« AnteriorContinua »
he will do ; and yet it is not true that God can be deceived. The first is true; for if the foreknown act be that one act put forth with full counter power, then, by the very supposition, there is full power to perform an act different from the one foreknown. The second is not true; for, by the very supposition, the act which will be put forth, whichever that is, is the one perfectly and truly foreknown. God's foreknowledge, then, is sure of verification.
3. Foreknowledge does not cause the free act to be unfree. In conception, we first posit the free act; namely, the act as free as if there were no foreknowledge, or as if there were no God. This conception is, in itself, perfectly possible. Then, for that intrinsically free act to be foreknown, does not cause it to be unfree, nor in any way affect its intrinsic nature. Foreknowledge is not the cause of the free act; properly speaking, the particularity of the free act is the cause of the particularity of the anterior knowledge.
4. Nor does foreknowledge prove the act to be unfree. For, by the very supposition, the act put forth with diverse power, is the act foreknown. How the Deity came in possession of that power, we are, indeed, neither able nor bound to say; no more than we are bound to say how God came in possession of bis self-existence.
To the Edwardean argument, that the fixedness of the eternally past effect, namely, foreknowledge, proves the necessitative character of the cause, namely, the act, we have our reply That cause is, for instance, now transpiring, - a free volition, put forth with free counter power. That act, as cause, reflects its effectuation into the anterior eternity, and into God's eternal foreknowledge, there reproducing, in idea, just its own actual nature. The fixedness or immutability of that foreknowledge proves nothing; for the very supposition is that God's knowledge has the right act in possession (namely, the act which will, in full possession of power for other act, be truly put forth), and no other. But if the right act be in the divine eternal anterior knowledge, what need of any change or mutability? If it has the right act, that foreknowledge is bound to be
fixed and unchanging in its rightness. But, as before shown, this makes no difference in the intrinsic nature of the act.
DOCTRINE OF SIN AND Guilt. Sin is, according to John, anomia, or disconformity to the law; and the term, therefore, though primarily applicable to actual trangression, is nevertheless used, both in theology and scripture, to designate a moral state or condition of being. Should, however, a being be placed in such a state otherwise than by his own free act, with full power of acting otherwise, for such a state we hold that he could not be strictly responsible, or, with absolute justice, punishable. In such a being there would be evil, moral evil, sin, but not responsibility, or desert of penalty. Should such a state of being be brought about by the agent's own free act, the responsibility would, we think, exist in full force; or, should the free being in such a state, possessed of full power to act otherwise, nevertheless sanction and appropriate to himself his depraved condition, making it the controlling power of his life, he thereby contracts the responsibility.
Such a depraved state, in our view, has never been produced in any being by God, but always by free secondary agents. All responsible sin, therefore, whether of action or condition, arises from the action of free finite beings, in disconformity to the law, and in abuse of their free agency.
Sin, therefore, being produced, not by the infinite, but by the finite agent, can claim, in our view, no origination, ratification, or sanction from God. He neither willed it, ordained it, determined it, ordered it, located it, nor approvingly permitted it. He chose, indeed, that system of his own actions into which he knew that others would obtrude sin. The free agency by which it is produced, is itself, as a quality created by him, sublimely excellent; and is so created on account of its superior excellency and vast superiority over a system of inanimate beings or necessitated agents. But as a system of free agents would be superior to a system of necessitated agents, so the system of free agents
who would freely choose to be perfectly holy, would, we hold, doubtless be superior to a system of sinful free agents. Sin, therefore, actual and real, can be considered as no benefit to the government of God. It is evil in nature and evil in effect. Nor does God need sin in order to the production of the highest and best results. Where the sin will, however, be freely committed, God does place sequences of particular good, which would not take place but for that antecedent sin; although without the sin he might secure some still higher good. He often makes a particular good the sequent of a particular sin, which, did not that sin exist, would be by him effectuated from some other antecedent. In the present system, also, a particular sin, as, for instance, the sin of Adam, may be the condition absolutely requisite to the possibility of a particular highest good in the now existing system; which highest good may be the most exalted theme of angelic anthems; yet all this does not preclude the fact, that, were there no sin in the universe, a still more glorious, as well as a more happy, condition of things might exist.
The act of the will, put forth with full power otherwise, in intentional disconformity to the law, is actual or actional sin. The resultant ethical quality of condemnability, which our moral sense sees as inhering in the personality of the agent in consequence of the commission of such sin, we call guilt. And as the moral sense can see this guilt solely in the personality of the committing agent, it is impossible for this guilt to be transferred to another personality. Correlative to this guilt, the moral sense sees inhering in the person of the guilty a desert of just punishment. These correlations are fundamental and axiomatic. Punishment, therefore, is no more transferable, literally, than guilt. Neither is any more transferable than is a past act personally performed by one agent transferable to another agent. When, therefore, an innocent man is said to suffer in the stead of a guilty man, it is only in figurative conception that the guilt and punishment of the guilty are attributed or imputed to the innocent man; the literal fact is, that the
innocent man is still innocent, and the endurance by the innocent is simply suffering, but not literally, to him, punishment.
The FALL AND DEPRAVATION OF MAN.
In the primordial man, Adam, as in every primordial progenitor, a whole posterity is conceptually enfolded. As in the acorn is enclosed, not only the oak, but a whole descending lineage of oaks, so in our first parent was enclosed a whole system of diverging lineages embracing a
As his primordial nature shall stand higher or lower, so shall the deduced nature of that race be higher or lower. Under this fundamental law, extended through the whole generative system of creation, and based upon reasons of the highest wisdom, man, with his fellow races, animal and vegetable, is placed on earth. That law, that self-limiting law, God cannot wisely change. Upon the first man he bestows a nature of transcendental excellence, yet with a free and plastic power of self-degradation by sin.
As man stands or falls, he stands or falls in his typical character; and his whole race, under the universal lineal law, must bear the same physical, intellectual, and moral type. And with this natural law corresponds the theodicic arrangement. Under the same moral and judicial conditions in which man places himself, must, as we believe, his posterity, if born, be born.
Historically, man, by sin, places himself under conditions of depravation, including the threefold death — corporeal, moral, eternal.
The individual, Adam, is shut off from the tree of life; and is thus, perhaps, left to a natural mortality, through the decay and disintegration of his physical system. His sin has excluded the Holy Spirit; and thus the love of God can no longer be a motive of action, and the main source of spiritual light and knowledge is lost, and the vacillating will is so weakened, that it no longer firmly holds to the right. This state of things is not caused by the act of the infinite will, but is the result produced by the lawless action of the VOL. XIX. No. 74.
finite will. By his own free act, Adam has excluded from himself those conditions by which the love of God could be his motive of action, and, therefore, has rendered holy action an impossibility to himself. He is, indeed, perhaps, still in every respect intrinsically and organically a free agent. Yet, inasmuch as holy action is placed beyond his reach, he is no longer objectively free to holiness and right, and is unable to do that which is pleasing in the sight of God. He is, therefore, under sentence of temporal, moral, and eternal death.
Under these conditions, shall he bring a posterity into existence ? He can bring them into existence, by the laws of nature, only with his own character, and, apparently, to his own destiny. For, conceptually, as above stated, his whole race are seminally existent in him. The sentence of condemnation is addressed to him individually, indeed, yet to him, containing his whole race within himself. Shall the individuals of that race, by the prosecution of the natural generative law, be brought by him into personal existence ? Man, then, by a second procedure, would consummate the terrible evil of his first procedure. He, under the fundamental laws, in the prosecution of second causes, would plunge a race in endless misery, naturally resulting from his unholy procedures. There are but two methods, that we can conceive, of arresting man in his full course of evil-doing. By the first method, the full force of the sentence may be executed and exhausted upon himself, by the infliction of temporal, spiritual, and eternal death immediately interposed, previous to the production of offspring. God's veracity is thus sustained, and the evil of sin is manifested by the abortion of the race. By the second method, a redemptive system may be interposed, by which, on the continued basis of free agency and probation, man, the whole race, or that part of the race which attains the end of its probation, may be restored to even, perhaps, a higher glory than the Adamic race could have attained.
That the sentence would have received its full literal execution in the person of Adam, precluding actual pos