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When we inquire into the matter of fact, the melancholy discovery is quickly made that man is found at war with the constitution of God. He substitutes his own selfish interests, wishes and will, for God's, and thus madly attempts to ascend

Jehovah's Throne, and impiously disputes the equity of His constitution. He is under the all-commanding, and controling influence of a purpose of rebellion. It may not indeed be his conscious intention to resist the God whose existence he admits, and whose character he imperfectly ap prehends, but in point of fact there is the feeling of dislike for, and opposition to, His claims, which determines and regulates his thoughts and purposes and actions. He seeks

his gratification and happiness, in ways and things directly at variance with the requisitions, and prohibitions of God.

Whenever the latter are opposed to the dictates of his selfishness, they must give way, and thus God Himself must be subordinated to his will. It is this subjection of man's

of man's feelings, purposes, affections, thoughts, desires and acts, to his selfishness, that constitutes the depravity of his nature. Every act and emolion, evincive of it is sin.

By selfishness we do not understand the instinctive de. sire of the man after happiness. God has ordained it, that by the mere impulse of instinct, we have respect to our

It is the law of self preservation, enstamped on the universal creation.

Some have seen fit to denomi. nate it self-love, and others differently. We are not tena

It is the fact of which we are in quest; and leaving disputed and ambiguous phrases out of view, we presume our readers will generally admit, that the mere longing of the soul after bliss, when it does not fix on any specific or forbidden and dangerous objects, is no more sinful in itself, than is our mere craving of food, when we think not to gratify it, by, appropriating to our use any poisonous or other substance. There are certain character


cious of terms.


istics of human nature,” says Dr. Dwight, “which considered by themselves, are innocent. Such are hunger, thirst, the fear of suffering and the desire of happiness; together with several others.” “The desire of happiness, and the fear of suffering, are inseparable from the rational and even the percipient nature.” The desire of happiness, consid. ered abstractly from every object on which it may be allowed to terminate, is not in itself sinful; nor is it necessarily selfishness. It is in letting this instinetive desire terminate on, and impel us to the choice and pursuit of, any thing improper and inconsistent with the will of God, that we are to discover the proof and workings of our own depravity.

The impelling and controling influence of this desire, as it terminates ou sinful objects and becomes the merest selfishness, has been variously designated, and its origin referred to various efficient causes. By some it has been called the bias of our nature, and by others the inclination of the heart, the temper of the mind, a principle, the disposition, the tendency, the habit, the propensity of the soul. Much of the dispute which agitates the christian community on this subject, we think will be found to grow out of different ideas, attached to such very vague and indefinite expressions. They are manifestly all analogical expressions, and therefore ought to be employed with great caution, and, as far as practicable, with great precision. One man understands by disposition, something laid in the very structure of the soul or constitution of our being, which possesses, anterior to all acts and exercises, efficient power to secure and produce acts and exercises of a particular character; and accordingly he employs such loose metaphors as the source, the fountain, &c. when speaking of moral actions. Another understands, by it, an immanent choice, the fixed purpose or preference, a permanent state of mind,

1. Dr. Dwight's Theol vol. i. p. 462.

which results, according to the very laws by which God governs the mind, from the first decisive act of the will, denying that there is any thing in the essence or constitutional properties, or nature of the human soul, apart from its established modes of action, which possesses efficient power to secure acts of depravity.

Here lies the main ground of dispute, as we suppose; and it is one of such a very serious nature, as to require the minutest and most interested attention. For it involves the character of God, and the responsibilities of man, and that most vitally. It will not do to dismiss the subject with a cry of philosophy or metaphysics, and retreat into the refuges of ignorance. A vain and false philosophy may be ingrafted on the facts of revelation, and some may find it difficult accurately to discriminate between them. Where men have identified their philosohy with the facts of scripture, and are unable or averse to discriminate, it is as natural as it is common, to denounce the rejection of the former, and raise the cry of metaphysics, philosophy, when, in truth, it is but an effort to separate what have been improperly united. That there is some appropriate cause of human depravity, all admit.

Of the precise nature of this, it is obvious that we must be ignorant, as we are of all causes whatever. This is not, in itself however a sufficient reason for our denying that there is, or may be such a thing. When we see effects uniformly resulting, we attribute them to the influence and operation of some efficient agency. We begin with God Himself, and apprehend His divine agency as the prime cause, and thence proceed, through all the different uniform phenonema, or results arising, which fall under our observation, apprehending some immediate efficient agency, which remains uniformly the same. This we call by various names, sometimes a law, sometimes a constitu

tion of God, sometimes a principle: It is indeed of little consequence which.

We find the human mind, in its exercise, following certain general regular modes of action. Thoughts rise spontaneously there, according to certain laws of association. We cannot prevent our minds from being thus affected though we may counteract the impressions, which thoughts arising, may make upon us. Now we may call this feature of our nature, a law or constitution of God, or what we please; still we cannot doubt, that there is something which'has determined and established these modes of action. God created the human mind, and in the first instance adapted it to specific modes of action. These are the laws by which lle governs mind. He gave us the power of thinking and feeling and acting as we do. Our modes of thought are not those of angelic minds. Shall we say, that there is no appropriate cause of this difference? that there is no law, or reason, why the mind should act in particular modes? In other matters we will not consent thus to act: nor is it proper to do so here. Wherever we discover uniform results—a series of correspondent actions, all standing in the same relation to one specific substance, we insensibly assume the existence of some unvarying


We see the phenomena of attraction, for example, in ponderous bodies, and attribute them to gravitation, as their immediate cause. Is there no such thing? Who would believe the metaphysician that would tell us so? Some power is apprehended by us, almost instinctively. This, power, we have already seen is the agency of God Himself, into which all our inquiries on this subject, ultimately conduct us. If in the operations of mind, or its modes of action, we are led to the same result, what then? We are not at all startled by it; but, on the contrary, disposed more to admire and adore the every-where present and operative

Supreme. His agency in our minds supporting and invigorating them for their appropriate action, we will not pretend to scrutinize,-no more than we will His agency in the action of one material substance on another. But that there is some sustaining and supporting agency of God in the human mind, by virtue of which it performs certain actions, according as He has been pleased in His sovereignty to ordain, we cannot deny. The varied modes of that agency, we appropriately call the laws of mind; and when its operations are conducted, in accordance with the mutual dependence and subservience of those laws, there is an harmonious action, as indicative of purity, as productive of felicity:--Just as the operations of nature, following without perversion or distortion, the laws which God has ordained, exhibit the excellence of the divine constitutions,

We admit that the parallel is not complete, and that there is this essential difference between the agency of God in sustaining mind and matter, that, in the former instance, there is a POWER OF VOLUNTARY ACTION, which, it is required shall be exerted in accordance with the divine will. We are aware, also, that it may be objected, according to the views just expressed, that human volitions themselves, are as much the result of a divine agency, as other mental acts. But we are persuaded that the objection originates in a misapprehension of the nature of that divine agency, which is conceded in the operations of created mind.

It is not such an agency as to make the act, distinctly and exclusively the act of God; but such a sustaining, and uniformly co-operating agency, according to certain established modes of thought, as gives energy to the voluntary being, but at the same time, does not affect or destroy the voluntariness of his acts, nor immediately originate them. Thus, for example—itis a mental act to ATTEND—the mind possesses a power to bring its thoughts to bear and fix themselves on a particular subject: that is, God co-operates

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