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aversion it could have no excellency. It is not free from being influenced by the disposition, whether that disposition be good or evil; otherwise we might as consistently trust an habitual thief, as an habitually honest man; we might give as easy credit to a known liar, as to a man of general veracity. When we apprehend the disposition to be evil, we always expect, other things being equal, the will to be influenced by it to unworthy ends. On the contrary, when we apprehend the disposition to be good, we expect the will to be influenced by it to ends and decisions which are laudable.
§ 2. The question returns, from what is the will free? In other words, wherein consists its freedom ? Until this point be clearly ascertained by both parties, all disputing about “ free-will" must be a mere war of words. What Calvinists maintain is, that the will, in its accountable actions, is free from constraint to evil, whether that evil be real or apprehended. Nothing but the supreme author of our being, can be supposed to constrain or impel the human will. He supports it in existence, indeed, and makes it act in the choice of its object; but that object is never chosen as evil, otherwise the possession of such a faculty would not be a blessing but a curse, and therefore unworthy of a beneficent Creator to confer
upon us. Nor is it constrained or impelled to real evil, except when, through the influence of prejudice, it is viewed as an eligible good. It is also free from a restraint from good, both real and apprehended.
To suppose it restrained from apprehended good, would be to tantalize it,--to support an active principle in perpetual disappointment and wretchedness: while to suppose it restrained from real good, would be an aspersion on its Maker and Preserver, who has made real good its only satisfying portion. The human will, therefore, is free from constraint and restraint, in these respects, in its accountable elections. This is what modern Calvinists profess; -and it is difficult to conjecture what greater freedom his Lordship would claim for the human mind,
§ 3. It is worthy of remark, that while the idea of will is positive, as of an active power, that of freedom is negative, as of mere exemption --- it is the bare denial of constraint and restraint. To suppose freedom or liberty, as predicated of the will, to be a power, or an active principle, superadded to the will, is to confound things which, in their proper nature, are totally different. It is to use words without distinct ideas. Whether his Lordship has kept his thoughts free from embarrassment on this subject, may deserve his reconsideration, especially
as much of his “ Refutation" appears to turn on this important point.
§ 4. There are two things avowed by his Lordship, under the head of Free-Will, which require examination. First,' that an impression on the mind depends on reason and freewill-and, secondly, that conversion is owing to the exercise of natural powers. There is a sense in which it is commonly known that Calvinists readily admit these positions; but they are. here advanced by his Lordship in opposition to Calvinism, the growth of which he professes to impede. In fair construction, therefore, the positions must be meant in some other sense, which they do not avow. In matters of controversy, not to distinguish is to continue in a labyrinth.
§ 5. His Lordship states, that the impression which the truths of the gospel make upon the mind, depends on reason and freewill. His words, in their connection, are these: * And surely the admonition which follows this
parable, “ Take heed therefore how ye hear,” • implies that the impression which the truths of *the gospel make upon the minds of men, *
depends upon the manner in which they attend 'to them, that is, upon the exercise of their
own reason and free - will.'* This statement must imply, that the Calvinists disavow it either altogether, or else in a sense which his Lordship disapproves,-otherwise why should it be urged against them? It is, however, incumbent upon me to assure him and the public, that modern · Calvinists do not cashier from their system the
exercise of reason and free-will.' They consider reason as the faculty which compares ideas, and the will as free in all its elections: they maintain that these faculties were first given and are still continued to man, in order to be exercised; that, when exercised aright, they answer the important end of promoting the impression which the truths of the gospel make upon the minds of men;' and that in this respect the impression depends upon the manner ' in which they attend to them. What more than this would his Lordship require? If any thing, it must be, that the exercise of our own reason and free-will is the exclusive cause of a good impression of Gospel truths upon our minds. I say a good impression,—for though the truths of the gospel are always and uniformly good, the impressions made, through man's fault, are often bad. “ For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved, it is the power of
* Refut. p. 14.
God.' “ For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the savour of death unto death, and to the other the savour of Hife unto life.”+
§ 6. That a good impression of divine truth on the human mind depends exclusively on the exercise of reason and free-will, we dare not concede. The parable, explained by our Lord himself, expressly declares that “ an honest and good heart” constitutes an essential difference, where the impression is good and lasting. All the different kinds of hearers had the exercise of reason and free-will, and all had equal objective inducements for exercising them in the same manner. We regard divine truth as the instrumental cause, or moral mean, of good impressions; but reason and free-will as physical powers, which are at liberty either to reject, or to receive and appropriate the truth proposed. To contend that reason and free-will are themselves the cause of the different manner of their exercise, is to argue in a circle. The question is, on what depends the proper exercise of reason and free-will? Surely not on the exercise of reason and free-will! We say, on the state of the heart, as “ good and honest,"
* 1 Cor. i. 18.
+ 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.