« PreviousContinue »
differ in explaining reprobation, if I have understood them, they al place those who are not elected in an irremediable state.
As I cannot perceive that my argument is yet refuted, I will fet it remain unaltered. It was not necessary for me to assume that “ it would be conceded on all hands, that the state of those who are said in Scripture to be under reprobation, is, apparently, as irremediable as any described in the word of God." Had tintended to have rested the whole weight of the doctrine of the restitution upon that single argument, such an assumption had been necessary; but I had no such intention, consequently such an assumption could not be essential to the validity of my argument: I aimed to prove that a state of reprobation is not an irremediable state; if that point be proved, the end I had in view, in my third letter, is attained. It belongs to our opponents to prove that though a state of reprobation be not without remedy, yet the Scriptures inform us of another state from which the wicked never can be restored; if you will attempt the proof of this, I will candidly examine your arguments, and either acknowledge their weight, or attempt the refutation of them. As I do not accept the argument you have framed for me, (page 357) because it makes an assuinption necessary which my letter did not stand in need of, and to shew that I do not rest the weight of my argument merely on the word reprobate, I beg leave to present you with the following. Tlie condition of those who are said in Scripture to have been given up of God, though it might appear irremediable to such men as were not acquainted with the gracious intentions of God towards them, was nowithstanding a state which admitted of recovery: therefore it does not follow that God will not restore all his creatures to purity and happiness, because he gives some of them up reap
the bitter fruits of their doings in a future state: yet those who are restored hereafter, will not receive the saine privileges and honours, as those who believe on Christ and obey him here.
I have the happiness to agree with you in your interpretation of the word adoxium; and I leave the reader to judge whether all you have said concerning it does not go to establish, rather than overturn my argument: for I think you have fully admitted that “ the word of itself, does not, in any place, necessarily import an irremediable state; that if it represents an irremediable state,- this irremediable state is to be collected from the nature of the case ; or froin the peculiar circumstances of the context." If it can be proved that the word adoxine G, any where in the New Testament, either from the nature of the case, or from the peculiar circumstances of the context, must be understood to import an irremediable state, I will give up my argument as inconclusive; but till then I must think the ground I have taken tenable. You seein to think the circumstances of the context, (Heb. vi. 8.) shew the case there mentioned to be an irremediable one; this may be trụe so far as relates to the present life; but I do not think there are any circumstances mentioned in the context which prove it will remain so to all eternity. Though I may admit with you, that the land there mentioned was
mere refuse, or a sandy desert," incapable of being improved by man; it will not follow that it must remain so to all eternity;
that God cannot find means to bring it into a better state: I think you will admit that it will be in a very different state when it constitutes a part of the new earth: even men burn land with a view to improve and make it better; will not the burning of the earth be a prelude to its being renewed, and brought into a more perfect state ? The most, I think, that can fairly be inferred from the above passage is, that the persons there spoken of cannot be improved by the servants of Christ, in the present state; but does it follow, that they will be incapable of receiving improvement from the hand of God to all eternity? I adınit that some men may have made themselves so coinpleatly vile, and reduced their spirit and conduct so far below the standard, that whatever is of themselves may be reckoned mere dross; yet as creatures, they are still the workınanship of God, which he hath created for his own glory: and I submit to your consideration, whether it would not be wrong to say, that the works of God, in which we are told he will rejoice, and which shall praise him, however tarnished by sin, can become mere dross. For the foregoing reasons I cannot at present admit that any of the creatures of God will be " omuino rejiciendus."
I think you are perfectly right, in all you have said concerning the second acceptation of the word, in allusion to the Olympic games. I have always maintained, that he who loses the crown which Christ has promised to his faithful servants, can never afterwards recover it; to reign with Christ will be the privilege of none but his saints : yet, I think, it does not follow that the rest of mankind will not be restored to purity and happiness.
Again, Sir, I admit with you, that the former acceptation of the word is its true meaning in Rom. i. 28. I rejoice to hear you say,
“ The Almighty seems to have punished the gentiles in such a manner as to make them read their sin in their punishment.” Why, Sir, seeing God is always alike, wise, just, and good, should you hesitate to admit that this will be the case with respect to future punishment? Why should
doubt that the object of it will be to bring sinners to a proper sense of the evil of their doings, which I apprehend will be the first step towards their recovery?
I cannot admit that the state of the gentiles, as described Rom. i. would not have appeared at the time desperate, to one who had not understood the inercy which God had in reserve for them. You admit that “ God gave them up to their corrupt mind.” Tobe given up to their unbridled lusts, to be without hope, and without God in the world, would, I conceive, have appeared a desperate state to those who had a proper idea of it, and were unacquainted with what the Almighty intended doing for them in future. To such persons, probably, the state of the gentiles would appear little less desperate than that of the wicked hereafter apears to those who have not attended to the evidence of a future restoration. If anti-universalists do not think of fixing an argument upon Rom. i. may it not be because the knowledge of the mercy which God hath since extended to the gentiles makes it impossible for them to do it? The question is, had they been Jews before the coming
of Christ, with their present modes of reasoning, would they not have done it from such a view of the state of the gentiles as is there given?
I agree with you that one person or thing may be much more below the standard, or below proof, than another ; but I do not think we can learn merely from the word adoxipe @ how far any thing is below proof, only that it is below it: nor do I think an ancient alchymist would have applied the standard to mere dross, or have said that what had ro mixture of metal in it was below proof. The bringing a thing to the test implies that, at least there is the appearance of something valuable in it; and however bad creatures there must be something valuable belonging to them while the divine workmanship remains.
You, Sir, seem to admit that God inay give his creatures up, and yet they not be totally cast away, or placed in an irrecoverable state; upon this ground I support my argument, and, until it can be proved that he will fix thein in such a state as will eternally preclude the possibility of their recovery, I think this ground will support it. I never thought of opposing adoxipe to exten? G: this I
presume what I have written on election and reprobation will prove; and, admitting that edoxou, in the passage alluded to, means no more than a state of great wickedness, yet, you have admitted that the passage mentions God's having giving them up to that state, which is something more than their being simply in that state, without their being so given up; but in framing a position for me (page 362) you take no notice of God's having given them up; that circumstance you seem carefully to avoid, though it is a material part of any argument; consequently the portion you have framed agrees neither with my argument, nor with what you had before fully admitted.
Whether or no my conclusions be formed with too much confidence, I leave others to determine: I wish ever to retain a sense of my liability to err, and to form conclusions with the greatest deliberation and with due respect to the superior judgment of others. I trust the certainty with which Universalists express their doctrines ariseth from conviction, produced in their minds by substantial evidence; I do not think they can be justly charged with exceeding other denominations of serious Christians in dogmatizing. Wishing to hear from you again upon the subject,
Since we inserted the remarks of Amor Veritas upon Mr. W.'s letter, we have observed that the substance of his criticisms are to be found in Dr. Hamınond, on Rom i. 28. We hope our friend Amor Veritas will excuse us in having Latinised his signature, as we had a prios correspondent who had assumed the Greck. EDITOR.
PERHAPS there is no vice more prevalent in the present day, or
productive of more pernicious effects in society than calumny. If the following extracts from Lucian on that subject be thought worthy of a place in your Miscellany, I request your insertion of them; they may be new to many of your readers, and prove that calumny is not only condemned in the Scriptures, but was also thought a detestable practice by mere heathens. WISBEACH,
I am, youts, &c. JANUARY 26, 1800.
APPELLES drew a picture of Calumny. On the right sits: a man with long ears, almost as long as those of Midas, stretching forth his hand to Calumny, coming from a distance to meet him. Close to the man are women, the representatives, I suppose, of ignorance and Suspicion. Caluinny makes her advances from the opposite side; a most beautiful female figure, but heated and agitated, full of rage and fury. In her left hand she grasps a burning torch, while, with her right, she drags, by the hair of his head, a young man, who appears in the posture of invoking the gods to bear witness in his behalf. She is preceded by a pale ugly male, with sharp eyes, and emaciated, as if by a long illness--the plain image of Envy. In the train of Calumny are two female attendants, whose business it is to encourage, assist, and set her off to the best advantage. Of these, as my guide informed me, the one was Treachery, the other Deceit. They were followed by another disinal-looking one in a suit of black; her name was Repentance. As Truth was drawing near, she turned away her eyes, and blushed, and wept.
And now, if you please, beginning with the outlizes, like the painter" of Ephesus, we will finish the portrait. Calumny is an accusation unknown to the party accused; and believed, because there is no person present to contradict it. This is the subject to be enlarged on; but as there are three characters to attend to, he who accuses, he who is accused, and he who listens to the accusation, let us examine them separately, and enquire into their respective parts. As to the principal actor, the author of the calumny, every body must allow that he cannot be a good man; because a good man does no injury to his neighbour, but, on the contrary, all the good he can, never encouraging hatred or envy, but always labouring to obviate their bad effects. The slanderer cannot be otherwise than unjust
, wicked, and mischievous; because, to be just is to be impartial; a character to which he has no claim. He seizes the bearer, and makes him private property; gets possession of his ears; crams them so full of his story, till they can'hold no more And is not this the very worst of injuries? In this light it appeared to Solon and Draco, and others the most distinguished lawgivers, who accordingly
bound the judges by a solemn oath to hear both parties with equal patience, till, by weighing what each had to say for himself, the right might preponderate. To hear the accuser, and be deaf to the accused, by them was accounted profane and impious. But if lawgivers, enjoining impartiality, are less to be regarded than poets, let us hear how one of the best of them lays down the law :
" Hear both, and not before say which is right." He must have been well convinced that, amongst the many evils of life, there cannot be a greater than to condemn a man without allowing him a fair hearing; and yet this is what the slanderer labours to effect with all his might, constantly exposing the absent to the indignation of all present; and in this clandestine manner robbing him of the means of self defence. The slanderer is a coward, who attempts nothing openly; but, assassin as he is, darts upon you from a hidden corner, where you have no power to resist, but must be the sufferer, you know not how, nor why; which is to me a sufficient proof, that the calumniator never has any sufficient ground to support him. If he were conscious of his charge being founded on fact, what should hinder him from meeting the party accused face to face, and arguing the inatter openly and fairly? Where is the warrior who has recourse to stratagem and ambuscade, when he thinks himself superior to his enemy in the open field?
The tools which the calumniator goes to work with against the absent, are fraud, lying, perjury, importunity, impudence, and a thousand others; but the most to be depended on is flattery, nearly akin, if not full sister, to slander-And where is the man of so noble a nature, of so adamantine a breast, as to be secure against calumny, wearing the mask of adulation ? Calumny may then be said to work under ground, undermining his feet, and leaving him nothing to stand on. In this manner the outworks are carried. Meanwhile the enemy is assisted within by numerous traitors, ever ready to lend him a hand, and open the gates ; in the first rank of which stands the love of something new, so natural to us all, not to mention the disgust arising fron satiety, and next neighbour to a passion for the marvellous. We are all of us mightily pleased too, I know not why, with the thought of being let into a secret, and listening to the whispers of suspicion. With such powerful auxiliaries conquest is easy, and no wonder, for there is none to resist; he who hears believes; and he who is slandered knows nothing of the matter. The victims of calumny, like the people of a city taken by night, are destroyed before they awake.
Whenever we hear a scandalous repori, our business is to enquire into the fact, uninfluenced by the age, character, or cunning of the reporter. The more specious his tale, the more strictly it is to be examined. Rely not on the opinion or prejudice of another ; but reserve 10 yourself your own judgment, leaving the talebearer his full share of spleen, while you are to bring forward every circumstance that may be depended on, to fix your approbation or dislike on a solid foundation. To do otherwise is something worse than childish; it is mean; it is unjust.