Page images

his acts only, but not in the least of the principles shall not he know? Here the knowledge of God is from which they flow.(4)

supposed to be of the same nature as the knowledge of The same observations may be applied to "mercy man. This is the sole foundation of the argument; and revenge,” by the latter of which the archbishop can which would have appeared indescribably obscure, ir, mean nothing more than judicial vengeanc. or retribu- according to Archbishop King's hypothesis, it had stood tion, though an equivocal term has beel-adopted, ad —He that teacheth man knowledge, shall he not have captandum. “Repenting and changing his resolu- somewhat in his nature, which, because it gives rise to tions,” are improperly placed among the affections; actions similar to those which proceed from knowledge, but freed from ideas of human infirmity, they may be, we may call knowiedge, but of which we have no without the least dishonour to the fulness of the Divine direct or proper notion ?" perfections, ascribed to God in as literal a sense as we With respect to his moral attributes, we find the find them stated in the Scriptures, They there clearly same appeals. “Shall not the Judge of the whole earth signify no more than the change which takes place in do right?" Here the abstract term right is undoubtthe affections of God, his anger or his love, as men edly used in the sense commonly received among men, turn from the practice of righteousness, or repent and and is supposed to be comprehensible by them. "The turn back again to him; and the consequent changes righteous Lord loveth righteousness." The righteousin his dispensations towards them as their Governor ness in man which he loveth is clearly correspondent and Lord. This is the Scriptural doctrine, and there in its kind to that which constitutes him eminently“the is nothing in it which is not most worthy of God, though righteous Lord." Still more forcibly, the House of Isliterally interpreted; nothing which is not consistent rael is called upon "to judge between him and his with his absolute immutability. He is unchange- vineyard :” he condescends to try his own justice by ably the lover and the rewarder of righteousness, the notions of justice which prevail among men; in unchangeably the hater and the judge of iniquity; which there could be no meaning, if this moral quality and as his creatures are righteous or wicked, or are were not in God and in man of the same kind. “Hear changed from the one state to the other, they become now, O House of Israel, is not my way equal ?" But the objects of the different regards and of the different what force would there be in this challenge, designed administrations of the same righteous and gracious to silence the murmurs of a people under correction, as Sovereign, who, by these very changes, shows that he though they had not been justly deal with, if justice is without variableness or shadow of turning.

among men had no more resemblance to justice in God If, then, there is no reason for not attributing even than a hand to power, or an eye to knowledge, or “a certain affections of the human mind to God, when con- map of China to China itself?” The appeal is to a nected with absolute perfection and excellence, in their standard common to both, and by which one might be nature and in their exercise, no reason certainly can be as explicitly determined as the other.(5) Finally, the given for not considering his intellectual attributes, ground of all praise and adoration of God for works of represented as to their nature, though not as to their mercy and judgment-of all trust in God, on account degree, by terms taken from the faculties of the human of his faithfulness and truth-and of all imitation of mind, as corresponding with our own. But the matter God in his mercy and compassion--is laid in every is placed beyond all doubt by the appeal which is so part of the word of God, not surely in this, that there often made in the Bible to these properties in man, not are unknown and unapprehended qualities of some as illustrations only of something distantly and indis- kind in God, which lead him to perform actions similar tinctly analogous to properties in the Divine nature, to those which flow from justice, truth, and mercy in but as representations of the nature and reality of these men; but in the consideration that he is justice itseif, qualities in the Supreme Being, and which are, there-truth itself, and goodness itself. The hypothesis is fore, made the grounds of argument, the basis of duty, therefore contradicted by the Scripture; and though it and the sources of consolation.

has been assumed in favour of a great truth, that tire With respect to the nature of God, it is sufficient to prescience of God does not destroy the liberty of man, refer to the passage before mentioned, -Goo is a -that truth needs not so cumlrous and mischievous Spirit ;--where the argument is, that he requires not an auxiliary. Divine foreknowledge and the freedom a ceremonial but a spiritual worship, the worship of of human agency are compatible, not because foreman's spirit; because he himself is a SPIRIT. How knowledge in God is a figure of speech, or something this argument could be brought out on Archbishop different in kind to foreknowledge in man; but because King's and Dr. CoPlEston's theory, it is difficult to knowledge, simply considered, whether present, past, state. It would be something of this kind :-God is a or future, can have no influence upon action at all, and SPIRIT; that is, he is called a SPIRIT, because his na- cannot therefore change a contingent action into a neture is analogous to the spiritual nature of man; but cessary one. this analogy implies no similarity of nature; it is a For, after all, where does the great theological diffimere analogy of relation, and therefore, though we have culty lie, for the evasion of which so much is to be sano direct and proper notion of the nature of God, yet, crificed? The prescience, counsels, and plans of God becausc he is called a Spirit,“ they that worship him are prescience, counsels, and plans, which respect free must worship him in spirit and in truth.” This is, in- agents, as far as men are concerned; and anless we deed, far from being an intelligible, and it is still less a superadd influence to necessitate, or plans to entice practical, argument.

With respect to his intellectual attributes, it is ar- (5) “How can we confess God to be just, if we ungued in Scripture, “ He that teacheth man knowledge, derstand it not? But how can we understand him so,

but by the measures of justice? and how shall we (4) “ It would destroy the confidence of prayer and know that, if there be two justices, one that we know the ardour of devotion, if we could regard the Deity as and one that we know not, one contrary to another? subsisting by himself, and as having no sympathies, if they be contrary, they are not justice; for justice can but mere abstract relations to the whole family in be no more opposed to justice than truth to truth. If heaven and earth; and I look upon it as one of the most they be not contrary, then that which we understand to rational and philosophical confutations of your system, be just in us is just in God; and that which is just that it is fitted neither for the theory nor the practice once, is just for ever in the same case and circumof our religion; and that, if we could adopt it, we must stances. And indeed, how is it that we are in all henceforth exchange the language of Scripture for the things of excellence and virtue to be like God, and to anthems of Epicurus:

be meek like Christ; to be humble as he is humble, and "Omnis enim per se Divům natura necesse 'st, to be pure like God, to be just after his example; to le Immortali ævo summâ cum pace fruatur,

merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful ? If there Semota ab nostris rebus, sejunctaque longe; is but one mercy, and one justice, and one meekness, Nam privata dolore omni, privata peric ’lis

then the measure of these, and the reason, is eternally Ipsa suis pollens opibus, nihil indiga nostri, the same. If there be two, either they are not essen

Nec bene promeritus capitur, nec tangitur ira. tial to God, or else not imitable by us; and then, how “ It is in direct opposition to all such vain and skep- can we glorify God, and speak honour of his name, and tical speculations, that Christianity always represents exalt his justice, and magnify his truth, and sincerity, and speaks of the Deity as participating, so far as infi- and simplicity, if truth and simplicity, and justice and nity and perfection may participate, in those feelings mercy in him is not that thing which we understand, and affections which belong to our rational nature.”- and which we are to imitate?" &c.- Bishop Taylor's GRINFIELD's Vinuicice Analogicæ.

Ductor Dubitantium,"

irresistibly, and to entrap inevitably, into some given being absolutely immutable, must necessarily be the course of conduct, there is clearly no incongruity be subject of infinitely the most numerous acts of repenttween these and human freedom. There is a difficulty ance, and changes of intention, of any being whatsoin conceiving how foreknowledge should be absolute, ever; for this plain reason, that his vastly extensive as there is a difficulty in conceiving how God's present charge cos .drehends an infinitely greater number of knowledge should penetrate the heart of man, and how those things which are to him contingent and uncerhis present thoughts : but neither party argues from tain. In such a situation he must have little else to the incomprehensibility of the mode to the impossi- do, but to mend broken links as well as he can, and be bility of the thing. The great difficulty does not then rectifying his disjointed frame and disordered movelie here. It seems to be planted precisely in this, that ments, in the best manner the case will allow. The God should prohibit many things, which he neverthe Supreme Lord of all things must needs be

er great less knows will occur, and in the prescience of which and miserable disadvantages, in governing the world he regulates his dispensations to bring out of these which he has made and has the care of, through his circumstances various results, which he makes sub- being utterly unable to find out things of chief imporservient to the displays of his mercy and his justice; tance, which hereafter shall befall his system; which, and particularly, that in the case of those individuals if he did but know, he might make seasonable provision who, he knows, will finally perish, he exhorts, warns, for. In many cases, there may be very great necessity invites, and, in a word, takes active and influential that he should make provision, in the manner of his ordermeans to prevent a foreseen result. This forms the diffi- ing and disposing things, for some great events which culty ; because, in the case of man, the prescience of fail

are to happen, of vast and extensive influence, and endure would, in many cases, paralyze all effort, - whereas, less consequence to the universe; which he may see in the government of God, men are treated, in our afterward, when it is too late, and may wish in vain views, with as much intensity of care and effort, as

that he had known beforehand, that he might have orthough the issue of things was entirely unknown. dered his affairs accordingly. And it is in the power But if the perplexity arises from this, nothing can be of man, on these principles, by his devices, purposes, more clear than that the question is not, how to recon- and actions, thus to disappoint God, break his meacile God's prescience with the freedom of man; but how sures, make him continually to change his mind, subto reconcile the conduct of God towards man, consi- ject him to vexation, and bring him into confusion.” dered as a free agent, with his own prescience; how to assign a congruity to warnings, exhortations, and other means adopted to prevent destruction as to indi

CHAPTER V. viduals, with the certain foresight of that terrible result. In this, however, no moral attribute of God is ATTRIBUTES of God-Immutability, Wisdom. impugned. On the contrary, mercy requires the appli- ANOTHER of the qualities of the Divine Nature, on cation of means of deliverance, if man be under a dis- which the sacred writers often dwell, is his unchangepensation of grace; and justice requires it, if man is ableness. This is indicated in his august and awful to be judged for the use or abuse of mercy. The diffi- title, I AM. All other beings are dependent and muculty then entirely resolves itself into a mere matter table, and thus stand in striking contrast to him who of

f feeling, which, of course, -as we cannot be judges is independent, and therefore capable of no mutation. of a nature infinite in perfection, though similar to “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; what is excellent in our own, nor of proceedings and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall which, in the unlimited range of the government of perish; but thou shalt endure,--yea, all of them shall God, may have connexions and bearings beyond all wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou our comprehension,-we cannot reduce to a human change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art standard. Is it, then, to adjust a mere matter of feel the SAME, and thy years shall have no end.-He is the ing, that we are to make these outrageous interpreta- Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neitions of the word of God, in what he hath spoken of ther shadow of turning. His counsel standeth fast himself? And are we to deny that we have no “pro- for ever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generaper or direct notion of God,” because we cannot find tions.-His mercy enduretli for ever.-IIis righteoushim out to perfection? This difficulty, which we oughtness is like the great mountains, firm and immoveable. not to dare to try by human standards, is not one, how- -I am the Lord, I change not.” ever, we again remark, which arises at all out of the Of this truth, so important to religion and to morals, relation of the Divine prescience to the liberty of hu- there are many confirmations from subjects constantly man actions; and it is entirely untouched by any part open to observation. The general order of nature, in of this controversy. We fall into new dilliculties the revolutions of the heavenly bodies; the succession through these speculations, but do not escape the true of seasons; the laws of animal and vegetable producone. If the freedom of man is denied, the moral at- tion; and the perpetuation of every species of beings, tributes of God are impugned; and the difficulty, as a from which, if there be occasional deviations, they inatter of feeling, is heightened. Divine prescience prove the general regularity and stability of this matecannot be denied, because the prophetic Scriptures rial system, or they would cease to attract attention. have determined that already; and if Archbishop The ample uni therefore, with its immense agKing's interpretation of foreknowledge be resorted to, gregate of individual beings and classes of being, dis. the something substituted for prescience, and equiva- plays not only the all-comprehending and pervading lent to it, comes in, to bring us back, in a fallacious power of God; but, as it remains from age to age subcircle, to the point from which we started.

ject to the same laws, and fulfilling the same purIt may therefore be certainly concluded, that the om- poses, it is a visible image of the existence of a being niscience of God comprehends his certain prescience of steady counsels, free from caprice, and liable to no of all events however contingent; and if any thing control. The moral government of God gives its evimore were necessary to strengthen the argument (dence also to the same truth. The laws under which above given, it might be drawn from the irrational and, we are now placed, are the same as those which were above all, the unscriptural consequences which would prescribed to the earliest generations of men. What follow from the denial of this doctrine. These are was vice then, is vice now; and what is virtue now, forcibly stated by President Edwards :

was then virtue. Miseries of the same kind and de“It would follow from this notion (namely, that the gree inflict punishment on the former ; peace and blessAlmighty doth not foreknow what will be the result of edness, as formerly, accompany the latter. God has future contingencies), that as God is liable to be con- manifested his will to men by successive revelations, tinually repenting what he has done, so he must be the patriarchal, the Mosaic, and the Christian, and exposed to be constantly changing his mind and inten- those distant from each other many ages; but the tions as to his future conduct; altering his measures, inoral principles on which each rests are precisely the relinquishing his old designs, and forming new schemes same, and the moral ends which each

proposes. Their and projectious. For his purposes, even as to the main differences are circumstantial, varying according to the parts of his scheme, namely, such as belong to the age of the world, the condition of mankind, and his state of his moral kingdom, must be always liable to own plans of infinite wisdom; but the identity of their be broken, through want of foresight; and he must spirit, their influence, and their character shows their be continually putting his system to rights, as it gets author to be an unchangeable being of holiness, truth, out of order, through the contingence of the actions justice, and mercy. Vicious men have now the same of inoral agents: he must be a Being, who, instead of reason to tremble before God, as in former periods, for he is still "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity;" and but these, as being under the direction of the same imthe penitent and the pious have the same ground of mutable wisdom, holiness, goodness, and justice, are hope, and the same sure foundation of trust. These the proofs not of changing but of unchanging princiare the cautionary and the cheering moral uses to ples, as stated in the preceding chapter. They are perwhich the sacred writers constantly apply this doc- fections, not imperfections. Variety of operation, the trine. He is "the Lord, the hope of their fathers ;" power to commence, and cease to act, show the liberty and in all the changes and vicissitudes of life, this is of his nature; the direction of this operation to wise the consolation of his people, that he will never leave and good ends, shows its excellence. Thus in Scripthem, nor forsake them. “Though the mountains de- ture language “he repents” of threatened, or compart and the hills be removed, yet my kindness shall menced punishment, and shows mercy; or “ is weary not depart from thee, nor shall the covenant of my of forbearingwith the obstinately guilty, and so inpeace be removed.”

flicts vengeance. Thus, “he hates the evil-doer," and It is true, that the stability of the Divine

operations, loveth the righteous.” That love too may be lost, “If and counsels, as indicated by the laws of the material the righteous turn away from his righteousness;" and universe, and the revelations of his will, only show the that hatred may be averted, “when the wicked man immutability of God through those periods within turneth away from his wickedness.” There is a sense which these operations and dispensations have been in in which this may be called change in God, but it is not force; but in Scripture they are constantly represented the change of imperfection and defect. It argues preas the results of an immutability which arises out of cisely the contrary. If when “the righteous man the perfection of the Divine Nature itself, and which turneth away from his righteousness," God's love to is therefore essential to it. “I am the Lord, I change him were unchangeable, he could not be the unnot;" he changes not, because he is “the Lord."- changeably holy God, the hater of iniquity; and “when With him there is “no variableness, neither shadow the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness," of turning;" because he is “the Father of lights,” the and, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, becomes a new source and fulness of all light and perfection whatever. creature, if he did not become the object of God's love, Change in any sense which implies defect and in- God would not be the unchangeable lover of righteousfirmity, and therefore imperfection, is impossible to ness. By these Scriptural doctrines, the doctrine of the absolute perfection; and immutability is therefore es- Divine immutability is not therefore contradicted, but sential to his Godhead. In this sense, he is never confirmed. capable of any kind of change whatever, as even a Various speculations, however, on the Divine immuheathen has so strongly expressed it, ovdenote, ovdaun, tability occur, in the writings of divines and others, ovdaļws allowwoiv, ovdeplav evde Xeral.(6) For “if we which, though often well intended, ought to be received consider the nature of God, that he is a self-existent with caution, and sometimes even rejected as bewilderand independent being, the great Creator and wise Going or pernicious. Such are the notions, that God vernor of all things; that he is a spiritual and simple knows every thing by intuition ; that there is no sucbeing, void of all parts and all mixture, that can induce cession of ideas in the Divine mind: that he can rea change; that he is a sovereign and uncontrollable ceive no new idea; that there are no affections in God, being, which nothing from without can affect or work for to suppose that would supppose that he is capable an alteration in; that he is an eternal being, which of emotion; that if there are affections in God, as love, always has, and always will go on in the same tenor hatred, &c., they always exist in the same degree, or of existence; an omniscient being, who, knowing all else he would suffer change; for these and other simithings, has no reason to act contrary to his first re- lar speculations, recourse may be had to the schoolsolves; and, in all respects, a most perfect being, that men, and metaphysicians, by those who are curious in can admit of no addition or diminution; we cannot but such subjects; but the impression of the Divine chabelieve, that both in his essence, in his knowledge, and racter, thus represented, will be found very different to in his will and purposes, he must of necessity be un- that conveyed by those inspired writings in which God changeable. To suppose him otherwise, is to suppose is not spoken of by men, but speaks of himself; and him an imperfect being: for if he change, it must be nothing could be more easily shown than that most of either to a greater perfection than he had before, or to these notions are either idle, as assuming that we know a less ; if to a greater persection, then was there more of God than is revealed; or such as tend to repreplainly a defect in him, and a privation of something sent the Divine Being as rather a necessary than a free better than what he had, or was; then again was he agent, and his moral perfections as resulting from a not always the best, and consequently not always God: blind physical necessity of nature, more than from an if he change to a less perfection, then does he fall essential moral excellence, or, finally, as unintelligible into a defect again ; lose a perfection he was possessed or absurd. As a specimen of the latter, the following once of, and so ceasing to be the best being, cease at passages may be taken from a work in some repute. the same time to be God. The sovereign perfection of The arguments are drawn from the schoolmen, and the Deity therefore is an invincible bar against all musthough broadly given by the author, will be found more tability; for, which way soever we suppose him to or less to tinge the remarks on the immutability of God, change, his supreme excellency is nulled or impaired in the most current systems of theology, and discourses by it: for since in all changes, there is something on the Attributes: from which, and something to which, the change is “ His knowledge is independent upon the objects made, a loss of what the thing had, or an acquisition known; therefore, whatever changes there are in them, of what it had not, it must follow, that if God change there is none in him. Things known are considered to the better, he was not perfect before, and so not either as past, present, or to come, and these are not God; if to be worse, he will not be perfect, and so no known by us in the same way; for concerning things longer God, after the change. We esteem changeable- past it must be said, that we once knew them; or of ness in men either an imperfection or a fault : their things to come, that we shall know them hereafter; natural changes, as to their persons, are from weak- whereas God, with one view, comprehends all things ness and vanity; their moral changes, as to their in- past and future, as though they were present. clinations and purposes, are from ignorance or incon- "If God's knowledge were not unchangeable, he stancy, and therefore this quality is no way compatible might be said to have different thoughts or apprehenwith the glory and attributes of God."(7)

sions of things, at one time, from what he has at In his being and perfections, God is therefore eter- another, which would argue a defect of wisdom.

And nally THE SAME. He cannot cease to be, he cannot be indeed a change of sentiments implies ignorance, or more perfect because his perfection is absolute, he weakness of understanding; for to make advances in cannot be less so, because he is independent of all ex- knowledge, supposes a degree of ignorance: and to deternal power, and has no internal principle of decay. cline therein is to be reduced to a state of ignorance: We are not, however, so to interpret the immutability now it is certain, that both these are inconsistent with of God, as though his operations admitted no change, the infinite perfection of the Divine mind; nor can any and even no contrariety; or that his mind was incapa- such defect be applied to him, who is called The only. ble of different regards and affections towards the wise God.”(8) same creatures under different circumstances. He

In thus representing the knowledge of God as “increates and he destroys; he wounds and he heals; he dependent of the objects known;" in order to the estaworks and ceases from his works; he loves and hates; blishing of such an immutability of knowledge, as is (6) Plato in Phæd. (7) CHARNOCK

(8) RIDGELEY’s Body of Divinity. K

[ocr errors][merged small]

not only not inconsistent with the perfection of that at, I though God himself had no ideas of time, and order. tribute, but without which could not be perfect; and and succession; as though past, and present, and to in denying, that knowledge in God has any respect to come, were so entirely and exclusively human, that the past, present, and future of things, a very impor- even the Infinite Mind itself had not the power of aptant distinction between the knowledge of things possi- prehending them. But if there be actually a succesble and the knowledge of things actual, both of which sive order of events as to us, and if this be something must be attributed to God, is strangely overlooked. real and not a dream, then must there be a correspond

In respect of possible beings, the Divine knowledge ing knowledge of it in him, and therefore, in all things has no relation to time, and there is in it no past, no fu- which respect us, a knowledge of them as past, present, ture; he knows his own wisdom and omnipotence, and or to come, that is, as they are in the experience of that is knowing every thing respecting them. But to mankind, and in the truth of things itself. Besides the possible existence of things, we must now add this, if there be what the Scriptures call “purposes

jal existence; that commenced with time, or time with God; if this expression is not to be ranked with with that. Here then is another branch of the Divine those figures of speech which represent Divine power knowledge, the knowledge of things actually existing, by a hand and an arm, then there is fore-knowledge, a distinction with which the operations of our own strictly and properly so called, with God. The knowminds make us familiar; and from the actual existence ledge of any thing actually existing is collateral with of things arise order and succession, past, present, and its existence; but as the intention to produce any thing, suture, not only in the things themselves, but in the or to suffer it to be produced, must be before the actual Divine knowledge of them also; for as there could be existence of the thing, because that is finite and caused, no knowledge of things in the Divine mind as actually so that very intention is in proof of the precognition existing, which did not actually exist--for that would be of that which is to be produced, immediately by the act falsehood, not truth-so if things have been brought of God, or mediately through his permission. The into actual existence in succession, the knowledge of actual occurrence of things in succession as to us, and their actual existence must have been successive also; in pursuance of his purpose or permission, is therefore for as actual existences they could not be known as ex- a sufficient proof of the existence of a strict and proper isting before they were. The actual being of things prescience of them by Almighty God.

As to the posadded nothing to the knowledge of the Infinite Mind as sible nature, and properties, and relations of things, to their powers and properties. Those he knew from his knowledge may have no succession, no order of himself, the source of all being, for they all depended time; but when those archetypes of things in the Eterupon his will, power, and wisdom.

There was no nal Mind come into actual being by his power or need, for instance, to set the mechanism of this universe permission, it is in pursuance of previous intention : in motion, that he might know how it would play, what ideas of time are thus created, so to speak, by the very properties it would exhibit, what would be its results; order in which he produces them, or purposes to probut the knowledge of the universe, as a congeries of duce them, and his knowledge of them as realities corbeings in ideal or possible existence, was not the know- responds to their nature and relations, because it is per. ledge of it as a real existence; that, as far as we can fect knowledge. He knows them before they are prosee, was only possible when "he spake and it was duced, as things which are to be produced or permitted ; done, when he commanded ind it stood fast:" the when they are produced, he knows them with the addiknowledge of the actual existence of things with God tional idea of their actual being; and when they cease is therefore successive, because things come into being to be, he knows them as things which have been. in succession, and, as to actual existences, there is fore- Allied to the attribute of Immutability is the LIBERTY knowledge, present knowledge, and after-knowledge of God, which enables us to conceive of his unchangewith God as well as with ourselves.

ableness in the noblest, and most worthy manner, as But not only is a distinction to be made between the the result of his will, and infinite moral excellence, and knowledge of God as to things possibly and things not as the consequence of a blind and physical neces. actually existing ; but also between his knowledge of sity. “He doth whatever pleasetii him,” and his acall possible things, and of those things to which he tions are the result of will and choice. This, as Dr. S. determined before their creation to give actual exist-Clarke has well stated it, follows from his intellience. To deny that in the Divine mind any distinction gence; for “ Intelligence without liberty is really, in existed between the apprehension of things which respect of any power, excellence, or perfection, no inwould remain possible only, and things which in their telligence at all. It is indeed a consciousness, but it is time were to come into actual being, would be a bold merely a passive one; a consciousness, not of acting, denial of the perfect knowledge of God.

but purely of being acted upon. Without liberty, Here, however, it is intimated, that this makes the nothing can in any tolerable propriety of speech, be said knowledge of God to be derived from something out of to be an agent, or cause of any thing. For to act neceshimself; and if he derive his knowledge from some- sarily, is really and properly not to act at all, but only thing out of himself, then it must be dependent. And to be acted upon. what evil follows from this? The knowiedge of the “If the Supreme Cause is not a being endued with nature, properties, and relations of things God has liberty and choice, but a mere necessary agent, whose from himself; that is, from the knowledge he has of bis actions are all as absolutely and naturally necessary as own wisdom and omnipotence, by which the things his existence: then it will follow, that nothing which that are have been produced, and from which only they is not, could possibly have been; and that nothing could be produced, and in this respect his knowledge which is, could possibly not have been; and that no is not dependent: but the knowledge that they actually mode or circumstance of the existence of any thing, exist is not from himself except as he makes them to could possibly have been in any respect otherwise, than exist; and when they are made to be, then is the know- it now actually is. All which being evidently most ledge of their actual existence derived from them, that false and absurd, it follows, on the contrary, that the is, from the fact itself. As long as they are, he knows Supreme Cause is not a mere necessary agent, but a that they are; when they cease to be, he knows that being endued with liberty and choice." they are not; and before they exist, he knows that they It is true, that God cannot do evil. “It is impossible do not yet exist. His knowledge of the crimes of men, for him to lie.But “this is a necessity, not of nature for instance, as actually committed, is dependent upon and fate, but of fitness and wisdom; a necessity, conthe committal of those crimes. He knows what crime sistent with the greatest freedom and most perfect is, independent of its actual existence; but the know- choice. For the only foundation of this necessity, is ledge of it as committed, depends not on himself but such an unalterable rectitude of will, and perfection of upon the creature. And so far is this from derogating wisdom, as makes it impossible for a wise being to refrom the knowledge of God, that, according to the com- solve to act foolishly; or for a nature infinitely good, to mnon reason of things, it is thus only that we can sup- choose to do that which is evil." pose the knowledge of God to be exact and perfect. Of the WISDOM of God, it is here necessary to say

But this is not all which sustains the opinion, that little, because many instances of it in the application. there is order and succession also in the knowledge of of knowledge to accomplish such ends as were worthy the Divine Being. It is not only as far as the know- of himself and requisite for the revelation of his glory ledge of the successive and transient actual existence to his creatures, have been given in the proofs of an of things is concerned, that both fore and after know- intelligent and designing cause, with which the world Jedge are to be ascribed to God, but also in another abounds. On this, as well as on the other attributes, gospect. Authors of the class just quoted, spcak as the Scriptures dwell with an interesting complacency,

and lead us to the contemplation of an unbounded | rial substance.(2) possessing the same essential propervariety of instances in which this perfection of God has ties, all the visible beings which surround us are made; been manifested to men. He is the only wise God;" the granite rock, and ihe central all-pervading sun; and as to his works, "in wisdom hast thou made them the moveless clod, the rapid lightning, and the transall." Every thing has been done by nice and delicate parent air. Gravitation unites the atoms which comadjustment, by number, weight, and measure. "He pose the world, combines the planets into one system, seeth under the whole heaven, to make the weight for governs the regularity of their motions, and yet vast as the winds, to weigh the waters by measure, to make a is its power, and all-pervading as its influence, it subdecree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the mits to an infinite number of modifications, which allow thunder.” Whole volumes have been written on this of the motion of individual bodies; and it gives place amazing subject, “the Wisdom of God in the Crea- to even contrary forces, which yet it controls and regution,” and it is still unexhausted. Every research into lates. One act of Divine power in giving a certain innature, every discovery as to the laws by which mate clination to the earth's axis, produced the effect of the rial things are combined, decomposed, and transformed, vicissitude of seasons, gave laws to its temperature, and throws new light upon the simplicity of the elements, covered it with increased variety of productions. To which are the subjects of this ceaseless operation of the composition, and a few simple laws impressed upon Divine power, and the exquisite skill, and unbounded light, every object owes its colour, and the heavens and compass of the intelligence which directs it. The vast the earth are invested with beauty. A combination of body of facts which natural philosophy has coliected earth, water, and the gases of the atmosphere, forms with so much laudable labour, and the store of which the strength and majesty of the oak, the grace, and is constantly increasing, is a commentary on the words beauty, and odour of the rose; and from the principle of inspiration, ever enlarging, and which will continue of evaporation, are formed clouds which “ drop fatto enlarge as long as men remain on earth to pursue ness," dews which refresh the languid fields, springs such inquiries; "he doeth great things past finding and rivers that make the valleys through which they out, and wonders without number." "Lo these are flow “langh and sing." parts of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of Variety of equally perfect operation is a character of him!” The excellent books which have been written wisdom. In the works of God the variety is endless, with the express design to illustrate the wisdom of and shows the wisdom from which they spring to be God, and to exhibit the final causes of the creation and infinite. Of that mind in which all the ideas after preservation of the innumerable creatures with which which the innumerable objects composing the universe we are surrounded, must be referred to on so copious must have had a previous and distinct existence, bea subject,(9) and a few general remarks must suffice. cause after that pattern they were made; and not only

The first character of wisdom is to act for worthy the ideas of the things themselves, but of every part of ends. To act with design, is a sufficient character of which they are composed; of the place which every intelligence; but wisdom is the fit and proper exercise particle in their composition should fill, and the part it of the understanding; and though we are not adequate should act, we can have no adequate conception. The judges of what it is fit and proper for God to do in thought is overwhelming. This variety is too obvious every case, yet for many of his acts the reasons are to be dwelt upon; yet a few of its nicer shades may at least partially given in his own word, and they be adverted to, as showing, so to speak, the infinite recommand at once our adoration and gratitude, as worthy sources, and the endlessly diversified conceptions of the or himself and benevolent to us. The reason of the Creator. “O Lord, how manitold are thy works!" All creation of the world was the manifestation of the per- the three kingdoms of nature pour forth the riches of fections of God, to the rational creatures designed to variety. The varied forms of crystallization and cominhabit it, and to confer on them, remaining innocent, a position in minerals; the colours, forms, and qualities felicity equal to their largest capacity. The end was of vegetables ; the kinds and properties, and habits of important, and the means by which it was appointed animals. The gradations from one class of beings to to be accomplished evidently fit. To be was itself another; from unformed to organic, from dead to living, made & source of satisfaction. God was announced to from mechanic sensitiveness to sensation, from dull to man as his Maker, Lord, and Friend, by revelation ; but active sense, from sluggishness to motion ; from creepinvisible himself, every object was fitted to make him ing to flying, from sensation to intellect, from instinct present to the mind of his creature, and to be a remem- to reason,(3) from mortal to immortality, from man to brancer of his power, glory, and care. The heavens angel, from angel to seraph. Between similitude and 6 declared his glory;" the fruitful earth “his good total unlikeness, variety has a boundless range; but its ness." The understanding of man was called into ex- delicacy of touch, so to speak, is shown in the narrower ercise by the number and variety, and the curious field that lies between similarity and entire resemblance, structure of the works of God; pleasures of taste were of which the works of God present so many curious formed by their sublimity, beauty, and harmony. “Day examples. No two things appear exactly alike, when unto day uttered speech, night unto night taught know- even of the same kind. Plants of the same species, ledge;" and God in his law, and in his creative munifi- the leaves and flowers of the same plant, have all their cence and preserving care, was thus ever placed before varieties. Animals of the same kind have their indivihis creature, arrayed in the full splendour of his natu- dual character. Any two blades of grass, or particles ral and moral attributes, the object of awe and love, of of sand, shall show a marked difference when carefully trust and of submission. The great moral end of the compared. The wisdom of this appears more strongly creation of man, and of his residence in the world, and marked when we consider, that important ends, both the means by which it was accomplished, were, therefore, displays of the Divine Wisdom.

(2) “ A few undecompounded bodies, which may perIt is another mark of wisdom when the process by haps ultimately be resolved into still fewer elements, or which any work is accomplished is simple, and many which may be different forms of the same material, effects are produced from one, or a few elements. constitute the whole of our tangible universe of things." “When every several effect has a particular separate - Davy's Chemistry. cause, this gives no pleasure to the spectator, as not dis- (3) It is not intended here to countenance the opinion covering contrivance; but that work is beheld with ad- that the difference between the highest instinct and the miration and delight as the result of deep counsel, lowest reason, is not great. It is as great as the difwhich is complicated in its parts, and yet simple in its terence between an accountable and an unaccountable operation, when a great variety of effects are seen to nature; between a being under a law of force, and a law arise from one principle operating uniformly.”(1) This of moral obligation and motive; between a nature is the character of the works of God. Froin one mate limited in its capacity of improvement, and one whose

capabilities are unlimited. “The rash hypothesis, that (9) Ray's “Wisdom of God.”---DERIIAM'S Astro the negro is the connecting link between the white man and Physico-Theology.-Paley's Natural Theology.- and the ape, took its rise from the arbitrary classificaSTURM's Reflections.-Kirby and SPENCE's Entomo- tion of Linnaeus, which associates man and the ape in logy; and, though not written with any such design, the same order. The more natural arrangement of St. Pierre's “Studies of Nature” open to the mind later systems separate them into the bimanous, and that can supply the pious sentiments which the author quadrumanous orders. If this classification had not unfortunately wanted, many striking instances of the been followed, it would not have occurred to the most wisdom and benevolence of God.

fanciful mind to find in the negro an intermediate link." (1) ABERNETHY on Attributes.


« PreviousContinue »