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der, for instance, the death of a substitute would not make a proper impression upon society of the evil of the crime, much less of the justice of the government which admitted it.
Mr. Ner. This is one of the most plausible objections against the doctrine of the atonement that I have met with ; and if the Governor of the world were obliged to proceed according to the rules of strict distributive justice among mortals, I should acknowledge it to be unanswerable.
Mr. Clif. If your scheme require the supreme Being to depart from what is accounted justice among his creatures, how will you prove it to be rational ? Does not reason dictate what is right between man and man?
Mr. Nev. May not a human government, in extraordinary cases, deviate from the letter of the law, and yet adhere to the spirit of it? May not the ends of distributive justice be answered, wbile the strict rules of it are dispensed with ?
Mr. Cliff. Give me an example.
Mr. Clif. Yes. He made a law, I think, that the eyes of adulterers should be put out; and his son was the first transgressor.
Mr. Nev. It was so. And partly from a regard to righteousness, and partly from compassion to his son, he commanded that one of his own eyes should be put out, and one of those of his son.
Mr. Clif. There was something extraordinary in this proceeding. It did not accord with the rules of strict distributive justice.
Mr. Nev. True ; and yet it was adapted to answer all the ends of good government in a greater degree than if the son had lost both his eyes.
Mr. Clif. How does that appear?
Mr Nev. Would not the fact be rendered more notori. ous ? And would it not become a subject of universal conversation ?
Mr. Clif. Undoubtedly.
Mr. Nev. And would not the public be powerfully inpressed with a sense of the determination of the lawgiver to maintain his law ?
Mr. Clif. So indeed it should seem.
Mr. Nev. Did it not at the same time afford such a proof of love to the son, as must tend to melt his heart into repentance ?
Mr. Clif. Certainly.
Mr. Nev. It follows, that the spirit of the law was preserved, though the letter of it was dispensed with; and that the whole procedure was not only reasonable but wise, and worthy of a great legislator.
Mr. Clif. I perceive whereabouts you are; and I acknowledge that I do not at present see the impropriety of the application.
Mr. Nev. Give me leave to ask, whether, while you accuse Christianity of confounding moral and commercial justice, you yourself do not confound those laws and rules which are binding on the subject, and proper, in ordinary cases, with those which are suitable to the legislature, and proper only in extraordinary cases? You do not blame the government of your country, after the rebellion in 1715, for not executing strict distributive justice upon all the individuals who had joined with the Pretender: on the contrary you praise its clemency. I confess, however, that I consider it as a proof of that imperfection which is common to all human governments. Mercy could not, in ma. ny instances, be exercised but at the expense of justice : and I suppose the rebellion which followed in 1745, might be the consequence of the escape of great numbers in the former who had deserved to die. Could our legislators have devised an expedient, by which the justice of the country would, as to the spirit of it, have been fully satis. fied, the lives of the deluded people spared, and their hearts also melted into repentance, you would have applauded them still more, and would not have thought of objecting that they had deviated from those rules of justice which ought to be adhered to in ordinary cases.
Mr. Clif. I acknowledge it.
Mr. Nev. The truth is, my friend, if God form a sys. tem of operation, it may be expected to surpass the ordinary conceptions of puny mortals. Such is Christianity. It is an expedient worthy of the divine Being; an interference, whereby he saves a perishing world in a way consistent with the glory of his moral government. While it breathes peace and good will to men, it ascribes glory to God in the highest. Your conceptions must be expanded, if you become a Christian.
Mr. Clif. Well, Sir, I will endeavour to think of these things. I certainly, as well as many others, have confounded the corruptions of Christianity with Christianity itself; and being averse to a religion which cannot be made to agree with my course of life, have never serious. ly examined its evidences. I feel to this hour like a man in chains ; nor do I know how to extricate myself. to the Lord for me, a poor miserable sinner!
You will easily conceive, Madam, the pleasure which this conversation gave us.
I could have wished for a continuance of it; but the Mr. Cliffords and my brother had agreed to take a ride before dinner, which preven. ted it.
About noon Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell came in their chariot. There were in the parlour when they entered, my father, my new sister and myself. The usual salulations being ended, Mr. Barnwell, looking very angrily at his daughter, and then turning to my father, saiu, i doubt not but this rebellious giri nas given me a fine character. She has set up for a saint, and most probably has represented me and Mrs. Barnwell as her persecutors. I know you, Sir, to be a humane and worthy man; but your generosity, in this instance, is sadly misplaced. I wish you not to countenance her. If she had a drop of my blood in her veins, she would scorn thus to be an intruder, She has a home to reside at, where she might have been as happy as any person living, if her head had not been turned about religion ; but she has ruined herself, and she must abide by the consequences.
I know, said my father, you are much mistaken respecto ing some things of which you accuse your child, which renders it probable that you may err concerning the rest. You intimate, Sir, that she has given you a bad character. So far from it, that I assure you she has never mentioned you but with reverence and esteem. That you have persecuted your own child, I cannot doubt: but I have learned this from othcrs, and not from her; and I am persuad. ed she is more sorry on your account than on her own.
I perceive, Sir, replied Mr, Barnwell, that you are prejudiced in her favour. But permit me to ask what you would do, if your daughter were to degrade herself and you by going to hear a cobbler hold forth in a barn, and by associating with the dregs of the people ? . I would accompany her, Sir, answered my father. It is true I have, like you, thought otherwise, and have in consequence of it lost a most amiable and dutiful child. Were I to say that I have been her murderer, I should come but too near the truth. If you should ever be so happy as to become a Christian, you will not think it dishonourable to worship God in the company of poor people, or in a mean place.
A Christian ! cried Mr. Barnwell with surprise ; do you take me for a heathen? I neither rob nor cheat, and I pay every one his due.
You suppose then, said my father, that the heathens did not pay their debts ?
I am not able, Sir, replied he, to dispute with you ; but I know very well when children are disobedient to their parents. And I assure you, Madam (speaking to my sister) when you come home, I will make you turn over a new, leaf, and behave a little more like a Christian than you have done, whether I be a Christian or not. If you had not lost all sense of shame, you would have returned long before this, and would not have trespassed on the good nature of Mr. Neville. Had I turned you out of doors, which indeed you'well deserved, you could but have acted in this manner.
My dear sister answered only with tears.
My father told Mr. Barnwell, that although he had not literally turned his daughter out of doors, he had behaved as cruelly to her as if he had. I have been informed, continued he, that you would not suffer her to come into your presence, but made her live in the kitchen with the servants. You could not expect this to be kept a secret. Judge then how such conduct must injure a child in the eyes of the world, who, not taking the trouble to enter into an examination of particulars, would certainly justify the parent. What man of character would marry a wife whom her parent had accused of being undutiful? That it was her duty to obey all your lawful commands, I grant : but if you commanded her to do any thing contrary to the laws of either God or man, you, Sir, were the aggressor, and not she. Your conduct however has not produced all the effect that might have been expected from such behaviour of a father. A young man has offered to marry her, and I believe they love each other. What fortune do you intend to give her ?
I suppose he is a Presbyterian parson, answered Mr. Barnwell, contemptuously. If so, I don't doubt but they love each other. Such refuse find out each other by instinct. I will not give them a shilling. Mr. Charles Clifford once paid his addresses to her : but forsooth she expected him to say his catechism to her.
Indeed, Sir, said Mrs. Barnwell, Miss Barnwell has acted very imprudently, as well as undutifully; and Mr. Barnwell plainly foresees, that if she should not be reduced to beggary, yet she will sink into one of the lower orders of the people.
My father, perceiving that talking to Mr. and Mrs. Barnwell was of no use, left us.
After this Sirs. Barnwell said tauntingly to my sister, Your pride has been so great, Madam, that you would not send for any clothes or linen, and I suppose by this time you have scarcely any left: but if you will not ask for them, and very submissively too, were I Mr. Barnwell you should never have them.