« AnteriorContinuar »
compared to many around him, he well knows that any one acquainted with his present circumstances, and family afflictions for some time past, would hardly reckon him a mere theorist when he speaks on the subject of chastisement. But whether he may profit little or much from these visitations, in no period of his life has he been so fully convinced of the salutary—may, of the merciful end and design of afflictions, as at present—and that it is really because we stand in need, that “He afflicts us, not willingly, but for our profit, that we should be partakers of his holiness.”
But in proof that all our afflictions, or chastisements are ordained of God “for our profit,” purification, and recovery. I need only remark, that until we can “hear the rod and who hath appointed it,” and until we see and acknowledge our greatest evils, or crosses, to be visitations of mercy, and feel humbled under them, we cannot derive that benefit from them they are calculated and intended to impart. Now, mark—This state of mind is the natural consequence, or effect of that doctrine which we profess to believe, and which I have been advocating.—This is the state of mind, which that doctrine, above all others, is peculiarly calculated to produce—In this conclusion I am sure that I will be supported by the experience of christians, in all ages of the world. .” o
Thus we have the plain testimony of God, and the experience of the saints, in all ages, upon our side, to prove, that “the Lord will not cast off for ever; but, though he cause grief" according to our sins, “yet will he have compassion, according to the multitude of his mercies, for he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” Were mankind pure and holy, there would be no suffering, for there is no suffering on earth, or in hell, as already noticed, but on account of sin...But suffering—as well in our own person, too, as in the person of the Redeemer, is the divine antidote to the evil that produced it. “By fire will the Lord plead” with the wicked; but finally—all “shall be saved in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation,” for “all flesh shall see the salvation of our. God.” The doctrine of salvation is just the doctrine of the Cross, —or mortification, self denial, and suffering. But, suffering is not more necessarily connected with sin, than salvation is ultimately connected with suffering.
Now, in concluding my “Scripture inquiry." I think I may appeal to the candid reader whether I have not been fair and im
partial. My manner, in various instances, may have given offence;—for I am not overpolished. But no one, I think, will say, that I have “handled the word of God deceitfully,” or garbled the Bible in order to drive my point. I have taken the scriptures as a whole, not partially: neither have I twisted any passage beyond its plain meaning in common language, or common sense, or the obvious spirit of christianity. I have taken even the worst view that the scriptures apparently exhibit against sinners of mankind; and, while so doing, have maintained the character of God, as “the God of salvation,” even under the most calamitous state of his creatures; —shewn all to harmonize with his attributes, in the glorious plan of Universal Redemption. It appears, then, from the review I have taken, to be plain from scripture, from reason, from the very nature of afflictions, and from the nature of God himself, that the sufferings, even of the damned, whether in earth or in hell, are under the mediatorial reign of Christ, and shall finally tend to reconciliation, purification, and holiness, and ultimately give place to everlasting life. We are told, by orthodoxy, that the damned in hell will be “eternally sinning and blaspheming.” But if God be that being as represented, that “he cannot look upon sin but with abhorrence and detestation,” we cannot. suppose the sins of those in hell to be less displeasing to him, than in the present life. Well, them,-so long as he is pleased to keep them in hell (forever) so long it must be his pleasure that they should sin against him, namely—forever. "At any rate, they who hold the doctrine of never-ending torments, say, in effect—that the pleasure he derives from punishing them eternally, counterbalances, at least,” any displeasure occasioned by their sin. This is horrible doctrine; but it is the doctrine commonly taught and believed. I may be termed heterodow, in my opinion, for vindicating the character of the Almighty against so foul a charge, but I dare not do otherwise. And if I am wrong, in the more amiable view I have formed from the scriptures, of the character of the “God of the spirits of all flesh,” I pray God that he would forgive ma for it, and that the Spirit of Truth may guide me into all truth.
AFTER the Author had printed his Correspondence with the Baptist Minister, but before it was published, he sent a copy of it to his other correspondent, Mr. Worrall, Pastor of the Universalist Church, Glasgow, from whom he received the following “Strictures.” Had he obtained these sooner, he would have inserted them in their proper place; but he shall now subjoin them by way of Appendir.
The Author is truly sorry to add, that, just as this sheet was put to the press, he received a letter intimating the death of this much esteemed correspondent. He was truly a Herald of Redeeming Love: and now he knows all about it, and whether he has overrated the characteristic love of the Deity, or not.
“stalcrumEs on some PARTs of THE PAPTIST MINISTER’s LETTEA,” ADDRESEED TO THE AUTHOR.
“I shall commence with the latter part of page 71, which is asto. nishingly prolific in contradiction and absurdity. He says, “Man is a free and moral agent, and can be restored to holiness and happines; only by moral means; and those employed by his Creator, in the Gospel, are admirably adapted to that cnd. Here we are told that moral means are capable of restoring man, the moral agent, to holiness and happiness, and those employed by his Maker are admirably adapted for the end of restoring to holiness and happiness, and yet his whole Letter is written for the express purpose of showing that man never will be restored, and that, consequently, the means employed by the Deity are by no means adapted to answer the end proposed, because they fail in the application. “Again :-with respect to the assertion that no physical force, either in Earth or in Hell, will be employed to conquer the obstinacy of man's nature, it is unworthy of refutation. Jehovah will assuredly employ those means which will be the most effectual for the accomplishment of his great designs. That force, physical or moral, which subdued the obstimacy of Paul’s nature when breathing out threatenings and slaughter, can also conquer and subdue every fallen descendant of the first Adam. And again:— o “With respect to Origen, we have every reason to believe that he has been charged with holding sentiments which he never entertained. But let this be as it may, the force of prejudice, alone must induce your opponent to applaud his persecutors, who carried their rancour beyond the grave, and excommunicated the man after his death. Origen's system of Christianity excited not to deeds so indefensible. “I intend not, in this brief reply, to defend the peculiar tenets of the late Mr Swanston. The unan was zealous in propagating what he believed to be-divine truth, and his moral character appears to have been irreproachable, so far as I am able to learn ; my desire is to defend myself, and others in the same religious connexion, from the aspersions of those who seem to have no better weapons than slander, and no other motive than malevolence. Your opponent appears to be quick sighted to the faults or errors of others, and deals out his censures very unsparingly, while, he entirely overlooks in them what is approvable—this is any thing but christian candour. I have not the least doubt, that he himself may have some faults, or errors, which some brethren, not of his party, (though equally good christians), may charge
him with. He should think on this, and learn to show mercy to others, although they should not think as he does, upon many things. It is a precept worthy of ‘the Saviour of the world, who gave it, that “whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” “Your opponent appears ardently attached to the present system of Missionary pretensions, and charges me with infidelity, because I see not the utility thereof, just as he does. Certainly a milder appellation than that of Infidel might have been selected from his vocabulary. The Roman Catholic clergy formerly branded all that differed from them with the epithet “Heretic.” The Episcopalian dignitaries with the term “Schismatic:" but this minister of a professedly more enlightened denomination proscribes meby the word Infidel—he advances to thene plus. ultra of defamation. Hard names, however, are not the means of reclaiming people from error. Let your opponent show me, from competent authority, that the Missionaries are really evangelizing the Heathen, and I shall rejoice therein as much as he. I am aware that our Lord commanded, “Go ye into all the world,’ &c. But to whom was that command given P Are we to identify modern preachers with the primitive heralds of Redeeming love? Or, is our British Gospel the same as they preached 2 I say the British Gospel, for it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is exported from these lands, and therefore to compare its propagators to the immediate followers of our Lord is, in my opinion, little short of blasphemy. Instead of ‘taking nothing of the Gentiles, they have taken every thing worth taking, and thus brought odium on the Christian name. “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you." He asks (in his private letter to me), ‘Is it not right to translate the oracles of truth into the language of the Heathen P’. But who is to “translate the oracles of truth’ into these languages? Scarcely a Missionary that goes out is qualified to read one page of the Hebrew Bible. Even many of our Hebrew professors do not understand it. We have not got the oracles of truth translated into English yet. No translation has been made from the original Hebrew since the 128th year of Christ. Our version of the Old Testament is a translation (not of the Hebrew, but) of a spurious edition of the Greek and Latin Vulgate, which had received, from the Pope, the fiat of infallibility. This again translated into the languages of the Heathen will tend to perpetuate its errors.” I can appeal to your opponent confidently, and ask, if he believes that the Gospel which is supported amongst us, and sent to edify the Heathen be the Gospel which Paul preached, or that which he himself contends for in the first 50 pages of his book? Why then does he charge me with blame? I have written according to the convictions of my mind; and I trust I have not denied in one page what I have avowed in another, as he has manifestly done. In reading his book, I was much edified with his remarks on the Deity's characteristic." Love: but how was I appalled to read, on his 75th page, this God compared to “a Father who abandons his profligate son to his fate, and then the poor wretch goes on from
a The following learned writers were all decidedly of opinion that a new translation of the Scrip was - co the lators have erred respecting things most essential *-Bishops Noacob. Lowth-Durell-Professor Symonds—Dr. Kennicott-Blaney &c. And the Standard Newspaper, conducted by learning and talent, had lately the following paragraph. “The Vulgate, good as it generally is, and executed by so clever and learned a man as Hireonymus has shared the fate of humanity in a remarkable
siegree, and abounds in thousands of errors.” A new transalation is now in j by the Rev. J.Bellamy, which exhibits the Seriptures free from those apparent contradictions and 3 o
absurdities, which the enemies of Revelation lay hold of. AUTHOR,
bad to worse until his ruin is irretrievable !' And thus, after we are told that God is not willing that any should perish, it follows, that, by the irretrievable ruin of the sinner, the will of God is violated, the Sovereignty of the Divine attributes is destroyed, and * * * * * Horrible!! I leave himself to draw the unavoidable conclusion. With respect to “the finally impenitent,” in his 85th page, I shall say nothing : the phrase is orthodox, but it is anti-scriptural. I believe that in the Universe there exists no such a being as one “finally impenitent.” For I believe the Scripture, which sayeth that all shall finally be “reconciled to God.” “That money should be subscribed for a right translation of the original Scriptures I admit. and would rejoice in the prospect of such an application. ... I would also support Missionary labours, but not as they are generally conducted. To commence as they ought, the Mis- . sionaries should first obtain a complete knowledge of the language, and dialects thereof spoken in the country in which they propose to reside, and, settling in the towns, villages, and hamlets, become schoolmasters, educating them in the principles of an improved state of society,+which include, of course, religion and virtue. But I really do not like to see a spurious Gospel propagated by Missionary preachers, in the way that is done, and to see men calling on the mechanic and the labourer for supplies, while they themselves scruple to give out of their abundance.—And, to cap the climax of inconsistency, they tell their auditories that the Heathen will be eternally lost if they are not liberal with their money !! What is this but a clerical mode of swindling 2 There are a multitude of Heathens at home;—plenty of room in these lands to itinerate, where they speak the same language, and are acquainted with the manners and customs of each other, and also with their prejudices, But they rather attempt to evangelize those whose prejudices are strongly excited against us in consequence of European artifice and European cruelty, rapine, hostility, and lust. Look at the half-depopulated coast of Africa—consider West India slavery—contemplate East India subjugation and butchery:—Read, the destructive power of the British bayonet, and the horrific prowess of the British cannon, and then consider, yea consider seriously, what influence the British Gospel is likely to have amongst the Castes of Hindostan I For my part, when I consider these things, I am persuaded that we ought first to extract the monstrous beam out of our own eye, and then we shall be inore successful in extracting the motes from the eyes of our heathen brethren, less privileged, but more innocent. The present period of the Christian Church evidently resembles that crisis of the Jewish Church when our Lord and his Apostles laboured amongst them. The Jewish people rejected the Gospel, because it did not comport with their prejudices: at the same time they were intent on Missionary labours. They vainly imagined that the time was at hand when the Heathen would embrace the Mosaic ritual, as Christians now believe that the nations of the earth will, before long, embrace their narrow, illiberal, and contradictory views of Redemption. But what did our Lord say on this subject? He said they compassed sea and land to make a proselyte, and when they had proselyted him, they made him two fold more the child of Gihenna (or Hell) than he was before. Now, if your opponents' prejudices would permit him to obtain correct information, he would find this declaration of the Saviour applicable to present circumstances. Our Lord was slandered because he told
the truth. It is much easier to give abuse than to refute stubborn w