« PreviousContinue »
the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of the workman and builder thereof. For who is so brutish, that in looking up to heaven doth not perceive that there is a God? Yea, for this cause specially it seemeth that God hath fashioned men out of the earth, tall and upright; that they should be beholders of things above and heavenly matters, and in beholding heaven might conceive the knowledge of him.
Master. How dost thou say that God created at all things.
Scho. That God, the most good and mighty Father, at the beginning and of nothing, by the power of his word, that is, of Jesus Christ his Son, framed and made this whole visible world, and all things whatsoever they be, that are contained therein, and also the uncorporal spirits, whom we call angels.
Mast. But dost thou think it godly to affirm that God created all spirits, even those wicked spirits whom we call devils ?
Scho. God did not create them such ; but they, by their own evilness, fell from their first creation, without hope of recovery, and so are they become evil, not by creation and nature, but by corruption of nature.......
Mast. What hast thou then to say of the first beginning and creation of man?
Scho. That which Moses wrote ; that is, that God fashioned the first man of clay, and breathed into him soul and life; and afterward, out of the side of man, being cast in a sleep, he took out
woman, and brought her into the world, to join her to man for a companion of his life. And therefore was man called Adam, because he took bis beginning of the earth; and woman was called Eve, because she was ordained to be the mother of all living persons.
Mast. Whereas at this day there is to be seen in both sorts, both men and women, so great corruption, wickedness, and perverseness, did God create them such from the beginning?
Scho. Nothing less. For God being most perfectly good can make nothing but good. God therefore at the first, made man according to his own image and likeness.
instinct, to the destined sources of their security and maintenance ;--and to sustain in the human species the power of free-agency, according to that reasoning faculty with which man is alone endowed,--the power of acting according to the dictates of his judgment for the preservation and enjoyment of his life. Without this divine concurrence, man would no more possess the ability to act in conformity with reason, than the brute, destitute of reason, would be actuated by sufficient intelligence to provide against future and unforeseen necessities.
§ 7. The Government of God, which constitutes an essential branch of his Providence, is the absolute authority to which all natural causes are subservient,by which the system of the universe is controuled, and the peculiar effects and properties of all things in the material world rendered conducive to the accomplishment of his designs. This power extends no less to the disposal of those events which are called accidental or fortuitous, than to the direction of second causes. By the interposition of Providence, for especial reasons, that which appears casual becomes most essential, and the natural process of a series of causes and effects, is arrested or diverted from its course. Nothing, however inconsiderable, is beneath the knowledge and superintendance of the Almighty: nothing is excluded from his dominion and providential
No events, however inconsistent with the usual course of things,--no circumstances, however unexpected, can occur without the cognizance of God. Nothing, therefore, is really accidental; since every thing must be either directed or permitted by
the infinite wisdom, bountiful goodness, and unli. mited power of Divine Providence.
§ 8. In the Government of Men, as rational freeagents, God uses not compulsive force to make them either good or bad; but prescribes laws, and affords internal influence to guide and to assist them ; defends them by his mighty power from external harm, and constantly watches over them to protect them from spiritual and corporeal danger. As instruments in the hands of Providence, their voluntary actions, both virtuous and vicious, are, however, over-ruled to the fulfilment of his secret counsels, to the regu. lation of society, and to the distribution of present
rewards and punishments according to his righteous - judgements.
$ 0. He who is of purer eyes than to behold ini. quity without indignation, cannot in the remotest sense be the Author of Sin; but he may be said to permit Sin, when he grants to man the use of his liberty in following the bent of his own evil propensities; and thus does not absolutely prevent the commission of sin, although it be in his power to do so. The Almighty not unfrequently, however, restrains and controuls the effects of sin within certain bounds, and to the most beneficial purposes; preserving his dominion over the evil action, yet without destroying the free-agency and consequent responsibility of the sinner.
§ 10. When God is said tò “ harden the hearts" and to “ blind the eyes” of men, the expression only imports, that, either for the purpose of humbling
them under a sense of their corruption and protracted iniquity, or in penal vindication of his justice, he withdraws the influence of his Grace, and suffers them to fall into temptation, to confirm themselves in their obstinate rebellion and impenitence.
$11. However inscrutable may be the operations of Providence in the preservation and government of the world, there is no question but that they are ever in perfect consistency with all the moral Attributes of God; and are therefore to be regarded, with found reverence and gratitude, as Divine Dispensations,-to be humbly submitted to, and implicitly relied upon, as proceeding from Divine Appointment.