The next installment.
52. The same true of all sin. Food for the body would never please the appetite unless we first experienced hunger; the coolings springs would not be sought for if men were never thirsty; health would never be prized could we not contrast it with sickness; ease is appreciated by the remembrance of pain; and a physician would never be wanted if it were not for our infirmities; a Saviour would never have been praised by his redeemed had they never been in bondage; the song, â€œThou hast redeemed us to God out of every kingdom and nation,â€ could never be sung had redemption not been needed; a fountain would never have been opened for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in from sin and uncleanness.
53. But this does not justify sin. Then, says my opponent, we may so evil that good may come. This objection has often been stated to me in conversation on this subject. My reply is short. There is a self-contradiction in the objection; to do anything whatever for good is not a moral transgression. Had Joseph’s brethren been taught of God that it was necessary for them to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites the he might go down to Egypt and there prepare for the famine, and they had done it for the good which God intended, it would have been no more sin in them than there was in the design of God. Then it is plain to do evil that good may come is impossible.
54. Paul’s argument cited. Again had Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel intended the good which God intended in the crucifixion of Christ, sin would have been out of the question. St. Paul asks the question to his opposers after he had argued that where sin abounded grace did much more abound, â€œShall we continue in sin that grace may abound?â€ And answers thus, â€œGod forbid. How shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?â€ If we are truly enlightened into the nature of the all-abounding grace of the gospel it causes us to die to sin; and if we are dead to sin we shall not live in it. God has forbidden it in the nature of things and rendered it impossible.
55. Finite consequences of sin argued from man’s limitations. As I have limited sin in its nature, the reader will not expect to find unlimited consequences attached to it in this work. Were it so that the fulness of the divine law was perfectly comprehended in the mind of the creature and he should go contrary thereto, his sin would then be as infinite as the law transgressed; but I argue that the law transgressed is a law formed in the mind of an imperfect being by the imperfect knowledge which he obtains of the divine law, which is no other than God himself. This knowledge being imperfect, forms a law like itself, imperfect and mutable; and an imperfect, mutable law does not afford data from which to argue endless consequences. The sacred oracle declares â€œthe soul that sins shall die.â€ If it has added and said â€œand shall never live again,â€ it would have carried the consequences of sin infinitely farther than the Holy Ghost intended. Sin is death to the soul as long as it sins, be that time longer or shorter. In order to argue an endless consequence we must first state an infinite cause; and as I have argued sin on a finite scale and in a limited circle, I must rationally limit its consequences.
56. The final cause and the final end of humanity. I will now state two particulars, which the reader will find argued in the course of this work, state my opponent’s objections against them, answer those objections, and introduce by second general inquiry by stating a third objection.
1st. Man is dependent in all his volitions, and moves by necessity.
2d. The Almighty has a good intention in every volition of man.
Objection first. If man move by necessity, why do the scriptures abound with exhortations and admonitions to dissuade from sin, and so many inducements to persuade to holiness and virtue? And why are there requirements in the law to which man is under the necessity of going contrary.
Objection second. If God had a good intention in every action and volition of man, why is it said in the scriptures that he is grieved and provoked against us? etc.