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denying the Will to be determined by the strongest motive according to the fixed law of natural causation, seeing that your inquiries, like ours, must end in believing unexplained facts ?"
I answer, we gain relief from the absurdity of confounding men's misfortunes with their crimes, from condemning and punishing men for acts which their souls yield under motive, as the smitten flint gives fire, and cannot help it. We gain all the difference between a man in the image of God, though defaced, and a beast who never had that image. We gain the distinction between a Will which is “a law unto itself," and therefore praise or blameworthy, and an instinct operating by a fixed law of Nature, and, therefore, worthy of neither. We gain, also, a rational account of the feeling of remorse for wicked acts; and, above all, we gain deliverance from the revolting supposition that God and human courts, punishmen as guilty, who as truly obey the laws which God
gave them to obey, as the smoke that rises or the snowflake which falls. The language of Coleridge on this point hath great force.
“The doctrine laid down by Jonathan Edwards and the late Dr. Williams, which represents a Will absolutely passive-clay in the hands of a potter, destroys all Will, takes away its essence and definition as effectually as in sayingThis circle is a square, I should deny the figure to be a circle at all. It was in strict consistency, therefore, that these writers supported the Necessitarian scheme, and made the relation of Cause and Effect the law of the Universe, subjecting to its mechanism the moral world no less than the material or physical.-Aids. 106.
Nor can I see how one who believes that all huinan acts and purposes are mere effects, produced with unavoidable necessity by pre-existing causes, can help feeling, in view of future punishment, what Coleridge calls, “ The horror which a being capable of eternal pleasure or pain is compelled to feel at the idea of an Infinite Power about to inflict the latter upon an immense majority of human souls, without any power on their part, either to prevent it, or the actions which are, (not indeed its causes) but its assigned signals and preceding links in the same iron chain!"
How far the author of the “ Philosophy of the plan of Sal
vation” is from subjecting the human Will to the same necessitating law of causation which governs Nature, may be seen pp. 67-8, where the grand distinction between Nature and Will
is clearly and happily stated. “The laws which govern the material world are sketched in books on natural science ; such are gravitation, affinity, mathematical motion. Those laws by which the irrational creature is controlled are usually called instincts. The law which drives them (animals] to the act is as necessitating as that which causes smoke to rise upwards."
“But, physical law, or necessitating instinct would not be adapted in its nature to the government of rational beings. *** Man has a will and a conscience.”
It is matter of profound gratulation that a book has at length appeared, devoted wholly to the explanation of God's agency in man's salvation, which neither curtails the freedom of man to give place to the governing presence of God; nor takes away
the control of God to make room for the liberty of his subjects. For every writer must do one of these, who regards our volitions as effects, and the Will, like water, as governed by causation, which transferred to mortals, is fate. The brevity and popular style of the work prevented the auihor from considering every point which an inquisitive mind mightdesire to see elucidated; but I am persuaded that no fairminded skeptic can fail of being taken along with the writer as far as he goes. And if, in exploring the vast and mighty “Plan of Salvation,” he does not take you to every summit of truth, or even bring you through to the end of the way, he surely puts you into the right road, and leaves you travelling in the right direction. And I greatly err if the careful reader of the book does not see“ The bondage in Egypt,”—“The deliverance-The giving of the law at Sinai— The Mosaic ritual --Its abolition by the coming of Christ—The doctrine of faith—of the Holy Spirit—The means of grace-And their practical effects—in a light in which he never saw them before, viz., as a series of means, each following the other and necessary to it; adapted with infinite skill to the recovery of lost man, no one of which could have been omitted and the end secured; and, all together, forming an illuminated flight of steps, rising gracefully, each above the other, and offering to fallen, abject man, a ready, and sure, and glorious return to God.
The author thus clearly sets forth, I may almost say, paints the state of moral and mental ruin from which man was to be raised.
“Man fell into deep moral debasement but one step at a time. The sun, moon, stars and other conspicuous objects of creative power and wisdom received the first idolatrous homage.
As the nations grew older, images, which were at first but few, and clothed with drapery, became more numerous, and were presented before the worshipers in a state of nudity, and in the most obscene attitudes.” After adducing from established authors proofs of the above positions, he proceeds :
“The only way, then, in which relief was possible for man was, that an object of worship should be placed before his mind, directly opposite in character to those he had before adored. If his heart were ever purified it must be by tearing his affections from his gods and fixing them upon a righteous and holy Being. But for man to form such an object was plainly impossible. He could not transfer a better character to his gods than he himself possessed. The effect could not rise higher in moral purity than the cause. He could only transfer his own imperfect attributes to he gods, and by worshiping a being characterized by these imperfections, he would receive in himself the reaction of his own depravity.”—pp. 24, 25, 27, 28.
Whoever carefully considers the truths and principles disclosed in the above iransparent paragraphs, will perceive that mankind were not only a fallen race, but a race still falling. The pit into which sin had thrown them was an abyss,
“ Within whose lowest deep, a lower deep,
It is one attribute of man's immortal nature that he can never be so bad but he may become worse : and his condition keeps pace with his character. Such, our author clearly shows, was the sunk and sinking state of the race, when God's scheme of redemption found it. Itsʻlimbs screwed fast in the vice of despotic government—its intellect darkened by the rayless pall of impenetrable ignorance—its conscience confounded by the worship of impure idols, and blinded by the bewildering force of lust—its remnant virtues waning
its wasted powers expiring—hope was at the last glimmer, and despair had well nigh reached its full.
And the author has thus incidentally brought to view the grandest and most sublime of the present effects of God's interposition for man's salvation, viz., that he caught our race midway of its fall and reversed its earthly destiny, changed its direction from a downward to an upward progress, which has continued ever since. Fierce, malignant passions, a shattered and debased reason, a will impotent for every good, with disgusting and depopulating vices copied from their gods, had accumulated upon the race; every wretchedness to be found in the condition of a decayed tribe of barbarians, hastening, by rapid strides, toward utter extermination. Such was the moral and physical state from which God's plan of salvation has led mankind up 10 what they now are-a progress which includes in itself every improvement in the civil, social, and religious condition of man; all the discoveries in science, and all the inventions of art; every thing, in short, which has civilized the institutions, ennobled the intellect, softened the manners, and adorned the society of mankind.
Now let any one consider the nature of an altempt to revive a single family decayed, or to restore a dilapidated and sinking State ; to put courage into cowards, industry into idleness, and vigor into imbecility; to stop the numberless sluices of corruption, teach abstinence to the pampered, make the soft muscle compact and rigid, and thus give energy to enfeebled intellects, and firmness to faint hearts--and whoever can appreciate the difficulties of an enterprize like this, will see that the power of God displayed in reversing the earthly destiny of our race immeasurably transcends the sublimity of that might, which should arrest the fall of a shattered globe, with all its continents, and seas, and mountains, and rivers, heave it again upon its centre, and restore the harmony of its revolutions.
The bondage of Egypt, according to our author, was necessary to unite in one the mind of the Jewish nation—a kind of crucible-fire, in which the character of the people would be, by the force of common suffering, fused and moulded into one manageable mass. And their deliverance, by a series of miraculous plagues, inflicted not only upon the people of Egypt, but their gods, powerfully alienated their minds from
the customs of the one, and the worship of the other, and thus prepared the nation's mind for such future impressions as God designed to make upon it.
After the mind of the Hebrews was thus disenchanted from the worship of the gods of Egypt, wbich, in effect, resembled the sorcery of the fabled Circe, whose enchantments turned men into swine, they are thus introduced to and made acquainted with the holiness of the true Lord :
“In the out-set, the animals of Palestine were divided by command of Jehovah into clean and unclean. From the class distinguished as more pure than the other, one was selected to offer as a sacrifice. It was not only to be chosen from clean beasts, but as an individual, it was to be without spot or blemish. This sacrifice the people were not deemed worthy in their own person to offer unto Jehovah ; but it was to be offered by a class of men who were distinguished from their brethren, and set apart for the service of the priest's office. Thus the idea of purity originated from two sources, the purified priest and the pure animal purified entered into the offering of the sacrifice. But before the sacrifice could be offered, it was washed with clean water, and the priest had, in some cases, to wash himself and officiate without his sandals. Thus, when one process of comparison after another had attached the idea of superlative purity to the sacrifice; in offering it to Jehovah, in order that the contrast between the purity of God and the highest degrees of earthly purity might be seen, neither priest, people, nor sacrifice, was deemed worthy to come into his presence, but it was offered in the court, without the Holy of Holies.” pp. 75-76. Thus was the idea of holiness conveyed into minds before destitute of it, and therefore incapable of attaining to it.
And thus the whole “Mosaic machinery," so wearisome in its details, to the young, in the hands of our author becomes a mighty moral engine, every part of which is instinct with a living faculty, working toward some grand moral end. And precepts, and promises, and altars, and sacrifices, and priests, and statutes, and purifyings, and sprinklings of water and of blood, appear one vast system of moral screw-blocks, and cords, and pullies, to raise ihe human character from the slime-pits of Egypt, where it lay among the pots, a thing of brute passions, intent on their gratification, to the summit of