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thing else ? But once prove, that God has determined the existence of sin, and that on the whole it does greater good, where it is practiced, than a life of holiness would, and you have proved with the same stroke of your pen, that he is pleased with its nature.
To suppose that God decreed the existence of sin, and that it is for the greatest possible good and yet, that he is displeased with its nature, is to say, that God is displeased with the works of his own hands, and that, too, while they are accomplishing the very ends which he purposed!
The death of Christ, separate from what his enemies did, was doubtless in the order of God, and of course was pleasing in his sight; for it manifested boundless love and perfect obedience on the part of the Saviour. But again, we are presented with several instances, such as the destruction of “the old world," of the inhabitants “of Sodom and Goniorrah”--the afflictions of God's people,” &c. to show that God is not pleased with the nature of sin ! Now who does not see the weakness of this argument ? In order for it to have had any weight at all, the destruction of the old world, of the Sodomites, and the chastiserient of God's people should all have been sinful, 'To assert that the destruction of sinners, as the judicial act of God, and the chastisement of his people, as necessary for their good, are events with which he is not pleased, is not touching the controversy ; for ne one asserts that he is. But the task of our author was to have shewn that God is not pleased with the nature of sin, though he had decreed its existence. This, however, he has not done; and, therefore, the objection remains unanswerable : that on the Calvinistic scheme God is the author of sin, and of course is pleased with its nature.
Another serious objection which he attempts to obviate, is Contained in the fifth question; “Does not this doctrine re
present the great Jehovah as insincere? Does it not represent him as inviting and commanding men to do one thing, when he is determined that they shall do another ?"
The first attempt of our author to obviate this objection is, to say the least of it, a queer one. It brings to mind the old proverb :" Misery loves company”
But what is it? Why," it is no more dificult to meet this objection, for those who support the doctrine of decrees, than for those who believe in the absolute fore-knowledge of God. If God has created and upheld beings, when he knew with unfailing certainty, that they would violate his law, it would be impossible to convince any reflecting and unbiassed mind that he was not willing on the whole, that in these instances it should be violated.” Now suppose that these statements were true, (which, however, is not admitted,) does this clear the system of our opponents of its difficulty ? Provided he could involve his neighbors in the same calamities with himself, it is presumed this would not help him out of his own embarrassments. What is it to one man what difficulties lay in the way of another's system? It is his business to clear his owo if he can. It looks like an unavailing effort to save a falling system. But our author supposes that the creation and upholding of free agents, while God knew with unfailing certainty that they would violate his law, forms a very convincing proof, that he was willing, on the whole, that it should be violated. Now the scriptures inform us that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentence. To suppose that God is unwilling that men should perish, and at the same time willing they should vio. late his law, (which is the only way to perish,) is so grossly absurd, that every “reflecting and unbiassed mind” must · see it. Again—what can be meant by the words “ · whole," so often used by Mr. H.? Surely it cannot be
meant that sin on a large scale is not so sinful as when committed on a small one ! I do not understand it unless it is that God is willing sin should be committed, as it stands connected with the universe, but unwilling that individuals should commit it. If this is what is meant, it draws after it the following absurdity ;-that God is willing on the large scale that sin should exist, but unwilling at the same time that the tributary streams which constitute the grand whole should exist.
Again" it seems to be taken for granted, that God is willing his law should be violated, because he does not prevent it by an exertion of almighty power.” If men were not free agents this argument would have some weight; at present it has none. We shall now endeavour to shew that a belief in the perfect fore knowledge of God, does not involve us in the same difficulty which a belief in the doctrine of absolute predestination does its abettors. If God has de. termined or decreed every event, then every event must of necessity take place exactly as it was decreed, Now if sin is an event, he has decreed its existence ; and of course men cannot do otherwise than what they do, unless they can break the decrees of God. A moments reflection will show that if ever a part of the human family are lost, on the above scheme, it must have been decreed, together with the means conducive to the end. Now to offer life to such characters, and charge them with being their own destroyers, and tell them that every thing is ready for their reception, and threaten them with everlasting burnings if they do not comply, we say, represents the great Jehovah as insincere, and as commanding men to do what he has determined they shall not do., The doctrine which we advocate, supposes that the moral conduct of men is the result of their own determination, uncontroled by any irresistable decree, so far as
to destroy their agency. It supposes, also, that God knew, with unfailing certainty, how every person would act, and with the same unfailing certainty he knew, that we might and ought to de otherwise than we do in a thousand instan.
Now to offer life to such characters, and threaten them with the curse of the law if they do not comply, &c. does not represent the great Jehovah as insincere ; for while he offers life to those who he foresees will not accept of it, yet it is to those who he foresees can and may accept of it. Moreover, if life were not offered even to those who will not accept of it, it is difficult to see how they could be free agents, and accountable for their condnct. But, as we have seen, the opposite doctrine represents him as offering life to those who cannot comply, and that because he has previously determined that they shall not !! Mr. H. will probably say that the reprobates have natural ability to comply with the terms of life, but he might as well say that they have natural ability to break God's decrees. Again; it will not be denied but the spring of all creation is benevolence.-This was no doubt the principle which prompted the Deity to create worlds with their innumerable inhabitants ; many of whom possess intelligence and capacity to be governed by laws suited to their condition. From what we can discover, also, of the divine mind from Revelation, it seems to be the determination of God to govern all intelligent beings with a moral government; and, of course, men and angels, while they are in a probationary state, must be free agents, or they could not be accountable. Now to suppose that because the Almighty foresaw that some of his intelligent creatures would abuse their liberty, and ruin themselves, it was wrong to create and uphold such beings, is, 1st, to impeach the divine character with want of wisdom and good ness. 2. It would go to say, that he must dwell in eternak
solitude, or possess only the coarser praises of the unintelligent part of creation. Should a foresight of the misconduct of some, arrest the progress of his creating goodness ? To this question it may be answered, if beings created are treated on principles of equity, and are not under any irresistible necessity of doing wrong, and what they are commanded to do, they may do, then to create while he foresaw that they would transgress, we conceive to be no impeachment of the divine character. But is this the language of Calvinism? Does not that doctrine assert, that every event, even the most minute, is fixed by the eternal purpose of God? Does it, therefore, represent the great Jehovah, as insincere, to suppose he created, and upholds beings, while he foresaw that they would violate his law, but are under no necessity of doing so, as it does to suppose he created and upholds beings for the express design that they should violate his law and perish? It is in vain for our opponents to assert that the above is not their sentiment, while they continue to declare their belief in the eternal decrees, Let us now resume the examination of the other arguments of our author.
The second, by which he attempts to obviate the objection, is taken from three circumstances. 1. The death of the Saviour. 2. The offering up of Isaac by Abraham, and 3. God's command to Pharaoh to let Israel go. The object of our author, in these circumstances seems to be, to make out that God's revealed will, and his decrees are in opposition to each other. So that instead of answering the objection, contained in the fifth question, he assumes it as his sentiment, viz:- that God has “ commanded man to do one thing, when he is determined they shall do another."
We have already seen, that to suppose the murderous dis. position and conduct of the Jews, towards Christ, to have been determined of God, is, to say the least of it, grossly