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We may perplex a man on the sub- A plain definition of moral freedom ject, but to convince him that his is, as above stated, a connexion bemind is not free, is impossible; it tween pleasure and choice. Of de. is the same thing as to convince pendance there are several definihim that he does not choose at all. tions and theories, some of which Consciousness furnishes incontro are absurd. But it is not necessavertible evidence of choice to every ry now to examine theories. Facts man. If it were necessary to con are all that we need. Take the firm the decision of consciousness, following illustration of dependwe could do it by the evidence fur
God gives and sustains our nished from the actions of man, life and our faculties, preserves their many of which would be inexplica- connexions and relations, gives ble on any other ground; and we vigour and activity to them all. could do it from the word of God, In the language of inspired phiwhich every where describes man losophy, “ we live, move and have as a free, responsible moral agent. our being in God.” So that this But we think it altogether unne- dependance on God is entire. cessary in this place, to give any de. Take, now, the two thoughts and tails of this confirmation. The compare them together. Their conwhole administration of God, under sistency is obvious. Here are fawhich we live, is confirmation strong culties sustained by God's power, and conclusive.
acting in dependance on bim, alThere is a question, here, that has ways in a certain relation and conperplexed many a theologian, as nexion, which constitutes the eswell as the plain unlearned Chris sence of freedom. Is there any intian, which we ought to consider. Is consistency in this ? So far as the moral freedom consistent with de- present question is concerned, we pendence on God? We answer in care not with what notion of dethe affirmative, without the least pendance this definition of moral hesitation. There is one very short freedom is compared. Only admit method of making out this con- the fact as it is, a connexion alsistency, which must be perfect ways between pleasure and choice, ly satisfactory to every mind. It and the more absolute or entire is as simple as it is short, because the dependance, the more certain inductive. All men are conscious and permanent the freedom. Any of this freedom-all men who rea change wrought in the temper of son at all, are convinced that they the heart, or the entire dependance are dependant on God for all that on sovereign grace to effect it, can they have—and their experience never affect the principle of mental has always shown their agreement. liberty. The temper of a man's Thus, men have the testimony of heart is pleased with sin, and he consciousness that they are free- therefore chooses it—God changes the testimony of reason that they that temper, and then his heart are dependant-and the testimony is pleased with holiness; he now of constant experience that they chooses holiness for the same reaare consistent. No man has ever son that he before chose sin-beknown them to come in collision, cause it pleases him. His moral through the whole course of his life. freedom is not at all affected. The Each of these is also confirmed by character of his feelings and choice the testimony of scripture.
are widely different, but his freeThere are other methods of illus- dom is the same. trating this consistency, equally sa A still more perplexing question tisfactory. One method is, to ob- is often asked :-Are free moral tain a distinct apprehension of each, agency and God's decrees consist. and then compare them together. ent with each other? A common
form of pressing this inquiry is the tional mind, and nothing can ever following: If God has irreversibly obstruct it. The more irreversible decreed a man's actions, he cannot we may suppose this decree, the do otherwise, and if he cannot do more secure the freedom. We otherwise, then he cannot be free. need not enter into an argument to This form of the statement involves prove that the human mind is so both kinds of liberty, external and constituted as always to choose as moral. Let us compare them both is most agreeable. The fact, as with the divine decrees. Suppose already shown, is proved by conGod has irreversibly decreed that a sciousness, and no rational mind man shall act just as he chooses to can doubt it. Without undertaking act in accomplishing a given pur- in this place an exposition or depose, or in all his life; does this de- fence of the doctrine of God's irrestroy the connexion between his versible decrees, which, in its apexternal action and his choice, propriate place, might be profitably which is external freedom? Cer- and triumphantly done, it is suffitainly not. But suppose God has cient now to say, that they never decreed that a man shall not, in do, and they never can, interfere a given case, accomplish what he with moral liberty. Suppose God chooses to do; then there may, or has ordained every choice of the there may not be, an obstruction of mind, and the mind invariably his external freedom. If it relate chooses just as it pleases, or in to an ultimate object or action, other words that the connexion bethere is no abridgınent of liberty, tween pleasure and choice is never so far as subordinate actions are broken-then this kind of freedom concerned. Take, for illustration, is not interrupted. Let the suppothe case of the lyers in wait for sition be varied as often as will suit Paul's life. God decreed that they any caviller, only retain this conshould not do the ultimate thing nexion, and there cannot possibly they chose, but all the subordinate be any infringement of liberty. actions, banding together, providing Suppose God has decreed the temtheir weapons, selecting their sta per of the heart, the object of its tions, abstinence from eating, and pleasure and the choice: the mind lying in wait, were done, and freely remains as truly free as is possible. done. Take another illustration; Now compare this definition of men choose to obtain riches, but moral freedom with the doctrine of God disappoints them by his Provi- special grace, or the controlling indence; yet all their efforts are di- fluence of the Holy Spirit, and their rected to the object as the result of consistency will be just as obvious. choice. But a man chooses to walk, In all the operations of the Holy and God has decreed that his limbs Spirit on the minds of men, this should be paralyzed. In such case connexion is never broken. We his external liberty is obstructed'; have already seen that in renewing he is not free in this case. In all the heart, there is a preparation to cases when God's decree cuts off be pleased with holiness, and that the connexion between the choice, holy objects are then freely chosen. and the direct object of choice, In all Christian graces, which are this kind of liberty is destroyed,
destroyed, called fruits of the Spirit, because but never otherwise.
produced under his influence, this Let us now examine the consist freedom is never interrupted. We ency of moral freedom with divine refer the reader to the descriptions predestination. Here it is impor- which are given of the Spirit's intant to be remembered that God fluence in the holy scriptures, and has decreed this connexion between request him to compare our definipleasure and choice, in every ra tion of liberty with these descrip
tions, to satisfy him that they are sibleness, or moral obligation, in entirely consistent. We have not men. Primarily the faculties of room to protract this discussion. knowing, feeling, and choosing, are Man is morally free in his fallen the basis; and secondarily, the uni-, state. Whatever else he may have formly existing connexion between lost, he cannot have lost his mental pleasure and choice. Take these liberty. He has lost power and together, and man is a fit subject of goodness, privilege and happiness, moral government, of obligation, of but moral freedom he has not lost, reward and punishment. Although and never can lose it, while he re- liberty is not the basis of moral obmains in possession of his mental ligation, it is essential to its existfaculties.
ence, in all cases where choice or There is one error on this sub- external action is concerned. There ject which deserves some attention. are, it is true, some cases in which It is the confounding of ability, and men are under moral obligation to freedom. We design, in our next perceive and feel, and so far as the article, to examine the doctrine of specific duty is concerned, it inpower, and cannot now enter upon cludes no choice; but even in those its discussion. But while men's cases there are inseparable duties minds are only vaguely and indefi- associated which do include choice. nitely informed on the subject of To perceive the glory of God is a power, they often blend it with free. duty-to love it is a duty—but obedom, and are bewildered, and find dience is inseparably connected, alit a profitless task to inquire into though in the perception and the afits consistency with some of the re fection there is no act of will. No vealed doctrines of grace. The being can be a complete moral reasons of this confusion are these agent without this kind of liberty. -men usually take their notions of His volitions must be according to power from the connexion between the pleasure of his heart, in order choice and external action, and that his agency should express his their apprehensions of freedom character, and procure objects that from the same connexion; and may promote his own happiness, or when this is done, they transfer that of others. Let it here be rememboth together to their views of bered that we speak of those faculmental liberty. After all this, if, ties as described in our previous arthey contemplate the commands of ticles. This is necessary to be reGod, they seem to infer that liberty collected, lest it should be inferred and ability are the same. But let from so summary a statement of the a man take the definition of mental basis of responsibility, that all aniliberty as consisting simply in a mals that perceive, feel and act, are connexion between pleasure and proper subjects of moral obligation. choice, and we think he will have Man has a faculty of perceiving separated many vague and perplex- moral relations, a faculty of feeling ing thoughts which often improper- in view of them, and a faculty of ly cluster with freedom. Agency choosing or refusing freely moral or action supposes power; but the objects. This renders him a profreeness of the agency respects not per subject of responsibility. the power, only the manner in We conclude this article with a which it is employed. This is suf- brief statement of the doctrine of ficient for our present purpose, moral obligation, corresponding hereafter it will be more fully exa with the above view of its basis in mined.
man. Obligation supposes a standThis doctrine of moral freedom ard of right, which may be called conducts us to what may be called its foundation. This must be in • the basis of accountability, respon- bim to whom we are responsible.
It supposes, also, proper qualifica. The faculties described in this se. tions on the part of those who are ries of articles, qualify men to perresponsible, and a relation subsist. ceive, feel, and choose, in view of ing between them and bim to whom laws which embody the standard: they are obliged. But this is too and qualify them to sustain a relaabstract. Let us state it more fully. tion of responsibility. The sum of God's perfections are the standard the matter is, therefore, that men of right for the universe. They are bound to be holy, because God are holy. We are fully authorized is holy. This is the whole tenor of to say that holiness is the standard his law—"Be ye holy, for I, the or principle of right, and as such Lord your God, am boly.” F. the foundation of moral obligation.
We have been delayed longer ble time before the stated period of than we expected we should be, in issuing the publication in which it fulfilling an intimation given in our appears, that it might be read, and September number, that we would have all its influence on the membefore long, Deo juvante, review a 'bers of the General Assembly, beReview in the Christian Spectator fore they should even hear the for June last, but published in the statement of the parties criminated, month of May-We are now to re and on whose proceedings they deem our pledge.
sentence The Review ori which we are go. either of approbation or censure. ing to remark, is entitled "CASE Was not this very much like a parOF The Rev. MR. BARNES, The tial friend endeavouring to get the Way of Salvation, a Sermon by ear of judges or jurors, to impress the Rev. ALBERT Barnes." Now them favourably in behalf of a parwe certainly are not disposed to ty, before they hear the cause in question the right of the Christian which he is concerned opened in Spectator to review this sermon, or courti And where, in such a case, any other publication, and to ex is the respect due to the court itpress his opinion of its inherent self ?-and in this case, the highmerits or defects, with all possible
est ecclesiastical court in the freedom. But this paper, althoug Presbyterian church? We verily appearing as a Review, is, in fact, think the hope espressed by the and indeed without any disguise, Spectator, that he « would not be a plea in favour of Mr. Barnes, thought obtrusive,” was an unreaagainst the censure passed upon him sonable and vain hope; a hope that by the Presbytery of Philadelphia. must meet with complete disap-and we might add of the Synod pointinent from every candid mind. of Philadelphia too; for the Synod He expresses great solicitude that had participated in the measures
concord and fraternal feeling should which the Spectator condemns. be preserved between PresbyteHad the Review been of the ordina- rians and Congregationalists; but ry character, it assuredly would if the course he has taken has any have received no formal notice tendency to secure such a result, from us.
But the doings of two or rather, if it is not calculated to judicatures in the Presbyterian produce exactly an opposite effect, church are deeply implicated by it; then we must acknowlege our utter and it was sent abroad a considera- ignorance of the principles of human
nature. Men do not readily yield yet pending ;* but to nearly the their affections and confidence to whole of the statements of the those who treat them with marked Christian Spectator in the case unfairness and disrespect.
before us. « We hope (says the We have heretofore, in describ- reviewer) it will not be thought obing the state of the Presbyterian trusive in the Christian Spectator, church, said that plan and precon- to offer a few remarks designed to cert were employed to render the promote a spirit of concession upon last General Assembly what it minor points, between men who are actually was. The truth of our all devoted to the same great cause statement has been vehemently op- of evangelical truth and holiness." pugned; but the proof that we have What we think about his being "obmade no misrepresentation is fast trusive," we have shown above ; but coming before the publick, and will, here is a gratuitous assumption at ere long, be too strong to admit of once, in favour of Mr. Barnes and plausible denial. And when the his friends, of the chief matter in character of the Review before us, dispute. They constantly plead, and the time and circumstances of that all the difference between him its emission are considered, we and his opposers lies in some “mithink it is no violent presumption, nor points," and some peculiarity to suppose that this formed a part of manner in expressing his opiof the plan-that it was a mat. nions. The entire review of the ter understood, if not distinctly Spectator proceeds on this basis. agreed on, that the powerful writers He endeavours to show that Mr. of the Christian Spectator should Barnes differs from his opposers, throw in their mighty influence, at not in substance, but only in words; the critical juncture when their and this is the favourite representafriend and fellow labourer might tion of the whole party throughout need its aid. The use of plan and the country. Why do we conpreconcert to secure a majority in tend? We all think alike. Why the Assembly, when no improper should brethren differ about mere means are used to obtain it, is what trifles, and different forms of we have never condemned, and we expression ?” Such, or similar, is have truly wondered to see what their common language. The de. industry and zeal have been em- sign no doubt is to impress the pubployed to deny a fact, which, if ad- lick with the belief that the orthomitted, was not in our judgment ob- dox are formal bigots, who would jectionable in itself-that is, at a break the peace of the church by time when great interests were in making a brother an offender for a conflict in our church. But we word. Thus they seek to destroy have objected most strenuously to our influence with all who turn with the unconstitutional introduction disgust from a strife about words, into the Assembly of committee and especially with those who know men and mere church members; that orthodox opinions may exist and we still more strenuously ob- without vital piety and practical ject to the calling in of foreign aid godliness, and who think the former from the New Haven school of The- of little account when separated ology, in order to secure a party from the latter. Hence too the claim decision.
After a decision on a controverted But we not only object absolute. point has been made by a religious body, ly to the interference of any other and is published to the world, we regard religious denomination in a contro- it as a fair subject of remark; and if the versy about doctrine and order, as
decision affects important points in the taught in the standards of the Pres- bent duty publickly to commend or to cen
Christian system, it may even be an incumbyterian church, while the cause is sure it. Vol. IX.-Ch. Adv.