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and strained comments to the contrary.-But what is the glorying and lying against the truth, here forbidden? "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth."-Glory not, as though ye were the real followers of Christ. Glory not, as though any apology or excuse for such a perverse temper and conduct could be framed.—And least of all, do not so belie the truth, as to say, God inwardly moves, or outwardly entices you, to these abominable impieties and crimes. For this wisdom descendeth not from above, cometh not down from the Father of lights. It is not to be considered as God working in you.
TEXTS, WHICH POSITIVELY DECLARE, THAT MORAL EVIL DOES NOT COME FROM GOD.
HERE we might repeat James iii, 14, where it is most solemnly declared of bitter envyings and strifes in the heart, that this wisdom descendeth not from above. If this text does not deny the theory in question, I know not how any language can be sufficiently definite to do it.
1 John ii, 16, is another text, the plain obvious sense of which must be rejected, or the doctrine under consideration must be relinquished. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world." In these words, the whole body of sin, every corrupt affection, every sinful desire and practice, is comprehended. In what sense did the apostle mean to assert, these were not of the Father?
Our opponents will say, he did not intend to assert, that God did not directly by an inward and positive influence move the heart of sinners to all these im pious propensities and lusts? What then does he
mean? They will not say, he meant to deny that God from everlasting, purposed their existence, that he did not order things in such manner in his holy Providence, as that men would be defiled by these lusts? Nor will any one pretend all the apostle had in view was to assert, that God did not command them. For if this exposition were true, it would seem to follow, that when holy exercises are said to be of God, all that is intended, is that he requires such exercises in his law.
Nor can we imagine any one would say, all that is meant by these sinful propensities, not being of God, is, that he does not approve of them, as excellent and good. For certainly something more is intended, than mere approbation of their gracious exercises, when saints are said to be of God, and to be born of God, and their wisdom to be from above.
According to the plain sense of the passage, it is to be taken as the perfect opposite of Phil. ii, 13. "For it is God, who worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure," i. e. "It is not the Father who worketh in you the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." This is a plain and important sense. To put a different construction on the passage will require such an effort, such refinement, such a strained or imperfect sense as will make it evident, the expositor finds the text hostile to a favorite system.
According to the theory we oppose, this passage in John should be thus expounded. Brethren, it is a plain truth, that whatever be the power and influence of the devil upon the hearts of men, or of motives, or other instrumental causes, they cannot go so far as to excite in the most depraved hearts a single unholy volition. Such a volition never can exist unless produced in the hearts of men by a positive divine efficiency, so that wicked men are moved to all the evil they commit, as directly by the power of God as saints are to the exercise of faith, love, hope, meekness, &c.
Nevertheless I inculcate upon you this as a doetrine of high importance to be believed, that all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. Now, whatever others may think, I can no more believe, that these two ideas ever existed together in the mind of this apostle, than I can believe he was an infidel. If there is a contradiction in terms and ideas this seems to be one; "No criminal lust of man is of the Father." No lust of man ever yet existed, but God by a direct operation on his heart, excited it in him."
1 Cor. xiv, 33. "For God is not the author of confusion," or as it is rendered in the margin, tumult or inquietness, "but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints."
Here by confusion, tumult, or inquietude, moral evil and disorder is intended. The apostle is not surely speaking of such external disorder and informality in christian assemblies as implies nothing wrong in the heart. But of these wrong feelings,these corrupt exercises, he utterly denies God to be the author:* Even zealous advocates for the doctrine of a positive efficiency, if for a moment they should consider these two texts, free from the influence and enentanglements of system, would, it should seem, naturally and unavoidably run into the sense we have given of them. We are led to this remark by the following fact.
Mr. Seth Williston, a respectable and pious divine, in a Sermon on the Divine Decrees, hath this remark. "The Holy One of Israel is at an infinite remove from being a sinner; neither would I say that he is the author of sin. For the apostle says, "God is not the author of confusion." But having gone thus far, the idea of a favorite theory came into view, and the credit of his orthodoxy with some might be challenged. To ease his mind in this respect, he im
"Non enim est exagitationis auctor Deus." (Beza.)
mediately adds this note at the bottom of the page. "What is here said against calling God the author of sin, is not designed to oppose the sentiment advanced by Dr. Hopkins and others, that God is the efficient cause of sin."* So then, Brother, you would not presume to say, God is the author of sin, but you can say he is the efficient cause of it. How a man would quiet his feelings to say the latter and not the former, I know not. And wherein lies so great a distinction between author and efficient cause, I have yet to learn.
* Williston's Doctrines and Expositions, page 23.