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out arrogance or vanity, to make these principles of theirs, wherein they mainly differ from their fathers, whom they so much despise, consistent with common sense; yea, and perhaps to produce any doctrine ever embraced by the blindest bigot of the church of Rome, or the most ignorant Mussulman or extravagant enthusiast, that might be reduced to more demonstrable inconsistencies, and repugnancies to common sense, and to themselves; though their inconsistencies indeed may not lie so deep, or be so artfully veiled by a deceitful ambiguity of words, and an indeterminate signification of phrases. I will not deny, that these gentlemen, many of them, are men of great abilities, and have been helped to higher attainments in philosophy, than those ancient divines, and have done great service to the church of God in some 1; spects; but I humbly conceive that their dif: fering from their fathers with such magisterial assurance, in these points in divinity, must be owing to some other cause than superior wisdom. It may also be worthy of consideration, whether the great alteration, which has been made in the state of things in our nation, and some other parts of the Protestant world, in this and the past age, by the exploding so generally Calvinistic doctrines, that is so often spoken of as worthy to be greatly rejoiced in by the friends of truth, learning and virtue, as an instance of the great increase of light in the Christian church ; I say, it may be worthy to be considered, whether this be indeed a happy change, owing to any such cause as an increase of true knowledge and understanding in things of religion; or whether there is not reason to fear, that it may be owing to some worse cause. And I desire it may be considered, whether the boldness of some writers may not be worthy to be reflected on, who have not scrupled to say, that if these and those things are true (which yet appear to be the demonstrable dictates of reason, as well as the certain dictates of the mouth of the Most High) then God is unjust and cruel, and guilty of manifest deceit and double dealing, and the like. Yea, some have gone so far, as confidently to assert, that if any book which pretends to be scripture, teaches such doctrines, that alone is sufficient warrant for mankind to reject it, as what cannot be the word of God....Some, who have not gone so far, have said, . that if the scripture seems to teach any such doctrines, so contrary to, reason, we are obliged to find out some other interpretation of those texts, where such doctrines seem to be exhibited. Others express themselves yet more modestly : They express a tenderness and religious fear, lest they should receive and teach any thing that should seem to reflect on God’s moral character, or be a disparagement to his methods of administration, in his moral government; and therefore express themselves as not daring to embrace some doctrines, though they seem to be delivered in scripture, according to the nore obvious and natural construction of the words. But indeed it would shew a truer modesty and humility, if they would more entirely rely on God's wisdom and discerning, who knows infinitely better than we, what is agreeable to his own perfections, and never intended to leave these matters to the decision of the wisdom and discerning of men; but by his own unerring instruction, to determine for us what the truth is; knowing how little our judgment is to be depended on, and how extremely prone, vain and blind men are, to err in such matters. The truth of the case is, that if the scripture plainly taught the opposite doctrines, to those that are so much stumbled at, viz. the Arminian doctrine of free Will, and others depending thereon, it would be the greatest of all difficulties that attend the scriptures, incomparably greater than its containing any, even the most mysterious of those doctrines of the first reformers, which our late free thinkers have so superciliously exploded....Indeed, it is a glorious argument of the divinity of the holy scriptures, that they teach such doctrines, which in one age and another, through the blindness of men's minds, and strong prejudices of their hearts, are rejected, as most absurd and unreasonable, by the wise and great men of the world; which yet, when they are most carefully and strictly examined, appear to be exactly agreeable to the most demonstrable, certain and natural dictates of reason. By
such things it appears, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and God does as is said in 1 Cor. i. 19, 20. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; I will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise . Where is the scribe . Where is the disputer of this world ! Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” And as it used to be in time past, so it is probable it will be in time to come, as it is there written, in verse 27, 28, 29. “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen: Yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are ; that no flesh should glory in his presence.” AMEN.
On the ESSAYS ON THE PRINCIPLES OF MoRALITY AND NATURAL RELIGION, IN A LETTER. To A MINISTER of THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND.
THE intimations you have given me of the use which has, by some, been made of what I have written on the Freedom of the Will, &c. to vindicate what is said on the subject of liberty and necessity, by the author of the Essays on the Princiftles of Morality and Vatural Religion, has occasioned my reading this author's essay on that subject, with particular care and attention. And I think it must be evident to every one, that has read both his Essay and my Inquiry, that our schemes are exceeding reverse from each other. The wide difference appears particularly in the following things.
This author supposes, that such a necessity takes place with respect to all men's actions, as is inconsistent with liberty,” and plainly denies that men have any liberty in acting. Thus in p. 168, after he had been speaking of the necessity of our determinations, as connected with motives, he concludes with saying, “In short, if motives are not under our power or direction, which is confessedly the fact, we can at bottom have—No LIBERTY.” Whereas, I have abundantly expressed it as my mind, that man, in his moral actions, has true liberty; and that the moral necessity, which universally takes place, is not in the least inconsistent with any thing that is properly called liberty, and with the utmost liberty that can be desired, or that can possibly exist or be conceived off.
* P. 160, 161, 164, 165, and many other places.
I find that some are apt to think, that in that kind of moral necessity of men's volitions, which I suppose to be universal, at least some degree of liberty is denied ; that though it be true I allow a sort of liberty, yet those who maintain a selfdetermining power in the Will, and a liberty of contingence and indifference, hold an higher sort of freedom than I do; but I think this is certainly a great mistake. Liberty, as I have explained it, in p. 38, and other places, is the flower, offiortunity, or advantage, that any one has to do as he fileases, or conducting in any respect, according to his fleasure; without considering how his pleasure comes to be as it is. It is demonstrable, and, I think, has been demonstrated, that no necessity of men's volitions that I maintain, is inconsistent with this liberty; and I think it is impossible for any one to rise higher in his conceptions of liberty than this : If any imagine they desire higher, and that they conceive of a higher and greater liberty than this they are deceived, and delude themselves with confused ambiguous words, instead of ideas. If any one should here say, “Yes, I conceive of a freedom above and beyond the liberty a man has of conducting in any respect as he pleases, viz. a liberty of choosing as he pleases.” Such an one, if he reflected, would either blush or laugh at his own instance. For, is not choosing as he pleases, conducting in some reshect, according to his pleasure, and still without determining how he came by that pleasure ? If he says, “Yes, I came by that pleasure by my own choice.” If he be a man of common sense, by this time he will see his own absurdity; for he must needs see that his notion or conception, even of this liberty, does not contain any judgment or conception how he comes by that choice, which first determines his pleasure, or which originally fixed his own will respecting the affair. Or if any shall say, “That a man exercises liberty in this, even in determining his own choice, but not as he pleases, or not in consequence of any choice, preference, or inclination of his own, but by a determination arising contingently out of a state of absolute indifference ;” this is not rising higher in his conception of liberty; as such a determination of the Will would not be a vol