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the will an opportunity to determine itself concerning the objects proposed, either to choose or reject, by its own uncaused, unmoved, uninfluenced self-determination. ' And if this be all, then all those means do no more to promote virtue than vice : for they do nothing but give the will opportunity to determine itself either way, either to good or bad, without laying it under any bias to either : and so there is really as much of an opportunity given to determine in favour of evil as of good.
Thus that horrid blasphemous consequence will certainly follow from the Arminian doctrine, which they charge on others; namely, that God acts an inconsistent part in using so many counsels, warnings, invitations, intreaties, &c. with sinners, to induce them to forsake sin, and turn to the ways of virtue ; and that all are insincere and fallacious. It will follow, from their doctrine, that God does these things when he knows, at the same time, that they have no manner of tendency to promote the effect he seems to aim at; yea, knows that if they have any influence, this very influence will be inconsistent with such an effect, and will prevent it. But what an imputa. tion of insincerity would this fix on him, who is infinitely holy and true !-So that theirs is the doctrine which, if pursued in its consequences, does horribly reflect on the Most High, and fix on him the charge of hypocrisy; and not the doctrine of the Calvinist according to their frequent and vehement excla. mations and invectives.
Corol. 2. From what has been observed in this section, it again appears, that Arminian principles and notions, when fairly examined and pursued in their demonstrable consequences, do evidently shut all virtue out of the world, and make it impossible that there should ever be any such thing, in any case; or that any such thing should ever be conceived of. For, by these principles, the very notion of virtue or vice implies absurdity and contradiction. For it is absurd in itself, and contrary to common sense, to suppose a virtuous act of mind without any good intention or aim; and, by their principles, it is absurd to suppose a virtuous act with a good intention or aim ; for to act for an end, is to act from a Motive. So that if we rely on these principles, there can be no virtuous act with a good design and end; and it is self-evident, there can be none without : consequently there can be no virtuous act at all.
Corol. 3. It is manifest, that Arminian notions of moral agency, and the being of a faculty of will, cannot consist together; and that if there be any such thing as either a vir. tuous or vicious act, it cannot be an act of the will; no will can be at all concerned in it. For that act which is performed without inclination, without Motive, without end, must be performed without any concern of the will. To suppose an act
of the will without these, implies a contradiction. If the soul in its act has no motive or end; then, in that act (as was observed before) it seeks nothing, goes after nothing, exerts no inclination to any thing; and this implies, that in that act it desires nothing, and chooses nothing; so that there is no act of choice in the case : and that is as much as to say, there is no act of will in the case. Which very effectually shuts all ricious and virtuous acts out of the universe; in as much as, according to this, there can be no vicious or virtuous act wherein the will is concerned: and according to the plainest dictates of reason, and the light of nature, and also the principles of Arminians themselves, there can be no virtuous or vicious act wherein the will is not concerned. And therefore there is no room for any virtuous or vicious acts at all.
Corol. 4. If none of the moral actions of intelligent beings are influenced by either previous Inclination or Motive, another strange thing will follow ; and this is, that God not only cannot foreknow any of the future moral actions of his creatures, but he can make no conjecture, can give no probable guess concerning them. For, all conjecture in things of this nature, must depend on some discerning or apprehension of these two things, previous Disposition and Motive, which, as has been observed, Arminian notions of moral agency, in their real consequence, altogether exclude.
WHEREIN THE CHIEF GROUNDS OF THE REASONINGS OF ARMI
NIANS, IN SUPPORT AND DEFENCE OF THE FOREMEN-
The Essence of the Virtue and Vice of Dispositions of the
Heart, and Acts of the Will, lies not in their Cause, but their Nature.*
One main foundation of the reasons which are brought to establish the forementioned notions of liberty, virtue, vice,
* This may appear to some to be an identical proposition—“The essence of a thing lies in its nature ;” but it is not wholly so, and the whole of the proposition is exceedingly important, on account of the negative part, or the incidental proposition it contains, viz. The essence of virtue and vice lies not in their cause. A single consideration may be sufficient to shew the truth and importance of one part of this last proposition. If the essence of virtue lay in its cause, how could the first cause, or the uncaused nature, be virtuous ! If therefore the first cause be virtuous, or have the essence of virtue, as all theists will allow, it is plain, that essence must lie in the nature of that cause itself. Hence, as God is the standard of all moral excellence, created natures are morally excellent in proportion as they resemble him. And as virtue is an imitable excellence, and as no good reason can be assigned why the resemblance should not hold in this particular, it is highly probable, a priori, that, in reference to created natures, the essence of their virtue lies not in its cause. To demonstrate this last, is the design of the present section.
Again, as the essence of virtue lies not in its cause, so neither does the essence of vice lie in its cause. But the philosophical ground of this part of the general proposition demands more particular attention. And as this proposition“the essence of vice lies not in its cause,” affects the whole system of morals, and indeed of theology, we beg leave to propose a series of remarks which, it is hoped, will cast some light on the subject.
1. Causes are of two kinds, and of two only, either positive or negative. Positive causes produce positive effects, from the first cause through all secondary causes; and these positive secondary causes are nothing else but so many decretive antecedents, which act physically, and their consequences follow from the nature of things; even as number follows the repetition of units, or happinest results from true virtue.
&c. is a supposition, that the virtuousness of the dispositions, or acts of the will, consists not in the nature of these dispo
2. The term “cause” is applied less properly to express a negative idea ; for it expresses merely an antecedent of a consequent. For instance, if we say that a man cannot read because he is blind, or cannot walk because he has no legs, or cannot go to heaven because he does not love God, and the like; it is manifest that blindness, want of legs, and want of love to God, are “causes' only as antecedents are causes to their consequerts, without positive influence.
3. Negative causes, though they have no positive operation in producing their consequents, are no less the ground of certainty than those causes, properly so called, which exist in physical operations. For the consequent follows the antecedent with equal certainty, whether the connection be formed by decretive will and energy, as in all positive causes, or by the nature of things only, which is essential truth, as in all negative causes.
4. The cause of vicious acts, is a vicious disposition ; in other words, it is the tant, or the absence of a virtuous disposition. The essence of the vicious act, however, is not in the cause, or disposition. The vice of the disposition is one thing, and the vice of the act is another. For as the nature of the disposition, and the nature of the act, are different; so the vice, or moral badness of the one, is a different badness from that of the other. The one and the other is a bad thing whatever be the cause, and irrespective of any. Hence,
5. Evil dispositions or acts should be denominated such, not from their cause, but from their nature. Were it otherwise, personal fault, or blame, could never exist ; for the vicious act would transfer the blame to the disposition, and the disposition to the cause of that ; whereby persons would be free from blame, and This would attach to principles only. But to suppose a moral agent incapable of blameworthiness, which on the supposition would be the case, is a gross absurdity. It would be to suppose an accountable being, who at the same time can be accountable for nothing; and it would be to impute blame to principles, or a principle, which is incapable of moral agency.
6. The cause of virtuous acts, or, if we may so speak, the soil in which they grow, is a previous inclination or disposition to good, before any actual choice takes place. This may be called a virtuous inclination, or disposition. But the original and predisposing cause of that, is divine energy, influx, or influence; in other words, an assimilating emanation from the holy nature and decretive will of God.
7. Nevertheless, this is not a good, or a virtue, attributable to man, until he is actually possessed of it, or it becomes his, as a quality
of his nature. God, the Father of lights, from whom every good and perfect gift proceedeth, is the cause of that virtuous disposition ; but while the virtue remained in the cause, and not in the man, it was no human virtue. Nor does the essence of human virtue lie in the communication itself, for this was the effect of divine will; but no will can alter the nature of virtue : therefore, the essence of virtue consists not in the cause, whether we understand by “cause,” the will that communicates the virtuous disposition, or the communication itself. Consequently, the absence of virtue is so completely confined to the disposition of the agent, and the consequent acts, as to exclude every thing else that may be termed its cause.
8. The cause of vicious acts, whatever it be, is opposite to the cause of virtuous acts; for these acts have diametrically opposite effects. That vicious acts have a cause, as well as virtuous ones, cannot be denied by any reflecting person, for this plain reason, that there is nothing in the universality of things, beings, qualities, &c. but has a cause, either positive or negative, as before explained. Neither agency, liberty, nor any thing else, considered as an effect or a consequent, can exist without a cause, or antecedent. The denial of this, and universal scepticism, are the same thing. Then all reasoning, and all common sense, vanish. Then body and spirit, cause and effects, good and evil, &c. are huddled up in endless confusion, without either first or last, great or small, order or proportion.
9. The original predisposing cause of a vicious disposition, is the very opposite of the original, predisposing cause of a virtuous disposition. This last, it has been shewn, is divine energy, which is a positive cause; the other, the opposite of this, is a negative cause. The cause of good, as before observed, is a cause
sitions, or acts of the will, but wholly in the Origin or Cause of them: so that if the disposition of the mind, or acts of the will, be
properly so called, in the way of physical influence; but the cause of evil is called “a cause” improperly, as it implies no physical influence, but only stands as an antecedent to a consequent; from which however the consequent may be inferred with as much certainty as if the influence were physical and mechanical. Whether you suppose positive quantities, or negative quantities, consequences are equally certain, it is no less true that 5–2=3, than 3+3=6. Whether you say, If the sun were not, it would cause darkness; or say, If the sun shine, it will cause light; the difference is only in the nature of the cause, as either positive or negative, not in the certainty of the consequence.
10. It would be very absurd and contradictory to say that the cause of vice is vicious. For that would be the same as to say, that a thing was before it existed. To be vicious is to have vice; and for this to be the cause of vice, is for it to be the cause of itself, or self-caused, which is absurd. It is therefore impossible that the cause of vice should be vicious; consequently the essence of vice is no where but in its own proper nature, to the exclusion of every cause whatever. And yet, as it is an effect, it must have a cause.
11. The principal question to be determined in this investigation is, What is precisely the original, predisposing, negative cause of a vicious disposition? The answer is plain and short; it is that property of a creature which renders it absolutely dependent for its being and well-being. Or, it is that property which is the very opposite to independence, self-sufficiency, and immutability: and therefore is a property peculiar to a creature, and cannot belong to God.
12. Nor can this be said to be an actually existing property from eternity: since it cannot belong to God, and nothing, the only alternative, has no property. It is not therefore the Manichean eternal evil principle, if by this be meant any thing actually existing, as coeval with a good principle. Good is a principle positively clernal; but what we speak of is a mere negative principle, and owes its existence as a property to a created nature; and were every creature annihilated, this property would also cease to be.
13. But what shall we call this principle, property, or predisposing cause of vice? Shall we call it defectibility, defect, limitation, or imperfection of existence ? Not the first : for the question would return, What makes a creature defectible ? Not the second; for the term is ambiguous, as there are several kinds of defect, natural and moral, and therefore, as the word is of common use, and of frequent occurrence, it would require perpetual explanations. Not the third, or the fourth; for the same reason. À term therefore not ambiguous, and sufficiently expressive should be employed; as we employ technical terms to express a specific object. For this purpose, no term, perhaps, is less exceptionable or more suitable than PASSIVE POWER; for it is free from ambiguity, and is sufficiently expressive of the idea already explained. The idea of passivity is clearly implied in the name, as in the thing; and the term power seems preferable to property, or quality, because less ambiguous, and yet more expressive to convey the intended idea of metaphysical influence of cause and effect.
11. To which we may add, That “passive power” is by no means a newcoined expression; but has often been used to express the very idea to which it is here applied. Thus, above a century and a half ago, that eminently pious and profoundly learned divine, Theophilus Gale, in his "Court of the Gentiles," says: * The root and origin of all creatural dependence, is the creature's passive power and God's absolute dominion over it.-Now all limits as to nature and essence speak a mixture of nihility, passive power, and dependence resulting therefrom ; whence DAMASCENE adds, ' Merov grep To Be or arabes esti, The deity only is impassible ;' namely, because exempt from nihility, passive power, and dependence. This nihility, or nothingness of the creature, is the same with its passive power either physic or metaphysic, natural or obediental: whereby it is limited, and confined to such or such a degroe of entity, existence, and operation. (Court of Gent. Part IV. b. ii. ch. xi. 1 4.)
15. Now that the essence of vice consisteth not in this property is plain, in that passive power is essential to a creature, which vice ncither is nor can be. It is the soil in which vice grows, and without which it could not grow, or have existence, hutis not itself vicious; otherwise we should be forced to seek the cause