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be the legislator, his intentions in legislation, are, thwarted also. Here the reader cannot help seeing, that if sin be infinite because it is committed against an infinite law, whose author is God, the design of Deity must be abortive, to suppose which, brings a cloud of darkness over the mind as intense as the supposition is erroneous.
It cannot, with any propriety be supposed, that any rational being can have an intention contrary to the knowledge which he possesses. Was a resolve brought into a legislature to be passed into a law, it would be very unlikely to succeed, if the legislature knew perfectly well, that the intention of the law would utterly fail.
It is possible, and very frequently the case, that imperfect beings desire contrary to their knowledge; but this, in every instance is proof, and often the cause of their misery.
Now to reason justly, we must conclude, that if God possesses infinite wisdom, he could never have intended any thing to take place, or be, that will not take place, or be, nor that which is, or will be at the time when it is, and it must be considered erroneous to suppose, that the Allwise ever desired any thing to take place, which by his wisdom, he knew would not take place, as such a supposition must in effect presuppose a degree of misery to exist in the eternal mind, equal to the strength of his fruitless desire. Again, if we admit a disappointment to the Supreme being, in the smallest matter of consideration, it follows, that we have no satisfactory evidence, whereby to prove, that any thing at present, in the whole universe, is as he intended it should be. All the harmonies of nature, which to the eye of wondering man, are so convincing of that power, wisdom, and goodness, which he adores, may have continued their laws in active force much longer than God intended-may have brought into
existence, millions of beings, more than was contemplated, in creation, and by this time become a perfect nuisance to the general plan of the Almighty; nor are we certain, if we admit that God ever was, or ever will be disappointed in any thing, or matter, but that he will be disappointed in all his calculations; course, of the eternal destiny of all his intelligent creatures, and even of his own. If this inference should be granted, we have not the least foundation, for any faith, in any of the promises which God has made in the Scriptures respecting the fate of the righteous, or the wicked. Such a system of belief would destroy in the mind all the influence of the Scriptures. The admission of such an error, would sink the human mind to the lowest degree of moral depravity, where darkness reigns with all its horrors, without one ray of the cheering lights of divine truth and love, that in the Father of light there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. No intelligent being would or could worship, and depend on a being, who was liable to change, and disappointment.
Let us now make the inquiry, if the intentions of the Supreme are violated by the sin of finite beings? If not, then sin is not an infinite evil, and the consequences are therefore limited. But if we admit that the plans of God are thwarted, his will cannot be infinite, for infinity admits nothing beyond it. If the transgression be not infinite, neither can its consequences be unlimited and illimitable.
But enough has probably been said, to show that sin cannot be infinite, and cannot therefore require infinite and unlimited punishment. But we will suppose sin and its consequences infinite in their nature. Then they are thus of necessity, and whatever necessarily exists, must be right. No proposition is better supported than this. Well, what then is the result? Why, if the extension of its consequences be right, the
plan of God must be thwarted in putting an end to sin, and sin and suffering must be continued endlessly, or the plan of God must be frustrated, and injustice triumph over God-ergo-injustice is infinite. If therefore, we agree to call sin an infinite evil, and maintain the infinity of its consequences, either none are saved from it, or those which are saved from it, are unjustly saved. To speak of men who never were sinners as being saved, is utterly absurd, and it can be no less so to say that any are saved from sin, or its consequences, on the principles of injustice. This would involve the principle of injustice as an infinite principle, and confound all distinction in the use of terms.
A very child can see, that if justice and injustice be equally attributes of the Almighty, then both are merged in one essence, and that the terms are interchangable; in which case we use these various terms synonymously, and endeavour to make a distinction without a difference. We call God a good being, and fancy that his justice entitles him to that appellation; but why not, on the supposition we have just mentioned, call him an evil being, if we understand evil by the term injustice? Yet if the terms justice and injustice, good and evil, convey the same meaning, why do we speak of sin as an evil, or of righteousness as its opposite? Let those who hold to such absurdities answer the question.
But that which can be limited in its consequences, has no claim to infinity. But sin is limited by justice, or Jehovah is not a JUST God and a SAVIOUR. If he is just in putting an end to sin, then sin must come to. an end, or it will transcend the attribute of justice, which is either infinite, or is not an attribute of Jehovah. But if it be still contended that sin is an infinite evil, then all sins are infinite, or none; and if one sin be infinite, all are of one grade, or rather, but one sin exists, and that is all the infinity which exists in crea
tion. On this principle, I see not why sin is not our chief good, and the proper object of worship.
Let us now suppose that the good which may be effected by any rational created being, is infinite. The same person may then be infinitely good, and infinitely evil. A paradox truly, but not more absurd, than to call sin an infinite evil. If man's faculties are infinite, his acts are also infinite, and vice versa. If therefore one side of the question is good the other is perfect, and man is but a bundle of absurdities-a being who is the source of never ceasing contest, between two contradictory infinities. Or, let one balance the other, and neutralize both.
To say that whatever evil God permits is ultimately to be overruled for good, is both rational, and scriptural. Let us grant then, that sin will finally terminate in good. In this sense sin is not an ultimate evil. But we term it evil in a limited sense, and very correctly.. The act of Joseph's brethren was in itself an evil, but as overruled by God, it produced good. Here is distinction between good and evil, marked by the intention of the actors. To Jacob, this was a present evil, and he considered all these things as against him; but had his faculties been infinite, he must have seen the result, and these things would have appeared for him, and not against him. But the intention of the brethren was evil, and they justly suffered all the horrors of remorse, and all the fears of death. But had their faculties been infinite, and had they seen their crime in all its deformity, it could not have been committed. The falsehood which they told old Jacob was occasioned by their fears, but their ignorance was greater than their knowledge of either the present or future consequences of their conduct. Yet their ignorance did not prevent the good which God purposed to bring out of the event. For the evil they suffered, but when the evil was overruled for their own good-they rejoiced.
Second plan of Atonement, examined and refuted. Remarks on its injurious effects.
Another system of atonement shall now be examined. The object of this plan is to manifest the glory of God, in giving honour to his holy law. It supposes that God is to effect this by certain displays of his sovereign and irresistible grace, and that self is his ruling motive. The reason given is, that his glory is paramount to every other object, and is not therefore necessarily connected with the best good of all, or any of his creatures.
This system argues, either that God has lost glory, or that his glory may be enhanced. If his glory suffers diminution, it may finally be annihilated, and in proportion as it decreases, he must suffer loss, and become in so far, less than infinite. If his glory be perishable, and subject to decay, it cannot be indestructible, and in so far as his glory is connected with his being, he is in a state of mental decay. And this is the very pith of the argument, as is seen by his caution in watching it; for none but a weak being can be afraid of losing by a stronger, and hence his constant vigilance for its preservation.
Heathen mythology represents Jupiter seated on the top of Olympus, absorbed in the contemplation of his own perfections, unmoved by the joys or sorrows-the happiness or misery of puny mortals. And where is the difference in fact, between these representations? Self, dear isolated self, is the object of both. Unconnected with all sublunary affairs, Deity is represented as caring for nothing relating to the affairs of his creatures, and ás utterly unconnected with his offspring by even the slightest moral relation. Thus in effect, he is represented as creating without aim or object, un