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have resisted the irresistible agency of God; and
1 therefore, properly speaking, he was no more master of his own volitions than the elements were, out of which he was made.
If you say the want of a disposition to do otherwise, is the only cause why reprobates choose that Christ should not reign over them, it leaves us just where we were. For they cannot in the smallest degree be accountable for an indisposition, which is a necessary consequence of a sin in which they took no active part. This sentiment respecting an inability to do good, consisting altogether in the will, or disposition, is unseriptural, irrational, and contrary to experience. 1. It is unscriptural; Paul saith, Rom. vii. 18. “For to will is present with me; ; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Here then was the will or disposition to do good, but he was so circumstanced that he could not do it, the good that I would I do not. The same sentiment is inculcated to the Galatians, v. 17. 66 And these are contrary one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." 2. It is irrational. It supposes that if a man only have an inclination, will, or disposition to do a thing, he must do it. If he have no disposition, he cannot. This disposition, then, to do, or not to do, is the sovereign of the soul; so that all her powers lie prostrate before the disposition. Does it not follow from hence that
every man is impelled by a secret something called a disposition to do every thing he does ? And does not this as totally destroy the free volitions of a man's
mind, as it does to admit he is directed by an omnipotent fate? It certainly does—for it matters not by what name the controlling principle is distinguished, if man be compelled to obey its dictates, he is no longer free. Whether it be God, motive, secret influence, fate, or disposition, so long as any one of these is supposed to have such dominion over the soul, that she cannot act otherwise than she is thus compelled, she is no longer free. To be free, man must be complete master of his own volitions, He must not only have power to choose, but he must have power to choose otherwise, and to follow his choice.* 3. It is contrary to experience. This proves that a christian may have a disposition to love God as perfectly, and to serve him as purely as do the glorified spirits; but he cannot, while in this house of clay. A poor good man may have a disposition to feed the hungry, and clothe the naked, but cannot
• " Without freedom, there cannot be a thinking being, but on. ly a bare percipient being ; for thinking implies the turning the perceptive capacity from one perception to another, by an act of the will; otherwise a percipient being would have but one solitary perception always in view. And if the being doth not this by an act of the will, but is impelled by an external" (or in. ternal) “principle, how can it be said to think, being acted, and not active, in every thing beyond bare perceptivity? What is it to will? Is it not to act? If it be to act, it is to have the internal principle of action : and if it hath the internal principle of action, it must be free, and needs not be further acted or impelled in thinking. An active being, a thinking being, and a free being then, are synonymous terms." Baxter'& Inquiry into the nature of the human soul. vol. i. p. 203,
for the want of ability. So the wicked may have a disposition to do many wicked actions, from which they are restrained by an overruling providence.-Balaam had a disposition to curse Israel, and so far as human power is necessary, he had ability, although he was prevented by a fear of God. Paul had a disposition to do some good thing, I suppose to get free from the body of death, under which he groaned previous to justification ; but he could not, on account of the law of sin in his members. It appears therefore improper to make any one faculty or power of the soul, sovereign over all the other members. The soul having command over her own volitions within certain prescribed limits peculiar to human beings, she may act or not act at pleasure.-The grace of God is always ready going before in matters of religion, "preventing,” restraining, enlightening, and directing the inquiring, serious mind, in all things pertaining to godliness. With this " illustrious, but tremendous power, heaven arms all rationals. Before these intelligent, responsible beings, God places life and death, and bids them choose life that they may live. The free, moral agency of man is so evident, that all are forced to admit it in some sense. But after admitting the fact, to shelter their tottering system, which clashes against it, some refine it so much, that its essence is refined away. Thus, sir, you say man acts freely. But how? Why that he freely follows the corrupt principles of his nature, which God from all eternity determined he should have ; so that, in fulfilling
the desires of the flesh and mind, he exactly fulfills the secret, and uncontrolable will of God, i.e. he freely does what God decreed he should freely do ; and he cannot do otherwise, any more than he can fly a thousand miles in the air! I excuse you, however, for only giving this poor, bald freedom to man, It is all your system will allow. Your own good sense, I am persuaded, would have allowed more ; but you were so fettered with the chain of decrees, that you could not do the thing you would.
2. «How unreasonable it would be for the devils to find fault with Christ for not giving them a place in his kingdom, when, at the same time they are voluntarily engaged in seeking its destruction,” &c. p. 66. Voluntarily engaged! Were not all their sins decreed? Ans. p. 18.
66 As soon as we have proved, that one sin was decreed, we have removed all the objections which can be made against supposing that all the sins in the universé were decreed.” Do you say God decreed they should act voluntarily? And are they accountable for doing coluntarily what God decreed they should voluntarily do! Does this make them responsible? God decreed that water should freely run downwards; therefore the water is accountable ? Is not this a masterly argument to convince your readers, that your
66 view" of the doctrine of election is compatable with accountability? And so all you say about the hatred of the Jews, the wickedness of Voltaire, Paine, and Hume, amounts to no more than this, That they acted according to a predetermination of the Almighty, which they could no more resist, than you can reconcile free agency and accountability in man, with your doctrine of irrespective decrées to eternal life, and eternal death. You ask, “Would it have been reasonable, that they should enter a complaint ?" Yes; upon your principle, nothing more reasonable. On supposition your doctrine is true, and that they are in hell, they might justly say, Why should we be thus punished? We have fulfilled the eternal counsel of God's will, as much as Peter, James, and John. Nay, by our wicked publications, as they are called, we promoted the greatest good of the universe ; and so necessary
; were our bad works, that the elect, as they are called, could not be so happy without them. We were included in the all-comprehensive counsel of eternal wisdom, and were a part of the perfect plan; and as the whole cannot be perfect without all the parts, we were equally necessary for the perfection of all things, as were Peter, James, and John. Must we then be eternally miserable for contributing so great proportion (for we were very laborious, and had influence over the minds of thousands,) towards the greatest possible good ? Thus your doctrine puts a reasonable complaint into the mouth of every sinner on earth, or in hell. Neither is it possible, so long as you maintain your principle of universal decrees, of unconditional election to eternal life, and reprobation to eternal death, scripturally or rationally to silence their complaints. You may assert, as you have done in your