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and that the tree of knowledge should not be a useless part of creation, as it is there stated: God say they, made man constitutionally unholy, for had he been constitutionally holy, he never could have yielded to temptation. Now, Moses tells us, that God created man male and female; in the image of God created he him; and Paul says, that God's image is righteousness and true holiness; these gentlemen say not.
When theologists set out to erect a system, and begin wrong at the out set, it need not be thought strange to find them running into absurdities and endless contradictions, and flying in the face of both scripture and common sense; yet it is not a little amusing, to see a writer who could not compose two pages of a small periodical without committing the following egregious blunder. He says, on the first page of the number alluded to, that the tree was the cause of the woman's transgression, and that God prepared it beforehand for that purpose.
After thus telling us what it was that tempted Eve, and who the tempter was that held out the apple to her (namely God himself) he, on the next page, says "Some, perhaps, are ready to inquire what it was that tempted the woman to sin." He replies, “was it not the sinful nature which the woman was made subject to that tempted her?And then he quotes the apostle James, to prove it: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: let no man say (not even the writer here alluded to, although he has said it) when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed.”
It would be better for those who undertake to write on subjects of divinity to make themselves a little better acquainted with the philosophy of divine government, as well as the philosophy of human nature. It ought to appear evident to the inquiring mind, when habituated a little to sober reflection, hat man's animal, physical, intellectual, mental and moral powers were planted in his original constitution by the benevolence of God himself, and that coming forth from the per
fections of unchangeable purity there could be neither intemperature or defect in them.
It is a little singular that an opinion should ever have been adopted and promulgated, as the result of rational inquiry, that when God blessed man with active powers, he intended that he should make a wrong instead of a right use of those powers, and be more happy by doing so, than he could possibly be by making a right use of them: yet this is the doctrine of the aforesaid article.
Let us inquire for the sake of information, what constituted man's original powers? we are informed that he was originally made in the image of God. Now, if reason and revelation conduct us in our researches, we shall surely come at the truth.
The volume of nature too, as well as that of revelation, affords abundant evidence of both the natural and moral attributes of Deity. The well known principle in natural philosophy—that every productive power brings forth its own likeness, corroborates the testimony of revelation, that man was made in the image of God. Now, if we can form any thing like a correct idea of God's intellectual and moral nature, we shall at once become acquainted with our own miniature likeness! This will enable us to discover the exact relation that exists between us and our Maker. This relation (when well understood) forms the sum and substance of all that is essential for us to know, of the nature of God's moral government.
The first attribute we shall notice is that of goodness, this is the first great moral trait in the character of Deity. It is known under various terms; but that of love is most expressive and best understood, in scripture God is emphatically called Love. We suppose him to be the great fountain of love, the streams of which gladdened the plains of Eden, prior to the ravages of sin. From this fountain flow all the blessings and favors that ever were or ever will be conferred on Adam's family. This constituted a part of the image in which God created him, the right exercise of this constitutional trait in
the moral character of man, lays the foundation of all that happiness of which the nature of man is capable.
The first great moral statute in the code of laws given by God to man was, that he should love the Lord his God with all his heart, and all his soul and all his mind; that is with the united embrace of his moral and intellectul powers; and the second grand statute was; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The great Lawgiver says, "on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” that is every thing that is required of man, either in his law or by the prophets (preachers of righteousness) is included in those two commands. The reason is obvious: the man that loves God, with all his heart, will do nothing to offend him; and the man that loves his neighbour, as himself, will do nothing to injure him. Now, God did not intend to limit the exercise of man's affections to those two particulars, without extending their operations to any thing else. There is not a single object in creation calculated to contribute to man's happiness and enjoyment, and to call forth that gratitude which he owes for his Maker's beneficence, but what God allows him to love. It is absolutely necessary, in the nature of things, that every constitutional power of human nature should have its legitimate object, to call it into exercise; otherwise, it must rest quiescent in human nature, for want of an object to expand itself upon. But does it necessarily follow, that man must love other objects to the exclusion of the love of God and his neighbour? Not so. And does it also follow that this constitutional principle of love is a sinful principle of human nature, planted in man, to lead him into sin, without which he cannot be happy?
It is true that an excitement must be produced in the human bosom, calculated to lead man to the lawful enjoyment of every object calculated to make him happy; but does this prove that he must love those objects more than God or his neighbour, and more than he ought to love them, and thus infringe the sacred right of God and man? Not so. If a man resists those excitements when their tendency is to lead him too far, and
maintains his virtue with the magnanimity of a Christian, so far from constituting him a sinner, it is a full proof of holiness; for holiness on the part of man is nothing more nor less than the harmonious exercise of all his active powers, in subserviency to the government of his Maker.
Man though an active being, possessed of various active powers, does not possess within himself a principle of independent self movement. The circumstances in which he is placed and the objects by which he is surrounded produce an excitement in his nature, independent of his will, this is essential to his happiness, as an active being; but, nevertheless, it must be recollected, that to feel the influence of those excitements, and to direct them to their legitimate purposes and objects, are two distinct ideas: here is the very turning point, where man's free agency turns the scale for happiness or misery! here is the place where the celebrated Robert Owen, the modern infidel philosopher, lost his way; for, while with one hand he held up the system of the irresistible influence of circumstances, with the other he pulled it down, and has given to the to the world the most incontestible evidence, that inconsistency is the badge of error; what can be more inconsistent than to tell men that the circumstances by which they are surrounded have an irresistible influence over them, and then with the same breath try to persuade them so to control those uncontrollable circumstances as to change their own situation for the better.
It is evident that man thinks by an irresistible law of his nature. He cannot cease to think, for a moment, by any voluntary act of his own mind. But still it must be remembered, that although we cannot, for a moment, arrest the current of our thoughts we can direct them to our own advantage. Here, then, is the moral power of free agency. Our thoughts are the very first buddings of action, and arise from the impulse of desire, which has its source in our wants. In our present fallen state divine aid is indispensable to enable us to comply with the apostolic injunction, “let every thought be brought into sub
jection to Christ.” The aid of the divine spirit assists, but does not destroy our agency.
Thousands in our world, I have no doubt, take those excitements for the depravity of human nature, and are ready to conclude that every time they feel them they commit a sin. This is not the fact, as we learn by what has been already stated.
The next attribute of deity we shall name is that of power. Man possesses power too, but his power is only a miniature likeness of what God's power is in magnitude; and so of all the rest: but this attribute is of extensive influence, entering into the operations of all the other attributes both of God and
The next attribute of deity I shall name is the will. Man possesses a will also.
Did God intend that man should exercise that will in opposition to his will or in subserviency to it? The universalians say, in the article above alluded to, that it was the will of God that man should sin, and that he should not be happy without sinning; for if it had not been the will of God that man should sin, God would have exerted his power to prevent it. How this writer would undertake to reconcile the command of God to Adam not to sin and his will concerning him that he should sin, is not for me to say: but how God could command Adam to do one thing, and will him to do another, is a problem in divinity that I cannot solve, unless I turn Calvinist, and suppose God possessed of two willsma secret and a revealed will; one of which he made known to Adam; by which he intended to judge him, and for the violation of which he intended to punish him the other a secret will, by which he overrules all his actions, good and bad. The truth is, this article I have been reviewing is Calvinism, to all intents and purposes, dressed up in a universalian bib and tucker,
But let us go on noticing the image in which God created
Justice is another attribute in Deity, and is that principle in