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providence, of that government, which shall be productive of infinite glory to his name? If both these sources of comfort can be retained and secured in violate to the devout christian, how worthy of our earnest endeavours should we esteem such an end? Is it true, then, that the moral agency of man is an incontestible fact ? and is it equally true, that the whole of this agency is from the immediate hand of God, just as the effect is from the cause ? If the latter be not a truth equally with the former, it must be because it either admits of no cause, or not of such an one, as is supposed in this case. Some, indeed, have said, that exercises of will are not effects, and consequently have not a cause ; but this is equivalent to saying, that they are self-existent. For there is but two possible ways to account for the existence of any thing, viz. its own necessity, or a necessity depending upon some cause. That, which is not an effect, or exists uncaused, cannot be the cause of its own existence; neither can it have been caused by any thing else. Why, then, does it not exist from e. ternity? But nothing, like this, will be pretended of the human will. It must spring from some cause. But to cause itself, it must exist and act before it does exist. But why should any one incline towards these absurdities, as alternatives, rather than acknowledge, that the agency of man is truly
, moral, and that it springs from the efficient will of God? Is it not in the power of God
to make a moral agent? The whole contro. versy, respecting the dependence of creature agency, comes to this. If God is, in fact, an ble to make a moral agent, it cannot be pleaded against the moral agency of such or such an one, that God made him. Why, then, do we ever hear it objected against men's being moral agents, that they are represented as having nothing, except what they receive ? that they have no sufficiency of their own, but all their sufficiency is of God ? that they have no will, but what is wrought in them by a divine hand ? Surely, making a moral agent, is not giving one some sort of a being, and leaving him to make himself a moral agent.
Should any one say, that God makes men capable of acting morally, and then leaves them to put their faculties to use, taking care to supply them with all the strength and vigour, which is necessary to action ; I would subjoin, that this is making them less than moral agents, and only putting them in a way to rise to that eminence. A man is not a moral
agent, except when he acts morally; accordingly we say of children, that they are not moral agents, until the time when they actually become the subjects of moral exercise. To say, that God makes moral agents, is, therefore, in effect, saying, that he produces in them those exercises of will, in which their moral agency consists. Upon any other supposition, the work of creating moral agents is his, only in part. If we say, that men act
of themselves, while God upholds them in being, and gives them opportunity and ability to act ; let it be replied, that unless he immediately causes them to act, he does not uphold them as agents, though he may uphold them as animals. To uphold them, as animals, he must afford them a continual supply of all that, which belongs to anima, tion, or in which animal being consists ; and to uphold them, as agents, he must continu. ally supply them with all that, in which agency consists. And a man can no more act, morally, in consequence of having his animal being sustained; than he can breathe
; and move, merely io consequence of having his flesh and bones kept together. The only advantage of considering a man, as acting of himself, provided a divine power is exercised to continue him in being, must be this, that such an economy is more consistent with moral agency. But how is it more favourable to the notion of a man's being a moral agent, than the doctrine of his immediate dependence on God for every exercise ? It must be on the following account, if any, viz. that dependence,as to exercises, is inconsistent with their being of a moral nature. And to affirm this, is saying, that it is not in the power of God to cause a moral exercise. For, if our exercises are not inoral, because they are all effect of divine operation, and not caused by ourselves ; then, whaiever exersise God is pleased to produce in any subject whatever, it cannot be reckoned a moral ex
ercise, for this reason, viz. that God, rather than the subject himself, is the cause of it. This being granted, the principle is established at once, that God cannot produce a moral exercise, in any creature, whether he be a saint, or a sinner. But should it be allowed, that he has power to produce moral exercises of any kind, the objection we are endeav. ' ouring to answer is destroyed and given up; and the doctrine we would advocate is admitted, viz. that moral agents may be used by the Deity, as instruments of his providence. Without enquiring what our reason would dictate, upon this point, without the special aid of revelation, we shall go to the bible to be resolved in this matter. There we shall be told, in terms susficiently expli. cit and intelligible, that God can and actual. ly does produce exercises of will, or moral exercises, in the human mind. What else is the meaning of the Psalmist in the following words ; " Thy people shall be willing in
; the day of thy power, in the beauties of ho. lines from the womb of the morning.” The willing mind, here promised, is connected with ihe power of God, which implies, that it is eilected by the hand of him, who alone is alle to subdue all things unto himself. The cluistian scriptures speak the same sentiment in a vast many instances, particularly, where the christian' temper and experience is represented as coming from the influences of the Spirit.
Christ, as a Prince and Savo jour, is said to give repentance. Other gra
ces are also considered as derived from the same source. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, froin God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” How are these de vout and holy exercises from God, only as the fruit, or effect, of his power ? Accordingly the apostie says, “ Whereunto I also Labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
Upon the authority of this same sentiment, the apostle prays for the brethren at Ephesus, that they might have the spirit of wisdom to discern the following among other precious gospel truths. “. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward, who believe, according to the working of bis mighty power.”' The Colossians are said to be risen with Christ through the faith of the operation of God. But how can that be of the operation of God, which is not produced by his pow. er ? If what has been already produced does not fully satisfy, let more be added. The following passage is very plain and directly to the point. “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, works out your own salvation with fear and trembling : For it is God which vorketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Every prayer to God for spiritual quickening, and growih in grace, is offered upon the principle, that God is able to produce right afa fections, holy desires, in the hearts of men ; and they prove this to be the peculiar prove