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the charge he gives to his creatures can, in no case, imply such a moral contradiction ; that the message simply as it stands, is, in fact, conformable to the real nature of the case; and that this fancied discovery, wbich goes to make the servant wiser than his instructions, and therefore dishonest in abiding by them, is, to say the least of it, no better than an idle dream? This, we believe, is the conclusion in which a sane mind would be content to rest, even were the subject one of those that seem to lie the most within the compass of our reasoning powers. But where the question involves the knowledge of facts, concerning which we have neither experience nor testimony, and where the argument rests upon suppositions altogether hypothetical, surely, in such a case, to venture so far from the path of obvious duty, on the faith of the speculation, implies the highest degree of irreligious temerity.
We are well aware, however, that this specious subject has a hold upon minds of a certain order, so strongly, we may say so perversely, implicated with the feelings of the heart, that the plain reason of the case will produce no further effect, than to induce that sort of gloomy reserve which has much in it of latent atheism. It is, in fact, not unusual to hear the doctrine of Final Restitution spoken of, as being essential to the comfort of the benevolent mind. We firmly believe, that many considerable fallacies are contained in this sentiment: we wish those wbo entertain it would bring it under a fair and thorough examination. There is a benevolence which is prompt in words, and fertile in wishes, but tardy in action, and sparing of personal sacrifices. There is a philanthropy which is nothing better than “ enmity to God." There is a love of man, which has all the characteristics of a party feeling : it is an espousing of that quarrel which man still carries on against his Maker. It is a benevolence that is ever gloomy in the presence of Revealed Truth ; alone cheerful and pleased while following the false light of scepticisin ; but whether it be gay or sad, it is still idle and inefficient. A gilded god, made to be worshipped in the closet of the recluse, this spurious benevolence, 'is fit for nothing else; if brought into iminediate contact with the wants and woes of men, we shall perceive, that it has eyes, but it does not see ; ears, but it cannot hear; hands, but it does no service; feet, but it runs to no one's help. Every fact which meets us, and every principle of revelation, contravenes a simply speculative or philosophical benevolence. It is a sort of fever of the mind, to be allayed only, (as indeed it commonly is,) by plunging in the sleepy lake of abject Fatalism.
A genuine benevolence is that love of man which results from a supreme love to God, and from a spiritual perception of bis moral attributes. The comfort of the benevolent mind, in
mixed state, like the present, can never be derived from the deavour to evade, or destroy, by some specious hypothesis, e painful impression caused by the contemplation of evil, tural and moral. An attempt of this kind, is at once unnaral, fallacious, and unavailing. It is nonatural, because it bstitutes the action of the mind, for the exercise of the affecins ; speculation, for feeling ; and thus impairs the spring of nevolent zeal. It is fallacious, because it rests at bottom on the absurdity, that Evil is Good in disguise. It is ia vailing, because it is opposed to the whole evidence of facts, d therefore outrages common sense. For our own parts, we ways suspect the latent operation of some such false feeling, ben we hear laboured harangues, having for their object to ve a palliated representation of present evil. It may, at least, : aifirmed, that this mode of talking has never characterized sose distinguished individuals who have done the most to ssen the sum of misery and sin.
So far from its being the feature of a genuine and efficient enevolence, that it is disposed to be sceptical as to the amount f misery, we believe the very reverse to be, in fact, the case; nd, that this very disposition is the symptom of that morbid od fruitless sensibility, which wins no blessing from the lips f“ them who are ready to perish.” A spurious philanthropy, hich is at bottom simple selfishness, manifests itself by seek
ig its own tranquillity, at any rate. Hence, it is ever labourng to establish the doctrine, that all is well, or will be well in
he end. A freedom from painful emotions, not the diminution if misery, is the real object at wbich it aims; and this is
ought, either by an actual retreat from the sight and hearing of suffering, or by an obstinate incredulity with respect to facts, or by some strange and unsupported hypothesis on the subject of natural and moral evil. Now, it seems to us, that the fine property and high distinction of a genuine benevolence, is the noble willingness to be afflicted, and to hold communion with misery. Where wretchedness is, thither it is drawn, as by an "irresistible attraction. It is, as it were, greedy to comprehend the utmost sum of evil; and if it discovers that it has estimated too low the sad amount, it feels as if it had defrauded the sufferer, by the mistake. It cares not to speculate ; nor could
it derive any solid satisfaction from an uncertain opinion. It is 3 more jealous against any abatement of zeal, than solicitous to
escape from the burden of painful apprehensions. But let it be granted, that anxious anticipations, having for their object the final destipies of our fellow men, and the unknown boundaries of evil, will, at times, force themselves upon the mind. It inay be admitted, that there is a plausibleness in the hypothesis to which we have already alluded, and which includes the whole of the
argument adduced in support of the doctrine of Final Restitutution; namely, that evil, moral as well as natural, is but a means in the great machinery of the universe, essential to the bigher good of the creature. No one, however, unless he is altogether upacquainted with deistical writings, and an entire novice in the history of the human mind, can require to have shewn to him the inevitable consequences of this principle. We may very safely affirm, that it is wholly incompatible with revealed religion, and with every moral exercise of the mind; that, as a practical principle, it stands in naked opposition to the voice of conscience, and that, as a speculative principle, it can consistently terminate in nothing better than a refined sort of Epicurianism. But besides this, the doctrine is inadequate to the end for which it is contrived; it is too unnatural —too abstracted, to afford a solid satisfaction to the truly benevolent mind, in any other way, than as it tends to induce a stupid and selfish forgetfulness of the misery that is in the world. We question if there is a proposition more indispensable to the existence of true Religion, considered as a habit of the mind, than this, that evil is essentially and ultimately evil; and tbis of course implies, that it can be contemplated by holy beings, under no aspect, however comprehensive, with the feeling of acquiescence. As we worship God, the source of all good, and of good only, so we hate and deplore evil, as that which is eternally opposed alike to his Nature, and to his Will.
We can never admit, that the Holy Scriptures are deficient in any article that is essential to the legitimate comfort of the pious mind. They were dictated for the use of his people, by
the God of all consolation.”
We have just inquired whether the Scriptures warrant the publication of a promise of life to the finally disobedient : we must now be allowed to propose a second question : viz. Do we find among those bright and cheering objects which are held up to the faith of the believer, in the inspired volume, this doctrine, now alleged to be quite indispensable to the tranquillity of the thoughtful mind? Were there room in the nature of the case for this hope, the peculiar circumstances of the first converts seemed to require the most explicit announcement of it. When individually called out of darkness into the light of the Gospel, in, perhaps, the majority of instances, they left behind them the nearest relatives, in that state of palpable disobedience, which afforded no ground for an indistinct bope with respect to their religious condition. In awaking from the sleep of spiritual death, they became alive to the state of unequivocal condemnation impeuding the objects of the tenderest affection. How often must it have occurred to them, in the same hour, to bare witnessed some miraculous attestation of unseen realities, on the
i one hand, and on the other, the dying invocation of demons,
from the lips of a parent, a wife, or a child ! Surely, if under the ambiguous circumstances of profession in the present day,
the doctrine of Final Restitution is spoken of as essential to ! Christian comfort, then, had it been warranted by Apostolic au
thority, it must have become the subject of prominent and inces. sant reference. It would inevitably have transpired in the
copious and familiar correspondence of the Apostles with the E' primitive churches. When Paul addressed the believers at Thes
salonica, he must bave known, that the fearful declaration which . he made of the wrath to come, would excite emotions of the
deepest distress in the minds of many of them, on behalf of their dearest connexions. “ It is a righteous thing with God, to " recompense tribulation to them that trouble you ; and to you, “ who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be “ revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming 6 fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that “ obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be " punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of “ the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”
The Apostle, on another occasion, cautions the members of the same church, against the indulgence of an excessive sorrow, on account of those who had fallen asleep in the faith of Christ, reminding them, that they should “not sorrow as those “ who have no hope." Had none of these persons, we may ask, lost unbelieving relations: But do we ever find the inspired writers attempting to mitigate the peculiar distress which such an event must occasion ? We imagine that the modern defenders of the doctrine of Final Restitution, had they occasion to refer to the death of persons under some such flagrant circumstances as quite forbade the exercise of charitable hope, would not fail, very distinctly, to adduce their opinion 'as affording a source of consolation : here, then, is a discrepancy of practice, as striking as that to wbich we have before alluded, inasmuch as a reference is made to a second or supplementary bope.
While considering the alleged connexion of the doctrine in question, with the benevolent affections, another inquiry suggests itself.
If we are to credit its advocates, the belief in Final Restitui tion springs up, as it were, in voluntarily, froin the very necessity
of their feelings. It would seem, then, that these persons are distinguished from the mass of the Christian world, by the live
liness of their concern for the welfare of their fellow men in the į world to come. They profess to believe, that, ' a severe and
protracted discipline is prepared for all those who die with'out those rectified moral habits, which may fit them for the
• fruition of the Divine favour.' Nay, the sensibilities of some of these persons allow them to speak of the “ intolerable pains
of hell;' and in the same breath they admit, that a varied measure of this misery awaits the great bulk of mankind. Where now is the proof, that this vaunted philanthropy is ang thing better than counterfeit, not to say hypocritical? The question is one of no difficulty. He is the philanthropist, whom the wretched bless. We may abide, then, by the issue of the following reasonable demand: Has the party which dis. tinguishes itself mainly as the defenders of the doctrine of Final Restitution, been, as it doubtless becomes it to be, the foremost in the hazardous and costly enterprises of Christian zeal? These nice spirits, who are ever telling us of their fine sympathies for their erring brethren, are they the men who leave their favourite pursuits, their homes, their friends, to spend the rempant of Their days among savage tribes ? If the future misery of men gives them, as they declare it does, so much concern, why go they not forth to proclaim that way of escape which the Gospel of Christ has provided ? Do they hesitate? Do they, after so much ostentation of philanthropy, in fact prefer life and ease to the immortal good of their brethren of mankind ? So it is. But let them know, that while they sit at bome and sentimentalize, there is a company gone out, who have proved that they count nothing dear to themselves, so that they may by any means save the souls of men from the “ wrath to come." And these are the persons who believe the barbarous doctrine of Eternal Fire! Away with the cheap benevolence of opinions ! the sympathy that heals no wound! the love that can afford no sacrifice! Let our Christian beroes, who are gone forth into all the world, be called gloomy and ferocious bigots ; we care not: words are but arbitrary sounds ; the sense and meaning will soon learn to follow after the thing. It is enough, that the wretched and the depraved, under all the winds of heaven, are learning every day that to these men alone, even to these very bigots, they must look for help in the time of need. Our mis. sionaries may address their thousand congregations of every colour, and say, “ There are men who say they are more hu“ mane than we; it may be so : we have left them at home to “ dispute about it; and in the mean time, we are come to tell 66 you of Jesus, and of his salvation.”
Such is the true import of the pretence, that the doctrine of Final Restitution is the offspring of an anxious and expansive benevolence. Were, liowever, this granted, it would not, we are persuaded, comprehend the whole of the case. While it serves as the ostensible and specious plea, the voluines that have been written on the subject, betray sufficiently significant symptoms of an impulse, yet more deeply seated in the mind, and