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the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Ayain : Let nothing be judged lanatical, which results in good feeling; that is, in love, meekness, forbearance, charity. Good feeling is never the result of mad or blind excitement; neither is such excitement the product of good feeling. It is only when pride, censoriousness, malice,—the mad passions,—Game out to scorcb and sting, as by divine authority, and the woes of hell itself are denounced on men with exulting satisfaction; then it is, that we discover madness : this, by consent of all sober and intelligent christians, is fanaticism. For ourselves, we call by that name nothing else; and we little care to expose any thing, which does not result in this, to suspicion. If any man will canvass ihe merits of revivals on this basis, and do it without malicious partiality, we open to him tlie field, and consent to abide the result.
Art. VI.-IulUSTRATIONS OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT.
Illustrations of the Divine Government ; designed to show that all mankind will,
ultimately, be restored to perfect purity and happiness. By 'T. Southwoon SMITH, M. D. First American from the last London edition. Boston : 1831. 12mo. pp. 347.
In opposing the assumption that “ sin is the necessary means of the greatest good,” we have heretofore alluded to its tendencies, and ihe use which might be made of it to sustain the doctrine of the final restoration of all men. We have long felt, that were Universalists to intrench themselves behind this dogma, their position would be impregnable by its advocates. We have been deemed uncharitable by many, for imputing such results to their favorite assumption. Here, however, in the work before us, we have a practical verification of our opinion on this subject. This misnamed “ Illustrations of the Dirine Government,' is nothing more or less than an elaborate attempt to uphold the doctrines of Universalisin now preached, on the principle that sin is necessary to the perfection of the universe; and bence, that God must finally save all who have been concerned in promoting such an iinportant object of the divine counsels. The author, who is a man of eminence in the medical profession, has undertaken to grapple with some of the most abstruse points of metaphysical theology. He has collected the various reasonings of predecessors, and stated the argument in a form as specious perhaps as any of them. The book has been published for a number of years; and if we may judge from other works which have since appeared in support of the same doctrine, Dr. Smith's work is regarded as a sort of textbook of philosophical principles, by the advocates of universal res
toration. It is written in a pleasing style, suited to interest a certain class of readers, who readily fall in with the general strain of an author's remarks, without subjecting them to a rigid investigation. In this respect it is a dangerous work. More than once we have taken it up and laid it aside, resolved to leave those who will connect their religious faith with such crudities and unfounded assumptions, to test their schemes by its legitimate effects. But for the sake of such persons as are perplexed and yet unsatisfied with its specious philosophy, and who, but for certain theories found in it, might come to the acknowledgment of the truth, we have determined to notice it.
All reasoning on the doctrine of the final restoration of all mankind, it will be admitted, must be a priori ; and so far as it has any appropriateness, it must be hypothetical and analogical. Dr. Smith thus aims to settle the question, before appealing to the scriptures. And if the groundless assumptions with which he begins and proceeds are granted, his doctrine follows.
Without attempting any direct argument against the doctrine of the final restoration, or even to follow Dr. S. through all the fallacies in which his work abounds, we propose to give certain points of essential importance in his work, a brief examination. The author's various positions and reasonings, may,
we think, be fairly arranged under the following assumptions : That God, in the design of his government, can fix upon nothing but the final and perfect happiness of all his creatures, as the
result of his administration : that, to accomplish this in the best manner, he resolves what the conduct of his creatures must be ; and then takes such measures as infallibly secure the conduct he requires. His argument is as follows : God, as perfect in benevolence, must desire the ultimate happiness of all bis intelligent creatures; and since he is infinite in wisdom and power, he will compass the end. We need not say, that all who argue in favor of the restoration of all mankiod to final boliness and happiness, rely substantially upon the same species of argumentation.
Dr. Smith, in his views of the mode of the divine administration, seems desirous of avoiding the scheme of a direct divine efficiency, and holds, that the Deity is mediately the author of all events. But whether he does not, after all, virtually subject the freedom of the creature to the same fatality that the divine efficiency scheme involves, will be better seen in the sequel. A few quotations may serve to develop his views.
* The Deity must have some wise and benevolent object to accomplish, as the result of his administration, and that object can be nothing but the final and perfect happiness of his intelligent creatures. With this view, every thing must be planned, and to this end both the natural and moral disorders which prevail must necessarily conduce.' p. 46. Vol. VIII,
That the object of God in the creation and government of the world, is both wise and benevolent, we do not question. But that the results of his acts of creation and government will be the final and perfect happiness of all his creatures, or that the only design of God in creation terminates upon creatures, is not so clear. “For thy pleasure they are and were created,” is the scriptural account of this design. Our view of the subject is, that the design of God in creation and government has respect to himself and his creatures, and terminates wholly upon the good results which he foresaw he could secure; though those results fall short of the final and perfect happiness of all his creatures. So far as we know, the results of the divine government sall far short of the object which Dr. S. ascribes to God in creation. In the statemeats which he has made, indeed, he has begged the whole question at issue ; and if they are allowed, without hesitation, there is no longer any room for argument. We think, however, that such bold assumptions, on a subject so momentous, need proof. But let us attend further to the determination of that conduct which is ordained to secure the anticipated results,-a perfectly holy universe,-and the measures which God, as it is supposed, takes to accomplish them.
• If then the world be indeed the production of a being who is infinite in wisdom, power and goodness, the proof of his constant superintendence of it, seems to be irresistible. For since he is perfect 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 wisdom and power, or with a design to impart enjoyment 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 which 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.' p. 17.
Here we have Dr. Smith's theory of providence. Is there then, in point of fact, no “interruption in our world,” of “that order, which alone can illustrate the divine perfections"? Is there “no destruction of faculties," which might otherwise " perceive" the glory of God, and be enraptured by it? Is there no obscuration of the divine perfections on intelligent minds,-no mental and moral darkness coming up from scenes of drunkenness, debauchery, profanity and lust, -- from war and bondage, that have caused this earth to travail and groan until now? Is the intellectual atinosphere of our world all light,-its moral, all love? Has God pledged himself, in the outset, not only to overrule the perverse conduct
of men, so as to reduce the evil of it; but also to see that no event takes place, no conduct ensues, under his administration, but such as is better than any that could have taken its place? In a word, is that leading infidel dogina, All that is, is right, a baptized truism? The argument, if it proves any thing, proves too much, and shows that the assumed premises are too broad. Again he says:
• What is maintained then, is, that with respect to every individual in the world, there is this exact adaptation of circumstances to his temper, his habits, his wants, so that while he is left to the full and free exercise of every faculty he possesses, he can feel and act only as the Sovereign of the universe appoints; because the circumstances which excite his sensations and volitions are determined by him. It is not just to suppose, that the Deity exercises any such control 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.'
We may here pause and inquire, what is free-agency? Is it the mere consequent, in a couplet, of which exteroal objects form the antecedent? Is it so ? God creates man, arranges all the circumstances of his being, and then gives him a nature, such that he must unavoidably consorm to those circumstances. And now his will is so nicely balanced between circumstances and nature, that “be can feel and act only as the Sovereign of the universe appoints.” So says our author. God places men“ in circumstances which so operate upon their nature, as certainly to induce the conduct he requires." What then is the difference, (so far as the freedom of creatures is concerned,) between that sovereign agency of God, which, operating upon surrounding objects, invariably and designedly secures the sinful actions of men, and that direct efficiency of God, which also secures the same kind of action ? We reply, none at all. Both alike make God the author of sin in a way which we do not, and which, as we believe, can be reconciled only with the ultimate happiness of all men. Both alike virtually, though not professedly, take the power of voluntary action out of the agent. The one lodges the power in the hands of God, to be exerted directly upon the mind; the other supposes him to exert it disguisedly through the medium of external objects. In either case, man “can feel and act only as the sovereign of the universe appoints." What then becomes of his accountability ? The influence exerted over him is designed and sure. It matters not whether it be direct or indirect.
But let us test this circumstantial agency a little farther. Is it not opposed to the law of the divine kingdom which aims to regulate the actions of men ? That law, in its spirit and letter, is an unqualified expression of the divine pleasure,* or preserence of one kind of action to another. The precept is ever in the same line of conduct with the preference, whetber the conduct required be considered in relation to its nature, tendencies, or results. What if the results seen in human action do not correspond with the divine preference? Does this fact annihilate the preserence of God? Is it said the preference and precept are nou different from the results, but they are destined to be one ultimately? The time will come, when all men will be brought 10 such a true sense of duiy as to do it. This, if admitted, does not meet the case ; for according to the reasoning of our author, God now actually secures the conduct he requires. Sin is therefore, now no violation of known or knowable obligation to act otherwise. It is only the disagreement between a man's conduct and bis own imperfect ideas of good. But farther. External objects operating upon the mind, constrain choice. Such a state is not freedom, but its destruction. The being, the agent, cannot do otherwise. He is under the sovereign dominion of external objects, not in reference to the certainty of action only, but the power. Hence the physical takes the place of the moral constitution. The choice of the sinner, instead of being the act of an agent, capacitated within bimself to originate voluntary action, is the physical, inevitable effect of causes external to himself. And inasmuch as God is the author of all external objects and their arrangement, he is mediately, but irresistibly and designedly, the author of sin. In view of its nature, tendency, and relations, he designs sin rather than holiness; fixes upon it as a necessary means of securing a good, an “ultimate good; good bigher in nature and greater in degree, than could have been produced without it.” Here then is a constitutional arrangement in the system of things; a sin manufactory; the pressure of the divine hand, to secure conduct diametrically opposed to the spirit and precept of the divine law. What a perfectly nugatory character must it give to every purpose of a just God, either lo reward obedience or to punish sio! Hence Dr. Sinith, lo meet the exigencies of his theory of God's providential agency in the production of sin, labors to do away with the common ideas of justice. “ Justice in God,” he claims, " is the treatment of every person in the manner which is best suited to his moral state.” And with reference to what end? The ultimate happiness of men ? This assumes again the point in question. Is it in reference to the best systein possible in the nature of things? Then the endless punish