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may be otherwise, but, apart from this, we must confess we are slow to believe it. There

There may be exceptions to the rule, but, in the judgment of charity, it is to be supposed that they form a very lean minority.

SECTION IV.

AS SEEN IN ITS GENERAL CONDITION.

As to its general condition : "Art thou called, being a servant ? care not for it.” If on this subject our investigations were bounded by time, or confined exclusively to the present life; although, on finding the doctrine of the Scriptures to be what we have seen it to be, we should be bound, for reasons already explained, to receive it, however staggering or confounding to our faith or reason. For, as previously intimated, it is but rational to suppose, that an administration gotten up, and carried on, according to the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, should, in some of its details, be beyond our comprehension. Yet when we examine it as in the teaching of the Scriptures, it connects with eternity ; light from that quarter, at least to some extent, chases away the gloom which would otherwise becloud our contemplations. For there are a great many things found in Divine revelation, which, to our contracted vision, would amount to great difficulties in God's providential government of the world, if in their examination we should restrict them wholly to the present life.

We use the term providence in its strictly literal sense—“ The care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures."-(Webster)—and not in that loose sense which would involve the special and positive appointment of the relation. For it is one thing to appoint the relation, and another, and a very different thing, to take hold of a relation, that the wickedness and the weakness of the world has introduced, in derangement of God's original plan, and superintende it to the best possible issue. This seems to us, if we have not misunderstood the doctrine of Calvinism, to be one of the insuperable difficulties into which the doctrine of foreordination runs ;-either wholly contravening God's providential government, or so confounding it with a government of original positive law, as to render it very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to discriminate between them. For if He, from all eternity, "foreordained whatsoever comes to pass,” where is there room or play for a providential government; unless we admit the possibility of the certain, unalterable, and eternal decrees of the immutable Jehovah failing, for the want of such vigilant supervision ?-a difficulty too into which those must run, who contend for slavery as a special appointment of God, by original or positive laws, which must be fatal to the soundness of the argument. For, as we have already seen, there is nothing to be found in the law of nature, or in all the Scriptures, that can, by any rational construction, be brought in support of its pretensions ; while, on the other hand, the whole of them, which are given for the regulation of this relation, can at once, by the most easy and natural construction, be seen to be mere providential regulations for the gov. ernment of a state of things found in the world at the time of their delivery.

But to return. A providential difficulty found in

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Divine revelation, is in the case of Lazarus and the rich man of the gospel, and which cannot be satisfactorily explained by the light of time. How it can consist with an administration of perfect rectitude, for a man of the piety of Lazarus to suffer not only in body, but also for want of the necessaries and comforts of life; while the rich man, who, from his character, as given in the Scriptures, to make the very best of it we can, lived in total neglect of all religion, and made the world his God; and who by the whole weight and influence of his character and example, if not of his precepts also, contributed to that general corruption of morals and of manners, which ever has, and ever must, under the present constitution of things, obtain, when all sense of the Divine character, and our obligations to fear and account to him, are obliterated? We repeat; this case, so far as the present life is concerned, presents quite a difficulty in Providence. For we would very rationally expect, from the nature of the case, as well as from some passages of Scripture, that the full horn of the Divine blessing would have been poured along the pathway of the pilgrimage of Lazarus, as the friend and worshipper of God; and that the rich man would have been, on account of his wickedness, the subject of loathsome bodily affliction, felt the griping hand of poverty, and been carried about as a houseless, homeless wanderer, at once the pity and detestation of mankind. But when we look at it as connected with an eternal state of happiness and misery, the clouds and darkness which hung around it, when examined by the light of time, are at once dissipated ; and what was all confusion and mystery before, is now all clear, luminous, and entirely satisfactory. For there is no man in his senses but would prefer the portion of Lazarus as a whole --embracing time and eternity,--to that of the rich man.

Now, the relation of slavery, as tolerated under the patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, like that of Lazarus, when looked at wholly in the light of time, appears dark and inscrutable. For according to the Scriptures, we, being all equally His offspring, are at a loss to discover the reasons of, or see any good resulting from, this providential regulation of our Maker, in tolerating it. But when we connect it with other facts, standing out with prominence in Divine revelation, namely, that God was selecting a single family or nation to be the depositories of the true religion ;--that prior to that time, in either case, slavery existed ;-and that, in tolerating it, he restricted it to those, and to those only, to whom, in reference to a future state, or their greatest good), both for time and eternity,-it would be a blessing, the difficulty is at once explained. And what before was all doubt and darkness, now shines forth so clear and luminous, that instead of being longer puzzled at his providential government in this matter, our highest reason approves the measure, and our whole souls are fanned into a flame of devout and grateful adoration, at the blended wisdom and goodness which shine out with such dazzling lustre in this vigilant tact of Providence to educe good out of evil.

Thus far the wisdom and goodness of Providence, as connected with this crooked state of things, that his Satanic majesty, (not our Maker,) aided by his coadjutors in the shape of human beings, had brought about, flames out in such a blaze of glory and goodness, as to be almost dark with excessive brightness. So much so, that every caviller and fault-finder at His providential dispensations must be forced, with the wondering and adoring apostle, to cry out: “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out," by the utmost stretch of human thought, until he is pleased to reveal them.

But now to the difficulties under the gospel dispensation. We, as formerly, frankly confess, that the altered state of matters and things in general, at the time when the gospel was announced, is somewhat more complex and difficult. For the gospel message was not to a single family or nation, but to all nations; and hence, from the necessity of the case, the relation could not be restricted to a single family or nation. In these altered circumstances, what is to be done? What course is to be adopted? Why, for anything under the whole heavens that we can see to the contrary, the gospel of salvation is to be deliv. ered to them just where and what they are. There seems to us, on the settled principles of the Divine administration, so far as it relates to this subject, to be no other alternative. Either the gospel must be withheld entirely, or partially, or Heaven in mercy (we speak it with reverence) must lump our difficulties, and send his angel to announce to the world "good tidings of great joy to all people." And who dares impeach either the wisdom or goodness, the justice or mercy of the Divine administration, in thus adapting itself to and providing for the best interests of a fallen world ; which in its final consummation, in behalf of all, whether barbarian or Scythian, bond or free, is, in the nervous language of the poet,

“ Salvation from sorrow through Jesus's love."

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