« AnteriorContinuar »
be honoured by suffering its penalty to be inflicted upon the innocent instead of the guilty, provided the innocent substitute voluntarily offered himself. Observe, then, the inconsistency of arguing, first, that the Divine Law must be vindicated by exacting the penalty from the law-breaker in some way, because such a necessity lies upon
human governments; and then proceeding on these premises, to set forth a way of vindicating the Divine Law which every just system of human government regards with abhorrence ! If the necessities of a human government be indeed a proper basis for the punishment of an innocent substitute, in the place of an offender against human law, then your statement may pass ; but if you cannot consistently follow up your parallel between the necessities of the human and the divine governments, except by instancing a punishment under the divine government which all rationally-founded human government abhors, you can have no right, in reason, to affirm such a parallel at all. Either the parallel must be capable of being carried out in both parts of the case, or it is illegitimate from its commencement, and must, in all fairness, be abandoned. Any one who begins to draw a parallel in his argument, and comes unexpectedly to a point in which the parallel fails, must, as an honest reasoner, abandon his parallel altogether. With all deference, then, I submit, that as you cannot consistently carry out to the end your parallel between the Divine Law-giver and Governor, and human legislation aud government; and as, indeed, there is, besides, an immense difference between short-sighted human legislation, and the legislation of Him who “ seeth the end from the beginning;” and likewise an equally great difference between the exercise of a government which may equitably and beneficially relax its laws, because the Divine Governor can read the heart, and therefore can see the real penitence of the offender; and the exercise of that relatively imperfect, because merely human government, which can have no guide to a relaxation of the law but one that cannot be depended upon, namely, the mere verbal profession of penitence by the offender, extorted by the dread of punishment; you must even give up your statement as one repugnant to reason, and inconsistent with itself. It cannot, whatever seeming may be urged, be really founded in Scripture Truth, since Divine Truth must needs be perfect, and therefore perfectly consistent from the beginning to the end. In regard to the direct testimony of Scripture, every one of the numerous offers of mercy on repentance is a sufficient proof of the futility of your comparison of the Divine with a human government; for what human government offers forgiveness on repentance ?
E.: Really such hair-splitting I never witnessed before. I still retain my opinion, and shall not give up my hold on gospel truth, in submission to vain reasonings.
N. C.: As you please. The loss or gain attendant on your decision is your own, and not mine.
But as you will not allow that I have successfully shewn the inconsistency of the Evangelical doctrine of the Atonement, according to your version of it, I must needs go
back to, and maintain the consistency and fidelity of my own statement of that doctrine to which you objected ; and that you are bound to listen patiently and candidly to my answer to your assertion, that my statement is unjust and calumnious, you need not to be informed. statement, you certainly did manage to keep clear of all liability to the allegation of inexorable vindictiveness in the Divine Governor; but all advocates of the Atonement on your side of the question, have not been equally cautious. Was not Dr. Watts an Evangelical teacher ? And have you forgotten his statement, “ that the blood of Christ was sprinkled on the burning throne of God, and turned his wrath to grace ?" Have you forgotten the varied statements of John Wesley to the same effect, too numerous to mention ? Are there none at the present day, especially in the Calvinistic churches, who hold to the decrees of the Synod of Dort, or the catechism of Westminster? Or do you erase from the list of “ Evangelical" churches altogether the disciples of Calvin ? I bound to take your statement, and pass over, as if they had no existence, authentically recorded documents, on pain of being deemed by you a culumniator ? Excuse my warmth, and justly impute it to the feeling which must necessarily be roused in every honest mind, when it finds itself numbered, even by implication, with calumniators and blasphemers. First, then, I recite to you, painful as the task is to myself, the following from the decrees of the Synod of Dort:—“God hath chosen a certain number of the fallen race of Adam in Christ, before the foundation of the world, unto eternal glory ; * * and the rest of mankind he was pleased to pass by, and ordain to dishonour and wrath, for their sins, to the praise of his vindictive justice.” Is there nothing inexorable and vindictive predicated of God, in this famous,— or rather infamous decree? And now listen to the Divines of West. minster in the shorter catechism. · All mankind, by the fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to the pains of hell for ever.” “ Christ's humiliation consisted in his undergoing the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross.” Why surely, as a reader of religious books, you must be aware that it is possible to multiply extracts to the same effect, so as to occupy
your ears from morning till night, and no small portion of them from recent publications.
E.: Well, if you choose to take this method of substantiating your statement of the doctrine in question, I do not know that I have any right to object to it. I can only say, that I do not believe in the sentiments
you have quoted; indeed, I have been accustomed to regard them as altogether obsolete, and quite unsuitable to the more correct view of the advanced state of society in our day. N. C.: You must excuse me, my friend; but I cannot let you
off What I advised you of, I must now accomplish. I must deal faithfully with you, and I need not tell you that it is your interest and duty to deal faithfully with yourself. I ask you this question, and I know your candour will not suffer you to shrink from a frank reply. Do
you believe that God is, and always was, wrathful against sinners ? E.: So the Scriptures state in a thousand different places; and as a believer in the Scriptures, I must of course believe that the anger
and wrath of Almighty God are kindled against sinners; and consequently that all sinners are liable to his fury and vengeance, unless they lay hold of the bleeding sacrifice by faith.
N. C.: Why then did you say that to describe God as vindictive is blasphemous, since you now expressly affirm that he takes vengeance ? But let that pass. I ask you next, Do you believe that God was wrathful against the sin of Adam, and all the subsequent sins of mankind, before Christ came into the world?
E.: Undoubtedly. How can I deny this, and yet be a believer in the Scriptures?
N. C.: Well, then, you have affirmed that Christ did not die to appease the Divine Wrath, or to satisfy the Divine Vengeance, but to vindicate the honour of a broken law; consequently, placing your admission and assertion in connection with each other, it follows, that mankind, being liable the wrath and vengeance of God before Christ came, they remain so still, notwithstanding his death on the cross, which you say did not appease the Divine Wrath. You must either withdraw your latter statement, or else give up the belief in the reality of Divine wrath and vengeance.
E.: That is a dilemma undoubtedly. But possibly we should think of the terms wrath and vengeance simply as meaning the retribution that awaits the wicked.
N. C.: What do you gain by that? You shift the terms only; the retribution which you say wrath means remains unremoved—and if Christ did not appease the Divine Wrath, he did not avert the sinner's retribution,—"the penalty of the broken law;"—the retribution which awaited the sinner before Christ came, awaits him still, and you, and all mankind, on your principles, are none the better for the advent and death of Christ! Infinite wrath, and a fearful retribution, are unavoidably yours !
E.: You appear to have looked farther into this subject than people in general do, including even our ministers; but whether you have become entangled in the meshes of your own argument or not, I will not say,—but perhaps we have said enough for the present, and so let us change the subject.
N. C.: One word more. Ministers, on the voluntary system, have a direct interest in not outstripping the sentiments of their hearers. Deeper inquiry might lead to greater light on important points, but greater light might be exceedingly inconvenient to possess, because it would make enemies of the majority of their supporters, who prefer darkness to light, calling it “ the good old way;" consequently, a heavy fine,-in the form of a light pocket,-being foreseen as the necessary consequence of more light in the head, it is perfectly natural that inquiry should be checked by a prudence more earthly than heavenly. All progression in intelligence by the governors, whether in the state or the churches, takes its origin, and its first and continuous impulse, from the people. Depend on yourself, then, not on your ministers, for any new light you can obtain ; if, in consequence of what I have said, you begin to see that more light is desirable, —“Prove all things ; hold fast to that which is good.”
E.: I am certainly indebted to you for your candour and frankness, to say the least; and as you have very suitably closed your remarks with a beautiful passage of Scripture, eminently calculated to render the intercourse of differing Christians beneficial, let that be the basis of our future communications. Farewell !
LETTERS TO A FRIEND.
METAPHOR AND CORRESPONDENCE.
MY DEAR It was with much pleasure that I received your last favor, in which you state, you could perceive, from my remarks, that there is some truth in our “ Science of Correspondences." I trust, upon further consideration,
you will not merely see some truth, but that it is altogether true. Be not deterred from making a searching investigation ; for you will be amply repaid when you have done. It is a science that spreads before us, the most wonderful stores of knowledge ever contemplated by man. The delight which Newton experienced when he worked out his problem which verified the truth of the law of gravitation, was scarcely greater than
yours will be, when you can go to the “parables” of Jehovah, and to the "dark sayings of old," and by this science perceive the hidden wisdom that lies within. In truth, it reveals to our view another and more glorious world, and lifts us up to the light that angels enjoy. And this world, too, on which we stand, will become, by its light, a thousand times more wonderful; for it will then be seen to be an image of the Eternal,
,-a mirror in which we can behold the face of the Almighty. In my former letter, I said I would endeavour to show that the universe is created according to the laws of correspondences. And to this end let me ask, What connexion do you conceive there to be between God and creation ? Some persons imagine that God said “be” and “all from nothing came !" And thus that creation is connected with, and produced from, God, by no fixed and unerring law, but was called into existence by His mere arbitary will, and is used by Him as a sort of bauble to blow through all space! Ridiculous as it may seem, I am not aware that I am exaggerating; for some divine-I believe the late Dr. M‘All, of Manchester-has published an idea something like this; that God gave His almighty fiat, and “the world, with all that therein is,” was instantly created, and came and
the palm of His hand, from which it was blown, “ by the breath of His mouth,” through all space, and has continued to revolve ever since !* The believers in such opinions, no doubt, will have great
* I do not know whether W. M. N. will consider this as a metaphor or not; but if he do, perhaps he will tell us how it squares with his improved version of “Metaphor and Correspondences ?" If it be a metaphor, I think he will perceive that there is no correspondence in it. I would also suggest for his consideration, that if "metaphor is only truly figurative in proportion to its correspondence," whether correspondence is not everything to the metaphor, and metaphor nothing! and that, therefore, his metaphor is really correspondence ! If he can see a difference, perhaps he will be kind enough to draw the line of distinction. I have always been taught, (but I may have been at a bad school) that there is a very great difference between the two; and in this I am confirmed by the opinion of the late Mr. Hindmarsh, who says “A mere figure or simile, is the resemblance which one natural object or circumstance is supposed to bear to another natural object or circumstance; whereas a correspondence is the actual relation subsisting between a natural object and a spiritual subject, or a natural form and a spiritual essence; that is, between outer and inner, lower and higher, nature and spirit; and not between nature and nature, or spirit and