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PART FIRST.
OF GOD, AND THE RELATIONS HE SUSTAINS TO HIS CREATURES.



CHAPTER V.


ON THE RELATION OF THE UNCREATED TO THE CREATED.

God the true source of all power. — Moral freedom one of God's gifts. — Of the true exercise of moral freedom.— Of the dangers of a wrong moral choice. — None good but one.

IN the chapter on the eternity of God. we have already had occasion to intimate, that everything which is created necessarily has a beginning. But this is not all. Having no beginning in itself, but in that which is out of itself, everything which is created owes to that principle of causation from which it came, not only its being, but its
powers. All existence and all power are in God; and everything which is not God has its existence and its power from him.

2. These views indicate, in general terms, the relation of the created to the uncreated; the relation of the creatures of God to God the Creator. It is not only a relation which implies a beginning, on the part of the creatures, but a relation which implies their continued dependence. The created not only come from God, but
receive from God; not only derive their existence from him, but everything else. And, on the other hand, God, sustaining the relation correlative to that of beginning and reception, is not only the beginner of existence, but is the continual supplier of its wants. It is not possible, in the nature of things, that a being who has a beginning out of himself, should ever have anything in himself; that is to say, by his own originating power. Whatever he has is given. This, as it seems to me, is one of those first truths, which, in being suggested by nature herself, are above and beyond reason. Created beings are not only created, which is a distinct act, and a distinct event, but in all time subsequent to their creation, (repeating here the sentiment which has already been expressed,) they are, and can be, only what they have power to be from God.

3. Let it be remembered, then, as a first truth in the doctrines of religious experience, that in all things
God is the giver. Among the gifts which thus flow from God, is that high and invaluable one of moral freedom. In the exercise of that moral power, which is involved in the possession of moral freedom, men sometimes speak of it as their own possession, their own power but they cannot, with any propriety, speak of it as a power which is not given. The gift of freedom involves the possibility of walking in the wrong way, but it does not alter the straightness and oneness of the true way. The laws of holy living, although they are and can be fulfilled only by those who are morally free, are, nevertheless, unalterable. Founded in infinite wisdom, they necessarily have theIr permanent principles; and God himself, without a deviation from such wisdom, cannot change them. In the exercise of their moral choice, it is undoubtedly true, that men may endeavor to live in some other way, and to walk in some other path, than that which God has pointed out; but it does not follow from this that there is, or can be, more than one true way. God, in imparting to men the gift of moral freedom, has said to them, Life and death are before you; but he has not said, Ye can find life out of myself. He tells them, emphatically, there is but one Fountain; but having given them the freedom of choice, he announces to them, also, that they may either rest confidingly on his own bosom, and draw nourishment from that eternal fountain of life which is in himself, or may seek, in the exercise of their moral freedom, the nourishment of their spiritual existence from any other supposed source of life, with all the terrible hazards attending it.

4. But if God is the only true Fountain, those who seek any other fountains will find them "broken cisterns, that can hold no water." When moral beings, in the exercise of their moral option, choose to seek their support and life from any source separate from God himself, they necessarily die. It cannot be otherwise. Created beings, as we have already seen, are necessarily dependent on their Creator. They have no power of making that which is not already made; — no power of absolute origination. It is true they have the power of choice, but they must choose among the things that are. They must either choose God, or that which is not God. If they choose, as their source of life and of supply, that which is not God, they look for help to that which has no help in itself, for life to that which has no life in itself, much less help and life for another. They ask "for bread, and they find a stone;" they ask "for a fish, and they find a serpent." They are compelled to say, in the language of the prodigal son, my father's hired servants "have bread enough and to spare, but I perish with hunger."

Their freedom, invaluable as it is, does not give them the power of doing or of enduring impossibilities, of drinking without water, of eating without food, of receiving while they turn aside and reject the hand of the great Giver.

5, It is a truth, then, which cannot be too often repeated, and too earnestly impressed, (a truth necessarily resulting from the relation of the created to the Uncreated,) that there is and can be but one source of life. This is one of the great truths which the Saviour came to illustrate and confirm. It is in man's power, as a moral agent, as we have already seen, to turn from God, because God has given him power to do so, and to seek support somewhere else. But the necessary result is, if there be but one source of spiritual support, that he finds only deprivation and hunger, instead of a full supply, and death instead of life. For wisdom he finds ignorance, for strength weakness, for confidence fear, for purity impurity, for love hatred, for joy remorse, and for hope despair. God, in the fulfillment of his plan of supporting him in existence as a moral being, sustains and will continue to sustain him physically. In other words, making a distinction between the material and mental man, he does not deprive him of a natural or physical existence. But the life which he thus lives will be, and can be, only the receptacle of death. It will be the physical or natural repository of a moral corruption; a living and moving sepulcher. It cannot be otherwise. He has nothing to live upon but himself, or creatures as poor as himself. And, in the continual exhaustion of that which is not only limited in its supply, but poisonous in its nature, he lives a horrid and ghastly existence, and pines away with a death that never dies.

Adorable Jehovah! Source of all good, truth, and life, when will men discover the truth of the blessed Savior's words, "There is none good but one, that is, God;" or say, with one of thine ancient servants, "There is none holy as the Lord — for there is none beside thee." [1 Sam. 2: 2. Mark 10: 17.] When will they learn that man, in his natural state, is "of the earth, earthy;" and that, in the things which are earthly and perishing, they cannot find an adequate support for that which is destined for immortality? When will they discover that FROM thee all come; and that IN thee all that live the true life must live; that, by an eternal law, which is not more obvious from revelation than from the light of reason, he who has not life has death, and he who has not God in his heart has Satan!