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of these, and moral obligation ceases; but while these continue, the obligation remains unimpaired. The design of divine influence, there fore, is not to weaken, or in any way to alter the obligation, but to enable' the subject to discharge it.

§ 7. Another prejudice that pervades the "Refutation" is, that if the event be certain, exhortations and other moral means are superfluous. One might think that the whole system of prophecy is a sufficient exposure of this false notion. If prophetic events were not certain, how could they be certainly predicted? and yet we find that they are constantly accomplished by the use of moral means. In fact, these means are an essential requisite for moral determinations. If the law or the gospel were not made known to free agents, how could they love or hate them, and how could prophecies of these results be certainly accomplished? God foreknows not only the free-will of the agent, but also the principle according to which he will view moral means; and therefore what will be his determinations in given circumstances, with infinite precision. He knows what a free-agent left to his own principle, will do or will not do; and what the same or another agent, still equally free, when endowed with another principle in different degrees,

according to divinely wise and sovereign pleasure, will determine, or will not determine. If the depraved were not exhorted, how could a non-compliance be foretold? And if the better principled were not exhorted, how could their compliance be recorded as futurely certain?

§ 8. Having noticed some of the false grounds of moral obligation, it may be proper to subjoin a few remarks on its nature. In order to ascertain this, it is in vain that we look to what mankind actually do, or, to observe the operations of the human mind, on the plan of inductive philosophy. On the present subject, to know by the most accurate observation the matter of fact, will never teach us the matter of right. From what is done by a free agent, we cannot infer what ought to be done. We must therefore have recourse to the essential characters of God and man respectively, and the consequent subsisting relations. Through the medium of divine revelation, which fully approves itself to right reason, we learn, that God is the only independent and self-sufficient being -that he is the objective chief good-holy in his nature-equitable in his proceedings—and sovereignly beneficent. The essential character of man, as a subject of moral government, is, that he is absolutely dependent upon God-is possessed of intellect, will, and freedom-and is capable of enjoying the chief good.

9. Hence we see the relation subsisting between the Governor and the governed. There can be no happiness but in harmony with his will, which is ever conformable to the absolute rectitude of his nature. A voluntary harmony with his will, is real virtue; and the want of it, in moral agents, is real vice. A moral agent who, in his determinations, opposes God's holy will, at the same time opposes his holy nature. Now, to suppose that a voluntary determination of the agent, in contrariety to the will and nature of the governor, is not opposed by equity, would be a contradiction; would be to suppose God to be adverse to evil, and yet not adverse to it; to be unchangeable in his aversion to what is wrong, and yet changeable. Hence to be opposed by equity, is to be obliged to endure the consequence of not enjoying the chief good; and when a capacity for happiness is not gratified, the necessary effect is misery. Consequently, he that will not be virtuous, must be, is, obliged to be miserable, from the nature of things, that is, from the nature of the Governor and the governed.

10. Were this point properly considered, we should have fewer controversies about original sin, free-will, divine operations on the mind, faith, good works, the nature and extent of the price of redemption, election and predestination to life. We should also perceive

the fallacy of some inferences drawn from the doctrines of sovereign Grace by its friends, and triumphantly echoed by its foes. Had the Fathers and the Schoolmen been better acquainted with moral obligation, and the true principles of moral science, they would never have given us so many fanciful interpretations of scripture, nor have been so frequently inconsistent with themselves.

SECT. III.

Erroneous views respecting the DIVINE PRERogative.

1. That God is absolutely supreme, and his will in some respects arbitrary, is universally acknowledged. § 2. But not arbitrary in judgments and punishments. § 3. What implied in the Prerogative of Sovereignty. § 4. Evidence of its exercise toward mankind, from the revealed fact of Salvation provided. § 5. From the proclamation of mercy. § 6. From awful sanctions proving ineffectual; and § 7. From the joint considerations of human imbecility and the effects produced on some minds, 8. Others have no ground of complaint. § 9, 10. God, in the exercise of Sovereign Prerogative, is no respecter of persons, § 11. Man has great need of its exercise. § 12. Its exercise is injurious to none.

§ 1. THAT HAT God is absolutely supreme, is an acknowledged fact; and that in some respects and instances he is sovereign, that is, arbitrary, must be also allowed by every reflecting person. To what else can be ascribed the existence of the created universe, and the differences of material beings of which it is composed? What a sovereign variety is discoverable in the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal world! How various their natures, their properties, and their designed ends! These things are generally confessed, as they do not immediately affect the principles of morality and religion. But no sooner do we extend the sovereign prerogative to the human mind, than the trumpet of alarm is loudly sounded, as if some great injury to man, were the necessary consequence. These

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