Quest. How could God who is infinite in goodness willingly suffer sin to enter into the World, which is a thing so hateful to him?

Answ. He suffered it in his wisdom and goodness, not out of any pleasure, which he takes in sin, or any evil, or in the destruction of his creatures, but because by his omnipotency he can out of evil bring greater good, than any, which is lost and forfeited by sin. For by hating sin he shows his holiness, by punishing it his justice, by redeeming his elect from it, his mercy, free grace, and goodness, by the evils which his elect do undergo for their trial and correction, and the misery and torment which they see inflicted on reprobates, they are made more blessed in the fruition of God and his glory at last. And as a man who was never pinched with hunger, and pain of sickness cannot so fully know the goodness of health, nor so sweetly taste and relish his meat; so without sigh and sense of evil we cannot so fully know nor so sweetly enjoy our own happiness, nor so perfectly rejoice and glory in the fruition of God and all his goodness.

Quest. If sin comes to pass by the will and providence of God, how is God excused from being the author of sin?

Answ.. Very well, for the bare willing and permitting of a thing, makes not him who willingly permits it the author and cause thereof. To make God the author of sin, or any way guilty of it, there are three things required. First, that God do command, counsel, or persuade men to commit sin. Or secondly, that he move, incline, or stir them up to it. Or thirdly, that when he willingly permits and suffers it, and is able to hinder it, he be bound by some law or bond of duty (as men are) to hinder it to the utmost of his power, and in no case to will it. But God’s will has no law besides itself; as he is supreme Lord of all, so he may will or not will where he pleases. He is bound by no law to restrain men from sin. He may have mercy on whom he will, and whom he will, he may leave to be hardened. Neither does God command, counsel, or persuade any man to sin by his Word [Rom. 9:18.], but has given a law to the contrary, by which he forbids sin under pain of death. And never did he tempt, move, incline, or stir up any to sin. Therefore, he can neither be the cause or author of sin [Jam. 1:13.], n o any way partaker in the stain and guilt of it.

Quest. But does God’s providence meddle any more with sin, but only to permit it willingly and wittingly?

Answ.. Yes certainly, God by his providence does hinder and limit sin, that it does not break forth in all wicked men, nor prevail to the utmost extremity. He does also order and dispose the sins of the wicked to his own glory, and the good of his elect. He made the fierceness of Pharaoh and Sennacherib turn to his honor, fame, and praise, and the treachery of Judas in betraying, and the cruelty and malice of the Jews, in murdering Christ, he turned the redemption of the world, and the salvation of elect in Christ, by his overruling power and goodness. George Walker, The Key of Saving Knowledge, Opening out of the holy Scripture, the right way, and straight passage to Eternal life (London: Printed by Tho. Badger. 1641), 27-30. [Some spelling modernized; marginal references cited inline; and italics original.]

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