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in consequence of our faith, be accepted, and blessed for ever; and, in consequence of our unbelief, be rejected, and punished with endless misery.

All thesc things, however, are directly and palpably contradictory to the whole tenour of the Gospel. In this, faith is approved, commanded, and promised an eternal reward. Unbelief, on the contrary, is censured, forbidden, and threatened with an everlasting punishment. Faith, therefore, is the hinge, on which the whole evangelical system turns. If ye believe not that I am he; ye shall die in your sins; He, that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not, shall not see life; are declarations, which, while they cannot be mistaken, teach us, that all the future interests of man are suspended on his faith; and are, at the same time, declarations, to which the whole Evangelical system is exactly conformed. If, then, our faith and disbelief are altogether involuntary, and the effect of mere physical necessity; God has annexed everlasting life and everlasting death, not to any moral character in man, but to the mere result of physical causes. A consequence so monstrous ought certainly not to be admitted. The Scriptures, therefore, musi be given up, if this scheme is true.

I have now, I presume, shown it to be necessary, that, before I enter upon the discussion of the doctrine, contained in the text, this objection should be thoroughly examined, and removed. To do this, will be the business of the present discourse.

In opposition to this objection, then, I assert, that Faith, and its opposite, disbelief, are, in all moral cases, voluntary exercises of the mind; are proper objects of commands and prohibitions ; and proper foundations of praise and blame, reward and punishment. This doctrine I shall endeavour to prove by the following arguments ; derived both from Reason and Revelation ; because the objection, which I have been opposing, has been incautiously admitted, at times, by Christians, as well as openly, and triumphantly, alleged by Infidels.

1st. Faith is every where commanded in the Scriptures.

This is his commandment, that ye believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John iii. 23. Now after that John was put in pris. on, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel

of the Kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled; and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye, and believe the Gospel. Mark i. 14, 15. In these two passages, we have the command to believe the Gospel, delivered by Christ in form; and the declaration of the Evangelist, that it is the commandment of God, that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ. Whatever, then, we understand by faith; ii is the object of a command, or law, which God has given to mankind; a thing, which may be justly required, and of course a thing, which they are able to render as an act of obedience, at least in some circumstances. God cannot require what inan is not physically able to perform. But all obedience to God is voluinia. Vol. II.


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As the terms which I have mentioned, are parts of the customary language of a great nation ; and as other nations have, universally, corresponding terms; it is certain, that these are the ideas of all men; every where presented by experience and observation; derived from facts, and grounded in reality. The common voice of mankind has, therefore, decided the question in a manner, which, I apprehend, is incapable of error, and can never be impeached.

In perfect accordance with these observations, we know, that voluntary blindness to evidence, argument, and truth, is customary phraseology in the daily conversation of all men. in accordance

In with these observations also, the declaration, that none are so blind, as they who will not see, is proverbial, and regarded as a inaxim.

3dly. The mind is perfectly voluntary in the employment of collecting evidence, on every question which it discusses. All

questions are attended by more or less arguments, capable of being alleged on both sides. These arguments do not present themselves of course; but must be sought for, and assembled, by the activity of the mind. In this case, the mind can either resolve. or refuse, to collect arguments; and in this conduct is wholly voluntary, and capable, therefore, of being either virtuous or sinful. praise worthy or blameworthy, rewardable or punishable. Wherever its duty and interest; wherever the commands of God, or lawful human authority, or the well-being of ourselves, or our fellowmen ; demand, that we collect such arguments; we are virtuous in obeying, and sinful in refusing.

Sometimes we obey: often we refuse. Most frequently, when we perform this duty at all, we perform it partially. Concerning almost every question, which is before us, we assemble some arguments, and refuse, or neglect, to gather others. In this employment the mind usually leans to one side of the question; and lahours, not to find out truth, or the means of illustrating it, but to possess itself of the arguments, which will support the side to which it inclines, and weaken, or overthrow, that which it dislikes. Thus we collect all the arguments in our power, favourable to our own chosen doctrines, and oppose the contrary ones; and of design, or through negligence, avoid searching for those, which will weaken our own doctrines, or strengthen such as oppose them. In all this, our inclinations are solely and supremely active, and govern the whole process. For this conduct, therefore, we are deserv. ing of blame; and, as the case may be, of punishment.

4thly. The mind is equally voluntary in weighing, admitting, or rejecting, evidence, after it is collected.

It is as easy, and as common, for the mind to turn its eye from the power of evidence, as from the evidence itself. I have already shown, that we can, at pleasure, either collect arguments, or refuse 10 collect them. With equal ease we can examine them after they

are collected, or decline this examination; and after such examination as we choose to make, is completed, we can with the same case either admit

, or reject them. The grounds, on which we can render the admission or rejection satisfactory to ourselves, are numerous; and are always at hand. The arguments in question may oppose, or coincide with, some unquestioned maxim, principle, or doctrine, pre-conceived by us, and regarded as fundamental; and for these reasons may be at once admitted, or rejected. They may accord with the opinions of those, whom we may think it pleasing, honourable, safe, or useful, to follow. We may hastily conclude, that they are all the arguments, which favour the doctrine opposed to'ours; and deem them wholly insufficient to evince its truth. We may suppose, whenever they seem to conclude against us, that there is some latent error in them, discernible by others, if not by ourselves; which, if discerned, would destroy their force. We may determine, whenever the arguments in our possession are apprehended to be inconclusive in favour of our own opinions, that there are others, which, although not now in our possession, would, if discovered by us, determine the question in our favour. We may believe, that the arguments before us will, if admitted, infer some remote consequence, in our apprehension grossly absurd; and on the ground of this distant consequence reject their immediate influence. Or the doctrine, to be proved, may be so odious to us, as to induce us to believe, that no arguments whatever can evince its truth. For these and the like reasons, we can weigh or not weigh, admit or reject, any arguments whatever; and conclude in favour of either side of, perhaps, every moral question.

A Judge, in any cause which comes before him, can admit, or refuse to admit, witnesses on either side. After they have testified, he can consider, or neglect, their testimony; and can give it what degree of credit he pleases, or no credit at all. In all this, he acts voluntarily; so perfectly so, that another Judge, of a different disposition, could, and would, with the same means in his possession, draw up a directly opposite judgment concerning the cause. Facts of this nature are so frequent, as to be well known to mankind, acknowledged universally, and accounted a part of the ordinary course of things. The mind, in considering doctrines, is usually this partial Judge; and conducts itself towards its arguments, as the Judge towards his witnesses. In this conduct it is altogether voluntary, and altogether sinful.

In the contrary conduct of collecting arguments with a design to know the truth ; in weighing them fairly ; and in admitting readily their real import; it is equally voluntary; and possesses, and exhibits, the contrary character of virtue as really, as in any case whatever. Accordingly, all men, when employed in observing these two modes of acting in their fellow-men, have pronounced the latter to be excellent and praiseworthy, and the former to be unjust, base, and deserving alike of their contempt and abhorrence.


5thly. The doctrine, which I am opposing, if true, renders both virtue and vice, at least in a great proportion of instances, impossible.

All virtue is nothing else, but voluntary obedience to truth; and all sin is nothing else, but voluntary disobedience to truth, or voluntary obedience to error. Accordingly, God has required nothing of mankind, but that they should obey truth; particularly THE TRUTH ; or Evangelical truth. Voluntary conformity to truth, is, therefore, virtue in every possible instance. But we cannot voluntarily conform to truth, unless we believe it. If our faith, then, is wholly involuntary, and necessary; it follows of course, that we are never faulty, nor punishable, for not believing ; since our faith in every case, where we do not believe, is physically impossible. For not believing, therefore, we are not, and cannot be, blameable; and as we cannot conforın to truth, when we do not believe it to be truth; it follows, that, whenever we do not believe, we are innocent in not obeying:

For the same reason, whenever we believe error to be truth, our belief, according to this scheme, is compelled by the same physical necessity; and we are guiltless in every such instance of faith. All our future conformity to such error is of course guiltless also. Thus he, who believes in the existence and perfections of Jehovah, in the rectitude of his law and Government, and in the duty of obeying him, and he, who believes in the Deity of Beelzebub, or a calf, or a stock, or a stone; while they respectively worship, and serve, these infinitely different gods; are in the same degree virtuous, or in the same degree sinful. In other words, they are neither sinful, nor virtuous. The faith of both is alike physically necessary; and the conformity of both to their respective tenets follows their faith, of course.

Should it be said, that although faith is thus necessary, our con. formity, or non-conformity, to what we believe, is still voluntary; and therefore is virtuous : I answer, that were I to allow this, as I am not very unwilling to do, to be true; still, the objector must acknowledge, that a vast proportion of those human actions, which have universally been esteemed the most horrid crimes, are, according to his own plan, completely justified. He cannot deny, that the heathen have almost universally believed their idols to be gods, and their idolatry the true religion. He cannot deny, that a great part of the wars, which have existed in the world, have by those, who have carried them on, been believed to be just; that the persecutions of the Christians were by the heathen, who were the authors of them, thought highly meritorious; that the horrid cruelties of the Popish Inquisition were to a great extent, considered by the Catholics as doing God service; and that all the Mohammedan butcheries were regarded by the disciples of the Koran as directly required by God himself. Nay, it cannot be denied by the Objector, nor by any man who has considered the subject, that the Jews, in very great numbers, believed themselves warranted in rejccting,

persecuting, and crucifying Christ. This is undoubtedly indicated by that terrible prediction of the Saviour, If ye believe not, that I am

' he, ye shall die in your sins. Let the Objector, then, and all who hold his opinions on this subject, henceforth be for ever silent concerning the guilt, usually attributed to these several classes of men; and acknowledge them to have been compelled by a physical necessity to all these actions; lamentable indeed, but wholly unstained with any criminality,

. At the same time, let it be observed, that the determination of the Will is always as the dictate of the Understanding, which precedes it. If, then, this dictate of the Understanding is produced by a physical necessity; how can the decision of the Will, which follows it of course, be in any sense free? If faith be necessary in the physical sense; every other dictate of the Understanding must be equally necessary; and, of course, that, which precedes every determination of the will. In what manner, then, can the determination of the will fail of being the mere result of the same necessity ?

But if the determinations of the will are physically necessary; they cannot be either virtuous or sinful. If, therefore, these things are true, there can be, according to this scheme, neither virtue, nor vice, in man.

6thly. This doctrine charges God with a great part, if not with all the evil conduct of mankind.

Whatever the system of things in this world is, it was contrived, and created, and is continually ordered, by God. If mankind believe, only under the coercion of physical necessity; then God has so constituted them, as to render their faith, in this sense, necessary and unavoidable. Whenever they err, therefore, they err thus necessarily by the ordinance, and irrresistible power, of God. Of course, as the state of things in this, as well as all other respects, is the result of his choice; he has chosen, that they should err, and compelled them to err by the irresistible impulse of almighty power. In this case, we will suppose them to design faithfully to do their duty; or, in other words, to conform their conduct to the doctrines, which they actually believe, and suppose to be truth. In thus acting, they either sin; or they do not. If they sin; God

; compels them to sin. If they do not; still, all their conduct is productive of evil only: for conformity to error is, of course, productive only of evil. By this scheme, therefore, this mass of evil, immensely great and dreadful, is charged to God alone.

At the same time, if in the same manner they embrace truth; their reception of it is equally compelled. Their conformity to it is, of course, no more commendable, than their conformity to error: and God has so constituted things, that they cannot conform to it of choice, or from love to truth, as such; but only from physical necessity. Or, if this should be questioned, they cannot conform to it from the apprehension that it is truth; because they have em

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