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enced by it, to come to some voluntary conclusion, in regard to their own conduct, with some view or aim : but this, as has been shown, is inconsistent with the principles they pretend to act upon. In short, the principles are such as cannot be acted upon at all, or in any respect, consistently. And, therefore, in every pretence of acting upon them, or making any improvement at all of them, there is a self-contradiction.
As to that Objection against the doctrine, which I have endeavoured to prove, that it makes men no more than mere Machines ; I would say, that notwithstanding this doctrine, Man is entirely, perfectly, and unspeakably different from a mere Machine, in that he has reason and understanding, with a faculty of will, and so is capable of volition and choice; in that his will is guided by the dictates or views of his understanding ; and in that his external actions and behaviour, and in many respects also his thoughts, and the exercises of his mind, are subject to his will ; so that he has liberty to act according to his choice, and do what he pleases; and by Means of these things, is capable of moral habits and moral acts, such inclinations and actions as, according to the common sense of mankind, are worthy of praise, esteem, love and reward; or on the contrary, of disesteem, detestation, indignation and punishment.
In these things is all the difference from mere Machines, as to liberty and agency, that would be any perfection, dignity or privilege in any respect: all the difference that can be desired, and all that can be conceived of; and indeed all that the pretensions of the Arminians themselves come to, as they are forced often to explain themselves; though their explications overthrow and abolish the things asserted, and pretended to be explained. For they are forced to explain a self-determining power of will by a power in the soul to determine as it chooses or wills ; which comes to no more than this, that a man has a power of choosing, and in many instances, can do as he chooses. Which is quite a different thing from that contradiction, his having power of choosing his first act of choice in the case.
Or, if their scheme make any other difference than this between Men and Machines, it is for the worse: it is so far from supposing Men to have a dignity and privilege above Machines, that it makes the manner of their being determined still more unhappy. Whereas, Machines are guided by an intelligent cause, by the skilful hand of the workman or owner; the will of Man is left to the guidance of nothing but absolute blind contingence!
Concerning that Objection against the Doctrine which has been
maintained, that it agrees with the Stoical Doctrine of Fate, and the opinions of Mr. HOBBES.
When Calvinists oppose the Arminian notion of the freedom of will and contingence of volition, and insist that there are no acts of the will, nor any other events whatsoever, but what are attended with some kind of necessity; their opposers exclaim against them, as agreeing with the ancient Stoicks in their doctrine of Fate, and with Mr. HOBBes in his opinion of Necessity.
It would not be worth while to take notice of so impertinent an Objection had it not been urged by some of the chief Arminian writers.—There were many important truths maintained by the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, and es. pecially the Stoicks, that are never the worse for being held by them. The Stoic philosophers, by the general agreement of Christian divines, and even Arminian divines, were the greatest, wisest, and most virtuous of all the heathen philosophers ; and, in their doctrine and practice, came the nearest to Christianity of any of their sects. How frequently are the sayings of these philosophers, in many of the writings and sermons, even of Arminian divines produced, not as arguments for the falseness of the doctrines which they delivered, but as a confirmation of some of the greatest truths of the Christian Religion, relating to the Unity and Perfections of the Godhead, a future state, the duty and happiness of mankind, &c. and how the light of nature and reason, in the wisest and best of the Heathen, harmonized with, and confirms the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And it is very remarkable, concerning Dr. Whitby, that although he alledges the agreement of the Stoicks with us, wherein he supposes they maintained the like doctrine, as an argument against the truth of ours; yet this very Dr. WHITBY alledges the agreement of the Stoicks with the Arminians, wherein he supposes they taught the same doctrine with them, as an argument for the truth of their doctrine.* So that, when the Stoicks agree with them, it is a confirmation of their doctrine, and a confutation of ours, as shewing that our opinions are contrary to the natural sense and common
* Whitby on the Five Points, Edit. 3. p. 325, 326, 327.
reason of mankind : nevertheless, when the Stoicks agree with us, it argues no such thing in our favour ; but, on the contrary, is a great argument against us, and shews our doctrine to be heathenish!
It is observed by some Calvinistic writers, that the Arminians symbolize with the Stoicks, in some of those doctrines wherein they are opposed by the Calvinists ; particularly in their denying an original, innate, total corruption and depravity of heart; and in what they held of man's ability to make himself truly virtuous and conformed to God; and in some other doctrines.
It may be further observed, that certainly it is no better Objection against our doctrine, that it agrees, in some respects, with the doctrine of the ancient Stoic philosophers; than it is against theirs, wherein they differ from us, that it agrees in some respects with the opinion of the very worst of the heathen philosophers, the followers of Epicurus, that father of atheism and licentiousness, and with the doctrine of the Sadducees and Jesuits.
I am not much concerned to know precisely what the ancient Stoic philosophers held concerning Fate, in order to determine what is truth ; as though it were a sure way to be in the right, to take good heed to differ from them. It seems that they differed among themselves ; and probably the doctrine of Fate, as maintained by most of them, was, in some respects, erroneous. But whatever their doctrine was, if any of them held such a Fate, as is repugnant to any liberty, consisting in our doing as we please, I utterly deny such a Fate. If they held any such Fate as is not consistent with the common and universal notions that mankind have of liberty, activity, moral agency, virtue and vice; I disclaim any such thing, and think I have demonstrated, that the scheme I maintain is no such scheme. If the Stoicks, by Fate, meant any thing of such a nature, as can be supposed to stand in the way of advantage and of benefit in use of means and endeavours, or would make it less worth while for men to desire, and seek after any thing wherein their virtue and happiness consists ; I hold no doctrine that is clogged with any such in. convenience, any more than any other scheme whatsoever ; and by no means so much as the Arminian scheme of contingence; as has been shewn. If they held any such doctrine of universal fatality, as is inconsistent with any kind of liberty, that is or can be any perfection, dignity, privilege or benefit, or any thing desirable, in any respect, for any intelligent creature, or indeed with any liberty that is possible or conceivable; I embrace no such doctrine. If they held any such doctrine of Fate, as is inconsistent with the world being in all things subject to the disposal of an intelligent, wise
agent, that presides—not as the soul of the world, but-as the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, governing all things by proper will, choice and design, in the exereise of the most perfect liberty conceivable, without subjection to any constraint, or being properly under the power or influence of any thing before, above or without himself; I wholly renounce any such doctrine.
As to Mr. Hobbes maintaining the same doctrine concerning necessity, I confess it happens I never read Mr. Hobbes. Let his opinion be what it will, we need not reject all truth which is demonstrated by clear evidence, merely because it was once held by some bad man. This great truth, “ that Jesus is the Son of God," was not spoiled because it was once and again proclaimed with a loud voice by the devil. If truth is so defiled, because it is spoken by the mouth, or written by the pen of some ill minded, mischievous man, that it must never be received, we shall never know, when we hold any of the most precious and evident truths by a sure tenure. And if Mr. Hobbes has made a bad use of this truth, that is to be lamented: but the truth is not to be thought worthy of rejection on that account. It is common for the corrupt hearts of evil men to abuse the best things to vile purposes.
I might also take notice of its having been observed, that the Arminians agree with Mr. Hobbes* in many more things than the Calvinists. As, in what he is said to hold concerning original sin, in denying the necessity of supernatural illumination, in denying infused grace, in denying the doctrine of justification by faith alone; and other things.
Concerning the Necessity of the Divine Will.
Some may possibly object against what has been supposed of the absurdity and inconsistence of a self-determining power in the will, and the impossibility of its being otherwise than that the will should be determined in every case by some motive, and by a motive which (as it stands in the view of the understanding) is of superior strength to any appearing on the other side ; that if these things are true, it will follow that not only the will of created minds, but the will of God Him. self is necessary in all its determinations. Concerning which, the Author of the Essay on the Freedom of Will in God and in the Creature, (pag. 85, 86.) says: “What strange doctrine is this, contrary to all our ideas of the dominion of God? does
*Dr. Gill, in his Answer to Dr. WHITBY, Vol. III. p. 183, &c, VOL. 11.
it not destroy the glory of his liberty of choice, and take away from the Creator and Governor and Benefactor of the world, that most free and Sovereign Agent, all the glory of this sort of freedom? does it not seem to make him a kind of mechanical medium of fate, and introduce Mr. HOBBES's doctrine of fatality and Necessity into all things that God hath to do with? Does it not seem to represent the blessed God as a Being of vast understanding, as well as power and efficiency, but still to leave him without a will to choose among all the objects within his view? In short, it seems to make the blessed God a sort of Almighty Minister of Fate, under its universal and supreme influence; as it was the professed sentiment of some of the ancients, that Fate was above the gods.
This is declaiming rather than arguing, and an application to men's imaginations and prejudices rather than to mere reason. I would now calmly endeavour to consider whether there be any reason in this frightful representation. But before I enter upon a particular consideration of the matter, I would observe, that it is reasonable to suppose it should be much more difficult to express or conceive things according to exact metaphysical truth, relating to the nature and manner of the existence of things in the Divine Understanding and Will, and the operation of these faculties (if I may so call them) of the Divine Mind, than in the human mind, which is infinitely more within our view, more proportionate to the measure of our comprehension, and more commensurate to the use and import of human speech. Language is indeed very deficient, in regard of terms to express precise truth concerning our own minds, and their faculties and operations. Words were first formed to express external things; and those that are applied to express things internal and spiritual, are almost all borrowed, and used in a sort of figurative sense. Whence they are, most of them, attended with a great deal of ambiguity and unfixedness in their signification, occasioning innumerable doubts, difficulties, and confusions, in enquiries and controversies about things of this nature. But language is much less adapted to express things existing in the mind of the incomprehensible Deity, precisely as they are.
We find a great deal of difficulty in conceiving exactly of the nature of our own souls. And notwithstanding all the progress which has been made in past ages and the present in this kind of knowledge, whereby our metaphysics, as it relates to these things, is brought to greater perfection than once it was ; yet here is still work enough left for future enquiries and researches, and room for progress still to be made for many ages and generations. But we had need to be infinitely able metaphysicians to conceive with clearness, according to strict, proper, and perfect truth, concerning the nature of the Divine