Obrazy na stronie

distinction. But a more thorough investigation has convinced
me, that the distinction is unscriptural and unphilosophical.
If the distinction is admitted, it will follow, I think, that
every power is partly natural, and partly moral; and then what
metaphysical knife can divide them? Or, some must be wholly
natural, and others wholly moral. It will then follow, that a
man in the exercise of natural power only, can perform moral
actions, independent on moral power, or he cannot. If he can-
not, he has no natural power sufficient for this purpose; for it
is a solecism to call any thing a power which cannot be exert-
ed. If he can, it is self-evident that moral power is not neces-
sary for the performance of moral actions. But neither is true.
In scripture, a natural man is opposed to a spiritual man.
The one is called natural, because depraved; and the other
spiritual, because regenerated by the Holy Spirit. But the
scriptures nowhere represent the powers of man as natural, in
contradistinction to moral. The distinction is therefore evi-
dently unscriptural.
To perform a moral duty, the exercise of all the powers of
the soul is necessary. And all these powers are natural, as
they constitutionally belong to the soul, and in no other sense.
If they are all, and in this sense only, natural, and requisite to
perform a moral duty, it appears unphilosophical to distinguish
them into natural and moral.
Some moral duties require the exercise of corporeal powers.
And these powers are natural, as they belong constitutionally to
the body. But it would be incorrect to distinguish these powers
into natural and moral. Equally incorrect is the same division
of mental powers.
The only legitimate division of human powers is into corpo-
real and mental. The powers of the first class may be called
physical: the other class of powers may be subdivided into in-
tellectual and active. And hence our inability is three-fold—
physical, intellectual, and the want of active power.
I reject the terms natural ability, and moral inability, as they
are used by some writers, because they do not correspond with
the above division of human powers, and because each of them
seems to be a metaphysical ignis fatuus, dancing in the quag-
mires of some metaphysical heads.
To illustrate my views of the subject, I observe, that to raise
a weight, to read aloud, to eat, and drink, are corporeal acts,
and, as such, require physical power only. But to eat and drink
to the glory of God, as we are commanded, requires the addi-
tional operation of the understanding, affections, and will. Here
are corporeal actions, to perform which, agreeably to divine
law, requires the operation of the mental powers, both intellec-
tual and active. It is hence evident, that the division of these


powers into natural and moral is unphilosophical, and tends to confusion. Some divines consider the will as the only moral power, and all the other mental powers as natural. “Moral inability,” says one, “consists only in the want of a heart, or disposition, or will, to do a thing. Natural inability, on the other hand, consists in, or arises from, want of understanding, bodily strength, opportunity, or whatever may prevent our doing a thing, when we are willing, and strongly enough disposed, and inclined to do it. Or whatever a man could not do, if he would, he is under a natural inability of doing; but when all the reason why one cannot do a thing, is because he does not choose to do it, the inability is only of a moral nature.” Here is palpable confusion of language. But the writer evidently considered the will as the only moral power; and all the other powers, both of body and mind, as natural. So far he is easily understood, amidst his confusion and misapplication of term S. Another writer holds, that the “unrenewed have the natural, i. e. the mental powers of understanding, memory, will and affections.” Thus, in direct opposition to Dr. Smalley, all the powers, the will as well as the rest, are natural. And “yet the unrenewed, though they have all the mental powers, have no moral ability to yield spiritual obedience.” This looks, at least, a little like confusion confounded. If the mental powers here enumerated, are all natural, I know not where to look for moral powers, except to the body, unless these powers are each partly natural and partly moral; and the unrenewed have the natural, but not the moral part of them. There is, in my view, a three-fold source of confusion and error on this subject: the using of terms as synonymous, which are not so—not giving the same signification always to the same terms—and making an unfounded distinction of human powers. Ability and power are terms of the same signification. But faculty has a different sense, and should never be called a power or ability. A person may have a faculty, and the requisite power to perform a certain action; and he may have the faculty but not the power; and both the faculty and power may be absent. These distinctions are accurate, and easily illustrated. To eat is a corporeal action, and requires physical power only. But a man has the locked jaw, and cannot eat. He has the faculty of eating, but has not the power to perform the action. In this case the faculty exists, but the power is absent. When the disease is removed, he has both the faculty and the power of eating. But if his mouth was shot away, he would be destitute both of the faculty and power of eating. This inability is physical. Again: Ā man has the faculty of perception, and, in certain circumstances, the power of perceiving external objects. By the light of the sun, he has power to perceive objects properly situated. Should he lose the organ of vision, he would be destitute both of the faculty and power of perception. But possessed of the faculty, he would not have the power, of perceiving external objects in a room perfectly dark. But when the sun shines into the room, he would have power to perceive the objects around him. Again: To judge and reason, are operations of the understanding faculty. A man may be able to judge and reason about the common concerns of life. But he is perfectly ignorant of the abstruse branches of the mathematics, and therefore’ cannot judge and reason about them. He has the faculty, but not the power of exerting it in these branches of the matheImaticS. An idiot is destitute both of the faculty and power of judging and reasoning. In these cases the inability is intellectual. To call these abilities and inabilities, natural, in contradistinction to moral, is to set things in opposition, between which there is no legitimate contrast, and leads to confusion and error, when introduced into religious disquisitions. The want of disposition, or a heart, or will, is the definition of moral inability before noticed, and is strenuously maintained in some metaphysical schools. Here are three terms, of different significations, used as synonymous. Will, is a distinct faculty of the mind. Heart, in scripture, is used sometimes for one distinct faculty, and sometimes for the soul with all its faculties. . If, therefore, moral inability consists in the want of will, or of a heart, it consists in the entire destitution of one particular faculty, or of the whole soul, and of all its faculties. And if these are gone, the man has nothing left but the body. And it is well known, that when the soul is gone, the body has no power of any name. This part of the definition is therefore manifestly erroneous, as it contains a confusion of terms, and involves a complete destitution of all the mental powers. Neither is the want of disposition moral inability. The disposition is no power at all. Would any man, in his sober senses, call the most skilful disposition of an army, drawn up on the field of battle, the power of the army? The disposition of an army is that arrangement of its divisions, by which it is prepared to exert its physical power upon the enemy. Disposition is not a power of the mind, and, therefore, the want of it is not an inability. We do not perceive nor conceive, judge nor reason, love, desire nor believe, choose nor refuse, by the disposition. It is, therefore, incorrect to call the disposition an ability, or an indisposition an inability. It is neither a faculty nor power of the mind. What then is disposition? Disposition supposes mental powers. But these powers do not suppose a disposition. There can be no disposition, without powers; but powers may exist without a disposition. I know not that a logical definition can be given of the disposition of the mind. The description I would give of it is this, viz. a certain relative state of the faculties of the mind. It is that state of the mental faculties, by which a person is prepared to take such views of an object, presented to him, as are calculated to excite him to some particular volition. And it is evident that his views of an object may involve a sufficient, or insufficient, inducement, to some particular volition. In the one case the will operates; in the other it does not. And it is hence farther evident, that there may be a disposition which is not followed by an operation of the will. Disposition is, therefore, no power, and the want of it is no inability. And it is not the proximate reason why the will does act, though it never acts without a disposition. The will never operates, whatever be the disposition, except in consequence of some motive. The want of motive is the proximate reason why the will does not operate. But there never can be, it is true, any motives to excite the will to act, without a disposition to attend to them. And yet it is not the disposition, but the intellect, which furnishes the motives, without which there can be no volition. Motives and volition evidently depend upon the operation of the intellectual faculties, and not on the disposition. The want of disposition is, therefore, unphilosophically called a moral inability. It is no kind of inability. A good disposition is the result of regenerating grace, renewing all the mental faculties, by which they are prepared to perform their respective functions. And after a person is disposed to attend to the objects which the scriptures present to view, he will have no power to choose, or refuse, without motives furnished by his intellect. In the absence of motives he has no power to will, and there can be no volition, whatever be his disposition. The want of power to will, is an inability, but not a moral one... I will to keep the Sabbath holy. The object of volition in this case is a moral duty. But the operation of intellectual faculties is as necessary to the performance of this duty, as that of the will. We cannot perform it, unless we understand and approve of it; and to perform it requires volition. And there can be no propriety in calling the intellectual powers natural, and the will moral. Sinners have, it is said, sufficient natural, but no moral, power, to love God. Then naturally they can love God, but morally they cannot. This looks a little like the balance equally poised. Natural ability is in one scale, and moral inability is in the other, and the balance is motionless ; the sinner does not love God. A positive ability is no heavier than a nonentity. They have natural ability sufficient, but this ability depends, for its operation, upon moral ability, which they have not. A nonentity renders their natural power inert. Nay, their moral inability does, ipso facto, annihilate it. If a man has sufficient natural power to love God, then in the exercise of this power he can love God, while under a moral inability. If he cannot love God by the exercise of natural power, independent of moral power, the distinction is erroneous, and the sentence which contains the distinction is false, for power that cannot be exerted is no power. To say a man has sufficient natural power to love God, and if he had moral power, he could perform this duty, is to say, he has a sufficiency of one kind of power, and if he had all other necessary power, he could then love God. This is manifestly begging the question in controversy, and of course illogical. Mental powers cannot be correctly divided into natural and moral. All the powers of the body are physical, and those of the mind intellectual and active. And there is an obvious distinction between faculty and power. The faculties have different offices. The mind does not perceive, nor conceive by operations of the will; nor choose by an operation of the j nor love by an operation of either of these, nor by their combined operations, but by a distinct faculty. It is the province of the understanding to perceive and conceive, judge and reason; of the conscience to approve; of the will to choose; of the faculty of feeling, to love. And this seems to be the natural order of their operations. The disposition, being nothing more than a relative state of these faculties, does nothing. It is no power, and has no operation. It no more excites the mind to action, than the sails, without wind and water, move the ship. The natural man is ignorant of God, and therefore cannot love him, nor choose him as a portion. He has the requisite faculties, but the mind is so vitiated, that he has not the neces

« PoprzedniaDalej »