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tence of such events as he saw to be not for the best, but has found bimself unable!
But this cannot be: for God is infinite in power. He is the Almighty. None can stay his hand, or resist bis will. If he sees that a certain system is the best, containing the greatest possible amount of good, he is able to carry it into complete effect. Every event wbich is on the whole for the best, he is able to bring to pass. And every event which is not for the best, he is able to prevent. No event, then, coines into existence, but what is for the best.
It may be, however, notwithstanding the certainty of this conclusion, that some will still doubt. They cannot see how certain events can be for the best; and so, thy are ready to conclude they cannot be. But, what if we cannot see how? Could Joseph see how his going into Egypt as a slave, was to be for the best? Yet so it proved. Could Jacob see how the apparent loss of his children, was to be for the best, when he said, “all these things are against me?" Yet, time showed him his mistake. Could the Israelites see how it was for the best for them, in their flight from Egypt, to be hemmed in by the mountains, with the s' a before them, and their angry foes in the rear? Yet a short season unfolded the mystery, and turned their murmers and complaints into songs of triumph. Is there no ground for trust in God? If we cannot see through his designs, if we cannot perceive the wisdom of his purposes, can we repose no confidence in his infinite perfection ? Is it reasonable for us to condemn a whole system, when we have seen but a small part of it? Is it not presumption in us to array our ignorance against the perfections of the Almiglity; and because we cannot see the wisdom and goodness of his dispensations, to dare to tell him he might have done better than he has done? Let us humble ourselves, and be ashamed, if we have indulged so impious a thought.
But, perhaps son:e may say, they are satislied with what God has done: They believe what he has done is for the best: But they think many events take place, in which he has no band: And these are things which they think not for the best. What are these things? Are they the introduction of sin into the world, and the various sins which are committed? These are, in themselves, great evils; but be?ore we conclude they are not for the best, let us consider them carefully.
Take the introduction of sin into the world, in the fall of man. Was it for the best that man should fall? Is the answer, No? Why, then, did not God prevent it? Did not he know whether it would be for the best or not? Was he not acquainted with all the consequences which would flow from this event? Did he not know whether it would introduce more evil than good into the system? If he saw all the consequences, and knew it would be unspeakably better that they should not take place, why did he not prevent them? Had he no choice about it? To say that he knew it was not for the best, and yet had no choice whether it should take place, or not, is very highly to impeach his goodness. Did he choose to prevent it, then, but find himself unable? Was man stronger than God?
Was Almighty power too weak to control a creature? This cannot be supposed. To say this, is to say that God is not Almighty.
The conclusion, then, is, that God did not prevent man froin sinning, because he did not, on the whole, choose to prevent him. And he did not choose to prevent him, because it was not best in bis view that he should be prevented; that is, it was, on the whole, for the best, in the view of Infinite Wisdom, that man should fall.
But some have intimated, and others bave dared to say openly, that it was not for the best that man should fall; and that God knew it was not, and chose to prevent it, but could not, without destroying the freedom of man as a moral agent; and that this is the reason he did not prevent it.
This is strange ground to take. Those who say this, say what they connat prove; and by saying it, they contradict theinselves, change sides, and advocate the conclusion which they profess to oppose. They say what they cannot prove. It was possible for God to prevent the fall of man without tonching his moral agency. There is no error in the assumption, that God could have prevented all sia in a moral systein, if he had seen it to be best. It is absurd to suppose an all wise Being would give existence to creatures whose conduct he knew he could not control; and who would therefore be as likely to defeat as to accomplish the end for which he made them. And it is a dictate of common sense that the Most High God could have governed creatures entirely dependant on him, so as to inake them obedient and keep them so. He could have kept them out of the reach of temptation. He could have " put his spirit within them, and caused thein to walk in his statutes.” “ Not being sufficient of themselves to think any thing, as of themselves,” he could have " worked in them to will and to do,” in such a manner as to prevent the entrance of sin into the universe. “ Holding in his hand the hearts of all beings, he could have turned them whithersoever he would.” The assumption, therefore, is not gratuitous, that God could have prevented all sin among moral agents. And the conclusion is undeniable, that he has not done it, because he saw it was not for the best that it should be done. Furthermore, those who say it was not for the best that man should fall, and that the reason why God did not prevent it, was, that he must thereby bave destroyed the freedom of man as a moral agent, in so saying, contradict themselves, change sides, and advocate the conclusion they profess to oppose, For it is the same as to say, it was better, in God's view, that man should fall, than that his moral agency should be destroyed; which is the same as to say, it was on the whole for the best that man should fall.
If we take any other event, the result will be the same. If it is not for the best, why is it not prevented? Not for the want of knowledge in God; not for the want of goodness; not for the want of power. The conclusion, therefore, is irresistible. The infinite knowledge of God enables him to perceive what events are for the best; his infinite goodness prompts him to choose that those events should take place; and his infinite power enables him to bring them to pass. All events, therefore, which do take place, are for the best.
Several objections are made against this doctrine, all of which are easily answered, by a careful attention to what has been already said. It is objected, that if all things which take place are for the best, then sin must be a good thing, and the more of it the better.
The answer is, it is not contended that every thing is good in its own nature, nor best in itself considered. Sin is evil in its own nature, and so is misery. But the sin and misery which exist, are made the means, in the Providence of God, of so much good, that it is better on the whole that the evil should exist than that the good connected with it should fail. It was better that Judas should betray his Lord, than that there should be no redemption for a ruined world. And as to the other part of the objection, it should be observed, that the doctrine here advocated is, that the present system, just as it is, is the best possible system. And to say, that, because the sin which takes place is for the best, it would be better to have more, is the same as to say, that, because the present system is the best, a different system would be better, which is a contradiction.
It is objected that, if every event is for the best, then some sin is for the best, and we ought not to oppose, but encourage it. The answer to this is, sin is wrong in itself, and we ought to oppose it because it is wrong in itself, and leave it to God, who governs the world, to overrule it for good. But, it is asked, if some sin is for the best, why does God forbid it in his law? why does he not rather command it? This objection answers itself. Obedience to the divine commands is not sin. To say it is best there should be some sin, is the same as to say, it is best there should be some transgression of the divine law. And it does not follow, as the objection supposes, that because the present system is the best, a different system would be better.
It is objected, that, if whatever takes place is for the best, then the sin which is committed tends to advance the great end God has in view, and ought not to be punished, but rewarded. The answer to this is, that, utility does not constitute virtue. Good and ill desert depend, not upon what men accomplish, but upon what they intend. Joseph's brethren intended evil, while they were the means of accomplishing good. They felt guilty, and were self-condemned, though they were assured by him that “God meant it unto good.” It is so in all cases. The design of the wicked is always an improper design; and they deserve to be punished for their improper design. And when they receive that punishment, it will accord with the dictates of their own consciences, the good which God has intended and accomplished by them notwithstanding.
It is objected, that, if every event is for the best, there is no ground for the exercise of repentance. It is asked, “What benevolent being can ingenuously regret that by sin he has put it in the power of God to produce greater good than he could otherwise produce? Ought it not rather to be matter of grateful praise, that he has furnished the necessary means of the greatest possible amount of good?” The answer to this objection is that it is founded on an entire mistake of the nature of true repentance, and confounds it
with the repentance of Judas, with the sorrow of the world which worketh death. Judas, doubtless, wished on the whole that he had pot betrayed his Lord; and this repentance led him to destroy himself. So, doubtless, will every sinner feel, when he receives the due reward of his deeds. But true repentance is radically different. The vile nature of sin, is its proper object; and not its consequences, as the objection plainly supposes. The true penitent loathes and abbors himself for the wicked design with which he is conscious of haride acted, while he feels bound to love and praise God for the good which He has brought to pass by that means. Those who participated in the death of Christ, might, some of them, have been brought to repentance. It was not necessary that they should wish Christ bad not been put to death, and so that no door of mercy had been opened. Yet, they could repent of their sin in what they had done to accomplish it. They could loathe and abhor themselves for their bad design in what they bad done, while they could love and praise God for his good design in thus providing a way of salvation.
It appears, then, that there is no valid objection to the doctrine which has been supported. The infinite knowledge of God enables hím to perceive what is for the best, his infinite goodness prompts him to choose it, and his infinite power enables him to bring it to pass; and every event which takes place is for the best.
There is only room to make a remark or two. If every event which takes place is for the best, then God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass. The principal objections to the doctrine of decrees are, that the decrees are thought to be inconsistent with the free agency of creatures, and to teach that God wills the existence of what had better be kept out of existence. But, both these objections are unfounded. The true doctrine of decrees is, that God, for the wisest and best reasons, chooses that men should freely will and do, just that which they will and do. Every, event which takes place is for the best; and God chooses that every event should take place, just as it does, because it is wisest and best. This doctrine, and this only, is consistent with the perfect blessedness of God, who . could not be happy if his wise and benevolent designs were counteracted; and with the perfect blessedness of the saints in heaven, whose happiness would be equally destroyed if they should find that what was wisest and best had not been brought to pass. And in view of it, every benevolent being may rejoice now, under all the evils he sees, and all those which are in prospect; and may answer every desponding doubt, and every unbelieving fear, with the words of the apostle, “ we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”
Infidels. Many turn unbelievers in their own defence. pust condemn religion, or religion will condemn them.
INFIDELITY OF CATHOLIC PRIESTS. A Roman Priest of New York recently endeavored to pervert a Protestant woman from the truth; she at once repelled him by the Scripture. "The Bible," he replied -"is a bad book; it is all sluff; burn it, and come and join our church.”
This confirms all the other testimony, which assures us, that Italian, French, and Irish Jesuits and Priests, who are flocking to America by hundreds are disguised atheists.- Protestant.
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