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by His sustaining agency, while the mind acts. It is another mental act to perceive or take up an idea of that, which is presented to the consideration of the mind;—it is a third to compare together different objects, and different ideas, so as to elicit some result or conclusion, or make a selection and choice from among them, not to mention others. Now the power of created minds, to do these things, is resolvable only into the concurring co-operating; or supporting and sustaining agency of God. This agency is uniform, and entirely irrespective of the objects that present themselves or the moral character of the acts,
But man is not only capacitated for certain mental acts, but also, for being impressed or affected from various sources and by various means, and in a great variety of modes, which impressions or affections have an exciting and impelling influence on the mind. Thus, if a man is affected with a love of moral excellence, or a desire for the glory of God, the current of his thoughts will take a correspondent course. His mind will act itself in all the varied modes of thought in attending to, perceiving, comparing, and choosing those objects and ideas, that are holy and conducive to the glorification of God. On the contrary, if he is affected with a love of sin, and a desire to promote his selfish interest and glory, the whole current of the thoughts will be turbid and impure. The different capacities and powers of the man will be exercised on objects, and in ways, quite foreign from the design of God in his creation, and made known to him in His law, and cannot fail to present a melancholy specimen of moral derangement, that is, in other words, in all the established modes of action, through which God imparts Ilis energy in supporting the mind of man, man will be found, as the immediate originator of his own acts, to be perverting the constitution of God, and acting altogether inappropriate to the great
design for which he was created, making God to serve with his sins.
Such is actually the exhibition which every unrenewed man makes. He acts under the influence of a version from God, of hatred of holiness, and of love of sin. The current of his thoughts, the words of his mouth, the feelings of his heart, as well as the deeds of his life, all shew that there is no friendly and cherished intercouse between God and his soul. “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,God is not in all his thoughts." "The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, niether indeed can be."2 Here lies the proof and essence of human depravity. There is a deranged action of all the moral powers in man—they are all under the dominion of an absorbing selfishness, which has consigned God and His claims to forgetfulness and contempt.
"The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God God is not in all his thoughts." Oh wretched, frightful state of human debasement!
1. Psalm xiy. 1.
2. Rom. vii, 7.
3. Psalm x. 4.
GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF SIN.
An Inquiry whether God is the author ofsin-Influence of theoretical prin.
ciples on human belief-Should be carefully resisted when conflicting with plain scriptural statements of fact-Scriptural account of the nature of sin and testimony as to its immediate origin—Some agency on the part of God, in the sinful conduct of men admitted—Infidel objection against the purity of God from His permitting men to sin—The possibility of sin incidental to the giving of a law does not imply it must actually ex. ist-Fearful results that may transpire in the Government of a Being who cannot prevent sin—The injurious implications to which the admission subjects God-Some suggestions as to God's permitting sin–The rich array of motive to induce obedience thrown around man-Sin an occasion for amazing revelations as to the divine character-And of thus multiplying motives of obedience—This does not imply that it is the necessary means of the greatest good – No impeachment of the purity of God for His agency in sustaining and supporting the sinner.
WHETHER God is the author of sin, is a question, often asked, by those whose views of the divine nature and excellence, it might have been supposed, would have effectually guarded against even a momentary doubt or suspicion on the subject. But, it is by no means uncommon, for theoretical and philosophical principles, to be so pertinaciously and zealously advocated, as to blind their votaries, and engender notions at war with the plainest revelations of the word of God. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say
that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie,
and do not the truth." It is utterly impossible, that a Being of infinite and spotless holiness, should in any way, be the author of REBELLION against His own righteous and equitable sway. The idea 'indeed has been entertained, and it is one which the unrenewed and depraved heart, secretly cherishes, and tries to believe.
But human consciousness resists all theory, and every man, till blinded by his prejudices and false reasonings, is practically convinced, that he himself is the immediate author of his own voluntary acts of disobedience. voluntary acts of disobedience, for this is the idea which the scriptural account of its nature gives us of sin. “Sin is not imputed where there is no law.” ? “Where no law is, there is no transgression.”3 The violation, in thought, in word, or in deed, either by acts or refusing to act, of any precept of God, is sin. This is the uniform view which the scriptures give us of its nature; and, at the same time, they as uniformly teach what human consciousness every day and hour confirms, that we are ourselves the immediate, efficient authors of our own volitions. God does not by any creative or direct positive efficiency produce them, for then would lle be the guilty cause of all rebelTion against Himself.
Such as are bold in their rebellion, and devoted in their attachment to sinful pleasures and pursuits, have not hesitated to lay the blame of their sins on God. But there sounds forth from the very mouth of God Ilimself, this solemn and admonitory word, charging man with the wilful perversion of His established constitution and modes of agency.
"These things hast thou done, and I kept silence. Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself, but I will reprove thee. "4
“Thou hast made Me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine
1. 1 John i. 5, 6. 2. Rom. v. 1).
3. Rom. iv. 15. 4. Psalm I. 21.
iniquities.' Nor will any one, who has right apprehensions of the divine excellence, and whose heart entertains the least feeling of approbation or respect for God, allow it even to be insinuated, that He can be the author of sin. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away with his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished bringeth forth death."2
When it is said that “God did tempt Abraham,” it is obvious the inspired writer meant only to say, that God made trial of him, having, by the arrangements of His providence, the words of His promise, and the precepts of His mouth, put the faith of Abraham to a very severe test. But, in all this, God was not the author of sin; nor did He solicit Abraham to sin; so that, the apostle James' word does not, in the least respect, conflict with other testimonies of the sacred scripture ; while, it does, most amply and satisfactorily repel the charge, and vindicate the character of God from the aspersions of those who would teach, that He is the author of sin. “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with Thee?"4 These, and such like testimonies, ought to sway our faith, so that, whatever philosophical principles would lead us to a result so entirely inconsistent with them, we ought at once to discard them as false and dangerous guides.
Such a result however, we do not apprehend, can be legitimately deduced from the principles advanced in the former chapter, with regard to the agency of God. It is not to be questioned, that while the scriptures vindicate the character of God, and will not for a moment, admit the idea that He is the author ofsin, they nevertheless attribute to
1. Isaiah xliii. 24 3. Gen. xxi. 1.
2. James v. 13-15. 4. Psalm. xciv, 20.