« AnteriorContinua »
but where in the pages of Dr. Smith Mr. Eaton. The first thing, then, that will Cantabrigiensis find the (as they requires notice is the assertion, that at first appeared to me, and as I fear the Deity" might, by the frequent they will appear to some of your read- exertion of his power, have perpeers,) almost impious assertions-that tuated a future state of felicity from it was iinpossible for Infinite Power the beginning; and might have renin creation to dispense with the exist- dered permanent, by the same means, ence of evil; that evil is the unavoid- such a concurrence of moral circumable attendant of limited attributes; stances as would, in the first instance, that it is creation's inevitable conse- have prevented wrong volitions of his quence; and that there never could rational creatures.” To this position be, and never can be, in any state I give a direct denial, grounded upon whatever, a creature wholly free from the arguments which found the hypoits influence? Cantabrigiensis is per- thesis, since to perpetuate any partifectly right in supposing that I con- cular mode or manner of existence, sider these propositions as incontro- could be nothing short of conferring vertible; for the more I think of the the attribute of infinity upon finite subject, the more thoroughly am I beings; and no created being can posconvinced, that nothing can overturn sibly be capable of receiving “such a the hypothesis in question; that it has concurrence of moral circumstances,” been shewn to be demonstrably cer- as would uniformly prevent wrong votain ; and that the inferences drawn litions; Ist, because his attributes are from it stand upon the same immove. liinited, and must necessarily produce able basis : and I have had the daily the inevitable effects of linnited attrisatisfaction of receiving the concurrent butes; and 2ndly. because those litestimony of many persons of compe- mited attributes necessarily require tent judgment, among whom have been change and transition, grounded upon some eininent theologians, whose opi- opposite and contending causes, one nions have fully confirmed my own of which identifies itself with evil, in convictions. I submit to your en- order to produce in his mind any volilightened readers, that I am by no tion at all. means bound to follow Cantabrigi- 2ndly. In reply to Cantabrigiensis's ensis in all the loose and desultory observation, that “the supposition, remarks he has made upon the hypo- that misery could not have been prethesis, until he has fairly met and an- vented in the original formation of the swered the line of argument upon world, must impress the mind with which it is founded, as I apprehend degrading ideas of the attributes of every writer is bound, in the first in the Supreme Being, and present the stance, to reply strictly to, and expose most gloomy view of his superintendthe fallacy of, the arguments which ing providence,” I need only observe, support the hypothesis of his oppo- that as it is agreed, that evil does nent, before he has a right to wander exist, I will leave the following questhrough all space for objections, coun- tion for the decision of your readerster arguments and positions : and un- Which system tends most to degrade less this rule be observed, it will be the Divine attributes; presents the difficult in argument ever to arrive at most gloomy view of Providence, and any certain conclusion; for poor in most impeaches the Divine benevodeed must be that position or objec- lence, that which supposes that the tion, which will not atford, aided with Deity had full power to prevent the the ingenuity of a cultivated mind, existence of evil, with all its countless some plausible arguments to contro- miseries, but would not, or that which vert or support any theory whatever. supposes, that he could not ; but, However, though I do not consider finding that evil must inevitably arise myself obliged by the rules of argu- from limited attributes, made the best inent to follow Cantabrigiensis in his of it by contriving its absolute subserremarks, yet for the further satisfac- viency to the production of good, far tion of the readers of the Repository, surpassing the degree of evil? It I will undertake this task as far as must be obvious, I should suppose, to those remarks remain unanswered by every one, that while the former is my last communication, in reply to totally irreconcileable with the Divine
benevolence, the latter presents a full to the question, it surely does not insolution of the difficulty, and is, in- crease the sum of evil, to say that it deed, the only hypothesis that does or exists inevitably; but Cantabrigiensis can remove it.
really seems to suppose that it does. 3rdly. Cantabrigiensis asks, “ If 4thly. Cantabrigiensis asserts, that creatures could not be formed without “it is not within the circumscribed being subject to the liability to evil, powers of man to solve the questionsupposed by the hypothesis, in what why pain should be essentially instruconsisted the necessity (benevolence I mental in the production of enjoystippose is meant) of creating them at inent.” It is not consistent, I appreall? Non-existence must be preferable hend, with the rules of argument for to a continued preponderance of pain.” Cantabrigiensis thus to decide, by In reply to this, I observe, that neither mere assertion, the very matter in the liypothesis, nor any thing that I question between us, and which he has have advanced in support of it, sup- undertaken to refute, since the hypoposes that evil or misery does, or ever thesis certainly proposes to solve this will, preponderate over good and hap- very iinportant question; and whether piness, but the very contrary, as Can- it succeeds in this respect or not is tabrigiensis would have seen, had he the proper matter for discussion. sufficiently considered the hypothesis. 5thly. Cantabrigiensis speaking in Here, then, is an end of this monster, allusion to the hypothesis, which he which, it seems, existed only in Can- blends with some erroneous notions tabrigiensis's own imagination : and, commonly entertained, says, “It would I contend, that the difficulty of the have been better for maukind that question-Why did God create at all, they had never been born;" but that if he could not create without evil, lis own notion of the subject, and ceases to exist on the ground of the which I freely admit is far the best hypothesis, but absolutely defies solu- of any that has been heretofore entertion upon any other ground; for here, tained, and was my own till the hypoto make all things harmonize with thesis in question suggested itself to infinite goodness, we have only to my mind,) vindicates the Divine attriinquire, whether the existence of all butes “ from those degrading corcreatures is, or will be, upon the ceptions, which it is impossible, on any whole of that existence, a blessing other scheme, not to entertain.” Now, and a happiness to them: and whether Sir, all this is inere assertion, and good does not, and will not ever, pre- feeling, as I do, the pre-eminence of ponderate over evil ? And if these the hypothesis in question over every questions must be answered in the other theory that has yet been adopted, affirmative, the original question is I am fully convinced that the expres. fully solved—Why à God of infinite sions he has used in favour of his own benevolence could, in strict accordance notion, belong exclusively to mine : with that benevolence, create intelli- except, indeed, the expression, “it gent beings, although he could not would have been better for mankind make them without evil; wbile every that they had never been born," which other hypothesis must for ever remain is, I submit, language which ought dumb to the question—Why did not not to be used in reference to any a God of infinite benevolence, and mere theory on the subject. possessed of ample power to create 6thly. Cantabrigiensis imagines a without evil, produce the same happy difficulty in reconciling my hypothesis effects from happier causes, and have with the doctrine of Universal Restidispensed with the existence of evil tution, of which doctrine he rightly altogether? I repeat, that every other supposes me to be a believer : but hypothesis must for ever remain silent how the hypothesis stands, in any to this question, while the hypothesis manner, opposed to it, I have yet to in dispute presents a solution of the learn. I really do not see any ditli. difficulty, so perfectly in unison with culty at all in reconciling them with the Divine benevolence, that I feel each other, since our ideas of final confident it is the only one capable of restoration, certainly do not imply a justifying the ways of God to man. state of infinite and unerring perfecBut even if I could give no solution tion, but merely a state in which moral causes, keeping pace with intel- becloud the prospects of the gospel, lectual improvement, will fit and qua. is erroneous,' is above the measure of lify mankind for the enjoyment of the human understanding, &c., all such pure and moral effects, as their which I utterly deny, and challenge several capacities may be susceptible any evidence to the contrary: but I of: and if their powers and employ- cannot help remarking, that these obinents are made, from time to time, servations come with a peculiarly ill and during an infinite succession of grace from heretical pens; they are changes, as full of perfection and out of their element; they belong to happiness as those powers and em- orthodoxy, since all the fearful wcaployments, to their utmost extent, pons, which these gentlemen have can possibly contain, it is all that the here opposed to iny hypothesis, have most voluptuous in future bliss can with equal force, and with much more desire; it is all that Onnipotence can consistency, been brandished in degrant; it is even all that infinite be- fence of the doctrine of the Trinity a nevolence, with all its varied stores of thousand times. I certainly am not felicity, can devise.
aware of any limitation for the human I now turn to combat the strictures understanding, nor any boundary for of my two other opponents, Mr. Eaton the operations of reason, where cerand Mr. J. Johnston, pp. 584 and 585 tain and definite ideas, founded upon of your Number for October last. assignable evidence, and reducible to Mr. Eaton says, “ The argument of intelligible language and definite what God can do, and what he cannot terms, form the governing principle do, is scarcely becoming such frail and of speculation ; and while this is or ignorant creatures as we are, for the ean be done, it is nothing short of least fluw in our conception and argu- Popery, to becloud the intellectual viment, destroys our conclusion.” “Can sion with the blindness of mystery, any Christian so safely rely on the pretended frailty, and convenient ignosoundness of his metaphysical abstrac- rance, weakness of the understanding, tions and conclusions, as to place &c. Such observations as these might them in opposition to the plain lan- reconcile us to all the sacred mysteries guage of Scripture?". “Ought meta- of orthodoxy or heathenism, ancient physical subiilties and speculations to or modern ; and certainly if there be interfere with the glorious hopes of such an arbitrary boundary to rational the gospel ?” “Ought the cold and speculation, it may be much more baseless speculations of metaphysi- consistently found within the infallible cians, to be permitted to chill or pale of Popery, than the uncircumbecloud such transporting prospects scribed range of heterodoxy: and if and assurances ?” “After the greatest the inquirer after truth is to be sithought and labour, if there be one lenced in this manner, it is a great single error in the premises, the glit. reflection upon those of us who have tering castle tumbles to the ground.” come out from the regions of mystery And Mr. Johnston has the following into the pure and unclouded light of remarks—“ They are far above the the gospel, in defiance of precisely measure of the human understanding.' similar observations on the part of “These mysterious points are far above reputed orthodoxy: and such persons the range of human thought.” “It cannot reasonably complain of their leads us to place no confidence in Trinitarian brethren, when they atmany express promises of God," and tempt to silence them in the same many other similarly unfounded asser- way. Besides which, this convenient tions. Your readers will perceive that scepticism and pretended frailty must these gentlemen have first assumed inevitably tend to weaken the force of as true, the objections upon which all truth, certainty and evidence; for these remarks are founded, and that if the plain deductions of reason are without one tittle of evidence, (i. e.) not to be relied on, there is an end of that the subject of my hypothesis does the only legitimate standard of truth, really possess a flaw, is in opposition and of all inquiry after it; and acting to the plain language of Scripture, is under the influence of this self-delua metaphysical subtilty, does interfere sion, we should bid fair in time to with the glorious hopes of the gospel, arrive at that thorough-paced sceptiis cold and baseless,' does chill' or cism, which would dictate a similarly ridiculous expression to that of an conceive: certainly." nothing shall ancient Heathen, “I know nothing interfere with the happiness of the except that I know nothing." And righteous," because it has been proved upon this very principle I consider by the hypothesis, (and which proof our orthodox brethren as the greatest your readers will recollect not only of all sceptics. The real question is, remains unrefuted, but even unassailshall we retain the character of ra ed, neither of my opponents having tional theologians, and be ruled by even attempted to meet and refute the the, manifest deductions of reason; arguments on which it is grounded,) or shall we, fearing to offend existing that the happiness of all beings with prejudices, bow down and prostrate limited attributes is, and ever must our understandings, in true orthodoxy be, built upon a state of variation and form, before the pope-like tyranny of transition; that it could not exist at preconceived notions; and suspending all in a perfectly unchangeable state; the legitimate operation of our rational and, therefore, that an unchangeable powers, in the chaos of dark uncer- state would be the most effectual tainty, sink into the horrible gloom means of interfering with, and destroyof universal scepticism? One of these ing, the happiness of the righteous : two alternatives we must adopt, and I and, doubtless, God, the author and leave your enlightened readers to take conductor of that limited state of pertheir choice.
fection which must ever be requisite 2ndly. Mr. Eaton observes, “ No for the welfare of limited attributes, one will hesitate to admit, that all “will be all in all,” to secure the created beings, however perfect and most apt and suitable perfection, and exalted, must ever remain finite, and best possible happiness, of his creaat an immeasurable distance from the tures. The security of the happiness peerless glory and excellence of their of the righteous, therefore, by no Creator; but the question is, not whe- means warrants the conclusion of a ther man will ever possess infinite and perfectly infinite, invariable or un. abstract perfection, but whether the changeable state, but the very conDeity can place him out of the reach trary : I rejoice, however, with Mr. E. of danger, error and evil.” To this in the anticipation of a state where I reply that they are both the same there will be “no more death,” j. e. question, only differently put; for if no change or transition so violent and it be admitted, “ that all created be, appalling as death ; but surely we are ings must ever remain finite,” it re- not from hence obliged to conclude mains for him to shew the possibility that changes and renewals of a more of the Deity's placing finite man out easy nature than death will not be of the reach of finite circumstances perpetually taking place. That the error and evil, which would be no less perfection and happiness of the rightethan to make hiro infinite. The fact ous will never be infinite or unchangethen is, that he has here admitted all able, but will ever require a state of that the hypothesis asserts; and I beg change and variation, even to support to remind Mr. E., that until the “ere that happiness, and will necessarily ror in the premises" be clearly pointed ever remain subject to some degree of out, the glittering castle” stands on “ miscalculation, frailty and ill”--the the solid and immoveable rock of truth inevitable lot of all finite beings, seem and certainty
to be tacitly admitted by the almost 3rdly. Mr. E.'s feelings are enviable universal sentiment of all sects and in his anticipations of a state where parties, that there will be progressive “nothing shall interfere with the hap- improvement in heaven ; since impiness of the righteous,” and he adds, provement necessarily supposes im
and to give the most absolute se perfection, and progressive improvecurity from miscalculation, frailty and ment the successive changes by which ill, God will be all in all.”. Truly that improvement will be effected. sorry should I be to disturb these Besides which, perfection not being anticipations, and he will be surprised, capable of improvement, and as all perhaps, when I declare my thorough imperfection must be the effect of conviction, that my hypothesis best limited attributes, and as limited at. secures all the delightful anticipations tributes must be the inheritance of all uf futurity that we can or ought to created beings, however exalted, it follows, of course, that unerring per- being cannot be less than Deity—such fection, absolute freedom froin evil, a being must necessarily be equal with and invariability of condition, can God; but the hypothesis proves that never be the portion of any created the Deity himself could not create an intelligence. At the same time, I equal. The whole universe, therefore, wish to express iny thorough convic- being under the sole controul of hiin tion, that the perfection and felicity whose eye, unconfined to space, size, of the righteous in a future state of or proportion, perceives as distinctly bliss, will be all, and even much more an atom as a world ; to whom no than all, we can now conceive of even high, no low, no great, no small; infinite perfection and happiness, be- who fills, who bounds, connects, and cause our ideas, so far from reaching equals all ;' and without whose deto any just idea of infinity, must fall sign* we are assured, that not even far short even of the real extent of a sparrow can fall, all other beings the future perfection and happiness of having only limited attributes, can finite beings, however short of infinity have neither power to controul surthat may be. I cannot quit Mr. Eaton rounding causes, nor prescience to without acknowledging the very liberal foresee future events; and conseand Christianlike manner in which he quently they must be continually unhas conducted the controversy.
der the influence of those causes, over In replying to Mr. Johnston, his which they have no controul. These remarks upon the doctrine of Philo- causes, therefore, constantly give mosophical Necessity first claim my at- tive and produce volition; and consetention ; but after the able statements quently beings, with limited attri. and illustrations of this enlightened butes, can no more controul either doctrine, by Dr. Priestley, Mr. Bel- their motives or their volition, than sham, Dr. Southwood Sinith, and they can the causes which originate others, in treir publications, and the them: and hence, it is a certain truth, admirable and incontrovertible effu. that if they could produce volition, or sions of Mr. Cogan and others, in controul their own motives, even in the your valuable pages, it cannot be ne- smallest matters, independently of these cessary for me to enter upon its causes, they could as well controul the general statement or defence ; but in universe, and usurp the place of the justification of the hint I threw out Deity Himself. I an indeed, always upon this subject in my last commu- shocked when I consider the hold and nication, I shall merely set forth the awfully impious tendency of the freeinference, which I then stated to be agency or Libertarian scheme, which one of the suppressed inferences I had shuts the Deity out from the managedrawn from my hypothesis, (i. e.)
“ 5thly. The foregoing hypothesis doctrine of Philosophical Necessity sedemonstrably proves, that as there can
cures this liberty, by asserting, that we be but one Being, possessed of infi- cannot do otherwise than as we will, nite or unlimited attributes, and who since we must ever obey our own will ; controuls the universe and all its causes, or, philosophically speaking, that volition all other beings must be, in all re- which is produced by the strongest mospects, dependent upon him and his tive. We are, therefore, certainly freeJaws; and, therefore, that it was, and will actors as far as respects this volition; is, beyond the power of Infinity it- but as far as respects the motives, and self tó iwake an independent being or
the causes which dictate those motives, a free agent,* since an independent there can be but one free or independent
agent—that is God,
• Matt. x. 29. 'The Common Version
has 6 without your Father ;" but what * Though I have used this term for can we understand by this, when referring want of a more definite one, I consider to a Being whose attributes are all-perthe Necessarian equally as much a free vading, but as implying design or agency? agent as the Libertarian; as I do not see In the Improved Version the word will is any thing in the doctrine of Philosophical supplied by the Editors, to express the Necessity at all hostile to human liberty: true meaning ; and this rendering is supfor what idea have we of liberty more ported by, ons Beans, design or decree, than this-lo do as we will ? and the in the various readings of Griesbach.