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for this, that it is the evil of suffering for the evil of action; or, that it is rendered as an evil of punishment for that which is the past evil of guilt; viz. punishment is avenging a crime; or, as the Greek lawyers speak, the avenging of sin. 'To this purpose,' says Hieracles,' the law taketh vengeance on a man not simply or as a man, but as evil or guilty,' &c. The civil law furnishes us with better notions of the ground of merit than the reason assigned, viz. that the sufferings of a guilty man raised from the dead can be remedial before God.
To affirm, that it is inconsistent with any principle of justice to inflict eternal punishment upon a sinner, is, to say the least, asserting much more than can be proved. It is true, that the actions of the creature are temporary, but the morality or immorality of them is not so. In how many instances in life do we see, that the temporary acts of a man affect his family in a most serious manner, yea, it is probable that the effect of his conduct may be felt by his relatives as long as they live; though an action as such is but transient, yet the moral tendency of it is permanent. When the first father of the human race transgressed against God, the action was but temporary, yet it is certain, that the moral tendency of it is permanent, for none of his offspring enter our world without bringing with them the corruption of his nature. It is not possible, that the wicked can be raised from the dead with the same habits and feelings, if there were not some fixed principle on which the permanency of their moral conduct is founded. The law of God is founded in his nature, and it is a transcript of it, making known his righteous will to them. Whatever is required by it for the creatures must be holy; and the tendencies of the things, according to the spirit of that establishment must be permanent and endless. This was the basis upon which Adam was to retain possession of the garden of Eden; and so long as he continued to serve God, he was entitled by his obedience to continue in that place, and to abide in his lordship over his creatures formed there; but so soon as he had violated the law, he was justly banished from the place, nor could he ever return to it again; for by sin he was incapable to obey the law, and there was no rectitude in his powers nor holiness in him to commune with God as he before had done. Here we have positive proof that the actions as a man simply considered are temporary, and yet the moral tendency of them is abiding and permanent.
By what rule will the argument be established—that the wicked raised from the dead with the same habits and feelings with which they descended into the grave, will, by any sufferings that they can er.dure, be cleansed from the evil that is seated in their compound nature? It would have been far more consistent to prove, or to have attempted to prove, that although they died wicked characters, yet, when they were raised from the dead, God considering that their actions were, merely transient, did not notice their moral tendency, but he had raised them very different characters to what they were when they died, viz. righteous, than to assert that it is inconsistent with every principle of justice to .inflict clernal mjs?ry upon any one ! But there is
Vol. VI11.—No. 97.] 3 B
no pretension made to any thing of the kind ; and as God will quicken them again, by bringing them up out of the grave with the same dispositions and consciousness with which they descended into it, they must for ever exist beneath his awful displeasure; for as there is no injustice in God to raise men with the same habits they had before, it can never be proved inequitable in him to perpetuate their existence, and inflict upon them the punishment that moral evil has merited.
It is said, 'that these remedial sufferings of the wicked are to terminate in a complete purification from moral disorder, and ultimately restore them to virtue and happiness.' In what part of their persons is this moral process to commence? for they are still wicked men suffering what they righteously deserve. Had it pleased God to destroy sin in them by an arbitrary act of his sovereignty when they were brought up from the grave, it would be easy to conceive of their purity; but it is not said, that they are to be delivered from moral disease in that way, but their own suffering is to effect their purification. The Scripture does not teach us, that a creature raised by God from the grave, who is corrupt in his habits and feelings, can by any thing which he can endure, be by those sufferings restored to perfect purity, virtue, and happiness.
There will then be a resurrection of the bodies of men, both the just and unjust; the latter will, by an omnipotent display of divine justice, be called from their graves to receive from the hand of the Holy Legislator of the world the deeds done in their bodies; and the former will he raised by the Holy Ghost, in union to the person of the Redeemer; and through their resurrection to life, will the everlasting worth and virtue of all ihe offices, relations, and characters of Christ be manifested."
(For the Spiritual Magazine.^
QUESTIONS PROPOSED TO J. M. D. ON THE ATTRIBUTES AND PERFECTIONS OF JEHOVAH.
I Beg permission to ask your correspondent, J. M. D. a few questions on the attributes and perfections of Jehovah, which he has avowed his sentiments of; more especially, in this Month's magazine: and I do hope that he will be candid enough to answer, and in such language as a plain man may understand. I confess I am totally ignorant of Latin; therefore, it is of no use to puzzle me with it. No one can doubt his talents and acquirements, while reading his pieces: his displays are very prominent; but to edify the illiterate, should 1 think be regarded by him also.
Christian friend and brother in Jesus, J. M. D., allow me to say, your views of the attributes and perfections of Deity have indeed startled me. I assure you, I begin to dread the consequences; which may God in his infinite mercy prevent. You have stated, 'that the perfections of God are eternal;' but 'the attributes of God,' you say, ' are assumed, are acquired.' Pause, my Brother, and ask yourself, what was God before he acquired his attributes? for ' his attributes are adjuncts.' 'The man nature of Christ,' you say, 'is the greatest attribute of God.' This is what I do not understand. I request you will have the goodness to explain this from scripture.
'God's attributes are sovereignly assumed and displayed,' you say, 'not adding to the personal completeness of the Deity, although they are possessions he once had not.' What then do you conceive to be absolutely necessary to the very being of God? Can God communicate his attributes? I have thought not; yet I may be mistaken. I have thought and said, ' God of God, very God of very God,' is an absurdity; and if I am wrong, I wish to be set right, that I may retrace my steps; for without right views of the God 1 worship, I cannot worship God aright; it is, therefore, essential.
You have mentioned omnipotence as a perfection, and not as an attribute. How do you prove it from scripture? I have always considered the omnipotence of God as an incommunicable attribute, and not merely an inherent quality. I have thought, that omnipotence, omipresence, omniscience, and eternity, are the very being of God; that he could not be an object of worship, if either were absent; neither of which attributes could he communicate. But his perfections, such as his love, mercy, justice, goodness, faithfulness, truth, &c. are communicable, and are communicated; more especially, to the man nature of our beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Those perfections are not essential to his being, yet are eternal, inherent qualities; and it is well for us, my Brother, they are so. God is immutably the same; his character demands our confidence. If before time there was no mercy in God, and that it is assumed, it follows, he may lay it down again if it pleased him; and then, woe be to us sinners!
I have always thought, that God, as to his nature, being, and personalities, is, as he eternally was, and was what he eternally will be. I have no conception, that God possesses attributes he once had not, or perfections which are not eternal as his being! The manifestations of them to his creatures is quite a different thing.
To exemplify his attributes, he created systems and worlds: to shew forth his perfections, intelligences must be formed: yet his attributes or perfections were not assumed or acquired, because he had created objects to behold them. No: God was before these objects he had formed what he is now they are formed. Nothing can be added to God, or it would prove that he was not complete: nothing taken from him, or he would have been superfluous. The God of the Bible is always the same, "yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" before time, in time, and throughout the countless ages of eternity. The same in his personalities, the same in his attributes, the same in hia perfections. Hear what he says of himself, "I am .Jehovah: I change not; therefore, ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
If God was not by nature omnipotent, he could not do as he would; if not omnipresent, he could not have universal dominion; if not omniscient, he would not behold the actions of all his creatures; if eternal, he would not be able to bestow thf overflowings of his goodness to the election of grace for ever and ever, nor inflict his punitive justice on the vessels of wrath * fitted for destruction, in their eternal damnation.'
No being beside has those attributes; not even the man nature of our adorable Lord. He possesses them personally as he is God, and not in the assumed nature; for he is not, personally considered, man: but our nature is joined to one of the three in God: the man nature is the recipient from the well-head, and is " the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."
You will, I think, perceive it to be my opinion, that God could, (though he never did, or ever will) exist without his perfections; that they are not essential to his being: but that his attributes are essential; he could not be God without them. They are not assumed or acquired; the very idea is enough to make one shudder. What, God assume, acquire, his attributes? Where from, or from whom I should like to know ?" O tell it not in Gath, publish it not in Askelon, lest the uncircumcised in heart rejoice!"
Beware, my friend, you stand on very slippefy ground. Do not be carried away with fawning flattery. 1 feel for you. Be sore you have a " thus saith the Lord." for your assertions. If you have, do be so kind as to bring them forward. Mere assertions are no proofs, you know. I can assure you, that many readers of the Spiritual Magazine are at a loss to know your meaning. If you can and will clear up these points, you will do me essential service. I shall have to unlearn what I have attempted to learn for the last thirty-five years of my life. Will you condescend to notice these plain statements, which are made in love and affection; and believe me to be,
Yours, in gospel bonds,
-.'..' ,,' .'',,.. I .'.• ,.
(To the Editor of the Spiritual Magazine. )
A HINT TO J. M. D. Mr. Editor,
As the acknowledged use of a Magazine is to supply spiritual food and useful information to those christians who have not the means of procuring those larger theological works with Which the world abounds, it is exceedingly desirable, that they should not be cheated out of their supply by the mismanagement of those who cater for them. A humble christian, acquainted with no language btside his mother tongue, and that in its rudest form, is greatly disappointed at finding in the midst of a sentence a heap of unexplained Latin. The pleasure of making classical quotations is not to be compared with the more noble aim of firing the love or strengthening the faith of the true disciples of the Lamb.
1 have wished, Mr. Editor, that these unprofitable distinctions without differences were ended, and that " babes in grace," were contented to sit at the feet of their teachers learning instead of teaching. We should not then have so many crude and undigested thoughts, so many vain and foolish speculations; but I doubt not, should be great gainers in true knowledge and right feeling.
I am, Mr. Editor,
Yours, in Christ,
J. £VVe would embrace the opportunity afforded us by this note, of suggesting, that those of our Correspondents whose attainments and dispositions may lead them to extract from stranger tongues, should also, for the use of the unlearned reader, add by way of note translations thereof.—Ed.1 3
It is the distinguishing character of a believer, that he has fellowship with the Father and the Son, through the indwelling of the Spirit. Whosoever has not thus fellowship with God, hath fellowship with sin; and fellowship with God and fellowship with sin are incompatible. Yet a believer may have many sad falls into sin, without having fellowship with it. Grace and nature are inmates in the heart of a renewed man; yet they are just like two persons who dwell under the same roof, and are always at variance, they have no fellowship at all, the one with the other. The regenerate part cannot sin, because it is born of God; the divine seed remaineth in the believer uncorrupt and immaculate. ''It is no more I," says the apostle, w but sin which dwelleth in me." Whereas, the carnal mind, the unregenerate part, "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." On the contrary, " it is enmity against him." Tt hates holiness, as being his image: it loves sin, and nothing but sin; sin is not only its law, but itself is a law of sin in the abstract. It is sleepless, restless, implacable, ever bent upon the ruin of the soul in which it dwells; and in the hour of temptation, is particularly watchful to side with Satan, and to improve the advantage. Such a guest, rather such a desperate foe, does every believer carry in his bosom, which makes him so frequently cry out with St. Paul, "O wretched man that I am;" though at the very same time it is his privilege to exult with the same apostle, and say, " I thank God, through Jesus Christ, my Lord."