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As the decrees of God are universal, extending to all beings, actions, and events, so the Providence of God is universal, and extends as much to a sparrow, as the government of the world.
According to WITSIUS, the decrees of God are sovereign, eternal and immutable; and divine providence is co-extensive with the divine counsels. "We deny that any decree of God depends on a condition: if the
Inst. B. 1. ch. 16 and 18. thing decreed be suspended on
a condition, the condition itself is at the same time decreed." "If any decree of God could be changed, it would be because God either would not or could not effect the thing decreed, or B. 1. ch. 16. sec. 8, 9. because his latter thoughts were
Those things, which, in respect to man are said to happen, do not take place by fortune or chance.
"They who give any thing to fortune, do bury the providence of God, by whose secret counsel all successes are governed. Things without life, although each of them have their natural property planted in them, yet do not put forth their force, but so far as they are directed by the present hand of God; which is proved by the sun;" which regularly rises, but stood still for the space of two days, and whose shadow went back on the dial by the divine command.
B. 1. ch. 16. sec. 2,
wiser or better than his first: all which are injurious to God. You will answer; God indeed, wills what he has decreed to be done, but on condition the creature also wills it, whose liberty he would no wise infringe. I answer, is God so destitute either of power, or of wisdom, that he cannot so concur with the liberty of second causes, which he himself gave and formed, as to do what he wills, without prejudice to, and consistently with their liberty?"
Economy of Covenants, B. 3. ch. 4. sec. 25.
"God the great Creator of all
in God's agency." "Providence is in its nature always the same, let the events produced be what they may. It is always the divine agency.”
"Divine providence consists "Divine Providence consists in preserving, directing and governing, all creatures and things which are made; or in taking the most wise and effectual care of them, so as to make them answer the end for which they are created ”
Syst. Vol. 1. p. 243. God upholds all things by a continued creation, and governs the material system by exerting his energy, according to stated rules, or fixed laws. When God acts upon any being in an unusual manner, or so as to counteract or interrupt his fix
ed laws of nature, that providence is called a miracle. Syst. Vol. 1. p. 244. "In the exercise of this divine providence, some events take place by the more immediate energy and agency of God; and others by the instrumentality and agency of creatures, and by various mediums, and what are called second causes. But in all the events of the latter kind, the divine hand, power and energy, is as really and as much concerned and exerted, and is really as evident, and as much to be
acknowledged, as if no instru
Massachusetts Missionary Magazine: edited by several distinguished divines of that
ceives what he ought to desire and to choose, respecting every creature and every event. And his desire and choice respecting every thing is wisest and best. In proportion to the strength of the divine desires, and the wisdom and rectitude of the divine choice, must be the pleasure of God in gratifying his desires, and his satisfaction in effecting his chosen purposes." "God clearly and fully perceives the end from the beginning. He has sufficient wisdom to form the best
purposes, and to devise, and
"Solomon doth easily reconcile the purposes of men with the providence of God. For as he laugheth to scorn their folly, who boldly do undertake any thing without the Lord, as though they were not ruled by his hand; so in another place he speaketh in this manner: The heart of man purposeth his way, but the Lord doth direct his steps ;' meaning that we are not hindered by the eternal decrees of God, but that under his will we may both provide for ourselves, and dispose all things belonging to us."
B. 1. ch. 17. sec. 4.
"The doctrine concerning God's providence, doth not establish Stoical destiny, but excludeth heathenish fortune and chance."
things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy Providence, according to his infallible fore-knowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness and mercy."
Con. C. Scot. ch. 5. sec. 1. Con. P. C. U. S. p. 25. Say. Plat. p. 26. Con. R. D. C. Art. 13. "We believe that all things, both in heaven and in earth, and in all creatures are sustained and governed by the providence of this wise eternall and omnipotent God." "Wherefore we condemn the Epicures who denie the providence of God, and all those, who blasphemously affirme, that God is occupied about the poles of heaven, and that he neither seeth nor regardeth us, nor our affaires."
Latter Con. Helvetia. "Nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established." Con. C. Scot. ch. 3. sec. 1. Con. P. C. U. B. 1. ch. 17. sec. 4. S. p. 17. Say. Plat. p. 21.
"The providence of God doth not abolish but establish the means, by leaving the end only certain to itself, to us uncertain."
The pious, "neither for the time past will murmur against God for their adversities, nor lay upon him the blame of wicked actions, as Agamemnon in Homer did, saying, I am not the cause, but Jupiter and fate;
"All power is in God, and all creatures which act, or move, exist and move, or are moved in and by him.”*
The providence of God could not extend to moral agents if they were not acted upon; nor regulate moral actions if they were not produced by a positive
Syst. Vol. 1. p. 244. influence of the Deity.
Emmons' 9th Ser. et passim. 'Contingent or uncertain events may be conjectured, but cannot be foreknown." Mass. Miss. Magazine.
Hor yet, again, as carried away with destinies, will they by despair throw themselves into destruction, as that young man in Plautus, who said, "Unstable is the chance of things: the Fates drive men at their pleasure: I will get me to some rock, there to make an end of my goods and life together." Neither yet, (as another did) will they pretend the name of God to palliate and cover their own mischievous actions; for so saith Lyconides, in another comedy, God was the mover: I believe it was the will of the Gods; for if it had not been their will, I know it should not so come to pass." B. I. ch. 17. Sec. 3 of Calvin's Inst.
* The Calvinists consent to the proposition, that all physical motion takes place by the physical power of God. If a stone falls, or rolls on an inclined plain, God moves it. If a thousand wheel revolve in some complicated machines, God moves each one. But thought and volition are improperly compared to mechanical motion. The Calvinists are, therefore, of opinion, that God does not govern moral actions by a mechanical application of
OF MORAL LAW, OBLIGATION, ACTION AND CHARACTER,
1. The will of God is the moral law of man; and from his being a creature, the property of God, results his obligation to obey. "They consider not that true religion ought to be framed according to the will of God, as by a perpetual rule: and that God himself abideth always like himself, and is no imagined apparition or fancy, that may be diversely fashioned
1. "The moral lawt is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding everyone to personal,perfectand perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness. which he oweth to God and man; promising life upon the
power to excite motion. They attribute to his providence higher praise, than could be derived from the regulation of machines. Before they will suppose God to regulate moral beings, as an artificer manages the hands of a clock, they will assert, that God rules, that man is ruled; that God is sovereign, that man is free; and then freely confess their ignorance of the mode of divine operation.
It is granted by all Calvinists and Hopkinsians, that the providence of God has respect to all the conduct of every accountable creature; to the first sinful volition of the angel who first rebelled, to the lapse of man, and all the subsequent actions of Adam and his posterity. But how does the divine providence respect the moral actions and character of angels, devils and men? This is an important question. Much is said, on one side, at least, about the manner of providential government. Before we can treat of this subject, we must examine into the nature of moral action, which is the object of this divine controul. Moral action is said to regard a moral law, in consequence of a moral obligation, and to constitute the character of the elect and the reprobate. It seemed necessary, therefore, to introduce a chapter upon these topics, in this place, to prepare the way for an exhibition of that part of the two systems, which relates to the providence of God in the formation of moral character,
See note A. at the end of this chapter.