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Doctrine of Eternal Misery fatul to Christianity.
513 genuine phraseology-looking indeed The Orthodox now would perhaps • at the general tenour of our Saviour's look no further than 2 Tim. iii. for a discourses as edited by that Evangelist, title for our Catechumens, but illi in nos and collating them with the subsequent sariant if they will! You will not I original letters of the same author: then hope be so short or severe with an alagain turning to the Epistles of St. most conscious semi-proselyte to their Paul, observing his repeated classifica- heresy, in your Correspondent and tions at the beginning of them, his Coustant Reader, closing sentence to the 2d Corinth. his
TE TACE. Lord of Glory, his 5th and seg. verses P.S. And quære against our heretics 2d chapter Philippians, in spite even -On what Son of God does St. John of their unlucky UTESLYW5E-remen- suppose the Chief Rulers to have lebering too the exclamation of Thomas, lieved, when he expressly states, that the prayer of Stephen-can scarcelý though they did believe on him, they dispossess themselves of something had not the consistency to confess very much like a conviction that these him, John xii. 43, on a presens Deus of first disciples of their heavenly Master any kind,
or in the anointed Messenger recognized in him (consistently how- of their One only true God? Could ever always as they thought at least, so monstrous a practical faith have ever with their most pulpally fundamental existed in any human breast? And doctrine of the unity of their ancestors' again, Martha, when she took it for Jehovah in the sole person of his God and granted HE had no power to bring Father) a 805 Tipos (apud) HIM their back her brother from the grave though One o O895, an homousian the subor- he might have prevented his going thidinate Logos, an only begotten Son ther? Or the Disciples when they all from the beginning, the same yester- forsook him and Aed? day, to-day, and for ever, a One Lord ly ,
August 1, 1816.
T is HIS co-eternal but not co-equal image, delegate, minister, representative.
Jigious inquiry, which has for its main How indeed these excellent men object the reconciliation of the doctrines could reconcile soine of these doctrives of revelation with the conclusions of with others; how they could make up
reason. It appears to be one of the their minds to believe (as in the opinion great evils of establishments, that they of our inquirers they most unquestion- often operate in the prevention of their ably did, not more unquestionably any members, from speaking fully their one tenet they published) that such a convictions, on the most important Son of God died, such a Lord of Glory subjects. Thus we see Paley, when was crucified, in the person of Jesus, or he reviews the popular objections to how (compatibly with their hypothesis
) Christianity, wholly silent about the one of them could dispose of such a
only weighty objection which existsBeing in the manner he does in the its future punishments. His situation, 15th chapter 1st Corinthians, they I think, must have been the cause of avow themselves quite incompetent to this, for there is nothing in all his conjecture. Not less perplexed, aghast writings which shews his belief in rather, (their reason and faith both lasting or everlasting misery. We see utterly confounded) do they confess those men who were independent of theinselves upon the recollection of the establishments, Hartley, * Priestley, familiarity, the chit chat, the rebuke, Simpson and others, quite explicit on the lying on the bosom, the probable this great subject. Paley says at the concurrence in the opinion that HE end of his " Natural Theology,” that was beside himself, of these HIS con
man lives in God's continual presence, temporaries. As willingly do they and that death resigns him to his avow themselves unable to reconcile merciful disposal. This is language the argumentation in the 1st chapter scarcely consistent with the popular of Hebrews with the Scripture on
doctrine concerning the final destinawhich it professes to be founded, or
tion of mankind. Indeed this is the that in the chapter of the Philippians one fundamental objection to Christalready quoted, with the antecedently ianity, for if the popular idea of its sempiternal claims of such a “Christ punishment be true, every humar Jesus.”
being must wish it to be false.
There are certain facts with which only punish, a divine can reward and we are all acquainted that fill us with to an extent more than equal to any dismay, if this popular objection be difference of character.
How can the doctrine of revelation: That the then the popular doctrine stand-and great majority of human beings have if it be Christianity — how can that not lived up to the acquirements of religion be defended. All other obChristianity': That sensuality and jections are as dust in the balance, this selfishness" (the true original sin of is first, last, amidst, around and above nature) have generally prevailed : them all, and I should hope that your That natural evil (of which our publication would ever keep it in its native passions and appetites are the eye, for the time will soon come, that greatest beyond all estimation) has this doctrine must be otherwise exuniversally produced moral evil: That plained, or Christianity will be unithe Scriptures seem to say that there versally discarded. are few that be saved, and if only
SENEX. those be who have completely overcome animal nature, the language of
July 30, 1816. Scripture appears to be correct. Now S truth ought to be the sole oboriginal strength of human appetites, sophical inquiry, men who pretend to and the unfavourable circumstances in be friends to the human race, will not which men are placed for their inno- be permitted by those who really are cent gratification, the final lot of man- so, to impose their conjectures on the kind becomes a most tremendous world as so many facts. The art of question. There is so much misery thinking justly on interesting subjects, in this life, that it is a momentous especially on religion, is nevertheless question whether, considering this generally speaking, but little under. life alone, it be right for a man to stood. The multitude are dazzled too become the father of a human being; much by authority and prejudice, to but if the popular doctrine concerning view with steadiness, or to measure futurity be true, no man that exists correctly the perfect symmetry of unshould in any case or circumstances veiled truth. They are used to think become a father. This is the one as they have been taught, and believe moral duty, which must swallow up what they have been told; thus many every other. And that men become things which are received, as obvious fathers, professing this belief, shews and essential truths, concerning nathat no one does indeed believe it to tural and revealed religion, are cerbe true ; for a man believing it true, tainly no better than vulgar preju. and becoming a father, is a monster, dices ; — often, pernicious errors, as little better, though not indeed so bad dishonourable to God as they are conas the God whom he professes to tradictory to the concurring dictates of worship.
reason and revelation. Commonly Unprejudiced reason tells us, that these errors lie at the root of a system, although it may be right that the consequently the data being false, the obtaining of eternal felicity should be reasoning from them is sophistry, and very difficult, yet that the escape from its moral tendency often detrimental eternal misery should at least be very to the interest of virtue. Such, I am easy, if in any case a Creator could be fully convinced, are the popular justified in making it possible for any opinions concerning original sin. In being 10 involve himself in such a this paper I purpose with your percalamity. Besides what is this world mission to lay before some of the and what are its enjoyments ? Taken occasional readers of your Miscellany singly and of itself it is what no human who hold that doctrine, my reasons being would have on such a condition, for rejecting it. Educated as I was and very few would have it upon no in the Established Church, where the other condition, than what their pre- Calvinistic articles of that Church were sent circumstances impose.
constantly enforced, as well in the It may be proper that very few domestic circle as from the pulpit, it should be saved, but it never can be was natural that till I began to exjust, that any should be damned, if by amine for myself, I should receive that be meant any thing more than them as others do, without hesitation. destruction. A húman legislator can I supposed that they were believed by
Scriptural Examination of Original Sin.
515 all people who had any title to the his nature. I read of a tree of life, Christian name. Time however con- and a tree of knowledge which grew vinced me, chiefly by study of the in the garden of Eden, that to the Scriptures, that amongst the rest this former man had free access, and that doctrine of original sin, was not to be from the latter he was prohibited ; but found in revelation. Experience and I read nothing of the natural immore observation, equally led me to feel, tality of his creature, made of the dust, and think, that its tendency was very nor of any powers, either of body or bad, dishonourable to God, and pro- mind, that he possessed in a superior ductive of much evil to men ; that it degree over many of his descendants. was not inerely a doctrine on which He appeared to me to be the same Scripture was silent, and that there- frail, fallible and peccable creature in fore it might be true, but that it was his original state that his posterity have an error which both Scripture and ever been. My reason told me that reason condemn. I would advise my he could have but few wants, few friends, who are the subjects of reli- ideas, very limited knowledge, that gious depression, arising out of this his language must have been barren, soul-harrowing doctrine, to take the that he could have no acquaintance method that succeeded with me: if with either science or arts, that withthey can find a better I shall not ob- out a miraculous communication of ject to it. My method was this: 1 ideas from the fountain of intelligence, took the sacred volume and deter. he would have continued in this state mined to abide by its dictates what- of imbecility and ignorance, till he ever they might be; I kept my mind slowly, and by degrees, acquired ideas. as indifferent as I could to every thing I saw that his positive duties were but except the decision of truth; I would few, and that as his nature was frail, not admit during the investigation for the test of his obedience was simple. a moment, that the belief or reject- I conceived of him as a youth whose ion of this doctrine was of any conse- capacity is indeed good, whose pasquence whatever with respect to my sions are strong, whose experience is future state, for had interest or fear nothing. His passions prevailed, his prevailed while the question was pend- reason was vanquished, he took of the ing, the decision would have been forbidden fruit, he sought happiness, dictated not by reason, but passion. more happiness, a higher degree of I kept all my thoughts together, as glory, he fell, and found death; he much as possible, upon the one was told by his Creator the consepoint I was investigating, and I tried quence of his disobedience, he was to dismiss every thing foreign to it. I capable of understanding what he was had no business with the existence of told, but in an evil moment he transmoral evil, nor with the universal gressed. Were a man to be found mortality of creatures, nor with the with an equal simplicity of nature, frailties, follies, and imperfections of and placed in the same circumstances, mankind. I had nothing to do with he would doubtless act in the sanie catechisms, creeds, the opinions or manner, and precisely the same conimpertinences of fathers, priests or
follow. expositors. I cared as little for the weak, passion strong, temptation mere assertions of those about me on urgent, the man falls, and the sinner either side: when they quoted texts, dies. “ All die for that all have sin. I compared them with others, and ned.” “It is appointed to all men suffered no hypothetical explanation once to die.” It appeared to me thereto contradict plain evidence; I was to fore that death is an ordinance of see and examine for inyself; I prayed nature and that it is only an evil to an to God as a believer in Jesus Christ, accountable creature, who has broken for his assistance and blessing, and the laws of God. Dust thou art and opened the Bible. I began with the to dust thou shalt return.” As I read Mosaic account of the creation of nothing of the death of the soul in man. There I read, Gen. ii. 7, that this account of the fall of man, I. “ the Lord God formed man of the found nothing there to support the dust of the ground, and breathed into modern doctrine of destruction or that his nostrils the breath of life, and man of eternal future torment, nor indeed became a living soul," and that he could I gather from any thing in that placed him in circumstances suited to history, the evidence of a future slate,
and I saw nothing there to induce me I then proceeded to the examination to think that a just God would impart of such other passages of Scripture, as any moral incapacity, or radical and I knew were advanced with a view to inherent depravity to Adam's descend- establish this doctrine of original sin. ants, much less the imputation of his The next I considered was that awful sin. By a necessity of nature, 1 per- one recorded in Gen. iv. 8, 9, the ceived, that the first man must pro- murder of Abel, the fruit of envy and duce creatures in his own image, by revenge; but I hear the Creator exwhich I understood frail, fallible, and borting Cain to do well, and promising peccable beings like himself, liable him acceptance on that condition; and io sorrows and death, but possessed I read, Heb. xi. that Abel obtained of equally high mental powers of witness that he was righteous : he reason and conscience, the image and believed and obeyed—“God testifying superscription of God; and therefore of his gifts;" yet both were the sons of accountable like their original parent the same parents, consequently both for their moral actions, and in many partook of the same nature. 'I supinstances more than he was, because posed that both had the same moral placed in different and more favoure capacity, and were therefore liable to able circumstances. I therefore think, the saine degree of responsibility. I that to represent, as some have done, saw no difference in the brothers in the venerable parent of the human the eye of God, beside moral differace as the greatest of all sinners, is an rence evinced by their conduct; hence instance of the folly of hypothesis, I concluded that not nature but habits and of shameful disrespect to the first made one brother a murderer and the of men, nor is it at all calculated 10 other a righteous man. The next give glory to God his Creator. Jose- portion of Scripture I considered was phus says well, that Moses spake the account of the moral state of the philosophically concerning the fall of world before the flood-Gen. vi. 5, 11, man, he meant I suppose figuratively. &c. “And God saw that the wickedMany truths historical and moral ness of man was great upon the earth, were thus according to the eastern and that every imagination of the wisdom, given 10 the world by the thoughts of his heart was only evil ancient sages.
To take the story continually. The earth was corrupt literally, is to receive a fable without before God, and the earth was filled its moral, the account would be very with violence.” This passage I knew lame and absurd. It is indeed a de- was advanced as a stock text, to prore scription of the triumph of passion the radical and inherent corruption of over reason and conscience, and thus human nature, derived from the the birth of sin, misery, and death. fallen Adam; yet, while I admitted Read the subject in this light, and it all this strong language, as giving a is intelligible, the imagery awfully just description of universal degeneracy sublime, well adapted and beautiful, of manners and corruption of hearts, and the moral in the highest degree I saw nothing in it to prove the impressive. Let our sons contemplate original and radical corruption of Adam, and our daughters their first nature; I knew that bad habits demother, in their happy state of simple prave the heart and imagination, and and satisfied nature, before the riotous that if partial corruption of principles passions began their wild uproar, existed, universal corruption might before irregular desire awoke in their also prevail, that men might become bosoms, before reason quitted her desperately wicked, that the voice of throne, and sensation assumed the conscience might be stified, and a sceptre. Then let them consider these moral death ensue. I knew that parents of the world the victims of when men “like not to retain God in remorse, dissatisfaction, guilt and their knowledge,” he might “ give death. And let them fly with horror them over to a reprobate mind." I the pursuing and fascinating serpent, knew that “what may be known of the first temptation to vice. Child of God is nevertheless manifest in them," the dust! to taste is death. “ Enter for “God hath shewed it to them." not into the path of the wicked, and I knew that “the invisible things of go not in the way of evil men, avoid him from the creation of the world it, pass not by it, wrn from it, and (before and after the fall of man) are. pass away."
clearly seen being understood by the
Scriptural Examination of Original Sin.
517 things that are made, even his eternal shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my power and Godhead, so they are with- moiher conceive me.” I always out excuse." I was convinced there. thought that “ sin was any transfore that the Antediluvians could not gression of or want of conformity to lay their sins to the door of Adam, or the law of God." I knew that this their Creator, by pleading the original definition was totally inapplicable to and radical corruption of their nature the condition of a new born infant, or as the cause why “their foolish hearts to the conception of a human being. were darkened, and every inagination I knew that God made us and not we evil continually." I found also that ourselves.” I read Job x. 8, 12, that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, “God's hands had made and fashioned and a just man before God even in him, granted him life and favour, and these bad times.
that his visitation had preserved his I read in Gen. viii. 2, that “the spirit.” I heard the same man asking imagination of man's heart is evil from (Job xxxi. 15,) concerning the poor his youth," (not from his birth or slave, “ did not he that made me in nature,) a sad proof this of human the womb, make him, and did not one frailty and the proneness of man to fashion-us in the womb?" I shuddegenerate, like Adam, from that dered at the idea that God was the nature, at an early period of his author of sin, I considered the situaexistence. Accordingly this is as- tion of the man who used the lansigned as a reason not for judgment, guage quoted in Psalm li. I supposed but for mercy, “I will not again curse it to be David, an adulterer, a murthe ground any more for man's sake, derer, but an humble penitent, and I neither will I again smite any more, could not think that he was seeking every living thing as I have done." í to palliate the enormity of his crimes. suppose the most ancient portion of the I knew nothing of the character of his Bible except Genesis is the Book of parents, but I supposed that all he Job. Some have quoted a passage in derived from them, with his animal the fifteenth chapter of that poem, to nature, were a hunan soul subject 10 prove the doctrine of the total depravity constitutional frailty and strong pasa of nature. “ What is man that he sions, peculiarly prone to excess, pea should be clean, or he who is born of culiarly susceptible of certain iinpresa a woman that he should be rightcous, sions, which if not restrained by behold he (God) putteth no trust in his reason and conscience, were liable to saints, yea, the heavens are not clean in carry him away from the path of his sight, how much more abomina- rectitude. I read his history; I saw ble and filthy is man who drinketh this man a potent and ambitious iniquity like water.". Thus speaks monarch, with a great soul, but I Eliphaz, and the Lord said to Eliphaz never saw him so great as when he the Temanite, “my wrath is kindled humbled himself before God; and against thee, and against thy two confessed, and forsook his sin. I was friends, for ye have not spoken of me sure that he knew better than to exthe thing that is right as my servant cuse it by condemning the nature of Job hath.” Job xlii. 7. It would his parents, much less the nature of be therefore highly improper to exalt man formed by that God “ who the reveries and dogmas of this man fashioneth the hearts of men alike," into the language of unerring revela- who hath done whatsoever he pleased, tion; but suppose his assertion to be “and whose tender mercies are over strictly true, we are not attempting to all his works." disprove that all men are sinners, but In the strong, and figurative lanto know whether all men are so by quage of Eastern poetry, the Psalmist a necessity of nature, whether they describes the constitutional weakness are born one entire mass of moral which plunged him into guilt, and he corruption derived from Adam. If a justly censures himself, but not his man " drink iniquity' like water, parents nor his God. I had not lived the poisoned beverage is no part of so long in the world, without observhis nature, and to drink is a voluntary ing that human beings constitutionally act. In this instance we have an old differed, that one man was heavy, trite proverb verified.
phlegmatic, and stupid, a second sanThe next passage I turned to, is guine, a third irritable, a fourth a sead in Psalm li. 5. “Behold I was mean, poor and timid animal, sorr.e VOL. XI.