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is become of the frightful objection against the doctrine of God's decrees, as if it made God the author of sin, which we so often hear from great and small, learned and unlearned? I trust it cannot stand the test of Scripture and reason, but being impartially examined, appears groundless and most absurd; which I humbly think is in some measure manifest by what is said above.

The truth is, all this noise is, at bottom, made against God's permitting sin. By proving God's holiness in this, therefore, the objection is wholly demolished.*

I think it of importance that all should be convinced of this. If, therefore, what has been said affords any light and evidence to this truth, the labor is not lost.

II. God's will in permitting sin is perfectly consistent with his holy law which he hath given unto man, or his revealed will.

Some have been unable to reconcile these together, and make them consistent. But what has been said on this subject I think removes the difficulty, and helps us to see the consistency and perfect agreement between these two.

The sum of what God requires of man in his law is love to

* I am aware it will be said, that "all this does not vindicate the doctrine of God's decrees; for though one objection is given up, and it is granted that this does not make God the author of sin, yet it takes away all blame from man, and makes it impossible that there should be any such thing as sin in the universe; for God's decree takes away all liberty from man, and, therefore, he cannot sin in what he does."

Answer. What if God determined to make man free, and to permit him to sin in the exercise of his freedom; does this take away man's liberty? Strange! if God's decreeing to make man free, and to permit him to sin in the exercise of this liberty, should take away all liberty; as strange, at least, as if God's determining to make man and give him existence should eternally deprive him of being.

Objection. What God has decreed will certainly come to pass; and, therefore, introduces a necessity which is inconsistent with liberty, and so with virtue or vice. When, therefore, you say, God decreed to permit man to sin in the exercise of his liberty, you are guilty of a contradiction in terms, and suppose that which is impossible, viz., that the certainty implied in God's decree is consistent with liberty.

Answer. Please to mind that this objection is made as much against God's foreknowledge as his decrees; for foreknowledge supposes and implies the certainty of the actions foreknown as much as any decree can do. But how will you prove that the certainty of future actions and events is inconsistent with liberty on which the objection is wholly built. Prove this, and the Bible will be overthrown at once, and the common sense of mankind will appear to be a mere delusion. The Bible is, as it were, wholly planned on the supposition of the certainty of all the future actions of men. It represents God as foreknowing all things, and predicts millions of actions, and represents men as free in those very actions that are pointed out beforehand; and do mankind, in order to determine whether a man is free in what he does, first inquire what degree of certainty there was that he would act just as he has done? Surely, no. This objection, therefore, is directly contrary to the Bible and all reason.

God, and love to man; (Matt. xxvii. 37-39;) which love is principally exercised in desiring and seeking God's glory and the good of man. But God, in permiting sin, desired and sought his own glory and the good of man, and, therefore, exercised the same disposition that his law requires of man, and willed and chose the same thing which he requires man to will and choose in his law; and, therefore, the more a man obeys God's law, revealed in his word, the nearer conformed he is to God's disposition and will which he exercised in the permission of sin.

Now this being so, it is a conclusive argument that God's will in permitting sin is the same, or perfectly consistent, with his will revealed in his law; for it is a maxim that never fails, that, "if any two things agree with a third, they also agree with one another." If, therefore, the holiness of man, which is a conformity to God's law, is also a conformity to God's disposition and will, exercised in permitting sin, then God's disposition and will, in permitting sin, and his law, are conformable one to the other.

God's permission of sin was an act of benevolence to the universe, in which he sought the good of being in general. The sum of what God's law requires of man is benevolence to being in general. Therefore, God's law is a true expression of his disposition and will which he exercised in permitting sin, and is, indeed, the very same will expressed and revealed, requiring man to conform thereto. Or, thus:

God seeks his own glory, and the good of the creature, in permitting sin; and so his permitting sin is an exercise of holiness. But if God's disposition and will, exercised in the permission of sin, is a holy disposition and will, then it must be agreeable to his revealed will, for that is a holy will. God's revealed will is but an expression of his holiness, and, therefore, it is but an expression of that holiness which he exercised in permitting sin, which consisted in his disposition and will, and, consequently, is perfectly agreeable to it.

I trust my hearers see the force of this argument which I am endeavoring to state. The argument cannot be got rid of, I think, but by denying that God seeks the general good of the universe in permitting sin, which I trust none will do who believe the Bible, and have any right notions of the perfections of God.*

* And is not this sufficient forever to silence the common objection against the doctrine of God's decrees, viz., that, according to this, God has a secret will which is contrary to his revealed will? For, if God's permitting sin is not contrary to his revealed will, then his determining or decreeing to permit it is not. This objection against the doctrine of God's decrees has been urged by many

III. What cause have we to admire and adore the wisdom of God, which is so gloriously exercised and displayed in making sin, which is the greatest evil, the occasion of the greatest good, and in doing this exhibits the greatest imaginable discouragement to sin, and the strongest motives to holiness!

Well may we join with St. Paul, and cry out, "O the depth of the riches both of the knowledge and wisdom of God!" Satan thought when he had seduced man he had gained his point had disappointed, and, as it were, outdone and overmatched, the Almighty, and spoiled and robbed him of the world he had made. How may we imagine the "old serpent" swelled with pride, and vaunted himself on this occasion! The good angels doubtless beheld what was done with a sort of astonishment and surprise, and thought the world ruined and lost; and no creature could conceive how the mischief could be retrieved, and all this evil turned into good. But God looked on, and, as it were, said,

"Satan thinks he has crossed and outdone me now, and lots on an eternal triumph. But he shall be wholly disappointed and defeated, and it shall appear in the end that he has by this only been an instrument of promoting my great and good designs. Sin, which, above all things, strikes at my throne, aims to dishonor me, and in its own nature has a direct tendency to spoil and ruin the works of my hands, and which is, in itself, infinitely mischievous and hateful, even this greatest and most deadly evil I will make the special means of my own exaltation and honor. From this I will take occasion to fill the earth with my glory, and make it a much better world than it was before; and herein I will manifest and display my infinite wisdom to be matter of entertainment, wonder, and admiration to millions to all eternity."

And God, by thus exalting and glorifying himself, and happifying the redeemed, by means of sin, has, at the same time condemned sin, shown his hatred of it, and revealed his wrath against it, and set this in a far more convincing and striking light than he would have done if he had not thus brought good out of sin. This God has done by bringing all this about by the sufferings and death of Christ. If the sinner had been saved without any satisfaction made to divine justice, and regard to the honor of God's law, which by sin was

noted writers with as much confidence, and show of boasted reason and argument, as any thing that has been advanced in opposition to the peculiar doctrines of Calvinis; and perhaps all that has been said in opposition to these doctrines will appear as weak and absurd, - as I trust this now does,-whenever the voice of Scripture and reason shall be suitably attended to.

violated, sin would not have been sufficiently condemned, but the holy law of God would rather have been disgraced. In this, therefore, there would have been no manifestation of God's holiness and hatred of sin. But by saving sinners through the sufferings and death of Christ, God's justice and holiness shine brighter than if there had never been any sin, or all sinners had been damned eternally; and God's hatred of sin and love of righteousness are set in the most advantageous light; and the evil nature of sin, and the infinitely dreadful consequence of continuing in sin, appear in the clearest and most affecting view, tending above all things to make men afraid of sin, and lead them to hate it and renounce it forever.

The gospel is so calculated to discourage sin and promote holiness, at the same time that it brings the greatest good out of sin, that whoever understands it, and believes the truth of it, is thereby transformed into the holy image of God. (2 Cor. iii. 18.) Thus the gospel is so far from encouraging sin, that it is the great instrument in the hand of God of turning men from sin to holiness: yea, God hath so contrived things in the gospel that it becomes the means of making men much more holy than they would have been if they never had sinned; and it advances their happiness by discovering God's holiness, and promoting theirs.

God has so contrived things that sin is not only the occasion of displaying his holiness, but the occasion of more holiness in the creature than if it had never taken place. How is Satan disappointed and defeated herein! while his sin, and the sin which he introduced among mankind, is made the means of a most bright display of God's holiness, and of filling heaven with more holiness, and so with more happiness, to all eternity than otherwise there would have been.

How infinitely above all creatures in wisdom does God appear in this work! This is, by way of eminency, "the wisdom of God," as St. Paul styles it. (1 Cor. i. 24.) Well may we then rejoice and glory in this gospel, and say, with St. Paul, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for therein is the righteousness of God revealed." And at the same time the sinner is saved from sin by faith in Christ, "the wrath of God is," in the clearest manner, "revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men."

"Into these things the angels desire to look." And it is here that they see and learn "the manifold wisdom of God." (Eph. iii. 10.)

Indeed, this is seen but in part now by angels and men. The more bright display of it will be made at the consum

mation of all things, when this work of God shall be brought to perfection, and the good that shall be brought out of sin shall be seen in all its fulness and glory. And as the Jews, to whom the wickedness of Haman was the occasion of so much good, had their sorrow turned into joy, and their mourning into a good day, and had many a day of feasting and joy upon this occasion, so shall this be the occasion of joy among millions, while they give all the praise and glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever and ever.

I shall, in the next place, improve this subject in expostulating a little with two sorts of persons.

I. With those who will not allow that God makes sin the occasion of good, and that he did, therefore, permit sin that he might bring good out of it, and say that such a doctrine gives a full license, yea, the greatest encouragement, to sin. Such persons, whenever they hear this doctrine taught, cry out of it as tending to encourage sin. They say, "If this is true, then the best way is for all to sin as much as they can, that good may come of it; for the more sin the better."

If such persons well considered what has been said on this subject, I think they must be convinced of the gross and dangerous mistake they have made; and that this conviction may be fastened on the mind of every such one, I would offer the following things by way of expostulation :

1. I entreat you to consider how contrary to all reason this is.

It has been proved, I think, beyond all contradiction, that, though sin is made the occasion of the greatest good, yea, though all things considered, there is more good in the universe than if sin had not entered, yet this does not render sin at all the less criminal, or afford any excuse to it; but, on the contrary, it appears undeniably evident that God has taken such a method to bring good out of sin, that he has hereby exhibited to all intelligences the greatest possible discouragements to sin, and set it in a most odious and criminal light. Yea, it is evident to a demonstration, that it is, in the nature of things, absolutely impossible that any one should be induced to sin by the good that God brings out of it. And will you still go on to assert that God's bringing good out of sin is an encouragement to it, and gives full liberty to all to go on in sin? If you do so, you must, so far as I can see, first lay aside your own reason and conscience, and will hereby prove that you are not to be reasoned with; for it is in vain to reason with men who will pay no regard to reason.

2. Consider how contrary this is to the Holy Scripture. Nothing is clearer in the Bible, than that God brings good

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