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of originating his own volitivn. To suppose that a man was capable of originating bis own existence, would be the same as to suppose that lie existed before he did exist. The same is true of volition. To suppose that any man originates his own volition, is to suppose that be chooses before he does choose.For, if a man causes his own volitions, he must do it roluntarily: and this must be to choose before he does choose, which is absurd. It cannot be necessary, then, in order to choose or act for themselves, for men to possess il self-determining power, or in other words, that they be the efficient, originating cause of their own volitions, for this is impossible.
But all that is necessary for mankind, in order to choose or act for themselves, is, that their volitions or acts of choice, should be their own in view of motives. Choice is the opposite of oonstraint, us tumpulsiou. When any ono chooses, therefore, he must necessarily act without either constraint or restraint, and he must necessarily choose or act in view of motives. On this ground, a man's act of choice is just as much his own, as if he acted independently of God, or originated his own volitions. In this sense, a man may be said to be just as capable of choosing or refusing, though he does not originate or produce his own volitions, as he may be said to be capable of breathing, though he does not originate or create the air which he breathes. Who will say that a man's breath is not his breath, merely because he does not create the air which inflates his lungs? The hand that holds the pen is saiik to be the hand of the writer; but the writer did not create the hand which holds bis peu. It is evident, then, that all that is necessary, in order for mankind to choose or act for themselves, is that their acts of choice should be their oren; or, as they must, in their own nature, be free in view of motives.
In this sense, God is willing that mankind should choose or act for themselves, under the light of the gospel, whether they embrace or reject it. He was willing they should do this in the days of Ezekiel. He sent the propbet to the people of Isruel, and commanded him to say, *Thus saith the Lord; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear.' If God was willing that the children of Israel should choose or act for themselves, whether they received or rejected his word, no reason can be given why he may not be willing that all who sit under the light of the gospel should not do the
The truth of this sentiment is evident, because God always intends to treat mankind as moral agents. He always has treated them as moral agents, in all ages of the world. He has presented motives or objects of choice, action, or aversion to their minds, as to the minds of moral agents. He has set before them life and death, a blessing and a curse. He has pointed out to them the blessings which result from obedience to the truth; and he has warned and admonished them of the dreadful consequences of rejecting it. As moral agents, he has
promised eternal salvation and the joys of heaven to the righteous; but has threatened the pains of everlasting death to the wicked. He has, likewise, offered salvation on certain conditions; and he has threatened, that, if they do not comply with those conditions, they shall be destroyed. When Christ commissioned his apostles to preach the gospel, he said, "He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.' Agreeably to this commission, the apostles preached 'repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.' When the people of Israel, on the day of Pentecost, cried out, · Men and brethren, what shall we do? Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.' The same apostle likewise said to Simon the sorcerer, .Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.'
God has treated mankind as moral agents, not only by presenting motives and conditions of action to their minds; but he has done it by actually rewarding them for obedience, and punishing them for disobedience. He punished the unbelieving and rebelious Israelites, whose carcasses fell in the wilder
But, he rewarded Caleb ard Joshua, even in this world, because they believed and obeyed him. The apostle speaks of some, who were set forth as examples to those who should 'after live ungodly, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.' It is evident, then, that God has always treated mankind as moral agents. But, there can be no propriety in treating mankind as moral agents, if they do not choose or act for themselves, as moral beings, in embracing or rejecting the gospel. If they did not choose or act for themselves, they would not be moral agents, but mere machines. It appears from this very
circumstance, that God is willing mankind should choose or act for themselves, whether they embrace, or whether they reject the gospel.
Mankind always have chosen or acted for themselves, when. ever they have embraced, or whenever they have rejected the gospel. Not an instance can be named, in the whole history of the church, in which God ever ccinpelled an individual either to embrace or to reject the gospel. It is true, he has made multitudes willing to embrace the gospel ; but this is the opposite of compulsion. Let any person, who ever embraced the gospel, be asked whether he was conscious of any constraint or compulsion ; and he will answer in the negative. Every person who embraces the gospel is conscious of no constraint or compulsion; but, on the contrary, is conscious that he now receives the gospel just as freely as he before rejected it. So, on the other hand, there is no person on earth, who is conscious of any constraint or compulsion in rejecting the gospel. Sinners, in rejecting the gospel, know, that they act as freely as it is possible for them to act, in the nature of things. But, if mankind have always acted for themselves, whether they have embraced or rejected the gospel; God must certainly have been willing they should act for themselves, whether they embraced or rejected the gospel ; just as he was willing that the rebellious Israelites should hear or forbear under the preaching of Ezekiel.
It is necessary that mankind should choose or act for themselves, under the light of the gospel, in order that they may be proper objects of praise or blame, reward or punishment. In order for moral beings to sustain a moral character, it is neeessary for them to choose or act freely. If it were possible for them to act against their will, either in embracing or in rejecting the gospel, they could not sustain a moral character any more than a machine. But, if they did not sustain a mos. al character, any more than a machine, they could not be proper objects of praise or blame, reward or punishment, any more than a machine. Mankind, however, do sustain a moral character, and are proper objects of praise or blame, reward or punishment; and that they might sustain a moral character, God intended that they should choose or act for themselves, whether they embraced or rejected the gospel of Christ.
God likewise intends that mankind sball sustain the responsibility of those consequences, which result from the choice they make, in embracing or rejecting the gospel. It is for this purpose, that he sets before them “life and death, blessing and cursing.” He intended that the rebellious Israelites should bear the whole responsibility, in the course which they took respecting the prophet Ezekiel, whether they would bear, or whether they would forbear.' Accordingly, he told the propliet to say unto them, . Thus saith the Lord; he that beareti, let him hear; and be that forbeareth let him forbear.' So is it with sinners under the light of the gospel. God commands the gospel to be preached to them, in its length and breadth, with all its conditions, promises and threatenings of rewards and punishments; and he says to them, Here is life and death heaven and hell set before you; take you choice, and abide the consequence! If you choose life you shall live, but if you choose death, you shall die, and your blood shall be upon your own heads! God intends, therefore, that mankind under the light of the Gospel shall reap the fruits of their own choice, either in the eternal blessedness and rewards of heaven, or in the eternal misery and punishment of hell. He intends, that the awful responsibility of these results, shall rest forever upon their own heads. For this reason he is willing they should choose or act for themselves, whether they choose eternal life or eternal death, an eternal blessing or an eternal curse. For this reason he commands every ambassador of Christ to 'preach the preaching which he bids him, and to say unto those under the light of the gospel, Thus saith the Lord; he that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear!'
For the Ilopkinsian Magazine.
He that “ hath a dream let him tell a dream."-Jer. xxiii, 28.
Concluded from page 505.
Then I saw in my dream that the chief managers of the
great christian establishment,” in order to secure unity in the true faith, began to teach that it is presumptuous for mortals to explain the bible by the light of nature, and according to the self-evident principles of natural theology ; but that it should be construed by other rules which they expected to control ; and that error should be opposed by scriptural argument and by nothing else.". And if the bible, exactly as they should expound it, were to be received as infallible ; they hoped to establish their authority and influence with a witness, and have a “great christian establishment," that, in point of infallibility should at least rival that of “ His Holiness.” Instead of recommending deep research, profound metaphysical enquiry,and acute and thorough speculation in religion and philosophy, as Dr. Watts does in his book on the “ Mind”-they taught their pupils that common people were not metaphysicians, theologians, nor philosophers; that religion and pbilosophy were quite two things ; and of course, that religion and ignorance of philosophy and metaphysics, were one. They often warned their pupils not to dive beyond the depth of their people, and to be exceedingly careful not to carry their inquiries and speculations too far. They scarcely ever preached at an ordination, or on any public occasion, without giving some thrust at metaphysical preaching or dry speculation, or polemic theology.
Accordingly I saw in my dream that their disciples generally left the "establishment" thorough going anti-metaphysicians, and anti-polemics, and exceedingly "fierce for moderation in theology;' averse to penetrating into the deep things of God, and bringing out of the treasury things new and old. Indeed they were any thing but profound and acute theologians. They were scribes well instructed in the science of declamation ; the rules of prudence and religious management; and the art of acquiring popular favor and influence, so as to do good; and tolerably well versed in "exegesis," philosophy, oriental bistory and biblical criticism ; but in general, superficial in divinity, “not clad in polernic armor," and opposed to profound and acute reasoning. And their influence upon the churches began to be visible, in leading even many good people to lose sight of the importance of truth and principle and honesty, and contending earnestly for the true faith, and watching in all thingsin leading their flocks to condemn ministers ten times more severely for going a little too far, and for alleged imprudence in exciting needless opposition, and disturbing the quiet of the united church and world; than for neglect of discrimination in
preaching; and refusing to declare all the counsel of Gol. Having been taught the art of reaching the passious and preaching without carrying things too far, or getting into the field of unlimited self-denial and disinterested benevolence; or at least without unequivocally shutting up their people withio these Jimits; they of course promoted religious excitements; and indeed soon claimed to be the best, if not lke only true friends of revivals of religion.
Instead of accomplishing their religious enterprises by the simple influence of truth and honesty, doing present duty and submissively leaving events to God; the leading managers now began to trust in combined moral influence and moral suasion. Religious combinations, associations, and even national societies on the broad ground of Catholicism, and unbounded liberality, became the order of the day. To make general enlistments against the "common enemy” of error and immorality, in their gross and hateful forms, the Church now were gener ally induced to sign a truce with the world, in respect to hated theological controversy. Disputed points were buried. True christian honesty was sacrificed to success. All thoughts seemed to be turned upon converting the whole world; upon orerthrowing the kingdom of Satan, and upon having a Milennium of Catholicism, latitudinarianism, and popular moral influence.
The United Church and world, under the “Great Christian Establishment,” were now able to secure all posts of honor and influence, and almost entirely control the press. Religious Editors were required to let theological speculation, and melaphysical inquiry alone, to be extremely careful not to dire toa deep, and not for their right hand, to "put in requisition wbatever there is that is lively or powerful, acute or profound in the faculties of their minds, to give their favorite motives currency. and to expose the shallowness of those who dissent from them." The officers in the great christian establishments, were chosen from those who were skillful in managing; and the anniversary speeches were from the same class.
It now began to appear that the experiment of committing the interests and influence of the Churches, or the formation of the character of the elergy, to Christian establishments, was a very hazardous and dangerous one. Clerical intrigue and domination began to trample upon the sacred rights of conscience and the liberty of the churches wherewith Christ had made them free. Some began to teach that the power of ecclesiastical discipline, and of church polity, did not belong to the churches, but to the clergy. Some principles emanated from the Christian establishments, which would have been spurned by the colony at an earlier period; in particular, that some religious questions, considered by most, at this time, as not essential parts of the gospel-scheme, ought never to be talked about, at ordinations, and even at the ezamination of candidates ; implying that the clergy had generally become so irritable,and so strongly bound in the chains of prejudice, as not to permit free in