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either from its own inherent perfection, or from the perfection of that Eternal Being, of whom it is an attribute; but from the nature of that object, action, or event, which, while lodged in futurity, cannot have any formal existence.
We have already proved, that the creation of beings whose actions may be contingent, as it involves no contradiction, is perfectly possible to infinite power. Contingent actions we have defined to be such as are poised upon the possibility of being or not being; and it has been argued, that many human actions furnish all the evidence of their being contingent, that might be expected from such as we may suppose should be expressly declared to be so. Now if any actions or events can be supposed to be uncertain in their natures, they must be those which are contingent. But, if the uncertainty of the action, will prevent the certainty of the divine knowledge, we must make the certainty of infinite discernment dependent upon the certainty of that action or event, which is the object of it. This is a conclusion which appears to be undeniable. For, if God can have no certainty of knowledge, unless the event or action which is its object be absolutely certain, the certainty of the event or action becomes necessary to the certainty of infinite knowledge; and, consequently, this knowledge, or discernment, is at once dependent for its certainty upon that action or event from which this certainty is derived. But to suppose an attribute of Jehovah to exist, without inherently including the utmost perfection of which its nature is susceptible, is an absurdity which can hardly be exceeded by any thing, but the monstrous idea, that its perfection is to be derived from an extrinsic cause, which can have no necessary exist
Nor are these the only absurdities which will follow from the supposition, that certainty in the divine knowledge necessarily implies certainty in the action or event which is its object. It is not in the nature of simple knowledge to give existence to an action, or an event, because simple knowledge can never become the efficient cause of action. And on exactly the same principle, it is not in the nature of certainty in knowledge, to give existence to certainty in an action or an event,
which may be the object of certain knowledge.
If it be true, that all knowledge must be finite, which is circumscribed by any thing that does not include an absolute impossibility, then it is true, that every species of knowledge which does not include certainty in its own nature, must necessarily fall short of infinite perfection; and in the same proportion that it is defective, it ceases to be an attribute of God. This is a conclusion, which can only be repelled by proving, that, for God to have a certainty of knowledge of an event or action, which is uncertain in its nature, involves a contradiction. But where shall we find those contradictory ideas which the proposition is supposed to include? If God has a certain knowledge of things as they actually are, and some things are uncertain in their own nature, it follows, that God must have a certain knowledge of uncertain actions and events; but this implies neither contradiction nor absurdity.
Should it be asserted, that infinite knowledge can discern no action or event, unless that action or event be certain, we must then identify the certainty of the event with the certainty of knowledge; and this will lead us to inquire from what primary cause the certainty of this action or event is derived. This inquiry will necessarily carry us up to God; since no one, it is presumed, will pretend to assert, that the absolute certainty of actions or events can be derived from any other primary source. We may, indeed, amuse ourselves in our retrospective ascent, with volition, disposition, and motive; or we may perplex our inquiries with the mysterious influence of passive power, or negative energy; and endeavour to infer a positive effect from causes which have only a negative existence; but, if an action or an event be rendered absolutely certain, no power could have primarily rendered it so, except that of God. But to suppose, that the Eternal God has so constituted actions and events, as to render them certain, in order that he might know them, is to conclude that he would have been ignorant of their possible and actual issues, if he had not established a chain of subordinate causes, which should finally terminate in the certainty that was required. If the certainty of an action or event, be necessary to the cer
tainty of infinite discernment, it follows, that the certainty of the event or action must be presupposed, as the ground on which the certainty of the divine knowledge rests. Under these circumstances we would ask,-When the power of the Almighty primarily rendered all events and actions certain, through the establishment of constitution, motive, disposition, and volition, did his knowledge coexist with it, and perceive with certainty the issues of his power, or not? If it did thus coexist and perceive these issues, we have certainty associated with infinite knowledge, respecting an event, before that event was rendered certain; but if it did not thus perceive these issues, power must have operated without knowledge, and have caused actions and events to become certain in order that they might be rendercd objects of infinite discernment! If we admit the former, the position must be granted for which we contend; namely, that the certainty of an cvent is not absolutely necessary to give certainty to infinite knowledge; and, if we admit the latter, we must conclude, that God, without having any certain knowledge of future actions and events, provided for their existence and certainty, and that when this was done, they became the objects of infinite discernment.
the Almighty knows all things, actions,
Review.-" Scripture and Calvinism at variance, clearly evinced by a philological consideration of some texts which are perverted from their original meaning by the disciples of Calvin." By the Rev. Edward Smyth. Manchester. pp. 66. 12mo.
THE passages of scripture, on which the Rev. Author of this pamphlet professes to animadvert, are the following. "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 1 Cor. iv. 7." "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy
Psal. cx. 3." "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe. 1 Tim. iv. 10." "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. 2 Tim. ii. 19.”
If the certainty of the divine know-power. ledge, respecting any future action or event, depend upon the certainty of that future action or event, (and this we think must be granted, by all who make the certainty of actions and events necessary to the certainty of the divine knowledge,) it is evident that the divine knowledge of actions and events, could not be coexistent with those operations of power which rendered them absolutely certain. And, consequently, as power in this case must have operated without knowledge, in the giving of certainty to these events and actions, all the train of subordinate causes, stretching onward to their most remote issues, must have been established in progressive uncertainty, even though they were effected by omnipotence. These are some of the consequences which appear inevitably to follow, from the supposition, that the certainty of future actions and events, is necessary to the certainty of God's knowledge of them.
But admitting, on the contrary, that
The primary design of this pamphlet appears to be, what the title page expresses; a philological consideration of the above passages. In its final result it leads to conclusions which are not friendly to Calvinism. The Author seems well acquainted with the subject that he has taken in hand. To the routine of argumentation, he is no stranger; and he well knows how to enforce with becoming energy, the evidence which he has adduced. But unhappily, like most other works written on these long-controverted doctrines, this pamphlet will be viewed in different lights. Those who are friendly
to its sentiments will discover manying more nearly to plausible absurdity, things to commend; and those who are hostile will find many things to condemn.
Taking up the subject on a popular ground, the pamphlet is not badly written. The Author, however, though a strenuous advocate for the Arminian cause, does not advert to the modern improvements which have been made in that system which he opposes. On the great controverted question, respecting the determining cause of the will, nothing is said. One passage indeed, which seems to have a bearing on this question, is introduced; namely, "How often would I have gathered, &c. but ye would not." Hence it is inferred, that the will of Christ was not exerted to subdue the wills of his opposers, and that the event proved quite contrary to that which he willed.
To the Author's expositions, his opponents will, no doubt, raise many objections. But the difficulties he has started, upon a supposition that the Calvinistic interpretation of these scriptures is correct, are far from being unworthy of regard. To confirm his own opinion, he adverts to numerous passages which assert general redemption. These he has arranged in a commanding order. He has then finally closed his remarks, with such pious sentiments, as wage an irreconcileable war with antinomianism. The observations are in general sensible and judicious; and the whole pamphlet appears to have been written in an excellent spirit.
Into those abstract and speculative arguments, from which the wisest and best of men have not been able finally to draw any satisfactory conclusions, the Author has not entered. His reasonings are founded on scriptures, and on his interpretation of them. The practical tendency, however, of what he has advanced, will amply compensate for any deficiencies in profundity which may appear. In this, both those whom he opposes, and those whom he defends, may alike find some salutary and profitable employment. Under these considerations, we feel no hesitation in recommending it to public notice.
DOUBTFUL INTERPRETATION OF SIGNS.
AMONG the wild speculations in which theorists have occasionally indulged, there is scarcely one approachNo. 2.--VOL. 1.
than that which would persuade us to discard artificial language, and to substitute, in its stead, those Signs which arise from the dictates of nature. "To the most superficial observer," it has been argued, "many of these signs are too distinctly marked to be misunderstood. They are the sure indications of pain, of pleasure, of grief, and of joy, and, in short, of almost every passion by which the individuals of the human race are affected." Hence it has been inferred, that if a minute attention were paid to events and circumstances, as they rise into being, and pass before us, the expressions of nature might be caught on most occasions; and in process of time a desirable species of universal language would be found to result from repeated observations. But the importance of theory is best appreciated, by seeing it reduced to practice, as it appears before us in the following tale:
King James VI. on his removal to London, was waited on by the Spanish Ambassador, who was a man of some erudition; but who had strangely incorporated with his learning, a whimsical notion, that every country ought to have a school, in which a certain order of men should be taught to interpret signs; and that the most expert in this department ought to be dignified with the title of Professor of Signs. If this plan were adopted, he contended, that most of the difficulties arising from the ambiguity of language, and the imperfect acquaintance which people of one nation had with the tongue of another, would be done away. Signs, he argued, arose from the dictates of nature, and, as they were the same in every country, there could be no danger of their being misunderstood.
Full of this project, the Ambassador was lamenting one day before the King, that the nations of Europe were wholly destitute of this grand desideratum; and he strongly recommended the establishment of a college founded upon the simple principles he had suggested. James, either to humour this Quixotic foible, or to gratify his own ambition at the expense of truth, observed in reply, "Why, Sir, I have a Professor of Signs in one of the northernmost colleges in my dominions; but the distance is perhaps six hundred miles, so that it will
be impracticable for you to have an interview with him." Pleased with this unexpected information, the Ambassador exclaimed: "If it had been six hundred leagues, I would go to see him; and I am determined to set out in the course of three or four days."
The King, who now perceived that he had committed himself, endeavoured to divert him from his purpose; but finding this impossible, he immediately caused letters to be written to the college, stating the case as it really stood, and desiring the Professors to get rid of the Ambassador in the best manner they were able, without exposing their Sovereign. Disconcerted at this strange and unexpected message, the Professors scarcely knew how to proceed. They, however, at length thought to put off their august visitant, by saying that the Professor of Signs was not at home, and that his return would be very uncertain. Having thus fabricated the story, they made preparations to receive the illustrious stranger; who, keeping his word, in due time reached their abode.
On his arrival, being introduced with becoming solemnity, he began to inquire, who among them had the honour of being Professor of Signs? He was told, in reply, that neither of them had that exalted honour; but that the learned gentleman, after whom he inquired, was gone into the Highlands; that they conceived his stay would be considerable; but that no one among them could even conjecture the period of his return. "I will wait his coming," replied the Ambassador, "if it be twelve months."
Finding him thus determined, and fearing, from the journey he had already undertaken, that he might be as good as his word, the learned Professors had recourse to another stratagem. To this they found themselves driven, by the apprehension that they must entertain him so long as he chose to tarry; and in case he should unfortunately weary out their patience, the whole affair must terminate in a discovery of the fraud.
They knew a butcher, who had been in the habit of supplying the colleges occasionally with meat. This man, they thought, with a little instruction, might serve their purpose. He was, however, blind on one eye; but he had much drollery and impudence about him, and very well knew how to con
duct any farce to which his abilities were competent. On sending for Geordy, for that was the butcher's name, they communicated to him the tale; and instructing him in the part he was to act, he readily undertook to become Professor of Signs; especially as he was not to speak one word in the Ambassador's presence, on any pretence whatever.
Having made these arrangements, it was formally announced to the Ambassador, that the Professor would be in town in the course of a few days, when he might expect a silent interview. Pleased with this information, the learned foreigner thought that he would put his abilities at once to the test, by introducing into his dumb language, some subject that should be at once difficult, interesting, and important.
When the day of interview arrived, Geordy was cleaned up, decorated with a learned wig, and covered over with a singular gown, in every respect becoming his station. He was then seated in a chair of state, in one of their large rooms, while the Ambassador, and the trembling Professors, waited in an adjoining apartment. was at length announced, that the learned Professor of Signs was ready to receive His Excellency, who, on entering the room, was struck with astonishment at his venerable and dignified appearance. As none of the Professors would presume to enter, to witness the interview, under a pretence of delicacy, (but, in reality, for fear that their presence might have some effect upon the risible muscles of Geordy's countenance,) they waited, with inconceivable anxiety, the result of this strange adventure, upon which depended their own credit, that of the King, and in some degree the honour of the nation.
As this was an interview of signs, the Ambassador began with Geordy, by holding up one of his fingers; Geordy replied, by holding up two. The Ambassador then held up three; Geordy answered by clenching his fist, and looking sternly. The Ambassador then took an orange from his pocket, and held it up; Geordy returned the compliment, by taking from his pocket a piece of a barley cake, which he exhibited in a similar manner. The Ambassador, satisfied with the vast attainments of the learned
Professor, then bowed before him with | profound reverence, and retired.
On rejoining the agitated Professors, they fearfully began to inquire what His Excellency thought of their learned brother. "He is a perfect miracle," replied the Ambassador; "his worth is not to be purchased by the wealth of half the Indies." "May we presume to descend to particulars?" returned the Professors, who now began to think themselves somewhat out of danger. "Gentlemen," said the Ambassador, "when I first entered into his presence, I held up one finger, to denote that there is one God. He then held up two, signifying that the Father should not be divided from the Son. I then held up three; intimating that I believed in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He then clenched his fist, and, looking sternly at me, signified that these Three are One; and that he would defy me, either to separate them, or to make additions. I then took out an orange from my pocket, and held it up; to shew the goodness of God, and to signify that he gives to his creatures not only the necessaries, but even the luxuries, of life. Then, to my utter astonishment, this wonderful man took from his pocket a piece of bread; thus assuring me, that this was the staff of life, and was to be preferred to all the luxuries in the world. Being thus satisfied with his proficiency and great attainments in this science, I silently withdrew, to reflect upon what I had witnessed."
Diverted with the success of their stratagem, the Professors continued to entertain their visitor until he thought prudent to withdraw. No sooner had he retired, than the opportunity was seized, to learn from Geordy, in what manner he had proceeded to give the Ambassador such wonderful satisfaction; they being at a loss to conceive how he could have caught his ideas with so much promptitude, and have replied to them with proportionable readiness. But, that one story might not borrow any features from the other, they concealed from Geordy all they had learned from the Ambassador; and desiring him to begin with his relation, he proceeded in the following
"When the rascal came into the room, after gazing at me a little, what do you think, gentlemen, that he did? He held up one finger, as much as to
say, you have only one eye. I then held up two, to let him know that my one eye was as good as both of his. He then held up three, as much as to say, we have only three eyes between us. This was so provoking, that I bent my fist at the scoundrel; and, had it not been for your sakes, I should certainly have risen from the chair, pulled off my wig and gown, and taught him how to insult a man, because he has had the misfortune to lose an eye. The impudence of the fellow, however, did not stop here; for he then pulled out an orange from his pocket, and held it up; as much as to say, Your poor beggarly country cannot produce this. I then pulled out a piece of good cake, and held it up, giving him to understand, that I did not care a farthing for his trash. Neither do I; and I only regret that I did not thrash the scoundrel's hide, that he might remember how he insulted me and abused my country."-We may learn from hence, that if there are not two ways of telling a story, there are two ways of understanding signs, and also of interpreting them.
IT has sometimes been said, that men and women are frequently coupled together in wedlock, like rabbits when they are sold; namely, that a fat and a lean one go together, by which means both pass on tolerably well through the market of human life.
Some years since, a learned Doctor, who was considered as a pillar in Westminster school, was united to a lady, who had been brought up in a different warren, on which the sun of science had but sparingly darted its beams. A friend dining with them one day, was asked by the lady, if he would take some Parmacity cheese. Parmacity!" exclaimed the Doctor; you mean Parmasan, my dear." His dear, however, was not disposed to take the hint, and a violent contest ensued. After matters had reached an unpleasant height, it was mutually agreed that the affair should be submitted to the judgment of the visitor, who found himself in a situation, for which his dinner made but a sorry recompense. The question itself included very little difficulty; but the decision involved consequences, which were not likely to be pleasin