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offspring, as His character is more holy than evil men. Here we cannot mistake. Here is an appeal to facts. "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or, if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matt. vii. 9—11.)
Now there is one objection, which merits our especial consideration: There are some evil men who, notwithstanding they give bread to their children, never ask the Deity to give them any thing. Or, in other words, they never pray to God. The inference is, that it does not follow from the premises laid down by Jesus Christ, that, because God will give good things to those who ask Him for the good things, He will also give good things to those who never ask Him for any thing, either good, bad, or indifferent. To this objection I reply-The whole data from which we are bound to select our premises, has been furnished by Jesus Christ; and consists of the imagery introduced by him in his Sermon on the mount. The facts, as exhibited by Jesus Christ, and on which the whole subject rests, are only two in number, with their necessary correlatives. Viz: God is good, men are evil. But the imagery shows the relation which is the hinge on which the whole argument turns. God is not spoken of as an Infinite Being, and men as men, in the abstract sense of those terms. God is spoken of as the Father— men, as fathers of their offspring. The whole weight of Christ's argument rests on one simple fact, viz: God is the Father of men His offspring. That is, the relation that God has caused, and proclaimed to men by His Son Jesus Christ, is the great Truth. But it is also true, that the Great Father of men, is the only living and true God; and He is good. The goodness of God is infinite in all possible respects; whether considered abstractly as an attribute of an Infinite Being, or in its exercise, as respects the relation that exists; by which relation, God is the Father of all His sentient offspring. And the evil men, they are introduced as fathers, and only in this relation does the imagery admit of their doing any thing that is not like themselves, evil also. It is to this amount, Ye evil men, who, as men, do nothing but evil, will, as fathers, when your children beseech you, give bread to your children. This act of evil men, which is excepted as not
evil, is not set down to their credit as evil men, but to that relation of father which God the great Father has caused. This, reader, is the only correct view of the subject, as Jesus Christ has exhibited it. Now what is the only possible inference, or logical deduction from Christ's premises? Ans.-That even evil men, when fathers, will do acts of kindness, and be merciful to their children.
Now, reader, look at the objection: Let us apply the objection in all its force to evil men; for if evil men ever give bread to their children, at any time when not importuned by their children for bread, the objection dies a natural death. I should insult the reader's perceptive powers, were I to add another word of proof or illustration, on this particular of our subject.
There are certain ideas elicited by the consideration of our subject, which I will very briefly notice. God's sentient offspring, the ktisis, or kosmos, have no sex, save the ephemeral distinction which belongs to their bondage to corruption. Hence the relation of father, and of mother, will cease for ever with the state where corruption bound them. One Great Father of all, will be recognised, and alone worshipped; for He will be all and in all. The relation of Father, therefore, is only correctly appreciated when seen as existing from eternity in God's purpose, and to eternity in God's character; the great family of the earthly Adam, being raised in the image of the second Man, acknowledging no Father but God. The Scriptures generally, and of necessity, speak of man in the aggregate, without reference to sex, or to the relation that results from sexes in this world, as the ktisis creation, or kosmos world, mankind universally. But the relation that is recognised by the Scriptures, and applied to God, as a legitimate appellation, is that of FATHER; and, in fact, it can belong to no other being in the universe. It is certainly very remarkable, that in the only passage in the whole Scriptures, where the relation of mother has been recognised as standing in opposition to God's character of Father, the relation is inferred, &c. See Isa. xlix. 15. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion ?" &c. The prophet's affirmation is positive-"Yea, they may forget." But, on the part of God the FATHER, it is said, "Yet will I not forget thee." And in Psa. ciii. 13, "Like as a FATHER pitieth his children so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”
There is one case of inhumanity on record, where a woman has been worse than evil men, which should be handed down to the latest posterity, that generation after generation may execrate it. RICHARD SAVAGE, a poet, was born in London in 1698. He was the illegitimate son of the countess of Macclesfield. This wretch not only renounced her son at his birth, and procured a low condition for her offspring, to ensure his subsequent misfortune, but she persecuted him with the cruelty of a demon. And when condemned to death, for having accidentally killed a man, this monster in human shape, endeavoured to intercept the royal mercy. His biographer, however, says, that poor SAVAGE received a pardon, and a pension from the Queen. The wickedness of this woman can be measured. Who can measure the cruelty of Calvin's god? who created millions of sentient creatures, for the express purpose of tormenting them eternally !*
If any thing is certain in Theology, it must appear to the eye of reason, that the relation of things, is as certain as the laws of gravity. The particular relation we have considered, viz: that of Father, must be qualified by the character or attributes of the being who sustains the relation; whether it be evil men, or the Great and only true God. But, be it remembered, the woman who forgets, and forsakes her sucking child, is a woman, and a very bad woman, still-she is not a mother. The evil man, who should give his children a stone, instead of bread, or a serpent, instead of a fish, for food; would be an evil man, notwithstanding. Would such an one sustain the character or relation of father? No. A being of infinite power and knowledge, who should create sentient beings, and doom them to endless and indescribable misery and wo, would not cease to be an infinite being, so far as infinite power and knowledge are in question; but such a being would not sustain the character or relation of father, for the simple and conclusive reason, that he would be a destroyer, and not a father! A man may be as Adam Clarke has defined an evil man, "diabolically depraved," but so long as he gives his children bread and fish, instead of stones and serpents to eat, he sustains, in a measurable sense, the character or relation of father. And this is
* I am desirous that the reader, of either sex, shall not mistake my meaning. A woman, however evil she may be, that sustains the rela tion of mother, will, most assuredly, give bread to her children; and succour them in a precise ratio with the relation in question..
But if a man should act toward his offspring contrary to the relation that actually exists, such an act would not be retributive. The relation that exists, determines the quality of the act. There are various evil passions. Envy, malice, revenge, hatred, and the long list of correlative evils. But all these are incompatible with the character or relation of father. Zealots and fanatics who traduce the character of the God of love, destroy the character or relation of father; and substitute an inexorable judge, whom they describe as unmerciful, and armed with fury and vengeance. The greatest ignoramus that spouts fire and fury in the orthodox ranks, begins his tale of absurdity and falsehood, by denying the most essential truths of Christ's gospel; and affirming the rankest error for a substitute. Even such an one can appreciate the relation of things so far, as to imagine an absurdity. Therefore, the character of God is first depreciated, and then God's purposes and acts are made to follow suit. In this manner, one error is fitted to suit another error, until the picture is complete, and a mon ster is palmed upon the ignorant, for the only true God.
If we hearken to the voice of reason, the truth is attained by an easy effort. Retributive justice is seen in its true light, only when it is viewed through the medium of the actual relations of things. Any act to be retributive, must be in kind, and in a perfect harmony with truth. The truth, is the real condition of things, considered in their proper relations, whether matter or mind be the subjects of inquiry, or men the patients. In the concerns of life, many things may be referred to as imagery for the illustration of this subject. But it is only in the relation of things, that truth can be discovered. The act of the officer of the law, which deprives a criminal of life, is retributive; when the same act, as respects the party who is the actor, if another man, and with another motive, shall perform it, is not retributive, but is criminal. A surgeon's act, which deprives a man of a member of his body, is an act of retribution. But the act of the malicious man, who mutilates his fellow-man, is not retributive, but criminal and wrong. It is the relation between the law, and the criminal condemned by the law, that makes the act of the law's representative, in the person of the officer that executes the law on the offender, retributive. And it is the relation that is seen between humanity and VOL. II.-4
suffering humanity, that makes the representative of humanity, in the person of the surgeon, perform an act of retribution, when he amputates the gangrenous limb, and relieves the patient of an evil that threatened protracted suffering, or certain death. Destroy these relations, and the officer is a murderer, and the surgeon a villain. Destroy the relation that exists between the evil man and the child, and he may give a stone instead of bread, and his act is retributive; that is, the act is in kind, and in character with the actor. The measure is the relation. The Legislature of New York decides on weights and measures. These weights and measures, constitute the relation that subsists between buyers and sellers. The law, therefore, regards men criminal or innocent, precisely as they shall govern themselves by these relations, in their intercourse with each other. And this is retribution.
The doctrine of reward and punishment, is, unquestionably, the doctrine of the Scriptures. It is founded on the relation of things; and is never just nor merciful, unless it exists in a perfect harmony with the relations that God hath caused to exist. Moses, of old, preached the doctrine of reward and punishment. But he preached present reward and punishment. The prophets, from the time of Moses to the coming of Jesus Christ, preached the same doctrine. This doctrine has its foundation in the relations which God's laws have created. I mean all the laws of God, which govern matter and motion; and also the laws which teach and define a correct system of ethics. The ritual law, which was limited, in its appli cation, to the nation of the Jews, and for a time, had an especial reference to relations of a peculiar kind, and was not general, or common to all nations. No man, however great may have been his pretensions, has yet been able to put his finger on a single new law, whose penalties have no respect to the relation of things in this world, and whose retribution extends beyond the grave, into another and a future state of existence.
When the great Teacher, Jesus Christ, came, he said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." We learn, therefore, from Jesus Christ, that the relation of things was not altered, neither should be altered or affected by his coming. And reason and common sense will teach every man, who is capable of understanding, that