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spendest as a shadow ; lose thyself in solemn silence; be wholly absorbed in the greatness of God. O! the real happiness of self-annihilation. And as nothing can be more happy, so nothing can be more equitable; more conformable to eternal rectitude, Divine
grace alone can subdue the swellings and proud boastings of the heart. When the creature claims any power, be it of the will or any other faculty, to do the least good, without the aid of him who said, Without me ye can do nothing, it sets up an idol, and offers incense to it. This idol is jelf. O vanity, O nothing, how blind art thou to thy nature! Thou canst no more aet well without God, than thou couldst form a body or create a soul.
But though we have no power to do right, we have power of our own to do wrong, if he keep us in existence; a man has power to rob God of his due, to commit idolatry, to withdraw delight and affection from him. And is this a power to boast of? What good am I possessed of, what good have I done, which thou didst not furnish me with, or prompt me to ? None at all. Think properly, and thou wilt find — not the least imaginable. O my Creator, Saviour, and Sanctifier, keep me from the evil to which every created nature is unavoidably prone, but from which, by sovereign interpofitions, thou canst effectually preserve me.
I beseech thee, sovereign Lord, let no falsehood of any kind be permitted to drop from my pen to thy dishonour ; while I humbly join with thy fervants Ezekiel and Paul to disprove the impious
charge, and remove the foul calumny, which is virtually uttered by many of thy profefling people, who say; “ If God hath decreed to bestow more
grace upon one than upon another, his ways are “ not equal: if I have no power to convert myself, u why doth he yet find fault?”- Let this effort, fincerely intended, however weak, stand as a monument for God, against the idolatrous selfishness of every creature,
CH A P. I.
Containing an explanation of the principal terms
relating to the subject under confideration.
$ 1. Introduktion. § 2. the term EQUITY defined.
$ 3, 4. And further illustrated. $ 5. The term SOVEREIGNTY defined. $ 6. Explanatory remarks. $ 7. Some instances of sovereign acts. $ 8. A MORAL AGENT defined. $9. What things are esential to an accountable moral agent in a state of original proba. tion. § 10. MORAL EVIL, or fin, defined and explained. s 11. That LIBERTY which is essential to moral agents. $ 12. The different kinds of neceffity to which a moral agent is subject. JAVING occasion, in this Essay, to treat
of Equity and Sovereignty, and a variety of subjects connected with these leading thoughts, relating to moral agency and moral evil, liberty and necesity; it may be proper in the first place, to define and explain these terms with care; for it cannot be doubted, that much ambiguity and misunderstanding have been the effect of omissions of this kind, especially when subjects so abstruse, and so much controverted, have been the matter of difcussion.
§ 2. By the term “ equity,” I understand much the same thing as is commonly meant by the words
“ distributive justice ;” and which in its exercise, denotes, “a giving unto all their due.” That God possesses a principle of equity is almost self-evident; for, if he be not equitable, he is not possessed of rectitude; and if not possessed of rectitude, he is not perfect; and if not perfect, he is not God, and vice versa. There is not, there cannot be, any injustice with God. He is the rock, his work is perfeet; for. all his ways are judgment : a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he.* Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ? how then shall he judge the world? The Judge of the whole earth shall do right, and nothing but what is right; that is, by giving to all their due, he will wrong no man in his matter. - Whether, therefore, the object of this equity be God himself, or the creature he hath made, he gives to all to the utmost extent of what they can, in truth, claim. And in proportion as We are equitable, we shall give to God the things that are God's, and to the creatures the things that are theirs.
$ 3. Further to illustrate the Definition, and to prevent mistake, it is needful here to observe the following particulars :
1. A thing is properly due from one Being to another, when there is a true ground of claim. Thus in whatever point one has a true ground of claim on God, that perfection of his nature which we call equity engages to grant it; but when no such ground exifis, the engagement ceases.
* Deut. xxxii. 4.
2. GOD owes to himself every thing that does not imply imperfection or contradiction; or, which amounts to the same thing, he can do nothing in. consistent with his own infinite excellence and real dignity. Whatever is of him, is due to him. This is the rational cause of all thanksgiving and praise on earth and in heaven : Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou haft created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created ;-Bleshing, and glory, and wisdom, and thank giving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. *
3. GOD owes to a creature, as such, nothing; for the very idea of derivation and absolute dependence, which are essential to a creature, excludes all claim on the Creator for being itself, and consequently for any of its enjoyments. Who hath first given unto the Lord, that he may be recompensed again? If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head.
4. GOD owes (and it is all he owes) to an accountable creature, as such, that he should be possessed of intelleet, will, and freedom; and should have for his choice obječts suitable to his wants.
I do not say, that the preservation of his being is due to him; because if that be not preserved, accountableness expires with it. That a creature possessed of sensation, with a capacity and liableness to perpetual suffering, to a degree worse than non-existence, or in any degree as a penal evil, should be accountable, and yet destitute of intelleet, will, and liberty, appears inconsistent with all true grounds of justice. And,
though * Rev. iv. 11.