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to God, without having first ascertained that the will was free? If the will may be, or may not be, free, in its exercises, some skill must be necessary to make the distinction ; and no sense of right or wrong can be had, untill this point is settled. If all acts of will are free, then what need can there be of the term free-will ? Or what propriety is there in saying we must chuse freely, in order to be worthy of praise or blame? This would be only saying, that an involuntary being cannot be a moral being ; which is obvious to the sense of every man. When we speak of man, as a free agent, if we mean any thing more by it, than that he acts voluntarily, when he acts at all, or, that his exercises are exercises of will, I must say, that I see no evidence, that man is a free am gent. To be free, in any other sense, is by no means necessary to moral agency. If it be plain to us, that men have knowledge of moral truth, and a will respecting it, we need nothing more to convince us, that they are moral agents, because the very case supposed inplies it. If we wish to ascertain aniother point still further on, viz. that they are free agents, I know not what difficulties may attend the project, since, if being voluntary is not to be free, it is quite uncertain what will amount to it. Those, who make anoral liberty consist in any thing but mere acts of will, inay not be agreed as to what it does consist in; or if they be, the terms they prescribe may be beyond the reach of many
persons, who, upon this ground, can never know, that they are free agents. And how unlikely is it, that the moral freedom of man, if that be essential to his standing in God's kingdom, as a subject of government, should be found to consist in something, not perfectly obvious and familiar to every mind? That there is no moral liberty, except what consists in mere exercises of will, I shall consider as evident from the following considerations.
1. We can have no consciousness of any other sort of moral liberty. The use of moral faculties, in men, is to fit them to be adjudged to some reward or punishment. But a judge cannot honour himself in judgment, but by addressing himself to the understanding and sensibility of those, to whom he administers. He cannot procure respect to the law, by executing it in favour of one and against another, unless each subject is made sensible, that he is amenable to the tribunal, which judges him ; and that the sentence, passed upon him, is a just one. To stop the mouth of a criminal, who falls under the lash of the law, it is necessary to enforce a conviction of his crime. But there can be no conviction of guilt, and responsibility to the law, without a consciousness of those things, which are necessary to constitute a crime. If a man is indicted before a civilcourt for the crime of murder, he must be conscious of the several thirgs, which are implied in thať crime, viz. that he actually killed a man ; that he did it deliberatcly in the free enjoy.
ment of his reason ; and that he did it with a malevolent intent, and not in the discharge of his duty; or else he cannot submit to the sentence of the law against him, as an exercise of justice. The same may be applied to the subjects of God's righteous law and authority. The Deity can gain no honour from rewards conferred on some, and pun. ishments inflicted on others; unless each subject is conscious of having justly entitled himself to the part he receives.
The righteous man must be conscious of his rectitude, and the sinner of his crimes, or the law, which provides them their respective destinies, will not appear to be holy, and just, and good. But to be conscious of rectitude, on the one hand, or of sin, on the other, one must be conscious of the things, which constitute these respective characters. And if men must be free, in order to be either righteous or sinful, there must be a consciousness of this freedom, or one cannot feel that he is entitled to either a reward, or punishment, from the hand of God. To be convinced, that the Judge of all the earth does right, and does not act an arbitrary part, when he exercises his creatures with favours orfrowns, they must be as sensible of having acted, morally, in what they did to incúr his deal. ings, as to have acted at all. But how can a man be conscious of having acted, morally, only as he is conscious of all, that is implied in a moral action ? We know, that men may be conscious of their own exercis .
es and views. Their discovery of moral objects, and their dispositions, or feelings, towards them, they have an immediate perception, or consciousness, of. If they have wil. led an act of obedience to God, or an act of rebellion, of such an exercise they can be conscious; and if this, of itself, implies rectitude or sin, with such a consciousness they can approve the sentence, which treats them according to what they are. But of what moral liberty, other than this exercise of will, can any man be conscious ? He cannot be conscious of being free from a divine influ. ence, in those exercises, which are termed moral, any inore than he can be conscious of subsisting without any exercise of God's power to preserve him; or of walking without a divine unseen hand to direct his steps. No man was ever yet conscious of such a di. vine influence, as affects the heart, any more than of that, which first gave him being. And if God influences men, without its being perceived by them, other than by the effects produced ; how can they be said to know, by consciousness, that he does not influence them in causing such acts of will, as they, from time to time, put forth ? Freedom from divine influence, in respect to the will, is, therefore, no part of the moral liberty, of which a man may be conscious. Again ; he cannot be conscious that his exercises do not take place by virtue of an eternal necessity, fixed by the immutable counsel and will of God. Some writers on mor
al liberty have strenuously insisted upon the idea, that a previous necessity of acting, necessarily takes away liberty and moral agency; that if the exercises of the mind are from any cause out of itself, the power of God for instance, they are necessary, and, therefore, destitute of morality. The liberty they contend for consists in a freedom froin all necessity of acting, or from any previous certainty, that we shall act, or that our actions will be as they are. If any law say they, or plan of operation, exists to make it certain, that an action shall take place, or be of such a kind, before it has actually come, into being, that action was necessary, and so not free. For instance; if God had so plan, ned it aforehand, that Judas should sell his Master for thirty pieces of silver, that action, being predetermined, was necessary, and consequently not criminal. Or if God before ordained St. Paul's faithful defence of the gospel before kings and rulers, that conduct in him could not be praiseworthy, because it was necessitated by the efficient will of God. Now, I would ask any plain hearer, now be. fore me, whether he is conscious of enjoying any such kind of liberty, whether he can see clearly, by turning a view. within upon him. self, that his exercises of love to God, or love to the world, were none of them predeter. mined in the counsels of God, or made ne. cessary in any other way.
way. I do not ask what l.is belief is respecting this matter; but what he knows and realizes in the same way, that