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are the beginning and end, the spring and measure of all the actions of the Deity, and of all his dealings with us. Hence, with the most perfect confidence, we conclude, that every evil of every kind is ordained for present or ultimate good: not only sickness, and pain, and disease in all its shapes, desolating storms, earthquakes, famine, pestilence, wars, and the ordinary and the less common calamities of life; but the horrid cruelties, injustice, oppression, &c. with which individuals and sometimes whole countries have had to struggle for a longer or shorter space: all these natural and moral evils are from God and under his sovereign control, so as to be permitted to spread no farther, and continue no longer than his purposes of good are served by them; dictating, in his supreme all-ruling providence, to wicked tyrants and oppressors of mankind, and to every instrument of evil, Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further ; here shall thy proud waves le stayed. Job xxxviii.
In the solution we have offered, of the origin of the evil that there is in the world, it is conceded, that the Almighty knowingly and designedly appointed it, for the superior good that he saw would be derived from it. We, his frail and ignorant creatures, however, are on no account to transgress the plain rule of moral duty, to do evil that good may come: because our understandings are weak and limited; and we cannot be sure that the good we intend will happen. But our Maker, as we have seen at large, out of that lit
mited quantity of evil which he judges fitting to appoint and permit, continually produces virtue and every good.
This is pleasingly exhibited to us in the well-known beautiful story of the Hermit, who, being perplexed to account for the ways of Providence, quitted his cell for a time, in quest of satisfaction to his anxious inicd. The narrative is given us in “Divine Dialogues concerning the Attributes and Providence of God. London, printed 1668;" a work of the pious Dr. Henry More of Cambridge: but is better known in the poetical dress of Dr. Parnell.
We shall avoid some of the perplexity and difficulties in which good minds are wont to be involved, from the idea of the evil actions of men being of divinc appointment, as though God himself were the inmediate author of sin and wickedness, if we consider, that the Almighty Being, if we may so speak, acteth not immediately himself in directing the actions of men, and influencing them to good or evil; but it is by the intervention of instruments employed by him, of second causes, as we term it, in the natural course of things, and according to laws established by himself, that He, the first great cause, influences and governs all things, and bringeth them to pass. In other words, it is by the different motives that arise in our minds, from our situation and circumstances, which are all of divine appointment, that we are led to evil and to good. Thus are we to understand what is said, Acts xvi. 14. The Lord opened
the heart of Lydia to attend to the things spoken of Paul; i.e. Her pious and virtuous mind, those good dispositions which she had imbibed from her situation and circumstances, all of which came originally from God, inclined her to listen to Paul.
Thus also, The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh; Exod. xi. 10. i. e. Being a man void of all just sense and knowledge of God, and totally indisposed to him, he became only the more alienated from obeying his commands by those miracles which had a natural tendency, and were wrought to produce obedience.
It is matter of constant observation, and verified in the sacred and in all history, that Divine providence oftentimes makes use of the evil passions and wickedness of men, to promote its good designs. That most horrid act of destroying the life of the holy and innocent Jesus was brought about by the treachery of one of his own disciples, and the mean temporizing spirit and conduct of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Acts.iv. 25–28. ;
And the book of Genesis furnishes a remarkable example of the Almighty turning the wickedness of men to serve his own benevolent purposes, in the pleasing narrative of Joseph and his brethren.
It was not ye that sent me into Egypt: for God did send me before you to preserve life, Gen. xlv. 5. said Joseph to his brethren, to soothe thein under: their fears of being made to suffer for their cruel and unnatural behaviour. God was concerned in this, act of theirs, by having brought them into life in
such a situation, wherein he foresaw they would meanly give way to a vile envy against their younger brother on account of his being of a more sprightly and amiable disposition than themselves, and more beloved by their father; which stirred up their bad passions to seek his destruction, and sell him into
Egypt. On this history, an old writer thus remarks: “Such an ordering and over-ruling hand hath God in all the evil actions of men. When Joseph's brethren sell him into Egypt, God is said to send him. Human malice and divine providence may be together in the same act. Wherein men have an evil hand, God hath a good one ; who brings light out of darkness, and turns evil in the end to good.” Burthogge
on Divine Goodness, p. 44.
It is, however, to be remembered, that whatever we define concerning the divine agency and govern- ment over mankind and their affairs, and the manner of it, of which we must ever conceive and speak, like children, most imperfectly; and although we cannot but be persuaded that all the actions of men are under the antecedent direction and appointment of God, for how could he otherwise govern the world? yet mankind are not a mere piece of clock-work, a set of unconscious machines. They acquire voluntary powers, by which they do what they please; choose for themselves and follow their choice; take blame to and condemn themselves for whatever they do that is impious, or wicked, or hurtful to others. And further, - - they
they do not think themselves unrighteously or inequitably dealt with in being made to suffer for their evil dispositions and actions in order to correct and amend them, under the divine government in the present world; nor, if they continue unreformed and unchanged, do they expect to escape punishment in a future state. So that, if God be charged in any way with being the author of men's sins, it is not in any such sense as to acquit the perpetrators; or so as to excuse them even in their own estimate from being responsible at the tribunal of that Being, whose laws, calculated for their own and the general good, they have violated. In a word: we are conscious that we are not mere puppets acted upon; but agents, responsible for what we do. We are also fully persuaded, that all we do is beforehand known to God, and appointed by him. How this divine foreknowledge and appointment are to be reconciled with the freedom and responsibility of our actions, is beyond our comprehension ; nor need we to be at all concerned about it. And in this conclusion Mr. Locke may quiet our minds, and also read an useful lesson of modesty and candour to our judgments concerning the word and the works of God. He, in his second answer to the Bishop of Worcester, who had accused him of advancing something concerning the nature of the soul, which implied that men were not free agents,
thus replies to the charge: 7 - * It