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wondrous stranger of Nazareth it was said, “ And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, [in the margin, “ by the Spirit,"] filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.” During the period of his youth, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man." And when he came to make that offering about which the Spirit of prophesy had said, “ The Lord God hath opened my ear and I was not rebellious," did he go alone? did the man achieve it all in his own independent strength? No, it was the Spirit that made his life so pure that his offering was without a spot. “Who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God."*
As the affections of that holy man were thus indubitably influenced by the Spirit, the only question is, whether the influence was efficient or merely by motives. According to our brethren, the only thing which renders the Spirit necessary for men, is bad affections; and the chief obstruction to the empire of truth arising from bad affections, lies in their going after other objects and holding the attention from the truth : to which they add the power of habit ; which, from the associations existing, not only among our ideas, but, according to Reid and Stewart, among all the operations of the mind, and from the increasing facility with which these associations are formed and all these operations are carried on, renders the exercise of holy or sin
* Num. 4. 47. Ps. 22. 19. and 72. 1, 2. and 89. 20—29. Isai. 7. 14, 15, and 11.1–4. and 49.5. and 50. 4–6. and 61. 1. Mat. 3. 16, 17. and 12. 28. Luke 2. 40, 52. and 3. 23. John 1. 33. and 3. 34. Acts. 10. 38. Rom. 8. 29. Heb. 5. 4-9. and 9. 14. 1 John 2. 20, 27.
ful affections more and more easy and certain. They hold that truth throws so attractive a light upon reason and selflove, that if the attention can be fastened to it, the mind will be likely to yield to its influence; at any rate, that the Spirit can do no more than to present truth in so clear and affecting a light as to arrest the roving attention and fasten it to spiritual objects. Now certainly Jesus had no such rambling attention which needed to be brought back to divine things. That only operation which our brethren ascribe to the Spirit, and which depravity alone renders necessary, could not have been wrought in this instance. If the sanctifying Spirit moved upon that mind, it must have been in a way and for a purpose wholly out of the scope of their plan. The single fact therefore that the sanctifying Spirit moved upon Jesus, wholly breaks up their theory, and forever settles the point that the office of the Spirit is not merely to fix the attention of a fallen creature upon truth, but to move even the holy by effectual
God's Power to Prevent Sin. If God can control the mind either by efficiency or by motives, he can prevent sin: for if he can control one mind he can control all minds. If then you deny that he could have prevented sin, you deny both his efficiency and the absolute dominion of motives. The writers in the Christian Spectator must therefore be ranked among the deniers of both ways of control, because they deny God's power to prevent sin. For although now and then they qualify the denial by saying that the inability is only possible or probable or highly probable; yet men of their character would not fill the world with arguments in support of a point, of such unequalled solemnity, about which they had a serious doubt. Besides, all their theories respecting regeneration and sanctification and election and predestination and moral agency, fall at once if God has such an absolute control over the mind as is implied in a power to prevent sin. They say the mind turns itself in view of motives, and often resists all the inducements which God can bring. They make election and predestination to consist in a mere determination to bring forward such creatures and means, with a foresight of the decisions of the self-determining power. They deny that moral agency can consist with any mode of absolute control. All these theories Alatly contradict God's power to prevent sin. If then I prove that God could have prevented sin, it sweeps away their whole system respecting predestination and election and regeneration and sanctification and moral agency.
One thing must be distinctly noted in the outset. If God could not have prevented sin in all worlds and ages, he cannot prevent sin in any world or age, or in any creature at any time, except by preventing the particular occasion and temptation. If God could not have prevented sin in the universe, he cannot prevent believers from fatally falling; he cannot prevent Gabriel and Paul from sinking at once into devils, and heaven from turning into a hell. And were he to create new races to fill the vacant seats, they might turn to devils as fast as he created them, in spite of any thing that he could do short of destroying their moral agency. He is liable to be defeated in all his designs, and to be as miserable as he is benevolent. This is infinitely the gloomiest idea that was ever thrown upon the world. It is gloomier then hell itself. For this involves only the destruction of a part, but that involves the wretchedness of God and his whole creation. And how awfully gloomy as it respects the prospects of individual believers. You have no security that you shall stand an hour. And even if you get to heaven, you have no certainty of remaining there a day. All is doubt and sepulchral gloom. And where is the glory of God? where the transcendent glory of raising to spiritual life a world dead in trespasses and
sins? where the glory of swaying an undivided sceptre, and doing his whole pleasure “in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth”?
I know of but two things which can be said to avoid these fearful consequences. One is, that God foresaw from the beginning that the saints on earth and the present and future inhabitants of heaven would not apostatize; the other is, that they are unchangeably kept by a view of the punishments of sin and the work of redemption. As to the first, God's foreseeing a thing to be certain does not make it certain, but implies that it is already certain. If you say, God would not create any who he foresaw would, after such an exhibition of justice and mercy, apostatize in heaven, nor any who on earth would fall away after being induced to turn from sin to God; this is supposing, without any authority whatever, that the perseverance of the inhabitants of heaven and earth depends wholly on their being those identical creatures rather than others of the same mould, or of the same race with a somewhat different constitution. If you suppose that God foresaw that those identical creatures would independently persevere rather than other creatures of exactly the same mould and in the same circumstances, you suppose the foresight of an effect without a cause, and certainly an effect not caused by him. And it is inconceivable how God should foresee an event nowise dependent on his will. It is said by our brethren that, antecedent in the order of nature to his decree even to create, and as the ground of that decree, God foresaw that if he brought forward such a system of government and grace, such and such would be