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try, Superstition, Ignorance and Unbelief, to the Supreme Court of Proper Candor, Sound Reason, Good Understanding and True Faith."
Upon this title I shall say but little; but I cannot entirely pass over the metaphor it contains, and which is carried forward into the work,
I first remark here, that Mr. H. has adopted the forms of speech used by former and present opposers of the great truth of religion. The Socinians
wont to call the Trinitarians bigots, enthusiasts, &c. while they compliment themselves with the more honorable desigliations of rational christians. So Mr. H. in the begining of his attack, denounces his opponents as a compound of bigotry, superstition, ignorance, and unbelief. All these are included in the general names Calvanists and Arminians. These he considers as the jury that "condemned his cause wholly unheard,” From this “ unjust court” he appeals to the better judges already nanied. But his jury is still composed of Calvanists and Arminians, to which he has added Universalists.* How be will succeed in this second trial is not certain; nor is it of much consequence how he fares in the hands of such a jury, if his cause does but stand in that august Court, where “ God is judge himself.” –Psalms LI. 6.
It seems that those who acquit Mr. H. or in other words embrace his new doctrine, are distinguished for proper candor, &c. True faith he constitutes chief judge; but I think he has assumed that awful respovsibility himself; for he provounces guilty o his opponents, and implicitly acquital to bimself. Upon the whole, however, I think notwithstanding a number of very indelicate strokes, he generally treats those who differ from hiin with a measure of civility. And I feel at present as if I could do as well by him. And the thought, that his carise ere this time* is decided in the court of heaven already referred to, checks every unpleasant feeling towards him, and fills me with a solemnity, that I hope will accompany me through the whole discussion.
* Preface and page 6. + Were I to adopt the figurative style of Mr. H. I should say that our cause will finally come before that court of all courts, where "God himself is judge,” the sacred Scriptures tbe law by which it will be tried; and it we must have a jury, it will be composed of saints and angels. To this trial we must be brought without appeal; bat to the law and the testimony is our appeal for the pres
Our author does not positively and directly say, that the wicked shall have no suffering beyond the grave, but the tenor of his discourse implies the idea, and it is evident that he inclined to that opinion :therefore I shall meet him on that ground. And should any one plead, that a restoration to happiness shall take place after ages of future wretrhedness;. I think the principle must fall by the same arguments, which disprove the doctrine of no punishment after death.
SECTION I. Mr. Hutchinson in stating the plan of his work says, “ I expect 1. To reason from the scriptural and acknowledged attributes of God. 2. From the state of man from Adam to Moses, and from Moses to the coming of Messiah, and the state of thousands since. 3. The promises and prophecies to be fulfilled in the gospel dispensation, together with the nature of the gospel testimony, and the best feelings of man."-page 6.
When, after a number of preparatory remarks, * Mr. Hutchinson died more than a year ago
Mr. H. comes to reason from his first proposition, he does not state his arguments very concisely, nor very distinctly; buit unless I mistake bim, and I think I do not, he argues as follows:
1. As God is love, he desires that all creatures should be holy and happy. 2. That God is infinite in knowledge and wisdoin; therefore can devise a system of operations, which shall finally issue in the complete fulfilment of his desire or pleasure, in which is involved the final happiness of all his creatures. That as God is almighty, he is able to carry all his desires or purposes into effect; and consequently will finally bring all to everlasting happiness.- p. 17. At the close of the first part of his Apology he recapitulates his arguments, by which it will be seen, that I have not misunderstood, nor misrepresented his plan of reasoning--p. 31, 32.
As to the wisdom, knowledge, and power of God, we have no dispute with Mr. H. on those points; for we may as well deny the existence of one eternal Being, as to deny his infinite perfection in all his attributes. That the purposes of God will stand, we believe is as certain, as that the numbers two and three make five; though it may not be so easily discovered or comprehended.
Upou Mr. H’s, argument from the love, goodness, and mercy of God, I would make the following observations. 1. That God is love, that he is good and merciful, we not merely own, but zealously maintain. God is infinitely good and lovely, the source of all good, and the opposite of all evil.“ He is good unto all, and his tender mercy is over all his works." Were men and angels employed to all eternity in extolling his goodness, they would fall imfinitely short of his real excellency.
2. But it is difficult to argue from his goodness and mercy to what he will do with rebellious creatures; for the more holy, just, and good, he is, the farther he is removed from all sin, and must hate all iniquity, and the workers of it. Psal. V. 5.
God indeed his pleasure and displeasure, love and hatred ; but he has not passions like man. He is not angry as man is angry, nor is his love such as to produce the fielings we experience, when that affection is disapointed. Though “God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son, that whosvever be. lieveth on him, should not perish, but have everlasting life;" yet the just condemnation of the wicked, and all the distresses of the childreo of men in this world, do not give himn pain, or inake him unhappy. Is it because he is not good ? and because he is not mercitul ? God forbid ! But it is because he is holy, just, and good. His nature is superior to the sinfulness attending anger, and the weakness that is so closely conne ted with love in man.
But Mr. H. would reply, that the sufferings of rational creatures in this world, are designed, and are necessary to heighten their happiness in a future state. Should we for the present allow this sentiment to be correct; yet, if God's feelings were like ours, he must be considerably affected at such miseries as he sometimes witnesses, notwithstanding the great benefit the sufferers may reap from their present distress.
Suppose you had a beloved child afflicted wiih a dangerous sore; but the prospect was almost certain, that were it opened, it would heal, and the little sufferer be restored to perfect soundness, with the additional happiness of reflecting on his fornier distress and present restoration. Yet as some depih of live desh must be penetrated with the lancet, severe pain inust be endured under the operation. In such a case, would not your heart ache for the suffering of your dear child, notwithstanding all the consolations arising from the certainty of cure? The answer must be in the affirmative. Now if we can reason from the love and mercy of God against everlasting punishment, we may reason with equal propriety against the sufferings he inflicts, or suffers to come upon his creatures here. Allowing that all our present severest afflictions are just, as certainly they are, yet in all the accumulated sufferings of the children of inen, aceording to Mr. H. God must feel a sympathy, that is inconsistent with present perfect happiness. Should it be replied, that God is superior to those distressing feelings, which we experience at just sufferings; I answer, that ihe observation will equally apply to the just and everlasting wretchedness of the wicked. Has not God sufficient knowledge and wisdom to discover a way, by which creatures may have all the happiness necessary for them, without the intervention of such bitter sufferings, and even cruelties, which many experience ? And has he not power to effect every thing his heart desires, or wisdom purposes ? According to Mr. H. he has; and otherwisc his attributes would fall short of infinite perfection. If he has the power, where is bis gooxness? It is certain, that accumulated wretchedness exists in this world, if not in the next; and we think, that the infinitely wise, and good God, could prevent it, if it were his pleasure. Shall we then reply against God ? Shall we impeach his wisdom, power, or goodness? God forvid! We detest the blasphemous suggestion ! Now if it be consistent with the perfections of God, especially with his good