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ble a soft whisper than a full thundering voice: and though its operations be usually most apparent in early life, yet a child, by bad example or temptation, is easily induced to violate the moral sense and mo ral affections, and alas! many children attain an early proneness to mischief and profligacy. It is not always better in riper age for many persons, who exult with self-complacency, in experiencing the feelings of conscience, when reading a suitable narrative in private, or attending a dramatic exhibition of characters in public, yet when actual temptation is present, habitually neglect them.

"A Deity believed, will nought avail;
Rewards and punishments make God ador'd;

And hopes and fears give conscience all her pow'r."

I rejoice and am thankful, that self-interest, even in its detached state, is frequently turned into valuable channels by wholesome laws,-that the moral sense and moral affections operate also so much as in fact they do in all men,—and that the knowledge of God produces a reverence at times in every

person.

We proceed to examine the nature of duty and imputable sin more particularly.

SECTION II.

Of the Nature of Human Duty.

DUTY always involves a hypothetical indispensible connexion between an antecedent and a consequent; or between an end proposed, and the means of ob

taining it. If the moral agent would attain the consequent, he is indispensibly bound to accept the antecedent. And on the contrary "if a moral agent adopt a different antecedent from what is required, not only he shall not attain to the proposed consequent, but another consequent is to follow, indispensibly connected with the antecedent actually adopted, by a necessity of consequence." The consequent, or the end which is proposed by the ruler, is always a supposed good; for it would be unworthy of a ruler, wise and good, to propose any other: but if the free agent adopts an antecedent naturally connected with a different consequent, he then becomes naturally forced to sustain a proportionable evil.

"It is the prerogative of the supreme Ruler to propose the consequent of the indispensible connexion; and it is the part of the moral agent, who in the act of choice is left free to chuse the antecedent, which the moral governor has objectively furnished, and indispensibly required. To this choice he is morally and hypothetically bound, yet is naturally free; and IF the required choice be made, the good follows; but IF NOT, the corresponding evil follows. For instance, if the forgiveness of sin be the consequent proposed, and repentance the antecedent required, the agent is morally bound to repent, but naturally free. If however, he break through the moral bond, which is done by abusing his natural freedom, or continuing his wrong choice, forgiveness does not follow; but he stands exposed to the natural and threatened consequence of that wrong choice, or impenitence. In the system of moral government, the supreme governor proposes, decrees, ordains, enacts, or establishes objectively, the chain of consequents, while the moral agent, or the obligee, establishes optionally, the antecedents; and as the actual choice of an antecedent is, such will be the actual consequence. When the moral

agent chuses that antecedent which is required, or which is conformable to rectitude, the proposed consequent is obtained by the nature of things; but when that which is not required, or is not conformable to rectitude, is chosen for an antecedent, the evil consequence flows" from negative causes.

He is morally bound who has a hypothetical possibility of a different choice, or a chance for making a different choice, from the morally right choice: and he is not morally bound, who has no possibility of chusing morally right. Freedom for acting extends to the thought which we call a choice, for if future, it may be duty, and if present, may be approved of God; also, if future, may be opposed to duty, and if present be imputable sin. But to be more particular, let us pursue the subject by Axioms and Inferences

Axiom I. The PREFERENCES of our MAKER, whether discovered by reasoning from his works or by revelation, carry the highest authority with them, and are therefore the ultimate rules of duty to human persons. A conformity, or nonconformity to them distinguish their deportment as morally good, praiseworthy, and rewardable; or morally evil, blameworthy, and punishable.

Axiom II. The objects of duty are either choices, or else things within the dominion of the chusing mind, that is to say, objects which may be done, or objects which may be left undone, and objects which will exist, supposing the ruled person chuses, and there is not a defect in the degree of choice. Or more concisely, every actually ruled person has dominion, as a chusing being, adequate to discharge of his whole duty, and the nondischarge thereof is his imputable sin.

Inference 1st. From this axiom we infer, that the objects of duty are either immediate or mediate: for the precept which cannot be conformed to immediately, may sometimes be conformed unto by a

medium. It may be a certain person's duty to read his bible, who has not learnt to read, and his immediate duty to essay learning the alphabet.

Inference 2nd. Natural ability is indispensible to a state of duty respecting a choice, or a dependant act or omission, required by an existing law. A moral agent has ability to chuse, and to do good as well as evil of himself. Natural capacity also is indispensible to a state of duty respecting any required enjoyment or suffering. Thus, it is not our duty to be still when under convulsions,-to work without an arm,-to enjoy food when we have no appetite, or to suffer the operation of rhubarb, when, through a spasm, we have no relative state of body.

Inference 3rd. Moral precepts, as to the nature of their requirements, and human duty respecting them, are always co-extensive and coincident: but moral precepts, as to their degree of discharge and human duty, are not always co-extensive and coincident; for, duty is limited to the actual ability, capacity, and opportunity of the subject, respecting the attainment of knowledge of their existence, and to the possible degree of their actual discharge; the full choice of the person supposed.

We finite persons do sin in respect of the Divine moral law as a general rule of infinite perfection, when we perform our whole duty. Moral precepts also are far more extensive than our related duty. One moral precept is, Love God infinitely: but I think the truth is, we cannot love God better than we can love ourselves, which cannot be but finitely; and consequently, I think it not our duty to love God better than ourselves, and that the defect of the degree of love to God beyond that which we exercise to ourselves, is not imputable sin. Another moral precept is, Be infinitely holy: but in relation thereto, if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and utter untruth. And another moral precept is, "Be

M

ye perfect as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." Our modesty must admit this cannot be attained under limited assistances, notwithstanding it is the aspiration and endeavour of every pious Christian. The notion, that precept and duty are always equally extensive and commensurate, has probably led some to assert, that Adam in innocence was adequate in ability to perfectly keep the moral law;—a position which no text of scripture, or any argument can support. All that can be truly affirmed is, that Adam was adequate to performance of his whole duty. No doubt, our first parents sinned against the moral law before they violated the constitution precept, by eating the prohibited fruit, or sin was imputed.

Inference 4th Depravity, derived from an ancestor by generation, although constituting an impediment to my obeying a precept, is not my imputable sin, or imputable vice. Neither depravity of an ancestor, nor depravity naturally derived from him, is my imputable sin; and any thing valuable, naturally derived from an ancestor, which constitutes an expedient to my obeying a precept, is not my discharge of duty, or my virtue.—A married pair, but by gratifying their lust of intemperance, have destroyed their health, and are both of them in a lingering consumption. Their intemperance was their imputable sin. In these circumstances a child is begotten and brought forth into the world, which also in consequence, is affected with disorder. but neither its being born of consumptive parents, or of sinning parents is its sin; nor is its own tendency to consumption, or to moral failures its sin, much more its imputable sin or imputable vice.

Inference 5th. Although the inability or incapacity for obeying a precept, might have arisen as a natural consequent of our former nondischarge of duty, and of our former imputable sin, yet there is no state of duty in respect of that for which there is not the needed natural ability or capacity.-Yes,

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