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3. In the work and conduct of providence fove. reignty is often intermixed with equity. God is under no original obligation to any but himself, to preserve or perpetuate the existence of any creature. I say, original obligation ; because, if his infinite goodness and unerring wisdom decreed, and his condescension promised a prolonged or perpetual fupport of the creature; there is a sense in which intelligent beings may be said to have a ground of claim in equity for that support ; and yet, even in these cases, the obligation, properly speaking, is to himself, his wisdom in declaring, and veracity in performing. He is God, he is infinite truth, and therefore it is his glory that he cannot lie ; and it is equally so, that he cannot deny himself. Hence the heirs of promise are furnished with a ground of Atrong confolation.*

Moreover : God is under no obligation to any but himself, for appointing and maintaining such a wonderful difference among his creatures. Why, for inftance, is one created nature formed greater, {tronger, handsomer, and more intelligent or wise than another? Why are some made to suffer less than others for the same offence, or even a greater, though none suffer beyond their desert? Nay, some of the most daring offenders are spared long, while others, who are not only free from gross dishonouring crimes, but at the same time in a state of divine acceptance, are visited (ftill equitably) with great calamities, or premature death. One nation is just. ly left covered with thick darkness; while others in sovereign goodness are enlightened with revealed truth. Why was Abraham favoured in fo transcendent a manner above all other men of his day? Why were Moses and Aaron appointed to the high honours of legislation and the priesthood? Why was one woman, rather than another, chosen to be the mother of the Messiah ? Why was Paul made so distinguished a vessel to bear, and instrument to proclaim, the unsearchable riches of Christ? These are but a few specimens of a sovereign providence, taken out of a store equally awful and inexhaustible. Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou haft wrought iniquity ?

truth. Heb. vi. 16-18.

4. At the final judgment, which is the closing scene of providence, there will be, according to the scripture account, wonderful monuments of sovereignty, intermixed with equity. Who of the faints will or can say, that the reward does not, in point of strict equity, far exceed their service and obedience? While none shall have room to say that they are dealt by unjustly, behold fome, banished from bliss, with deep consciousness of guilt as a never dying worm, or unextinguishable flame; while others, washed from foulest stains, justified and JanElified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God, * are invited, in strains of sovereign pleasure, and admitted to enjoy the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

5. All miracles must be referred to this sublime attribute for their source. For though the effeEts of fome miracles were punitive, and therefore were deserved, and justly felt by those on whom they were performed; as in the case of the Egyptians, Elimas

ths * i Cor, yi, II.

the Sorcerer, &c. yet every miracle, which implies a temporary suspension or inversion of the common laws and mechanism of nature, requires, without exception, the hand of sovereignty for its production. To deny this is to deny the existence of miracles.

6. Every principle, act, and degree of holiness in 2 creature fallen from rectitude, must necessarily claim the same origin. The connection of moral and natural evil, as cause and effect, is as indissolu. ble in the moral world, according to the original conftitution and course of things, as any cause and effed can be connected in the natural world, and the suspension of the effect in the former case requires as real a miracle, as any suspension in the latter does. This the scriptures abundantly corroborate when they speak of regenerating and converting grace.

7. To this high attribute we must refer the promised resurrection of the body. This appeared to the heathen philosophers, who disputed with St. Paul at Athens, an incredible doctrine; nor is it any wonder, while they remained ignorant of the miraculous power of God. For what, short of a sovereign supernatural act, can effect fo wonderful a change? and how was it possible to know a future miracle, with any degree of certainty, but by divine revelation ?

$ 8. By a moral agent,” in the most general fense, I understand “a being capable of enjoying the chief good,” which is Jehovah all-fufficient. This definition (which implies intellect, will, and free: dom, § 2-4.) is applicable to God and all his rational creatures.

definition

A“ perfećt moral agent” is a being in the a&tual enjoyment of the chief good, and who enjoys every inferior good in a regular subordination to that higher end. This applies not only to God, but also to holy angels and glorified faints; whereas the righteous while on earth, though actually enjoying the chief good, are not perfe&t moral agents, because their enjoyment of every other good is not always, if ever, in the regular subordination above mentioned.

An “ accountable moral agent,” or, which is the same thing, the subject of moral government, is “a

being who possesses a capacity for enjoying the chief

good, who has means both suitable and sufficient “ to keep him from finning, and who has a power of “ abufing or not abufing those means.” This de finition is applicable to all accountable moral agents whatever, the fallen angels not excepted. That these have a natural capacity of enjoying the chief good, and have also a power of abusing means, needs little explanation. But some may find it difficult ta admit, that they have means to keep them from finning, and a power of not abusing these means. If, however, they are offenders as well as sufferers, they must needs have both means and power; the former, because the abuse of such means constitutes the very essence of fin; the latter, tecause the power of not finning is essential to liberty.

An

$ 9. A “perfect accountable moral agent in the ftate of original probation, left to stand or fall according to mere equity,is a being who has the actual enjoyment of the chief good; suitable and sufficient means of acting rightly; with the power, or cause of finning; and a power, or liberty of not finning.*

1. He is a being that not only has a capacity for enjoying, but has the actual enjoyment of the chief good. The want of this enjoyment in any being must be either because he lost it, or because he never had it; in this case it can not be the former, for that would involve the contradiction, that he is an offender before he transgresses any law; not the latter, for then he has not what is perfective of his nature, as a moral agent, without his own fault, which is incompatible. ~Again ;

2. Such a moral agent is one who has a suitableness and sufficiency of means for acting rightly, in order to preserve that enjoyment. If he has no such means, he is laid under a natural impossibility of securing the ultimate end of his existence; that is, D

he

* The propriety of the above definitions relative to " moral agerts,” may be questioned by some readers who only reflect on the definitions commonly given; but all I demand is, that my future reasoning be judged according to my own definition, which is adopted not through the affectation of novelty, but the expe. diency of the case. It would have been easy to say, “A moral agent is a being who is capable of actions possessing a moral quality;” but this, though true, would have contributed nothing 10 the removal of some difficulties I had in view; and of two inconveniences, I preferred a new explanation of old terms 10 the invention of new terms to suit my definitions.

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