MR. SANDS, of the Religious Herald, of Richmond, Va., has served up to his readers part of a sermon said to have been delivered in South Carolina by Wlm. B. Johnson, D. D.,in which the doctor professes to have proved clearly that man is a free agent, and at the same time that God is a sovereign! The logic by which the doctor has attempted to prove both sides of this palpable paradox is this:
“In considering them separately, each may approve itself to every mind; but in attempting to reconcile them, serious difficulties may a rise. From our inability to reconcile these two points, we may be tempted to reject the one at the expense of the other, or to reject both.”
Thus, although the learned doctor virtually admits that the two points are antipodes with each other, yet he contends that they must be received and believed by those free agents who cannot reconcile them, and the way to do this thing is to believe them one at a time, as it is beyond our capacity to believe both at the same time.
The mode of proving that man is a free agent, is as queer as that of disposing of the glaring inconsistency of his theory:
“Not free, what proof could they have given sincere,
Of true allegiance, constant faith and love,
Where only what they needs must do appeared,
Not what they would; what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason, (reason also is choice,)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Ergo, the doctor draws the conclusion that this world must be peopled ‘with free agents, or with absolute slaves; bound fast in the chain of fate, of absolute incompetency to deliver himself from its iron mandate. What a fine thing it is to be a doctor! Truly these things are hidden from babes and sucklings, and revealed to doctors!
Hereafter we will attempt to prove that such a thing as a free agent cannot possibly exist in heaven, earth or hell. Angels, men or devils, to be free, could not be accountable to God, nor to any other power, for their conduct; and if free, they are not amenable. Agent, when the term is applied to any created being or thing, signifies an actor for or in reference to another; he cannot be free, and at the same time an agent.
New Vernon, N. Y.,
Jan. 1, 1844.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials – Volume 2