Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tion of God, sometimes a principle: It is indeed of little consequence which.

We find the human mind, in its exercise, following certain general regular modes of action. Thoughts rise spontaneously there, according to certain laws of association. We cannot prevent our minds from being thus affected though we may counteract the impressions, which thoughts arising, may make upon us. Now we may call this feature of our nature, a law or constitution of God, or what we please; still we cannot doubt, that there is something which'has determined and established these modes of action. God created the human mind, and in the first instance adapted it to specific modes of action. These are the laws by which lle governs mind. He gave us the power of thinking and feeling and acting as we do. Our modes of thought are not those of angelic minds. Shall we say, that there is no appropriate cause of this difference? that there is no law, or reason, why the mind should act in particular modes? In other matters we will not consent thus to act: nor is it proper to do so here. Wherever we discover uniform results—a series of correspondent actions, all standing in the same relation to one specific substance, we insensibly assume the existence of some unvarying

cause.

We see the phenomena of attraction, for example, in ponderous bodies, and attribute them to gravitation, as their immediate cause. Is there no such thing? Who would believe the metaphysician that would tell us so? Some power is apprehended by us, almost instinctively. This, power, we have already seen is the agency of God Himself, into which all our inquiries on this subject, ultimately conduct us. If in the operations of mind, or its modes of action, we are led to the same result, what then? We are not at all startled by it; but, on the contrary, disposed more to admire and adore the every-where present and operative

Supreme. His agency in our minds supporting and invigorating them for their appropriate action, we will not pretend to scrutinize,-no more than we will His agency in the action of one material substance on another. But that there is some sustaining and supporting agency of God in the human mind, by virtue of which it performs certain actions, according as He has been pleased in His sovereignty to ordain, we cannot deny. The varied modes of that agency, we appropriately call the laws of mind; and when its operations are conducted, in accordance with the mutual dependence and subservience of those laws, there is an harmonious action, as indicative of purity, as productive of felicity:-Just as the operations of nature, following without perversion or distortion, the laws which God has ordained, exhibit the excellence of the divine constitutions,

We admit that the parallel is not complete, and that there is this essential difference between the agency of God in sustaining mind and matter, that, in the former instance, there is a POWER OF VOLUNTARY ACTION, which, it is required shall be exerted in accordance with the divine will. We are aware, also, that it may be objected, according to the views just expressed, that human volitions themselves, are as much the result of a divine agency, as other mental acts. But we are persuaded that the objection originates in a misapprehension of the nature of that divine agency, which is conceded in the operations of created mind.

It is not such an agency as to make the act, distinctly and exclusively the act of God; but such a sustaining, and uniformly co-operating agency, according to certain established modes of thought, as gives energy to the voluntary being, but at the same time, does not affect or destroy the voluntariness of his acts, nor immediately originate them. Thus, for example-itis a mental act to ATTEND-the mind possesses a power to bring its thoughts to bear and fix themselves on a particular subject: that is, God co-operates

a

by His sustaining agency, while the mind acts. It is another mental act to perceive or take up an idea of that, which is presented to the consideration of the mind;—it is a third to compare together different objects, and different ideas, so as to elicit some result or conclusion, or make a selection and choice from among them, not to mention others. Now the power of created minds, to do these things, is resolvable only into the concurring co-operating; or supporting and sustaining agency of God. This agency is uniform, and entirely irrespective of the objects that present themselves or the moral character of the acts,

But man is not only capacitated for certain mental acts, but also, for being impressed or affected from various sources and by various means, and in a great variety of modes, which impressions or affections have an exciting and impelling influence on the mind. Thus, if a man is affected with a love of moral excellence, or a desire for the glory of God, the current of his thoughts will take a correspondent course. His mind will act itself in all the varied modes of thought in attending to, perceiving, comparing, and choosing those objects and ideas, that are holy and conducive to the glorification of God. On the contrary, if he is affected with a love of sin, and a desire to promote his selfish interest and glory, the whole current of the thoughts will be turbid and impure. The different capacities and powers of the man will be exercised on objects, and in ways, quite foreign from the design of God in his creation, and made known to him in His law, and cannot fail to present a melancholy specimen of moral derangement, that is, in other words, in all the established modes of action, through which God imparts Ilis energy in supporting the mind of man, man will be found, as the immediate originator of his own acts, to be perverting the constitution of God, and acting altogether inappropriate to the great

design for which he was created, making God to serve with his sins.

Such is actually the exhibition which every unrenewed man makes. He acts under the influence of a version from God, of hatred of holiness, and of love of sin. The current of his thoughts, the words of his mouth, the feelings of his heart, as well as the deeds of his life, all shew that there is no friendly and cherished intercouse between God and his soul. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,God is not in all his thoughts." "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, niether indeed can be."2 Here lies the proof and essence of human depravity. There is a deranged action of all the moral powers in man—they are all under the dominion of an absorbing selfishness, which has consigned God and His claims to forgetfulness and contempt.

"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God God is not in all his thoughts." Oh wretched, frightful state of human debasement!

1. Psalm xiy. 1.

2. Rom. vii, 7.

3. Psalm x. 4.

CHAPTER XIV.

GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF SIN.

An Inquiry whether God is the author ofsin-Influence of theoretical prin.

ciples on human belief-Should be carefully resisted when conflicting with plain scriptural statements of fact-Scriptural account of the nature of sin and testimony as to its immediate origin—Some agency on the part of God, in the sinful conduct of men admitted—Infidel objection against the purity of God from His permitting men to sin—The possibility of sin incidental to the giving of a law does not imply it must actually ex. ist-Fearful results that may transpire in the Government of a Being who cannot prevent sin—The injurious implications to which the admission subjects God-Some suggestions as to God's permitting sin–The rich array of motive to induce obedience thrown around man-Sin an occasion for amazing revelations as to the divine character-And of thus multiplying motives of obedience—This does not imply that it is the necessary means of the greatest good – No impeachment of the purity of God for His agency in sustaining and supporting the sinner.

WHETHER God is the author of sin, is a question, often asked, by those whose views of the divine nature and excellence, it might have been supposed, would have effectually guarded against even a momentary doubt or suspicion on the subject. But, it is by no means uncommon, for theoretical and philosophical principles, to be so pertinaciously and zealously advocated, as to blind their votaries, and engender notions at war with the plainest revelations of the word of God. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say

that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie,

« ZurückWeiter »