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capacity enables him to understand the law, of which God is the Author.
The next step, therefore, in pursuance of the illustration of this hypothesis, is, to compare it with the account of the introduction of sin, as it is learned from the Scriptures of truth. If there be an agreement, we may rely on our system as being correct in principle, however numerous and plausible the objections against it, or feeble our abilities to stand in its defence. If it essentially disagree with that account, we must, as Christians, abandon it at once.
The reader is requested to open his Bible, and carefully read the 2d and 3d chapters of Genesis, and candidly judge of them so far as relates to the introduction of sin. The account appears to be this :
After man was formed of the dust of the ground, he remained innocent, to say the least, till he was influenced to transgress the command of his Maker. His capability of knowing “ good and evil,” preceded that knowledge; and the knowledge of right and wrong existed previous to his sin. And further; when his Maker prohibited the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, man possessed no moral character ; that is, we are not informed that he was either virtuous or vicious, obedient or disobedient.
Even after the formation of Eve, they were both innocent and unsuspicious as the lambs of the field. When the Serpent (whatever it may represent) attempted to seduce the sinless Eve, she candidly opposed the temptation, by a recurrence to the prohibition of her God; which was a moral act ; that is, an act in reference to the command of a Superior. This shows that she was capable of understanding the prohibition, of comparing it with the temptation, and of relating her views to the seducer; and that she knew it was right to obey, and wrong to disobey. Had the case been different, she would not have related to the Serpent, the liberty granted, and the interdiction enjoined, by her Maker. To succeed in the temptation, the Serpent did not deny what Eve knew, and had so accurately stated ; but availed himself of the argument, that by a participation of the forbidden tree, she would know still more ; and, not only be conscious of right and wrong, “but be as gods, knowing good and evil;" that is, the effects of virtue and
vice. The deception did not consist in being blinded concerning the moral character of the deed, but, in relation to the consequences which would follow. Persuaded that the tree was good for food, pleasant, and to be desired to make one wise, she did eat.' Hence she was so far deceived as to see the good and desirable qualities, without discovering the evil. The moment the command was violated, the evil was realized, in a measure. The difference between the moral virtue of resisting the temptation, by referring to God's command, and the vice of yielding to it, formed a woful contrast. Guilt, shame, condemnation and fear of death, of which nothing before was known, were the consequence. Conscious of what was required and what forbid
upon the brief plan which was revealed, the first act of disobedience formed a sinful character. This account harmonizes with the experience of mankind in general. The first act for which we recollect of feeling condemned, was the effect of a similar deception ; but not of our ignorance of what was right or wrong, in relation to the requirement transgressed. We may be sorry for doing mischief, through ignorance ; but not guilty. We indulge ourselves in the commission of sins, after we have the knowledge of good and evil, or the rewards of virtue and vice, under the deceptive expectation of escaping the consequences.
This doctrine agrees with the scriptures of the New-Testament. “For where no law is, there is no transgression." Rom. 4. 15. “ Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." I. John 3. 4. “The Gentiles-having not the law, are a law upto themselves.” Rom. 3. 14. "The law was added because of transgression,” of a previous law. A knowledge of the requirement is indispensable to its violation. To commit an infinite sin, infinite obligations must be imposed, which cannot be, without infinite abilities, knowledge and means. To require an infant to exhibit the ingenuity, which would do honor to the meridian talents of a Franklin, is more consistent with justice, than to demand of worms of the dust, obedience to a law, infinitely above their capacity. It would require a miracle to make a rational being amenable to a law, which he never had the means of understanding. From which the inference is unavoidable, that sin, properly so
ealled, is the violation of what we know is right, just or reasonable ; and the first such act, is the first sin ; previous to which, that being was not a sinner. Therefore, we are not sinners by nature, properly speaking ; but sinners by
“ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."
UNDERSTANDEST THOU WHAT THOU READEST?
The Missionary Cause has excited great attention both in Europe and America, and has been patronized by some of the greatest and best of men, as well as those of an opposite character. Confident that we misunderstand the principal object of the Societies, or that the measures adopted are premature and preposterous, we take this method to ascertain facts, that we may co-operate with our brethren, in the promotion of every benevolent and well-timed enterprise.
In reading the sermons, addresses, reports, letters, and miscellaneous intelligence of the day, concerning the Missionary Cause, we are led to form this conclusion; viz. That the writers mean to be understood, that these Societies are formed for the Salvation of immortal souls, who would forever perish but for the interposition of Christians : That all the Heathens, Jews and Mahometans that do not enjoy the benefits of Christianity in this life, and meet with a saving change before death, will be forever miserable in hell. And also that those Colleges which they found in foreign lands, the sermons which they preach and prayers they offer, prevent the future endless wretchedness of those for whom Christ died.
We should proceed to prove by their express words that we have correctly understood them, but we presume no man will need such proof. They go so far as to state the probable number of dollars and cents, that will be adequate to the salvation of an immortal soul. Now as this is not making “merchandise of you,” would it not be well to press the question, “ Understandest thou what thou read
Does the hearer understand his minister when he uses such language as the following ? 6. The silver and gold which you now contribute to the support of this Insti
tution (Bangor) will come into remembrance in the day of judgment, and be the means of increasing your glory in the regions of the blest. Yes, I repeat it, those who have been redeemed from eternal perdition by your silver and gold, will hail you, in heaven, as their benefactors on earth, and ascribe their deliverance from hell to your faithfulness, zeal and liberality. How much ought you then do, for the salvation of those souls that will be required at our hands, at the last day ?" To say nothing of the careless and indifferent manner in which these things are read from the pulpit, and the little impression they make on our feelings, shall we not seriously inquire, whether we really understand them? Would it not be well to open our eyes, at least, and ask the pious Doctor, “ Understandest thou Dr., what thou readest? Dost thou mean to teach us, that silver and gold will save inmortal souls, for whom Jesus died ?" Let us propose a few sober and important questions.
1. Do they mean that the millions who have died in Heathen lands, without an opportunity of believing, will perish forever
2. Do they really believe God had an elect number among them, that will suffer forever, that might have been saved by Missionary labors ?
3. But if he had no elect ones in the Heathen nations, in ages past, of what avail would it have been to send them Missionaries?
4. Which part do they expect to redeem from endless misery, the chosen, or reprobates ?
5. Is there the least danger that the elect will be finally lost, or the least possibility for the non-elect to be saved ?
6. Could all the saints on earth or in heaven save one of them, who, God foreknew would be miserable; or can all the powers of darkness prevent the salvation of them, he designed to save ?
We solicit direct answers to these important questions.
When it is made incontrovertibly evident, that any means which we can use can prevent the endless sufferings of a fellow-being, shall we be found drowsy and indifferent ! 0 merciful God! 0 Jesus of Nazareth ! Has the salvation of immortals been neglected in Heaven, and left to the liberality of sinful worms, and shall we also be indifferent ? No!
pather would we rush to their relief, by selling all we possess; or grasping our all, leap into the “Missionary Box,” exclaiming,
“ Here, Lord, I give myself away
'Tis all that I can do !" Let us all be burnt as heretics, if when we are convinced our silver and gold would redeem one soul from endless misery, we would not bestow the whole; or, even as gladly leap into an ocean of flames to grasp and save one soul, as do the most zealous Missionaries embark for India, or“ sail” at home, on the stormless“ Missionary ocean," of which “ every cent,” contributed for Missionary purposes, “is a precious drop," and the annual income of each society, a
Let the tongue cleave to the roof of our mouth, if with those sentiments, we should so preach (read) that the doctrine of hell-flames should freeze on our lips, or fall in flakes on the heads of a drowsy audience!
MR. STREETER :
Though I do not belong to your meeting nor often find it convenient or proper to hear you preach, yet, I have faithfully read the numbers of your publication, and to my gieat satisfaction. As I have expressed my opinion of the work to some of my friends, they have desired to read for themselves; and even among those of the greatest tenacity, the only real objection to it, is, that you “say nothing of conviction, conversion and reformations ;" and as these things are uniformly held up, in the New Testament, as essential to the Christian profession, they conclude you reject them. They would be willing to own you as a Christian, if you confessed and maintained these points. Now, Rev. Sir, I would suggest the propriety of devoting a part of your paper to an illustration of those subjects. Knowing that the New Testament is full of thein, nor doubting your belief of that Book, I have ventured to oppose my friends, almost to altercation, and assert your assent to conviction, &c. By condescending to notice this, you will render your pamphlet more interesting and useful and confer a real
favor on your