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BOOK away the sceptre of its power, and drowns itself in
the body and brutish affections, (preferring the pleasure of sense above that of reason ;) when it so far degenerates below the principles of reason, that instead of commanding the brutish faculties it becomes a slave to them, then it conceives and brings forth evil; but this it doth not through any coaction or necessity, but through the abuse of that power and liberty which it hath: for the choice is a proper action of the soul itself: which he proves from hence, because God and the laws, and all good men, do not measure the good and evil of actions so much by the event, as by the will and intention of the person ; and that punishment and reward have chiefly a respect to those. And therefore men are pardoned for what they do out of constraint and force, and the fault is ascribed, ου το πράττοντι άλλα βιαζομένω, not to him that did it, but to him that forced him to the doing of it. And so from hence he concludes, that, because of the freedom of the will of man, nothing else can be said to be the author of evil properly, but the soul of man ;
and concludes that discourse with this excellent speech, Simplic. "Έχοντες ούν την αιτίαν του κακού, λαμπρά τε φωνή βοώμεν, ότι
ο Θεός κακίας αναίτιος, διότι το κακόν η ψυχή ενεργεί αυτεξουΡ184. ed. σίως, και ουχ ο Θεός ει μεν γαρ βία το κακόν έπραττεν η ψυχή,
τάχα άν τις τον Θεόν ήτιάσατο τον αναιτίως αυτήν συγχωρήσαντα βιασθήναι, καίτοι ουδε κακόν ήν το βία πραττόμενον κατά проαίρεσιν δε αυτό αιρουμένη, αυτή αν αιτία λέγοιτο δικαίως. Ηαυing thus found out the true origin of evil, let us cry out with a loud voice that God is not the author of sin, because the soul freely doth that which is evil, and not God; for if the soul were forced to do what it doth, one might justly lay the blame on God, who permits such a force to be offered it, neither could it be properly evil which the soul was constrained to;
but since it acted freely, and out of choice, the soul CHAP. must alone be accounted the author and cause of evil. Thus we see that God cannot with any shadow of reason be accounted the author of evil, because he
gave the soul of man a principle of internal freedom; when the very freedom of acting which the soul had, put it into a capacity of standing as well as falling. And. certainly he can never be said to be the cause of the breaking of a person, who gave him a stock to set up with, and supposed him able to manage it when he gave it him. Indeed, had not man had this freedom of will, he could not have fallen; but then neither had he been a rational agent, which supposing no corruption, doth speak freedom of action. So that while we inquire after the origin of evil, we have no other cause to assign it to but man's abuse of that free power of acting which he had: but if we will be so curious as to inquire further, why God did create man with such a freedom of will, and not rather fix his soul immutably on good; if the order of beings be no satisfactory reason for it, we can give no other than that why he made man, or the world at all, which was the good pleasure of his will.
But secondly, Supposing God's giving man this freedom of will, doth not entitle him to be the author of evil; doth not his leaving man to this liberty of his in the temptation, make him the cause of sin ? I answer no: and that on these accounts:
1. Because man stood then upon such terms, that he could not fall but by his own free and voluntary act. He had a power to stand, in that there was no principle of corruption at all in his faculties; but he had a pure and undefiled soul, which could not be polluted without its own consent. Now it had been repugnant to the terms on which man stood, (which
STILLINGFLEET, VOL. II.
BOOK were the trial of his obedience to his Creator,) had he
been irresistibly determined any way. Simplicius puts Simplic. in this question after the former discourse, Whether God p. 184, 187. may not be called the author of sin, because he per
mits the soul to use her liberty? But, saith he, he that says God should not have permitted this use of its freedom to the soul, must say one of these two things ; either that the soul being of such a nature as is indifferent to good or evil, it should have been wholly kept from the choosing evil, or else that it should have been made of such a nature, that it should not have had a power of choosing evil. The first is irrational and absurd; for what freedom and liberty had that been, where there was no choice ? And what choice could there have been, where the mind was necessitated only to one part? For the second we are to consider, saith he, that no evil is in itself desirable, or to be chosen ; but withal, if this power of determining itself either way must be taken away, it must be either as something not good, or as some great evil; and whoever saith so, doth not consider how many things in the world there are which are accounted good and desirable things, yet are no ways comparable with this freedom of will: for it excels all sublunary beings; and there is none would rather desire to be a brute or plant, than man. If God then shewed his goodness, in giving to inferior beings such perfections which are far below this, is it any ways incongruous to God's nature and goodness to give man the freedom of his actions, and a selfdetermining power, though he permitted him the free use of it? Besides, as that author reasons, had God, to prevent man's sin, taken away the liberty of his will, he had likewise destroyed the foundation of all virtue, and the very nature of man; for virtue would
not have been such, had there been no possibility of chAP. acting contrary; and man's nature would have been divine, because impeccable. Therefore, saith he, though we attribute this self-determining power to God, as the author of it, which was so necessary in the order of the universe, we have no reason to attribute the origin of that evil to God, which comes by the abuse of that liberty. For, as he further adds, God doth not at all cause that aversion from good, which is in the soul when it sins, but only gave such a power to the soul, whereby it might turn itself to evil, out of which God might afterwards produce
produce so much good; which could not otherwise have been without it. So consonantly to the Scripture doth that philosopher speak on this subject.
2. God cannot be said to be the author of sin, though he did not prevent the fall of man; because he did not withdraw before his fall any grace or assistance which was necessary for his standing. Had there been indeed a necessity of supernatural grace to be communicated to man for every moment, to continue him in his innocency; and had God, before man's fall, withdrawn such assistance from him, without which it were impossible for him to have stood, it would be very difficult freeing God from being the cause of the fall of
But we are not put to such difficulties for acquitting God from being the author of sin; for there appears no necessity at all for asserting any distinction of sufficient and efficacious grace in man before his fall, that the one should belong only to a radical power of standing, the other to every act of good which Adam did. For if God made man upright, he certainly gave him such a power as might be brought into act without the necessity of any supervenient act of grace to elicite that habitual power into particular
BOOK actions. If the other were sufficient, it was sufficient III.
for its end; and how could it be sufficient for its end, if, notwithstanding that, there were no possibility of standing unless efficacious help were superadded to it? God would not certainly require any thing from the creature in his integrity, but what he had a power to obey; and if there were necessary further grace to bring the power into act, then the subtracting of this grace must be by way of punishment to man; which it is hard to conceive for what it should be before man had sinned; or else God must subtract this grace on purpose that man might fall, which would necessarily follow on this supposition, in which case man would be necessitated to fall; Veluti cum subductis columnis domus necessario corruit, as one expresseth it, As a house must needs fall, when the pillars on which it stood are taken away from it. But now if God withdrew not any effectual grace from man, whereby he must necessarily fall, then though God permit man to use his liberty, yet he cannot be said to be any ways the author of evil, because man had still a posse si vellet, a power of standing, if he had made a right use of his liberty; and God never took from man his adjutorium quo potuit stare, et sine quo non potuit, as divines call it, man enjoying still his power, though by the abuse of his liberty he fell into sin; so that granting God to leave man to the use of his liberty, yet we see God cannot in the least be charged with being the author of sin, or the origin of evil, by the history of the fall of man in Scripture: which was the thing to be cleared.
We come now in the third place to compare that account given of the origin of evil in Scripture, with that which was embraced by heathen philosophers, in point of reason and evidence. There was no one in