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his designs, viz. by bringing this to pass in his sovereign disposal, as the great possessor and Governor of the universe, that disposes all things just as pleases him. “ Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel ; I have made the earth, the man and the beast, that are upon the ground, by my great power, and my stretched out arm, and have given it unto -whom it seemed meet unto me ; and now I have given all
these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, MY SERVANT, and the beasts of the field have I given also lo serve him."
And Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of as doing these things, by having his arms strengthened by God, and having God's sword put into his hands, for this end. Ezek. xxx. 24, 25, 26. Yea, God speaks of his terribly ravaging and wasting the nations, and cruelly destroying all sorts, without distinction of sex or age, as the weapon in God's hand, and the instrument of his indignation, which God makes use of to fulfil his own purposes, and execute his own vengeance. Jer, li. 20, &c. “ Thou art my battle axe, and weapons of war : For with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms, and with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider, and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider ; with thee also will I break in pieces man and woman, and with thee will I break in pieces old and young, and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid,” &c. It is represented, that the designs of Nebuchadnezzar, and those that destroyed Jerusalem, never could have been accomplished, had not God determined them, as well as they. Lam. ii. 37. “ Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, and the Lord commandeth it not ?". And yet the king of Babylon's thus destroying the nations, and especially the Jews, is spoken of as his great wickedness, for which God finally des. troyed him. Isa. xiv. 4, 5, 6, 12. Hab. ii. 5.... 12, and Jer. ' chap. I. and li. It is most manifest, that God, to serve his own designs, providentially ordered Shimei's cursiog David. 2 Sam. xvi. 10, 11. ^ The Lord hath said unto him, curse David.... Let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him.
It is certain, that God thus, for excellent, holy, gracious and glorious ends ordered the fact which they commitied, who
were concerned in Christ's death; and that therein they did but fulfil God's designs. As, I trust, no Christian will deny it was the design of God that Christ should be crucified, and that for this end, he came into the world. It is very manifest by many scriptures, that the whole affair of Christ's crucifixion, with its circumstances, and the treachery of Judas, that made way for it, was ordered in God's Providence, in pure suance of his purpose ; notwithstanding the violence that is used with those plain scriptures, to obscure and pervert the sense of them. Acts üi. 23. “ Him being delivered, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,* ye have ta. ken, and with wicked hands, have crucified and slain.” Luke. 21, 22.“ But behold the hand of him that betrayeth me, is with me on the table ; and truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined." Acts iv. 27, 28. “ For of a truth, against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. Acts ïii. 17, 18. “ And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers; but these things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." So that what these murderers of Christ did, is spoken of as what God brought to pass or ordered, and that by which he fulfilled his own word.
*“ Grotius, as well as Beza, observes, prognosis must here signify decree; and Elsner has shewn that it has that signification, in approved Greek writers. And it is certain Ekdotos signifies one given up into the hands of an enemy." Dodd. in Loc.
† “ As this passage is not liable to the ambiguities, which some have apprehended in Acts ii. 23, and iy 28, (which yet seem on the whole to be parallel to it, in their most natural construction I look upon it as an evident proof, that these things are, in the language of scripture, said to be determined or decreed (or exactly bounded and marked out by God as the word Orizo most naturally signifies) which he sees in fact will happen, in consequence of his volitions, without any necessitating agency; as well as those events, of which he is properly the Author." Dodd. in Loc.
• In Rev. xvii. 17, the agreeing of the kings of the earth to give their kingdom to the beast, though it was a very wicked thing in them, is spoken of as a fulfilling of God's Will, and what God had put into their hearts to do. It is manifest that God sometimes permits sin to be cominitted, and at the same time orders things so, that if he permits the fact, it will come to pass, because, on some accounts, he sees it needful and of importance, that it should come to pass. Matth. xviii. 7. “ It must needs be, that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.” With 1 Cor. xi. 19. 166 For there must also be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."
Thus it is certain and demonstrable from the Holy Scriptures, as well as the nature of things, and the principles of Arminians, that God permits sin, and at the same time, so orders things, in his Providence, that it certainly and infallibly will come to pass, in consequence of his permission.
I proceed to observe in the next place,
III. That there is a great difference between God's being concerned thus, by 'his permission, in an event and act, which, in the inherent subject and agent of it, is sin, (though the event will certainly follow on his permission) and his being concerned in it by producing it and exerting the act of sin ; or between his being the Orderer of its certain existence, by not hindering it, under certain circumstances, and his being the proper Actor or Author of it, by a positive agency or efficiency. And this, notwithstanding what Dr. Whitby offers about a saying of philosophers, that causa deficiens, in rebus necessariis, ad causam per se efficientem' reducenda est. As there is a vast difference between the sun's being the cause of the lightsomeness and warmth of the atmosphere, and brightness of gold and diamonds, by its presence and positive influence ; and its being the occasion of darkness and frost, in the night, by its motion, whereby it descends below the horizon. The motion of the sun is the occasion of the latter kind of events; but it is not the proper cause, efficient or producer of them ; though they are necessarily consequent on that motion under such circumstances; no more is any action of the Divine Being the cause of the evil of men's Wills, If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat ; and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun ; and it might be justly inferred, that the sun itself is dark and cold, and that its beams are black and frosty. But from its being the cause no otherwise than by its departure, no such thing can be inferred, but the contrary; it may justly be argued, that the sun is a bright and hot body, if cold and darkness are found to be the consequences of its withdrawment; and the more constantly and necessarily these effects are connected with, and confined to its absence, the more strongly does it argue the sun to be the fountain of light and heat. So, inasmuch as sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the Most High, but, on the contrary, arises from the witholding of his action and energy, and, under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence ; this is no argument that he is sinful, or his operation evil, or has any thing of the nature of evil, but, on the contrary, that He and his agency are altogether good and holy, and that He is the fountain of all holiness. It would be strange arguing, indeed, because men never commit sin, but only when God leaves them to themselves, and necessarily sin, when he does so, that therefore their sin is not from themselves but from God; and so, that God inust be a sinful Be: ing; as strange as it would be to argue, because it is always clark when the sun is gone, and never dark when the sun is present, that therefore all darkness is from the sun, and that his disk and beams must needs be black.
IV. It properly belongs to the Supreme and Absolute Governor of the universe, to order all important events within his dominion, by his wisdom; but the events in the moral world are of the most important kind, such as the moral aclions of intelligent creatures, and their consequences.
· These events will be ordered by something. They will either be disposed by wisdom, or they will be disposed by chance ; that is, they will be disposed by blind and undesigning causes, if that were possible, and could be called a disposal. Is it not better, that the good and evil which happens in God's world, should be ordered, regulated, bounded and determined by the good pleasure of an infinitely wise Being, who perfectly comprehends within his understanding and constant view, the universality of things, in all their extent and duration, and sees all the influence of every event, with respect to every individual thing and circumstance, throughout the grand system, and the whole of the eternal series of consequences; than to leave these things to fall out by chance, and to be determined by those causes which have no understanding or aim ? Doubtless, in these important events, there is a better and a worse, as to the time, subject, place, manner and circumstances of their coming to pass, with regard to their influence on the state and course of things. And if there be, it is certainly best that they should be detere mined to that time, place, &c. which is best. And therefore it is in its own nature fit, that wisdom, and not chance, should order these things. So that it belongs to the Being, who is the possessor of Infinite Wisdom, and is the Creator and Owner of the whole system of created existences, and has the care of all; I say, it belongs to him to take care of this matter; and he would not do what is proper for him, if he should neglect it. And it is so far from being 'unholy in him to undertake this affair, that it would rather have been unholy to neglect it, as it would have been a neglecting what fitly appertains to him; and so it would have been a very unfit and unsuitable neglect.
Therefore the sovereignty of God doubtless extends to this matter; especially considering, that if it should be supposed to be otherwise, and God should leave men's volitions, and all moral events, to the determination and disposition of blind and unmeaning causes, or they should be left to happen perfectly without a cause ; this would be no more consistent with liberty, in any notion of it, and particularly not in the Ar