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REPLY TO THE QUERIES OF MINIMUS.
37 these things. Like the Pharisee | And wherever the same truth is of old, they can “thank God that really understood and cordially they are not as other men;" and believed, it must produce similar from this presumption arises all effects in the mind. It is manitheir hope for time and eternity. fest, however, from the whole New And, built as it is upon so pre- Testament, that no professor can carious a foundation as their own have any satisfactory evidence of frames and feelings, it is no wonder his interest in the covenant of that their joys and consolations grace, unless he be living by the should partake of all the fluctua- faith of the Son of God, enjoying tions of their unsteady principle. in some degree the consolations of The greatest favour that can be the gospel in his soul, and bringing conferred on such professors is to forth the fruits of it in his life and undeceive them, and lead their conversation; nor ought others to minds to the glorious ground of think it of him. hope revealed in the gospel.
3. But the question will here be 2. MINIMUS would do well to moved by MINIMUS, “May not inquire, what it is that he has one who has known and believed received for truth or for the gospel. the truth, and rejoiced in it, backWhat are bis views of the person, slide from the ways of God, and character, and work of Christ? lose the sensible enjoyment of the Does he believe on the Son of divine favour; and what means God? Or, to come still more should such a person adopt in closely to the point-Is he fully order to be restored to that enjoypersuaded in his own mind that ment ?” In answer to this, I reGod is well pleased in his beloved mark, that it is unquestionably Son;--50 well pleased as to re-true, that one who has known the quire nothing on the part of any truth and rejoiced in it, may lose sinner under heaven to introduce that enjoyment, and have his mind him into the enjoyment of his filled with darkness. Various things favour but a belief of the truth? may occasion this. He may be Is MINIMUS aware that this is overcome by the power of tempthe very hinge or turning point tation, and fall into sin, as David of Christianity! For, what is a did; and to suppose when such is Christian? Is he not one who, in the case, that he can enjoy the opposition to all the various ways comfortable sense of the divine in which unbelievers are seeking favour, is just as absurd as it to please God and recommend would be to expect the sun to themselves to his favour, is per- shine at midnight! There are suaded on divine evidence that many other things too that may God is already well pleased in produce darkness and distress in the sacrifice of his Son. This is the mind of a professor. A selfthe all-important truth proved by righteous spirit has a natural tenthe resurrection of Jesus Christ dency to produce thisman undue from the dead (Rom. i. 4.) and attachment to the things of this what constitutes the very essence world—and even the pressure of of the gospel (1 Cor. xv. 1-4.); affliction and distress may so harto which the apostles in all their rass the mind as to occasion it. preaching bore witness (Mark xvi. But without further enlarging on 15.); and with the belief of which this, let us attend to the question, eternal life is connected. (John “What is the scriptural source of xx. 31. iii. 14–17.) In believing relief under such circumstances ?" this truth the first Christians were Can a reflection upon his past filled with peace and joy. (Acts experience relieve the present disviii. 5, 8. xiii. 52. 1 Pet. i. 8.) tressed mind of the backslider ?
So far from it, that if he has just riches of his grace, the infinite views of his situation, it will rather value of his sacrifice, and the perenhance his distress, and he will fection of his righteousness--we be induced to fear that he re- have no life in us. The institusembles the ground which, though tions of the gospel are all divinely often rained upon, brought forth calculated to promote this valuable nothing but briars and thorns, end upon us—to encrease which is rejected and nigh unto knowledge, strengthen our faith, cursing, whose end is to be burned. confirm our hope, and quicken our What then can relieve his mind ? languid affections: and, “ Blessed Why that which at first gave him is the man that heareth Wisdom, relief, when he was sitting in dark- watching daily at her gates, waitness and the shadow of death, ing at the posts of her doors; for the divine blood of the Son of whoso findeth her findeth life, and God, shed for the remission of the shall obtain favour of the Lord.” sins of many (Zech. xiii. 1. 1 John
OMICRON. i. 9.)—this can do it effectually, and nothing else! The gospel which at first encouraged his hope in the mercy of God, still stands THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD firm as a sanctuary for the wretched of every class, and invites their confidence. But it relieves back- THE WORKS OF CREATION. sliders on no other footing than it relieved Saul of Tarsus, and the To the Editor of the New Evangelical dying thief (1 Tim. i. 15. Luke
Magazine. xxiii. 40.) that is, of mere grace SIR, and mercy. Thus the backslider In reading the popular argufinds relief in Jesus Christ, the ments which are usually urged in same yesterday, to-day, and for proof of the existence of the Deity, ever: for the truth concerning I feel a dissatisfaction, arising from HIM, as delivered for the offences what in them to me appears an of the guilty, and raised again for inconclusiveness, which, if untheir justification, with the promise necessary, I shall be obliged to of salvation to every one that be- the Author of the paper on this lieves in his glorious grace, ever subject, in the first number, p. 13, remains as a sanctuary for the of your new work, or to any other distressed, and an anchor of hope Correspondent, to remove from for the wretched.
mind. It is perhaps a very 4. MINIMUS should carefully difficult thing for one who has guard against mistaken views of been born and educated in a divine ordinances. Many pro- christian country, to place himfessors are looking for some im- self, in idea, in the precise, conmediate, special manifestations of dition of a man, to whom no the love of God to their soul knowledge whatever, from divine through the medium of these ordi- revelation, has been, at any time, nances, which I conceive to be conveyed: and yet it is apparent altogether delusive and visionary. that this difficulty must be surThe christian life is a life of faith mounted, before a correct estiupon the Son of God; and unless mate, of the unassisted powers of we are daily eating the flesh and human reason, to gather the knowdrinking the blood of Christ; that ledge either of the Being or per is, feasting our souls upon the fections of God from the works of doctrines of the gospel, realizing creation, can be formed. If, then, the glories of his character, the I am right in supposing that it is
ON THE KNOWLEDGE GF GOD.
39 the object of such arguments to sun, no stoppage, irregularity, or shew that this knowledge is ob- decay in the system. If then he tainable from reason and nature, pause here, he will conclude, with independent of revelation, I in one sect of philosophers, that quire, from what process of rea- matter is eternal; that what we soning would an unaided mind call the faculties of the mind, derive the certain conclusion, that are attributes of some subtle mothere is a God? And, what nation dification of matter (for he can or individual to whom revelation have no idea of a spiritual subhas given no notice, and with stance), and, that, if there needs whom no tradition remains, is to be intelligence employed in gobe found in the faith or worship verning and superintending the of a spiritual Being, who is in world, and in organizing and susfinite, eternal, and unchangeable taining vegetable and animal life, in his nature and perfections? it is a part of the universe, which For such is the Deity; and, unless influences the rest, in some such it can be proved that an adequate way, as he is conscious of his and accurate idea of Him is fur- own mind influencing his body: nished by a rational observation of agreeing with the atheistical sentihis works, it may, I think, be safely ment of Pope in his poetical Essay inferred, that God never designed on Man: to make himself known by them “ All are but parts of one stupendous at all; for it is not to be supposed whole, as compatible with his character, Whose body nature is, and God the soul.” that either he should be satisfied
But, I presume, it will not here with the errors and misconeeptions be contended, because the name of his creatures, with respect to of Deity is applied to this fancied all that it is most important and intelligence, that it is the same necessary for them to know, both thing to attain the knowledge of for their own good and for their the existence of God, as to arrive Maker's glory; or, that he should at the foregoing conclusion. This himself propose the very premises would be merely to take advantage from which only mistaken notions of the imperfection or abuse of of a vain and useless religion could language; and, at the same time, be deduced by the most vigorous to allow a latitude in the applicaand persevering efforts of the tion of the divine name which human understanding. With re- would include alike the sun, moon, spect to the former inquiry, let it and stars; the earth, air, fire, and be imagined that a man, otherwise water; Jupiter, and all his comwell instructed, shall have lived panions; crocodiles, onions, and from his infancy entirely cut off vermin; iron, wood, and stone; from all information derived, in and Jehovah, the only living and any way, from the Scriptures, or true God. tradition, and that he is concerned Let it then be supposed that to know whence he is; and, how our imaginary inquirer is dissatisoriginated all that surrounds him. fied with these results; and, that -He contemplates himself, the in reflecting on the nature of time earth, the sky.—He knows not and motion, and on the evidence how long these objects have ex- of adaptation and design throughisted, for none of his race had out the universe, he, at last beever given account of a time when comes persuaded that all things they did not exist. He knows not have had a beginning; and, therethat they shall ever have an end, fore, that there was a great, wise, for he perceives no wearing out of and powerful cause, prior to the nature's wheels, no languor in the existence of his species, to the
revolution of the heavenly bodies, of a first or uncaused cause; much and to the formation of matter, less, at the apprehension of those to which all these admirable effects, perfections, natural and moral, in of being, life, and motion, are to be him, with which the true idea of attributed: nevertheless, he will the Deity could be alone identistrive in vain to inform himself by fied, and without any of which, any thing he can see or know, God (I speak it with reverence) wliether this prior cause were not would be no God? Even were it itself caused; and whether that possible for a human mind, in causing cause not again these forlorn circumstances, to caused by a third, and so on, conceive an idea of the Deity ad infinitum ; for, where will the which should want only one of mind, having no information on his essential attributes : for inthe subject, stop, there being stance, that of immutability, this as much reason to conclude that deficiency alone would occasion the maker of the world was made, a monstrous caricature, instead of and he by another, as that the a divine resemblance. world itself was made. In this In short, man is a receptive and latter case, the greatest possible not an inventive being. Until advantage of which I can con- supplied with ideas by sensation, ceive for ascertaining the exist- his mind is mere capacity, devoid ence of the Deity, without the of every thing but its natural subaid of revelation, is conceded to stance and properties : and if so, the efforts of human reason, and then that a mind so constituted no notice is taken of the errors of should be able, by aid of its own polytheism, into which a self- resources, to discover truths which directed mind would be likely to are not either intuitively known, be betrayed—and there lost—by or certainly deducible from selfwitnessing the numerous contrasts evident data, is an opinion as unof beauty with deformity, of good supported and untenable as the with evil, and of virtue with vice, doctrine of innate ideas. Man which nature and society present; can know nothing with certainty it being an inference naturally of objects which are inaccessible drawn by one unacquainted with to his senses, without positive inthe scriptural doctrine of divine formation; and if he have, at providence, from a variety of ef- any time, suggested a proposition, fects differing from, and opposing whose proof being beyond the each other, in their qualities and reach of his faculties, he could tendencies, that they have as many, not adduce which shall have been and as various, and as contrary afterwards verified by its argee
And thus the Heathens ment with revealed truth, yet canof Greece and Rome, although not that proposition be considered accounted to have been, at the in itself, otherwise than as merely same time, the most wise and conjectural, since the demonstraenlightened people in the world, tion of it was unknown to the had amongst them a deity for al- proposer. An essential difference most every thing; and gods and must ever be acknowledged begoddesses of all sorts and sizes, tween opinion and truth. A philodispositions and abilities, were sopher who should state that the nearly as numerous as men and moon is inhabited, would not dewomen. According to Varro, they monstrate that man had powers exceeded thirty thousand. sufficient to ascertain the truth of
Yet, after all, does it not appear his statement, although it might that a natural theologian will never be subsequently disclosed that the be able to arrive at the knowledge hypothesis was correct.
41 ON THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
41 But I am doing more than I their altogether unassisted cotemproposed in answering my own poraries. Let then the insufficiency enquiries. I will, therefore, leave of reason and nature to teach dithe second with your readers ; vine things be candidly admitted. and conclude with an inference or Let the evidences of revealed truth two from what has been advanced be fully stated; its claims properly on the first.
enforced, and its sanctions seri1. If these principles be true, ously explained and decidedly then is it dangerous, if not fatal, declared. So far as reason and to commit the issue of the question nature can be rendered subserbetween those who believe and vient to these purposes (for by those who deny the existence of evidence and analogy they illusthe Deity, to arguments, however trate and corroborate much, and popular, obtained from reason or contradict nothing of what is dinature, Το
say the least of con- vinely revealed), let their arguclusions derived from such pre-ments be adduced, and legitimises, they are disputable. If it mately applied. If, after all
, a be objected that Pythagoras, So-mortal man will persist in refusing crates, Plato, and other heathen the assent of his understanding, philosophers, asserted the exist- and the concurrence of his heart, ence of a First Cause, it can be because there are some things in shewn, that some of them had the Bible which he cannot comaccess to the scriptures of the prehend, and more which he does Old and New Testament, and to not like, he asserts for his reason information derived originally from a supremacy over the authority of revelation by the Jews; and that God; rejects revelation at his others were acquainted with the known peril, and risks the despetenets of the Christians, and had rate alternative of a fabulous most probably seen part of the Christianity, or the second death. writings of the Evangelists. Also, A man who waits to be reasoned that this doctrine of these cele- into revealed religion on natural brated men was borrowed from principles, will die without that the Scriptures or tradition, may faith which God hath made essenbe further made to appear by tial to a sinner's salvation. considering, that the great mass 2. If reason and nature can of their countrymen lived in entire teach nothing of God, or nothing ignorance of it, which it can to any good purpose, then how scarcely be supposed would have much are they to be pitied, who been the case, equally furnished either voluntarily commit themwith reason and nature as they selves, or are unhappily left, to were, if the former had not en- instructors so miserably inefficient. joyed advantages of a different For the former class, let us do kind from those which were pos- what we can, and for the latter, sessed by the latter. It is still what we ought, that neither infidel less wonderful that Mr. Wollaston nor heathen may have cause to and Dr. Paley, and other authors upbraid us in the day of judgand supporters of systems of na- ment. Let us consider our retural religion and theology, of our sponsibility and obligations, as own age and nation, should have Christians, to live as the disciples far surpassed, in proofs and illus- of a divine religion, and as those trations, their less favoured pre- who are indeed “taught of God,” decessors of Greece and Rome, and to exert ourselves to the utthan that these should have left, at most to send forth the light and a nopeless distance behind them, truth of the glorious gospel to all