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one another, and towards all men; that|cy of the creature; and the agency of he would cause us to “grow in grace, the creature is the effect of the agency and in the knowledge of our Lord and of God. But the agency of God is one Saviour Jesus Christ ;" "till we all thing, and the agency of the creature come in the unity of the faith, and of is another thing. When God, by his the knowledge of the Son of God, un- agency causes a man to walk, it is the to a perfect man; unto the measure of man that walks, and not God. It is the stature of the fulness of Christ." proper to say that it is God who cauThat he would “guide usshy his counses the man to walk, but it is not propsel and afterwards receive us to glory."||er to say, it is God that walks. It is
the man that walks.
ascribe to God an agency in whatsoEXPOSITION OF JAMES i, 13, 14. ever comes to pass, and they ascribe
Let no man say when he is tempted, to the creature an agency in many I am tempted of God; for God cannot things. But the scriptures do not conbe tempted with evil, neither tempteth found things which are distinct. They he any man ; But every man is tempt-|| ascribe to God the agency which beed when he is drawn away of his ownlongs to him, and to the creature the Lust, and enticed.
agency which belongs to him. AccordThis
passage of Scripture has been ing to them it is God that gives repenthought inconsistent with the doctrine tance, while it is man that repents; it is that God decrees and causes the wick- God that gives faith, while it is man that ed actions of men. The Scriptures believes; it is God that works in man indeed, represent that God worketh all to will and to do of his good pleasure, things after the council of his own will, while it is man that wills and does acthat he turned the heart of the Egyp-cording to God's good pleasure. And tians to hate his people, that he moved this is not only the case with respect to David to number Israel, that he stir-their good actions, but also with regred up the spirit of the Assyrian kingspect to their wicked actions. It was to oppress and enslave the ten tribes, God that turned the heart of the Egypthat he put in the hearts of the kings tians to hate his people; but it was the of the earth to agree and give their Egyptians, and not God that hated his kingdom to the beast, that he hardened people. It was God that moved Dathe spirit of Sihon, and made his heart vid to say, Go number Israel and Juobstinate, that he put a lying spirit indah, but it was David that said, Go the mouth of Ahab's prophets, that he number Israel and Judah. set the people of Israel one against an- As the scriptures do not confound other, that he made the prophet to errithe agency of God, with the agency of from God's ways, which passages plain-man, so neither do they confound the ly teach that God not only decress the agency of God with the agency of sawicked actions of men, but employs tan. Both may be exercised in bringhis own agency in bringing them to ing an event to pass; but the agency pass. But in this passage it is denied of one is not the agency of the other. that God tempts any man. How can God might cause satan to go and be a this be true, if he decrees and causes lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab's whatever comes to pass ? Here let it be prophets, and yet it might not be proremarked that if we would discover per to say that God was a lying spirit
. the truth, we must not confound things Having premised these things, let as which are perfectly distinct. The apply them to the passage of scripture cause and the effect, are different things. under consideration. It is said that God
The agency of God is not the agency does not tempt any man. If the word of the creature; nor is the agency of tempt is taken here in its usual sense, the creature the agency of God. The which is to entice or persuade to sin, by agency of God is the cause of the agen- representing it in false colors, as a desi
rable thing, then it is certainly not true|| the other. Satan tempts men, but lie that God tempts any man. Satan is the has no power to cause them to coin. tempter. It is he that entices us to sin, ply with the temptation. If he had, by placing before our minds a false he would always cause a compliance, view of things, and representing sin as but he does not. Sometimes when a good thing. God may, in his prov- men are tempted, they resist the tempidence, lead us into temptation. He tation. It is God's prerogative to may, for wise reasons, cause Satan to govern all his creatures and all their tempt us. But if he does so, still the actions. He has their hearts in his agency of God and the agency of Sa- hand, and turns them whithersoever tan, are perfectly distinct. If God cau-he will. But whether he does this or ses Satan to tempt us, the act of tempt-not, has no relation to the question ing is the act of Satan, and not the act whether he tempts them or not; of God. Just as when God causes a as that is a different thing. If it should man to walk, the act of walking is be said that God does tempt inen, it the act of the man, and not the act would not follow that he causes them of God. So also, if God cause a man to comply with the temptation. Sato comply with a temptation, this is a tan does one, but not the other; so different thing from tempting him. God may do one and not the other, The act of tempting is the act of Sa- The two things are as distinct and untan, the act of complying with the connected, as any two things in the temptation is the act of the man, and universe. the act of causing a compliance is the If it should be objected here, that act of God. Thus, in the case of Da- the words tempt and to be tempted, in vid, we read, in 1 Chron. xxi, 1. “And the passage under consideration, are Satan stood up against Israel, and pro- not to be taken in their usual sense, voked David to number Israel.” And but seem to imply something more ; in 1 Sam. xxi, 1. “ And again the anger | as when it is said, every man is tempted of the Lord was kindled against Israel, when he is drawn away of his onn and he moved David against them to list, and enticed; to be tempted seems say, Go number Israel and Judah to mean to be enticed into sin, and inHere are three different agents broughtcludes a compliance with the templainto view, the Lord, David and Satan. tion; and that consequently, when it is And what is done by one is not done said a man is not tempted of God, it aby the other. Satan tempted David to mounts to this, that a man is not caused have the people numbered, God moved to comply with the temptation, by any David to comply with the temptation, act of God. To this it maybe answered, and order it done, and David complied If to be tempted, in this place, means with the temptation and performed the to be enticed into sin, and includes thing.
the act of compliance with the tempIt is evident, therefore, that if the tation, still there is nothing inconsistent word tempt, in the passage under con- with the doctrine of God's decreeing sideration, is to be taken in its usual and causing whatsoever comes to pass. sense, it may be said with truth, that Nothing is brought into view but the God does not tempt any man; and yet it | act of Satan in presenting the temptamay be true, that he decrees and cau- tion, and the act of the man in comees all the actions of men, whether plying with it. Satan makes use of good or evil. Tempting men to sin, our lusts as the means of his operations. and causing them to sin, by moving He makes use of our animal appetites, them to comply with the temptation, to entice us to unholy desires; and are things perfectly distinct from each then he makes use of these, to entice other. And it does by no means fol- us to outward acts of transgression. low, because a being performs one of | Let us substitute, in the passage under these actions, that he also performs consideration, the words enlice into
sin for the word tempt, and the words, ture. If God's causing us to act as we enticed into sin for the word tempted,|| do, would free us from blame, it must and see how it will read. “Let no be because the blame-worthiness lies man say, when he is enticed into sin, in the cause of the action, and not in I am enticed into sin of God, for God the nature of the action itself. But to cannot be enticed into sin, neither en-| say this, leads into the very difficulty ticeth he any man into sin. But every it is intented to prevent. For if the man is enticed into sin, when he is blame-worthiness does not lie in the drawn away of his own lust and enti-nature of the action, but in its cause, ced.” Though it should be true, that then it does not lie in any thing that is God causes man to comply with the an effect. It must always be transtemptation, when it is presented, it ferred from the effect to the cause ; would not follow that he perform- and so we shall go back from step to ed the act of presenting it, or that step, through the chain of second cauhe performed the act of complying 'ses, till we arrive at the first cause of with it. The act of presenting the all things, which is God. The blame temptation and the act of complying worthiness, therefore, is not to be with it, are all that are brought into transferred from the action to its cause, view, and denied of God. God does but it lies in the nature of the action itnot entice men into sin, by presenting itself. And consequently the blame of all before them in false colours, and rep- Jour wicked actions belongs to us, let the resenting it as a desirable thing. This act of causing them be performed by is the part of Satan. When God ope- whom it will. When, therefore, the rates upon men's liearts, and turns scriptures ascribe the blame of our them whithersoever he will, he does it wicked conduct entirely to us, and at in a different manner. And when God the same time teach that God decrees causes the man to comply with the and causes whatsoever comes to pass, temptation, it is not God that complies there is no contradiction between with the temptation, but the man. them, but they are perfectly consis
It may be objected, further, that the tent and harmonious. design of the passage evidently is, to It may be objected further, that if teach that the blame of our wicked we ought not to ascribe to God the conduct belongs to us, and not to God; act of tempting men to sin, because it and that the sense of it is this : “ Let is a sinful act, then we ought not to no man justify himself in his wicked- ascribe to God the act of causing them mess, by casting the blame upon God, || to comply with the temptation, which for the blame does not belong to God, must be much more sinful. For if it but to himself.” But that if God de- ||is sinful to entice a man to sin, by precrees and causes all the actions of men, | senting motives to persuade him to then the blame does not belong to act wrong, as Satan does, when he them, but to God; and consequently, tempts men to sin, although this is not that the passage must be understood to sufficient to cause him to sin, how deny that God decrees or causes the much more must it be sinful to perwicked actions of men.-To this it form such an operation upon his mind, may be answered :
as to cause him to comply with the The blame of a wicked action be-| temptation, and make him act wicklongs to the person whose action it is.edly, when Satan could not do it. Is Our actions are our own. The turpi-| not this saying, that when Satan has tude of a wicked action consists in the done all he can to make man sin, and nature of the action itself, and not at his power fails, God interposes, and all in its cause. By action is here assists him to accomplish his purpose ? meant the action of the mind, the dis- To this it may be answered. position, which expresses itself by the When Satan tempts man to sin, he external action. Å malicious spirit is does it by presenting things in a false
bad spirit, and odious in its own na-"light, presenting sin as a desirable
REASONABLENESS AND IMPORTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.
thing. He is guilty of falsehood. God caused those men to comply with God cannot lie. Therefore, God can- these temptations, and put his Son to not tempt man, in this sense. But be- death, Satan perhaps thought he had sides being guilty of falsehood, Satan accomplished his purpose. But how does wrong, when he uses his influ- much was he mistaken! These were ence to make men sin; for two other the very means which infinite wisdom
He does what he has no had contrived to accomplish that work right to do, and he does it with a wick- of redemption, and thus effectually to ed intention. The government of the bruise the serpent's head, and destroy universe is not committed to his hands. his power and influence, He has no right to do any thing himself, or to influence others to do any thing but what God has commanded. THE But when he tempts man to'sin, violates the divine commands himself, Faith, has of late ages, been a suband does what he can to make others | ject of much derision, by men of scido the same. And besides, he acts ence, falsely so called, and vain Phiwith a wicked intention in all this. It losophers. But is it an unreasonable is impossible for any creature to do thing for God to demand, and for us to these things with any other than all give him our faith? Who among us wicked intention. But God does right can pretend to understand all things when he governs all his creatures and necessary to rational comfort and satall their actions, and causes whatsoev-isfaction, unless it be by faith? Some er comes to pass, because it is his pre-things, indeed, we know by intuition; rogative to govern the universe, and some by experience, and some by reahe always designs and accomplishes soning and deduction. We know good by what he does. He always that we exist, and are rational, volun. acts according to the dictates of infi-| tary agents. We know that we are nite wisdom and goodness. He knows sinful, vile and miserable; prone to what events will best promote the the worst of deeds, and exposed to the highest interests of the universe, and it greatest of human miseries; that we behoves him as the supreme governor are every moment, liable to death.-to cause those events to take place. We may go far in the science of numAnd he uniformly brings to pass those bers, and measures, and proportions. events, and prevents all such as would By the medium of the senses, and by have a contrary tendency. He does reasoning on sensible objects, and on not assist Satan to accomplish his matters of experience we acquire a wicked purposes, but he makes use of certain degree of knowledge. We obSatan, as an instrument in accomplish-tain some information of the vast fabing his own glorious and benevolentric, called the universe: But we know purposes. He so overrules all the ef- not, by the light of nature, whether forts of Satan and wicked men, as indeed it be a fabric, strictly speaking, to make them instruments in promo- or an eternal, untreated systein. It ting that very cause they intend to op- is “ through faith we understand that pose. Satan intends to dishonor God, the worlds were framed by the word of but God intends to glorify himself. God, so that things which are seen, Satan will be disappointed, and even | were not made of things which do aphis present seeming success, will only pear.” It is also through faith that we serve to increase his ultimate confu- understand any thing, concerning the sion and disgrace. When Satan sought end of the world, and an eternal state. to accomplish the death of Christ, and on these important points, mankind tempted Judas and Pilate, and the greatly need instruction ; and yet inJews to effect it, he meant to defeat struction can be embraced, only by the work of redemption. And when I faith. la it not reasonabls, to look to
God for information, on these impor- discover. To plead for mercy is vain, tant and inscrutable subjects ? The unless we have a revelation of divine man who refuses to look to heaven for mercy. We plead in vain for an exlight, on the great subjects of iminor-emption from pains and death: And tality, is proud in weakness; for he by the light of nature, we have no betmust always have the mortification to ter prospect in the world to come than feel and acknowledge, that he is to- in this world. Destitute of a gleam tally ignorant of a future state : He of hope, and unable to discover the can only conjecture, whether he, and possibility of forgiveness, or even of all others, shall be happy or miserable ; reformation, and deliverance from the or even whether man shall be some-dominion of sin, what can be more thing or nothing, forever. Surely, in reasonable and important, than the this view, faith in God is reasonable, christian faith? By this faith there and highly important. Possibly, we is a discovery of an honorable plan may be derided for believing there is of forgiveness, and complete satisa God. “No one hath seen God at any faction. A foundation is laid for a time.” Nor is it possible to embrace joyful hope; a hope which is as an the idea of an infinite, eternal un anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. changeable Deity, but hy faith. Accor Surely, they who set at nought the dingly, they who despise the very idea christian faith, are totally unable to ofof faith, deny the Divine Existence.- fer an equal ground of comfort. In They consider the world as being eter- health and prosperity, they can boast nal, and governed only by chance.- of reason and philosophy; but after But even embracing this opinion, is all, they find themselves utterly at a an exercise of their faith though faith loss, how one sin can be forgiven, or is the object of their contempt. Doone soul purified. they know that the world is eternal, But even admitting, what is wholly and governed by chance ? Or is it only inadmissible, that some few men of untheir belief, their weak conjecture?- common talents, and most peculiar adAlas! must an infidel profess his faith, vantages for improvement, might posin the act of opposition to the very idea sibly hit on the just ground of forgiveof faith? Must he exceed all men'in ness and salvation; yet what would credulity, to make out that he is incre- become of the great mass of mankind, dulous ? Surely, it is pain for any man whose souls are as precious as the souls to attempt a vindication of himself în of philosophers, and whose salvation discarding the idea of faith in God. is of equal importace? Wretched inTo look for instruction to him that deed must be the state of mankind, if inade us, is certainly reasonable and they are to depend on the last extent important.
of human philosophy, to discover the Having considered the reasonable- way of salvation! Will it be said, that ness and importance of faith, in a gen-the learned fen, having made the diseral view, let us proceed to a more covery, might point it out to their direct consideration of the subject, as brethren? In this case, the multitude it respects the christian faith.
must embrace it by faith; and by faith Among the things learned by expe-in whom? In Hume, in Voltaire, in rience, nothing is more clearly and Paine! But what are their credentials ? perfectly known, than the sin and mis- What is their authorty? Do they a ery
of mankind. And in this state of gree among themselves? Or indeed, sin and misery, man must continue have they any system, or any serious, forover, if he shall exist so long, unless candid principle of religion? Was it some effectual remedy appear. To not their grand object to promote undecide whether any remedy be possi- | belief, and to discounteance religious ble; and if possible, in what it must practice? Of the way of life and peace, consist, is beyond humąn ingenuity to they were as ignorant, as the mean