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properly permitted it, unless Mr. Toplady, who does not scruple to call God, "the Permitter of evil," can prove, that to forbid in the most solemn manner, and under the severest penalty, is the same thing as to permit.
Should you say, Why did not God absolutely hinder sin? I still answer,—(1.) Because his wisdom saw that a world where Free-agents and Necessary-agents are mixed, is better (all things considered) than a world stocked with nothing but its Necessary-agents; i. e., creatures absolutely hindered from sinning.-(2.) Because his Distributive Justice could be displayed no other way, than by the creation of accountable free agents, made with an eye to a day of judgment.—(3.) Because it would be as absurd to necessitate free agents, as to bid free agents be, that they might not be free agents; as foolish as to form accountable creatures, that they might not be accountable.—And (4.) Because when God saw that the Free-agency of his creatures would introduce sin, he determined to over-rule it, or remedy it in such a manner as would, upon the whole, render this world, with all the voluntary evil, and voluntary good in it, better than a world of necessary agents, where nothing but necessary good would have been displayed: An inferior sort of good this, which would no more have admitted of the exercise of God's Political Wisdom and Distributive Justice, than the excellence of stones and fine flowers admits of laws, rewards, and punishments.
Should the reader ask, how far we may safely go, to meet the truth, which borders most on Mr. Toplady's false principle, Whatever is, is right? I answer, (1.) We may grant, nay, we ought to assert, that God will get himself glory every way. Evangelical grace, and just wrath, minister to his praise, though not equally : And therefore God willeth not primarily the death of his creatures. Punishment is his strange work; and he delights more in the exercise of his Remunerative Goodness, than in the exercise of his Vindictive Justice.(2.) Hence it appears, that the wrath of man, and the rage of the devil, will turn to God's praise: But it is
only to his inferior praise. For, though the blessed will sing loud Hallelujahs to Divine Justice, when vengeance shall overtake the ungodly; and though the consciences of the ungodly will give God glory, and testify that he is holy in all his works and righteous in all his vindictive ways; yet this glory will be only the glory of the ministration of condemnation :-A dispensation this, which is inferior to the dispensation of Righteous Mercy. Hence it appears, that those who die in their sins, would have brought more glory to God by choosing righteousness and life, than they do by choosing death in the error of their ways. But still, this inferior praise, arising from the condemnation and punishment of ungodly free-agents--this inferior praise, I say, mixed with the superior praise arising from the justification and rewards of godly free-agents, will far exceed the praise which might have accrued to God from the unavoidable obedience and absurd rewards of necessitated agents, of angels and men absolutely bound to obey by a necessitating grace like that which rigid bound-willers preach; were we even to suppose, that this forcible grace had Calvinistically caught ALL rational creatures iu a net of Finished Salvation, and had drawn them all to heaven, as irresistibly as Simon Peter drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three.' For before the Lawgiver and Judge of all the earth, the unnecessitated voluntary goodness of one angel, or one man, is more excellent than the necessary goodness of a world of creatures as unavoidably and passively virtuous, as a diamond is unavoidably and passively bright.
ARG. LXXII. (p. 96.)-With respect to the second part of Mr.Toplady's doctrine, that whatever is, is right, because it will answer some great end, &c., in its relation to the whole;" it is nothing but logical paint put on a false principle, to cover its deformity: For error can imitate Jezebel, who laid natural paint on her withered face, to fill up her hideous wrinkles, and impose upon the spectators. I may perhaps prove it by
an illustration. I want to demonstrate that cheating, extortion, litigiousness, breaking the peace, robberies, and murders, are all right, and I do it by asserting, "That they answer some great ends in their relation to the whole; for they employ the Parliament in making laws to prevent, end, or punish them; they afford business to all the Judges, Magistrates, Lawyers, Sheriffs, Constables, Jailers, Turnkeys, Thief-catchers, and Executioners in the kingdom: And when robbers and murderers are hanged, they reflect praise upon the government which extirpates them; they strike terror into the wicked; and their untimely, dreadful end sets off the happiness of a virtuous course of life, and the bliss which crowns the death of the righteous. Besides, many murderers and robbers have been brought to Christ for pardon and salvation, like the dying thief, who, by his robbery, had the good luck to meet Christ on the cross: So that his own gallows, as well as our Lord's cross, proved the tree of life to that happy felon."-The mischievous absurdity of these pleas for the excellence of wickedness, puts me in mind of the arguments by which a greedy publican of my parish once exculpated himself, when I reproved him for encouraging tippling and drunkenness. "The
more ale we sell," said he, "the greater is the "king's revenue. If it were not for us, the king could "not live ;-nor could he pay the fleet and army;"and if we had neither fleet nor army, we should soon fall into the hands of the French." So "great are the ends," which tippliug "answers in its relation to the whole" British empire, if we may believe a tapster, who pleads for drunkenness as plausibly, as some good, mistaken men do for all manner of wickedness.
From the whole, if I am not mistaken, we may safely conclude, that, though all God's works are right, yet sin, the work of fallen angels and fallen men, is never right; and that, though the universe, with all its sinfulness, is better than a sinless world necessitated to be sinless by the destruction of free-agents; yet, as
there is so much sin in the world, through the wrong use which free-agents make of their powers, Mr. T. advances an unscriptural and irrational maxim, when he says that whatever is, is right; and he imposes upon us an Antinomian paradox, when he asserts that this dangerous maxim "is a first principle of the Bible, and of sound Reason." I repeat it: It was right in God to create free-agents, to put them under a practicable law, and to determine to punish them according to their works, if they wantonly broke that law; but it could never be right in free-agents to break it, unless God had bound them to do it by making Calvinian decrees necessarily productive of sin and wickedness. And supposing God had forbid free-agents to sin by his law, and had necessitated (which is more than to enjoin) them to sin by Calvinian decrees; we desire Mr. T. to shew, how it could have been right in God to forbid sin by law, to necessitate men to sin by a decree, and to send them into eternal fire for not keeping a law which he had necessitated them to break.
The reasonableness of this doctrine brings to my remembrance the boldness of Mr. T.'s challenge about the Calvinian doctrine of Providence-a doctrine this, 1.which asserts that God absolutely necessitates some men to sin and be damned. See Sect. ii.
ARG. LXXIII. (p. 73.)—“Upon the plan of Mr. Wesley's consequence, the wretch was not a fool, but wise, who said in his heart, There is no God. I defy the Pelagian to strike out a middle way between Providence and chance," that is, between chance and the Calvinian notions of a Providence, which absolutely predestinates sin, and necessitates men and devils to commit it, &c. "Why did the Heathens themselves justly deem Epicurus an Atheist? Not because he denied the being of a God, (for he asserted that,) but because he denied the agency of God's universal Providence."
From this quotation it is evident, (1.) That Mr. T. indirectly charges us with holding an Epicurean, Atheistical doctrine about Providence, because we abhor the
doctrine of a Predestinatiou, which represents God as the Author of sin.—And (2.) that he defies or challenges us to point out a middle way between the Atheistical doctrine of Chance, and the Calvinian doctrine of Providence. This challenge is too important to be disregarded: An answer to this will conclude the argumentative part of this tract.
'There are two opposite errors with respect to Providence. The FIRST is that of the Epicurean philosophers, who thought that God does not at all concern himself about our sins, but leaves us to go on as we please, and as chance directs. The SECOND is that of the rigid Predestinarians, who imagine that God absolutely predestinates sin, and necessarily brings it about to accomplish his absolute decrees of eternally saving some men through Christ, and of eternally damning all the rest of mankind through Adam. Of these two erroneous sentiments, the latter appears to us the worse; seeing it is better to represent God as doing nothing, than to represent him as doing wickedness. The truth lies between these two opinions; God's Providence is peculiarly concerned about sin, but it does by no means necessarily bring it about. By this reasonable doctrine we answer Mr. T.'s challenge, and strike out the middle way between his error, and that of Epicurus.
If you ask, how far God's Providence is concerned about sin?, we reply, that it is concerned about it four ways. First. In MORALLY hindering the internal commission of it before it is committed.-Secondly. In PROVIDENTIALLY hindering (at times) the external commission of it, when it has been intentionally committed. Thirdly. In making, bounding, and over- ruling it, while it is committed.-And Fourthly. In bringing about means of properly pardoning, or exemplarily punishing it, after it has been committed. Dwell we a moment upon each of these particulars.
1. Before sin is committed, divine Providence is engaged in morally hindering the internal commission of it. In order to this, God does two things: First, He