« السابقةمتابعة »
and false affections; true and false zeal; proper or improper revival measures; a qualified and wise leader and one that is not; and the duty of caution, firmness and prudence, in respect to encouraging young converts to indulge a hope, and unqualified, erroneous novices to lead. These truths and duties he seems to presume are well enough understood, to secure his people from all fatal errors. But Dr. C. preaches much upon the divine law, urges its precepts, and holds up its penalty as a motive to alarm stupid and careless sinners. He strikes hard against Universalism, and shows that there is such a place as hell, where all impenitent sinners must dwell forever, especially those who live through revivals and refuse to repent. He teaches that there is such a being as the devil, who is a great enemy to revivals-that he has a great many friends, who are also enemies of revivals, and who are "constantly playing into the devil's hands." He shows that God is displeased with sinners, that he is angry with them every day, and that his wrath abides upon them continually.
He preaches the doctrine of total depravity, and the absolute necessity of a change of heart in order to be saved. He insists upon it, that before this change, sinners are serving the devil and themselves only, and that they "must repent or go to hell.”
He advocates the exercise scheme in opposition to the taste scheme, teaches that the creature is active in regeneration, and that a new heart is only a new purpose or exercise of love. Accordingly he preaches up the natural ability of sinners to obey all the divine commands, and calls upon them to make themselves a new heart and a new spirit "on pain of endless torment in hell."
He dwells much upon the invitations of the gospel, the universal atonement of Christ, and God's willingness to save. He frequently quotes such texts as the following: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die, O house of Israel. Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." He tells sinners their heavenly Father" yearns over them," and that Christ "stands with open arms," beseeching them to come to him, not being willing that any should perish, and yet that they break his heart, and rush down to bell. In presenting and urging these divine invitations, he frequently succeeds in 'touching the secret place of tears.'
He often holds up the terrors of the divine law, and the most terrible divine threatenings contained in the Bible, in order to alarm the fears, and impress the hearts of sinners. And I have heard it reported that he sometimes resorts to bug-bear views of danger, in order to accomplish this purpose. This however, may be chargeable only to some of the Doctor's imitators.
He holds up and enforces with all the weight of his power, the
duty of unconditional submission to God without delay. He insists that every person is bound to give up his whole heart to God, and submit to him, without the least reserve. He also urges repentance for sin, and faith in Christ, who has laid down his life for sinners, and who so earnestly entreats them to come to him for life.
Dr. C. seems to depend very much upon anxious meetings, as a very prominent part of the means to promote a revival. At these meetings, he makes great efforts to obtain impenitent resolutions and promises of repentance and giving the heart to God, before they separate from each other, or arise from their knees. He takes great pains to make sinners commit themselves by a solemn promise in respect to repentance and submission to God, so that he can appeal to the powerful principles of honor and shame, as well as fear, in urging them to arise from spiritual death. He occasionally shows that religion will raise its subjects to immortal honors, while irreligion will sink all finally impenitent sinners into "shame and everlasting contempt." He seems to think that it is gaining a very important point, to persuade, or by almost any means, to induce impenitent persons to come forward and kneel down to be prayed for, and profess a willingness to repent. On this point he generally exhausts all his pathos, and power of persuasion.
In his address to his church, he dwells much upon the "awful responsibility of christians." He sometimes appears to impose a divine responsibility upon them, which is indeed truly awful, and to hold them responsible for the immortal destiny of all the souls around them. And in his construction and application of the promises to the prayer of faith, he makes this appear very plausible to many persons, if not conclusive. He dwells much on the importance of prayer, and the prayer of faith. He encourages christians to believe that God has bound himself by an immutable promise, to convert as many souls as they shall ask for in the true prayer of faith. He tells them that they all can and ought to put up the prayer of faith continually for all men, and that if they would only do their duty in this respect, there would soon be no impenitent sinners in the world. He urges christians to feel much, very much, for sinners, and to pray "just as though they could not be denied their requests" for their salvation. He encourages praying for particular individvals, in such a manner as to carry the impression to their minds that christians supremely desire their conversion and salvation. He encourages females to pray and exhort in public, in order that the influence of their captivating eloquence may be brought directly to move the heart. He labors hard to make the church exert their united, whole moral influence in favor of the work. Indeed he sometimes seems to impress the idea, that the spirit is dependent upon christians, that he cannot work until after they have got out of the way, and come up to the high mark of the prayer of faith. A LAYMAN.
[To be continued.]
THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL, CONSISTENT WITH THE EXISTENCE AND PERFECTIONS OF GOD.
It may be known to some of our readers, that a discussion has commenced, in the N. Y. "Free Enquirer," between the Editor, and Mr. O. Bacheler, late Editor of the Anti-Universalist, on the Question, "Is there reason to believe there is a God, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness?"
In his fourth Letter, Mr. Owen argues against the grounds of such a belief, from the permission and prevalence of evil in the world: He writes, p. 157, "I may conceive (for what frightful demon will not Fancy conjure up!) a Creating God all-powerful, and deliberately willing evil and suffering: or (and this is my conception when I picture him forth at all) I may imagine Him benevolent, and of limited power. Omnipotent AND benevolent he cannot be. Omnipotence could, and Benevolence would, have prevented evil."
This argument of an avowed Atheist, is similar to the reasoning of the Universalist, Dr. Chauncy, in his "Benevolence of the Deity;" and how this argument would be answered by those who embrace the " new divinity," which teaches that 'God could not exclude evil from the world comprising free moral agents'-we do not know. We should like to see Dr. Taylor try.
We are happy to perceive that Mr. Bacheler, in his reply, takes the true Hopkinsian ground, and we believe, the only ground on which an Atheist can be fairly answered.
We have only to remark, that if "Optimism" be, what Mr. B. supposes; we should "disclaim" it, as decidedly as he does. but if it mean, as many have used the term, that 'whatever exists and takes place, is, on the whole, for the best;' we must acknowledge ourselves Optimists, and should think we might claim Mr. B. as one of our number.-EDITOR.
"It will be recollected, that I have expressly disclaimed Optimism, and that I have admitted the existence of real evil-evil which is positively not a good. I believe indeed, as the Bible asserts, that every thing shall operate for the good of good men, but not for the good of bad men. I do not believe, that theft will work for the good of the thief, drunkenness for the good of the drunkard, murder for the good of the murderer. This would indeed be derogatory both to the wisdom and the holiness of God, making him the nullifier of his own laws, and the minister of sin. And it is a striking mark of his wisdom, and of his regard to holiness, that he has connected misery with sin, and that Öptimism is not true; so that the very objection, that misery of this kind exists, is an argument in our favor. I have likewise admitted, that if the positive good which does actually exist, could be in existence without the evil, the universe would be a better one than it now is; but I have not admitted, as I perceive is attributed to me, that the universe would be better without this evil, unless the present good could exist without it. And that this could or could not be the case, requires Omniscience to decide We can indeed decide in some cases, but not in all. There
are cases in which we may be certain, that the existing good could not exist, without its consequent evil. Had pain never existed, the good of exemption from pain could not have been fully realized. Had sin never existed, the holiness of God could not have been displayed as it now is, in the manifestation of his disapprobation thereof; and his mercy could not have been displayed in its forgiveness. It needs not be said, that Omnipotence could cause these effects by other means than these. Omnipotence himself, as I have already stated, cannot do things impossible in their nature. He cannot accomplish contradictions. He cannot produce effects, without the application of adequate causes. He cannot forgive sin, unless sin exists to be forgiven. Nor can he do any thing wrong, any thing unwise: that is, he is morally unable so to do. Were he to do thus, he would not be a good or wise Being; and therefore, as a good and a wise Being, he cannot do a wrong or an unwise deed. Nor does this derogate from his Omnipotence. The term Omnipotence involves the idea of no such power in God; all that is meant by it is, that he has the physical power to do any thing to which physical power is applicable, and the moral power to do any thing which on the whole is for the best-and what that is, Infinite Wisdom alone can decide; and therefore, finite wisdom should not presume to pronounce any of its decisions unwise. I would indeed have man exercise reason, and therefore would I have him presume not thus to do.
That there is an Intelligent Cause at the helm of the universe, is as absurd to doubt, as to believe that appearance of intelligence can be produced by non-intelligence. Were there no appearance of intelligence, it would be reasonable to doubt the existence of intelligence; and now that there is appearanee thereof, it is, by parity of reasoning, just as reasonable to conclude, that there is intelligence. Indeed, it is admitted, that if we are to exercise reason on the subject, the conclusion would be, that there is an intelligent Cause, though a limited one, unable to prevent the evil that exists. This point then is conceded, that there is reason to believe in the existence of an intelligent God. And the very question under discussion is, the belief in a God, and not the knowledge of one. But this concession being made, it is then contended, that he cannot be infinite. "Omnipotent and benevolent," says my opponent," he cannot be. Omnipotence could, and benevolence would, have prevented evil." Let us see how this is.
Genuine benevolence, so far from shrinking at the permission of evil, would absolutely cause it to be produced, if on the whole its existence were for the best. It would be a want of benevolence to decline so to do, as, for example, in the case of the parent who, out of false tenderness, forbears to administer the necessary discipline to a child, or in that of rulers who forbear to enforce the necessary laws. That God is benevolently disposed, may be gathered from the innumerable and gratuitous tokens of his goodness every where displayed. Now, a being conferring gratuitous happiness, cannot be presumed morally capable of inflicting unnecessary evil. Hence, the evil that does exist is not to be attributed to malevolence in the De
ity. Nor is it attributable to want of power. Most assuredly, the Power that with his thunders shakes the Empyrean, and heaves up old Ocean with the blast of his nostrils, and rends from surface to centre the everlasting bills, can palsy the arm high-poised with the instrument of death, or crush the insect prepared to give the envenomed sting! How puerile then the idea, that God has not the physical power to prevent evil. And how impious the idea, that his forbearing to prevent it, should be attributed to a want of benevolence. The only rational conclusion which is left, then, is, that he does, in view of all things, see best not to prevent it. But this is by no means admitting, that he has made us "too weak to resist temptation."
Thus, without omniscience, do I by demonstration arrive at the result, not that the universe is as good as it could be if contradictions could exist, and if all the present good could exist without the evil; but that it is as good as it is possible for it to be; as good as a Being infinitely powerful, good and wise can make it; and better than it could be on any other system. Understand me. I do not say that the evil which exists is good; but I say, that it is better that that evil exist as a consequence of the existent good, than that. the good itself do not exist; and therefore, that the existence of evil is on the whole for the best. This is the "perfection" which I insist on one's reading in the works of God-which in truth is perfection, wisdom, justice, benevolence, of the very highest order-infinitely higher than that of a system which should forego the good, for the sake of excluding the evil."
From the N. Y. Evangelist.
"And every one that sweareth shall be cut off."-Zach. v. 3.
Of all the fools with which our nature's curs't,
When the great injur'd Ruler of the skies,