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way; but Jehovah directeth his steps.' *x. 24. 'man's goings are of Jehovah.' xxi. 1. 'the king's heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will.' Jer. x. 23. 0 Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself. In this, however, there is no infringement on the liberty of the human will; otherwise man would be deprived of the power of free agency, not only with regard to what is right, but with regard to what is indifferent, or even positively wrong.
Lastly, temporal evils no less than blessings. Exod. xxi. 13. if God deliver him into his hand.' Isai. xlv. 7. • 1 make peace, and create evil,'—that is, what afterwards became evil, and now remains so; for whatever God created was originally good, as he himself testifies, Gen. i. Matt. xviii. 7. 'woe unto the world because of offences ; for it must needs be that offences come: but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.' 1 Cor. xi. 19. · for there must be also heresies amongst you, that they which are approved may be made manifest amongst you.
God, however, is concerned in the production of evil only in one of these two ways; either he permits its existence by throwing no impediment in the way of natural causes and free agents, (as, Acts. ii. 23. ‘him being delivered by the determinate counsel of God....ye have slain.' xiv. 16. who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.' 1 Pet. iii. 17. it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing.' iv. 19. “them that suffer according to the will of God,') or, secondly, he causes evil by the infliction of judgements, which is called the evil of punishment. 2 Sam. xii. 11. "behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house,'—that is, punishment. Prov. xvi. 4. • Jehovah hath made all things for himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil ;' that is, him who, having been created good, became subsequently wicked by his own fault, in conformity with the explanation already given of Isai. xlv. 7. liv. 16. I created the waster to destroy.' Lam. iii. 38, 39. 'out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil and good ? wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins ?' Amos iii. 6. shall there be evil in a city, and Jehovah hath not done it ?' For God, who is infinitely good, cannot be the doer of wickedness, or of the evil of sin ; on the contrary, out of the wickedness of men he produces good. Gen. xlv. 5. God did send me before you to preserve life.' 1. 20. 'as for you, ye thought evil against me ; but God meant it unto good.'
If (inasniuch as I do not address myself to such as are wholly ignorant, but to those who are already competently acquainted with the outlines of Christian doctrine) I may be permitted, in discoursing on the general providence of God, so far to anticipate the natural order of arrangement, as to make an allusion to a subject which belongs properly to another my treatise, that of sin, I might remark, that even in the matter of sin God's providence finds its exercise not only in permitting its existence, or in withdraw. ing his grace, but also in impelling sinners to the commission of sin, in hardening their hearts, and in blinding their understandings.
In impelling sinners to the commission of sin. Exod. ix. 16. for this cause have I raised thee up.'
part of Judges ix. 23. “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem.' 2 Sam. xii. 11, 12. •I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour....I will do this thing.' xvi. 10. "Jehovah hath said unto him, Curse David.' xxiv. 1. “Jehovah moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.' Compare 1 Chron. xxi. 1. 1 Kings xxii. 20. who shall persuade Ahab ?' Psal. cv. 25. he turned their heart to hate his people.' Ezek. xiv. 9. •I Jehovah have deceived that prophet.'
In hardening their hearts. Exod. iv. 21. vii. 3. . I will harden Pharaoh's heart.' Deut. ii. 30. .Jehovah thy God hardened his spirit.' Josh. xi. 20. it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts.' John xii. 39, 40. therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again.... he hath hardened their heart.' Rom. ix. 18. whom he will he hardeneth.'
In blinding their understandings. Deut. xxviii. 28. • Jehovah shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart.' 1 Sam. xvi. 14. an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.' 1 Kings xxii. 22. “I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets : and Jehovah said, Thou shalt persuade him.' Isai. viii. 14. he shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel; for a gin and for a snare--.' xix. 14. “Jehovah hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof, and they have caused Egypt to err.' xxix. 10. • Jehovah hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes.' Matt. xiii. 13. • therefore speak I to them in parables, because they seeing see not.' John xii. 40. compared with Isai. vi. 9. he hath blinded their eyes. Rom. i. 28. God gave them over to a reprobate mind.' 2 Thess. ii. 11. · God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.'
But though in these, as well as in many other passages of the Old and New Testament, God distinctly declares that it is himself who impels the sinner to sin, who hardens his heart, who blinds his understanding, and leads him into error; yet on account of the infinite holiness of the Deity, it is not allowable to consider him as in the smallest instance the author of sin. Hos. xiv. 9. the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in them ; but the transgressors shall fall therein.' Psal. v. 4. thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee. Rom. vii. 8. 'sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. James i. 13, 14. • let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.' iv. 1. from whence come wars and fightings amongst you ? come they not hence, even of your lusts which war in your members ?' 1 John ii. 16. for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.' For it is not the human heart in a state of innocence and purity, and repugnance to evil, that is induced by him to act wickedly and deceitfully ; but after it has conceived sin, and when it is about to bring forth, he, in his character of sove
reign disposer of all things,* inclines and biasses it in this or that direction, or towards this or that object. Psal. xciv. 23. he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness, yea, Jehovah our God shall cut them off ;'that is to say, by the infliction of punishment. Nor does God make that will evil which was before good, but the will being already in a state of perversion, he influences it in such a manner, that out of its own wickedness it either operates good for others, or punishment for itself, though unknowingly, and with the intent of producing a very different result. Prou. xvi. 9. 'a man's heart deviseth his way, but Jehovah directeth his steps.' Thus Ezek. xxi. 21, 22. when the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way in doubt whether he should go to war against the Ammonites or against the Jews, God so ordered the divination, as to determine him on going against Jerusalem.t Or, to use the common simile, as a rider who urges on a stumbling horse in a particular direction is the cause of its increasing its speed, but not of its stumbling,—so God, who is the supreme governor of the universe, may instigate an evil agent, without
... Therefore was law giv’n them to evince Their natural pravity, by stirring up
Sin against law to fight. Paradise Lost, XII. 287. tDeus interdum peccatores inscios et præter mentem suam ad objectum aliquod contra quod peccent, potius quam ad aliud dirigit ; vel ad hoc potius peccatum, quam ad aliud quod animo ante conceperant, eos ferri sinit....cum rex Babylonis ambitione sua incitatus bellum gerere constituisset, at penderet adhuc animo, nesciens utrum Judæos an vero Ammonitas impetere deberet, Deus ita direxit sortes, quas consulebat, ut in Judæos, quorum peccata ultionem suam magis provocaverant, expeditionem illam militarem susciperet, Ezech. xxi. 29, &c.' Curcell. Institutio, III. 12, 7.