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accidental. For as the possibility of decision between opposites, between a twofold possibility, has freedom been willed by God in His ethical character as an essential means in order to the morally good or ethically necessary. Consequently, every moment is God master of the existence of such freedom, whose possibility resides perpetually in Him alone,
-a consideration sufficient of itself to prove that even when perverted to evil it cannot overthrow God's world-plan. But the ethical character of the divine aim requires that it should not be carried out by force or compulsion, for thereby it would nullify itself.
Thus, while on the one hand freedom is necessarily, and the coinparative contingency implied in it rationally, ordained by God, on the other it is included in the sweep of the divine world-aim. To this is to be added, that the free, which is created in order to the good, only realizes its idea by means of the latter, while through evil it falls into bondage, and as arbitrary caprice runs to waste. Moreover, , this forms a limitation to freedom, so that it can never be a principle of absolute chance. If freedom of choice as the possibility of chance has necessity in reason, still its rationality is not that of the final aim, but merely of the instrumental
As formal freedom it is a necessary medium or point of transition. Accordingly the possibility of chance is not the highest good in itself, nor is it so eternally. On account of all these limits, which prove freedom not to be absolute, it is impossible for it, as arbitrary caprice, ever to build up a firmly-compacted hostile kingdom of arbitrariness. In contradiction with God's absolute final aim, freedom is in contradiction with itself, and reduces itself, though not the divine world-aim, to impotence and ruin.
4. But we must examine still more minutely the RELATION OF PROVIDENCE TO EVIL. The possibility of evil is necessary, although God can never convert this possibility into reality, or incorporate it with the world-aim otherwise than as a conditio sine qua non. Consequently, even evil, “moral chance," does not lie outside the pale of God's all-comprehensive Providence. It arises out of freedom in its arbitrary aspect, the capacity for which is every moment from God. Still less can an independent, eternally-enduring power belong to evil. Arbitrariness is only permitted a place in the world
of the instrumental means by which the absolute final aim is accomplished, and, passing by the considerations just advanced, finds its limitation in nature outside us, in its own distinctive character and essence, in the rational beings outside it, even in their caprice as well as in its own essence, in the native, essential connection between the morally necessary and the free. But, finally, in its wisdom and might, Providence finds in itself the means for conducting the world-aim to its blessed end, partly in its judicial character (i.e. by upholding in conscience — the counterpoise to caprice —through law and penalty the rights of the morally necessary and its absolute authority against the arrogant, turbulent pretentiousness of evil), and partly in its character of love impoverishing itself, and thus winning moral victories over free spirits. In its boundless compass God's wise love possesses means whereby it is able, notwithstanding the wide diffusion of evil, without force and compulsion to save even the fallen and guilt-laden from perdition. Without losing itself, love is able to surrender itself to the uncertainty of caprice, even of contumely, and yet remain assured of its inner victorious power to make even the world's passage through a state of sin a means of glorifying itself, and triumphantly realizing its aim in a kingdom of free spirits. It is a triumph of divine art (Téxvn 800), that in His character of love God surrenders Himself in His Word, in the Sacraments, in Christ Himself, to the domain of caprice and contingency, exposes Himself in all this to misunderstanding and contumely, and yet does it in such a way that through this very self-impoverishment love reveals its purity and unselfishness, and also its divine invincibility, and by renouncing the use of mere power and judicial methods exhibits the victorious, heart-subduing omnipotence of love over free existence. And whoever may be lost through despising God's revelation of love, the organism and aim of the world can suffer no hurt. At the command of God's omnipotent wisdom are means for filling up the gaps, and God's prescient wisdom in its eternal counsel has already provided for this.
While, therefore, God every moment sustains evil in existence, and without Him it could not exist at all, still a righteous and gracious Providence, the guardian of the world-aim, is not merely confident of victory in spite of evil, but even converts the actual existence of evil into a means for accomplishing its aim in the most signal, most thoroughgoing negation of evil.
1 Luke xix. 24-26.
5. RELATION OF THE DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE TO THE DIVINE WORLD-PLAN AND FREE CAUSALITIES.- That the divine plan of the world or counsel excludes not secondary, especially free, causes, we have seen. But now the question may be asked, Are the contents of this world-plan a mere general purpose, which seeks to leave a place for free actions, without being thereby thrown into disorder, whereas definite free actions and definite individuals are not included therein ? Or, are definite, particular individuals, such as are to exist, with their actions included therein, and their free actions, although not willed or approved, yet at least eternally known and permitted ? Here, again, we come to a question previously touched on and left open (§ 26). As concerns, in the first place, the point of eternal permission, we must certainly hold that the divine world-plan, so far as it relates to the actions of definite individuals and their circumstances on the whole, does not originate exclusively in God, as it were uno actu, in all its elements, but in order to the formation of the concrete world-plan, such as it will actually become, the foreseen use of freedom in concreto must be taken into account as a woof, so to speak, adopted into the conceptions drawn by God purely from Himself. We have before found ourselves unable to abide by an abstract simplicity of the divine essence, nor can we, with the old divines of the seventeenth century, regard the divine counsel as a simple divine conception. It is rather a mediated one, composed of diverse elements, a portion of which springs not from God but from the variable factor of human freedom, by which, however, the divine conduct conditions itself, and consequently His counsel as well, although its ultimate aim is not determined thereby. Firm, indeed, and immoveable stands the world-aim, that holy Love shall gain a kingdom in which to rule, that the universe established by omnipotence shall become a moral Cosmos, which, however, does not imply that all rational beings will reach the goal of holiness and blessedness. The latter issue is no postulate of divine love, because as just
it must desire free decision, and justice is the conditio sine qua non of the communication of love. But certainly the will of divine love is to grant to all free beings the possibility of attaining the life of love; and thus the divine counsel also includes the means for accomplishing the divine aim of the world. But still neither of these includes definite persons. The question, therefore, still is: Can the divine counsel remain indefinite, and have as its real object merely the race, the species in general ?! We must rather suppose, as a third element in the divine counsel, concrete persons and the position they take therein, even as Holy Scripture in various ways designates persons as its objects.” But the persons are free. Their conduct, like their position in the world-whole, cannot therefore be decided by mere predestination, just as little as man apart from God can be called the master of his own fate. Thus the necessity recurs for laying down the doctrine, that the definite assignment of a place in the world-plan to individuals is conditioned by the intuitus of free causes, or that in the definitive formation of the world-plan, comprehensive of concrete personalities, God conditions Himself by regard to the use of creaturely freedom. But if the formation of the concrete world-plan, i.e. the plan comprehending definite persons, was from eternity definitive in nature, and not simply rendered more definite by the knowledge of the use of freedom revealing itself only in time, we are compelled to maintain a foreknowledge even of the free, and therewith encounter one of the most difficult of dogmatic questions.
We have previously been unable to conceal from ourselves that the supposition of a divine foreknowledge of free actions, and therefore also of the definite persons who will attain the goal of perfection and blessedness, has its difficulties. The greatest of these is the following. It seems as if, supposing such eternal foreknowledge to exist, the free cause must have had a real effect before its actual existence, namely this, to render itself perceptible to divine knowledge, since this divine foreknowledge could only spring from God alone, on the supposition of God being the exclusive cause of the free. Hence Martensen, Rothe, and others, fear that the notion of an eternal foreknowledge of future free existence would rather transform the free into the necessary.
* As supposed by Schleiermacher and v. Hofmann on different grounds.
? Matt. xx. 16, xxii. 14, xxiv. 22, 24, 31 ; Mark xiii. 20, 22, 27; Luke xviii. 7 ; Rom. vii. 33 ; Eph. i. 4, cf. ii. 19-21.
3 As, for example, John Gerhard says: Intuitus fidei ingreditur decretum electionis.
For this reason, they suppose that the ultimate aim, the realization of a kingdom of love, indeed, stands immoveably fixed; but as concerns the persons, who can only be incorporated into this kingdom by means of free agency beyond the reach of foresight, the divine world-plan is still indefinite, and its still empty framework is only gradually filled up through the free agency of individuals, the divine knowledge being thus supplemented step by step in time.
But before deciding in favour of denying the divine foreknowledge of the free, let us ask ourselves whether this will not involve its own, perhaps even greater, difficulties. And first, we must weigh well the fact, that God's perfected kingdom embraces none but free personalities. If, then, divine foreknowledge of the free is to be absolutely denied, whereas the entire accomplishment of the divine counsel is still conditioned by freedom, there will be no certainty of even one individual being led by his spontaneous decision to the desired end. But where in this case is the fixed world-aim, which yet those teachers rightly desire to be unconditionally maintained ? How can its working out and realization be unconditionally certain for God, if absolutely of all who form the real contents of the world-aim, it is uncertain whether they will attain it? God would then have created the world at a mere guess. Seeing, therefore, that these divines hold the realization of the purpose to be absolutely certain, they seem to betray that they unconsciously assume a sort of foreknowledge of the free, or in the background put necessity in the place of freedom. To this is to be added, that Holy Scripture does not favour the notion of an indefinite world-plan, particular persons and nothing else being, on the contrary, made the object of divine Preparation, Providence, and Election. A religious interest is involved in the world-plan-not a colourless scheme, but concrete-showing no sign of weakness, but remaining eternally certain for God. We are then able to repose confidence in it, and God is seen to have created, not in a tentative way, but in pros