« PreviousContinue »
Several objections are made against this doctrine, all of which are easily answered, by a careful attention to what bas been already said. It is objected, that if all things which take place are for the best, then sin must be a good thing, and the more of it the better.
The answer is, it is not contended that every thing is good in its own nature, nor best in itself considered. Sin is evil in its own nature, and so is misery. But the sin and misery which exist, are made the means, in the Providence of God, of so much good, that it is better on the whole that the evil should exist than that the good connected with it should fail. It was better that Judas should betray his Lord, than that there should be no redemption for a ruined world. And as to the other part of the objection, it should be observed, that the doctrine here advocated is, that the present system, just as it is, is the best possible system. And to say, that, because the sin which takes place is for the best, it would be better to bave more, is the same as to say, that, because the present system is the best, a different system would be better, which is a contradiction.
It is objected that, if every event is for the best, then some sin is for the best, and we ought not to oppose, but encourage it. The answer to this is, sin is wrong in itself, and we ought to oppose it because it is wrong in itself, and leave it to God, who governs the world, to overrule it for good. But, it is asked, if some sin is for the best, why does God forbid it in his law? why does he not rather command it? This objection answers itself. Obedience to the divine commands is not sin. To say it is best there should be some sin, is the same as to say, it is best there should be some transgression of the divine law. And it does not follow, as the objection supposes, that because the present system is the best, a different system would be better.
It is objected, that, if whatever takes place is for the best, then the sin which is committed tends to advance the great end God has in view, and ought not to be punished, but rewarded. The answer to this is, that, utility does not constitute virtue. Good and ill desert depend, not upon what men accomplish, but upon what they intend. Joseph's brethren intended evil, while they were the means of accomplishing good. They felt guilty, and were self-condemned, though they were assured by him that “God meant it unto good." It is so in all cases. The design of the wicked is always an improper design; and they deserve to be punished for their improper design. And when they receive that punishment, it will
accord with the dictates of their own consciences, the good which God has intended and accomplished by them notwithstanding
It is objected, that, if every event is for the best, there is no ground for the exercise of repentance. It is asked, “What benevolent being can ingenuously regret that by sin he has put it in the power of God to produce greater good than he could otherwise produce? Ought it not rather to be matter of grateful praise, that he has furnished the necessary means of the greatest possible amount of good?” The answer to this objection is that it is founded on an entire mistake of the nature of true repentance, and confounds it
with the repentance of Judas, with the sorrow of the world which Forketh death. Judas, doubtless, wished on the whole that he had not betrayed his Lord; and this repentance led him to destroy himself. So, doubtless, will every sinner feel, when he receives the due reward of his deeds. But true repentance is radically different. The vile nature of sin, is its proper object; and not its consequences, as the objection plainly supposes. The true penitent loathes and abbors himself for the wicked design with which he is conscious of baring acted, while he feels bound to love and praise God for the good which He has brought to pass by that means. Those who participated in the death of Christ, might, some of them, have been brought to repentance. It was not necessary that they should wish Christ bad not been put to death, and so that no door of mercy had been opened. Yet, they could repent of their sin in what they had done to accomplish it. They could loathe and abhor themselves for their bad design in what they bad done, while they could love and praise God for his good design in thus providing a way of salvation.
It appears, then, that there is no valid objection to the doctrine which has been supported. The infinite knowledge of God enables bám to perceive what is for the best, his infinite goodness prompts him to choose it, and his infinite power enables him to bring it to pass; and every event which takes place is for the best.
There is only room to make a remark or two. If every event which takes place is for the best, then God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass. The principal objections to the doctrine of decrees are, that the decrees are thought to be inconsistent with the free agency of creatures, and to teach that God wills the existence of what had better be kept out of existence. But, both these objections are unfounded. The true doctrine of decrees is, that God, for the wisest and best reasons, chooses that men should freely will and do, just that which they will and do. Every, event which takes place is for the best; and God chooses that every event should take place, just as it does, because it is wisest and best. This doctrine, and this only, is consistent with the perfect blessedness of God, who could not be happy if his wise and benevolent designs were counteracted; and with the perfect blessedness of the saints in heaven, whose happiness would be equally destroyed if they should find that what was wisest and best had not been brought to pass. And in view of it, every benevolent being may rejoice now, under all the evils he sees, and all those which are in prospect; and may answer every desponding doubt, and every unbelieving fear, with the words of the apostle, " we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
Infidels.—Many turn unbelievers in their own defence. They psust condemn religion, or religion will condemn them.
INFIDELITY OF CATHOLIC PRIESTS. A Roman Priest of New York recently endeavored to pervert a Protestant woman from the truth; she at once repelled him by the Scripture. "The Bible," he replied—“is a bad book; it is all stuff"; burn it, and come and join our church."
This confirms all the other testimony, which assures us, that Italian, French, and Irish Jesuits and Priests, who are flocking to America by hundreds are disguised atheists.- Protestant.
TERMS OF THIS PUBLICATION. 1. Eighteen Numbers of 16 Octavo pages each, will be issued in a year, one and two a Month, alternately, making, in two years, a Volume of 576 pages.
2. The price is $1. a year, in advance, or $1 25, after three months.
3. Agents have every serenth copy gratis.
4. Notice of discontinuance to be given one month before the close of a year.
5. It is expected, that Letters to the Publishers, and Editor, will be post paid.
Postage--The same as on Religious and other Papers.
AN ESSAY ON THE STATE OF INFANTS, by Rev. Alvan Hyde, D. D. Price 10 cents. For sale by HUTCHENS & SHEPARÝ,
THEOLOGICAL WORKS. Paley's NATURAL Theology, illustrated by the plates and by a selection from the notes of James Paxton, with additional notes, original und selected --New edition.
Watson's THEOLOGICAL INSTITUTEs, or a view of the evidences, doctrines, morals and institutions of Christianity, by Richard Watson.-Stereotype edition
In addition to the above may be found a very valuable collection of Theological and other Books at
CORY & BROWN'S,
WILLIAM MARSHALL & Co No. 12, Market-Square, Providence, R. I. will execute orders of any amount for Book AND JOB PRINTING, in a neat manner, with promptness, and on reasonable terms.
Providence, March, 1831.
SCOT'S FAMILY BIBLE, with critical Notes and practical Observations, in 6 Octavo vols.—Price 13 dollars-For sale at No. 5, Market Square, by
BREWER & WILCOX THE THREE FIRST VOLUMES OF THE HOPKINSAN MAGAZINE, either Half-bound, or in Boards, may be bad, entire, or in single volumes, at very reduced prices, at the Book-store of
HUTCHENS & SHEPARD,
JUNE 15, 1831.
NATIVE CHARACTER OF SINNERS. The sacred writers give us affecting descriptions of the guilty and deplorable condition of sioners. They represent them to be in a State of entire alienation from their glorious Creator, and opposed to bis law, to his character and to his government. And this representation is confirmed by their conduct.
Impenitent sinners constantly trample upon the infiite authority of God. The authority of God over us, results from his supremacy and our dependence. He is by nature supreme in all bis natural and moral attributes. His power, his wisdom and his goodness, are infinitely superior to the united power, wisdom and goodness of all his creatures. And besides, we are perfectly dependant. We are far more dependant upon God, than any creatures are upon each other. Every breath we draw, every pleasing or painful sensation we receive, and every action we perform, is the effect of bis agency, We are, and must always of necessity be in his hands, as the clay is in the hands of the potter. It is in him we live, and move, and have our being. And if the partial dependance of a child, gives a parent authority over his offspring, the perfect dependance of a crea. ture must give the Creator supreme authority over the work of his hands, and object of his constant, sustaining care. And this infinite divine authority over them, all impenitent sinners habitually disregard and trample upon.
The same is true of their conduct respecting the divine law. The absolute and unlimited supremacy of God, clothes his law with the bigbest possible authority. This law is spiritual, and requires the heart. And when it says to us, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," and "thy neighbor as thyself," and "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me;" it requires and forbids with all the authority of God. And this law is not only holy, just and good, but perfectly supreme. It binds, with all the strength of divine perfections and authority, to constant and holy obedience. This law cannot be truly obeyed from a sinful heart. All sinners, therefore, constantly trample upon this holy and divine law.
And they not only do this, but they constantly trifle with and disregard the divine feelings. God is a being of infinitely strong and sensitive propensions and feelings. He cannot look upon sia or miseris without emotions. How constantly and deeply was he grieved, and provoked to anger, by the rebellious conduct of the children of Israel in the wilderness? How often did Christ manifest grief, at the hardness and obstipacy of sinners? It is said of God, that "His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel;” and we read that “God is angry with the wicked every day.” God is always present to behold the sins and sufferings of bis creatures; and these passages evince that he is deeply grieved in view of their transgressions and misery. But sinners generally pay far less respect to the feelings of God, than to the feelings of creatures. They often pay great deference and respect to the feelings of their visible, though very imperfect fellow creatures; but the infinitely strong and sensitive feelings of their invisible Creator, they babitually treat with entire disrespect and disregard.
Impenitent sinners habitually violate the dictates of their own consciences. Every man has a natural conscience which requires him to love righteousness, and hate iniquity, and to exercise only disinterested affeotions. "Aud when it requires one thing, it equally forbids the contrars. Though singers are condemned already by the divine law; yet they have a source of condemnation far nearer home than this, which lies within their own breasts. This law, which is a part of their rational and immortal existence, they habitually violate and disobey.
Impenitent sinners under the light of the gospel, reject the offers of divine mercy, and abuse the infinite grace of God. Grace is favor offered or bestowed upou the ill-deserving. God so loved the world, even when mankind bad forfeited all his favor, that he gave his only begotten Soo to suffer and die upon the cross, to make attonement for the sins of the world, tbat be might be just, and yet pardon those who truly repent of sin. And through his blood he has made a free and full offer of pardon to all those who will love and justify him for hating and condemning them, as they ought to do, and embrace his glorious design as the chief object of their desire and pursuit. He offers to make them "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ," and notwithstanding their great guilt and utter unworthiness, to call them sons, and admit them to the perfect bliss of heaven. He offers thein free access to those unspeakable joys that o
eye hath not seen, nor ear beard, neither have entered the heart of man,” and a part in the joyful celebration of that new song, which angels can never sing. He freely offers them a mansion at his right hand, where they may perpetually aod joyfully contemplate his amazing glories, and infinite, ever opening perfections; and increase in knowledge, holiness and happiness, as long as immortality endures; upon the easy, the reasonable, and the necessary condition of true self-abasement, and supreme love to the Lord their Maker. And besides these peculiar offers of selicity at his right hand; he has given them all those capacities and talents that are requisite to contemplate his perfections, admire his wisdom, and love his moral character. He has placed them in a state of probation, with very favorable opportunities and advantages to know and do their duty. He pours upon them the blessings of his providence, of his Sabbath, of his word, and of bis sanctuary. But all impenitent sinners not only reject the infinite authority of God, and trample upon his holy law; but they also abuse bis infinité grace and goodness. They make light of his great atoning sacrifice, and