not wish to speak irreve rently or with derision on the subject; but if it will not bear even this severe and extreme test, it must surely be defective. Who then is chargeable as



a fallible mortal in presuming to explain away the express words of our Lord, and set limits to the Divine Omniscience"? For is there a page in the whole of the New Testament but what contains a forcible appeal to the understanding and feelings of the reader; that he has the liberty of making his own choice between goud and evil; and that he will be rewarded or punished for the proper or improper use of the privilege?

The popular acceptation of the word providential, is in exact accordance with what I have understood to be Mrs. C.'s opinion, that is, a merciful interposition; but how partial and unsuitable is the term, and even how upbraiding is its application, if we are to presume to make these invidious distinctions! We thank Providence for those events that gratify our selflove, and withhold our general ascriptions of praise for his universal beneficence. Wha at sic a time can praise the Lord?" is an exclamation which a favourite modern author has put into the mouth of a half idiot, in the midst of a tremendous storm; and

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ave bas espil zno 30 noites
the feeling is correct upon half ma-
tured and imperfect principles. Where-
as, on a more enlarged and just view
of the subject, our best emotions are
expanded to higher strains of thanks-
giving for every tie which binds us to
universal nature, whatever to us indi-
vidually may be its temporary and
seeming hardships and imperfections.
That the usual expressions of the be-
lief in the partial interference of Pro-
vidence in the concerns of individuals,
are almost exclusively limited to be-
nefits received, is obvious. Upon the
hypothesis of Mr. T, we ought not to
make these distinctions, but either re-
frain from such expressions altogether,
or refer every possible case to the
same wise and merciful appointment.
But what a horrid sense
and impiety would be excited, should
it be said, that providentially Eve
tasted the forbidden fruit; or Cain
slew his brother Abel or the I Isra-
elites worshiped their golden calf!
Or, to come nearer to our own con-
cerns, would not the indignation of
the civil powers, as well as the eccle-
siastical authorities, be let loose upon
any one who should say, that provi-
dentially Copenhagen was bombarded
by its friends or the Manchester
massacres took place; or the slaugh-
ter, in cold blood, of 500 Arabs at
Hydrabad by the bayonets of English-
men? That providentially, A turned
highwayman, B lost his estate by



highwayman destroyed himself? ing to nei tens of thousands, who



superstition and idolatry, on the wretched inhabitants of those countries which know not God; when we our eyes on the temple of Juggernaut, and see the fires Kindled to consume the Widow of Indostan; when we enumerate the dreadful list of horrid enormities which owe their origin to these debasing superstitions surely we must confess, that even the command of complete extermination, harsh as it may appear, was issued in mercy by Him who seeth the end from the beginning, not merely to the unhappy idolaters themselves, to save them from plunging deeper and still deeper into sin and misery, but as a solemn warnC to thouWould such expressions be endured? Yet are they not unavoidable inferences, however unguarded and irreverent they may appear? And do they not shew the extreme hazard of speculating in these opinions beyond the power of pe penetration allotted to us by our Maker? Should I be accused of impiety in the rashness of these queries, why should such a case as the following pass uncensured? If I have any just conceptions of inconsiderate or presumptuous folly, it surely was here displayed. The public papers informed us of a fire having taken place in London, and destroyed the offices of a copper-plate printer, who was known to have had in his possession the large engraving representing the coronation of George IV, but though most of the other plates entrusted to his care were lost, "yet providentially this one escaped."



sands and
would have been corrupted by
leand have perpe-
tuated the dreadful evil from genera-
tion to generation."
199Gracious heaven!
extermination for what? For igno-
rance, and by whom? By those who,
having had superior information, were
perpetually plunging into the same
idolatry themselves!! It is recorded
of Pizarro, (I think,) that having
requested a friendly interview with
an Indian cacique, and the most dis-
tinguished persons of his empire, a
recommendation of the doctrines of
Christianity was submitted to them,
with the assertion that the Bible, which
was put into the hands of the chief,
gave the information of the whole.
The cacique examined it seriously,
and put it to his ear as if expecting it
would speak; but being disappointed,
and fearful, perhaps, that it possessed


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some secret charm which would injure him, he let it fall with the timidity of alarm. Spaniards! Christians! ex claimed the fanatic Pizarro, will you see your holy religion thus insulted, the word of God trampled on by a Pagan? Revenge! Revenge! and prove yourselves worthy of the protec tion of heaven! A general massacre ensued: and is there in the black catalogue of human crimes, a fact which holds a stronger claim upon our bitterest execration?.. +

use the word Trinity, we must by them be considered as involving the subject in perplexity and doubt, however we may varnish over our own interpretations. If, then, the Israelites were selected by the Almighty as his chosen people to perpetuate the knowledge of his Unity; at least the Mahometans are entitled to share this praise; and, coupling this merit with the atrocities and abominations committed in the name of Christianity, we should, to preserve our con


The infamous tribunal of the Inquisistency on the theory of Mrs. Cappe, sition is said to have caused between petition heaven to issue its "comthe years 1481 and 1759, 34,658 per mands" to the followers of Mahomet sons to be burnt alive, and between to extirpate the believers in Christ 1481 and 1808, to have sentenced from the face of the globe. 288,214 to the galleys or to be imprisoned. If to these we add the ruthless persecutions over a great part of the world, which had no connexion with the Inquisition; and the bloody, infuriated and numerous national wars undertaken and continued under the prostituted name of religion or Christianity; we must be compelled to admit, that, detestable as were many of the Heathen institutions, and sanguinary as were many of their practices; yet that Christians (nominal Christians) have infinitely exceeded them all in atrocity, and sacrificed more victims in one century, than the Canaanites or Hindoos would have done in twenty. It appears to have been the general opinion of the ancient Pagan world, that every kingdom or community had its proper and stationary gods, so that when any conquest took place, the invaders adopted the mythology of the conquered as a matter of course; it was reserved for enlightened times, and for the followers of the "Prince of Peace," to make war upon each other for mere opinions, and to preach extermination in the name of the "God of mercy."

But in the case of the Canaanites it is said, that it was the command of Him" who seeth the end from the beginning." I know but of one rule of justice, and I dare not charge Omnipotence with its violation, viz., that retribution should be in exact We may proportion to the desert. swerve from this precept through inattention, prejudice, or misapprehension; but do not let us attempt to vindicate in the Almighty what the noblest and best feelings of our nature proclaim it would be wrong in us to commit. "Where there is no law there can be no crime;" and to punish as an "offence" what could not possibly be avoided, and to call it ," too! Venerable shade of mercy," departed excellence! however thy virtuous mind might heretofore be shaded with imperfection, bear witness now to the correctness of the views for which I am an humble advocate; that man is endowed with faculties which he can voluntarily either debase or improve; that he has the option either "to bury his talent în the earth," or to extend it a hundred fold; that more will not be required of him than has been bestowed; and that if perfectibility be denied to his limited powers, it is his bounden duty never to lose sight of the splendid and animating goal, as it is his high privilege that he shall succeed in proportion to his endeavours.

Such are a part of the anomalies which present themselves to my imagination, either with the limited views which I have supposed to be entertained by Mrs. C., or the more extended ones of Mr. T., and such

Whatever may be the errors of the Mahometans respecting their partial acknowledgment of Christ and the person of their own prophet, they certainly have more correct notions of the unity of the Godhead, than the great majority of the Christian world. They plead for his simple and undivided essence; whereas as long as we

* Histoire Abrégée de l'Inquisition.


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