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bility of enjoying the latter without the love of virtue, how could that love exist, were they by pre-determined fate so formed, as inevitably and unavoidably to walk appointed paths, without the will or power of deviation ; incapable of the delight of conscious virtue, that pure, that godlike joy; unable to comply with the gracious invitation held out to us, Give me thy heart, if their heart were by necessity so fixed as to render an alienation impossible ? Our great epic poet, Milton, in his “ Paradise Lost,” finely argues on this subject, in the supposed address to Adam
“ To whom the angel : Son of heaven and earth,
If, then, our benevolent all-wise Creator has placed good and evil before us for our choice, that the perfection of our virtues, as well as our felicity, may consist in loving the one and hating the other, as the very reason assigned in Scrip
ture for the exaltation of our blessed Lord is, that He loved righteousness and hated iniquity; (Heb. i. 9 ;)— if the capability of enjoying happiness rests solely on our own determination_for if we here learn not the joy of imparting joy, how can we be prepared to participate in the joy of our Lord ?-if, here, we do not bend our wills to be faithful in a few things, how can we be qualified for being rulers over many things ?-if, at the dissolution of our planetary system, the sower (who, in conjunction with his blessed Son, has worked hitherto) should again go forth to sow, and we progress to guardian angels over newly created probationary beings, how could we assume the kind appointment, were not our hearts replete with pity, sympathy, and compassion ; which, as evil appears essential to the production of excessive good, become indispensable ingredients in the composition of each virtuous moral agent, and are the proclaimed, the adored attributes of Deity itself; (Exod. xxxiv. 5, 6, 7;)—if an anxious desire to obey the commands of the benevolent Creator be a disposition absolutely necessary for all created beings to possess, how could that disposition be illustrated without a state of trial ?-if the kingdom of heaven is to commence within us for there alone can we cultivate all those amiable affections that are fit for transplantation in celestial soil, and that like a well of water are springing up to everlasting lifecan this kingdom be created, these plants of virtue cultured, and vital fountains flow, without any exertion on our part, or fervent application
for that divine assistance, without which we can do nothing ?-if our light momentary afflictions are working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, and the trial of our faith is esteemed more precious than gold; if all this preparation is requisite for us, and those from out our mortal race alone are counted blessed who endure temptation, and on the bright result of triumphing over trials, receive that unfading crown of life, which our most gracious Lord has promised to those who love him :-may we not very reasonably conclude, that it must be essentially necessary for all other orders of intelligents, during some period of their existence, to encounter such hardships, difficulties, and dangers, as should openly demonstrate their love of virtue, and prove, by test, their faith in, obedience to, and zeal for, their great and good Creator ? Our epic poet, in the address from which we have already selected a quotation, thus proceeds
Myself, and all th' angelic host that stand
It is not, however, left for the dictates of human reason to determine this important point, for we find our conclusions respecting it completely established by Scripture : as even our blessed Saviour himself was a tried stone, (Isa. xxviii. 16;) though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things that he suffered. (Heb. v.
8.) And we are therein further informed of the existence of beings, who, by the event, it clearly appeared must have been destined to cope with difficulties. For record is given that angels kept not all their first estate, but left their own habitation.
(Jude 6.) That Being unto whom all things are possible could be at no loss for the administration of these difficulties previous to the existence of an evil agent; and as from him all things do proceed, we must conclude that those trials to which are annexed the epithet of evils, are of his ordination and appointment. This point is likewise placed beyond conjecture by the following declaration,- I create evil, saith the Lord.* The original liability to evil was, it appears extremely probable, produced by all orders of beings having been ordained to maintain a due regulation of their passions; and as even the paradisiacal garden of the natural world required both dressing and keeping, every wild and extra
* The whole verse runs thus: “I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isa. xlv. 5, 6, 7.) “It is worthy observation that these words being addressed to Cyrus, King of Persia, must be understood as spoken in reference to the Persian sect. of Magians, who then held light and darkness, or good and evil, to be the supreme beings, without acknowledging the great God, who is superior to both. And it was, without doubt, from hence that Zoroastres had the hint of mending this great absurdity in their theology."-Prideaux's Connerion.
neous shoot to be pruned, and kept within its proper limits, so also the preservation of virtue, during the period of its allotted trials, was to require a diligent and strict attention, every ex-: cess of passion to be avoided, every immoral excrescence to be instantly lopped off. Now, on any failure in these points, some degree of turpitúde would consequently ensue; which, if gradually and obstinately persisted in, and permitted completely to preponderate over virtue, would occasion such an alienation from God and goodness, as finally to generate most malignant beings. And, as there appears an existing liability, it produces not only an existing possibility, but also an existing probability, that there may have been free agents inhabiting regions far remote from us, who wilfully, ungratefully, and wickedly 'nurtured evil passions into such maturity, as to engender and form monsters in vice. On this ground the origin of an evil agent is very rationally accounted for, and New Testament information fully supports these suppositions, by stating that evil being, therein called the devil, * to have been leader of those angels that kept not their first estate ; thereby confirming our belief that God never did create an evil being, but that the ultimate fate of every moral agent depends upon their own decision, and the energy exerted by them during those seasons in which they
*“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. xii. 9.)