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although present and unalloyed happiness is not always attainable, we must bear in mind, that the purposes of God are not limited to this life merely, but extend to a future state; the present being one of trial and probation, intended to prepare us for futurity. This is indeed the glorious burthen of that Revelation which God has beneficently vouchsafed to us, and is fully corroborated to the contemplative mind, by an examination of the numberless events continually occurring.
In possession, then, of appetites and passions which incite us to action, and which are continually called into exercise by the various diversified situations, which the checkered path of life produces, we are endowed with mental faculties by which to govern them. As a farther assistance, the Almighty has condescended to grant us a revelation of his most holy will, a code of laws by which to regulate our conduct; and this revelation, by the restraint which it imposes, promotes our happiness.
By revelation, we become acquainted with sin and its converts; had it not been bestowed, we could not have committed sin, because sin is the transgression of an existing, familiar, and understood law; nor could any one in such a case be chargeable with blame, who followed implicitly the dictates of his passions, because it would be impossible to conceive of any efficient counteracting influence. A species of subordinate check, might indeed be sometimes opposed to an unrestrained career, by the efforts of reason and judgment, by a cautious consideration of the probable consequences which would arise from giving way indiscriminately to every varying impulse. But this, so far from being a general rule, would only be an occasional decision as to the prudence, under existing circumstances, of acting in obedience to those desires which in a greater or less degree influence the will.
Thus intimately adapted to the situation and propensities of the human race, is the guide of revelation; to it we owe the distinction between virtue and vice: virtue or righteousness, by keeping the passions in strict subjection and obedience, and in all things obeying the commands of God, even when opposed to that line of conduct apparently best suited to our worldly interests: vice and sin, when the commands of God are partially or completely disregarded, but every instigation of the passions obeyed, and every dictate of the will executed. Nor is
the constitution of virtue and vice arbitrary. It might be conceived, that supposing pleasure to result merely from animal enjoyment, revelation does not conduce to it, because our natural feelings prompt us to view its commands as burthensome, by placing us under restraint in the gratification of our appetites, and denying us unlimited sensual indulgence, the sources, we are prone to consider, of all our happiness. But it cannot be denied that unbounded sensuality and ungoverned passions, are invariably productive of misery, and that the regular practice of virtue really produces a high degree of happiness even in this life, and that the restraints imposed upon us are necessary to produce individual as well as general felicity, and that where they are observed, such will be the indisputable result. A further proof that the constitution of vice and virtue is not arbitrary, is to be found in the fact, that unlimited obedience to our appetites and passions, and the gratification of every individual, without regard to others, is not possible, nor even practicable to any great extent. Society cannot exist without laws, by which the desires of every individual are controlled for the good of the whole, and without which, if men were to have no rule but their own will or caprice, were to grant every latitude to their inordinate wishes, and promote to the utmost, their own pleasure and gratification, reckless of that of others, nothing but anarchy and misery could possibly result. Thus the necessity of restraint, as conducive to happiness, is fully proved by the laws and institution of mankind.
But it may be asked, if God intended us for enjoyment, why place us in such an artificial situation—why not grant it to us at once-and why render us liable to so much pain and misery? It may be replied, that to resist temptation, and conquer difficulty, tends to produce happiness, prepares us for more intense enjoyment, and renders us more susceptible of its influence. Happiness is a comparison of sensations; without pain, we cannot become really acquainted with ease; the blessing of health is appreciated by the intervention of sickness; and adversity is necessary, to our placing a due estimate upon, and enjoying pleasure from, successful exertions. By resisting temptations, overcoming difficulties, and struggling with obstacles in this life, we become fitted for the enjoyment of another. Without an acquaintance with pain and evil,
without being strengthened and chastened by adversity, without being tried and purified by privation and suffering, not even heaven, constituted as we are, could impart happiness, nor man be capable, without being purged and refined by passing through a probationary state, of attaining to the enjoyment of pure and unalloyed felicity. Thus, the present situation of man, and the multifarious contingencies to which he is exposed, corroborate the teachings of Revelation, in unison with the design of infinite benevolence, that he is placed here as in a school, to be fitted and prepared for another and superior state of existenceof never-ending happiness.
Many Christians, however, do not admit this conclusion, and scruple not to affirm that the present state of things was not originally intended by the Creator, but that a lamentable change took place by the fall of our common progenitor Adam; that all things were made beautiful, lovely, and glorious; that Adam sprang from the plastic hand of his Creator in his image, a virtuous and an immortal being, but that by his subsequent transgression, he entailed a curse upon creation, and bequeathed to his posterity a nature radically evil and corrupt. This nature which some delight to paint in the most horrid and appalling colours; this innate depravity, consequent on the original sin of Adam, is the onerous burthen under which mortality is doomed to groan. The imputed consequences are indeed tremendous! The wrath of the Almighty is directed against the sins of his creatures; and as all are inheritors of one common depraved nature, all are therefore sentenced to condemnation! Adam, by one single action, plunged, it seems, the Godhead into a dilemma (for such must be the only conclusion deducible) by which, on the one hand, he must leave the unfortunate creatures of his power to their horrid doom, or, on the other, condescend himself to satisfy the demands of his own justice, because an infinite sacrifice only can be an equivalent for infinite sins; the Eternal must veil himself in humanity, to submit to torture and to death,
"The Almighty God comes down to bleed,
Such a system militates against the omniscience of Deity, destroys his mercy, and annihilates his justice. It erects the fabled influence of necessity, or fate, into an Omnipotent power to which he is subservient; and involves
the conclusion, that all men, Adam excepted, are called into existence for the sole purpose of being damned-a catastrophe which can only be prevented by God himself bearing the tortures of that state, and offering a sacrifice for sin, in order to save his creatures from the stern decree of necessity. Thus, the orthodox version of Christianity, presents features of near resemblance to the reveries of ancient philosophy, and creates a paramount unalterable principle which annihilates the attributes of God, and makes him a limited and inferior being.
To show that neither nature nor revelation countenance this heart-withering system, will be attempted in a subsequent communication.
THE CHRISTIAN PIONEER.
GLASGOW, July 1, 1828.
ON Wednesday, June 18, a Dinner, at which his Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex presided, was given by the Protestant Dissenters, at the Freemasons' Tavern, Great Queen-Street, London, in commemoration of the Repeal of the Sacramental Test. The company was numerous and highly respectable, and the speeches were worthy of the occasion. The liberal sentiments which emanated from the Royal Chairman and the other speakers, must, we are persuaded, find a willing response in every Christian bosom: the loud and reiterated applause with which they were hailed on their delivery, is a proof, if one were wanting, that they were not uttered in vain. We are sorry that our limits prevent us from giving more than a few of the speeches. The Duke of Sussex, on his health being given, said—
"Gentlemen, I rise, I assure you, with feelings of considerable emotion, to return thanks to you for the manner in which you have received the toast just proposed to you. If I should say that I do not feel proud and gratified, I should be ungrateful, and I should say what is not true. I do feel pride-I assure you, real satisfactory pride-at seeing myself surrounded by so many warm hearts and strong minds, pursuing a course perfectly consistent with sound constitutional principles, and claiming a right for themselves-and, while they are claiming that right for themselves, they will not, I am sure, forget that they are in duty bound also to claim it for others. When I look round, and see what stuff" this Meeting is made of-I am not speaking of articles but of matter-but when I see what materials this Meeting is composed of when I see the stuff that still exists in the world, collected in a Meeting like this-I say, be firm, be temperate but consistent, pursuing your course strictly in consistency with the principles of the Constitution, and you will be sure not to fail in any thing, when you have reason and justice for the associates of your cause. Gentlemen, my respected Friend, in proposing my health
to you as a toast, connected it with the principles which placed my family on the throne. Gentlemen, I intend to support those principles. Gentlemen, it is my duty to support them; I like those principles. But, Gentlemen, I mean to look those principles in the face; I wish them to be fully acted on. I know no reduction of them-no frittering them away; I know of no impediments in their way. Mine is a straight-forward road; and I believe a conscientious opinion is that which, on all occasions, gives the best advice. As to actions, I have always been taught from my childhood, to love my fellow-creatures as myself-I was always told to do as I would be done by. In a world of ups and downs, where characters and ranks are established in society for convenience and by convenience, it must happen that some are placed higher than others, but those persons who are so placed by Divine Providence, must look on their high station as calling them to fulfil higher duties-I conceive such men are bound to promote the best interests of their country; and I must say, that I think I am doing my duty to God and my country, in acting as I act on the present occasion. Gentlemen, I may not have the art of oratory; I am a strong-headed man, and a plain spoken man-and people cannot easily deceive me-I am not in office, and I thank God that I am not. I am not in a situation to have a political keeper of my conscience. When I am told a fact, or I hear a chain of reasoning which I am not able to answer, I do not give my assent to it; I go home; consider the subject; and very often I find that what I have been told is not true. When I find it so, and an opportunity offers, I think it my duty to come forward and state my opinion, and let those who have argued the matter before, argue it again, taking with them a little additional common sense. I dislike this way of going on, and so I will leave the subject. It is scarcely necessary for me to tell you, that looking at the history of the time when the Statutes now repealed were enacted, and looking at the feelings of the parties, I must say that those Statutes were a disgrace to the Statute-book. They are not the only Statutes which are such a disgrace. When I look at the Statute-book, I see other Statutes equally horrible, and I trust in God they will soon be got rid of. I find a great many other such Statutes, though it is not the time for us to discuss their propriety in this room. When I look through the page of history, and trace all the circumstances connected with the origin of those Statutes, and look at the feelings of those by whom they were enacted, and the general feelings of the times, I must say, these laws seem to me to have been made on principles, and under the influence of feelings, which we know little or nothing of, now that we are arrived at a certain period of manhood. We are often told to look at what our ancestors did; to which I answer, that I am older than my ancestors. To the experience of my ancestors, I may add the experience of the present time. I say that I ought to know more than they knew-to judge better-and to act more wisely than my ancestors acted. Having got so far, allow me to add, that this is a peculiar day on which we are called on to celebrate this great event. It is one of the greatest days in the history of England-a day on which an event occurred which led to the greatest results. It is the Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. It is also commemorated on this day. I should like to ask the gallant men who went into battle, when the order for the charge and the attack was given, whether, acting each his brilliant part, he asked his comrade, of what religion he was, what was his faith, and what Church he belonged to? I believe not. The word was victory, and the glory of our country. That was the common bond of union. There was but one feeling at that moment, and are there to be different feelings at a different period? I take it, that all those who fell on that ground, who had acted properly, were not neglected by the Great Being who causes his sun to shine for