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so palpably inconsistent with the practical tenor of his writings, might have answered him with the question, What mean the breakers on that reef? What is that destiny in the life to come, from which guilt cannot be dissevered ?
And he may be answered now, in Foster's own language, taken from his earlier work on the Importance of Religion, with a positive answer in the shape of a returning question : “ The question comes to you, whether you can deliberately judge it better to carry forward a corrupt nature, uncorrected, untransformed, unreclaimed to God, into the future state, WHERE IT MUST BE MISERABLE, than to undergo whatever severity is indispensable in the process of true religion, which would prepare you for a happy eternity. Re· flect that you are every day practically answering the question. Can it be that you are answering it in the affirmative? Do I really see before me the rational being who in effect avows :-I cannot, will not, submit to such a discipline, though in refusing it and resisting it, I renounce an infinite and eternal good, and consign myself to PERDITION ?”
He may be answered with another sentence, taken from the same powerful work of Mr. Foster, and applied by Foster himself, as the final answer to those who question the truth of that “appalling estimate of future ruin,” presented by the evangelical religious doctrine :--an answer which the writer himself would have done well to put up in characters of fire over his own entrance to the consideration of the subject :-“ We have only to reply, that, as he has not yet seen the world of retribution, HE IS TO TAKE HIS ESTIMATE OF ITS AWARDS FROM THE DECLARATION OF HIM, WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE, AND THAT IT IS AT HIS PERIL HE ASSUMES TO ENTERTAIN ANY OTHER.”
Here we rest. This single sentence contains a wisdom that quite sets aside Mr. Foster's whole letter on the subject of Divine Penalty. God only knows the retributions of eternity, and it is at our peril that we assume to entertain any other estimate of them, than that which his words distinctly reveal.
We cannot better close our notices of this subject, and of these intensely interesting volumes, than by quoting two of the remarks in Mr. Foster's Journal, numbered 321 and 323.
“ We are, as to the grand system and series of God's government, like a man who, confined in a dark room, should observe through a chink in the wall, some large animal pacing by ;-he sees but an extremely small strip of the animal at once as it passes by, and is utterly unable to form an idea of the size, proportions, or shape of it.”
“ How dangerous to defer those momentous reformations, which conscience is solemnly preaching to the heart. If they are neglected, the difficulty and indisposition are increasing every month. The mind is receding, degree after degree, from the warm and hopefulzone, till at last it will enter the arctic circle, and become fixed in relentless and eternal ice."
Out of the first three hundred articles in this Journal, prepared with great care by Mr. Foster's own hand, only twenty-eight have been published; of the others, likewise, many are omitted. We cannot conceive the reason for this procedure. It would seem proper to have published the whole of the Journal; it will be strange indeed, if it be not demanded by the earnest desire to know all that can be known of the mental and spiritual processes of so remarkable a mind. Appended to these volumes are some deeply interesting notices of Mr. Foster, as a preacher and companion, by John Sheppard, author of Thoughts on Devotion, and other productions.
We have spoken of that delightful trait in Mr. Foster's noble nature,—his childlike ingenuousness. There was in him a striking combination of simplicity of purpose, independence, originality, and fearlessness of human opinion. Now if he had possessed, along with these qualities, a greater degree of wisdom in practical judgment, we believe we should have seen in the memorials of his biography more of positive faith, and less of the workings of anxious disquieting, and sometimes agonizing doubt. There are seasons of doubt and darkness in Christian experience, which man should keep from man, and carry only to God. He should keep them, not because he fears the tribunal of human opinion, but fears to add what may be the wrongfulness of his own state of mind to the sum of error and unbelief in the world. He should cease from man, and wait patiently upon God for light, because he loves his fellow beings, and is unwilling by his own uncertainties, which may spring from he knows not how many evil influences, to run the hazard of balancing their uncertainty on the wrong side. It is no part of a childlike ingenuousness to give utterance always to whatever may perplex the soul in its conflicts with the powers of darkness.
The admirable constitution of the mind of Robert Hall in reference to this subject has been developed by Mr. Foster himself in his own original and forcible style. In that part of his remarks on Mr. Hall's character as a preacher, he has alluded to the peculiar tendency in some minds to brood over the shaded frontier of awful darkness on the borders of our field of knowledge. " There are certain mysterious phenomena," says he, “in the moral economy of our world, which compel, and will not release, the attention of a thoughtful mind, especially if of a gloomy constitutional tendency. Wherever it turns, it still encounters their portentous aspect; often feels arrested and fixed by them as under some potent spell ; making an effort, still renewed, and still unavailing, to escape from the appalling presence of the vision.” Mr. Foster is here evidently disclosing something of the habit of his own experience. He was longing to have the oppression upon his mind alleviated; and he thought that the strenuous deliberate exertion of a power of thought like Mr. Hall's, after he had been so deeply conversant with important and difficult speculations, might perhaps have contributed something towards such an alleviation. But even Mr. Hall could have effected nothing of this nature for a mind which would not exercise a childlike faith. Carry, our knowledge up to the last point to which the strongest mind ever created could advance it, and there is still the same need of faith,contented, quiet, submissive faith. And how is faith ever to be tried, how can it be proved that it is the faith of an humble and submissive mind, except in the midst, or on the border of great difficulties?
Mr. Foster speaks, almost with a feeling of disappointment, of that peculiarity in Mr. Hall's mental character, by which he appeared " disinclined to pursue any inquiries beyond the point where substantial evidence fails. He seemed content to let it remain a terra incognita, till the hour that puts an end to conjecture.” We confess we see a deep wisdom and beauty in this trait of character. It was wrought into Mr. Hall's constitution not by nature only, but by the power of grace divine. And the more the soul is absorbed with the known realities of our being, and the overwhelming importance of what is clearly revealed of our destiny in the world to come, the more anxious it will be to press that knowledge, the more unwilling to distract the attention from it by the pursuit of doubt and inquisitive speculation, and the more content to leave the obscure and the mysterious to the hour when we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known. “My efforts," said Mr. Foster, in his journal, " to enter into possession of the vast world of moral and metaphysical truth, are like those of a mouse attempting to gnaw through the door of a granary.” It was also a curious remark which he made, that “one object of life should be to accumulate a great number of grand questions to be asked and resolved in Eternity." Inquisitive wonderer in the presence of mysterious and incomprehensible truth! Art thou now in a world, where faith is no longer needed? Or do the answers that in the light of eternity, the light of Heaven, have burst upon thy redeemed spirit, only render neces sary a still higher faith, and prepare thee for its undoubting, beatific, everlasting exercise ?
· ARTICLE II.
HUMAN JUSTICE; OR, GOVERNMENT A MORAL POWER.
By Prof. Tayler Lewis, LL.D., New York University. We propose to examine the true nature of Human Justice. In doing so, we mnaintain, 1st, That government is a moral, as well as an economical power,-the term political being employed as embracing both departments; 2d, That morality is something absolute, or an end in itself, to be sought and upheld for its own sake; 3d, That unless morality is thus upheld and regarded as an end in the punishment of crime, the State will fail in accomplishing even the economical purposes for which it is designed ; And 4th, That government, being a moral power, is, on this account, a Divine institute, with Divine sanctions, a proposition which can be most abundantly demonstrated by most sure proofs from Holy Scripture. • Justice, then, or that aspect of it which is styled punitive or punishment, may be regarded as having a relation to both departments, and as being both moral and economical. According to the largest division, it may be viewed as retrospective and prospective. It looks back to the intrinsic demerit of the crime as a deed done with an unalterable desert, logically irrespective of everything extrinsic, and it also looks forward to the influence which it may have upon the future conduct of others, or of the criminal himself. In this latter aspect, it may be again subdivided, and regarded as preventive or reformative. The word retrospective is employed as furnishing the best antithesis to the mere prospective view. The more significant term, however, is retributive, as denoting that which assigns suffering to crime, according to an inherent fitness, as a debt due to law. Hence it may also be styled Vindicative Justice, as that which the law vindicates or claims, as a reparation of a wrong done to itself, irrespective of any individual injury or individual vengeance.
We may, therefore, regard punishment as, Ist, Retributive; 2d, Preventive; and 3d, Reformative; or, in other words, in its relation to law regarded as a representative, whether perfect or imperfect, of the Eternal Justice,-or in its relation to society, or in its relation to the individual.
In regard to this division, questions at once arise which receive different and even opposite answers from those who belong to opposing schools of moral or religious philosophy; or who resort to different methods in interpreting the decisions of the moral sense. Some would deny that this retrospective or retributive aspect of
THIRD SERIES. VOL. III. NO. I.
punishment had any real foundation, in any correct view of law or government, be it Divine or human. They would say that it has no place in the laws of man, and that it must be abhorrent to any right views of the moral administration of God. Such might still use the terms penal, and punishment, but would apply them only to what we have styled the preventive and reformative aspects. Others advance a step farther. With them punishment also as preventive or in terrorem cannot belong to the Divine government, though they might, perhaps, concede it to an imperfect state of human justice; to be superseded, however, by something better when their boasted period of political perfection shall have arrived.
In this view, the true idea of penalty has, in fact, no place whatever. In the administration of God, nothing is done through an appeal to the fears. All suffering is disciplinary, or else is reduced to the law of physical consequences, ever self-remedying, and having no more of a strictly moral character than the law of gravitation. The only acknowledged end of punishment is reformation, and this can consistently be conceded alone to the Divine administration. It must be denied to men as far as its exercise would require the use of force against wrong-doers, and this on the ground that such forcible reforming power does not belong to us by nature, and has never been delegated to us by God.
There are again others, who, in consideration of certain conclusions to which they would inevitably be led, and which they would struggle to avoid, admit that the retributive principle enters into the Divine administration, but contend that it has no place in the human. Their sagacity, or their philosophy, or their orthodoxy, makes them perceive, that if in God's government sin is not punished for its intrinsic demerit, there are no grounds on which it can be properly punished at all. They must see that in regard to the universal spiritual law of God, a universe of beings who are just kept from overt acts by the in terrorem principle of punishment, are already intrinsically sinners, and have already incurred the penalty. They must also acknowledge that the position, that punishment in the world to come is for the reformation of the criminal, is at war with some of the most solemn revelations of the Bible. They cannot avoid the conclusion, that a denial of punishment as based on intrinsic desert, must be a denial of such intrinsic desert itself, or result in the position, that what is styled sin, is a disease, a nuisance, a political mischief, a mere state to be regreted; and then along with this must go all moral conviction of such demerit, leaving a condition of soul in which punishment could have no real preventive or reformative efficacy, even if such had been its main design. Even the terrors of the Divine Justice have no true moral power, severed from the idea and conviction of desert. If the penalty is demanded by this, then the conscience re