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TO PREVENT SIN. 181

sins 7 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 pre-
sent 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 sup-
posing, without any authority whatever, that the perse-
verance 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 indepen-
dently 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

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.

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All that we are authorized to believe concerning the divine
prescience is, that “known unto God are all His works
from the beginning of the world,” and that there is a close
connexion between “the determinate counsel and fore-
knowledge of God.” All the rest is a dream. He is
omniscient within his own dominions: but if there could
be a world beyond the bounds of his empire, how does
reason or Scripture intimate that he could know that
How, more than you can know what people will do in
another world !
If you suppose that the perseverance of saints and an-
gels depends on some peculiarity of constitution by which
they are distinguished from other beings of the same race,
how does this effectual influence of a constitution passively
received, any more than efficiency itself, comport with
freedom 7 God gave them a peculiar constitution which
ensured their eternal perseverance. And are you sure
that you mean less or more by that constitution than
others do by a disposition, which you reject as inconsist-
ent with moral agency 1 -
Take now the other supposition; that the holy crea-
tures of both worlds are unfailingly kept by a view of
the punishments of sin and the wonders of redemption.
But this is the absolute dominion of motives. And if God
can exercise such a dominion, why could he not have pre-
vented sin 7 You may say, without those consequences of
sin, -punishment and redemption,-there were not motives
enough to secure the perpetual holiness of the universe or of

* 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

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