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necessity of nature. He would do better, but, in many cases, cannot.

God will not help him, and although He has thus created him, yet He is determined to condemn him eternally, and that for no fault of his own!! Can these things be?

The truth is, God is neither so capricious, nor so improvident, as to establish a great constitution, ordaining modes of His own agency, with regard to the acts of His creatures, and then, because their great forefather suddenly raised the standard of rebellion against himself, ruin the natural vigor of his offspring, destroy their capacities, and send them into this world, absolutely disqualified and incapacitated to avoid those things, for which He has declared He will punish them eternally. Men's natural capacities remain the same, and God is still willing to co-operate with them, according to his own established laws, or modes of agency, provided thal they will choose to exert them. As to any special, extraordinary influence to induce thema to do so, that is altogether a different thing, and falls not under our present consideration.

It is necessary here to observe, however, that in estimating the abilities of men, as called to sustain the responsibilities of moral agents, they neither are, nor can be, placed in the circumstances of their first progenitor. Adam was created, as has already been remarked, with his capacities in a full state of development; but we are brought into being under the operation of laws, which secure their gradual cvolution. Nor does it appear that this process, so far as the agency of God is concerned, would have been different, on the supposition of Adam's obedience. It is, indeed, subjected to the operation of certain new moral influences, and takes place under entirely new circumstances, as induced by his sin; but that God has withdrawn, or changed His ágency, in the support and preservation of

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man's capacities, both mental and moral, which He had originally ordained, does not appear.

We shall sce, in the succeeding chapter, how it comes to pass, that in the process of this development, under the circumstances which rebellion has induced, man naturally becomes a sinner. At present, our inquiry particularly relates to those capacities of action, when developed, according to which God is pleased to co-operate with his creatures, and in the possession of which, consists our natural ability. None of these, nor any of that co-operating agency of God, which is regulated by the fixed and established laws of nature, has man lost. To suppose the contrary, would be to disqualify him for God's moral government, and make the author of our being, the author of our rebellion.

To prove the possession of such ability, its actual exercise is not necessary. “For,” says Dr. Howe, “it may well be thought sufficiently to solve the rights and privileges of the first cause, to assert, that no action can be done, but by a power derived from it; which, in reference to forbidden actions, intelligent creatures may use, or not use, as they please, without ever asserting, that they must be irresistibly determined also, even to the worst of actions also. Besides, that it seems greatly to detract from the perfection of the ever blessed God, to affirm He was not able to make a creature of such nature, as, being continually sustained by Him, and supplied with power every moment, suitable to its nature, should be capable of acting; unless, whatever he thus enables he determines, (that is, for it can mean no less than impel,) it to do also."1

The above remark is unquestionably as true, in reference to one class of acts as another. No one will maintain, that God exerts a positive efficient power determining to sin. Yet has man indisputable ability to sin.


He needs no

1, Howe's Works, v. ï, p. 501.

new capacities for rebellion. His natural capacities to know, love, fear, and act, &c. seem to have lost none of their energy, so far as they are exerted and directed towards improper and forbidden objects. He has power to sin. Now it is through the exercise of these very capac

, ities, that man is to exhibit holiness. Shall we say, that God withholds his agency from man, in so far as holy exercises are concerned, but co-operates with him in siu? That He gives him strength for the one, and will not for the other? That he has so utterly abandoned his creature, that holiness has become naturally impossible, and that one generation after another, are irreversibly condemned to the suffering of eternal vengeance, for doing what it was impossible for them to avoid, being impelled by a positive efficient agency of God! Or, are we to suppose, that natural ability is something different from the capacity appropriate to the action, sustained through the agency of God, co-operating with the will of man? Are we to believe that there is, in fact, a vigour and energy in the soul, or the very facullies themselves, independently of the co-operating agency of God, which was originally imparted by God, but has been withdrawn? That the human mind labors under constitutional imbecility, lacks energy in itself, and, therefore, never can believe, repent, or perform other holy exercises, till, by Regeneration, there is communicated some "new power or ability to the mind itself, by the Holy Ghost, so curing the depravation of its faculties?”

This, if we can understand the views of Dr. Owen, and others, seems to be what they are contending for, when they deny to unrenewed man all ability, and represent regeneration as a creative act, giving to the soul itself power and ability. But this is in direct contradiction to Christ and Paul'stestimony. “I can of mine own self do nothing."?l “My


1 Jolin y. 30.

strength is made perfect in weakness."1 And it is just as contrary to the whole analogy of God's providence. There is no essence, which is either the cause of vital phenomena, or possesses power, in itself, to produce them. They are but modes of the Spirit's agency, as ordained and established in the sovereignty and wisdom of God. The strength or vigor of human faculties, also, lies not in themselves, but depend on established modes of the Creator's agency. The exercise of them, however, is immediately dependent on the will of man. Whatever, therefore, tends to prevent the will from calling them into exercise, may be said efectually to disable. It is, however, a moral inability-an inability, arising out of considerations suggested to the mind, and inducements operating on the will, which will certainly, for the time being, prevent the exercise of the natural capacities.

It is, on this account that it is spoken of, oftimes, in such strong terms, as though it were as real an inability, as if the very capacities themselves were wanting; while, at the same time, no one is disposed to apologize for it, or extenuate it's guilt in the least degree. Every person understands this subject, and distinguishes thus between natural and moral inability. The giddy and thoughtless child is punished, who says he cannot get his lesson; it being well understood, that either a dislike for his book, or some other considerations, prevent him from applying his mind to it. The servant is accounted guilty, in many cases, who makes the same plea. The parent sees a thousand exemplifications of this same thing; and if he were, in all cases, to admit the truth of the child's declarations as to ability, he might soon cease to command.

The Scriptures, too, continually recognize the distinction between natural and moral ability, always regarding the inability, which consists, in the refusal of the will, to call

1. 2 Cor. xii, 9.

the requisite capacities into action, as highly criminal, wherever and whenever God commands. When God commanded Samuel to go, and anoint David king over Israel, he replied, “ How can I go; if Saul hear it he will kill me?" While Samuel's unbelief and fears prevailed, his will was prevented from giving its consent to go, and he felt as if that were a thing utterly impossible, which the Lord required ? How can I do it?

The apostle, after having enumerated the articles of furniture in the inmost chamber of the temple, “the holiest of all,” concludes the description, by mentioning "the cherubims of glory overshadowing the mercy seat," but adds, "of which we cannot now speak particularly " His meaning is plain. Such was the nature of the argument, in which he was then employed, that he could not consent, at that time, to digress into a particular consideration of matters, foreign from it. It was wholly an inability of will; i. e. a refusal on his part, to make the requisite exertion of his capacities for that end, induced by considerations and motives, prevalent in his mind at the time.

Our Saviour asks, "Can the children of the bride chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they CANNOT fast.”3 This is wholly an inability of will. The thing, in itself, is not impossible; but the season is one, which is generally so joyous, and is wont to be so connected with festivities, as to render it morally impossible to fast. Men are rendered reluctant, unwilling to do what they are able, and under other circumstances, they might be induced to do.

In like manner, the Evangelist John says, that there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world

1. 1 Sam. xvi, 2.

2. Heb. ix. 5.

3. Mark ii, 19.

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