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become a thief-a gamester-a drunkard. Efforts are made to reclaim him. Even his master, who first thrust him, all unarmed, into the jaws of danger, pities him: but the cord is broken, which bound him to society. His character is gone, and he cannot be restored. See him reeling from the grog-shop to the brothel. O innocent amusements, O school of morals, can you restore this man to virtue and the bosom of his family?-This is the sad history of many a youth, who longed to leave his plow for the destinction the city affords. The eyes of many parents, I doubt not, will fall upon these lines, which have wept over their sons, whose history I have related.
A word to parents, and I have done. Have you a son, whom you intend to send to the city? and would it break your heart, to see him, at the close of a few years, the tenant of a grogshop, a brothel, or a prison? Bid him beware of the Theatre. When he leaves the paternal roof, warn him, entreat him, command him to beware of the Theatre. Ye brothers and sisters, would ye weep, that a stain should come upon your family? I charge you, bid him beware of the Theatre. He is going-0 maternal tenderness, call him back, and whisper in his ear, Son, if you value life, and health, and character, and our happiness, and your own soul, beware of the Theatre. D.
FOR THE HOPKINSIAN MAGAZINE.
ON DIVINE AGENCY.
Rev. and Dear Sir-I am not prepared to admit, that, were numerous passages of scripture plainly and obviously to teach a doctrine, this would be evidence of the truth of that doctrine, any more than were it thus taught but once; for I hold, that one scripture declaration is as good proof as a thousand. Hence, the circumstance, that there are many passages which appear to favour the idea that God is the cause of moral evil, is to me no special evidence of that doctrine. If one such passage is not proof, a thousand are =not; but if one is, a thousand are no more. And if one can be obviated, if it can be shewn that one, notwithstanding its apparent meaning, does not in reality teach the doctrine, why cannot the same be shewn of the rest? And what necessity is there for shewing this of each one separately? This, I think, I have shewn of one passage; that which relates to the lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets; and it is for my opponent to take the labouring oar into his own hands in this case, and attempt to shew that I have not. Why is it inadmissible, that the Lord barely permitted this lying spirit to enter Ahab's prophets? How could it be shewn to have been so, more plainly than it is? Did not the Lord ask who
would go up? And does it not appear from the account, that this spirit came forth of his own accord, and offered to go; whereupon the Lord said, go. How can anything be shewn to be a bare permission, if this is not one? Yet this permission of the Lord to the spirit, to be a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's prophets, is called the Lord's putting him there. If then it is proper to call permission to do this thing, the causing of it to be done, why may it not likewise be proper to say, that God moves, turns, fashions, hardens, and even creates, if he only permits these things to be done?
If it is by the grace of God that saints are what they are, and without this grace they would be wholly evil, how are they deserv ing? They do not keep themselves from evil, but God keeps them. To God then belongs the thanks; and the commendation and reward bestowed on saints, should evidently be understood as thus bestowed, not on the ground of desert, strictly speaking, but ia consequence of their connexion, with that grace which produces good in them, towards which good the infinitely good Being thus manifests his approbation, for the purpose of evincing his love of goodness. This view of the subject enables us to escape the unscriptural doctrine, that heaven, that the eternal happiness of the blessed, is conferred on them for their goodness, instead of being a free gift; that it is of debt, and not of grace. It prevents the saint from singing worthy am I myself, who am an object of praise and commendation on account of my good volitions, and for which a Divine and eternal reward is bestowed upon me! And it likewise prevents the exclusion of Christ as a medium by which rewards can be alone bestowed.
With regard to the causing of one's own choice, choosing to cause it, choosing to choose, &c. &c. there is one brief and simple answer for the whole: Choosing is making choice. Making a thing is causing that thing to be. To do, is doing; to do an act, is causing an action. This is according to the meaning of language. Consequently, to choose, is making or causing a choice. Thus we see that a man's choosing is causing his choice. We therefore need go no further to find the cause of volition. To admit that a man chooses, is admitting that he causes his choice, and consequently, to deny that he causes his own choice, is to deny that he chooses.
Power to act must be prior to action. God had power to create before he created. So of mental and moral faculties. These must as necessarily be prior to the exercises by them produced, as physical power must be prior to physical action. On this ground, the power of volition must have existed in the Deity previous to volition itself; nor does this derogate from his perfections more than the idea, that time was when he had not begun to create. It appears then to a demonstration, that the volitions of God are not without beginning, and consequently, that it is not to the purpose to put
them on the same ground as his existence; and that it is in point to refer those persons to the case of his volitions, who ask how men eause their own choice. They cause it by the exercise of the pow ers which God has given them for the purpose, which are of the same constitution of those by which he chooses himself. But to suppose that God is not even the cause of his own volitions, is to us not only self-contradictory, by saying that he wills and does not cause his will; but it is shocking. It is generally admitted, that no being can act contrary to his will. Now if God is not the cause of his own will, that will is independent of himself, and he is but the bare executor of whatever that happens to be; and the universe is as much the sport of chance, as on the Atheistic scheme! An Almighty Executor is admitted to be sure; but not a God according to the proper meaning of the term; for this plan leaves it not in his power to have anything different from what chance directs; and Chance is therefore the real Ruler of the universe after all!
It has been shewn by reasons to us strong and cogent, that choice necessarily has a beginning, even in God himself. But, if our opponents will have it that choice can exist in God uncaused, and merely because there is a ground or reason for its existence, why, let human volition stand on the same ground. Necessity, or the nature of things, or whatever thay please to consider the ground of the Creator's choice, can as well be the ground of man's choice. An uncaused choice can as well exist in one being as in another. But how there can be either merit or blame in such a choice, we cannot see. It consists in the good or the evil of the choice, say our opponents. But we think it improper to denominate anything morally good or evil that is not dependent on its author. Were a man to kill another unwittingly, his act would not be considered a wicked one, and he would not be to blame, because he could not help it. And were he to intend to kill, we contend, that, if God, or necessity, or anything but the man himself were to cause his intention, he could not help it, and that his intention is not therefore morally evil, and he is not to blame. Let those who contend otherwise, make it appear
Look at the scheme of our opponents which way you please, and you find difficulties. Chance rules the universe, and there is neither virtue nor vice, merit nor blame, in existence. The volitions of man, say they, are not caused by himself. They will probably admit, that if caused by an irresistible cause, without himself, he would not be to blame; that if dire necessity or fate compelled him against all his powers to have a will now called evil, that he would not then be to blame, and that in that case it would not be proper to call his will morally evil. But what is the difference between this and their own doctrine? They say that God causes man's volitions, although man has the natural power to have different ones;
to have good ones as well as evil ones. But we ask if these natural powers, as they term them, can produce volition? Can man, ía possession of all his faculties, produce volition different from that which they say God causes him to have? If they say he can, they admit the self-determining power for which we contend; and admit further, that man can do what God has determined shall not be done, and what he causes to be otherwise! He could if he would, say they. That is, he could thwart the Divine determination if he would! (and that he would if he could, all agree.) He could if he would, indeed! He could have a different will if he had it to have it with! He could have it, if he could obtain it against the Divine will, with natural powers which could not in their nature produce it, even without the Divine will and influence to counteract them He has all the natural powers to have good volitions, which are no powers at all the purpose, and which, were they so, have Omnipotence arrayed against them. He can as well have good volitions as evil ones, when he can have neither of himself, and has just such ones as God causes him to have. This, I believe, is the amount of the statement, that a man could have a good will if he would have. Unwilling, however, to fix the blame on God, and unable to shew that it belongs to man, our opponents, to clear the Divine character, say that he causes men to have evil volitions, because his will prompts him to cause it, which will is uncaused and self-existent, and founded on necessity, as was his own existence itself. On our ground, this would exonerate God from blame in causing evil volition in man; and why? on the ground of necessity. But, under such circumstances, it is necessary and unavoidable, that man should have such volitions, and why then is not he blameless for the same reason? Because he intends evil, say our opponents. But let them shew how it is proper to denominate that moral evil, which necessity causes; and let them shew how there is any moral good' in the volitions of God himself, if they are necessary, and independant of himself. Let them shew how necessity can make one being morally good, and another morally evil. Let them shew how on this ground even God himself can make one hair white or black,that necessity makes as it is.
One word here as to existence and volition. No one pretends to commend or censure another for his being in existence; but he is accounted praiseworthy or censurable for his will, as it may be good or evil. Again, self-existence and self-determination are quite two things. Self-existence involves no action. No being, God himself not excepted, does anything in relation to self-existence. But can this be said of self-determination? Action is requisite in the latter case, but not in the former; and even men have a principle of action, but not of self-existence. The cases are not therefore, parallel, and men may have a self-determining power over their will; they
may cause their will to be one way or another after they are in existence, although they do not cause their existence itself. The cases, therefore, are not parallel.
The question, how is it possible for a man to cause his own choice, without choosing or willing to have it? is the same as asking, how is it possible for a man to choose without choosing? That is, how can a man choose and not choose both? Answer: It is impossible.
Again. Is a man who is supposed to cause his own evil exercises of will, to blame for the exercises themselves, or only for causing them by the exercise of the same kind of faculty by which the Creator causes his? Reply: Let the blame in this case stand in the same relation to the faculties and the exercises, as the blame in the case of the murderer and the murder, stands in relation to them.
Excuse my great length. I have bestowed the pains on this communication which I have, because I consider the subject a very important one, and because I think the cause of truth required it. I have, I believe, during the course of the article, answered, in my way, all the questions asked of me, and noticed all the points which the case required. INQUIRER.
THE PROPER WAY TO ANSWER UNIVERSALISTS.
It has been the favoured lot of this paper to receive the countenance of the different denominations opposed to Universalism. Individuals however, there are, who deem it too ironical and humorTo such we offer the following considerations: Are not we directed to answer a fool according to his folly, as well as not to answer him so? Did not Elijah, mocking the prophets of Baal, tell them to cry aloud, because their god might be asleep, or be on a journey, or be pursuing? Did not Job tell his three friends that they no doubt were the people, and that wisdom would die with them? Did not the Saviour tell some of his hearers that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel? Why then may not we answer Universalism according to its folly-its sophistry-its absurdity -itself? Would you answer cavillers, sophists, blackguards and brawlers (there are some exceptions) as you would candid gentlemen? If so, you would not answer a fool according to his folly in any sense, and would widely miss the mark. We can assure you (for we have had some experience on the subject) that many Universalist writers would laugh in their sleeve to see one treating their gross sophisms with gravity and respect. Answer ridiculous arguments according to their ridiculous character, say we; and treat impudence and scurrility with becoming severity. Let those upon whom common reasoning is thrown away, who abuse your forbearance by solemn trifling, and who undoubtedly, know better than they say, feel the lash of satire and irony. Give them the reins; let them have their argument with its consequence. O yes-all shall be saved