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cating them continually, in every way possible, for his own future company and communion forever. His providence is often spoken of as both general and special. It is general, in reference to the whole all-embracing plan, of which it is said in holy writ that he is the “All in all.” It is special, not in reference so much, commonly, to his own acts or feelings in the case, as to the outward modes or objects of its demonstration in our eyes ; his special providences being but specific forms of his general providence. “Every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights”; those never seen or remembered, as well as those that are. “What hast thou," saith inspiration to each of us, “ that thou hast not received ” ? His all-surrounding, ever-busy, all-pervading, and shining bounteousness of inmeasurable good will to each and every man is an unfailing exhibition, at all times, on the broadest scale possible, of the same personal interest, for kind, in the welfare of each one of us individually, which any occasional specialties of succor or favor, however remarkable, could be supposed to manisest. The constant care, the unceasing radiance of his happy presence among them, and his purposed and perpetual selfbestowals upon his household reveal the special love of any true and noble parent upon earth to his family far more than can any fugitive tokens of his remembrance and regard, with whatever observation they may be given or received.
III. The interior principles of its administration.
1st. God's direct divine ordinations or decrees all belong to the sphere of his own separate, uncombined, absolute efficiency. They include all his direct personal acts, of whatever kind, to or for his creatures; their own acts they, of course, perform and ordain. The different classes of direct divine decrees are such as these :
§ 1. All acts of creation. These include all worlds and all the beings that people them, as well as whatever objects and Vol. XXI. No. 63.
resources surrounding them are adapted to their use, enjoy. ment, improvement, and efficient influence.
§ 2. The constitutional bestowments and limitations, in any form, of free, moral agency. With these must be connected also the natural, probationary trials and tests of character, which are not of designed or undesigned origination, by other finite beings, and which compose the elements of our present mortal state, as ordered of the Lord; together with the appointed metes and bounds of human life.
§ 3. All governmental acts, statutes, rewards, and penalties on the part of God. Here cluster together all the forms of his declared will; all measures of redemptive wisdom, energy, and love; and all his own direct approaches of kindness to any and every one of the race, in whatever forms of admonition, or of beckoning invitation to his favor.
$ 4. All the ordained results of voluntary human agency. These are such as those of diligence and idleness, skill and ignorance, wisdom and folly, virtue and vice, in any part of our compound nature, physical, intellectual, and moral; and whether originating in our own persons, or coming upon us by the laws of descent or of social affiliation.
§ 5. All the contingent alternatives of human choice, presented to each individual moral agent upon earth. The forms of our personal agency, as also their times and directions, are often greatly modified, and even determined, by the acts and influence of others; but their inward moral essence is always ever the same, according to the answer to the question: God, or self? In appointing these supreme alternatives as one of them, according to our choice, the end and inspiration, exclusive of the other, of every action of whatever sort of each human being, from the first dawn of moral action in his soul, the liberty of the creature is in no way impeded or assailed at any time.
$ 6. The patient acceptance, in the gross, of the incidental evils entailed upon the intelligent universe from the abuse by so many, on earth and in hell
, of the high endow. ment of free, moral agency. The occurrence of these evils
was fully foreseen by God from the first, but accepted by him, while infinitely disliked in themselves, rather than that he should not adopt the present moral system, with all its surpassing volume of good in the end. But for the creation of finite beings in his own image the whole universe must have been an utter and voiceless blank of space; and, though everywhere beaming, to God's eye, with the intense, all-diffused brightness of his own infinite being, yet, alas! manifest to the vision of no other. Men are “ now," as truly as was Adam (James iii. 9), “made in the similitude of God”: not, like matter, unreflecting and immobile, but capacitated for the highest style of action possible to any being, — to choose or refuse, at their own option, good or evil; while they are invited, and even commanded in love, and for his sake only as for theirs, to embrace and honor him, freely, fully, and forever, as their Father and their Friend. How empty and frigid and utterly unendurable, beyond all human appreciation of the fact, would be to the great Infinite heart of the universe, with its immeasurable fulness of social feeling and affection, a world full of forced, mechani. cal natures, seeming to love God, only because compelled to do so by his own resistless hand. One willing child's true, unbought, spontaneous, radiant, exulting love is worth more to an earthly parent than would be all the necessitated smiles of a myriad of overawed human beings, whose feelings and actions were determined by some irresistible force from without.
God's direct decrees are relatively of two sorts, not in themselves indeed, but in their application : those which are unconditional and absolute, as the creation of the world and of man as its inhabitant, and his endowment with all the elements of moral agency, which, like “ the gifts and calling of God,” universally,“ are without repentance” in his heart; and those which are conditional, as all God's acts in conformity with the variable forms and elements of human conduct, which themselves are left, by the very terms of man's nature and of God's mode of governing him, to each one's own decision.
God's own future acts at any time were of course known to him from the beginning, from the infinite scope of his prescience; and so were all the variable acts of his creatures, both in their own contingent nature, and in the determinative force and issue of each of their own foreseen acts of choice. God's intuitive foresight of what men will actually do in each and every case, and which would be just the same if God did not foreknow it, affects in no way whatever the originally ordained, and still in all respects com. pletely preserved, freedom of their moral action; since that foreknowledge is wholly objective and outward to them, and known to them only as a matter of formal revelation; and this not to modify their own agency at all, in either style or degree, but only to give them truer conceptions of God, as he really is. “Whatsoever the Lord hath pleased” (Ps. cxxxv. 6) “ he hath done in heaven and in earth, in the sea and in all deep places.” Yes, indeed, but it is equally true that he hath never pleased to contradict himself, in his word or in his works. After having purposely endowed man with full powers of free, moral agency, like his own, he never has annulled his own plan and work, and never will, by unmaking bis nature, which he fashioned at the first as he desired and decreed that it should be forever.
2d. The forms and directions of God's permissive providence.
§ 1. He allows the devil and his angels unrestrained freedom of action upon earth for a season, as in hell, in direct antagonism to his cause and kingdom.
§ 2. He allows full scope to imperfect, mistaken, evil human action. He has not only endowed us with free-will, but given full range for its exercise; and wonderful is his forbearance towards the many varied forms of folly, caprice, waywardness, wantonness, and malice witnessed among men. But more than this, as Christ " came to his own, and his own received him not,” so God pictures himself everywhere in his word, as a petitioner at the door of his
own world, as also at that of each man's own heart, at whose vestibule he stands and beseeches the recognition of his rights as a sovereign, and of bis honor as a Father. “ Am I a father," he saith, “and where is my honor" ? “ Behold,” saith Christ, who is “one with the father," “ Behold, I stand at the door and knock! If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in and sup with him, and he with me." Urgent as is his desire, from his infinite compassionateness towards each human soul, to be its guest, he will never force the door, but enter it only as it is willingly opened to him. We ourselves carefully abstain from hearts and habitations where we are not welcomed. “ Turn unto me,” he saith, “ and I will turn unto you,” and “be ye reconciled to God.” Are these seemingly earnest words of love but mere unfeeling taunts of our weakness, as poor, crippled beings who lost their original, constitutional faculties as men in Adam ; and who, though bidden to open the door of their heart to God, cannot possibly rise to do it? Are they but bitter tantalizations to us, as we awake at any time to a sense of our lost estate, or are they rather the earnest, tender, winning words of an infinite friend, desirous of setting up within us, anew, the broken pillars of our immortal humanity? Can any one, not under the strange spell of some delusive theory, who reads with conscientious simplicity of heart the word of God, doubt that he utterly abominates any and every sin ? And yet what uninterrupted license has sin ever had to ravage earth and despoil heaven!
$ 3. He allows men to sway, with absolute determinateness, the circumstances, relations, activities, characters, fortunes, and destinies of others. Parental, personal, didactic, social, governmental, administrative, and monetary forces and influences form, by their mutual interlacings, each with the other, the vital organisms of the family, the state, and the church. Potent for good in their true use, they are, when perverted, equally potent, each and all of them, for evil. The untoward issues that flow from their abuse are,