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mediate power of thus conforming their actions, and consequently without moral liberty.
God, as Creator, is the absolute proprietor of the universe, and has a right to do what he will with his own; as possessed of infinite perfection, he alone is qualified to govern the world he has created: if we combine this right and fitness, we shall arrive at an adequate ground for an unlimited and voluntary submission to the divine authority and administration.
What can be more fit and reasonable, or more according to the truth of things, than to bow to his dominion whose property we are, and from whose power it is impossible to escape; whose perfection should lead us, even though we were naturally independent, to place ourselves in subjection to him, as the only way to attain the highest dignity and felicity of our nature? Wherein does true virtue consist, but in rating things as they are, in valuing every thing according to its real worth, and consequently involving in it an unlimited regard to that Being
Such a regard is undoubtedly required from us, and from the whole intelligent creation, upon every principle of reason and fitness, of truth and excellence, of duty and interest. Yet how little this is rendered by men in general, and how little they are immediately capable of rendering it, will be evident upon a very slight examination.
No proud man has the present power thus to regard his Maker, any more than he has the power instantly to assume a spirit of humility and dependance. He who has been accustomed to indulge his own will and humour, is in no immediate capacity of freely sacrificing both to the will of another, and of submitting all his thoughts, words, and actions to divine control. He who has been used to do homage to himself, and perhaps to receive it from others, has no proximate power voluntarily to abase himself before the holiness and majesty of God, in whose presence all creatures are as nothing, and sinful creatures worse than nothing. Every proud man is therefore mo
which it is morally fit and right he should do.
The man of pleasure labours under the same wretched impotency. He is at liberty to pursue the gratifications of sense, to chase the fading beauties of the world, and perhaps to seize various forms of excellence in art and nature; but he is not at liberty for spiritual enjoyments, to taste the refined pleasures of devotion, or to delight in the perfections of the divine nature. His wings are dipt, he can only flutter round the earth, and has no power of soaring aloft,
"To the first good, first perfect, and first fair."
Men devoted to wealth have, if possible, still less capacity to perceive the beauty, or to feel the obligation of true religion and virtue; such is their degradation, that they are often looked down upon with contempt even by their fellow-slaves, as the low drudges of the world, and as utterly devoid of every noble and generous sentiment.
We may therefore conclude, that the bulk of mankind are without the present tice, the excellence and felicity of virtue, to the riches, the pleasures, and the pride of the world; consequently, that they are destitute of true moral liberty, and are slaves in the most deplorable sense.
Of this state of bondage the wiser heathens appear to have had some obscure notion, derived from tradition, which they dressed up after their own fancy. Plato represents the soul as originally winged, and flying through the heavens in the train of Jupiter and the gods; and at certain seasons he supposes her to have been admitted into some super-celestial region, where she contemplated truth, virtue, and justice, in their source. Thus, he says, she continued inexpressibly happy, till neglecting to accompany the chariot of Jupiter, being seduced by her passion for Nectar and Ambrosia, she lost her wings, fell to the earth, and was sunk into the body*. Could Plato have told us how she might recover her wings, and again mount aloft to the banquet of the gods, he would have told us what we are principally con
cerned to know, but what is only taught in the school of Christ Even Porphyry, who was so determined a foe to the christian religion, and so perfectly acquainted with the most refined and mysterious doctrines of paganism, says, " he had not learned that any universal method of liberating the soul, hacTyet been discovered by the wisdom of philosophy*."
2. Let us then endeavour to relieve this darkness of philosophy by the light of revelation.
All beings, in their original state, were perfect in their kind, without the least defect, moral or physical. After the formation of man, God is represented as looking down upon his works with complacency, and pronouncing them very good, as answerable to the great idea that existed in his own eternal mind. Man more eminently bore the image of his Maker, and approached him with filial delight and confidence. Thus was he constituted in honour and happiness, but he continued not; he soon incurred the