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Farewell! oh, be happy, be blest,
Far off, be a sound never heard;
THE EVENING INVITATION.
Oh Ida! fair Ida! the evening is sweet,
In solitude ever my dreams are of thee,
Oh Ida, my loved one, oh Ida, my sweet,
So my thoughts dwell on thee, where alone they are blest.
Oh come, my love, Ida! when thou art away
Though the flowers, and the waters, and the woods are so fair, A something is wanting, if thou be not there;
The sunshine is rayless, the songsters are dumb,
When Ida I see not; oh come, my love, come!
MILD the evening sun is shining
Round the oak upon the lea :-
To the world-but not to me!
Why, when all around is cheery,
When all I look upon is gay?-
When my love is far away!
THE WANDERER'S ADIEU.
Receive, O beloved, in kindness receive
Of one, who has fervently loved thee, believe,
How often, alas! have I linger'd at eve,
And, if 'twas denied me, 'twas pleasant to grieve,
How often, unmark'd, have I gazed upon thee,
And, oh! if thy voice was directed to me,
Like the sunbeams of evening that fall on the sea,
When like weed of the desolate wilderness toss'd
Then like a fair star on the brow of the steep,
Thy beacon of light shall irradiate the deep,
Thou know'st not my passion, and never shalt know Who sends this confession to thee;
Soon mountains shall tower, and the ocean shall flow
But yet I am glad, that thou never canʼst grieve
Farewell, and when I am for ever forgot,
ON COPLESTONE'S INQUIRY INTO THE DOCTRINES OF NECESSITY AND PREDESTINATION.*
TO CHRISTOPHER NORTH, ESQ.
DEAR SIR,-A few words shall serve me in the way of preface to the following remarks. There is, however, one preliminary that I am solicitous to press upon your attention. It is only with the philosophical part of Dr Coplestone's Treatise that I have to do. That the subject involves the deepest religious considerations, I am well aware. Nor is it possible, that I should altogether avoid adverting to some of the theological consequences, real or supposed, which result from the doctrines in question; but it is my wish to speak of these as distantly as the argument will admit of my doing. I would neither trouble you with the peculiarities of my own creed, nor impugn those of others. A partizan of no sectarian system, a zealot for no religious dogma, the elucidation of truth is all for which I am anxious; and if I may be allowed to hope that I am without that bigotry, which would keep me unconvinced, in spite of reason, I am sure I have no motive of interest which might induce me to affect to be so.
In his Preface, Dr Coplestone very properly gives an outline of the design and contents of his four Discourses. "His leading argument," he says, 66 was suggested by a small treatise, by the late Mr Dawson of Sedbergh, published about twenty years ago. In it the author lays down three axioms, as the foundation of his reasoning. 1. If we make a false supposition, and reason justly from it, a contradiction or absurdity will be contained in the conclusion. 2. Every action or exertion, voluntarily made, is with a design, or in hopes of obtaining some end. 3. All practical principles must either be founded in truth, or believed to be so for the moment that they operate." From these premises, he infers, "that where the doctrine of necessity is firmly believed, and made use of as a practical principle, motives cease to ope
rate. Assuming, then, that in a future state our faculties will be enlarged, our understandings enlightened, and our apprehensions quickened, he concludes, that a continual progress in knowledge must at length terminate in absolute inactivity; and this conclusion, that activity, which throughout nature is observed to accompany intelligence, should be destroyed by the rational faculties being enlarged, he justly thinks, is so paradoxical, as to throw much discredit on the principle from which it is by fair reasoning deduced."
Dr Coplestone goes on to say, that "the developement of this principle so applied, is attempted in the earlier part of the first discourse. But, besides this, as an argument of equal authority, and as one concurrent in its application, it appeared to me, that the moral consequences of the hypothesis in question might also be pursued; for the notion of a moral agent, gifted with mental powers, the improvement of which naturally tends to the weakening or the extinction of moral principle, is an absurdity similar to the former, and equally conclusive against the truth of the supposition from which it flows."
"In the second discourse, the difficulties arising out of the belief of a superintending Providence, as compatible with the free will of man, are considered." The following axioms are then laid down :-" 1. That God foreknows all things, and yet that he deals with man as if future events were contingent in their nature. 2. That God's Providence controls the order of events, and yet that man is free to choose and to act." It is afterwards remarked, that "each proposition is separately demonstrable; yet they are not contradictory, and yet their congruity may be inconceivable." Upon this it is only at present necessary to make one remark, that
* An Inquiry into the Doctrines of Necessity and Predestination, in four Discourses, preached before the University of Oxford, with Notes, and an Appendix, on the Seventeenth Article of the Church of England, by Edward Coplestone, D. D.—Murray.
the expression "free to choose and to act," is not definite. No one has ever denied, that man is free to choose and to act according to the dictates of his will, which will is determined by circumstances under the control of Providence. *The question is, whether man is free to act and to chuse, independently of Providence and external circumstances,-especially the latter. This, however, it is presumed, Dr Coplestone meant to express in his axiom. If he did not, the axiom is admitted by Necessitarians, and is strictly in unison with the Necessitarian theory. The assertion, that " God deals with man, as if future events were contingent," shall be considered by and by. In his third Discourse, the reverend inquirer transfers his reasoning to the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination. The fourth also inquires, whether, according to the Calvinists, "there be few that be saved;" and whether “each man's destiny is to be regard ed as settled from all eternity;" this, including some very proper observations on the use of words, is, I believe, the substance of Dr Coplestone's Preface.
It remains to proceed with my intention of offering some cursory remarks, in reply to the points brought forward in his Discourses. There is one distinction, however, insisted upon by the reverend author, from which I must express my dissent. It is the following objection to the use of the word “true,” as applied to the future. "If it (truth) be found to mean what all accurate writers define it to be, the agreement of a representation with the thing represented, there must be some thing previously existing before the idea of truth can be entertained at all. Propositio vera quod res est dicit.' The original may be antecedent to the representation. An assertion, there fore, respecting the future, may be probable or improbable, ** it may have any relation we please to the mind of the person who makes it, or of him who hears it; but it can have no relation at all to a thing which is not." Now, this distinction appears to me completely "to turn upon the equivocation of a word." An assertion of the certainty of future events, is only an assertion of the present exist
ence of grounds for knowing that a certain chain of causes and effects must take place. That which has ceased to be," is not” as much as that which has not begun to be; yet Dr Coplestone would hardly object to an assertion of the present existence of grounds, for knowing that some past event certainly has been why should he then to an assertion that some future event shall be? In fact, the knowledge of the past and of the future are precisely of the same sort; distant views of causes and effects, not at present in action, but which have either ceased to act, or not begun to act. To a perfect intelligence, it is admitted, that the past and the future must be alike, as it must perceive the chain of causes, equally clearly and fully, on each side. Nay, with the human mind, this is the case, as far as human infirmity will permit. In cases where we have the means of a very full knowledge of cause and effect, this is evident; as, for instance, a clockmaker is as certain, barring some very distant chances, that his clock will strike the next hour as that it struck the last.
Dr Coplestone takes for his first text, Acts, xv. 18. "Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning to the end." The Discourse sets out with explaining the nature of the Di vine prescience, by comparing it to that imperfect foreknowledge of events, at which the human mind is sometimes enabled to arrive. "As man is
a being of a certain composition, having such and such faculties, inclinations, affections, desires, and appetites, it is very possible for those who study his nature attentively, especially for those who have practical experience of any individual, or of any community of men, to foretel how they will be affected, and how they will act under any supposed circumstances. The same power, in an unlimited degree, it is natural and reasonable to ascribe to that Being who excels the wisest of us, infinitely more than the wisest of us excels his fellowcreatures. It never enters the mind of a person, who reflects in this way, that his anticipation of another's conduct lays any restraint upon that conduct when he comes to act. The anticipation, indeed, is relative to him
The denial of a particular, and the assertion of a general providence, is one of the attempts to reconcile freewill and the divine control; it only perplexes the question farther.
self. *** *** No man supposes the certainty of the event, (to use a common, but, as I conceive, improper phrase,) to correspond at all with the certainty of him who foretels or expects it. In fact, every day's experience shews that men are deceived in the event, even when they regard themselves as most certain. ***** How is it then? God can never be deceived; his knowledge, therefore, is always accompanied or followed by the event; and yet, if we get an idea of what his knowledge is by our own, why should we regard it as dragging the event along with it, when, in our own case, we acknowledge the two things have no connection?" This first point of Dr Coplestone's discourse is by no means new-scarcely any, indeed, of the objections to the doctrine of philosophical necessity are so—and as it is not new, so it has been more than once answered in some shape or other. The reverend metaphysician himself has, indeed, supplied an apparent solution, probably for the sake of afterwards overturning it, but this solution Necessitarians will not adopt. It is not the true answer to say, "that though your knowledge does not affect the event, yet God, who is all-powerful, who made all things as they are, and who knows all that will come to pass, must be regarded as rendering that necessary which he foreknows, just even as you may be considered accessary to the event, which you anticipate, exactly in proportion to the share you have had in preparing the instruments, or forming the minds of those who are to bring it about." It is equally useless, consequently, to rejoin with the reverend gentleman,
that the connection between the knowledge and the event, is not at all proved by this argument;" or, that "it is not because I knew what would follow, but because I contributed towards it that it is influenced by me." Nor will it serve any purpose of argument to assert, "that God's foreknowledge ought not to interfere without belief in the contingency of events, and the freedom of human actions."
The plain reply is this:-Necessitarians do not hold that the Divine foreknowledge renders events necessary, but that it proves them to be necessary. Human foreknowledge also is a proof, as far as it goes, of the necessity of that which is foreknown.
The difference between the human mind feeling certain of a future event, and the Divine mind feeling certain of a future event, is nearly this-that human judgment, instead of being perfect, is built upon deductions drawn from observation and experience, which, though often right, are fallible in their nature, and consequently sometimes false, even when resting upon the best apparent grounds. When, however, a man feels certain of a future event, and his certainty is founded, as it often is, upon real and good foundations of observation and experience, it is, in fact, a complete proof of the necessary occurrence of that future event, though not acknowledged to be such, because it is impossible to be sure beforehand, whether the grounds of certainty be absolutely good and secure. The dif ference between the validity of proof drawn from human certainty, and that of proof drawn from the Divine certainty, is the difference between the fallibility of human foresight and the infallibility of Divine foresight. The infallible foresight of the Deity is a perfect proof of the future necessary occurrence of an event, of which the fallible foresight of the human mind is an imperfect proof, but a legitimate one, as far as it goes. In a note appended to his first discourse, Dr Coplestone, in reply to Edwards, who has strongly enforced this argument, says, "Infallible foreknowledge, while it remains foreknowledge, proves nothing. When the being who possesses this declares that a thing will come to pass, that declaration indeed proves, or is a certain ground of assurance to us, that it will come to pass. Even then it does not prove the event to be necessary."
Here are some distinctions which may include a little difficulty. The difficulty, however, arises from any thing but the truth of the distinctions. If infallible foreknowledge, when declared, proves that an event will come to pass-that foreknowledge, when undeclared, must be an existing proof, though an undeclared proof, of the future occurrence of the given event; it must be an existing proof, because it is known or has declared itself to him who possesses it, although he has not made it known or declared it to others. The declaration or non-declaration of any thing cannot alter the nature or affect the existence of that