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vibration from a footstep, will interfere with the observations of physical science-and throw us perhaps at once out of our true course

Ten thousand leagues awry

Into the devious air. * And when we take upon us to explore the hidden things of God, those vast regions which lie at an immeasurable distance from our ordinary range of thought, can it be surprising if the instruments which serve us well enough here, be found coarse and defective, and that when most perfect they should stand in need of the nicest care in adjusting them, before we can place any confidence in the result? Language is the chief, if not the only medium of all these speculations: and when the conclusions obtained by help of this medium 'militate against the strongest moral convictions, and the first principles of our nature, is it not reasonable to suspect some inaccuracy in the process, some imperfection in the instruments, or some defect in those organs which are exercised upon objects far beyond the system for which they are principally designed? If indignation be ever justified upon occasions of this kind, it surely is allowable when we hear the name of philosophy applied to errors such as these ; when men presume to. scan the ways of Omnipotence, and fancy they are fathoming the depths of the mighty ocean, with a line that has not yet measured the soundings of the harbour from whence they set out.'-pp. 41-43.

In the second Discourse is considered the difficulty of reconciling the controlling influence of Divine Providence with the free agency of man; which, however, are in fact practically reconciled by religious men every day of their lives. They engage in business with a full persuasion that the upshot of it depends in a great degree upon those exertions which they freely make; and yet, whensoever they allow themselves time to reflect, they spontaneously recur to the notion of a superintending providence; and, as it is elegantly expressed by Dr. Copleston, 'in calmer and more leisurely* hours, the impression of that supreme influence returns upon the mind with increased force, as some sound, which in the stillness of the night fills the air, yet is lost or unperceived amidst the several discords and noises of a busy day.'

We must, however, confess that we do not entirely approve of the notion, which Dr. Copleston suggests, of a controlling providence, which may be kept in reserve to act upon occasions, which may form the plan and the outline, and delegate the subordinate parts to minor agents. The prescience, or omniscience, of God inust comprehend all these subordinate parts, as well as the grand outline of the moral government of the world. It is as hard to conceive the smallest event to happen without his foreknowing it, as the greatest. And, consequently, the same difficulty presses upon

* We doubt whether the epithet leisurely, which is properly used of a person at lei. sure, or a thing done at leisure, can be applied to time. VOL. XXVI. NO, LI.



this notion, as upon that of predestination; and the same answer is to be given in both instances, viz. our ignorance of the kind and mode of the divine knowledge. That we are free agents is matter of experience, practically speaking; and the law which God has given us to regulate our conduct proceeds upon the supposition that we are so.

And if we find it difficult to conceive the compatibility of this state of thivgs with what we conceive to be an attribute of God; it is probably, as Dr. Copleston observes, from overlooking some condition of this great moral problem, which does not enter into the scope of our observation, or which utterly surpasses the grasp of our intellect. What are really only difficulties (to us) we make to be seeming contradictions, by reasoning without sufficient data, and by the misapplication of terms; and if all controvertists, before entering upon the discussion of this subject, had been required to agree upon some clear and intelligible definitions of the incommunicable attributes of God, they would have seen at once where the real difficulty lay.

Hume has followed the principles of the Necessitarians into their natural results, and shows how difficult it is, according to those laws, which philosophy first deduces from an observation of the human mind, and then applies to the Supreme Intelligence, to avoid one of two conclusions; first, that if human actions can be traced up, by a necessary chain, to the Deity, they can never be criminal; or, secondly, if they be criminal, that we must deny to the Deity the attribute of perfection. But he asserts what is contrary to every man's experience, when he maintains that there is such a connection between the principles and conduct of men, as amounts to a moral necessity. It is, in fact, the absence of this necessary connection, which gives scope to the exercise of many moral virtues, and is characteristic of a state of trial. And as to perfection, the term, when applied to any object but the Deity himself, is relative. That thing is perfect, in its kind, which perfectly answers the end for which it was intended. And if the moral system of the universe be calculated to produce those ultimate ends, which its Author proposed to Himself, it is perfect, as a means, however difficult we may find it to reconcile some of its features with our notions of perfection. Imperfection, real or apparent, is essential to that state of trial, in which both reason and revelation show that we are placed. A belief that evil exists and may be avoided, that we ourselves may become better and happier by Divine assistance, is necessary to habits of piety and devotion; and it is a belief which has been universal in all ages of the world, and in all nations. However irreconcilable it may be with our notions of the foreknowledge of God, that he should deal with man as if he were at liberty to obey him or not; what does it matter to us, as creatures, who are not


to be rewarded for our knowledge, but for our practical conformity to what we know of the divine will? Let us agree that apparent incongruities are not always moral contradictions; these may be amongst the truths, which, like a curve and its asymptote, as Dr. Copleston has illustrated it, must continually approach, although to the comprehension of a finite being they will never coincide.' The certain co-existence of the two is a matter of belief, not of investigation; a fit inotive to humility and watchfulness, but not a proper subject of controversy. Controversy, however, has been at work for fourteen hundred years, and whatever form it may

have assuined, however varied may have been its terms, the point at issue has been always one and the same; and it is stated with admirable clearness and precision by Tucker, in a passage quoted by Dr. Copleston, p. 84.

€“ An universal providence disposing all events without exception, leaves no room for freedom. But there is such a providence, therefore no freedom : or on the other side, there is a freedom of the will, therefore no such providence. Thus both parties lay down the same major, without which they would make no scruple to admit the minor assumed by their antagonists. But the most sober and considerate part of mankind, induced by the strong evidences both of freedom and providence, have forborne to pronounce them incompatible, the only obstacle against the reception of either : yet look upon their consistency as one of those mysteries which we are forced to admit though we cannot explain." '

The Third Discourse is employed in restating and illustrating this position, and in enforcing the observations of Archbishop King upon the analogical application of the terms of human language to the operations and attributes of the Deity. Dr. Copleston exposes the absurdity and danger of pressing this analogy so far as to imply an identity or even a similarity in the terms; and of using such phrases as the “ leadings and leanings' in the mind of God, his whole mind,'' his mind in action, and many similar expressions, which, if they have any real meaning, are little short of impious. It is an admirable observation, which has been often made, but never stated with greater force and precision than by Dr. Copleston, that • God is revealed to us, not as He is absolutely in himself, but relatively to ourselves—and that the terms employed are such as clearly to indicate not his nature and essence, but the duties which belong to us, arising out of that relation.' And the moment that we push the application of these relative terms so far as to trench upon any of the revealed attributes of God, we should be sensible of having trespassed beyond the just province of human speech; a caution which has been too much neglected by some even of our best divines,' who speak of the nature of the Deity in language G 2


which a prudent naturalist avoids in the investigation even of the meanest of his creatures.'

The Fourth Discourse discusses the main subject of the Calvinistic controversy, whether there be few that be saved,' which, however, is in fact only secondary to the great question, whether each man's destiny has been fixed from eternity;' upon which necessarily depend those of election and reprobation, the indefectibility of grace, and the final perseverance of the saints.

We consider it unnecessary to pursue the subject through the various arguments by which it is here ably illustrated. One thing is plain, and cannot be denied, without the most wilful opposition to the testimony of reason and revelation; that whether there be few that are to be saved, or many, God intended that we should act as if we might all be saved, and as if it depended, in a great measure, upon ourselves, whether we are saved or not. If the contrary supposition be admitted, we not only make the dictates of our conscience, and the suggestions of our natural reason utterly fallacious and mischievous, but we render by far the greater number of the moral precepts of the Author of our religion nugatory, and the observance of them either involuntary or impossible. How does the Calvinist reconcile his doctrine of election and indefectible grace with the exhortations to diligence, watchfulness, self-mortification, and fear, which form the leading feature of the evangelical teaching ? He will tell us, that election and grace are the operative causes of good works. But, as Dr. Copleston observes, the apostles represent them not as reasons why a man is zealous of good works, but why he ought to be. And if a man cannot be otherwise than zealous of good works, to give him precept upon precept to that effect, cannot be a whit less absurd, than it would be, earnestly to enforce the necessity of sitting still to a man who is fixed to his chair by cords or by a fit of the gout. It is manifestly God's pleasure, as revealed to us both by the light of nature and in his written word, that man should consider himself to be a free agent, and shape his conduct accordingly. The moral precepts of his law all proceed upon this supposition; we are therefore certain of its truth. What, if we find also in the Revelation of his Will an assertion of his eternal counsels and omniscience? We find only a confirmation of what our natural reason had taught us. It is true, we do not find an explanation of them ; we are not instructed in what manner they are compatible with the great principle of the moral law. But have we any right to such an explanation? or do we know that our faculties are adapted to receive it? If our faculties are limited, we are sure, that there must be many truths of which, as to the mode of their existence, we neither have, nor can have, the least notion;

which are yet perfectly familiar to beings of a higher order; and that there may be many which no finite being whatever is able to comprehend. The question here is not, whether either of the doctrines is irreconcilable with human reason, for that is not pretended; but whether two doctrines, each resulting from the plainest principles of human reason, be reconcilable with each other. It is clear that any difficulty in this respect ought not to be considered as invalidating either doctrine, but only as proving, that some principle ought to enter into the calculation, which we have omitted to take into account; and that principle is the imperfection and insufficiency of human reason when employed as a criterion of the measures of Divine Providence. Such expressions,' observes Dr. Barrow, do import, not that God acteth absolutely in the thing itself, but quoad nos ; not that he acteth without reason, but upon reasons (transcending our capacity, or our means to know) incomprehensible or undiscernible to us ; not that He can give no account, but is not obliged to render any to us. That the methods of his Providence commonly are inscrutable; that his proceedings are not subject to our examination and censure; that his acting doth sufficiently authorize and justify itself; that it is high presumption and arrogance for us to scan, sift, or contest, or cavil at the equity or wisdom of God's acting.'

At the same time it ought never to be forgotten, that since both the prescience of God and the free agency of man are truths distinctly asserted in Scripture, if there be an individual, who feels more of conviction and encouragement to well-doing in one of these doctrines than in the other, he is no fit object of censure, much less of abuse, as long at he holds the leading articles of the Christian faith, and makes his principles subservient to the great ends of the Gospel. The doctrines of the Calvinists only then become a fit subject for reprobation, when they assert one truth to the utter exclusion, or practical annihilation of the other; when they press the doctrine of predestination beyond what is necessary for the comfort and encouragement of all true believers; and disparage, in the hearing of those whose religion must be chiefly practical, the necessity (we will not say the efficacy) of a holy life. Surely it must be by this time obvious to the wisest men of both parties, that no good can result to the cause of religion, and still less to that of the visible church, by the continuation of a dispute, which, by its very nature, can never be decided ; but which does admit of a compromise, viz. that each should acknowledge the truth of the doctrine for which the other contends; as not being able to contradict it, but only to conceive its compatibility with his own; that both parties should acquiesce in the imperfection of human reason; and agree in the



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