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absurd for those, who are forming, to say unto him who is forming hem, why art thou forming us thus? I must add,
5. It is extremely absurd for the afflicted to contend with the A! nighty when he is contending with them, because this is the direct vay to destroy themselves forever. God is wise in heart and mighty n strength, and who ever hardened themselves against him, and rospered? Did Pharaoh and the Egyptians? No: they contended o their destruction. Did the seven nations of Canaan? No: they vere cut off for their obstinacy. Did the murmuring Israelites? No: they perished in the wilderness. Did Ahab? No: he met his loom at Ramoth Gilead. Job's miseries continued and increased, o long as he contended with God; and he never experienced peace and prosperity, until he felt and expressed unreserved submission. When God demanded, "Shall he that contendeth with the Alnighty, instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it." Then Job answered the Lord, and said, "Behold, I am vile; what hall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once ave I spoken; but I will not answer; yea, twice; but I will pro:eed no further." Job found it was vain and presumptuous to conend with God, while God was contending with him. It only served to increase his own guilt, and increase the wrath and indignaion of God against him. It always increases the guilt and the langer of the afflicted, when they contend with the Almighty, who s able to crush them before the moth. It is therefore, extremely absurd to contend, when they know they shall be overcome; and o resist, when they know that resistance is the direct course to destruction.
HEADS OF THE IMPROVEMENT.
1. If all men are naturally disposed to contend with God under his chastising hand; then their moral depravity is of a most malig-. nant nature. Many are willing to allow the doctrine of moral depravity, and some that it is total; but few, however, are willing to allow, that it is so malignant as God represents it to be: That it is enmity and opposition to God and his conduct. But if it be a murmuring disposition, it will make them act agreeably to their feelings. It is as bad a thing as can be. Satan has no worse feelings. He murmurs-and opposes.-If men murmur, and oppose God, they would destroy him.
2. If men are naturally disposed to contend with God for afflicting them in this life; they are no less disposed to contend with him for threatening to punish them forever. Whenever, therefore, sinners find the wrath of God abiding on them, they immediately rise and contend.
3. If men are naturally disposed to contend with God, when they see the marks of his displeasure; then it is owing to their stupidity that they contend so little.
4. If men are naturally disposed to contend with God, when he contends with them; then they will certainly destroy themselves, if God does not prevent it, by his special grace. For they never will yield to punishment, nor any reasonable motives.
5. If it is absurd for men to contend with God, while he is contending with them; then it is the immediate duty of the afflicted to submit. All the reasons against contending, are reasons for submitting.
6. If men are prone to contend with God, when he contends with them; then submission to God under trials, is the best mark of grace. It is a feeling that never takes place in the unrenewed heart: God made it a mark of Abraham's love-Satan, of Job's love Christ discovered his love by submission.
Let all inquire, whether they have this mark in their favour, especially those who have been afflicted.
Let the unsubmissive be urged to submit, since it is dangerous to contend, but safe to subunit. "Ye have heard of the patience of Job." SENEX.
EXTRACT FROM AN UNPUBLISHED DISCOURSE.
While good men live habitually in the fear of God, they are prepared to resist all their spiritual enemies, whether visible, or invisible. They are continually exposed to invisible enemies. Their adversary the devil as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour. He attacked Christ in the wilderness: He attacked Peter just after he had been at the sacrament: He attacked Job in affliction. He is full of his wiles and devices, to lead good men from the path of duty. They need to watch and guard against him. And so long as they live in the habitual fear of God, the evil one cannot touch or wound them. Christ resisted and overcame his artful and powerful temptation; for he met him in the fear of God. And the Apostle directs Christians to take this way to resist and overcome their great invisible adversary. The Apostle Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant, because of your adversary the devil, whom resist, steadfast in the faith." The Apostle Paul, speaking on the same subject, says, "My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might: For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all
the fiery darts of the wicked, and taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying al ways with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance." Christians, by living habitually in the fear of God, stand habitually clothed with all this spiritual armour, which gives them the victory over all their invisible enemies. But if they cast off fear, and restrain daily prayer before God, they become weak as other men, and give advantage to their adversary, to lead them captive at his will. He desires to lead them astray, to sink them in darkness and despondency, to weaken their hands and discourage their hearts, and prevent them from enjoying peace and doing good. They may nevertheless effectually resist him, by living habitually in the fear of God. This is the only way in which they can become strong in the Lord and in the pow er of his might, and be able to quench all the fiery darts of their subtle and invisible enemy. And in the same way they may defend themselves against evil men and seducers, who lie in wait to deceive and corrupt them in respect to their religious sentiments. Men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, and enemies to the doctrines according to godliness, are every where creeping into our religious societies, and drawing away disciples after them. Christians need to beware of them, and guard themselves against them. And the best method they can take to guard themselves against deceivers and seducers is, to live habitually in the fear of God, and make his word the rule of their faith and practice. God promises his gracious presence, assistance, and protection to those who fear his name, confide in his faithfulness, and take hold of his strength, and lean not to their own understanding. Let not professors of religion be high-minded, but fear. Let them live habitually in the fear of God; and let, them seriously and critically read the Epistles of Paul, where they will find the most solemn warnings against corrupt men and corrupt sentiments.
There never was a time, when Christians were more exposed to imbibe corrupt sentiments, and to follow corrupt examples. Iniquity abounds in every form, and the love and faith of many wax cold. They need to watch and pray every day, that they may not be condemned of the world, but that they may condemn the world; that they may be steadfast in the faith, and not turned about with every wind of doctrine; and that they may be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. The cause of Christ is now lodged in their hand, and they are the instruments, by which it must be preserved and promoted. It is a good cause; they have the highest motives, to do every thing in their power to promote it. Let them, therefore, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that their labor shall not be in vain in the Lord.
FOR THE HOPKINSIAN MAGAZINE.
ON DIVINE AGENCY.
Rev. and Dear Sir-Were a monarch to ask who of his subjects would do thus or so, and were one to come forth and say he would; and were the monarch upon this to say to him, Do so; it would hardly be allowable to understand by this that he caused his subject to do it; even though it were said that he sent him to do it; because all the circumstances of the case would shew, that the performance was undertaken of the subject's own accord, and not by being mov ed on by the king. The case is different from that in which the king commands a subject to do a thing. Thus the case of the Lord and the lying spirit. If mere permission can be shewn by circumstances, it is shown in this instance; and it therefore devolves on Hopkinsians to shew from other scriptures, if they can, why it should be considered otherwise. As to what is said respecting God's putting the lying spirit there, it would be proper to say this in the case of bare permission, seeing he is the Regulator of the universe, and could have prevented his being there. Thus speak men. When any event transpires, they in general terms say, that Divine Providence does it, meaning, not that God moved the actors to do as they did-it may be, to enslave or massacre their fellow men; but merely that he suffers such things to come to pass. And, indeed, God in his wisdom may determine that certain wicked things shall take place, which things he may accomplish, merely by giving wicked men an opportunity to do them. So did the Jews. They did what God determined to have done, not what he determined they should do: they slew Christ--and sought to slay him before God gave them an opportunity.
That man has an agency in the creation of his volitions, is undeniable. He cannot have a will without willing. Even if God cre ates those volitions, he does it by operating on man's powers of volition. Man must exercise those powers, in order to have a will, He must will, or he will have no will. Hence, the term create, as applied to the heavens and the earth, is not under circumstances similar to those in which it is when applied to volition.
There is one view of Divine Agency in relation to the will which I have not hitherto presented, and which I will now do. I admit that God may with justice move wicked men to commit particular acts of wickedness. Their evil dispositions are already within them, and if not engaged on one evil object, will seek another equally evil, for which, equal punishment would be inflicted. Omniscience perceives some particular act to be necessary to his own glory and the good of the universe. He therefore diverts the sinner from one course of evil, and sets him into another; and all this without making him evil for the purpose, or without making him more so, than he would have been without. His punishment will be no greater than it would otherwise have been. In this way, there would be no injustice in God's hardening Pharaoh's heart to oppress Israel, or in his moving David to number them, or in his doing the evil in the city, even on the ground that he positively does so and so, and does not barely permit it to be done. Towards such wickedness, produced by his agency in sinners, God justice manifest his disapprobation; but not towards wickedness produced by a heart made wicked by himself, for the purpose of producing it; and for the reason, that it would be unjust. But he can with propriety manifest his approbation of the goodness produced by himself in saints, because he has a right to confer gratul
tous good. But were it wrong to confer such good, he would have no such right, even as this. Could God with justice cause gratuitous evil, it would be consistent for him to manifest his disapprobation of the same. But as he cannot, he causes none such.
The Bible teaches a case in which men necessarily continue impenitent. It is that of those who fall away from certain spiritual attainments. It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. Whether this was the case of Pharaoh or not, is not material to the argument. It is the case with some, it would seem, even in this world, and of devils and the damned in the other, undoubtedly, that by previous sins, they bring themselves into a permanent state of sinfulness, for which they are punishable, and from which it is impossible to recover them. Nor is this, punishing sin by more sin; but it is the natural consequence of their thus sinning; or rather, it is the order of things which God has established.
Man, though possessed of an evil nature, is not thereby obliged to sin. It is not irresistibly evil. His inclination to evil is not of such a kind as to compel him to sin. Nay, he can "deny himself." He can by his self-determining power, his power of willing of himself, which God has given him to render him accountable, will good, and thus change his evil will. There is therefore no natural necessity for his continuing sinful. At the same time, being strongly, not undeniably inclined by his fallen nature to evil, he does not, not cannot, will right till Divine grace causes him thus to will. In answer to the question, What sort of a self-determining power is it that never does move men to good? I reply, It is such a sort as men al. ways possess whenever they will differently from what they ought to will. The man that chooses to murder another, might at the same time choose differently, instead of choosing thus-that is, on our self-determining plan; but not on that which places God at the bottom of his will. Now, if notwithstanding man's self-determining power, he does on one occasion choose evil, he may again, and again, and so on; and thus he may never choose good, although he could choose it.
"What made it certain from eternity how the self-determining power of men would act?" Their self-determining power.
"What and how much power have they to put forth exercises which it was absolutely certain, from eternity, they never would put forth?" Why, certainly as much power as the natural ability of which Hopkinsians speak. Still more. If the certainty of God's doing as he does, does not destroy his power to do differently; the same may be observed in relation to men. Nor has the incomprehensibility of God any bearing on the subject. It is a question of principles, not of beings. The nature of choosing is the same in all beings.
I admit exercises of volition, both self-determined and determined by Divine Agency. But in either case, man produces them himself. In the one case, he produces them uncaused so to do by God; in the other, caused by him to do it. The feeling of willingness in both cases is the same, but not the accountability. The process of producing the will is the same; the man wills; he makes his will; but in the one case, he is caused to make it by God; in the other, "And as to any difficulty arising from the declarations of sacred scripture," I would manage these as language should always be managed; understand it, not all literally because some is so, but only where, all things considered, it should be so understood; and figuratively elsewhere. I would not suppose that the Being who is kind unto the unthankful and the evil, has no moral right to make them good, without having the same right to make them evil, and