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had chosen, he might have obtained eternal life. For here it would be unreasonable to introduce the question respecting the secret predestination of God, because we are not discussing what might possibly have happened or not, but what was the real nature of man. Adam therefore could have stood if he would, since he fell merely by his own will; but because his will was flexible to either side, and he was not endued with constancy to persevere, therefore he so easily fell. Yet his choice of good and evil was free: and not only so, but his mind and will were possessed of consummate rectitude, and all his organic parts were rightly disposed to obedience, till destroying himself, he corrupted all his excellencies. Hence proceeded the darkness which overspread the minds of the philosophers, because they sought for a complete edifice among ruins, and for beautiful order in the midst of confusion. They held this principle, that man would not be a rational animal, unless he were endued with a free choice of good and evil; they conceived also that otherwise all difference between virtue and vice would be destroyed, unless man regulated his life according to his own inclination. Thus far it had been well, if there had been no change in man; of which as they were ignorant, it is not to be wondered at if they confound heaven and earth together. But those who profess themselves to be the disciples of Christ, and yet seek for free will in man, now lost and overwhelmed in spiritual ruin, in striking out a middle path between the opinions of the philosophers and the doctrine of heaven, are evidently deceived, so that they touch neither heaven nor earth. But these things will be better introduced in the proper place. At present be it only remembered, that man at his first creation was very different from all his posterity, who deriving their original from him in his corrupted state, have contracted an hereditary defilement. For all the parts of his soul were formed with the utmost rectitude; he enjoyed soundness of mind, and a will free to the choice of good. If any object, that he was placed in a dangerous situation on account of the imbecility of this faculty; I reply, that the station in which he was placed was sufficient to deprive him of all excuse. For it would have been unreasonable that God should be confined to this condition, to make man so as to be altogether incapable either of choosing or of committing any sin. It is true that such a nature would have been more excellent; but to expostulate with God, as though he had been under any obligation to bestow this upon man, were unreasonable and unjust in the extreme; since it was at his choice to bestow as little as he pleased. But why he did not sustain him with the power of perseverance, remains concealed in his mind: but it is our duty to restrain our investigations within the limits of sobriety. He had received the power indeed, if he chose to exert it; but he had not the will to use that power: for the consequence of this will would have been perseverance. Yet there is no excuse for him; he received so much, that he was the voluntary procurer of his own destruction; but God was under no necessity to give him any other than an indifferent and mutable will, that from his fall he might educe matter for his own glory.
God's Preservation and Support of the Worldly his Power, and his Government of every Part of it by his Providence.
A O represent God as a Creator, only for a moment, who entirely finished all his work at once, were frigid and jejune: and in this it behoves us especially to differ from the heathens, that the presence of the Divine power may appear to us no less in the perpetual state of the world than in its first origin. For although the minds even of impious men, by the mere contemplation of earth and heaven, are constrained to rise to the Creator, yet faith has a way peculiar to itself to assign to God the whole praise of creation. To which purpose is that assertion of an Apostle, before cited, that it is only " through faith that we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God:" (I) because unless we proceed to his providence, we have no correct conception of the meaning of this article, "that God is the Creator;"
(0 Hebrews li. .1 Vol. I. 2D
however we may appear to comprehend it in our minds, and to confess it with our tongues. The carnal sense, when it has once viewed the power of God in the creation, stops there: and when it proceeds the farthest, it only examines and considers the wisdom and power and goodness of the Author in producing such a work, which spontaneously present themselves to the view even of those who are unwilling to observe them. In the next place, it conceives of some general operation of God in preserving and governing it, on which the power of motion depends. Lastly, it supposes that the vigour originally infused by God into all things is sufficient for their sustentation. But faith ought to penetrate farther. When it has learned that he is the Creator of all things, it should immediately conclude, that he is also their perpetual Governor and Preserver; and that not by a certain universal motion, actuating the whole machine of the world, and all its respective parts, but by a particular providence sustaining, nourishing, and providing for every thing which he hath made. (m) Thus David, having briefly premised that the world was made by God, immediately descends to the continual course of his providence: " By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." (n) He afterwards adds, " The Lord beholdeth all the sons of men:" (o) and subjoins more to the same purpose. For though all men argue not so skilfully, yet since it would not be credible that God was concerned about human affairs, if he were not the Maker of the world, and no one seriously believes that the world was made by God, who is not persuaded that he takes care of his own works; it is not without reason that David conducts us by a most excellent series from one to the other. In general, indeed, both philosophers teach, and the minds of men conceive, that all the parts of the world are quickened by the secret inspiration of God. But they go not so far as David, who is followed by all the pious, when he says, " These all wait upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them, they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are
(m) Matt vi. 26. x. 29. (n) PsJlm xxxiii. 6. (o) Psalm xxxiii. 13.
troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth." (p) Though they subscribe to the assertion of Paul, that in God "we live and move and have our being;" (7) yet they are very far from a serious sense of his favour, celebrated by the Apostle; because they have no apprehension of the special care of God, from which alone his paternal favour is known.
II. For the clearer manifestation of this difference, it must be observed, that the providence of God, as it is taught in the Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous accidents. Now since it has been the common persuasion in all ages, and is also in the present day almost the universal opinion, that all things happen fortuitously; it is certain that every correct sentiment concerning providence is not only obscured, but almost buried in oblivion by this erroneous notion. If any one falls into the hands of robbers, or meets with wild beasts; if by a sudden storm he is shipwrecked on the ocean; if he is killed by the fall of a house or a tree; if another, wandering through deserts, finds relief for his penury, or after having been tossed about by the waves, reaches the port, and escapes as it were but a hair's.breadth from death; carnal reason will ascribe all these occurrences, both prosperous and adverse, to fortune. But whoever has been taught from the mouth of Christ, that the hairs of his head are all numbered, (r) will seek farther for a cause, and conclude that all events are governed by the secret counsel of God. And respecting things inanimate, it must be admitted, that though they are all naturally endued with their peculiar properties, yet they exert not their power, any farther than as they are directed by the present hand of God. They are therefore no other than instruments, into which God infuses as much efficacy as he pleases, bending and turning them to any actions according to his will. There is no power among all the creatures more wonderful and illustrious, than that of the sun. For, beside his illumination of the whole world by his splendour, how astonishing it is that he cherishes and enlivens all animals with his heat! with his rays inspires fecundity into the earth;
(/>) Psalm civ. 57—30. (?) Acts xvii. 28. (r) Matt. s. 30.
from the seeds, genially warmed in her bosom, produces a green herbage, which being supported by fresh nourishment, he increases and strengthens till it rises into stalks; feeds them with perpetual exhalations, till they grow into blossoms, and from blossoms to fruit, which he then by his influences brings to maturity; that trees likewise, and vines, by his genial warmth, first put forth leaves, then blossoms, and from the blossoms produce their fruit! But the Lord, to reserve the praise of all these things entirely to himself, was pleased that the light should exist, and the earth abound in every kind of herbs and fruits, before he created the sun. A pious man therefore will not make the sun either a principal or necessary cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun, but only an instrument which God uses, because it is his pleasure so to do: whereas he would find no more difficulty in acting by himself without that luminary. Lastly, as we read that the sun remained in one situation for two days at the prayer of Joshua,(s) and that his shadow made a retrograde motion of ten degrees for the sake of king Hezekiah, (O God hath declared by these two miracles, that the daily rising and setting of the sun is not from a blind instinct of nature, but that he himself governs his course, to renew the memory of his paternal favour towards us. Nothing is more natural than the succession of spring to winter, of summer to spring, and of autumn to summer. But there is such great diversity and inequality discovered in this series, that it is obvious that every year, month, and day is governed by a new and particular providence of God.
III. And indeed God asserts his possession of omnipotence, and claims our acknowledgment of this attribute; not such as is imagined by sophists, vain, idle, and almost asleep, but vigilant, efficacious, operative, and engaged in continual action; not a mere general principle of confused motion, as if he should command a river to flow through the channels once made for it, but a power constantly exerted on every distinct and particular movement. For he is accounted omnipotent, not because he is able to act, yet sits down in idleness, or continues by a general instinct the order of nature originally
0) Joshua x. 13. (0 8 Kings xx. 11.