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Q. 7. Do the purposes of God militate against, interrupt, or destroy, the free moral agency of man? or take away his accountableness; or his praiseworthiness or blame-worthiness?
A. Most certainly not. Men are not like machines. Man's moral freedom consists in acting as he pleases in view of motives. A free moral agent cannot possess any other liberty. Jehovah himself possesses no other. Now every man is conscious, that the purposes of God do not at all infringe, or destroy the free voluntary exercises of his moral powers. He acts just as he chooses, and without compulsion. Praise and blame have their foundation in the nature of moral exercises. If virtuous, they are praise-worthy; and if vicious, they are blame-worthy. (c)
Q. 8. Does the doctrine of the Divine purposes discourage endeavors to obtain salvation in the way pointed out in the Gospel?
A. By no means. The doctrine, if I am to be saved I shall be saved, whether I work out my salvation or not, or if I am to be damned I shall be damned, let me do the best I can, is preposterous, false, and wicked. It is preposterous, because it disregards the means connected with the ends and without which the ends cannot be obtained. It is false, because contrary to the nature of things, the Divine determination, and the whole tenor of Scripture. It is wicked, because designed to bring the blame on God, and exculpate the sinner. None, therefore, ought to believe it, or practise according to it.On the contrary, the doctrine of Divine purposes is a ground of encouragement.
Q. 9. How do the purposes of God afford encouragement to our endeavors for salvation?
(c) Luke xxii. 22. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined but wo unto that man by whom he is betrayed.-Acts ii. 23. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.-Is. lxvi. 3. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations.
A. They afford encouragement in this way: In the purposes of God are embraced the means as well as the ends. He has constituted a certain connexion between means and ends. No end can be effected without the use of the means connected with it; but if the means are used, the end will follow. This doctrine is as true in regard to Christians as to husbandmen, mechanics, and students. If a person, then, repents, believes, and leads a holy life, he will be saved. It is as certain he will be saved, as that God has any purpose; and he cannot be saved in any other way. Hence arises the encouragement to repent, believe, and live a godly life. The reasoning is this: God has ordained that there shall be no harvest without the use of means; therefore the husbandman cultivates the earth. God has purposed that there shall be no salvation without repentance, faith, and holiness of life; therefore we should repent, believe, and obey. (d)
Q. 10. Are the Divine purposes the rule of our conduct?
A. They are not. God's law, revealed in the Scriptures, is the only rule of our conduct. His purpose is the rule of conduct for himself, but not for man. In all our conduct, we are to act not in reference to the purposes of God, but in reference to His commands. (e)
Q. 11. How are the Divine purposes to be viewed and treated?
A. They are to be viewed not as arbitrary, despotic, and capricious; but as altogether reasonable and proper, and according to the good pleasure of
(d) Acts xxvii. 23, 24. 31. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul, thou must be brought before Caesar; and, fo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Paul said to the centurion, and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
(e) Deut. xxix. 29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, belong unto us, and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
God-as the fruit of His wisdom and goodness. They are to be treated, not in a caviling manner, but with a reverential, humble, submissive, and candid spirit.
Q. 12. Is the doctrine of Divine purposes a new doctrine?
A. It is not. It is as ancient as the Bible, and is contained in the confessions of faith in the Protestant and Reformed churches generally.
Q. 13. Is it important that the doctrine of the Divine purposes should be preached and believed?
A. It is; because it is a truth which God has revealed to be believed and embraced; and because it is the only foundation of the sinner's hope of eternal life; for, had not God purposed salvation in Jesus Christ, none would ever have been saved. (ƒ)
Q. 1. What is meant by creation?
A. The act of giving existence. Creation is either immediate or mediate. Creation immediate is the production of something out of nothing, or where nothing existed before. Creation mediate is giving existence in a new form, or the production of something out of materials which before existed. The production of this world, in a chaotic state at first,
(f) Jer. xxvi. 2. Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them: diminish not a word.―Jer. xxiii. 28. The prophet that hath a dream let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word let him speak my word faithfully; what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord.Is. xxx. 9, 10. That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord; which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.-2 Tim. iv. 3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.
was creation immediate. The production of man, in his corporeal nature, from the dust of the earth, was creation mediate. This last kind of creating is sometimes termed forming, moulding, fashioning, and making. (a)
Q. 2. What are included in the works of creation?
A. The heavens and the earth and all things in them—all finite existences, animate and inanimate, rational and irrational, visible and invisible. (b) Q. 3. Who created all things?
A. The almighty God. (c)
Q. 4. How did He create all things?
Å. By the word of His power. By this is meant nothing more, than that He willed, or signified His pleasure, and creation took place. His power accompanied His word. (d)
Q. 5. How long was God in creating all things? A. He was six days in creating them, though He could have created them in an instant of time, had he seen fit. Creation was successive in its parts, and thus gradual, though it is always instantaneous when it takes place. (e)
(a) Gen. i. 1. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.-Gen. ii. 7. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
(6) Col. i. 16. For by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him.
(c) Gen. i. 1. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
(d) Heb. xi. 3. Through faith we understand, that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.-Ps. xxxiii. 6.9. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
(e) Gen. i. 3. 11. 21. 25. 27. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth; and
Q. 6. How long is it since the world was created? A. According to the best chronology, it was created about 4,000 years before Christ.
Q. 7. Would there have been any more holiness and happiness in the universe had it been created sooner than it was? or would any good purpose have been answered by its earlier creation?
A. Certainly not. The reasons for creating the world 10,000 years before it was created, would have existed at that time for its creation, 10,000 years earlier still, and so on, in infinitum. Good and sufficient reasons, no doubt, existed in the mind of God for creating the world at the time He did, rather than before, or after, though he has not divulged them to us.
Q. 8. In what season of the year did the world begin to exist?
A. Most probably in Autumn. This seems to have been the fact, 1. From astronomical calculations* and 2. From the circumstance, that everything was created in its most mature and complete state. The first fruits of the earth were brought into existence in a state of ripeness, and fit for the use of man and beast. (ƒ)
Q. 9. In what state did God create all things? A. In the most perfect state. There was no blemish in the natural or moral world. Everything came
it was so. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind. So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.-Ex. xx. 11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.
(f) Gen. ii. 5. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
*Bedford and Kennedy, two chronologers of eminence, have attempted to demonstrate this fact by astronomical calculations.