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space, yet matter occupies some of you are therefore a philosopher. it. He is eternal, self-existent, infi- This is too ridiculous. You must nite. Do you comprehend these not, therefore, allege the incompreideas, or many others that it hensibility of the Trinity as your would be easy to mention? You reason for rejecting it, unless you do not. Are they less mystem will be consistent, and deny also the rious or less contradictory than being of a God and every thing the doctrine of the Trinity? They else that you cannot comprehend;
When you have reject- but if you continue to deny this ed this obnoxious doctrine, God doctrine, and yet believe a thou. is still the great incomprehensible sand other things that you are utOne. You have not thrown one terly incapable of comprehending, ray of light upon his nature. Till you must find some other argument that which is finite can comprehend against it. infinity, the Divine nature must be Well, you say, another and a clothed in' mystery, and Zophar better reason is at hand—the docmay, with as much propriety as trine is self-contradictory. You ever, and to beings of a higher or- understand it then ; for, I repeat, der, still propose his question, that, if you do not understand it, “ Canst thou by searching find out it is absurd to say that it is either God? Canst thou find out the Al. rational or irrational. What, you mighty unto perfection ?”. In deny- say, can be a more palpable contraing the doctrine of the Trinity, you diction than to say, that God is have got rid of one incomprehensi- One, and yet, that he is Three! bility ; but what satisfaction can But, in the first place, no Christian this afford you when so many re- says that God is Three. And, in main ? You are a rational Christ- the next place, if he did, unless you ian; so am I. But my reason can- can determine exactly in what renot, nor do I know that yours can, spect he is called One, and in what furnish me with any light that can respect he is said to be Three, and diminish the propriety, or even obe show that it is precisely in the same viate the necessity, of our both respect, and in the same sense, then adopting, in our speculations upon you have not the shadow of a reathe divine nature, the language of son for charging the doctrine with Job, "Behold, I go forward, but he inconsistency. And, in the third is not there; and backward, but I place, even if you could justly cannot perceive him ; on the left charge the doctrine with a contrahand, where he doth work, but I diction in terms, this is no satisfaccannot behold him ; he hideth him- tory reason for not believing it. self on the right hand, that I can- What, believe a contradiction! Yes, not see him.” Or if you like bet- “ Tucca, SOLET fieri ; denique, ter the language of a different kind Tucca, Licet," Wherever there of inspiration : “ Quid te exem- is much that is incomprehensible, pta juvat spinis de millibus una ?" there will always be something apWhat approach do you make to ra. parently inconsistent. That man's tionality when you reject one knowledge must be very limited inincomprehensibility and retain a deed, who does not believe many thousand ? I believe a hundred myse things that he is quite unable to teries : I am, therefore, raw and reconcile with one another. Such credulous. The nurse's milk is not instances occur in common life, yet out of me. You are more cau. and in all sciences that I know of. rious. You maintain, that only I have already mentioned some ninety-nine are admissible; and apparently irreconcilcable contra
dictions, in speaking of the income and wisdom of God, which, though prehensibility of the divine nature, boundless, are yet limited to thingg which every man who admits the that are or can be. And finally, being of a God must believe. It supposing us to have as little knowwould be easy to produce many ledge of human nature as we have more from every department of of the divine, would we not have human knowledge. Even the ma- accused one author of direct and thematics, which peculiarly boasts irreconcileable contradiction, who of the certainty of its demonstra- sometimes talked of man as a mor. tions, furnishes us with more than tal, and at other times as an imone instance of a contradiction in
mortal being? terms. It must be admitted, that I do not mention these things as nothing can be more directly con. proofs, or even illustrations of the tradictory than to talk of assigning doctrine of the Trinity ; but I I the sum of an infinite series; yet mention them to show, that a conevery one knows that this can be
tradiction in terms is not always a done, and, moreover, that that suni contradiction in ideas; and that, may be smaller than any assign- as finite and infinite, perfect and able number. And if you will imperfect, boundless and limited, take the trouble to read Barrow's mortal and immortal, are as directMathematical Lectures, (I cannot ly opposed to each other as three tell you chapter and verse, for it and one can possibly be; he who is many a long year since I had the believes that the former may be pleasure of seeing them; but your predicated of the saine subject, has time may be worse employed than no right to accuse me of absurdity in reading the whole of them,) you if I maintain, that there are circum. will find, I believe, the following stances in which, of the same subwords, or at least words to that ef- ject, the latter may also be truly fect, upon a certain Theorem of predicated. Euclid, “ Ex hoc derivata sunt PA- In the former instances we can RADOXA bene multa et MIRACULA explain away the contradiction ; we non pauca.” How Barrow disposes can show that it is only apparent, of these paradoxa et miracula I do not real. In the latter, our knownot recollect; but I
ledge is too limited to enable us to in direct opposition to the rule for do so; but will any rational man such cases, laid down by a cele
maintain, that, therefore, the in. brated writer, he cordially believed consistency must be real? That them all.
real contradiction is a certain proof But to notice some more gene- of falsehood is readily granted; but rally intelligible instances. To say that there may be an apparent conthat the same thing is both finite tradiction where there is none in and infinite is a contradiction in reality cannot surely be denied. terms; yet we know that this may The rule of common sense in this le said of the happiness of angels case is, that, where we are perfectly and the spirits of just men made acquainted with a subject in all its perfect. It is a contradiction to bearings, we can ascertain with say, that the same thing can be certainty where there is a real, and perfect, and yet imperfect; yet where there is only an apparent this may be said of the holiness of inconsistency; but where them that are in heaven. To say knowledge is limited, we will readthat the same thing is boundless, ily admit, upon the authority of and yet limited, is contradictory; direct evidence, assertions which, yet this may be said of the power to us, appear to be inconsistent,
because we take it for granted, reality of which they can never be
you would And while his character and his experience les3 pleasure in bringing ways must always possess that me, than I would experience in fulness of wisdom and perfection bringing you under the influence of beauty, - that wondrousness in of Omnipotent truth, then so far counsel and excellence in worke have I reason to congratulate mying, which are essential to his na- self on the superiority of my creed ture, they must often exhibit to to yours. It produces the better our limited apprehension, an ap- feeling. Of this boast it is in your pearance of inconsistency, of the power easily to deprive me. Ac
cept my invitation ; canvass my of revelation.
Proceed just one arguments truly; where they are step farther. Admit that, as rea. weak, overturn them; where they son never did discover, so it never are false, expose them; where they was capable of discovering, this are ridiculous, laugh at them; and truth, without the aid of revelation. should they in any instance be This admission will lead you to found to betray petulance, or any embrace Christianity; or, if you feeling inconsistent with that de still deny Christianity, you must sire for your welfare which I pro- allow, that the being of God is a fess, or unworthy of that cause doctrine, the belief of which, since which I support, overwhelm them revelation has not taught it, and with indignation and contempt; reason was never capable of disco"spare no arrows."
vering it, is a groundless assumpBut if you find, as I trust you tion-a vulgar prejudice. will, that, with probably a few I may now assume that the protrifling exceptions which do not position with which I set out-that, affect the general argument, my to deny Christianity, is to remove reasoning is well founded ; then the only ground upon which the permit me to entreat that you existence of God can be rationally yield to their influence ; yield so believed_has been proved. IC far at least, as to make use of every would be easy to produce other are means that is likely to conduct you guments in support of the same to a knowledge of the truth, and truth; but, trusting to one argument pray with persevering earnestness well made out, rather than to a to that God whose existence you multitude lightly noticed, I shall acknowledge to render those means proceed to a different branch of the successful. And all this you not subject. only may do, without sacrificing I shall admit that your belief in one iota of the deist's creed ; but the being of God, from whatever if you really believe in the being source derived, is sincere; but you of God, all this you must do. For deny the divinity of Christ, and the he who admits the being of God, doctrine of atonement. In this must surely admit, that a correct case also, the proposition of the knowledge of, and an intimate Apostle is true and applicable. To communion with him by whom all deny the atonement is, in effect, to that is fair has been clothed with deny God, because it is to leave us beauty, and from whom all that is destitute of any means by which we desirable has derived its attrac- can ascertain his moral attributes. tions, who has invested the mighty If you deny that God is holy, and with power, and endued the wise just, and good, and true, it may be with understanding, is by far the asked, upon what grounds you most important of all knowledge, found your negations. If you asand the most happy of all acquisi- sert that he is holy, and just, and tions.
good, and true, it may be asked To a certain extent, I have every how you support your assertion : reason to think you will allow my And I know not what answer can, arguments to be correct. You be in either case, be returned to the lieve in the being of God. Now, question. No answer can be deyou will allow that this is a truth rived from Providence, It af. which you did not originally disco- fords us by far too limited a view ver yourself, and which you did of the government of God, to not learn from men who had theme enable us to form any decisive selves discovered it without the aid opinion with regard to the principles upon which that government we ought to make our children is conducted. Even the light of pass through the fire, or “ Jehorevelation leaves much that is in- vah, a God merciful and gracious, scrutable: without that light all is long-suffering, slow in anger, and darkness that may be felt. To of great kindness.” But admit the borrow an illustration from an au. doctrine of atonement, and the thor, from whom nobody needs to moral character of God stands at be ashamed of borrowing, he who once revealed; inspiring awe by has spent only one day in one of the exhibition of all that is venere the most secluded villages of an able in holiness and truth; and love, empire, is by no means qualified by the exhibition of all that is atto form any opinion with regard tractive in the most tender compasto the principles of him by whom sion and kindness; revealed so that empire is ruled. No answer clearly that he must be morally can be derived from Creation. blind who does not see, and so im. If it cannot even assure us that pressively, that he must be morally there is a God, much less can it dead who does not adore. While, make us acquainted with his cha- therefore, the existence of God racter. Allowing our knowledge forms one article of my creed, the of it to be as extensive and as mic doctrine of atonement, which alone nute as you will, it can afford us enables me to form any conception proofs only of wisdom and power. of what he is, must form another. With regard to the moral attri- Without this Joctrine, the whole butes of the Creator, it can give us history of man, and of God's mono information. He who examines ral government, is a riddle and a the mathematical instruments made mystery,-is involved in an obby Breguet of Paris, or Ramsden scurity which deism cannot illumine of London, can with certainty inser by one ray of light. What kind of that both these gentlemen are ad- a being is man? What is his na. mirable artists; but it would be ture, and what his prospect? Has ridiculous to draw a single inser- lie an immortal soul, or has he ence with regard to the moral cha. not? I cannot tell.
The gospel racter of either, because no moral makes this perfectly clear; but, quality whatever was called into setting that aside, I know not how exercise in the formation of these it is to be proved. Every step of instruments. The observation ap. the reasoning employed to prove plies in all its force to the works of that our belief in the being of God the great Maker of all things. is derived from the Holy ScripThese works declare his Wisdom tures, may be applied with undi. and Power; but to discover what is minished force, to show that we his moral character, nay, whether are indebted to the same source for he have any moral character at all, our belief in the immortality of the whether he be not merely the Fate soul. It can be proved, that beof Greek and Roman mythology, fore the coming of Christ, the we must apply to other sources of knowledge upon this subject amountinformation.
ed to a mere conjecture that it And other source of information, might be so,--that this ignorance if the atonement be denied, there is cannot be attributed to any want
To deny that doctrine, of ability or diligence in the search, therefore, leaves us utterly unac. -and, that immediately after the quainted with the moral character promulgation of the gospel, it was of God,-utterly unable to decide as well known, and as firmly bewhether he be a Moloch, to whom lieved as it is now. While, there