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• A few extracts from the volume before us, will exhibit a specimen of the several branches of the argument, as we have just stated it.
• If then the world be indeed the production of a Being who is infinite in wisdom, power and goodness, the proof of His constant and perfect superintendence of it seems to be irresistible. For since He is perfeci in wisdom, He could not have created it without some design, and that design, whatever it be, He must be careful to accomplish. Whether we suppose He created it with a view to display to His intelligent creatures His wisdon and power, or with a design to impart enjoymeni to an inconceivable number and variety of beings, we must believe, in the one case, that He will at all times provide against the interruption of that order wliich alone can illustrate His perfections, and the destruction of those faculties which are necessary to perceive them; and in the other, that He will suffer no event to happen which can prevent or impair the happiness He determines to bestow. In every successive period, therefore. He must have exactly the same reason to superintend the events which take place in his creation, as He had at first to perform the gl rious work. -The doctrine of the scriptures is, that God is the ruler of the world ; that every event is under His direction, and promotes in its appointed measure the purposes of His wise and benevolent administration ; that the natural and moral evil which prevail, are the instruments which His wisdom has chosen, no less than the more obvious blessings of existence, to promote the highest advantage of His intelligent creatures ; that by His almighty and all-perfect superintendence of events, he will secure this result,
This is surely sufficiently explicit : the period, then, will arrive, when men shall be brought to so true a sense of the real nature of the case, that they will thank God, not only for their being, and 'the more obvious blessings of existence,' but for their crimes, and their batred of Himself, as well as for the i protracted and intolerable pains of Hell;' and this is the Doctrine of the Scriptures !!
• It is not just to suppose that the Deity exercises any such controul over his creatures, as to force them to act contrary to their will, or to violate any principle of their nature : they always act, and must act according to their will, and in conformity to their nature; but, at the same time, He secures His own purpose, by placing them in circumstances which so operate upon their nature, as certainly to induce the conduct He requires.
It would lead us away from the question in hand, to follow Dr. Smith through his crudities on the subject of the Will. He is pleased to instruct us, that, the term volition, expresses • that state of the mind wbich is immediately previous to the " actions which are called voluntary.'* Were he asked, And how
* How much ignorant, shallow, and impertinent meddling with metaphysical Theology, might be saved by a modest perusal of such writings as those of President Edwards.
ently exkind, if Good and Evil are believed to proceed from the Operate your ons would produce, upon the whole, a greater sum of happiness s fron the quere sned to answer the same benevolent purpose in the moral cruditis in which the pain occasioned by hunger accomplishes in the which is indo le reader will remark the evasion of the subject in this last
actions characterized which are called voluntary? he roła reply, Those which are preceded by the state of mind rancha blition ? Dr. S. illustrates his doctrine of that Divine
nul Providence which makes men precisely what de ideia's by adducing the instances of Newton, LUTHER,
powex GTON, and HOWARD. But did he not perceive, that intendeza ness of his argument required him to mention names of wiadau at character; and that to meet the obvious difficulties of that dizion, for Newton, be should have nained Spinoza, for Whethe Loyoli, or Mahomet, for Washington, Catharine, ligent crack, or Attila, and for Howard, Bonner, or Jeffries? jumta t. D make these men exactly what they were; and that
believe, '* their highest good? Either Dr. Smith designedly The interes: che difficult and odious point of his system, or bis und, anison the subject is pitiably shallow. ceive the
train of circumstances in which an individual has been has given rise to a disposition, the indulgence of which is
tible with his own happiness and with that of his fellowe had at :
This disposition it is necessary to correct : this correction is ished by ciusing him to pass through another train of cira ces, which makes him feel the evil of his conduct ; and this
le, being attended with suffering, is expressed by the term the atural and om has clases is truly to give to the moral world, and its movements, Opcte té të racter of a nonstrous farce, in which nothing is real, but is almighty wasciousness of pain, or pleasure. An impression of this lis result.
inevitable in contemplating the condition and destinies
ource. e broughts they wil diere there no evil in the world,' remarks our Author, 'there obvious bied be no possible objection to the view of the subject he has satred of his Were every one virtuous and happy, every heart would zble pain elit to trace to the Deity its excellences and its pleasures. But
in He who is perfect in benignity, be the Author of Evil ! eity must have some wise and benevolent object to accomplish,
result of His administration, and that object can be nothing as to ferti ese final and perfect happiness of His intelligent creatures..... ciple of the: - He placed man in such circumstances as He foresaw would be c'ril
, and sed with the production and indulgence of evil passions, He secures fli um at the same time have foreseen, that, under His directions, these
could have existed without them. The miscry produced by sin volantar: Vrace. Let it be granted, that the misery consequent upon
criptures ent is not
US, that, the
sin, is a purely beneficent infliction upon the subject of it,-the question is not wbat good the misery does him, but what good the sin does him. He is made miserable, it seems, that he may become good : but is he made wicked, that he may be made miserable, that he may become good ?
Dr. Smith finds it of course, essential to his argument, to obscure from the view of his readers the immeasurable disparity which actually exists among men in the most important of all respects.
· If every principle of the human understanding, revolts at the conclusion that the Deity is partial and capricious in His kindness, and has designed to make some individuals happy and others mise. rable, it is equally opposed by all the appearances of nature. - No where in nature are there traces of a partial God. Every appearance of partiality vanishes from all His great and fundamental gifts. It is a only in what is justly termed the adventitious circumstances which attend His bounties, that the least indication of it can be supposed to exist; yet narrow and contracted minds confine their attention to these adventitious circumstances alone, and hence conclude that He is partial in the distribution of His goodness ; while all His great and fundamental blessings are so universally and equally diffused, that they demonstrate Him to be a Being of perfect benevolence. Now we ought to reason from the great to the little, not from the little to the great ; we ought to say, because in every thing of primary importance there is no appearanoe of partiality, therefore there can be really none, although in lesser things there is some inequality in the dis. tribution of the absolute sum of enjoyment: not because there is some inequality in lesser things, therefore there must be partiality, although there is no indication of it in any thing of real moment. But while the universality of the Divine benevolence will be readily adınitted, with respect to the blessings which have been mentioned, many persons believe that the Deity acts upon a totally different principle with regard to the distribution of moral and spiritual favour, and that Me invariably confines the bestowment of this description of good to a few chosen individuals. The most popular systems of religion which prevail in the present age, are founded upon this opinion. But if it be a fact that there is no partiality in the primary and essential gift of existence, in life considered as a whole, in the minor properties and felicities of our nature, in our senses, in our intellectual and moral faculties, and in the gratification of which they are respectively the source; if all these great blessings agree in this important circumstance, that they are instruments of enjoyment to all, and that the happiness they actually do impart is universal, it must follow that there is no partiality in the distribution of moral and spiritual good for why is this spiritual good imparted to any? Why is it superadded to the merely animal and intellectual nature of a single individual? It must be to perfect its possessor, and to make him susceptible of a greater sum of enjoyment.'
The word partiality, surely, does not express the mere
e Deity is parties
to make soos
eneficent il-lifference in the distribution of favours, but implies at good te munreasonable or unjust preference which, in bestowHe's made it upon one object, withholds that which is due, from
is be did Conduct of this description, we presume, no one may lerine, the Divine Being. But because God is not partial, Is it of course erefore make no differences in the bestowment of the iew of his real ultimate good? We are unaffectedly at a loss to Kists among se meaning of the passages we have just quoted.
rt of Dr. Smith's reasoning appears to be this, and ciple of the bes:
argument requires that it should be understood as ) that we may certainly infer the intention of the
ent to bring each individual of His family to virtue - opposed by 23
iness, because we see no instances of His making a e there tración among His creatures in any respect of primary Fles from all is o ce, or of real moment. Now we simply ask, Whence astly termed the ? And is it a matter of primary importance, and of es, that the kai nesent? or is it to be classed among those 'adventitious and contracte stances,' to which' narruw and contracted minds' circumstances an apt to 'confine their attention'? Dr. Smith bimself Etribution of Hs medges, that 'were every one virtuous and happy, every ngs are so uniem would rejoice to trace to the Deity its excellences and to be a Bring af peasures.' This is very good. But some (alas ! how om the great to their re virtuous; and these, when they have passed here a o say, because over 5 of sorrow, shall be placed in a state of unchangeable rance of partinti, ss. Others, however,-yes, the many, are not virtuous ;
lesser things there by must yet be miserable, in a degree, and for a period, absolute sum of
no one ventures to limit : or, to express the subject in the n lesser things
, language of our Lord, “ The wicked shall go away no indication de taxonian punishment; but the righteous, into æonian versality of the Divinen
Here then, whatever terms we may choose to apply to espect to the bieten cu vine conduct, is a difference among men, if not infinitely, card to the distrikta list inconceivably great and momentous. Virtue, with its Fiably confisestd: deur ant felicity, is granted to be the gift of God; and this gift hosen individu yli 1 ssessed by some; it is not possessed by others. Some, revail in the present ag been formed to virtue by Him to whom we must trace Et be a fact that there is ry excellence,' are “not appointed unto wrath, but to
of existence, in life sustain Salvation, by our Lord Jesus Christ.” To others, and felicities of our ser remains “ a fearful looking for of wrath, and fiery indigmoral faculties and ration, which shall devour the adversary;" they, if we are to ely the source i Ribe ve Dr. Smith, having, by the train of circumstunces in cumstance
, that they ar Phich they have been placed, acquired dispositions' which e happiness they taler them, in the language of the Scriptures, “ vessels of ere is no partialis e do rrath fitted for destruction.”* There is but one supposition For why is this sprake ded to the merely asDr. Smith's system, it is apparent, fixes the most obnoxious
It must be to perfet Berpretation upon the phrase which St. Paul employe, Rom. ix. 22. a greater sum ol enjs THPTIEMENA us awwasay.
, surely, des e
which can afford support to the position Dr. Smith labours so much to maintain : monstrous and unscriptural as is the idea, he must suppose, that the sin and the punishment of the wicked, shall work for them such an overplus of enjoyment, as shall not only compensate to themselves for the æonian Hell they shall have suffered, but give thein some ultimate advantage over the righteous; otherwise, there will be still room to say, in conformity to certain popular systems of Religion,' that the
Deity confines the bestowment of moral and spiritual favour to « a few chosen individuals.'
6 Man is the creature of circumstance. He is made what be is, entirely by the train of events which have befallen him. The powers with which he is endowed, have been called into action by surrounding objects, and the nature of that action has been determined, by that of the objects which have induced it. Had the situation of any human being varied in the least, there must have been a proportionable difference in his character. This is so true, that any being who had entirely in his own hands the direction of the events of the world, and who possessed å perfect knowledge of the nature of man, might make his character whatever he pleased. There is no affection, however fixed, which he might not change; Do habit, however inveterate, which he might not eradicate. And this he might effect, as we have already shewn, without putting the least constraint upon the will, or m: king the slightest infringement on the di erty of the moral agent ; for by changing his circumstances, he might alter his volition, and thus excite in him the desire to do or to be, whatever he might wish him to accomplish or to become.
The above quotation we bring forward, chiefly as it affords, indirectly, a most striking exemplification of the confusion--the absolute obstruction to thought, wbich is introduced into the mind along with an inadequate or mistaken bypothesis. A man is a thorough necessarian ; le explicitly attributes virtue to God; be acknowledges the eternity and the infallibility of the Divine pur. poses, and then, be speaks in terms of indignant contempt of the doctrine of Election !! While he pities the gloomy Calvinist, Dr. Smith himself endeavours to establish a Reprobation which the well-informed Calvinist would abhor.
Dr. Smiti thus defines Punishment : *:Punishment is the infliction of pain, in consequence of the neglect or violation of duty, with a view to correct the Evil.
Such a definition can do no more than to vary the terms of the question in debate. It can in no way serve the argument, but as it is a petitio principii. It must then be asked, Is the future condition of the wicked simply punitive ?
But granting both the justness and the appositeness of this definition, the hypothesis proposed to us, as alove worthy of a reasonable credence, is this, (as we have before expressed it)