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Of Sin as opposed to Duty, or Imputable Sin.

THE word Duty expresses something incumbent on us to do, or to forbear doing. Imputable sin is not merely transgression of law, but is also nondischarge of duty, that is to say, nonperformance of what was previously our duty. Sin, in the former respect, is want of conformity to, or transgression of any law of God. Sin, in the latter respect, is omission of what ought to have been done, or doing of what ought to have been forborne. That which is right, that which is duty, and that which we ought to do, or to forbear, are equivalent expressions, at least, purpose to use them as such. The objects of duty are things required, which are possible on supposition of choice of the person; and these may immediately respect God, one's self, or fellow creatures. The ultimate reason of this moral and religious bond is God's ruling us.



Of the Origin of Duty.

If we ask, What is the reason of the imputation of sin? the question resolves itself into, What is the

reason or origin of duty? to which such sin is opposed.

The very nature of such a bond involves possibility that it may be broken through; or that there may be nonconformity to what is right, what is required, or which is the duty of a chusing finite being. Suppose that instead of a hedge, a mere line on the ground circumscribes your field or estate, you perceive that your horse or cow will in no respect be bound by it, and that no other than an intelligent agent can conceive itself to be bound by it: yet that the mere line actually involves a moral or manor bond is evident; for you reflect that it is your province to cultivate your ground, and enjoy the fruit thereof, while to cultivate and enjoy the land which surrounds it belongs to another, or to others. This bond which renders it wrong to trespass on the property of another, I call the moral bond or duty.

Duty is an obligation to do on free agents, originating from a manifestation of the DIVINE PREFERENCE of conduct to conduct. God, standing in the relation of maker and ruler to every limited free agent, I think we rightly conceive his manifested preference of conduct to conduct of free agents, as the ultimate reason of duty, and grand primary essential of the moral bond.

If we ask, How does God manifest to us his preference of conduct to conduct, which is the origin of duty? Let us also ask, What hath God provided tending to influence us to conduct, which tends to our individual and social happiness, and to glorify a holy GOD?

The general answer seems to consist in four particulars. First. God manifests and enforces a deportment tending to happiness and his glory, by the tendencies of the properties of actually existing things; that is, the tendency in nature of some deportment to happiness, and of some conduct to misery; and the tendency of the former to glorify God,

and of the latter to tarnish his illustrious perfections. Secondly. God manifests and enforces a deportment according with his preference, by revealing his positive decrees, whereby he hath voluntarily connected conduct with consequents, beyond what is discoverable by the said properties and circumstances of things. Thirdly. By a principle of self-interest, or rather of seeking self-interest and satisfaction in every man. And lastly, by a consciousness of right and wrong, resulting from moral sense and moral affections. These abundantly manifest the Divine preference and approbation of their objects, although occasional constituents of the cause of the inclination acting or refraining, in which consists discharge of duty.

Actual conformity of conduct to morally right does not go to the essence of the moral bond, for the very essence of such a bond, going merely on hypothetical or supposed conduct, it involves, that it may be violated by human unwise choices. The duty, like the Divine preference itself, exists in the nature of things; whether the Divine provision is resisted or not, is operative or not, on a particular person at a particular time.-The agent who has violated duty, in an hour of calm reflection, blames or disapproves himself, and feels that he deserves the blame and disapprobation of all other persons, for having broken through the obligation; but approves himself, and expects the approbation of God and holy angels when he has complied with it.

These, as ingredients of moral causes, if I may so call them, must not be separated from each other, at least, they cannot be detached without a consequent defect of the efficiency. The Divine requirement separated from praise or blame, reward or punishment, would be of little force; for without addressing a principle of regard to self in us, no passion will be excited. Love of self, instinctive love of self, seems the root of all social affection, not that

we love others merely for our own interest, but because, love to self and its dependant passions of a private kind, are prior in order of nature, and by force of association, a principle of association in man, are transferred to other objects, and we feel respecting our neighbours, under calamity or prosperity, nearly as we should do were it our own case, provided we have no prejudice against them.

"With those who laugh our social joy appears,
With those who weep we sympathize in tears."

Self-interest in a detached state may support policy and subtlety, but not sound morals. Pleasure, profit, and honour, seem attractive in every breast, and in right reasoning, may most fully be attained by union in society: but in fact, through human depravity, we find a tendency to perpetual war from the jarrings of avarice, ambition, and enjoyments; and too frequently, the heart being unbound, hypocrisy and fraud are tolerated in communities, and the claims of justice are triumphed over by what they call practical policy. The summit of the aspiration of the shrewd civilian is to conquer a peace, although a conquered peace is no peace, I mean, is unworthy of the name.- -Individuals also too fully exhibit the bad consequences of detaching self-interest from the fear of God and the voice of conscience, by (frequently falling victims to the arm of civil magistracy and a premature death; while they have no painful consciousness of guilt, or blame themselves, but for want of cunning, and for being caught and detected.

Conscience in man goes to the reason or cause of discharge of duty. Conscience is our internal consciousness of right and wrong conduct, antecedent, or subsequent to its existence. More particularly, I judge it to consist in the moral sense and moral affections of man. Moral sense and common

sense are parallel expressions, one respecting morals, the other respecting common objects. They are perceptions unconnected with, or antecedent to, the slow process of deliberation and reasonings. The moral sense has been supposed to be an original and instinctive perception of duty: but perhaps, both moral sense and common sense owe their existence in man to past reasonings and affections, through the medium of association of ideas and habit. Common sense expresses the ordinary degree of intellectual improvement attained by common exercise, without any laboured training of education, or personal endeavour respecting logic. Moral sense expresses the ordinary degree of facilely judging, concerning the manners and motives of mankind in regard of piety, justice, and general usefulness, attained by common exercise, without study of religion or morality. This moral sense in man, joined with one, or more, or all of the moral affections, seems the object expressed in the Holy Scriptures by the term conscience, and therefore the term is retained by myself. The moral affections of man are, natural affection, compassion, gratitude, and universal benevolence, admiration of moral beauty, and reverence of a superior in moral excellence. I conceive of conscience as a principle of man, because, whether inate, or the result of our conceptions and feelings, it is in us, in every man; and though it be more remarkably experimented by all persons respecting themselves, their state and conduct, in an hour of calm retirement, the prejudices arising from personal concern with the world being absent; yet it is more or less operative in the most unfavourable circumstances. Although conscience is an essential of the moral cause, (and our actual state of duty may be proved by its existence,) yet detached from the other essentials to discharge of duty, it is found inadequate for actually supporting morality to any great extent.

Its monitions frequently more resem

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