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 We must conceive of Him as influenced in the highest degree, by that which, above all others, is properly a moral inducement, viz., the moral good which He sees in such and such things: and therefore He is, in the most proper sense, a moral Agent, the source of all moral ability and Agency, the fountain and rule of all virtue and moral good; though by reason of his being supreme over all, it is not possible He should be under the influence of law or command, promises or threatenings, rewards or punishments, counsels or warnings. The essential qualities of a moral Agent are in God, in the greatest possible perfection; such as understanding, to perceive the difference between moral good and evil; a capacity of discerning that moral worthiness and demerit, by which some things are praiseworthy, others deserving of blame and punishment; and also a capacity of choice, and choice guided by understanding, and a power of acting according to his choice or pleasure, and being capable of doing those things which are in the highest sense praiseworthy. In other words, the will of God is precisely like the will of man; it is merely the inclination, or moral inducement, to act as he is influenced by external power. The fatal mystery of good and evil, the true cause, lies above and beyond him; he is, like ourselves, a channel, not the source. The only difference is that God has complete knowledge of the possibilities of being, and therefore is not moved by threats and blind commands but, immediately, by what Edwards elsewhere calls the “moral necessity” of governing in accordance with the best of the “different objects of choice that are proposed to the Divine Understanding.” By such a scheme God is really placed in about such a position as in the Leibnitzian continuation of Laurentius Valla's Dialogue on free will and Providence, where he is naively portrayed as looking upon an infinite variety of worlds piled up, like cannon balls, in pyramidal form before him, and selecting for creation that one which combines the greatest possible amount of good with the least possible admixture of evil. From this pretty sport of the imagination Edwards would no doubt have drawn back in contempt, and indeed in his ordinary language God is merely the supreme Cause, without further speculation. One of the Leibnitzian inferences, moreover, is utterly excluded from his philosophy. He was no
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