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depce, he did not mean to do his best. (p. 12, 13.) And he
Which emboldens him to argue, that in the works of proviattein2 pts to prove at large by 9 arguments, that it had been
genmuch better, in the whole, more for God's glory and the eral good of the system, if sin and misers had been for ever unknos n. (p. 20-24.) And if it had been better for God to have hindered sin, it was not wise in God to permit it.
So that this is the fundamental and most essential point of difference, and that on which the whole controversy, between hi . and me, turns, viz, Whether the whole, and every part of the divine conduct, be agreeable to infinite wisdom. Or, in other words, whether God means in the whole, and every part of his conduct, to do that which he knows to be for the best, most for his glory, and the good of the system on the whole. For we both agree, that God always knows what is for the best, and never acts under mistake. So that the only question really is, whether God always means to do, what he knows to be for the best on the whole? For if he does, the grand point is proved. The wisdom of God in the permission of sin is demonstrated. And it is in vain to raise objections against that which infinite wisdom knows to be best. It is proud and arrogant, it is impious and blasphemous, for a worm of the dust to dispute against his Maker. Isai. xlv. 9. Rom. ix. 20.
God, who is a Being of infinite wisdom and perfect rectitude,
always conducts agreeably to his own most glorious perfec-
WE are agreed, that this affair of the permission of sin was an infinitely important affair. And, indeed, considering it in all its consequences, there, perhaps, never was a more iinportant affair that God ever had to decide. It involved in it the welfare of the angelic world, and the welfare of the whole human race; the honour of God was infinitely concerned in the affair; yea, the very life of God's own Son did, as it were,
lie at stake: for if sin was permitted, the Son of God was to die. That if God ever thoroughly considered and weighed any affair whatever, no doubt he did this. And, if ever he was concerned to act according to his best judgment, (if I may be allowed to use such a phrase,) in any one case, no doubt he was in this. And if God is an absolutely perfect being, it was simply impossible, that he should conduct, in this infinitely important affair, contrary to the light of his own mind, and the joint declaration of all his perfections, infinitely to his own dishonour, and infinitely to the damage of the system, absolutely without any motive so to do; yea, against infinite motives to the contrary. Nay, to suppose, that God would deliberately and voluntarily, absolutely without any motive, suffer his own creatures to sin ; when he knew it would be, on the whole, infinitely better for him to hinder it; is, in the most bare-faced manner, to give up the moral rectitude of the divine nature.
Did the inhabitants of heaven view the divine conduct in the permission of sin, in this blasphemous light, and firmly believe God to be such a being, instead of crying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory, as they did when God gave up Israel of old to blindness of mind and hardness of heart, (Isai. 6.) they would rather sink down into amazing grief, and fill all heaven with loud lamentations.
And saints on earth, instead of singing their ancient melodious song, the Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice ; let the multitude of isles be glad thereuf ; might rather, if these things were so, with the captive Jews, hang their harps on the willows, put on sackloth, sit down in sorrow, and refuse to be comforted.
A firm belief of the infinite wisdom and perfect rectitude of the divine nature and government, is essential to the very foundation of all true religion. For it is the very reason of our love to God, of our joy in him, rejoicing in his universal government, acquiescing in all his dispensations, even those which we cannot understand, and of our cheerful obedience to all his commands. If, therefore, we give up this belief, we
must give up all religion : and shall be in as bad or worse condition, than if we believed there were really no God.
And this doctrine of the wisdom and rectitude of the divine government, is also the very foundation of that doctrine plainly taught in scripture, and universally believed by all Christians, viz. That at the day of judgment the righteousness of all God's ways will be made manifest to all the world, and the wisdom of all his conduct cleared up before the intellectual system, to God's everlasting honour, to the joy of all holy beings, and to the eternal confusion of all God's enemies. (Jude 15.) For then will the Lord come with ten thousands of his saints, to erecute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them ; of all their HARD speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. But if God's ways have not in facı been wise and good, they cannot, at the day of judgment, when all things will be brought to light, appear to be so.
If God has done wrong, (heaven forbid the blasphemy!) all the world will know it then. And if God had deliberately and voluntarily acted contrary to his better judgment, in this infinitely important affair of the permission of sin, absolutely for no good end at all, and absolutely without any motive, it will then appear before the eyes of angels, men, and devils, to God's eternal reproach, to the eternal griet' of all his friends, and to the eternal triumph of all his enemies, who will be glad to see the being, they most of all hate, fall under blame, as well as themselves.
If this were the case, it would be, (for aught I can see,) more for God's honour, that there never should be a day of judgment, and that the truth of things never should come to light. Yea, it had been better if God had never made the world.
And now does the author of the Attempt in very deed believe all this horrid blasphemy; that he should blame me so much, for being so confident, that all God's conduct is wise and good; and his present plan, of all possible plans, the best! For, why should he blame me so much for my belief, unless he is strong in the belief of his own scheme !
Between A. the author of the ATTEMPT, and B. the author
of the SERMONS on the Wisdom of God in the permission
A. No. I abhor this blasphemy with all my heart. I firmly believe that all the divine conduct is “ good, right, best." Right in matter, manner and aim;" the result of “
supreme wisdom, which cannot err.” But, I affirm, that sin is “ 110 part of God's scheme; but a device of the devil.” “God's original scheme was to have all holy and happy.” The devil has disconcerted it by his rebellion, and God is heartily grieved. Did I believe the present scheme to be God's, I should think it extremely dangerous opposing it; and that it would argue the highest vanity, arrogance,' and impiety.” (p. 13, 14, 15, 16. 24, &c.)
B. If by“ sin not being God's scheme, but the device of the devil,” you mean, that God did not voluntarily permit sin; but that the devil brought it in, in spite of all that God could do to hinder him; why do you maintain, that God did not mean to do, in this affair, what he knew was most for his own glory ? For, according to this, God exerted himself to the utmost, to secure his own glory, and the good of the system too; and would have obtained his end, had not his almighty power been overmatched by the devil. This, therefore, cannot be your meaning; unless you would be inconsistent with yourself
If you only mean that the devil sinned, and not God; I grant it. But the question still remains unanswered. Pray, therefore, tell me, why did the infinitely wise and almighty God permit such a glorious angel as satan once was, ever to devise such mischief? ever to perpetrate so shocking a deed ? a deed pregnant with infinite and eternal woes! Pray tell me plainly, did God act wisely in this affair, or did he not? He had some end in view, or no end. Not no end : for that would reflect upon his wisdom. If some end, it was a good Vot a bad one : for he is a most perfect vel it must be a good one. That is, when oilla lu pernic sin, upon a full view of the whole ..LV I wisesi and best, to permit it ; i. e. he knew
id mich so much sin and misery should take place, übe vetter, ou the whole, th an a plan in which sin and wiit ny vuouid for ever be effectually prevented by his constant alies position. And if he knew this to be the best plan, it was wwwuess his “ original" plan : for an infinitely wise and perreci being, who “ cannot err," would originally choose what, upon the whole, he knew to be the best*.
A. “ This is what, I conceive, I have a right, as a man and a Christian, to oppose.” (p. 4.) It is a mere" fallacy" to pretend,“ that the present scheme is most for the glory of God; because he must necessarily always will and do that which is most for his own glory.” I think you much to blame for being so “positive.” For my part, I do not believe," that God does in fact, or that he is obliged to do, what is most for his declarative glory.” (p. 12, 13.) And I can prove by a variety of arguments, that it had been better, infinitely better, infinitely more for the honour of God, and the good of the system, if sin had never been. (p. 19. 24.)
B. What! plainly contradict yourself so soon, my friend! However, pray do give me an instance wherein infinite wisdom ever erred; and wherein God did not do what was on the whole most for his own glory,
A. It is plain God might, have made the world much better than he did. And if, after he had made the world, he had hindered the existence of sin, it had been infinitely more to his honour, and to the good of the system. (p. 12, 13. compared with p: 20-24.)
B. Pray how, then, do you think the whole of the divine conduct will appear at the day of judgment? If not only his
* This is not a point peculiar to calvinistic divines ; but as strongly assert, ed by men of learning in general. “ If the author and governor of the world be infinitely perfect, then, of all possible systems, he hath chosen the best." "That is, the system in which the greatest quantity of happiness and perfection obtains, that can in the nature of things take place.” “ This is the joint doctrine of reason and revelation." Dr. I'urnbull
, Chris. Phil. p. 35. 47.