« ÎnapoiContinuați »
Here we must first learn whether that purpose is absolute or alternative. The latter, evidently, is the only one possible in this case. We cannot suppose the Creator ever intended to apply to a race of highest rank a law which can only be applied fully to unconscious existence. Having endowed us with the power of spontaneous action, we can only think of His further operation as securing full scope to the nature by causing every man to eat the fruit of his own doings. This we know to be the intention of the Divine government as actually exercised. And it is impossible that any other mode of rule can be applied to a nature like ours. Our success or failure, our happiness or misery, spring from ourselves only, and in no case can they be superimposed. In no human
government is the happiness of each subject regarded as the primary obligation of the rule; but while the good of the whole is secured by the enactment of such laws as will secure that good, those very laws inflict suffering on those who by their violation of the law injure the obedient. Is the creation of a race whose nature provides for its highest possible improvement for ever, and which compels every member of it to work out his own reward, whether good or evil, consistent with the pleasure and glory of an Infinite Being ?
The only difficulty in this side of the question is with those who go contrary to their nature, and experience the consequences of the violation in degradation and suffering. But in agents whose actions spring from motives personally apprehended, it may be and is a great means of instruction, and so of motive to natural action, to see the natural consequences of unnatural action; while the equity of the consequences, to those who suffer, is seen in the essential intelligence of the nature, which need not have been ignorant of the results before the act was done. We cannot think of the Creator producing a nature incapable of happiness by its own free exercise, or that He would put His creatures in such conditions that they cannot possibly attain to happiness. But there is nothing incongruous in His starting a race into being with high capabilities of happiness, and then by His continual government securing the consequences of the independent action of each and every one.
The reasons we have already discussed are sufficient to authorize us to accept our being from the Creator of all, as in harmony with
Himself and with this universe in which we are placed. Other proofs of this will appear as we proceed to consider the nature of the relation in which we stand to the Creator.
We cannot think of any being which has come into existence at the volition of another as being able to assume independent existence. The power which created is necessary to sustain. If this were not so, then in the measure in which creation extended, the power of the Creator would be circumscribed. This, plainly, would take place not only as it extended in space, but especially as the creature was of higher order. We, therefore, simply as creatures, are dependent on the Creator through the whole compass of our nature. We, however, stand in a nearer relation than that of mere creatures to the Maker of all things. We have seen, that in the three essential attributes of the Creator's nature we are like Him in essence. In the scriptural narrative of our origin, we learn that this resemblance comes from God having breathed into the nostrils of Adam the breath of life, and thus made him a living soul. This expresses to us more clearly, what we have found before, that the Creator is also our Father, the Father of our spirits -our real selves. Every view of our nature which we have already taken implies this relation. Paternity involves from the father support and training and love; from the child, dependence, submission, docility, and love. This, we find, harmonizes with all the present conditions of man. We are sustained, as to the body, by the world our Father has prepared for us, and which He upholds and applies by His constant providence. All our knowledge—the food of our intellect—is obtained by spelling out the records of His past acts, and by observing His present modes of operation. This is the reality of things. Our power of fruitful action is only successfully exercised as we copy His own modes of operation. In our works of genius, in which we create in the immaterial sphere, we succeed only as we arrange in new combinations the patterns of beauty and power which He has set us; and the wide range in which this order operates, shows His goodness to us to be a truly paternal love.
In accordance with this Divine paternity, a secondary and subordinate one has been instituted in Adam, whom God made in His own image, and so doubly made all his
descendants brethren,-sons of one human and one Divine father. These relations, sustained by man to man, and by man to God, give scope for morality and a moral character to man, who by his nature is required to regulate his action according to his brethren and his Father. We see that this obligation is the moral bond which unites man to his Father, and answers to those forces in the material universe by which the will of the Creator is done. Accordingly, we find man at first under direct pupilage as a child, with special instruction from his Father as to the entire practice open to him. As a son of God the relation plainly needed this for his guidance, and as a means of showing whether or not he would retain the relation, by rendering the submission and obedience he owed to his Father. Adam's sin was a renunciation of the filial relation, by a refusal of the submission and obedience which as a son he owed to God. The filial feeling fled as he took the forbidden fruit, and could only be restored by some supernatural intervention.
This unnatural act of Adam was something more than unnatural, it was blameworthy; and this could not have been, unless the relations we are considering had been real. This