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necessity,” which they say influences the “ whole series of events." They seem to me at once to grant a real, uncontroled liberty, free agency, and even contingency. And if all this be granted, the whole doctrine of universal, absolute necessity, falls flat to the ground; and the inconsistency of the divine prescience with the contingency of events, is overthrown, For it matters nothing at all in regard to the consistency of prescience with contingency, whether man be a free agent or not; if God himself is a free agent, and can, or ever could do ought but what he has done, and does, then contingency is strictly consistent with infinite wisdom and knowledge. And what wild work the necessitarian makes with many clear scripture testimonies. To instance only two at present; Christ represents that he could have prayed, and obtained twelve legions of an. gels; which yet, for very good reasons, be did not do, "Here was certainly contingency; or else his pretending that he could have obtained those succours, was a grand imposition and deception. Again, he wept over Jerusalem, and intimated his desires to have gathered her children, to have been as real and universal, as is the hen's desire to gather all her brood; and that he assuredly would have done it, bad it not been, that they would not. And their would not, was wholly, (according to the necessitarian scheme,) imposed upon them by God. So that, at this rate, Christ's good-will and wish to gather them, must have been both contrary to God's unalterable will concerning them, and a wish to effect impossibilities! Perhaps it may be said, he only wished it had been possible, and wept over them because it was not possible for them ever to have submitted and been gathered. And where will this centre? Why, that Christ's good-will was directly contrary to divine determination, or to the unavoidable result of God's arrangements of motives, causes, and events. It also should be considered, how Christ came by that good-will, and cordial desire to have ga. thered Jerusalem's children. It must be of God, not only as he was the son of God, but by the necessitarian creed, it resulted directly from, or belonged unavoidably to, that concatenation of causes and effects, which is inseparable from the divine will, and influenced by uncontrolable necessity. And if so, then it was included in, and inseparable from the divine will, both that Jerusalem should kill the prophets, and sin with violence, and a high hand, till her house was left unto her desoJate, and peace bid for ever from her eyes; and at the same time that Christ should weep over her, and compassionately wish she had or would have known, in her day of visitation, those very things belonging to her peace, which, according to this doctrine, had ever been hid from their eyes, or only given them to behold, merely to mock them, without any possibility of obtaining them. Whereas Christ laments their not obtaining as a very great and grievous neglect; and saith not, they were always hidden, but“ now they are hid from thine eyes.” That is, now thou hast so long and wickedly rejected them, and stouted it out against all the calls, invitations, and drawings of that love, which, if submitted to, would as surely have gathered all thy children, as a hen gathers her chickens, all of them, without partiality or dereliction of any, under her hovering wings.
It is a favourite doctrine with the necessitarians, that past, present, and to come, is to God one eternal now. I don't believe they know any thing about it. I don't doubt its seeming to them, a necessary result from certain rational axioms and deductions. And I don't know that it is my business directly to oppose it. For, who can tell whether it is all now to an infinite being, or not; unless he be infinite himself, who presumes to tell? How dost thou know that a very finite, limited, and short-sighted being, can have a very clear idea of past, present, and future; and yet that an infinite, unlimited, all-comprehensive mind cannot? Is not this a little like making his capacity to choose the best, a negation of all choice? Is not his unlimited comprehension, here made an argument against the comprehension of any thing, but as actually now present ? Is God now creating Adam and Eve, identically? Is he now about those six days work, which he long ago rested from? Well, he rested from those works, and is he now both doing, and resting from them? He was once doing them; he finished them; and afterwards he rested, or ceased from those particular exertions. And are past, present, and to come, such an absolute now to him, that he is even now creating the heavens and the earth, the sun, moon, and stars,&c.? Is he now just finishing them? Has he now just begun, and just finished them? And is he now resting or ceasing from his work? Must he be always doing all that ever he was doing? If not, why may he not as easily see, and view one thing to be past, another present, and a third future, as to act them in succession? I dispute not his actually beholding all things, at all times: and if that must make all centre in one absolute now, let it be so; but I am strongly persuaded, if it is so, none know it to be so, but himself. Nor can I believe that a man, or a world, which has never existed but in foresight, but which shall exist a thousand years hence, is any otherwise viewed by Omniscience, than as a being of futurity. I cannot comprehend why, to a mind all-comprehensive, which with one glance takes present, past, and future, into full, unclouded, ample view, all distinction of past and future, must necessarily be excluded, and swallowed up in the present.. I, poor blindfolded mortal, can look back on the follies of youth, and see them in the past, and forward to the joys of futurity. I can view yesterday's work as past, and to-morrow's as being yet to come. And shall an all-pervading intellect know no distinction? Or are we not rather bound to allow, that as he is not this moment teaching Noah how to build the ark, nor destroying the whole world of mankind with a flood, (which he has promised he will never do again,) therefore if he views his directions to Noah at all, or bis deluging the earth with a flood, he must view it as what once was, but now is not, nor shall be again forever.
And now one word more to the doctrine of necessity. We see that a given force will infallibly produce a proportionate effect; a certain stroke of a hammer will drive a nail to a certain degree; a definite degree of heat will make water boil; and so much frost will kill such and such plants, &c. Shall we hence conclude, man is a mere machine, and the human will no will at all, but a piece of matter that must unresistingly obey every impulse ? Shall we say, because mere inanimate and material things have no choice, agency, or preference; therefore neither God, angels, nor men have any? Shall we magisterially determine, that because so much force of water will move a wheel, therefore so much temptation will infallibly constrain the human soul divine to commit sin? or so much influence of grace unavoidably prevent it? Indeed this would be saying at once, there is no sin; or that sin is of God; or, that it is of fate, and God could not have prevented it. But what right have we even to conclude from the definite effect arising from a definite force, applied even in material things; that therefore an eternal necessity has presided over all? Is it not much more becoming us, to ascribe even this to the wisdom and power of God; and view it as one of the wise laws of nature by him freely established for the government and economy of things devoid of will, choice, or agency? And even here, who dare say, he might not have made various intelligences, and placed them where no such laws of nature had any influence? Or how knowest thou that a knock would have produced a motion in the thing struck, or that matter would have attracted matter, if God's will and wisdom had not so endued it? If this was a law of chance or fate, which God could not control, then he is not the author of the laws of nature. If it was not a law of chance, or fate, but a law freely established by God, then, who will say he might not as freely and easily have left matter without the quality of attraction ? At any rate, if attraction is a law by him freely and wisely established, to answer many valuable purposes, then so far as necessity exists in the laws of matter and motion, it exists by God's free will and direction ; and all free will and direction, imply choice, agency, and contingency. Deny this, and a God is ellectually denied, unless a God void of choice, agency, and freedom, can be adored and believed in, by blind, ignorant mortals.
Page 33, line 8 from bottom, for "meetings,” read meltings.
91, 3 of letter to his wife, for “veay,” read very. 103, 9 from bottom, erase “not," before " enter.” 120,
for “ 9th,” read “ 29th," in the date of Extract of a Letter." 168, 21, for "on gulf," read in gulf.
8 from bottom, for "wind," read winds. 179, 7 from bottom, instead of “Be," read But. 197, 24, for “my,” read may. 211, 10, for “ on him," read in him.
29, for “ each," read such. 249, 18, for “ warned,” read warmed. 255, 15, for "nearly," read meanly. 273, 7 from bottom, insert of, after "sweetness." 284, 13, erase "the" before merely.". 298, 4 and 5 from bottom, instead of " it to scorn," read to laugh it
to scorn. 301, 8 from bottom, insert been, after “have.” 370, 18, for “his," read this. 434, 5 from bottom, insert the word same, before " qualification." 439, 20, for "tree," read trees. 441, 10, for "even," read ever. 456,
22, for “ to," read or. 470, 23, for “ unfulfilling," read fulfilling. 475, 21, instead of “this,” read his. 483,
6 from bottom, for “ imitations,” read intimations.
4 from bottom, for “ Pharisees," read prophecies foregoingi 485, 17, for “hereby," read thereby. 488, 19, for “these," read those. 495, 8 from bottom, for “ in," read “ into the name," &c. 498, 1, at the end, for “things," read signs.
14, make a period (.) after “ institutions." 502, 13 from bottom, for “ is,” read as. 504, 9, for “ Then,” read Their.
23, for “ them, read their. 505, 6, for “ part," read parts.
14, for “these,” read those. 506, 3, for “pass,” read press. 514, 12 from bottom, for “ into," read unto. 519, 21, for “ another,” read no other. 520, 13, for “certainty,” read certainly. 522,
9, insert a before “very different.” 534, 29, for “the blessed Jesus," read Christ. 558, 21, for “hereby," read thereby.