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God has abundantly compensated this inconvenience by the facilities which the constitution of our nature itself affords for the acquisition of virtuous habits." Vol. I. p. 75.
An intelligent reader will perceive how directly the opinions of Mr. F. are opposed to the unvarying tenor of the sacred volume, in its descriptions of human nature; and how easily they may be confuted by a reference to those delineations which so exactly correspond with the actual state of man. “Whatever is the cause of human corruption,” said Dr. Johnson to Boswell, “ men are evidently and confessedly so corrupt, that all the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from crimes.” But if we were to deduce our sentiments on this important subject from the « body of theology," we should be forcibly impressed with the conclusion, that, as the facilities of virtue are so numerous, and its attractions so irresistible because aided by the natural and spontaneous tendencies of the human heart, the race of beings on our earth must necessarily display all the characters of rectitude and purity. An observation, therefore, of the most palpable facts, obtruding themselves on our notice and opposing all our delightful expectations, impels us to inquire-whence originated the enormous mass of moral evil which burthens our world ? - what powerful auxiliaries in the human heart, are those, which present an inveterate and invariable hostility to virtue ?-why are the facilities attending the formation of vicious habits so generally, so universally predominant over what are termed by Mr. F. the “ stronger incitements to righte. ousness ?” An answer to these inquiries, if founded either on philosophical or scriptural reasonings, must, according to our views, involve an appeal 10 something fully equivalent to a con- stitutional tendency to moral evil in the present state of human nature; and though we consider this tendency as originally de. rived, yet its force is so prevalent, so inherent in the principles of intellectual and moral action, and so interwoven with our habits, presenting a constant counteraction even to the strongest religious influence, that we deem its existence, without admitting such an appeal, entirely inexplicable. We consequently resort to the doctrine of original sin, or rather de. pravity, unfashionable and obsolete as it may ap ear, because it is a well established inference, best accounting for the actual prevalence of moral evil. We have extended our remarks on this subject, because Mr. F.'s sentiments upon it are made to occupy a prominent place in all his religious publications, and are supported by a virulence of temper, and a disingenuousness of reasoning, which would render the defence of truth itself contemptible.
A writer, who can denominate an inclination to criminal in dulgences by no harsher term than an “ inconvenience,'*
thus mildly palliating that which the wisdom of God has determined to be an “abominable thing,” and “exceeding sinful,”-deserves our marked and decided reprobation. "It is with perfect consistency that such a writer advances the most degrading estimates of that peculiar system of doctrines, which Christianity has unfolded to the world. We can easily account for the defective and indefensible opinions of Mr. F., when we attribute their origin to improper views of human nature. The “ Christian religion" of our author has not one ray in all its orb, that can cheer the gloom,or dissipate the fear, of which that man will be conscious, who has compared his actual character with the scriptural standard of moral obligation. He will find in it no fitness, no adaptation to his state. It will appear to possess none of those tendencies to ameliorate the condition of a sinful being, which are requisite to inspire him with hope and consolation. A good life and reliance on the mercy of God, if we should be so unfortunate as to have committed any offences against him, form the basis of our expecta. tions, and intitle us to final glory! The constitution of a mediator, by which the opposing claims of moral government and divine clemency are adjusted and harmonised, and which is confirmed by the strongest analogical arguments, forms neither exclusively nor partially, according to Mr. F., the ground of our interest in the favour of God!
According to the profession of our author in his preface, we find little that may be called directly controversial; for no argumentation of any consequence is employed, against the reasonings of those who have defended evangelical sentiments, This profession has, at first sight, the semblance of candour ; but on further inspection it appears to be the refuge of conscious imbecility. It is much more easy to advance, than to defend an assertion, for the immense trouble of replying to objections is wisely avoided. Hence, opinions of a certain complexion, “ peculiarly interesting” to those of the author's way of thinking, can be frequently insinuated, either by incidental allusions so clear, or by omissions so glaring, as necessarily to lead the reader into conclusions conformable to the Socinian creed. Let us illustrate this remark. The " body of theology” contains several lectures on the “ necessity and excellence of the Christian religion," and the “ Crucifixion of Christ.” But in all the reasonings and speculations of our author upon these subjects, there is not one reference to the doctrine of the atonement. All the ends for which Jesus Christ came into the world are specified, except this; the perfection of his moral character, in some of its amiable developements, is clearly, and even elegantly stated; but you might imagine that this doctrine had never formed the subject of belief, much less of controversy. While such a studied omission, the disingenuous artifice of oft-confuted sophistry, indicates with sufficient clearness the peculiar sentiments of Mr. F., we are not left to this alone, in order to ascertain the insidious and hostile dispositions of that man who wishes us to believe that his theology will be 6 interesting to Christians of all denominations.” In a subsequent lecture on “ future judgement,” this is his language:
• The scriptures, teach us, in a manner too clear to be mistaken, and I should hope too forcible to be disregarded, that our future happiness de pends entirely on our progression in goodness, in the life which now is ; and that consequently instead of relying for salvation, on the imputed merits of any other person, whether man or angel, we can hope to be saved, or made happy after death, only by the good which we ourselves do in this our time of trial. Vol. I. p. 292.
And does Mr. F. imagine that a body of theology, surcharged with sentiments like this, so directly repugnant to the decisive and uniform statements of revelation, * and so opposed to the avowed belief of thousands who identify those statements with Christianity itself, can upon any principles of accommodation or concession be " interesting to Christians of all denominations ?" If he does think this, he deserves contempt for bis presumption, and commiseration for his ignorance : but this is “ cant without religion.”
In conformity with the candid disposition to interest and edify " Christians of all denominations," we find no remarks on the proper deity of Jesus Christ. This of course we expected: sufficient however is said, to prove that the “ founder of our holy religion,” in the estimation of Mr. F. was not only a mere human being, but that he possessed some of the sinful imperfections of our nature.
When tortured by the pains of crucifixion, and harrassed by multiplied indignities and insults, he exclaimed, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And this exclamatiou we may well cherish, not only as a precious instance of his humanity, but as teaching us that those infusions of distrust with which our sensations are occasionally imbued, and our hearts disturbed, are venial in themselves, provided they be not voluntarily indulged, but be combated by rational considerations and pious reflections, as soon as they arise. For however wise or good, there are probably none who are not subject to moments of sceptical inquietude' Vol. I. pp. 224, 225.
According to this “ precious instance" of philosophising, it seems that the sceptical inquietude and distrust, which we should attribute to imperfection both of knowledge and piety, are only occasional affections of the physical sensorium, the origin of which has no connexion whatever with the moral constitution of our nature. Those who happen to extend
* John xiv. 6. Acts iv. 12. 1 Cor, üi. 2. Gal. ii. 21, 22, and Ephes: ï. 4. 9.
these " moments” of doubt, to months and years, may thus account for their sensations, and feel easy. We are capable, however, of assigning other reasons for the pathetic exclamation of Jesus Christ amidst his multiplied sufferings. The intimations of the evangelical prophet that the Messiah" should make his soul an offering for sin," and that it should " please the Lord to bruise him and to put him to grief,” exactly correspond with the history of the evangelists. If this expli. cation be rejected, we would ask, upon what principles of equitable retribution, or of consistency of character, can that mental agony be accounted for, which was endured by a pure and perfect being who had not, on his own account, one recollection tinged with remorse nor one anticipation mingled with dread?
« The sufferings of the cross,” observes Mr. F.“ he, who was without sin, could not deserve; but he endured them for our benefit and example; to teach us that affliction, even of the severest kind, conduces greatly to the good of man, not only to the correction of the wicked, but to the perfectioning of the righteous." . Vol. I. p. 210. If a being, whose character is marked with moral defection, endure afflictions even of the severest kind, we can easily vindicate and admire the benevolent government of God in appointing them ; but to allot a series of exquisite sufferings to one who is “ without sin”, so that they cannot be penal, and at the termination of his life, so that they cannot be corrective, for the mere purpose of exemplifying patience and resignation, is so infinitely opposed to all rational ideas of rectitude in the plans of the Divine Being, that the terms very commonly cast on his character as revealed in scripture by Mr. Fellowes's friends, of a “capricious” and “ malignant” “ tyrant” would seem to become applicable. What being could be safe under such a government! Surely the idea of a covenanted vicarious expiation of sin, is not quite so inadmissible on “ rational" grounds, as this treasonous imputation against Divine Justice !
We have always discovered, in our investigations of the Christian economy, an intimate connexion with the Mosaic and patriarchal dispensations, and have considered the evidence in favour of the divine origin of each, as mutually confirming their separate authority. What then must have been our feelings, at meeting with the following defective and distorted representations of the Jewish system !
. In the law a multitude of observances are enjoined, which seem very little agreeable to reason*, and certainly not in the least conducive
* This impious reflection on the wisdom of God, reminds us of an admirable paper of Dr. Watts, in his “ Miscellaneous thoughts,” intitled, Divine conduct disputed and justified. Vol. VII. Works. p. 390. Leeds edition.
to holiness ; for what connection with moral improvement of life and manners had the curious distinctions of days, of meats, and drinks !” 66 It is one of the principal and most consolatory articles of the Christian dispensation, that God will pardon the past transgressions of men, on the amendment of their lives. And hence Christians are assured, that their endeavours to do the will of God, will conduce to their salvation, notwithstanding their many occasional offences. But the Jewish religion was not mingled with these refreshing notions of the efficacy of repentance. Thus, when they had done amiss, they were almost discouraged from any endeavours to do better ; sinners were led to consider their situation as desperate, and consequently to make no effort to atone for their past mis. conduct by their future reformation." Vol. I. pp. 165—167.
. Never did we witness more palpable and criminal ignorance of the entire scope and design of divine' revelation, than is discovered in these statements. Whatever be Mr. F.'s opinions concerning the origin and authority of the Mosaic dispensation, it is contrary to positive facts to assert, that the conviction of guilt was alleviated by no hopes of pardon, and associated with no desires of amendment. For what end were all the varieties of sacrificial rites appointed, and the most significant emblems of a future expiation, deriving all their value and efficacy from this important reference, so devoutly regarded ?. Why did Jesus Christ, whom as a teacher Mr. F. professes highly to revere, so often assert the agreement of his designs with the law of Moses, attributing their harmony and coincidence to the same divine constitution, of which both dispensations were essential parts? But we have found out that the instructions of Christ himself, notwithstanding all the sounding eulogiums of Mr. F., are received only so far as they are accordant with his rational deductions, and precon. ceived hypotheses. We could easily illustrate this remark by a citation of numerous passages in the volumes before us, but the length to which our strictures have already extended must limit our observations to one striking, and almost novel instance of disregard to the plainest assertions of scripture.
The instance to which we allude respects the doctrine of the resurrection of the body and a future judgement. Mr. F. attempts to establish, by the usual arguments, the immateriality of the human mind. In a clear and interesting manner he proves, that though the connexion between the phenomena of thought and material organization intimate the necessity of that organization, in order to the acquisition and develope. ment of our ideas, yet that their future existence and combinations by no means necessarily require the continuance of that connexion. Having established this point, he assumes without proof the opinion, that consciousness, which appears to us to be nothing more than a certain affection of the. mind, invariably associated with the exercise of self-reflec