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IT has been my aspiration to exhibit something in this Essay on the Philosophy of Christianity, more consistent with itself, and with the Divine Perfections, than what I have read or heard on the subject. Of what is already published, this seems the bloom or flower. In the First Disquisition, I have rescued Power from the many imposters which have assumed the name; and seem to have approached nearer to the true nature of power, by pointing it out as essentially co-existing with value and excellence, with original choices, and with active property, and a related passive property, in suitable circumstances for valuable operation, of which it is the immediate reason. In my Second Disquisition I have distinguished human preference from human inclination, and have delineated the kinds of the latter, which had not been to my knowledge attempted, although so much called for by late disputes. Dismissing these preliminary objects, I advanced to show, that Divine inclination is a diştinct thing from mere Divine preference of object to object in their own nature:-that Divine choice, purpose, and will, are not eternally and infinitely settled in the Divine nature: but that mere possibles and chance, existed in every case before chusing; and that a rest or remainder existed after every past


election, and will exist after every future act of Divine choice.

We now rationally conceive, that choice of God is not an eternal act, and with great evidence from analogy and scripture affirm, that the Supreme Being actually makes numerous choices which are determined by the nature of their objects in conception. Suppose choices to be determined by the Divine nature, and choices could not exist; but in place thereof, an eternal act of will, exactly equivalent to the fate of the Stoics. Admit a chusing God, and we rationally judge, that all his past choices through eternity, as a whole, cannot be the object of a present act of recollection, the notion involving absurdity; nor for the same reason can all future choices, through eternity to come, be the object of a present anticipation. Again, all future choices even through a limited period, cannot be certainly foreknown; because the supposition of the certain knowledge of future choices in idea, destroys the essence of a choice, and proves the object supposed to be chosen, necessary, and at most but purposed or willed.

Some general truths respecting future choices of Deity may be known: for instance, that they must perfectly consist with all past and present choices, must consist with each other, and must consist with every known or unknown perfection of Deity. God connot chuse from objects in a respect in which he views them equal or indifferent, when referred to his end of chusing. No necessity can attend future choices which can abridge that freedom for chusing which is essential to choice: and every choice made of God will be a reducement of previous chance or fortuitousness. No doubt, these, and numerous other truths respecting his future choices, are known unto God: but I must contend, that all God's purposes, are the offspring of choices; and that most,

if not all of his volitions, are the offspring of purposes, and that absurdity is involved in the conception of foreknown new choices. It hath been, I think, sufficiently shown, that a Divine choice is, and must be finite, and an occasional act of God; and that consequently, innumerable choices have terminated, and innumerable new ones have been made, and will be made of Jehovah.

I now proceed to consider Moral Evil, and the Divine ruling of this world. May I be favoured with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, immediately, or through the medium of angels, while I address moral sense, and common sense, on these important subjects of Divine revelation; and may you, Reader, feel interested, and be edified.


Of Evil.

What is Evil?
That is evil,

SIN, is Moral Evil. All sin is resolvable into Moral Evil. The question arises, We ask, What is actually Evil? in or respecting any being which is repugnant to perfection in its kind. This I conceive to be evil, whether it prevents or retards its progress towards perfection, hinders its degree of excellence, or causeth its decay and destruction. Evil does not respect or consist in the imperfection of one kind of creature, when compared with another kind. It is not evil to an ass that it is not a horse, to a horse that it is not a man,—and to a man that it is not an angel. The defectability of a swine compared to an elephant, the defectability of a fish in respect of a

bird, or of a bird in respect of a fish, is not an evil. The defect of a mere animal compared with a man, is not an evil, nor is the defect of the human species compared with the angelic, an evil.-Again,

Evil is not the necessary dependence of a creature on God: nor does it consist in the imperfection of the creature, as compared with the essential perfection of Deity. It must appear plain to the common sense of every person who understands the language and the use of the terms employed, that of every created species, may be affirmed, the absence of a higher perfection than what it possesses: and that this defect is not the absence of any perfection that belongs to the proper nature of a created or generated existence; but is only the absence of the perfection of another nature which has no limits. This absence of a greater perfection is not evil. Things which begin to be, must necessarily be finite in number, finite in properties, and finite in their circumstances, but evil does not consist in these limitations.-Does tendency to cause pain, go to the essence of actual evil? The common notion of evil answers yes, but philosophy says there are exceptions, and answers no; for some evils of disease are not accompanied with pain; and a large dose of laudanum, which is fatal, may not cause pain. Is pain itself evil? No, for some pains are, in their connection and association, of the utmost utility; thus, those of remorse, repentance, and sympathy. Lastly, what is incommodious or inconvenient to an individual, may not be actually evil; for although neither be good, yet either of them may be indifferent in respect of good or evil, and injurious and pernicious go to the nature of evil. Evil in general, as before said, is that in any being, or respecting that being, which is repugnant or inimical to perfection in its kind. A bad plant in a bad soil, is kept back from the perfection of a tree of the same kind; the badness of its constituents, and

unfavourableness of its circumstances, we consider evil. A gash in the body of a tree, and removal to a worse situation, may hasten its decline, these also are evils. Diseases, or accidents, and obstinacy of mind in childhood, are evils retarding the advance towards excellence and perfection. A consumption, a fever, or confinement in a dungeon, are evils which occasion decline from health, strength, and enjoy


Good, is the chosen desired, approved, and directly necessary consequents which accompany, and are beneficial to the created, or procreated works of God.-Evil is the accidental, undesired, disapproved, yet indirectly necessary consequents which accompany, and are inimical to the works of God.Moral good is the chosen, desired, approved, and directly necessary acts or omissions of persons, which are consequents of their being ruled.-Moral evil is the accidental, undesired, and disapproved acts or omissions of persons under Divine ruling, which are connected with natural evils.

Evil, as more especially confined to human persons, may be distinguished into evil of sinning, and evil of suffering. The evil of sinning, or moral evil, is an act or an omission of a limited, intelligent, being, which is a deviation from the rule of rectitude. The evil of suffering, we are authorized by revelation to consider, as the penal consequent of moral evil, wisely admitted and inflicted under Divine Magistracy: but when conceived of, irrespective of penal infliction, it is called natural evil. Moral evil, considered as transgression of Divine law, is denominated sin Sin is an evil act, or evil omission, whether of thought or of motion; and when by a repetition of either, an evil habit is generated, that habit is called vice.

The Origin of Evil;-The nature of Divine Rul

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