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moral agency. And it is of the last importance, in my apprehension, that this also should be maintained and manifested to every man's conscience.

Because a man must act according to his own heart, or as he pleases; does this destroy his freedom! It is the very thing in which all free agency consists. The pulse can beat; the limbs can move in some bodily disorders, or when one that is stronger than we takes hold of them; whether we will or no. But God does not consider us as accountable for such actions as these. And we should, and that not without reason, think it very hard, should he blame or punish us for them. For an honest and good man's pulse may beat as irregularly as the worst villain's in the world. Or his hands, in a convulsion, may strike those around him, in spite of all he can do to hold them still. Or one may be carried by force along with a gang of thieves, and be taken for one of them, though no man hates such company and actions as theirs, more heartily than he does. Such involuntary actions every one sees a man is not, and ought not to be accountable for. And the reason is, no bad inclination of ours, or want of a good one, is necessary in order to them. They are so free, as to be independent of us, and out of our power. If all our actions were like these; no ways necessarily connected with our disposition, and choice, and tenper of mind, we could not be accountable creatures, or the subjects of moral government. If a good tree could bring forth evil fruit, and a corrupt tree good. fruit; if a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, could bring forth evil things, and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, good things; the tree could never be known by its fruit. It could never be known by a man's actions, any thing what his heart was. So that,

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if they were dealt with according to their works, the most upright and well disposed would be as liable to be punished; and the most ill-natured and ill-disposed, as likely to be rewarded, as the contrary. Whence all moral government must be at an end.

Certainly, if we are justly accountable, rewardable, or punishable, for any actions; if any actions are, or can be, properly our own, it must be such as are dictated by ourselves, and which cannot take place without our own consent. An inability, therefore, to act otherwise than agreeably to our own minds, is only an inability to act otherwise than as free agents. And that necessity which arises from, or rather consists in, the temper and choice of the agent himself, and that which is against his choice and his very nature, are so far from coming to the same thing at last, that they are directly contrary one to the other, as to all the purposes of morality, freedom, accountableness, and desert of praise or blame, reward or punishment.

And this is agreeable to the sense of all mankind, in all common cases. A man's heart being fully set in him to do evil, does not render his evil actions the less criminal, in the judgment of common sense, but the more so: nor does the strength of a virtuous disposition render a good action the less, but the more amiable, and worthy of praise. Does any one look upon the divine Being, as less excellent and glorious, for being so infinitely and unchangeably holy in his nature, that he "cannot be tempted with evil," or act otherwise than in the most holy and perfect manner? Does any one look upon the devil as less sinful and to blame, because he is of such a devilish disposition, so full of unreasonable spite and malice against God and man, as to be incapable of any thing but the most horrid wickedness? And as to mankind : who is there that does not make

a difference between him that is incapable of a base action, only by reason of the virtuousness of his temper, having all the natural talents requisite for the most consummate villainy: and him that is incapable of being the worst of villains, for no other reason than only because he does not know how? Does any one think that only the want of a will to work, excuses a man from it, just as much as bodily infirmity does? Or, do we any of us ever imagine, that the covetous miser who, with all his useless hoards, has no heart to give a penny to the poor, is for that reason equally excusable from deeds of charity, as he who has nothing to give?

We certainly always make a distinction betwixt want of natural abilities to do good, and the want of a heart; looking upon the one as a good excuse, the other as no excuse at all, but rather as that in which all wickedness radically consists. A natural fool no one blames for acting like a fool. But "to him that knoweth to do good, and doth it not; to him "it is sin,” in the sense of all mankind, as well as in God's account. "If there be first a willing mind," we always suppose it ought to be accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." But the want of a willing mind, or not having a mind to do well, is universally considered as a crime, and not as an excuse. Nothing is more familiar to us, than to distinguish in this manner. Nor can any man of common sense help judging thus.

Now this distinction is as applicable to the case before us, as it is to any other case. Some may be unable to comply with the gospel, through the want of those powers of mind, or those bodily organs, or those means of grace, without which it is impossible to understand the character of Christ, or the way of salva

tion through him. In either of which cases, the inability is of the natural kind. Others may have all the outward means, and all the natural faculties, which are necessary in order to a right understanding of the gospel; and yet, through the evil temper of their minds, they may be disposed to make light of all its proposals and invitations, and to treat every thing relating to religion and another world, with the utmost neglect and indifference. Or, if their fears of " the wrath to come," are by any means awakened, and they are made with much solicitude to enquire what they shall do to be saved," still they may be utterly disinclined to submit to the righteousness, or the grace of God, as revealed in the gospel. They may be still, such children of the devil, and enemies of all righteousness, as to be irreconcilably averse to all the right ways of the Lord.” They may have "such an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God," as is absolutely inconsistent with consenting to the covenant of grace, or "believing to the saving of the soul." Now, when this is the case, the inability the sinner is under, is only of a moral

nature.

We may now pass on to the

2d. head, viz. To show that all who are not the subjects of the special and effectual grace of God, must certainly be unable, in one or the other of these senses, to come to Christ, or comply with the gospel.

Those, many of them at least, who dislike the distinction now explained, and some who seem in a sort to admit of it, suppose all men have, and must have, every kind of ability to do their duty, and to obtain salvation. But, I apprehend, it will be very easy to make appear, that this certainly is not the case. A variety of scripture arguments, and a multitude of texts, might be adduced here, were they needed. But that all have

not, both the fore-mentioned kinds of ability to comply with the gospel, either of themselves, or by the help of common grace, is as evident as any thing needs to be, merely from the fact, that many do not do it, but actually live and die in impenitence and unbelief. By common grace is meant, that grace which is given to sinners in general, those that are not saved, as well as those that are. They who believe that all are in every sense able to work out their own salvation, through the gospel, would not be thought to frustrate the grace of God. They do not suppose sinners are able to do this of themselves, but that some divine assistance, some working of God in them, both to will and to do, is really necessary in the case. But then they suppose, all this needed grace, whatever it be, is given to sinners without exception: and hereby they account for God's commanding all men every where to repent and believe the gospel. "I grant, indeed," says an ingenious Arminian writer,* "that by reason of original sin, we are utterly disabled for the performance of the condition, without new grace from God. But I say then, that he gives such grace to all of us, by which the performance of the condition is truly possible, and upon this ground he doth and may most righteously require it." Here by the way, it is worthy of particular remark, what notions many are obliged to entertain of divine grace, in order not to reflect upon the divine justice. To require perfect holiness of creatures so enfeebled and depraved as we are, they suppose would be evidently one of the most unreasonable things in the world. Therefore God has been graciously pleased to send his Son to obey and die in our room, that we

* Dr. Stebbing, on the operation of the Spirit.

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