« AnteriorContinuar »
which is the thing this author supposes concerning acts of the Will. Activity of nature will no more enable a being to produce effects, and determine the manner of their existence, within itself, without a Cause, than out of itself, in some other being. But if an active being should, through its activity, produce and determine an effect in some external object, how absurd would it be to say, that the effect was produced without a Cause! 2. The question is not so much, how a spirit endowed with activity comes to act, as why it exerts such an act, and not another ; or why it acts with such a particular determination : If activity of nature be the Cause why a spirit (the soul of man for instance) acts, and does not lie still ; yet that alone is not the Cause why its action is thus and thus limited, directed and determined. Active nature is a general thing ; it is an ability or tendency of nature to action, generally taken; which may be a Cause why the soul acts as occasion or reason is given ; but this alone cannot be a sufficient Cause why the soul exerts such a particular act, at such a time, rather than others. In order to this, there must be something besides a general tendency to action; there must also be a particular tendency to that individual action. If it should be asked, why the soul of man uses its activity in such a manner as it does, and it should be answered, that the soul uses its activity thus, rather than otherwise, because it has activity, would such an answer satisfy a rational man 2 Would it not rather be looked upon as a very impertinent one 2 3. An active being can bring no effects to pass by his activity, but what are consequent upon his acting. He produces nothing by his activity, any other way than by the exercise of his activity, and so nothing but the fruits of its exercise ; he brings nothing to pass by a dormant activity. But the exercise of his activity is action; and so his action, or exercise of his activity, must be prior to the effects of his activity. If an active being produces an effect in another being, about which his activity is conversant, the effect being the fruit of his activity, his activity must be first exercised or exerted, and the effect of it must follow. So it must be, with equal reason, if the active being is his own object, and his ac
tivity is conversant about himself, to produce and determine some effect in himself; still the exercise of his activity must go before the effect, which he brings to pass and determines by it. And therefore his activity cannot be the Cause of the determination of the first action, or exercise of activity itself, whence the effects of activity arise, for that would imply a contradiction; it would be to say, the first exercise of activity is before the first exercise of activity, and is the Cause of it. 4. That the soul, though an active substance, cannot diversify its own acts, but by first acting ; or be a determining Cause of different acts, or any different effects, sometimes of one kind, and sometimes of another, any other way than in consequence of its own diverse acts, is manifest by this; that if so, then the same Cause, the same causal power, force or influence, without variation in any respect, would produce different effects at different times. For the same substance of the soul before it acts, and the same active nature of the soul before it is exerted, i.e. before in the order of nature, would be the Cause of different effects, viz. different Volitions at different times. But the substance of the soul before it acts, and its active nature before it is exerted, are the same without variation. For it is some act that makes the first variation in the Cause, as to any causal exertion, force, or influence. But if it be so, that the soul has no different causality, or diverse causal force or influence, in producing these diverse effects; then it is evident, that the soul has no influence, no hand in the diversity of the effect; and that the difference of the effect cannot be owing to any thing in the soul; or, which is the same thing, the soul does not determine the diversity of the effect; which is contrary to the supposition. It is true, the substance of the soul before it acts, and before there is any difference in. that respect, may be in a different state and circumstance; but those whom I oppose, will not allow the different circumstances of the soul to be the determining Causes of the acts of the Will, as being contrary to their notion of selfdeter. mination and selfmotion.
5. Let us suppose, as these divines do, that there are no acts of the soul, strictly speaking, but free Volitions; then it will follow, that the soul is an active being in nothing further than it is a voluntary or elective being ; and whenever it produces effects actively, it produces effects voluntarily and electively. But to produce effects thus, is the same thing as to produce effects in consequence of, and according to its own choice. And if so, then surely the soul does not by its activity produce all its own acts of Will or choice themselves; for this, by the supposition, is to produce all its free acts of choice voluntarily and electively, or in consequence of its own free acts of choice, which brings the matter directly to the ferementioned contradiction, of a free act of choice before the first free act of choice. According to these gentlemen's own notion of action, if there arises in the mind a Volition without a free act of the Will or choice to determine and produce it, the mind is not the active, voluntary Cause of that Volition, because it does not arise from, nor is regulated by choice or design. And therefore it cannot be, that the mind should be the active, voluntary, determining Cause of the first and leading Volition that relates to the affair. The mind's being a designing Cause, only enables it to produce effects in consequence of its design; it will not enable it to be the designing Cause of all its own designs. The mind's being an elective Cause, will only enable it to produce effects in consequence of its elections, and according to them ; but cannot enable it to be the elective Cause of all its own elections; because that supposes an election before the first election. So the mind's being an active Cause enables it to produce effects in consequence of its own acts, but cannot enable it to be the determining Cause of all its own acts; for that is still in the same manner a contradiction ; as it supposes a determining act conversant about the first act, and prior to it, having a causal influence on its existence, and manner of existence.
I can conceive of nothing else that can be meant by the
soul's having power to cause and determine its own Volitions,
as a being to whom God has given a power of action, but this ; that, God has given power to the soul, sometimes
at least, to excite Volitičns at its pleasure, or according as it chooses. And this certainly supposes, in all such cases, a choice preceding all Volitions which are thus caused, even the first of them; which runs into the forementioned great absurdity. Therefore the activity of the nature of the soul affords no relief from the difficulties which the notion of a selfdetermin- . ing power in the Will is attended with, nor will it help, in the least, its absurdities and inconsistencies.
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 so, and it could be proved that Volitions are contingent events, in that sense, that their being and manner of being is not fixed or determined by any cause, or any thing antecedent ; it would not at all serve the purpose of the Arminians, to establish the freedom of the Will, according to their notion of its 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 to determine it; 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, but by willing that
Vol. V. I
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's determining its own acts, be maintained, the old absurdity and contradiction must be maintained, that every free act of Will 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, and as that which, instead of supporting this sort of liberty, directly destroys 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 the cause of their liberty of Will. If it determines them by an act of the understanding, or some other power, then the Will does not determine itself; and so the selfdetermining power of the Will is given up. And what liberty is there exercised according to their own opinion of liberty, by the soul's 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's 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