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sole being, therefore, on this globe who is subjected to of his wondrous hand, he is continually varying and moral responsibility; the sole being on this globe enhancing the attractions by the diversified modes and whose moral conduct can have had a particle of even accessions of beauty with which he invests them, by indirect influence on the general condition of the globe the alterations of seasons, by the countless and rapid which he inhabits."
changes of light and shade, by the characteristic effects Another instance is supplied from the general de- of the rising, the meridian, the setting sun, by the subluge. After proving from a number of geological facts, dued glow of twilight, by the soft radiance of the moon: that such a phenomenon must have occurred, the and by the hues, the actions, and the music of the aniauthor observes :
mal tribes with which they are peopled.” “ Thus, while the exterior strata of the earth, by The human frame supplies another illustration :recording in characters unquestionable and indelible the “ Consider the human frame, naked against the elefact of a primeval and penal deluge, attest from age to ments, instantly susceptible of every external impresage the holiness and the justice of God; the form and sion; relatively weak, unarmed: during infancy aspect of its surface are, with equal clearness, testify- totally helpless; helpless again in old age; occupying ing from generation to generation his inherent and not a long period in its progress of growth to its destined less glorious attribute of mercy. For they prove that size and strength; ungifted with swiftness to escape the very deluge, in its irruption employed as the the wild beast of the forest; incapable, when overinstrument in his dispensation of vengeance to destroy taken, of resisting him; requiring daily supplies of a guilty world, was, in its recess, so regulated by him food, and of beverage, not merely that sense may not as to the varying rapidity of its subsidence, so directed be ungratified, not merely that vigour may not decline, by him throughout all its consecutive operations, as to but that closely impending destruction may be delayed. prepare the desolated globe for the reception of a For what state does such a frame appear characteristirestored succession of inhabitants ; and so to arrange cally fitted ? For what state does it appear to have the surface, as to adapt it in every climate for the sus- been originally designed? For a state of innocence tenance of the animals, for the production of the trees and security; for a paradisiacal state; for a state in and plants, and for the growth and commodious culti- which all elements were genial, all external impresvation of the grain and the fruits, of which man, in that sions innoxious; state in which relative strength particular region, would chiefly stand in need.
was unimportant, arms were needless; in which to be “During the retirement of the waters, when a bar- helpless was not to be insecure; in which the wild rier of a rocky stratum, sufficiently strong for resist- beast of the forest did not exist, or existed without ance, crossed the line of descent, a lake would be in hostility to man; a state in which food and beverage consequence formed. These memorials of the domi- were either not precarious, or not habitually and speednion of that element which had recently been so destruc- ily indispensable. Represent to yourself man as innotive, remain also as memorials of the mercy of the cent, and in consequent possession of the unclouded Restorer of Nature; and by their own living splendours, favour of his God; and then consider whether it be and by the beauty and the grandeur of their boundaries, probable, that a frame thus adapted to a paradisiacal are the most exquisite ornaments of the scenes in state, thus designated by characteristical indications which we dwell.
as originally formed for a paradisiacal state, would “Would you receive and cherish a strong impression have been selected for the world in which we live. of the extent of the mercy displayed in the renewal of Turn to the contrary representation; a representation the face of the earth? Would you endeavour to render the accuracy of which we have already seen the pupil justice to the subject? Contemplate the number of of natural theology constrained, by other irresistible the diversified effects on the surface of the globe, which testimonies which she has produced, to allow : regard have been wrought, arranged, and harmonized by the man as having forfeited by transgression the Divine Divine benignity through the agency of the retiring favour, and as placed by his God, with a view to ultideluge: and combine in your survey of them the two mate possibilities of mercy and restoration, in a situaconnected characteristics, utility and beauty ; utility to tion which, amid tokens and means of grace, is at meet the necessities and multiply the comforts of man; present to partake of a penal character. For such a beauty graciously superadded to cheer his eye and de- situation, for residence on the existing earth as the light his heart, with which the general aspect of nature appointed scene of discipline at once merciful, moral, is impressed. Observe the mountains, of every form and penal, what frame could be more wisely calcuand of every elevation. See them now rising in bold lated? What frame could be more happily adjusted to acclivities; now accumulated in a succession of grace- receive, and to convey, and to aid, and to continue, the fully sweeping ascents; now towering in rugged pre- impressions, which, if mercy and restoration are to be cipices; now rearing above the clouds their spiry pin- attained, must antecedently be wrought into the mind ? nacles glittering with perpetual snow. View their is not such a frame, in such å world, a living and a sides now darkened with unbounded forests; now faithful witness, a constant and an energetic rememspreading to the sun their ample slopes covered with brancer, to natural reason, that man was created holy; herbage, the summer resorts of the flocks and the herds that he fell from obedience; that his existence was of subjacent regions; now scooped into sheltered con- continued for purposes of mercy and restoration ; that cavities; now enclosing within their ranges glens green he is placed in his earthly abode under a dispensation as the emerald, and watered by streams pellucid and bearing the combined marks of attainable grace, and sparkling as crystal. Pursue these glens as they unite of penal discipline? Is not such a frame, in such a and enlarge themselves ; mark their rivulets uniting world, a preparation for the reception, and a collateral and enlarging themselves also ; until the glen becomes evidence to the truth, of Christianity ?" a valley, and the valley expands into a rich vale or a The occupations of man furnish other instances :spacious plain, each varied and bounded by hills and “ One of his most general and most prominent oc. knolls and gentle uplands, in soine parts chiefly cupations will necessarily be the cultivation of the adapted for pasturage, in others for the plough; each ground. As the products drawn from the soil form the intersected and refreshed by rivers flowing onwards basis, not only of human subsistence, but of the wealth from country to country, and with streams continually which expands itself in the external comforts and oraugmented by collateral accessions, until they are naments of social life; we should expect that, under a finally lost in the ocean. There new modes of beauty dispensation comprehending means and purposes of are awaiting the beholder; winding shores, bold capes, mercy, the rewards of agriculture would be found rugged promontories, deeply indented bays, harbours among the least uncertain and the most liberal of the penetrating far inland and protected from every blast. recompenses, which Providence holds forth to exertion. But in these vast and magnificent features of nature, Experience confirms the expectation, and attests that the gracious Author of all things has not exhausted the man is not rejected of his Creator. Yet how great, attractions with which he purposed to decorate inani- how continual, is the toil annexed to the effective culmate objects. He pours forth beauties in detail, and ture of the earth! How constant the anxiety, lest rewith unsparing prodigality of munificence, and for dundant moisture should corrupt the seed under the whatever other reasons, for human gratification also, on clod; or grubs and worms gnaw the root of the rising the several portions, however inconsiderable, of which plant ; or reptiles and insects devour the blade; or the larger component parts of the splendid whole con- mildew blast the stalk; or ungenial seasons destroy sist: on the rock, on the fractured stone, on the thicket, the harvest! How frequently, from these and other on the single tree, on the bush, on the mossy bank, on causes, are the unceasing labours and the promising the plant, on the flower, on the leaf. Of all these workshopes of the husbandman terminated in bitter disappointment! Agriculture wears not, in this our planet, God is good; or, in other words, according to the hy. ihe characteristics of an occupation arranged for an pothesis above stated, as good as the stubbornness of innocent and a fully favoured race. It displays to the matter, and the necessity that vice and misery should eye of Natural Thcology traces of the sentence pro- exist, would allow. Ilis goodness is limited by moral nounced on the first cultivator, the representative of not by physical reasons, but still, considering the globe all who were to succeed; ' Cursed is the ground for thy as the residence of a fallen and perverse race, that sake. Thorns, also, and thistles shall it bring forth to glorious attribute is heightened in its lustre by this thee. In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of very circumstance; it arrays itself before us in all its thy life. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.' affecting attributes of mercy, pity, long-suffering, miti. It bears, in its toils and in its solicitudes, plain indica- gation, and remission. It is goodness poured forth in tions that man is a sinner.
the richest liberality, where moral order permits its “ Observations in substance corresponding with unrestrained flow; and it is never withheld but where those which have been stated respecting tillage, might the general benefit demands it. Penal acts never go be adduced concerning the care of Hocks and herds. beyond the rigid necessity of the case; acts of mercy The return for labour in this branch of employment is, rise infinitely above all desert. in the ordinary course of events, sufficient, as in agri- The above observations all suppose moral evil acculture, both to excite and sustain exertion, and to in-tually in the world, and infecting the whole human timate the merciful benignity with which the Deity race; but the Origin of evil requires distinct considerlooks upon mankind. But the fatiguing superintendation. How did inoral evil arise, and how is this cirence, the watchful anxiety, the risks of loss by disease, cumstance compatible with the Divine goodness? by casualties, by inalicious injury and depredation, and, However these questions may be answered, it is to be in many countries, by the inroads of wild beasts, con- remembered that though the answer should leave some spire in their amount to enforce the truth which has difficulties in sull force, they do not press exclusively been inculcated. They inscribe the page of Natural / upon the Scriptures. Independent of the Bible, the fact Theology with the scriptural denunciation: that the is that evil exists; and the Theist who admits the exist. Jabour and the pain assigned to man are the conse- ence of a God of infinite goodness, has as large a share quences of transgression.
of the difficulty of reconciling facts and principles on “ Another of the principal occupations of man con- this subject as the Christian, but with no advantage sists in the extraction of the mineral contents of the from that history of the introduction of sin into the earth, and in the reduction of the metals into the states world which is contained in the writings of Moses, and the forms requisite for use. On the toil, the irk- and none from those alleviating views which are afsomeness, and the dangers attendant on these modes forded by the doctrine of the redemption of man by of life, it is unnecessary to enlarge. They have been Jesus Christ. discussed; and have been shown to be deeply stamped As to the source of evil, the following are the leadwith a penal character appropriate to a fallen and guilty ing opinions which have been held. Necessity, arising race.
out of the nature of things; the Manichæan principle “Another and a very comprehensive range of em- of duality, or the existence of a good and an evil deity; ployment consists in the fabrication of manufactures. the doctrine that God is the efficient cause or author of These, in correspondence with the necessities, the rea- sin; and finally, that evil is the result of the abuse of sonable desires, the self-indulgence, the ingenuity, the the moral freedom with which rational and accountcaprices, and the luxury of individuals, are diversified able creatures are endowed. With respect to the first, beyond enumeration. But it may be affirmed generally as the necessity meant is independent of God, it refutes concerning manufactures in extensive demand, that, itself. For if all creatures are under the influence of in ommon with the occupations which have already this necessity, and they must be under it if it arise been examined, they impose a pressure of labour, an out of the nature of things itself, no virtue could now amount of solicitude, and a risk of disappointment, exist: from the moment of creation the deteriorating such as we cannot represent to ourselves as probable principle must begin its operation, and go on until all in the case of beings holy in their nature, and tho- good is extinguished. Nor could'there be any return roughly approved by their God. The tendency, also, or from vice to virtue, since the nature of things would such manufactures is to draw together numerous ope- on that supposition be counteracted, which is impos. rators within a small compass; to crowd them into sible. close workshops and inadequate habitations; to injure The second is scarcely worth notice, since no one their health by contaminated air, and their inorals by now advocates it. This heresy, which prevailed in contagious society.
several parts of the Christian world from the third to “ Another line of exertion is constituted by trade, the sixteenth century, seems to have been a modificasubdivided into its two branches, domestic traffic and tion of the ancient Magian doctrine superadded to some foreign commerce. Both, at the same time that they of the tenets of Christianity. Its leading principle are permitted in common with the modes of occupation was, that our souls were made by the good principle, already named to anticipate, on the whole, by the ap- and our bodies by the evil one; these two principles pointment of Providence, such a recompense as proves being, according to Mani the founder of the sect, coadequate to the ordinary excitement of industry, and to eternal and independent of each other. These notions the acquisition of the moderate comforts of life, are were supposed to afford an easy explanation of the marked with the penal impress of toil, anxiety, and origin of evil, and on that account were zealously pro disappointment. Natural Theology still reads the sen- pagated. It was however overlooked by the advocates tence, 'In the sweat of thy face, in sorrow, shalt thou of this scheme, that it left the difficulty without any cat bread.' Vigilance is frustrated by the carelessness alleviation at all; for “it is just as repugnant to infiof associates, or profit intercepted by their iniquity. nite goodness to create what it foresaw would be Uprightness in the dealer becomes the prey of fraud in spoiled by another, as to create what would be spoiled the customer. The ship is wrecked on a distant shore, by the constitution of its nature."(3) or sinks with the cargo, and with the merchant, in the The dogina which inakes God himself the efficient ocean."(2)
cause, or author of sin, is direct blasphemy, and it is Numerous other examples are furnished by the au- one of those culpable extravagances into which men thor, and might be easily enlarged, so abundant is the are sometimes betrayed by a blind attachment to some evidence; and the whole directly connects itself with favourite theory. This notion is found in the writings the subject under consideration. The voluntary good of some of the most unguarded advocates of the Calness of God is not impugned by the various evils which vinistic hypothesis, though now generally abandoned exist in the world, for we see them accounted for by by the writers of that school. A modern defender of the actual corrupt state of man, and by a righteous ad- Calvinism thus puts in his disclaimer, “God is not the ministration, by which goodness must be controlled author of sin. A Calvinist who says so I regard as to be an aitribute worthy of God. It would otherwise Judas, and will have no communion with him.”(4) be weakness, a blind passion, and not a wisely-regulated affection. On the other hand, there is clearly no rea- (3) King's Origin of Evil. son for resorting to notions of necessity, and defects (4) Scott's Remarks on the Refutation of Calvinin the essential nature of created things, to prove that ism.--- Few have been so daring, except the grosser
Antinomians of ancient and modern times. The elder (2) Testimony of Nature, &c.
Calvinists, though they often made fearful approaches
The general abandonment of this notion, so offensive that all created rational beings, being finite, and ene and blameable, renders it unnecessary to enter into its dowed also with liberty of choice, must, under all cirrefutation. If refutation were required it would be cumstances, be liable to sin. It is argued by Archbifound in this, that the first pair who sinned were sub- shop king, that “God, though he be omnipotent, canjected to punishment for and on account of sin; which not make any created being absolutely perfect ; for they could not in justice have been, had not their crime whatever is absolutely perfect, must necessarily be been chargeable upon themselves.
self-existent; but it is included in the very notion of a The last opinion, and that which has been generally creature, as such, not to exist of itself, but of God. An Teceived by theologians, is, that moral evil is the result absolutely perfect creature, therefore, implies a contraof a voluntary abuse of the freedom of the will in ra- diction; for it would be of itself, and not of itself, at tional and moral agents; and that, as to the human the same time. Absolute perfection, therefore, is pecurace, the first pair sinned by choice, when the power to liar to God; and should he communicate his own pecuhave remained innocent remained with them. “Why liar perfection to another, that other would be God. is there sin in the world? Because man was created in Imperfection must therefore be tolerated in creatures, the image of God; because he is not mere matter, a clod notwithstanding the Divine Omnipotence and goodof earth, a lump of clay, without sense or understand- ness;- for contradictions are no objects of power. God ing, but a spirit like his Creator ; a being endued not indeed might have refrained from acting, and contionly with sense and understanding, but also with a nued alone self-sufficient and perfect to all eternity; but will exerting itself in various affections. To crown infinite goodness would by no means allow of this; and all the rest, he was endued with liberty, a power of therefore since it obliged him to produceexternal things, directing his own affections and actions, a capacity of which things could not possibly be perfect, it preferred determining himself, or of choosing good and evil. In these imperfect things to none at all; from whence deed, had not man been endued with this, all the rest it follows, that imperfection arose from the infinity of would have been of no use. Had he not been a free, as Divine goodness."(6) well as an intelligent being, his understanding would This in part may be allowed. imperfection must, in have been as incapable of holiness, or any kind of vir- comparison of God, and of the creature's own capacity tue, as a tree or a block of marble. And having this of improvement, remain the character of a finite being; power, a power of choosing good and evil, he chose but it is not so clear that this imperfection must at all the latter, he chose evil. Thus ó sin entered into the times, and throughout the whole course of existence, world.'"(5)
imply liability to sin. God is free, and yet cannot " This account unquestionably agrees with the history tempted of evil.” “ It is impossible for God to lie;" of the fact of the fall and corruption of man. Like not for want of natural freedom, but because of an abevery thing else to its kind, he was pronounced“ very solute moral perfection. Liberty and impeccability good ;" he was placed under a law of obedience, which, if imply, therefore, no contradiction; and it cannot, even he haul not had the power to observe it, would have been on rational grounds, be concluded, that a free finite absurd; and that he had also the power to violate it is moral agent may not, by the special favour of God, be equally clear from the prohibition under which he was placed in circumstances in which sinning is morally laid, and its accompanying penalty. The conclusion impossible. Revelation undoubtedly gives this protherefore is, that “God made man upright," with power mise to the faithful, in another state; a consummation to remain so, and, on the contrary, to sin and fall. to be effected, not by destroying their natural liberty,
Nor was this liberty to sin inconsistent with that but by improving their moral condition. This was not perfect purity and moral perfection with which he was however the case with man at his first creation, and endowed at his creation. Many extravagant descrip- during his abode in paradise. His state was not that tions have been indulged in by some divines as to the of the glorified, for it was probationary, and it was yet intellectual and moral endowments of the nature of the inconceivably advanced above the present state of man; first man, which, if admitted to the full extent, would since, with a nature unstained and uncorrupted, it render it difficult to conceive how he could possibly was easy for him to have maintained his moral rectihave fallen by any temptations which his circum- tude, and to have improved and confirmed it. Obedistances allowed, or indeed how, in his case, temptation ence with him had not those clogs, and internal oppocould at all exist. His state was high and glorious, but sitions, and outward counteractions, as with us.
It it was still a state not of reward but of trial, and his was, however, a state which required watchfulness, endowments and perfections were therefore suited to and effort, and prayer, and denial of the appetites and it. It is, indeed, perhaps going much too far to state, passions, since Eve fell by her appetite, and Adam by
his passion : and slight as, in the first instance, every in their writings to this blasphemy, yet did not, openly external influence which tended to depress the energy and directly, charge God with being the author of sin. of the spiritual life, and lead man from God, might be, This Arminius with great candour acknowledges; but and easy to be resisted; it might become a step to a gives them a friendly admonition, to renounce a doc- farther detection, and the nucleus of a fatal habit. trine from which this aspersion upon the Divine cha- Thus says Bishop Butler, with his accustomed acuteracter may, by a good consequence, be deduced: a cau- ness : “Mankind, and perhaps all finite creatures, from tion not uncalled for in the present day. “Inter omnes the very constitution of their nature, before hahits of virblasphemias quæ Deo impingi possunt, omnium est tue, are deficient, and in danger of deviating from what gravissima qua author peccati statuitur Deus : que is right; and therefore stand in need of virtuous habits, ipsa non parum exaggeratur, si addatur Deum idcirco for a security against this danger. For, together with authorem esse peccati à creatura commissi, ut creatu- the general principle of moral understanding, we have ram in æternum exitium, quod illi jam ante citra re- in our inward frame various affections towards partispectum peccati destinaverat, damnaret et deduceret : cular external objects. These affections are naturally, sic enim fuerit causa injustitiæ homini ut ipsi æter- and of right, subject to the government of the moral prin. nam miseriam adferre posset. Hanc blasphemiam ciple, as to the occasions upon which they may be granemo Deo, quem bonum concipit, impinget: quare tified: as to the times, degrees, and manner in which etiam Manichæi, pessimi hæreticorum, quum causam the objects of them may be pursued: but then the mali bono Deo adscribere vererentur, alium Deum, et principle of virtue can neither excite them, nor prevent aliud principium statuerunt, cui mali causam deputa- their being excited. On the contrary, they are naturent. Qua de causa, nec ullis Doctoribus reformata- rally felt, when the objects of them are present to the rum Ecclesiarum jure impingi potest, quod Deum mind, not only before all consideration, whether they authorem peccati statuant exprofesso: imo verissi- can be obtained by lawful means, but after it is found mum est ilios expresse id negare, et illam calumniam they cannot. For the natural objects of affection concontra alios egregiè confutasse. Attamen fieri potest, tinue so: the necessaries, conveniences, and pleasures ut quis ex ignorantia aliquod doceat, ex quo bona of life remain naturally desirable, though they cannot consequentia deducatur, Deum per illam doctrinam be obtained innocently; nay, though they cannot posstatui authorem peccati. Hoc si fiat, tum quidem sibly be obtained at all. And when the objects of any istius doctrine professoribus, non est impingendum affection whatever cannot be obtained without unlawquod Deum authorem peccati faciant, sed tantum mo- sul means, but may be obtained by them; such affernendi ut doctrinam istam, unde id bona consequentia tion, through its being excited, and its continuance deducitur, deserant et abjiciant." (5) WESLEY's Sermons,
(6) Origin of Evil.
some time in the mind, be it as innocent as it is natu- of defection, which necessarily arose from propension, ral and necessary, yet cannot but be conceived to have the other part of it. For, by thus preserving their ina tendency to incline persons to venture upon such tegrity for some time, their danger would lessen; since unlawful means; and, therefore, must be conceived as propensions, by being inured to submit, would do it putting them in some danger of it. Now, what is the more easily and of course: and their security against general security against this danger, against their ac- this lessening danger wouid increase; since the moral tually deviating from right? As the danger is, so also principle would gain additional strength by exercise: must the security be, from within; from the practical both which things are implied in the notion of virtuous principle of virtue. And the strengthening or improv- habits. Thus, then, vicious indulgence is not only criing this principle, considered as practical, or as a prin-minal in itself, but also depraves the inward constituciple of action, will lessen the danger, or increase the tion and character. And virtuous self-government is security against it. And this moral principle is capa- not only right in itself, but also improves the inward ble of improvement by proper discipline and exercise; constitution or character; and may improve it to such by recollecting the practical impressions which exam- a degree, that though we should suppose it impossible ple and experience have made upon us; and instead of for particular affections to be absolutely coincident with following humour and mere inclination by continually the moral principle, and consequently should allow, attending to the equity and right of the case, in what that such creatures as have been above supposed, would ever we are engaged, be it in greater or less matters, for ever remain defectible, yet their danger of actually and accustoming ourselves always to act upon it; as deviating from right, may be almost infinitely lessened, being itself the just and natural motive of action, and as and they fully fortified against what remains of it: if this inoral course of behaviour must necessarily, under that may be called danger, against which there is an Divine government, be our final interest. Thus the adequate effectual security. But still, this their higher principle of virtue, improved into habit, of which im- perfection may continue to consist in habits of virtue provement we are thus capable, will plainly be, in pro- formed in a state of discipline, and this their more comportion to the strength of it, a security against the plete security remain to proceed from them. And thus danger which finite creatures are in, from the very it is plainly conceivable, that creatures without blemish, nature of propension, or particular affections. as they came out of the hands of God, may be in danger
“From these things we may observe, and it will far- of going wrong; and so may stand in need of the secu ther show this our natural and original need of being rity of virtuous habits, additional to the moral principle improved by discipline, how it comes to pass, that crea- wrought into their natures by him. That which is the tures made upright fall; and that those who preserve ground of their danger, or their want of security, may their uprightness, by so doing, raise themselves to a be considered as a deficiency in them, to which virtuous more secure state of virtue. To say that the former is habits are the natural supply. And as they are natuaccounted for by the nature of liberty, is to say no more rally capable of being raised and improved by discipline, than that an event's actually happening is accounted for it may be a thing fit and requisite, that they should be by a mere possibility of its happening. But it seems placed in circumstances with an eye to it; in circumdistinctly conceivable from the very nature of particular stances peculiarly fiited to be, to them, a state of disciaffections or propensions. For, suppose creatures in- pline for their improvement in virtue."(7) tended for such a particular state of life, for which such It is easy, therefore, to conceive, without supposing propensions were necessary: suppose them endued that moral liberty, in all cases, necessarily supposes liawith such propensions, together with moral understand-bility to commit sin, how a perfectly pure and upright ing, as well including a practical sense of virtue, as a being might be capable of disobedience, though conspeculative perception of it; and that all these several tinued submission to God and to his law was not only principles, both natural and moral, forming an inward possible but practicable without painful and difficult constitution of mind, were in the most exact proportion effort. To be in a state of trial, the moral as well as possible; i. e. in a proportion the most exactly adapted the natural freedom to choose evil was essential; and to their intended state of life; such creatures would be as far as this fact bears upon the question of the Divine made upright, or finitely perfect. Now, particular pro- goodness, it resolves itself into this, " whether it was pensions, from their very nature, must be felt, the ob- inconsistent with that attribute of the Divine Nature, to jects of them being present; though they cannot be endow man with this liberty, or, in other words, to gratified at all, or not with the allowance of the moral place him in a state of trial on earth, before his admisprinciple. But if they can be gratified without its al- sion into that state from which the possibility of evil is lowance, or by contradicting it; then they must be con- for ever excluded.” To this, unassisted reason could ceived to have some tendency, in how low a degree so- frame no answer. By the aid of revelation we are asever, yet some tendency, to induce persons to such for- sured, that benevolence is so absolutely the motive and bidden gratification. This tendency, in some one parti- the end of the Divine providence, that thus to dispose of cular propension, may be increased, by the greater fre- man, and consequently to permit his voluntary fall, is conquency of occasions naturally exciting it, than of occa- sistent with it, but in what manner it is so, is involved sions exciting others. The least voluntary indulgence in obscurity: and the fact being established, we may in forbidden circumstances, though but in thought, will well be content to wait for the developement of that great increase this wrong tendency; and may increase it far- process which shall "justify the ways of God to man," ther, till, peculiar conjunctures, perhaps, conspiring, it without indulging in speculations, which, for want of becomes effect; and danger of deviating froin right, all the facts of the case before us, must always be to a ends in actual deviation from it: a danger necessarily great extent without foundation, and may even seriously arising from the very nature of propension; and mislead. This we know, that the entrance of sin into which, therefore, could not have been prevented, though the world has given occasion for the tenderest displays it might have been escaped, or got innocently through. of the Divine goodness, in the gift of the great Restorer; The case would be, as it we were to suppose a straight and opened, to all who will avail themselves of the blesspath marked out for a person, in which such a degree ing, the gate to "glory, honour, immortality, and eterof attention would keep him steady: but if he would nal life." The observations of Doddridge on this subnot attend in this degree, any one of a thousand objects, ject have a commendable modesty. catching his eye, might lead him out of it. Now, it is im- “It will still be demanded, why was moral evil possible to say, how much even the first full overt act of permitted ? To this it is generally answered, that it irregularity might disorder the inward constitution, un- was the result of natural liberty, and it was fit that settle the adjustments, and alter the proportions, which among all the other classes and orders of beings, some formed it, and in which the uprightness of its make con- should be formed possessed of this, as it conduces to the sisted: but repetition of irregularities would produce harmony of the universe, and to the beautiful variety of habits. And thus the constitution would be spoiled; beings in it. Yet still it is replied, Why did not God and creatures made upright, become corrupt and de- prevent this abuse of liberty? One would not willingly praved in their settled character, proportionably to their say, that he is not able to do it, without violating the repeated irregularities in occasional acts. But, on the nature of his creatures; nor is it possible that any contrary, these creatures might have improved and should prove this. It is commonly said that he permitraised themselves to a higher and more secure state of ted it in order to extract from thence greater good.
But virtue, by the contrary behaviour; by steadily following it may be farther queried, Could he not have produced the moral principle, supposed to be one part of their nature; and thus withstanding that unavoidable danger
that greater good without such a means ? Could he
CHAPTER VII. not have secured among all his creatures universal good and universal happiness, in full consistency with
ATTRIBUTES of God. - Holiness. the liberty he had given them? I acknowledge I see In creatures, Holiness is conformity to the will of no way of answering this question but by saying, he God, as expressed in his laws, and consists in abstihad indeed a natural power of doing it, but that he saw nence from every thing which has been comprehended it better not to do it, though the reasons upon which it under the general term of sin, and in the habit and appeared preferable to him are entirely unknown to practice of righteousness. Both these terms are prous."(8)
perly understood to include various principles, affecThe MERCY of God is not a distinct attribute of his tions, and acts, which, considered separately, are re nature, but a mode of his goodness. It is the disposi- garded as vices or virtues; and collectively, os consti. tio whereby he is inclined to succour those who are tuting a holy or a polluted character. Our conception in misery, and to pardon those who have offended. “In of holiness in creatures, both in its negative and its posiScripture language,” says Archbishop Tillotson, “it is tive import, is therefore explicit; it is determined by the usually set forth to us by the expressions of pity and will of God. But when we speak of God, we speak of a compassion; which is an affection that causes a sensi- being who is a law to himself, and whose conduct cannot ble cominotion and disturbance in us, upon the appre- be referred to a higher authority than his own. This cirhension of some great evil, either threatening or op- cumstanice has given rise to various opinions on the subpressing another; pursuant to which God is said to be ject of the holiness of the Divine Being, and to different grieved and afflicted for the miseries of men. But modes of stating this glorious attributeof his moral nature. though God be pleased in this manner to convey an idea But without conducting the reader into the profitless of his mercy and tenderness to us, yet we must take question, whether there is a fixed and unalterable naheed how we clothe the Divine Nature with the infirmi- ture and fitness of things, independent of the Divine ties of human passions: we must not measure the per- will on the one hand; or, on the other, whether good fections of God by the expressions of his condescension; and evil have their foundation, not in the nature of ar:d because he stoops to our weakness, level him to things, but only in the Divine will, which makes them our infirmities. When, therefore, God is said to pity us, such, there is a method, less direct it may be, but more or to be grieved at our afflictions, we must be careful to satisfactory, of assisting our thoughts on this subject. remove the imperfection of the passion, the coinmotion It is certain that various affections and actions have and disturbance that it occasions, and then we may been enjoined upon all rational creatures under the geconceive as strongly of the Divine mercy and compas- neral name of righteousness, and that their contraries sion as we please; and that it exerts itself in a very have been prohibited. It is a matter also of constant tender and affectionate manner.
experience and observation, that the good of society is “ And therefore the Holy Scriptures not only tell us, promoted only by the one and injured by the other; and that 'the Lord our God is a merciful God, but that he is also that every individual derives, by the very constituthe Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort ;' that tion of his nature, benefit and happiness from rectitude; he delights in mercy,-waits to be gracious, -rejoices injury and misery from vice. This constitution of huover us to do good,--and crowneth us with his loving- man nature is therefore an indication, that the Maker kindness:' to denote the greatness and continuance of and Ruler of men formed them with the intent that this affection, they not only tell us, that his mercy is they should avoid vice, and practise virtue; and that above the heavens;' that it extends itself over all his the former is the object of his aversion, the latter of his works,-is laid up in store for a thousand generations, regard. On this principle all the laws which, in his and is to endure for ever and ever:' to express the in- legislative character, Almighty God has enacted for the teriseness of it, they not only tell us of the multitude of government of mankind have been constructed. “The his tender mercies; the sounding of his bowels,'the relent- law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and ings of his heart, and the kindlings of his repentance; good.” In the administration of the world, where God but to give us as sensible an idea as possible of the com- is so often seen in his judicial capacity, the punishpassions of God, they compare them to the tenderest af- ments which are inflicted, indirectly or immediately, fections among men; to that of a father towards his upon men clearly tend to discourage and prevent the children, "as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord practice of evil. “ Above all, the Gospel, that last and pitieth them that fear hiin; nay, to the compassion of most perfect revelation of the Divine will, instead of a mother towards her infant: 'can a woman forget her giving the professors of it any allowance to sin, besucking child, that she should not have compassion on cause grace has abounded (which is an injurious imthe son of her womb? yea, she may forget, it is possi- putation cast upon it by ignorant and impious minds), ble, though very unlikely; but though a mother may its chief design is to establish that great principle, God's become unnatural, yet God cannot prove unmerciful. moral purity, and to manifest his abhorrence of sin,
“ In short, the Scriptures every where magnify the and inviolable regard to purity and virtue in his reasonmercy of God, and speak of it with all possible advan- able creatures. It was for this he sent his Son inte tage, as if the Divine Nature, which does in all per- the world to turn men from their iniquities, and bring fections excel every other thing, did in this perfection them back to the paths of righteousness. For this, the excel itself: and of this we have a farther conviction, blessed Jesus submitted to the deepest humiliations if we lift but up our eyes to God, and then turning and most grievous sufferings. He gave himself (as them upon ourselves, begin to consider how many St. Paul speaks) for his church, that he might sanctify evils and miseries, that every day we are exposed to, and cleanse it, that he might present it to himself a by his preventing mercy are hindered, or when they glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, but that were coming upon us, stopped or turned another way; it should be holy and without blemish ; or, as it is how oft our punishment has he deferred by his for- elsewhere expressed, he gave himself for us, to rebearing mercy, or, when it was necessary for our chas- deem us from our iniquities, and to purify unto himself tisement, mitigated and made light: how oft we have a peculiar people, zealous of good works. In all this been supported in our afflictions by his comforting he is said to have done the will of his Father, and glomercy, and visited with the light of his countenance, rified him, that is, restored and promoted in the world in the exigencies of our soul and the gloominess of des- the cause of virtue and righteousness, which is the pair: how oft we have been supplied by his relieving glory of God. And his life was the visible image of ihe mercy in our wants, and when there was no hand to Divine sanctity, proposed as a familiar example to succour, and no soul to pity us, his arm has been mankind, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and stretched out to lift us from the mire and clay, and by separate from sinners. He did no sin, neither was a providential train of events, brought about our sus- guile found in his mouth. And as Christianity appears, tenance and support: and above all, how daily, how by the character of its author, and by his actions and hourly, how minutely we offend against him, and yet, sufferings, to be a designed evidence of the holiness of by the power of his pardoning mercy, we are still alive: God, or of his aversion to sin, and his gracious desire for, considering the multitude and heinousness of our to iurn men from it, so the institution itself is perfectly provocations, it is of his mercy alone that we are not pure, it contains the clearest and most lively descripconsumed, and because his compassions fail not. tions of moral virtue, and the strongest motives to the Whoso is wise will ponder these things, and he will practice of it. It promises, as from God, the kindest understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.' "(9) assistance to men, for making the gospel effectual to
renew them in the spirit of their minds, and to reforin (8) DODURIDGE's Lectures (9) Sermons. their lives, by his Spirit sent down from heaven, on