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other; and, that God requires the whole regard which he claims to be rendered to him, only as a benevolent God. One of the inferences drawn from the whole argument, is this; that the perfect benevolence of God must delight in greater good more than in that which is less, and most in that which is supreme.' The present system, therefore, it is argued, in accordance with the sentiment quoted from Leibnitz, must be the best and most perfect system of good; and the means employed for the accomplishment of God's final end, must also be the best and most proper that could be chosen. The whole work of creation and providence, composed of the means and the end, is, then, a perfect work entirely suited to his character.'

In the fifteenth sermon, on the Decrees of God, in which the reader will find some very able reasoning, the same sentiment is thus expressed.

• It cannot but be acknowledged, that He knew what system was, upon the whole, most desirable, wisest and best. If he did not resolve on it, it was plainly because he did not desire or choose to bring it to pass. In plain English, then, he did not desire the chief good of his creation, or the supreme glory of himself, with sufficient good-will to resolve on it. Can this be infinite goodness? Can it be moral perfection? If he did not resolve on the superior system, it must be that he chose to do less good, rather than greater?

In this sermon, we meet with one of the very rare instances which the work contains of Americanisms.

"The metaphysical nature of Moral Agency both in God and his creatures, is a subject, perhaps, as tenuious, as difficult to be fastened upon, and as easily evanescent from the mind, as any which we can attempt to examine.'

In the twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh sermons, on the probation and fall of man, this vast, and fathomless, and ever recurring question, Si Deus est, unde maluin? again presents itself; and our Author's views of the metaphysical difficulties of the subject, are still further developed, After enlarging on the character of the Tempter, and the subtlety which distinguished the manner of the temptation, he remarks that the character of the

persons was probably singular.

• They were newly created; were innocent; were holy; and, considering the short period of their being, were undoubtedly possessed of no small discernment in divine things. Still, they were imperfect beings, without experience, and destitute of knowledge in many particulars which would naturally be wished in a case where art and falsehood were employed against them; and, although furnished with a clear comprehension of their own duty, were totally ignorant of the character, and unable readily to conjecture the designs of their adversary. The first deceit which

they ever knew, was now practised on themselves; and the first falsehood of which they ever heard, was now directed to their owu destruction. Of the rebellion of the Angels, they probably knew nothing; of the character of the Tempter, they would not naturally form even a suspicion. Accustomed to hear only truth, they would not easily expect a lie; and, habituated only to faithfulness and friendship, fraud and malevolence were, in their approach to them, assured of a necessary and sufficient disguise. That artless, childlike simplicity which so delights the mind, and embellishes the pictures of the historian and the poet, which adorned the life, and endeared and enforced the lessons of the Redeemer himself, and which now constitutes no sinall part of evangelical excellence, was then a principal trait in their character. In the peculiar kind of wisdom which we call prudence, they certainly had made little progress; and caution must have been known to them only in lessons of instruction.

• Thus they were, in several important respects, beings fitted for imposition, and not unnaturally the victims of insidiousness and cunning. The same means, at the present time, ensnare persons of the same character; and it is not in the nature of things, that superior sagacity, however employed, should not possess the power of influencing, more or less, the same simplicity. Firm obedience, such as they were bound to render to their God, a prompt undeliberating refusal, and an original steadfast determination not to listen, would have secured them from yielding; but when they began to hear, and to investigate, they began to be exposed; and their danger increased with every step of their progress in inquiry.

• In the meantime, it seems that neither of them thought of supplicating the aid of their Creator. A single prayer would have put the Tempter to flight, and dissolved the charm of the temptation. A single recollection, also, of his commands, his kindnesses, and his instructions, might easily have produced the same effect. But neither prayer nor recollection was summoned to their assistance. Like their descendants, when forgetful of God, and, in a sense, forgotten by him, they were weak, frail and exposed to every danger.'

The Author then briefly adverts to the immediate consequences of the temptation, and passes on to a consideration of the two great questions' so perpetually iterated: ·Since our first parents were entirely holy, how could they become sinful?' and, Why did God permit Adam to fall?'

The first question, he remarks, in its simple and proper form, is no other than this: · How can a holy being become sinful, or how can a holy being transgress the law of God?! To this, no philosophical answer can, he thinks, be given. It has, however, been' unnecessarily embarrassed by the modes in which answers to it have been attempted. To refer the effect, in the case of Adam, to a principle of action inherent in his nature, would seem to involve the subject in deeper difficulty, because, if the only principles of moral action in Adam were holy, the question returns; How could a holy principle be the cause of a sinful action? Dr. Dwight is of opinion, however, that a fallacy lies concealed under the vague and equivocal word, principle. He admits that there is a cause of moral action in intelligent beings, frequently indicated by the words principle, affections, habits, nature, tendency, propensity, and several others;' terms indicating a cause, the existence of which is proved by its effects, but the real nature of which is to us wholly unknown. They intend no more than this; that a reason really exists, although undefinable and unintelligible by ourselves, why one mind will, either usually or uniformly, be the subject of holy volitions, and another, of sinful ones. The existence of such a cause must be admitted, unless we acknowledge it to be a perfect casualty that any volition is sinful rather than holy. But there is no such thing as a casualty in this sense; that is, an effect uncaused. This unknown cause is what the Scriptures denominate the heart. It is the state of mind out of which volitions arise, and from which they receive their character; a state of mind neither unchangeable, nor so powerful as to necessitate that the volitions should uniformly correspond to it, so as absolutely to prevent either from sinning, where the mind is inclined to holiness, or from acting in a holy manner, where it is inclined to sin. To explain the effect in question, therefore, it is necessary only to suppose that a temptation actually presented to the mind, is disproportioned in its power to the inclination of that mind towards resistance.'

• There is no proof, from the nature of things, that finite strength and stability are sufficient to resist all possible motives to sin. From facts, we are irresistibly led to admit the contrary doctrine. Angels, though entirely holy, yielded to such motives, as did our first Parents also, who possessed the same virtuous character. These facts furnish a strong presumption, at least, that it is not within the limits of created perfection, to resist temptation in all possible cases; and at the final perseverance of saints and angels, both in a state of trial and in a state of reward, is derived ultimately from the Almighty Power of God.'

We are desirous to exhibit Dr. Dwight's sentiments, rather than to express on these points any opinion of our own. Some of our readers may be surprised that he makes no reference to the negative principle in created beings, on which theologians have generally laid so much stress. His object is, let it be remembered, to dispose not so much of the metaphysical as of the moral difficulties of the subject; and the consideration alluded to is purely metaphysical, and adapted to meet a philosophical objection. Leibnitz, in reply to those who contended that God is the only agent in the Universe, remarks: "When we say that a creature depends

upon God for all that he is, and for all that he does, and even that his preservation is a continual act of creation, we mean, that God is constantly imparting to the creature, and producing in him, all that is positive, all that is good and perfect, every perfect gift coming down from the Father of lights; whereas the imperfections and defects attaching to his operations, proceed from the original limitation of which the creature could not but be the subject from the earliest commencement of his existence, owing to the ideal reasons which set bounds to his nature. For God could not bestow upon the creature every thing, without making him a God. It was necessary, therefore, that there should be different degrees in the perfection of things, that there should also be all varieties of limitation.' ..... Evil, then, is like darkness; and not only ignorance, but even error and malice formally consist in a certain species of privation. The will of the creature tends to good in the abstract; it ought to go forward towards the perfection which is suited to our nature; and supreme perfection is in God. There is in all pleasure some sense of perfection. But wben the mind stops short at the pleasures of sense, or any other kind of gratifi. cation, to the prejudice of its higher interests, such as health, virtue, union with God, felicity, the defect consists in this privation of an ulterior tendency. In general terms, perfection is positive; it is an absolute reality: imperfection is privative; it proceeds from limitation, and tends to further privation. Thus, it is a saying as true as it is ancient; Bonum ex causa integra, malum ex quolibet defectu. And again: Malum causam non habet efficientem, sed deficientem.'*

Important, however, as this distinction may be in philosophical reasoning, it contributes very little to a satisfactory view of this inscrutable subject; and we are disposed to agree with Dr. Dwight, that the most adviseable method of examining it, is, 'to consider the man and the facts, and not the abstract principles.

' But the very terms, sin and holiness, are abstractions; and his own state. ment of the case assumes a metaphysical character. It seems, indeed, impossible, if we go beyond the literal circumstances of the fact, to avoid adopting such a phraseology. Thus much is clear and certain, that man fell through forgetfulness of God, and therefore, it cannot be viewed as otherwise than most equitable, that he should have been suffered to fall. And further, since the display of his own perfections is the highest end which an Infinite, Self-existent Being can propose to himself in the creation and government of his creatures; it is conceivable how it should be infinitely worthy of God, to allow of an occasion being afforded for the exercise of mercy to those who had so come short of glorifying him by obedience. To suppose that God was bound antecedently to interpose, is to hold, that sin merited the favour of God, which is a contradiction in terms; and yet, a secret disbelief of the demerit

*“ Thoodicae," Tom. i. pp. 106,7.

of sin, lies at the bottom of the sceptics reasonings, or rather feelings, on this subject; a disbelief arising from viewing sin in relation to human infirmity, instead of in its more important and primary relation to the holiness and claims of God.

It appears to us to be incorrect to say, that Adam, prior to his defection, was the subject of no other principle of action than a holy principle; or that his defection arose entirely from what has been termed a negative cause. There was a positive principle of action involved in his transgression, a principle neither holy nor unholy in itself, but deriving its moral character from the direction of its exercise. We are not going to plunge again into abstractions; we mean only to remark, that an inclination to seek its own enjoyment is an inherent and necessary principle of all animal and intellectual existence: it is a universal instinct, founded in the nature of things, since it is impossible to conceive of a being that should not seek its own happiness. Man participated in this principle in common with the brute creation; and because he was capable of a higher happiness, a happiness suited to a moral agent, the principle which impelled him to seek that happiness was not, on that account, either virtuous or the contrary. It was a necessary principle, one upon which he could not but always act. But then, what distinguished him from all inferior ranks of existence, was his being the subject of another principle, which bound him to his Creator; and this principle not being necessary, its exercise being voluntary and rational, it followed, that the former might be called into exercise, while the latter remained dormant. The principle which bound him to his Creator was a natural tendency, leading him to seek that happiness which he could not but instinctively seek, in God. But this natural holy tendency, was not a necessary law of his being. God was even then an object of faith; and the religious exercise of his intellectual powers, which was requisite to keep alive the principle of love to God, and to subordinate the natural principle of self-gratification to that which was designed for its guidance, was not essentially different in Adam before his transgression, from what it is in the Christian now. was properly faith as opposed to animal instinct.

It is the incommunicable property of the Divine Nature, that the source of happiness and the end of his operations are within himself, It is an essential law of created intelligence, that the source of its happiness should be without itself, and that its perfection should consist in union to the source of its happiness. This union, it is manifest, can be only of an intelligent and voluntary nature; it is the principle of love. Nothing is more clear from even the concise narrative of Scripture, than that our first parents, when they listened to the tempter, were induced to seek their own gratification independently of God,--that they did not, at the actual time of transgressing, love God, that they had for the time lost the sense of God,- that the principle of faith was wholly merged in the instinct of self-gratification, -and that the prevalence of in VOL. XII.



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