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capable of transgressing, or that he led those who have embraced it, are should enter into covenant with his of such a nature as to justify us in creatures.
regarding it with suspicion. It is The doctrine of necessity, which admitted with pleasure that some this theory involves, does not ac. have adopted it, under the appre
cord with the impression which is hension that it might be employed, 3. naturally inade upon the mind by an in a satisfactory and useful manner, - examination of the works of God, to vindicate the ways of God, espe.
and the ways of his providence. cially in relation to the existence of - The astonishing union which we sin and misery. Whilst the good
observe between uniformity and ness of their intentions, and the variety, forbids us to attribute them real services which, in many ineither to chance or to necessity. stances, they have rendered to the
“Art and contrivance,” says Mr. cause of truth and useful knowa Baxter, "are designedly multiplied, ledge, are cheerfully admitted;
that we might not take it for I hope it will not be considered a chance; and, in some cases, the violation of the respect to which
method itself is different, that we they are justly entitled, to call in · might see it is not the effect of such question, in this particular, the
necessity.” This argument is for- clearness and accuracy of their cibly stated by Ray in bis celebrated views. The inferences which Leibwork, The Wisdom of God in the nitz deduced from this gratuitous Creation. “ Neither yet can these principle, appear, to say the least, works be the effects of necessity or exceedingly strange and paradoxfate, for then there would be the ical. He rejected the idea of a vasame constancy observed in the cuum, and maintained that no part smaller as well as in the larger of space was unoccupied; that if parts and vessels; whereas there there were but one body in the uniwe see nature doth, as it were, sport verse it must be immoveable; that itself, the minute ramifications of it is impossible even for Divine all the vessels, veins, arteries, and power to create two particles of nerves, infinitely varying in indivi- matter, or two things of any kind, duals of the same species, so that perfectly alike. Hence he was led they are not in any two alike.” to assert the identity of indiscerniWith the naturalist, I apprehend, bles, and the existence of monads; the argument suggested in the pre- ascribing to each particle of matter ceding quotations, will have more a monad, or active principle, by weight against the doctrine of ne
which it is distinguished from every cessity, than any thing which can other. Whether these conclusions be said by the most ingenious theo were justly drawn from his primary rist, will have in its favour. When hypothesis or not, it is surprising we contemplate the immense pum- that their extravagance did not ber of different species which are lead him to doubt of its certainty. found among the works of God, the This scheme can be of no advanunlimited diversity which prevails tage for the illustration or defence among individuals of the same spe- of the truths of religion. If we cies, the multiplication of different admit, according to Scripture, and means for the production of one the natural and unsophisticated common effect, the luxuriant, spon- judgments of our understandings, taneous, and sportive varieties, that sin is the act, and consequently which every
where meet our view, the fault of the creature, this theory this doctrine must appear extremely is not necessary for the vindication forced and unnatural.
of the ways of God in permitting The consequences, to which the the existence of sin. If we represcheme of Optimism has generally sent God as the author of sin, the
theory of Optiwisu will be a very eses sin itself will be viselt orer. pour apology for our blaspbery. rsied for good, and be made the As to the miseries, which, so far as occasion upon which the glorious atour knowledge extends, are uni. tributes of God will be itsastriously formly connected with sin, surely manifested. This statement mar no gratuitoes and doubtful hypothé. be made with perfect safety, and it bis need be assumed for their vindj- ought to be made, in opposition to catiou. They are the just punish- the presumptuous cavils of those, ment which God, the righteous judge, who, from the crimes and disorders has annexed to transgressiou; and wbich we witoess, might take occawho sees not that if they deserve sion to deny the existence, or revile the name of punishment, their the dispensations of their Maker righteousness must be obvious and On the contrary, the theory of Optiindisputable, separate from any mism, as it is usually stated, seems consideration of the beneficial re. scarcely reconcileable with the funsults to which they may be rep- damental distinctions of right and dered subservient. Penal inflic- wrong, holiness and sio. In this tions must be right in themselves, conclusion, many of the most acute
, independently of consequences; if both of its friends and enemies
, they be not, no supposed conse- concur. “The scheme of Optiquences can justify them. If, mism, on the contrary," says Mr. therefore, we adhere to scriptural Stewart, “as proposed by Leiboitz
, and rational principles concerning is completely subversive of these win and its attendant misery, it is cardinal truths. It was, indeed
, the clearer than the sun, that the pur- viewed by the great and excellent poses and dispensations of God in author in a very different light the relation to their existence need no but in the judgment of the most im vindication, and least of all that partial and profound inquirers
, it which this theory can give. It is leads, by a short and demonstrative useless, and worse than useless. It process, to the annihilation of all raises suspicions of difficulties moral distinctions.” Many of its where none really exist; and from advocates in Europe have, accordthe dubious and unsatisfactory so- ingly, embraced a system of neces: lution which it is capable of giving sity, and of materialism, with the of pretended difficulties which it avowed design of excluding all the assumes, it becomes the occasion of distinctions of morality. În their exciting reproach and blasphemy philosophy, no action deserves el against the righteous ways of the ther praise or blame, reward or
pre Lord; whereas a simple and pre- nishment. He who does good is cise statement of the truth could, fortunate, not virtuous; pot fail to carry along with itself does evil, is unfortunate, not crimiits own evidence, and its own vin- nal. Remorse and repentance afe dication.
founded on a mistake; nor is there The theory of Optimism must not any more reason for being anget be confounded with the common with the wicked, than with the Joctrine of Christians, which main. whirlwind that fills one's eyes with tains that all the works of God are dust. These are some of the cell excellent and perfect; that the per. sequences deduced from the glory mission of evil furnishes no objec. rious doctrines of Optimism, and tion, which is not ultimately
resolv. philosophical necessity; all beside able into the narrowness of our according to them, is prejudice and views, against the infinite glory of false philosophy. The friends.com his nature, the perfection of his this system, in our country, will plans, and the rectitude of his dis. pot
, it may be espected, admit the pensations; and that, in the end, fairness and accuracy of these cat
clusions from it. But are their The account which they give of
own conclusions less exceptionable? holiness is equally wide of the ^ The following sentences from Dr. truth. Instead of representing
Hopkins will enable the reader to obedience to the law of the Lord, form some judgment of the nature the regulation of all our desires, inof the fruits, which it has produced tentions, and pursuits according to on this side of the Atlantic. “Who bis will, as the true characteristick
does not now see that God may de- of holiness in every rational crea. · termine, order and cause moral evil ture; they refer us to the principle
to take place, and in this sepse, of expediency, or general benevocreate it, consistent with his infi- lence, as the foundation and meanite holiness and goodness, if this sure of all moral excellence. Virbe necessary for the greatest good of tue consists in a supreme, imparthe whole, both moral and natural; tial, and disinterested regard to the yea, that God could not be intinite- highest welfare of being in general ; ly wise and good, if, on this suppo- and from this we are conducted, by sition, he did not order and cause it a short and direct path, to the
to take place?" "Supposing he shocking and impious notion, that 3 sees it most for his glory, and the we ought to be willing to be given
general good,” says the same wri- up to sin and damnation forever, if upater, "that
you should be damned, it the interests of the universe require is certainly his will that you should it! It is not easy to speak of this be damned. On this supposition, account of holiness in terms of unthen, you ought to be willing to be due severity. The supreme and damned." To my apprehension, exclusive authority of Jehovah is these inferences are not less ad- displaced to make room for a
verse to reason, piety, and scrip- groundless and extravagant fiction. · ture, than a doworight denial of all The highest interests of the uni
moral distinctionsIt is not sur verse are substituted in the place of prising, that a system, from which the glory of God, as the great and they can with any appearance of ultimate object of desire and purjustness be deduced, should excite suit. It requires us to acquiesce, distrust and opposition.
not in the will of God, but in a kind There is no small difficulty in of necessity, an invincible fatality reconciling the different accounts in the nature of things, independent given of sin by the friends of this of his will, and which he has no theory. According to their funda. power either to modify or prevent. mental principle, all the wicked The views, to which this theory ness and crimes which exist are leads of the nature of justice and
necessary in the best possible sys- punishment, are manifestly repug. ttem, and that with respect to the
nant to the natural convictions of whole, they are not evil, but good; our minds. Justice, we are told, and yet they affirm, that the essen when employed in punishing sin, is tial nature of sin consists in its evil an exercise or modification of bene. tendency upon the whole; in its volence to the universe, an expeopposition to the highest welfare of dient intended to promote its highthe universal system. In what way
est welfare. These notions of justhese different statements will ad- tice and punishment are widely at mit of a plausible reconcilement, I variance with the common senticonfess myself unable to conjec- ments of mankind. Our belief in ture. The real grourd of difficulty the justice of punishment is not deseems to consist in the incompati. rived from considerations of expebility of the primary hypothesis, diency, nor can it be resolved into with a belief in the essential dis- them. To say that sin deserves tinctions of right and wrong.
punishment, is to communicate lit. VOL. V.Ch. Adv.
ferings of an innocent person, of tions of his providence, is the task
verse. How this account of the wisdom and our business to contine
tle or no information, because the of language, so incontestable a con idea of punishment is inseparable tradiction of the first prisciples of from that of sin. When evil is in human judgment, coald ever be flicted in vengeance of a crime, it credited by any person of intelliis properly called punishment; it gence, I ain wholly at a loss to de proceeds from the operation of vin- termine. At present, it is suffidicatory justice; it is seen to be cient to remark, that it bears to rethe righteous recompense of trans- semblance to the scriptoral docgression, wholly separate from cal- trine, on the subject to which it reculations of general expediency. lates. It may perhaps be deduced The suffering to which these ideas from the philosophy of Leibnitz, it are not applicable, cannot be called certainly cannot from the revelapun ishment; penal justice has no- tion of Jesus Christ. thing to do with it, however expe The reader, it is hoped, will not dient it may be deemed, any more be displeased with the length to than with the separation from soci. which this discussion has been exety of an innocent person labouring tended. I have no disposition to under an infectious disease. If, conceal my anxiety to disprose ? therefore, we adopt the ideas to theory, which I cannot but look which this theory 'seems naturally upon as equally groundless and to lead, we must banish such term's pernicious: And, if I mistake not
, as justice, and punishment, at least sufficient evidence has been fur when used in their ordinary and nished to show, that it is wholly appropriate acceptation, from our destitute of proof; that it is foundvocabulary.
ed in a delusion of the human ima: It requires no extraordinary pe- gination; that it contradicts the netration to discover the effect common language and judgments which the theory of Optimism must of mankind; and that its coase have, in modifying at least, if not in quences, in physical science, are setting aside altogether, the great absurd;' in morals and theologi
, Christian doctrine of Atonement. unreasonable, unscriptural, and mix The history of religious opinions, in chievous. An important practical this country, since the time of Pre. lesson may I trust be learned from sident Edwards, and Dr. Hopkins, the subject to which we have attend furnishes the best practical como ed ;-that it becomes not us to is mentary on its tendency, in relation dulge in presumptuous and hypo to this subject. The common be. thetical speculations about the de lief of the Christian church in the signs of God our Maker, in relation vicarious import, the proper expia. to bis immense and everlasting tory nature of the sufferings of the kingdom. To receive with docilites Lord Jesus, is found not to harmo- and gratitude whatever revelation nize with the ideas which this the Father of our spirits is pleased scheme naturally engenders. The to impart to us, to yield a ready and death of Christ, it is said, was re
uniform obedieoce to his com: quired by publick justice; and by mands, to acquiesce with conf the exhibition it affords,
in the suf dence and hope in the dispense the displeasure of God against sin, assigned to us ;-a task much more it effectually secures and promotes befitting the limited nature of our the highest interests of the uni- faculties, and to which it is com
nature and design of our Lord's ourselves. death, involving so obvious an abuse
STATE OF RELIGION IN FRANCE.
ment, from their supposed political
tendency, those in authority have (Concluded from p. 453.) expressed their intention of having There are two Protestant Theo- the standards of the church adherlogical Seminaries in France, one
ed to. at Strasbourgh and the other at With regard to the general state Montauban. The latter is the most of education, I have not been able important. It has five professors to learn a great deal. The estaand seventy students. A few years blishments in Paris for the higher since, a very important appoint- branches of academical and profesment took place in this institution, sional studies are, as you are aware, which was a severe blow to the upon a most extensive and liberal evangelical party. I refer to the plan. The several Faculties of appointment of the present Profes- Theology, Law, Medicine, Sciences, sor of Theology. The right of name and Letters, each composed of nuing the officers of these institutions merous and distinguished Profesis vested in the king. He seldom, sors, give their instructions pabhowever, I believe, exercises this lickly and gratuitously, and every right immediately. In the present facility and accommodation is afinstance, he appointed, through the forded by the government to stucounsel of the university, eight dents in these several departments. judges who were to examine the But notwithstanding the munificandidates, and recommend the in- cent scale upon which these instidividual whom they considered the tutions are founded, there is not best qualified for the office. It so a corresponding attention to the happened that these judges were general diffusion of the means of equally divided, four belonging to education. In this respect there the evangelical and four to the op- has been, within late years, a most posite party. After a great deal unfavourable change. I am told of discussion and unavailing effort that the schools upon the Lancasupon both sides, the President of terian plan have decreased in numthe Board claimed the privilege of ber by more than one-half, and it is giving two votes, and in this way the common opinion that the Ultra the anti-evangelical candidate suc- church party are by no means ceeded. Having succeeded, it is favourable to these institutions. no easy matter to effect a change. Among the Protestants I have heard The management of these institu- frequent complaints of the want of tions being in the hands of the schools, and especially of the want government, it is only through of proper teachers. Efforts have, representations made to the mi- however, recently been made to renister who has the superintend- medy this latter evil, and two or ance of the publick seminaries, that three private schools have been the church, as such, can accom- opened for the purpose of preparplish its views. The care of the ing teachers. One establishment of Protestant seminaries, however, is this kind was commenced not long not confided to Catholics; but the since in the South of France, by a council of the upiversity, of which I pious and wealthy lady, which probelieve there are six members, com- mises extensive usefulness. mits the Protestant institutions to From this general statement you the supervision of some one of their will see that there is much reason number belonging to that commu- to rejoice, in the state and prospion. At present this individual pects of the Protestants in this is the celebrated Cuvier. And as country. For when it is recollected the modern doctrines of Geneva how short a period has elapsed are not acceptable to the govern- since the political and religious