« ElőzőTovább »
sinful act should be committed, &c. I need not, therefore, stand to repeat what has been said already, about such a ne
power can no more be an object of appointment, than the most direct contradictions; and yet it is equally demonstrable that such a principle is the inseparable concomitant of every creature It is of prior consideration to moral agency; for whatever is a properly of a created nature as such, is of prior consideration to the agency of that creature. Consequently it is a property neither divinely appointed, nor yet a moral evil.
16. Liberty, in one sense, bears the same relation to good and evil, as rectitude does to benevolence and passive power. Iiberty in itself is equally a medium between good and evil, as rectitude is between benevolence and passive power; and the medium is of a nature perfectly distinct from both extremes. To which we may add, that Liberty united to, or under the influence of sovereign benevolence, generates virtue; but Liberty united to, or under the influence of passive power, generates vice.
17. From the premises it may be seen, that the existence of all evil, and es pecially moral evil, in the universe, is not inconsistent with the moral perfections of God. It is evident also that in no sense whatever, except by a total misapplication of terms, can God be said to be "the author of sin." Nor can it be said that God "wills the event of sin;" but the contrary is plain, that he does not will it, either in a decretive, a legislative, or any other sense.
18. The great source of confusion into which many authors have plunged themselves, is, that they draw too hasty an inference in attempting to make not hindering an event to be ultimately the same as willing it. Upon their data, indeed, it may be true, while they regard every event alike to be the effect of divine energy, and even the worst, in order to answer a good end. And this will always be the case, for self-consistency requires it, until we see and acknowledge a metaphysical negative cause of moral evil, and an eternal nature of things antecedent to all will, with their infallible effects, when not counteracted by sovereign benevolence.
19. Let us now view the subject in the light of terms a little different. Much error often arises through the defect of language; and where there is danger of misapprehension, it may be of use to change expressions. Hereby a difficult subject may be taken by different handles, or a reader may apprehend it by one handle, which he could not by another. Let us then substitute the word Equity instead of Rectitude, and undeserved favour instead of benevolence.
Whatever is perfectly consistent with equity is also perfectly consistent with the moral character of God.
20. Whatever is the pure effect of equity and the nature of things, or essential truth, united, cannot be inconsistent with the moral perfections of God. the existence of moral evil in the universe is the pure effect of these therefore the existence of moral evil in the universe cannot be inconsistent with the moral perfections of God.
21. The only ground of hesitation here is, How moral evil is the effect of equity and the nature of things? Liberty itself is a natural good, and therefore is the fruit of divine favour; and the mere exercise of liberty must be ascribed to the same cause But he who is hypothetically free to good, must be in like manner free to evil For this hypothetical freedom either to good or to evil is what constitutes the morality of his acts of choice. Take away this hypothetical freedom, and you take away the essence of moral agency It is plain, then, that to possess this freedom and consequent moral agency, is not inconsistent with the equity, rectitude, or moral perfections of God. Yet it is demonstrable that freedom cannot be influenced in its choice, so as to constitute it virtuous or vicious, holy or sinful, morally right or wrong, good or evil, but from two causes radically; divine favour and passive power. If the agent be under the influence of divine favour, a happy result, in the same proportion, is secured by the same essential truth as renders the choice of the great I AM infallibly good; which no one will say is inconsistent with the divine perfections For though favour raises the agent above what rigid or pure equity can do, there is no inconsistence between them, any more than between paying a just debt and bestowing also a free gift
cessity not proving God to be the Author of Sin, sense, or in any such sense as to infringe any liberty of man, concerned in his moral agency, or capacity of blame, guilt, and punishment.
in addition. But if the agent be not under the influence of undeserved favour, the only alternative is, that he must necessarily be under the influence of passive power. And as nothing can possibly secure a happy result but undeserved favour, or benevolent influence, a negative cause becomes an infallible ground of certainty of an opposite result. Again,
22. When God gives to creatures what is their due, he deals with them in equity; but when God gives them less grace than is actually sufficient to secure from sin, or will in fact do so, he gives them their due. Were it otherwise, it would be impossible for any to sin. If to give them so much favour or benevolent influence as would actually preserve them from sin, were their due, it is plain that the God of equity would give them their due, and preserve them from sin accordingly. But the fact is widely otherwise. They are not all preserved from sin, though all might be, through the interposition of sovereign favour; therefore it is not their due, or equity does not require it.
23. If it be said, It is owing to their own fault; it is very true. But how came any creatures to be faulty? God made angels and men upright; and he has always dealt with every creature, however debased by sin, in equity. He has also given to every creature, capable of sinning, liberty unconstrained. He often influences the disposition by benevolence; and the goodness of God, by providential and gracious dispensations, leadeth to repentance But never has be dealt with any unjustly, or given them less than their due Not a fallen spirit, however deeply sunk, can verify such a charge. Assuredly, they have destroyed themselves, but in God is the only help principle of which God is not the author, as before explained, in union with the abuse of their liberty, satisfactorily accounts for the fact. Our evil is of ourselves; but all our good is from God.
24. From what has been said we may safely draw this inference, that the existence of moral evil in the universe is not inconsistent with the moral perfections of God. And the proposition would be equally true had the proportion of moral evil been greater than it is But some will continue to cavil, it is probable, because every objection is not professedly answered; and some difficulties, or divine arcana, will always remain. They will still be asking, why benevolence is not more universal, and thereby moral evil altogether prevented? Why the cone (to which benevolence has been compared) is not a cylinder, whose base is commensurate with the plane of creatural existence, and whose top rises ad infinitum? They might as well enquire, Why is not every atom a sun? Why not every drop an ocean? Why not every moment an age? Why not every worm an angel? Why not the solar system as 'arge as all material systems united ? Why the number of angels and men not a thousand times greater? And to complete the absurdity of demanding evidence for every thing, as an objection against demonstrable truth, Why is not any given part on the surface of a cone, a cylinder, or a globe, not in the centre? To all such inquiries-and if advanced as objections, impertinent enquiries-it is sufficient to reply, Infinite Wisdom has planned a universe, in which divine benevolence appears wonderfully conspicuous and even the evils-whether natural or moral, which are intermixed, and which in their origin are equally remote from divine causation and from chance —are overruled, to answer purposes the most benevolent and the most wonderfully sublime.
1. The only possible way of avoiding the most ruinous consequences-moral evil and misery-is to direct the will, through the instrumentality of its freedom, to a state of union to God, submission to his will, and an imitation of his moral perfections, according to his most merciful appointment.
2. To creatures fallen below the line of rectitude, and yet the subjects of hope, prayer to God for grace, undeserved favour, or benevolent influence, is an exercise the most becoming, a duty the most necessary and important, and a privilege of the first magnitude.-W.
But should it nevertheless be said, that if God, when he had made man, might so order his circumstances, that from these, together with his withholding further assistance and Divine Influence, his Sin would infallibly follow, why might not God as well have first made man with a fixed prevailing principle of Sin in his heart?
I answer, 1. It was meet, if Sin did come into existence and appear in the world, it should arise from the imperfection which properly belongs to a creature, as such, and should appear so to do, that it might appear not to be from God as the efficient or fountain. But this could not have been, if man had been made at first with Sin in his heart; nor unless the abiding principle and habit of Sin were first introduced by an evil act of the creature. If Sin had not arisen from the imperfection of the creature, it would not have been so visible, that it did not arise from God as the positive cause and real source of it. But it would require room that cannot be here allowed, fully to consider all the difficulties which have been started concerning the first entrance of Sin into the world.And therefore,
2. I would observe, that objections against the doctrine that has been laid down in opposition to the Arminian notion of liberty, from these difficulties, are altogether impertinent; because no additional difficulty is incurred, by adhering to a scheme in this manner differing from theirs, and none would be removed or avoided, by agreeing with, and maintaining theirs. Nothing that the Arminians say about the contingence or self-determining power of man's will, can serve to explain, with less difficulty, how the first sinful volition of mankind could take place, and man be justly charged with the blame of it. To say, the will was self-determined, or determined by free choice, in that sinful volition-which is to say, that the first sinful volition was determined by a foregoing sinful volition-is no solution of the difficulty. It is an odd way of solving difficulties, to advance greater, in order to it. To say, two and two make nine; or, that a child begat his father, solves no difficulty: no more does it to say, the first sinful act of choice was before the first sinful act of choice, and chose and determined it, and brought it to pass. Nor is it any better solution to say, the first sinful volition chose, determined, and produced itself; which is to say, it was before it was. Nor will it go any further towards helping us over the diffi culty to say, the first sinful volition arose accidentally, without any cause at all; any more than it will solve that difficult question, How the world could be made out of nothing? to say, it came into being out of nothing, without any cause; as has been already observed. And if we should allow that the first evil volition should arise by perfect accident, without
any cause; it would relieve no difficulty, about God laying the blame of it to man. For how was man to blame for perfect accident which had no cause, and which, therefore, he was not the cause of, any more than if it came by some external cause?--Such kind of solutions are no better than if some person, going about to solve some of the strange mathematical paradoxes about infinitely great and small quantities-as, that some infinitely great quantities are infinitely greater than some other infinitely great quantities; and also that some infinitely small quantities are infinitely less than others, which yet are infinitely little-should say, that mankind have been under a mistake, in supposing a greater quantity to exceed a smaller; and that a hundred, multiplied by ten, makes but a single unit.*
*On the subject of the origin of moral evil, our author is more concise than usual. His design, in this very short section, is merely to shew, that the difficulties which have been started, concerning the first entrance of sin into the world, are such as cannot be discussed in a small compass; and, that the Arminian cause gains nothing by urging them. That cause has been sufficiently examined in several parts of this Enquiry; but the true and precise origin of moral evil, requires further notice. It is indeed of infinitely greater importance to be acquainted with that celestial art, and that sacred influence, whereby we may emerge from the gulf of sin to holiness and heaven, than to be accurately versed in the science of its origination. And so it is far more important to see objects, and improve sight, than to be able to demonstrate the theory of vision; to recover health, and to use it aright, than to have skill to ascertain the cause and the symptom of disease; to contribute vigorously in extinguishing a fire that threatens to destroy our dwellings and ourselves, than to know the author of the calamity; to participate the effects of varied seasons, than to understand, astronomically, the precise reason of those variations. The mariner may navigate without knowing why his needle points to the north; and the celestial bodies in the solar system were as equally regular in their motions before Sir ISAAC NEWTON had existence, as they have been since he has ascertained those laws and proportions according to which they move. And yet the science of optics is not useless, the healing art is not to be despised, to discover an incendiary is desirable, and never is that philosopher, who attempts to ascertain the causes of natural phenomena, held up as blameworthy. In like manner, though millions are delivered from the influence of sin, and raised to the most exalted eminence of happiness, who never knew, or even sought to know, scientifically, the origination of sin, this is no good reason that such knowledge is useless, or even unimportant. As we do not wish to swell these notes unnecessarily, we beg leave to refer to what we have said elsewhere on the subject, particularly in notes on the former part of this Treatise, on Dr. DODDRIDGE's Lectures, and on a Sermon, concerning" Predestination to Life," second edition, in connection with what we now add. (See DODDR. Works, vol. iv. p. 333, &c. vol. v. p. 208, &c. Notes.)-As the basis of our present demonstration, we begin with proposing a few axioms.
1. No effect can exist without an adequate cause. On this truth are founded all reasonings and all metaphysical evidence.
2. Sin is an effect and has a cause. On this truth are founded all moral means and all religious principles.
3. The origin of moral evil cannot be moral evil; or, the cause of sin cannot be sin itself. Except we admit this, the same thing may be and not be, at the same time, and in the same respect-the same thing may be sin and no sincause and no cause---or, contrary to the first axiom, a contingent event may be the cause of itself, or may exist without an adequate cause.
Of a supposed Inconsistence between these Principles and God's moral Character.
The things which have been already observed, may be sufficient to answer most of the objections, and silence the
4. There is no positive cause but what is ultimately from God. If otherwise, something positive may begin to be without a positive cause; or, something may exist without an adequate cause; which is the same as an effect to exist without a cause, contrary to the first axiom.
5. There may be a negative metaphysical cause, where there is no decretive divine operation to effect it. Were there no negative metaphysical causes, such ideas as absence, ignorance, folly, weakness, and the like, could have no metaphysical effects, contrary to universal experience. And we must renounce all ideas of congruity to suppose that such things are the mere effects of divine decree and operation.
Having premised these positions as axioms not to be disputed, we proceed to make a few observations, which, though equally true, may not be equally ob vious.
6. The origin of moral evil cannot be one principle. For were it one, it must be either a positive or negative cause. If positive, it would be ultimately from God, but this would exclude a moral alternative, the very essence of moral agency, and consequently be incompatible with the existence of moral evil. But if a negative cause, it must ultimately be referred to the prime negative cause, which can be no other than passive power, as before explained; which is nothing independent of positive existence; and consequently can have no effect but in union with positive existence.
7. It remains, then, that the origin of moral evil is a compound of two causes at least. Yet not more than two; because, as we shall see, these are sufficient, and more would be superfluous in order to produce the effect.
8. Now the question remains, What are these compounded principles? Are they two positive causes, two negatives, or one of each? They cannot be two positive causes; for then they might be ultimately reduced to one, the first cause; as before proved, gr. 4, 6. Nor can they be two negative ones; for ultimately there is but one cause properly negative. Consequently,
9. The first entrance of sin into the world, or the true and precise origin of moral evil, may be found in two causes united: the one positive and the other negative, But neither of which is morally good or morally evil; if the cause were morally good, the effect could not be morally bad; and if morally evil, it would be con trary to the third axiom, and to common sense. These two causes are, first, Liberty, a cause naturally good; secondly, passive power, a cause naturally evil.And these two causes are as necessary for the production of moral evil, as two parents for the production of a human being according to the laws of nature.
9. Dr. CLARKE, whose brief account has been more implicitly admitted than any other, says, that moral evil" arises wholly from the ABUSE of Liberty; which God gave to his creatures for other purposes, and which it was reasonable and fit to give them for the perfection and order of the whole creation, only they, contrary to God's intention and command, have abused what was necessary for the perfection of the whole, to the corruption and depravation of themselves." This extract from Dr. CLARKE (in his Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God, 113, 5th edit) has been advanced by celebrated writers, as "containing all that can be advanced with certainty" on the subject. But surely those minds must be easily satisfied who can be satisfied with such evidence. Dr. CLARKE allows and proves, that liberty is a perfection rather than an evil. How came it then to produce evil? He answers, "This arises wholly from the abuse of liberty." But what is the cause of this effect called "the abuse of liberty?" This in fact is the VOL, II. 34