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urged, an attribute, governed wholly by physical necessity, can never recommend us to God; much less become the ground of so important a blessing, as justification.

It will be easily seen that, so long as this objection has its hold on the mind, and is allowed its full import, the doctrine of justification by faith can never be received, unless in a very imperfect and unsatisfactory manner. If faith is a thing over which we have no control ; if we believe only under the influonce of a physical necessity, and, whether we believe or disbelieve, it is physically impossible for us to do otherwise; then it is plain, that faith is so far from being praiseworthy, amiable, and capable of recommending us to God, as to merit and sustain no moral character at all. According to this scheme, therefore, faith and unbelief being equally and absolutely involuntary and avoidable, can never constitute a moral distinction between men. Faith can never be an object of the approbation nor unbelief of the disapprobation of God. Much less can we be praiseworthy in believing, or blameable in disbelieving. Still less can we on one of these grounds be rewarded, and on the other punished. Least of all can we, in consequence of our faith, be accepted, and blessed for ever ; and, in consequence of our unbelief, be rejected, and punished with endless inisery.

All these things, however, are directly and palpably contradictory to the whole tenour of the Gospel. In this, faith is approved, commanded, and promised an eternal reward. Unbelief, on the contrary, is censured, forbidden, and threatened with an everlasting punishment. Faith, therefore, is the hinge on which the whole evangelical system turns. • If ye believe not that I am he,

shall die in your

sins.' • He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life ; and he that believeth not, shall not see life ;' are declarations which, while they cannot be mistaken, teach us that all the future interests of man are suspended on this faith ; and are, at the same time, declarations to which the whole evangelical system is exactly conformed. If, then, our faith and disbelief are altogether involuntary, and the effect of mere physical necessity, God has annexed everlasting life and everlasting death, not to any moral character in man, but to the mere result of physical

A consequence so monstrous ought certainly not to


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be admitted. The Scriptures, therefore, must be given up, if this scheme is true.

I have now, I presume, shown it to be necessary that, before I enter upon the discussion of the doctrine contained in the text, this objection should be thoroughly examined, and removed. To do this, will be the business of the present Discourse.

In opposition to this objection, then, I assert, that faith, and its opposite, disbelief, are, in all moral cases, voluntary exercises of the mind ; are proper objects of commands and prohibitions ; and proper foundations of praise and blame, reward and punishment. This doctrine I shall endeavour to prove by the following arguments, derived both from reason and Revelation ; because the objection which I have been opposing has been incautiously admitted, at times, by Christians, as well as openly and triumphantly alleged by infidels.

1. Faith is everywhere commanded in the Scriptures.

• This is his commandment, that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,' 1 John üi, 23. • Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled ; and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent ye and believe the Gospel, Mark i. 14. 15. In these two passages, we have the command to believe the Gospel, delivered by Christ in form; and the declaration of the Evangelist, that it is 'the commandment of God, that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.' Whatever, then, we understand by faith, it is the object of a command, or law, which God has given to mankind; a thing which may be justly required, and, of course, a thing which they are able to render, as an act of obedience, at least in some circumstances. God cannot require what man is not physically able to perform. But all obedience to God is voluntary. Nothing is or can be demanded by him, which is not in its nature voluntary, nor can any thing but the will of intelligent beings be the object of moral law. No man will say, that a brute, a stope, or a stream, can be the object of such law. Faith therefore, being in the most express terms required by a law or command of God, must of course be a voluntary exercise of the mind, in such a sense, that it can be rightfully required.

Farther: The language of the first of these passages most VOL. II.

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evidently denotes, that the command to believe on the name of Jesus Christ,' is one of peculiar and pre-eminent importance. · This is bis commandment:' as if there were no other; or do other which in its importance may be compared with this. Here St. John teaches us, that faith is pre-eminently required by God, in a manner distinct from that in which he requires other acts of obedience generally. Of course, faith is not only justly required of mankind by God, but is required in a manner more solemn than many other acts universally acknowledged to be voluntary.

Accordingly, a peculiar sanction is annexed to the law requiring our faith ; He that believeth shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.'

The reward and the penalty here announced, are the highest which exist in the universe; and, therefore, directly indicate the obedience and the disobedience to be of supreme import. Nothing can be a stronger proof, that in the eye of God, faith and unbelief are voluntary, or moral exercises of man.

But it may be alleged, that the faith enjoined in these commands, is not a mere speculative belief ; and, therefore, not the faith which, in the general objection opposed by me, is asserted to be physically necessary and involuntary. readily agree, that the faith here enjoined is saving faith; and that this is not mere speculative belief. But such belief is an indispensable part of saving faith; and so absolutely inseparable from it, that without such belief saving faith cannot exist. Saving faith is always a speculative belief, joined with a cordial consent to the truth, and a cordial approbation of the object which that truth respects.

When, therefore, saving faith is commanded, speculative belief, which is an inseparable part of it, is also commanded. It is not, indeed, required to exist by itself ; or to be rendered without the accordance of the heart. But, whenever saving faith is required, speculative belief is absolutely required. Of course speculative belief is, at least in some degree, in our power; and may be rendered as an act of obedience to God.

To him, who believes in the inspiration of the Scriptures, these passages, and many others like them, furnish complete proof, that faith, whether saving or speculative, is an act of the mind, which is in such a sense voluntary, as to be the proper object of a command or law; that it may be justly required of mankind; and that it cannot be either refused or neglected, without guilt.

2. The universal consent of mankind furnishes ample proof, that faith is, in many instances, a voluntary or moral exercise.

The evidence which I propose to derive from this source, lies in the following general truth; That in all cases, where mankind have sufficient opportunity thoroughly to understand any subject, and are under no inducement to judge with partiality, their universal judgment is right. As I presume this truth will not be doubted, I shall not attempt to illustrate it by any arguments. That the present case is included within this general truth is certain. Every man who thinks at all,

, knows by his own personal experience, and by his daily intercourse with other men, whether his own faith and theirs be voluntary in many instances, or not; I say, in many instances ; because, if the assertion be admitted with this limitation, it will be sufficient for my purpose. If, then, mankind have determined, that faith is sometimes voluntary, the doctrine against which I contend must be given up.

The language of mankind very frequently expresses their real views in a manner much more exactly accordant with truth, than their philosophical discussions. Men make words, only when they have ideas to be expressed by those words, and just such ideas as the words are formed to express. If, then, we find words in any language denoting any ideas whatever, we know with certainty that such ideas have existed in the minds of those by whom the words were used. Whenever these ideas have been derived from experience and observation, we also know that they were real, and not fantastical ; and are founded, not in imagination, but in fact. In all languages are found words, denoting the same things with the English terms, candour, fairness, reasonableness, impartiality, and others, generally of the like import. The meaning of all these terms is clearly of this nature; that the persons to whom they are justly applied, use their faculties in collecting, weighing and admitting evidence, in a manner equitable and praiseworthy. Accordingly, all persons who do this are highly esteemed and greatly commended, as exhibiting no small excellence of moral character.

In all languages, also, there are words answering to the English words, prejudice, partiality, unreasonableness, and unfairness. By these terms, when applied to this subject, we uniformly denote a voluntary employment of our faculties in collecting, weighing, and admitting, evidence, conducted in a manner inequitable and blameworthy. Accordingly, persons, to whom these terms are justly applied, that is, the very persons who employ their faculties in this manner, are universalls disesteemed and condemned, as guilty and odious.

All these words were formed to express ideas really existing in the human mind, and ideas derived from experience and observation. Of course, these ideas have a real foundation in nature and fact, and the words express that which is real.

As the terms which I have mentioned are parts of the customary language of a great nation, and as other nations have, universally, corresponding terms, it is certain, that these are the ideas of all men, everywhere presented by experience and observation, derived from facts, and grounded in reality. The common voice of mankind has, therefore, decided the question in a manner which, I apprehend, is incapable of error, and can never be impeached.

In perfect, accordance with these observations, we krow, that voluntary blindness to evidence, argument, and truth, is customary phraseology in the daily conversation of all men. In accordance with these observations also, the declaration, that “ none are so blind, as they who will not see,” is proverbial, and regarded as a maxim.

3. The mind is perfectly voluntary in the employment of collecting evidence, on every question which it discusses.

All questions are attended by more or less arguments, capable of being alleged on both sides. These arguments do not present themselves of course; but must be sought for, and assembled by the activity of the mind. In this case, the mind can either resolve or refuse to collect arguments, and in this conduct is wholly voluntary, and capable, therefore, of being either virtuous or sinful, praiseworthy or blameworthy, rewardable or punishable. Wherever its duty and interest, wherever the commands of God, or lawful human authority, or the well-being of ourselves, or our fellow-men, demand that we collect such arguments, we are virtuous in obeying, and sinful in refusing.

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