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consideration of a wicked character not having had preventing grace, as a reason of his not being punished; or of a righteous character having had preventing grace, by which he was enabled to become such, as a reason why he should not be rewarded; would be indeed most thoroughly subversive of all judicial proceedings.
$11. Will it be urged, that none of the human race have any need of inward preventing grace? Then, indeed, the bounty in question would be extremely superfluous. But I suspect some ambiguity in the terms, by which the objector is deceived. A thing may be needful for one end, which is not so for another; and to argue from the one to the other would be fallacious. It is granted that none of the human race have need of this bounty, in order to rendor them obliged and accountable: and this is equally true of the worst and the best of characters. If the latter of these be asked, whether they had any need of special grace in order to render them what they are, I believe the general answer would be in the affirmative. However great the difference, they will acknowledge distinguishing grace, by the exercise of a divine sovereign Prerogative, to be the efficient cause of it. Nor is it supposable that any characters finally condemned by the righteous Judge, will imagine that they had no “need” of what they
formerly despised. What is not needful to clear the character of the Judge, or to vindicate his condenination of the guilty, may be
needful to change their hearts, and to secure their happi
But as all revealed blessings are proposed to men in à conditional form, and these conditions are perfectly equitable, they have no plea for transferring the blame from themselves. Though parents, or masters, or ministers, have neglected their duty towards them; though wicked men or wicked spirits tempted them to walk in evil ways; and though providential goodness furnished them with that plenty which proved the occasion of pride, luxury, haughti, ness, and other evil passions; still they have no exculpating plea. The wicked man inust die in his wickedness; and those who have voluntarily neglected their duty towards him, or enticed him to evil, shall bear their own portion of guilt,
1. 12. Nor can it with truth be asserted that this exercise of the divine Prerogative would be injurious to any. 1 Not to the subject of grace; for the very design of it is to make him better and happier. : It implies no force upon his freedom ; he is equally free to good and evil as he was before. The difference is, that after he has received the light and life of grace, he freely chooses the good which he before refused; and freely refuses the evil which he
before chose. Nor can it be injurious to any other. For what possible injury can it be to those among whom his lot is cast, or to the world at large, that a sinner is converted from the error of his ways ? On the contrary, it may be of great advantage to many. His upright conversation, his holy affections, his heavenly discourse, his faithful testimonies, and his salutary warnings, may do incalculable good, as in the case of St. Paul. He may, indeed, prove an innocent occasion of exciting a persecuting spirit and conduct, or the evil passions of envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness; and so was the spotless character of the Saviour himself; but is this inflicting an injury upon those who are so wrought upon? Oh no! They receive no injury which does not proceed from themselves. There is not, in short, a single being in the universe who can be fairly said to be injured by the preventing grace of God, and the exercise of his Prerogative to confer discriminated favours,
II rong Notions respecting the ULTIMATE SOURCES of
Virtue and Vice.
§ 1. Why many have supposed that the Will is the ultimale source of
virtue and vice. § 2. The absurdity of that sentiment exposed, $ 3. The apparent reason why several of the Christian Fathers adopted this notion, $ 4. The immediate source of vice is not the will but the 'Heart. § 5. The real cause of an evil heart, $6, How this cause may be counteracted. $ 7,8. Wisdom and Folly illustrative of the nature and character of Virtue and Vice. $9. Remarks on Virtue, as to what is essential, and what perfective. § 10. Concluding observations respecting Vice, its nature and cause,
§ 1. Tìere is great reason to think that many sensible persons have been betrayed into the notion of a self-determining property in the human will, from the assumed principle, that the will itself is the ultimate source of virtue ảnd vice: and this assumption they have, no doubt, been induced to make, from the acknowledged fact, that there is neither virtue nor vice in human actions without the determination of the will. But the will's determination being essential to the moral quality of a human action, does by no means prove that it is the ultimate source of that action. The exercise of the intellect is no less essential, than that of the will, but no one can thence infer that it is the ultimate source of virtue and vice. What is now
contended for, is briefly this ; that the ultimate source of virtue, and of every good moral action, is God, from whom all good in the universe proceeds: or, if we seek for a source, considered as existing in the human mind, it is a gracious principle, the effect of a sovereigir energy And it is further maintained, that the ultimate source of all vice, is A NEGATIVE PRINCIPLE OF DEFECTIBILITY, whereby actions physically good become morally evil.
§ 2. The advocates for self-determination, by supposing the will to be the ultimate source of moral actions, are constrained to hold this absurdity, that things diametrically opposite in their nature, as virtue and vice, proceed from the same ultimate source,—which is the same as to maintain, that things directly opposite in their nature' proceed. from that which has the same uniform nature! Not only the same conduit, the will; may be the medium of conveying at different times both sweet water and bitter, which we admit, but also that they spring from the same fountain! When the apostle James assures us that every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above, from the Father of lights,” it is implied that things of a différent quality do not come from that source. A good will, if any thing in our world, is included in St. James's assertion; and a bad will is