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those alterations in the body, &c. which are the effects of the will—I now proceed in the second place to observe, that the very opposition or defect of the will itself, in its original and determining act in the case, to a thing proposed or commanded, or its failing of compliance, implies a moral inability to that thing: or, in other words, whenever a Command requires a certain state or act of the will, and the person commanded, notwithstanding the Command and the circumstances under which it is exhibited, still finds his will opposite or wanting in that, belonging to its state or acts, which is original and determining in the affair, that man is morally unable to obey that Command.
This is manifest from what was observed in the first part, concerning the nature of moral inability, as distinguished from natural : where it was observed, that a man may then be said to be morally unable to do a thing, when he is under the influence or prevalence of a contrary inclination, or has a want of inclination, under such circumstances and views. It is also evi. dent, from what has been before proved, that the will is always, and in every individual act, necessarily determined by the strongest motive* ; and so is always unable to go against the motive, which, all things considered, has now the greatest strength and advantage to move the will. But not further to insist on these things, the truth of the position now laid down, viz. that when
* Our author does not mean by “ motive," the object presented to the mind according to its intrinsic worth ; but he takes into the account also the state of the mind itself, in reference to that object, according to which will be the appear. ance of it. Therefore, strictly speaking, the motive, as he has intimated at the commencement of this work, denotes the object as it stands in the view of the mind. If we do not maintain this distinction, the dispute will soon degenerate into a confused logomachy; and we should be forced, in defending this position—that the will is necessarily determined by the strongest motive”—to adopt this, the most absurd of all conclusions, that the will of every man in the present state always chooses what is really best, or never errs in its elections. Whereas the world is full of errors and delusions ; things the most excellent in themselves, are commonly rejected, and others the most worthless are preferred... But this could not happen, except on this principle, that the reality of' worth differs, in those instances, from the appearance of it In such cases, the difference is not in the object, but in the mind, when the choice takes place. For instance ; suppose the blessed God in his true character as revealed in the scriptures, the chief and an unchangeable good, be proposed to the contemplation of a wicked man, and his will rejects that good. Now, as the mind is incapable of rejecting a good, or of choosing an evil, as such ; it is plain, that the proper and immediate cause of difference between the reality and the appearance of good, is in the state of the mind. Here lies the essence of an erroneous choice,-the will preferring an object which is apparently but not really preferable. Hence it follows irrefragably, that the state of the mind is the true and proper source of a right and wrong choice. This is it that influences the appearance of an object, so as to stand in the apprehension and practical judgment of the mind as worse or better than it really is. Therefore, the true state of the mind and the real state of the object of choice, united, are the genuine parents of the objective appearance in the mind, mosally considered, or according to the qualities of good and evil; and this off: spring-OBJECTIVE APPEARANCE-is what our author calls “ the strongest motive."--W.
the will is opposite to, or failing of a compliance with a thing in its original determination or act, it is not able to comply, appears by the consideration of these two things.
1. The will in the time of that diverse or opposite leading act or inclination, and when actually under its influences, is not able to exert itself to the contrary, to make an alteration, in order to a compliance. The inclination is unable to change itself; and that for this plain reason, that it is unable to incline to change itself. Present choice cannot at present choose to be otherwise : for that would be at present to choose something diverse from what is at present chosen. If the will, all things now considered, inclines or chooses to go that way, then it cannot choose, all things now considered, to go the other way, and so cannot choose to be made to go the
. To suppose that the mind is now sincerely inclined to change itself to a different inclination, is to suppose the mind is now truly inclined otherwise than it is now inclined. The will may oppose some future remote act that it is exposed to, but not its own present act.
2. As it is impossible that the will should comply with the thing commanded with respect to its leading act, by any act of its own, in the time of that diverse or opposite leading and original act, or after it has actually come under the influence of that determining choice or inclination; so it is impossible it should be determined to a compliance by any foregoing act; for, by the very supposition, there is no foregoing act; the opposite or non-complying act being that act which is original and determining in the case. Therefore it must be so, that if this first determining act be found non-complying, on the proposal of the command, the mind is morally unable to obey. For to suppose it to be able to obey, is to suppose it to be able to determine and cause its first determining act to be otherwise, and that it has power better to govern and regulate its first governing and regulating act, which is absurd ; for it is to suppose a prior act of the will, determining its first determining act ; that is, an act prior to the first, and leading and governing the original and governing act of all ; which is a contradiction.
Here if it should be said, that although the mind has not any ability to will contrary to what it does will, in the original and leading act of the will, because there is supposed to be no prior act to determine and order it otherwise, and the will cannot immediately change itself, because it cannot at present incline to a change; yet the mind has an ability for the present to forbear to proceed to action, and taking time for deliberation; which may be an occasion of the change of the inclination.
I answer, (1.) In this objection, that seems to be forgotten which was observed before, viz. that the determining to take the matter into consideration is itself an act of the will : and if this be all the act wherein the mind exercises ability and freedom, then this, by the supposition, must be all that can be commanded or required by precept. And if this act be the commanding act, then all that has been observed concerning the commanding act of the will remains true, that the very want of it is a moral inability to exert it, &c. (2.) We are speaking concerning the first and leading act of the will about the affair; and if determining to deliberate, or, on the contrary, to proceed immediately without deliberating, be the first and leading act; or whether it be or no, if there be another act before it, which determines that; or whatever be the original and leading act; still the foregoing proof stands good, that the non-compliance of the leading act implies moral inability to comply.
If it should be objected, that these things make all moral inability equal, and suppose men morally unable to will otherwise than they actually do will, in all cases, and equally so in every instance.-In answer to this objection, I desire two things may be observed.
First, That if by being equally unable, be meant, as really unable ; then, so far as the inability is merely moral, it is true; the will, in every instance, acts by moral necessity, and is morally unable to act otherwise, as truly and properly in one case as another ; as, I humbly conceive, has been perfectly and abundantly demonstrated by what has been said in the preceding part of this essay. But yet, in some respect, the inability may be said to be greater in some instances than others: though the man may be truly unable, (if moral inability can truly be called inability,) yet he may be further from being able to do some things than others. As it is in things, which men are naturally unable to do. A person, whose strength is no more than sufficient to lift the weight of one hundred pounds, is as truly and really unable to lift one hundred and one pounds, as ten thousand pounds ; but yet he is further from being able to lift the latter weight than the former; and so, according to the common use of speech, has a greater inability for it. So it is in moral inability. A man is truly morally unable to choose contrary to a present inclination, which in the least degree prevails ; or, contrary to that motive, which, all things considered, has strength and advantage now to move the will, in the least degree, superior to all other motives in view : but yet he is further from ability to resist a very strong habit, and a violent and deeply rooted inclination, or a motive vastly exceeding all others in strength. And again, the. Inability may, in some respects, be called
greater in some instances than others, as it may be more general and extensive to all acts of that kind. So men may be said to be unable in a different sense, and to be further from moral ability, who have that moral Inability which is general and habitual, than they who have only that Inability which is occasional and particular.* Thus in cases of natural Inability; he that is born blind may be said to be unable to see, in a different manner, and is, in some respects, further from being able to see, than he whose sight is hindered by a transient cloud or mist.
And besides, that which was observed in the first part of this discourse, concerning the Inability which attends a strong and settled habit, should be here remembered ; viz. that a fixed habit is attended with this peculiar moral Inability, by which it is distinguished from occasional volition, namely, that endeavours to avoid future volitions of that kind which are agreeable to such a habit, much more frequently and commonly prove vain and insufficient. For though it is impossible there should be any sincere endeavours against a present choice, yet there may be against volitions of that kind, when viewed at a distance. A person may desire and use means to prevent future exercises of a certain inclination; and, in order to it, may wish the habit might be removed; but his desires and endeavours may be ineffectual. The man may be said in some sense to be unable ; yea, even as the word unable is a relative term, and has relation to ineffectual endeavours; yet not with regard to present, but remote endeavours.
Secondly, It must be borne in mind, according to whut was observed before, that indeed no Inability whatsoever, which is merely moral, is properly called by the name of Inability; and that in the strictest propriety of speech, a man may be said to have a thing in his power, if he has it at his élection ; and he cannot be said to be unable to do a thing, when he can, if he now pleases, or whenever he has a proper, direct, and immediate desire for it. As to those desires and endeavours that may be against the exercises of a strong habit, with regard to which men may be said to be unable to avoid those exercises, they are remote desires and endeavours in two respects. First, as to time; they are never against present vo. litions, but only against volitions of such a kind, when viewed at a distance. Secondly, as to their nature; these opposite desires are not directly and properly against the habit and inclination itself, or the volitions in which it is exercised; for these, in themselves considered, are agreeable ; but against something else that attends them, or is their consequence; the opposition of the mind is levelled entirely against this; the vo
See this distinction of moral Inability explained in Part I. Sect. H.
litions themselves are not at all opposed directly, and for their own sake; but only indirectly and remotely, on the account of something foreign.
III. Though the opposition of the will itself, or the very want of will to a thing commanded, implies a moral Inability to that thing; yet, if it be, as has been already shown, that the being of a good state or act of will is a thing most properly required by Command; then, in some cases, such a state or act of will may properly be required, which at present is not, and which may also be wanting after it is commanded. And therefore those things may properly be commanded for which men have a moral Inability.
Such a state, or act of the will, may be required by Com. mand, as does not already exist. For if that volition only may be commanded to be, which already is, there could be no use of Precept : Commands in all cases would be perfectly vain and impertinent. And not only may such a will be required as is wanting before the Command is given, but also such as may possibly be wanting afterwards ; such as the exhibition of the Command may not be effectual to produce or excite. Otherwise, no such thing as disobedience to a proper and rightful Command is possible in any case ; and there is no case possible, wherein there can be a faulty disobedience. Which Arminians cannot affirm, consistently with their principle : for this makes Obedience to just and proper Commands always necessary, and disobedience impossible. And so the Arminian would overthrow himself, yielding the very point we are upon, which he so strenuously denies, viz. that Law and Command are consistent with necessity.
If merely that Inability will excuse disobedience, which is implied in the opposition or defect of inclination, remaining after the Command is exhibited, then wickedness always carries that in it which excuses it. By how much the more wickedness there is in a man's heart, by so much is his inclination to evil the stronger, and by so much the more, therefore, has he of moral Inability, to the good required. His moral Inability consisting in the strength of his evil inclination, is the very thing wherein his wickedness consists; and yet, according to Arminian principles, it must be a thing inconsistent with wickedness; and by how much the more he has of it, by so much is he the further from wickedness,
Therefore, on the whole, it is manifest, that moral Inability alone (which consists in disinclination) never renders any thing improperly the subject matter of Precept or Command, and never can excuse any person in disobedienoe, or want of conformity to a command.