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Of1 destruction did previously possess; and from whence,
In tbe Third place, It will be rationally inferred, that such an exerted power roust be attributed to some distinct and foreign agent. The resulting arguments will run thus -.
1st. The life which has been thus destroyed, could not hawbeen the agent of its own destruction: but tbe man himself is guilty of the deed : whatever constitutes, therefore, the active principle in man, must be distinct in its existence from that which has been destroyed by it.
2nd. The agent in this destruction (as it has been proved) must have been a Being totally distinct in its existence from that which has been destroyed : but the whole principle of animation which the man possessed, however exquisite in its parts, or subtle and defined its powers, has been destroyed. Something, then, altogether different in its nature, as well as distinct in its existence from any composition of material mechanism must constitute the essential character of the agent; and what is this but Immateriality and In tellect.
3rd, And lastly; The degree of power possessed by the guilty agent in the accomplishment of this destruction, must likewise have been superior to that of any previously existing power in the subject that has been destroyed: but man already proved an immaterial, or spiritual, existence, is this guilty agent. The power of his immaterial nature, then, must needs transcend the yielding functions of his material system.
A very general inference on the occasion is obvious. The crime of suicide then is alone imputable to the agency of that immaterial or mental existence in human nature, distinctly denominated—The soul of man; whose perturbated Vol. in.
passions, specifically distinct in existence, different in their nature, and superior in power to all the purest sublimation of chemical alembics, refined secretions, or whatever constitutes the principles of animation, have impiously excited rebellion against his benevolent Creator, in murdering tbe creature of bis power, which he generously put into his care and possession as the source of every sensible enjoyment; and in despite to the laws of his Maker and Benefactor, both natural and revealed, has even rushed into the presence of his Judge with hands yet reeking with the tokens of his guilt, where we must leave the traitor and return.
Thus, then, by a simple and rational analysis of this fatal catastrophe in human nature, the destruction of the body by the act of suicide, has afforded us an additional testimony to the immateriality of the soul to which it was united.
After all, it is not impossible but the Materialist, against whose tenets the preceding arguments are designedly levelled, and for want of abler subterfuges, may even introduce the doctrine of the resurrection as a presumed antithesis against the allegation of any real or positive destruction of the animal system, in the event of mortality; and from the assurance of a future resuscitation, may prematurely infer the indemonstrability of our former arguments in proof of the superiority of the destructive agent.
Such a mode of reasoning, however, will afford him no assistance whatever-; for it must be here recollected and inforced, that in pursuing the present enquiry, which is altogether physical, the whole of our arguments, as needful, have been limited to the physical or natural constitution of man; and that, in consequence,
the most absolute and necessary qualifications of his nature could only be admitted.
Nothing, however, of this kind ean be rationally predicted of that truly miraculous interference of Almighty power we are now alluding to, and which can only be considered as a mere adjunctive to human nature, and altogether casual and circumstantial; a secondary and voluntary interposition on the part of its Maker, to rescue that portion of nature from a state of destruction into which it had actually fallen, and wherein it would otherwise have inevitably remained.
The resurrection of the body, then, can by no means be contemplated as a preventive to its destruction: on the contrary, it implies the previous fact: and the physical powers of the destructive agent must be investigated, independent of any subsequent and supernatural act of restoratioa in favor of the sufferer.
The above remarks, it is likewise presumed, are not a little supported by the evidences of natural history in general.
One animal of the brute creation, for instance, will destroy another, and to which nature has lent her sanction in furnishing them with adequate powers and appropriate engines for the purpose. (A moral lesson is undoubtedly intimated by the wisdom of its director in so permitting it; but this is not our present subject;) but where, we inquire, is the animal that destroys itself? The difference of the species between man and brutes, implied in the negative, cannot be rationally attributed to the mere absence of a moral principle in the latter, an unsusceptibility of guilt, and consequent indifference to the temptation: the human species is equally safe from any imputation of moral evil in many unhappy events of this na. ture, when originating in the more
desperate paroxysms of animal' derangement. Brutes and men, are alike subject to this calamity, and the absence of reason in the one, and its disordered state in the other, render them equally innocent of its effects, however lamentable: and, hence, the resultiug disquisition, viz.
Why are external objects alone devoted to destruction by the raging fury of the maddened beast, whilst similar derangements in the human frame so frequently terminate in suieide?
The physical impracticability of the event in the one case, for want of that distinct and superior energy we have been considering as connected with and natural to the other, will easily resolve the difficulty; and whilst it demonstrates the self-destruetion of the brute as an impossibility in the natural construction of things; it equally proves the existence and character of another principle which constitutes the difference in human nature. J. K.
STRIKING INCIDENT IN THE
Me. Donisthoepe was the minister of a congregation of General Baptists, at Loughborough, in Leicestershire, in the year 1774. He had been an active servant of the church for many years, and had often expressed a wish that he might die, preaching the gospel of salvation. On the last Tuesday in May, of that year, at the advanced age of seventytwo, he ascended the pulpit to deliver an evening lecture, when, having prayed with his usual fervour, he proceeded to give out a, hymn; and in reading out—
"The land of triumph lies on high; There are no fields of battle there!"
his voice faultered, and he sank in the pulpit. He was conveyed to his house, speechless; and expired on the Tuesday following.—See Mr. Adam Taylor's Hist, of Gen. Bapt. Vol. ii. p. 158.
ON RASH AND UNGUARDED
** Ye have not spoken of me, the thing that is right." Job xlii. f.
"A man may believe all the doctrines of the gospel, and yet go to tlte devil!"— Such was the unqualified assertion of au eminent preacher in this city a few Sabbath's ago, when enforcing the duty of gratitude. A clap of thunder could not have excited in me more astonishment than the sound of the words did; and having taken the earliest opportunity of retiring to meditate on •the subject, I involuntarily fell into f7ie /b/Jowingtrain of thought.
"Can this assertion be true? To the law and to the testimony; —what say the sacred oracles?" If a person may believe all the doctrines of the gospel, and yet be lost; one of two things will unavoidably follow—either that salvation is not of grace throvgh faith, or that it is absolutely necessary for a sinner to believe something more than the doctrines of the gospel, in order to his Salvation. But let me see what the .New Testament says to both of these positions. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; He that believeth (the gospel) shall be saved." Mark xvi. 16. "These things (viz. the doctrines of the gospel) were written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name." John xx. 31. "By grace are ye saved, through faith—not of works lest any man should boast." Eph. ii. 8, 9. "It is of faith that, it might be by grace." Rom. iv. 16. If then these scripture testimonies be true, the assertion of the preacher must be false!
Again, let me examine this bold declaration under another view. Can a man believe that which he does not understand? Certainly not. Act6viii.80,31.Matt.xtii.23. Can
a man understand the doctrines of the gospel, without being taught them of God?" No man can say that Jesns is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." 1 Cor. xii. 3. "All thy people shall be taught of God." John vi. 4->. Can a person be taught of the Holy Spirit to understand ail the doctrines of the gospel, and yet perish eternally T Impossible! John vii. 38, 30. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that Cod hath raised him from the dead, thint s/uilt be saved." Rom. x. 9. It follows, therefore, that the positive pointed declarations of the word of God, and the unqualified assertion of the preacher, cauuot hang together.
But "may not a man profess with his mouth that which he does not believe in his heart?" Without doubt he may. Simon Magus jirofessed to believe the preaching of Philip (Acts viii.) but he soou made it manifcst that he neither understood nor believed "all the doctrines of the gospel;" for had he done that, he would never have been so mad as to attempt purchasing the Holy Ghost for a sum of money. "A man may say he has faith"—Well, " by their fruits ye shall know them." Let him shew by his works of what kind it is. "He that saith he knoweth God and keepeth not his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." 1 John ii. 4. Thus the apostles taught, and thus we believe. "Let God be true and every man (who contradicts him) a liar." See Eccles. v. 2.
POSTSCRIPT BY THE EDITOR.
The mischief done to the minds of simple Christians by such unguarded expressions is incalculable. For in so far as they are received, their natural operation is to draw off the attention of the hearer from the great facts aud doctrines contained in the gospel, as a precarious, uncertain, if not insufficient ground of hope; and for what purpose? Why, that they may look into Ibeir owu minds, examine how they have been affected, and so their own experience becomes the griund of their hope! This is to pervert the aposloli* gospel and injure the souls of men.
Religious Libert;/ stated and enforced on the principles of Scripture and common sense. In Six Essays, ■with Notes and an Appendix. By Thomas Williams. London. Williams and Son. Price 6s. bds. 8vo. pp. 228. 1816. To review the writings of one who has himself been long in the practice of reviewing those of other men, is an enterprise of such difficulty and danger, that, had we not been privileged with stronger nerves than usually fall to the lot of editors, we should have been anxious to decline saying any thing of the volume before us: and we arc not quite sure that, even under existing circumstances, many of our readers will not be induced to say that in attempting it, we display far more fortitude than prudence. Mr. Williams, " the learned layman," is a literary veteran, who has on many occasions appeared at the tribunal of the public, and obtained at their hands, the meed which is the just reward of his virtuous exertions to enlighten and inform his fellow creatures. In the work before us he has undertakeu to discuss a subject of no ordinary magnitude; and it shall now be our business to report upon the manner in which he has acquitted himself in the discharge of it,
There is something in the very sound of the word " Liberty,'' so congenial to the feelings of the human mind, that a species of enchantment seems to entwine itself around it, which has a powerful tendency to blind its votaries, and make them often to lose sight of the just distinction between liberty and licentiousness. Nor is this danger confined merely to what is termed civil or political liberty; without due caution we may as easily be led astray on the subject of "Religious Liberty," as on that which respects our exemption from political tyranny. We are, therefore, obliged to Mr. Williams for having undertaken to discuss the subject, and to instruct the public mind upon it. How far wc agree with him in his views of it, will appear in the sequel. The volume consists of six Essay?,
of which the following are the titles. Essay I. The principles on which the Christian church is founded.—II. The original terms of church communion.—III. The duty of enquiry, and right of private judgment and free discussion.—IV. The spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom. — V. Nature and effects of intolerance and persecution.—VI. Historic sketch of the rise and progress of intolerance and persecution. These six Essays are followed by some account of the present state, and final overthrow of Popery; and an Appendix, containing some additional remarks on three of the Essays.
It struck us, on examining the titles of these Essays, that the work would have been rendered more complete had the author favoured us with a preliminary Essay on a topic, not unconnected with them, and of paramount importance to any that he has discussed. We beg leave to explain ourselves by an extract from our favourite poet:
"— there is a liberty, unsung
By pocM s, and by senators unprais'd,
Which meuarchs cannot grant, nor all the
powYs Of Earth and Hell confederate take away: A liberty, which persecution,fraud, Oppression, prisons, have no power to bind; Which whose tastes can be eusiav'd no more. Tis liberty of heart derivM from heav'n Bought with His blood, who gave it to mankind, And scalM with the same token. It is held By charter, and that charter sanclinn'd sure By th' unimpeachable and awful oath And promise of a God. His other gifts All bear the royal stamp, that speak them
his, And are august; but this transcends them all."
But waving all further remarks on this point, we proceed to something like an analysis of the Essays, which we shall accompany with a few critical observations on the author's principles and reasonings.
Essay I. is entitled 'Fundamental principles, or "the principles in which the Christian church is founded," and these according to our author, are "benevolence and love." In proof of this position he adduces Christ's new commandment to his disciples to " love one another." This he terms "the precept whereon the church is founded, and the criterion by which it must be known." p. 6, 7.
We fully agree with Mr. \V. in all that he advances on the importance of brotherly love and unity among the disciples of Christi and are persuaded that he is quite right in insisting upon it as a leading (we do not say the sole") test of discipleship. On this subject he might, with perfect safety, have gone much further than he has done. For instance, he miirht have insisted that there can be no religion where there is no love, I John iv. 7, 8, 16. And that to profess to Jove God, while we are destitute of love to our brethren, is to give the lie to our profession; for "he thai lovethnot nisbrotherwhom he hith seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" ver. 80. Yet after all, we doubt the correctness of the respectab/e Essayist, in saying that •" the Christian church is founded in benevolence and love." It does nut appear to us, that he hast kept his eye steadily fixed upon the scriptures in this statement, and the inaccuracy into which he has been' betrayed, by his zeal for "religious'liberty," deserves to be rectified; with a view to which, we offer to his consideration the following remarks.
1. When Simon Peter confessed Jesus of Nazareth to be " the Christ, the Son of the living God;" Jesus answered and said unto him," blessed art thou, Simon Barjonas; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven: And I say unto thee that thou art Peter; and upon this rock [namely, the truth which Peter had confessed concerning him as the true Messiah, the Son of the living God] / Kill build my church." Matt. xvi. 16—18. If, then, we are prepared to admit the authority of Christ himself to be decisive on this point, it will follow that the truth which Peter confessed, is the foundation of the Christian church, and not "benevolence and love"—for these come in under a different consideration than that of the foundation of the church, as we shall presently shew.
i. No person was admitted to communion in the primitive churches, who did not confess the very same truth that Peter did. This confession entitled them to-baptism, and the latter to communion. For proof of this, we appeal to the whole of the Acts of the Apostles, and to all the Epistles to the churches. See Acts
ii. 22—47. ch. viii. 5, 12, 85—39. rh. ix. 18—20. x. 34—48. xviii. 5—8. All Christ's real disciples are " of this truth." John xviii. 37. This truth tliey all " believe with the heart unto righteousness, and make confession ot it with the month unto salvation." Rom. x. 9, 10. It is upon the open confession of this truth that they are called to acknowledge one another as brethren, I Pet. i. 22. and thus it becomes the ground of their mutual love; for they " love"one another for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in them and shall be with them for ever." 2 John i. 2.
3. Love to this truth and to each other lor the truth's sake, is the bond of union anions Christians, and it is the only effectual bond. Col. ii. 14. 1 Pet. iv.#. Hut then it is itself a fruit, or effect of faith—tor " faith workcth by love." Gal. v. 6. I Tim. i. 5. But all this goes to prove, that though the exercise of brotherly love is essential to justify the truth of our discipleship, it is not the foundation on which the Christian church is built. It is of much importance to set professors right on this subject, since a great portion of the vile jargon winch abounds in the religious world takes its rise from mistaken views of it.
Essay II. is intended to discuss "the original Terms of Church communion :' and on this subject he seems inclined to adopt the wild theory of Mr. Robert Hall, concerning which we have delivered our opinion at considerable length on a former occasion, (See vol. II. p. 174— 178.) and until we see something, at least plausible, advanced in opposition to our arguments, which has not yet been done, we think it quite unnecessary to waste our pages in proving that the scriptures are far from countenancing any such visionary plan of Church communion. Upon this subject, however, the Essayist is not very consistent with himself. At the commencement of the Essay, he says, " the terms of Communion are the essentials of Christianity: love to Christ and obedience to his commands form those essentials, and are the universal characteristics of his disciples, in the New Testament." p. 19. But, surely, in order to love Christ it is necessary to know his character, and what he hath done for us; nor is that all; it is also necessary to believe in him, John xvii. S.