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course or its opposite, or neither, where the nature of the case ad. mits of his taking neither, that being is free. He is just as free if he chooses and acts as another being wishes him to do, as ho is if he chooses and acts contrary to that other being's wishes or purposes. And man is just as free, if his volitions and conduct correspond with the purposes of God, as he would be if they all ran counter to the divine purposes. He has the power to choose contrary to these purposes. And whether he uses this power or not, makes no difference in respect to his being free. He has the power, and the possession of it gives him all the freedom of choice that any being can justly ask for, or possibly conceive of or obtain.

Is it said that if all events are decreed, they are certain to be, and that they therefore must be and cannot be avoided, and so man is not free to leave them undone? This form of the objection assumes, that certainty destroys freedom, that the certainty of an event necessitates the event. But is it so? If so, how? Certainty has reference to knowledge. That which is fully known, is certain. Certainty may relate to past events as well as to future ones. I may say, “ It is certain that he has done it,” as well as, “ It is certain that he will do it.” But though the word certainty refers mainly to knowledge, yet it also implies the reality of an event. It implies, when used in reference to a future event, that the event will without fail come to pass. It implies, in other words, that the event will be, for that evidently will be which it is known or it is certain will be. Now if the certainty of a future event is inconsistent with human freedom in the production of that event, it must be so, it would seem, either because foreknowledge and human freedom are inconsistent, or because the fact that an event will really be, is inconsistent with human freedom in producing it. Does foreknowledge then interfere with human liberty? Not at all. Every man in as far as is possible, foreknows his own purposes and conduct. He foreknows what he shall, under particular circumstances, purpose and perform. But this foreknowledge does not interfere with his freedom. It does not compel his choices or actions. And a man may, in certain particulars, foreknow the conduct of his neighbor, he may be informed of it, or he may ascertain it from circumstances, and yet that neighbor's conduct be perfectly free. The foreknowledge of the one does not produce the action, nor necessitate the action, nor

· Men always have natural power to frustrate those divine decrees which they are appointed to fulfil.”—Emmons's Works, Vol. IV. 304.

Certainty does not imply Necessity.

91 have any influence at all upon the action of the other. Just so it is in respect to God's foreknowledge. It leaves men free, perfectly free, free to choose and free to act. They are just as free as they would be, if he were perfectly ignorant how they would act. His foreknowledge no more necessitates their action or causes it to be as it is, than man's foreknowledge of an eclipse necessitates or causes the eclipse. The eclipse would occur whether men foreknew it or not. So, in as far as any productive influence from the mere foreknowledge of God is concerned, their conduct would be the same whether foreknown by God or not. His foreknowledge has no influence whatever in producing their conduct. It would be just what it is, all other influences remaining the same, even if he had not foreknown it. God's foreknowl. edge then is not inconsistent with the freedom of men. They are precisely as free with it, as they would be without it. It is an act of God's own mind, and unless revealed, exerts no influence on any one but himself. It leaves them just where it finds them, in the full and unrestrained use of their powers of volition and action.

Is then the fact that an event will really be, inconsistent with human freedom in producing it? No; for foreknowledge implies that it will really be ; and if foreknowledge does not interfere with free agency, then what is implied in foreknowledge cannot. The mere fact that an event will be, has no influence on the production of that event.

It does not determine how the event is to be brought to pass, whether by compulsory or free agency. It has no reference whatever to the manner in which the event is to be produced. And yet, if human freedom is impaired, it must be done by the manner in which events are produced, not by the fact, that they come to pass or will come to pass ; for future events will come to pass whether they are compulsory or free. It must be done by some influence on the will, necessitating its action. But the mere fact that an event will be, does not exert any such influence. It exerts no influence at all. It is perfectly inefficient. The fact that the universe was to be created, evidently did not create it, nor in any way necessitate its creation, nor exert any influence in creating it.

But for the creative energy of God, exerted at the appointed time, the world never would have had an existence. And that energy was freely put forth. The fact that the work of creation was to be done, did not compel God to do it. No more does the fact that events are to take place through human instrumentality, necessitate their existence or compel

men to produce them. It leaves the manner in which they are to be brought about wholly untouched and undetermined. And if so, the certainty of future events is perfectly compatible with human freedom in their production. And though the purposed conduct of men is certain, still mankind are free and accountable in what they do. Their conduct is their own. It is freely per. formed. They might have refused to perform it. Notwithstanding the certainty of its occurrence, they had the ability to make the refusal. But they chose to perform it. They did it freely. And if the conduct is wrong they must bear the guilt of it.

They cannot lay it upon


purposes of God. It does not belong there. It will not lie there. It slides off when put there, and falls back upon their own heads; and there it must lie as a heavy burden, as long as the consciousness and the fact of their freedom remains; there it must lie, unless the God they provoke, by changing the guilt of their conduct on his decrees, takes off the burden and nails it to the cross of Christ.

Let us look at the objection, that God's decrees produce certainty and that certainty implies necessity, in the light of facts, and we shall find that it lies as much against prophecy as against the doctrine of the divine purposes. Whatever is foretold is certain. It is foreknown, and it also will really come to pass. Both these circumstances then, the foreknowledge of the event and the reality of its future occurrence, lie in the way of prophecy. And yet the conduct of men in a multitude of instances has been foretold. Take for examples, the conduct of Pharaoh in refusing to let Israel go, of the Jews in rejecting and crucifying Christ, and of Peter in denying him. Now it was certain that these individuals would act just as they did act. And if certainty necessitates human conduct, then their conduct was necessary and could not have been avoided. But God treated them as free. He called their conduct wicked. He blamed them for it, and punished them for it. But he could not justly have done this and he would not have done it, had they not been free. Just as surely then as God is a God of justice, certainty is compatible with human freedom. Besides, this objection is adduced to disprove the doctrine of the divine decrees. It runs thus, “men's actions, if decreed, are certain and therefore necessary, hence it cannot be that they are decreed.” But this argument proves too much. Apply it to prophecy and it is, “men's actions if foretold are certain and therefore necessary; hence it cannot be that they ever are foretold.” But we know well that they are foretold. We find them often fore


Certainty does not preclude free Agency.


told in the Bible. The certainty of the occurrence of an event is then no objection to the divine decrees. It lies no more heavily against God's decrees than against his prophetic announcements. If it disproves the doctrine of decrees, it also disproves the fact of prophecy. If it destroys the free agency of moral beings in one case, it does so in the other also. But in truth it does so in nei. ther case. The fact that events are certain, that they are foreknown and really to be, leaves the question how they are to be brought into existence, whether by free agency or by necessitating causes, wholly undetermined. They are certain whether produced in one way or the other. If they are voluntary acts, then they are certain, i. e. foreknown and really to be, as FREE acts. And if their certainty, i. e. their being foreknown and really to be, necessitates their existence (which it does not), it also necessi. tates their existence as free acts, or it in other words necessitates their freedom. The certainty of an event then is not inconsistent with its freedom. It may be certain and yet be brought to pass by the perfectly free action of perfectly free agents.

Again, if certainty does destroy human freedom, then human freedom would be destroyed whether God has formed any pur. poses or not. If he has formed no purposes, still he either foresees all that actually takes place or he does not foresee it. If he does foresee it, then it is all certain. Whatever he foresees, will certainly come to pass. So then the objection does not lie against the doctrine of the divine decrees. It exists whether that doctrine be true or not. Its whole weight bears rather on the prescience than on the purposes of God.

But if to escape this horn of the dilemma it should be main. tained, that God would not foresee future events unless he first decreed them, still the events that were to be, would as truly be, as if he had decreed and foreseen them. They would as really be, they would as truly come to pass, as when decreed and foreseen; they would certainly take place. In the one case they would certainly, in the other they would really or truly come to pass. The difference between the two cases surely cannot be great. It cannot be so great but that if the certainty in the one case would necessitate the events and destroy the agency, the fact that particular events were future and would really come to pass, would necessitate their occurrence and destroy free agency in the other case. And as there was a point in eternity when all events were future, as, in fact, they are all future till they actually occur, it follows, on this supposition that all events are ne

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cessary, and there is no freedom in the universe and can be none. In short, if certainty implies necessity, then it follows, first, that no free agents can possibly be created; for God foresees all events and so they are all certain, or at least all future events will truly and really come to pass. And these events which are really to occur, might be seen to be future before they occur, as well as they can be known to be past after they have occurred, i. e. they might be foreseen and therefore certain, if any being only had the means of foreseeing them. But it can in no way be shown that the non-existence of these means secures a free. dom of choice to men, which would be destroyed if these means were in being The fact that these events are really to come to pass, that they truly will be, it is this fact (if anything) which destroys human freedom. And if certainty precludes free agency, this fact precludes it too. But it is a fact that all future events will really and truly occur ; it always has been a fact; it always will be a fact. And if this fact precludes free agency, then free agency is in the nature of things impossible. A free agent is necessarily excluded from the catalogue of beings that Onnipotence can create. And if certainty implies necessity, it follows, secondly, that God himself is not a free agent, for he foresees all his own future actions and so they are certain ; or, if he does not foresee them, still they will really be just as they will be, and this fact, it must be allowed, as much destroys his freedom as his foreseeing his future actions would do it. So then there is, on this supposition, no such thing as freedom for men, angels, or God; there can be none, but relentless iron fate reigns triumphant throughout the universe. Such are some of the formidable consequences of supposing that the certainty of future actions is inconsistent with free agency in performing them. Who would willingly, and who could reasonably admit these consequences for a moment? If none, then all must allow that the certainty of events and the free agency of men in producing them, are perfectly compatible with each other.

We have thus endeavored to exhaust the methods in which the divine decrees may be supposed to destroy the free agency of men. We have seen, that in neither of the four ways contemplated, (and we know of no others supposable,) can they be shown to accomplish this bad work. We cannot then believe that they do it. We see no conceivable way in which they can do it. Mankind then must be regarded as free and treated as free, notwithstanding their conduct is all included in the purposes

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