Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with many a severe contest at the present, needs some better security for the future, against final defcat and everlasting ruin, than his own wavering resolution and his own heart, which he knows to be extremely deceitful; for “he who trusteth in o his own heart is a fool.” He, and he alone, “who “ continueth to the end shall be saved.” “Hitherto L“ God hath helped me;" but on what am I to rely for the future? On my own heart? God forbid! Is there, then, any promise, or security, to the true believer, on which I may rest my confidence, and say, “ He hath delivered and doth “ deliver, and in him I trust that he will yet de“ liver ?” That he will “ deliver me from every “evil work, and preserve me to his heavenly “ kingdom?” Deplorable is the case of that man, who knows the deceitfulness of his own heart, and the power and subtlety of his enemies, and who cannot confide in the faithfulness of God, except in subordination to his own faithfulness as the prescribed condition, on which at last the whole depends It is impossible that an unwatchful and negligent person can have that consciousness of love to Christ, and other holy affections, which legitimately authorize him to take the comfort of God's promises to this effect : it is presumption for him to attempt it; yet cordials are not to be wholly expelled from the materia medica, because some persons intoxicate themselves with them.

CHAPTER IV..

THE HEATHEN DOCTRINE OF FATE DISTINGUISHED

FROM CHRISTIAN PREDESTINATION.

The arguments of Justin Martyr, concerning Fate, addressed to heathens, and to heathen princes, did not at all relate to the Christian doctrine of God's predestination; or the predetermination of infinite wisdom, justice, truth, and love ; by which free agency is not in the least interrupted, or responsibility diminished: but to heathen fate, which was a sort of necessity, independent of the gods and which their supreme god himself could not bend or alter.

O genetrix, quo fata vocas? aut quid petis istis?

- Cui tanta deo permissa potestas ?? Philosophers indeed spoke of it in more guarded, though less perspicuous language ; but this was the popular doctrine. Fate was a necessity superior to the will of the gods; and totally unconnected with the good or bad conduct of the persons concerned, in every sense; but intimately connected with auguries, divinations, and all kinds of fortune-telling, sorcery, and witchcraft; which in scripture are considered as the worship of de vils. It does not clearly appear from what source it was supposed to arise, or whence it had its name. Fatum only signifies what hath been spoken

Ref. 291. ? Virgil, Æneid, ix. 93-97. The words of Jupiter to Cybele.

-Who would not dread a God, who foresees and

considers and attends to all'things; and thinks 'that all things belong to him; one who is inqui"sitive, and full of employment: Hence arose to 'you that fatal necessity, which ye call Eipaquévn ;

that whatever may take place, ye should say 'flowed from eternal truth, and a continued suc*cession of causes. But at how much is this philosophy to be estimated; to which as to old women, and those indeed unlearned, all things seem done by fate :'You say that all things are done by fate : but that which from all eternity was true, that is fate.'2 « Therefore it appears to 'me-first, that the whole strength and reason of

divination is to be sought from God, of whom ' sufficient has been spoken; then from fate ; then

from nature. But I call that fate, which the "Greeks call cipapuévn ; that is, the order and series

of causes : when cause connected with cause of ritself produces the thing ; this is the perpetual 'truth, flowing from all eternity.'-—' Besides, as

all things are done by fate, if there could be any ' mortal who was able to perceive in his mind the 'connexion of all causes, nothing indeed would

deceive him ;' (or be concealed from him ;) which since none but God is able to do, it must "be left to man that by certain signs, declaring following events, he should perceive beforehand

future events. 3 · · But thou deemest that it is fortune ; and thou sayest that all things which are done, and whatever things are future, were fatally determined · Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. i. ? Ibid. lib. iii. 3 Id. de Div. lib. ii.

' from all eternity.'. If nothing can be done, no'thing happen, nothing take place which it was not certain would be, at a fixed time, what can fortune be?'T * All things, which take place, take place from preceding causes: but, if this be so, whatsoever "things are done are done by fate.'2 "From this kind of causes, hanging together from eternity, fate is framed (nectitur) by the Stoics.' 3—What Cicero's own sentiments on the subject were, it is not very easy to determine; as he generally puts the sentiments, which he brings forward, into the mouths of the Stoics, or Epicureans, or others : but nothing can be plainer than that, according to all the parties, fate was not the decree of an infinitely wise, just, and good God; and that it was something, when philosophically considered, of a necessary concatenation of causes and effects from eternity, which the Deity could foresee and make known by auguries and divinations, if he chose, but which he did not form, and could not rule, or alter, or prevent: something, one would almost say, antecedent to God, at least to his counsels, plans, and purposes. Now, ought this sentiment, which, stripped of its false colourings, amounts to little better than direct atheism, to be confounded with the most wise and holy counsel, plan, and purpose of God; who could not possibly either decree or do any thing, which, viewed in all its bearings, was not the very best thing that could take place? The one reduces the Deity to insignificancy, almost to non-entity: the other considers God as “ doing according to his will in the armies

'Id. Ibid. Id. de Fato. * Idem.

“ of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the “ earth, and that none can stay his hand, or say to “ him, What doest thou?"1It is worthy of notice, that the sacred writers, in speaking on a subject often confounded with the heathen doctrine of a fatal necessity, never once used any of the heathen terms, but adopted another phraseology: II poopitw, IIpoypáow, &c. And likewise that they did not use these words, or any words derived from them, in the manner in which heathen fate was spoken of, as if it were something existing of itself, and by itself, antecedently to the will of any being; but entirely as the purpose and determination of the everlasting, omniscient, infinitely wise, holy, and good Creator and Sovereign of the universe; “ Declaring the end from the beginning; and “ from ancient times the things which are not yet “ done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will “ do all my pleasure.” 2

Justin, however, does not argue conclusively, even against the doctrine which he opposes : for fatal necessity, however it might restrain, or limit, or disappoint a man, and render his best concerted plans abortive, would not deprive him of free agency; and, unless fate compelled him to be wicked, or the contrary, it would not destroy his responsibility. Whatever any may argue on such subjects, when contending for a system, or combating with an opponent, or seeking an excuse for their crimes; the common sense and consciousness of men in general (even fatalists, ancient and modern,) lead them, on other occasions, to speak and act as free agents, and, often against their

Dan. iv. 35. . ? Isa. xlvi. 10.

« AnteriorContinuar »