« ÎnapoiContinuați »
to the introduction of the peace, order, religion, and felicity of the millennial state, he must be confined in the bottomless pit, and suffered no more to go out. Rev. xx, 3.
6. Nay, such is his power to produce wickedness in the world, that he is no sooner released out of this pit, than he again succeeds to deceive the nations, and to draw them into war among themselves, and against God; and to repeat all the abominations which prevailed for thousands of years previous to the millennium. Rev. xx, 7, 8.
Finally, so great is the power of Satan represented in the Scripture, to produce sin and destroy mankind, that the grand object of Christ's incarnation was to destroy his works. For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil.” 1 John iii, 8.
From all these considerations, it is exceedingly evident, that the Devil, though not an independent, is a very great being, and has a real and tremend. ous power to excite, seduce, and draw men into sin.-To say, that neither he nor any other second causes, have any power to draw away men into wickedness; that after the Devil, motives, temptations, and second causes, have spent all the power God ever gave them, they cannot excite the will of man, in a single instance, to choose evil. This is never done, and never can be done, but by a direct, . inward, divine efficiency upon the heart. This, in our humble opinion, is one of the most plain and obvious perversions of the word of God, that the arrogance of human philosophy has ever yet dared to broach. It is utterly irreconcilable with what is said in the sacred volume, of the power of Satan to produce moral evil, unless it be by some strained interpretation, and philosophical refinement, that sets aside the plain and sober sense of Scripture..
WHAT IS SAID IN THE SCRIPTURES OF GOD'S GIVING UP SINNERS TO THEIR OWN HEARTS' LUSTS, AND SUFFERING THEM TO WALK IN THEIR OWN WAYS, INCONSISTENT WITH THE IDEA OF DIVINE EFFI. CIENCY UNDER CONSIDERATION.
It has been usual with the most eminent divines and pious Christians, to speak of the sins and crimes of men as taking place by divine permission.-But the terms to permit, to suffer, or not to hinder, are now by some considered as pretty little palliating terms, invented to keep the agency and counsel of God in the government of the world, out of sight. But in regard to the use of such language, I have three things to observe.
1. It is well adapted to that modesty, diffidence, and reverence,
which becomes frail children of the dust, when they speak of the awful mysteries, of the counsels, ways, and providence of the Most High.Which is most becoming, to say, that, for some wise purpose, God permitted the rebellious angels to fall into sin and guilt, and to bring eternal ruin on themselves; or to say, that, by a direct positive effi. ciency, he moved their hearts to hate him and trample down his authority?-I should think that the former mode of expression savors much more of piety and sound wisdom than the latter.
David's exclamation is, “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor cine eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for
Psal. cxxxi, 1. On this point, the judicious and candid Dr. Smalley, exactly coincides with us in sentiment.
“I see no occasion for the supposition of God's being thus the author of all evil, nor any good ends it can answer. Could it be seen how evils might be accounted for, without supposing them any part of the creation of God; and how God might have an absolute dominion over all events, without being the immediate cause of bad things; no good man, I conclude, would wish to conceive of him as being thus the proper source of darkness and evil.
"And indeed, were it so that our weak minds were unable to comprehend how God can work all things after the counsel of his own will, or how natural and moral evil could ever have been, without believing that God is as much, and as immediately, the cause of evil as of good; yet it inight be more modest, and more wise, to leave these among other incomprehensibles, than to have recourse to so bold an hypothesis for the solution.”-Smalley, Ser. 6. p. 95.
I shall not undertake to say, because I do not know, what that is in a good man's mind, which causes him to delight to speak of God as the efficient cause, that moves the hearts of men to all wickedness. Dr. Smalley, you see, concludes no good man would wish, if he could avoid it, to hold such kind of language.
-2. This language is agreeable to sound reason and philosophy.-- It does by no means imply, that moral agents, or physical causes, ever act independently of the preserving power, and allwise controlling agency of the Providence of God. When a thing is said to be permitted, all that is meant, is, that from preceding acts of creating power, and providential direction, an event will take place, except it be prevented by another divine act, put forth for that purpose.
God having created the lions, into whose den Daniel was thrown, and preserved them with their natural appetite for blood, they would have devoured the prophet, had not God, by another act, interposed to prevent it. And this may take place continually, in the ordinary course of divine Providence, without any appearance of a miracle. Thus, had not the Duke of York, in the retreat out of Holland, been jostled aside, and a soldier stepped into the boat before him, that ball which killed the soldier, would have killed the Duke, the commander in chief. But here God permitted the soldier to be killed, but would not permit the life of the general to be taken. All other things being formed, preserved, and directed as they were, the ball would inevitably come in that line; but by another omnipotent providential disposal, God took him out of the way, and so would not permit, but hindered his being killed. When Satan entered paradise, and all the circumstances of the temptation were brought about, if God did not interpose by another act, Adam would be seduced; but God did not interpose, and so he permitted him to fall.
3. This language is conformable to the style and manner in which the Scriptures oft speak of the ways of God. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me, so I gave them up to their own hearts' lusts; and they walked in their own counsels." Psal. Ixxxi, 11, 12. “He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes." 1 Chron. xvi, 21. The Hebrew term, which in this passage our translators have rendered “suffered," Junius and Tremellius render "permisit,” or per nitted. He suffered not the devils to speak," Mark i, 34. 6. Who in time past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.” Acts xiv, 16. The Greek term in this last passage answering to suffered, is Eldge which is an inflexion of the verb emw, and rendered by Schrevillius, Sino," permit. "And God said unto him in a dream, yea I
know thou didst this in the integrity of thine heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me; therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.” Gen. XX, 6.
Here, according to Junius and Tremellius, the proper rendering of the Hebrew word anwering to csuffered," is "sivi," I permitted. Rom. ix, 22, 23, is a remarkable passage, and ought not to pass unnoticed in the present argument. “What if God, willing to shew his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction. And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory.”.
Let it here be remarked, that in regard to the vessels of mercy, God is said to prepare them; a word importing positive agency (wponioideaoev) is. used; but with respect to the vessels of wrath, a term of a passive signification is applied, *veynEV, he endured, he suffered. Now what is meant by this different phrase: 'ogy? If God in both cases is equally the direct efficient cause, why in the preparation of the just for glory, should he be represented as eminently active; but in the fitting of the wicked for destruction, enduring, or suffering, rather than action, should be ascribed to him?
Much more to this purpose might be adduced, but these passages will suffice such as have a due respect for the authority of the inspired writers It surely ought not to alarm us to have it suggested, that the terms permit, suffer, restrain, leave, &c, are only a soft and cautious way to keep the truth respecting the divine agency out of sight, because the censure falls with equal force and justice upon the word of Goll itself. There is surely no need of going any further than the Scriptures do, in speaking of the greatness of the power of God, or the extent of his agency. It is also here to be remarked, that the natural and obvious import and meaning of such expressions, giving men up to their own hearts' lusts,