The second objection against the providence of God is in reference to the cause of sin.
All actions and desires or motions are from God. Many actions are sinful. Therefore sin is from God, and as a matter of consequence the doc trine of a universal providence makes God the author of sin. Ans. There is a fallacy of the accident in the minor proportion ; for the actions of the wicked are sins, not {per se) in themselves, in as far as they are actions ; but by an accident on account of the want of righteousness, and of the perversity of the will of the ungodly, who do not observe this so as to follow in the action the will of God. For this want of righteousness, and perversity is an accident of the will and action of the creature, which God designs to be effected by the corrupt will.
Obj. 1. But many actions are in their own nature sins. Therefore they are also sins in themselves. Ans. We grant the whole argument as it respects actions prohibited by God, and committed by creatures contrary to the will of God ; in so far they are sinful ; but not in as far as God wills them, or commands them to be done. For in respect to the divine will ex citing or producing them, they are always most just judgment of God ; nor are they without manifest contempt of God under the name of sin, so that they may be comprehended under their class. Hence the antecedent is false.
Obj. 2. He who wills an action which is sinful in itself, wills also the sin. God wills actions which are sinful in themselves, as the selling of Joseph in Egypt, the sedition of Absalom, the lying of false prophets, the cruelty of the Assyrians, the crucifixion of Christ, &c. Therefore he wills sin.
Ans. The major is true of him who wills an action which is sinful in respect to his will, or who wills an action with the same end with which he does who sins ; but not of him who wills and performs a work which is sinful in respect to the will of another, or who wills a certain thing with a different end, and that good, seeing that it is in harmony with the nature and law of God. But the actions of the Assyrians and those of other sinners which God efficaciously willed, are sins, not in respect to the will of God, but in respect to the will of man sinning ; for God willed all those things with the best end, while men, on the other hand, willed them with the worst. That this answer may be the better understood, arid be made to rebut with greater force these cavils, this general rule is to be observed, the truth of which is manifest as well in theology as in moral and natural philosophy : When there are many causes of one and the same effect., some good and others evil, that effect in respect to the good causes, is. good, whilst in respect to the evil it is evil and sinful ; and good causes are in themselves the causes of good, but by an accident they become the causes of effects which are evil and sinful, or of the sin which is in the effect on account of a certain sinful cause; and on the contrary, sinful causes are in themselves the causes of evil, but by an accident they become they cause of the good, which is in the effect. It is universally true that efficient and final causes make a difference in actions. It is for this reason that the same action, as for instance, the selling of Joseph into Egypt was a most wicked affair in respect to his brothers, and at the same time good in respect to God on account of different, efficient and final causes. And just as the good work of God cannot be referred to the brothers of Joseph, so their wicked deed cannot be ascribed to God.
Obj. 3. That which cannot be done, God absolutely forbidding it, may nevertheless be done when God wills it. Sin, in as far as it is sin, cannot be committed when God does not expressly will it, for the reason that he is omnipotent. Therefore sin must be committed by God willing it. Ans. We deny the consequence, because the major proposition is defective ; it does not contain all that should be enumerated. This is wanting, or when he permits it : for sin may be committed when God does not simply will it, but willingly permits it. Or we may say there is an ambiguity in the phrase not willing it, which sometimes means to disapprove of, and prevent at the same time, in which sense it is impossible that any thing should be done when God does not will it, otherwise he would not be omnipotent ; and then again it signifies only to disapprove of, and not to prevent, but to permit. In this sense sins may be committed when God does not will them, that is, when he does not approve of them ; but yet does not so restrain the wicked as to prevent their commission.
Obj. 4. The want of righteousness in man is from God. This want of righteousness is sin. Therefore sin is from God. Ans. There are four terms in this syllogism, for in the major proposition, the want of righteous ness signifies the desertion and withdrawal of grace actively, which is a most just punishment of the creature sinning, and is thus from God ; whilst in the minor it is to be understood passively, signifying a want of that righteousness which we ought to possess, which, when it is willingly contracted and received by men, and exists in them contrary to the law of God, is sin which is neither wrought nor desired by God. Briefly : This want of righteousness is from God in as far as it is a punishment ; and it is not from him in as far as it is sin, or opposition to the law in the creature.
Obj. 5. Sinners are governed by God. The actions of sinners are sins. Therefore sins are from God.
Ans. There is more in the conclusion than in the premises : for this is all that follows legitimately : Therefore sins are ruled by God, which is true in as far as they are merely desires and actions, and are directed to the glory of God. There is also a fallacy of accident in the minor ; for actions are sins in as far as they are done by bad men contrary to the law, and not in as far as God influences men to perform them. They are, and become evil, therefore, not from themselves, but from an accident, which is the corruption of him who performs them, just as pure water becomes muddy and filthy by flowing through an impure channel, or as the best wine coming out of a good vessel, becomes sour by being put into an impure vessel, according to what Horace says, %i Unless the vessel be clean, that which than puttest therein, soureth;” or as the riding of a good horseman is halting if the horse be lame. In all these and similar examples, those things which are good in themselves are corrupted by an accident, so that we have the commission of what is called a fallacy of the accident, in as much as it proceeds from the thing itself to that which concurs with it by an accident in this manner : The governing of a lame horse is plainly a halting. The horseman wills arid effects the governing of the lame horse. Therefore he wills and works the halting. Or the selling of Joseph by his brothers was a sin. God willed this selling. There* fore he willed the sin.
Obj. 6. God is the author of those things which are done by divine providence. All evils result from divine providence. Therefore God is the author of them. Ans. We grant the whole argument as it respects the evil of punishment ; but as touching the evil of guilt the major must be distinguished in the following manner : Those things which are done by the providence of God effecting them, or in such a way that they result from it as an efficient cause, God is the author of them ; but not of those which result from the providence of God only by permission, or which God permits, determines and directs to the best ends, as is true of the evil of guilt or crime. For the evils of guilt or sins in as far as they are such, have not the nature or consideration of good, as may be said to be true of the evil of punishment. Hence God does not will those things which are sins, neither does he approve of them, nor produce them, nor further or desire them, but merely permits them to be done, or does not prevent their com mission, partly that he may exercise his justice in those who deserve to be punished, and partly that he may exhibit his mercy in forgiving others. “ The scripture hath concluded all under sin that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ, might be given to them that believe.” “ Even for this purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show forth my power in thee.” (Gal. 3 : 22. Rom. 9 : 17.) It is for this reason declared in the definition of the doctrine of divine providence, that God permits evil to be done. But this permission as we have already shown, includes the withdrawal of divine grace by which God, 1. Does not make known to man his will, that he might act according thereto. 2. He does not incline the will of man to obey and honor him, and to act in accordance with his will as revealed. “ If a dreamer of dreams shall arise among you, thou shalt not hearken unto him, for the Lord your God proveth you.” “The Lord moved David against Israel to say, Go and number Israel and Judah. (Deut. 13:1, 3. 2 Sam. 24:1.) Why did he afterwards punish David ? That he might be led to repentence. 3. He nevertheless influences and controls those who are thus deserted, so as to accomplish through them his just judgments; for God accomplishes good things through evil instruments, no less than through those which are good. For as the work of God is not made better by the excellency of the instrument, so neither is it made worse by the evil character of the instrument. God wills actions that are evil, but only in as far as they are punishments of the wicked. All good things are from God, All punishments are just and good. Therefore they are from God, according as it is said : “ Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it.” (Amos 3 : <5.) This is to be understood of the evil of punishment. The apostle James says in reference to the evil of guilt, “Let no man when he is tempted (that is when he is enticed to evil) say that he is tempted of God.” (James 1 : 13.) Only the evil of punishment, therefore, is from God, such as the chastisements and martyrdom of the saints, which he himself wills and effects. “ Now therefore be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither ; for God did send me before you to preserve your life.” (Gen. 45 : 5.) But God did not will death. Ans. He did not will it in as far as it is a torment and destruction of the creature, but he willed in as far as it is a punishment of sin, and the execution of his judgment. “ Notwithstanding they hearkened not to the voice of their father, because the Lord would save them/ (2 Sam. 2: 25.