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If God was unwilling any should perish, has he changed his mind? If not, is he not still unwilling? and if so, can he consistently permit it, seeing the hearts of all men are in his hand? If he 'will have all men to be saved,' since he will do all his pleasure,' is not the Creed false, if the Bible is true, and Universalism true, unless the Bible be false? Whoso readeth, let him understand,' and whoso can, let him answer. Liberalist.
THE FEAR OF GOD.
Fear is of two descriptions, or rather, originates in two distinct principles. The first is that species of dread or horror we entertain with respect to a tyrant, or an unprincipled enemy, a madman, a maniac, a barbarian, or a ferocious beast of prey. The tyrant we fear to offend, because exercising arbitrary power, uncontrolled by goodness, such offence would be fatal either to life or peace. We fear to entrust ourselves in the hands of an unprincipled enemy, because hatred and the love of vengeance, his ruling principles, would endanger our safety. We fear the maniac or the madman, because destitute of reason, all the mental powers have been destroyed, conscience lies dead or dormant, and in his presence we have no security, but from superior strength or agility. We dread the barbarian, because, uncivilized as he is, his native ferocity predominating over all the better feelings of the human breast, regarding all tribes but his own, as his natural enemies, we find ourselves at the mercy of his capricious mind; and we naturally shrink from his presence, because we cannot avoid associating with them, the ideas of the tomahawk and the scalping knife. We know that hunger and an appetite for blood constitute the powerful in
centives of the beast of prey, and dreading the loss of life always induces us to avoid him if possible. To entertain towards the Divine Being such fears, is base, ungrateful, and highly reprehensible; because it is treating him precisely as we treat the worst and most ferocious beings in creation. With the manifold expressions of his goodness, his friendship and affection, that are scattered in such rich profusion over the fair face of creation, with so many tokens of his mercy, displayed in the gospel and in the inestimable blessings we daily experience at his hands, to regard him as a Being whose power is to be dreaded with feelings of terror, is a direct insult to the moral dignity of his character, as the parent and benefactor of the whole human family. Because, by so doing, we reduce him, in our own view, to a level with the earthly tyrant, the unprincipled enemy, the madman, the maniac, the savage barbarian, or the beast of prey. We fear him for the same reasons for which we fear them, from the dread of the exercise of superior power, uncontrolled by goodness, and wielded only in obedience to an arbitrary disposition, tempered entirely by malignity and hatred, a heart panting with the fell desire for vengeance, and a countenance smiling with ghastly exultation over the wretched victims of his bloody arm. Such a fear bespeaks a manifest destitution of confidence in our Creator, as well as of love and veneration for his character. For we naturally detest tyranny and cruelty in others, however we may be disposed to exercise them ourselves. And whatever apparent homage we may render to the power we dread, the fact that we do dread it, is incontrovertible evidence that we would, if possible, withdraw ourselves beyond its reach. With such feelings, we can entertain towards our Creator neither love nor confidence.
The second species of fear takes its character from filial or fraternal affection, combined with feelings of Vol. VIII.
gratitude. The dutiful child fears to offend a good parent; not because he fears his father's vengeance, or the weight of the rod but because it would be base, despicable and ungrateful, wilfully to violate his parent's commands, to injure the feelings of him who so tenderly loves him, and overwhelin with sorrow his best friend. He would cover himself with guilt and shame, by incurring the crime of the blackest ingratitude, and brand himself with infamy, as a wretch unworthy a parent's love. Good brothers or sisters fear to offend each other, not from a dread of after vengeance, but from a secret horror that pervades the soul, when we reflect on the baseness of the act. It is so unnatural, it is so ungenerous, it is so infamous in itself, to do violence to the sympathies of the human breast, to subvert the laws of love, and to sever the silken cords of friendship and fraternal affection, that the good man shrinks with horror from the thought, and finds his fond associations are strengthened by a three-fold cord of love. The same feeling actuates the souls of all virtuous men towards each other. The chain of affection runs through the whole fraternity. Each one fears to sever it by committing offences against the other. A fear of vengeance enters not, however, into the account. It is the fear of forfeiting the title of good and virtuous; of depriving themselves of that which alone renders life valuable, and of degrading themselves in their own view and the view of others. That one man loves his country and its laws, founded in goodness, that he serves his country faithfully; and from choice, with pleasure, submits to those laws; and that another only submits to the government by coercion, in obedience to the strong arm of power, is the true distinction between the good and bad citizen. The first acts from principle, from choice; he fears to offend, because he loves; the last, because he dreads the consequences, and he would be a rebel if he dared.
Like the good child, the good brother, the good friend, or the good citizen, should men fear God. Not from terror that annihilates confidence and love; but as a Being of infinite goodness, boundless love and mercy, as well as of justice; and whose almighty power is always controlled by those sacred principles, as well for the happiness of his creatures, as to advance his own glory; as an immutable friend and benefactor, from whom we have nothing to fear, every thing to hope. In this exercise is combined love, honor, and gratitude. A man thus inspired fears to cover himself with ignominy and disgrace, and to sink himself so low, as in his own estimation he must, by withholding from his Maker that service and gratitude which are his due. He loves his Maker, and therefore delights to worship him with a sincere heart. Loving him, he loves his laws, and delights to fulfil them. He soars far above that mean, despicable and mercenary spirit, that requires a constant view of the flames of hell to spur him to action. He is a good man, a virtuous man; he acts accordingly. The other puts on a show of religion and goodness, but it is a mere show, and a false one. The fear of hell may drive him to do some good things, and to pray and rant about that concerning which he knows nothing; but there is not "fire and brimstone" enough within the confines of the universe, to cleanse and purify his filthy soul; to refine his gross and sordid mind, to reduce his canting hypocrisy to honest sincerity, or his knavery to goodness. He fears God, it is true, but he fears him as the vassal fears his tyrannic lord. He fears God, it is true, but he fears him only because he fancies that God has in reserve for such, a burning hell. He fancies he sees its flames, and hears the boiling of the lake of sulphur, combined with the cries of suffering wretches. He stands aghast at the thought-he shudders in silent horror-he trembles, and becomes-remains-a hypocrite.-Liberalist.
From the Telescope and Miscellany.
"Lo! the winter is past; the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come; and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig-tree putteth forth her green figs; and the vines and the tender grape give a goodly smell.-SOL. SONG, ii. 11, 12, 13.
How supremely blessed is that man, who can look abroad and study the grand volume of the creation! All seasons preach instruction to him, and all the varied scenery of this vast universe, serve to delight his senses, and cause him to become enamoured of the charms of nature. But how much more delightful is the spring, than any other of the seasons of the year. In this season, nature bursts the bands of the cold and sleety reign of winter; the sun gradually increases in warmth and vital heat; the earth feels the vivifying influence of his powerful beams, and puts forth her fairest and most delightful productions. The firmament, which has been for a long period sullied with exhalations, and clouds of impenetrable darkness, every day becomes more pellucid, and increases in azure hue, so as to reflect the rays of the sun, and captivate the student of nature. The rivers, which for a time have been bound in adamantine chains of ice and snow, now break their fetters, and glide along their course, full to overflowing. The flocks and herds, now breaking from their wintry confinement, gambol in their newly discovered paradise; and seem conscious of the overruling providence of the Author of alf their happiness. The feathered warblers of the wood, who depart to climes remote to enjoy summer's pure effulgent days, now return and ravish the ear of man, and fill the umbrageous forest with their enrapturing minstrelsy. The inhabitants who cleave the green aby ss, those who o'er the unfathomable element preside, now venture into streams and eddies, to the piscatory