صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

temptations, and millions of them left to live, and die without instruction respecting their duty either to God or man, it is evidently incompatible with the attributes of the Deity to sentence any of them to eternal damnation, until he has first employed every possible means to reclaim them. Is it not reasonable to believe, that Christ, who tasted a bitter, painful death for every man, will persevere until he has compleated the work which he has began? But were it possible that there should even one be found, so obstinately perverse, that infinite wisdom aided by almighty power, could not reclaim, would it not be more merciful to blot him out of existence, than to subject him to eternal torments? Why should a civilized people persist so obstinately in exhibiting the Deity as the patron of savage cruelty and vindictive vengeance? I am confident that the salvation of mankind has always depended, and will forever depend, upon the infinite goodness, wisdom, and almighty power of our most merciful Creator, and best benefactor, and not upon any goodness, wisdom, or power that has ever been communicated to man. I am also confident, that the Deity never created even one soul on purpose for the devil; and as confident, that he never will permit the devil to retain one soul contrary to his purpose. I am also firmly persuaded, that the Deity will

persevere in the use of means, until he has established every human being in a condition vastly preferable to a state of non-existence. If this had not been his design, he never would have created them.

I have frequently been opposed with the following questions, viz. If the Deity is really as benevolent and impartial as you suppose him to be, why has he permitted so much evil and misery in the world as we daily see and experience? And why are his favours dispensed with so much partiality, that one man lives in splen dour, ease, and affluence, and his neighbour, apparently a much better man than him, living despised in abject poverty and real misery?

To which I have answered, that our most gracious Father has placed us here at school, to gain an experimental knowledge of the nature and tendencies of right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and vice, which would be as difficult to attain by theory, as for the Collegian, who had narrowly escaped being drowned, had made a solemn resolution never to go into the water again until he had first learned to be an expert swimmer.

We judge of every thing by experience, which is our only certain guide; and our enjoyments are greatly enhanced by contrasting the various scenes through which we have passed, of pleasure and pain, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, the smiles of friends, and the frowns of enemies, freedom and captivity, and of vice, and misery its natural and necessary consequence, contrasted with virtue, and happiness its certain reward.

When the penalty of disobedience was announced to Adam, viz. in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die; he would naturally enquire, what is death? Suppose, then, the Deity to give him an idea of the meaning of the word death, should cause some animal to expire before him, groaning bitterly, in the most convulsive agonies, would he not ask, What causes it to make that disagreeable noise? Why does it struggle and twitch so violently? Because it is in great pain. Pain! What is pain? Here the theoretic lesson must end, and master experience commences teacher, and applies a good rod to his naked back, and tells him to remember, that the sensation produced in his back, by the application of the whip, is what we mean by the word pain. This I shall doubtless remember. But pray tell me, was not the pain in the

whip before it was communicated to my back? O no, the whip is dead....it cannot feel. What, had the whip the same kind of life that I have? No, it only had what is termed vegetable life, and never had the sense of feeling. Can it be possible that Adam was so ignorant? He certainly was, unless the Deity had vouchsafed to furnish him with innate or intuitive knowledge: which I conceive he has never yet done, and which I firmly believe he never will do.

He has created us with powers and faculties susceptible of improvement, but perfectly destitute of knowledge. Therefore every being who is not possessed of infinite knowledge, must be contented to gain it progressively by experience, and judge of the nature and qualities of good and evil, pain and pleasure, and happiness and misery, by contrasting them.

If Adam had been as sagacious as some people would wish us to believe, he would have known, or strongly suspected, that the devil in the form of a snake, had been tampering with his rib.

If Adam was so very ignorant, was it not extremely cruel to appoint him our head and representative, and impute the guilt of his disobe

dience to his posterity, when it is acknowledged that God positively knew that he would transgress, and subject millions of his descendants to innumerable evils? By no means. The supposed injustice and cruelty originates in the errors of those, who assert that God had, in the first place, made a partial election of a certain number, prior to this scheme of probation, by which device he had contrived to divest all mankind of every moral principle, and both the will and power of doing any thing acceptable to God. That he then sent Christ to be the Saviour of the elect only, for whose sins he has made an ample atonement, and left millions of non-elect, or reprobates, loaded with the imputed guilt of Adam's transgression, in the most polluted state of depravity....totally excluded from any participation in the covenant of grace, and the redemption purchased by Christ for the elect..... unassisted by the spirit of God....with the entrance of life blocked up against them. And being, thus completely divested of inclination and power, either to will or to do any good, they are still supposed to be amenable to the law of works, whose conditions, they say, are, obey perfectly, or die eternally! Nor can our disqualification by the above contrivance, exempt us from any part of duty, or screen us from the punishment denounced against the transgressor. Be

« السابقةمتابعة »