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as a motive to all to give themselves up to God through Jesus Christ; to trust in him for deliverance from all the evil of sin, from sin itself, and from all the evil consequences of it, and that you may share in all that great good that God makes sin the occasion of.
Thus to save and bless sinful man Christ came into the world, suffered, and died; and of this we now have the offer. If you give yourselves up to Christ, you shall be completely saved from all
sins. He will deliver you from the awful wrath of God, and all the dreadful evils that are coming on an ungodly world. He will wash you and make you clean. He will deliver you from all sorrow, and wipe all tears from your eyes. He will bestow all the blessings on you that you can wish for. He will clothe you with glorious robes, with a righteousness more beautiful and glorious than that of angels, a righteousness which never would have been had not creatures sinned. He will bring you to God, and introduce you to a greater nearness to him, and a higher enjoyment of him, than man would have been admitted to if he had never fallen. He will cause you to sit down on his throne, and make you to share in his honor, glory, and happiness. In sum, you sha share in all the good that is brought out of sin, and be eternal gainers by the sin and misery that has filled the world. O, let no sinner disregard and slight these kind and advantageous offers; let him not neglect the glorious Saviour another day, lest it should then be eternally too late, and he be infinitely worse off than if he had never heard the joyful news now proclaimed.
III. Let all hence be excited to seek and endeavor to promote the same ends that God seeks and promotes by the permission of sin. This is (as has been shown) the glory of God and the good of the creature. This is to be holy, and so conformed to God and his law. God seeks these ends in the exercise of his holiness, and we have no other way to seek · them but in holy exercises in keeping God's commands. All that God has done in permitting sin and bringing good out of it, all that he has revealed in his word. and all that he will do to the end of the world, tends to excite to holiness. Let us, then, seek to be holy as he is holy. God hates sin infinitely, and is infinitely engaged to punish it, and woe to us if we do not forsake it and turn to God now while his patience lasts! for without holiness no man shall see the Lord. May you all so know the Lord and be made partakers of his holiness, as that your hearts may echo to the angelic doxology, while they cry, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. Amen.
When these sermons were first published, it was not thought that any of the true friends of Jehovah and his kingdom would be offended with the doctrine, that things, even all the sin that has taken place in his dominions, shall, on the whole, be no injury to his kingdom, but be overruled by him for the great advantage and glory of it forever; yea, it was presumed that this truth would be matter of great joy to all such, and that they would attend to the abundant evidence which we have of it in the Word of God, with a peculiar pleasure; but, however unaccountable it may be, numbers of these professed friends to God, his honor, happiness, and kingdom, bave appeared greatly displeased with this doctrine, and have spoken much against these sermons, chiefly because it was asserted and vindicated.
Mr. D, appears to be one of these, by what he published some years ago in his serinon on “ The Inscrutability of divine Providence." There he has the following words: “That sin hias been of great advantıge to the creation, through divine interposition, some (of confused heads, but sufficiently opinionated) have undertaken to show. But to prove that the happiness of the creation would have been less, provided sin had never entered into the world, they must first be able to tell us what would in fact have been, had all reasonable beings continued innocent — which neither men nor angels can."
Every one, I suppose, who has seen the title of the preceding sermons, will be at no loss in determining who the author had a particulır reference to in these words, though he has, I suppose, inadvertently made a material alteration by using the word creation instead of universe, which includes all existence, created and uncreated. How far the words in the parenthesis show the clearness of the author's head, and his great candor and humility, the reader will judge. Be this as it may, I think I have good ground to say, that if, instead of this parenthesis, he had showed wherein the confusion of the head or the weakness of the arguments offered in support of this doctrine was to be discovered, he would have given more satisfaction to all his judicious, candid readers. But this he has not essayed to do. Yea, so far from this was he, that he has asserted, over and over again, what is really the same thing which he so severely censures in the words just quoted.
He particularly considers the permission of sin as an important article in which the divine providence is concerned, and allows that God did permit sin when he might have prevented it; and he says, “ The plan of his dministration is uniform and fixed, in which the best adapted means are improved to accomplish his general design, which is plainly benevolent. The general view of his administration is, therefore, benevolent; his wisdom and power are, therefore, employed in carrying on designs of the greatest good.” If God, in his providence, and, therefore, in the permission of sin, in every instance of which his providence is concerned, is benevolent, and designs the greatest good, then the permission of sin does promote this design, and answer this end, and is necessary in order to the greatest good; for it is impossible that God should design the greatest good, or any good at all, in suffering that to take place in his providence which of no advantage to the universe; or, which is the same, if there is less good than there might have been, had not sin been permitted. If sin is not, by God's interposition, an advantage to the universe, but God's kingdon, taken in its whole extent, would have been much better, more happy, and glorious, if sin had not been permitted, then there could be no benevolent design in permitting it; and God is so far from carrying on designs of the greatest good in this, that less good was preferred to a greater, which is really the same thing with preferring evil to good.
And this author not only asserts as above, but he very justly observes that it is necessary we should believe that God is good in every instance of his providence, in order to acquiesce in it and exercise proper and cheerful submission. His words are these: “ As a foundation of a rational acquiescence in the providence of God, we must lay this down as principle, that we have clear and abundant proof that he is good as well as wise.” According to this, we can have no reason to acquiesce in God's providence in permitting sin, any further than we have “clear and abundant proof” that he is good in permitting it. But if sin, every instance of it, does not, by God's direction and overruling hand, answer some good end, but it would have been much better on the whole if sin had not been permitted, then God exercises no goodness in the permission of sin, and, consequently, there is no ground of acquiescence in God's providence respecting this very important and most interesting affair, to which most instances of God's providence in this fallen world have some respect.
Is it not a little unaccountable that this author should stigmatize his brethren as “of confused heads and sufficiently opinionated,” for asserting what is fully implied in what he himself says, and which is the only foundation, according to his own account, of all true submission to God's providence It must be left with him to account for it and reconcile this palpable inconsistence, or, rather, retract which part of it he pleases.
Indeed, this doctrine that sin is, by God's interposition and overruling hand, an advantage to the universe, must be received, unless we call in question God's infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, or deny his universal providence, which is really the same thing. This author says, that in order to prove this, " they must first be able to tell us what would in fact have been, had all reasonable beings continued innocent." How absurd is this! How inconsistent with the subject he is upon, (the inscrutability of divine Providence,) and with most he says in other parts of his sermon! Blessed be God! we have a more safe and short way to prove this. God is infinite in power, wisdom, and goodness, and in the exercise of these perfections permits all the sin that takes place in his dominions; therefore, we are sure that all the sin which takes place shall answer some wise and good end, and is, on the whole, such an advantage to the universe, that there will be eternally more good than could have been had there been no evil. We may be just as sure of this as we are that God reigns infinitely blessed, omnipotent, infinitely wise and good, and that the Bible is a revelation from him.*
• Archbishop Sharp has fully asserted this doctrine in his sermon from Psalms xcvii. 1, preached before the king and queen, 1693. That the reader may see that this is no new doctrine, and that it was then supported by the same good reasons by which it is now proved, I will transcribe part of a paragraph or two from him :
Hence it follows, that all events whatsoever, that ever did, or do, or shall happen in the world, are really the best that could or can happen ; and if
The author of a late piece, entitled “An Examination of the late Reverend President Edwards's Inquiry on Freedom of Will," has a section“ the supposed advantage of inoral evil to the universe.” (Part II. sec. v. p. 72.) He appears sufficiently disposed to oppose and disgrace this doctrine; but he has not offered any argument against it which does in the least confute what President Edwards published on that head, and is not fully obviated and answered in the foregoing sermons, which I think every careful, judicious reader will perceive. Why did he not particularly attend to Mr. Edwards's arguments, and point out their fallacy and weakness, instead of suggesting things in a loose, declamatory way, which have been thoroughly confuted by writers on that subject? Had he looked their arguments fairly in the face, and so much as attempted an answer, he would have been worthy of some attention; but in the room of this, he has most grossly misrepresented Mr. Edwards in two instances in this short section, (as he has done in other parts of his book,) which I think ought to be particularly noticed in justice to the truth and to Mr. Edwards. This author here says, that Mr. Edwards asserts that “moral evil is not of a bad, but good tendency,” (p. 72;) whereas, Mr. Edwards has asserted no such thing, nor any thing like it. Mr. Edwards's words, from which I suppose this author took occasion to make the above assertion as a quotation from him, are these: “ It is not of bad tendency for the Supreme Being thus to order and permit that moral evil to be which it is best should come to pass. For that it is of a good tendency, is the very thing supposed in the point now in question. Christ's crucifixion, though a most horrid fact in them that perpetrated it, was of the most glorious tendency, as permitted and ordered by God.” (Inquiry into Freedom of Will, p. 276.) Who can help seeing that what Mr. Edwards says here is consistent with the greatest bad tendency of moral evil, in itself considered? This tendency, however strong and malignant, is counteracted and overruled by infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; and thus considered in God's hands, and permitted by him, it answers good ends. In a word, it is not the tendency of sin, as such, that Mr. Edwards is here speaking of, but the tendency of God's permitting it, and holding it in his hands, and overruling it to answer his own wise and good ends by it. How this author could make the above assertion in the form of a quotation from Mr. Edwards is yet unaccountable.
He also insinuates that Mr. Edwards, in his book which he has undertaken to examine, holds, that “the happiness of the creature is the sole end of the creation.” (Pp. 78, 79.) Since there is not any thing like this in Mr. Ed
things were ordered otherwise it would not be so well. A strange paradox, you will say, this is ; that not only mischief and calamities that fall upon mankind, but even their faults and mismanagements, nay, their very sins and wickednesses, should be for the best. But really so it is, and so it must be, if both infinite wisdom and goodness and power govern the world.”
“Not but that a particular man's sins may be the occasion of his ruin, nay, and certainly will be so, if he persists in them. But still, though every thing that happens do not prove for the good of that particular person, or that particular people that is immediately concerned in the event, yet it will certainly prove for the general, universal good. So that, take the whole series of events together, that have or shall come to pass all the world over, we may undoubtedly affirm that all things have been as well managed as is possible they could be, and will be so to the end of the world. For, indeed, to suppose otherwise, is to say either that infinite wisdom doth not act so wisely as it might do, or that perfect goodness might do more good than it does do; or, lastly, that omnipotent power cannot do every thing that is possible. All which suppositions are plainly absurd and contradictions.” — Archbishop Sharp's Sermons, vol. i. pp. 384, 385.
wards's whole book, and in his dissertation “Concerning the end for which God created the World," published since his death, he has asserted and labored to prove the contrary, is it not unaccountable that this author should take it in his head to make such a representation? I confess, when I read this paragraph over, and observe what artful, studied method he has taken in order to fasten such a sentiment on Mr. Edwards, and make President Clap appear inconsistent with himself, I am persuaded every discerning reader, of an honest mind, will conclude the author had good reason to conceal his name.
The longer I live, and the more I attend to the Word of God and the nature of true religion, the more I am confirmed in the belief of the truth and importance of the principal subject of the foregoing sermons, viz., that sin shall be the occasion of the greatest good; that God's perfections shall be manifested in an unspeakably more bright and glorious manner and degree; his kingdom shall be more glorious, and there shall be immensely more holiness
and happiness forever, than could have been if sin had not been permitted; and that every instance of it is so far under God's direction, that it is overruled to answer some wise, good end, which could not have been so well answered any other way, and the more convinced I am that this truth is suited to support and comfort all the true friends and servants of Christ; nor can I conceive how there can be any ground of true support and consolation to them who are displeased with this doctrine, and cannot but desire their eyes may be opened to see that truth which has been the support and joy of God's people in all ages, and in which great numbers, I trust, are now rejoicing on earth and in heaven.