"The chief difficulty connected with the doctrine of decrees arises from the existence of sin. According to that doctrine, sin has not accidentally occurred, nor was it simply foreknown, but it was a part of the plan and purpose of God, that it should exist. The difficulty is freely admitted. In this respect the dispensation of God is surrounded with 'clouds and darkness.'"
The difficulty surrounding God's decree and the existence of sin is "freely admitted," Boyce says. And that in "this respect" God's dispensations in this world are "surrounded with clouds and darkness." Well, apparently Boyce has a chief "difficulty" with God's eternal purpose to actively cause or bring about a specific context in which to glorify Himself in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Was Ephesians 3:11 in Boyce's bible, do you think?
"The following statements, however, may be made:
(1.) That its [sin--CD] being a part of the purpose or plan of God, renders its presence no more difficult of explanation than that he should have foreknown its appearance, and not exerted his unquestioned power to prevent it."
From the perspective of Rebellious Potsherd Calvinism this is an important and perceptive point to make. For EVERY SINGLE rebellious potsherd who holds to any form of personal theism must deal with the fact of sin. From the Arminians to the Open Theists -- they ALL must (from their own pernicious perspectives) deal with this supposed "difficulty." Also, NONE of these blatantly open and idolatrous God-haters can criticize the Calvinist or his partially-sovereign "god" for the existence of sin without hypocrisy. For with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured again to you (Matthew 7:2). The true and Living God of Scripture actively caused sin in His creatures that He might display His wrath, power, and redemptive glory (Romans 9:11-24). But the gods of the Calvinists, Arminians, and Open Theists are NOT able to do this thing "that we may gaze and see together" (Isaiah 41:23-24).
"(2.) That, amid all the darkness, we can yet see that God is so overruling sin as to cause it greatly to redound to his glory and the happiness of his creatures.
(3.) That even without any explanation of it, we can rest in our knowledge of the justice, wisdom, and goodness of God."
Somehow sin is being "caused" to redound without actually causing it to redound (Romans 8:28, 9:11-24). Strange, that. Given Boyce's "decretive difficulty," HOW can he possibly "rest" in, say, the justice and goodness of God? Is not Boyce's alleged "difficulty" with "reconciling" God's justice and goodness with the existence of sin? In brief, Boyce's statement is nonsensical.
"(4.) That we cannot see how its [sin's--CD] possible entrance into the world could have been prevented, consistently with the creation and putting upon probation of beings with moral natures, endowed with free will, and necessarily fallible because mere creatures; while the right thus to put on probation, without such influence as would make his creatures certainly persevere in holiness, is one which none could justly deny to God. But that which God could possibly (under any contingency) permit, cannot, if it has actual existence, militate against his pure and holy character."
Cannot "militate against his pure and holy character." Except for that "difficulty" piece that Boyce mentioned at the beginning. But there actually is "difficulty" in resting and refraining from this militating attitude given the existence of sin, right, Boyce?
"The Scriptural authority for the doctrine of decrees will appear from the following statements and references, gathered with slight modifications from Hodge's Outlines, pp, 205-213:
1. God's decrees are eternal. Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:4; 3:11; 1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7.
2. They are immutable. Ps. 33:11; Isa. 46:9.
3. They comprehend all events.
(1.) The Scriptures assert this of the whole system in general embraced in the divine decrees. Dan. 4:34, 35; Acts 17:26; Eph 1:11.
(2.) They affirm the same of fortuitous events. Prov. 16:33; Matt. 10:29, 30.
(3.) Also of the free actions of men. Eph. 2:10, 11; Phil. 2:13."
"[F]ree relative to ... ?
"(4.) Even the wicked actions of men. Acts 2:23; 4:27, 28; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4; Rev. 17:17. As to the history of Joseph, compare Gen. 37:28, with Gen. 45:7, 8, and Gen. 50:20. See also Ps. 17:13, 14; Isa. 10:5, 15.
4. The decrees of God are not conditional. Ps. 33:11; Prov. 19:21; Isa. 14:24, 27 ; 46:10; Rom. 9:11.
5. They are sovereign. Isa. 40:13, 14; Dan. 4:35; Matt. 11:25, 26; Rom. 9:11, 15-18; Eph. 1:5, 11.
6. They include the means. Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2.
7. They determine the free actions of men. Acts 4:27, 28 ; Eph. 2:10."
["F]ree" from what? Would that be "free" from God's active control, perhaps?
"8. God himself works in his people that faith and obedience which are called the conditions of salvation. Eph. 2:8; Phil. 2:13; 2 Tim. 2:25."
How about, NO. Faith and obedience are NOT the conditions of salvation; they are inevitable FRUITS of salvation. Boyce reveals that he is abysmally ignorant of the sole ground of acceptance with God (Romans 10:1-4). Galatians 3:10-14 shows how inexorably strict the conditions for salvation are. And CHRIST ALONE met those conditions on behalf of His people.
"9. The decree renders the event certain. Matt. 16:21; Luke 18:31-33; 24:46; Acts 2:23; 13:29; 1 Cor. 11:19.
10. While God has decreed the free acts of men, the actors have been none the less responsible. Gen. 50:20; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:27, 28."
On the contrary. They are not free and they are indeed, responsible. They are responsible, because GOD IS SOVEREIGN, and not because they are free. These rebellious potsherds refuse to jettison the mutinous medicine that has been fed to them. And that is this false and pervasive notion that moral responsibility to God presupposes human freedom from His active control.