“But the idea on which our opponents love principally to dwell is that of a father. Hence the charge that we ” represent God in such a light that no earthly parent could imitate him, without sustaining a character shocking to mankind.” This objection comes with an ill grace from Dr. Priestley, who teaches that “God is the author of sin, and may do evil, provided it be with a view that good may come.” Is not this representing God in such a light that no one could imitate him, without sustaining a character shocking to mankind? Whether Dr. Priestley’s notions on this subject be true, or not, it is true that God’s ways are so much above ours, that it is unjust, in many cases, to measure his conduct to a rebellious world by that of a father to his children.
In this matter, however, God is imitable. We have seen already that a good magistrate, who may justly be called the father of his people, ought not to be under the influence of blind affection, so as, in any case, to show mercy at the expense of the public good. Nor is this all. There are cases in which a parent has been obliged, in benevolence to his family, and from a concern for the general good, to give up a stubborn and rebellious son, to bring him forth with his own hands to the elders of his city, and there with his own lips bear witness against him; such witness, too, as would subject him not to a mere salutary correction, but to be stoned to death by the men of his city. We know such a law was made in Israel and, as a late writer observed upon it, such a law was wise and good;” it was calculated to enforce in parents an early and careful education of their children; and if, in any instance, it was executed, it was that all Israel might hear, and fear!
And how do we know but that it may be consistent with the good of the whole system, yea, necessary to it, that some of the rebellious sons of men should, in company with apostate angels, be made examples of Divine vengeance; that they should stand, like Lot’s wife, as pillars of salt, or as everlasting monuments of God’s displeasure against sin; and that, while their smoke riseth up for ever and ever, all the intelligent universe should hear, and fear, and do no more so wickedly?
Indeed, we must not only know that this may be the case, but if we pay any regard to the authority of Scripture, that it is so. If words have any meaning, this is the idea given us of the “angels which kept not their first estate,” and of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah; who are said to be “set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
Excerpt From “The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems Examined and Compared”, 1802
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.