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ings to go about to order this affair; because they are not possessed of a wisdom, that in any manner fits them for it; and, in other respects, they are not fit to be trusted with this affair; nor does it belong to them, they not being the owners and lords of the universe. We need not be afraid to affirm, that if a wise and good man knew with absolute certainty, it would be best, all things considered, that there should be such a thing as moral evil in the world, it would not be contrary to his wisdom and goodness, for him to choose that it should be so. It is no evil desire, to desire good, and to desire that which, all things considered, is best. And it is no unwise choice, to choose that that should be, which it is best should be ; and to choose the existence of that thing concerning which this is known, viz. that it is best it should be, and so is known in the whole to be most worthy to be chosen. On the contrary, it would be a plain defect in wisdom and goodness, for him not to choose it. And the reason why he might not order it, if he were able, would not be because he might not desire it, but only the ordering of that matter does not belong to him. But it is no harm for Him who is, by right, and in the greatest propriety, the Supreme Orderer of all things, to order every thing in such a manner, as it would be a point of wisdom in Him to choose that they should be ordered. If it would be a plain defect of wisdom and goodness in a Being, not to choose that that should be, which He certainly knows it would, all things considered, be best should be (as was but now observed) then it must be impossible for a Being who has no defect of wisdom and goodness, to do otherwise than choose it should be ; and that, for this very reason, because He is perfectly wise and good. And if it be agreeable to perfect wisdom and goodness for him to choose that it should be, and the ordering of all things supremely and perfectly belongs to him, it must be agreeable to infinite wisdom and goodness, to order that it should be. If the choice is good, the ordering and disposing things according to that choice must also be good. It can be no harm in one to whom it belongs to do his Will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the carth, to execute
a good volition. If his Will be good, and the object of his Will be, all things considered, good and best, then the choosing or willing it, is not willing evil that good may come. And if so, then his ordering, according to that Will, is not doing evil, that good may come.
2. It is not of a bad tendency, for the Supreme Being thus to order and permit that moral evil to be, which it is best should come to pass. For that it is of good tendency, is the very thing supposed in the point now in question. Christ's crucifixion, though a most horrid fact in them that perpetratedit, was of most glorious tendency as permitted and ordered of God.
3. Nor is there any need of supposing it proceeds from any evil disposition or aim ; for by the supposition, what is aimed at is good, and good is the actual issue, in the final result of things.
Concerning Sin's first Entrance into the World.
THE things, which have already been offered, may serve to obviate or clear many of the objections which might be raised concerning sin’s first coming into the world; as though it would follow from the doctrine maintained, that God must be the author of the first sin, through his so disposing things, that it should necessarily follow from his permission, that the sinful act should be committed, &c. I need not, therefore, stand to repeat what has been said already, about such a necessity's not proving God to be the author of sin, in any ill sense, or in any such sense as to infringe any liberty of man, concerned in his moral agency, or capacity of blame, guilt and punishment.
But, if it should nevertheless be said, supposing the case so, that God, when he had made man, might so order his circumstances, that from these circumstances, together with his withholding further assistance and divine influence, his sin would infallibly follow, why might not God as well have first made man with a fixed prevailing principle of sin in his heart 2
I. It was meet, if sin did come into existence, and appear in the world, it should arise from the imperfection which properly belongs to a creature, as such, and should appear so to do, that it might appear not to be from God as the efficient or fountain. But this could not have been, if man had been made at first with sin in his heart; nor unless the abiding principle and habit of sin were first introduced by an evil act of the creature. If sin had not arisen from the imperfection of the creature, it would not have been so visible, that it did not arise from God, as the positive cause, and real source of it....But it would require room that cannot be here allowed, fully to consider all the difficulties which have been started, concerning the first entrance of sin into the world.
II. I would observe, that objections against the doctrine that has been laid down, in opposition to the Arminian notion of liberty, from these difficulties, are altogether impertinent; because no additional difficulty is incurred, by adhering to a scheme in this manner differing from theirs, and none would be removed or avoided, by agreeing with, and maintaining theirs. Nothing that the Arminians say, about the contingence, or selfdetermining power of man's will, can serve to explain, with less difficulty, how the first sinful volition of mankind could take place, and man be justly charged with the blame of it. To say, the Will was selfdetermined, or determined by free choice, in that sinful volition; which is to say, that the first sinful volition was determined by a foregoing sinful volition; is no solution of the difficulty. It is an odd way of solving difficultics, to advance greater, in order to it. To say,
two and two make nine ; or, that a child begat his father, solves no difficulty: No more does it, to say, the first sinful act of choice was before the first sinful act of choice, and chose and determined it, and brought it to pass. Nor is it any better solution, to say, the first sinful volition chose, determined and produced itself; which is to say, it was before it was. Nor will it go any further towards helping us over the difficulty to say, the first sinful volition arose accidentally, without any cause at all ; any more than it will solve that difficult question, How the world could be made out of nothing & To say, it came into being out of nothing, without any cause ; as has been already observed. And if we should allow that that could be, that the first evil volition should arise by perfect accident, without any cause ; it would relieve no difficulty, about God’s laying the blame of it to man. For how was man to blame for perfect accident, which had no cause, and which therefore, he (to be sure) was not the cause of, any more than if it came by some external cause 2....Such solutions are no better, than if some person, going about to solve some of the strange mathematical paradoxes, about infinitely great and small quantities; as, that some infinitely great quantities are infinitely greater than some other infinitely great quantities; and also that some infinitely small quantities, are infinitely less than others, which yet are infinitely little ; in order to a solution, should say, that mankind have been under a mistake, in supposing a greater quantity to exceed a smaller; and that a hundred, multiplied by ten, makes but a single unit.
Of a supposed Inconsistence of these Principles with GoD's moral Character.
THE things which have been already observed, may be sufficient to answer most of the objections, and silence the great exclamations of Arminians against the Calvinists, from the supposed inconsistence of Calvinistic principles with the moral perfections of God, as exercised in his government of mankind. The consistence of such a doctrine of necessity as has been maintained, with the fitness and reasonableness of God’s commands, promises and threatenings, rewards and punishments, has been particularly considered; the cavils of our opponents, as though our doctrine of necessity made God the author of sin, have been answered ; and also their objection against these principles, as inconsistent with God’s sincerity, in his counsels, invitations and persuasions, has been already obviated, in what has been observed respecting the consistence of what Calvinists suppose, concerning the secret and revealed Will of God; by that it appears, there is no repugnance in supposing it may be the secret Will of God, that his ordination and permission of events should be such, that it shall be a certain consequence, that a thing never will come te pass; which yet it is man's duty to do, and so God's preceptive Will that he should do ; and this is the same thing as to say, God may sincerely command and require him to do it. And if he may be sincere in commanding him, he may, for the same reason, be sincere in counselling, inviting and using persuasions with him to do it. Counsels and invitations are manifestations of God’s preceptive Will, or of what God loves and what is in itself, and as man's act, agreeable to his heart; and not of his disposing Will, and what he chooses as a part of his own infinite scheme of things. It has been particularly shewn, Part III. Sect. IV. that such a necessity as