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loved the world as to give his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Thus hath he revealed life and immortality;' thus hath he opened the way for our escape from sin and its consequences, and our entrance into the regions of endless bliss. If therefore men are lost eventually, it will not be on the ground of our natural depravity; for this may be washed away by the blood of Christ. Nor on the ground of our actual transgressions, however numerous and aggravated, for all these shall be pardoned to him that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he that is finally condemned, will be so for his voluntary and obstinate rejection of that salvation which Christ died to purchase for him, and which he is called by the gospel and by the Spirit of God to seek and to enjoy. For this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.'
PRAYER AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF A PROTRACTED MEETING.
BY MRS. H. M. DODGE.
Lord, we are waiting now. Is there not seen
ON SUBMISSION TO GOD.
BY REV. LABAN CLARK.
OF THE NEW YORK CONFERENCE
Submit yourselves therefore to God. James iv. 7.
We are commanded when we pray not to use vain repetitions. Whether the words we use are vain, that is, unmeaning; or whether proper words are vainly repeated, will make but little difference in the case; either will be inconsistent with rational devotion. But if our public devotions should be performed in plain and explicit language, we ought most certainly to avoid all ambiguous and unmeaning terms in our public teaching ; because the design of teaching or exhortation, is to instruct the mind as well as to persuade the heart. Nor is it sufficient that we use proper words, or even scripture phrases ; but that we use them properly, and with a design at least, to be expressly understood ; that our hearers may be fed with the sincere milk of the word.
I will not say that the words of our text have been used without any meaning; but I do fear that they have been frequently used in exhortation and other religious discourse, without conveying any distinct ideas of duty or obligation.
The exhortation Submit yourselves therefore to God 'necessarily involves two important points of doctrine.
I. The MORAL AGENCY OF MAN.
By the moral agency of man, we understand something more than the simple fact that he is a sentient and rational being, possessing physical and intellectual powers. We mean that he is capable of perceiving moral duties of right and wrong, of virtue and vice; that he is not only conscious of moral perceptions, but he can think, reason, decide and act according to his sense of moral duty.
To constitute a moral agent, two things are necessary; that is power and liberty. The power must be adequate and proper in its kind, for it will not follow, that because he has power to walk, therefore he can fly; no more will it follow, because man has power to think and reason, that he has power to decide and act ; or in other words, man's having intellectual or physical power to perform an action, without the moral qualities required in the performance, does not constitute him a moral agent, nor the action itself a moral action.
It is not necessary at present to inquire how he obtains this power, but to show that without moral power, he cannot be a moral agent. And of this, our plain perceptions and practical feelings, are the best proof that can be given. For without this moral power there could be no consciousness of obligation, nor guilt for the neglect of duty. We might as well exhort the beasts that perish to submit to God, as to exhort man if he is not a moral agent, or if he does not possess moral power to obey..
In connection with this moral power, we must keep in view, that the object to which it is directed, must be within its reach, and circumstanced to the capacity of the agent. For it will not follow that if man is a moral agent, he is able to perform the highest duty of angels, or even that fallen man is capable of making honorable the perfect, but violated law of God. This none could do but the Son of God himself.
Although it is not necessary to a moral agent, that he should be in a probationary state, where the incentives to evil are many, and the performance of good difficult, yet, it certainly is not inconsistent with moral agency; and this is the very circumstance in which we must contemplate man in his present state of being.
Liberty is as essential to moral agency as power. As power in an agent is useless, unless the object on which that power is to act be placed within the reach and circumstances of the agent; so power, without liberty to act, would be unavailing. By liberty, however, we do not mean the bare permission to do or not to do, but that self controlling energy by which we will, or not will. Of this liberty we feel the most perfect consciousness in all our decisions. Nor is this sense of liberty fallacious or deceptive, but must be relied
upon with the same certainty, that we do upon all our other perceptions and feelings. The schoolmen have fallen into great contention, and almost endless subtleties, on the subject of man's willing; and they have darkened council by words without knowledge. Many systems both of philosophy and divinity have taken their rise in the mists of these metaphysical speculations, and their advocates have arranged themselves either on the side of free will, or necessity; but they have all agreed in one thing, which may be considered the cause of all their perplexity and error. The phrase13