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Nor is this a singular case. There are many other subjects, upon which we can form no proper judgment, without the united aid of reason and common sense. Should I observe to a person walking with me in a garden, that a certain flower is the product of divine power, and possesses a beautiful color; and should he call upon me to prove my assertions, I should be obliged to have recourse first to reason and then to common sense. I could prove, by reason, that the flower was the product of divine power; but as to its color, I could only refer him to the evidence of his own eyes. If I should see a servant destroy his master's property, I could prove to him by reason that he had injured his master; but I could not prove to him, by reason, that he had broken a moral obligation and committed a crime. I could only represent the nature and extent of the injury which he had done to his master, by this instance of his conduct, and then refer him to the dictates of his own conscience; and if he should still continue unconvinced of his criminality, it would be out of my power to give him conviction, by any arguments drawn from reason. You may read a fine poem, and your reason may discover the unity of design, the connexion of parts, and the regular construction of periods; but, if at the same time, you perceive the harmony of numbers, the sublimity of sentiments, and the beauty of characters, this is not owing to any peculiar intellectual acumen, but to a correct taste, or the finer feelings of human nature, well cultivated and improved. These instances clearly show, that reason and common sense have different offices, and are to be employed in discovering different truths. It is not very strange, therefore, that we are obliged to employ both reason and common sense, in order to reconcile activity and dependence. Nor is there any
ground to imagine, that their consistency with each other is less certain, because it cannot be discovered, by reason alone, nor common sense alone, but by the united assistance of both. For if we know by reason that we are dependent, and know by common sense that we are active; then we know, that both activity and dependence do, in fact, harmoniously meet and unite in our minds. And this mode of reconciling aċtivity and dependence seems calculated to give entire satisfaction to any person, who is pressed with the difficulty of seeing their harmony and connexion. Let us apply it to the case of such a person. Does reason teach you, that you are a dependent creature? Does common sense teach you that you are a free moral agent? Do you never experience the least inconsistency between your activity and dependence? And do you feel as free and voluntary in all your actions, as if you were altogether independent of the Supreme Being? If all this be true, you must acknowledge, that you have the evidence of reason, that you act dependently, that you have the evidence of common sense, that you act freely; and that you have the evidence of constant experience, that your activity and dependence are entirely consistent. You are therefore, as certain of the truth and consistency of your activity and dependence, as you can be of any other truth, whose evidence depends upon the united testimony of reason and common sense.
MAN'S ACTIVITY AND DEPENDENCE ILLUSTRA, TED AND RECONCILED.
PHILIPPIANS ii, 12, 13.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in to will and to do of his good pleasure. HAVING endeavored to reconcile man's activity and dependence in the preceding discourse, I proceed to draw a number of inferences from the subject, which may serve to throw light upon some of the most difficult things, which are to be found either in the word, or in the works of God.
INFERENCE 1.If it be true that men act, while they are acted upon by a divine operation; then their actions are their own, and not the actions of God. The divine agency is not human agency, nor human agency the divine agency. Though God does work in men to repent,to believe and to obey; yet God does not repent, nor believe, nor obey, but the persons themselves on whom he operates. When God works in men, to will and to do, he does not act in their stead, but they act for themselves; and therefore what they do is entirely distinct from what he does. Whether they act virtuously or viciously, their actions are their own, and the praise or the blame is their own, as much as if they acted independently. Some suppose, that if God produces our moral exercises, then they must be his, or at least, exactly resemble his, in their moral quality. But there is no foundation to draw this conclusion, since our moral exercises are the productions of the divine power, and not emanations of the divine
nature. It is true, all emanations of the divine nature must necessarily partake of the qualities of the divine nature, as much as all streams must necessarily partake of the qualities of the fountain, from which they flow. But the works of God are not emanations of his nature, but only the fruits of his power. No created object, therefore, bears the least resemblance of the Deity, simply because he made it. We know God has created a multitude of serpents, vipers, and other noxious animals, which, though they prove him to be possessed of infinite power, yet afford no evidence of his being possessed of any malignity, which resembles the sting of scorpions; or the poison of asps. If God must necessarily stamp his own natural and moral image upon every production of his hand; then a flower, a dove, or a monster, must bear the natural and moral image of their Maker, as much as a saint, or an angel. Saints and angels do, indeed, bear both the natural and moral image of God; but they bear this image not simply because he gave them existence, but because he was pleased to give them such an intelligent and holy existence, as resembles his natural and moral perfections. It is, therefore, as consistent with the moral rectitude of the Deity, to produce sinful, as holy exercises in the minds of men. His operations and their voluntary exercises are totally distinct. And if we only make, and keep up, this distinction between divine and human agency, we shall clearly perceive that no imputation can be fastened upon the moral character of God, while he works in all mankind both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
INFERENCE 2.-If men always act under a divine operation, then they always act of necessity, though not of compulsion. The Deity, by working in them to will and to do, lays them under an absolute neces
sity of acting freely; but this is directly opposed to compulsion. God may cause men to move, without making them willing to move; but he cannot cause them to act, without making them willing to act. Action always implies choice; and choice always implies motive. It is out of the power of the Deity, therefore, to oblige men to act, without making them willing to act in the view of motives. Accordingly, when he works in us both to will and to do, he first exhibits motives before our minds, and then excites us to act voluntarily in the view of the motives exhibited. And in thus acting voluntarily in the view of the motives presented to us, we exercise the most perfect. liberty or moral freedom. For, we can frame no higher idea of moral freedom, than acting voluntarily, or just as we please, in the view of motives. This, however, is per. fectly consistent with moral necessity. Suppose a man at leisure desires to read; and some person presents him a Bible and a Novel. Though he knows the contents of each of these books, yet it depends upon a divine op. eration on his mind, which of them he shall choose to read; for the bare perception of motive is incapable of producing volition. If, in this case, God works in him to will to read the Bible, it is his own choice in the view of the object chosen. He is not compelled to read the Bible, though he is necessarily obliged to read it. He acts under a moral necessity, but not under a natural compulsion. Take another illustration from Scripture. God said to Samuel on a certain day, To-morrow I will send thee a man whom thou shalt anoint king over Israel. The man proved to be Saul. The story is this. Saul's father lost his asses, and sent Saul with a servant to search for them. They went and searched, until they despaired of success. But just as they were determining to return, the servant