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IN the commencement of this volume of the Christian Repository, as there are some new subscribers, it may not be amiss to give a sketch of the design of the work. The chief objects to be kept in view, are expressed in the title page, namely, doctrine. morality, and religious intelligence. Respecting doctrine, the Editor studies to be partial, only to what is embraced in divine revelation, and can be vindicated by its authority. Those writings which savor of candor, piety, and benevolence, communicated from any denomination of christians, will be admitted, however different their sentiments from those of the Editor. This is deemed important for the sake of discussion and free inquiry. St. Paul said, "Prove all things:" but this could not be done, unless we hear them. Morality and religion are so nearly allied, that it is difficult to conceive of the one, independent of the other. To suppose morality without religion, would be to account religion unnecessary; and a religion which had no morality, would be a monster. The intelligence of the Repository will com. prise accounts of the prosperity of the Universalist churches and societies, proceedings of general meetings, and such other things, as they transpire, which are thought to be interesting to the readers of this work. All possible care and diligence will be used. to render its contents as useful and interesting as possible. Besides original matter, a portion will be selected. Those pieces that have no signature, or where no credit is given, will be understood to be from the Editor. The distance which the Editor lives from the printer, debars him from the privilege of examining many of the proofs
No. 1. Vol. II.
from the press, which he hopes will apologize for some, at least, of the typographical errors, that may escape notice. The faithfulness of the printer, will, undoubtedly, prevent their being very numerous. It was thought most convenient to commence this volume in June, which will be a month earlier than some of the subscribers expect. A failure in seasonably obtaining the subscription papers, was the cause of their not having previous notice.
SERMON, NO IV.
Prov. i. 24-28.—Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh you.
This portion of scripture we bear frequently used, as describing the terrors of a future judgement upon the ungodly. In the use of this passage, the Deity is represented, as mocking the pains of the damned. And our exhorters sometimes seem to flatter themselves. that they shall, one day, join in the rude mockery, and laugh at the dire calamity of their fellow men. But to this use of the passage we object, for the following reasons: 1. It represents God as acting contrary to the known principles of his attributes. It is an established principle that God is love: he is love to all his creatures. "The Lord is good to all and his tender mercies are over all his works. Who, possessing this principle, can be led to ridicule the pains of the distressed?"Charity,” saith an apostle, "suffereth long and is kind" Nor can it be pleaded, with any color of propriety, that because the sinner has neglected and despised the day of grace, that a kind and merciful God would delight to laugh at
bis calamity. However different he may appear to sinrers, in the different periods of his providence, we have no reason to conclude, he will act contrary to the principles of his own nature.
2. This passage applied to God, as a personal act, would sink his character as much below savage barbarity, as infinity is above the finite actions of men. Mockery to prisoners is accounted barbarous, among all civilized nations; how then, can such actions be reconciled with the divine attributes? We certainly ought to have the voice of the plainest inspiration, before we think of assenting to such a dreadful idea.
3. When we come to examine the context, we find it is wisdom, and not God, that is personified as speak. ing in the language of qur text. "Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth in the chief places of concourse, in the opening of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words, saying, how long ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowTedge? Turn ye at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you."
4. We find nothing in the text that fixes its fulfilment to a future day of judgement. Nor are we are thorized to draw such a conclusion, from any thing expressed in the context. We see no argument, which can reasonably be employed, against its fulfilment here as well as hereafter. Indeed, it may be observed, that most of the proverbs of Solomon were designed for the economy of human life, without any reference to a fu
It is frequently said that wisdom, which is represent ed as laughing at the calamity of sinners, is Christ. That Christ is called wisdom in scripture, no one can doubt; but still, we have reason to doubt, whether the wisdom in our text has any particular reference to him. If this wisdom personally mean Christ. it is difficult to account for its being personified in the feminine gender. All the names of God and Christ are never so used in
the Bible. Who would think of applying such expres. sions as these to Christ? She uttereth her voice,-she crieth, she uttereth her words. But this female is the very agent, according to the connexion, that speaks in our text; "Because I have called, and ye have refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." Tho Christ, by a figure of metonymy, is called "the wisdom of God," and "of God made unto us wisdom," as also, “righteousBess and redemption ;" yet none of these words applied to God or Christ, are contained in an allegory in the feminine gender.
In attempting to give our ideas upon this subject, let it be observed, that wisdom is that principle in man, so nearly allied to conscience, which, when it awakes within him, causes the most bitter reflection, at the sad remembrance of past transgressions; and particularly so, when he is brought to the experience of its direful consequences. Often does it cause a man to say, Oh, that I had hearkened unto the voice of wisdom! Oh, that I had listened to her admonitions! Thousands are ready to bear testimony. that such have been the severe admonitions and pungent feelings, arising frota a consciousness of past folly, that wisdom might well be personified, as laughing at their calamity, and mocking at their fears. In many cases, there is no relief for the past. "Then shall they call upon me. but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." But what is their misery? A very natural consequence: "They shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices."
The acts that are past are gone, and cannot be recalied. The admonitions of wisdom once slighted, afford no relief for the offences which are past; because time has borne us from the power of recalling them. Yet, at no period, does wisdom refuse her aid for the future. Turn ye at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my
spirit unto you."
"Whoso, hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil." Solomon, in his proverbs, introduces not only wisdom, but other images, which he represents as personal agents, and often in such connexion, as makes it evident they are to be considered the properties of agents personified. "Get wisdom," says he, "get understanding; forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth." In the following verses we find these personified. "Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee; love her and she shall keep thee." Again, vii. 4, "Say unto wisdom, thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman" Here we find understanding is personified, as well as wisdom.
There is no difficulty in describing to the mind the true ideas of such personal representations. They frequently present ideas in a bold and striking manner, and give energy to the sentiments which they contain. Accordingly, we find a very frequent use of them in different parts of the Bible.
From what has been written on this subject, it is hoped to be made evident, the dishonoring idea, that God will mock the distress of his children, we have no rea son to expect. He who is good unto all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works now, will eternally exercise the same mercies over all the works of his bands.
ILLUSTRATION OF SCRIPTURE WORDS,
This word, with the exception of one passage, is, in the New Testament, a translation of two Greek words, hades and geenna.
HADES, the invisible receptacle or mansion of the dead,
in general; the invisible place or state of separate souls, the unseen world of spirits, whether of tors