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equal to his crimes ; or suppose any other
images to be strongly impressed upon a man's
mind, in which his duty and behaviour is
concerned ; in this case, if he has no rule, by
which he can distinguish, with certainty,
divine impressions from all other impressions,
that
may

be made upon his mind, then, the ideas that had been impressed upon his mind, as aforesaid, whether of a divine original, or otherwise, could not possibly instruct and guide him, with regard to his duty and behaviour, but, on the contrary, (if he acted with that care and caution as the importance of the case requires that he should, and which, surely, it is every man's duty to do) they would greatly perplex and distress him ; because he would be altogether uncertain, whether those impressions are divine, or not, and, consequently, whether it was his duty to attend to them, and be guided by them, or

I am sensible, that the doctrine of divine impressions has been adhered to, and maintained, by most, if not all, religious parties in the world ; but then, they all seem inclined to confine the favour to their own party, or, at least, to think it is chiefly, and more certainly with them ; and, therefore, they are apt to draw back, and are unwilling

not.

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to

to submit to what is dictated to them as a divine oracle, when it comes from any other quarter; and thus, a christian would scarce think himself concerned, much less obliged, to attend to what may be delivered to him as the produce of divine impression, by a Mahometan; and the like of a Mahometan, by a christian. Nevertheless, if it should be thought, that I have not done justice to the subject, then, I hope, some friend to truth, and to mankind, will kindly interpose and set this matter in a clearer and a truer light ; and this may well be expected from those, who not only maintain the doctrine of divine impressions, but who also consider themselves to have experienced the power of such impreffions on their minds; because such experienced men may well be supposed to be capable of Thewing plainly, what it is, which distinguishes divine, impressions from all other impressions, that may be made upon the mind, suppofing it can be done ; which if it cannot be done, then, of necessity, the case must be most perplexed and hazardous, as I have before shewn. To say, that God does immediately impress ideas upon the minds of men, tho' we cannot certainly know, at the time, that we are under the influence of

such

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such impressions, nor can we distinguish such divine impressions from any other impreffions, that may be made upon the mind; this, I think, in any other case, would be deemed mere presumption, and would be far from being satisfactory. And,

As I have been lately led to consider, or rather to re-consider, the doctrine of grace, or Special grace, as it is sometimes called ; fo I presume, my readers will take it in good part, if I lay before them the produce of those reflections. By grace is here meant that power, which God is supposed secretly, imperceptibly, and fupernaturally to communicate to men ; which power is called special distinction from, and in opposition to, that power, and those favours vouchsafed to men, by the Deity, in and through the common and ordinary course of nature, thereby to enable men to perform their respective duties, and render themselves acceptable to their Maker, which otherwise, or without such special aid, they are not able, by their natural powers or inherent ability, to do and perform. This doctrine of grace seems to be founded on the following supposition, viz. that it may be, and is a man's duty to perform that which he has not power fufficient 14

for

grace, in

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for the performance of; but then, this supposition seems to be most absurd, groundless, and false. All due, or duty, is connected with, relative to, and dependent upon that power which any agent has for it's performance ; fo that the line of a man's duty cannot possibly be extended a point farther than the line of his ability for the performance of it ; because, where, and so far as power for performance fails, or falls fort; there, and so far, duty fails, or falls short in proportion. It, surely, cannot be a man's duty to fee, who has no eyes; nor to relieve the needy, who has nothing within the compass of his power or procurement to relieve them with. The case must be the same in all other instances and cases, where duty may be supposed to be concerned ; whatever a man has not sufficient power for the perforınance of, the performance of that thing cannot possibly be his duty; and therefore, as a man's duty may be increased, by the increase of his ability; so his duty will be decreased, by the decrease of his ability also; and were a man changed into a brute, which is said to have been the case of Nebuchadnezzar, then, all the duty that lay upon him, as a man, would cease or be annihilated, if I may so speak. Whe

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ther a man's ability be decreased, or destroyed by accident, or design; whether by himself, or by any other agent, it alters not the case; because the decreasing, or destroying a man's power for performance, naturally and necessarily decreases, or destroys all the duty that was connected with it, and dependent

upon it. Suppose a man should defignedly have put out his own eyes, then, tho' he may, by so doing, have been greatly criminai and blame-worthy ; yet, when his vifive power was destroyed, and his capacity of seeing ceased, then, all the duty that was connected with, and dependent * upon that capacity, of course ceased with it; and it would be altogether as absurd to suppose it a man's duty, who has put out his do that, when he is blind, the performance of which depends wholly upon fight; as it would be to suppose it a man's duty, who

has * Here a question or two does very naturally arise, viz. Suppose a man should contract a just debt, and afterwards should fall into such circumstances as to be unable to make fatisfaction, does his inability cancel his obligacion? or does he not continue as much obliged as before and is it not his duty to make satisfaction, notwithstanding his inability. Anfwer ; tho' a man's inability does not

satisfy any debt he has contracted, but he still continues to be a debtor, and is still obliged to make satisfaction when he is able; yet his inability so far suspends that obligation, as to make it of no force, until he is invested with power sufficient to make satisfaction.

eyes, to

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