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imputation is no disparagement to Dr. Bellamy's mental power. when compared with that of others of the first order of intellect; and in view of the circumstances of the case, it amounts to nothing more than a denial of an infallibility, which none can claim.
If an exemption from even more palpable inconsistencies, is essential to intellectual greatness, then must all our admiration of the gigantic strength of Bacon, Locke, Berkeley and others, be changed into lamentation over the weakness of the human intellect. The most that can be said of the greatest men, is, that while aiming 10 establish some great and leading truth, they have been successful and triumphant; and though not without falling into occasional incongruities through inadvertence, they deserve the praise which our admiration confers on the highest intellectual attainmen's.
HERE we had closed our remarks on Dr. Bellamy, and were in the act of committing them to the press, when we received a copy
of Dr. Woods' Letters to Dr. Taylor, on the same subject. As the author of these letters has thought proper to direct his attack against the Christian Spectator as well as Dr. Taylor, we shall of course be expected to say something on this subject. We choose to do it now, for we have no desire to carry forward the discussion into another number of our work.
We remark, then, in the first place, that Dr. Woods' statement of the question at issue, is palpably incorrect. To show this, we shall advert to an illustration given in our review of Dr. Bellamy; we mean that of a machine in which friction is used for valuable purposes. Dr. W.corresponds to the man who affirms, that friction was, in this case, admitted into the machine, siinply as a “necessary means” for the attainment of the end in view. Dr. Taylor replies, by asking, Are you sure that this is so ? are you certain that this friction, though over-ruled for good, was not a necessary condition or incident to the existence of the machine? Such conditions or limitations do exist in every finite system of mechanism. Before, then, you affirm, that the admission of friction here was purely voluntary, you must prove that it did not arise from the necessity of the case itself. And is not Dr. Woods bound to do this? Can he turn round to an inquirer under these circumstances, and demand of him to prove the contrary ? Suppose, too, the maker of the machine to be present, and to declare that friction was an abominable thing which his soul hated. Would not the case be still stronger? Would there not be an increased presumption, that Dr. Woods' position was erroneous ? Would not additional obligations be laid upon him to prove the preliminary
fact—to demonstrate, that the entrance of friction into the machine was not a
necessary condition or incident to its very existence? And, now, suppose he should still insist on throwing off the burden of proof from himself upon his opponent. Suppose for the sake of doing it, he should seriously contend that to ask the question, May not this be so, is the same as to affirm in direct terms, It is so: and that the hypothetical proposition, “ friction may be a necessary condition or incident to the existence of the machine,” is an affirmative proposition, that this is the fact. What would be thought of such a mode of meeting an opponent?
Now this is exactly what Dr. Woods has done, both in his statement of the point at issue, and in the whole course of his subsequent reasoning. He has changed Dr. Taylor's question into an assertion-his hypothetical statement into a positive affirmation. And on what pretence has he done this ?
Without a particle of evidence, that Dr. Taylor meant any thing different from what he said. He has indeed shown, that his opponent declines to receive the theory that “sin is the necessary means of the greatest good,' until it be first proved that sin (as to God's prevention) was not, like friction in the machine, a necessary incident to the existence of our system. But has he shown, that Dr. Taylor any where maintains, or ever meant to intimate, that men can know enough on this subject to justify the positive affirmation, that sin is such a condition or incident?' No: But he supposes this to be his meaning! And why? Because “it is unreasonable to suppose that a man of his intellectual character, had no opinion on a subject which he had studied so much !" p. 23. But why may not Dr. Taylor's opinion be, that no man is authorized either to affirm or to deny that sin (as to its prevention by God) is a necessary incident to a moral system? and, of course, that all inquiry on the subject must stop here? Why may he not, on the ground of this belief, reject Dr. Woods' favorite theory, without adopting any other as capable of proof? Dr. Woods
knows, that the Christian Spectator, which he identifies with Dr. Taylor in this matter, did expressly take this ground. He knows, too, that Dr. Taylor, thus addresses the objecting sinner, in the very sentence to which his note is appended, "I say then that as ignorance is incompetent to make an objection, and as no one knows that this supposition is not a matter of fact, no one has a right to assert the contrary.” Here the affirmation stops. Not a hint is given, that a supposition of this kind is to be received as an article of faith, or is capable of direct proof. It was sufficient for his purpose, that until the objector could disprove it, his lips must be forever sealed, as to replying against God. His statements in the note are equally guarded. He says that the theory, so generally relied on, to account for the existence of evil, rests on a gratuitous assumption. But he does not say or intimate, that the contrary of that assumption can be
established by proof, or should be made an article of belief. Not one of Dr. Woods' apologies, (pp. 23, 24) for charging this statement upon him, touches this point in the least. They go only to to show that Dr. T. declines to receive the other theory.
Dr. Woods, then, without the shadow of a reason, has changed the fundamental position of Dr. Taylor, on which the whole discussion turns, into another and a different one, which he has never maintained. The advantage thus gained, is indeed obvious. It relieves him from the burden of proof. It furnishes an occasion for reiterated and imposing charges against his opponent, of bringing forward rash assertions without evidence. It gives an air of plausibility to the long and solemn admonitions contained in these Letters, against metaphysical refinements; and it may thus serve to mislead unthinking minds, by an array of argument and influence, which is totally irrelevant to the point at issue. Put back the question, then, to its true statement, as made by Dr. Taylor : “ It may be, that evil has entered our system, for a reason which sets aside all your theories, and puts a stop in limine to every subsequent speculation on the subject.” Where now are Dr. Woods' reasonings? Who now is liable to the charge of rashness and metaphysical subtilty? The man who insists on carrying forward his theories beyond this starting point, or the man who stops here?
But obvious as are the advantages resulting to Dr. Woods from these erroneous statements, we are far from thinking or intending to intimate, that he is capable of being led by any such motives, imo known and deliberate misrepresentation. That he should ever have made them, therefore, as having any thing to do with the opinions of his opponent—especially after the opportunities which he has enjoyed, of being set right on this subject-must ever be, to those who understand the case, a cause of “special wonder." We are confident, however, that Dr. Woods will be the first to regret his error; for besides the waste of time in preparing for an attack, which goes so entirely aside of the point at issue, he cannot but lament that he should be led on, under such a delusion, to become the accuser of one, whom he uniformly addresses as his affectionate friend and beloved brother.
We remark in the second place, that, as far as we can see, Dr. Woods has, in the fullest terms, conceded the great principle maintained by Dr. Taylor, viz. that no man can show the theory," that sin is the necessary means of the greatest good,” to be true. . He has done this by affirming, that all we are warranted to assert as to the existence of moral evil-all that the nature of the case admits of our saying, is this, that God for wise and good reasons decided to permit the existence of sin : That God has not made known to us the reasons of this decision, nor made us capable of discovering
them, and that these reasons are known only to the infinite mind.
Thus he says,
The orthodox generally regard the existence of sin under the divine government, as a profound mystery. They resolve it into the unsearchable wisdom of God, and pretend not to be able to obviate the difficulties which attend the subject, in any other way than by saying, that the incompreheusible God, for reasons which lie beyond human intelligence, taking a a perfect view of his own attributes, and of the whole system of created beings, saw it to be best not to prevent the existence of moral evil.* that when he converts some sinners and leaves others in impenitence, he acts according to his own sovereign will—implying that the reasons for this conduct which he has in his own mind, and which are perfectly satisfactory to his infinite wisdom, he has not made known to us, nor made us, in our present state, copable of discerning. pp. 37, 38.
God did not prevent all sin, nor the present degree of it, because it seemed good in his sight not to prevent it. This answer is all that is necessary and all that the case admits. p. 54.
I hold that God, being infinitely powerful and good, would convert more sinners than he does, yea all sinners, if he saw it to be on the whole for the best, or if it seemed good in his sight. But the reasons of his conduct in this case, as in many others, are known only to his own infinite mind.
Now if these things are so—if the reasons for God's permission of sin are known only to his own infinite mind, if we are incapable of discovering the reasons,-if the case does not admit of assigning a reason, then to assign the reason in question, viz. “ that sin is the necessary means of the greatest good," is wholly unwarranted. Has not Dr. Woods, then, most abundantly conceded all that Dr. Taylor asserts on this point? The whole includes the parts; and if no reason can be properly assigned in the case, then, this particular reason, Dr. Woods himself being judge, cannot be assigned. What concession could be more ample or complete ? If God
only” knows the reasons for the entrance of sin into the universe, then Dr. Woods, does not know them; and, as Dr. Taylor says, “ignorance is incompetent to make an objection."
But ample as these general concessions are, Dr. Woods has been more specific. He has actually adopted the very statements of those, whom he has come forward to arraign before the public. Dr. Taylor asks in substance, may not God have chosen his present “ method of administration," not because (as any part of the reason,) it embraced moral evil,“ but though or notwithstanding it would not entirely exclude (such) evil.” Now this is the identical statement made by Dr. Woods in the following passage. May
* This expression, Dr. Woods constantly confounds with another, viz. that moral evil is on the whole for the best. But it may be, that although holiness: in its stead would have been better, God could not have prevented all sin, and yet had a moral system.
not this have been the case, says Dr. Taylor. Might not this be the case, says Dr. Woods; this is the sole difference.
Might not many methods of administration in such a system as this originally was, be equally possible to God, and equally possible in themselves? And so, humanly speaking, might not God have a choice among a great variety of ways in which he was able to manage such a system, all
of which ways might be in different degrees good; and might not God see that the particular mode of proceeding which he actually adopted, was better than any other ;--that it was suited to make a more glorious display of his at. tributes; and though it would not entirely exclude evil, would ultimately raise his kingdom to a higher degree of holiness and happiness than any other? In this view might not God actually prefer it and fix upon it? And would not this be a choice worthy of God?' p. 77.
Comment can hardly be necessary in so plain a case. Here is a man, who on first looking at a machine, affirms that the plan of it was adopted because of the friction which it involves. After more examination, he admits it to be possible, that the artist chose this plan, as on the whole best, though or notwithstanding “it would not entirely exclude” friction. He has now abandoned his former position. If he says the plan may have been adopted in spite of friction, he can no longer affirm, that it was adopted on account of friction. So in the case before us. If Dr. Woods admits, as a possible truth, that God chose his present " method of administration,” notwithstanding the sin which it embraces, then he must cease to affirm as an actual truth, that He chose it in any degree, for the sake of that sin. He has therefore abandoned the position, that “sin is the necessary means of the greatest good.” On his present supposition, it is a balesul incident to the system.
But this incident was necessary, in our system, or it would not have existed. Yet we know it was not necessary as far as man's committing it is concerned, for as a free agent, he certainly had power to abstain from sin. It was then, on this supposition, " necessarily incidental” to the system, so far as relates to God's prevention of it. He could not have the system without the sin. And as this system was the best, He chose it, “though it would not entirely exclude moral evil.” We have then, the exact position of “Dr. Taylor and his associates," as stated formerly in the Christian Spectator. It may be, that “sin as to God's preventing-not our committing it—is a necessary incident to a moral system.
* On the ground of this distinction between the power of man to avoid sinning, and of God to exclude sin from the system, Dr. Woods has founded one of the most extraordinary charges, which we ever met with in a serious discussion. It is no less than this : " To creatures, then, you attribute a power which you deny to the Creator.” p. 54. Now in the first place, Dr. Taylor's position was merely hypothetical, not afirmative ; and we have seen that Dr.