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common sense to say, the pain he will experience, the love of life, a sense of duty, and all other considerations, or motives that can operate upon him, are utterly insufficient to excite in him a wish to withdraw his arm from the burning metal? There he will continue to burn and fry and endure all the agonies he must feel, without a wish for relief, till God by his own immediate agency excites it in his heart? This is certainly true if it is the immediate agency of God alone that can move the mind in any case to choose; but this, if ever any thing did, shocks all common
4. It is unphilosophical as it insists upon more causes, as necessary to produce the effect, than are in reality necded. Suppose a man should see a rock of a ton weight fall upon a fly, and a question should be started, how that insect came by his death, would it be philosophical for him to insist upon some other cause being assigned to produce the effect? Suppose he should say it is not sufficient to account for the phenomenon, that God created and upheld the fiy, such a frail being, and gave solidity, extension and gravitation to the rock, and by an earthquake caused its fall; over and above all this, he must have struck the insect with a flash of lightning, or destroyed him by bis own immediate agency. Now it is certain this reasoning deserves just as much respect as that of Mr. Weeks in the case of the man's falling into the kettle of lead, that he could not, by all possible motives or second causes that would operate upon bim in that situation, be excited to wish for relief. To account for the event, nothing but the immediate agency of God alone could be sufficient. Upon the present constitution of things in this world, this must ever appear a flagrant outrage to the very first principles of human knowledge.
5. Under the notion of exalting the agency of God, the theory under consideration destroys the idea of God's having any real and proper creation at all? What is creation? It is a system of things not merely ideal but real, in which every creature is endowed with its own peculiar properties, faculties, powers, energies, activity, &c. And the substance and powers and actions of these creatures, are perfectly distinct from the divine essence and attributes.
The work of Providence is God's all wise and powerful preserving and governing this system of creatures with all their actions. But more, philosophers than one have in effect destroyed this idea of creation by their absurd theories. Did not Dean Berkley do this by affirming, that creation has no existence but in the internal preceptions or ideas of a rational mind?
Did not Mr. Edwards do it by affirming, that in preservation God is obliged to create a perfectly new world every instant of time, yea as perfectly new as if none had ever existed before?
So does Mr. Weeks in effect destroy it, by abolishing the agency and influence of all second causes in the moral system. A system in which angels, men and devils, have no power in the band and Prov. idence of God to produce any impressions or moral effects on their own minds, or the minds of others; is a perfectly different system of creation from that, which God has actually brought into being and daily upholds, and governs.
6. It is unphilosophical as it tends to destroy all real and rational philosophy. To trace out the nature of things, their mutual relations and dependence, and the energy or activity they have to produce effects, and to frame rules and systems for the application and direction of these energies to benevolent and useful purposes, is the substance of all philosophy worthy our notice. But if there is no such thing as created objects or agents being endowed and upheld with powers adequate to the production of, not only, no natural, but moral effects; if all is mere divine agency; if in the nature of things the fall of a featlıer is as much fitted to destroy a man as the fall of a mountain, all inquiry after second causes is an absurd thing, for no such thing exists. All we have to say to explain the most wonderful and useful phenomera is,--so God hath wrought. This indeed in connexion with a proper view of the nature and dependence of all things upon the great First Cause, is the just language of piety, but it surely is not the whole of philosophy investigating the nature of the works of God. For God is not only possessed in his own nature, of infinite wisdom and activity, and has his uniform and established modes of operation; but he has given to creatures their proper energies and activity and ordained their modes of influence and operation. Hence it is believed that the laws of nature may be something more than simply a uniform mode of divine operation. It may be the mode of operation assigned to imparted powers and energies, upheld, directed and governed by the infinite wisdom and power of the great First Cause. Our ignorance of what are the laws of nature and the mode of their operation, is no sufficient foundation, on which to deny the reality of their existence.
To this section we will subjoin an extract from the Works of Dr. Dwight, late President of Yale College.
Though nothing like infallibility is to be attributed to the opinions of any mere man, yet I am happy to be able to strengthen my own views by the authority of one, whose name will ever shine with a distinguished lustre in the annals of the literature and religion of my own native State.
“That God, by an immediate agency of his own, creates the sinful volitions of mankind, is a doctrine not warranted, in my view, either by reason or revélation."
After disclaiming all idea of imputing evil designs to the advocates of the doctrine, and admitting the proofs of their piety, he further observes;
“Still I cannot accord with this doctrine, nor hesitate to believe, that they have in several instances, darkened counsel by words without knowledge.”
6 The theology of a part of this country appears to me to be verging, insensibly, perhaps to those who are chiefly concerned, but with no very gradual step towards a Pantheism, differing materially, in one particular only, from that of Spinosa. He held that the universe, which he supposed to be matter, and which he divided into cogitative or intelligent, and incogitative, was God; and that the several parts of it were no other than separate parts of the same great and universal Being. Thus he excluded the existence of all creatures; and of any work of creation, as well as all that, which is usually meant by the Providence and Government of the Creator. The theology, to which I have referred, teaches that God is immaterial, intelligent and infinite; but denies with Spinosa, the existence of finite intelligent beings, as well as of those, which we call bodies; declaring that what men usually call minds, or spirits, are no other than continued chains, or successions of ideas and exercises created immediately by the infinite Mind." Dr. D.'s Works, vol. I, pp. 245, 246.
This coincidence of Dr. D.'s views with my own, is the more striking to me, as I had made up my mind on the subject, and written this section before I had ever heard or read what he has said upon it. It goes to prove that there is something in this theology, that appears to different minds to deny the real and proper existence of created agents.
TEXTS WHICH SOLEMNLY WARN US, NOT TO, AS. CRIBE TO GOD, OUR BEING INWARDLY EXCITED AND MOYED TO IMPIETY AND WICKEDNESS.
JAMES I, 13, 14. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted
of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed.”
To tempt, sometimes signifies to try, in order to discover the disposition of a person, or to improve his virtue; and that by callingebim to self-denying and painful duties, or subjecting him to privations, dangers and afflictions. In this sense God is said to have tempted Abraham and the Israelites. In the passage under consideration, the terin must certainly be intended in a different sense, otherwise the Spirit of inspiration would contradict himself. And what can this sense be but this, God does not outwardly entice, nor inwardly, by a direct operation on the heart, move, inclinc, or draw away men to sin.
To confirm this exposition, the following arguments seem to be decisive.--1. The sense, in which