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taphysical difficulties to impede them, when transacting the business of life; they ought to be furnished with very satisfactory reasons, if they adopt a different language and mode of conduct in those concerns which more immediately regard the moral administration of the Supreme Being, or the dispensation of grace. We know as little of the proximate cause of volition in the one case as in the other; nor is it either wise or becoming, in creatures of our scanty measure, to permit any speculations on the attributes of God, to lessen our sense of entire dependance upon Him, or diminish our gratitude for mercies received; or, on the other hand, to impair our impressions of responsibility, and weaken the motives to a sincere and unlimited obedience.
“ This is His commandment, that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another."
The late pious and learned President Edwards, in his Treatise on the Freedom of the Will, has discussed the subject of natural and moral inability, with much acuteness and perspicuity; and Mr. Hey, by pursuing a similar mode of reasoning, appears to have been persuaded of its conclusiveness and utility. It is highly probable, that neither Mr. Edwards nor Mr. Hey were aware, that “ A Discourse on Natural and Moral Impotency" had been published by a Joseph Truman, B.D. in 1671, a second edition of which appeared, after his death, in 1675. His different writings show him to have been a man of piety, of considerable reading and research, of great moderation, and in sentiment, on theological subjects, approaching nearly to his contemporary, Richard Baxter.
The definitions and illustrations given by Mr. Hey and Mr. Edwards tend to correct much of the improper language that has been introduced in treating on these subjects, and to reform the mode of thinking and speaking on the doctrine of human ability in morals. How far any of the real difficulties, connected with these abstruse questions, are elucidated, or removed, may be left to the judgment of the reader. When it is maintained that every man has the power, ability, &c. of keeping all the divine commandments, and of complying with the requisitions of the gospel, this can only be properly meant of his physical capacity of willing ; for, if he have not the natural power of volition, he is not a capable subject of either civil or moral government; he is not a man. But it may admit of inquiry, whether the term power, implying a physical attribute, can be applied, when predicated of the soul, with perfect propriety and in the same sense, to physical acts, and to the moral qualities of the mind. That a man is responsible for his voluntary actions, will be easily admitted, because the terms imply, that they are under his immediate control and direction ; but it may not be quite so clear, that the internal dispositions of the soul are equally subjected to the physical power of volition. Can a man, in the proper sense of the word, change his love of sin into a love of holiness, as he can change the direction of his eye or his hand ?* To reply that he can, if he will, is somewhat like saying that his power of willing, not being impeded by any natural, necessitating cause, nothing is wanting to correct its moral obliquity but his own good pleasure: in other words, subdue an evil moral habit by a physical act of volition, and you will be a good man. If a man be denominated virtuous, or vicious, according to the determination of his will, then, to will and to do, may
represented as identical in morals, since the terms merit and demerit refer to the purpose of the mind, whether an external act be consequent, or not.
But something more than the mere physical power of volition seems to be included in the inquiry ;—perhaps it may question of this kind, Has the mind a power of imparting a good moral quality to any, or every exercise of volition? Should this be doubted, then it would seem probable, that something is required beyond the mere phy
* In the production of voluntary motion, by the agency of the mind upon the body, something resembling impulse seems to be in operation ; but are we warranted to conclude, that this is analogous to the mode in which mutations take place in the mind when it acts upon itself, so that the character and disposition may be changed by simple volition, as it can alter the direction of corporeal motions ?
sical act of willing to change a vicious into a virtuous mind.* If this suggestion be admitted, the solution offered by Truman, Edwards, &c. would have only removed the difficulty one step higher, and we should seem to end where we began.
There is no difficulty in employing the terms can, and will, agreeably to the definitions given by Mr. Hey, when they are applied to physical acts; but when they are applied to the generation of new moral qualities in the mind, there is something of the air of a paradox about them. That the existence of evil dispositions in the mind denotes a culpable state ; that God has provided certain means for the changing of these, and renovating the soul; that the honest and dili
1 gent use of the means prescribed will be accompanied by the divine blessing, and issue in success, are propositions to which every Christian must assent. But when a wicked man is told that he has the power of becoming
* If any one should suppose, that the moral quality of the volition may receive an immediate impression from the object of the election, so as to determine its character, he may be reminded, that this superinduced quality must, in that case, be posterior in its existence to the act of willing ; whereas, the moral quality ought to be coetaneous with, and inseparable from, the physical act, in order to our denominating it virtuous or vicious.