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of themselves, while God upholds them in being, and gives them opportunity and abil ity to act; let it be replied, that unless he immediately causes them to act, he does not uphold them as agents, though he may uphold them as animals. To uphold them, as animals, he must afford them a continual supply of all that, which belongs to anima tion, or in which animal being consists; and to uphold them, as agents, he must continu ally supply them with all that, in which a gency consists. And a man can no more act, morally, in consequence of having his ani. mal being sustained; than he can breathe and move, merely in consequence of having his flesh and bones kept together. The only advantage of considering a man, as acting of himself, provided a divine power is exercise ed to continue him in being, must be this, that such an economy is more consistent with moral agency. But how is it more favourable to the notion of a man's being a moral agent, than the doctrine of his immediate dependence on God for every exercise? It must be on the following account, if any, viz. that dependence,as to exercises, is inconsistent with their being of a moral nature. And to affirm this, is saying, that it is not in the power of God to cause a moral exercise. For, if our exercises are not moral, because they are an effect of divine operation, and not caused by ourselves; then, whatever exercise God is pleased to produce in any subject whatever, it cannot be reckoned a moral exBB
ercise, for this reason, viz. that God, rather than the subject himself, is the cause of it. This being granted, the principle is established at once, that God cannot produce a moral exercise, in any creature, whether he be a saint, or a sinner. But should it be allowed, that he has power to produce moral exercises of any kind, the objection we are endeav ouring to answer is destroyed and given up ; and the doctrine we would advocate is ad, mitted, viz. that moral agents may be used by the Deity, as instruments of his providence. Without enquiring what our reason would dictate, upon this point, without the special aid of revelation, we shall go to the bible to be resolved in this matter. There we shall be told, in terms sufficiently expli cit and intelligible, that God can and actually does produce exercises of will, or moral exercises, in the human mind. What else is the meaning of the Psalmist in the following words; Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beautics of ho lines from the womb of the morning." The willing mind, here promised, is connected. with the power of God, which implies, that it is effected by the hand of him, who alone is able to subdue all things unto himself. The christian scriptures speak the same sentiment in a vast many instances, particularly, where the christian temper and experience. is represented as coming from the influences of the Spirit. Christ, as a Prince and Sav iour, is said to give repentance. Other gra
ces are also considered as derived from the same source. "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." How are these devout and holy exercises from God, only as the fruit, or effect, of his power? Accordingly the apostle says, "Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. Upon the authority of this same sentiment, the apostle prays for the brethren at Ephesus, that they might have the spirit of wisdom to discern the following among other precious gospel truths. “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to`us-ward, who believe, according to the working of his mighty power." The Colossians are said to be risen with Christ through the faith of the operation of God. But how can that be of the operation of God, which is not produced by his power? If what has been already produced does not fully satisfy, let more be added. The following passage is very plain and directly to the point. "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' Every prayer to God for spiritual quickening, and growth in grace, is offered upon the prin ciple, that God is able to produce right af fections, holy desires, in the hearts of men; and they prove this to be the peculiar prov
ince of Deity, and consistent with the moral agency of the creature. This proof comes. with great force from the apostle, when we read him in the following passages. "Now, God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." Such plain and pertinent texts are conclusive evidence, that dependence on God, for right exercises, is not incompatible with the moral agency of those, who are the subjects of them. On the other hand, there are texts not less plain and conclusive, in favour of the dependence of sinners for their exercises, consisting with their moral agency. The mention of a very few must suffice. "And the Lord stirred up an adversary to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite. And God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon, the son of Eliadah, which fled from his Lord Hadadezer king of Zobah.--Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled."
If God stirs up men, and
puts certain purposes in their hearts, and this to bring about the events which, he has himself counselled, I see not by what good authority we can deny the dependence of human agency, in respect to actions, morally good or evil. On the whole, it appears, that God does actually work by the instrumentality of men, as moral agents, and this without lessening, at all, the praise or blame, which is attached to moral conduct. Whatever other objections may lie against this view of divine government; yet the one we have considered, viz. that it takes away moral a gency from man, must, I think, inevitably fall to the ground. The strength of others we may have occasion to try at a future time..