Imágenes de páginas

of necessity be admitted as true, and men can yet be held responsible for their conduct, then they may justly be charged with all the evil of every kind, existing in the universe from any cause whatever. Each individual may not only be properly charged with the sin of Adam, but with all the sin attached to every transgressor in existence. Why not? Suppose an individual seizes my hand and forces into it a deadly weapon, and then forces a motion of that hand which drives the weapon to the heart of my neighbor. Another having the power to do it steps behind my Will, (and without my power to prevent the result,) brings to bear upon it an influence under which I can not by any possibility, but choose to perform those acts which terminate in a similar catastrophe. Why may I be justly held responsible for the death of my neighbor in the last instance, and not in the first? Why should the guilt of murder be imputed to me, for acts of Will which I can not modify or prevent, and not for motions of my hand which are no more beyond my power? Suppose again, that independent of my choice or agency, (a fact true in respect to all influences under which my will acts,) an influence descends upon my Will from which given actions only can result and these must arise. If I may be held responsible, yes, as deserving eternal wrath for the result of such an influence upon my own Will, why may I not be held responsible for the results of the same and similar influences, upon all other Wills in existence? The result is no more beyond my power in one instance, than it is in the other. If I may be held responsible for results in and through myself, which by any possibility, I can not prevent, why may I not, with equal propriety be held responsible for all evil, physical and moral, in existence? But one answer can be given to such questions. When an individual has once blended in his own mind, the ideas of obligation and necessity, he is fully prepared to admit any other absurdity of which the human mind can conceive. He maintains an absurdity which is itself the great maelstroom that swallows up and sanctifies all other conceivable monstrosities.

2. The inconsistency of certain necessitarians, who strongly object, on the ground of intrinsic injustice, to the doctrine of imputation of infinite guilt to every individual of our race, for the sin of Adam, becomes now very distinctly manifest. Haying blended the ideas of necessity and obligation, they have no right, as we have seen, to object to any conceivable system of divine administration, as involving a violation of the idea of justice. To say that men deserve eternal punishment for

what they can not possibly but perform, and then to say that it would be unjust to attribute guilt to them for the sin of any being in existence, is an inconsistency as great as we can well

conceive of.

3. It may be interesting, in conclusion, to turn our thoughts for a moment upon the pivots on which the resolution of the great questions which now divide the theological world will ultimately turn. The time is not distant, when, as we have before remarked, it will be seen with perfect distinctness, that but two systems of theology are logically possible, the one receiving its form and dimensions from the doctrine of liberty, and the other from that of necessity. One of the most distinguished ecclesiastical historians in this country, for example, has asserted the fact, that in whatever age or nation the doctrine of ability, in other words, of liberty, has obtained, there the doctrine of full redemption from the power of sin, in this life has been embraced. Where the doctrine of necessity has been believed, the opposite doctrine has obtained. This must be the case as long as theology is in any form logically consistent with itself. The doctrine of liberty in connection with the revealed provisions and promises of grace, render that of full redemption, and others of a kindred character, demonstrably evident. No other conclusions are admissible. The parties are now joined upon the truc issue. Posterity will witness the blessed results.


Light and Love.

By REV. JAMES A. THOME, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the Oberlin Collegiate Institute.

THE two grand agencies or motive principles in the moral world, are Light and Love. Their potency has been for ages the theme of the tongue and the pen. Unlike their great natural symbol, the sun, whose effulgence has been so rarely and briefly eclipsed that men have lacked the poor yet pow erful stimulus of deprivation to quicken their admiration and excite their praise-light and love, the bi-une orb of the moral heavens, have suffered in the lapse of time such frequent and protracted obscurations, that benighted man has learned in some sort to prize them, and when they have again shone forth, there have been those not a few who have "rejoiced with exceeding great joy." We will not say, however, that the influence of these principles is sufficiently appreciated. Perhaps it is not. Yet it is no part of our purpose to extol the efficiency of either light or love. We should despair of giving to them a bolder or a brighter prominency than they already enjoy. Besides, we labor, even to pain, under the impression that there is a far greater evil touching light and love, than the failure to duly estimate them singly, and that evil consists in the practical putting of them asunder. Light and love may not have been adequately prized, but so far as they have been regarded, it has been mostly as separate and independent principles sustaining no mutual relations. Each has had its respective adherents, its admirers, its worshippers. These have composed distinct classes, or clans, and the degree of their devotion to their chosen idol, has been the measure of their opposition to the other principle and its friends. They have often, in the dark history of the world, been arrayed against each other in implacable hostility and mortal strife.

Light and love, we repeat, have been separated. There has been a loveless light, and there has been comparatively a lightless love. Nominal reformers, self-entitled pioneers, ultraists, zealots and sectarists have seized upon light, and have made it their pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. Stern orthodoxy has framed its "cast-iron" creeds upon the principle of loveless light, and from this has outsprung fanati

cism, with its sword and faggot, its inquisitorial terrors and its merciless persecutions.

Heretical latitudinarianism on the other hand, at once the product and the prey of heartless orthodoxy, (for all extremes generate their opposites, and impart vitality and vigor by their very efforts to exterminate them) discards light, as of the devil, and deifies love. Hence comes the eyeless spirit of enthusiasm, an amiable monster, not like fanaticism of seven heads and ten horns, but of hearts seventy times seven, and not one head. It is all love-in its wide embrace it holds heaven, earth and hell. God, angels, men and devils are alike the objects of its impulsive regards. The universal salvation of the human race, and the unpeopling of perditionnothing less can satisfy its boundless benevolence. In its view the divine justice is a Gorgon terror, and law penalties a figment of heathen mythology. Its law and its gospel, its revelation and its religion are summed up in three monosyllables-God is love.

In this dark obscure dwells the spirit of heresy, pushed, we repeat it, to the fatal verge of rayless love by a dead orthodoxy, which has taken its position upon the no less fatal extreme of loveless light. The intermediate ground on whose fair plains light and love should have lived in a blest, unbroken fellowship, has, alas, been age after age the battlefield where their respective followers have waged, in rapid succession, bitter controversies and bloody conflicts, to the deep dishonor of both Light and Love.

While the mass have been thus engaged in disjoining light and love, and placing them in irreconcilable antagonism, some have done scarcely less mischief by wrongly conjoining them. These have apprehended that light and love sustained mutual relations, but they have misapprehended entirely what those relations were. In undertaking to adjust them, they have sadly deranged them. They have inverted the order of precedency-they have made the subordinate the principal. Instead of creating war between the parties, they have effected a servile subjugation of the superior to the inferior. It is obviously vital to the salutary operation of these moral elements not only that they be combined, but that they be rightly combined. The fixed laws therefore which regulate the terms of their union must be investigated. To be rightly investigated these laws must be viewed in the light of final causes, in other words, of the ends which light and love were ordained to promote by their alliance.

The foregoing observations may suffice to indicate the course contemplated in the present article. ARE LIGHT AND LOVE CORRELATED? WHAT ARE THEIR CORRELATIONS? are our leading topics of inquiry. Certain principles which may be educed in the discussion of these points we shall apply to the religious and reformatory movements of the present age.

I. Are light and love correlated? That they are is obvious: 1. From the nature of each. Light is knowledge, acquaintance with truth. Love is the voluntary conformity of the af fections to truth. They both, then, stand related to truth, and since things that are related to the same thing are related to one another, light and love must be related. But let us inquire more strictly into the relation of these principles to truth. Truth perceived constitutes light; truth received constitutes love. Can it be that there is no established relation between the perception and the reception of truth? May one perceive it, and another receive it, and both discharge all their duty to truth and both be blessed by it? Of what value to the individual or to the universe would truth be-known, but not embraced? The groans and wailings of hell give the doleful answer. There truth flashes and flames with insufferable brightness, with an overwhelming power of demonstration. All understand and intellectually believe; but is one soul there blessed by the dazzling presence of truth? She can "heal not a passion or a pang" in that abyss of woc. Yet truth was ordained to bless rational beings-it is unquestionably their appropriate aliment; deprived of it they pine and die. On what conditions, then, does truth become a blessing to the soul? Not simply when it is apprehended, for then it is a savor of death. It must be both apprehended and heartily embraced. Then it becomes a rich savor of life. The apprehending of it makes light, the embracing, love. Thus is demonstrated the intimate and vital relation between light and love.

No principle is better established by the history of the race, than that truth known but rejected is an unmitigated curse. To admit it into the intellect, yet refuse it admittance to the heart, is worse than to take fire into the bosom. It is no longer food, but poison. It is the prolific source of vice and wretchedness. It sweeps and garnishes the chambers of the soul, only to make them the abodes of devils. It inflames the mind, infuriates the passions, inflates pride, kindles ambition, and sets the whole being on fire of hell. It makes man a madman, a demon; and arms him with the weapons

« AnteriorContinuar »