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upheld, and he stands before the intelligent universe clothed in all the attributes of Divinity.
It is clear, therefore, as sunlight, that a temporary rebellion, such as we now see, is a very different thing from an endless rebellion, such as this doctrine contemplates. The one is a permanent, hopeless condition of misrule, while the other is a passing, transitory condition, and therefore hopeful. Such rebellious souls as we now see, are neither completely nor permanently so, hence they may be rendered obedient; but such souls as this doctrine contemplates are fixed as adamant in their rebellion ; and hence their obedience is forever impossible. The admission of a present rebellion, therefore, is not atheistic; but the admission of a permanent and eternal rebellion is atheistic.
But it is not true that God does not now govern the world, in any such sense as this doctrine teaches that He will not govern the finally impenitent. The truth is that He is now governing the world, “ good as well as bad and bad as well as good.” True, we do not yet see the world in perfect obedience to God — some souls are yet in rebelliou but this is because God's government lias not yet done its perfect work; because it has not yet reached the result which it aims to produce in each and every case. In some souls this obcdi. ence has been produced, and hence these souls are an earnest, a kind of “first fruits" of the great harvest of obedience that will yet be produced. They are the sample of what will be the result in each and every soul, wlien God's righteous rule shall have done its perfect work. All the rebellion we now see, therefore, is not a finality but a condition by the way, — a condition in which great forces are at work putting down the rebellion and bringing in the universal reign of obedience and peace.
And he who looks upon the present rebellion and argues that it will continue forever, is about as inuch of a philosopler, as he who, looking upon a tree loaded with apples in mid-summer, and because its fruit is now green and sour and bitter, should argue that it never would ripen, that the forces
of nature would never bring it to maturity, but that it would continue green and sour and bitter to all eternity. Such a man would no more falsely misread the processes of nature in growing apples than this doctrine misreads the processes of God in governing and growing human souls.
But it may be said, that there is no certainty that this rebellion will be put down in each and every case ; because man is morally free, and you cannot force a free being into righteousness. To this I answer, that it is the same old atheism, only in a little different forin. God made the human soul and Ho kuew just what He put into it when He made it; and if there is anything in it that will defeat His own purposes, and finally prevent Him from doing for and with it just what lie desires, He is not God. He has made a being that He cannot govern. He has given to the creature a power that dethrones the Creator. He would not be inuch of a watch-maker who should knowingly put into a watch something that would prevent it from keeping time. So God is not God, if he has made the human soul and put into it something that will prevent it from keeping time to liis righteousness to all eternity. He would lack an ordinary degree of intelligence, and would therefore be destitute of one of the prime elements of Divinity. Any idea of human freedom, therefore, that arrays that freedom against the will of God, and causes his goveruinent to fail of its purpose, is atheism.
In fact, all this talk about God's not being able to force a free being into righteousness, if by that is meant moral as well as physical lorce, is sheer nonsense. True you cannot force a soul into righteousness by plıysical power, that is to say, you cannot convert a man ly kłocking him down. But of this kind of force we are not speaking when we talk of the moral world. The force we then mean is moral force, and to exclude that force from the salvation of souls is to exclude God and make all salvation impossible. If any soul is ever saved, it is saved by the moral forces of God's truth and love. If righteousness ever gets into any soul, it is accomplished
by the power of God's grace. These moral forces are the very forces with which God governs and educates any and erery soul that is goverued and educated at all. Hence if God has made a moral universe that he cannot govern and render obedient unto his will by these moral forces, he is not God. If man has any freedom or anything else in him that, in the long sweep of things, will not redound to the glory of God in the obedience of man, then God is not the All-wise Creator of heaven and earth, whom we adore. Viewed in any light you please, therefore, this doctrine is atheistic. It strips the Almighty of the prime elements of Divinity.
Not that those who advocate it mean to be atheistic, or are conscious that it has such a tendency ; but such is the very nature of the doctrine, as we have now abundantly shown.
2. This doctrine is contrary to the nature of things, opposed to the known and accepted character of the universe. It will be conceded that this universe was conceived in goodness, brought forth in goodness, is governed by goodness, and ordered unto goodness; that all its laws, forces, methods, purposes and aims were born of righteousness, proceed through righteousness, and tend to produce righteousness. None but a pessimistic or dualistic philosopher will deny this. Every Theistic, not to say, Christian, thinker, will concede it without a question. Every one who believes in the righteousness of God will concedo the righteousness of his uni
At least he will concede that the “ trend” of the universe is in this direction, that all the great laws and forces of creation, the mighty sweep of things is towards holiness and peace.
He will admit that this universe had its birth in the love of the “righteous Father,” that it came forth of a righteous will, that it was intended to subserve all righteous purposes, and these purposes only, and that it is now governed by a righteous power, and for righteous ends. He will not questic the fact unless is in some such case as we have noted. Sin is not the legitimate fruit of the physical or moral world. God did not create these worlds to be a factory for turning
out transgression and iniquity. This universe is not, and was not intended to be, a paradise for demons. This will be conceded on all hands. No one will question the fact that the universe taken as a whole, does ard was intended to produce righteousness, that all its great laws and forces work to this end, and this end only.
We, of course, go further. We hold that there are no exceptions, that what are called exceptions are so only in appearance, not in reality, that a deeper insight and a profounder wisdom show that these exceptional laws, like that of judicial blindness, are, in the long rum, in perfect harmonony with the great sweep of the universe, that they are on the side not of sin but of righteousness, in fine that the universe as a whole, and in every part, tends to produce duce righteousness, and righteousness only.
Now, put a human soul into this universe and start him in the direction of evil, and what possibility, not to say probability, is there of that soul continuing on in that direction ferever ? His sin has thrown him out of harmony with everything around him. Everything works against him. All the great forces of creation beat upon him. All the righteous laws of the universe smite him with their penalties. The nature of things is armed at every point for his defeat. The whole universe, with God behind it, is set in the most deterinined opposition to him. How absurd, then, to hold that that soul, that poor human soul can hold out to. all eternity in opposition to that universe; that he can stand up forever and defy all the powers of creation working under the eye of God for his subjection. The doctrine which teaches this, is not only atheistic, but it turns the universe into a farce. Created to be the great promoter of righteousness, and armed with the powers of the Infinite to this end, it utterly fails to bring this rebellious soul into obedience. He who would mock the Almighty and burlesque his universe, cannot do it more effectually than by teaching such a doctrine as this.
That the absurdity of this position may be seen more effec
tually, let the factors of this problem, the characters in this picture, change places. Suppose the universe were the exact opposite of what it is. Suppose all its great laws and forces tended to produce iniquity. Suppose all its powers and the whole drift of its movement were in the direction of unrighteousness. Suppose it was conceived in sin, brought forth in iniquity, and is now governed and ordered unto wickedness by the devil himself.
Into this universe put a human soul started in the way of righteousness. Would any one believe that it could continue on in that way forever ? Would not every one regard it as the greatest absurdity to teach that this soul with no hand to help, and nothing but his own finite will with which to resist, could hold out to all eternity against all the malignant forces of this malignant universe, directed and impelled by the very spirit of evil, and all working to compass bis ruin? In such a universe could any man believe for a moment that a righteous tendency — admitting that such a tendency could exist — would be allowed to go on until it became permanent ?
Why, then, believe that a tendency in sin can be permanent in this universe, a universe of righteousness in which human souls are placed? Why believe that a sinful soul can hold out forever against God and his universe, and yet refuse to believe that a righteous soul could hold out forever against the devil and his universe ? Have we less faith in the ability of God to run his universe to righteous ends, than in the ability of the devil to run his to wicked ends? If it be absurd to hold that righteousness could be permanent in a sinful universe, where everything conspired to produce iniquity, how much less absurd is it to hold that sin can be permanent in a righteous universe, where everything conspires to produce holiness?
Clearly, then, this doctrine of the “final permanence” of sin is opposed to the known character of the universe in which we live. The plan and purpose which God has stamped upon the nature of things pronounce against it.