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in common speech. One is constraint; otherwise called force, compulsion, and coaction; which is a person's being necessitated to do a thing contrary to his will. The other is restraint ; which is, his being hindered, and not having power to do according to his will. But that which has no will cannot be the subject of these things.--I need say the less on this head, Mr. Locke having set the same thing forth, with so great clearness, in his Essay on the Human Understanding.
But one thing more I would observe concerning what is vulgarly called Liberty ; namely, that power and opportunity for one to do and conduct as he will, or according to his choice, is all that is meant by it ; without taking into the meaning of the word, any thing of the cause of that choice ; or at all considering how the person came to have such a volition ; whether it was caused by some external motive, or internal habitual bias ; whether it was determined by some internal antecedent volition, or whether it happened without a cause; whether it was necessarily connected with something foregoing, or not connected. Let the person come by his choice any how, yet, if he is able, and there is nothing in the way to hinder his pursuing and executing his will, the man is perfectly free, according to the primary and common notion of freedom.
What has been said may be sufficient to shew what is meant by Liberty, according to the common notions of mankind, and in the usual and primary acceptation of the word : but the word, as used by Arminians, Pelagians and others, who oppose the Calvinists, has an entirely different signification. These several things belong to their notion of Liberty. 1. That it consists in a self-determining power in the will, or a certain sovereignty the will has over itself, and its own acts, whereby it determines its own volitions ; so as not to be dependent in its determinations, on any cause without itself, nor determined by any thing prior to its own acts. 2. Indifference belongs to Liberty in their notion of it, or that the mind, previous to the act of volition, be in equilibrio. 3. Contingence is another thing that belongs and is essential to it; not in the common acceptation of the word, as that has been already explained, but as opposed to all necessity, or any fixed and certain connection with some previous ground or reason of its existence. They suppose the essence of Liberty so much to consist in these things, that unless the will of man be free in this sense, he has no real freedom, how much soever he may be at Liberty to act according to his will.
A moral Agent is a being that is capable of those actions that have a moral quality, and which can properly be deno
minated good or evil in a moral sense, virtuous or vicious, commendable or faulty. To moral Agency belongs a moral faculty, or sense of moral good and evil, or of such a thing as desert or worthiness, of praise or blame, reward or punishment; and a capacity which an Agent has of being influenced in his actions by moral inducements or motives, exhibited to the view of understanding and reason, to engage to a conduct agreeable to the moral faculty.
The sun is very excellent and beneficial in its actions and influence on the earth, in warming and causing it to bring forth its fruits ; but it is not a moral Agent : its action, though good, is not virtuous or meritorious. Fire that breaks out in a city, and consumes great part of it, is very mischievous in its operation ; but is not a moral Agent : what it does is not faulty or sinful, or deserving of any punishment. The brute creatures are not moral Agents : the actions of some of them are very profitable and pleasant ; others are very hurtful : yet seeing they have no moral faculty, or sense of desert, and do not act from choice guided by understanding, or with a capacity of reasoning and reflecting, but only from instinct, and are not capable of being influenced by moral inducements, their actions are not properly sinful or virtuous ; nor are they properly the subjects of any such moral treatment for what they do, as moral Agents are for their faults or good deeds.
Here it may be noted, that there is a circumstantial difference between the moral Agency of a ruler and a subject. I call it circumstantial, because it lies only in the difference of moral inducements, by which they are capable of being influenced, arising from the difference of circumstances. A ruler acting in that capacity only, is not capable of being influenced by a moral law, and its sanctions of threatenings and promises, rewards and punishments, as the subject is; though both may be influenced by a knowledge of moral good and evil. And therefore the moral Agency of the Supreme Being, who acts only in the capacity of a ruler towards his creatures, and never as a subject, differs in that respect from the moral Agency of created intelligent beings. God's actions, and particularly those which he exerts as a moral governor, have moral qualifications, and are morally good in the highest degree. They are most perfectly holy and righteous; and 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. And herein does very much consist that image of God wherein he made man, (which we read of Gen. i. 26, 27, and chap. ix. 6.) by which God distinguished man from the beasts, viz. in those faculties and principles of nature, whereby He is capable of moral Agency, Herein very much consists the natural image of God; whereas the spiritual and moral image, wherein man was made at first, consisted in that moral excellency with which he was endowed.
WHEREIN IT IS CONSIDERED WHETHER THERE IS OR CAN BE
ANY SUCH SORT OF FREEDOM OF WILL, AS THAT WHEREIN
Shewing the manifest Inconsistence of the Arminian Notion of
Liberty of Will, consisting in the Will's self-determining
Having taken notice of those things which may be necessary to be observed, concerning the meaning of the principal terms and phrases made use of in controversies concerning human Liberty, and particularly observed what Liberty is according to the common language and general apprehension of mankind, and what it is as understood and maintained by Arminians; I proceed to consider the Arminian notion of the Freedom of the Will, and the supposed necessity of it in order to moral agency, or in order to any one's being capable of virtue or vice, and properly the subject of command or counsel, praise or blame, promises or threatenings, rewards or punishments ; or whether that which has been described, as the thing meant by Liberty in common speech, be not sufficient, and the only Liberty, which makes, or can make any one a moral agent, and so properly the subject of these things. In this part, I shall consider whether any such thing be possible or conceivable, as that Freedom of Will which Arminians insist on; and shall enquire, whether any such sort of Liberty be necessary to moral agency, &c. in the next Part.
And first of all, I shall consider the notion of a self-determining Power in the will : wherein, according to the Arminians, does most essentially consist the Will's Freedom ; and shall particularly enquire, whether it be not plainly absurd, and a manifest inconsistence, to suppose that the will itself den termines all the free acts of the will.
Here I shall not insist on the great impropriety of suclı ways of speaking, as the Will determining itself, because actions are to be ascribed to agents, and not properly to the powers of agents; which improper way of speaking leads to many mistakes, and much confusion, as Mr. Locke observes. But I shall suppose that the Arminians, when they speak of the Will's determining itself, do by the Will mean the soul willing. I shall take it for granted, that when they speak of the Will, as the determiner, they mean the soul in the exercise of a power of willing, or acting voluntarily. I shall suppose this to be their meaning, because nothing else can be meant, without the grossest and plainest absurdity. In all cases when we speak of the powers or principles of acting, or doing such things, we mean that the agents which have these Powers of acting, do them, in the exercise of those Powers. So when we say, valour fights courageously, we mean the man who is under the influence of valour fights courageously. When we gay, love seeks the object loved, we mean, the person loving seeks that object. When we say the understanding discerns, we mean the soul in the exercise of that faculty. So when it is said, the will decides or determines, the meaning must be, that the person in the exercise of a Power of willing and choosing, or the soul acting voluntarily, determines.
Therefore, if the Will determines all its own free acts, the soul determines them in the exercise of a Power of willing and choosing ; or, which is the same thing, it determines them of choice ; it determines its own acts, by choosing its own acts. If the Will determines the Will, then choice orders and determines the choice : and acts of choice are subject to the deci. sion, and follow the conduct of other acts of choice. And therefore if the Will determines all its own free acts, then every free act of choice is determined by a preceding act of choice, choosing that act. And if that preceding act of the Will be also a free act, then by these principles, in this act too, the Will is self-determined: that is, this, in like manner, is an act that the soul voluntarily chooses ; or, which is the same thing, it is an act determined still by a preceding act of the Will, choosing that. Which brings us directly to a contradiction : for it supposes an act of the Will preceding the first act in the whole train, directing and determining the rest ; or a free act of the Will, before the first free act of the Will. Or else we must come at last to an act of the Will, determining the consequent acts, wherein the Will is not self-determined, and so is not a free act, in this notion of freedom : but if the first act in the train, determining and fixing the rest, be not free, none of them all can be free; as is manifest at first view, but shall be demonstrated presently.