The Consistency Of The Eternal Purposes Of God With The Free Agency Of Men -- By: J. W. Ward

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:13 (Feb 1847)
Article: The Consistency Of The Eternal Purposes Of God With The Free Agency Of Men
Author: J. W. Ward


The Consistency Of The Eternal Purposes Of God With The
Free Agency Of Men

Rev. J. W. Ward

One of the most plausible objections ever urged against the doctrine of God’s eternal purposes, is its alleged inconsistency with man’s freedom of action. As this objection is, probably, more frequently advanced and more sensibly felt than any other, it may not be amiss to give it a careful examination. And it may be proper to remark at the outset, that the objection lies with as much force against the government and overruling agency of God, as against the doctrine of his eternal purposes. I would then ask those who object to the doctrine of the divine decrees on the supposed ground, that it is inconsistent with the free agency of man: do you believe that God reigns in the natural and moral world—that he does all his pleasure in the armies of heaven above and among the inhabitants of this lower world? If not, you have dethroned the monarch of the universe. You have taken from him his sceptre and driven him from his kingdom. You are, to all intents and purposes, an atheist. You do not believe in the existence of a perfect moral Governor of the world. And the first question to be discussed with you must be,—not, has God from eternity formed a perfect plan of government? has he foreordained whatsoever comes to pass?—but, is there a perfect God who reigns on the throne of the universe? But if, on the other hand, you admit this truth, if you admit that God does

reign and govern the universe, doing his pleasure in heaven and upon the earth, then I would ask: do you believe that this government of God is consistent with man’s free moral agency? If you say, “No,” then you cannot believe in man’s free moral agency. You have therefore no right to offer, as an objection to the divine decrees, the supposed fact that they are inconsistent with man’s free moral agency. You do not believe that man is a free moral agent. And if he is not, then the doctrine of the divine decrees may be true, even though it be inconsistent with the free agency of man. It is only inconsistent with a falsehood (i.e. with what you believe to be a falsehood), and may therefore well be true, for truth is inconsistent with falsehood. Instead therefore of bringing objections against the doctrine of the divine decrees, you ought to receive it as truth. But if, on the other hand, you say, “Yes,” then I would ask you to reconcile your belief in God’s universal government and overruling agency with your belief in man’s free moral agency. And when you have gone through with the work and wrought out the problem, you may, by the very same process, demonstrate the consistency of God’s decrees with man’s freedom of action. If God governs the world he certainly ch...

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