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can He again look on His polluted creatures with complacency? How, in a word, is the compromise to be struck between the mercy of God and the majesty of His government; and in what terms shall that deed of amnesty be framed, which both provides an outlet for the divine goodness on a sinful world, and inflicts not an irreparable blow on the other lofty and unchangeable attributes of His nature ?
29. It may not be for the expounder of moral science to find a positive reply to this question. He may not be in possession of resources for the solution of it: but there lie within his reach the materials for the enunciation of it; and this enunciation, he ought to have bequeathed or handed over to the professor of the Christian Theology. With the former it lies in the shape of an unreduced formula-a formula which he at least is able to construct, though not able to pass through the intermediate steps to the final resolution of it. Now it is the preparation of these formulæ that appears to us the most important service which moral philosophy can render. It can collect the data for the construction of questions, and then present them for solution to the disciples of another and higher calculus. And how shall that God who hath both the truth of a righteous and the authority of a powerful sovereign-how shall He take sinners into acceptance, is just one of these questions. How, without the disgrace and indeed the overthrow of heaven's jurisdiction, can heaven ever be entered by those who have rebelled against the king who sitteth on its throne—this, it may
not be the part of moral philosophy to pronounce upon as a doctrine; but altogether its part to make it over as a difficulty to those who can resolve it. The error is, not that it has failed to make out the account. But the error is that it has closed the account, and so sends away its disciples with the impression of a sufficiency which it cannot realize. We do not require of it to put forth a physician's hand to a disease which lies beyond the reach of its prescriptions. But we require of it as full and fair an exhibition as it can give of the disease. We charge it with having misled its votaries into a false and ruinous security—with having said peace when there was no peace-with the soft and the soothing whispers which it has given forth, when it ought to have sounded the trumpet of alarm—and, in the face of those intimations which even Nature hath uttered of a fearful and unsettled controversy, with having suppressed every warning of the danger; and, by the lullaby of a delusive eloquence, having hushed all its votaries to sleep among the urgencies of an impending storm.
30. And it is further to be observed of this question, that, if left undetermined, it not only casts an ambiguity on the character of God in heaven; but it throws into a state of utter precariousness the cause of human virtue upon earth. The question is_if mercy shall be rendered at the expense of justice, at what point in the scale of moral worth or of moral worthlessness, shall the one attribute give way to the other ?
If all have sinned, but in spite of this the mercy of God advances a certain way over the domain of
humanity, it is a most natural and we should think a most needful inquiry-how far ? By what line are the outcasts of condemnation, to whom no forgiveness can be extended, separated from those who are within the confines of pardon and pity from on high ? The truth is, that, in the absence of all that is clear and all that is definite, every man will suit the reply to his own imagination; or, what is likelier still, to his own convenience. The law of heaven will be brought down to a degrading compromise with human corruption and human indolence. Each will make the adjustment for himself; and, sinning just as much as he likes, will still figure that the indulgence of the God who knoweth our frame, and will make merciful allowance for all its infirmities—will be extended too to his own frailties and his own errors. The attributes of the Godhead will be made to play fast and loose with each other; and so as to accommodate the standard of the divine exactions to the ever-varying practice of men. There is a scale of moral worth that comprehends all the varieties of character in our world—up from the loveliest and most honourable of the species, down to those who are sunk in the worst excesses of profligacy : and, as none can say, at what point in this scale the momentous transition in question is situated, each will determine it for himself; and so be able to combine the peace of his own spirit, with the full indulgence of all its waywardness. He will sin just as much as he likes; and yet he will hope just as largely as his own fancy or his own wishes can carry
him. He will give himself
ap to his own impulses in this world; and yet be as little disturbed by the prospect of another, as if he fetched every practical impulse of his life from the will of Him who has the disposal both of his time and of his eternity. It is thus that a deep and fatal security hath spread itself over the face of our alienated world; that men, even in the very midst of their rebellion, have no disturbance whatever from their fears; that under all the gradations of morality, even down to the malefactor's cell, there is still a vague confidence in the mercy of God; that they do not tremble under a sense of His justice, because they have confounded the attributes at their pleasure and made the one to efface the character of the other. All is loose and obscure and indeterminate, under the lax administration of a law-whose sanctions have no fulfilment, whose threats have no significancy. This we hold to be the state of our academic theism, and a state the more dangerous, because of that seeming air of completeness and sufficiency wherewith she has finished off the ample round of her demonstrations. She looks with all the complacency of having done a full and a finished achievement, and that without one utterance on man's universal sinfulness—making no provision for the offended dignity of God in heaven, and no provision for the prostrate cause of godliness upon earth.
31. It is well that the conscience of man is often too strong, both for the lethargy of nature, and for the illusions of this sentimental theism. The soul of him who rightly contrasts the sacredness of
the Divinity with the exceeding sinfulness of his own character, will not be so easily satisfied with the soft and flimsy representations which are often given of heaven's clemency. His moral nature, now quickened into adequate sensibility, must be otherwise met; and unless there be a revelation of mercy that makes full provision for the justice and truth and authority of the Godhead, he neither can view the Lawgiver as at peace with him nor himself as safe.
32. It is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and there alone, that he finds that precise counterpart which at once meets this difficulty and resolves it a constitution of forgiveness which makes full exhibition of the divine character, without any violation to the jurisprudence of the upper sanctuary, or any conflict and concussion between the attributes of the High and the Holy one who presides over it.* The atonement of the cross
So that beside the moral and the experimental, there is what may be called the doctrinal, as a branch of the internal evidence of Christianity-an evidence that results, not from the comparison of the objective truth with the subjective mind, but from the comparison of one truth or one doctrine of Christianity with another. The whole scheme, viewed objectively, may abound in those symphonies or adaptations of part to part, which might serve to recommend it as founded in wisdom, or as having a real foundation in the nature of things. The resulting evidence might be illustrated in this way. We can imagine the human bearers of a profest message from some distant part of the universe, to report certain peculiarities of its astronomical or physical system, which prove that matter there is under a law of gravitation different from our own; and yet that by a profound mathematics, each special phenomenon can be demonstrated to be a consequence of that law, which harmonizes all the separate informations, and gives consistency to them all. Let the apostles of such a revela. tion be simple and illiterate men, and palpably ignorant of matnematics--so as to make it obvious, that the distinct things which