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in his own works? By no means. He knows all possibilities and decides accordingly. Is it yet said, that he has thus surrendered his throne and government to the disposal of his creatures,-his omnipotence must fall ainid the ranks of the rebellious ? That point was settled before he gave being to creatures. He formed bis own plan of action, and he will execute the purposes of his heart, -all of thein. He reigns and ever will reign, in such majesty as forever lo put it beyond the power of creatures to take from bis perfect blessedness, or diminish the glory which he gathers from all bis works.
Look next at the attribute of goodness. It is infinite. What constitutes goodness in moral action? Our ideas of God's goodness must be guided by the known nature of moral action, gathered from the operations of our own minds. The subject is one, that lies open to the comprehension of an ordinary mind. The rule, “whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye to them," is one to which the judgment of moral beings must be universally yielded. They all pronounce it good. In like manner and with equal clearness, men are able to judge respecting the conduct of God toward them. Such judynient he invites, and that too, in relation to the extent of his purposes to bless them.
6. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it.” And again : “ Are not my ways equal ?" His law requires universal holiness. The view we have taken of his purposes sorbids the belief, that he does any thing to counteract obedience in bis subjects. So far as bis purposes reach, they fall in with the letter, spirit, and sanctions of his preceptive will; for they fasten directly upon good results, and do not of necessity secure the existence of sin, except as incidental to the system directly connected with purposes of good. It is sound logic noi 10 urge needless causes of events. By the adoption and execution of purposes of creation and government, all of which tend to secure obedience, we can readily see how God is as certain of any event in a moral kingdom, as though the entire series were one of physical causation. If so, we are bound to this view of the divine purposes rather than to any other which involves the efficient production of sin. With our present views, we should feel ourselves as impeaching the divine character to regard the production of sin in any other light, than as incidental to the execution of purposes which constitute the best plan of government possible. The act of God, giving being to creatures capable of willing good or evil, and the presence of temptation, furnish no occasion for supposing, that he designed sin rather than holiness. Above the power of temptation sits choice. No purpose of God destroys it. No acts of bis are seen contravening his sincere preference, that all his creatures should unite their agency with his, in the production of good,---good such Vol. VIII.
as he enjoys. Does not uninterrupted holiness constitute the supreme blessedness of the eternal mind? If it is in him the sum of good, why not in creatures inade in bis image and directed to be holy as he is, and happy like him ? Is happiness in God inseparably connected with holiness; why not so in his intelligent offspring? But farther; the view now taken of the divine purposes agrees with what God does to restore mankind to happiness, though that result should never be reached. The divine purposes relating to the origin of sin, show a surpassing glory in the work of redemption. All our ideas of grace flow from ill-desert in creatures. If then the God of salvation does what in him lies toward securing universal obedience, and sin exists as unavoidably incidental to the best possible system of government which wisdom could devise and power execute; if he has done nothing to secure the existence of sin which shows that he prefers it to holiness; then indeed, are all bis acts of redeeming love crowned with peculiar grace and glory. But tell us that God has in preference to holiness introduced sin, or that he secures it by direct efficiency, that he may have an occasion for the display of mercy, and you take from the work of redemption, that which lays the foundation for the noblest gratitude in the saved,--the entire selfwrought destruction from which they are delivered. As much as the apostacy of the sinner redeemed is voluntary, and against the preference of a reigning God expressed in his law, and sustained by his providential arrangements to secure obedience ; so much is the grace conspicuous in those acts, which are thus made necessary for his restoration to lost favor. Here is God coming forth with the gift of bis Son, not to repair a breach in his government from bis own direct efficiency, but to meet the exigencies caused by the bigh band of rebellion against his preference of holiness to sin, not only in itself considered, but all things considered, save the non-existence of a moral system. Is the work, therefore, one of less grace, less grandeur, less glory, because God, in the original purpose of creation, did not fix upon sin and consequent acts of redeniption as an ultimate aim, the first thing in creation? Or was the emergency demanding the sacrifice of Calvary unforeseen,-an expedient which came not into the counsels of eternity when God resolved on the work of creation ? Did the Son of God die to pay the price of his Father's folly, in extricating his government from unexpected embarrassment ! Was not that event a part of God's purposes of universal government from the beginning? Is it not designed to tell in every world, in every system, and on the heart of every intelligent being, that God is holy, just and good; good, in his original purposes of creation; good, in his preference of holiness to sin, in every instance in which sin takes place; and good in the measures wbich he adopts to remedy the evils of sin,
purposed only as evil, incidental to the system best possible to himself?
When transgression exists under a inoral administration, two classes of obstacles oppose the restoration of revolted subjects to forfeited favor: the one appertaining especially to moral government, and the other to the character of those in rebellion. So far as atonement is designed to meet the first class of difficulties, it can only render pardon possible on conditions scen to be safe and wise. An atonement, though unlimited, is no guarantee for the final restoration of all men. It no more secures the salvation of all men, than the original promulgation of the law secured universal obedience. Nor is there any evidence in the one case, more than in the other, that there are not insurmountables obstacles in a moral system, which place that result beyond the reach of omnipotence. So it may be under a system purely legal, or redemptive and gracious.
But if God, in the gift of his Son, does not secure the salvation of all men by bis atonement, teaching and example ; may he not add the aids of his Spirit, and thus render the provision efficacious? Perhaps not. Where is the proof that he can? Is it the fact, that he has renewed and sanctified a great multitude, which no man can number? This is one fact, showing that he has brought up his moral kingdom thus far. His interposition, thus far, is beneficial; but then, were he to advance farther, who can estimate the results ? Creatures form their estimate of conduct froin the measures of God's administration. Were he, by an extension of influence, to go beyond what he actually does, can it be proved, that the good in view would not be defeated ? And when we look at the good which he actually secures, may we not have specified the utmost limit to which he can reach ? May not mercy in the case suppoed have reached the utmost limit of public safety ? If, then, boundless love stops short of universal salvation, may not the sin and wickedness of men have fixed limits to its triumphs, and turned the arm of omnipotence to the work of executive justice, to secure the best interests of a world for eternity? We need not prove that it is so; it is enough to show that it may be so, and check the opposite assumption : and then, without any theory, we will go together to the infallible record, to listen to the declarations of God.
The same reasonings may be applied to the punishment of the wicked. Acts of punishment may be necessary when sin has taken place, although we resort to no theory of necessary sin for the good which there is in its punishment. Because in a moral system, already in revolt, God is engaged in counteracting the evils of transgression, and especially by acts of punishing offenders; and because greater good will result here from than would exist without such counteraction, some imagine, that this fact determined the choice of God in favor of the sin, in the system, or more properly, the choice of the system for the sin. Tbe fact we do not deny. God will make the wrath of man 10 praise him, and the remainder thereof he will restrain. But is this equis. alent to the choice of the systein for this purpose ? In purposing the system of bis own measures, God does purpose to do just what he does by acts of punishment and restraint. He determines on reducing the evils of transgression to the lowest terms possible 10 him, in connection with securing the highest good on the whole. Punishment is demanded for the high purposes of protection, and the extension of the privileges and iminunities of government to loyal subjecis; and this is the main design of punishment in all moral governments. The corrective reclaiining influence is indirect, yet osien times very powerful over men in a state of probation. We see, then, that God may include all the sin that takes place as the result of his main purposes in thein, as atiendant upon those acts which give efficiency to a system, without designing only and originally the exhibition of justice, or the display of mercy. By a connection foreseen and certain, he determines the conduci of creatures in the very structure and outlines of his government.* Neither the dependence nor free action of creatures is destroyed; nor is there any designed preference of sin to holiness. The fact, that an event is determined is one thing, and wholly distinct from the reason, or reasons, for which it is made certain.
Let the advocate of universal restoration take those views of moral agency, moral law, and moral government, by moral influence, which are everywhere the dictate of unsophisticated conscience, rather than subject the government of mind to mechanical action and animal motivity ; let him make out a demonstration, that a universe of moral beings can be kept holy through an endless existence; and let bim resort, as a furiher means of supporting bis favorite doctrine, to the hypothesis, that sin is the necessary means of a “good higher in kind and greater in degree,” than is included in a universe of the same number and order of beings kept perfectly happy by being perfectly boly. The argument must be a priori; such as shows, that God can by sin so far ad
* President Edwards, speaking on the passage in Mat. xxvi. 24, and the parallel passage in Murk xvi. 21, and classing thein with Acts ii. 23 ; iv. 20, observes, “I look upon it as an evident proof, that those things are in the language of scriplure suid 10 be determined or decreed (or exacily bounded and marked out by God, as the word opifw most naturally signifies,) which he soes will in fact happen in consequence of his volitions, without any necessitating agency, as well as those events of which he is properly the author.” See Edward's works, vol. v. p. 382 First Am. edit.
vance intelligent beings in holiness beyond the point of persect blessedness, as to make up for all the pain and suffering, the intellectual darkness, guilt, shame, reniorse, misery, rebellion and punishment which result from sin. It must assume, that the world to come is one of probation and not of retribution. It must thus account for all the sin in the different orders of beings known to us. It must carry forward the assumption into those supposed ages of probationary retribution, that are said to follow this incipient staye of our immortality, to limits someibing only short of eternity, and evince the surpassing excellence of sin and suffering to pure boliness, through all those ages upon ages.
This demonstration has never yet been given. We venture to affirm, that the solution of this problem lies beyond the scope of finite mivds. We fearlessly declare the system which rests upon such assumptions a baseless fabric.
God, according to our author's view, is so limited 10 moral evil as a necessary means of good to bis creatures, that without it he could not secure iheir bighest blessedness. Yet the time will come, when they will be released from this blessed means of good, and advanced to a state of ultimate purity and happiness. Why, we ask, does the soul reach forth in its desires for that ultimate good ? Because it is a good; good in itsell,- in its nature,-in all its tendencies and relations ; a good higher in kind and greater in degree, than any coinpound of good and ill. Sin is only the necessary means of reaching that end ; an ingredient with which God purifies a moral world. It will at last seuile down as a worthless sediment, with which the world's purification has been wrought. A necessary means, in the hands of infinite goodness, wisdom and power, of reaching the perfection of moral natures ! This admitied, the very thing is admitted on which is based the hypothesis we have been urging; a limitation in the nature of things. Why noi then advance creatures at once to that ultimate state of entire blessedness ? or, at least, wliy not cut short the term of expiatory suffering, instead of protracting it for ages ? Because, says Dr. Smith, God cannot, without altering the system, inculcate those lessons for eternity', necessary for creatures, that they may enjoy God and their immortality. So say we, and assign the same reason for eternal punishment. But why any amount of punishment beyond what is necessary 10 correct the individual ?' Dr. S. we suppose would say, 'to correct the injury done to the system.' True, but why is this necessary? One answer only can be given, involving the deep and universal conviction, that the necessity for punishment exists in the nature of a moral system, although in the hands of an infinite beiny, and that it is no derogation of his intinite perfections to hold, that he is thus limited to means for the