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thing tends to confound the mind, but not to satisfy it: for who can ever be truly satisfied in it, that men are fitly blamed or commended, punished or rewarded for those volitions which are not from themselves, and of whose existence they are not the causes. Men may refine, as much as they please, and advance the abstract notions, and make out a thousand seeming contradictions, to puzzle our understandings; yet there can be no satisfaction in such doctrine as this : the natural sense of the mind of man will always resist it.* I humbly conceive, that such an objector, if he has capacity, and humility, and calmness of spirit sufficient, impartially and thoroughly to examine himself, will find that he knows not really what he would be at; and indeed, his difficulty is nothing but a mere prejudice, from an inadvertent custoinary
* A certain noted author of the present age says, the arguments for necessity are nothing but quibbling, or logomachy, using words without a meaning, or begging the question.--I do not know what kind of necessity any authors to whom he may have reference, are advocates for; or whether they have managed their arguments well or ill. As to the arguments I have made use of, if they are quibbles they may be shewn to be so: such knots are capable of being untied, and the trick and cheat may be detected and plainly laid open. If this be fairly done, with respect to the grounds and reasons I have relied upon, I shall have just occasion, for the future, to be silent, if not to be ashamed of my argumentations. I
I am willing my proofs should be thoroughly examined; and if there be nothing but begging the question, or mere logomachy, or dispute of words, let it be made manifest, and shewn how the seeming strength of the argument depends on my using words without a mecning, or arises from the ambiguity of terms, or my making use of words in an indeterminate and unsteady manner; and that the reight of my reasons rest mainly on such a foundation : and then I shall either be ready to retract what I have urged, and thank the man that has done the kind part, or shall be justly exposed for my obstinacy.
The same author is abundant in appealing, in this affair, from what he calls logomachy and sophistry, to experience.- A person can experience only what passes in his own mind. But yet, as we may well suppose, that all men have the same human faculties ; so a man may well argue from his own experience to that of others, in things that shew the nature of these faculties, and the manner of their operation. But then one has as good a right to alledge his experience as another. As to my own experience, I find, that in innumerable things I can do as I will ; that the motions of my body, in many respects, instantaneously follow the acts of my will concerning those motions; and that my will has some command of my thoughts; and that the acts of my will are my own, i. e. that they are acts of my will, the volitions of my own mind; or, in other words, that what I will, I will"; which, I presume, is the sum of what others experience in this affair. · But as to finding, by experience, that my wili is originally determined by itself; or that, my will first choosing what volition there shall be, the chosen volition accordingly follows; and that this is the first rise of the determination of my will in any affair; or that any volition arises in my mind contingently; I declare, I know nothing in myself, by experience, of this nature, and nothing that ever I experienced, carries the least appearance or shadow of any such thing, or gives me any more reason to suppose or suspect any such thing, than to suppose that my volitions existed twenty years before they existed. It is true, I find myself possessed of ray volitions before I can see the effectual power of any cause to produce them, for the power and efficacy of the cause is not seen but by the effect, and this, for ought I know, may make some imagine that volition has no cause, or that it produces itself. But I have no more reason from hence to determine any such thing, than I have to determine that I gave myself my own being, or that I came into being accidentally without a cause, because I first found myself posgessed of being before I had knowledge of a cause of my being.
use of words, in a meaning that is not clearly understood, nor carefully reflected upon. Let the objector reflect again, if he has candour and patience enough, and does not scorn to be at the trouble of close attention in the affair.--He would have a man’s volition be from himself. Let it be from himself most primarily and originally of any way conceivable ; that is, from his own choice ; how will that help the matter as to his being justly blamed or praised, unless that choice itself be blame. worthy or praiseworthy? And how is the choice itself (an ill choice, for instance) blameworthy according to these principles, unless that be from himself too, in the same manner; that is, from his own choice! But the original and first determining choice in the affair is not from his choice: his choice is not the cause of it. And if it be from himself some other way, and not from his choice, surely that will not help the matter. If it be not from himself of choice, then it is not from himself voluntarily : and if so, he is surely no more to blame, then if it were not from himself at all. It is vanity to pretend it is a sufficient answer to this to say, that it is nothing but metaphysical refinement and subtility, and so attended with obscurity and uncertainty.
If it be the natural sense of our minds that what is blame. worthy in a man must be from himself, then it doubtless is also, that it must be from something bad in himself, a bad choice, or bad disposition. But then our natural sense is, that this bad choice or disposition is evil in itself, and the man blameworthy for it on its own account, without taking into our notion of its blameworthiness, another bad choice, or disposition going before this, from whence this arises : for that it is ridiculous absurdity, running us into an immediate contradiction, which our natural sense of blameworthiness has nothing to do with, and never comes into the mind, nor is supposed in the judgment we naturally make of the affair. As was demonstrated before, natural sense does not place the moral evil of volitions and dispositions in the cause of them, but the nature of them. An evil thing being from a man, or from something antecedent in him, is not essential to the original notion we have of blameworthiness : but it is its being the choice of the heart; as appears by this, that if a thing be from us, and not from our choice, it has not the nature of blameworthiness or ill desert, according to our natural sense.When a thing is from a man, in that sense, that it is from his will or choice, he is to blame for it, because his will is in it: so far as the will is in it, blame is in it, and no further. Neither do we go any further in our notion of blame to enquire whether the bad will be from a bad will : there is no consideration of the original of that bad will; because, according to our natural apprehension, blame originally consists in it. Therefore a
thing being from a man, is a secondary consideration in the notion of blame or ill desert. Because those things, in our external actions, are most properly said to be from us, which are from our choice; and no other external actions, but those that are from us in this sense, have the nature of blame ; and they indeed, not so properly because they are from us, as because we are in them, i. e. our wills are in them; not so much because they are from some property of ours, as because they are our properties.
However, all those external actions being truly from us, as their cause ; and we being so used, in ordinary speech, and in the common affairs of life, to speak of men's actions and conduct which we see, and which affect human society, as deserving ill or well, as worthy of blame or praise ; hence it is come to pass, that philosophers have incautiously taken all their measures of good and evil, praise and blame, from the dictates of common sense, above these overt acts of men ; to the running of every thing into the most lamentable and dreadful confusion. And, therefore, I observe,
III. It is so far from being true (whatever may be pretended) that the proof of the doctrine which has been maintained, depends on certain abstruse, unintelligible, metaphysical terms and notions; and that the Arminian scheme, without needing such clouds and darkness for its defence, is supported by the plain dictates of common sense ; that the very reverse is most certainly true, and that to a great degree. It is fact, that they, and not we, have confounded things with metaphysical, unintelligible notions and phrases, and have drawn them from the light of plain truth into the gross darkness of abstruse metaphysical propositions, and words without a meaning. Their pretended demonstrations depend very much on such unintelligible, metaphysical phrases, as self-determination and sovereignty of the will; and the metaphysical sense they put on such terms as necessity, contingency, action, agency, &c. quite diverse from their meaning as used in common speech ; and which, as they use them, are without any consistent meaning, or any manner of distinct consistent ideas; as far from it as any of the abstruse terms and perplexed phrases of the peripatetic philosophers, or the most unintelligible jargon of the schools, or the cant of the wildest fanatics. Yea, we may be bold to say, these metaphysical terms, on which they build so much, are what they use without knowing what they mean themselves ; they are pure metaphysical sounds, without any ideas whatsoever in their minds to answer them ; inasmuch as it has been demonstrated, that there cannot be any notion in the mind consistent with these expressions, as they pretend to explain them ; because their explanations destroy themselves. No such notions as imply
self-contradiction, and self-abolition and this a great many ways, can subsist in the mind; as there can be no idea of a whole which is less than any of its parts, or of solid extension without dimensions, or of an effect which is before its cause.Arminians improve these terms, as terms of art, and in their metaphysical meaning, to advance and establish those things which are contrary to common sense, in a high degree. Thus, instead of the plain vulgar notion of liberty, which all man. kind, in every part of the face of the earth, and in all ages, have ; consisting in opportunity to do as one pleases ; they have introduced a new strange liberty, consisting in indifference, contingence, and self-determination ; by which they involve themselves and others in great obscurity, and manifold gross inconsistence. So, instead of placing virtue and vice, as common sense places them very much, in fixed bias and inclination, and greater virtue and vice in stronger and more established inclination; these, through their refinings and abstruse notions, suppose a liberty consisting in indiffe. rence, to be essential to all virtue and vice. So they have reasoned themselves, not by metaphysical distinctions, but metaphysical confusion, into many principles about moral agency, blame, praise, reward, and punishment, which are, as has been shewn, exceeding contrary to the common sense of mankind; and perhaps to their own sense, which governs them in common life.
Whether the things which have been alledged, are liable to any tolerable answer in the way of calm, intelligible and strict reasoning, I must leave others to judge: but I am sensible they are liable to one sort of answer. It is not unlikely that some, who value themselves on the supposed ra. tional and generous principles of the modern fashionable divinity, will have their indignation and disdain raised at the sight of this discourse, and on perceiving what things are pretended to be proved in it. And if they think it worthy of being read, or of so much notice as to say much about it, they may probably renew the usual exclamations, with additional vehemence and contempt, about the fate of the heathen, HOBBES' Necessity, and making men mere machines ; accumulating the terrible epithets of fatal, unfrustrable, inevitable, irresistible, &c. and it may be, with addition of horrid and
blasphemous ; and perhaps much skill may be used to set forth things which have been said, in colours which shall be shocking to the imaginations, and moving to the passions of those, who have either too little capacity or too much confidence of the opinions they have imbibed, and contempt of the contrary, to try the matter by any serious and circumspect examination.* Or difficulties may be stated and insisted on, which do not belong to the controversy ; because, let them be more or less real, and hard to be resolved, they are not what are owing to any thing distinguishing of this scheme from that of the Arminians, and would not be removed nor diminished by renouncing the former, and adhering to the latter. Or some particular things may be picked out which they may think will sound harshest in the ears of the generality; and these may be glossed and descanted on with tart and contemptuous words; and from thence, the whole discourse may be treated with triumph and insult.
It is easy to see how the decision of most of the points in controversy between Calvinists and Arminians, depends on the determination of this grand article concerning the Freedom of the Will requisite to moral agency; and that by clearing and establishing the Calvinistic doctrine in this point, the chief arguments are obviated by which Arminian doctrines in general are supported, and the contrary doctrines demonstratively confirmed. Hereby it becomes manifest, that God's moral government over mankind, his treating them as moral agents, making them the objects of his commands, counsels, calls
, warnings, expostulations, promises, threatenings, rewards and punishments, is not inconsistent with a determining disposal of all events, of every kind, throughout the universe, in his Providence; either by positive efficiency or permission. Indeed such an universal determining Providence, infers some kind of necessity of all events, such a necessity as implies an infallible previous fixedness of the futurity of the event: but no other necessity of moral events, or volitions of intelligent agents, is needful in order to this, than moral necessity;
A writer of the present age, whom I have several times had occasion to mention, speaks once and again of those who hold the doctrine of Necessity as scarcely worthy of the name of philosophers. I do not know whether he has respect to any particular notion of necessity that some may have maintained ; and, if 80, what doctrine of necessity it is that he means. Whether I am worthy of the name of a philosopher or not would be a question little to the present purpose. If any, and ever so many, should deny it, I should not think it worth while to enter into a dispute on that question: though, at the same time, I might expect some better answer should be given to the arguments brought for the truth of the doctrine I maintain ; and I might further reasonably desire, that it might be considered whether it does not become those who are truly worthy of the name of philosophers to be sensible that there is a difference between argument and contempt ; yea, and a difference between the contemptibleness of the person that argues and the inconclusiveness of the arguments he offers. VOL. II.