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ceeds sometimes from a want of watchfulness; whereby the enemy comes upon us undiscovered, and we are overcome before we are aware of it; the temptation offers itself, and we are unable, but willing, to resist it. And, if fallen by it, this tends still more to weaken us, so that we cannot recover ourselves from the pit into which we are plunged; we also find it very difficult, if God is pleased, at any time, to suffer us to fall by temptations, to improve them aright to his glory and our own good.
3. It is farther supposed, that God may suffer his people, though their sins are pardoned, and their souls sanctified, to be tempted, and sometimes even foiled and led captive for a time; which may give us occasion to consider,
(1.) In what sense he may be said to tempt, or lead his people into temptation. This he does, though without being the author of sin, (a)
(a) In our day and country there are some worthy men, who without fear, or scruple, affirm, that God is the author, and cause of sin; which words they soften to avoid the blasphemy, which they contain. We have in a note, I. vol. p. 530. given the sentiments of the late Dr. Williams, on the origination of sin. Being a proficient in the study of the human mind, he has philosophized a little on, but not essentially differed from the representation of the subject, as it is found in the writings of sound protestant divines. As some American writers advocate with considerable address, such divine causality, and publicly affirm it to have been taught by Luther, Calvin, &c. and to have found its place in our standards in the words-"foreordained whatsoever comes to pass;" it is proper to resort to the ipsissima verba of some of the European protestant theologians, as a test of such allegations.
The Westminster divines, no doubt, entertained the same views of sin, which will be found in the following extracts. In their definition of sin, they not ob scurely shew, that they did consider it not more a transgression of, than a want of conformity unto, the law. The former is the translation of aroux in I. John iii. 4. which is rather privatio, defectus, or declinatio than transgressio legis. Also the Greek word appl, and the Hebrew on signify non consecutio scopi. If they viewed sin as a qualitas adventitia, a quiddam non positivum, a simplex privatio, a quiddam actioni inhærens, they could not have viewed it the proper sub. ject of a decree or purpose, but only as foreseen and permitted.
The following quotations are given in the authors' own words, for the satisfaction of those who may not possess the works from which they are taken.
"Natura peccato corrupta est..-Aversio quædam voluntatis secuta est, ut bomo nihil eorum velit aut faciat, quæ Deus vult et præcipit. Item quod nescimus, quid Deus, quid gratia, quid justitia, denique quid ipsum peccatum sit, Hi sunt profecto horribiles DEFECTUS, quos, qui non intelligunt; nec vident, talpa caciores sunt." Mart. Lutheri Loc. Com. p. 23.
"Hæc Regula certa et vera est; Deum esse natura bonum, ideo nihil a Deo proficisci, nisi quod bonum est, mors autem est mala, peccatum etiam est malum, &c. Non igitur a Deo proficiscuntur mala hæc, &c. Peccati porro quæ causa sit, si roges, sacræ literæ ostendunt, id ex Sathana esse, cui contra verbum Dei assenserunt nostri parentes, a Deo inobedientes facti, incurrerunt in horri biles pænas. Nam per peccatum illud non solum corpora nostra sic infirmata sunt, ut ex immortalibus mortalia fierent, sed etiam mens depravata est. Amisit enim homo veram Dei notitiam, et voluntas quoque tum admodum est depravata, ut nihil quam malum appetat." Mart. Lutheri Loci Com. p. 22.
[1.] Objectively; when his providential dispensations, which, in themselves, are holy, just, and good, offer occasions of sin;
Eant nunc qui Deum suis vitiis inscribere audent, quia dicimus naturaliter vitiosos esse homines. Opus Dei perperam in sua pollutione scrutantur, quod in integra adhuc et incorrupta Ada natura requirere debuerant. A carnis ergo nostræ culpa, non a Deo nostra perditio est, quando non alia ratione periimus, nisi quia degeneravimus a prima nostra conditione."-" Dicimus ergo natural hominem vitiositate corruptum, sed quæ a natura non fluxerit. A matus fluxisse negamus, ut significemus adventitiam magis esse qualitatem quz homini acciderit, quam substantialem proprietatem quæ ab initio indita fuerit Vocamus tamen naturalem, nequis ab unoquoque prava consuetudine comparari putet, quum hæreditario jure universos comprehensos teneat." Calvini bestitut. lib. II. cap. 1. sect. 10, 11.
"Sed cum nihil contingat in mundo, aut contingere possit sine justissim et sapientissima Dei providentia, annon, peccati author et causa dici potest? Absit, quippe qui illud odit, vetat, & punit, ut quod cum summá ipsius boni tate pugnet." Bucani Theolog. p. 165.
"Deus non infundit malitiam in volentates malorum, sicut infundit bonitatem in corda piorum, nec impellit aut allicit voluntates ad peccandum; sed tantum malas voluntates, seu peccantes, quales invenit ex corruptione quæ sequuta est aversionem diabolorum et hominum a Deo, movet, ciet, flectit, inclinat, dirigit, sapienter, juste, potenter, ubi, quando, quomodo, et quousque vult, sive mediate, sive immediate, ad objecta vel persequenda, vel fugienda, ut impleant (quibus tale nihil propositum est) quod manus et consilium Domini decrevit. Bucani Theol. p. 153.
"Éstne peccatum originis Substantia an accidens?-Non est substantia; esset enim anima vel corpus. Jam vero corpus et anima quoad substantiam, sunt bonæ Dei creaturæ, quæ etiamnum creantur a Deo. Ergo non sunt peccatum. Nec substantialis est proprietas, aut aliquid substantiale in homine: sed est adventitia qualitas, quæ tamen naturalis dicitur, non quod à natura fluxerit (quatenus creata est) sed quia hæreditario jure ut dicitur, suos compre hensos tenet, et in ipsa hominis natura, viribus, et facultatibus naturalibus inhæret, et ipsi homini innata est." Bucani Theol. p. 174.
"Est-ne peccatum aliquid Positivum an Privativum ?-Peccatum non est posi tivum, id est, quiddam subsistens a Deo conditum, nec est simpliciter et pura privatio, sicut mors est privatio vitæ, aut tenebræ sunt privatio lucis; sed est defectus seu destructio rei positiva, videlicit operis et ordinis divini in subjecto, quod culpam sustinet sue depravationis, aversionis a Deo, ut ruina in domo, cocitas et amissio visus in oculis." Bucani Theol. p. 167.
"Permissio est gubernatio Dei, quâ homines vel diabolos, ad peccandum pronos, a peccato non retrahit, sed gratiæ suæ auxilio negato vel subtracto, in peccata ruere sinit, ita tamen ut ipsorum impetum ad judiciorum suorum executionem flectat, et quæ pessimo ab ipsis concilio suscipiuntur, in fines optimos dirigat."
1. Deus in permissione mali culpo seu peccati, non est otiosus spectator, sed potens, justus, et sapiens judex: Itaque.
(1.) Efficax gratiæ suæ auxilium, sine quo non possunt non peccare in pecca. tis mortui homines, negat vel subtrahit.
(2.) Homines vel diabolos ad peccandum natura et consuetudine pronos, sæpissimè a peccatis non retrahit, quos tamen facillimè posset retrahere: sed in peccata ruere sinit.
(3.) Peccatum animis ipsorum susceptum, seu peccandi impetum ita moderatur, ut non in quavis objecta eum ferri patiatur, sed flectat et dirigat ad ejus nodi objecta, vel homines, quos punire, castigare, vel explorare vult.
1.) Que ab impiis hominibus, vel diabolis, malo fine, perpetrantur, in fines mos dirigit.
which, nevertheless, would not ensue hereupon, did not our corrupt nature lay nold on them as such, and abuse them : Thus all God's works of providence or grace, may prove temptations to men; as the Psalmist, speaking of the prosperity of the wicked, intimates, that it raised his envy, Psal. Ixxiii. 3. and elsewhere he considers the blessings of common providence as proving a temptation, to carnal security and indifferency in religion, to some of whom it is said, Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God, Psal. Iv. 19. and, on the other hand, afflictive providence sometimes prove temptations to us to murmur and entertain hard thoughts of God.-Moreover, his threatenings are oftentimes abused, and some
Si viator aliquis a latrone in via occidatur, homicidium permississe Deus dicitur:
(1.) Quia efficax gratiæ suæ auxilium ei subtraxit vel negavit, sine quo infallibiliter homicidium erat perpetraturus.
(2.) Quia animum latronis, naturâ vel consuetudine ad homicidia pronum, ab homicidio non retraxit; quem tamen facillimè potuisset retrahere: sed in hoc facinus ipsum ruere permisit.
(3.) Quia concilium homicidii perpetrandi, ipsumque latronis impetum ita rexit et flexit, ut non quemvis promiscue hominem voluerit aut potuerit interficere: sed hunc potius, quam alium interfecerit; Unde furori latronis hunc potius viatorem, quam alium hominem objecit: justo quodam judicio: cujus ratio plerumque homines latet.
(4) Quia, quod malo fine a latrone est perpetratum; forte ad pecuniam acquirendam, quam nequiter dilapidaret, in finem bonam direxit: quia est pœna vel ipsius latronis, vel ejus, qui a latrone est occisus: vel alius etiam finis nobis ignotus.
II. Sunt igitur in peccatis hominum, circa quæ divina occupatur permissio, quatuor imprimis observanda et distinquenda:
(1.) Actio per se, quatenus est actio.
(2.) Vitium actioní inhærens.
(3.) Directio organi mali et actionis vitiosæ in objectum certum.
(4.) Finis directionis, e quo accidit peccato judicü divini ratio; ut per hominum peccata Deus exequatur justa sua judicia: Primum, tertium, et quar tum a Deo est, Deumque authorem habet. Est enim omnis actio, quatenus est actio, bona: directio actionis et ipsa bona: denique finis directionis optimus, nempe divini judicii executio. Secundum, in quo peccati consistit ratio, non a Deo, sed a solo est homine: adeoque solus homo peccati, quatenus est peccatum author est." Wendel. Theol. p. 179.
"Hinc firmiter concludimus, cum permissione Dei concurrere quoque efficacem Dei actionem et directionem vitiosi instrumenti in objectum certum, adversus quod judicium suum exercere Deo visum."
"Orthodoxi nominis osor et insignis caluminator Graverus ad art. 19. Confess. Aug. p. 112, et sequentibus, portentosum dogma, de Deo peccati authore, Ecclesiis nostris non tantum calumniose impingit, sed et 15 argumenta nostris affingit quibus thesin hanc suam: Deus est peccati, quatenus peccatum est, author: probet: imprimis autem ad infame hoc et blasphemum dogma probandum affirmat, a nostris adduci scripture loca, que modo allegata sunt. vero ut tam effrontibus calumniatoribus; ita omnibus, qui blasphemum istud dogma vel probant; vel profitentur, et defendunt, anathema dicimus, et inno centiæ nostræ vindicem mundi judicem, jamjam ad judicium se accingentem, imploramus." Wendel. Theol. p. 183.
thereby tempted to think him severe and unmerciful; others complain of his commandments as grievous, because he does not give them those indulgencies to sin which their corrupt natures desire. In these respects God may be said to lead into temptation; nevertheless, we are not to pray, that he would alter the methods of his providence, or make abatements as to the duties which he commands us to perform; but rather, that he would not suffer us to make a wrong use of them.
[2.] God leads into temptation permissively, when he does not restrain the tempter, which he is not obliged to do, but suffers us to be assaulted by him, and, at the same time, denies the aids and assistance of his grace, to prevent our compliance therewith; so that when we pray that he would not lead us into temptation, we desire that he would prevent the assault, or fortify us against it, that, through the weakness of our grace, or the prevalency of corruption, we may not comply with the temptation.
(2.) We shall now consider the reason why God thus leads his people into temptation, or suffers them to be tempted: or what are those holy, wise, just, and gracious ends, which he designs thereby; and,
[1.] It cannot be expected that it should be otherwise, when we chuse to go in the way of temptation, or indulge those corruptions, whereby we are inclined to yield to it: In this case, God's judicial hand appears, as he punishes for one sin, by suffering us to be tempted to another.
[2.] God hereby gives us occasion to see our own weakness, and the deceitfulness of our hearts, and the need we have of his grace, to prevent our falling by temptation: Thus it is said, that God left Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. compared with 2 Kings xx. 15. when he sinned in shewing the ambassadors of the king of Babylon the treasures that he had in his house, in which this good king discovered too much pride; whereas it had been better had he shewn them the bed he lay on, when he was nigh unto death, and taken occasion from thence, to give God the glory of his miraculous recovery which was the reason of their being sent to compliment him upon it: In this respect God left him to try him, that he might know all that was
in his heart.
[3.] God does this, that, when we experience the superior force of our spiritual enemies, we may, by faith and prayer, have recourse to his almighty power and grace. Thus when the apostle Paul was in danger of being exalted above measure, through Satan's temptations, he says, For this I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me, 2 Cor. xii. 8.
[4.] He suffers this, that we may herein have an instance of the imperfections of this present state, and be induced to press
after, and long for, that state of perfect freedom, not only from sin, but temptation, which is reserved for us in heaven.
[5.] We are led into temptation, that hereby we may see the necessity of making use of the whole armour of God, that we may be uble to stand our ground. As the soldier will not put on his armour but when he is going to engage the enemy; so God has ordained that our life should be a perpetual warfare, and that we should be continually exposed to the assaults of our spiritual enemies, that we may always be prepared for them, having the girdle of truth, the breast-plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, Eph. vi. 14-17. He also suffers this, that we may, in the end, know what it is to conquer, and have the pleasure and satisfaction arising from hence, and that he may have the glory of this victory.
[6.] God suffers this, that he may cure our sloth, and excite us to greater watchfulness, as those who are never wholly out of danger: Thus the apostle says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, 1 Pet. v. 8. and our Saviour advises his disciples, to watch and pray, that they enter not into temptation, Matt. xxvi. 41.
[7.] God suffers us to be tempted, that we may know the depths of Satan, which we should otherwise be unapprized of; and that thereby we may be more prepared to make resistance, and, when we are enabled to overcome, may be better furnished to direct others, who are liable to like temptations, how they should behave themselves under them, and to encourage them to hope that they should be delivered, as we have been.
4. It is farther observed, that though God suffers his people to be tempted, and even foiled, and led captive, yet this is only for a time. In this the temptations of believers differ from those of the unregenerate, who are taken captive by Satan at his will, 2 Tim. ii. 26. Whereas it is said concerning the believer, that it is only for a season; and that, if need be, he is in heaviness through manifold temptations, 1 Tim. i. 6. This leads us to consider,
II. The subject-matter of the petition, when we pray that God would not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. The only difficulty in laying down the method in which this is to be insisted on, arises from the indeterminateness of the word evil; of which, there are various senses given by them, that explain the Lord's prayer.
Some understand by it, the evil one, or the Devil; and then one part of this petition may be considered as exegetical of the other: So that, not to be led into temptation, is the same as, to be delivered from the assaults of Satan, the evil one, that