Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Dispenser of vindictive vengeance, Heb. x. his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that 25–51.

ve have suffered a while, make you perfect, In conclusion, we most heartily adopt the stablish, strengthen, settle you." language of the Apostle Peter:-May“ the Ollerton.

J. F. God of all grace, who hath called us unto

NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-III. OUR reasons for suspecting the scriptural | smile of God after death, and God still be origin of the doctrine of the hopeless and good, then two may be miserable endlessly; endless punishment of the sinner are these. and if two, then two millions; or, if creation

1. It is confessedly opposed and repug- teemed with intelligencies, all might be hopenant to reason, and that because of its un- lessly wretched excepting two millions; or, correctional character. The goodness of cutting down the proportion still more, all God is not affected by the severity of his but two, or one single soul! And if so, why strokes, they being measured, and to effect that one? Is this compatible with gooda given purpose in us, and to detach our nessboundless, infinite love? Can this be affections from sin. But when it is affirmed true, when the scriptures say that God that the heaviest conceivable stroke of the chastens us for our profit? Is He only Almighty is, so far as the sufferer is con- good to man in his clay tabernacle? Is cerned, purposeless and uncorrectional ; when goodness certainly not to be extended to the it is even affirmed that the punishment in- soul after death? Will He on earth" not tensifies sin, reason absolutely reels under contend for ever, nor be always wroth, lest the thought, and is perfectly paralyzed by the spirit he has made should fail before the effort to harmonize the doctrine with the him," and will be afterwards reverse his bold and plain statements of the Bible which plans, and punish with remediless wrath ? reveal Him as unchangeably good. In hope- 3. It appears needlessly to aggravate the less torment there is involved, not only no first great and solemn curse of God on sin. known measure between the sin and the sor- That curse is so awful that, less or more, all row, but we are confounded by a sense of are subject to bondage through fear of it. disproportion which we cannot reconcile with God might have made known his prohibithe revealed attributes of God. Moses taught tions, and given no reason why he should be measured chastisement, not to exceed forty obeyed, and might have punished righteously stripes—“ lest thy brother should seem vile in harmony with his own nature. But he unto thee.” Jeremiah says, “ O Lord! cor- was pleased to declare, as we think, the exrect me, but with judgment, lest thou bring treme limit of the curse.

The curse was, me to nothing."

“In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt 2. It is a questionable doctrine, because surely die ;" “ Dust thou art, and unto dust it shakes and undermines all our notions of thou shalt return." Here is no intimation goodness, from the certainty of vast and of vengeance like what has been carrent, but general application, if it exists at all. Ac- which is now questioned. There is justice, cording to common belief, good men have there is anger, there is certain punishment ; always been a very small minority, and these but was it endless? Was it hopeless? Did alone are happy hereafter; all beside being not the day" mean 930 years?!! Did not unchangeably miserable, save in growing that solemn, that terrible scourge of sinworse and more unhappy. Now we submit, death, subsequently become shorn of its unwhether God's being good and happy, and mitigated character in that more than whishappy and blessed in making his creatures per of mercy, “ The seed of the woman shall happy, by their being like himself in bene- bruise the serpent's head”? Whence the rolence, is not inappreciable by us, if ninety- addition to God's first denouncement? Had nine hundredths of these creatures are never Moses known it would he not have spoken to see or taste his goodness after death? Nay, out? more, if the commonly taught doctrine be 4. The doctrine seems still more quesaffirmed, this also may be affirmed, that God tionable as to its origin from the ambiguity may be good and yet his creatures never mixed up with the idea of the place where know it; for if one may not be allowed the sin is to be punished. This ambiguity arises

66

very much from the fact that the English only partially, applied, and is restricted to appropriate hell, solely for the unmitigated the unconverted, who have attained the sea. torments of the lost; and so common is this son of accountability a season never detererror, that nineteen-twentieths think of hell, mined, and this, while the kindest parent not as it is spoken of in the Bible, but as if is ever acting on present responsibility even merely and only a place of torment. The in children of tenderest age. Parents do scriptures speak of hell continually as the not wait an hour for responsibility; the grave place of the dead; thus, David was “de- or the smiling face early impresses with fear livered from the lowest hell;" Christ was or with love the growi mind and heart,

not left in hell." Hell and death were and for every known purpose accountability evidently regarded as the punishment of sin, is assumed, and the child treated with meaand regarded with instinctive dread, arising sured discipline; but when endless anger from a strong instinctive love of life; but the chastisement of God-is thought of, rewhere do we find an unfigurative allusion to sponsibility is postponed. But may we not ceaseless, hopeless woe after death? ask why? And is it not the evident dispro

5. The doctrine is much to be doubted, portion between finite sin and infinite wrath? because of the various phases it has worn at Now, we do not desire that that feeling should different times, in the history, even of the be remorselessly extinguished; but we want present generation. It has been much spoken the dark, the wretched heathen man to be of as a place of literal fire and brimstone, also its subject; and may we not be allowed but that idea has gradually yielded to the to ask in pity-Shall mortal man be more notion of mental and spiritual anguish. It merciful and just than God? was deemed in past times enough to depict 7. An objection lies against its scriptural hell as a place of bodily torment, but now origin in that the perpetuity of sin is mainthat notion has yielded to another of greater tained by it, and that while it is distinctly significance. Physical anguish is abandoned, shown in the Bible that Christ "came to and all the passions, in fiend-like exercise, destroy the works of the devil,” none are described as taking their place. But can understand how the works of Satan can may we not inquire, why this change? Is be destroyed if sinners never cease to hate the change itself not indicative of its entirely God, and countless myriads, by their mournunscriptural origin?

ful existence, testify Satan's triumph over 6. Another objection to the doctrine being the works of God's hands.. of heavenly revelation lies in the circum- 8. The doctrine seems to limit the triumph stance that human kindness, human sym- of Christ. Although it is declared in most pathy, human reason, have stepped in to unfigurative language that he died for all: limit its application, by drawing a line which not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the none ever saw or will see, between respon- whole world,” it compels the conclusion that sible or accountable and non-accountable he did not die for all; it forces us to believe persons. Notwithstanding the universality in the doctrines of election and reprobation, of sin, the natural estrangement of the hearts in the hardest, and most repulsive and abanof all, and that all are born in sin and doned forms. It shuts the mouths of speak shapen in iniquity," and " go astray from the ers who read those New Testament scriptures. wombspeaking lies," while the corruption, which declare that as in Adam all die, so of our common nature is as plain in the child in Christ shall all be made alive;" and that as in the man, and the resemblance in ini- the resurrection, with a glorious body is not quity as traceable as between the likeness of confined to present believers, but comprises the young oak and the aged oak; notwith every child of sin. It seems to lose sight of standing that every nation, and every man the predetermination of God to save all by and woman knows, and acts upon the know the incarnation of his own Son, and forgets ledge, that responsibility is ever growing, that “God was in Christ, not imputing and never ceases to grow, even after man- their trespasses unto them;" it makes Satan, hood up to threescore years and ten; and the creature, slay his ten thousands, while although even a child is known by his Jesus saves his thousands. Can it be true? doings," and is "father to the man,” the 9. It loses sight of the power of God (in doctrine of hopeless woe is partially, and the curse) to extinguish sin. We have

66

[ocr errors]

shown the curse to be death. Where does world of spirits—in the place of the dead; sin lodge? In our members, warring against but the adult heathen of twenty-one or the law of our minds. Now, death takes twenty-five cannot be wrought upon. The these members to pieces, bone from bone, Spirit of God can move upon the chaotic fibre from fibre, thread from thread, and universe, but not on a fallen world after pulverizes and destroys the entire mass, and death. Can this be true? it is raised a glorious body in all, in every But to conclude, let it not be supposed case. See Paul's view in the 8th chapter of that we make light of sin, because we questhe Romans. There " the whole creation tion hopeless woe as a revealed truth of the groaneth, waiting for the resurrection, and Bible. God is light, God is love, and God not only they, but ourselves (Paul and others), is also “a consuming fire." Sin he will we groan, waiting for the adoption, to wit, punish and destroy. " It is a fearful thing, the redemption of our bodies." Christ him- to fall into the hands of the living God;" self, in reasoning with the Sadducees, draws and he will destroy sin, and compel the sinno distinctive line between the classes of ner to loathe it; and Christ will perform jast and unjust; he says, generally, “They this work, first, by dying and taking the are as the angels of God.**

sinner's place, and secondly, in time or in 10. It makes faith, as a ground of spirit- eternity of remodelling the soul. Happy ual progress, unattainable to the heathen they who love him on earth! He is the after death. It makes him capable of every Saviour of all, especially of them that believe. act sare acts of faith and love. Christ may Hereafter, he may wisely and justly make a "die for all,” may pray for his murderers. wide difference between the just and the The youth who dies just before he has unjust, as known and as distinguishable as reached accountability, may die unconverted on earth. In that boundless house there are by a sudden stroke of God, or in some act vessels of all uses, but let us be careful how of folly, and he may be taught of God in the we interpret the highly figurative denuncia

tions of God's wrath against unlikeness to These and kindred passages are commonly Christ to mean exclusion from participation made of no great significance by expounders of the word of God, and that because hopeless in God's exhaustless love. Rather let us see damnation is one of the doctrines first taught to if that which is impossible with men may Christian children, and becomes a strong man not be possible with God.

“ He hath conso armed that the eyes of nearly all are blinded cluded an in unbelief that he might have to the meaning of passages of holy writ which speak of entirely opposite doctrines. When Paul mercy upon all.” “Oh! the depths of the on Mars'-hill spoke of all nations as one blood, riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge and of the resurrection, he taught that all were to seek God, He being near to every one. Paul did of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, not limit the love of God; why should we?

and his ways past finding out!” N.

Philosophy.

2 IS THE NOTION OF A PLURALITY OF INHABITED WORLDS CONSONANT

WITH SCIENCE AND REVELATION ?

NEGATIVE ARTICLE.-II. ALTHOUGH this question, as remarked by writers has produced a very pictorial but the openers of the debate, is of little prac- unargumentative paper, and the second has tical importance, it possesses great interest dogmatically delivered his judgment on the to every student of nature, and every intelli- essay of the third. We now, in our turn, gent worshipper of God. We have read with take the critic's pen, merely to jot down a much attention and thoughtfulness the pre- few thoughts suggested by the productions of ceding papers, and while admiring the talent the whole trio. displayed by Philalethes.” and “ Threlkeld," H. D. Li's definition of the terms "PluWe are compelled by conviction to take our rality of inhabited worlds," as not including place near H. D. L. The first of these “ angelic beings," or "spiritual existences,"

[ocr errors]

one,

but applying only to men, has been strongly must, from the evidence of geology, have objected to; but this, we think, has been been in existence for innumerable ages; for done without sufficient reason, for our friend a very long period it was untenanted, except fortifies himself against anything but wilful by reptiles and brutes, which—let“ Threlmisconception, by stating that by the word keld” notice—could not “minister to the

men” he means beings of a similar wants of intelligent beings.” Man did not nature” to ourselves, with material bodies arrive till late, not more than 6,000 years and “intellectual, moral, and religious capa- ago; but he was essentially distinct and bilities." “ Threlkeld” would not include in superior to all that had existed before him. the terms of the debate angelic beings, but Surely, then, the fact that man exists now, various grades of animal life, and “some and has existed for a very limited period on intelligent being or beings” as the inhabit- this planet, does not render it probable that ants referred to, while “Philalethes” honestly a being similar to him exists on some other speaks of “man, or some other intelligent planets, not to say all. being.” There is not much difference, then, The author of the celebrated “Essay on between the antagonists at starting; for the Plurality of Worlds," alludes to a rather H. D. L., we apprehend, would apply the taking illustration of Fontenelle, who comterm men” to

Threlkeld’s” “intelligent pares one who should deny that the stars beings," and vice versa.

and planets are inhabited to a citizen of The argument in favour of the notion of Paris, who, seeing from the towers of Notre a plurality of worlds is purely an analogical Dame the town of St. Denis (it being sup

and may be briefly summed up in these posed that no communication between the words:- This earth being a planet revolving two places had ever existed), denies it is round the sun, and being inhabited by intel- inhabited, because he does not see the inligent beings, it is probable that the other habitants. But our author contends that planets are inhabited, and, indeed, that all the image is not a fair one, but should be the heavenly bodies are the abodes of sen- modified by supposing rather that we tient sapient beings. A very narrow foun- inhabit an island from which innumerable dation this for so large a superstructure! other islands can be seen, but, navigation But let us examine both. While there is a being unknown, we are ignorant if any of likeness between the earth and other planets them are inhabited. Whether they are or not in the nature of their revolutions, there is the becomes a fair field for conjecture and ingreatest dissimilarity in their size, density, quiry. Various judgments will be formed, surface, and temperature. Is it probable, according to various phenomena. But since we would ask, that life does exist in all the we see that some of these islands appear to varying states of the heavenly bodies? We be barren rocks, and others clad in eternal think not; for “ in the existence of life, ice, and others to be raging volcanoes, while several conditions must concur, and any of ours, on the contrary, is a quiet, comfortable, these failing, life, so far as we know any- temperate spot, occupied by a numerous race thing about it, is impossible.” But the line of moral and religious beings, the strong of argument which our opponents adopt probability comes at last to be, that it alone proves too much even for them. If the fact is as yet inhabited. It is precisely thas that this earth is inhabited does, in the opinion with the question of the plurality of inof these reasoners, render it probable that habited worlds. all orbs are inhabited, why do they not hold We attach little importance to the diffito that conclusion, without maintaining, with culty which the opponents of our opinion " Threlkeld,” that “of course it is probable seek to raise by the question, If these heavenly that some worlds are in a brute and inert bodies are not inhabited, of what use are and chaotic state”? Again; if these objec- they?

« Threlkeld” does not wish to insist tions to our opponents' analogical reasoning on the occupation of the sun and moon by were removed, there would yet remain an intelligent beings, because he can perceive other, and, we apprehend, a stronger still, that each of them has an “end and use," founded upon the fact that the habitation of a particular duty to perform." But while, this world by intelligent creatures has been in passing, we would remind him that in the but of comparatively recent date. The earth | position he now takes he has destroyed any

are

force that his analogical reasoning might | ingly burning masses, uninhabited by any have had, we would ask him how he can beings we can even conceive of ? Do not feel justified in pronouncing that the stars many of the planets or islands appear too

“ entirely useless," simply because he near or too remote from the central blaze to cannot perceive their use ? There is a support animal existence? The moon, the lowly virtue which we might commend_to only planet very near us, has manifestly not our friend's notice, but we forbear. For arrived at the state necessary for supporting ourselves, we should be far from considering living beings; and science remembers that the stars as useless, if they were nothing innumerable ages passed ere even our globe more than

was fitted for receiving its present population, “The poetry of heaven, and that, according to the researches of A beauty and a mystery, which create

geology, the earth rolled round the sun for In us such love and reverence."

ages a vast and weltering wilderness. Here, Or we should be satisfied with only being then, science is silent, or utters only a falterable to say, with another poet,

ing 'perhaps.' Is it said, but for intelligent

beings space would be empty? How! empty "And for the stars that gleam above,

if full of God? Shall we call a room empty They each seem smiles of heavenly love, Teaching the wanderer o'er the wild if only one immortal being sits and mediThat every lost one is God's child."

tates there? Is God not society sufficient On this subject it has been finely said, for his own creation ? Shall you call the " the planets and stars may only be the universe empty if God be present in it, even lamps which have flown from the potter's though he were present alone? "* wheel of the great Worker,—the shred coils With respect to the theological aspect of which, in the working, sprang from his this subject, little need be said. The Bible mighty lathe,—the sparks which darted from is our only authority here, and we boldly his awful anvil when the solar system lay affirm that there is nothing in it to substanincandescent thereon,—the curls of vapour tiate the idea that the stars and planets are which rose from the great cauldron of creation inhabited. “Threlkeld” discourses elowhen its elements were separated.”. If quently on the character of God, and then these stars and systems had only been made asserts that if we deny the worlds of space as decorations and scenery to earth, as the to be inhabited, we cast a blot upon that stage of the tragedy of the cross, they had character. We, however, would remind him not been created in vain.

that this would only be the case if we were As far, then, as the aspect of nature is to deny his power to cause them to be inconcerned, or the obvious lessons to be drawn habited, which has not been done; and we from the revelations of science, we find that would ask him how he himself entirely there is little or nothing to favour the notion escapes the charge he makes, seeing that he of a plurality of inhabited worlds. “For maintains that “of course” some worlds” aught science knows, suns and systems may are uninhabited ? 'In reply to our friend's be seen only by our eyes and telescopes; for question, whether we are to “suppose that aught she knows, the universe may only be God, the fountain of intelligence, has created beginning to be peopled, and earth be selected so many intellectual beings as may be outas the first spot for the great colonization. numbered by the sentient inhabitants of a The peopling of our planet was a gradual bucket of water?" we would remind him process; why may not the same be con- that it is so in this world, and that if all cluded of the universe of which our earth is worlds resemble this in the way in which he a part? May not the earth, in this sense, maintains, the disparity between the numbe as an Eden to other regions of the All? Are ber of mere animals and intelligent beings appearance and analogy pleaded as proofs would remain much the same. if, however, that the universe is peopled throughout? he feels this to be a real difficulty, we would Appearance and analogy here utter an uncer- call to his remembrance the discourses of

for are not all the suns, or what One who set forth the true dignity of man, we may call the continents of creation, seem- and taught us that a single soul was of

tain sound;

* Dr. Whewell.

“Eclectic Review," 1844.

« AnteriorContinuar »