Imágenes de página

ture of certain dispositions of the heart, and acts of the Will ; and not in the deformity of something else, diverse from the very thing itself, which deserves abhorrence, supposed to be the cause of it. Which would be absurd, because that would be to suppose a thing, that is innocent and not evil, is truly evil and faulty, because another thing is evil. It implies a contradiction; for it would be to suppose the very thing, which is morally evil and blameworthy, is innocent and not blameworthy ; but that something else, which is its cause, is only to blame. To say, that vice does not consist in the thing which is vicious, but in its cause, is the same as to say, that vice does not consist in vice, but in that which produces it. It is true, a cause may be to blame, for being the cause of vice : It may be wickedness in the cause, that it produces wickedness. But it would imply a contradiction, to suppose that these two are the same individual wickedness. The wicked act of the cause in producing wickedness, is one wickedness; and the wickedness produced, if there be any produced, is another. And therefore, the wickedness of the latter does not lie in the former, but is distinct from it ; and the wickedness of both lies in the evil nature of the things, which are wicked. The thing, which makes sin hateful, is that by which it deserves punishment; which is but the expression of hatred. And that, which renders virtue lovely, is the same with that, on the account of which, it is fit to receive praise and reward; which are but the expressions of esteem and love. But that which makes vice hateful, is its hateful nature ; and that which renders virtue lovely, is its amiable nature. It is a certain beauty or deformity that is inherent in that good or evil Will, which is the soul of virtue and vice (and not in the occasion of it) which is their worthiness of esteem or disesteem, praise or dispraise, according to the common sense of mankind. If the cause or occasion of the rise of an hateful disposition or act of Will,be also hateful; suppose another antecedent evil Will; that is entirely another sin, and deserves punishment by itself, under a distinct consideration. There is worthimess of dispraise in the nature of an evil volition, and not wholly

in some foregoing act, which is its cause; otherwise the evil volition, which is the effect, is no moral evil, any more than sickness, or some other natural calamity, which arises from a cause morally evil. Thus, for instance, ingratitude is hateful and worthy of dispraise, according to common sense ; not because something as bad, or worse than ingratitude, was the cause that produced it; but because it is hateful in itself, by its own inherent deformity. So the love of virtue is amiable, and worthy of praise, not merely because something else went before this love of virtue in our minds, which caused it to take place there ; for instance, our own choice ; we chose to love virtue, and, by some method or other, wrought ourselves into the love of it; but because of the amiableness and condecency of such a disposition and inclination of heart. If that was the case, that we did choose to love virtue, and so produced that love in ourselves, this choice itself could be no otherwise amiable or praiseworthy, than as love to virtue, or some other amiable inclination, was exercised and implied in it. If that choice was amiable at all, it must be so on account of some amiable quality in the nature of the choice. If we chose to love virtue, not in love to virtue, or any thing that was good, and exercised no sort of good disposition in the choice, the choice itself was not virtuous, nor worthy of any praise, according to common sense, because the choice was not of a good nature. It may not be improper here to take notice of something said by an author, that has lately made a mighty noise in America. “A necessary holiness (says he") is no holiness. Adam could not be originally created in righteousness and true holiness, because he must choose to be righteous, before he could be righteous. And therefore he must exist, he must be created, yea, must exercise thought and reflection, before he was righteous.” There is much more to the same effect in that place, and also in p. 437, 438, 439, 440. If these things are so, it will certainly follow, that the first choosing to be righteous is no righteous choice; there is no righteousness or holiness in it; because no choosing to be righteous goes before it. For he plainly speaks of choosing to be righteous, as what must go before righteousness : And that which follows the choice, being the effect of the choice, cannot be righteousness or holiness: For an effect is a thing necessary, and cannot prevent the influence or efficacy of its cause ; and therefore is unavoidably dependent upon the cause : And he says, a necessary holiness is no holiness. So that neither can a choice of righteousness be righteousness or holiness, nor can anything that is consequent on that choice, and the effect of it, be righteousness or holiness ; nor can any thing that is without choice, be righteousness or holiness. So that by his scheme, all righteousness and holiness is at once shut out of the world, and no door left open, by which it can ever possibly enter into the world. I suppose, the way that men came to entertain this absurd, inconsistent notion, with respect to internal inclinations and votitions themselves, (or notions that imply it) viz. that the essence of their moral good or evil lies not in their nature, but their cause ; was, that it is indeed a very plain dictate of common sense, that it is so with respect to all outward actions, and sensible motions of the body; that the moral good or evil of them does not lie at all in the motions themselves; which, taken by themselves, are nothing of a moral nature; and the essence of all the moral good or evil that concerns them, lies in those internal dispositions and volitions, which are the cause of them. Now, being always used to determine this, without hesitation or dispute, concerning external actions; which are the things, that in the common use of language are signified by such phrases as men's actions, or their doings; hence, when they came to speak of volitions, and internal exercises of their inclinations, under the same denomination of their actions, or what they do, they unwarily determined the case must also be the same with these, as with external actions; not considering the vast difference in the nature of the case. If any shall still object and say, why is it not necessary that the cause should be considered, in order to determine wheth

* Scrip. Doc. of Original Sin, p. 180, 3d Edit.

er anything be worthy of blame or praise 2 Is it agreeable to reason and common sense, that a man is to be praised or blamed for that, which he is not the cause or author of, and has no hand in 2 I answer, such phrases as being the cause, being the author, having a hand, and the like, are ambiguous. They are most vulgarly understood for being the designing, voluntary cause, or cause by antecedent choice ; and it is most certain that men are not, in this sense, the causes or authors of the first act of their Will's, in any case; as certain as any thing is, or ever can be ; for nothing can be more certain, than that a thing is not before it is, nor a thing of the same kind before the first thing of that kind; and so no choice before the first choice. As the phrase, being the author, may be understood, not of being the producer by an antecedent act of Will; but as a person may be said to be the author of the act of Will itself, by his being the immediate agent, or the being that is acting, or in exercise in that act; if the phrase of being the author, is used to signify this, then doubtless common sense requires men’s being the authors of their own acts of Will, in order to their being esteemed worthy of praise or dispraise, on account of them. And common sense teaches, that they must be the authors of external actions, in the former sense, namely, their being the causes of them by an act of Will or choice, in order to their being justly blamed or praised; but it teaches no such thing with respect to the acts of the Will themselves. But this may appear more manifest by the things which will be observed in the following section.

Vol. V. 2 E


The Falseness and Inconsistence of that metaphysical Motion of Action and Agency, which seems to be generally entertained by the Defenders of the Arminian Doctrine concerning Liberty, moral Agency, &c.

ONE thing that is made very much a ground of argument and supposed demonstration by Mrminians, in defence of the forementioned principles, concerning moral agency, virtue, vice, &c. is their metaphysical notion of agency and action. They say, unless the soul has a selfdetermining power, it has no power of action; if its volitions be not caused by itself, but are excited and determined by some extrinsic cause, they cannot be the soul’s own acts ; and that the soul cannot be active, but must be wholly passive, in those effects which it is the subject of necessarily, and not from its own free determination.

Mr. Chubb lays the foundation of his scheme of liberty,

and of his arguments to support it, very much in this position, that man is an agent, and capable of action. Which doubtless is true; but selfdetermination belongs to his notion of action, and is the very essence of it. Whence he infers, that it is impossible for a man to act and be acted upon, in the same thing, at the same time ; and that nothing, that is an action, can be the effect of the action of another; and he insists, that a necessary agent, or an agent that is necessarily determined to act, is a plain contradiction.

But those are a precarious sort of demonstrations, which men build on the meaning that they arbitrarily affix to a word; especially when that meaning is abstruse, inconsistent, and entirely diverse from the original sense of the word in comTmon speech.

« AnteriorContinuar »