CONCLUSIONS WITHIN “THESE LIMITS”
2. The government of God with respect to the moral creature includes in its compass that creature precisely as a moral creature, even as the divine government always deals with all creatures according to their nature. God’s government does not deal with a rock as though it were a tree; and it does not deal with a tree as though it were a monkey; and it does not deal with an animal as though it were a moral creature. So also that government of God does not make of the moral creature a non-moral creature. It does not intervene between a man’s will and his actions, but always so governs him that a man’s own nature comes to manifestation in his deeds. The sinner can never say before God, “I did not really want to sin, but God forced me to sin against my will.” He must always admit that he sins according to the inmost desire of his own will.
3. This implies that even the very heart and mind and will of the moral, rational creature are included in the compass of God’s government, yet in such an inscrutably holy way that while God remains absolutely sovereign over the entire existence and operations of the moral, rational creature, yet that creature is morally responsible and knows that he is morally responsible, but also knows that God is sovereign and will ultimately have to acknowledge that sovereignty.
I will conclude this part of our discussion with the following quotation from Rev. H. Hoeksema’s “Anthropology,” mimeographed edition, pp. 105, ff.:
“. . . . . God’s work has never been spoiled. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning. Always He follows a straight course to the end He has in view. Never was ‘He forced by any power outside of Himself to deviate from that course. He rules alone, sovereignly and absolutely,—rules also through the means of Satan and ungodly men. There is, indeed, conflict between the purpose and intention of the ungodly and the holy will of God, but never between the counsel of God and the operations of the creature. The ship of creation, leaving the coast of the Bereshith (the in the beginning of Genesis 1:1, H.C.H.), sailing over the ocean of time, follows a straight course to the harbor the Almighty destined her to reach. There are to Him no contrary winds, for all winds are His. For this reason we may never separate the fall from the providential government of God. Not only must we never hesitate to say that the fall of man took place according to the determinate counsel of the Most High, in order to serve Him as a means to an end; but we must also understand that it occurred entirely by His own providential power and government. Never was the counsel of God frustrated. And the work of grace is no repair work. Only under God’s providence was Satan empowered to use the serpent as an instrument, could he enter paradise, could he tempt the woman, lead her, and through her Adam, to the fall, and could man and the whole creation fall under sin and the curse. This does not mean that we chime in with the morbid exclamation, ‘O blessed fall into sin!’ For the fall itself is not blessed, but is our great guilt. But neither are we, as redeemed children of God, filled with a sad longing for a paradise lost, but must rather boast in the manifold wisdom of God, Who even through the deep way of sin and death and the curse executes His counsel to the salvation of His church.
“Hence, we may never separate in our minds the providence of God from the facts of sin and grace. There is no operation of God’s providence next to and apart from that of grace and the curse, love and wrath, election and reprobation. The government of God is exactly of such a nature that it guides the organic whole of creation unto the final glory of the new heavens and the new earth, to the glory of God’s eternal covenant and to His eternal tabernacle which shall be with men, while through the same government of the Most High the reprobate element falls away and becomes ripe for eternal desolation. For it is God’s positive purpose to unite all things in Christ as the new head of all creation, to preserve and perfect His covenant and His everlasting kingdom. Unto this end all things in heaven and on earth are directed; and the Most High so governs all things that they must infallibly lead unto that end. All things under God’s providence cooperate unto that end. All things in heaven and on earth and in hell, angels and devils, righteous and wicked, the curse, death, and all the sufferings of this present time, sin and grace, fruitful and barren years, rain and drought, war and peace, sickness and pestilence,—all things work together to the glorification of all things when the tabernacle of God will be with men. Of course, the devils and the ungodly cooperate unto that end in a different way from that of the angels and righteous. Hence, the former gather unto themselves treasures of wrath, while they nevertheless cooperate in the execution of God’s counsel; and the latter receive the eternal reward of grace. There is no dualism: all work together unto the realization of the counsel of the Lord. God’s government is motivated by electing and redeeming and glorifying grace, on the one hand, and by reprobating wrath, on the other.”