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that head entirely coincided. Yet this circumstance gives my observations rather the appearance of carping and snarling than of fairly estimating the worth of the work.
I am by no means disposed to enter the lists with the veteran disputants of North-America; yet I cannot retract what I have advanced"What I have written, I have written," let it shift for itself; though had it been intended for publication, it would have assumed a very different appearance, I observe, however, that the vindicator, (page 268, 5th Obj.) substitutes the word selfishness for love of one's self; and this gives añ erroneous view of my real sentiments. By selfishnes's I mean foolish, apostate, carnal self-love; and had Dr. Hopkins used this word only, my trouble would have been spared. But I contend, that love of one's self, even as bhe's 'self is not radically evil, but existed in man as God åt first made him; as indeed it must in every creature, holy or unholy. It is the mere appetite for happiness, and no more morally good or evil than hunger, or thirst, or any other natural appetite: but it becomes holy or unholy accordingly as it seeks its gratification in knowing, loving, glorifying, and enjoying God, and in doing good; or in obtaining and enjoying the creature. In the former direction it cannot be inordinate; in the latter it becomes so immediately, when our own indulgence in the smallest degree interferes with our obedience to God.
Self-love under a holy direction, is distinguishable from love to God, and from love to his creatures: but, like three distinct streams that approach each other till fully united, these holy affections approximate as sanctification advances; and when that shall be perfected, they shall completely unite in one river flowing on to all eternity. It is indeed said, that man does not now exist as God made him; but surely we may distinguish between Adam's nature before he fell, when God pronounced him very good, and his nature after he fell, and became desperately wicked. That which was natural before the fall cannot want mortifying, but that only which the fall made natural. Selfishness is the depravation of self-love, as intemperance is of thirst.
I am not yet convinced, that a man would shew his love to God by a willingness to be eternally and perfectly unholy and miserable; that is, to hate God for ever. If this were possible, would it not be a most awful instance of "doing evil "that good might come?" Surely, such speculátions carry things to an extreme; and it is evident, even from the reasonings of those who favour them, that they have a very slender and ambiguous support in scripture. The apostle says, "He laid down his life for us, and we ought to
lay down our lives for the brethren:" but he seems not so much as to have thought of an infinitely greater sacrifice, which true love would be
willing to make if necessary. In places where the doctrine of election is deemed so essential, that a person can hardly be a christian who does not hold it, I have often observed individuals reconciled to it, not by a real submission to the righteousness and sovereignty of God, but by an idea that they themselves are elect. And may not the sentiment, that a willingness to be lost for ever, "if the glory of God and the good of the universe require it, is the essential distinction between 'holy and selfish religion,' give occasion to a similar self-deception, and lead men to work up their minds to a persuasion that they are thus willing, as the best evidence of their safety? "The heart "is deceitful above all things;" and "we are not "ignorant of Satan's devices!"
I am very far from being an enemy to free enquiry, provided it be conducted with humility, sobriety, and reverence of God. But suppositions, sometimes put for the sake of argument, concerning his decrees, operations, and dealings, make me shudder, as if I heard blasphemy. Surely poor short-sighted worms ought to be impressed with deeper awe of the infinitely holy and glorious majesty, before which Angels veil their faces, than to use such language, and indulge such reasonings, in speaking of God! I must also think, that we should be careful not to intrude, with boldness, not to say presumption, into things not seen, and not adventurously to deduce probable conse
quences from revealed truths. I mean not to offend; but it appears to me, that the pride of reasoning and confident speculation is as much the danger of religious people in North-America, as antinomian laxity and selfishness is of those in Old England. The rationale of Christianity, as some call it, if carried further than a sober and full understanding of the scriptures, will prove a dangerous matter. Religion came from God in full perfection, and can never be improved, though it may be spoiled, by philosophy: and the nearer our sentiments and expressions accord to those of the holy prophets and apostles, the purer will our religion be. The pride of self-wisdom is as conge. nial to our fallen nature, and as opposite to christianity, as any other kind of selfishness: "for the "wisdom of this world is foolishness with God."
The bible is "a light shining in a dark place." It says a little concerning the entrance of sin, and the ruin of our race; but it gives us full and clear instructions in respect of our guilt, danger, refuge, and path. By this light I would walk, and with it be contented, till I come to that better world, where full day will be poured on all the ways and works of God. I once thought myself competent to reason on many subjects, which I now feel to be far too wonderful for me. I am afraid of desiring to be "wise above what is written," "lest "the light that is in me should provę darkness.' "Secret things belong unto the LORD our God;
"but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all "the words of this law." For, "the fear of the "LORD, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, "that is understanding." And the apostle, having gone to his limits in imparting what he had received, exclaims, "O the depth of the riches "both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known "the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his "counsellor ?"
Allow me to add, that, in my humble opinion, your Magazine would be more useful if more devotional and experimental subjects were introduced, and such as were suited to influence the affections, and keep alive a tenderness of conscience; while our Magazines would be much improved by substantial doctrinal and practical instructions. There are, however, in most of them, very useful papers; and I cordially wish you success in the name of the Lord.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
HAVING AVING observed the impression made on a full congregation by the baptism of a child during the