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Queries respecting the Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. 321 those who commit civil offences, yet
2. As the Jews had not been preheretics, both by the church and Chris Hously warned of a sin which would tian princes may be put to death. Is be unpardonable, if they had already not this persecution? Would not ullered this blasphemy when the Roman Catholics call it so if they condemnation to which it exposed were the victims?
them was declared, would not their So also Luke xiv. 23, the Rheimish total exclusion from forgiveness be translation is :“Compel them to enter, the same as proceeding against men that my house may be filled.” In the an- on the ground of an ex post facto law? notation we are told, “ St. Augustine Is it not more consistent with the also referreth this compelling to the character of Jesus, and the conduct penal laws which Catholic Princes do of God towards his creatures, to supjustly use against heretics and schis- pose the above passages contain an matics, proving that they who are awful warning, than to construe them by their former profession in baptism as expressive of the penalty of a crime subject to the Catholic church and already committed ? are departed from the same after 3. Were not the most malignant sects, may and ought to be compelled expressions which the Jews had utinto the unity and society of the tered at the time spoken against Jesus universal church again.”.
personally, against the Son of man Can any one be so blind as not to for they di not admit that he had see to what this leads ? If it be sup- the spirit of God? Is it not conposed, that these annotations were trary to the whole account to say written by the spirit of infallibili- the blasphemy they had uttered was ty, and if the sanction of the Ro- directed against the spirit; did they man Catholic clergy extends to them, not evidently intend to degrade the and that by the same spirit, I see not character, and invalidate the pretenhow the church of Rome can give upsions of Jesus ; was not this their the doctrine they contain, which is whole object, and is it not the intenpersecution.
tion that characterizes the action un- . If, Sir, you permit this to have a der a moral view? place in the Monthly Repository, it 4. If the blasphemy they had alwill give an opportunity for any Ro- ready uttered was against the Spirit, man Catholic, and particularly the how are we to distinguish between writer of the letter who has been the their speaking against the Son of man occasion of these lines, to inform the and their speaking against the Holy public, whether the sentiments of Spirit? persecution contained in the above 5. Are we not told that the Holy annotations, are now sanctioned by Spirit was not given till Christ was the Roman Catholic clergy or not. I glorified : John vii
. 39. Acts ii. 33. for one should be glad to hear on this and could they blaspheme against the subject.
Holy Spirit before it was given in the A. BENNETT. sense in which the expression is used
in the evangelical writings ? SIR,
6. The Editors of the Improved TOT
nation generally given of the blas- They who ascribed the miracles of phemy against the Holy Spirit, (see Jesus and his apostles to demoniacal Matt. xii. 31, 32. Mark iii. 28, 29.) agency, resisted the strongest possible Į beg leave to submit the following evidence of the Christian religion, and queries on the subject to the consider- were therefore incapable of being ation of your readers, and shall be converted to the belief of it.” But thankful to any one who will can- can this observation be just, if restrict, didly answer them,
ed to the miracles wrought during 1. Have we sufficient authority our Lord's personal ministry, for he from the above passages to conclude said to his Apostles, “He that be that any of the Jews had, at the time lieveth on me, the works that I do when our Lord uttered the words, shall he do also, and greater works blasphemed against the Holy Spirit; than these shall he do because I go as he does not charge this crime upon unto my Father ?" John xiv. 12, them, but warns them of the danger Did not the resurrection of Jesus, and Af committing it?
the Holy Spirit given to the apostles,
On the Schemes of the Divine Government. furnish stronger evidence than any must be more or less impressed with that had preceded?
those characters of design and con7. Can the supposition that some trivance with which he is constantly of the Jews had sinned beyond the surrounded and upheld. But sure possibility of forgiveness during our cvery successive fact that we witness, Lord's personal ministry, be reconciled cannot be justly considered a neceswith the accounts at large? Did not sary component, or requisite mean, Jesus after his resurrection direct that to any purposed end whatever. Can forgiveness should be preached to we reasonably think that all movethem indiscriminately; and was their ment is judicious change; and all opecondemnation finally sealed before ration intentional effect? they rejected the gospel, contradicting If this is “ Inquirer's” view of Proand blaspheming, when preached by vidence, I must say that all men do not the Apostles with the Holy Spirit decidedly think with him. Under sent down from heaven?
this notion I cannot beliere it possible A SCRIPTURIST. to form a consistent character of
Deity. The laws of nature indeed, SIR,
May 6, 1816. are divine emanation, and of course N Repository for February, (p. 74) perfectly characteristic of Deity, and ment are offered to consideration as accomodation and final welfare of his alone consistent in themselves, or as sentient creatures. haring any pretensions to reason or But fally admitting this providenthe common apprehensions of man- tial order of things, I apprehend not kind.
that it amounts to destiny, or positive The first holds forth that all things assignment of every separate atom in are subjected to fixed laws ;--that all respect of every other in the universe, is an universal settled scheme of all possible relation and state of being Providence; every thing was foreseen but rather suppose that it does not and determined, and happens as the necessarily follow, from hence, that Author of all appointed that it all states and relations of being and should.
every consequent result are subjects Now I do suppose that all events, of divine device, or any mental conall effects of power, are not subjects cern whatever. It seems to me, and of intellectual determination, or ob- it is my present opinion, that though jects of appointment; but on the every phenomenon in nature is (essencontrary, that there are many natural tially natural) necessary issue of eterřesults of force, which are not parts nal principle, nerertheless all bearing of of any scheine, or any matters of de- objects, every event, every movement vice or ordination whatever.
and consequence, is not a part of di. Indeed all things are necessarily vine scheme; not a link, or distinct what and as they are : but we need subject of direct will, device, purpose distinct evidence of appointment—that and ordination. And that man's perall events are, or ever were, oljects sonal character and end, is not it of divine contemplation, or devised, may be) absolutely prescribed and determined parts of provident plan. preordained. I suppose that it is by No doubt, Deity is source of all or- divine pleasure and purpose that I am der, all systematic work, all manage- constituted capable of a certain' meament.
sure of action : but must or may I But is God actually the designing thence infer and affirm, that I cancause of all movement and result? Is not do more or less than was the pleaall movement and consequence, issue sure and purpose of God in my make ? of intellect, pure offspring of wisdom This seems to me tantamount to saying and good-will? True, the natural that all efficiency is strictly divine standing order of the world indisputa- will-deed; that every instant motion bly betokens wise and good design; and operation is personal act of Deity, and all men must be agreeably affect- to all intents and purposes. How. ed therehy—by the beauty and bene- ever, I do suppose, think and believe. fit of the provident succession of that we are not justly authorized to things; the orderly, eligible course aflirm that the supreine legislator of which actually prerails throughout the universe actually appointed every the system of nature. Every man temporary fact-all' events whatever,
Inconsistencies of Writers on Future Punishment.
323 that take place through the action of degree. Take away the natural evil man or other (provident ordination, and it would cease to exist at all. or) creature energ!. Finally, I will Will this reasoning apply to the Dei. repeat, that I cannot think that every ty? If we conceive that the Deity natural effect is subject or olject of pur- is really the Creator of all things, pose and appointment.
which all men now allow; that he This said scheme of divine determi- must be perfectly happy, possessing all nation and ordination, now lies be- things, and having nothing to counfore us simple say-so. But as it is teract his views, seems to be an unseriously thought that facts do not deniable inference, the contrary of altogether answer to the tale, the which cannot be conceived, but seems matter demands some elucidation. to involve a contradiction. If the And it is hoped, Sir, that this ingeni- Deity then be a perfectly happy being, ous theoretic correspondent will 'en- it will follow that he can have no gage himself herein to our common desire, contrary to the happiness of interest, and he will oblige an any Being. It will now be asked, OLD INQCIRER. why then has this happy being pro
duced natural evil, and that moral, Whether natural evil le the cause of in a word, why has he made any moral evil.
suffering and unhappy beings? I January, 1816. cannot answer this question. The ITH
T is commonly said that if moral usual solution of thinking men is,
evil could not injure sensible beings, that all beings which he has made are or produce misery, it would be no or will be happy, and I confess that if evil at all, and I see no reason to dis- this be not true, the difficulty admits pute this position. There is another of no solution whatever. Without question, however, connected with this, all is a riddle, an inexplicable this subject, and that is, if the previ- mystery, all reasoning on the divine ous existence of natural evil be not the character and conduct, vain. This is cause of the subsequent existence of universally, or nearly so, the doctrine moral evil, or whether if there were held by Unitarians, and no other has no natural evil moral evil could be the appearance of common sense, possible in man? Now, all natural connected with the present condition
evil, is to sensible beings, unhappi- of man and the belief of a perfectly ness; so the question will be, if men happy Creator., were all perfectly happy, could an
SEARCH. immoral volition or act take place? P. S. May I be permitted to ask I think not. Every immoral act ap- your correspondent, Mr. Belsham, pears to be produced by the imper- who is one of the most diligent stufection of the agent's happiness. 'Ile dents in the scriptures now living, if is stimulated by some apprehended he have found any prophecy in the good which he has not and which he Old Testament, which speaks of the desires, and if he were perfectly happy Messiah's dying and rising again the he could have no desires, and there. third day, which seems to be clearly fore could have nothing to draw forth designated by Jesus after his resur. an immoral wish. If the will be de- rection, as recorded in Luke. termined by desire, take away that desire, and no volition will be exert- SIR,
March 28, 1816. ed. A human being perfecily happy: TIE suggestion in a late number, if can have no desire to change his con- “ Armageddon,” (M. Repos. X. 649] dition. Take away from man in his probably intended in that poem, indipresent state, uneasy passions, bodily rectly to oppose the common notion and mental, and all wants, and the of future punishment, hath induced dread of want, and all moral evil must me to send you a few scattered cease. The first pair are represented thoughts drawn up under a similar as not perfectly happy, they had un- idea, somewhat amplified, a few years easy desires, and criminal volition ago : an idea, with which I was followed. Moral evil, therefore, is forcibly impressed, on perusing Dr. caused by natural evil, and indeed in Young's Poein “On the Last Day." proportion to the extent of natural They are part of others on the subject evil; moral evil exists in a very limited in general, much too long on the
Inconsistencies of Writers on Future Punishment. whole, for a periodical work. If the divine of the church of Scotland, in present fragment be not out of time his “ Theologia," 1716, a work, which, or unacceptable, it is at your service. allowing for some parts of the au
AN OCCASIONAL READER. thor's creed, contains an inexhaustApparent Inconsistencies of great Minds, creating of the divine patience, says:
able fund of theological matter, eremplified in a series of Extracts on
“Of all the other perfections of ihe Future Punishment.
divine nature, this of patience hath There yet remains one collateral the shortest time to act its part, have argument, of great weight and impor- .ing no other stage but this world to act tance in the writer's opinion, against in: after the end of which, it will both the schemes already treated of, remain, shut up in the Deity, without namely, the indiscriminale notion of any further operation. The time of future punishment, as represented by this life is the only time of long suffersome, or the doctrine of absolute, ing." Yet, he afterwards tells us, eternal and unremitting torments; that the consideration of the divine and secondly, that of punishment patience is to be used as an argument, limited in degree, but strictly everlast- is to manifest the gracious, merciful, ing in duration-an argument, dis- and reconcilcuble nature of the Deity, tinct in itself, and not much advert- and to clear and justify the divine ed to in books; and that is—the inde- judgments in a future world ;-an terminate and equivocal language em- abundant patience, called the riches of ployed by the advocates of eternal forbearance and long suffering, far beyond punishment, either in explaining their the patience of good men, of glorified ideas of the doctrine itself, or of eir- saints, or angels.” Not to advert cumstances connected with it. If a here to the singular freedom of writer lays down a specific opinion, speech in the former part of this quoand presently shuns the investigation tation, it may be observed, than of it, and elsewhere, perhaps in the which nothing can be plainer, that next page, expresses a sentiment dia- the divine patience and long suffering, metrically opposite, or utterly incon- are often very limited in their exercise sistent with ihe former one ; we may in the present life. The Deity doth fairly conclude, either that he hath not often interpose, that we know of, not formed any precise ideas upon the by miracles, or by remarkable deviasubject; or that he means to com- tions from the common course of napound with different parties ; or wish- ture and Providence, to prevent the es to retract in some measure what usual, or the accidental effects as they he had before advanced. Nothing are called, of transgression. The pican be a surer proof of a weak argu- ous author himself observes, “ How ment, than a man's authority against many candles hare we seen put out, himself. A prodigious mass of evi- before they were half burnt!" War dence might be furnished of this and pestilence, famine and intempekind; at present we shall producerance, destroy their thousands and ten only a few instances, without regard thousands in the first acts of sin, and to chronology,
many of them perhaps in the possesCalvin, in his Institutions, B. III. sion of a previously moral, if not reliCh. 25, Section 5, having slightly gious character: now, to propose mentioned some of the common argu- that, as a general argument, which at ments for eternal punishment; as to present applies only to particular quses, the contrary opinions, only says, is a false and absurd method of * Let us leave these trifles, lest we reasoning. Again, under the head should seem to consider such dotages of divine justice, he tells us, “The as worthy of confutation.". No doubt justice of God, in a future state, is many a zealous Romanist has said inexorable :" but afterwards, that the same, respecting any sentiments “This vindictive justice, though escontrary to the peculiar dogmas of his sential to the nature of God, is not community: nevertheless, of the natural to him, as heat is to the fire, greater part of these, this pious re- though it be necessary that he should former justly thought it necessary to punish sin, because of his righteous enter into the most minute and nature; yet, not by a natural, or laborious investigation.
physical necessity, as the fire burns, The Rev. W. °Wisheari, a profound but by a moral," or rational necessity. Inconsistencies of Writers on Future Punishment.
S25 The fire burns, without any influence thor had possessed neither grace, reaof a free and rational principle, but son nor humanity: he closes his rethe Deity is a free agent, and there- marks thus: “ the one;" the eternity fore determines the mode, seasons, of happiness, " being so far beyond degree, and other circumstances of our deserts; the other," the eternity punishment by his sovereign will and of suffering, “ being so infinitely be pleasure. Further, when we say that low our demerits !" What did this God canno! let sin go unpunished, we good man require further, or what do not thereby limit the power of God, could he expect, more than all ? but it is the justice and righteousness Sir Kenelm Digly, his annotator, of his own nature that bounds him. expresses upon this occasion a little As he cannot lie or deny hiinse!f, so alleviation of sentiment: he tells us, he cannot do any thing unjust, and it that the victim of divine anger, dewould be unjust to let sin go unpu- prived of former criminal enjoyments, nished."
restless and insatiable,“ will neglect These sentiments are strictly just, all other contentments he might have, but utterly inconsistent with the fore- for want of a due taste and relish; going assertion : for if we are to argue hating whatsoever good is in his power, upon the grounds of “ a moral or and thus pining away a long eterrational necessity," as to the proceed- nity:" hereby plainly supposing, that ings of the Supreme Being as sovereign there is some real good to be obtained judge in a future world, how does it in that state, if the proper means could thence appear, that his primitive jus- be discovered and adopted. tice will be “inexorable" Or where The luminous author of " A Genis it said in scripture that it will be tleman's Religion" dismisses this sub$o? Rather, as his patience and long- ject in a very summary way. “ Etersuffering are only, so to speak, branches nal damnation, of which we have fair of his infinite goodness, which is es- warning given us, and may therefore sential to his nature, is it not far more avoid if we please, is as little as can be probable, that these will continue as threatened, and often is but too little to long as that ?_that is, be coeval with keep us back from all manner of sin his being? For, as our author well and wickedness.”. Thus taking for observes on the Divine Eternity, “God granted the question proposed, and always is what he was, and always confounding a supposed divine threatwill be what he is!"
ening with its execution; though, to Sir Thomas Brown, in his “ Religio do the author justice, he clearly holds Medici," treating of future punish- out the difference of degrees. ment according to the high orthodox Richard Barter, in his Treatise of system of his day, among some exqui- Universal Redemption, or the Suffisite passages,* introduces others which, ciency of the Gospel in itself to save separately considered, might lead a all Vankind, has the following pashasty reader to conclude that the au- sage :-" All divines that I know, say
that God loveth those in hell, as his *“ I thank God, that, with joy ! creatures and as men. Aquinas and mention it, I was nerer afraid of hell, nor
the schoolmen have it frequently; ever grew pale at its description : I have and many Protestant divines say, that so fixed my contemplation on heaven, that he punisheth those in hell short of I have almost forgot the idea' of its con- their deserving, and so sheweth some trary, and am afraid rather to lose thé mercy there. That I will not meddle joy's of the orie, than endure the sufferings with." There might be some reason of the other ! To be deprired of them, is for this: the pious and laborious mia perfect Hell, and needs, methinks, no ad- nister was branded as a heretic by dition to complete our aflliction! That many of his brethren; and would terrible term bath nerer detained we probably have been still farther adfrom sin, nor do I owe any good action anced on the black catalogue had he to the name thereof: I fear God, yet am
hinted at the possibility of uirersal not afraid of him; his mercies make me ashamed of my sins, before his judgments restoration. But let us attend to his alarm me for their consequences. These sentiments in another part of this are but the forced and secondary methods work, which should be deeply im. of his wisdona; a course rather to deter pressed upon our minds. the wicked, than incite the virtuous to his say that God followeth not the rules service.".--Rel. Medic.
of human laws; 1 answer, He is flie VOL. XI.