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find the argument is attempted to be maintained, by assuming a position which no man believes. No one supposes man is free to determine his every motion, and in every possible situation. He is only free to act within the sphere of his natural and moral capacity; and free to improve his powers as he finds opportunity.
When we apply freedom to man's ability in deciding his actions,-in determining what he will do, or what he will refrain from doing, this ability does not make it lawful for him to do every action, that comes within the compass of his power. If ability and right are both one, then free agency might destroy accountability. But if the freedom relate only to the power of action, according to the ability which is given the
agent, it is perfectly consistent with the strongest ob* ligation in a moral point of view, and consistent with
our accountability to God. It by no means follows, because man has power to act, that he is under no obligation to any one, how he acts. On the other hand, we think a degree of freedom is essential to accountability. God requires no evil of his creatures ; and if they are unable to avoid doing the evil which they do, we see no propriety, in their being called to an account for it, and pronounced blamable, for that which is unavoidable.
The idea of obligation arises from benefit. If we have agency to do, or refrain from doing certain actions, we are indebted to the Author of our being for this faculty. And to say, because we possess the faculty, - we are not accountable to him that gave it, for the proper use of it, is taking ground which an opposer, in an ardent struggle to maintain his ideas, might see fit to adopt; but it seems could seldom satisfy him, were he placed in any other situation. Our freedom of action, therefore, is not a freedom from accountability, nor a freedom from dependence; but an innate principle, which argues dependence, and renders accountability needful.
The idea that man is necessarily governed by the
infiuence of objects, which some are disposed to maintäin, we acknowledge is in opposition to our views of agency. In the sense in which a man is governed by another, in the same sense he does not govern himself.
Objects truly may have a greater or less inflyence upon the mind, and attract according to the views which we have of them. But if we are under a necessity of deciding our actions according to the objects that have the strongest influence on the mind, then it seems we are governed by a law of unavoidable necessity. But does this accord with human experience? Do we not feel, that it is for us to decide, whether we will yield to the greater temptation or the less, or whether we will pursue a third or fourth course? We would not say, but what there may be instances, in which a man may be influenced beyond what he is able to withstand; bụt, in such cases, we cannot con- sider him a proper agent. We might pity his misfortunes, or rejoice at his felicity; but we could neither blame por praise him for the work of his hands. We, also, believe a man may use means to improve or impair his powers of agency, according as he pursues courses which are salutary or unsalutary.
If man, in any degree, have the power of governing his own actions, it will be said, it renders future events contingent, or at least some of them; how then can God know for certainty those events, which take place on contingent principles ? or rather, principles of liberty ? Suppose'we cannot at all account for the affirmative of this question, ought this to be considered a conclusive argument in opposition to the idea ? If we could plainly discern contradictory propositions, it evidently ought; otherwise, it affords no just ground for such a conclusion. Every event which is to us çontingent, becomes certain after it has taken place. To suppose, therefore, all events certain, in the eye of Deity from the divine prescience, is only to suppose God to know, by intuition or otherwise, events before they take place, which we know after we have beheld them. Can we conceive such an idea to be impossi
ble ? But it is asked, If God knows that a man will perform a certain action, is it possible for the man to act otherwise ? If we say it is, what follows ? Our opposer says, it follows then, that man can frustrate the foreknowledge of God. But on the position, not te say supposition, that God's knowledge was founded on the action, and not the action influenced or controlled by his knowledge, it is easy to be seen, that tho man may have power to perform any one of many different actions at the same time, he has no power to frustrate the foreknowledge of God. To say, then, man has power to do different from what his Maker knows he will, is not saying that man can counteract his knowledge. If we introduce the absurd question, what, then, if man should do different from what his Maker knows? The only reply we need in this case, is, it would follow, he did not know.
To be continued.
MISCELLANEOUS. We announce to our brethren, the pleasing intelli-. gence of the progress of truth and liberal sentiments in Providence, R. I. Last spring a Universalist society was formed in that town. In the latter part of summer they purchased a piece of ground as a site for a Meeting-house, in Westminster-street, for which they gave two thousand dollars. In the fall session of the Legislature, they were regularly incorporated as a society. They have very recently issued a subscription to raise money for building a house for public worship, and have already obtained the sum of six thousand dollars.
Dedication and Ordination.-On Wednesday, Nov, 14th, 1821, the new Universalist Meeting-house in Brookfield, (Mass.) was formally dedicated to the worship of God. Rev, John Bisbe was ordained, in the afternoon of the same day, to the pastoral care of the Universalist Societies of Brookfield and Weston.
Boston U. Mas
On Wednesday the 14th Nov. last, the new Meeting-house denominated Free Church, in Clinton, Oneida county, N. Y. was solemnly dedicated to the praise and worship of Almighty God.
ibid. The number of deaths in this town (Boston) during the year ending Dec. 31, 1821, has been 1420, including 116 still born children. This number compared with the population, gives the deaths at about 3 per cent. The deaths in Baltimore during the same period, were 2015.
Christian Register. The new Universalist Meeting-house in Otsego, N.Y. was solemnly dedicated to the worship of Almighty God, on Monday 24th Sept. 1821. Introductory prayer, Rev. 0. Ackley. - Reading of select scriptures, S. R. Smith.-Sermon, by N. Stacy, from Isa. lvi. 7. “For mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”-Consecrating and concluding prayer, W. Underwood.
Also, Dedicated, on the 2d January, 1822, the new and elegant Universalist Meeting-house in Madison, N. Y. Introductory prayer, Rev. S. Jones.-Reading of the scriptures, Rev. 0. Ackley.-Consecrating prayer, Rev. N. Stacy.-Sermon, S. R. Smith, 2 Chron.
CHRIST'S SERMON ON THE MOUNT, - PARAPHRASED BY
BR. L. H. SWEET.CONCLUDED.
Before a spotless throne :
Through his beloved son.
Bless'd all who find the glorious prize
And bring to peaceful hours:
And pluck unfading flowers.
Which ne'er shall have an end,
Shall shout a loud AMEN!
when men of spite, With Satan and his host unite Against the law of moral right,
And spread dire falsehood round:
And sleep beneath the ground.
In the great rising day;
And will not take away.