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sional force and beauty, gives the reader too much labour, to find many admirers in this superficial age. Self-manifestation the ultimate end of all God's operations, as far as they have been hitherto revealed,' is the short form of enunciating the proposition, from whence the origin and nature of evil flows as a corollary. From this proposition all divine truth may be deduced; or the proposition itself may be made the conclusion of an argument commenced from the opposite end of the chainnamely, from the obvious fact of the existence of evil, and the partly obvious and partly revealed fact of the sovereign procedure by God in election.
Good and evil are correlatives: as black shews itself mostintensely upon a white ground, and least intensely upon a ground approximating to itself—while the black, nevertheless, remains equally black in all situations--so does evil appear most exceeding evil in proportion as it is viewed in connection with supreme good. Every one, who has reflected with tolerable accuracy upon the terms which are peculiarly applied to God, is aware that they express qualities quite incomprehensible to our minds; such as Infinity, Omniscience, Omnipotence, &c.: and if we try to comprehend or understand these terms, we find ourselves compelled to be merely enumerating a series of finites, a series of knowledge, a series of power: so that we have no capacity for forming an intelligible idea of Infinity but by a multiplication of finities, which is a contradiction in the very terms of the proposition. Since, therefore, the point aimed at cannot be attained that way-since we cannot arrive at the knowledge of the unknown and incomprehensible God by a series of known and comprehensible things—there remains but one other mode, which is, to set the known and the comprehensible as contraries; and thus we arrive, by a series of negatives, not indeed at a direct knowledge of God, but at a negative knowledge of Him-a knowledge of what He is not-and thereby at a conclusion and induction, from these premises, of what He must be.
All inquiry into the revealed character of God is despised, in these days, as unprofitable; which is a conclusive proof that there is little or no love of God, or desire to be made acquainted with him. This is the true cause of the epithet." practical," ” applied to some sermons; while those which tend to make men know God are stigmatized as “not practical.” Hence we assert that there is less love of God amongst the Religious World of our day, than amongst any other class of religionists which ecclesiastical history describes : the love to man, and especially to their brethren, we shall consider presently. We entreat serious consideration to this our assertion, which we make under a deep sense of the awful infatuation under which Christians labour
who are enamoured of the actual state of modern professors of religion. It is impossible for words to convey the importance of every one feeling, as well as knowing, that all good is only, and CAN be only, in God; while all evil, misery, sin, &c., is and CAN only be in the creatures. The sole object for man to strive after, is the knowledge, in order to conformity with, and the companionship and enjoyment, of God. It is idle to be seeking for gratification otherwise than in God, simply because it is not to be had elsewhere. The tendency of Satan, and of all visible things, is to make us believe that pleasure is to be found in them; and the sin of mankind lies much more in seeking pleasure in created things, than in any of the acts themselves by which that pleasure is sought to be attained. Hence only do we see the propriety of our Lord's injunctions, to leave wife, and parents, and children, and lands, and houses, &c. for his sake; because some persons find satisfaction, and complete satiety, in duties, whilst others find the same in vices. It is true, indeed, that the latter, by being destructive of others, is by so much a greater fault; but when we find that the warnings of our Lord, in his parables and direct exhortations, are more against our virtues than our vices, it cannot admit of a doubt that the former, as the more deceitful, are the more dangerous to men's own souls.
It is almost impossible to say how much science owes indirectly to Revelation; which obligation, however, it has never had the decency to acknowledge, or it might appear extraordinary that the above chain of reasoning should not have suggested itself to men's minds, although unversed in the mysteries of Christianity, because there does not appear to be any thing in the terms employed which might not be within the limits of what is called pure natural religion. However this inay be, it would seem that any mind, capable of proceeding thus far, must have advanced also considerably further ; because, although in the above-mentioned examples of Infinity, Omniscience, and Omnipotence, no quality of Deity is involved which is not equally applicable to the Great First Cause of every system of Deism, yet the same reasoning applies with equal propriety to the moral attributes of God, that is, the qualities of God which bind his intelligent and responsible creatures to him. It is with these moral qualities that the terms “evil” and “ sin ” are usually connected ; and as the former class of attributes was seen to be set forth by one series of negatives, so are the moral attributes of God shewn out by another class. Thus, as finity, corruption, and change, &c. are the contraries to Infinity, Incorruptibility, Immutability, &c.; so evil is the contrary to Goodness, and sin is the manifestation of that contrary in the intelligent and responsible, because willing, creatures.
There is one solitary exception to the statement that God has left himself to be known only by negatives. He has made a complete and full exhibition of what He is positively, to his intelligent and responsible creatures, in the incarnation of his Son; in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. This is the only being that ever trod the earth of whom God said, “In him I am well pleased.” He appears in a double character : first, as the exhibition, not merely the exhibitor, of what God is to man; secondly, of what man ought to be towards God. In the former we see God continuing, day after day, to visit the most unhappy and miserable of mankind, for the purpose of relieving their distresses ; healing disease ; restoring to life ; pardoning the offences of all who turn to him, irrespective of the extent of their rebellion against and antipathy to himself; willing at all times to teach the ignorant; condescending to reason with the wayward ; and rejecting none but those who are too proud and self-sufficient to listen to his entreaties. In the second character, He is the measure of what every man ought to be; and thus the measure of every man's sin is the quantum that he falls short of that standard. Moreover, Jesus being bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, is a proof that God does not require of our nature more than it is capable of yielding; and although our nature, in its present condition since the Fall, would be incapable of rising to so high a standard, yet it is now rendered capable by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, the Infinite God Himself, in the person of sinful men. Thus here, too, we have the extent of our sinfulness set forth by a negative, inasmuch
as, in all things in which we are not that which Christ was, in all things which we do not that which Christ did, in all those things we are sinful in that degree in which we come short of his perfect model and example.
A very awful and important consideration is here involved, which is, the extent to which the Holy Ghost may be resisted ; a question not merely of speculative theology, if such there be, but a question involving a glorious display of the justice of God in respect to the responsibility of intelligent creatures. All creatures here, are in a state of mutation. God is immutable : immutable in all things : not immutable in physical things, and mutable in morals; but immutable in moral attributes also : the immutability in morals must be shewn out by the immutability of evil, as well as the immutability of good : towards this immutability of one kind or other all creatures are tending. Herein is seen the great error of the Universalists, who, by denying the exhibition in hell of the eternity of evil, do set aside the manifestation of the eternity of good. Intelligent and responsible creatures are the machinery necessary for this manifestation : take from them their manifestation of the one, and they must
straightway cease to manifest the other. The duration of any prion state in which they had been, and in which, while abiding in it, they did manifest these two principles, would be ultimately swallowed up and forgotten, as though it had never been in the beyond extent of eternity: that prior state, then, let it have endured for never so long a period, would have been a mere episode. in the life of those beings who quitted it; a state of perfect uselessness; a state of suffering without an end, seeing that the end of their suffering was to be no suffering, and therefore they might have been originally and always without it: whereas it is clear, from the attributes of perfect wisdom and love, that nothing ever has existed in any state which could have produced the same end in any other; inasmuch as God does not act by caprice, but by a certain law and rule, which law and rule is the nature of His own Being.
As long as the minds of Christians are in darkness point, there can be no approach to God with unreserved confidence. We appeal to the consciences of our readers--that is, those among them who are in this state of uncertainty-whether there be not a tacit, though perhaps smothered or banished, feeling, that God has acted from caprice in many of his dealings with themselves and with others. Some may, indeed, have resolved the whole into the inscrutableness of God's ways, and succeeded in thinking no more of the subject ; but there are other minds, and these amongst the strongest, who are not to be calmed by any such palliatives. The texts of Scripture which the doctors usually furnish, are seen to be mere subterfuges of laziness, inapplicable to the case : these are commonly from the ixth of Romans, ixth of Job, and iv th of Daniel, ver. 35, which relate solely to the objects of God's discrimination in election, and consequently have no reference to the present subject. God has essential properties ; creatures have other essential properties: it is alike unsound in religion as in philosophy to suppose that God can act in a manner contrary to the essential properties of His being. The object of Revelation is to declare these essential properties, and how the well or ill being of us, hịs intelligent and responsible creatures, is affected by them; conformity or nonconformity to these being the measure of the happiness or misery of man. Man’s will determines that measure ; and therefore man's will is necessary to give him responsibility, and to prove that evil is from his own act:in separating himself from God. The present dispensation is one of mutation; the next is eternal, or one in which there is no mutation : man is fixed for ever as he dies: and therefore every day of his present life he is either increasing the amount of his happiness or misery; fitting himself for that station in heaven, or in hell, which he shall for ever occupy; for that degree of glory, and for that number of cities
VOL. IV.-NO. I.
over which he shall rule, or for the number of stripes which he shall receive.
There are few topics of religion less frequently discussed, but none more awful, than the consideration of the power of the intelligent creatures to resist and oppose the power of God. The responsibility of a creature consists in its faculty to discern good and evil, and in its freedom to follow the bent of its will. The nature of evil must be shewn by the creature producing its own misery in exact proportion as it wilfully departs from the only good. It is nothing to the point, that an individual mistakes what is the only real good; for this arises out of the nature of federal headship, in which relationship God has been pleased to deal with His creatures; and which no further affects the present argument than as shewing that now indeed no individual has of himself, and without the aid of revelation, the capacity to discern good and evil, except in a very limited degree. But as soon as a revelation was given, all those creatures, whose intellects enabled them to understand the words in which that revelation was conveyed, were in a condition to know the only good; but the will to choose it was still unmoved. The faculty of volition, which is generally, but incorrectly, termed the freedom of the will, is not so much necessary for exhibiting the responsibility of man, the point for which it is most usually insisted on, as for setting forth the origin of all evil to be in the creature itself, and not in the remotest degree attributable to God : yet by some scheme or other-by fatalism amongst the Heathen and Mohammedans, or by predestination amongst the ultra-Calvinistsmen are constantly throwing the blame of all misery upon God himself, as its cause.
No one, who has been instructed in accurate theology, doubts the power of the creature wilfully to destroy itself, or believes that it can effectually turn to God but by the direct agency of His Spirit; but we suspect that another point, on which the Scripture is also very clear, has been greatly lost sight of, until it has come to be disbelieved in fact, and now perhaps to be altogether denied. This point is, the power of the intelligent creature to resist the motions of the Spirit of God. The difficulty may be shifted upon the power of Satan, by saying that it is he who fortifies the spirit of man against the motions of the Spirit of God; but the difficulty in kind, though not in degree, remains where it did before: for Satan and the fallen angels are but creatures still, and the difficulty consists in the possibility of any creature resisting Omnipotence. It is, nevertheless, certain that he can so resist: the Scripture every where declares he can, and does; and if effectually, that the aggravated eternal ruin of the creature is the consequence.
This aggravated state is that in which the Christian church