Imatges de pÓgina
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we have found out what God can do, or what he cannot do, throughout eternity, with regard to the perfection and happiness of his creatures? The fairness and candour of Mr. H. are deserving of praise, and I trust he will allow me still to urge, that God's permitting or choosing evil, not for its own sake, or because he was under any necessity so to do, but as a means of producing greater good, to give to his rational creatures the rudiments of knowledge and virtue, to make them wise by experience, and to fit them for a higher destiny, where all will finally be made holy and hap py, seems subject to the fewest diffi culties, and sufficiently accounts for appearances, and "justifies the ways of God to men." And when the elementary process is finished, when

we attain to the fulness of the sta ture of men in Christ," when we are come of age, then shall we leave the school of discipline, and enter upon the inheritance provided for the saints in light; and though not by nature infinite or equal to God, shall be pillars in his temple to go no more out." :crannies DAVID EATON,

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him out of the reach of danger, of
error, and evil whether he can place
him in a "kingdom that cannot be
moved," and give him" an inherit
ance that cannot fade away." If he
can and has promised to do this,
ought metaphysical subtilties and spe
culations, which are often fallacious,
and which may never practically exist,
to interfere with the glorious hopes
of the gospel Milton's Paradise
Lost, though a cogent argument a
gainst the Orthodox, will not do here,
the premises. not being admissible.
Is it not a gratuitous asumption, to
contend, that because evil exists here,
and is made productive of greater
good, that therefore it must be equal
ly necessary for beings of a different
nature and under a totally different
constitution of things, where old
things will have passed away, and all
things become new," where "there
shall be no more death, neither sorrow
nor crying," and where God will
wipe away all tears from all eyes"
There" moths shall not corrupt, nor
thieves breakthrough and steal,"
which conveys the idea that nothing"
can interfere with the security and
happiness of the righteous: for they
shall be "incorruptible," "heirs of
God, and joint: heirs with Christ,"
and " as he lives, so they shall live
also," "after the power of

Lewes, STR.
SIR,
August 14, 1823.
SHOULD hardly presumed

life." And, to give the fan endees I to enter the lists of controversy

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lute assurance of security from "miscalculation, frailty and ill," "God will be all in all." Ought the cold and baseless speculations of metaphysicians, in which no two persons are scarcely agreed, to be permitted to chill or becloud, such transporting prospects and assurances ? May I remind Mr. H. of the many persons who have undertaken to explain and apply the Prophecies? Their theories, however different, seemed to themselves, at least, clear and perfect and what has been their success? So also with the metaphysician what greater waste of learning, time and ingenuity has been seen, than that displayed by the schoolmen upon these plausible, but airy nothings? After the greatest thought and labour, if in either case, there be one single error in the premises, the glittering castle tumbles to the ground. With these examples before us, can we feel confident that

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VOL. XVIII,

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upon a question which, in almost every age, has employed the pens of the wisest and most intelligent of men, namely, the introduction of evil under the government of a God infinitely wise and benevolent; but some of the arguments adduced, (p. 378,) by your correspondent Mr. Hinton, as well as those of Rusticus, (p. 85,) to which he alludes, appear to me to involve some difficulties so insuperable; some necessary conclusions so ill-calculated to cherish that unlimited confidence which is so justly due to the glorious attributes of the benevolent Parent of the universe, from partial evil still educing good ;" and so unhappily tending to induce the appalling suspicion that evil, natural and moral, with all their devastating consequences, even now, and ever will through all eternity, ravage and deface the fair universe of God; that I cannot resist the temptation of offer4 F

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ing a few observations on the subject.
I am not vain enough to suppose that
my limited conceptions can throw
the faintest light upon the great ori-
ginal question "the origin of evil,"
or effect any thing towards an eluci
dation of its difficulties; but there is
a wide difference between endeavour
ing to trace the fallacy of human rea-
soning, and scanning the unsearcha
ble ways of that Eternal Mind which,
by the declaration of the Scriptures of
truth, are past finding out. Well
might our immortal bard suppose an
angel's nighty thought unequal to
the task; and make even these su-
perior spirits when reasoning high,

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"Of providence, foreknowledge, will and fate;

Fix'd fate, free-will, foreknowledge ab"No end in wandering mazes

solute;" To findlost."

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of scripture; and where the impartial
distribution of the Divine favours to
the creatures of his hand, who gives
to every man according to his deserts?
Admit his free agency, and where is
the Divine controul over the affairs of
this lower world? Where then shall
we rest? No where can we, but in
the assurance that these mysterious
points are far above the range of
human thought, and known only in
the secret counsels of the Most High.
Perhaps the most ingenious hypothe-
sis, (and which has been so ably
stated by Dr. Southwood Smith, in
his Illustrations of the Divine Govern-
ment,) is that which supposes the
Deity to have a perfect controul over
the moral creation, through the me-
dium of secondary causes, by so regu-
lating the state of the material world,
as to ensure a consequent effect upon
the moral: but surely this as com-
pletely destroys the free agency, and
consequently the just responsibility of
man, as any other Necessarian propo-
sition. But to return. That a know-
ledge of their former existence, if
not the past experience of natural and
moral ill, with the necessary state of
trial and discipline connected there-
with, may be an essential means of
enhancing that future bliss which we
may rest assured will ultimately be
the portion of all, it is very easy to
conceive; and that the all-wise and
benevolent God permits or ordains
both for this end, (for the end with
him must be benevolent, be it what it
may,) is not only a rational, but I
think a safe conclusion: but to sup-
pose it beyond the power of the Al-
nighty to counteract and ultimately
expel the sinful passions, the follies
and the crimes, resulting from iguo-
rance and miscalculation, in any one
created being throughout the endless
ages of eternity, when at the same
time the declaration of his wilf, his
chastisements and his rewards, have
all this declared end in view, is to in-
dulge a supposition, to which many
baneful consequences must be neces-
sarily attached. First, it leads us to
place no confidence in many of the
express promises of his sacred word,
which assures us that a time will
come, when sighs and tears shall be
known no more, when his saints shall
be brought forth with everlasting joy

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These perplexing questions of "fixed fate, free-will," I am aware are in some measure distinct from, and have only a relative bearing on the primary one; although they must be intimate ly connected with the existence, if not the origin of moral evil in particular. But how easy is it (if I may be allowed the digression) to shew in a few words, that in themselves, they are far above the measure of the human understanding; not only from the contradictory arguments adduced by the strongest minds, but by a simple statement of the opposing con clusions, necessarily attached to either system! For instance, to reconcile the free agency of man, with the strict and unlimited omniscience of the Deity, appears to our finite minds an impossibility, a contradiction in terms; nor have all the arguments of the ablest inen upon the subject yet made it comprehensible. While to reconcile the Necessarian hypothesis with moral accountability, must I think be allowed (in spite of the most ingenious attempts to prove that they are not necessarily inconsistent with each other) to be equally impos sible and absurd. Do away with the moral responsibility of man, and where appears the consistency of those strong appeals to human hope and fear, contained in the exhortations, the threatenings, and the promises

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upon their heads, when death, viz. the first and second death, shall be swallowed up in victory, and God shall be all in all. Secondly, it completely denies the power of progressive improvement in the human soul; destroys the efficacy, and consequently lessens the motives to repentance; annihilates the value of the Saviour's admonition, to strive after perfection, even the perfection of him whose image we bear, and damps the fondly cherished aspirations of the wayworn but sainted pilgrim, by inducing on his mind the fearful and chilling ap, prehension, that there is no ultimate haven of repose; no security from ill; no-not even when enjoying the more immediate presence and approving smile of his benevolent Creator, in the mansions of his promised heaven; but that through eternity temptation will beset him, and by leading him into guilt expose him to punishment, necessarily aggravated in proportion to his progress in his immortal career, and the height of virtue from which he fell for fortunate indeed must be that soul, which, being ever under temptation or liability to err, should maintain a successful conflict with its imperfections throughout an endless extent of being. In what light will the proposition, that every being not subject to moral and natural evil must necessarily be infinite;" or again, that it is not in the possible power of Infinity itself to create a being not subject to moral and natu ral ill"-appear, if applied to our exalted Redeemer? Shall he who was even in this world without sin, and whose exalted virtues were perfected through suffering, and who is now set down at the right hand of his Almighty Father; shall he too, through eternity, be subject to miscalculation, to error, and to guilt? The supposition is too preposterous, if not too profane to be admitted for a moment! But the theory in question cannot es cape this overwhelming confutation, but in the creed of the Trinitarian and it is needless to observe that if one created being can be supposed to be an exception to the views of y your correspondent, the whole argument falls at once to the ground. Besides, upon what ground of necessity owe must conclude, that because the know

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ledge of a created being is not infinite, it must be constantly subject to natural and moral ill, I am at a total loss to conceive. Surely there inay be beings of a higher order in the scale of intelligence than man, though at an almost infinite distance below. the absolute wisdom of the Supreme, who may have a perfect and commanding knowledge of all the rela tions and circumstances connected with the immediate sphere in which they are placed; blessed with a corporeal frame incorruptible, and exempt from disorder and decay; and still more blessed with the bright sunshine of an unspotted soul, engrossed only with the boundless perfections of its glorious Creator; and absorbed in adoring gratitude for those blessings, which are too highly placed above the reach of either

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Or of the tossing tide of chance or pain,” "The mists of passion and of sense,

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ever to escape them. Again that “natural and moral evil are only arbitrary terins which have the same meaning." is a position, I think, that cannot be maintained, nor that "natural evil constantly arises from moral evil, and vice versâ;" for although the former may in most cases be true, in how many instances does physical evil lead to moral good! How do the sacred writings abound with passages, teaching us that afflictions are often sent in mercy to rectify and expel the moral diseases of the mind! No two principles, surely, can be more distinct; distinct as to their comparative magnitude as well as durability! Physical evil, we have every reason to believe, (I take the word of God for my guide,) can extend no farther than the limits of this sublunary scene, while moral evil accompanies the flight of the immor tal spirit into the regions of eternity. How deep, how lasting, may be the stain, which unrepented, viz. uneradicated guilt, may fix on the conscious and reflecting soul, when released from its tenement of clay, and what bitter and enduring discipline may be necessary to renew the immortal mind to the purity of heaven, it has not perhaps entered into the heart of man to conceive: for little do we know of the mysterious principle of

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that intellectual ray which may have its origin in the source of all intelligence, even the all-pervading spirit of the Eternal Mind. This mysterious nature of a never-dying soul, while it makes us tremble at the possible consequences of moral contamination, by no means countenances the fearful doctrine of the infinite evil of sin; nor should it undermine our faith in that glorious issue of events, when all evil, both moral and physical, shall

cease,

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"And one unbounded spring encircle #rall.”

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On what foundation (it may be asked) does this faith rest? On no other than the revealed attributes of God;~ a foundation firm as adamant, and satisfying as though an archangel proclaimed through the vault of heaven" the glorious truth, God is love! man therefore need not fear the final result of his paternal providence; for the time must come, when the clouds and darkness that now hang upon the chequered scenes of life, will be dispersed by the eternal sunshine of the Creator's love; when even the trials, the afflictions, and the both present and to come, as well as the more immediate mercies of our God, will call up a universal song of gratitude and praise. On this immoveable basis rests the invaluable truth, (while it sets every difficulty at defiance,) that evil in his hand is only the instrument of good; that its introduction on the whole, was the best possible means of furthering his benevolent designs; in short, that it was ordained because more good will be effected by its aid, than could possibly have been produced without it. The nature of the existence of an om-Still, our Bristol friends will I hope nipresent God we cannot comprehend, excuse me, if I cannot help strongly but the nature of his attributes is thinking that a public congregational open to our finite minds, for in his collection is far preferable to a grant image are we made. Benevolence in from the Fellowship Fund. Juknow man is only different in degree; but it to be a fact, that there are many infinite felicity y and love, directing by persons in Unitarian societies, to consummate wisdom an arm all-pow whom these tracts would be an inva "erful to effect, must necessarily secure luable treasure, who have at present without a possibility of failure, the no means of coming at them; I mean "designed and gracious end in view those who can scarcely afford a sufthe ultimate felicity of the whole intel- ficient sum to send to the parent ligent offspring of God. Relinquish society. Such persons would rejoice this faith, and we have no refuge but to have an opportunity of contributing in the gloomy and sickening specula- a few shillings towards a public col

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tions of the Atheist; Christianity becomes a mere fable, loses all its lustre, and man is vanity indeed. Cherish it, and how does it expand and cheer the heart! Yes! as well may sweet and bitter water issue from the unpolluted spring, as evil (viz. really and eventually such) be mingled with that unceasing flow of good, whose fountain is the bosom of infinitude and love! The heart rejoices in the exulting thought, and nature conseerates it with a lovelier smile,

"That every bound at length shall dis-
appear,

And infinite perfection close the scene.”
****** TO
JOHN JOHNSTON.

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[Der „** ༧ རྒྱུ་ 131 AMURAI (91 033

SIR,

G. S.

Y 338,) is perfectly correct in sup

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posing that his information respecting the grant of the Bristol Fellowship Fund to the Christian Tract Society, would afford the sincerest pleasure, not only to your correspondents who have lately advocated the cause of this Society, but to every one who has the heart. Our Bristol friends deserve the warmest thanks of the Unitarian body, for having so nobly set the example in this great and good work. I most sincerely hope that they will be followed by numerous others; and that it will soon appear that your correspondent, "No Eutopian," (p. 293,) has been a little too severe upon us, in supposing that we were unwilling to give up a few of the most useless of our luxuries, for the sake of advancing the everlasting interests of our fellow-creatures,

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Society's Missionaries, giving an account of this conversion, and by which it appears that Da Costa has fully adopted the Trinitarian scheme. It is a very curious circumstance that Da Costa, and his cousin Dr. Abraham

search into the writings of the old Rabbins, and the discovery of their sentiments respecting the Trinity and the divinity of the Messiah," though, they add, these truths are to be sought out of a great mixture of cabalistic absurdity and superstition."

to make a present of them to their sunday schools, or to their poorer neighbours. This plan would undoubtedly be attended with a little more trouble, inasmuch as it would be) necessary to take a list of the names, and the amount of their sub-Cappadoce, both attribute this change 20 scriptions. But I would answer for in a great measure to patient quit that in every Unitarian society that is worth the name, there are persons to be found, who would gladly come oforward, and volunteer their services ein such a cause.190vby vlstel even ods At the same time, there will probably be some persons in every society too poor to contribute even the small-On oest sum towards such a collection. It ni would be doing these persons an essenJatial and lasting benefit, to keep a lofew sets of the tracts in the vestries 3 of our chapels, for the purpose of lending to these poor, but perhaps Evaluable members of our societies.spected member of the Society of an entirely agree with our Bristol Friends, who, it is said, is about to friends, as to the excellent effects publish a work on the Old Testament ea they are calculated to produce on the with reference simply to the question bpoor and the uneducated, and, of the of the divinity of Christ. As the subgreat utility of distributing them inject is really curious, and I do not sunday schools. Our orthodox neigh-recollect that it has ever occupied any sqbours are every where on the alert, of your pages, perhaps I may be permitted to transcribe, from a report taken in short-hand by a person

reading this passage, I was struck by a coincidence between this statement and some observations made last year at a provincial meeting in aid of the Society for the Conversion of the Jews. The remarks in question were uttered by Mr. J. J. Gurney, a re

to distribute, publications which are Safilled with what we deem to be gross

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and mischievous corruptions of ge-present, a part of Mr. G.'s observawonuine Christianityol Let us be at tionsloven shem sw us equi least equally zealous in diffusing those 03 which abound with the most just,d vendearing and amiable views of the character and government of our asheavenly Father, and are calculated into promote the sublimest devotion and Jasthe purest moral practice ansio soiojo birov eno el. audinos to prisogo as ved or sildas beide vots

I must observe that in their apprehension of the character of their own Messiah, I believe the views of the Jews to have materially altered and degenerated, therefore I would have the Society not only point their attention to the Old-Testament acHai count of the Messiah, but also exnamine the ancient writings of the Jews, to find their original opinions

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