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creatures, and many times guess right, without exercising any arbitrary or compulsory laws that should make his conjecture true; and is it too hard to believe, that God can always know what man may often eonjecture ? Whoever concedes to this idea, may very easily perceive that great and important events may be placed with certainty, in the divine mind, on actions which are in themselves contingent. Whether established on decree or not, nothing can be any otherwise than perfectly known to God. Nor can it be degrading to the character of God as omnipotent and omniscient, to give man the power of free agency, and yet not suffer that agency to interfere with his great and good designs. The opposite idea rather tends to lessen the efficient power
of the divine
agency: If God governs men by laws of fatal necessity, this government is nothiņg more than his own personal actions. For in this case men are the mere instruments of action, as the water-wheel by the water, or the axe by him that handles it. But on the idea of man's agency, we behold our Creator governing his own actions and the actions of other agents. We, therefore, see on the plan of free moral agency, it detracts nothing, but rather exalts the wisdom of our Maker.
When we object to man's acting by a law of necessity, we would not be understood that he acts independent of the divine efficiency; but we object to this efficiency's deciding necessitously how he shall act. Our opposers are generally disposed to take ground, which we would not adopt, to refute us. reason well, they miss their object, by assuming wrong premises.
The doctrine of agency in the sense in which we would maintain it, is used as an argument against the salvation of all men. But we are unable to discern the propriety of such reasoning. If God can save some of the worst of sinners, without violating their agency, as they themselves confess he sometimes does,
what reason can they show from this principle, why all men cannot be saved by the same means ?
Some say this doctrine of agency limits the divine power and government; but to us, it is exactly the reverse. Human agents have sometimes the
of governing their fellow beings; but not by laws that render it impossible for them never to deviate from their commands. And can we not well imagine that God can exercise his power in governing, in a similar manner, and to such extent as he pleases ?
We anticipated when we commenced this article, to answer some objections which are sometimes brought from the scriptures, against the doctrine here advocated; but our present limits will not admit such an undertaking. Something of a similar nature may, perhaps, be offered, in some of our future numbers.
For the Christian Repository. MR. EDITOR,
I hope it will not be thought an improper liberty to request the insertion of the following observations in your useful pamphlet. Conscious of the rectitude of
my motives in the request, and having reason to believe that many others entertain the same views of the case before me, I shall venture to suggest what, at present, lies upon my mind, with considerable weight.
Having for several years been in the habit of hearing the preachers of Universalism, who have come in my way, I have observed, that, almost without exception, their preaching is confined to two objects, viz. a direct support of the opinion which distinguishes them from other christians, and a pointed and sometimes severe and satirical animadversion upon the opinions of those who differ from them. I have occasionally attended the associations or conventions of the Universalists, and at those places have witnessed exemplifications of the truth of the above remarks. The preacher who delivered the first discourse, would appear to wish to occupy about the whole ground, assumed by his order; he would be followed by others, who had little to do, but traverse the same ground over again. In the progress of these discourses, the most trite and common-place arguments were advanced again and again; texts, familiar to every man were adduced in support of the doctrine in question ; and the whole discourse was pretty copiously seasoned with severe and pointed remarks, and not unfrequently tinctured with invective. These observations apply likewise to most common occasions, upon which I have been a hearer.
In reflecting upon these facts, I have asked myself these questions ; is the doctrine of Universal Salvation, the only doctrine of the Bible, or the only doctrine contained in it, which is worth contending for? Does this doctrine form the whole matter of those discourses of our Lord and his apostles, which are left on record in the scriptures? Does not christianity embrace many general truths, holden in common by all christians, and which may be exhibited, and insisted upon with pleasure and profit, equal to what are derived from the constant discussion of one particular topic ?
In the consideration of these questions, I have been led to think, that in general, there is more of doctrine believed, than is practised; that there is more theory advanced, than is practically useful; that ministers often speculate when they ought to moralize; that a moral and practical discourse, delivered without a single allusion to
other sect, will do more to convince gainsayers, than many others of a pointed character, and that the strongest proofs of an attachment to christianity, must consist, not in defending any particular part of it, but every part, and exhibiting a temper of mildness and conciliation, rather than its opposite. By these means, "the gospel has run and been glorified ;" by an opposite course, not a single convert was ever made, who sreceived the truth in the love of it." Wit may gain applause ; satire, directed against opponents, may gratify many; metaphysieal reasoning may amuse and captivate a certain class of auditors; but it should be remembered, that an attachment to these kinds of preaching is no evidence of love to God, or regard to the gospel. Many are pleased with shrewd obervations, and even with logical arguments, who care nothing about the subject
of those observations, nothing about the spirit of the doctorine which those arguments are raised to support.
From the Christian Register. OSTENTATIOUS CHARITY. Mankind have ever discovered a strong propensity for securing the applause of the world, in discharging those religious duties, which ought to have an ultimate reference to God. This propensity, our Savior, during his ministry, had frequent occasion to rebuke. He saw many performing duties, in themselves good, but so much with the glare of ostentation as to lessen their value in divine estimation. He saw the rich cast their money into the treasury, but they took pains that others should admire their liberality. We therefore find him, not only enforcing the duty of benevolence, but the importance of discharging it with right motives—"When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,” is among his most direct precepts to this effect. This is a proverbial expression, no doubt; the plain meaning of which appears to be this; when you do a good deed, be no more influenced by the applause or opinion of men, than if you were acting in the most retired manner, and knew that no eye saw you, but the eye of Him, who seeth in secret.
If our Savior spoke with so little reserve against the practice of the Pharisee for sounding a trumpet before him, how reprehensible in the view of Heaven, must be the practice of many in modern times. I allude to the very prevalent practice of publishing in the journals of the day, the names of every one, whether man, woman,or child, who contributes any thing, hoppever small, to any charitable institution. In this manRer the report of their charities reaches from one end of the nation to the other. And what is this but nourishing a passion of the human breast which our Savior, in the precept above adduced, aims to suppress? -It furnishes a powerful inducement to young and inconsiderate minds to give without regarding the character of their motives, and become, of course, a successful string, for those to touch, who are endeavoring to augment the funds of their favorite institutions.
It is argued in defence of publishing charities, that it is calculated to provoke mankind to good works. But it seems to me that the true tendency of the
practice is rather to excite pride and vain glory. While we plead for the exercise of charity as a christian virtue, we should use the utmost carefulness that it be performed from pure and exalted motives, and not from principles which while they destroy all its virtue, tend also to corrupt the mind. We know that there is no affection of the human heart so difficult to subdue and none scarcely so dangerous to our spiritual interest as pride. How improper then to hold out an allurement, under the sanction of christian virtue, calculated to nourish those propensities, which our holy religion is designed to subdue and bring into obedience to the law of Christ.
These remarks are by no means intended to discourage christian benevolence, for while we live in this world, we shall find much occasion for its exercise. But while we acknowledge the duty of giving to such as suffer need, it ought to be our chief care to do it in meekness and sincerity. God loves not only a cheerful but a humble giver. But it is to be apprehended, that if those charities, which are made with a view to the applause of men, were subtracted from those which are performed purely through motives of: duty, the remainder would be exceedingly small. This consideration ought to excite self examination, that when we impart any of our substance to relieve the