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a mixed state, like the present, can never be derived from the endeavour to evade, or destroy, by some specious hypothesis, the painful impression caused by the contemplation of evil, natural and moral. An attempt of this kind, is at once unnatural, fallacious, and unavailing. It is nnnatural, because it substitutes the action of the mind, for the exercise of the affections; speculation, for feeling; and thus impairs the spring of benevolent zeai. It is fallacious, because it rests at bottom upon the absurdity, that Evil is Good in disguise. It is unavailing, because it is opposed to the whole evidence of facts, and therefore outrages common sense. For our own parts, we always suspect the latent operation of some such false feeling, when we hear laboured harangues, having for their object to give a palliated representation of present evil. It may, at least, be affirmed, that this mode of talking has never characterized those distinguished individuals who have done the most to lessen the sum of misery and sin.
So far from its being the feature of a genuine and efficient benevolence, that it is disposed to be sceptical as to the amount of misery, we believe the very reverse to be, in fact, the case; and, that this very disposition is the symptom of that morbid and fruitless sensibility, which wins no blessing from the lips of" them who are ready to perish." A spurious philanthropy, which is at bottom simple selfishness, manifests itself by seeking its own tranquillity, at any rate. Hence, it is ever labouring to establish tiie doctrine, that all i« well, or will be well in the end. A freedom from painful emotions, not the diminution of misery, is the real object at which it aims; and this is sought, either by an actual retreat from the sight and hearing of suffering, or by an obstinate incredulity with respect to facts, or by some'strange and unsupported hypothesis on the subject of natural and moral evil. No w, it seems to us, that the fine property and high distinction of a genuine benevolence, is the noble willingness to be afflicted, and to hold communion with misery. Where wretchedness is, thither it is drawn, as by an irresistible attraction. It is, as it were, greedy to comprehend the utmost sum of evil; and if it discovers that it has estimated too low the sad amount, it feels as if it had defrauded the sufferer, by the mistake. It cares not to speculate; nor could it derive any solid satisfaction from an uncertain opinion. It is more jealous against any abatement of zeal, than solicitous to escape from the burden of painful apprehensions. But let it be granted, that anxious anticipations, having for their object the final destinies of our fellow men, and the unknown boundaries of evil, will, at times, force themselves upon the mind. It may be admitted, that there is a plausibleness in the hypothesis to which we have already alluded, and which includes the whole of the argument adduced in support of the doctrine of Final Restitutution; namely, that evil, moral as well as natural, is but a means in the great machinery of the universe, essential to tbe higher good of the creature. No one, however, unless he it altogether unacquainted with deistical writings, and an entire novice in the history of the human mind, can require to have shewn to him the inevitable consequences of this principle. We may very safely affirm, that it is wholly incompatible with revealed religion, and with every moral exercise of the mind: that, as a practical principle, it stands in naked opposition to the voice of conscience, and that, as a speculative principle, it can consistently terminate in nothing better than a refined sort of Epicurianism. But besides this, the doctrine is inadequate to the end for which it is contrived; it is too unnatural—too abstracted, to afibrd a solid satisfaction to the truly benevolent mind, in any other way, than as it tends to induce a stupid and selfish forgetfulness of the misery that is in the world. We question if there is a proposition more indispensable to the existence of true Religion, considered as a habit of the mind, than this, that evil is essentially and ultimately evil; and this of course implies, that it can be contemplated by holy beings, under no, aspect, however comprehensive, with the feeling of acquiescence. As we worship God, the source of all good, and of good only, so we hate and deplore evil, as that which is eternally opposed alike to his Nature, and to his Will.
We can never admit, that the Holy Scriptures are deficient in any article that is essential to the legitimate comfort of the pious mind. They were dictated for the use of his people, by "the God of all consolation"
We have just inquired whether the Scriptures warrant the publication of a promise of life to the finally disobedient: we must now be allowed to propose a second question : viz. Do we find among those bright and cheering objects which are held up to the faith of the believer, in the inspired volume, this doctrine* now alleged to be quite indispensable to the tranquillity of the thoughtful mind? Were there room in the nature of the case for this hope, the peculiar circumstances of the first converts seemed to require the most explicit announcement of it. When individually called out of darkness into the light of the Gospel, io, perhaps, the majority of instances, they left behind them tbe nearest relatives, in that state of palpable disobedience, which afforded no ground for an indistinct hope with respect to their religious condition. In awaking from the sleep of spiritual death, they became alive to the state of unequivocal condemnation impending the objects of the tenderest affection. How often must it hare occurred to them, in the same hour, to har« witnessed some mintctilotis attestation of unaeeii realities, on the one hand, and on the other, the dying invocation of demons, from the lips of a parent, a wife, or a child! Surely, if under the ambiguous circumstances of profession in the present day, the doctrine of Final Restitution is spoken of as essential to Christian comfort, then, had it been warranted by Apostolic authority, it must have become the subject of prominent and incessant reference. It would inevitably have transpired in the copious and familiar correspondence of the Apostles with the primitive churches. When Paul addressed the believers at Thessalonica, he must have known, that the fearful declaration which he made of the wrath to come, would excite emotions of the deepest distress in the minds of many of them, on behalf of their dearest connexions. "It is a righteous tiling with God, to "recompense tribulation to them that trouble you ; and to you, "who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be "revealed from Heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming "fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that "obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of "the Lord, and from the glory of his power." .
The Apostle, on another occasion, cautions the members of the same church, • against the indulgence of an excessive sorrow, on account of those who had fallen asleep in the faith of Christ, reminding them, that they should " not sorrow as those "who have no hope." Had none of these persons, we may ask, lost unbelieving relations? But do we ever find the inspired writers attempting to mitigate the peculiar distress which such an event must occasion? We imagine that the modern defenders of the doctrine of Final Restitution, had they occasion to refer to the death of persons under some such flagrant circumstances as quite forbade the exercise of charitable hope, would not fail, very distinctly, to adduce their opinion as affording a source of consolation: here, then, is a discrepancy of practice, as striking as that to which we have before alluded, inasmuch as a reference is made to a second or supplementary hope.
While considering the alleged connexion of the doctrine -in question, with the benevolent affections, another inquiry suggests itself.
If we are to credit its advocates, the belief in Final Restitution springs up, as it were, involuntarily, from the very necessity of their feelings. It would seem, then, that these persons are distinguished from the mass of the Christian world, by the liveliness of their concern for the welfare of their fellow men in the icorld to come. They profess to believe, that, 'a severe and 'protracted discipline is prepared for all those who die with'out those rectified moral habits, which may fit them for the 'fruition of tlie Divine favour.' Nay, the sensibilities of some of these persons allow them to speak of the ' intolerable paint 'of hell;' and in the same breath they admit, that a varied measure of this misery awaits the great bulk of mankind. Where now is the proof, that this vaunted philanthropy is any thing hotter than counterfeit, not to say hypocritical? The question is one of no difficulty. He is the philanthropist, whom the wretched bless. We may abide, then, by the issue of the following reasonable demand: Has the party which distinguishes itself mainly as the defenders of the doctrine of Final Restitution, been, as it doubtless becomes it to be, the foremost in the hazardous and costly enterprises of Christian zeal ? These nice spirits, who are ever telling us of their fine sympathies for their erring brethren, arc they the men who leave their favourite pursuits, their homes, their friends, to spend the remnant of their days among savage tribes? If the future misery of men gives them, as they declare it does, so much concern, why go they not forth to proclaim that way of escape which the Gospel of Christ has provided? Do they hesitate? Do they, after so much ostentation of philanthropy, in fact prefer life and ease to the immortal good of their brethren of mankind? So it is. But let them know, that while they sit at home and sentimentalize, there is a company gone out, who have proved that they count nothing dear to themselves, so that they may by any means save the souls of men from the " wrath to come.1' And these are the persons who believe the barbarous doctrine of Eternal Fire! Away with the cheap benevolence of opinions! the sympathy that heals no wound! the love that can afford no sacrifice! Let our Christian heroes, who are gone forth into all the world, be called gloomy and ferocious bigots; we care not: words are but arbitrary sounds; the sense and meaning •will soon learn to follow after the thing It is enough, that the wretched and the depraved, under all the winds of heaven, are learning every day that to these men alone, even to these very bigots, they must look for help in the time of need. Our missionaries may address their thousand congregations of every colour, and say, " There are men who say they are more hu"mane than we; it may be so: we have left them at home to "dispute about it; and in the mean time, me are come to tell "you of Jesus, and of his salvation."
Such is the true import of the pretence, that the doctrine of Final Restitution is the offspring of an anxious and expansive benevolence. Were, however, this granted, it would not, we are persuaded, comprehend the whole of the case. While it serves as the ostensible and specious plea, the volumes that have been written on the subject, betray sufficiently significant symptoms of an impulse, yet more deeply seated in the mind, and more adequate to account for the eager solicitude with which the tenet has ever been maintained. It is, we believe, (when unhappily the only doctrine that can inspire a humble confidence, has been rejected,) from the half-hushed and indefinite uneasiness of the thoughtful mind, anticipating at once the terrors of the Divine tribunal, and the purity of the Divine Presence, that this secret but powerful impulse is derived. Under some varied phraseology, the belief in a purgatory has always accompanied any material obscuration of the Gospel doctrine of .justification. The muttered forebodings of the labouring and unappeased conscience, suggest the necessity, both of pur" gatiim, and of personal expiation.
It is true, that a life of pleasure, or of active employment, often so far obscures the moral sense, that men whose temper and conduct are the most flagrantly at variance with the requirements of the Bible, (the authority of which they, nevertheless, acknowledge,) are seen to approach the term of life, without anxiety, or ever making preposterous professions of expected felicity. But this is more rarely the case with men of contemplative habits. On the one hand, they are unable to derive any satisfaction from that attention to superstitious observances, which avails to appease the fears of vulgar minds: on the other, they are perplexed by the clashing of plain scriptural statements, with their own feelings, and with any theory they can entertain, relative to the distribution and object of future reward and punishment. Without venturing to appropriate the hope of acquittal, they are fain to cast themselves upon an undefined expectation of being at any rate comprehended in the great plan which shall issue in universal good. And although no man calling himself a Christian, would, in so many words, profess to date his personal hope, beyond the term of woman punishment, or deliberately calculate upon working his way through the discipline of the infernal pit, yet, it may be very true, that a universal and abstracted anticipation, which makes no reference to individual conscience, may afford a far more tangible consolation, than a special hope of salvation, which conscience is reluctant to corroborate. We might, in illustration qf our meaning, adduce the dying language, equally melancholy and striking, of the amiable philosopher who ranks prominently among the leaders of modern christianized Deism. When conversing on the subject of the state into which he was about to pass, be is reported to have expressed himself to this effect: "We must all pass through a discipline, more or less "protracted, to fit us for the Divine Presence." We cannot but ask, Is thi» the hope of the Gospel? Is this the amount of the redemption that is in Christ: Was it for this that Paul •o earnestly desired to be absent from the body? or, are the