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tuitively seen, is an absurdity. Here is a positive existence, and must, somewhere, have its ground of being; and if you postulate an infinite series, it is a positive existence and must have its ground of being. But it is denied that there is any ground of being in any single link of the series ; and no combination of negatives can make any approach to a positive ground of being; and thus, neither in any link, nor in any combination of links, can there be a ground of being for the series. There is a positive existence, and it must have its ground; but it is not in itself as a whole, nor in any of its parts; nor can it be in any thing out of itself, for it includes all within itself. The absurdity fixes the intuitive necessity of some point which shall be its own necessary, eternal and absolute ground of being, as the source and origin of all intelligence, reason and power.
4. From necessary existence, with intelligence, reason and efficiency for all causation, can be proved everywhere existence, or omnipresence; everywhere or absolutely eternal existence, including both a parte ante and a parte post, absolute unity of existence, both as simple or uncompounded in itself, and sole and exclusive in its possession of immensity ; and also that it is the free and voluntary originator of all its own agency. The process of proof for these attributes is not here detailed; but suffice it to say that we think the process has been rigidly gone over in our own minds, and may be intuitively seen in every step by any clear thinking mind that will fix its attention upon the dernonstration. For an illustration of the manner of the argument applicable in the main to all the above points, reference is made to Clarke's Dem. of the Being and Attrib. $$ 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9; and especially to the letters which passed between him and Bishop Butler, with others, in the appendix. To our minds there is in this way a demonstration of the being and attributes of God within the scope and compass of the human mind, and which rests upon perceived valid premise and deduction from beginning to end. The only point of defect, if that be really considered such, is the impossibility of absolutely demonstrating that the supreme self-existent God is identical with the immediate author of the universe of causes and effects. We find a link at the point from which all diverging causes go off; and while we can demonstrate that there must be some link which is self-existent and thus God, yet we cannot absolutely prove that it is the first one at the head of multiplying causes. A series longer or shorter may be assumed above this link, and it cannot be overthrown by demonstration. It can only be said that you ascend for nothing ; for you must have your self-existent link somewhere, and it may as well be predicated of the first as the thousandth. The absolute God is proved to be; and it is of no great importance that we cannot fix a link specifically by demonstration. That link is, and it is the necessary and absolute Deity.
REMARKS IN REPLY TO THE QUESTIONS OF “ INQUIRER ;"—Am.
Bib. Repository for April, 1840.
By Leonard Woods, D. D. Prof. of Theology, Theol. Sem , Andover, Mass.
[Continued from Vol. IV. No. VIII., p. 485, October, 1840.]
I had and desires, and
in view of morall those who belthat
To the questions proposed by “ Inquirer,” respecting the sinner's inability to obey the gospel, I have already given a reply. After having, for so long a time, turned my attention to another subject, I resume the task (not an unpleasant task) of discussing the several topics suggested by my unknown correspondent.
I now come to the second difficulty which Inquirer presents.
I had said, that “ unrenewed men invariably have wrong affections and desires, and perfectly holy beings invariably have right affections and desires, in view of moral objects.” This I thought would accord with the opinion of all those who believe the doctrine of the total depravity of the unrenewed. That doctrine is, that men, in their natural state, are sinful without any mixture of holiness. And it is only expressing the same thing in another manner, to say, that unrenewed men invariably have wrong affections and desires in view of moral objects. Does Inquirer deny this? Does he think that unrenewed men have a mixture of right moral affections; or that perfectly holy beings have a mixture of sinful affections? I presume not. What then is the difficulty ? It is this. Some of the angels, who were once perfectly holy, did not continue so, but became sinful; and now, in their sinful state, they have wrong affections and desires. The same as to our first parents, who fell from a state of holiness to a state of sin, and then had wrong affections. But are these facts contrary to the position, that perfectly holy beings invariably have right affections ? Do they show that perfectly holy beings have wrong affections? In other words, do they show that perfectly holy beings are not perfectly holy? To predicate right affections of perfectly holy beings is to declare what belongs to those who are perfectly holy, not what belongs to those who are sinful. The wrong affections of fallen angels or fallen men are not the affections of perfectly holy beings, but of sinful beings. Inquirer asks, “ whether our first parents, who were once sinless beings, invariably retained right affections.” I answer, they retained right affections while they were perfectly holy. And this is all that my affirmation implies, and it is all that other similar affirmations imply. If I say, a perfectly righteous judge invariably conforms to the principles of justice, I declare what belongs to a perfectly righteous judge. And what I say would be true, although a judge, once righteous, should become unrighteous, and should then, as unrighteous, violate the principles of justice. In this case, it would not be a perfectly righteous judge that would violate the principles of justice. It does not belong to a perfectly holy being to hate God. A fallen angel is not a holy being.
Inquirer doubts as to the meaning of the phrase“ in view of moral objects.” He says, and says truly, that I have applied this view of moral objects both to wrong affections and to right affections. And he adds: “It would seem, then, that the same objects occasion wrong affections in one class, and right ones in the other." I reply; it not only seems so, but it certainly is so. It is a plain matter of fact, that a view of moral objects excites affections in us according to our character and state. If we are believers, it excites love; if unbelievers, hatred. The followers of Christ saw and loved both him and his Father. But he said to unbelievers : “ye have both seen and hated both me and my Father.” This is a fact which constantly occurs under the preaching of the gospel. The same truths are to one class of men a savor of life unto life; to another class, a savor of death unto death. Inquirer is doubtless familiar with this fact. But the expression that “perfectly holy beings invariably have right affections” seems to him to imply, that there can be no change from holiness to sin ; that he, who is once perfectly holy, is so forever.; Here I beg leave to say, I had no such meaning in my own mind; and I think the language would naturally convey no such meaning to the minds of others. Inquirer says: “ If in view of moral objects perfectly holy beings must invariably have right affections, what possible influence could temptation have over our progenitors ?" But this is not my language. I did not say perfectly holy beings must invariably have right affections. This might look to the future, and might imply that no change could take place. What I said was, that perfectly holy beings invariably have right affections ; have them as holy beings, and while holy; not that all holy beings are immutable.
As to the apostasy of holy beings, a speculative mind may find difficulties in abundance. What then ? What if we are unable to explain metaphysically the well known fact that holy beings have become sinful ? Can Inquirer explain it ? Can he solve all the difficulties respecting the introduction of sin ? That we, who have never known by experience what it is to change from holiness to sin, should be unable to understand the exact manner in which the change occurred, or the process of a holy mind in becoming sinful, is nothing strange. We have all the knowledge on the subject which is necessary for practical purposes, though not all which an unbridled curiosity craves. Let us then be content to know the facts in the case, the plain, important, practical truths. First. We may lay it down as an undisputed truth, a plain fact, that holy beings have apostatized. Secondly. We may lay it down as an undoubted truth, that the change from holiness to sin, in those who have apostatized, took place in such a manner as not to supersede or interrupt their moral agency. In the act of their apostasy, and after their apostasy, they retained all the powers and faculties of moral agents, all that belong to the proper subjects of law. Of course they are as really the subjects of law, and under as complete obligations to obey it, as they were before the change took place. This is plain. Again. Those who changed from holiness to sin were altogether culpable. The sinful act was theirs. The fault was theirs and theirs only. The tempter was indeed culpable for his conduct. But the blameworthiness of their apostatizing, or changing from holiness to sin, was wholly theirs. The design of God and the ordering of his providence were holy. What he did was perfectly right. This is also plain and unquestionable. Once more. The fact that rational and immortal beings, who were made in the image of God, and who had motives of infinite weight to love and obey him, and who had experienced the happiness of obedience, became disobedient,—this should be a subject of deep sorrow, lamentation and astonishment. It was a most unreasonable, wicked and inexcusable thing. Did we not know the fact, we should regard it as next to an impossibility, that beings endued with such faculties and placed in such circumstances should sin against God. But the sorrowful, dreadful fact has taken place.
I might add to these plain truths, that God, according to his eternal purpose, will overrule the apostasy of man for the accomplishment of the most benevolent and glorious purposes. That he has done this, and that he will do it in a still higher degree in future time, is made clear by the teachings of his word and providence.
Now I would charge it upon myself to be content with such plain, undeniable and useful truths; and not to perplex my own mind, or the minds of others, with any of the difficulties which a subtle philosophy has thrown around the subject under consideration.
Inquirer says, he can make nothing more or less of my affirmations than the simple position: “once a perfectly holy being, always so; once a sinner, always so.” I have said enough to show that this was not my meaning. I will add that the last part of the sentence just quoted, expresses what I apprehend would be a certain and universal fact, were it not for the interposition of divine grace in redemption. If the sinner were left entirely under the operation of mere law, the result would be, “once a sinner, always so.” I doubt not Inquirer would fully accede to this.
He next refers to a declaration of mine, that the divine law “ pre-eminently aims to control the affections and desires of the heart.” He says: “ this proposition seems, at first view, to be a very reasonable one.” And I ask, does it not appear so on a second view, and a third view ? Is it not so in reality? If Inquirer has any doubt, let him examine the law, and see if it does not relate primarily to the heart, and aim pre-eminently to direct and regulate its affections. Does not Christ expressly teach that all the law is comprehended in two precepts? And do not both these precepts aim directly to control the affections of the heart? If Inquirer should undertake to set forth the sum of the divine law, would he not say at once, that it requires