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* * * * T UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN -->- ----- __IIllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll"lululu
TO PREVENT SIN. 181
sins 7 where the glory of swaying an undivided sceptre,
the decisions of the self-determining power in different individuals. The certainty of those decisions thus conditionally foreseen, I will call a conditional certainty, which was afterwards made absolute by the decree to bring forward the system. Now as that conditional certainty existed anterior to any decree of God even to create, and therefore was in no sense dependent on his will, how could he foresee it ! He could indeed foresee the result of any supposed laws by him impressed on matter or mind; for it would be contemplating the exact operations of causes appointed to work in a determinate manner: and to suppose mind to operate by fixed laws, is not supposing the mechanism of matter transferred to the soul, but only a rational adherence to motives in accordance with the free desires of the mind. If the movements of created minds do depend on God's will, then certainly he cannot foresee them any surther than he determines them. Here is a world to be created. None but God can create it. How can he certainly know that it will be created if he has not determined to create it ! But the supposition is, that he foresees the future operations of an efficient cause wholly independent of him. I say future, for though God exists in one eternal now, yet these operations of created minds were not eternal. The theory is, that he foresaw what those minds would independently do if he made them ; a foresight anterior, in the order of nature, to all his purposes, and the very ground of the decree even to create ; and yet this conditional certainty, thus wholly independent of his will, he distinctly foresaw. If this is not venturing into the unknown without chart or compass, I know not what is.
All that we are authorized to believe concerning the divine
* Acts 2, 23. and 15. 18.
any of its parts. Then you have abandoned your favourite theory, that holiness in every case is better for the universe than sin in its stead. And when you have given up that notion, you may perhaps discover a reason why God permitted sin when he could have prevented it. If God can keep saints and angels eternally holy by motives, why did he not keep the universe eternally holy by motives? If you say, the motives were not furnished till punishment and redemption brought them forth, then you say, that some good effects have followed from sin which could not have existed without it: and then sin in some cases is better for the universe than holiness in its stead. While, to disprove God's voluntary permission of sin, you continue to say that holiness in all cases is better for the universe than sin in its stead, you may not say that the consequences of sin have furnished stronger motives to holiness than could have existed without it: and therefore you may not plead that God, by motives, can eternally kcep sin from heaven, and yet by motives could not have kept sin from the universe. My own opinion is, that by mere motives he could not have done the one and cannot do the other. Certainly it is not by mere motives that believers on earth are kept. The same motives are urged upon other men without effect. Hell thunders and Calvary weeps, and they march on to death. You say, because they do not believe. Aye, and one reason why they do not believe is, that faith “is the gift of God.” If he keeps the saints by motives, why by motives could he not have prevented sino And if he does not keep them by motives, he must keep them by efficient power. There is no other alternative. You must give up the doc- w trine of perseverance or admit that God could have prevented sin. You must give up the doctrine of perseverance or resort either to that of efficiency or an absolute control by motives. If neither of these is admitted, what chance is there for any on earth or in heaven to stand 7 Satan fell from perfect holiness; Adam fell from perfect holiness: what should keep believers from falling from imperfect holiness, in a world full of temptations, and with all the influence of former habits bearing upon them How comes it then to pass that every one of them, without a single exception, perseveringly yields to motives which cannot control others? How comes it to pass that God is so sure of this control over them, that he firmly covenants with Christ and the Church to keep them all ? Is it because none but the less stubborn yield at first But what is stubbornness on your plan but the strength of present passions ! And have not the strong passions of a Manasseh and a Saul of Tarsus and a dying thief yielded, while mildness has died in sin! Have not the most unlikely submitted, while the children of the pious, brought up in the midst of means, have died in profligacy? Do you say, God keeps bad motives from those he means to keep? Then he could have kept bad motives from all his creatures and prevented sin. But Christians live every day in the midst of temptations. It is indeed said, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it:” but the safety lies in his making a way to escape, which I understand