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has done to defeat him, then he has so far gained his point, and succeeded in the thing he aimed at; and, therefore, so far he is not defeated, but conquers and reigns.
So that these words hold forth this truth in the strongest light, viz., that all the sin in the world is, by Christ, made the occasion of good; yea, that Christ will make sin the occasion of so much good, that the world shall be at least as good a world* as if sin had never been introduced; so that Satan shall not gain his end in one point in the least degree, but shall be wholly defeated.
This is the way in which Christ bruises the serpent's head, viz., by bringing good out of evil; and the more good he makes sin the occasion of, the more effectually is Satan defeated, the greater is Christ's conquest, and the more he triumphs over the devil. If Christ is able to make sin the occasion of so much good, as that God shall be more glorified and this be a much better world than if sin had never come into it, this will be the most deadly and dreadful bruise to Satan's head that can be brought upon it. This will be an overthrow that the devil dreads above all things. To see God greatly glorified, and the world made much better by sin, by which Satan sought to dishonor God and spoil his world; yea, to see sin made the means of making God more glorious, and this a better world than could have been if sin had not been introduced, so that sin becomes the occasion of something directly opposite to that which Satan aims at and seeks to accomplish, and which he above all things hates and desires to destroy; for Satan, I say, to see things turn out so, will be above all things crossing and destructive to him, and must be the most effectual, the greatest and most glorious conquest over him that can be. This is to bruise his head in the highest degree. There is nothing the devil dreads so much as this; and, therefore, to prevent things coming to this pass, he has been exerting all his powers, and making unwearied attempts, in all ages; and, therefore, we may be sure Christ will accomplish this, if he can. He will so bring things about that God shall be more glorified, and this shall be, upon the whole, a much better world than if the devil had never attempted to dethrone God and ruin man; and will make sin, by which the devil sought to spoil this world and rob God of his honor, the occasion and means of bringing this about. I say, we may be sure Christ will do this if he can, and that to a wonderful and even infinite degree; and surely no Christian can doubt of his power to do it. For
By the world, is not meant this earth, or things in the present state only; but the whole universe through all its duration.
this end he came into the world, and became the seed of the woman; for this he hung and died on the cross, by which he spoiled principalities and powers, and triumphed over them. By this he will effectually and gloriously destroy the works of the devil, and put all his enemies under his feet.
Thus we see how the Scripture represents God as making sin the occasion of good, even so as hereby to bring about more good than would have been without it; and that every instance of sin answers some good end, by the wise, overruling hand of God. The matter seems to be abundantly plain according to Scripture.
But there may be some yet stumbled at this, it being strange and unaccountable to them that this should be, upon the whole, a better world than it would have been had not sin and misery entered into it; it being to them one of the greatest paradoxes, that that which in itself is the greatest evil should be productive of the greatest good, the occasion of so much glory to God and good to the world.
But such, if any there are, are desired to consider the fol., lowing things:
1. Our not being able to see how this is, or can be done, is no argument that God cannot do it. Surely, infinite power and wisdom can do this, though infinitely beyond us.
Doubtless God knows how to do this, " who disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise; who taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and carrieth the counsel of the froward headlong." (Job v. 12, 13.) This is the peculiar glory of God's wisdom, that it is able to bring such good out of such evil.
2. Let such consider how shocking and dreadful the thought must be, to suppose that God has permitted that to come into the world which has in a measure spoiled it, so that he can by no means remove the evil, recover the damage, and make his world as good as it was before! How could God look on and see this, and be unconcerned, and possess his infinite felicity? Surely this must grieve him to the heart, in a literal sense, and make him heartily repent that he had made a world for Satan to destroy - to destroy so that he never could perfectly recover it!
Should some one of a nice and elegant taste build a stately palace, and furnish it with every thing pleasant and delightful, and when he had done, his enemy should come and desace it, and throw it into the utmost confusion and deformity, and place in the midst of it something exceeding ugly to the view, and most offensive and loathsome to the smell, and he should be unable to remove it, or so contrive to make it answer some good end to himself as totally to disappoint his enemy, surely this must be very grievous to him. Instead of beauty and pleasure, he must endure the mortification of a most ugly sight, and nauseous, abominable smell, while he has no way to help himself. He would wish a thousand times he had never struck a stroke to that building, but wish in vain. Now, if we suppose God's world is, upon the whole, the worse for sin, do we not represent him to be in the case of such a one, or, rather, infinitely worse?
3. We would do well to consider whether if we do not allow that every instance of sin is the occasion of some great good to overbalance it, or wbether by supposing that, on the whole, the world is worse for sin, we do not really set something up above God, to rule with him, and even over him, in some degree.
According to the Scripture representation of this matter, which we have been considering, God is supreme. He is in the heavens, and hath done whatsoever pleased him. He doth his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand. He has all things in his hand, and orders all events in this world; and lets nothing come into it, or take place there, but what is to answer some good end, and serves to make the world better, more perfect, and excellent than it would have been without it.
But if sin has, by coming into the world, marred and spoiled it, so that it will eternally be a worse, or less perfect and ex. cellent world than it would have been if sin had not entered it, then, surely, sin did not come in by God's permission, but it was thrust in by some one so powerful that God could not prevent it, and, therefore, so far was, and continues to be, above and superior to the Most High.
The devil designed to rob God of his honor, and spoil the world he had made, by introducing sin into it, and so to outdo God, and be above him in this instance; and, as it were, take it out of God's hands, and reign in it himself. And so far as God, upon the whole, loses any honor by what the devil has done, - so far as this world is, upon the whole, worse, so far the devil has obtained his end, has outdone the Most High, and reigns and triumphs, and will do so to all eternity. Surely, none would knowingly represent God in such a dishonorable light, and ascribe such honor and power to the devil and wicked men, but would much rather say, All honor and power belong unto God, and rejoice that God is above men and devils in the thing wherein they deal most proudly; and herein discovers himself to be greater than all others that would desire to be gods.
Having thus endeavored to illustrate and confirm this proposition, I shall now make some reflections on what has been said, by way of inference.
1. This view of the matter helps us to a short, easy, and satisfactory way of accounting for God's suffering sin to come into the world, and permitting it to prevail and abound as it has done; and, indeed, it cannot be accounted for in any
Some of the heathen, in order to account for sin's coming into the world, have supposed it to be governed by two opposite, independent principles or beings, a good one and an evil one; and that all sin and evil is from the evil being, which the good being cannot prevent, and so has no hand even in permitting sin. And some who have the advantage of divine revelation
little better account of the matter, while they suppose God could not prevent sin taking place among his creatures; that God made a number of intelligent creatures that he could not control and keep from sin, if he continued them in being and free agents, and treated them according to the nature and capacity of such. And so the world has been in a great measure spoiled and ruined by sin, introduced by the free
agency of the creature, which could not be restrained and controlled by God. But how this can be reconciled with the Scripture, or the wisdom, supremacy, and infinite happiness of God, I think they have never yet shown.
But if God saw that sin's entering into the world would be the best means of answering the greatest and best ends would be the occasion of the greatest good -a means of the world's becoming better, more excellent and glorious than otherwise it would be, then it is easy to see why he should determine to suffer it to take place, even though at the same time he knew how to prevent it, and could easily have done it. For the sake of the great good which God saw sin would be the occasion of by his disposal, he was quite willing to suffer it to take place among his creatures, and therefore permitted it.
OBJECTION. Is not this to make God do evil that good may come, which St. Paul greatly condemns in the text ?
ANSWER. By no means. Surely God does not do evil in permitting his creatures to sin, but, on the contrary, acts wisely and holily herein. The creature does the evil, and not God. The creature's aims and ends, in committing sin are wicked and vile; but God's aims and designs, in permitting the creature thus to act, are wise and holy. Therefore, God does not do evil that good may come, but all he does is good.
OBJECTION. But does not this represent God as willing and choosing sin, and so taking pleasure in it? To suppose which, would be the highest blasphemy.
ANSWER. This does not represent God as taking pleasure in sin, and willing and choosing it for its own sake, in itself considered; but he is willing sin should take place, for the sake of something else, viz., the great good that it will be the occa. sion of producing. This is nothing contrary to God's hating sin infinitely, considered as it is in itself, in its own nature, as consisting in the disposition, views, and aims of the sinner; as such, it is the abominable thing which God hates.
There seems to be no great difficulty in making this distinction. We are obliged to make the same, with regard to natural evil, or pain and suffering. This is as truly, (though not in the same sense and degree,) I say, as really contrary to God's nature and will, in itself considered, as moral evil. Yet God is so far reconciled to it, for the sake of the good to be obtained by it, that he is quite willing it should take place; yea, inflicts it in millions of instances, with his own hand. Thus it pleased God to bruise his own Son, to put him to the most amazing pain and torture; not because he delights in pain and misery, in itself considered, but he chose thus to put his Son to pain for the sake of the good to be answered there. by. In this view of things, God was quite willing his Son should suffer, and was pleased with it. Whereas, if there had been no good to be answered thereby, it would have been infinitely contrary to God's nature and will that his Son should be put to such extreme pain. Thus the permission of sin can be accounted for, as easily as we account for the sufferings of Christ, and in the same way, viz., that God chose they both should take place, and, therefore, suffered them to take place, for the sake of the great good they are the means of.
If any should say, “ Seeing God chose that his own Son should be put to the most extreme sufferings, and looked on and was pleased with it; and seeing he will inflict such amazing pain on the damned to all eternity, it seems that the pain and misery of his creatures suits him, is agreeable to his will, and he really takes pleasure and delight in it;" I say, if any one should argue in this form, he would talk as consistently, and as much to the purpose, as he who says, “ That, seeing God chose to permit sin, therefore sin is agreeable to his will, and he delights in it.” Both may be easily answered thus: God wills neither sin nor misery for their own sake, they being, in themselves considered, abstracted from all connections and consequences, most contrary to his nature and will; and was there no good end to be answered by sin or