« AnteriorContinuar »
and useful sentiment. Only the application of it must be fair, impartial, and complete. We must not give it vent solely against those rare and minor instances, of which the mischief to the world, if it were all collected into one sum, would not be very great; and withhold it from those enormous, durable, and habitual cases, to which the greater part of the burthe and calamities of mankind have always been owing. This would be an unhappy propensity of mind, and we hope Mr. Grant will afford it no countenance.
Our author who, in general, gives cavalier treatment to those from whom he differs, makes no exception in the case of Sir John Malcolm. It is well known, to those who have thought it worth their while to attend to East India disputes, that on the subject of the extension of conquests, the Directors and the Indian Governors General have lately been on opposite sides. The Directors have maintained that extension of our conquests in India was neither just nor useful : the Governors General have contended that it was highly useful, and then the justice followed of course. Mr. Grant, as might naturally be supposed, is on the side of the Directors. General Malcolm, as might also be naturally supposed, is on the side of the Governors General ;-and he has lately published a book, in which, for a book on the “ empire" in India, there is a tolerable share of good thinking. Mr. Grant, after some observations on the conquests out of which the “ empire” has grown, thus proceeds :
• But, though some accession of power was necessary, it did not follow that the accession should be unlimited. The doctrine has, indeed, sometimes been maintained, that, in the case of states, the laws of ambition and self-preservation are the same ;-that there is no point at which, rather than at any other, an expanding empire can safely cease to grow. It is intended, let us hope, that the operation of this doctrine should always be subject to the paramount claims of right and justice. Even on its own ground, however, such an opinion, if not held merely from that imbecility which ever takes refuge in extremes, is either the fancy of a theorist who subtilizes away the distinctions marked out by plain sense, or the worse delusion of a conqueror who resolves the bias of his own passions into the impulse of destiny.'
As Luther, on one occasion, said of a certain point, that he knew not whether he could defend it against the devil, but he was sure he could defend it against the pope; so, though we will not take upon us to say how far the principle of utility will go along with Sir John Malcolm, and where it will beg leave to break off, we think we might very safely undertake to furnish him with arguments ad hominem against the East India Company, to any amount he may have occasion for. In truth we
cannot help a little admiring an author, who thus represents himself as the panegyrist of the Company-not often admitting in their conduct so much as a casual error who can talk of the “ empire” in India as the glorious consummation of all our desires ;-and who yet, with all the coolness in the world, takes
the paramount claims of right and justice” in his mouth, as words with which to cast odium upon
one who tries to find reasons which will defend the conquests by which that empire has been made.
We shall conclude this article with one other remark, which to us appears to be a very important one. To maintain the goodness of the East India Company, as an instrument of government, it is necessary to maintain the badness of the British constitution. When we speak of the goodness or badness of human institutions, we are commonly obliged to speak relatively, and by comparison. When the comparison is between the East India Company and the British constitution, the goodness of the one means the badness of the other. In the heat of his zeal for the Company, Mr. Grant occasionally forgets his loyalty,- and actually goes far toward acknowledging, that the British constitution is a very defective instrument of government. When Ministers and Parliament first interfered with the East India Company, in 1772, the quantum of wisdom and virtue which he describes them as bringing to the business, is rather scanty.
• When the interposition of the legislature,' he tells us, actually took place, it secured to the public a participation in the revenues of the new empire; and at this point it commenced and terminated. Notwithstanding the immense variety of local interests connected with the realization of those revenues, and while stories of oppressions in the East, were universally current, no obligation of good conduct was imposed on the Company. They were bound only to the provision of a surplus revenue in their dominions; a stipulation, the fulfilment of which, for a short term of years, was as compatible with the most tyrannical as with the most paternal policy If it be true, as is not rarely alledged against the Company, that they have been greatly more attentive to the accumulation of proot than to matters of a weightier nature, the events under consideration at least show, that the Company have not had this failing to them. selves.'
This is a hone-thrust, which is not easily parried. To this point must the arguments in defence of the Company generally come. Whatever may be the faults which the government of the Company actually displays, the general inference must always be, that government under the immediate form of the British constitution would be still worse. It is perfectly evident, that whenever this ceases to be maintained, the defence Vol. X.
of the Company is of necessity abandoned. If, however, it is really true that the British constitution is a worse instrument of government than the East India Company, we can only say we are afraid it is in general praised far beyond its desert: for in that case the suggestion of reason would be, not to substitute the
Government to the East India Company in India, but the East India Company to the Government at home.
Art. X. Erastus and Trophimus. The Conversations of Erastus and
Trophimus, on the Doctrine of distinguishing Grace. By John
Birt. 12mo. pp. 174. Longman and Co. 1813. UNIFORMITY of principles is not to be expected in this
life, even among good men. In determining the sides they take in many obscure and difficult questions, much must be ascribed to the influence of their education-their societytheir capacities natural and acquired—and the habits and complexion of their minds. As these circumstances will continue to operate to the end of time, there will always be a diversity of opinion on those topics which have for ages divided the Christian world. A perfect harmony of principles being hopeless, the great object should be to render diversity of opinion in religion as innocent and harmless as possible. Among other devices for this
it has often been recommended to preserve a total silence upon the subjects in controversy among true Christians, such as human liberty, the origin of evil, the extent of divine influence, and predestination. The mischief, however, is that this remedy, even if it were desirable, cannot be applied. Intricate and perplexing as those subjects confessedly are, most thinking persons have determined in favour of one side or the other, and have ways of obviating, at least to their own satisfaction, the difficulties that may be thought to embarrass the side that they have chosen. According to the station that they occupy in relation to those abstruse questions, their other principles will receive a specific modification, which will frequently betray itself notwithstanding the utmost caution and circumspection. Thus much however must be allowed on all hands: that though it be useless to recommend an entire suspension of hostilities, it would greatly tend to counteract their attendant evils, and bring good men nearer to an agreement, if modesty, fairness, temperance, and good-will prevailed in the discussion of the controverted points.
To us who have lately been under the necessity of working through a large mass of angry and uncharitable disputation on the subjects of grace, free will, and election, the perusal of the little work before us was very gratifying. Its object is to erince that God has chosen a certain number of sinful men, whom he designs to make finally happy by renewing their souls and receiving them into his favour,--and of course to defend the main article in dispute between persons of Calvinistic tenets and their antagonists. It is not because our author has thrown any fresh light on this obscure and often agitated question, or because he has discovered more ingenuity, or subtlety than his predecessors in the same line of argument, that we were particularly pleased with his book, but because he seems more sober, more reasonable, temperate, and charitable, than most of his fellow labourers. These “ conversations” afford an excellent example of a controversy innocently and happily conducted.
We likewise censider this volume as a very fair exposition and an able defence of the distinguishing tenets of the Calvinistic section of the evangelical teachers. In this view, again, it is valuable. It is so much the fashion to refute their doctrines by misstating and caricaturing them, that they owe it to themselves and the public to give their own explanation of their own principles, to rescue them from misrepresentation, and fortify them with their appropriate arguments. By so doing it is too much to expect, perhaps, that they will make many converts; but they will at any rate prevent it from being thought that they are a sort of monsters in theology, and put a check upon
the impertinent accusations and erudite ignorance of their antagonists.
For the purpose of illustrating the spirit and manner of this book, we shall subjoin a short extract or two. After considerdering whether the doctrine discussed in this volume be analogous to the ordinary course of events, the conversation proceeds as follows :
Trophimus. • I cannot leave you without offering one question, which presented itself since we last conversed on this subject, and which hitherto I have not found a suitable opportunity to propose. Does not this doctrine imply that there is a difference between the secret and revealed will of God?'
Erastus. I do not exactly comprehend this distinction of wills, nor am I acquainted with any who suppose that God has a purpose inconsistent with the scriptures. Do you mean that we represent the actual purpose of the Most High to be different from the language of revelation'
Trophimus. • Exactly. The scriptures tell me, that God willeth not the death of a sinner; you, on the contrary, would have me be. lieve that he willeth the death of all, except a certain number.'
Erastus. Your usual candour and fairness have, in this instance; forsaken
you: let us sce however if this difficulty can be removed. I imagined that in former conversations this had been met, by observing that while the salvation of the elect is all of grace, those that are lost, are by sin, their own destroyers : and I apprehend that,
unless it could be proved that the doctrine which you oppose repre. sents the death of the sinner to be the effect, purely of the will of God, your objection will not avail. I will take the liberty to ask you one question : Does it appear that all men are saved ?'
Trophimus. By no means ;' the wicked are turned into hell.'
Erastus. • Is it through the want of power on the part of God that all are not saved ?'
Trophimus. That is impossible; God is omnipotent.'
Erastus. • It is then, because he did not will the salvation of all; and you perceive that the text, quoted in the sense you attach to it, militates equally, against all who believe that any will be lost. This is not the only instance when, in anticipated triumph, an argument is wielded against this doctrine which, eventually, somewhat resembles Abner's
spear, the hinder part pierces; with this difference the wound is inflicted on the holder of the weapon. It is by no means uncommon for good people, in their zeal against a doctrine they dislike, to adduce arguments, which proving too much, are worse than useless to their cause. You must however perceive a difference, between not willing the death, and willing the life of a sinner; so that the one by no means implies the other. For instance; can it be said that because God does not will the life of an impenitent sinner, the will of God is the cause of his death? Is it not owing rather to his sins? It is sufficiently proved, by the communication of the gospel, the promise of the Spirit's aid and the connexion of eternal life with penitence and faith; that the death of sinner is not the effect of the will of God. If the sinner neglect and despise these, does he die because God willeth his death, or because of his neglect and contempt of Divine grace? Yet, as I before observed, could
you prove all
you attempt, you would as much affect your own sentiments, as those of others: none would then be right but believers in universal salvation.'
98-101. Upon the tendency of the doctrine of distinguishing grace to encourage licentiousness, the following observations occur.
Trophimus. This doctrine is frequently, I cannot say unjustly, charged with a tendency to licentiousness. It teaches men to reason thus : God from eternity chose his people, and rendered their salvation infallible: if I am of the elect, live how I list, I shall undoubt. edly go to heaven: if I am not elected, live as wickedly as I will, I can but go to hell.'
Erastus. This charge has been repeated a thousand times : at first sight it has some plausibility ; but on a scrutiny, this plausibility vanishes The accusation which you adopt, has produced very powerful effects on the minds of many good people; and has caused them to turn with horror, from a doctrine charged with such perilous consequences. Without pausing to weigh and examine the matter of the charge, they consider it as fully substantiated; and reason on it as an axiom universally acknowledged. When it is attempted to plead a cause so obnoxious to them, they are quickly prepared with the retort: what, shall we encourage a sentiment so contrary to god. Liness?