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God a Voluntary Being.

God a Voluntary Being.

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"The mystery of his will" Ephesians i. 9.

"The mystery of his will" Ephesians i. 9.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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GOD A VOLUTARY BEIG. BY JOH HOWARD HITO. "The mystery of his will" Ephesians i. 9. THE progress we have already made in acquainting our- selves with God leads naturally to the step which we are now to take. Under the guidance of the Sacred Word, we have found God to be an infinite, necessary, and complex Spirit, and, as a spirit, to be endowed with capabilities of knowledge and emotion. Having regarded God as an intel- ligent and emotional being, we now proceed to contemplate him as a voluntary one. Our present subject is " the mys- tery of his WILL." In the treatment of this subject, I shall endeavour, first, to EXPLAI THE GEERAL COCEPTIO of the will of God ; secondly, to IDICATE rrs PRICIPAL CHARACTERISTICS; and, thirdly, to POIT OUT ITS SIGLE AD REMARKABLE LIMI- TATIO. I. In the first place, I shall endeavour to EXPLAI THE GEERAL COCEPTIO of the will of God. I shall attempt this by means of a reference to ourselves. It is the natural tendency of feeling, when excited in us, to lead to action. We ordinarily use efforts to obtain what we desire, to avoid what we fear, to repel an assault, to avenge an injury. But our feelings do not always lead to action; on the contrary, there are many instances in which we feel, in which nevertheless we do nothing. This may be, either because our feelings are slight, and so not of sufficient strength to impel us to action; or because our feelings are
GOD A VOLUTARY BEIG. 93 antagonistic, and so neutralize one another, as to the produc- tion of action, by their mutual conflict; or because we our- selves make an effort to modify and subdue them, so that they may not lead to action, but that this, their natural ten- dency, may in the particular case be counteracted. The last class of cases introduces to our notice a new and distinct power, of remarkable character and of great import- ance. There is something that interposes between my feel- ings and the action which, if nothing interposed, would be the natural and certain result of them; something that  judges of the quality of my feelings, whether they be worthy of being carried into effect or not, and finally determines that they shall or shall not be so. What, or I might rather say, who is this] For it seems as though there were some mysterious person here stepping in, and modifying, or even arresting, a course of sequences otherwise direct and inevi- table. The faculty which is thus interposed between the feelings and their resulting action is will. After the feelings have been excited, there is required an exercise of the will, an act of volition or determination, before action can take place; and this exercise of the will lies with that mysterious personage, myself, who, conscious of my own feelings, and passing judgment upon them, either for repression or indul- gence, ultimately determines what shall be done. Allow me to illustrate this general statement by an example. I am, let it be supposed, in circumstances in which I may with impunity commit a robbery say, steal a sum of money. The possession of this money is on various grounds attractive to me, and my desires are excited towards it; I do not take it, however. Why? Because I sit in  judgment on those excited feelings, condemn them as wrong, and by proper considerations correct and suppress them ; and I consequently determine to let the money alone. Or sup- pose I have received an injury, which kindles my resent- ment, indeed, but which I am strongly disposed to forgive.
Again I sit in judgment on those feelings; I approve them, and determine to forgive the injury accordingly. In each case my will comes into exercise, and its exercise is inter- posed between my feelings and the action towards which they lead. ow it is natural to suppose something analogous to this in the divine Being. His emotional ardour of holy, com- 94 ACQUAITACE WITH GOD. placent, and benevolent, love, must be conceived to supply in him, as emotions do in us, impulses to action; impulses, however, which operate, not immediately, but through the intervention of his will. The will of God is too frequently spoken of in Scripture to make it needful for me to quote particular passages as justifying this representation. Some- times, indeed, the term has relation to his preceptive will, or his will as expressed in order to mark out our duty; but it often refers also to his attitude of determination, of which the text itself is an example : " Having made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which lie hath purposed in himself." It appears, therefore, that God, like man, has a will, and, like man, determines thereby the course of his action. Well speaks the apostle, however, of "the mystery" of God's will. Will is a mystery in ourselves. It seems to imply the existence of a kind of separate, or detached, per- sonality, of which it is exceedingly difficult to frame to our- selves a theoretical conception, but of which an irresistible practical evidence is afforded to us by our consciousness. It is not my will that determines my actions, it is I myself that determine them, and that guide my will to the volitions by which my actions are regulated: for the will itself has no voluntary power; it is a mere piece of mental machinery placed under my regulation and control, and, like a mechani- cal spring, acting precisely according to the pressure under

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