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An earthquake all over the world -
1770 1771 1772 1773
" The French Envoy at Cologn received orders to examine them strictly." What became of them afterwards I could never learn. I will only observe, in the words of an eminent writer, that “ Scripture prophecy is intended to excite our attention to the providence of God; to confirm our faith in his truth; and to increase our hope in his promises; but it was not iniended to make prophets of us."
SOPHRONIUS requests leave of the Editor to return his respectful
acknowledgments to Candidus for the explanation with which that gentleman has favoured him and the other readers of the Universalist's Miscellany. It will be but civility that Sophronius in return should afford as much satisfaction as possible to the enquiries of Candidus at the conclusion of his note.
FIRST ENQUIRY OF CANDIDUS. “ Is it iinpossible for the invisible God visibly to manifest himself?"
Most assuredly so. No man hath seen God at any time, or CĂN see him. If God could visibly manifest himself, there would be an end of this attribute of invisibility.
SECOND ENQUIRY. “ Doth not all the fulness of the Godhead dwell bodily in Christ?"*
Certainly noi, in the sense in which Candidus must mean the expressions should be taken. For, first, God is a spirit, and therefore can dwell bodily in nothing. And, secondly, If it be meant that the whole of God dwells in the body of Christ, that is impossible. The whole of God can no more dwell in the temple of Jesus Christ's body, than it could in the temple of Solomon.
THIRD ENQUIRY. “ Is not Christ the image of the invisible God?"
ANSWER Yes; and so was Adam." Gen. i. 27.
"U So God created man in his OWN IMAGE, in the IMAGE OF GOD created he him.",
FOURTH ENQUIRY. 6. Doth it not (the fulness of the Godhead) dwell there (in the body of Christ) that it may be manifested, or rendered visible to creatures ?" (i. e. of the human race.)
ANSWER By no means. God himself cannot work impossibilities; and certainly no other being can work them if he cannot. Therefore, if, for the sake of argument, it should be granted that the whole of God could dwell bodily in Jesus Christ, Candidus would not be much nearer 10 attaining his object. Still God would be invisible, and being also unchangeable, Jesus Christ could not make him yisible to creatures, such as men are.
“ Though Christ is not now visible to our bodily eyes, can it be denied that the gospel renders him visible to the eyes of our understanding?"
Sophronius will answer this question by asking Candidus another ; and that is, Whether being visible, and being visible to the eyes of the ut derstanding, be not those two very things which Candidus had confounded, and which Sophronius endeavoured to distinguish; and whether God is rendered at all visible to us in the PERSON of Christ? which, in this question, (as truth will out) Candidus admits cannot be seen? and (let it be added) will not be seen, till the day of judgment, if Sophronius rightly understand the Scriptures.
Candidus, in the first paragraph, has this expression-" fully manifest in the person of Christ.” The words of his last question imply that Candidus is of the same opinion as Sophronius, that the person of Christ is not now manifest at all; and therefore it would be strange to talk of God's being visible or fully manifest in a person whom we cannot see. Nor can Sophronius admit that the “ designs of God” are “ fully manifest” in any sense of the words, either in Christ's person, or his gospel, meaning thereby the New Testament.
SIN AND PUNISHMENT.
SIR, Í AM an advocate for the non-eternity of hell torments, and as I have
hinted in my note to Candidus, a constant reader of your valuable Miscellany.
I have been much gratified by several instances of your impartiality and candour, as well as the ability you discover in the general conduct of your publication. I am particularly pleased with the handsome treatment you have ever given the opponents of the doctrine for which you contend, and especially in the Isat instance which has occurred, in permitting a gentleman, who seems possessed both of natural and acquired abilities, to say every thing he thought proper in his own way against the main object of your labours, without any interruption on your part.
I wish all success to your endeavours to enlighten the darkness of such a inind as Mr. Andrew Fuller seems to possess, and I would, with your permission, contribute
my mite towards the production of so desirable
I have remarked a slight inaccuracy into which the hurry of composition has betrayed you, at the top of p. 333, in the last volume" Whoever read of eternals, everlastings, and eternities? or of this eternity, and that eternity?" Now in the DXCth Spectator Mr. Addison thus writes
Philosophy, and indeed common sense, naturally throws eternity under two divisions, which we call in English, that eternity which is past, and that eternity which is to come. The learned terms of æternitas a parte ante and æternitas a parte post, may be more amusing to the reader, but can have no other idea affixed to them than what is conveyed to us by those words, an eternity that is past and an eternity that is to come. Each of these eternities is bounded at the one extreme, or, in other words, the former has an end, and the latter a beginning."
The perspicuity of the argument that follows will depend, in some measure, upon the reader's bearing in mind the above quotation,
God is perfectly just: his punishment, therefore, of any being cannot exceed the demerit of any guilty person, either in duration or intenseness.
The duration of that punishment would necessarily be too long in which a guilty person should suffer during the æterniias a parte post, unless he can be proved to have had the æternites a parte ante in which to have contracted his guilt. This is impossible--God is just, and therefore eternal punishment is impossible in the sense in which it is set forth by Mr. Fuller.
But I think I hear Mr. Fuller say, that every sin, being committed against an infinite Being is infinite, and therefore deserves infinite, that is, eternal punishment.
But to this I reply, that it is absolutely impossible for man to commit an infinite sin : for infinite must relate either to magnitude or duration.
1. Magnitude-immensity: no sin of man can acquire that character. A sin of man, is an action of man. Man is frail, fallible, and finiteNo action of 'such a' being can possibly be infinite, in the
way immensity: therefore no sin of man can be infinite. So that in this sense it is a mere gratuitous assertion, that man is guilty of an infinite sin, on account of the infinity of God, until it can be proved that the infinity of God belongs to man.
2. Duration. In this sense the guilt of man cannot possibly be infinite. Every action of man is finite, because man is so.
Man cannot sin but by the performance of a sinful action. Now grant, for the sake of argument, that any number of finite actions can amount to infinity, it certainly cannot be in any other way than by an eternal duration spent in such actions. Now no creature whatever can in this sense be guilty of infinite sin; for every creature begins to be. An æternitas a parte ante must therefore have preceded the existence of the most ancient of created beings.
This argument appears to me conclusive against the eternity of hell forments, in the sense in which Mr. Fuller uses the word eternity.
Notwithstanding this, it is my earnest wish and prayer to Almighty God in behalf of all who may chance to read this, that they may be wise, improve the advantages of this present dsspensation, know the things that belong to their peace, flee the wrath to come, and, by ceasing to do eviland learning to do well, prepare themselves for the mercy of God, which will soon be brought by Jesus the Messiah.
Our friend Sophronius, had sent this before he had seen our fourth letter to Mr. Fuller, in which we treated of eternity absolute, without beginning or end. See Vol. iii. p. 364.-When we sent the letter of Sophronius to press, we did not know that we should be favoured with any further notice from Mr. Fuller; but as that gentleman has obliged us with another epistle, we apologize to him for inserting the above, before he and his present opponent had finished their warfare. EDITOR.
AN UNCOMMON PRAYER.
MR. George Edwards, the great English naturalist, when he was about
seventy years of age, retired from the office of Librarian to the College of Physicians, 'which he had held many years, and from his philosophical studies in general, in order the more immediately to contemplate on God, and prepare for death.
A little before his retirement he pub.ished the third part of his Gleanings of Natural History. Upon finishing this work we find the following remarkable prayer.
My petition to God (if petitions are not presumptuous) is, that he would remove from me all desire of pursuing natural history, or any other study; and inspire me with as much knowledge of his divine nature as my imperfect state is capable of; that I may conduct inyself, for the remainder of my days, in a manner most agreeable to his will, which must consequently be most happy to myself. What my condition may be in futurity is only known to the wise Disposer of all things; yet my present desires are (perhaps vain and inconsistent with the nature of things) that I may become an intelligent spirit, void of gross matter, gravity, and levity, endowed with a voluntary motive power, either to pierce infinitely into boundless etherial space, or into solid bodies; to see and know how the parts of the great universe are connected with each other, and by, what amazing mechanism they are kept and put in motion. But oh, vain and daring presumption of thought! 'I most humbly submit my future existence to the supreme will of the one Omnipresent!"
This great man was born at Westham in Essex, where he also died July 23, 1773, aged 81. There is a stone, with a plain inscription, to his memory, in the church-yard of that parish. Some years
hefore his death, the alarming depredations of a cancer, which baffled all the efforts of medical skill, deprived him of the sight of-one of his eyes. He also suffered greatly from the stone, a complaint - to which, at different periods of his life, he had been subject; yet it was remarked, that, in the severest paroxysms of misery, he was scarcely ever known to utter a single complaint !
He was a philosopher, and a believer in revelation : yet how strange was that doubt whether petitions to God were not presumptuous ! How much more happy is that believer, who, though he be no philosopher, can pray to his heavenly Father with confidence, knowing that he
But perhaps Mr. Edwards meant only to express & doubt whether such petitions as he was about to mention, were not presumptuous. If so, his humility is edifying.