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makes him a mere passive being. The objection itself contains its own refutation ; for it is built upon the supposition, that man does really act. It was never imagined that the advocates for dependence meant, or that their notions upon this point had any tendency, to exclude the idea of creature agency, that men do act, when the influence, on which they depend, is exerted upon them. The only exception is taken at the idea of their not being self-directed, or not acting of themselves ; but moving under the control. ing power of the Deity. That man is an active being is, therefore, granted, on all hands; and this notwithstanding the entire dependance of his activity. If then he is active, in any measure, how can he be entire passive, it activity and passivity are opposite terms, as they are generally understood to be ? A man's acting dependently on God, can no more prove, that he does not act at all, than the motion of a tennis ball is proved to be no motion at all, because it depends on the hand of him who throws it.
If it be true, that men are agents of any kind, it cannot be true, that they are wholly passive ; though they may be passive, as respects the cause of their actions. But to say, that while they act, they are purely passive, because their actions are not self-caused, is to say, there is no difference between action and passion; or, that acting, is precisely the same with being acted upon, which is clearly absurd.
Another objection that is made against
man's entire dependence, as an active being, is, that it makes the Deity, who is represented to be the efficient cause of all the guilty actions of men, a most inconsistent, self.contradictory, being, for ever at war with him. self ; attempting to build up, in one way, what he is actually pulling down, in another.
To this general objection it may be, generally, answered, that the wisdom of man is not penetrating and comprehensive enough to point out a consistent plan of operation to the Deity; and consequently he may mis- . take that to be incongruous and self-repugnant, which is really the inost coherent, regular, and beautiful of any thing that is possible. To ascertain what is proper for the Godhead, how Deity ought to act, we need to possess infinite knowledge. If our view of things is more limited and partial, than that of Jehovah, how can we be in a situation to pass a judgment upon the expediency and fitness of his manner of performing the work of government ? An ignorant man, unacquainted with the mechanic arts, would be ready, in a thousand instances, to pronounce upon the most skillful and finished artist, when contemplating his work in separate parts, that it will be impossible for hiin to put it together, so as to make it either beautiful or useful. He would see so many dissimilar, and, apparently, opposite things, that he would scarcely hesitate a moment to declare they never could be designed for the same machine, and that to think of uniting
them in the same piece of workmanship, must argue gross stupidity and folly. But would it be fair to arraign the skill of an ac-, complished artist before such a tribunal to be judged ? No workman, who valued his art, cr his reputation, would submit to such an outrage. And if most men are incompetent judges of symmetry and order in many works of human genius, is it to be supposed, that they are capable of determining what is and what is not a perfect, consistent scheme of moral government, in the hands of the infinite God? Are they not liable, depending on their own understanding and discretion, to conclude many things needless, and even inconsistent with each other, which are absolutely essential to the harmony and glory of the system ? If the scheme of sentiments we advocate contains express contradictions, or imputes opposite things to the Deity, things which are clearly and indisputably opposite, certainly it must be acknowledged defective. But if two or more things, which are very fully asserted in revelation, should seem to us, on some accounts, to exhibit contrary aspects ; rather than impute absolute inconsistency to them, let us presume that the appearance arises from our ignorance of the whole vast and incomprehensible plan.of divine government, and that if our speculative faculties were capacious enough to grasp the whole, as God does, every symptom of inconsistency would disappear. But before we dismiss the objection, we will give it a more particular consideration,
1. It is said, God is inconsistent with, and acts against, himself, if our doctrine be true, in requiring men to do one thing, and moving them to do another, directly contrary to it. Of all the objections, which are urged against the doctrine we contend for, this I consider as much the most plausible. It brings to view a real difficulty, such as will, perhaps, eternally remain interwoven with the present subject. But if every difficulty went to disprove and overthrow the proposition, to which it is attached, we should have no God, nor any moral government over the universe. We meet with great difficulty in formning proper conceptions of the divine be. ing ; but should we not subject ourselves to much greater difficulties by denying his existence ? The mind brings itself into a kind of perplexity and puzzle, when it admits, on the one hand, that God has bound every intelligent creature under a law, which he ought to obey, and, on the other, that no creature has power to act, except what is im. mediately derived from the hand of his mak
And should we find no difficulties at. tending a theory in opposition to this ? Up, on so mysterious a theme, how much do we need the light of revelation! Having obtained it, how closely and diligently should we follow the track it marks out for us? But to return to the objector. He says, I cannot conceive, how God can support the character of a consistent and upright being, while he causes men to act in diametrical opposition
to his own requirements ; or that he should punish men for those very actions which are begotten in them by his own power. To this I reply by saying, I cannot conceive how God can foreknow any thing, of which he himself is not the cause; or that he sliould predict any thing, as certain, which is in its own na. ture uncertain, as all those actions inust be, that do not depend on his power ; or that he can consistently ascribe those events to himself, as the fruit of his own power, which are brought to pass in the way of human a. gency, and this he has done in many passages of scripture, which have been heretofore ad. duced, unless human actions are dependant on him. Here, then, non-conception stands against non-conception, and, as arguments, they must leave the subject where they found it, and the final decision be referred to the voice of scripture. And has it not been al. ready demonstrated, as far as express scripture has the force of demonstration, that God does, in fact, raise up wicked men to be the means of that ultimate good, which is the motive of his government; and use all their wickedness in subserviency to this noble end? If God has any use for sin, and, on this account, wills its existence, he must will the existence of that which is contrary to the requirements of his own most holy law, for sin is a transgression of the law. Without a breach of the divine law, there can be no such thing as sin, nor, consequently, any such thing as grace. If God desires any such: :