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enjoined upon devotees as offices of devotion. The best affections of the heart were overwhelmed and subdued by the omnipotence of terror; and the most unnatural cruelties were committed, with a view to appease the wrath of avenging deities. We are assured, from the most authentic testimony, that every vice which degrades human beings, has been perpetrated as an act of piety: adultery, sodomy, prostitution, fraud, human sacrifices, even the immolation of their belovedoffspring, were frequently considered as highly meritorious; or as the most infallible method of averting tremendous judgments. When we contemplate the perfection of the divine nature, and that infinitude of majesty which places the great God above every service that human beings can bestow, we may rest assured that his felicity can in no way be affected by the perverseness of mankind. He cannot be robbed of any thing which constitutes his happiness, by the negligences of men, by their infidelities, or the alienations of their. devotional services. But they rob themselves of happiness. They are perfect strangers to all those consolations which true religion can alone bestow; and to all those virtues, and social qualifications, which alone can be productive of per

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manent well-being; while they patronize every vice that can be productive of misery. It is these consequences which render the character and conduct of his creatures worthy of the divine interference. From the essential goodness of God, which induced him to create sensitive and intelligent Beings, that they might partake of the varied blessings of existence; from the peculiar endowments bestowed upon rational agents, and the desires to enjoy happiness, so implanted in their nature, that nothing can eradicate them; and from the means of good so amply bestowed, we are authorised to conclude that he wills the good of all his creatures; and we are encouraged to cherish the hope, that he is provident of peculiar good, respecting man. This hope may safely be indulged, notwithstanding our native ignorance; notwithstanding the culpable irregularities of our passions and affections, and the scenes of misery they occasion. The moral history of man proves to us, that if we be not happy, there are sources of happiness placed before us; if we err through ignorance, we have intellectual powers, by which we are enabled to correct these errors; if the inducements to immediate gratification be strong, there are other considerations placed before us, of sufficient moment in themselves, to arrest our attention, and to act as a restraint upon every evil propensity. But the operation of these efficient causes demands a process. We are not born in the centre of perfection, either' in principle or example: We are not destined to be happy, without a struggle to obtain happiness : It is not our lot to sit in indolent ease, without purchasing a title to what we are to enjoy, by the observance of right conduct, the pursuit of right objects, and the cultivation of right affections. Unless man had been created with that degree of knowledge which is now the purchase of much observation and experience, and with an invincible bias towards virtue, acting as uniformly as the instincts of animals in their pursuits of good, he must be liable to many aberrations. . This proneness to erroneous conduct may be considered as the natural consequence of that free agency which is a characteristic of man; and for the exercise of which, every other faculty he possesses is merely preparative. To avoid metaphysical intricacies, we have preferred that definition of free agency

in which all metaphysicians will perceive their peculiar principles are included. We have directed our ideas solely to the physical power of man; to do what he wills to do, without being restrained by any foreign impediment; and to the position that the mind is always influenced by inducements; the strongest of which becomes the motive, or the moving cause of the subsequent act.” By this exalted privilege, of which no human being is disposed to be deprived, imperfect creatures are destined to form their own characters. They are free to act according to whatever line of conduct they may prefer; to seek whatever shall appear most desirable, and by whatever means they may choose; but it is upon condition that they are to abide by the issue. This important, though dangerous, privilege being possessed from the commencement of existence, during our ignorance and inexperience, we unavoidably are subjected to great, manifold, and pernicious €TTOTS. As all our powers, faculties, and natural propensities, were implanted by the Creator, we may safely conclude that he has designed

* See Vol. II. Disq. II. ch. iv. Wolition,

them to operate to the utmost extent of their beneficial energies; nor can any supernatural or miraculous interference, be requisite to produce the good which they are able to accomplish. But the deviations arising from the uncontrolled

liberty of following propensities of every kind,

may plunge us too deeply in the gulph of folly and wretchedness, for exertions merely human to extricate us. By perpetually mistaking the ideas which crowd into the imagination, for the dictates of the understanding, and by repeatedly yielding to the impulses of passion, which obscure the understanding, the human mind may finally be rendered incapable of acting rationally; and thus it will retain no counterpoise to the powerful influence of present objects, or the immediate gratifications they propose. Such consequences mayflow from the abuse of free agency; and the history of the human mind testifies

that they have flowed in such an abundance as

to deluge the world. - Since a commencement of depravity must have taken place, at a period when purer prin

ciples were professed, and before polytheism, the

worship of idols, and the observance of abominable rites became universal, what reformation

could be expected from succeeding generations,

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