« ElőzőTovább »
The idea, therefore, of an opposition between the justice and mercy of God, arises from a gross misapprehension of those attributes themselves, and is unworthy of the divine character. If these propositions are established, it follows, in the third place, that it will produce injurious effects on our own ininds. Religion is so important a subject, that religious error must be hurtful in some way or other, and in a greater or less degree. God is the object and end of all religion, and so far as a particular system of religion inculcates wrong conceptions of God, it must be a false one, as false in its very foundation. God is the Supreme Disposer; he governs our lives according to his will, and keeps in his own hands the entire regulation of our future destiny. We are weak and powerless; we cannot stand before him; we know that we cannot; unforeseen and uncontrollable events defeat our intentions, and defy
calculations; and death comes, we know nothow or wlien, to close the present scene. It must affect us nearly then, to know what is the character of this Being; and according to the conclusions which we form, will be in a great measure the complexion of our religious opinions, and the tone of our religious language.
in great part, will be those of ap. prehension and dread, with feel ings which ought not to be connected, no, not at all, with the Only Wise and Good, with feelings which are calculated to repress the confidence and grateful love, with which we should seek our Father, and which should not be suffered to mingle with the adoration of the heart. And this is the fact. And this is the explanation of many of the superstitious notions and observances, which reflect any thing but honour on the religion of Christ. The Saviour has been prayed to, and the Virgin Mary has been prayed to, and hundreds of saints have been prayed to, in preference, yes, we scruple not to say, in preference to the Great and Only True Object of worship; because a servile and unworthy fear was entertained of that Object, and other beings and names were resorted to, in order to propitiate and fav. ourably incline the Holy One, who is always more ready to hear, than we are to pray, and always more willing to forgive us our sins, than we are to forsake them. What is the language of nine out of ten of the hymns which are addressed to Christ, and sung in Christian churches ? Plainly this ; that Christ is a merciful, benignant, and compassionate being, who interposed between the anger of God and the destruction of men, and offered himself as a sacrifice to thatinexorable vengeance, which neither could nor would accept of any other. Is this reason, is this religion, is this Christianity, is this in accordance with the language of him, who said, “ Why callest thoa me good, there is none good but one, that is God ?”
If, then, we regard him as a monarch, whose resolutions are taken without reference to the nature and circumstances of those whom he governs, and whose inflictions are determined by a principle, which, however severe it may be, he is compelled to follow, we must of course regard him with feelings, which
Now what can be the origin of so monstrous an error? We conceive it to be occasioned by referring the character and counsels of God to the very imperfect standard of our own actions and feelings. By this, we mean, that instead of raising their own ideas to some understanding of perfection, men have brought down perfection to the level of their own ideas, or in other words, have substituted im. perfection in its place. They have considered, not so much the true and abstract nature of justice and mercy,
as the justice and mercy which live upon earth, are conformed to their earthly residence, and modified by the passions, the weakness, the false judgement, the short-sightedness of man. It is true, that we must form our conceptions of the personal attributes of God, from corresponding qualities among ourselves; but then we must not confine them here, but remember that they are to be invested with omniscience and infinity; in short, united to one another, and united to God.
To illustrate by an ple. Brutus pronounced judgement against his own sons, because the good of the commonwealth, as he thought, required that they should die. This act has been praised by some as just and condemned by others as unmerciful. One will think that he displayed his heroism in sacrificing the feelings of a father to the existence of a state; and another, that the voice of nature should never have been so cruelly stifled at the call of a heartless theory, or the prospect of an uncertain good. But the fact is, we are not competent to decide at all on the case, because we
can neither balance motives por consequences.
Neither was Brutus capable of deciding whetherhe acted right or wrong, because he could not foresee effects, nor determine whether the father or the magistrate ought to have prevailed in the decision. He only acted according to the best of his judgement; and thatis all which any man can do in a question of opposing feelings, interests, and considerations. But here is the error. Men have supposed the Deity to be placed in a certain situation; and then have undertaken to say how he must have been influenced, and how he ought to have determined, and actually did determine, under the existing circumstances. They have undertaken to say, from their own notions of what would have been felt and done on earth, whatin reality was felt and done in heaven; without reflecting that they were applying this rule to a Being, who is impassible and omniscient, and who could not, therefore, entertain any inclination in opposition to any principles, or be guided by any circumstances, of which he did not clearly see all the bearings, relations, and results.
We shall conclude this essay by giving such a view of the justice and mercy of God, as will form a summary of what has been offered on this subject. To speak strictly, we should say, that justice and mercy were not separate qualities of the divine mind, but that, although we used the names separately, for the sake of convenience and accommodation, they were, in fact, the same. The ways of God are RIGHT, and this expresses all that we mean, when we say that they are just and merciful, In the counsels of
God, there can be no wavering, nor even deliberation;
the course that alone is proper, the course that alone conduces to the best possible ends, in every possible connexion, and throughont all eternity, that course is alone pursued, and it is pursued exactly when its operation is called for by infinite wisdom. This course is just, at the same time that it is merciful, and merciful because it is perfectly just. It never deviates on account of motives, which we should call compassionate, because if it should
ever deviate in the least, it would cease to be both just and merciful. It never can be swayed by sentiments of anger or revenge, because, as it consults the good of the whole, and the good of each individual, it must terminate in the happiness of all. Let us henceforth have more enlarged and exalted conceptions of that Almighty Being, who is both Wisdom and Love, whose Justice cannot be unmerciful, and whose Mercy cannot be unjust; whose Justice and Mercy are one.
Orthodox Tactics: or a new mode of attack and defence. The following communica- ries having become acquainted tions are inserted in the Repo- with his intention seem to have sitory, as illustrative of the true considered his simple attennature of Orthodox Zeal; a
an attack upon the zeal which is eager to make an doctrines of orthodoxy, if not unprovoked attack, under cir- upon the orthodox themselves; cumstances that render defence and accordingly both the impossible, but which refuses to morning and the evening preachdiscuss on equal ground doc
not only felt themselves trines that are delivered ex ca- called upon to enter generally thedra as if with all the autho- into a defence of these doctrines, rity of inspiration.
but even had recourse in their The occasion which led to
prayers as well as in their disthese communications was this : courses to the most unequivo-Mr. Adam having proceeded cal personal allusions. The exon the river for the benefit of tempore Discourse delivered in his health, on his arrival at the morning by Mr. Mundy was Chandernagore, accepted the chiefly remarkable for a discovery kind invitation of the gentleman which the preacher communicato whom the letter No. 1 is ted to his audience, that the addresssed, to remain at his Devil was neither an Arian, an house for a few days. As Mr. Arminian, nor a Pelagian, but a Cand familyare in the habit true orthodox believer; and also of attending Divine service at for the unsparing use which he Chinsurah church in which the made of the thunders of God's Missionaries resident at that set- wrath against all those who tlement regularly officiate, Mr. should hold a different creed. A. of course proposed to accom- Mr. La Croix, the evening pany them ; not supposing that preacher, delivered a written Dishis mere presence would prove course, which, however ultraoffensive. In this, however, he orthodox may have been some of was mistaken, for the Missiona. the doctrines advanced in it,
was at least clear in its arrange- timents, he felt no difficulty in ment and connected in its parts, determining to whom he should and laid claim to the merit of address himself; and according. being close and consecutive in its ly requested Mr. C- to forreasoning. While therefore the ward a copy of No. I. to the personal allusions already refer- Rev. Mr. La Croix who, through red to compelled Mr. A. to the same medium, returned the adopt some step for the vindica- answer marked No. II. tion both of his religious sen
No. I.-From Mr. Adam to A-C-, Esq. MY DEAR SIR,
each in company with a single The lateness of our return last friend, on Friday next at 10 in night from Chinsurah church and the forenoon, when we may lei. the necessity of my early depar- surely discuss the successive pature this morning, have prevent- ragraphs of his very able Dised me from fulfilling the intention which I intimated to you of The direct and pointed language addressing Mr. La Croix on the
employed both in his Sermon subject of the Sermon which we
and prayers, especially the latter, heard him preach; and I shall renders an apology for my appartherefore feel obliged by your ent presumption in making these doing it for me.
offers unnecessary; and I beg you Express to him, if you please, will assure him that it is not to my sincere thanks for the lumi
indulge the angry spirit of contronous view which he gave of the versy, but with an earnest and doctrines of reputed orthodoxy, sincere desire to vindicate the and at the same time my strong truth as it is in Jesus, that they objections to them as unscriptural have been made. From the teand unreasonable.
nour of Mr. La Croix's Discourse To endeavour to prove this I I feel persuaded that one or would request permission either other of them will be accepted by to occupy his place in the pulpit him, and that the consequent infor one Sunday evening—or that vestigation will on his part be he would publish the Sermon carried on with the manners of which he preached, and to which a gentleman and the spirit of a in that case I hereby engage to Christian. Yours very truly, reply through the medium of the
W. ADAM. press--or that he would meet me
Chandernagore, either at your house or his own, Monday morn. 6} a. m.
No. II.-From Mr. La Croix to A-C—, Esq. MY DEAR SIR,
found proper to reject as unI duly received your note yes- scriptu and unreasonable. terday evening; but as I was I kindly request you to tell him, not at home, could not answer that I consider such a controverit immediately.
sy as perfectly useless in the I have perused Mr. Adam's present circumstances, as the letter, wherein he seems to wish doctrines in question which are me to enter into a controversy (according to my ideas) for evewith him on the doctrines he has ry unprejudiced mind set forth
in Scripture in the plainest manner, have already been discussed and demonstrated so fully by men of far greater abilities than my own, that it may, I think, satisfy any one who with an humble spirit is searching after truth.
I consequently feel it not only my inclination, but my duty, to decline positively, once for ever, to agree to any of Mr. Adam's proposals; my time likewise being too precious to me to be employed or rather wasted in disputes of which experience has shown so frequently, that no good fruits have ever proceeded from, neither in Calcutta of late, nor elsewhere. Believe me, my Dear Sir,
Your's very truly,
A. F. LACROIX. Chinsurah, Feb. 24, 1824.
On this reply, a few remarks will suffice. The first thing worthy of notice is that Mr. La Croix does not attempt to deny “ the direct and pointed language employed both in his Sermon and prayers, especially the latter.” If such language had not been used, Mr. A. would never have thought of making any of those proposals which, after having provoked them, Mr. La Croix has deemed it proper positively to decline.
He says that the doctrines he preaches “are set forth in Scripture" in a manner sufficiently plain, “ for every unprejudiced mind.” But this is taking for granted the very questions at issue; for there are some who consider that every page of Scripture contains a refutatiou of these doctrines, and that it is only a mind under the influence of the deepest prejudice that can profess to ground its
belief of them upon the authothority of Revelation.
He considers that the doc. trines in question have been “discussed and demonstrated" by men of far greater abilities than himself. Those who admire his modesty cannot applaud his consistency. This might have been a good excuse for leaving these doctrines untouched altogether: it is but a sorry reply to a challenge to which he himself had given occasion.
His time likewise is too precious to be “ employed or rather wasted" in such disputes. It is to be hoped, therefore, that should cirtumstances ever happen a second time to bring a he. terodox stranger within the reach of his voice, he will not be required to “ waste” his time in listening to doctrines which are confessedly of so little worth.
But “experience” it is said, “has frequently shown that no good fruits have ever proceeded from such discussions.” On the contrary, all experience proves that truth is ever a gainer by the candid, temperate, and free investigation of existing popular opinions; and to such an investi. gation alone Mr. La Croix was in. vited. It is on this principle that Mr. La Croix acts as a Missionary to the heathen; and it will be found that the errors of idolatry which he opposes, and the corrup. tions of Christianity which he sup. tits, will both give way just in ps portion as a spirit of liberal ad independent inquiry is excit. ri. It is only error and cor.
ption that love to stagnate: ir ith and goodness seek to dif. fr je their blessings all around.
Mr. La Croix seems to have no difficulty in determining who those are that seek truth" with