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gospel makes home, emphatically, the medium and the center of the immense variety of blessings, which it intended for the race. What, therefore, we find christian families to be, in worth of character, in sanctified attainments, in hopes, and in happinesswhat as the incipient and lower, yet lovely church of God on earth-what as the sunny spots in the world's wilderness, reflecting the glory of God-such we shall find their great source and prototype to be, and vastly more. For beautiful, compared with other forms of excellence, as this comment is on the genius of christianity how imperfectly, after all, do the best trained christian households manifest the inherent, heavenly qualities of the gospel!
5. It will not be amiss if we insist, in conclusion, on the duty and privilege of endeavoring to make our homes more nearly what they were originally designed to be, and through the gospel may still be, holy and happy homes. How much holier and happier might they not be made, than they now generally are? How greatly might not even the best of them be improved in character and condition? In contemplating the model which has been furnished in the book under review, but one regret arises on the part of the conscientious head of a family, and this is, that he has performed no more faithfully the duty, and felt no more deeply the privilege connected with the station assigned him in his little church. The picture of a godly, devoted, praying head of a family, acting under a full sense of his responsibilities, and consecrating all his energies to the work of training up a beloved charge for God, if not heightened absolutely and in all its parts beyond the scope of mortality, cannot but be a severe rebuke to many of those who maintain the forms of religion in their households. But it may also be of great service to the interesting cause, It must excite a degree of regret for the past, but may awaken efforts for the future. While we cannot but lament that an amount of good might have been done which has been neglected-what opportunities of promoting the spiritual welfare of our families have been misimproved-what mistakes as to their moral discipline have been committed-what actual evil of a soul-ruining kind has been perpetrated, we shall be apt at the same time, to be stirred up by the winning exhibition of successful parental fidelity, to do better than they have done-to avoid errors formerly fallen into-and to seek with a livelier zeal the great end which can alone gratify the pious head of a household, viz. the blessing of God in a regenerated offspring. To such professors of piety as have just begun to be heads of families, and whose experience has not yet brought on them a sense of condemnation in this respect, it is a consideration of very special importance, how they shall train up
their families so as to escape the evils which many others have been constrained to deplore, and reap in full the benefits which the gracious constitution of God has conjoined with faithful parental labors. A consideration of this nature should be frequently held up to view, and the conviction should be fastened on all, that the responsibilities under which they act are amazingly great. How much in fact depends on them, in the providence of God, in regard to the character and destiny of their children and domestics; and how holy and happy might not their homes be made, by the exemplary performance of their duty! The question as to the degree in which the family institution shall answer its great object, as God designed it, can be solved by the experiment, undertaken in reliance on his blessing. To conduct the experiment fairly, would require such a cultivation of personal holiness, such a selfcommand, such a habit of spiritual observation, and such a diligence in improving the numberless occasions that offer, of instilling instruction into the minds of the young, as have been rarely seen in any heads of families, but ought to be found in all who bear the christian name.
Art. VI.—DIVINE PERMISSION OF SIN.
Reply to the Christian Spectator's Review of a Sermon on Predestination and Election. By REV. W. FISK, author of the sermon. Christian Advocate and Zion's Herald. Vol. VI. No. 37.
Remarks on Rev. Dr. Taylor's Letter to Rev. Dr. Hawes. By BENNET Tr, LER, D. D.
Remarks on the Review of Dr. Fisk's Sermon, by Beza. Boston Telegraph. Vol. II. No. 23.
The Christian Spectator's Review of Dr. Fisk. Views in Theology. Vol. III. No. X.
In our inquiries on the subject of predestination, we feel that we are creatures of yesterday, standing before the overshadowing glories of the Most High. We would cherish that reverence and godly fear which become those who are under the dominion, and in the presence, of an eternal King, whose purposes are adopted without the aid of any counselor, and carried forward, without disappointment, through every generation. We have seen how small a portion of his ways! We cannot stretch our thoughts over his vast kingdom, as it now is; much less, can we forecast the endless events which shall transpire, in it, during a coming eternity. Or if we attempt to scan the full intent and purpose of God, in relation even to one passing event, we fall back upon our own feeble powers in despair, with the exclamation of the apostle, "who hath known the mind of the Lord?"
Yet, though the Lord reminds us of his supremacy and our feebleness, that we may take the proper place of submission and reverence at his footstool, he invites us to search his ways; and to examine with candor the evidences which he gives of wisdom and goodness in his proceedings, that we may exercise an intelligent confidence, submission, and joy in his government. What his purposes are, we can never know, except as they are revealed in his word, or are developed in their execution. Yet the qualities of his purposes, in which lies our chief practical concern, we have sufficient evidence to ascertain. If we did not, and could not, know whether "the mind of the Lord" is universally and unchangeably good and wise, our situation must unavoidably call forth far other emotions than those of reverence, confidence, and submission. To the destruction of every such feeling, our hearts must wither under a slavish dread and terror of the Almighty, too firmly seated for any command, declaration, invitation, or promise, from his mouth, ever to remove. We affirm, therefore, unhesitatingly, that reason is competent, from the evidence existing in known facts, to ascertain the grand qualities of the divine purposes; and that the investigation most intimately concerns our practical duties.
In our review of Dr. Fisk's sermon, we accordingly said, that we should speak very frankly on the subject, and declare what, in our opinion, was demanded by the interests of truth and religion. We shall do so still, as we advance at the present time further in our inquiries; for we feel that our footing is on the firm foundations of truth.
We have referred to the articles whose titles are given above, because they comprise all the notices we have seen taken of that review. It is not our design, however, to examine them otherwise than as the suggestions which they contain, may come under notice while pursuing the subject still farther than we did in our former review; and while attempting, especially, to vindicate the goodness of the purposes of God, in relation to the grand question of the entrance of sin into his kingdom.
In that review we stated, that the purposes of God respect immediately his own agency in the universe; and that his purpose to conduct his own measures in the particular manner he does, fixes the certainty of all events in his kingdom and all the conduct of his creatures.
There are three views, and only three, which can be taken of the divine purposes in relation to a moral kingdom:
1. That God, foreseeing the certainty of the conduct of his creatures, purposes, merely, to treat them in a corresponding
2. That He, first of all, resolves what the conduct of his creatures shall be, and next resolves on such measures as shall bring them to that conduct.
3. That foreseeing the conduct which will certainly ensue on the different measures it is possible for Him to take, He purposes to pursue those measures which will certainly lead to the best possible result.
The first view is that which we understood to be advocated by Dr. Fisk in the sermon we reviewed. Our objection to it, is not that it is not true as far as it goes, but that is utterly defective. The purpose of God to treat his subjects in a manner corresponding with their actions, we fully admit. God purposed to bless to eternity those holy angels, who he foresaw would persevere in holiness. He purposed to punish everlastingly those who he foresaw would rebel. He purposed to adopt in Christ as his children, those men who he foresaw would believe, and to punish with everlasting destruction those who he foresaw would not obey the gospel. Yet we affirm, that God not only entertains the purpose to treat his subjects according to their character, but also to regulate in the best manner possible, all that influence in his kingdom which determines character. God can vary his own acts in the creation of moral agents, and in his providence and government over them, in ways that are endless; and, as it is through these acts, that he controls and regulates the influence which determines character, he can vary that influence in ways as endless. We insist therefore, that God must have a purpose here. Reason as well as revelation decides, that his wisdom and goodness are concerned in his adopting that course of procedure in creation and providence, which will regulate, in the best manner possible, that influence in his kingdom which determines character. This is our objection to the first account of the divine purposes. It is utterly deficient. It passes over in silence, all that conduct of God which determines character. It consequently denies the foreordination of all events, and a determination of the persons who shall be believers in Christ. It leaves all this important interest in the kingdom of God, to pure contingency and unguided chance.
The second view of the divine purposes is the supralapa rian, and the one which we conceived to be unanswerably exposed to all the objections urged by Dr. Fisk. It is this; God purposes first what the conduct of his creatures shall be, and next what course he shall take in order to bring them to that conduct. On this scheme, the very first thing resolved on is, who among his creatures shall be holy and happy, and who shall sin and be miserable. It is unwarrantably assumed on this scheme, that the
whole ground was originally so clear from all obstacle or hindrance, arising from any thing in the nature of a moral universe, or the means which can be brought to bear on its welfare, that God might as the VERY FIRST THING, decide upon any conceivable results whatever by a bare act of volition; count up persons, more or less, few, many or all-to be holy, and to be holy in any conceivable degree; without consulting his omniscience as to the necessary means and operations in his kingdom for securing the result. It is consequently assumed that his direct efficiency over his moral creatures, is such that he can rely on that alone to secure any conceivable result whatever so that the ground is perfectly clear for him, in settling the plan of his moral kingdom, to say, as the very first thing, whether he will secure to holiness and happiness more or less, a part or the whole. Now to affirm that God, in this manner, selects a part for holiness and blessedness, and leaves the rest to sin and misery, is placing the subject on the ground of mere arbitrary will, beyond all retreat and salvo. It makes him choose, in itself and for its own sake, the sin and destruction of vast multitudes, rather than their holiness: there being, by the very supposition, no ground for it in the universe but his bare act of choice, since that act in fixing on persons is supposed to come in as the first thing in the order of nature, and not as a consequent on settling the best possible plan of operations in his kingdom. Besides: facts in the existing universe show, that ends are not reached in the moral kingdom of God, without the application of necessary means and measures; and consequently that the things must lie in the same relative order in the divine purposes,-that application of means and measures for the welfare of a moral kingdom which will secure the best results, must first be ascertained and settled by his omniscience, in order to invest his purposes with the attributes of wisdom and goodness.
The third view of the divine purposes is the Infra lapsarian, and the one on which our eye was distinctly fixed, and which we defended in our reasonings in our review of Dr. Fisk. It is this, God forseeing the conduct which will certainly ensue on the different measures it is possible for him to take with a moral kingdom, purposes to pursue those measures which will secure the best possible result. This view presents God as foreseeing the results which different possible ways of conducting his own works will have on a universe of moral beings, and deciding on the best possible, as the first thing. It supposes that there may be obstacles, in the nature of a moral kingdom, which render it impossible for him to give universal efficacy to any original scheme of moral government, or subsequent scheme of redemption. It supposes, therefore, that as the first