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common sense have different offices, and are to be employed in discovering different truths. It is not very strange, therefore, that we are obliged to employ both reason and common sense, in order to reconcile activity and dependence. Nor is there any ground to imagine that their consistency with each other is less certain, because it cannot be discovered by reason alone, nor common sense alone, but by the united assistance of both. For if we know by reason that we are dependent, and know by common sense that we are active, then we know that both activity and dependence do, in fact, harmoniously meet and unite in our minds. And this mode of reconciling activity and dependence seems calculated to give entire satisfaction to any person who is pressed with the difficulty of seeing their harmony and connection. Let us apply it to the case of such a person. Does reason teach you that you are a dependent creature ? Does common sense teach you that you are a free, moral agent? Do you never experience the least inconsistency between your activity and dependence? And do you feel as free and voluntary in all your actions, as if you were altogether independent of the Supreme Being? If all this be true, you must acknowledge that you have the evidence of reason that you act dependently, that you have the evidence of common sense that you act freely, and that you have the evidence of constant experience that your activity and dependence are entirely consistent. You are therefore as certain of the truth and consistency of your activity and dependence, as you can be of any other truth, whose evidence depends upon the united testimony of reason and common sense.
SERMON X X VI.
MAN'S ACTIVITY AND DEPENDENCE ILLUSTRATED
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which work
eth in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. — PHIL. ii. 12, 13.
Having endeavored to reconcile man's activity and dependence in the preceding discourse, I proceed to draw a number of inferences from the subject, which may serve to throw light upon some of the most difficult things which are to be found either in the word or in the works of God.
1. If it be true that men act, while they are acted upon by a divine operation, then their actions are their own, and not the actions of God. The divine agency is not human agency, nor human agency the divine agency. Though God does work in men to repent, to believe and to obey, yet God does not repent, nor believe, nor obey, but the persons themselves, on whom he operates. When God works in men to will and to do, he does not act in their stead, but they act for themselves; and therefore what they do is entirely distinct from what he does. Whether they act virtuously or viciously, their actions are their own, and the praise or the blame is their own, as much as if they acted independently. Some suppose that if God produces our moral exercises, then they must be his, or at least exactly resemble his, in their moral quality. But there is no foundation to draw this conclusion, since our moral exercises are the productions of the divine power, and not emanations of the divine nature. It is true, all emanations of the divine nature must necessarily partake of the qualities of the divine nature, as much as all streams must necessarily partake of the qualities of the fountain from which they flow. But the works of God are not emanations of his nature, but only the fruits of his power. No created object, therefore, bears the least resemblance of the Deity simply because he made it. We know God has created a multitude of serpents, vipers, and other noxious animals, which, though they prove him to be possessed of infinite power, yet afford no evidence of his being possessed of any malignity which resembles the sting of scorpions, or the poison of asps. If God must necessarily stamp his own natural and moral image upon every production of his hand, then a flower, a dove, or a monster, must bear the natural and moral image of its Maker, as much as a saint, or an angel. Saints and angels do, indeed, bear both the natural and moral image of God; but they bear this image not simply because he gave them existence, but because he was pleased to give them such an intelligent and holy existence as resembles his natural and moral perfections. It is, therefore, as consistent with the moral rectitude of the Deity to produce sinful, as holy exercises in the minds of men. His operations and their voluntary exercises are totally distinct. And if we only make and keep up this distinction between divine and human agency, we shall clearly perceive that no imputation can be fastened upon the moral character of God while he works in all mankind both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
2. If men always act under a divine operation, then they always act of necessity, though not of compulsion. The Deity, by working in them to will and to do, lays them under an absolute necessity of acting freely; but this is directly opposed to compulsion. God may cause men to move, without making them willing to move; but he cannot cause them to act, without making them willing to act. Action always implies choice; and choice always implies motive. It is out of the power of the Deity, therefore, to oblige men to act, without making them willing to act in the view of motives. Accordingly, when he works in us both to will and to do, he first exhibits motives before our minds, and then excites us to act voluntarily in the view of the motives exhibited. And in thus acting voluntarily in the view of the motives presented to us, we exercise the most perfect liberty or moral freedom. For we can frame no higher idea of moral freedom, than acting voluntarily, or just as we please, in the view of motives. This however is perfectly consistent with moral necessity. Suppose a man at leisure desires to read, and some person presents him a Bible and a novel. Though he knows the contents of each of these books, yet it depends upon a divine operation on his mind, which of them he shall choose to read; for the bare perception of motive is incapable of producing volition. If in this case God works in him to will to read the Bible, it is his own choice in the view of the object chosen. He is not compelled to read the Bible, though he is necessarily obliged to read it. He acts under a moral necessity, but not under a natural compulsjon. Take another illustration from scripture. God said to Samuel on a certain day, To-morrow I will send thee a man whom thou shalt anoint king over Israel. The man proved to be Saul. The story is this: Saul's father lost his asses, and sent Saul with a servant to search for them. They went and searched, until they despaired of success. But just as they were determining to return, the servant proposed to go to the man of God. The proposal being agreeable to Saul, he cheerfully complied with it; and they both repaired to the house of Samuel, who treated them with peculiar respect. The next day Saul was anointed king over Israel, and the purpose of God in sending him to Samuel was completely fulfilled. Now in every step of his journey, Saul acted freely in the view of motives. He left his father's house from the motive of his father's authority; and he went to the house of Samuel from the motive suggested by his servant. But we are to remember that God sent him to Samuel, and directed every step he took to reach his house. Hence there was a necessary and infallible connection between Saul's actions and the motives from which he acted. And this certain connection could be owing to no other cause than a secret divine influence on his will, which gave energy and success to the motives which induced him to execute the designs of providence. God made him willing to go to Samuel, but did not compel him to go. He led him thither by a moral necessity, without the least compulsion or constraint. And thus men always act both necessarily and freely, while God works in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
3. If saints can work out their own salvation, under a positive influence of the Deity, then sinners can work out their own destruction under his positive influence. As saints can act while they are acted upon, so sinners can act while they are acted upon. As saints can act freely under a divine influence, so sinners can act freely under a divine influence. And as saints can act virtuously under a divine agency, so sinners can act criminally under a divine agency. Hence it is just as easy to see that sinners can work out their own destruction, as that saints can work out their own salvation, under the operation of the Deity. And this is agreeable to the whole tenor of scripture. Pharaoh is represented as acting under the positive influence of the Divine Being, who led him on in the path to
ruin. It is repeatedly said that God hardened his heart, and repeatedly said that he hardened his own heart. According to the account given of his conduct towards God, and of God's conduct towards him, he was as really acted upon in working out his own destruction, as saints are in working out their own salvation. The unbelieving Jews, in our Saviour's day, were judicially hardened; and yet they were severely reproved for hardening themselves. The same passage in the sixth of Isaiah is applied to them in both these senses. The passage stands thus in the prophet: “ And he said, Go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes ; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” This appears to be a judicial hardening; but yet Christ applies it to those who hardened themselves. “ Therefore speak I to them in parables; because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand. And in thein is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive. For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The apostle John considers the Jews as under a judicial blindness, and applies this passage to them as descriptive of their guilty and miserable condition. “ Therefore they could not believe, because Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they might not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” The apostle Paul, however, cites this passage as a proof of their hardening their own hearts. “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet to our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand ; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” These different applications of the same text can be reconciled only on the supposition that the prophet, Christ, and the apostles, meant to convey the idea that sinners work out their own destruction under the positive influence of the Deity. And this is expressly asserted by the apostle Paul, concerning the reprobate Jews. VOL. IV.