Sivut kuvina

of activity, and intuitively know that we are free moral agents. But to what does this dictate of common sense amount? Does it prove, that we are not dependent upon the Supreme Being for all our moral exercises? Most certainly it does not. For, supposing God does. really work in us both to will and to do, we cannot be conscious of his agency, but only of our own, in willing and doing Though in God we live, and move, and have our being; yet we are never conscious of his almighty hand, which upholds us in ex, istence, every moment. It is, indeed, as impossible that we should feel the operation of God upon our hearts, while he works in us both to will and to do, as it was, that Adam ehould have felt the forming hand of God, in his creation. If Adam, therefore, could not have proved, from his experience, that he was self-existent; we cannot prove, from our experience, that we are independent, in all our free and voluntary exertions. Hence our consciousness of moral freedom, is no evidence against our absolute dependence upon God, for all the inward motions and exercises of our hearts. - 3. Many, by reasoning unjustly on this subject, persuade themselves, that they cannot act, while they are acted upon. They reason from matter to mind, which is by no means conclusive. Since matter is incapable of acting, while it is acted upon; they conclude the mind must also be incapable of acting, while it is acted upon. They suppose, if we are as dependent upon God for all our voluntary exercises, as a clock or watch is dependent upon weights or springs for all its motions; then we are as incapable of moral agency, as these or any other mere machines. But the fallacy of this mode of reasoning may be easily exposed. The fal. lacy lies here. It takes for granted, that the only reason, why a clock, or a watch, or any other machine,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

is not a moral agent, is simply because it is acted upon, or depends upon some power out of itself for all its motions. But is this true? Let us make the trial. Supposeu a clock, which has hitherto been dependent, and moved by weights and wheels, should this moment become independent, and more of itself Is this clock, now, any more a moral agent, than it was before? Are its motions, now, any more moral exercises, or any more worthy of praise or blame, than they were before? by no means. But why not? Because, notwithstanding it is, now, independent, and moves of itself; yet being still matter and not mind, it moves without perception, reason, conscience, and volition, which are attributes essential to a moral agent. The reason, why a clock, or watch, or any other machine is incapable of moral agency, is not because it is either dependent, or independent; but simply because it is senseless matter, and totally destitute of all the principles of moral action. As neither dependence nor independence can make a machine a mind; so neither dependence nor independence can make a mind a machine. It is impertinent, therefore, to reason from matter to mind, upon this subject. Our dependence on the Deity cannot deprive us of moral freedom, unless it deprives us of our moral powers. If God, while working in us both to will and to do, only leaves us in possession of understanding, conscience, and volition; then he leaves us in full possession of moral agency, which must necessarily continue, as long as these intellectual and moral powers remain. Indeed, there is nothing, in the whole circle of created objects, which affords any argument to prove, that man's dependence destroys his moral agency. There is no argument to be drawn from material objects to prove this; because they are entirely destitute of all mental

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

properties. And there is no argument to be drawn from intelligent objects to prove this; because there is no species of intelligent creatures that we are acquainted with, who are less dependent on God for all' their mental exercises, than we are. Hence it appears to be absolutely impossible for any to prove, that human dependence and activity are inconsistent with each other. But I must observe once more, :. 4. That some involve themselves in confusion, by reasoning loo far upon this subject. They carry Reason out of its province, and employ it in deciding that, which it has no power nor authority to decide. Many complain, that they have often attempted to reconcile dependence with activity, but after all their efforts, have been obliged to give up the subject, as surpassing

the reach of their comprehension. And to keep them: selves in countenance, they bring in Mr. Locke, that

oracle of reason, who ingeniously owns, that he could never reconcile prescience in the Deity with human liberty; or, in other words, man's dependence with moral freedom. This, however, will not appear strange, if we consider, that it belongs not to the office of Reason, to reconcile these two points. Though activity, and dependence are perfectly consistent, yet they are totally distinct; and of course fall under the notice of distinct faculties of the mind. Dependence falls under the cognizance of reason; but activity falls under the cognizance of common sense. It is the part of reason to demonstrate our dependence upon God, in whom we live, and move, and have our being. Bui it is the part of common sense to afford us an intuitive knowledge of our activity and moral freedom. We must, therefore, consult both reason and common sense, in order to discover the consistency between activity and dependence.

Nor is this a singular case. There are many other subjects, upon which we can form no proper judgment, without the united aid of reason and common sense. Should I observe to a person walking with me in a garden, that a certain flower is the product of divine power, and possesses a beautiful color; and should he call upon me to prove my assertions, I should be obliged to have recourse first to reason and then to common sense, I could prove, by reason, that the flower was the product of divine power; but as to its color, I could only refer him to the evidence of his own eyes. If I should see a servant destroy his mas ter's property, I could prove to him by reason that he had injured his master; but I could not prove to him, by reason, that he had broken a moral obligation and committed a crime, I could only represent the nature and extent of the injury which he had done to his master, by this instance of his conduct, and then refer him to the dictates of his own conscience; and if he should still continue unconvinced of his criminality, it would be out of my power to give him conviction, by any arguments drawn from reason. read a fine poem, and your reason' may discover the unity of design, the connexion of parts, and the regular construction of periods; but, if at the same time, you perceive the harmony of numbers, the sublimity of sentiments, and the beauty of characters, this is not owing to any peculiar intellectual acumen, but to a correct taste, or the finer feelings of human nature, well cultivated and improved. These instances clearly show, that reason and common sense have different offices, and are to be employed in discovering different truths. It is not very strange, therefore, that we are obliged to employ both reason and common sense, in order to reconcile activity and dependence. Nor is there any

You may

ground to imagine, that their consistency with each other is less certain, because it cannot be discovered, by reason alone, nor common sense alone, but by the united assistance of both. For if we know by reason that we are dependent, and know by common sense that we are active; then we know, that both activity and dependence do, in fact, harmoniously meet and unite in our minds. And this mode of reconciling aċ

aètivity and dependence seems calculated to give entire satisfaction to any person, who is pressed with the difficulty of seeing their harmony and connexion. Let us apply it to the case of such a person. Does reason teach you, that you are a dependent creature? Does common sense teach you that you are a free moral agent? Do you never experience the least inconsistency between your activity and dependence? And do you feel as free and voluntary in all your actions, as if you were altogether independent of the Supreme Being? If all this be true, you must acknowledge, that you have the evidence of reason, that you act dependently, that you have the evidence of common sense, that you act freely; and that you have the evidence of constant experience, that your activity and dependence are entirely consistent. You are therefore, as certain of the truth and consistency of your active ity and dependence, as you can be of any other truth, whose evidence depends upon the united testimony of reason and common sense.

« EdellinenJatka »