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be found. All the answer we can get from the objector is, “ Why, there must be an inconsistency somewhere, I feel that there is one. If God has foreordained man's actions, man cannot be free." But why, we ask, can he not be free? And the answer is, “I cannot exactly tell why, but I feel that he cannot be free. It is a dark metaphysical subject, and I cannot tell precisely where the inconsistency is, but I have no more doubt that there is one than I have that I am alive.” Now is it not a very strange, a very suspicious circumstance, that no one has ever been able to tell where this inconsistency lies and point it out to others ? When its existence has been so often and so long asserted, does not the fact that no one has yet been able to ferret it out of its secret lurking place and bring it clearly into view, cast ominous conjecture on its reality of being ? What should we think of the man who should tell us he was troubled with a severe pain, but he could not say precisely where the pain was. He rather thought it was in his head, but still it might be in his feet. At any rate he was certain that he had a severe pain somewhere, though he could not always really feel it, or tell precisely where it was. Should we in such a case be very unreasonable if we had some faint doubts whether there might not, after all, be a mistake as to the real existence of the pain. And when no one can tell where the inconsistency between God's purposes and man's freedom lies, have we not some reason to question whether there be any? A man may purpose to regulate in various particulars the conduct of a child, and may actually do it; and still, as all will admit, the child may act freely in what he does. The influences employed by the man may be such that all will concede that the child acts freely. No inconsistency can be seen, none will be affirmed to exist between the guiding agency of the man and the freedom of the child. But when God purposes to direct in certain particulars the conduct of a man and actually does it, it is thought that the case is different, and that there is an inconsistency between God's purposes and agency and man's freedom of action. But when you ask the objector why there is any more inconsistency in the one case than in the other, or where the inconsistency is, he is utterly unable to inform you. He feels that there is an inconsistency, but he cannot tell where it is. He feels that the decrees of God do lay him under a necessity of action, but he can't tell how they do it. There is a necessity, he feels that there is, but he does not exactly feel necessitated to act, and he cannot say precisely where a necessity is on him, but he fully 1847.]
How are God's Purposes effected?
believes there is one somewhere. He is in the same predicainent with the man who did not really feel the pain, nor could he tell in what part of his body it was, but he had no doubt of its exis. tence. Now when this is the state of the case, have we not some reason to doubt whether there is any inconsistency between God's purposes and man's free agency? Is is not reasonable that we insist on having it pointed out to us before we are required to remove it; as reasonable as it would be for a physician to demand that the locality of a pain should be designated before he were required to prescribe for its removal? It certainly is not enough that we be pointed to a dark spot in the doctrine and told, “why, there it is, covered up in that darkness." We ask, “ has any body ever seen it there?” And in reply it is said, “why, no indeed, bow could you expect any body should see it when it is in a dark place.” We ask, and it is but right that we insist on an answer, "how then do you know it is there?" And when no good reason is given for the belief that it really exists there, have we not as much reason to question its existence as the parent has when his child says, “I do not wish to go out of doors in the dark, there is a lion there,” to doubt whether the lion exists anywhere else than in the child's imagination ? And may we not justly demand that the lion be shown us before we are required to attack and destroy it ? Still we will waive this right and proceed to enquire whether there is any inconsistency between God's purposes and the free agency of his moral subjects.
I presume it will be admitted, that if the purposes of God interfere with man's freedom of action, they do it in one of the following ways : first, by an efficacious power in the purposes themselves necessitating their accomplishment; or secondly, by an agency which, in consequence of his purposes, God employs in bringing such a special influence on the minds of men as necessarily and irresistibly secures the fulfilment of his purposes; or thirdly, by an agency he employs, in so ordering the circumstances and condition of men and the motives or common influences which operate on their minds, as to necessitate them to act in accordance with his purposes; or finally, by producing a certainty that the actions of men will correspond with the purposes of God, a certainty which leaves men no liberty of choice, no freedom of action. Let us inquire, then, if man's freedom is destroyed in any of these ways.
1. Do the mere purposes of God possess any inherent power to accomplish themselves? Do they by an immediate energy
efficiently produce all the acts of men and matter necessary to their accomplishment? This is not our view of the mode in which God executes his decrees. We suppose he does it partly by his own immediate action, partly by the action of the powers or properties he has given to matter, and partly by the voluntary conduct of his moral subjects performed in the unfettered use of those powers of free agency with which he has endowed them; i. e. he executes them by his “ works of creation and providence.” And we suppose the work of providence to differ from that of creation. This objection then does not touch our system. There are indeed those who adopt the theory that the purposes of God do by an immediate energy cause or create all the moral actions of men, and as they believe the doctrine of the divine purposes, they must meet and answer this objection as they best can. We have no such theory, and, of course, have nothing to do in removing an objection drawn from a theory which we do not adopt. Is it said that whether we adopt the theory or not, it is true, and we ought to adopt it and meet the objections that lie against it? What then is the evidence of its truth? Is it drawn from analogy? But when a man forms a purpose to build a house, does the mere purpose accomplish the work ? does it build the house? It may lie for months or years inactive in his bosom. It is not till he puts forth an active energy and engages in the work, that the house is reared. And may it not be so with the divine purposes? Are they not eternal? Did they not lie for countless ages inactive in the mind of God? And was not something more than the mere purpose, some active energy accompanying the dormant purpose, necessary in order to the production of results ? Can any one show that there was not ? If not, then it cannot be proved that the purposes of God by any inherent and immediate power, effect their accomplishment and necessitate human action. It may be that God has created moral agents who will, without any compelling influence from his purposes, fulfil his decrees of their own free will. It is not absolutely denied here that the volitions of God do, at times, act as causes producing their appropriate effects. It may have been so in the creation of matter, though even this cannot be proved. But, supposing it so, does the Deity thus accomplish all his purposes ? Look at analogy again. How does man effect his purposes ? Sometimes by his own immediate action. Sometimes through the medium of the laws of
And sometimes by the voluntary agency of other beings. So is it with the merchant and manufacturer. And may not God 1847.) Special divine Influence does not subvert Freedom.
accomplish his purposes in the same way? Analogy then surely affords no evidence that the purposes of God by a power inherent in themselves effect their own accomplishment. Can any evidence of the truth of this theory be found in human experience ? Has any one felt a resistless creative force from the purposes of God pressing on his will and necessitating his volitions? Has even one of all the multitudes of the human species ever said that he had consciously experienced it? Has a single instance of this kind ever been found among the millions who now live and act on the earth, or in all the generations of the past? But if all have experienced it, could not some one have been con. scious of it? And if instead of feeling a compelling or restraining influence from the purposes of God, mankind have, on the other hand, universally felt free, must we not believe that no such influence exists, and that they are in reality free? Must we not just as fully believe it as we believe that men are not destitute of the power of memory, but really possess that faculty? We have the same evidence in the one case as in the other. We have felt, we have used,- all have felt and used their power of memory, and all have felt and used their power of choice, their freedom of will. There is no evidence then, from analogy or human experience, that the voluntary acts of men are necessitated by an inherent energy of the divine purposes, but the very best evidence to the contrary. And therefore we cannot believe that the purposes of God do, by their own productive energy, compel human action. Notwithstanding any inherent power of production which they may possess, man is still free. His voluntary acts are all his own, and his own by his own free choice. He has the same evidence of it that he has of the existence of any of his mental powers or acts. And being thus his own, thus wholly his own, he may be justly, and he will be held responsible for them. They are not God's acts, caused or necessitated by God. They are wholly man's. God's purposes are his own, and the honor of them and of all their influence he is ready to take on himself. He claims it all to himself. And man's volitions are as free as God's, and his voluntary conduct is entirely his own. And the glory or the shame of it all must attach and inseparably cleave to himself alone forever.
2. Does God, in consequence of his purposes, employ a special infinence on men to secure the accomplishment of his purposes, an influence which destroys or impairs their freedom of will ? He doubtless exerts an influence on the minds of men.
man is continually exerting an influence on the minds of his fellow men. And if liberty of choice is compatible with the latter influence (which all will admit), it may be also with the former. And God may indeed sometimes exert what may be termed a special influence on the human mind. But the question is, does this special divine influence subvert human freedom ? And cértainly there is no evidence that it does. The Bible declares no such thing. Human consciousness teaches no such thing. Reason intimates no such thing. And many of those who deny the doctrine of the divine decrees, admit that a special divine influence by the Holy Spirit is consistent with free agency. There is no evidence then that any special divine influence ever impairs human freedom. But there is, as we have already seen, evidence that it does not; for every human being has in himself an abiding consciousness of his own freedom. He has in himself the surest evidence that he is free. And the Bible always recognizes the fact that he is so. And God, as far as we can see, always deals with men as with free agents. And if he uses any special influence upon then, we may analogically conclude that, in using it, he deals with them, as he does in all other cases, in perfect consistency with their freedom of choice and action. This conclusion we are bound to form, unless we have some evidence that, in this particular case, he deviates from his usual method of dealing with his moral creatures. But there is no such evidence, not a particle of it.
We have no reason to suppose then, that he uses any special influence on men which destroys their freedom. For aught any one can affirm to the contrary, his decrees may all be fulfilled without his being shut up to the necessity of employing, in order to secure their accomplishment, special and neces
ating influence on the human will. He may, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, use a special influence on men, and it may secure the fulfilment of his purposes by securing human action ; but it secures only right action. And it leaves them free to act right or not. It cannot be shown to possess any irresistible force. It may be unresisted. It may convert the soul. It
lead the subject of it in the ways of piety and religion. It may do this in perfect consistency with his freedom of will. He may choose the service of God, he may choose the ways of piety just as freely as he would if prompted by any common influences, just as freely as he would if no special divine influence were on him. There is no possible evidence that he may not. He is free to choose and competent to choose the ways of duty either with or without