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divine agency extends to saints and not to sinners and devils in general, then there neither is, nor can be any sense in which the Spirit dwells with them and not with other objects, or with impenitent sinners. Now
What is this peculiar work, which God performs in saints, which he does not performin carnal, worldly and impenitent minds? - If he performs any thing in the former, which he does not in the latter, then the work of the spirit in saints may be a peculiar divine work, but if not, it is not a divine work restricted to saints, and lays no foundation for it to be said in truth, that he dwells with them, and not with impenitent sinners. - To produce in some way moral exercises in saints, is not this pecul. iar divine work.- For it is said, God hardens the heart and blinds the minds of sinners. But the peculiar appropriate work of the Holy Spirit is to produce virtuous and holy moral exercises in saints by a direct operation on the heart. To produce an effect, to which no means or second causes in the universe are competent, and which God never makes competent to this purpose. But in operating to harden the hearts of mev, God works by means or second causes, and gives to these means a power competent to the effect, without any such direct operation on the heart of sinners.--Here then we find a peculiar divine work to be performed by the Holy Spirit, and though the other persons of the divine Trinity are included in the operation with the spirit, yet it is a peculiar work, a work' which God performs on no other object in creation. And here we also see how the spirit dwells with saints, as he does not dwell in any irrational object or unholy and reprobate beings. For no heart does God by a direct operation on it, move to any moral exercises, except that of saints. If he superintends, restrains, moves and governs, wicked men or fallen spirits, turning their hearts what way he pleases as the rivers of water are turned, yet it is not in the same way.--Now this distinction is entirely confounded and done away by the theory we oppose.
Mr. W. R. Weeks in p. 39, of his Nine Sermons, on the Decrees and Agency of God, explodes it as a great error, that any should have thought it snecessary, that God should put forth an immediate agency to cause all the good actions of his creatures, but not their wicked actions."
This is equal to a positive assertion that God by his immediate agency causes not only, all the virtuous exercises of saints, but all the impious exercises of sinners and devils.
Here then in this theory all rational creatures in the universe, both good and evil, are placed on one common level, and there is no room to assert that God operates in one more than another.
It is nothing peculiar to saints that God should dwell in them and produce their exercises. For he does the same as to sinners.--As God, and as an agent, sinners have the Holy Ghost dwelling in them as much as real Christians.
A little further on in the book he produces a numerous train of texts, to prove that God by his immediate agency, works all things in the natural world, and then all things in the moral world; and considers all that is said of a divine agency in the production of moral evil, as intending an inward direct influence on the heart, as really as when the good exercises of saints are ascribed to a divine influence. And thus resolves all the influences spoken of in the Gospel into this general physical agency of God. Now if this be the case, how is it any more a peculiar work of God to produce holiness in good men, tban sin in wicked men?
The christian world have hitherto supposed God dwelt in a peculiar manner in saints, but Mr. Weeks has found them all to be in a mistake, for he works in sinners, just as really and directly as in saints. And there is not the least possible ground for James to affirm that true wisdom cometh from above, whilo
the impious wisdom of sinners cometh not from above. Nor is there the least possible ground for the distinction that Paul makes, when he ascribes all virtuous and good exercises to the spirit as the fruit of his operation, and places the works of the flesh in contrast to those, as what are not to be considered as the effect of his operation on the hearts of men. See James iii 14-17. Gal. v, 19-23.
THE POWER AND INFLUENCE, WHICH THE SCRIPTURES ASCRIBE TO SATAN IN THE PRODUCTION OF MORAL EVIL, UTTERLY IRRECONCILABLE UPON JUST AND SOBER PRINCIPLES OF INTERPRETATION, TO THIS MODERN NOTION OF DIVINE EFFICIENCY.
Some have supposed, there was no such real intellectual spiritual agent, as Satan. All that is said of him is in conformity to Jewish prejudices, or a mere personification of the wicked passions or lusts
Others admit there is such an intelligent agent but seem almost to deny his influence upon the moral state and character of man.
But the following texts settle this point, and abundantly prove, that there is such a being, or personal agent.
“Again the Devil taketh him up into the Holy City, and setteth him on the pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down; for, &c.” “Again the Devil taketh hiin up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and saith unto him, All these things will I give unto thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.'
“Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father
ye will do; he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth; because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for be is a liar and the father of it.”—“And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them; and forthwith Jesus gave them leave; and the unclean spirits went out and entered into the swine, and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand,) and were choaked in the sea.' Mark v, 12.
Now what is the plain obvious sense of these passages? Certainly, that there is really such a being, agent, or person, as the Devil. If this is all mere allegory, and not plain history; if there never was any real tempter, who spake to Christ as here represented; if there never was any such being as the Devil, who abode not in the truth; if there was no reality in the devils entering into the swine, and then running them down violently into the sea, &c. then nothing can be known by the Scriptures. We may as well say, every thing that is said of the sufferings, deatli, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, is all mere figure, or allegory.
With respect to the extent of Satan's power to produce evil of any kind, the following limitations of it, are most plainly taught in the divine word.
1. Satan, together with all his angels, is a created being, and is no less dependent on the power of God, for the continuation of his being, his powers and faculties, than the minutest object of all God's works.
Here all creatures, great and small, stand upon a level.
2. Satan, however great and powerful, is absolutely under the all-wise government and control of Jehovah.-He is bounded and limited, by the infinite power and goodness of God, and can no more go beyond these limits, than the feeblest insect that inhabits the dust. We read that God raised up Pharoah, that he might declare his glory in or by him.