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Him, so me a gency in relation to it. “Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?”?l asks God by the mouth of

the prophet, which, although it may be understood of physical evil, yet, as such evil is often brought about through the sins of men, there is some agency of God in the matter.

Moreover, that the counsel or will of God, takes cognizance of sinful acts, that will hereafter be done by men, and that, long before the events, or even the agents had any being, cannot be denied. In proof of this, are those predictions, which regard the guilty conduct of men. We select the instance of Joseph's being sold by his brethren, and the accompanying and consequent transactions. “As for you, ye meant it for evil, but God meant it for good,

much people alive, as it is this day.Another, yet more decisive, and marked instance, is that of the crucifixion and death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It was, without doubt, the purpose of God, that His Son should die a cursed death, and yet, that purpose was effected through the guilty agency of men.

“Him being delivered

according to the determinale counsel and foreknowledge of God, have ye taken and with wicked hands hare crucified and slain.”3 and Pontius Pilate were gathered together, to do whatsoev

: Thy (God's) hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done." It cannot be denied, that in bringing about thelsame event, God and man, respectively, have had their

The purpose, however, is very different, in the mind of God from what it is in the mind of the guilty perpetrator. It does not necessarily imply moral turpitude in the former, but it does in the latter. Man means his own selfish gratification, and at the expense, and to the injury oft-times of others. But God has designs of Amos iii. 6.

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purposes and agency.

1.

4. Acts iv. 27,

2. Gen. 1. 20.

3. Actsii. 23.

28.

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benevolence, and so orders and over-rules all, as to bring about a greater good. Such are the daily developments of His providence.

This idea may be carried to the utmost extent, and it furnishes a satisfactory answer to the carping, cavilling objections of the infidel, who thinks, and alleges, that if God could hare prevented men from sinning, it necessarily implies some moral turpitude in Him, to permit them to do

That they do sin, is not to be denied. Nor will it be disputed, save by some raving Atheist, who has lost the power of discerning between right and wrong. Now suppose, to shield his reputation from the infidel slander, we admit that God could not prevent men from sin, is there any thing gained in this respect by the admission? For we may ask with unanswerable pertinency and point, can he then subdue or control it? It is much easier among men to prevent crime, than to reform the criminal. Assuredly, if God could not have prevented sin, we cannot confidently expect that ever sin will be subdued, and nothing presents itself to our view, but dread uncertainty in this matter, or a dark and dismal prospect of eternal scenes of rebellion and revolt in the government of Godi

The possibility of sin being committed by moral beings, must be admitted to be incidental in the nature of things to the giving of a law, designed to regulate their voluntary conduct. Where no law is, there is no transgression," nor can there be.

But the actual existence of sin is a very different matter. It does not follow that because it is incidental, therefore it must exist. Whether voluntary beings shall not be allowed to sin; i. c. whether there shall be such a powerful array of motive, and such an influence thrown around them at all times, and all circumstances of temptation be so carefully prevented from arising, as that they shall always choose to obey, is a question, which we think it would be presumptuous in us to resolve in any

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other way, than as God Ilimself has been pleased to do. Some voluntary beings have persevered in their obedience, and kept their first estate. Others have sinned and talien. If God had determined to prevent the latter, who will say that Ile had not sufficient skill and power to do so? Aumitting that He had, we cannot see that He was under any obligations of benevolence to do so: but denying that He hud fills us with dread forebodings, as to the final issues of His government.

of the apostacy and fall of two orders of intelligent creatures, we have knowledge; and one seduced the other. Shall this thing spread? Shall the contagion of rebellious example extend itself to other worlds, and decoy from their allegiance the happy innocents, that now adore and love? Or shall the new orders of creatures, which God, in the plenitude of His wisdom and benevolence, may see fit to create, fall from their steadfastness and felicity, and the mighty empire of Jehovah become a vast amphitheatre of woe? Who can contemplate such an idea with composure? It is shocking to all the sensibilities of the heart! And yet, if God cannot prevent sin, what security have we, that eternity shall not be one frightful series of rebellion, and that world after world shall not, like this wretched carth of ours, become the theatre of crime, requiring floods and flames, and even the very annihilating efforts of. Omnipotence, to stay the progress of revolt?

If, in this way, we seek to defend the divine character from the malignant aspersions and insinuations of infidelity, do we not impeach it in others? Our confidence in the government of God will be destroyed, and we may as readily repose in the lofty professions of some rebellious prince, that rears the standard of revolt, and anticipate success in resisting the commands and counsels of Jehovah, as in the declarations of a God that cannot so administer his government as to prevent rebellion. The very admission implies

an imbecility or imperfection of character, or paucity of resources, which might tempt to rebellion, or at least inspire distrust. But no such admission is necessary. The vindication of the moral character of God requires it not. For there is a view which can be given of the whole subject, calculated to exalt both the divine character and government. If He can, as He will, without doing violence to the voluntary agency of man, subdue his rebellious heart—if he has so adapted the motives and inducements to subordination and submission, as to reach, effectively, the hearts of his enemies, how much more easily might lle, in the first instance, have so established the principles of his government, and adjusted its administration, as to have prevented revolt among innocent creatures? Viust we believe that this was impossible?

But if God could have prevented sin, how comes it, it will be quickly asked, that a Being of boundless benevolence, who delights not in the misery of his creatures, and of infinite holiness, who abhors all workers of iniquity, should have allowed it to gain entrance, and to spread such wretchedness among his creatures? In reply to this inquiry, we remark, that the government of mind is essentially different from that of matter. To moral agents, God has been pleased to grant the power of discerning between right and wrong, and to choose and act, according as their minds and hearts shall be determined and affected by considerations and motives presented. Such is his divine constitution. Such power is essential to moral agency. Human beings are moral agents. To act for them, or to force them to act against their will, would be contrary to His own infinitely wise and sovereign constitution. All that is necessary to vindicate the divine purity in this matter, is, to shew that he has presented in the universe around, in the circumstances and condition of man's being, and in the provisions of his moral government, a suficient array of inateriel for motives and inducements to obedience. Who ean doubt this, that will, for one moment, allow his mind to contemplate the richness, vastness, wisdom and benevolence of the Almighty Maker of heaven and earth?

Throughout the whole of animated and vegetable nature, we may range with delight, admiring and adoring the wisdom and goodness of God, who has made all, and adapted them to the purposes of human.comfort and felicity. Nor is inanimate nature silent in the praise of the Most High. Every where and in every thing, we may see reflected the sparkling glories of His wisdom and goodness and might. And as it regards the law which He has given to regulate our hearts and lives, it is wondrously adapted to the nature and circumstances of man, in all his varied interests and relations. The observance of its precepts is conducive to felicity. The violation of them is productive of misery. “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, just and good.” “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold; yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey comb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward."

These things are not mere speculations, but matters of fact, continually proved and illustrated before our eyes. “The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." “Evil pursueth sinncrs."*

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2

1. Rom. vii. 12.
2 Psl. xix. 7-11,

3. Isai. lvii. 30–31.
4. Proy,

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