Page images
PDF
EPUB

And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you ; that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, by great judgments, &c.” (Chap. ix. 12.) “ And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had spoken unto Moses." (Chap. x. 1, 2.) “ And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh ; for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his serv..nts, that I might show these my signs before him, and that thou mayst tell it in the ears of thy son, and thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done amongst them, that ye may know that I am the Lord.” (Chap. xiv. 4.) - And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them: and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his Host.” (Ver. 8.) And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh King of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel.” And it is certain, that in such a manner God, for wise and good ends, ordered that event, Joseph being sold into Egypt, by his brethren. (Gen. xlv. 5.). “Now, therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with ourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Ver. 7, 8.) “God did send me before you to preserve a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance : so that now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.” (Psal. cvii. 17.) “ He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant.” It is certain that thus God ordere th Sin and Folly of Sihon King of the Amorites, in refusing to let the people of Israel pass by him peaceably. (Deut. ii. 30.) " But Sibon King of Heshbon would not let us pass by him; for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thine hand." It is certain that God thus ordered the Sin and Folly of the Kings of Canaan, that they attempted not to make peace with Israel, but with a stupid boldness and obstinacy, set themselves violently to oppose them and their God. (Josh. xi. 20.) “ For it was of the Lord, to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour ; but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.” It is evident that thus God ordered the treacherous rebellion of Zedekiah against the King of Babylon. (Jer. lii. 3.) “ For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem, and Judah, until he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the King of Babylon. (So 2 Kings xxiv. 20.) And it is exceeding manifest, that God thus ordered the rapine and unrighteous ravages of Nebuchadnezzar, in spoiling and ruining the nations round about. (Jer. xxv. 9.) "Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,

saith the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against all the nations round about; and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.”— (Chap. xliii. 10, 11.) “ I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant: and I will get his throne upon these stones that I have hid, and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death, and such as are for captivity to captivity, and such as are for the sword to the sword.” Thus God represents himself as sending for Nebuchadnezzar, and taking him and his armies, and bringing him against the nations which were to be destroyed by him, to that very end, that he might utterly destroy them, and make them desolate ; and as appointing the work that he should do so particularly, that the very persons were desig. nated that he should kill with the sword; and those that should be killed with famine and pestilence, and those that should be carried into captivity; and that in doing all these things he should act as his servant ; by which less cannot be intended, than that he should serve his purposes and designs. And in Jer. xxvii. 446. God declares, how he would cause him thus to serve his designs, viz. by bringing this to pass in his sovereign disposals, as the great possessor and Governor of the Universe that disposes all things just as pleases him. “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel; I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power, and my stretched out arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me ; and now I have given all these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar MY SERVANT, and the beasts of the field have I given also to serve him."And Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of as doing these things, by having his arms strengthened by God, and having God's sword put into his hands, for this end." (Ezek. xxx. 24, 25, 26.) Yea, God speaks of his terribly ravaging and wasting the nations, and cruelly destroying all sorts, without distinction of sex or age, as the weapon in God's hand, and the instrument of his indignation, which God makes use of to fulfil his own purposes, and execute his own vengeance. (Jer. li. 20. &c. “Thou battle

weapons of war. For with thee I will break in pieces the nations, and with thee I will destroy kingdoms, and with thee I will break in pieces the horse and his rider, and with thee I will break in pieces the chariot and his rider ; with thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee I will break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid, &c." It is represented, that the designs of Nebuchadnezzar and those that destroyed Jerusalem, never could have been accomplish

art my.

axe, and

ed, had not God determined them. (Lam. iii. 37.) “ Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, and the Lord commandeth it not"?" And yet the king of Babylon thus destroying the nations, and especially the Jews, is spoken of as his great wickedness, for which God finally destroyed him. Isa. xiv. 4-6, 12. Hab. ii. 5—12, and Jer. chap. I. and li.) It is most manifest that God, to serve his own designs, providentially ordered Shimei's cursing of David. (2 Sam. xvi. 10, 11.) “ The Lord hath said unto him, curse David.-Let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him."

It is certain that God thus for excellent, holy, gracious ends, ordered the fact which they committed, who were concerned in Christ's death; and that therein they did but fulfil God's designs; as I trust no Christian will deny it was the design of God, that Christ should be crucified, and that for this end he came into the world. It is very manifest by many scriptures, that the whole affair of Christ's crucifixion, with its circumstances, and the treachery of Judas that made way for it, was ordered in God's Providence, in pursuance of his purpose ; notwithstanding the violence that is used with those plain scriptures, to obscure and pervert the sense of them, (Acts ii. 23.) “ Him being delivered, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" ye have taken, and with wicked hands have crucified and slain.” Luke xxii. 21, 221. “But behold the hand of him that betrayeth me, is with me on the table : and truly the Son of Man goeth, as it was determined.” (Acts iv. 27, 28.) “ For of a truth, against the holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done,” (Acts iii. 17, 18.) “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers ; but these things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer he had so fulfilled.” So that what these murderers of Christ did, is spoken of as what God brought to pass or ordered, and that by which he fulfilled his own word.

Grotius, as well as Beza, observes, agozares must here signify decree; and Elsner has shown that it has that signification in approved Greek writers. And it is certain endotos signifies one given up into the hands of an enemy :"Dopo in Loc.

t" As this passage is not liable to the ambiguities which some have apprehended in Acts ü. 23. and iv. 28, (which yet seem on the whole to be parallel to it, in their most natural construction) I look upon it as an evident proof, that these things are, in the language of scripture, said to be determined or decreed (or exactly bounded and marked out by God, as the word cegizw most naturally signifies) which he sees in fact will happen, in consequence of his volitions, without any necessitating agency; as well as those events of which he is properly the author.” DoDD. in Loc. VOL. 11.

32

In Rev. xvii. 17. “The agreeing of the kings of the earth to give their kingdom to the beast;" though it was a very wicked thing in them, is spoken of as “fulfilling God's will, and what “God had put into their hearts to do.” It is manifest, that God sometimes permits sin to be committed, and at the same time orders things so, that if he permits the fact, it will come to pass, because on some accounts he sees it needful and of importance that it should come to pass. (Matt. xviii. 7.) " It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh. (With I Cor. xi. 19.) “For there must also be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you."

Thus it is certain and demonstrable, from the holy Scriptures, as well as the nature of things, and the principles of Arminians, that God permits sin; and at the same time. so orders things in his Providence, that it certainly and infallibly will come to pass, in consequence of his permission, I proceed to observe in the next place,

III. That there is a great difference between God being concerned thus, by his permission, in an event and act, which in the inherent subject and agent of it, is sin, (though the event will certainly follow on his permission) and his being concerned in it by producing it and exerting the act of sin ; or between his being the orderer of its certain existence by not hindering it, under certain circumstances, and his being the proper actor or author of it, by a positive agency or efficiency. And this, notwithstanding what Dr. WHITBy offers about a saying of philosophers, that causa deficiens, in rebus necessariis, ad causam per se efficientem reducenda est. As there is a vast difference between the sun being the cause of the lightsomeness and warmth of the atmosphere, and the brightness of gold and diamonds, by its presence and positive influence ; and its being the occasion of darkness and frost, in the night, by its mo. tion whereby it descends below the horizon. The motion of the sun is the occasion of the latter kind of events ; but it is not the proper cause, efficient or producer of them ; though they are necessarily consequent on that motion, under such cir. cumstanees : no more is any action of the Divine Being the cause of the evil of men's wills, If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat: and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun ; and it might be justly inferred, that the sun itself is dark and cold, and that his beams are black and frosty. But from its being the cause no otherwise than by its departure, no such thing can be inferred, but the contrary, it may justly be argued, that the sun is a bright and hot body, if cold and darkness are found to be the conse.

[ocr errors]

quence of its withdrawment; and the more constantly and necessarily these effects are connected with, and confined to its absence, the more strongly does it argue the sun to be the fountain of light and heat. So, inasmuch as sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the Most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and, under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence; this is no argument that he is sinful, or his operation evil, or has any thing of the nature of evil ; but, on the contrary, that he, and his agency, are altogether good and holy, and that he is the fountain of all holiness. It would be strange arguing indeed, because men never commit sin, but only when God leaves them to themselves, and ne. cessarily sin when he does so, and therefore their sin is not from themselves, but from God; and so, that God must be a sinful being : as strange as it would be to argue, because it is always dark when the sun is gone, and never dark when the sun is present, that therefore all darkness is from the sun, and that his disk and beams must needs be black.

IV. It properly belongs to the supreme and absolute governor of the universe, to order all important events within his dominion by his wisdom: but the events in the moral world are of the most important kind; such as the moral actions of intelligent creatures, and their consequences.

These events will be ordered by something. They will either be disposed by wisdom, or they will be disposed by. chance ; that is, they will be disposed by blind and undesigning causes, if that were possible, and could be called a disposal. Is it not better that the good and evil which happen in God's world should be ordered, regulated, bounded, and determined by the good pleasure of an infinitely wise Being, who perfectly comprehends within his understanding and constant view, the universality of things, in all their extent and duration, and sees all the influence of every event, with respect to every individual thing and circumstance throughout the grand system, and the whole of the eternal series of consequences; than to leave these things to fall out by chance, and to be determined by those causes which have no understanding or aim ? Doubtless, in these important events, there is a better and a worse, as to the time, subject, place, manner, and circumstances of their coming to pass, with regard to their influence on the state and course of things. And if there be, it is certainly best that they should be determined to that time, place, &c. which is best. And therefore it is in its own nature fit, that wisdom, and not chance, should order these things. So that it belongs to the Being who is the possessor of infinite wisdom, and is the creator and owner of the whole system of created existences, and has the care of all; I say, it belongs to him, to

« PreviousContinue »