« PreviousContinue »
and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment,” (an evidence of their endless punishment,) “ascendeth up (eis tons aionas ton aionon) forever and ever." .
The Apostle, in giving a representation of the wretched condition of the former inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, says, Jude, v. 7. “ They are set forth, for an example, suffering the vengeance of (aionion) eternal fire.” And our Saviour says, Mark iii. 29, of those who might be guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost_“He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of (aionion) eternal damnation.”
Does the Son of God-Does our Saviour, seriously and solemnly tell mankind, that they are in danger of that, which never was, nor never can be ? If endless punishment is not true, this is the fact. Will any make this assertion, and admit this inevitable consequence? Will they thus impeach the Redeemer of mankind ?
But the doctrine of endless punishment is in perfect agreement with the representation of the day of judgment. Matth. xxv. 46. “These shall go away into (kolasin aionion) eternal punishment; but the righteous into (zoen aionion) eternal life.”
In this case, the whole human family are represented as being assembled in this assembly are persons of different characterssome are wicked, and others are righteous—the one is sentenced to punishment, the other to happiness, and both of equal duration. This cannot be denied. With reference to this solemn and awful period, Christ, by the Revelator, says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still;" that is, to all eternity.
In this condition, we are compelled to leave the finally impenitent, and the righteous. If the scriptures, which have been produced, do not prove the endless misery of the wicked, they do not prove the endless happiness of the righteous—they do not prove the endless glory and dominion of God—the eternal reign and existence of Christ; nor the eternal existence of God, angels, men, nor devils. Consequently, there is no word in the Greek, nor English language, to express proper eternity. Then we cannot from scripture, prove the eternal existence of any moral being in the universe ; and, therefore, have reason to fear, there may be a period, when a universal annihilation of all moral beings in the universe, will take place. M. L. D.
FOR THE HOPKINSIAN MAGAZINE. ANSWER OF ENQUIRER TO THE CALVINIST'S CREED.
(SEE PAGE 163.) Rev, SIR-The method adopted in the last Magazine by Calvinist, of replying to me by quoting a string of scripture passages, is the one adopted by Universalists, and perhaps some others, in support of their theories; but it does nothing towards deciding the question. There is no denomination but what will admit the truth of the passages in the last Magazine ; but, at the same time, they claim the privilege of affixing to thein their own explanations. This is the way in which all treat scripture. All explain, in order to get along with any system; and scripture must be explained, or it will contradict itself. We say, then, that the method adopted by some, of quot. ing scripture in the manner of Calvinist, decides nothing, but leaves the point as it was. It would require a volume fully to notice all the passages produced in defence of the sentiments now under discussion; one general rule of explanation must therefore be applied to the whole, which is as follows: As God is the Ruler of the universe, and has all things so completely in his hands as to controul them as he pleases; the bare permission of evil, under such circumstances, may be said to be his doing it, or having it done. For instance: If God had power to prevent Pharaoh's heart froin being hardened, and yet suffered it to be hardened, he, in consideration of his supremacy, may be said to have hardened it.
Calvinist's reply to objections will next be considered.
He says free agency consists in choosing. We say not, if choice is caused by something without the controul of the one he chooses ; for, though a man may feel a willingness, yet if that feeling is produced in him, not by himself, but by an outward, omnipotent cause, he is not even an agent in the thing, much less a free agent; but is as much a machine, though of a different kind, as a clock. The Hopkinsian's man may therefore be termed, a voluntary machine; though voluntary no otherwise than this: he has a spring within him, which, being moved, produces volition; and this spring, say Hopkinsians, is moved by the Creator. Now what difference does it make, what kind of a spring a machine has, so that it requires a cause without it. self to set it in motion? A man can, in this way, no more help his will, than a clock can its motion. How then can he be blameable? You say, because his will is voluntary. But he is obliged to have this voluntary will, and can have no other; and is therefore a voluntary machine, after all,
Calvinist says "he is to blame because he intends evil.' But he is obliged to intend it. He has just such an intention as the Creator makes him have. How then, in the name of common sense, is be to blame for intending?
Notwithstanding all that Calvinist says, be does not shew, how a person is to blame for having a will or intention, which he is obliged to have: he inerely says, he is to blame; but how, is the question still. Let this be shewn, and all objections are at once removed.
INQUIRER. REMARKS. Enquirer objects to a Calvinist's method of quoting scripture; because he quotes it without any crplanation. But why should he explain the passages which he quotes, when he understands and professes to believe them in "their plain and obvious import?” Certainly thesc, as well as all other texts in the Bible have "a plain and obvious import;" and it will hardly be denied by any one, that their plain and obvious import is the sense in which a Calvinist understands them, as teaching the universal decrees and agency of God. It is then for Enquirer, and others who discard the doctrine, to show, that these
passages are interpolations, or that they are not correctly translated, or that they manifestly contradict other passages, more numerous, or more plain ; and so are not to be taken in their obvious sense, or understood to mean as they say Enquirer should have attempted to show this, before he censured a Calvinist for not explaining the passages quoted. And in making this attempt, should he see fit to do it, he will have no need to exercise his fertile invention; but will find abundance of matter furnished to his hands, by Universalists, Arminians and Unitarians, by Whitby, Wesley, Clarke, Priestly, Belsham Ballou, Kneeland, &c. &c. These, and other errorists, instead of quoting scripture as Calvinist does, labour to expunge or new-translate passages, or to put a literal sense upon figurative language, or a figurative sense upon that which is plain and simple.
It is not true, that all scripture, or the greater part of it, needs to be explained; but only those passages, which may seem to contradict its general tenour. Accordingly, it is thought, that but few, if any of the passages, quoted in the Calvinist's Creed, need, or admit of explanation. Enquirer, however, sees fit to apply to them “one general rule of explanation," which, if we understand it, is this, that whenever God is said, in scripture, to work, create, turn, move, put, make, stir up, set, harden, give, &c. the meaning is, that He permitted the things and events, which are the objects of these active verbs, to take place, when He had power to prevent them. But to us, we must say, the terms above-mentioned, seem to be very extraordinary ones, to express the idea of bare permission. But, suppose it were admitted, which it is not, that, when it is expressly and in the strongest terms, said, that God does a thing, the meaning may be, that He only permits it; still, is there not some proof necessary, that it does, and can, mean no more than mere permission ?
In answer to a Calvinist's reply to objections, Enquirer maintains, that if a man's choice or volition, is not caused by himself, he is neither a free agent, nor so much as an agent ; but a “voluntary machine.” Will Enquirer then say, that saints are machines ; because their holy affections and volitions are caused by the agency of the Holy Spirit ? But if a man, in order to be a free agent, must cause his choice himself; the question arises, How does he cause it? By a previous choice ? Or if not by a previous choice, how ? Let Enquirer answer. It is a mistake to suppose, that Hopkinsians hold, that“ man has a spring within him, which, being moved, produces volition;" they think the scriptures speak of no producing spring, or efficient cause, but the agency of God.
But if man does not cause his own choice or volition, how, asks Enquirer, can he be blameable? In reply, we do not say, “Because his will is voluntary.” But we do say, he is to blame, because he iniends evil, has a bail design, choice, or volition ; and this reason, we think, is agrecable to the "common sense” of mankind.
! But, if a man cannot be blaineable for his evil intention, unless it be caused by himself; then there is no criminality in an evil intention itself, but only its cause. And of course, there is no criminality in the cause of an evil intention, but in the cause of that. Thus, on this principle, we must go on, driving blame back, from cause to cause, till we either drive it out of the world, or blasphemously fix it upon the great First Cause of all things.
[BY MARY HOWITT.]
The gorgeous treasures of her merchandise ;
Thronging her streets for sports, or sacrifice.
I saw her precious stones and spiceries ;
And slaves whose beauty asked a monarch's price.
I saw with gilded prow and silken sail,
Oh! gallant ships, 'gainst you what may prevail?
I looked again-I saw a lonely shore ;
A rock amid the waters, and a waste
And winds that rose and fell with gusty haste.
There was one scathed tree, by storin defaced,
Ere long, came on a traveller slowly paced ;
Awhile he look'd upon the sea-and then Upon a book -- as if it might supply
"The thing he lacked-he read, and gazed againYet, as if unbelief so on bim wrought, He might not deem this shore, the shore he sought.
Again, I saw him come : 'twas eventide
The sun shone on the rock amid the sea ;
Their evening fight around the scathed tree;
And pushed his boat ashore ; Then gathered he His nets, and hasting up the rocky way,
Spread them to catch the sun's warm evening ray.
I saw that stranger's eye gaze on the scene ;
Within her palaces a despot been.
SERMON. PROVERBS xtus. 17. But be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long.
SOLOnon more frequently draws a contrast between saints and sinners, than any other of the inspired writers, which is setting their essentially different characters in the most striking and instructive light. This is exemplified in the verse which contains the text. It reads thus: “Let not thine heart envy sinners; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long." Some expositors tell us, that the first clause of the verse might have been more properly rendered in this form: “Let not thinc heart imitate sinners.” This certainly makes the contrast between saints and sinners more clear and pointed. Saints are not more disposed to envy sinners, than sinners are to envy one another. Not to envy sinners, therefore, does not appear so characteristical of saints, as not to imitate sinners. It is the essential character of sinners, that they have no fear of God before their eyes; and on this account, saints need to be cautioned not to imitate them; and nothing can so effectually guard them against imitating them, as “being in the fear of the Lord all the day long;" that is, habitually and constantly in the fear of the Lord; which is essential to the character of good men. Hence we may justly conclude,
That good men are disposed to live habitually in the fear of God. I shall first show what is implied in good men's living habitually in the fear of God; and then show why they are disposed to live so.
I. I am to show what is implied in good men's living habitually in the fear of God. Good men are those who have been renewed in the spirit of their minds, or in whose hearts the love of God has been shed abroad. This love becomes habitual by frequent exercise, and produces a filial fear of God, which is a phrase often used in scripture, to denote every holy and religious affection. Good men are as habitually disposed to live in the fear of God, as they are to live in the exercise of that love, which is the fulfilling of the law. This leads me to observe,
That men's living habitually in the fear or love of God, implies, that they devote themselves to the service of God, every day. Good men feel themselves under moral obligation to improve all their time to some valnable or useful purpose. They know