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sin has forced its way into the works of God in opposition to the divine will—in defiance of the Divine Being! He must maintain, that the will of the Deity is crossed in millions of millions of instances, and that the ever-blessed God, instead of being the most happy, is, in reality, the most. miserable being in the universe. Now, if God be not unwilling that sin should have a place among his works, he must be willing ; and if he is willing, then he decrees it; for with God, to will and to decree are the same thing.
Dr. Bruce, in common with all Socinians, Arminains, and Arians, ridicules the distinction between the secret and revealed will of God, or his will of decree and his will of command. He writes thus : (p. 174) - Nor do the most “ learned advocates for this doctrine shrink from these ab" surd and blasphemous consequences : for thus they write : 66 The Lord sometimes orders a thing to be done by a man ; " and yet by his secret will does not wish that it should be so done by him :" for God has a secret and revealed will. • It does not follow because he commands all men to be66 lieve in Christ, that he wills them to do so. But though 66 we cannot understand how God can be unwilling that 66 his commands should be executed, yet we ought not to " deny it. Though God calls the wicked to repentance, « he does not wish them to be saved. Though he declares, " that he wishes the wicked or reprobate to believe, he w does not actually wish it. God does not always mean “ what he says that he means ; and yet is not guilty of hys pocrisy.” So that, according to these Divines, God prac6 tises mental reservation, when he wills that “all men s should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." “ It is to be feared, that some mercenary or fanatical de" claimers even labour to aggravate these horrible repre. 6 sentations.
Thus Dr. B., in his usual manner, endeavours to bring Calvinism into contempt, by charging upon it the most foolish things said by its advocates. I must therefore again remind my readers, that the foolish and absurd things said by Calvinists are not Calvinism. The nonsensical, contradictory, and blasphemous expression of Piscator-if ever he uttered them, which I very much doubt-Calvinists hold in sovereign contempt. Nor do I believe the most mercenary or fanatical declaimer living would approve, much less aggravate, such horrible representations. A little more of that charity which thinketh no evil would have a great ten
dency to:allay the Doctor's fears on such subjects. Dr. B. and other writers may pour contempt on the distinction between God's will of decree, and his will of command ; but they will never be able to prove it groundless. They cannot deny, as I have already shown, that it is the will of God, that sin should have a place among his works. The existence of sin is not contrary to his decretive or providential will, otherwise there could be no sin at all; and yet all will grant, that it is contrary to his preceptive will his will of command.. The distinction, therefore, between the secret and revealed will of God or rather between his will of decree and his will of command, is capable not only of proof, but of demonstration. The distinction is not only founded in reason, but is taught with the clearest evidence in the sacred volume. " Though we cannot understand"-says Trigland aš cited by the Doctor Though we cannot 66 understand, how God can be unwilling that his commands
should be executed ; yet we ought not to deny it.” Dr. B. denies it ; but if he does, he must also deny the word of God. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and yet he was unwilling his command should be executed.
Will the Doctor deny this? God decreed that Isaac should not be sacrificed ; and yet he commanded that he should be sacrificed. Will the Dr. deny this ?-Let Dr. B. say=-let all the opponents of Calvinism say—Is not this a decisive instance of the distinction between God's will of decree and will of command ? his providential and preceptive will ? Again-God commanded Pharaoh to let Israel go, and yet hardened his heart so that he should not let them go. Here, again, the distinction between God's will of command and his will of decree is as clear as noon day.
Another striking instance of this important distinction is recorded in 2 Sam. xii. 11, 12, “ Thus sayeth the Lord, 66 behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own “ house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and 66 give them into thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy 66 wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly : 66 but I will do this before all Israel, and before the sun." Will any person deny, that it was the decretive or providential will of God, that David's adultery and murder should be punished by the subsequent incest of his unnatural son Absalom? And will any person deny, that Absalom's in- . cest was contrary to God's preceptive will? Surely not.
Once more: The selling of Joseph into Egypt was sin
ful. It was contrary to the preceptive will of God; and yet it was quite agreeable to his providential will, or his will of decree." It was not you that sent me hither,” says Joseph, “ but God. Ye thought evil against me ; but God meant “ it unto good.”—In like manner, the crucifixion of the Redeemer, though contrary to the revealed will of God, and highly criminal, was nevertheless agreeable to his will of decree. It was by the determinate counsel and foreknow“ ledge of God that he was taken, and by wicked, hands cruas cified and slain.” All the indignities and cruelties of the Jews were nothing more than God's “ hand and counsel " determined before to be done.” 6. Those things, which God " before had showed by the mouth of his prophets that Christ 66 should suffer, he so fulfilled.”
The last instance I shall quote--for the instances are almost innumerable--is Rev. xvii. 17, “ For God hath put in * their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree and give their s kingdom unto the beasts, until the word of God shall be "" fulfilled.” Will Dr. B. deny—will any opponent of Calvinism deny, that for the ten kings to give their kingdom to the beasts was contrary to the revealed will of God? or, will any deny that it was agreeable to his will of decree? They fulfilled his will.—What will ? not his preceptive will surely. It must have been his will of decree or purpose. If my learned antagonists, or any other opponents of the Calvinistic system, think they can explain the above-cited passages, without admitting a distinction between God's will of decree and his will of command ; let them try it. Let them show, if they can, that the arguments drawn, first from reason' and then from Scripture, are inconclusive : but let them not think to run down the distinction by the quotation of a few nonsensical sayings-sayings which all Cal. vinists, as well as Socinians, Arminians, and Arians condemn.
Our opponents allege, that this distinction which we make between God's will of command and will of decree, represents the Deity as possessed of two contradictory wills. In answer to this objection, I would observe, that if the distinction is a matter of fact-as I have proved it to be my opponents are as much bound to reconcile any apparent contradiction as I am, My object, however, being, not so much to silence an adversary, as to investigate truth, I would observe-That God's will of command and will of decree are not to be regarded as two different and
opposite wills; but as the same will operating differently · on different objects.--An apothecary permits poison to enter his shop-not as poison—not for the purpose of destroying his fellow-men-but he permits its entrance, that, being compounded with other ingredients, it may eventually become a powerful medicine. If an apothecary, without any contradiction, may prohibit poison as poison, and yet prescribe it as a medicine ; may not the Deity, without any contradiction, prohibit sin as sin, and yet permit it, and decree that through his permission it shall have a place in his works, for the greater manifestation of his own glory, and the greater happiness of the universe at large ? " There is no inconsistency or contrariety," says President Edwards, “ between the preceptive and decretive will of 66 God. It is very consistent to suppose that God may " hate the thing itself, and yet will that it should come to 66 pass. Yea, I do not fear to assert that the thing itself “may be contrary to God's will, and yet that it may be « agreeable to his will that it should come to pass ; because “his will in the one case has not the same object with his " will in the other case. To suppose God to have con“ trary wills towards the same object is a contradiction ; 6 but it is not so to suppose him to have contrary wills “ about different objects. The thing itself—and that the " thing should come to pass—are different, as is evident; be“ cause it is possible that the one may be good and the other “ may be evil. The thing itself may be evil, and yet it “ may be a good thing that it should come to pass. It may “ be a good thing that an evil thing should come to pass : " and oftentimes it most certainly and undeniably is so, and 66 proves so.” Agreeably to these remarks, we may observe, that the crucifixion of Christ was, in itself, an evil thing-one of the worst things that ever occurred; and yet the occurrence of that event was the greatest blessing ever conferred on our apostate family. That “ every sin “ has in it something of the good work of God," is one of those foolish sayings brought forward by our author to blacken Calvinism-a saying which all Calvinists abhor.
I would nevertheless say, without the fear of rational contra- diction, That not one sin was ever permitted to enter the works of God, but will ultimately be overruled to the promotion of universal good. (Psal. lxxvi. 10) - Surely the “ wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath " shalt thou restrain.” (Rom. viii. 28)“ And we know
* " that all things work together for good to them that love
66 God.” Had sin never entered, God's love in sending his son—the love of Jesus in dying for sinners-or the love of the Holy Ghost in applying the work of redemption, could never have been displayed. The grace of God in pardoning the guilty, and his mercy in saving the miserable, could never have been manifested. Meekness, patience, forgiveness of injuries, and other Christian virtues, could never have been exercised. Men would never have been exalted to so high a state of dignity and glory, nor angels to such a state of felicity. Though sin, therefore, as sin, be contrary to the will of God, it is not contrary to the will of his decree, to permit so much sin to enter his works, as under his infinitely wise providence shall ultimately terminate in the more illustrious display of all his perfections, and the greater felicity of the universe. at large.* Nor do we make God the author of sin by maintaining that he decreed to permit sin, and that by such permission sin should have a place among his works. The influence of the Deity with regard to sin, is very different from that which he employs in the production of holiness. The production of holiness requires the positive influence of the Deity, and therefore he is properly the author of holiness ; but the introduction of sin requires no such influence, and therefore the Deity is not the author of sin. To produce light requires positive influence ; but no such influence is necessary to the production of darkness. The sun, by the pouring forth of his rays, has a positive influence in the production of light; but all that is necessary to the production of darkness (if I may use the expression,) is the withdrawing of those rays. When the sun withdraws his rays, darkness ensues; but shall we therefore say, that the sun is the author of darkness ? Surely not. Equally absurd would it be to charge God with being the author of sin, because, on withholding that divine influence which would have pre
* “ If any man,” says Bishop Davenant, “ shall go about to set “ men's will at liberty, and to tie up short the decreeing and determin"ing will of God, as if this had not the determining stroke amongst of all possible evil actions and events which shall ivfallibly be, and 66 which shall infallibly not be, he may avoid the suspicion of Stoicism " or Manicheism, but he can hardly avoid the suspicion of Atheism. 6 For the greater number of men's actions being wicked and evil, if o these come into act without God's determinate counsel and decree, "human affairs are more over-ruled by man's will than by God's."