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included in other things of a different quality. God therefore, and not the human will, is the ultimate source of virtue. When he enlightens the mind, and influences the heart, according to his sovereign Prerogative, in a greater or less degree, free virtuous actions will be the sure effects. The determination of the will, indeed, is a condition sine qua non of the virtuous qua, lity of its act; but without grace in the heart, and without a communication of that gracę from God, there could not be one virtuous act, in the proper sense of this epithet, among either men or angels. He who would deny this, would also deny that God is the fountain of all good, a truth which ought surely to be admitted, by all persons professing Christianity, as an undoubted axiom.
Ý 3. And yet this proposition, so evident in sacred scripture, and so approvable by unbiassed Teason, was very strangely called in question by some of the Fathers, when they asserted that good actions are only permitted;—and that the : beginning' must be from ourselves, not only in point of obligation, but in point of fact. Surely such a representation, so far from being the language of heavenly wisdom, instructing man, kind, betrays a lamentable want of it. If they reflected at all, when penning such phrases, they must have proceeded on the supposition that
otherwise our bad actions would be from God. The recoil from one extreme carried them to another. They dreaded the impiety of tracing our evil deeds to God's will; and therefore they rashly encountered the opposite danger, as they saw no medium, by fixing upon the human will as the common source of our good and our evil. This indeed is a short method of simplifying the subject, to bring every act of virtue and vice to the same fountain ;-but it is to simplify at the expence of revealed religion, and of genuine philosophy
§ 4. Where, then, it may bé rejoined, shall we find the ultimate source of vice, if not in the human will, as a self-determining faculty? I answer, in the Heart, according to the scriptural acceptation of the term. Our Saviour tells us, that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.”* This “ heart" must be something more intimate and radical than the will; for it is the source of “evil thoughts,” as well as of evil words and actions. To an evil heart is often ascribed in scripture, hardness, blindness, impurity, pride, foolishness, grossness, and insensibility. Over an evil heart there is a
Matt. xv. 19, 20.
veil: and to a blind or hard heart St. Paul imputes ignorance and a darkened understanding.” Solomon addresses fools, as those who have not
an understanding heart.”+ He observes also, " that the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live.” Such things, in short, through different parts of scripture are ascribed to the “ heart," as prove decisively that it is a more internal source of moral actions than the will. The exercise of this faculty is both from the heart, and as the heart. If this be enlightened and wise, so is the choice; but if dark and foolish, the choice is of the same character.
g 5. It was before granted that the free determination of the will is essential in order to stamp any act as vicious ;' and it has been shewn that something more intimate than the will is intended by the heart. But the evil quality of the heart is neither from God nor from chance; and yet we cannot deny it to be without a cause, in some sense of this word,unless at the same time we renounce the fundamental axiom, that there is no effect without a cause. It was for want of ascertaining the real cause of an evil heart, and consequently of vice, that the Fathers are so often found contradicting
* Eph. iv. 18.
+ Prov. viii. 5.
Eccles. ix. 3,
themselves and one another. These contradictions they would have avoided, had they perceived that the ultimate source of all vice is a negative cause, as contradistinguished from a positive. Had 'they properly considered the attributes of man, or of any one creature, they might have perceived, that he has not only faculties and qualities which are effects from the first cause, but also a principle of defectibility. While man is in one respect the image or likeness of his Creator, in another point of view he is a contrast to him who “ knows no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” God is independent, all-sufficient, and immutable; but man is a contrast, and the attributes of essential dependence, insufficiency, and mutability, are inseparably attached to his being. A being not possessed of these essential attributes, is not a creature.
§ 6. But though man cannot exist without these negative attributes, he is possessed of active faculties, which are capable of virtue and vice. He has an intellect adapted to perceive a law and its proper sanctions, a will to choose the good and refuse the evil, yet free to adopt either side. While an efficient principle prevails, his choice is virtuous; but while God is neglected, and influence from him is despised nr undervalued, the choice is vicious. The source of defectibility in man, can be over-ruled only
by the source of indefectibility in God; and a portion of gracious energy from him, which he never denies to those who seek aright, is man's only security against vice. The most important part of self-knowledge of which man is capable, is to perceive practically and experimentally this essential difference between himself and his Maker.
§ 7. The respective natures of virtue and vice are often expressed by Solomon under the terms wisdom and folly,--and with great
strictness of propriety. Pure virtue, like pure wisdom, consists in the choice of a worthy end, and in the adoption of laudable means for attaining it. Partial virtúe, like partial wisdom, is often found in wicked men. “ The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” They have the wisdom of the serpent, are wise to do evil; and were their end worthy, while their dexterity in the choice of means is admirable, they would shew themselves truly wise and virtuous. In real virtue something is essential, and something perfective. What is essential, is the choice of a chief end; what is perfective, is the adoption of laudable means. Hence, a person may be essentially virtuous, without being so perfectively. And this is the character of “ the children of light” in general. They choose God for their chief good; but often fail in the means of attaining perfect