Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

misled him. A thing is philosophically possible when the supposition of its existence implies no contradiction,-possible as opposed to an absurdity ; but it is morally possible, as opposed to certainty, only in the absence of that higher degree of evidence which should prove or disprove its actual existence. In this latter sense, possibility is equivalent to the lowest degree of certainty,—that is, to the veriest uncertainty; while, in the former sense, it expresses an abstract certainty,--a philosophical truth. The actual existence of inhabitants in the moon is philosophically possible, because the supposition implies no absurdity; it is also morally possible, and can be no more than possible to us, in the absence of all ground of certainty, the fact being unknown. But my actual existence at this moment or at any past moment of my life, is neither a philosophical nor a moral possibility, but a physical certainty, the contrary involving an absurdity; and it is an abuse of words to speak of such a fact as possible.

But let us see what use Mr. Drew has made of his argument in application to the Divine Existence.

"To admit the existence of this (Eternal) Being to be possible without being real, is to admit a principle which is inconsistent with itself; since, unless he has actually existed from eternity, his want of actual existence, in any given period, will render the possibility of his eternal existence absolutely impossible.' Vol. i. p. 113.

Such a demonstration as this might puzzle an atheist, if such a being exists, but could it convince him? He would admit at once, not merely the possibility, but the reality of some Eternal substance; and to attempt to demonstrate this, is, therefore, wholly impertinent. But, as to the atheistic question of possibility in reference to the Divine Being, it is a possibility opposed, not to impossibility, but only to certainty. The atheist does not allege that it is impossible, but he affects to doubt the fact for want of sufficient evidence; and in doubt

e ing the fact of the actual existence of a God, he of course doubts the actual, though not the 'abstract possibility of his Eternal existence. Mr. Drew's argument, stated syllogistically, runs thus : * It is possible there is a God; but it is not possible, unless he has always existed; therefore, he has always existed. The conclusion is a fallacy: the correct inference would be. Therefore, if there is a God, he must always have existed; which the atheist would not deny. The other is a sophism . But we object to the major proposition, it is possible, &c.; because the expression implies that it is not certain, that the contrary is not impossible; whereas it is infinitely certain that God is.

a

:

The remaining chapters of this first part are occupied with demonstrating, That some Being that is uncaused, necessarily existent, independent, must have existed from all eternity; that such a Being must possess active energy, and must possess all natural perfections in an absolute manner; and that no more than one necessarily existent Being or Essence is possible. Here there is less room for originality, and less temptation to be paradoxical. The first part of the argument is substantially thai of Dr. Samuel Clarke and Bishop Hamilton ; but Mr. Drew delights in exhibiting it under a variety of logical forms, as if he could never satiate his mind with the metaphysical beauty of the demonstration. In attempting to prove that no more than one necessarily existent being or essence can be possible, he ventures, however, on a mode of reasoning which is very inadequately guarded by a feeble saving-clause, from leading to conclusions subversive of the Christian faith. The chapter embraces five propositions : “1. No more than one

Being or Essence is required to be necessarily existent. 2. • The manner in which a necessarily existent Being or Essence • exists, precludes all plurality. 3. Two necessarily existent

Beings or Essences can neither operate alike, nor differently • from each other, either by natural necessity or mutual agree. • ment. 4. Two necessarily existent Beings or Essences can' not be different from each other; nor can they be alike with• out being the same. 5. Variety in perfections is perfectly • consistent with unity of essence and of being.' These are bold and in our judgement unauthorized positions ; but, previously to examining them, we shall transcribe the savingclause alluded to. He has been shewing, that, if two necessarily existent Beings or Essences exist, their perfections cannot be specifically different: they must, then, beradically the same.' He proceeds:

· Then these Beings or Essences must be radically the same also; because the sameness of their perfecțions will prevent them from in. cluding any quality, property, or attribute that may not invariably be predicated of simple unity. Hence, no division,-no alteration, na change,-no diversity, can, under these circumstances, affect a unity fof essence, even though it were possessed by distinct personalities. The possibility of distinct personalities possessing the same essence, may be inferred from the doctrine which the Gospel inculqates, of a TRINITY in UNUTY. Still, there can be but one essence; and consequently, but one omnipetence, and but one omniscience, although possessed by three distinct persons.'

If, as we imagine, Mt. Drew is a believer in the doctrine of a Trinity in Unity, we must say that such language as this

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

• The

is as strange, coming from him, as it is in itself grossly imi proper; for, to speak of inferring the possibility of a fact from

the Scripture doctrine which reveals the fact, is very much like saying, As it is revealed, it may be true. This iş not, we ap, prehend, our Author's meaning, but it is what his words imply. Then, if by one omnipotence and one omniscience, he means one kind of power and one kind of knowledge, it is obvious that absolute perfection can be but of one kind. But, if he admits a distinction of personalities possessing one Essence, there must be, to use bis own words, an omnipotence and an omniscience thrice repeated in reference to the three persons in the Godhead. But, in fact, the whole of Section 3. makes as strongly against the doctrine of Three distinct Persons, which he seems to admit, as against that of a plurality of Essences. The last paragraph in particular is a quibble at variance equally with the dignity and sacredness of the infinite subject and with sound reasoning; and the passage cited from Locke might justify suspicions respecting the Author's religious sentiments, which we do not wish to entertain, Dr. Clarke himself is far more guarded on this point, and even more orthodox. unity of God,' he says, and says justly, is an unity of nature or essence; for of this it is that we must be understood, if if we wauld argue intelligibly, when we apeak of necessity or self-existence. He then adds: “As to the diversity of Persons in the everablessed Trinity: that is, whether, notwithstanding the unity of the Divine Nature, there may not co'exist with the First Supreme Cause, such excellent Emana

tions from it, as may themselves be really Eternal, Infinite, ' and Perfect, by a complete communication of Divine Attri,

butes in an incomprehensible manner;, always excepting selforigination, self-existence, or absolute independency: of this, I say, as there is nothing in bare reason by which it can be demonstrated that there is actually any such thing, 80, neither ' is there any argument by which it can be proved impossible or unreasonable to be supposed; and therefore, so far as de

; clared and made known to us by clear revelation, it ought to be believed.'* This passage supplies an emphatic rebuke of the rash and dippant philosoplaizing which has been vented by the rational' on this transcendent subject. It intimates the Author's known dissent from the Athanasian, and bis adoption of the Nicene Creed; but it shews how very far he was from going the length that even Locke went in reference to the doctrine of the Trinity,

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

6

• " Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God." p. 51.

[ocr errors]

It is peculiarly difficult, in treating such a subject in the language of the schools, to steer clear of the appearance of impiety; and we are constrained to say that Mr. Drew, has not escaped from this danger. No part of his work is chargeable with so much crudeness and offensive impropriety; and we are utterly at a loss to conceive how he could pen some of the paragraphs. It affords a strong presumption against the boasted proof of the unity of God from bare reason, that unassisted reason failed to conduct the acutest of reasoners to the discovery of the doctrine ; and, but for Revelation, it appears to us, that our utter ignorance of the mode of the Divine Existence would for ever have prevented our attaining certainty on this inscrutable subject. The Unity of Jehovah i3, it seems

, to us, as purely a doctrine of Revelation, as the Distinction which is revealed as existing in the Divine Nature. We wish to speak with submission and modesty on this point, aware that some of the wisest and best of men have thought differently, deriving, as they have judged, a sufficient demonstration of the Divine Unity from the nature of a self-subsisting, necessarilyexisting Being. There can be, it has been said, but one Ali.' One absolutely perfect Being will necessarily comprehend all perfection, and leave nothing to the rest. One immense and omnipresent Being must necessarily exclude, or else contain, every other Omnipresent Being. And Mr. Drew argues that, if there be more than one universality of existence, these

Beings or Essences must mutually penetrate one another, so • that all always are, wherever one is.' Now, so entirely are we ignorant of the nature of Spirit, that it seems to us impossible to pronounce on what is compatible or incompatible with the Divine Nature. These positions, so far from being selfevident, convey to our minds a very indistinct meaning We know not how the omnipresence of God consists with the existence of finite spirits, nor how the Divine Essence penetrates other essences without their being confounded. borrow an analogical illustration from the 'mutual penetration of the three distinct substances of air, light, and heat; but, after all, between matter and spirit there can exist but a faint analogy. We can have no conceptions whatever relative to the mode of the Divine Existence; nor can we, it seems to us, ascertain the unity of God in any other way than by Revelation,

sense than that which Revelation reveals, nor proceed a step further in our reasonings, than the data contained in the sacred volume warrant by way of legitimate in

We may

nor in

any other

See in particular Howe's Living Temple. Part I. c. 4.

[ocr errors]

ference. He who alone knoweth the Father, has commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the Undivided Godhead whom we adore ; and yet, we believe, on the same certain and indisputable authority, that " there is but One God, the Father, of whom are all things, " and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things," " in “ whomn dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”

We can only give the heads of the remaining contents of these volumes. Part II. consists of Mixed Arguments, and • Arguments a posteriori.' The existence of an active and primary Cause is deduced from the nature of matter of motion

the animal phenomena--the intellectual and moral powers of man--and the general laws of creation ;-and it is inferred, that this First Cause must be spiritual, possessed of absolute liberty, omniscient, and immutable. A chapter follows, which has for its object to prove, that ' moral distinctions are not • arbitrary, introductory to a view of the moral perfections of God, and their harmony as displayed in human redemption. Part III. contains a Vindication of Divine Providence. It discusses the objection arising from the existence of Moral Evil. and adverts to other miscellaneous subjects connected with the general argument. Part IV. consists of Proofs from Revelation. An Appendix is subjoined, containing notes, on the words right and wrong; on the restitution of animals; on the perpetuity of future punishments ; on two passages of Scripture; and on two letters received from sceptical objectors, which are deserving of attention merely as shewing the absurdity of atheistic speculations, and the spirit of doginatism by which doubters and objectors, who, of all people, ought not to be dogmatical, are universally characterized. In reply to the assertion, that that which is infinite may be constituted by an accumu• lation of finites,' Mr. Drew acutely remarks, that it owes all its plausibility to confounding what is merely interminable, as number is, with infinity. He might have remarked, that the very opposite of this assertion has been made the ground of an infidel objection. There cannot, it has been said, be any such thing as infinite Time or Space, because an addition of finite parts cannot compose or exhaust an infinite. This, Dr. Clarke replies, is supposing infinites to be made up

of numbers of finites; that is, 'tis supposing finite quantities to be aliquot or constituent parts of infinite, when indeed they are not so, but do all equally, whether great or small, · whether many or few, bear the very same proportion to an infinite, as mathematical points do to a line, or lines VOL. XXI. N.S.

2 A

« AnteriorContinuar »