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HE IS THE ROCK; HIS WORK IS PERFECT: FOR ALL HIS WAYS ARB JUDGMENT: A GOD OF TRUTH, AND WITHOUT INIQUITY, JUST AND RIGHT 18 HE.
Deut. xxxii. 4.
Ir the divine conduct towards the intellectual system can be vindicated, there will be no room for any dispute about his decrees. If God always does what is best for him to do, his decreeing from eternity to do so, cannot be objected against ; unless we can suppose it to be wrong for God to determine upon a conduct in all respects right. All God's decrees primarily respect his own conduct. First, what a world to create. Secondly, how to behave towards his creatures, in every particular circumstance. For “God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence." The whole of the divine conduct towards intelligent beings, after they are brought into existence, may be arranged under these two general heads. 1. What he does. 2. What he forbears to do. For instance : He placed our first parents in the garden; he forbid them to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge on pain of death. These things he did. 'He did not hinder the serpent from tempting, nor our first parents from eating. These things he forbore to do. If he always has a good reason for doing what he does, and for forbearing what he forbears, then his whole conduct, as comprehending both, is justifiable.
To vindicate the conduct of the Holy One of Israel, was the design of my sermons on "the Wisdom of God in the Permission of Sin." But the author of the “ Attempt,” not believing that God has done so well in this affair as he might have done, has undertaken to write against — against whom? against me? No: rather, to write against his Maker. For he does not deny the fact, namely, that God permits sin; but endeavors to prove, that God in this, as well as in some other things, has not done “what was most for his own glory.” So that the design of the following pages is not to vindicate myself, but to vindicate the God that made us all. I have certainly the best side of the question; and could I do justice to the subject, I might expect the approbation of all the friends of God. For, as a dutiful child loves to hear the righteous cause of his injured father pleaded, so does every true Christian, every real child of God, love to hear the works and ways of the Holy One of Israel justified. And even when they cannot fully see the reasons of the divine conduct, they are disposed to believe that he has done well; because he is an absolutely perfect being, who cannot err. Nor do I know how to be so uncharitable to the author of the “ Attempt," as to suppose that he will, on second thoughts, in good earnest abide by what he has published. Rather, I hope, his belief that "supreme wisdom cannot err," will finally prevail over his doubts, that “God does in fact what is not most for his own glory."
OF THE WISDOM OF GOD IN THE
PERMISSION OF SIN.
That God permits sin, is plain fact, cannot admit of dispute, and needs no proof. Or if any should be so weak as to deny the fact, it may be easily proved. For all acknowledge that sin is in the world ; but if God had interposed, and effectually hindered its ever coming into the world, it never would have been. That he did not interpose and effectually hinder it, is therefore as certain, as that sin is now in the world. And God's not hindering sin, is what I call his permitting it.
And this fact, that God permits sin, gives rise to this question, namely, — Is it wisest and best that God should conduct as he does in this affair?
Had we a comprehensive view of God's universal plan, and a perfectly holy taste, the whole of the divine conduct towards the intellectual system, of course, must appear to us now in this world, perfect in wisdom, glory, and beauty; as, it is acknowledged, it will to all holy beings at the day of judgment. But as the evil and dreadful consequences of sin to us at present engross our attention, and the good to be brought out of evil, how great soever it may be, is almost entirely out of sight, to be sure, to the generality of men; and not at all suited to please a vicious taste, were it in ever so clear a view ; it is no wonder if it be very difficult to bring a guilty, apostate world to think well of the divine conduct in this affair. And yet if we once conclude, that the Holy One of Israel has not done what is most for his own glory, nor what was wisest and best to do, we must inevitably give up the absolute perfection of the divine nature, which will overturn all religion by the roots.