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We say

and do not the truth." It is utterly impossible, that a Being of infinite and spotless holiness, should in any way, be the author of REBELLION against His own righteous and equitable sway. The idea 'indeed has been entertained, and it is one which the unrenewed and depraved heart, secretly cherishes, and tries to believe.

But human consciousness resists all theory, and every man, till blinded by his prejudices and false reasonings, is practically convinced, that he himself is the immediate author of his own voluntary acts of disobedience. voluntary acts of disobedience, for this is the idea which the scriptural account of its nature gives us of sin. “Sin is not imputed where there is no law.” ? “Where no law is, there is no transgression.”3 The violation, in thought, in word, or in deed, either by acts or refusing to act, of any precept of God, is sin. This is the uniform view which the scriptures give us of its nature; and, at the same time, they as uniformly teach what human consciousness every day and hour confirms, that we are ourselves the immediate, efficient authors of our own volitions. God does not by any creative or direct positive efficiency produce them, for then would lle be the guilty cause of all rebelTion against Himself.

Such as are bold in their rebellion, and devoted in their attachment to sinful pleasures and pursuits, have not hesitated to lay the blame of their sins on God. But there sounds forth from the very mouth of God Ilimself, this solemn and admonitory word, charging man with the wilful perversion of His established constitution and modes of agency.

"These things hast thou done, and I kept silence. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself, but I will reprove thee. "4

“Thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine

1. 1 John i. 5, 6. 2. Rom. v. 1).

3. Rom. iv. 15. 4. Psalm I. 21.

iniquities." Nor will any one, who has right apprehensions of the divine excellence, and whose heart entertains the least feeling of approbation or respect for God, allow it even to be insinuated, that He can be the author of sin. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away with his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”2

When it is said that “God did tempt Abraham," it is obvious the inspired writer meant only to say, that God made trial of him, having, by the arrangements of His providence, the words of His promise, and the precepts of His mouth, put the faith of Abraham to a very severe test. But, in all this, God was not the author of sin; nor did He solicit Abraham to sin; so that, the apostle James' word does not, in the least respect, conflict with other testimonies of the sacred scripture ; while, it does, most amply and satisfactorily repel the charge, and vindicate the character of God from the aspersions of those who would teach, that He is the author of sin. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with Thee?"4 These, and such like testimonies, ought to sway our faith, so that, whatever philosophical principles would lead us to a result so entirely inconsistent with them, we ought at once to discard them as false and dangerous guides.

Such a result however, we do not apprehend, can be legitimately deduced from the principles advanced in the former chapter, with regard to the agency of God. It is not to be questioned, that while the scriptures vindicate the character of God, and will not for a moment, admit the idea that He is the author ofsin, they nevertheless attribute to

1. Isaiah xlii. 24 3. Gen. xxi. 1.

2. James v. 13-15. 4. Psalm. xciv, 20.

Him, some agency in relation to it. “Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?”'l asks God by the mouth of the prophet, which, although it may be understood of physical evil, yet, as such evil is often brought about through the sins of men, there is some agency of God in the matter.

Moreover, that the counsel or will of God, takes cognizance of sinful acts, that will hereafter be done by men, and that, long before the events, or even the agents had any being, cannot be denied. In proof of this, are those predictions, which regard the guilty conduct of men. We select the instance of Joseph's being sold by his brethren, and the accompanying and consequent transactions. "As for you, ye meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, to save much people alive, as it is this day." Another, yet more decisive, and marked instance, is that of the crucifixion and death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It was, without doubt, the purpose of God, that His Son should die a cursed death, and yet, that purpose was effected through the guilty agency of men. “Him being delivered according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, have ye taken and with wicked hands hare crucified and slain. “For of a truth, both Herod and Pontius Pilate were gathered together, to do whatsoever Thy (God's) hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done." It cannot be denied, that in bringing about

4 the same event, God and man, respectively, have had their purposes and agency. The purpose, however, is very dif

, ferent, in the mind of God from what it is in the mind of the guilty perpetrator. It does not necessarily imply moral turpitude in the former, but it does in the latter. Man means his own selfish gratification, and at the expense, and to the injury oft-times of others. But God has designs of

3

1. Amos di. 6. 3. Acts i. 29.

2. Gen. 1. 20. 4. Acts iv. 27, 98.

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benevolence, and so orders and over-rules all, as to bring about a greater good. Such are the daily developments of His providence.

This idea may be carried to the utmost extent, and it furnishes a satisfactory answer to the carping, cavilling objections of the infidel, who thinks, and alleges, that if God could hare prevented men from sinning, it necessarily implies some moral turpitude in Him, to permit them to do

That they do sin, is not to be denied. Nor will it be disputed, save by some raving Atheist, who has lost the power of discerning between right and wrong. Now suppose, to shield his reputation from the infidel slander, we admit that God could not prevent men from sin, is there any thing gained in this respect by the admission? For we may ask with unanswerable pertinency and point, can he then subdue or control it? It is much easier among men to prevent crime, than to reform the criminal. Assuredly, if God could not have prevented sin, we cannot confidently expect that ever sin will be subdued, and nothing presents itself to our view, but dread uncertainty in this matter, or a dark and dismal prospect of eternal scenes of rebellion and revolt in the government of Godi

The possibility of sin being committed by moral beings, must be admitted to be incidental in the nature of things to the giving of a law, designed to regulate their voluntary conduct. Where no law is, there is no transgression," nor can there be.

But the actual existence of sin is a very different matter. It does not follow that because it is incidental, therefore it must exist. Whether voluntary beings shall not be allowed to sin; i. c. whether there shall be such a powerful array of motive, and such an influence thrown around them at all times, and all circumstances of temptation be so carefully prevented from arising, as that they shall always choose to obey, is a question, which we think it would be presumptuous in us to resolve in any

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other way, than as God Ilimself has been pleased to do. Some voluntary beings have persevered in their obedience, and kept their first estate. Others have sinned and talien. If God had determined to prevent the latter, who will say that Ile had not sufficient skill and power to do so? Aumitting that He had, we cannot see that He was under any obligations of benevolence to do so: but denying that He hud fills us with dread forebodings, as to the final issues of His government.

of the apostacy and fall of two orders of intelligent creatures, we have knowledge; and one seduced the other. Shall this thing spread? Shall the contagion of rebellious example extend itself to other worlds, and decoy from their allegiance the happy innocents, that now adore and love? Or shall the new orders of creatures, which God, in the plenitude of His wisdom and benevolence, may see fit to create, fall from their steadfastness and felicity, and the mighty empire of Jehovah become a vast amphitheatre of woe? Who can contemplate such an idea with composure? It is shocking to all the sensibilities of the heart! And yet, if God cannot prevent sin, what security have we, that eternity shall not be one frightful series of rebellion, and that world after world shall not, like this wretched carth of ours, become the theatre of crime, requiring floods and flames, and even the very annihilating efforts of. Omnipotence, to stay the progress of revolt?

If, in this way, we seek to defend the divine character from the malignant aspersions and insinuations of infidelity, do we not impeach it in others? Our confidence in the government of God will be destroyed, and we may as readily repose in the lofty professions of some rebellious prince, that rears the standard of revolt, and anticipate success in resisting the commands and counsels of Jehovah, as in the declarations of a God that cannot so administer his government as to prevent rebellion. The very admission implies

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