(1) that freedom of will is necessary to virtue.
(2) That God suffers from sin more than does the sinner.
(3) That, with the permission of sin, God provided a redemption and
(4) that God will eventually overrule all evil for good.
It is possible that the elect angels belong to a moral system in which sin is prevented by constraining motives. We cannot deny that God could prevent sin in a moral system. But it is very doubtful whether God could prevent sin in the best moral system. The most perfect freedom is indispensable to the attainment of the highest virtue. Spurgeon: ?There could have been no moral government without permission to sin. God could have created blameless puppets, but they could have had no virtue.? Behrends: ?If moral beings were incapable of perversion, man would have had all the virtue of a planet ? that is, no virtue at all.? Sin was permitted, then, only because it could be overruled for the greatest good. This greatest good, we may add, is not simply the highest nobility and virtue of the creature, but also the revelation of the Creator. But for sin, God?s justice and God?s mercy alike would have been unintelligible to the universe. E. G. Robinson: ?God could not have revealed his character so well without moral evil as with moral evil.?
Robert Browning, Christmas Eve, tells us that it was God?s plan to make man in his own image: ?To create man, and then leave him Able, his own word saith, to grieve him; But able to glorify him too, As a mere machine could never do, That prayed or praised, all unaware Of its fitness for aught but praise or prayer, Made perfect as a thing of course.? Upton, Hibbert Lectures. 268-270, 324, holds that sin and wickedness is an absolute evil, but an evil permitted to exist because the effacement of it would mean the effacement at the same time both for God and man, of the possibility of reaching the highest spiritual good. See also Martineau, Study of Religion, 2:108; Momerie, Origin of Evil; St. Clair, Evil Physical and Moral; Voysey, Mystery of Pain, Death and Sin.
C.G. Finney, Skeletons of a Course of Theological Studies, 26, 27 ? ?Infinite goodness, knowledge and power imply only that, if a universe were made, it would be the best that was naturally possible.? To say that God could not be the author of a universe in which there is so much of evil, he says, ?assumes that a better universe, upon the whole, was a natural possibility. It assumes that a universe of moral beings could, under a moral government administered in the wisest and best manner, be wholly restrained from sin; but this needs proof, and never can be proved. The nest possible universe may not be the best conceivable universe. Apply the legal maxim, ?The defendant is to have the benefit of the doubt,
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