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before chose. Nor can it be injurious to any other. For what possible injury can it be to those among whom his lot is cast, or to the world at large, that a sinner is converted from the error of his ways? On the contrary, it may be of great advantage to many. His upright conversation, his holy affections, his heavenly discourse, his faithful testimonics, and his salutary warnings, may do incalculable good, as in the case of St. Paul. He may, indeed, prove an innocent occasion of exciting a persecuting spirit and conduct, or the evil passions of envy, hatred, malice, and uncharitableness; and so was the spotless character of the Saviour himself; but is this inflicting an injury upon those who are so wrought upon? Oh no! They receive no injury which does not proceed from themselves. There is not, in short, a single being in the uni verse who can be fairly said to be injured by the preventing grace of God, and the exercise of his Prerogative to confer discriminated favours.

SECT. IV.

Wrong Notions respecting the Ultimate Sources of Virtue and Vice.

1. Why many have supposed that the Will is the ultimate source of virtue and vice. § 2. The absurdity of that sentiment exposed. 3. The apparent reason why several of the Christian Fathers adopted this notion. § 4. The immediate source of vice is not the will but the Heart. 5. The real cause of an evil heart. § 6. How this cause may be counteracted. 7, 8. Wisdom and Folly illustrative of the nature and character of Virtue and Vice. § 9. Remarks on Virtue, as to what is essential, and what perfective. 10. Concluding observations respecting Vice, its nature aud

cause.

§ 1. THERE is great reason to think that many sensible persons have been betrayed into the notion of a self-determining property in the human will, from the assumed principle, that the will itself is the ultimate source of virtue and vice and this assumption they have, no doubt, been induced to make, from the acknowledged fact, that there is neither virtue nor vice in human actions without the determination of the will. But the will's determination being essential to the moral quality of a human action, does by no means prove that it is the ultimate source of that action. The exercise of the intellect is no less essential, than that of the will, but no one can thence infer that it is the ultimate source of virtue and vice. What is now

contended for, is briefly this; that the ultimate source of virtue, and of every good moral action, is GoD, from whom all good in the universe proceeds: or, if we seek for a source, considered as existing in the human mind, it is a gracious principle, the effect of a sovereign energy. And it is further maintained, that the ultimate source of all vice, is A NEGATIVE PRINCIPLE OF DEFECTIBILITY, whereby actions physically good become morally evil.

§ 2. The advocates for self-determination, by supposing the will to be the ultimate source of moral actions, are constrained to hold this absurdity, that things diametrically opposite in their nature, as virtue and vice, proceed from the same ultimate source,-which is the same as to maintain, that things directly opposite in their nature proceed from that which has the same uniform nature! Not only the same conduit, the will, may be the medium of conveying at different times both sweet water and bitter, which we admit, but also that they spring from the same fountain! When the apostle James assures us that "every good gift and every perfect gift cometh from above, from the Father of lights," it is implied that things of a different quality do not come from that source. A good will, if any thing in our world, is included in St. James's assertion; and a bad will is

included in other things of a different quality. God therefore, and not the human will, is the ultimate source of virtue. When he enlightens the mind, and influences the heart, according to his sovereign Prerogative, in a greater or less degree, free virtuous actions will be the sure effects. The determination of the will, indeed, is a condition sine qua non of the virtuous quality of its act; but without grace in the heart, and without a communication of that grace from God, there could not be one virtuous act, in the proper sense of this epithet, among either men or angels. He who would deny this, would also deny that God is the fountain of all good, a truth which ought surely to be admitted, by all persons professing Christianity, as an undoubted axiom.

§ 3. And yet this proposition, so evident in sacred scripture, and so approvable by unbiassed reason, was very strangely called in question by some of the Fathers, when they asserted that good actions are only permitted,--and that the 'beginning' must be from ourselves, not only in point of obligation, but in point of fact. Surely such a representation, so far from being the language of heavenly wisdom, instructing mankind, betrays a lamentable want of it. If they reflected at all, when penning such phrases, they must have proceeded on the supposition that

otherwise our bad actions would be from God. The recoil from one extreme carried them to another. They dreaded the impiety of tracing our evil deeds to God's will; and therefore they rashly encountered the opposite danger, as they saw no medium, by fixing upon the human will as the common source of our good and our evil. This indeed is a short method of simplifying the subject, to bring every act of virtue and vice to the same fountain ;-but it is to simplify at the expence of revealed religion, and of genuine philosophy.

§ 4. Where, then, it may be rejoined, shall we find the ultimate source of vice, if not in the human will, as a self-determining faculty? I answer, in the HEART, according to the scriptural acceptation of the term. Our Saviour tells us, that "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.' This "heart" must be something more intimate and radical than the will; for it is the source of "evil thoughts," as well as of evil words and actions. To an evil heart is often ascribed in scripture, hardness, blindness, impurity, pride, foolishness, grossness, and insensibility. Over an evil heart there is a

* Matt. xv. 19, 20.

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