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No one can have lived long in the world, or looked carefully on the conduct of divine providence, without having found, that just as men depart from the commandments of God, do they involve themselves in misery. “Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him ; for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Here, then, is an ample array of notive to induce obedience. But all this has been exceeded-infinitely exceeded, by the displays of mercy and grace, of righteousness and truth, through Jesus Christ.

It would seem that to innocent beings, a much more limited development of the excellencies of the divine character has been made, than is through the plan of redemption, as devised by infinite wisdom, and executed through Jesus Christ. The angels of heaven are represented as desiring to look into it.2

We have, therefore, ample ground, on which to vindicate God from the infidel objection against the benevolence of Ilis character, drawn from the fact of His having permitted sin. It is not that the Lofty Sovereign of heaven and earth is capricious and tyrannical, and delights to sport with the misery of his creatures. It has afforded occasion for the richest, fullest, and most amazing and affecting exhibitions of the glories of His character; for thus increasing and giving intensity and energy to those motives, by which He operates on the rational mind, and binds it in willing subjection to his sway. Suppose that sin had never existed; we should not have known that there is


with God, nor any thing of that benignity and grace which prompt to forgiveness. Some of the most amiable features of the divine character, would have been forever concealed from the view of his creatures.

On the supposition that God could not have prevented sin-i.e. thatits ACTUAL EXISTENCE, is necessarily inciden

1. Isa: ii. 11.

2. Pet. i. 12.

tal in a moral system, the plan of redemption seems to be nothing more than a present expedient of His divine wise dom, to perfect His moral government. God appears in it r to be rather labouring to remedy the defects of His previous plan, than as overwhelming His rebellious creatures within new and surprising demonstrations of His excellence. Nor can we have any confidence that His system of moral gowernment is yet perfect. For if sin is necessarily incidental to a moral system, and God's first plan proved so defective as that rebellion quickly arose among his creatures, what security have we, that his second plan will prove much bettter? It may, indeed, be the result of experience, and the somewhat improved; but whether that experience is suficient to enable God to guard against all future contingencics, is a question that might excite some painful solicitude among his creatures. And if, according to the view some take of thai improved plan of God's moral government, we are to learn that He has relaxed from the rigour of His laws, He certainly will stand convicted of rashness and cruelty, in having, in the first instance, given such a law; so that the motives to rebellion would rather be increased than ditminished. All confidence in His character, as a moral gorernor, would be effectually destroyed, and this would not fail to introduce endless revolt, and the utmost liceutious. ness among His subjects.

But as it is—by simply permitting sin, without doing any violence whatever to the creature-i. e. by allowing him, in his rebellion, to act according to the determinations of his own mind, having given him full power to susperdi his decisions, and weigh the tendency and value of every motive, as it presented itself to his attention-the Lord has becn pleased to make sin an occasion for increasing the motives to obedience, without the least implication of His wisdom or goodness, or the character of IIis moral constitution,

Unnumbered worlds of holy creatures, may be eternally established in their allegiance to God, by means of the demonstrations which He has been pleased to make, in two orders of intelligent creatures, among which He has allowed sin to enter, viz: of the sovereignty and immutability of His purpose and justice on the one hand-in the condemnation of apostate angels; and of the depth of His benevolence and compassions on the other hand, in pardoning through Jesus Christ, rebellious men, and of the inexorableness and severity of Ilis truth and righteousness, in punishing guilty sinners of mankind, who dared to sport with the procedures of Heaven, and to reject the only counsels of peace. As the chant of the redeemed, and of the mingled choir of saints and angels round the throne, ascends to God, all holy intelligences, who hear or know it, cannot fail to extol, and exult in, the infinite grace and mercy

of the Sovereign of the skies, and feel that it is well and best for them to obey. And as the smoke of their torment who, with apostate angels, have been hurled down to the bottomless abyss, ascends for ever and ever, an obedient universe, will see inscribed on all its thickening curls, the WAGES OF REBELLION, and feel themselves more firmly determined in their allegiance. As the highest conceivable exhibition of the bliss of allegiance, and of the misery of rebellion, will thus be presented, there will be the greatest security, that the government of God shall remain unassailed by the proud schemes of daring rebels to become independent. • We have represented the actual existence of sin as the occasion which God, in His infinite wisdom and benevolence, has seized for multiplying the motives to obedience. And this, after all, let our philosophical discussions be what they may, is the sober matter of fact. Whether He could have adopted any other expedient of equal or greater efficiency, it were presumptuous for us to inquire. It is


folly and madress to talk of what God might or might not have done, where He has not been pleased to reveal his will. Secret things belong unto the Lord; things revealed

belong to us.

But in stating, as simple matter of fact, that God has made the actual existence of sin, an occasion for wondrous and glorious revelations of His own character, and for the increase of moral influences, which shall issue in lasting and most blissful results, we are not to be understood as affirming, that sin, the greatest evil, is the necessary mens of sescuring the greatest good. We are utterly incompetent to such a judgment. In a few words then, God's goodness cannot be impeached, in allowing a creature, with knowledge sufficient to direct it, and power sufficient to act, and motives sufficient to deter from evil, to take its own course. To have imposed restraints, other than those of a moral nature, would have been to destroy its moral agency. If, without His positive agency to bring about such a result, the creature chooses to do what He forbids, and declares shall prove disastrous and ruinous, there can be no impeachment of His character. His benevolence does not bind Him to destroy the creature's moral agency, or even to increase the motives to obedience, for they are already sufficient. If, notwithstanding the creature's actual rebellion, He is pleased to recover and establish it in willing, and blissful, and

grateful subjection to His sway, and to secure this result, pours forth the richest and most inconceivable floods of His own glorious grace and benevolence, we should adore and wonder. It is vanity, and may prove the death eternal, to attempt, as with omniscient eye, to search as to what Ile could or could not have done.

Having thus vindicated the character of God, from any moral impurity of purpose, in so far as He may have permitted sin, and shown that the permitting of sin does not in

the least impeach His benevolence, it will by no means be difficult to vindicate whatever other agency He may have in it. That agency consists in His sustaining power or cooperation, to use the very strongest term, with man in those acts of his mind, and feelings of his heart, and outward deeds, which constitute sin. By this, we mean, that continuous exercise of divine power, which is necessary for sustaining, supporting and strengthening the human mind, i. e. for preserving the faculties or powers of the creature, which constitute it a moral and responsible agent, and qualify it as well for rebellion, as for obedience. We do not believe that moral responsibilities press on those that have been born idiots or insane. God has seen fit to withhold that agency of His, which in its full extent, as vouchsafed to the sons of men, contributes to the development and exercise of the different moral powers, which characterize men as rational, and constitute them accountable creatures. Does His exerting and continuing that agency, according to established laws in the support of the rational mind, i. e. in preserving to it, its characteristic properties which constitute it a moral agent, -necessarily imply any moral'turpitude on his part, even though that mind should exert itself in acts that are sinful? If this position be maintained, results will follow that cannot fail to startle even him who advocates it.

The father watches, with anxious eye, and breaking heart, his untoward child, and though his whole conduct is but one tissue of ingratitude, rebellion and crime, yet does he, in the exercise of his benignity and compassion, contribute from his bounteous hand, towards his support. In some sense he co-operates with his depraved child. But is the father on this account guilty? Does any moral turpitude attach to him, for extending that care and bounty, which, of right devolves on him towards the child, whom God has made dependent on him? The guilt and ingrati

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