Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

am unicquainted with, my confidence in the divine character is such, that I make myself entirely easy. I desire no man to say more.

I will I could obtain a clear and correct idea of what Mr. S. means by the greatest posible quantity of happiness. Whether he means, the greatest quan. tity of happiness enjoyed by the intelligent universe, Creator and creatures; or by all intelligent creatures; or by the human kind only; is not clear. It appears to me that clear and distinct ideas here will be spe. cially serviceable in our inquiries.

Mr. S. l'ays, that, by the expressions public good, general good, the good, or glory, or blessedness of the whole, “ are meant the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and his holy intelligent kingdom ;” and he adds, “ this eminently comprizes the glory and blessedness of God.” In p. 109, he says, « They also suppose, on the testimony which God hath given of what he will do, that those who argue against a future punishment, however awful it may be to individuals, or however honest the ymay feel to themselves, are oppoging the best, the greatest, and the eternal interests of God and his kingdom," .

· As we shall foon find that Mr. S. conGiders the di. vine benevolence to be, a constant and invariable re. gard to the greatest good or happiness, of the intel. lectual system ; and that this greatest good, or hap. piness, of the intellectual system may be preserved, though multitudes of intellectual creatures be eter. nally miserable : nay, farther, that this supreme good,

OY

or happiness, may be promoted and advanced by the eternal misery of millions of human beings : it becomes absolutely necessary, that we most accurately fix and ascertain some just ideas of the gregiet quantity of happinefs in the intellectual system,

If, by the greatest possible quautity of bappiness Mr. S. means, the greatest public or general good, the greatest glory, or blessedness of the whole, which, he says, means, the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and his holy intelligent kingdom ; then we have obtained his ideas. Now, then, we may proceed one step farther. This greatest glory and blessed. ness of God, and his holy, intelligent kingdom, Mr. S. says, may congst with the eternal misery of india viduals, be promoted by it, and, farther still, that this eternal misery is a necessary mean of producing it. Take his own words. “We may therefore be assured, that the infinitely benevolent, all-wise and all-powerful God, will eternally execute such a gov. ernment, as will make blessedness in the universe the greatest that is possible. It is doubtless on this principle, that he hath admitted moral and natural evil into his government, Not because he delights in either sin or mifery ; or views them as good in their own nature ; but because they are the necessary means of producing the greatest good.' Mr. S. and the public will permit me, in character of examiner, to be critical, whilft I am candid. I folemnly declare that I have no interest to serve, in this examination, but that of truth, The glory of God and the good of mankind are my motive. I

propose propose the following, as a general method of procedure, in this examination ; first, to state, clearly and fairly, the meaning of my author; fecondly, to ex. amine his opinions, and conGder whether they are true or false ; if false, then, thirdly, to present the public with what I consider to be truth,

We have, already, I think, discovered Mr. S.'s ideas of the greatest quantity of happiness. It is the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom. And Mr. S. affirms that fin and misery are the neceflary means of pro. ducing this greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom. • That we may have his whole system in one view, we will now endeavor to obtain Mr. S.'s ideas of the divine benevolence.

Mr. S. says, p. 109, “ One of three things must certainly be true. Either ist. That God is not a benevolent being.--Or adly. God hath not been a. ble to prevent misery.-Or zdly. Infinite benevalence is consistent with the existence of misery, and this is doubtless the truth. 2. Benevolence is confiftent with immediately appointing and producing misery.".

In p. 110, he says, “It appears that the following things are true concerning benevolence : First, That it is a love of the greatest quantity of happiness. Secondly, that it is consistent with the existence of misery, and with being the instrument of executing it. Thirdly, that it has regard to the greatest quan

tity of happiness in society, and not to the happiness of every individual. Benevolence, thus defired, is that goodness or holiness, which directs the fupreme God in creating, governing, and rewarding."

Mr. S. Itill farther illustrating his definition of divine benevolence, observes, p. 110. “The good of the whole or the greatest happiness of intellectual being, is the object of benevolence.” Again, p. 111. “ The happiness of every individual, and the greate eft happiness of the whole, are confiderations entirely separate ; and the banevolence of God will choose the latter. A regard to the happiness of the whole, is the very thing which diftinguishes benevolence from selfishness. It is the important criterion of distinction, and the whole which makes the difference between holiness and unholiness. It appears therefore that those, who attempt to reconcile the present misery of individuals with the goodness of God, by saying, he will make it the means of increase ing their future happiness, so as to compensate for present suffering, have entirely departed from the nature of benevolence, and are judging of the dispensations of God, on the principles of selfishness. A benevolence limited by the law of individual happiness, is so far from the true benevolence of God, and of holy creatures, and from making all creatures blessed in its operation : that it is not holiness, neither can it ever give perfect happiness to any mind. There is no middle way between selbfhness and a fupreme regard to the good and glory of God and his kingdom.”

We

We have now, perhaps, made quotations enough for the present purpose ; and may proceed to collect and present, in one view, our author's ideas, both of the greatest possible quantity of happiness; and of the divine benevolence. The greatest possible quantity of happiness, is the greatest pub.ic or general good; or the greatest good of the whole ; or the greatest glo. ry and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom. This greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom, consists with the eternal misery of individuals are promoted by this misery--yea, Gin and misery are the necessary means of producing the greatest glory and blefledness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom !!

The divine benevolence con Gifts in loving the greatest possible quantity of happiness; or in maintaining a supreme and inviolable attachment to his own greatest glory and bleil dness, and to the greatest glory and blessedness of his holy intelligent kingdom ; or in loving, and taking fupreme delight in that glory and that blessedness, which are not promoted only, but necessarily produced, by fin and misery !!!

The picture is shocking! It is dreadful!! I tru. ly pity every reader, who is not absolutely divested of every spark of piety and humanity. The feelings of every pious and humane foul must be intolerably wounded by such a representation of the ever glo. rious God ; the Father and the Friend of all his crea tures. The groftest and most corrupt falfhood must

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »