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Shewing, that if the things asserted in these Evasions should be
supposed to be true, they are altogether impertinent, and cannot help the cause of Arminian Liberty; and how, this being the state of the case, Arminian Writers are obliged to talk inconsistently.
What was last observed in the preceding section, may shew-not only that the active nature of the soul cannot be a reason why an act of the will is, or why it is in this manner rather than another, but also—that if it could be proved, that volitions are contingent events, their being and manner of being not fixed or determined by any cause, or any thing antecedent; it would not at all serve the purpose of Arminians, to establish their notion of freedom, as consisting in the will's determination of itself, which supposes every free act of the will to be determined by some act of the will going before ; inasmuch as for the will to determine a thing, is the same as for the soul to determine a thing by willing, and there is no way that the will can determine an act of the will, than by willing that act of the will, or, which is the same thing, choosing it. So that here must be two acts of the will in the case, one going before another, one conversant about the other, and the latter the object of the former, and chosen by the former. If the will does not cause and determine the act by choice, it does not cause or determine it at all; for that which is not determined by choice, is not determined voluntarily or willingly: and to say, that the will determines something which the soul does not determine willingly, is as much as to say, that something is done by the will, which the soul doth not with its will.
So that if Arminian liberty of will, consisting in the will determining its own acts, be maintained, the old absurdity and contradiction must be maintained, that every free act of wil? is caused and determined by a foregoing free act of will.Which doth not consist with the free acts arising without any cause, and being so contingent, as not to be fixed by any thing foregoing. So that this evasion must be given up, as not at all relieving this sort of liberty, but directly destroying it.
And if it should be supposed, that the soul determines its own acts of will some other way, than by a foregoing act of will; still it will not help their cause. If it determines them by an act of the understanding, or some other power, then the will does not determine itself; and so the self-determining
power of the will is given up. And what liberty is there exercised, according to their own opinion of liberty, by the soul being determined by something besides its own choice? The acts of the will, it is true, may be directed, and effectually determined and fixed; but it is not done by the soul's own will and pleasure: there is no exercise at all of choice or will in producing the effect: and if will and choice are not exercised in it, how is the liberty of the will exercised in it ?
So that let Arminians turn which way they please with their notion of liberty, consisting in the will determining its own acts, their notion destroys itself. If they hold every free act of will to be determined by the soul's own free choice, or foregoing free act of will ; foregoing, either in the order of time, or nature ; it implies that gross contradiction, that the first free act belonging to the affair, is determined by a free act which is before it. Or if they say, that the free acts of the will are determined by some other act of the soul, and not an act of will or choice; this also destroys their notion of liberty consisting in the acts of the will being determined by the will itself ; or if they hold that the acts of the will are determined by nothing at all that is prior to them, but that they are contingent in that sense, that they are determined and fixed by no cause at all; this also destroys their notion of liberty, consisting in the will determining its own acts.
This being the true state of the Arminian notion of liberty, the writers who defend it are forced into gross inconsistencies, in what they say upon this subject. To instance in Dr. Whitby; he, in his discourse on the freedom of the will,* opposes the opinion of the Calvinists, who place man's liberty only in a power of doing what he will, as that wherein they plainly agree with Mr, Hobbes. And yet he himself mentions the very same notion of liberty, as the dictate of the sense and common reason of mankind, and a rule laid down by the light of nature : viz. that liberty is a power of acting from ourselves,
This is indeed, as he says, a thing agreeable to the sense and common reason of mankind; and therefore it is not so much to be wondered at, that he unawares acknowledges it against himself: for if liberty does not consist in this, what else can be devised that it should consist in ? If it be said, as Dr. WHITBY elsewhere insists, that it does not only consist in liberty of doing what we will, but also a liberty of willing without necessity ; still the question returns, what does that liberty of willing without necessity consist in, but in a power of willing as we please, without being impeded by a contrary necessity? or in other words, a liber.
OT DOING WHAT
* In his Book on the five Points, Second Edit. p. 350, 351, 35?.
Ị Ibid. p. 325, 326,
ty for the soul in its willing to act according to its own choice? Yea, this very thing the same author seems to allow, and suppose again and again, in the use he makes of sayings of the Fathers, whom he quotes as his vouchers. Thus he cites the words of ORIGEN, which he produces as a testimony on his side; * “ The soul acts by HER OWN CHOICE, and it is free for her to incline to whatever part SHE WILL.” And those words of Justin MARTYR;f “The doctrine of the Christians is this, that nothing is done or suffered according to fate, but that every man doth good or evil ACCORDING TO FREE CHOICE." And from Eusebius, these words ; † “ If fate be established, philosophy and piety are overthrown.--All these things depending upon the necessity introduced by the stars, and not upon meditation and exercise PROCEEDING FROM OUR OWN FREE CHOICE. And again, the words of MaccaRIUS ;| “God to preserve the liberty of man's will, suffered their bodies to die, that it might be in THEIR CHOICE to turn to good or evil.”—“They who are acted by the Holy Spirit, are not held under any necessity, but have liberty to turn them. selves, and DO WHAT THEY will in this life.”
Thus, the doctor in effect comes into that very notion of liberty, which the Calvinists have ; which he at the same time condemns, as agreeing with the opinion of Mr. Hobbes, namely, ** The soul acting by its own choice, men doing good or evil according to their own free choice, their being in that exercise which proceeds from their own free choice, having it in their choice to turn to good or evil, and doing what they will.” So that if men exercise this liberty in the acts of the will themselves, it must be in exerting acts of will according to their own free choice ; or, exerting acts of will that proceed from their choice. And if it be so, then let every one judge whether this does not suppose a free choice going before the free act of will, or whether an act of choice does not go before that act of the will which proceeds from it. And if it be thus with all free acts of the will, then let every one judge, whether it will not fol. low that there is a free choice going before the first free act of the will exerted in the case! And finally, let every one judge whether in the scheme of these writers there be any possibility of avoiding these absurdities.
If liberty consists, as Dr. Whitby himself says, in a man's doing what he will; and a man exercises this liberty, not only in external actions, but in the acts of the will themselves ; then so far as liberty is exercised in the latter, it consists in willing what he wills: and if any say so, one of these two things must be meant, either, 1. That'a man has power to will,
* Ibid. p. 342. † Ibid. p. 360. | Ibid. 363.
as he does will; because what he wills, he wills; and therefore power to will what he has power to will. If this be their meaning, then all this mighty controversy about freedom of the will and self-determining power, comes wholly to nothing; all that is contended for being no more than this, that the mind of man does what it does, and is the subject of what it is the subject, or that what is, is; wherein none has any controversy with them. Or, 2. The meaning must be, that a man has power to will as he chooses to will: that is, he has power by one act of choice, to choose another; by an antecedent act of will to choose a consequent act; and therein to execute his own choice. And if this be their meaning, it is nothing but shuffling with those they dispute with, and baffling their own
For still the question returns, wherein lies man's liberty in that antecedent act of will which chose the consequent act. The answer according to the same principles must be, that his liberty in this also lies in his willing as he would, or as he chose, or agreeable to another act of choice preceding that. And so the question returns in infinitum, and the like answer must be made in infinitum : in order to support their opinion, there must be no beginning, but free acts of will must have been chosen by foregoing free acts of will in the soul of every man, without beginning.
Concerning the Will determining in Things which are perfectly
indifferent, in the licw of the Mind.
A great argument for self-determining power, is the supposed experience we universally have of an ability to determine our Wills, in cases wherein no prevailing motive is presented : the Will, as is supposed, has its choice to make between two or more things, that are perfectly equal in the view of the mind; and the Will is apparently altogether indifferent; and yet we find no difficulty in coming to a choice ; the Will can instantly determine itself to one, by a sovereign power which it has over itself, without being moved by any preponderating inducement.
Thus the fore-mentioned author of an Essay on the Freedom of the Will, foc. (p. 25, 26, 27.) supposes, “That there are many instances, wherein the Will is determined neither by present uneasiness, nor by the greatest apparent good, nor by the last dictate of the understanding, nor by any thing else, but merely by itself, as a sovereign self-determining power of the soul; and that the soul does not will this or that action, in some cases, by any other influence but because it will. Thus
says he, I can turn my face to the South, or the North ; I can point with my finger upward or downward.—And thus, in some cases, the Will determines itself in a very sovereign manner, because it will, without a reason borrowed from the understanding: and hereby it discovers its own perfect power of choice, rising from within itself, and free from all influence or restraint of any kind.” And (p. 66, 70, 73, 74,) this author very expressly supposes the Will in many cases to be determined by no motive at all, and acts altogether without motive, or ground of preference.—Here I would
observe, 1. The very supposition which is here made, directly contradicts and overthrows itself. For the thing supposed, wherein this grand argument consists, is, that among several things the Will actually chooses one before another, at the same time that it is perfectly indifferent; which is the very same thing as to say, the mind has a preference, at the same time that it has no preference. What is meant cannot be, that the mind is indifferent before it comes to have a choice, or until it has a preference; for certainly this author did not imagine he had a controversy with any person in supposing this. Besides, it appears in fact, that the thing which he supposes, isnot that the Will chooses one thing before another, concerning which it is indifferent before it chooses, but that the will is indifferent when it chooses ; and that it being otherwise than indifferent is not until afterwards, in consequence of its choice; that the chosen thing appearing preferable, and more agreeable than another, arises from its choice already made. His words are (p. 30.) “ Where the objects which are proposed, appear equally fit or good, the Will is left without a guide or director; and therefore must take its own choice, by its own determination; it being properly a self-determining power. And in such cases the will does as it were make a good to itself by its own choice, i. e. creates its own pleasure or delight in this self-chosen good. Even as a man by seizing upon a spot of unoccupied land, in an uninhabited country, makes it his own possession and property, and as such rejoices in it. Where things were indifferent before, the will finds nothing to make them more agreeable, considered merely in themselves, but the pleasure it feels arising from its own choice, and its perseverance therein. We love many things which we have chosen, and purely because we chose them."
This is as much as to say, that we first begin to prefer many things, purely because we have preferred and chosen them before. --These things must needs be spoken inconsiderately by this author. Choice or preference cannot be before itself in the same instance, either in the order of time or nature: It cannot be the foundation of itself, or the consequence of itself. The very act of choosing one thing rather