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fact. “ The doctrine,” we are inform- | lead us to inquire, how far moral moed, of a self-moving power of the tives can be said to operate like physiwill, renders a virtuous disposition and cally efficient causes ? and the discuscharacter useless; for, if the will moves sion of this question would be irrelevant itself, utterly uninfluenced by any pre- to the nature of a solitary review. vious circumstances, of what use was it But what fate soever awaits the disas to any future volitions, that the man cussion of these abstruse questions, the was virtuous? for there would be no uniform assertion of Dr. Clarke, that more ground to expect kind volitions some actions are contingent, remains from the beloved John, than from Do- unimpeached. Should we again recur mitian or Caligula; yet, who does not to the state of Adam, in what light can feel that this doctrine must be false ?”. we view his condition, but that which (Evan. Mag. July, 1818.)
will suggest the idea of contingency? Plausible and imposing as this pas- Surveying our great progenitor in all the sage may appear, we shall perhaps find, circumstances of his situation, we must on examination, that it is not altogether finally bring our inquiries to this point, formed of sterling materials. It must be it was either possible or impossible for obvious to every reader, that, according Adam to have retained his state of to the above quotation, the determina- primeval rectitude. If it were possible, tion of the will must be in no small we then behold his future sinful act degree regulated by the disposition; for poised on the possibility of being, or on this ground it is asserted, that “ the not being; and, consequently, there doctrine of a self-moving power of are such things as contingencies within the will renders a virtuous disposition the reach of possibility. But if, on the and character useless." We will now contrary, it was impossible that Adam assume it as a fact, that the previous could have retained his rectitude, then state of the disposition is necessary to all the consequences to which Dr. Clarke the determiration of the will,—that the has called our attention, must inevitably will coincides with the disposition, and follow; and these form only a diminuthat they always act in unison. Let tive portion of the accumulated mass, us, now, apply this plausible theory to which must, in almost every departthe case of Adam, while in a state of ment, accompany moral actions, and primeval rectitude. Immediately prior involve our inquiries in consequences to his fall, his disposition must have which we shall shudder to behold. But been either morally good, or morally we must now turn to an examination of bad. If it were good, we must then the second general proposition, and to allow, that an evil volition originated the various branches connected with it. in a good disposition; and if it were This proposition refers immediately to bad, we must admit, that he possessed what is usually denominated Foreknowa sinful disposition before he fell. This ledge; which, as a divine attribute, latter conclusion cannot be supported, Dr. Clarke has been charged with because it compels us to allow, that Adam denying. Our inquiries must also exwas sinful and not sinful at the same tend to the certainty and contingency of time; which involves a plain contradic- events and actions, which we must surtion. And to admit the former, namely, vey in their relative connexion with the that an evil volition could originate in a Prescience of God. good disposition, is an absurdity not less On the assertion of Dr. Clarke, that the palpable than the alternative. But, terms, foreknowledge and afterknowsince neither the former nor the latter ledge cannot, with strict propriety, be can be granted, the charm is dissolved applied to the Almighty, when which held the parts of the plausible views of his infinite discernment are proposition together, and the visionary exclusively confined to him, we have fabric vanishes into empty air.
already made several observations; and We are not, however, by any means if what has been advanced can be predisposed to deny all connexion between sumed to have any weight, we are sancthe disposition, and the volition which fol- tioned in concluding, that the assertion lows. The absurdities which would im- of Dr. Clarke is founded on strict promediately succeed, are too obvious to priety so that with the eternal God permit us to imagine such a disunion. nothing but simple, infinite knowledge The term, disposition, may be viewed can be said to exist. in various lights; but an investigation It has been asserted by Dr. Clarke,– of these points would almost inevitably it has been admitted by the critic in the
Evangelical Magazine,- it has been to comprehend all finite beings in their repeated by Verax, and granted by our wide embrace, the eternal God extends selves, that “God must, on all occa- his necessary existence over all, and sions, know things as they actually are.” covers every mode of duration with the This is a conclusion in which we all immensity of his presence. And as the concur, how much soever we may vary actual existence of every finite being, in our opinions respecting the efficient comprehends the whole of that indivisicauses of action, and the influence of ble instant which is necessary to its motive in the production of moral existence, so the Eternal God compreeffects. But wl the critic in the hends, with his actual being, the incomEvangelical Magazine thus admits, that prehensible vastness of infinite duration. God always views things as they are, We are taught by an authority which and never as they are not,” he assumes cannot err, that with the Almighty one this admission as a reason, why he“ must day is as a thousand years, and a thoureject a large portion of what Dr. sand years as one day. This propoClarke has said in another place." But sition is perfectly intelligible, upon a this shall appear in his own words. supposition that our local divisions of "For when he (Dr. Clarke) asserts, time are not applicable to God. But that, strictly speaking, God has neither should this be denied, we may repeat foreknowledge nor afterknowledge, but what has already been nearly asserted, views all things, past, present, and to that, “ we may arrange words into any come, as in one eternal Now, we ask, is propositions we please, but by the conthis viewing things as they are? The stitution of the human mind we are past and the future are not now. Nor incapable of attaching ideas to these can Dr. Clarke, or any other person, propositions ; and if there is any deterconceive of an eternal moment. We minate meaning in words, we can no may arrange words into any propo- more conceive of a thousand years being sitions we please; but by the constitu- the same as one day, than we can of a tion of the human mind, we are incapa- mathematical point extended over infible of attaching ideas to many of these nite space.” propositions: and if there is any deter- But Dr. Clarke has involved himself, minate meaning in words, we can no it seems, in contradictions, by asserting more conceive of a moment eternal in in the first place, that God sees things duration than we can of a mathematical exactly as they are, and never as they point extended over infinite space.”— are not; and in the second place, by (p. 288.)
contending, that the divine Being“ has, From the questionable form in which strictly speaking, neither fore nor after these expressions are placed before us, knowledge, but that he views all things it plainly appears, that the ideas which past, present, and to come, as in one their author entertains of the divine eternal now.” On this, the critic asks, existence, are very different from our • Is this viewing things as they are ?
The pure simplicity of nature, The past and the future are not which associates itself with necessary
Nor can Dr. Clarke, or any existence, and with that Being of whom • other person, conceive of an eternal alone necessary existence can be predi- moment.' cated, places him far above all those In what manner the contradictoriness fleeting periods of successive duration, of Dr. Clarke's propositions is to be which we denominate past and future; made apparent, we acknowledge ourbut in such an exalted manner, as not selves at a loss to conceive. He does wholly to exclude, but to comprehend not say, that what is past or future to them both. In the vastness of his us, exists in one eternal now to us, but being, his simple existence embraces almost exactly the reverse. Millions every possible mode of duration; for of actions and events, he contends, even simple duration, which is thus which are either past or future to us, are modified, to accommodate itself to our actually present with God; and this condition of limited existence, is con- consistency of expression arises from stituted solely by the universality of his what we may denominate his stationary existence. And if simple duration can- existence, to which even the revolutions not exist where God is not, so neither of centuries must for ever remain incan any of those modes which simple applicable. An action or event may, duration may assume. Hence, although therefore, be either past or future to us ; past, present, and future, may be said and yet, in the view of an eternal Being,
be perceived, in reference to himself, as filled up with such occasional remarks, one eternal Now.
as the Lectures, which had been deliWe cannot, however, consider the vered, very naturally suggested. phrase, ONE ETERNAL Now, although After commencing our perusal of this it has been adopted for ages, and sanc- pamphlet, we must confess, that our tioned by the highest authorities, in any expectations were far from being sanother light than that of an accommodat- guine ; and our reflections on the first ing expression, which the poverty of letter, were by no means calculated to language compels us to use. The word remove this unfavourable impression. NOW, can hardly be divested of its refer- To us the reasonings appeared rather ence to time; and, although the words vague and dubious. Even the premises past and future, bring with them more themselves we could only view as prounquestionable evidence of this refer- blematical; and the conclusion, though ence, yet the same modes of reasoning legitimately deduced, we beheld as which have been introduced with regard unimportant, because it could not boast to them, can, with some trifling varia- of an exclusive application. tions be advanced, to demonstrate this In prosecuting our task, the clouds, term to be equivocal, when used to ex- however, which had gathered round us press the Divine existence. No word in the commencement of our journey, that implies time in any of its various began to dissipate; and as we gradually modes, can, with any degree of pro- ascended an eminence to behold the priety, except in an accommodating author's views, the controversial horizon sense, be adopted to convey the idea assumed a new aspect.
Proceeding that is intended to be expressed. And, thus, we had made distinct observations perhaps, the utmost height to which our on every letter, intending to introduce most elevated thoughts can soar, on a comparative estimate of their respecsuch an occasion, must finally termi- tive importance. But, on reviewing nate in this plain language, The Eter- the whole, the disproportion which NAL GOD EXISTS IN A TRANSCENDENT would have appeared between the exMANNER, WHICH NO EARTHLY ANALO- tent of the pamphlet, and our analysis GIES CAN ILLUSTRATE.
of its contents, compelled us to aban[To be continued in our next.]
don our original design, and to pursue this which we have now adopted.
In the examination of these letters, Unitarianism weighed and found want
we have been forcibly struck with that ing; in a Series of Letters addressed connected view which the author has to the Rev. George Harris, and occa- taken of Prophecy, Providence, and sioned by his Evening Lectures in Fact; considered as distinct, but inseRenshaw-street Chapel, Liverpool. By parable parts' of one general system of Robert Philip. London, pp. 65.
To each of these It appears from a short preface, with branches he directs the attention of his which this pamphlet is introduced to readers; and, after placing them fully our notice, that, although the Evening in view under various aspects, he endeaLectures of Mr. Harris may be as- vours to infer, that neither Prophecy, signed as the immediate cause of this Providence, nor Public Opinion, is fapublication, they did not suggest to Mr. vourable to Unitarianism: and, it must Philip the first idea, of turning his at- be confessed, that in most instances he tention to the Socinian controversy. has been successful. Throughout the Prior to this time, he had been preparing whole,we find many sensible observations for the press a work of some consider- and appropriate arguments: an amiable able extent, in which the essential parts spirit seems to breathe in almost every of these letters were embodied. But the page; and several paragraphs are enrichobservations made by Mr. Harris, and ed with a pleasing originality of thought, the arguments which he advanced, coin- The reasonings, however, are rather ciding in many respects with those popular than profound; but their force which Mr. Philip had previously ex- | is always recommended by their perspiamined, he was already furnished with cuity; and to every reader, who rather the prominent parts of a reply, appa- wishes to have his judgment informed, rently written by a kind of accidental than his understanding bewildered with anticipation. These letters, which are paradoxes, this pamphlet presents no seven in number, were then broken contemptible fund to satisfy moderate from their primitive connexion, and expectation.
Viewing Unitarianism merely as a occasionally shines depends upon those rational system, or a speculative theory, adventitious circumstances, which ingeit will be readily admitted, that it has nuity knows how to impart. How far an imposing form, and an alluring the Author has been successful in this, appearance; but when, with this system the reader may form some opinion from in our hands, we turn to the doctrines the following specimen. of Revelation, we behold incongruities Suppose then, for a moment, that which dissolve the charm. On this God, in a visible and indisputable manpoint Mr. Philip has argued strongly in ner, should abolish the Bible entirely, his sixth letter; and from his reasonings and give to the world, in its stead, a he has fairly inferred, that the moral written copy of the Unitarian system, condition of man, considered as a sin- having all the authority and sacredness ner, requires new principles of action, which the Bible has had. Suppose all which natural religion is unable to sup- this done in the eyes of all nations; and ply, and which Unitarianism professedly the creed of every nation Unitarian ; disowns. These new principles, the and this state of things five hundred sacred writings declare to be necessary; years old ; and the present Bible utterly and it is among the peculiar beauties of forgotten; and the existing commenRevelation, that it defines their nature, taries and orthodox writings lost; and and points us to their primitive source. nothing extant but what you approve of
That the doctrines of the Gospel seem You can have no serious objecto favour these new principles of moral tions to these suppositions, because the action, the assertors of Unitarianism chief part of them are hopes you cheappear to be well aware; and, from the rish, and wish to see realized. And it specimens which their improved version will reconcile you to the imaginary loss of the Scriptures affords, we are war- of the old Bible, when I remind you, ranted in concluding, that a Bible form- that any unwillingness on this head, ed upon Unitarian principles, would not would betray a lurking suspicion, that be exactly like that which we have your system is not scriptural at present. received from God. It is no good omen “ Now, Sir, suppose that after five in favour of any system, to find com- hundred years, when your system would plaints almost uniformly made against be dominant, and endeared by as many nearly all those passages which seem to pious and learned works as Trinitarianfrown upon it.
ism now boasts, some minister of talents Of the rational mode of proceed- and influence should address such a ciring which so conspicuously associates cular as the following to the Unitarian itself with this accommodating system, churches. the Author charges Mr. Harris in his “ 'Dearly beloved, fourth letter; and the term Sacrifice is 6«Grace be with you, mercy and adduced, as furnishing an evidence of peace from God the Father, and from the fact. This, instead of retaining, in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the the lexicons of Unitarianism, its primi- Father, in truth and love! All men tive meaning, is taught to disown what should honour the Son, even as they ever its modern application does not honour the Father: and let all the imply; and hence it has no more con- angels of God worship him; for he is nexion with expiation, than the patriot- before all things, and by him all things isin or heroic suffering of Brutus, consist. By him were all things creHampden, or Sydney.
ated that are in heaven, and that are on Of the leading articles which com- earth, visible and invisible, whether pose the Unitarian creed, the Author has they be thrones, or dominions, or prinplaced before his readers an epitome, cipalities, or powers: all things were which seems neither to be distorted by made by him and for him. His goings misrepresentation, nor rendered defec- forth were of old, even from everlasting. tive through omission. The passages of When his Father addressed him, he scripture with which this creed is con- says, “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever trasted, are judiciously selected; and and ever! Thou, Jehovah, in the their importance derives an additional beginning didst lay the foundation of interest, from their appearing on the earth, and the heavens are the ground which we have not been always work of thy hands.' Therefore, it accustomed to tread. Truth requires becomes us to ascribe, ‘ Blessing, and only to be understood, to command our honour, and glory, and power, unto homage ; but the lustre with which it Him that sitteth on the throne, and
unto the Lamb for ever;' because he necessary to salvation, without the aid that honoureth not the Son, honoureth of critical analysis, or without requiring not the Father. The grace of oar Lord the exercise of the Unitarian pruningJesus Christ be with you all. Amen. knife. We find, indeed, within its
“ How would such a letter be receiv- pages, depths in which leviathans may ed, Sir, by churches, formed on the swim ; but it contains also shallows in principle that divine names and divine which lambs may wade. And in a honours are the exclusive rights of the revelation coming from God to teach Father? The writer would be brand- mankind the way to heaven, we should ed as an idolater, and his letter com- naturally expect, that no doctrines would mitted to the flames. Or, if any one be more seriously inculcated, more freleaned to his opinions, an appeai would quently repeated, or more unequivobe made to the New Bible, (which I cally expressed, than those which the have supposed,) and the wavering bro- divine benevolence had made necessary ther dared to produce from it, to salvation ; even though that wisdom instance in which Christ is called God, which is not from above, after havJehovah, or Creator. And you know ing invented or discovered difficulties, that he could not, if any of the existing might smile at the humility of faith, and summaries of Unitarianism were exalted inquire -- How can these things be? into the rank of the Bible, and substi- But from Unitarianism we have learnt a tuted in its room. And if these pas- very different lesson. Its success seems sages, which I have thrown into the to depend upon the skill of its advoform of a letter, would savour of idol- cates, whose critical dexterity the unatry five hundred years hence, (under learned cannot comprehend. And even that state of things I have supposed,) where the doctrines which it teaches they do so now, on every principle but are embraced, they seem better calcuthat of the Son's equality with the lated to give light to the head, than to Father," p. 55.
communicate virtue to the heart. To The preceding extract exhibits a fair those doctrines which lead to the sound specimen of the Author's mode of argu- and saving conversion of sinners to ing; but more unexceptionable passages God, and which make men new creamight be selected, to display his talent tures in Christ Jesus, Unitarianism can at composition.
make but very feeble pretensions. And, If an inhabitant of some unknown we may rest assured, so long as we have region, who had never heard of the dis- the sacred word for our guide, that the cordant opinions which distinguish con- religious system which does not lead to tending parties, were to examine our the conversion of sinners, is not the sysBible, and were then called upon to tem of the Bible, nor the religion give his judgment on the doctrines revealed by God. which it contains, no man can reason- “ From the fame and grandeur of bly suppose that he would decide in Christ's miracles, Nicodemus concludfavour of Unitarianism. If, therefore, ed, that he was a teacher come from this system bo true, and the Bible be a God; for, as the ruler justly observed, revelation from God, the sacred volume no man can do these miracles that thout must be considered as one of the most doest, except God be with him.' This, astonishing prodigies that was ever sub- you know, amounts to all the faith in mitted to the inspection of angels or Christ, which Unitarians think neces
In every view, its doctrines are sary or proper. This they consider as of such a complexion, and its language believing unto salvation, when the is so constructed, that the book itself belief is accompanied with correspondseems better calculated to lead men ing obedience. Now, Sir, if they are into error, than to shew them the way right in this opinion, we may expect, of salvation. It records instances of especially as true faith was a rare thing idolatry under the Christian system, in Israel at the time, that Nicodemus's which were unreproved; and teaches, confession, although given by night, by example as well as by precept, those would be well received and highly apvery evils, which it informs us its Author proved of. But, instead of being so, abhors.
Jesus took no notice whatever of it; There can be little doubt, if the poor and, what was very unusual with him, were to bave the Gospel preached unto returned an abrupt answer to the ‘masthem, that the sacred hooks were in- • ter in Israel;' for you must allow, that tended to be understood, in every thing the words, . Verily, verily, I say unto