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THE SINS OF MEN NOT CHARGEABLE ON GOD.
1 JAMES I, 13, 14.
Let no man say, wben be is tempted, I am
tempted of God; — for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth be any man: but every man is tempted, when be is drawn away of bis own lust, and enticed.
It happens, I believe not unfrequently, that serm. those who are guilty of any great degrees of wickedness, charge their guilt, either immediately or by implication, upon God; they either reflect on Providence, for hav
SERM. ing placed them in such situations and cirXV.
cumstances, that to avoid sin was not in their power - or, for having given them such violent and headstrong passions, that their reason was utterly unable to contend with them. To something, either external or internal, which it depended not on themselves to order otherwise, they would willingly impute their depravity. But this the apostle St. James, in the words which I have just read, tells us is very unjust, inasmuch as it is very untrue ; "Let no
man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God ;-for God cannot be
tempted with eyil, neither tempteth he 5. any, man: but every man is tempted, “ when he is drawn away of his own lust, « and enticed." Think not to excuse your selves, when ye give way to temptations, by attributing your fall to the Almighty; for as God cannot be tempted to commit evil himself, so neither certainly would
he be the instrument of exciting it in his SERM.
XV. creatures; but rather believe, what is evi- M dently the case, that it is your own evil passions and desires, by which ye are led astray.
Here are two assertions — first, that God is not, cannot be, the author of our sins; secondly, that they arise from ourselves. Let us examine if this be not really the case.--That God is not the author of sin, St. James assigns this as a reason it is impossible he should be tempted to evil himself, and therefore it is not credible he should be the cause of it in his creatures. Both the light of nature and the scriptures .concur in representing the Almighty as a Being of infinite purity; he is the author of all that is right and good-he is, in himself, absolutely perfect-he has neither desires nor fears, and consequently cannot be tempted, for the gratification of the one, or, under the influence of the other, to a
SERM. deviation from the exact line of goodness : XV.
but he is not only good in himself-he is also an ardent lover of it in his creatures; or, to express the same in other words, he is an hater of all manner of evil-he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. Add to this, that he is constantly set forth, in the scriptures, as anxious for the salvation of mankind;-"He would not that any should “ perish, but that all should come to re“ pentance; he desireth not the death of “ a sinner, but rather that he should turn
from his wickedness and live.” Now let me ask you-is it likely, or rather, is it not impossible, that such a Being as this, infinitely holy himself-of purer sight than to tolerate vice in his creatures and likewise greatly desirous of the happiness of
should himself be the means of enticing them into wickedness, which, in its issue, unavoidably leadeth to destruction :-No--it is not likely—it is impos
sible ;-ye cannot but own it. But yet you SERM.
XV. will say, there seem to be several places, in scripture, in which God is described (at least so it appears to you) as instigating or over-ruling men to the perpetration of wicked actions;--to this I reply-consider all those places carefully, and examine accurately who the persons are, whom you think God is described as leading to wickedness, and you will find that they are not good and virtuous persons, but persons al. ready impious and depraved; so that God does not tempt them · originally from righteousness; but, as a punishment for their having already deserted it, he gives them up to their own depravity. Consider the case of Pharaoh; the Lord is often said to harden his heart to prevent his permitting the children of Israel to depart out of Egypt; but this was not before he had hardened his own heart, and it means therefore not that God infused