We know nothing absolutely, we know but appearances – phenomena
– Again, if endless sin be repugnant to every true conception of God, if it be repugnant to morality, for God freely to create any being, for whom such a doom is reserved, then you do not alter this fact by any possible theory as to the power of the human will.
– Next, you cannot fairly oppose a mere theory to a revealed assurance of the reconciliation of all things to God finally.
– Next let me add, that the very term, “free will,” is ambiguous; it may mean a will partly, or a will wholly, free. If it mean the former, I am most willing to admit man’s freedom. But if the latter be meant, then let me remind my readers that the acts of a will wholly free, i.e., undetermined by motive, would have no moral value whatever.
– Doubtless the problems of freedom and necessity contain an insoluble element. But we can look at them practically. You insist that everything depends on human choice. I reply, see how on the contrary man’s choice is limited at every hand. First, man is installment loans in Montana born in sin; that is, certainly not wholly free. Take, next, the facts of life. In the first place man can exercise no choice at all as to the time and place of his birth – facts all important in deciding his religious belief, and through that his character; no choice as to the very many and very complex hereditary influences molding his entire life, though most often he knows it not; affecting for good or for evil every thought, every word, every act of his; no choice at all as to the original weakness of his nature, and its inherent tendency to evil. More, still, man can exercise no choice at all on this vital question, whether he will or will not have laid on Him the awful perils, in which, on the popular view, the mere fact of life involves him. Further, man can exercise no choice at all as to the strength of that will be receives; no choice at all as to the circumstances that surround him in infancy and childhood, and which colors his whole life; man has no choice as to the moral atmosphere he must imbibe in those early years of training, which color almost of necessity, the whole after life. “But a creature cannot” you reply, “choose these things, from the very nature of the case.” That, I answer, only proves my point, that a creature cannot be wholly free, from the very nature of the case. What the facts point to, is that God grants a limited freedom, intending to train man, His child, for the enjoyment hereafter of perfect freedom.
– The vast extent of human ignorance also confirms the view that the final destinies of the universe are not placed in man’s keeping. We are acquainted with the outsides of things at most, with the insides never. We talk of Life, of Matter, but these and all other things, are in themselves to us unknown, and unknowable. Every thing we do, every object we see, every natural operation is to us incomprehensible. Are these the hands to which a wise Creator is likely to commit absolutely the awful issues of endless sin, the ruin of creation?
Your theory indeed proves a possibility of the final choice of evil: you cannot reasonably oppose a possibility, to a direct statement of Him Who made the human will
– But it is said, that if man be not wholly free, his goodness is but a mechanical thing. If so, I reply, better ten thousand fold mechanical goodness that keeps one at the side of God for ever, than a wholly unrestrained freedom which leads to the devil. But the assertion is in fact as hollow as it is plausible. Man is not a machine because the power of defying God finally is not granted to him. Freedom enough is granted to resist God for ages; freedom to suffer, and to struggle; to reap what has been sown, till, taught by experience, the will of the creature is bent to the will of the Creator. If all this does not involve a freedom that is real, though limited, then human words are vain as a vehicle for human thought.