Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

we

ers.

Paradise. Sin interrupted it, and ho- There can be no doubt whatever, liness must restore it. To a soul thus that every good, whether natural, modisposed, the Creator communicates ral, intellectual, or spiritual, is capable himself, in a manner which is as insen- in itself of shining by its own inherent sible to the natural eye, as the falling brilliancy. It would be nothing short of dew; but not less refreshing to its of a severe reflection on the infinitely secret powers, than that is to vegeta- wise Creator, to suppose that he has tion. The primitive saints are describ- given being to excellencies, which ing this, when they speak of their could only be rendered distinctly visitransports. David felt it, when he ble by the physical reverses of themlonged for God " as the hart panteth selves. According to such a constituafter the water-brooks.” St. Paul tion of things, even natural good knew it, when he gloried in his tribu- would be indebted for the brightest lations. It was embodied in him, display of its lustre, to natural evil; when he was “carried up into the third but how any thing can be considered heaven, and heard things not lawful as a natural evil, which is essentially to be uttered.” St. Stephen was filled necessary to the development of natuwith it, when he “ saw the heavens ral good, is a problem which opened,” and prayed for his murder- cannot solve, without impeaching the

By it martyrs were supported, source of infinite wisdom. when they were stoned and sawed If from natural good and evil, we asunder. And until we feel it in our- turn our attention to that which is selves, we shall never fully know how moral, the atmosphere with which we gracious the Lord is. If we can ac- are encircled becomes still more dense; quire this spiritual abstraction, we and we find the clouds of confusion shall at once have made our fortune for gathering round us in every direction, eternity. It will be of little moment and presenting us with darkness which what may be our lot on earth, or what we cannot pierce. To say that moral the distinguishing vicissitudes of our evil is necessary to unfold, in all its life. Prosperity or adversity, health beauty, the utmost perfection of moral or sickness, honour or disgrace, a cot- good, is to destroy the essence of vice, tage or a palace, will all be so many and, in an alembic of mental chemisinstruments of glory. The whole cre- try, to transmute it into virtue. To ation will become a temple. Every assert that the existence of vice is scene and every object will lead our necessary to that of virtue, or that the minds to God; and in his greatness display of the former is necessary to and perfection we shall insensibly lose that of the latter, is a solecism in lanthe littleness, the glare, and tinsel, of guage, and is little less than a contraall human things.

diction in terms.

If natural and moral good were in

capable of shining by their own intrinALL GOOD, ESSENTIALLY CAPABLE or sic lustre, reason would compel us to SHINING BY ITS OWN INHERENT PER- infer, that each is defective in its own

nature; and from this inference we FECTION.-ILLUSTRATED BY AN IN- could scarcely draw any conclusion, CIDENT.

which would not amount to an imIt is well known, that in the natural peachment of the Author of both. We world, physical reverses frequently can by no means suppose, that glorigive a colouring to each other; and it fied spirits in heaven (whether we is not less true, that in the moral his- consider them as natives of the celestory of our species, the lustre of virtu- tial region, or as taken from our terresous actions is rendered more conspicu- trial abode) can stand in need of such ous, by the deepness of those shades an unnatural aid, to make them sensiwith which these actions are contrast- ble of the value and importance of ed. It will be readily admitted, that felicity. And, if moral evil had not no satisfactory reason can be drawn debased the human intellect, and, in from pure abstract principle, why such its moral consequences, disorganized reverses should thus seem necessary to the system of nature, we have no give distinctness to each other; but the more reason to suppose, that evil, in fact is indisputable; and it may be any form, would have been either abtraced without difficulty to the present solutely or relatively necessary to give state of our mental constitution. us the instructions which we are now

101

Moral and Natural Good.

102

compelled to learn from it in our cordingly left his cottage, and soon present state, than that it is necessary conducted the troop out of the valley. in heaven. The only rational inference Having continued their march upwhich we can draw from the whole, wards of an hour, the officer discovered amounts to this, that in the same pro- a fine field of barley, and instantly portion as we find the existence of evil, exclaimed, “ This is the very thing we in any form, necessary to make us sen- want.” The old man, however, instead sible of the value of good, we behold of being pleased at the remark, desirevidences of our degeneracy, both as ed him to have a little patience, and to its extent and its degree.

he would conduct them to a spot, The soul, influenced by divine grace, where he hoped they would be satisand raised from a death of sin to a life fied. They then continued their march of righteousness, will be taught to rise nearly a mile farther, when they arrivabove this chequered state of things, ed at another field of barley, which, to lay hold on the spiritual good of on halting, the soldiers immediately which it is called to partake, and to began to cut down; and having trussed behold its beauty by its native light. up as much as they could conveniently Actuated by this principle, the move- carry away, they prepared to return. ments of life will be regulated accord- The officer, on parting from his veneingly; the features of human conduct rable conductor, informed him, that will coincide with the influence which “ he thought he had given both to is imparted to the mental and spiritual them and himself unnecessary trouble, powers; and its beneficial effects will since the field of barley which they be diffused to all around us, in propor- had just been reaping was not so good tion to the extent of our respective as that which they had left behind.” spheres of action. The truth of this Very true, Sir,” replied the old man, latter position we shall perceive illus- “ but that field was not mine." It is trated by the following incident. but justice to add, that this amiable

During a late war in Germany, patriarch belonged to a society of the when fodder grew scarce, an officer, Moravians. commanding a detachment of cavalry, The religion of Jesus teaches its diswas ordered out on a foraging party, ciples, not only to love the Lord their to procure fresh supplies. He ac- God with all their hearts, but also cordingly put himself at the head of directs them, to love their neighbours the troop, and immediately proceeded as themselves. Where is the commentowards the quarter that had been tator, who has ever written so striking assigned him.

In pursuing his route, an illustration of this precept, as we he passed through a solitary valley, in have here displayed before us in living which he found himself surrounded by characters? The reader who can perwoods; but in which, during the early use this incident, without being forcistages of his progress, no human being bly struck with the bright example of could be discovered. Continuing his moral virtue which it teaches, has yet march, he, however, at length per- to learn a refinement both in taste and ceived a cottage, which appeared to sentiment, which idle theory is unable be inhabited; and, on approaching it, to impart. knocked at the door. On hearing the The exalted virtue which shines in sound, and perceiving a stranger at this disinterested action, is rendered the door, a venerable old man made so luminous by its native lustre, that his appearance. His beard was sil- we behold its beauty, without once vered over with age; but he exhibited attempting to heighten its dignity, by on his countenance an aspect of tran- placing it in contrast with the ravages quillity, which is but rarely found, to of war; with an instance of which, it soften the ferocity of war.

was evidently coexistent. If such an The officer, struck with his appear- incident had occurred in the more eleance, accosted him in the following vated circles of polished society, the

“ Father, I want your assist- ingenuity of infidelity might have asance to direct me to some field, in cribed it to a refinement, derived from which I may set my troops a-foraging.” highly cultivated talents; in which the The old man, after pausing for a few individual proudly abandoned his intemoments, replied, I cannot well rests, to embrace an opportunity of give you directions ; but I will accom- giving a keen, but delicate reproof, to pany you to a suitable spot.” He ac- the commander of a rapacious troop

manner.

66

ANECDOTE OF HYDERALY.

of soldiers, then in the very act of preparations, he always professed the committing depredations. But, what- strongest attachment to the king, and ever opinions may be formed of cha- avowedly aimed at nothing more than racters like these, we cannot reason the removal of Conderow from that ably entertain a diversity of sentiment office, to which his treachery had exon the conduct of the German peasant. alted him. He appears to have been actuated by Conderow, aware of his perilous the genuine spirit of Christianity, situation, put himself at the head of which inculcates, among other virtues, the king's troops, and marched out to benevolence, honesty, forbearance, and give Hyder battle. An engagement self-denial.

almost immediately ensued. Hyder was victorious. The army of Conderow was totally defeated; his camp

plundered; and it was with difficulty The Christian system is not more that he made his escape to the city, to replete with examples of virtue, in the communicate the tidings of his disascharacters of those who are actuated ter to the king. by its principles, of which the preced- As the pretences of Hyder were ining article furnishes a striking proof, variably confined to the removal of than Paganism is, with instances of Conderow from his office, which were barbarous ferocity, in those spirits always accompanied with the strongest where its dominion is unsubdued. professions of attachment to the king, This fact we shall illustrate by the fol- a considerable portion of the defeated lowing anecdote.

army rallied round his standard, and When Hyder Aly began his daring soon enabled him to approach with his march to empire, he contrived to place forces to the gates of the capital. The one of his confidants, named Conderow, king, alarmed for his own safety, used a man of an artful disposition, in the every endeavour to penetrate the decharacter of a spy, near the person of signs of his enemy; but so artfully had the monarch whom he was contriving he concealed his intentions, under the to dethrone. The king, who was pro- plausible pretext which had been afbably aware of his intentions, had the forded him, that, giving to the king address to detach Conderow from the the fullest assurance of his perfect obeinterest of Hyder; and, to secure his dience, he prevailed on him to open friendship, he was raised to the office the gates to receive him as duan, and of duan, or prime minister of state. to deliver up his former friend, but This mark of confidence, bestowed present enemy, Conderow, into his upon the new favourite, was far from hands. being pleasing to many of the king's No sooner had Hyder entered the old friends, among whom were some, city, than he placed his own centinels who probably felt no small degree of on the magazines, and on the palace disappointment, in finding themselves gates; and, making the king a prisoner, excluded from an office of such distin- seized upon all his treasure, with guished honour. It is well known to which he paid his troops their full politicians, that between disappoint- arrears; and, to secure their attachment and revenge the distance is not ment, he made many valuable presents great; and that, both in civilized and to his officers, who had distinguished savage life, certain characters are al- themselves in his service. ways to be found, who, if they cannot His old friend Conderow, who now reap the harvest, will endeavour to de- fell into his hands, he shut up in an stroy the field.

iron cage, and for several days exposThe disaffection which the conducted him to public view. In this state of of the king, 'in creating the new duan, confinement, he was afterwards sent to had occasioned, soon strengthened the Bangalore; where, after remaining hands of Hyder, so that he actually upwards of a year in this miserable obtained an accession of power, by situation, he died. The cage containthose means which had been adopted ing his bones was afterwards preserved to arrest the progress of his ambition. in Bangalore, as a trophy of this meThe menacing attitude, which Hyder morable exploit. Both the cage and could not conceal, was also furnished his bones were to be seen in 1786, and with a plausible pretext; so that, while it is highly probable, that some fraghe carried on with vigour his warlike ments remain even to the present day.

105

Review, &c.-On the Prescience of God.

106

wewwwwwww

OF GOD.

evidence, that the supposed existence INHUMANITY TO A SLAVE, PUNISHED.

of such a being includes contradictory An inhabitant of Curaçoa was lately ideas. But can any man conceive declared infamous, and banished the for a moment, that infinite power can colony for life, for inhumanly treating create a being, the result of whose a female slave, which occasioned her actions, infinite knowledge cannot death. If such instances of justice, penetrate? The absurdity of such a were to correspond in number with the supposition seems almost too gross to barbarities which call for them, they be refuted. might prove too common, we fear, to As power, which is omnipotent, be recorded. They would, however, can do every thing that does not inassociate with interest, in protecting volve a contradiction, so infinite knowthe unfortunate Africans.

ledge must be able to discern whatsoever does not include contradictory

ideas; and on this basis both of the REVIEW, &c.-ON THE PRESCIENCE propositions must rest.

This is a point which has been already argued ;

and we have concluded, not only that [Continued from Col. 27.)

contingent beings are possible, but Having made. these preliminary ob- that the actions and volitions of manservations, let us now proceed to in- kind, furnish all the evidences of conquire more immediately respecting the tingency, which reason could ever nature of this sacred attribute, so far direct us to expect. And, conseas its operations extend to human quently, as no contradictory ideas are beings, to human actions, and to the included in the supposition, we must final destinies of mankind.

conclude, on the same principle, that By the infinite knowledge of God, a being of infinite knowledge, must or, what in reference to us we deno-be able to discern these actions and minate his foreknowledge, we under- volitions, although they are continstand that branch of his infinite dis

gent. cernment, which enables him to per- But, while it is asserted, that some ceive the various results of every actions and events are contingent, volition that lies within the reach of which are nevertheless plainly discernpossibility.

ed by God, another question relative Whether this infinite discernment to the certainty of these, and of all can penetrate contingencies, is a point actions and events, immediately prewhich has been much disputed. By sents itself to our view. This is urged some, the possibility of the fact has with no common degree of eagerness, been expressly denied; and the reason by those who are solicitous to render of this denial, is founded upon the im- the prescience of God subservient to possibility that what is actually con- the interests of a particular system. tingent, should ever become an object In attempting to repel some of those even of infinite discernment. That the consequences with which Dr. Clarke power of man cannot discern the result charged that system, upon the suppoof an action, which is equally poised sition that every future event and between the possibility of being and action were seen as absolutely certain, not being, will be most readily ad- and rendered absolutely certain by God, mitted. But, if we attempt to carry the critic in the Magazine introduces the analogy from finite to infinite, and this divine attribute to our view, decoto infer the impossibility of the fact, rated with a simplicity of attire, which with regard to God, merely from our he well knew how to change for robes inability to comprehend the manner, of other colours. Of this fact, the folthere are few, we may presume, with lowing passages will furnishi no inadethe exception of those who are inte-quate specimen. rested in the issue, who would not “ Now, we have a right to presume, conclude, that such a denial implied that this author knows that Calvinists more indiscretion than wisdom.

deny that God's decree impels men to That God, who possesses infinite sin; for with regard to sin, the utmost power, is able to create a being whose they hold is, a decree to permit, and actions may be contingent, is a fact many of them contend that this is unwhich no one has a right to deny, un- necessary; for it is, in fact, a decree less it can be proved by the clearest to do nothing. But as to his forebe past.

knowledge, they contend, that it has shall be.” – Evangelical Mag. Feb. no influence at all on men's future 1819, p. 49. actions, no more than his afterknow- How this singular, but unequivocal ledge or remembrance can give being passage, is to be reconciled with the to what must have taken place before preceding, in which“ foreknowledge is it could be remembered, or known to merely a spectator, that looks on and

But for a man who asserts sees things rise into being,” we will that God views all things as now ex- not stay to inquire ; neither are we isting, so that to his mind (and the disposed to unfold “ all the consequences judgment of God is according to truth) of election which follow.These may there is no distinction between past, be fairly submitted, without any devepresent, and future, but all are ac- lopment to the reader's consideratually now in his presence ; for such a tion. There is one point, however, writer to charge others with the blas- which seems to have been assumed phemous consequences of making God without any proof whatever, which, the author of sin, because they main- until some evidence shall be adduced, tain that God foreknows some things as we hesitate to concede, namely, that certainly future, is most marvellous ; “if God foresees every thought, temand such an instance of injustice, ag- per, word, or action of men, from all gravated by effrontery, as is scarcely eternity, then all things are certain, to be matched even by the feats of and no decree can make them more Antinomianism, that brazen bull.” In so.”. And, it seems to be a duty inthe following paragraph, these pas- cumbent on us, on the present occasages also almost immediately occur. sion, because all who oppose the con“ We still, however, adhere to the old sequences of the critic's system, are fashioned doctrine, that present know- challenged, “ either to get rid of foreledge does not give present existence, knowledge, or to shew that it does not nor past knowledge or recollection of involve all the consequences of Calevents give them their past existence, vinistic decrees.” nor foreknowledge give future exis- In proceeding to examine this imtence. The futurition of an event is portant question,

" whether on all octhe ground of forcknowledge, which casions the Almighty beholds with may be said to be a mere spectator, absolute certainty, the event or action, that looks on and sees things rise into which is the object of his discernbeing.” p. 289.

ment,” it will be particularly necessary Now, admitting the statement given to understand, to what the term cerin the last sentence to be correct, tainty is referred. If it refers to the namely, that “the futurition of an divine knowledge, the fact will not be event is the ground of foreknowledge, disputed; but, if it be referred to the which may be said to be a mere spec- action or event which is foreseen, sevetator, that looks on and sees things ral things must be ascertained, before rise into being,” we are at a loss to the conclusion can be either adopted conceive how this can imply certainty or rejected. in the action or event, which rises into It is a most unquestionable fact, being ; much less can we comprehend, that the knowledge of the Almighty, how “the foreknowledge of God, can in every form in which it can be involve all the consequences of Cal- viewed, includes certainty in its own vinistic decrees.” But whether we can nature, independently of all foreign comprehend this certainty, and these causes, actions, or events, whatever. consequences, or not, we are assured This certainty of the divine knowby the same critic, that these must in- ledge, arises from its inherent perfecevitably follow. Hence he observes, tion; and the truth of the position will “ If God foresees every thought, tem- be equally immutable, whatever may per, word, or action of men, from all be the object of the divine discerneternity, then all things are certain, ment. It follows, therefore, that the and no decree can make them more certainty of God's discernment, cannot, so; then all the consequences of elec- in itself, be affected by any action or tion follow, that God views every man event which is the object of it. For as he comes into the world as an heir should we refuse to admit this conof life or death; and creating and clusion, we shall be under the necessupporting them with these views is sity of granting, that the certainty of ! equivalent to a decree that thus it the divine knowledge does not arise

« ForrigeFortsæt »