« PreviousContinue »
believe him deranged. Mahom- | light on morals already revealed, met fed on ambition and con- and only darkens every point on quest; Swedenborg suffered his which it touches. It fairly “puts reason to be devoured by a disor- out the sun of righteousness, and dered imagination.
brings back darkness visible. It It has been hinted above, that declares that ever since the days Swedenborg was probably deceiv- of Christ, if not since the time of ed by a visionary mania, or enthu- Job, the church has been grovelsiasm. This is all that the ut- ling in darkness and in error.most stretch of charity can admit. These clouds of darkness can be If this was not the case, his is one scattered only by this “ new Star," of the most daring and impious whose forty volumes of light have forgeries that the world ever
saw. for fifty years been shedding their If he was not what we have sup- glories on the world. Now I would posed him
solemnly ask those who are exertOh! when he traced the mazes of his ing themselves to spread the sysplan,
tem of Swedenborg, if they do reHow did his soul contemn deluded man- ally believe in these revelations ? Light as the desert sand, on every blast If
80, have they any evidence for Of passion's burning gale at random cast; But on himself he wreaked his deepest
so believing, unless it be the asserscorn,
tions of a fanatic, or a madman? Who stooped to cheat a creature so for
It is in vain for them to tell us to lorn!"
read and examine his works; we I cannot forbear observing, that have done so; and after wading if this “ new dipensation” is such through volumes of the greatest that all former dispensations on- absurdities and nonsense which ly shadowed forth and represented
were ever printed, we say that the last and most magnificent of there is nothing in Mather's Magall, the New-Jerusalem,”-if"this nalia, or even the “Rain-water last and greatest of dispensations Doctor's” book on diseases, which would have its heaven-born glory we could not as easily believe and tarnished by stooping to earth for digest, as the writings of Swedenany thing that resembles a mira-borg. If his disciples do not becle," to prove its truth, then it lieve in these marvellous revelafollows legitimately, that every tions, why are they endeavouring miracle performed by our Saviour to make the ignorant believe them? and his apostles, only proved that if I had in my heart to war with their dispensation was involved in any class of men, it would be with " obscurity, doubt and uncertain those who are making exertions to ty;" and that every miracle which impose upon others a system of they performed, was a blemish, a religion so foolish, so pernicious, stain apon their characters and the that they do not, and cannot bereligion which they taught. There lieve it themselves. is no evading this conclusion. The
0. E***** system under consideration reveals
Christ. Spect. no new morals, throws no new
FOR THE HOPKINSIAN MAGAZINE.
first principle of all religion; so
every system of religion must take EGSAYS UPON HOPKINSIANISM.
its complexion from the views, No. V.
which are entertained of the CharThe Character and Works of God. acter of God. The Character of
As the Existence of God is the God results from his Moral Per
fections. These, according to the eth all things after the counsel of views of Hopkinsians, are all his own will." comprehended in Love, or impar- From whence it follows, that tial, disinterested benevolence.- the created universe is, on the * God is love." His Knowledge, whole, as good, as it is possible it Wisdom and Power are all under should be; i. e. as good as perfect the influence of his impartial, dis- Power, guided by infinite Wisinterested, universal love, or good dom, and prompted by infinite will. God loves himself supreme- Goodness, could make it. Though ly, but not selfishly. He is of in- evil, both natural and moral, ex. finitely more worth, than all his ists in the universe; yet there is «creatures, who are before him as no more of either than God saw a drop of the bucket, or the small to be necessary to his own glory dust of the balance. God is, and blessedness. The glory of therefore, under moral obligation God consists in his Perfections; to love himself supremely, and to and in the exercise and display of aim at his own glory and felicity, these, consists his felicity. It is as his ultimate and chief end in necessary, therefore, to the highest all his works, whether of creation glory and blessedness of God, that or providence. Hence, the Scrip- He should exercise and display all tures teach, that He hath made his perfections; not only his powall things for himself; and that for er, wisdom and goodness, but his his pleasure they are and were justice also, and his grace. But, created.?
these last can be exercised and As every wise being lays a plan, displayed upon sinful, guilty creabefore he begins to operate; so the tures only. Hence Solomon says, only wise God, before He began “ The Lord hath made all things the work of creation, having a for himself; yea, even the wicked clear and comprehensive view of for the day of evil.” And David all. things possible, designed to says, “Surely the wrath of man bring into existence, such a uni- shall praise thee; the remainder verse, as would be best adapted to of wrath shalt thou restrain." his ultimate and chief end in all Since all God's moral perfechis works. As it is absurd to sup- tions are comprehended in love, or pose, that two schemes of creation disinterested benevolence, it is and providence, should be exactly manifest, that, in accomplishing alike, or should equally well an his great design in creation, which swer the end of creation; so it is is to advance his own glory and rational to conclude, that God has blessedness to the highest degree, chosen the best possible scheme He must produce the greatest posof things and events. This scheme sible sum of created good; i. e. He carries into effect, by his own the greatest possible quantity of agency, in the natural and moral holiness and happiness in his morworld. He causes such creatures al kingdom. “Whatever God doand things to exist, and so to move eth, it shall be forever; nothing and act, as best to subserve his can be put to it, nor any thing taoriginal design. Hence we read, ken froin it.” “ Known unto God are all his The free moral agency of man. works from the beginning of the Probably there is no one, who world-of him, and through him, embraces Christianity, certainly and to him, are all things In him there is no one among the Orthowe live, and move (are moved) dox, who will deny, that man is a and have our being--Who work- free, moral agent." It is a point,
in which all are agreed, that if self-determining power in man, men were not free, moral agents, are excusable for not explaining they would not be accountable it intelligibly; since that, which is creatures, and could not, with pro- absurd, can neither be conceived priety, be rewarded for their good nor described. deeds, or, with justice, be punish- In opposition to these notions of ed for their evil ones. Indeed, if moral freedom, it is the sentiment they were not free agents, they of Hopkinsians, that free, moral would not be capable of acting at agency consists, simply, in choosall; and if they were not moral ing or willing. Agency is “ the agents, their actions would have state of being in action." But, no moral quality; and though they men are active in nothing besides might be useful or hurtful, yet choice and volition. In these conthey would be neither good nor sists their agency; and these are, evil.
in their very nature, free. It is But, while all admit, that men absurd to suppose, that choice and are free, moral agents, very differ- volition should ever be the subent opinions are entertained of the jects of constraint. To suppose nature of free, moral agency.-- that one is constrained or compellSome suppose, that free, moral ed to choose or will, is the same agency consists in doing as one as to suppose, that he chooses chooses to do. But, upon this sup- against his choice, or wills against
, position, men are free agents,
his will. Men may be caused, only when liberated from all re- but can never be compelled to straint; and in order to be com- choose or will. Choice and volipletely free, they must possess tion are, therefore, in their very unlimited power. Liberty to do nature, free. Every being who
. as one pleases, is more properly exercises choice and volition, is a called natural than moral freedoni. free agent. The Deity is a free It is the opinion of others, that free, agent, because He acts of choice. moral agency consists in men's cau- It would be as absurd to suppose, sing their own exercises of choice that He causes his own volitions, and volition, or in choosing to as to suppose, that he caused his choose and willing to will. But if own existence. If the supposition, this were correct, it would follow, that He created himself, implies, that men never could have begun that he acted before he existed; to be free, moral agents; because the supposition, that He causes his it is impossible, that they should own volitions, implies, that He have chosen to have their first acted before He began to act. exercise of choice, or have willed Free agency does not consist in to have their first exercise of will; any thing preceding or following as this would imply, that they had choice and vclition, but in choice one act of choice, or one exercise and volition themselves. of will before the first. To avoid But, though all beings, who this absurdity, some run into ano- choose and will, are free agents; ther equally as great; which is yet many of this description, are this, that men have a self-determin- not moral agents. To constitute ing power, by which they are ena- any being a moral agent, it is necbled to begin to choose and will, essary, not only that he should not only without the agency of any choose and will, but that he should other being, but without any pre- be able to perceive the difference vious choice or volition of their between right and wrong. No one own. The advocates of such a can be a proper object of praise or
blame for his conduct, unless he is science, they are not moral agents, capable of distinguishing between nor deserving of either praise or moral good and evil. The differ- blame. ence between right and wrong, 2. There is reason to believe good and evil, does not depend that mankind are free, moral aupon the will of any being, but is gents from their birth. That they founded in the nature of things. Choose and will, from their earliA capacity to discern this differ-est infancy, will not be disputed. ence, is essential to moral obliga- | And as soon as they are capable tion. No being, however free, can of making known the thoughts and feel bound to do, what he is not feelings of their minds, they mani. capable of knowing to be right and fest moral discernment. As they good, or to refrain from doing, never acquire any new corporeal what he is not capable of knowing power, after their birth; so there to be wrong and evil. Hence, is no reason to think, that they what has been called the Moral acquire any new mental faculty. Sense, is indispensable to moral They come into the world men and agency. This moral sense is what women in miniature, and comthe Scriptures call Conscience, and mence free, moral agents, as soon what they represent all men, the as they commence their rational Heathens not excepted, as posses- existence. sing: Rom. ii. 14, 15, "For when 3. The universal agency of God, the Gentiles, who have not the law, is consistent with the free, moral do by nature the things contained agency of man. Both reason and in the law, these, having not the scripture teach, that God - worklaw, are a law unto themselves: eth all things;" or, in other words, who show the work of the law is the Efficient Cause of all that written in their hearts, their con exists or takes place, in the moral, science also bearing witness, and as well as in the natural world. their thoughts the mean while ac- But, some have thought it difficult cusing, or else excusing one ano- to reconcile this doctrine with the ther."
free, moral agency of man. If
, The preceding observations lead however, this doctrine be consisto the following inferences: tent with the free agency of man,
1. Brutes are not moral agents. it is presumed that few will think That they are free agents, is un- it inconsistent with his moral agenquestionable. They choose and cy. And as free agency consists refuse, and are evidently as volun- in choice and volition simply, how tary in their actions, as can there be the least inconsisThat they do not possess a degree tency between the universal agenof reason, it would, perhaps, be cy of God, and the free agency of difficult to prove. But, they are man? When God works in.men to entirely destitute of a moral sense, will, do they not will? When He or conscience. Though they man- causes them to choose, do they not ifest fear, sympathy, pity and oth- choose? The universal agency
of er natural affections, yet they nev-God, instead of destroying, proer show any signs of remorse or
duces the free, moral agency of all guilt, or appear to have any sense mankind. of injury, how much soever abus
A HOPKINSIANO ed. And, since they have no con
all the happiness of both of them. MR. EDITOR,
Nor doth Moses simply desire this, I am gratified in perceiving, that your but only comparatively expresseth plan admits expositions of difficult paz. his singular zeal for God's glory, sages of Scripture. Scarcely any thing, and charity to his people ; sugin your work, is, in my estimation, more interesting and useful.
gesting that the very thoughts of The following able exposition of a
the destruction of God's people, very difficult and much-disputed text, is and the reproach and blasphemy extracted from a volume of Sermons, by which would be cast upon God by Rev. ANDREW LEE. By inserting it, you will oblige one, at least, of your corres
means thereof, were so intolerable pondents.
to him, that he rather wished, if LECTOR.
it were possible, that God would Exodus xxxii. 31, 32. accept him as a sacrifice in their And Moses returned unto the stead, and by his utter destruction Lord and said, Oh! this people have prevent so great a mischief." sinned a great sin, and have made Mr. Henry considers Moses as them gods of gold. Yet now, if praying to die with Israel, if they thou will, forgive their sin; and if must die in the wilderness-_" if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy they must be cut off, let me be cut book which thou hast written.
off with them-let not the land of Moses' meaning, while praying promise be mine by survivorship. for Israel, is obvious; but the pe-| God had told Moses, that if he tition offered up for himself is not would not interpose, He would equally somblot me, I pray thee, make him a great nation-No, said out of thy book.
Moses, I am so far from desiring Four different constructions have to see my name and family built been put on this prayer.
on the ruins of Israel, that I choose “ Blot me" (saith Mr. Cruden) rather to die with them." 1 out of the book of life-out of Doctor Hunter understands him the catalogue, or number of those as praying to die himself, before that shall be saved-wherein Mo- sentence should be executed on his ses does not express what he people, if they were not pardoned. thought might be done, but rather And in the declaration, whosoever wisheth, if it were possible, that haih sinned against me, him will I God would accept of him as a sac- blot out of my book, he discovers rifice in their stead, and by his an intimation, that that offending destruction and annihilation, pre- people should die short of the provent so great a mischief to them.” mised land!”
Doctor S. Clark expresseth his Mr. Firman considers Moses as sense of the passage to nearly the here praying to be blotted out of same effect.
the page of history, if Israel were Mr. Pool considers Moses as not parduned; so that no record of praying to be annihilated, that Is- his name, or the part which he had rael might be pardoned! - Blot acted in the station assigned him, me out of the book of life-out of should be handed down to posterthe catalogue, or number of those ity. that shall be saved. I suppose
Such are the constructions which Moses doth not wish his eternal have been put on this scripture. damnation, because that state It remains, to give our sense of would imply both wickedness in the passage, and the grounds on himself and dishonour to God; which it rests. but his annihilation, or utter loss As to our sense of the passageof this life, and that to come, and We conceive these puzzling words