صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

be

of everlasting misery, be necessary to preserve order in the universe, the God of truth must execute the sentence ; for it cannot be supposed that the foundation of the Divine government is laid in a lie. But it biay remarked further, that no man can say the Almighty will not be creating new worlds through all endless duration. To these worlds, as they successively spring into existence, the condition of the finally impenitent of our earth may be a warning. *

On the whole, it is not pretended that the above is as clear as a mathematical demonstration ; but neither is it necessary. I have shown how it is possible to reconcile the creation of those who perish for ever with the perfections of God: and, since Revelation has not explained the matter, that is sufficient. In some cases God has not given us the reasons of His conduct, and then, if we inquire into it, we are necessarily involved in difficulties. Job xxxiii. 13. Rom. xi. 33. We may conjecture, and our conjectures may, in some instances, appear probable; but it is not in our power to arrive at certainty. God did not acquaint Abraham how the command to sacrifice his son could be reconciled with the promise that through this son he should be the father of many nations ; (Gen. xvii. 4.) nor could Abraham see how the promise would be made good : but he did not suppose the Almighty would be at any loss upon that head, and therefore he staggered not at the promise through unbelief. He knew, if there were no other way, God could raise him from the dead. Here we see that Abraham was so far from discerning with certainty how this difficulty would be cleared up, that he saw only one way in which it was possible, and that did not turn out to be the method which the Almighty adopted. God may have a thousand reasons for what He does and a thousand different ways of bringing about His purposes, which may not be within the ken of mortals. There is nothing wrong however in trying to find out His reasons and ways of action, provided it be done with humility ; but if we pertinaciously arraign the wisdom and power of God when we can proceed no farther, we only display our pride and ignorance. Are we acquainted with all his works and ways ? Can He do nothing which short-sighted mortals cannot explain ?

* « The eternal punishment of wicked men and angels may continue “ an eternal monument of disobedience and divine displeasure, perhaps “to many other systems of intelligent agents created to probation.” Cure of Deism, Vol. i. p. 325.

If it should be said, that what is advanced respecting all the planets being inhabited, and all the other species of intelligent creatures rising gradually above us by almost imperceptible degrees, is supported by very slender evidence ; or should it even be proved to be impossible, (though I am quite confident it cannot,) yet it must not be forgotten, that these things are not imniediately connected with the main argument. The Scriptures inform us, that, besides men, there are other intelligent beings—that some of them sinned and are suffering--that their sufferings are recorded as a warning to us that others maintain their integrity--and that we ought to strive to do the will of God on earth as they do in heaven. Thus the most material points are proved from the sacred Scripture: and but few will deny the following inference to be very probable-That God will make the papishment of wicked men a warning to others, and thereby prevent a greater evil, which is a sufficient reason for their existence.*

* “ Why may not all the misery in this system of ours promote and in“ crease the happiness of some others? We have good reason to believe " that there is some connexion between the different systems of the uni

verse, but have small ground to imagine ours the best. Why then

may it not be subservient to a better? This indeed is only conjecture; “ however, I think it would be no easy matter to confute it, till which be “ done, we may very safely conclude, that the fall itself, as well as all the “ sin and misery consequent upon it, could not have been prevented with

[ocr errors]

When a doctrine is clearly proved from Scripture, all difficulties should give way to—Thus saith the Lord; for it is easy to ask questions upon a known truth which no mao can fully answer. But such a mode of disputing is like casting dust into a person's eyes : it is to perplex rather than to elucidate a subject : it is inconsistent with that reverence which is due to the Divine authority, and can only serve a bad cause.

[ocr errors]

SECTION VI.

On the Immutability of God's Counsels.

MR. WINCHESTER, after citing Eph. i. 8—11. i Tim. ii. 3, 4. remarks,

" if God will have all men to be saved, or restored, and to come to the knowledge of “the truth-if it is his good pleasure, which he hath pro“posed in himself, in the dispensation of the fulness of "times, to rehead all things in Christ, both in heaven " and on earth-and if he worketh all things after the “ counsel of his owo will; then is not the doctrine of the “ restoration true ?"'*

It is allowed that the good pleasure of God, to gather together, or rehead all things in Christ, was not defeated : for we read in ver. 22, that God hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church. The gathering together, or reheading all things in Christ, therefore, cannot mean the restoring all things in Christ, because the former hath taken place, but this hath not. The apostle was writing to

"out greater detriment to the whole.” King's Origin of Evil, p. 471. Law's Note.

* Dialogues, p. 101.

the saints at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus, and he informs them of a mystery of the Divine will, which was, “ in the dispensation of the fulness of times,” or under the Gospel dispensation, (see Gal. iv. 4.) to raise Jesus Christ to the head of His moral government, and invest Him with full authority over all things in heaven and on earth. In ver. 22. the apostle informs them that that happy event had then taken place, and that the Redeemer's authority was exercised for the good of the church. This would be full of consolation to the faithful saints ; but what has it to do with the restoration of wicked men and devils ? Suppose his majesty were to resign the government of these kingdoms into the bands of his son, with a charge to exercise bis authority for the benefit of his faithful subjects; shonld we not think the man deranged in his intellects who should conclude from it, that every prisoner would be set at liberty, and that there would be no more disorder in society ?

The will of God, as expressed in 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4. may be frustrated. The Universalists believe that repentance, faith, and obedience are necessary in order to salvation : and they know very well that the will of God respecting our repentance, faith, and obedience, is daily frustrated in innumerable instances. The apostle wrote under the influence of the Holy Ghost, and therefore expressed the will of God, when he said, “ I will that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting. But do men pray every where? where lift up holy hands ? Must we search every where in vain for a wrathful person or a sceptic? Now what an absurdity is it to pretend that the end is certain and necessary, when experience proves that the means in order to it are contingent? The Predestinarians are consistent upon this subject : they hold that those who are predestinated to eternal life, are necessitated to perform the conditions upon which it is suspended. And indeed the connexion between the end and the means is so

Do they every

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ses.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

close, that even a child must perceive the one cannot be absolutely determined while the other is involved in uncertainty.

A great deal of confusion has arisen upon this subject from not considering in what cases the will of God may be opposed with success, and in what cases it cannot. The will of God, so far as it is made known to us, is

irresistible in every thing, except where the co-operation i of the human will is necessary to bring about His purpo

God cannot make man virtuous and happy without the concurrence of his will, and no violence must be done to it, for there can be no moral virtue without moral liberty. Man may, therefore, by continued resistance defeat the will of God concerning his salvation. The word of God is very express upon this subject. O Jerusalem,

Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stồnest them DE

which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Matt. xiii. 37. Here the will of man and the will of God are represented as opposed to each other, and the will of man as prevailing.

Mr. Vidler on 1 Tim. ii. 3, 4, says • haps, a sufficient answer in the opinion of most persons "only to ask, Is the apostle speaking here of a command,

or of a purpose of the Divine mind ?"* 1beg leave to ask, Whether it be not the purpose of the Divine mind that the commandments should be kept ? if it be, is not the Divine purpose frustrated when they are broken? I wish to inquire farther, Whether it be the purpose of God to save any who do not obey His commands ? if not, since Mr. V. grants that His will respecting our obe

be resisted, I shall be glad to know how it can be proved that His will respecting our salvation is e irresistible ?

To show that the Divine purpose cannot be frustrated,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

" It would be, per

dience may

* God's Love to his Creatures, p. 24.

« السابقةمتابعة »