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Inconsistencies of Iriler's on Future Punishment. fountain of all right laws and reason indirect argument against eternal ppand justice. 'Tis an ill pretence for nishinent, but only as proving by the inen to judge their Maker by, when way, that this great divine did not inthey will not allow him that reason- terpret too strictly those texts in Ezeable apology, nor make that construc- kiel, where it is said that the righteous tion of his ways, according to com- shall perish in his present sin, notqon undeniable equity, as they will withstanding his former attainments; do of the ways of men. Right reason and as proving, most unequivocally, and the laws invle thereby, are a that, like the favoured disciple, his beam of God's perfect wisdom and soul was so wrapt and absorbed in the justice.
contemplation of the divine character, Jeremy Taylor, that truly Christian as the God of love, and probably, at the bishop, or overseer of souls, “ himself same time, so shocked, or at least disan host, the Homer among preachers," mayed, by the common notion of futhough he appears in general to adopt ture punishment, that he could not the common notions on this subject, allow himself to believe, that any (especially in his Treatise “ On Man," would prove the victims of this dire, probably the only weak book he ever ineffable doom, but the most flagrant, wrote, and some of the sentiments of enormous and incorrigible transgreswhich, if true, would almost justify sors. This is further evident from the scheme of Anthropomorpbitisin,) another passage in the same work, yet, has many passages quite incon. where lic tells us that there is a bui sistent with them. In his “ Life of one" individual of the human race, Christ,” treating of temporal judg. Judas Iscariot, of whom we inay afments, he observes, of Ananias and firm, without breach of Christian chaSapphira, L'zzah the prophet slain byrity, that he is : certainly damned ;" the lion, and other cases of sudden sur, nay, he goes farther yet, and says, prisals in the commission of sinful even of this delinquent, “his sin acts, where the sufferers were in the stuck close, and it is thought to a sa] main upright characters, that “We eternity." But we do not insist upon must not conclude such persons pe- this latter passage; the good bishop Fishing and miserable to all eternity; often indulges in a daxity of phrase it were a sad sentence to think God
common in his day, but which the would not impute the untimely death literary taste of the present times, sufor a punishment great enough to that perior in this respect, will not admit deflexion from duty, and judge the of. The foregoing sentiment, howman according to the constant tenor ever, is delivered in plain and decided of his former life; unless the act were terms: let us attend, for a moment, to of malice enough to outweigh the the singular idea, and to the instruction former habits, and interrupt the whole which it may afford us. state of acceptation and grace. For as If Christian charity will not allow God takes off our sins and punish- us to affirm that any man but Judas ments ly parts, remitting to some the Iscariot is “ certainly damned," it most sentence of death, and inflicting only assuredly will not require us to believe, the fine of a temporal loss, or the gen- on the other hand, that every man te scourge of a lesser sickness; so also, besides him is certainly saved :'taking he lays it on ly parts and suitable pro- salvation in the common sense of the portions ; and every transgression and word, for the state of happiness immelesser deviation from duty does not diately succeeding the general judg, drag the soul to death eternal; but he ment. This would be enthusiasm, and suffers our repentance, though imper- not charity, or charity carried to a fect, to have an imperfect effect, degree of enthusiasm. We cannot knocking off the fetters by degrees, doubt, from the history of the world leading us in some cases to the council
, and our own experience, --happy if in some to judgment, and in some to we have no reason to fear it respecting hell-fire ; but it is not always certain, ourselves that many go out of life that he who is led to the prison doors utterly unfit, as far as appears, without shall there lie entombed, and a man considerable degree of purification, for may by a judgment be brought to the the Christian heaven; judging, not gates of hell, and yet those gates shall not prevail aguinst himn."
« Enthusiastic doctrine3---good things This passage is not cited as any strained out of their wits." Whickcole,
Incorsistencies of Writers on Future Punishment.. from the manner of their death, which, of nothing at all. Who can tell, then, of all the extravagancies of theologi- whether i he punishment of the wicked cal dreamers, is one of the inost strange may not lead them into a kind of and unaccountable, but from the man- phrenzy and madness? Thus they ner of thtir life. Now, how are we inay indeed be very miserable, and to determine between these two er- become a sad spectacle to others; they tremes? If, according to the reasoning may be sensible of their misery also, of this profour.dd writer, we should and strive against it with all their form such exalted ideas of the divine power; but wbile they do not observe benignity, in a general view, as exercised or believe that it is founded in perverse in the character of Supreme Judge; clection, they may hug themsclves in the how is it conceivable, that, after the cause, the effects of which they abhor ; future awards of his juistice, this benig-being still wise in their own opinion, nity, as to the objects of it, should be and, as it were, pleasing themselves in eternally suspended?
their misery." It is difficult to ascertain precisely, “ Thus, the more they labour under what were the sentiments of Arch- it, the more they einbrace the cause of bishop King upon this important sub- it, and thereby become their own hinject. In the Appendix to his Treatise drance from ever getting free; and will on “ The Origin of Evil," a work not suffer thcinselves to be any thing but abounding with many weighty truths, what they are. This we see daily done he adopts, in a great measure, the by mad and frantic persons, and recken orthodox notion, and endeavours to it a part of their unhappiness. The obviate some of the arguments against divine goodness, therefore, is not to it in the usual way :-such as the suf be charged with cruelty for letting theme ferings of the danined tending to enhance continue in that existence, though it the blessedness of glorified saints, by be very miserable, when they them. way of comparison and contemplation; selves will not have it removed; or, for a sentiment which, as applicable to the not altering their condition, which they adequate and limited suffering of trans- utterly refuse to have altered. "Tis bet, gressors in a future statc, may be allow- ter indeed for them not to be; but ed to have some weight; but which, if this, in the opinion only of wise men, applied to the doctrine of strictly eter-, to which they do not assent; for they nal punishment, confutes itself. The indulge themselves in their obstinate eternity of this state, however, he ob- election, and though every where surserves,' is not a doctrine of reason, but rounded and oppressed with woes, of pure revelation. “ It appears from yet will they not alter what they have the light of nature that there shall be once embraced, and had rather endure future punishments, but not that they all than repent: as men that are desshall be eternal.” lle further informs parately in love, ambitious, envious, us, that they “ do not proceed from choose to bear torments, loss of estate, the vengeance, but from the goodness of and hazard of life, rather than lay the Deity;" and then proceeds to aside these foolish and bewitching offer some opinions which seem to be affections. We may casily conceive, peculiarly his own :
then, how the wicked in hell may be “ As to another objection, the mat- in very great misery, upon the inter is still in debate, whether it were crease of their obstinacy and folly, and better to be miserable than not to be at yet unwilling to be freed from them." all; and there are arguments on both The reader will make his own com. sides. "Tis manifest, indeed, that ment upon these passages, and more those evils which overbalance the de- of the same kind, in the original: for sire and happiness of life, commonly the writer's part, he professes only to put an end to life itself; and that such regard them as constituting an inextriobjects as are hurtful to the sense, at calle labyrinth, from whicli, it is prolength destroy it. The same seems to bablc, he should not readily escape, hold good in thinking substances, viz. and into which he hath certainly no those things which affect the mind to inclination to enter : he has, therefore, a higher degree than it can bear, may only to observe, that awful mstances in like manner put an end to it: for of the prevalence of evil habits in the they may be supposed either to drive present life, can furnish no criterion us to mudness; or so far to disorder the as to their influence in the next, where thinking faculty, as to make us think all the objects of sinful gratification
Inconsistencies of Writers on Future Punishment. shall be done away, where “hell is of its principal characteristics; and be open before them, and destruction hath no utterly unable, in this view, either to covering !" that we shall search in vain understand it ourselves, or to preach for this system of insanity in the Bible; or explain it to others, and conseand that we should receive with cau- quently unable, thus far, to believe it; tion some of the opinions of an author, since we can believe nothing which however learned and pious, who could we do not, in some measure, apprehend: conclude his elaborate and justly ce- and this, in a question involving our lebrated work, in the following man- ideas of the moral attributes of the
Deity, is a circumstance of prodigious “ But I offer all these things to the importance. This is not a matter of censure of the learned : I submit them mere abstract speculation, as to which entirely to the judgment of the Catho- it is of little consequence on which lic church, especially to the governors side the truth lies :-doubtfulness, in of those parts of it, which constitute such a case, is death! the churches of England and Ireland. But it will be said, alas! what can If there be any thing herein which we know of the extent of the divine seems not perfectly agrecable to their plans and operations in a future state? faith, as I hope there is not, and would "Who can by searching find out God, not have it; I desire that may be who can find out the Almighty to looked upon as absolutely unsaid and perfection?". Shall the Omnipotent retracted !"
be arraigned at the bar of a worm? The only prose divine remaining, Shall the delinquent sit in judgınent whose sentiments upon this subject upon the Judge himself? These obwe shall briefly consider, is the pious, jections are plausible, and the sentilearned and candid Dr. Doddridge. mients themselves founded in truth; In his Theological Lectures, Prop. 163,' but they do not altogether apply in Ed. 1776, he proposes the question the present case. We are not to rewith great fairness and in partiality. nounce our understandings in the We cannot enter into all the argu- contemplation of subjects in which ments he has produced on both sides, we are so deeply interested, under a which would be to repeat much of false notion of humility and self-abasewhat hath already been offered : our
We may have true concepinquiry here is only respecting his tions of God, though not full and consistency.
adequate conceptions."* He acknowledges that “ We cannot For be it recollected, that in all our pretend to decide, à priori, or previous reasonings concerning the Deity, we to the event, so far as to say, that the can reason only as to his perfections punishments of hell must and will cer- and attributes; of his abstract nature tainly be eternal ;" but gives it as his and essence, we can, at present, know opinion, on a review of the arguments, nothing: and moreover, that if the “That there is at least so much forceon ideas of those perfections which we the affirmative side of the question, and derive from his works and his word, in the solution of the preceding objec- should be supposed to deceive us, there tions, as to render it both imprudent are no others to be had: we must begin and unsafe to go out of the way of anew, and launch out into a fathomscripture upon this head; or to ex- less ocean, without a pilot, without a plain those expressions in such a man. helm, and probably without a shore ! ner, as positively to determine that But it has long been determined as future eternal punishments, in strict the only legitimate criterion we have propriety of speech, are not to be ap- whereby to regulate our notions of the prehended.”
Divine Being, to consider the highest Now there is evidently a chasm in perfections of created natures, to subthis way of reasoning : for if we can- tract every thing imperfect from them, not decide that eternal punishments and then to add infinitude to those will take place; and must not be per- ideas : “ It would, indeed, be a high suaded or express our conviction, presumption to determine, whether that is, according to our conceptions the Supreme Being has not many of things,--that they will not; we more attributes than those which must reinain all our lives in a state enter into our conceptions of him ; of tortuous suspense as to one of the leading motives of the gospel, in one
Inconsistencies of Writers on Future Punishment.
329 but it is impossible that we should sidered, we know that it extends to have any ideas of any kind of perfec- every object of power—10 every thing tion, except those of which we have that doch not imply a contradiction some small rays, and short, imperfect and yet, we may be more than morally strokes in ourselves."*. “It is foolish," certain, that there are many things says Archbishop Tillotson, " for any simply possible, which the Deity will man to pretend that he cannot know never bring to pass : as, for instance, what justice, and goodness, and truth, to create a world in one instant and dein God are; for if we do not know stroy it the next; because this would this, it is all one to us, whether God be, according to all our notions, a cebe good or not, nor could we imitate pricious act, a mark of imperfection, his goodness ; for he that imitates, en- and of the creature, and therefore deavours to be like something that he not to be predicated of the Divinity; knows, and must have come idea of all whose attributes are in perfect unithat to which he aims to be like: so son, and who cannot for a moment that if we had no certain and settled be supposed to magnify his power at notion of the justice, goodness and the expense of his wisdom and goodtruth of God, he would be altogether ness. an unintelligible Being, and religion, But this pious and benevolent diwhich consists in the imitácion of him, vine (Dr. Doddridge), when einancibe utterly impossible.”
pated from the trammels of system, Thus it is plain, that though we and attending to the silent operations cannot comprehend the extent and of his own sublime and capacious mode of operation of the divine attri- mind, could give his opinion decidedly butes,- for how can finite comprehend enough on this point.' Thus, though infinite?--yet, we have a sufficient he seems in one place to adopt the idea of the attributes themselves, that common notion, that “the punishis, of those which relate to us, and of ment of the damned may be an intheir nature and properties of what, structive spectacle to glorified saints ;" upon the whole, appear to be consistent yet he asks, Prop. 45, ** How can the or inconsistent therewith: and that, view or experience of misery be necesalthough it would be highly improper sary to give a virtuous being a more and irreverend to say, with some weak exquisite relish of happiness ?" Again, persons, if such a thing take place, he observes, that “if it appear the God must be so and so; or, if such a scriptures declare the eternity of future thing be true, " then you may burn punishment, these considerations may your Bibles," &c.-yet there is no serve to lalance the difficulties arising irreverence at all in saying, such or from principles of the light of nature.** such a thing is absolutely inconsistent Yet, in Prop: 95, on the internal eviwith all our ideas of the divine per- dences of a divine revelation, he tells fections, and utterly impossible if those us, “ We may be sure such a revelaideas be founded in truth. Thus we tion can contain nothing apparently have clear ideas of the divine lenignity contrary to the light of nature, be and power; and if we take these attri- cause that is the law of God, and he is butes in connexion, may casily con- too wise and too faithful to contradict ceive, that the Almighty could instantly himself.” Then, as to what this light and for ever annihilate all sin and sufo of nature really teaches concerning this fering, and make his moral creation doctrine, he observes, Prop. 82, that, universally holy and happy; but we “ As for eternal punishments, though know, that though such a process, this some of the Heathen did assert them, holiness by influy, might indeed ren- and many have undertaken to infer der intelligent beings happy, it could them from natural principles; yet it never constitute them worthy of praise; seems, that our natural apprehensions and that, therefore, this desirable would rather encourage us to hope event must be brought about by the that the Deity would leave some room co-operation of their own powers, in for amendment and recovery of happiness order to render it consistent with his in a future state; or, by annihilation, wisdom and justice, as well as with his put an end to men's misery, when they holiness. Again, with respect to the appeared humbled by their punishment." attribute of infinite power, simply con- an argument, surely, for annihilation,
of all others the most inconclusive ! * Addison.
He afterwards proceeds to consider
330 Sir G. Hill's Attack on the Character of Dr. Priestley. a further notion of some of the old di- silence apparently confirm the truth of vines, of perpetually succeeding sins his remarks. and punishments; but this, he says in The superior merits of Dr. Priestley, . another place, is not reconcileable to both as a divine and a philosopher, scripture, which uniformly represents are well known and acknowledged by the punishments of futurity as inflicted' every cardid inquirer after inith; and for sins “ done in the lody."
no man was ever achated by a stronger Such are the inconsistencies into desire to promote the best interests of which the greatest minds may fall his fellow-creat res, by means the most when treating upon subjects not per- gentie, peaceable and praise-worthy. haps wholly mysterious and inexpli- ' I speak from'knowledge; for I was cable in themselves, but rendered sø intimately acquainted with him. He by the intricate and unscriptural jargon had a soul endued with the most beof disputants and systematical wri ers, ne olent affections, comprehending, to whom they are often inclined to in its grasp, the whole human race; pay a drga c of attention and deference wholly unlike those narrow and illifar beyond their real deserts. In spe- beral men who, from want of educaculation, therefore, as well as in prac- tion or carly prejudice, have been led tice, " Let our eyes look right on, and to embrace the doctrines and to conlet our eye-lids look straight before form to the worship of an established
church, and to despise and consider [To le continued.)
as dangerous enemies to the state, all
those who dissent from it. Ryde, Isle of Wight, What the charac er of Sir G. Hill SIR,
15th May, 1816. may be, I know not; but I hope, and I
TIAVE always considered the me- have no reason to believe it otherwise
inory of great and good men as a than respectable, notwithstanding this sacred deposit which cannot be too attempt to lower the opinion which highly cherished and too carefully every candid and well-informed man preserved; and when the reputation entertains of the late Dr. Priestley, which they have justly acquired has We are none of us perfect, and Sir been violated, I have attributed it to G. Hill has his weak side; let us pity the grossest ignorance of their exalted and pray for himn. worth.
Country 'squires (and titles are no In this light I regard the attack of exemption) labour under great disadSir G. Hill on the character of that' vantages. How superficial is their illustrious man, the late Rev. Dr. education! how low and groveling, Priestley, in the Committee of Supply, their pursuits! Their days spent in on Friday, the 10th instant, respecting hunting and shooting, and their nights an academical institution at Belfast, in carousing! in which the reporter of his speech Study has no charms for them; and informs us, that he remarked, “That literary characters, who dare to in. this institution was likely to be per- vestigate truth and to think for them. verted, as persons of a desparate cha-' selves in matters of the highest imporracter had' wormed themselves into tance—who refuse to subscribe to the politics and religion of Paine and false, though imposed by the highest Priestley; hoping, by these insidious human authority, are, in their judga means, to promote their abominablement, persons entertaining the most principles by inculcating them into abominable principles. ihe minds of the young. The visit- I rejoice to think that we are no ors," he added, " have not been per- longer the slaves of a feudal aristocracy, haps sufficiently activo—and many The mind of man is now beginning good inen have declined interfering," to work; it will be found a most
If the above report be correct; powerful engine, and eventually ex: (whichi, for the credit of Sir G. Hill terminate the deep-rooted errors and and the reputation of the honourable prejudices both of religion and politics. the House of Commons, I much ques
We cannot raise our cxpectations tion) I am at a loss to account for the too high. In the mean time let us silence of those members who could aid the progress of truth in every way patiently suffer
, so illustrious a name which lies in our power; recollecting in be so vilely traduced—and by their that we are the sale of thc earth, and