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Two ministers in a sea-port town on the coast of Hampshire, were recently requested to visit a Young Man of genteel connexions, who, by his im. prudent and profligate conduct, had brought himself into a most embarrassed situation. After their introduction, they sat down, listened to his tale of distress, and, by turns, sympathized, expostulated with, and advised him. On reminding him of the advantages he had enjoyed while under the roof of his parents, he burst into a flood of tears, and exclaimed, “Yes! I have known better-I have had one of the best of mothers and through the sad round of dissipation which I have led, her prayers and her counsels have followed me. Her letters have been treasured up as my richest jewels, and in my moments of soli. tude and reflection, I read them again and again with increased interest and delight. O that I had followed her advice ! but I have wanted resolution !" Inquiring of his little girl, about five years of age, whether she could read, he again wept, and said, that having had a religious education himself, he could not neglect to furnish his child with similar advantages : she could read the New Testament, and he had taught her Dr. Watts's Catechism, and several of his bymns. The dear little creature was then desired to repeat to them one of the hymns, and part of the catechism, which she did with a simplicity and tenderness, that will never be forgotten. They left the house overwhelmed with the traces they had discovered of the good effects of parental instruction.
“ My mother,” says Mr. Newton, the revered Rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, “was a pious experienced Christian. I was her only child; and as she was of a weak constitution and retired temper, the care of my education was almost her sole employment. At a time when I could not be more than three years of age, she taught me English, and with so much success, (as I had something of a forward turn) that when I was but four years old, I could read with propriety in any common book that offered. She stored my memory, which was then very retentive, with many valuable pieces, chapters and portions of Scripture, catechisms, hymns, and poems. My temper, at that time, seemed quite suitable to her wishes; for I had little inclination to the noisy sports of chil. dren, but was most pleased when in her company, and always as willing to learn as she was to teach me. How far the best education may fall short of reaching the heart, strongly appeared in the sequel of my history ; yet, for the encouragement of pious parents to go on in the good way of doing their part faithfully, towards forming their children's minds, I think I may properly propose myself as an instance. These early impressions were a great restraint upon me; they returned again and again; and it was very long before I could wholly shake them off; and when the Lord at length opened my eyes, I found great benefit from the recollection of them. Besides, my dear mother often commended me, with many prayers and tears to God; and I have no doubt that I reap the fruits of her prayers to this hour.”
Mr. Scott, the venerable expositor of the Bible, speaking of his early years, bears the following testimony to the advantages of religious instruction. “A bymn,” says be, "of Dr. Watts, entitled “The all-seeing God,' at this time fell in my way: I was much affected with it, and having committed it to memory, was frequently repeating it, and was thus continually led to reflect on my guilt and danger." “Parents," he adds, “may from this inconsiderable circumstance be reminded, that it is of great importance to store their children's memories with useful matter, instead of suffering them to be furnished with such corrupting trash as is commonly taught them. They know not what use God may make of these early rudiments of instruction in future life.”
A CLERGIMAN, who is now fulfilling the duties of his office with faithfulness and punctuality, was aske when examined for orders by the bishop's chaplain, whether he had made divinity his study? He replied, that he had not particularly studied it; "but,” said he,'“my mother taught me the scriptures.” “Ah!" said the chaplain, “mothers can do great things !” The young man was ex. amined with respect to the extent of his knowledge, was approved, ordained, and desired to preach before the bishop.
The Treasurer of the Trustees of the General Assembly of the Pres
byterian Church, acknowledges the receipt of the following sums for their Theological Seminary at Princeton, N.J. during the
month of July last, viz. Of Rev. Dr. John M‘Dowell, from Rev. Joseph L. Shafer, Newton, Sus. sex county, New Jersey, for the Contingent Fund
$15 00 Of Rev. William J. Armstrong, Trenton, for ditto.
20 00 Of Rev. William Ruffner, Timber Ridge and Fairfield, Presbytery of Lexington, Virginia, for ditto
10 00 Of Joseph Cowan, Esq. from Rev. Dr. Speece, same Presbytery, for ditto
21 00 And from Rev. William Colhoon, Brown's Meetinghouse, ditto for ditto
20 00 Of Rev. Mr. Goodell, from Major Alexander, Lexington, Virginia, for ditto
20 00 Of Samuel Bayard, Esq. Princeton, for ditto
26 43 Of David Boyd, Esq. Schenectady, for ditto.
21 00 Of Second Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, for ditto
53 60 Of Rev. Joseph Campbell, Hackett's town and Pleasant Grove, Newton Presbytery, for ditto
11 00 of Rev. William S. Reid, Lynchburg, Virginia, Hanover Presbytery, for ditto
Amount received for the Contingent Fund
$ 246 00 Of Mr. William Bradford, fourth instalment, for the Permanent Fund 10 00 Of Robert Harris, Sen. Esq. (per John Robinson, Esq. of Charleston,
South Carolina,) being the contribution from Unity and Steel creek congregation, in Concord Presbytery, North Carolina, for the southern professorship
50 00 Of Rev. Thomas C. Henry, Presbytery of Harmony, South Carolina, his second and third instalments, for ditto
100 00 Of Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller, for six months of his first year's subscription, for the Oriental and Biblical Literature Professorship
25 00 Of Rev. Dr. A. Alexander, subscriptions of different persons, names not mentioned, for ditto
70 00 Of Thomas H. Mills, Esq. the payment of his first note for the Woodhull scholarship
500 00 Of Rev.John Joyce, for the Camden and Salem scholarship, South Ca.
rolina, viz. Mrs. I. K. Douglass, five instalments in full of her subscription 100 00 Mrs. William Lang's first instalment
20 00 And Mrs. Whitaker's instalment
20 00 Of Rev. Thomas S. Wickes, West Farms, New York, one year's in
terest on his proportion for the scholarship to be endowed by the Senior Class of 1819
Preparing for the press, “An Answer to the Rev. Mr. M'Masters's Five Letters, addressed to the friends of union, on the subject of Psalmody. By Jonathan Freeman, Pastor of the United Churches of Bridgetown and Greenwich, West Jersey."
Alexander Towar, No. 255, Market street, Philadelphia, has in press, Bishop Horne's Commentary on the Book of Psalms, with a Memoir of the Life, and Portrait of the Author, in one vol. octavo.
FOR THE PRESBYTERIAN MAGAZINE.
STRICTURES ON DR. SAMUEL CLARK'S DEMONSTRATION OF THE
BEING AND ATTRIBUTES OF GOD. It is by creation alone that we are made acquainted with the existence and attributes of God; for the invisible things of him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. The title of Dr. Clark's performance, a demonstration, a priori, is, therefore, peculiarly unsuitable, being equally contradictory to this passage of sacred writ, as it is unmeaning in itself.
The principal source of error in this work seems to be a desire of introducing into moral subjects a species of argumentation by no means adapted to them. It is evident, indeed, that his a priori argument, as he terms it, is nothing more than the a posteriori mode of proof, peculiarly digested to suit his own conceptions; still, however, he keeps a wishful eye upon the “ strictly demonstrative” process, by which he hopes forever to silence “ the learned and metaphysical” objectors; and, in order to get a starting place, he is necessitated to lug in principles either wholly unintelligible, or utterly inadmissible. No wonder then that such a heterogeneous mass, when fused by the intensity of his intellect, issued in a production which almost defied analysis. Dr. C.'s reasoning, as to the moral perfections of God, seems to me to be much preferable to the preceding part of his dissertation, and much less characterized by the cui lumen ademptum. I do not believe that he establishes the moral perfections of God to a certainty, yet his arguments carry with them that degree of unsatisfactory probability which, by totally disquieting the mind, fits it for the immersion of the light of the gospel Further than this we need not attempt to push the inVol. II.- Presb. Mag.
vestigations of reason, since it is to those “ who labour and are heavy laden, that the gospel rest” is more especially proffered, and since this gospel is accompanied with such credentials as to leave us in no doubt as to its Author. As well might a man mock the “ king of day” by travelling with a lighted candle, as to weary himself in solving by reason every difficulty, with regard to the moral government, since every thing intelligible by us has been fully brought to light in revelation.
But let us proceed to an abstract of Dr. C.'s reasoning. “The something which must have existed from all eternity (for other. wise nothing could ever have existed) must be immutable and independent. For suppose a series of dependent beings; as this includes within itself every thing that ever existed, it can have no cause extra se, of its own existence, and not being necessarily existent, (since none of the individuals of this series are necessarily existent, but every one dependent) it can have no cause within itself of its own existence, so that such a series must be uncaused.” The assigning neccessary existence as what might be one cause of its being, will be hereafter explained, and confuted; at present I cannot avoid inserting a link, which appears to me stronger than the one which now occupies the place. “As all the individuals of this series are produced, the whole must be produced, and if so, it must be produced by something which existed before it, and consequently cannot be eternal.” The self-existence of this Being, he proves thus: “ It must either be produced out of nothing without cause, which is an absurdity, or it must spring from some external cause, which cannot be true of every being, since there must be some one or more on which all the rest depend, or, finally, it must be selfexistent.” So far his argument appears to be perfectly conclu
. sive, though it does not differ in reality from what he had attempted to prove in the foregoing proposition; but finding that this argument did not reach his notion of self-existence, he forsakes the path of demonstration, and wanders into the regions of infinity where there is little danger of detection. “We always find in our minds,” says he, “ some ideas as of infinity and eternity, which to remove, i. e. to suppose that there is no Being, no Substance in the universe to which these attributes are necessarily inherent, is a contradiction in the very terms;" $ 3, p. 16. In another place he calls Deity the “ Substratum of space and duration :” the same notion is adopted by Bishop Butler, (Analogy, p. 158). Yield him the position laid down, to wit, that infinity and eternity, or in other words, space and duration, are attributes, and the conclusion necessarily follows. Such is the constitution of our nature, that we are led necessarily (not by argument) from every attribute to the substance of which it is an attribute ; and as we find it impossible to exclude out of
our minds the notion of space and duration, so if these be attri. butes it must be equally impossible to exclude out of our mind the idea of an infinite and eternal Substance. Annihilate if you please, in imagination, all the creatures which exist, the space which they once occupied still remains; and transfer yourself back till the most distant period conceivable, still the notion of a previous duration irresistibly forces itself upon your mind. If then this mode of reasoning be correct, the existence of God must be a self-evident truth; since the existence of his attributes, space and duration, is a self-evident truth of which no person who understands the meaning of the terms can possibly divest himself. And if the existence of God be self-evident, why is it necessary to prove it? Demonstration would then be at an end, and speculative atheism an impossibility. If any person chose to deny it, he might be ranked with those deluded (or rather deluding) sceptics who pretend to deny all fundamental truths; but, certainly, he could not be reasoned with.* Apart from this objection it does not appear self-evident to me, that space and duration are attributes, nor do they seem to have any necessary connexion with existence at all, so that the whole of Dr. C.'s reasoning, which is founded upon this assumption, is in my view wholly inconclusive. Only give Archimedes his time, place, and circumstances, and no doubt he will roll the earth entirely out of her orbit.
Another notion of Dr. C. on which he founds some very im. portant conclusions, is equally unproved, and doubly unintelligible.
After proving that God is a necessarily-existent being (rather self-existent), he asserts, that this necessity is “ antecedent in the natural order of our ideas, to our supposition of its (i.e. the eternal self-existent Being) being.” In order to canvass this opinion fairly, we conclude, that of two things existing from eternity, one, at least in the order of our ideas, must presuppose another: thus the decree of election presupposes the decree of the fall, and this latter presupposes the decree of creation, though these were all equally decreed from eternity ; but I suspect that in the case under consideration the order of our ideas is direc:ly the reverse. Necessity always results from some cause ; thus the necessity which a creature is under of acting in a particular manner, results from its being endowed with a pe. culiar nature. Now the existence of God is prior even in the order of our ideas to the existence of every cause hence he is
* The force of this objection does not depend upon the question, whether there can be a speculative atheist, (which I think ought to be decided by fach, not by argument,) but on the supposition that the existence of God is not an Tiom, which I suppose no one will affirm.