תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

reconcilable with his perfect holiness.

" Doth a fountain send forth, at the same place, sweet waters and bitter?” Can darkness proceed from Him, as its proper source, in whom there is no darkness at all ?

It is true, God has created many things which are of a diferent nature from himself; as the bodies of men and beasts, and all parts of the world of matter : but nothing, I conceive, directly opposite to his own nature; as is sin. The sun is the immediate cause of the growth of vegetables; though these are essentially different from the sun itself: but it is not thus the cause of ice and darkness; which are no more of a contrary nature to it, than sin is to the nature of God.*

[ocr errors]

* There is a vast difference between the sun's being the cause of the lightsomeness and warmth of the atmosphere, and of the brightness of gold and diamonds, by its presence and positive influence ; and its being the occasion of darkness and frost in the night, by its motion whereby it descends below the horizon. The motion of the sun is the occasion of the latter kind of events; but not the proper cause, efficient, or producer of them.--No more is any action of the divine Being, the cause of the evil of men's wills. If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat : and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun ; and it might be justly infered that the sun itself is dark and cold : but from its being the cause of these, no otherwise than by its absence, no such thing can be infered, but the contrary. It may justly be argued that the sun is a bright and hot body, if cold and darkness are found to be the consequence of its withdrawment; and the more constantly and necessarily these effects are connected with and confined to its absence, the more strongly does it argue the sun to be the fountain of light and heat. So, in as much as sin is not the fruit of any positive influence of the Most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withdrawment of his action and energy, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence, this is no argument that he is sinful, or his operation evil ; but on the contrary, that he and his agency are altogether holy, and that he is the fountain of all hoiiness. It wouid be strange arguing indeed, because men never commit sin, but only when God leaves them to them

I am sensible it has been said, there is no more inconsistency with the holiness of God, in supposing him the efficient, immediate cause of sin, for necessary good purposes; than in supposing he only permits it, for wise ends, and so orders things that hc knows it will be committed.

But these two ways of accounting for the existence of moral evil, appear to me materially different. There are supposable cases in which it would be right for a man, not to hinder another from sinning, when he could hinder him ; and also to place him in circumstances of temptation, expecting that he would sin. For instance, a parent may leave money in the way of a child suspected of being given to theft; and may conceal himself and let the child steal it ; with a view to correct him, in order to reclaim him, or as a warning to his other children. All this might be perfectly right in the parent; however certainly he might know, that the child would be guilty of the expected crime.

But I question whether any case can be supposed in which it would not be wrong, directly to influence another to do evil, that good might come. Exciting one to sin by power or persuasion ; and placing one in circumstances of trial, wherein he would be tempted to sin, without restraining him from it, are surely different things, although the certainty of his sinning may be the In the first chapter of Genesis, it is said, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Of his making two great lights, we are told; and that he made the stars also : but no account is there given of his creating darkness. Respecting our own species, the inspired historian particularly informs us, that “ God created man in his own image: in the image of God created he him : male and female created he them.” Nor do we find in that book, or in all the Bible, that he hath since ever created them otherwise. Solomon three thousand years after the fall, having made diligent search among men and women, to find out their true character, and the cause of their so universal depravity, says; “Lo, this only have I found, that God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." Wicked practices, and deceitful inventions to conceal their criminality, are ever ascribed in scripture to mankind themselves, or to other fallen creatures, and never to God, as their efficient cause.

same.

3. I dare not think that God creates sin, and all kinds of evil, because this seems plainly contrary to the general current of the holy scriptures.

selves ; and necessarily sin when he does so, that therefore their sin is not from themselves, but from God: as strange as it would be to argue, because it is always dark when the sun is gone, and never dark when he is present, that therefore darkness is from the sun, and that his disk and beams must be black."

Edwards on the Will. Page 259. Boston, Ed. 1754.

In the New Testament, christians are said to be “created unto good works:” and we read of “the new man, which after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness.” But no where do we read of any one that was created unto evil works; or after Satan in unrighteousness and sin. It is written, 1 Cor. xiv. 33, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

And James i. 13-17, “Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is led away of his own lust and enticed.-Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” Can any thing be more express to teach us, that a distinction ought carefully to be made between the origin of good and evil; and that we should not conceive them both alike to come from God?

For scripture proof that God is not the efficient author of sin, I will only add, that the fruits of the Spirit, and works of the flesh, are set in contrast and spoken of as diametrical opposites : whereas, did God create sinful propensities in men, or directly influence them to evil actions, the works of the flesh would be as real and immediate fruits of the divine Spirit, as the holiest exercises of the best saints.

4. I see no occasion for the supposition of God's being thus the author of all evil : nor any good ends that it can answer.

Could it be seen how evils might be accounted for, without supposing them any part of the creation of God; and how God might have an absolute dominion over all events, without being the immediate cause of bad things ; no good man, I conclude would wish to conceive of Him as being thus the proper source of darkness and evil. And indeed, were it so, that our weak minds were unable to comprehend how God can work all things after the counsel of his own will, or how natural and moral evil could ever have been, without believing that God is as much, and as immediately, the cause of evil as of good ; yet it might be more modest, and more wise, to leave these among other incomprehensibles, than to have recourse to so bold an hypothesis for the solution of them. But, I apprehend, there is no need of this hypothesis in order to account for the existence of evil, or in order to an understanding belief of the universal government of the Most High.

Evils, of most if not all kinds, are such negative things—such mere defects, in their origin at least, as do not need creation, or require a positive omnipotent cause. This is the case, evidently, with respect to natural darkness : it is only the want of light. This is the case, also, with respect to natural death : it is only the cessation, the loss, the want of life. . And this may be the case, with respect to spiritual darkness, and spiritual death. It has heretofore been the orthodox opinion, that all moral evil con. sists radically in privation ; or, that unholiness, at bottom, is the mere want of holiness. And, notwithstanding all the floods of light, from various quarters, which have come into the world in this age of new discoveries, possibly this one old opinion may yet be true. “God made man upright.That is, He formed him with a disposition impartially just and good : He created in him a principle of universal righteousness. When man fell, by eating the forbidden fruit, this principle had not been preserved in perfect strength and exercise. In consequence of that disobedience, the divine internal influence was so withdrawn, that this principle was entirely lost. But we are not told, nor need it be supposed, that any opposite principle was then created in him. Our first parents had, I believe, in their original formation, all the radical instincts of nature which they had after the fall ; or which any of their posterity now have. Such as a principle of self-preservation, a desire of self-promotion, and a propensity to increase and multiply ; together with all the more particular appetites and passions, subservient to these purposes. All these are innocent in themselves, though not in themselves virtuous. But these private instincts, when left to operate alone, without the governing influence of a public spirit, or a just regard for other beings, will naturally lead to all manner of iniquity, in heart and life. To avarice and ambition ; to envy and malice ; to intemperance and lewdness; to frauds and oppressions ; to wars and fightings.

There is no need of supposing any other divine agency, than only to uphold in existence creatures that have lost their virtue, amidst surrounding temptations, in order to account for all the evil affections which we ever feel, and for all the external wickedpiess that is ever committed. Nor, in order to the holiest creatures losing their virtue, need any thing

« הקודםהמשך »