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event, even the moral conduct of men, is brought to pass, ,does destroy the free agency of man, by rendering him a necessary instead of a moral agent; in whose actions there can be no more moral liberty, than in the wheel which turns by force of water. 2. He presumes that we can have no notion that his doctrine of fatality destroys the agency of man in any other way, than by rendering his actions certain. As our opponent appears not to know the ground we take, and that we see a wide difference between a thing being certain and it being necessary, we will here state, that it is not the certainty of an event, which we think destroys the moral liberty of
mang but the event being rendered necessary by an -unal. terable decree. Did such a decree exist in relation to the moral conduct of men, any where but in the creed of our oppoñents, we say that decree would destroy the freedom of our actions as moral agents : nor have they, as yet, proved to the contrary. But did not Mr. H. know that we understand a difference between certainty and necessity ? and if so, why did he presume that to be our ground which he knew was not? It is true it might be more easy, to answer the objec« tion in that form than in any other, yet answering it in that form did not answer the objection : it still lays with all its strength against the Calvinistic scheme, Again he observes :
“ It seems indeed to be taken for granted, that certainty cannot be consistent with freedom."
It is indeed taken for granted, that such a certainty as is the result of absolute necessity, cannot be consistent with freedom; and as our opponents have assumed the affirmative of the question, we shall wait to see it proved. Many have tried to reconcile these contradictory sentiments, and said many plausible things, but a large majority of the christian world, and even many who profess to be Calvinists, explode
this absurdity as having no foundation in scripture, reason, or common sense. Again he says "We would then ask, whether it is possible to conceive, that God is able to create a being, if it were his intention, who should be dependent on him for existence and support, whose actions at the same tinie might be free ?" I answer, we do conceive it to be possible and easy, for God to create a free agent, while it was his intention so to do; because his intention being im. mutable, rendered it both certain and necessary ; but how does this prove, that if the moral conduct of this being were as absolutely certain and necessary as his existence, he could be a free agent at all? Only prove that it was God's intention that men should act as they do in every instance, and that he created thein for this very purpose, and supplies them with opportunity, motives, &c. and moves them on to this very end, prove this, I say and the controversey will be at an end. Then we shall all agree that man is a necessary agent, and cannot do different from what he does in a single instance; and therefore that he is no more accountable for his conduct than an ounce is, for being out-weighed by a pound : and no more sense in a day of judgment, than there would be in arraigning a watch and rewarding it for keeping good time, or in dashing it in pieces for not keeping good time. "And if (says he) created and dependent beings cannot be free, the dispute is at an end; for men were created, and if mankind are not free, their agency cannot be destroyed by the decree of God.”
I thank Mr. H. for his assistance in establishing that great truth, that men are free, and yet dependent on the Creator for existence and support. And we agree with him further, that if men are not free, their freedom cannot be destroyed even by God himself! But the question is not whether men are free, or whether God can create a free agent; but whest troys the
er, if Calvinistic fatality be true, there is any sach thing as free agency. Settle this point, and the dispute will be at an end. 'Again, after stating that God is able to create a being whose actions may be perfectly voluntary, he observes
“Now, suppose that God should possess such a knowledge of causes and of their operations, as to know infallibly, how this being would act in every circumstance in which he should be placed. Is the agency of this being injured by this knowledge ?" No, sir ; for God knows, with the same in. fallibility, that men may do different from what they do.But the question is not whether the knowledge of God, des
agency of men. We all agree with Mr. H. in his next words, that the knowledge of God, has no possible influence on the actions of men.” No
“He aets within himself alone,
“As if his actions had been unföreknown." Who that reads the above remarks of Mr. H. but must see, that while he acknowledges, that the knowledge of God has no possible influence on the actions of men, he grounds his whole argument for the absolute certainty of events upon it? The question however at issue, is, whether an unaltera. ble decree, by which our opponents contend, that every event is rendered absolutely certain, does not destroy the agency of
To the discussion of this question, our author comes with reluctance. It would seem that he infers, that God has decreed the existence of every event, from his foreknowledge of every event. If this were a just inference, it would follow that foreknowledge and decree, are one and the same, which is absurd : for one is an attribute of the divine Being, and the other is the determination or resolution of his mind. Now it is evident that Mr. H. considers them as one and the same; and therefore when he says, that the knowledge of ed has no possible influence, &c. he would doubtless be
understood to say, that the unalterable decree of God, by which every event is rendered absolutely certain and necessary, does not destroy the agency of men. For the proof of this notion, we have the assertions of our opponents, and but little else. But let us attend to the conclusion of his argument:" Since nothing can be more certain than the knowl. edge of God, it follows that certainty may be consistent with free agency."
Here it is manifest he again grounds his whole argument on the knowledge of God; but admitting, for argument's sake, that this knowledge amounts to the nature of a decree, yet it is difficult to see wherein Mr. II. has made it appear, that, that certainty which, it is pretended, is the result of a divine decree, “may be consistent with freedom.” . Suppose he had proved, that God has unalterably decreed the moral conduct of men, yet he has not, in our view, proved that men at the same time can act the part of accountable agents : this is a task yet to be performed.' God undoubtedly knows how every free agent will act, but to say that this knowledge renders those actions certain, is to say, that men cannot act disferent from what they do ; which is contradicted by the whole tenour of God's word ; and by the experience of every individual. But the reader must see the glaring absurdity of the reasoning of Mr. H. for he first states, that the knowledge of God has no possible influence on the actions of men ; and now in the conclusion, sets it forth armed with all the fatality of an irrevocable decree! If then it has any influence in rendering the actions of men certain, in just the same proportion, it has influence in destroying their agency. But certainty and freedom are not the points to be reconciled by our opponents, unless the term certain be understood to be the same as decree ; for events may be rendered certaira by the actions of free agents, and these events be perfectly known to God, while at the same time the agents being free, might have acted otherwise. But says an objector-In that case, the Lord would have been disappointed. By no means; for had the agent acted otherwise, the knowledge of God being perfect, would have been otherwise also. The ground of the objector's mistake, is, the supposing God's knowledge to be imperfect, which is absurd,
We shall now examine his second argument, by which he attempts to show that certainty not only may, but must, be consistent with free-agency.
“Again, if we look at the operations of the mind in choo. sing, we shall see the very causes which renders our actions certain, render them free,”!
I think all will agree, that man was constituted a free agent at his creation; and that, when he by sin had lost that free dom, it was restored to him again by virtue of the alonement made by Christ. Goodness, then, is the cause which renders our actions free. Now the question is, whether the same cause renders our actions certain. Here again our oppo. nent fails for want of proof; but if we are to believe him, p. 67, God has determined or decreed every event ; and p. 73 and 74 we are told, that “the Great Jehovah, by the disposition of motives before the sinnner, leads him to different acts of sin than he would otherwise have committed." These then appear to be the causes, according to Calvinism, which render- our actions certain. Now, did these causes any where exist, but in the theory of our opponents, and did they at the same time render our actions certain, would they, nay, could they, at the same time, render them free? This would involve a contradiction, and of course is absurd. But let us hear him further.
“In every instance of choice, in preferring that object which the mind judges to be most valuable, consists the