Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

knowledged this, and it was matter of relief under his trouble-He performeth the thing that is appointed for me, and many such things are with him-Nevertheless there are things which have a tendency to fill up this cup with either happiness or misery; and it is well known men are exhorted to pursue the one, and avoid the other, the same as if there was no divine

purpose whatever in the affair. God appointed to give Pharaoh and Sihon up to their own hearts lusts, which would certainly terIninate in their destruction; and yet they ought each to have accepted of the messages of peace which God sent them by the hand of Moses. But here I am told, I have “obviated my own reasoning," by observing elsewhere that the predeterminations of God concerning those persons were founded on the foresight of their wicked conduct, of which their non-compliance with these messages of peace was no inconsiderable part.' (47.) By this it should seem then, that P. admits the reality of divine decrees, and that the final state of every one is thereby determined of God; only that it is upon the foresight of faith or unbelief. In that case he seems to admit of a consistency between the purposes of God to punish some of the human race, and their being universally invited to believe and be saved. And yet, if so, I see not the propriety of some of his objections against the doctrine of decrees. The thing against which he in some places reasons is not so much their unconditionality as the certainty of their issue. “ All must

be sensible, says he, that divine decrees must stand." (50.) Be it so, must they not stand as much

upon

his own hypothesis as ours?

As to the conditionality of divine decrees, it is allowed, that in whatever instances God has détermined to punish any of the sons of men, either in this world or that to come, it is entirely upon the foresight of evil. It was so in all the punishments that befel Pharaoh and Sihon. But there was not only the exercise of punitive justice discovered in those instances, but as well a mixture of sovereignty. If the question is asked, why did God punish these men? the answer is, on account of their sin. But if it is asked, why did he punish them rather than others, in themselves equally wicked? the answer must be resolved into mere sovereignty. He that stopped a persecuting Saul in his vile career, could have turned the heart of Pharaoh; but he is a debtor to none, he hath said he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. The apostle Paul considered the destruction of Pharaoh as not merely an instance of justice, but likewise of sovereignty; (Rom. ix. 18.) and concludes from his example, therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth; which I should suppose can intend nothing less than leaving them to the hardness of their hearts.The 19th verse, which immediately follows, and contains the objections of that day, are so nearly akin to the objections of Philanthropos, (50.) that I wonder he should not perceive it, and learn instruction by it.

Ini. Events which imply the evil actions of men come under the divine appointment.-The visitations with which Job was afflicted, were of God's sending. He himself knew this, and acknowledged it. And yet this did not hinder but that the Sabeans and Chaldeans acted as free agents in what they did; and that it was their duty to have done otherwise. Assyria was God's rod to Judah; and the staff in their hands was his indignation. And yet Assyria ought not so to have oppressed Judah. Pride, covetousness, and cruelty, were their motives, for all which they were called to account, and punished. Our Lord was delivered according to the determinate counsel and forc-knowledge of God. His worst enemies did nothing to him but what his hand and his counsel determined before to be done. And yet this did not hinder but that with wicked hands they crucified and slew him that the contrary of all this was their duty and that the invitations and expostulations of our Lord with them were founded in propriety and sincerity. God did not determine to give Judas a heart to forbear betraying his master when tempted by the lure of gain; on the contrary, he determined to give him up to his own heart's lust. The Son of man in being betrayed, went as it was determined: and yet there was a wo due to, and denounced against the horrid perpetrator notwithstanding. *

Exclamations may abound, but facts are stubborn

* Job i. 21. Isai. x, 5914. Acts ii. 23. iv. 28. Luke xxii. 22,

things. It is likely we may be told, if this be the case, we need not be uneasy about it, for it is as God would have it. “ If God has ordained it, why should we oppose it?” (50.) But such a mode of objecting, as observed before, though of ancient, is not of very honourable extraction. If it be not identically the same which was made to the apostolic doctrine, it is certainly very nearly akin to it. I can discern no difference except in words. “ Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault? for who hath resisted his will?To which it was thought sufficient to reply, Nay but, О man, who art thou that repliest against God?

After all, surely there is a wide difference between an efficient and a permissive determination in respect to the existence of moral evil. To assign the former to the divine being is to make him the author of sin, but not so the latter. That God doth permit evil is a fact that cannot be disputed; and if we admit the perfection of his moral character, it musi be allowed to - be consistent with his righteousness, whether we can fully conceive of it or not. But it it is consistent with the righteousness of God to permit evil, it cannot be otherwise to determine so to do, unless it be wrong to determine to do what is right. *

* Were it not for the candor that P has discovered in other instances, and his solemn appeal to “ the searcher of hearts that misrepresentation was not his aim,” I should almost think he must take pleasure in representing my sentiments on divine de. crees in as shocking a light as he is able. What I should express

U

IV. Our Lord declared concerning those who should blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, that their sin should not be forgiven, neither in this world nor

in some such manner as this, 'God commands men in general to believe in Christ, though he knows they are so obstinately wicked that they cannot find in their heart so to do; and he has determined not to do all that he is able to remove their obsti. nacy'--e will express for me on this wise, “God commands all to believe in Christ; and yet knows they are not, or ever were, and determines they never shall be able to do it.” (49) P. will allow, I suppose, that God has not determined to enable men, in the present state, perfectly to love him, with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength; and yet if this were put into a posi. tive form-if it were said that God has determined that men in the present state shall not love him with all their hearts, but that they shall continue to break his law, it would wear a very different appearance.

That there is a conformity between God's reyealed will ard his decrees, I admit. (49.) There is no contradiction in these things in themselves considered, however they may appear to short-sighted mortals. That there is, however, a real distinc. tion between the secret and revealed will of God, is not very difficult to prove. The will of God is represented in scripture, 1. As that which can never be frustrated. W! hath resisted his will. He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doth. Being predestinated accordig to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the coursel of his own will. My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. He doth according to his will in the army of heaven and winong the inhabitants of the earth. Of a truth, Lord, against thy holy child Jesusboth Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand, and thy counsel determined before to be done.” # 2. As that

# Rom x 19. Job xxiii. 13. Eph. i. 11. Isai. xlvi. 10. Dan, iv. 35. Acts iv. 27, 28.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »