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If this be true, it is in vain to talk about the mind's willing that which is forbidden; or not willing that which is required by God; for such volitions are wholly impossible: No effect of his ever failed of existence, which he required, and he never produced any thing, that he forbid: All his works are precisely as he would have them to be.* Then upon the supposition he produces all human volitions, there can be no sinful volitions.
The second consequence is that there is no liberty of the mind in willing. For if God be the only being who can begin action in himself, there cannot be the least action of the human mind until God
*But an objector may say, God's revealed will was that 1 should not do an act; but his secret productive will was that I should do it, and it was my doing contrary to his revealed will, that makes the act a sin in me, To this I would reply; that if God caused the act, he certainly willed it to be at the time the act made sure of existence; and if the act be contrary to God's revealed will; then he willed differently about the same act, that is, he willed the act to be, and produced it; and at the same time willed the act not be-One of these volitions the objector calls the secret productive will. of God; and the other, his revealed will. This is taking for granted what is not acknowledged, and what cannot be proved, viz. that God caused the act; consequently has a secret productive will, contray to his revealed will. If this secret productive will does exist, we know nothing about it, because it is secret; but we do know that God has revealed his will.
acts upon it, and therein produces action, any more than there can be motion in the last link of a chain, when the other links are at rest; and when God acts upon the mind to produce action, the mind cannot avoid acting, any more than the last link of a chain can avoid moving, when the other links are in motion. Suppose G, representing God, be the remote active cause; A. B. C. D. E. the intermediate passive causes; and F the immediate passive cause of an action in M, representing the human mind. Now, if G. be the only being who can begin, continue, and end action in himself, there cannot be the least action in M, only when G. acts; and when G. acts on A, A must act on B, B on C, C on D, D on E, E on F, and F on M, and at no other time.
We may call F, uneasiness of desire, strongest motive, relish, disposition, or any thing else, no matter what, it is an inactive thing, only when acted upon, and made to act; but not more so, than the mind, if God be the only being, who can begin, continue, and end action in himself. Then, upon the supposition, that God is the active cause of all human volitions, there can be no liberty of the human mind in willing.
Let us here explain what we mean by internal sense, or feelings. The injunctions contained in the scriptures requiring us to do certain things,
and omit to do other things may be called the laws of God relating to mau. When I do a thing, which I know to be forbidden by this law, and compare the thing done with the law, I cannot help feeling; I have an inward sense, or conscience, that tells me I might have omitted the doing of the thing, as the law required; that I willed with liberty in doing it; or in other words, I was not acted upon, and made to do it. I feel as though I had sinned against God by violating his righteous law, Such feelings are not peculiar to me; but are common to all. Now if we compare these feelings with the aforesaid consequences, no sinful volitions, and no liberty of the mind in willing, we find them directly opposedmy feelings are, that I have sinned, and willed with liberty in doing it; whereas, I have not sinned, and had no liberty in willing, if God be the active cause of all human volitions. What shall we do? We cannot believe and disbelieve our internal sense, or feelings at the same time? I answer, it is our duty to weigh the evidence on both sides, and as we find truth, so give our assent-on the one hand we have an internal sense, or feelings, that we sin, and will with liberty in doing it. On the other hand it is contended, that God is the active cause of all human volitions, which, if true, renders it impossible, that we should have sinful volitions, or have any liberty in willing. That God is the ac
tive cause of all, or any of our volitions, cannot be proved. But the inward sense, or feelings, which I have described are so many living witnesses within us, which testify, that we do sin, and that we will with liberty in doing it. Shall we disbelieve these witnesses? We cannot doubt the truth of what they represent to the mind, any more than we can doubt our own existence.
II. But President Edwards says, "There is a great difference between God's being concerned thus by his permission, in an event and act, which in the inherent subject and agent of it, it is sin (though the event will certainly follow on his permission) and his being concerned in it, by producing it, and exerting an act of sin; or between his being the orderer of its certain existence by not hindering it under certain circumstances, and his being the proper actor or agent of it by a positive agency or efficiency. And this, notwithstanding what Dr. Whitby offers about a saying of phi losophers, that causa deficiens, in rebus necessariis, ad causam per se efficientem reducenda est.
As there is a vast difference between the sun's being the cause of the lightsomeness and warmth of the atmosphere, and brightness of gold and diamonds, by its presence and positive influence; and its being the occasion of darkness and frost in the night, by its motion, whereby it descends below the
horison. The motion of the sun is the occasion of the latter kind of events; but it is not the proper cause, efficient, or producer of them; though they are necessarily consequent on that motion under such circumstances; no more is any action of the Divine Being the cause of the evil of men's wills.— If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat; and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun; and it might be justly inferred, that the sun itself is dark and cold, and that its beams are black and frosty. But from its being the cause no otherwise than by its departure no such thing canbe inferred, but the contrary; it may justly be argued, that the sun is a bright and hot body, if cold and darkness are found to be the consequence of its withdrawment; and the more constantly and necessarily these ef fects are connected with, and confined to its absence, the more strong does it argue the sun to be the fountain of light and heat.
So, inasmuch as sin is not the fruit of any posi tive agency or influence of the Most High, but on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and agency, and under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence; this is no argument that he is sinful, or his operation evil, or