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religious prosperity ;-if ever the blessing of Christianity should bring all its benign and renovating energies to bear upon this our fallen world, it must be preceded by the dissolution of this fatal charm; and fatalism, under
every form and in every attire, must be entirely expunged from the creed of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. Then, the Sun of Righteousness will arise upon the poles of the moral world ;—the barriers of eternal frost will be broken up ;--solifidian avalanches that have for ages been raising their proud summits to the skies, will warm and melt, and drop and disappear for ever ;-- dreary deserts of perpetual snow will cast off their pale windingsheet of death, and be clothed with the green vesture of eternal fertility and joy;—the stagnant sea will break through his hoary incrustation, and lift up his roaring voice in peals of eternal praise. All nature will join in the universal chorus, “ Hellelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth !”
But finally, the doctrine of eternal prescience is as barren of mental deduction as it is of moral and religious inducement: it is as incapable of imparting any profit to the human intellect, as it is of communicating any moral or religious good to the heart. It has no relation whatever to any art or science, or any branch of literature;—it has no bearing upon any duty or enjoyment of life ;—there is no possibility of educing from it any kind of improvement, for any single faculty of the human mind :-it presents no field for the luxuriations of the fancy, or the sportive sallies of wit and humour.--Here are no profundities for the soundings of investigation, nor are there any data for the calculations of chance, or the arithmetical process of numbers:-here are no logical premises, and here are no logical conclusions :—the subject does not contain a single atom of material for the employment of the synthetical or analytical
powers of the human mind. It would defy the most active, the most creative, the most luxuriant fancy, to give any rational, or even any tangible form to the doctrine of eternal prescience. It is total and unqualified insigni
ncy itself;—it is an object of legitimate and unmingled contempt.
I therefore appeal to the common sense of mankind :I appeal to the human conscience :-I appeal to the mora
intuitions of the human heart :-and I appeal in the name of that Being, who teaches us, that all Scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, and instruction in righteousness : --and I ask, Why will men retain in their creed, what they will reject as being unfit for public inculcation? And how can people dignify, with the epithet of orthodox Christianity, a miserable and contemptible dogma, from which no person on the face of the earth, is able to deduce either motive or instruction, or is able to apply it to any rational or salutary purpose whatever ?
The doctrine of the Nunc Stans, or the notion of unsuccessive existence, is
perfectly unintelligible, and as inconsistent with sound reason, as it is with the plain and unsophisticated meaning of the holy Scriptures.
The popular notion, that the existence, and consequently the acts and the knowledge of the Deity, are inaugmentable and unsuccessive, is one of the most irrational figments that was ever produced by the human fancy; and this
speculative delusion is the sole consequence of confounding the notion of universal existence, with that of an eternal continuity of being, or to speak in plain and popular terms, of confounding every where with always.
Were it not that people are generally under the strong prejudices of education, and the implicit influence of an erroneous theology, it would be intuitively evident to the understanding of every man, that neither the purposes nor the actions nor the knowledge of the Deity, can be possibly all of the same date. The creation and the deluge, the exodus of the ancient Israelites, and the incarnation of the Son of God were successive in their actual occurrence, and must therefore be as successive in the annals of eternity, as in the history of mankind; nor would it be in the power of Omnipotence to render them either coeval or coexistent.
The Deity must of necessity have resolved to create the first human pair, and must have actually created them, before he could have executed his purpose, and before he could have even formed his purpose of expelling them from the garden of Eden; and he must certainly have expelled them from that happy place long before the deluge; and he must have brought the deluge upon the earth long before he delivered the ancient Israelites, and drowned Pharaoh and the Egyptians in the Red Sea ; and he must have
brought out the Israelites from Egypt long before he sent his incarnate Son into the world to redeem mankind. The before-mentioned events have actually taken place already, and therefore they must be past occurrences both in relation to God and in relation to all other beings. But the general resurrection of the dead, although it has been predicted, and, as we believe, absolutely and infallibly predicted, has not yet actually transpired. That solemn event, being future in its actual occurrence, cannot possibly be at this moment, either a present or a past event, either to the Deity or to any other being. Why, I ask,—why will people suffer themselves to be enslaved by the exorbitant and unlimited demands of an implicit credulity? How long will it be before mankind will be convinced that christian faith cannot possibly be at variance with human reason? If I am to believe that events may be past in their actual occurrence, and present to the Divine mind, or that they may be future in their actual occurrence, and present to the Divine mind; and that, in short, there is no past or future with the Deity, but that all occurrences, as well in the history of the Divine existence, as in that of created beings, are to him of the same date and the same duration; I must have a credulity that nothing could choke, a mental gullet that would admit the entire mountain of Kimboraso from its apex to its base, and would swallow at one single gulp all the congregated waters of the sea. Let me ask my reader, whether it
not at this very moment, to-day, and not to-morrow, with the Deity as it is with ourselves? Does not the present moment identify the same point of duration in the existence of God, as it does in my own existence? And must not all coincidence and coexistence between the Deity and created beings be as successive in relation to the one as they are in relation to the other? Did not the Deity exist during the mortal probation of Adam, and does he not now coexist with reader and myself? And is it possible to identify those distant points of duration with one and the same moment, either in relation to the existence of the Deity or in relation to that of his creatures? If the Deity and myself had a coexistence yesterday, and have a coexistence to-day, would it be possible for the coexistence of yesterday and that of to-day to be successive in relation to myself and
unsuccessive in relation to the Almighty ? According to the theory of unsuccessive existence, although the Deity actually lived along with Adam, and now lives along with my reader and myself, yet he could not have lived along with Adam before he lived along with us, neither does he live along with us after having lived along with Adam ; but he must have lived with Adam and lives with us both at the same undivided moment of present being.
An eternal now, is perhaps one of the most contradictory, absurd, and silly phrases that the claims of an implicit credulity ever wrung from the lips of credulous and unwary mortals. An eternal now? What is the meaning of now? or present time? A mere chronological point, an indivisible quantity of duration; or such a portion of durasion as precludes all succession. The term now, cannot apply to any measurable quantity of duration, and much less to any immeasurable quantity of duration ; but the difficulty of measuring now arises from its minitude, while the difficulty of measuring for ever arises from its magnitude. Such are the absurdities into which people are betrayed when they confound minitude with magnitude, indivisible quantities with inaugmentable quantities, and a point of duration that excludes all succession, with an eternal continuity of duration that excludes alike a beginning and an end.
It has been strangely conceived, that as an infinite being must occupy at once all the infinitude of an unbounded expansion, an eternal being must occupy at once, and in one indivisible point of duration, all the infinite continuity of an eternal existence : whereas every person's unsophisticated common sense would tell him, that all which can possibly be implied in an infinite and eternal existence, may be easily expressed in these intelligible words, Living every where at once, and living every where for ever.
But to talk of living always in one indivisible point of present duration, which is the notion of unsuccessive existence, is to talk unintelligibly, and to assert what no man living is able either to explain or to understand. If such a proposition does not involve a gross absurdity, I will defy the objector to make out a case that would involve an absurdity. A mind that would be able to conceive of eternal duration compressed within the limits of an indivisible chronological