Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

as easily account for one thing as another. If it will account for the existence of sin, it will account for the existence of the world. If it will account for any thing, it will account for every thing. On the supposition that sin could come into existence by chance, it would be impossible to prove the existence of God, from those things which are made. The doctrine of chance leads to Atheism and the grossest absurdities. We may lay it down then as a settled point, that chance could not render it impossible for God to prevent sin in a moral sys tem. For there is no such thing as chance.

2. Creatures 'do not sin by the necessity of their natures. There is but one being in the universe who exists and acts by the necessity of his own nature. Necessary existence and action are applicable solely to the self-existent and eternal Je-. hovah. Creatures are not eternal, and therefore they do not exist by the necessity of their own natures. And if they do not even exist by the necessity of their own natures, then they cannot move and act by any such necessity.

It is absurd to suppose that any being in the universe, whether created or uncreated, can sin by the necessity of his own nature. The supposition implies, that there may

be something in the nature of a moral being which would set his heart and understanding and conscience, necessarily, and immutably, and eternally at variance with each other. Every sinner is inconsistent with himself. And to suppose that he sins by the necessity of his own nature, is to suppose that he must necessarily sin to alt eternity, and that his conduct must be necessarily and eternally inconsistent with his reason and conscience, duty and happiness. The supposition, therefore, that a moral being commits sin by the necessity of his own nature, implies, that the principles of moral action are necessarily inconsistent with duty and happiness; which is evidently false and absurd.

If moral beings sinned by the necessity of their own natures, it is readily granted, that God could not prevent them, from sinning, without destroying their moral agency. But the supposition of sinning by a necessity of nature has been shown to be absurd, as applied even to an uncreated being; and much more, as applied to a dependent creature.

It is plain, then, that God cannot be hindered from preventing sin in a moral system, by any necessity of its existence, arising from the nature of moral agents.

3. Sin is not produced by fate. Some suppose that every thing depends upon a certain kind of necessity which is independent of the Divine will, and every other cause in the universe; and which even God himself cannot control. And this they call fate. Now if sin came into existence by a blind undesigning fatality, it is true, it would be impossible in this case for God to prevent sin in a moral system. But there is no such thing as fate. Fatalism is infidelity, and delusion, and a gross absurdity. God could not be hindered from preventing sin, then, by fate; for there is no such thing in ex: istence.

4. Creatures do not sin independently of God. It is supposed by Arminians, that men have a self-determining or in. dependent power of acting; and that this is absolutely neces sary to moral agency. Now if a self-determining or independent

power of acting were nccessary to moral agency, it is very true, that God could not prevent his creatures from sinning, without destroying their moral agency. But such a selfdetermining, or independent power of acting, is absurd. It must mean one of three things: first, that men choose - by the necessity of their own natures; or secondly, that they choose by chance ; or thirdly, that they cause their own choices. The absurdity of the two first suppositions, has been already es posed. Will it be said then, that men must cause their own choices in order to be moral agents ? If sinners must cause their own choices in order to be moral agents, it is readily granted, that God could not prevent them from sinning, without taking their moral agency away.

But is it true that more

al agency consists in independence? Agency is choice. And moral agency is choice in the view of moral good and evil. God is not a moral agent, merely because he is independent, but because he chooses in the view of right and wrong.

If moral agency consisted in independent action, there could be but one moral agent in the universe. For independence is an incommunicable attribute of the Supreme Being. He can no more communicate independence, than self-exist. ence to a creature. For these two attributes are inseparably connected, and mutually imply each other. An independent creature is a contradiction.

We are indeed told that God has made man in his own image. It is said that God originates his own volitions; and that if man be made in the image of God, then man must do the same.*

But how does God originate his own volitions ? This is a mystery. All that we can say, is, that he chooses by the necessity of his own nature, just as he exists. To say, that creatures are made in the image of God in this respect, implies that they exist and act by the necessity of their own natures. They could not be made in his image in this respect, without being made in his image in all respects. To originate their own volitions, as God originates his, they must be self-existent, immutable and eternal.

It is certain, therefore, that if men do originate their own volitions, they do not originate them as God originates his. To originate their own volitions, they must cause them.

But men do not cause their own volitions, because they are not conscious of causing them. If they cause them, they must do it by a causing act. And this causing act, they must be conscious of. For the mind is necessarily conscious of its own operations. It is perfectly iuconceivable that the mind should eause all its own volitions, and still never be conscious of causing them in a single instance.

* This strange opinion has been suggested by the venerable Professor Stuart, of Andover Thenlogical Seminary.

If we cause our own volitions, we must do it voluntarily. Whenever we cause a choice, the causing act must be a choice too. Whenever we choose, we must have a preceding choice, which we are never conscious of; the first choice causing the second. The first choice likewise, must be caused by another antecedent choice, and that by another, and so on without end. And of all these antecedent choices we are entirely unconscious. On the supposition, therefore, that we cause our own choices, we must have an endless series of unconscious choices, to account for every choice which we are conscious of.

If we produce all our choices by a preceding choice, then, whenever we choose an object, we must choose the choice of it. And this implies that we choose the object before we do choose it.

And in order to cause this producing choice, we must choose an object by choosing to choose the choice of it. This would imply that we choose the object, before we choose to choose it. Every one of these choices must anticipate the object chosen, and really terminate upon it. Here, then, are three choices about the same object; in the two first of which, we must choose the object before we begin to choose it. The first of these three choices must require another antecedent choice to account for that, and so on without end. Thus we must have had an eternal series of choices about the object, before we begin to choose it. We must have chosen the object from all eternity before we began to choose it. Indeed we must have had an endless series of choices, in each of which we must have contemplated and chosen the choice of the object, before we had chosen that choice. Nor is this all. We must, from all eternity, have chosen to choose the choice of the object, before we did choose this choice. And the same remark may be made respecting every choice in the whole series. This would require a very active and conscious state of mind. And yet we are not conscious of one of these causing operations.

[ocr errors]

If we cause our own choices, then every choice we are conscious of, and every choice we are not conscious of, must require an endless series of absurdities to account for it.

If men caused their own choices, their choices would always be of the same moral character. A holy choice would never produce a sinful choice, nor would a sinful choice ever produce a holy choice. In this case, those who were once holy, would always continue holy. And those who were once sinful, would always continue sinful.

If it were necessary for men to cause their own choices, in order to be moral agents, then God could not change the hearts of sinners and make them holy in a single instance, whether they were willing or unwilling. His agency would destroy their moral agency. And after losing their moral agency, they could be neither sinful nor holy.

In this case, God could not have made either the angels holy, or our first parents holy. If they had not made themselves holy, they could nerer have become holy. And this would be contrary to the express declaration of Scripture, that God made man upright.

If men cause their own choices, then they are able to produce something out of nothing. For whenever they produce a choice, they produce something which had no existence before. To produce something out of nothing, is to create. And creative power is Omnipotence. To suppose, therefore, that God has made his creatures capable of causing their own volitions, implies that he has made them omnipotent. Or, if it be supposed, in order to avoid this absurdity, that God has made his creatures capable of originating their volitions by a necessity of nature, as he originates his own; this supposition would imply, that he has made his creatures self-existent.

The supposition that creatures are the efficient or proper causes of their own volitions, implies, that there is no distinction between first and second causes. A second cause is an instrumental cause. Instrumentality enters into the very

idea

« FöregåendeFortsätt »