Abbildungen der Seite

we think proper. That is, those actions are reserred to a law of simple permission, and not to an obligatory law.

Now that such actions there are, is what no one can reasonably question. For what a number of ibings are there, which being neither commanded nor forbidden by any law, whether divine or human, have consequently nothing obligatory in their nature, but are left to our liberty, to do or to omit, just as we think proper ?

It is therefore an idle subtilty in schoolinen to pretend that an action cannot be indifferent, unless it be in an abstract consideration, as stript of all the particular circumstances, of person, time, place, intention, and manner. An action divested of all these circumstances, is a mere Ens rutionis ; and if there be really any indifferent actions, as undoubtedly there are, they must be relative to particular circumstances, of person, time, and place, &c.

X. Good or bad actions may be ranked under different classes, according to the object to which they relate. Good actions referred to God, are comprised under the name of piety. Those which relate to ourselves, are distinguished by the words, wisdom, temperance, moderation. Those which concern other rnen, are included under the terms of justice and benevolence. · The saide distinction is applicable to bad actions, which belong either to impiety, intemperance, or injustice.


1. Pharaoh's hardness of Heart. II, Dr. Emmons

Exercise Scheme. III. God is willing to give good things to them that ask him. IV. The controversy between Calvinists and Arminians about the excercises of the will. V. A request to the can did reader.

[ocr errors]

1. In scripture it is said, Pharaoh hardened his heart; and again it is said, God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Let us inquire 1. what was this hardness; and 2. how it was produced.

1. I consider hardness of heart to be insensibility, or want of feeling:

2. In the production of this hardness of heart, I apprehend, there was nothing supernatural. I believe Pharaoh produced it by his own voluntary actions of oppression and cruelty towards the Israelites. Such actions always harden the heart of him who wills them; and in this sense it may be said Pharaoh hardened his heart.

If it be agreeable to established laws of nature, 1 that voluntary actions of oppression, and cruelty harden the heart of him who wills them, then, as

God is the Author of these laws, and did not sus pend their operations, it may be said, God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

If hardness of heart is insensibility, or want of feeling, then it belongs to the passive power of the miad, and is something entirely different from volition, or willing, which belongs to the active power of the mind. Hardness of heart may greatly affect the mind in its choice of objects. Now, as hardness of heart is an effect produced by previous sinful volitions, that caused voluntary actions of oppression and cruelty, I should suppose, that the recipient of hardness ought to be accountable for it, and all its consequences.

I have made these remarks, that hardness of heart, insensibility, or want of feeling, may not be taken, to be the same as volition.

There may be other ways in which hardness of heart is produced, beside the one above mentioned; but I consider this to be the most usual way, and perhaps the way in which Pharaoh's heart was hardened,

JI. In writing the deficitions of terms, I omitted to define the word affections : indeed it did not oCcur to me, that I should have occasion to use the word; but I have since defined it in a noté, page 187. I confess I was a little startled, when I de. clared, that the exercises of the affections are ef

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

fects produced in the mind by the operations of exterual objeets, or by thought; while the exercises of the will are not effects. Since, I have thought much of it, and see no reason to alter my opinion. The word, love, may be, and if I mistake not, is often used in scripture, in a sense, to require voli tions, and voluntary actions. When this is the case, it is not used as an affection only, but as a general term, perhaps comprehending the whole duty of man. But iu Chap. xv. s. 3, I have used the word, love, in a restricted sense, meaning only an affection, or relish of the mind. I believe meta aphysicians have frequently mistook the exercises of the affections for the exercises of the will, and in this way have greatly obscured their discourses. President Edwards, when be uses the word, choice, in the sense I do, speaks of the exercises of the affections, and at the same time, he considers, he is treating of the exercises of the will. This mistake runs through his volume upon the freedom of the will. Dr. Nathanael Emmons, with all his acuteness in metaphysics, has made the same mistake in his writings : he has taken the exercises of the affection, called love, for exercises of the will; but perhaps not always. He says, a good heart contains good affections. It always is more or less affected by every object presented to it. If a proper object of benevolence be


presented, it feels benevolence. If a proper object of coinplacence be presented, it feels complacence. If a proper object of gratitude be presented, it feels gratitude, If a vile aud odious object be presented, it feels a proper displeasure, hatred, or aversion. These inward motions, or exercises of the good heart, which are excited by the bare perception of objects, and which do not produce any external actions, are properly called affections, in distinction from all other emotions and exercises of the heart, which influence to action. And these immanent affec. tions of the good heart are extremely numerous, because they are perpetually arising in the mind, whether the person be setting or walking or speak. ing, or reading, or barely thinking. Tlie good heart is often as deeply and sensibly affected by invisible as by visible objects. Some of the purest and best affections of the good heart are put forth in the view of the character, perfection, and designs of the Deity,(1 vol. Sermons, 187.) I do not pretend, that Dr. Emmons has in the above quotation made any mistake. I consider his observations to be as good a plea, as can be made in behalf of the affections : their exercises are always excited by the perception of objects, or by thought, and do not produce voluntary actions. I apprehend, that among the affections, Dr. Emmons intended to include iove, and dislike of objects; for

« ZurückWeiter »