Imágenes de página

expressing their notion ; a person's having his heart wrong! and doing wrong from his heart. And this is the sum total of the matter.

The common people do not ascend up in their reflections and abstractions to the metaphysical sources, relations and dependencies of things, in order to form their notion of faultiness or blameworthiness. They do not wait till they have decided by their refinings, what first determines the Will; whether it be determined by something extrinsic, or intrinsic; whether volition determines volition, or whether the understanding determines the Will; whether there be any such thing as metaphysicians mean by contingence (if they have any meaning :) whether there be a sort of a strange, unaccountable sovereignty in the Will, in the exercise of which, by its own sovereign acts, it brings to pass all its own sovereign acts. They do not take any part of their notion of fault or blame from the resolution of any such questions. If this were the case, there are multitudes, yea, the far greater part of mankind, nine hundred and ninetynine out of a thousand, would live and die, without having any such notion, as that of fault, ever entering into their heads, or without so much as once having any conception that any body was to be either blamed or commended for any thing. To be sure, it would be a long time before men came to have such notions. Where. as it is manisest, they are some of the first notions that appear in children ; who discover, as soon as they can think, or speak, or act at all as rational creatures, a sense of desert. And, certainly, in forming their notion of it, they make no use of metaphysics. All the ground they go upon, consists in these two things; experience, and a natural sensation of a certain fitness cr agreeableness, which there is in uniting such moral evil as is above described, viz. a being or doing wrong with the Will, and resentment in others, and pain inflicted on the person in whom this moral evil is. Which natural sense is what we call by the name of conscience.'

It is true, the common people and children, in their noe tion of a faulty act or deed, of any person, do suppose that it is the person's own act and deed. But this is all that belongs

to what they understand by a thing's being a person's own deed or action; even that it is something done by him of choice. That some exercise or motion should begin of itself, does not belong to their notion of an action, or doing. If so, it would belong to their notion of it, that it is something, which is the cause of its own beginning; and that is as much as to say, that it is before it begins to be. Nor is their notion of an action some motion or exercise, that begins accidentally, without any cause or reason; for that is conirary to one of the prime dictates of common sense, namely, that every thing that begins to be, has some cause or reason why it is.

The common people, in their notion of a faulty or praiseworthy deed or work done by any one, do suppose, that the man does it in the exercise of liberty. But then their notion of liberty is only a person's having opportunity of doing as he pleases. They have no notion of liberty consisting in the Will's first acting, and so causing its own acts; and determining, and so causing its own determinations; or choosing, and so causing its own choice. Such a notion of liberty is what none have, but those that have darkened their own minds with confused, metaphysical speculation, and abstruse and ambiguous terms. If a man is not restrained from acting as his Will determines, or constrained to act otherwise ; then he has liberty, according to common notions of liberty, without taking into the idea that grand contradiction of all, the determinations of a man's free Will being the effects of the determinations of his free Will. Nor have men commonly any notion of freedom consisting in indifference. For if so, then it would be agreeable to their notion, that the greater indifference men act with, the more freedom they act with ; whereas, the reverse is true. He that in acting, proceeds with the fullest inclination, does what he does with the greatest freedom, according to common sense. And so far is it from being agreeable to common sense, that such liberty as consists in indifference is requisite to praise or blame, that on the contrary, the dictate of every man's natural sense through the world is, that the further he is from being indifferent in his acting good or evil, and the more he docs either with or

without full and strong inclination, the more is he to be esa teemed or abhorred, commended or condemned.

II. If it were inconsistent with the common sense of man. kind, that men should be either to be blamed or commended in any volitions, they have, or fail of, in case of moral neces. sity or impossibility ; then it would surely also be agreeable to the same sense and reason of mankind, that the nearer the case approaches to such a moral necessity or impossibility, either through a strong antecedent moral propensity, on the one hand, * or a great antecedent opposition and difficulty on the other, the nearer does it approach to a being neither blameable nor commendable ; so that acts exerted with such preceding propensity, would be worthy of proportionably less praise; and when omitted, the act being attended with such difficulty, the omission would be worthy of the less blame. It is so, as was observed before, with natural necessity and impossibility, propensity and difficulty; as it is a plain dictate of the sense of all mankind, that natural necessity and impos. sibility take away all blame and praise ; and therefore, that the nearer the approach is to these, through previous propen-. sity or difficulty, so praise and blame are proportionably diminished. And if it were as much a dictate of common sense, that moral necessity of doing, or impossibility of avoiding, takes away all praise and blame, as that natural necessity or impossibility does this; then, by a perfect parity of reason, it would be as much the dictate of common sense, that an approach to moral necessity of doing, or impossibility of avoiding, diminishes praise and blame, as that an approach to natural necessity and impossibility does so. It is equally the voice of cominon sense, that persons are excusable in part, in neglecting things difficult against their Wills, as that they are excusable wholly in neglecting things impossible against their Wills. And if it made no difference whether the impossibility were natural and against the Will, or moral, lying in the Will, with regard to excusableness ; so neither would it make

* It is here argued, on supposition that not all propensity implies moral necessity, but only some very high degree; which none will deny.

any difference, whether the difficulty, or approach to necessi, ty be natural against the Will, or moral, lying in the propensity of the Will.

But it is apparent, that the reverse of these things is true, If there be an approach to a moral necessity in a man's exer, tion of good acts of Will, they being the exercise of a strong propensity to good, and a very powerful love to virtue ; it is so far from being the dictate of common sense, that he is less virtuous, and the less to be esteemed, loved and praised ; that it is agreeable to the natural notions of all mankind, that he is so much the better man, worthy of greater respect, and higher commendation. And the stronger the inclination is, and the nearer it approaches to necessity in that respect; or to impossibility of neglecting the virtuous act, or of doing a vicious one, still the more virtuous, and worthy of higher commendation. And, on the other hand, if a man exerts evil acts of mind; as, for instance, acts of pride or malice from a rooted and strong habit, or principle of haughtiness and maliciousDess, and a violent propensity of heart to such acts; according to the natural sense of all men, he is so far from being the Jess hateful and blameable on that account, that he is so much the more worthy to be detested and condemned, by all that observe him.

Moreover, it is manifest that it is no part of the notion, which mankind commonly have of a blameable or praiseworthy act of the Will, that it is an act which is not determined by an antecedent bias or mo'jve, but by the sovereign power of the Will itself; because, if so, the greater hand such causes have in determining any acts of the Will, so much the Jess virtuous or vicious would they be accounted ; and the less hand, the more virtuous or vicious. Whereas, the reverse is true: Men do not think a good act to be the less praiseworthy, for the agent's being much determined in it by a good inclination or a good motive, but the more. And if good inclination or motive, has but little influence in determining the agent, they do not think his act so much the more virtuous, but the less. And so concerning evil acts, which are determined by evil motives or inclinations,

[ocr errors]

Yea, if it be supposed that good or evil dispositions are implanted in the hearts of men, by nature itself, (which, it is certain, is vulgarly supposed in innumerable cases) yet it is not conimonly supposed, that men are worthy of no praise or dispraise for such dispositions ; although what is natural, is undoubtedly necessary, nature being prior to all acts of the Will whatsoever. Thus, for instance, if a man appears to be of a very haughty or malicious disposition, and is supposed to be so by his natural temper, it is no vulgar notion, no dictate of the cominon sense and apprehension of men, that such dispositions are no vices or moral evils, or that such persons are not worthy of disesteem, odium and dishonor; or that The proud or malicious acts which flow from such natural diso positions, are worthy of no resentment, Yea, such vile natur. al dispositions, and the strength of them, will commonly be mentioned rather as an aggravation of the wicked acts, that come from such a fountain, than an extenuation of them. Its being natural for inen to act thus, is often observed by men in the height of their indignationThey will say, “ It is his very nature : He is of a vile natural temper: It is as natural to him to act so as it is to breathe ; he cannot help serving the devil,” &c. But it is not thus with regard to hurtful, mischievous things, that any are the subjects or occa sions of, by a natural necessity, against their inclinations. In such a case, the necessity, by the common voice of mankind, will be spoken of as a full excuse. Thus it is very plain, that common sense makes a vast difference between these two kinds of necessity, as to the judgment it makes of their influ: ence on the moral quality and desert of men's actions,

And these dictates of men's minds are so natural and necessary, that it may be very much doubted whether the Arminians themselves have ever got rid of them ; yea, their greatest doctors, that have gone furthest in defence of their metaphysical notions of liberty, and have brought their arguments to their greatest strength, and, as they suppose, to a demonstration, against the consistence of virtue and vice with any necessity ; it is to be questioned, whether there is so much

« AnteriorContinuar »