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him, the Divine hand and counsel before determined to be done. Now Elias Hicks says, that it was not the purpose and will of God that he should be put to death by the Jews, but merely, that he should set us a good example, by living a righteous and godly life. Here is an instance of direct contradiction; and we can be at no loss in determining which account to believe.
But, says Elias Hicks, “ if it was the purpose and will of God, that he should die by the hands of wicked men, then the Jews by crucifying of him, would have done God's will, and of course, would all have stood justified in his sight, which could not be.”
We say, this mode of reasoning is inadmissible, and if E. H. carries it throughout, he must, in numerous instances, impute the greatest injustice and cruelty to his “benevolent Creator." We shall notice the case of Pharaoh, as one of many.
The Lord sent Moses and Aaron unto him saying, “Go in, speak unto Pharoah king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.”_But saith he also, “ And I will harden Pharoah's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt; but Pharoah shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth, mine armies, and my people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments." He not only hardened his heart, that he should not let the people go, but he further says, “ And indeed for this very cause, have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power, that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.”
Now to apply the reasoning of E. H. to this case. We will form an argument in his own way; viz: If it was the
purpose and will of God to harden Pharoah's heart, that he should not let the people of Israel go, then Pharoah, by refusing to hearken unto the voice of Moses, and keeping them in bondage, would have done God's will, and of course would have stood justified in his sight; and hence all the punishments inflicted by the Almighty upon Pharoah, in consequence of his refusal to let the children of Israel go, were cruel and unjust.
The argument in this case, is exactly parallel to that instituted by Elias Hicks to prove that it was not the purpose and will of God, that Christ should suffer death for mankind; 'and if we admit his reasoning to be sound, we must charge the Almighty with injustice and wanton cruelty, in punishing Pharoah, or else deny the Scripture account altogether.
The ways of God are above our ways, and beyond the ken of our puny powers, and it becomes us rather to believe and
adore, than to be pronouncing dogmatically what must, or must not, result from the fulfilment of his eternal purposes. The Omnipotent Ruler of the universe, “ declareth the end from the beginning,” and “ordereth all things after the counsel of his own will."
There is no position more universally admitted, than that He is the great First Cause, “by whom all things consist;" and yet those who believe this, are far from supposing that He is the author of moral evil, though they know that it abounds in the world. How far he ordains, and how far he permits, in the great plan of the moral government of man, is not for us to decide, any further than it is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures : and although these declare that God hardened Pharoah's heart, that he should not obey the command, yet, it would be impious to conclude, that God is thereby implicated in the sin of Pharoah's rebellion.
The Jews, were completely free agents in the crucifixion of Christ. They were wicked and hardy enough, voluntarily to become the actors in putting to death the Lamb of God -not because they were disposed to fulfil the determinate counsel of God;” but for the very contrary reason, because they were “ of their father the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning.”. And shall finite man presume to say, that because the Divine Being overruled their actions, and brought good out of evil, that he was an accomplice in their guilt, or that their wickedness was diminished ?-No, their intentions were as diabolical as those of any murderer could be, and for these they stood deeply and justly convicted in the sight of Heaven, and for these they were punished.
The reasoning of Elias Hicks, which we last quoted, is therefore wholly inadmissible, and contradicts the testimony of the Scriptures.
He tells us in the preceding sentence, what Christ came into the world for, viz: " To live a righteous and godly life, (which was the design and end of God's creating man in the beginning) and thereby be a perfect example to such of mankind as should come to the knowledge of him and of his perfect life.”
The assertions in this sentence amount to this: 1st. That Christ came only to live a righteous and godly life, and to be a perfect example; 2d. That the benefits of his coming were limited to such as should come to the knowledge of his perfect example ; 3d. That the design of the Almighty in creating inan in the beginning, was to live a righteous and godly life, and thereby to be a perfect example-Ergo, the design and end of God's sending Jesus Christ into the world was the
same, precisely, as his design in creating Adam. Thus, according to the assertions of Elias Hicks, the end of God's sending his Son in the flesh, was for no higher, or more important purpose, than the birth of the very meanest of the human species; for it must be evident, that it is the purpose of God, in sending every man into this world, that he should live a righteous and godly life, and thereby be a good example, and glorify his Creator.
Hence all those mighty preparations, which for hundreds of
years had been making, to open the way for the advent of the Messiah; which began immediately after the fall of Adam, and were continued through the patriarchal and Mosaic dispensations; and all those sublime predictions which are contained in the books of the prophets, setting forth the glory and majesty of the Redeemer's kingdom, terminated in an event, no more important or beneficial to mankind, than the birth of any mortal, peccable being. Is this consistent with the Scriptures ? No— These assertions of Elias Hicks strip o blessed Lord of his eternal Divinity and Godhead and level him with mere man-his scheme cuts us off from all hope in the atonement; takes away the great and glorious objects for which Christ came and suffered in the flesh, and sweeps from the sacred page the most precious and consoling doctrines of the gospel.
We are confirmed in these views by the manner in which he speaks of his death, which he
says, was permitted to be, as it had been with many of the prophets, and wise and good men that were before him, who suffered death by the hands of wicked men for righteousness sake, as ensamples to those that came after, that they should account nothing too dear to give up for the truth's sake, not even their own lives.”
Here, he associates the Son of God with “prophets, and wise and good men that were before him," as being his equals. He makes his death exactly similar to theirs, which is to say, that Christ was a mere martyr. This is not the language of the Bible.
Elias Hicks does not use one solitary sentence, throughout the whole letter, which would characterize our blessed Lord as the propitiation, the Saviour, the Mediator or Intercessor for a guilty world, although he writes the letter for the very purpose of giving his “ views of the sufferings of the Son of God, and what was the object of the shedding of his blood on the cross, and what benefits resulted to mankind by the shedding of his blood !” But although he has just assured us that Jesus Christ was
sent into the world for the same purpose for which Adam was created, and that his death was a parallel with that of "the prophets, and wise and good men that were before him," yet in the next sentence he says “But the shedding of his blood by the wicked scribes and pharisees and people of Israel, had a particular effect on the Jewish nation, as by this, the topstone and worst of all their crimes, was filled up the mea. sure of their iniquities, and which put an end to that dispensation, together with its law and covenant.”
Now we would ask, why did it happen that the death of Jesus Christ produced this particular effect on the Jewish nation, rather than the death of either of those “prophets, and wise and good men that were before him ;" who, according to the testimony of Elias Hicks, were created for the same purpose, and died for the same causes, as did the Son of God ?-As Elias Hicks says that God did not send him into the world purposely to suffer death, it must have been a mere chance that his death put an end to the law,-and as Isaiah, John the Baptist, James, Peter, and Paul, were all “ wise and good men,” and died “ by the hands of wicked men for righteousness sake,” we should like to know why Elias Hicks will make the death of Jesus Christ to produce this important effect, in preference to one of these?
He proceeds—_" that as John's baptism summed up in one all the previous water baptisms of that dispensation and put an end to them, which he sealed with his blood, so the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ summed up in one all the outward atoning sacrifices of the shadowy dispensation, and put an end to them all, thereby abolishing the law," &c. “80 that all the Israelites that believed on him, after he exclaimed on the cross, “ It is finished," might abstain from all the rituals of their law, such as circumcision, water baptisms, outward sacrifices, seventh day sabbaths, and all their other holy days, and be blameless,” &c.
These surely are astonishing events to result from the death of one who came only to do what every man is required to do, and who merely died a martyr!
It appears, however, that Elias Hicks does believe that this
topstone and worst of all the crimes, committed by the scribes and Pharisees and people of Israel, by which the measure of their iniquity was filled up;" that this diabolical and wicked act, was the means of abolishing the Jewish law and dispensation.--Now if it was the will of God that this law should be abolished, and “the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ” was the appointed means of its abolishment, as Elias
Hicks asserts; then from his own reasoning, the Jews did the will of God, in crucifying Christ, quite as fully as on the supposition that he came to suffer death for the sins of mankind.
Let us state the argument in his own language-For if it was the purpose and will of God, that the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ should sum up in one all the outward atoning sacrifices of the shadowy dispensation, and put an end to them all, thereby abolishing the law; which put an end to that dispensation, together with its law and covenant; then the Jews by crucifying Jesus Christ would have done God's will, and of course would all have stood justified in his sight.
But Elias Hicks says all this was done by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ. Therefore, according to his reasoning, the Jews did the will of God in committing this topstone and worst of all their crimes. We have here another specimen of his inconsistencies, indeed the letter presents us with a tissue of them, on almost every page. If, to extricate himself from this difficulty, he says
that it was not the purpose and will of God thus to abolish the law, he must consider the Jewish law as still in force, and to be consistent, he should observe all its rituals and ceremonies. And he has virtually asserted this ; for as he declares that Christ did not come “purposely to suffer death," and that his death was the topstone and worst of all the crimes committed by the Jewish nation, and consequently very contrary to the purpose and will of God in sending him into the world, it follows from his mode of reasoning, that if this murderous deed abolished the law, it must have been done away contrary to the purpose and will of God-Ergo, the Law of Moses ought still to be in force. Let any
serious person read the account of the delivery of the law to the children of Israel, and the solemn injunctions which were laid upon them to observe all its rituals ; and then say whether he thinks it probable that an event which was to annul that law and do it completely away, never came within the design and purposes and will of the Divine Lawgiver?
Is it probable that a law, ratified and sealed by so many awful and impressive sanctions, could be abrogated by the mere accidental death of a martyr? We say accidental, because Elias Hicks asserts that his death was no part of the divine
purpose and will in sending Jesus Christ into the world. Our readers will perceive from the Scripture narrative that this law partook of the nature of a covenant made between two parties, the Almighty and the children of Israel-as the consent of both parties was necessary to its ratification and