Imatges de pÓgina

words are τους οικείους της πίσεως : here, they are simply rav OIKE. I am therefore unable to consider the texts as parallel. We meet with this adjective only three times in the New Testament; and I see no authority for supposing that in the present instance it is used elliptically. Philalethes* has translated the clause extremely well: "If any person provide not for his own relations, and especially for those who live in his house The eighth verse is an ex

planation of the fourth. 1 Pet. i. 3: "—

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Arguments against the supposed Impossibility of excluding Evil from the Creation.


a lively hope "Most of the commentators, interpret the words as meaning "the hope of life," or "of future happiDec. 9, 1823. ness." The true reading is a shida moral and physical evil Ton of HE hypothesis that the introducSooav, which our translators have rightly followed; although the Syriac version has "the hope of life." I beg to suggest that the rendering should be, 66 an animating hope," and that the import of the expression is, "a hope, which receives perpetual additions of strength, and habitually gives new vigour to the mind;" according to Diodati (Not. in loc.), "una, viva, sempre crescente ed operante speranza de beni celesti." This is a sense, which the Greek participle not only admits but often requires, in the New Testament, as well as in classical authors. Benson (in loc.) does not appear to have explained it correctly. Living water, John iv. 10, &e., is not so much water that giveth life, as "water that flows without intermission:" living bread, John vi. 51, &c., is "knowledge incessantly communicated" living oracles, are "oracles which never fail, in point either of duration or certainty"—and so as to other examples. See 1 Pet. ii. 4, 5. In the passage under review, the apostle speaks first, of the nature of a Christian's hope-it is vigorous and never-dying-then of its basis the resurrection of Jesus Christ-and, finally, of its object-an inheritance, heavenly and immortal. 1 Pet. i. 12: "

which things

* See Mon. Repos, XIV. 569, &c. + Upon this text Benson appositely quotes Virgil's-vivoque sedilia saxo. Æn. I. 171. The poet's language is equally and beautifully illustrative of 1 Peter i. 3. So, the Italians speak of "vive pietre." Boccacio. Dec. 80, (Firenz, 1820).

into the universe could not possibly have been prevented even by Omnipotence, may appear to many of your readers as of too speculative a nature to deserve much attention, and too feebly supported perhaps, to require confutation. But, whatever may influence our sentiments respecting the attributes of the Supreme Intelligence, and whatever may tend to degrade his character, and limit his benevolence, in the conception of his rational creatures, ought not to be regarded as unimportant, nor to be treated as a matter of indifference. It is impossible in my apprehension, to establish the doctrine advocated by your corres pondent, Mr. Hinton, (pp. 378, 529,) without answering the following objections; and though I admit that we cannot attribute to them equal weight, yet when combined, they appear to me to possess a degree of force which it will not be very easy to invalidate or Overcome. The difficulties, indeed, inseparable from the subject, seem to have been but very partially viewed by Mr. H.; and it is meant as no disparagement to say, that his attempt to remove the few to which his explanation is confined, has not been attended with success.

1. The hypothesis in question supposes all superior, and even the highest intelligences in the scale of being, and misery; and is completely at vato be liable to miscalculation, failure riance with the Scripture account of a future state of existence.

2. It favours the literal and popular account of the fallen angels; and

similar events, therefore, may again frequently happen, in the progress of eternity.

3. If the Deity has the power of remedying the evils existing in the universe, the same power would have enabled him to prevent them altogether; and if he cannot exclude evil at one period, he cannot, for the same reason, exclude it at any other, that is, he never can. But if the evils of the world be incapable of remedy, then the benevolence of the Almighty must, in numerous cases, be defeated, and we cannot rely upon his Providence with any confidence or security. 4. This theory, in one point, bears some resemblance to the Manichæan system, because, in each, evil is said to originate without the appointment and volition of the Creator, and because with all his power and all his benevolence, he finds it impossible to prevent its intrusion into his works.

5. The notion that the Divine Being is obliged to apply remedies to the defects and misery which he could not avoid at the creation, and that he should be under the necessity of renewing (according to Mr. H.'s statement) the existence of those upon whom he means to confer eternal life, reduces him to the condition of a human mechanist, who, having constructed some complicated machine, is compelled frequently to repair the defects which his skill could not, in the first instance, prevent, and to wind up the spring at certain intervals, in order to continue the requisite


6. We see numerous instances in which men pass through life without incurring those severer maladies of body and mind to which others become martyrs; and if the Supreme Being could exempt one individual, he must possess the same power with respect to every other, should his will prompt him to exert it. Hence we may conclude that where it is not thus exerted, it does not arise from his inability, but because he has appointed that, for wise purposes, these sufferings should take place. Any other supposition would lead to the preposterous belief that though the Father of mercies may will the happiness of his creatures, he cannot effect his purpose.

7. The negation or absence of per

fection does not by any means imply pain and misery, and it is, therefore, very conceivable that numerous ranks of imperfect beings, subordinate to each other, may exist without the necessity of undergoing wretchedness either of body or mind. It is a just observation of Soame Jenyns, (from whom your correspondent seems to have borrowed some of his sentiments on other points,) that the evils of imperfection are in truth no evils at all, but rather the absence of some com parative good.*

8. That pleasure could not exist without its contrast-pain and anxiety, and that all happiness is necessarily inseparable from evil, as maintained by Mr. H., are nothing more than gratuitous assertions. Where is the proof that the tortures occasioned by the dreadful malady of the stone, for example, are inseparable from enjoyment, or necessarily conduct to it? Imagine the case of an atrocious and irreclaimable offender, who after enduring excruciating pain brought on by some fatal accident, at length undergoes all the horrors of death in its worst form. Will any one undertake to prove that this condition of wretchedness will necessarily produce its contrast-enjoyment and ease? If the natural tendency of evil is to produce good, then the greater the evil, and the longer it lasts, the more intense will become the happiness resulting from it, whether of body or mind. And as this theory must apply as well to morul as to natural ill, the more profligate and iniquitous a man may be, the more exalted will be the happiness, to which, as its contrast, his conduct will lead; which, in truth, is nothing less than saying, that vice ought to be recommended as the surest and the shortest path to virtue.

9. So far from having any proof that all pain is, from its own intrinsic nature, productive of happiness, we have reason to believe, from what we observe of bodily suffering, that unless counteracted, controlled, and made the instrument of good, it would increase and become more intense. That it should spontaneously diminish, seems contrary to all experience

Free Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil, Letter H.

and just reasoning on the subject; for, it is perfectly clear that nothing can undergo any change in its nature without an adequate cause. Pain, therefore, cannot alter its essential attributes, and be transinuted into pleasure, unless it be made to do so, by some superior and countervailing influence. If then, the Deity possess the power effecting this beneficial change, might by an exertion of the same energy, have prevented the original intrusion of pain; but if, on the contrary, he has not this power, then pain must continue its progress, and will admit of no remedy, either here or hereafter.

To these formidable objections, Mr. H. has not attempted any regular answer, except to the first, and in this instance, he has so qualified his meaning, and so completely reduced the force of his position, as to make it amount to a mere nullity. After admitting that "the perfection of the righteous in a future state may be far more exalted than perhaps even the highest intelligence can now possibly conceive," he observes, that "some small degree of alloy must be admitted, since it is contrary to the hypothesis upon which these inferences are drawn, that any created intelligence can exist without some portion of evil; although the portion of evil which may then be necessary by its counteraction to produce pleasure, may be so almost infinitely refined as not at present to be capable of conception as distinct from purity and bliss." Really after this concession, his whole theory seems to vanish like a summer's dream. It is, indeed, totally destitute of proof, and can be regarded as nothing more than a fiction of the brain. But the statement itself involves a contradiction of which Mr. H. is evidently not aware; for, adınitting for one moment that the hypothesis is founded on fact, then the axiom recognized in Natural Philosophy respecting matter, may be regarded as equally applicable to the present case:-"That action and reaction are equal and contrary," that is, the greater the action, the greater must be the re-action, and the converse. Hence it is clear that according as the action of evil is powerful or weak, in the same degree will the re-action of its opposite good possess

either of these qualities. But since Mr. H. supposes the portion of counteracting evil, necessary in a future state, to be infinitely refined, or diminished, the happiness resulting from this counteraction must likewise be infinitely small;-a conclusion precisely contrary to that which he means to establish.

With respect to Mr. H.'s remarks on the infinite duration of future happiness, as long as he admits the power of the Deity to carry his promises into execution, it is certainly not a matter of essential importance to mankind to ascertain the precise nature of the means adopted for the purpose. At the same time, I consider his assertions (for reasoning it can scarcely be called) respecting the impossibility that the Almighty should confer absolute immortality on any of his creatures, as nugatory, and destitute of evidence. If the great Author of nature can continue human existence for one year, (for example,) what is there in the range of physical causes with which we are acquainted, to disable him from protracting it, for an interminable series of years? If renewal be necessary at all, it must be as necessary at the end of a day, an hour, or a second, as at the end of any longer period; and, indeed, the vital principle, (as far as our limited faculties will allow us to reason on so obscure a subject,) must require the unintermitted support of the Di vine energy as well in one part of our existence as in another. Should any one consider it as an assistance to his conceptions, this continuation of sustaining energy may be regarded as a perpetual series of impulses or renewals, similar to the notions entertained by philosophers respecting the power of gravitation. From Mr. H.'s mode of arguing, however, we might almost imagine that he believes the Divine Being unable to exclude from his works the ravages of death; but surely the same exertion of power which can ward off its approaches in any human being for seventy or eighty years, can with sequal ease produce this effect for any indefinite period of time. Nor is it possible to say, why his vivifying influence should ever experience any other limits than those which his irresistible 'will may prompt him to assign.

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Dec. 8, 1823.

EELING myself in some measure called upon to answer the objections advanced by your correspondent Mr. Spurrell, (p. 649,) to a position of mine, that it is beyond the finite powers of man, to reconcile the Divine Prescience with the perfect freedom of the human will; and judging that a total silence on my part might be construed either into a want of argument or neglect; I am induced once more to intrude upon the columns of your valuable miscellany, though not without fearing lest the speculative and abstruse discussions lately introduced should be considered as having already occupied too many of its pages.

..As to the point in question, I cannot conceive but that the more profoundly and intensely the mind dwells upon the subject, and the more it endeavours, by close reasoning and philosophical deductions, to bear down every obstacle and reconcile the two principles at issue; the more strongly inust the conviction be felt, that a degree of intelligence widely differing in its powers from the limited conceptions of man, must be necessary to the comprehension of their compatibility with each other.

A moral agent, according to the Libertarian, has the free and uncontrolled choice of two or more courses of action. He will doubtless admit, (indeed he must admit, to be consistent with his own principles,) that there is an uncertainty as to which of the different courses that agent will pursue. Now whatever is uncertain may or may not take place; this no one can deny. But is not a foreknowledge of what may never occur, a

direct contradiction in terms? What-
ever is foreknown, whether it be the
act of a moral agent, or any other
event, must necessarily come to pass;
and all that chain of causes and ef-
fects (for there can be no effect with-
out a cause) which lead to a neces-
sary result, must be necessary too.
I conceive it will be no easy task (to
say the least) to controvert any of the
foregoing propositions; but in ac-
knowledging their validity, what is
admitted but the very sum and sub-
stance of philosophical necessity; as
well as the incompatibility of the Di-
vine foreknowledge with the uncon-
trolled agency of mun? I must con-
fess, Sir, for my own part, that the
reasoning on which the doctrine of
Necessity is founded, (although at-
tended with much difficulty as to mo-
ral accountability,) appears to me
more solid and unanswerable, than
any that can be adduced in favour of
the Libertarian system. Man cannot
act without a motive; his motives
must invariably have their origin in
the circumstances by which he is sur-
rounded, and over which he can have
no possible controul: while his facul-
ties of retrospection, comparison and
anticipation, considered by the Liber-
tarian as proofs of a self-determining
power, may be shewn by similar de-
ductions, to form prominent links in
that chain of causes and effects, which
in every period of his existence ne-
cessarily determine his volitions. Shall
I then presume to affirm, that man,
with regard to his moral character, is
not the author of his own happiness
or misery; that he is not responsible
for his actions; or that, being the
unhappy victim of predestination, the
finally wicked could never have been
virtuous; and that with regard to him,
the paternal solicitations of Divine
love, were never more than tanta-
lizing aggravations of his miserable
destiny? Or shall I on the other hand
presume to limit the stupendous at-
tributes of Him who inhabiteth eter-
nity; and whose Spirit, infinite and
incomprehensible, pervades all time
and space? God forbid! How that
Eternal Spirit may embrace the whole
connected mass of circumstances, re-
lations and events, whether deter-
mined or contingent, throughout the
boundless universe, it is not for a

finite creature to explain. I am, therefore, still compelled to believe, that it is far beyond the powers of the human understanding to reconcile by any thing like conclusive and satisfactory arguments, the difficulties attendant upon either of the opposing systems.

As to the practical tendency of the principles held by the Necessarian, and which your correspondent is of opinion must " sap the very founda tion of morals;" I conceive the only just ground of such apprehension to be in the danger arising from a misconception or perversion of those principles. Here it must be granted that "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing;" and should a superficial view of the argument lead to its abuse, the demoralizing consequences that must necessarily ensue, need neither illus tration nor comment. But whether actions in themselves are necessary or otherwise, all parties agree that the consequences which follow (either of pleasure or of pain) are necessary too. This conviction acting upon the strong natural desire in man to secure happiness and avoid misery, must, I should think, in general be a sufficient safeguard against the abuse of any theoretical principles, when such abuse must inevitably be attended with disgrace and infamy. After all, there is an instinctive principle in man, closely interwoven with the moral sense, which seems to tell him that he can refuse the evil and choose the good, and that he is responsible to his Creator for his actions: a principle which our holy religion is evidently framed to work upon, and which is wisely planted in the human breast, by that Being who sees what degree of insight into the mysteries of his Providence is essential to the happiness and welfare of a rational and moral agent. Metaphysical reasoning and moral perception are very different things: the one may lead us into perplexing labyrinths, into which it was never intended man should wander and be lost the other is the vicegerent of God within the soul, a spark of celestial origin, which, if fanned by the breath of gratitude and piety on the altars of devotion, soon rises above the noxious atmosphere of moral contamination, towards those

regions of light and bliss, where it will shine with unsullied brightness, as the stars for ever and ever.



Stapleton, December 5, 1823.

ICANNOT but think that if your correspondent Clericus Cantabrigiensis, (pp. 526-528,) had deeply considered the subject of my hypothe sis, on the introduction and inevitable existence of evil, he would not have confounded it with the hypotheses of Archbishop King, Soame Jenyns, or Dr. Southwood Smith; since I apprehend that the sentiments of all these gentlemen, as well as of all the other enlightened writers on this subject, will be found to amount only to this-that, while they assert that evil is made by Infinite Wisdom subservient to the production of good, and therefore necessary for its production, inasmuch as they suppose it could not so well be produced without its agency, they nevertheless freely admit the power of the Creator to have dispensed with the existence of evil in creation, if he had thought it best so to do whereas it is the principal object of my hypothesis to assert the very contrary, and to prove that this power could not possibly exist, evil being an inevitable consequence of, and attendant upon, creation itself. Cantabrigiensis may, however, rest satisfied, that any claim I may have to novelty in the suggestion of this hypothesis, is but of very little importance in my estimation; and I beg to assure him, notwithstanding the manner in which he has expressed himself in the outset of his letter on this subject, that I should not have the least objection to be indebted to either of the writers he mentions, and particularly to my valued friend Dr. Southwood Smith, to whom chiefly I owe the present constitution and frame of my mind, theologically, metaphysically and morally; in whose own admirable words, when speaking of a friend, "It was he who first led me into that train of thought which directed the future pursuits of my mind; made me what I am, and [thus] determined what I am to be" (see Divine Government, p. 47;) and to whom most gladly would I trace the hypothesis in question;

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