Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

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's determining its own acts. This being the true state of the Arminian notion of liberty, it hence comes to pass, that the writers that 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 flower of acting from ourselves, or DoING WHAT' we will.i. 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 clsewhere 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 liberty for the soul in its willing to act according to its own choice 2 Yea, this very thing the same author

* In his Book on the five Points, Second Edit. p. 350, 351, 352. t Ibid. P. 325, 326.

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 Accord Inc oro Hirs on'N Free choice. And from Eusebius these words: #Iffate be established, fibilosoftby and fliery are overthrown. All these things defending upon the necessity introduced by the stars, and not usion meditation and eacercise Proceed ING from our own Free choice. And again, the words of Maccarius: ŞGod, to fireserve the liberty of man’s Will, suffered their bodies to die, that it might be in rheir choice to turn to good or evil. They who are acted by the Holy Shirit, are not held under any necessity, but have liberty to turn themselves, and do n'HAr rher 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's acting by its own choice, men's doing good or evil according to their own free choice, their being in that exercise which furoceeds 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 as they will, or 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 follow that there is a free choice or Will going before the first free act of the Will ex

* In his Book on the five Points, Second Edit. p. 342. 4 Ibid. p. 363. : Ibid. P. 363. § Ibid. p. 369, 370.

erted in the case. And then let every one judge, whether this be not a contradiction. 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, as he does Will ; because what he Wills, he Wills; and therefore has power to Will what he has power to Will. If this be their meaning, then this mighty controversy about freedom of the Will and selfdetermining pover, 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 of, 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 pleases or 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 reason. 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 agreeably 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; and so before he had a being, from all cternity.

SECTION VI.

Concerning the Will's determining in Things which are perfectly indifferent in the View of the Mind.

A GREAT argument for selfdetermining 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 forementioned author of an Essay on the Freedom of the Will, &c. 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 anything else, but merely by itself as a sovereign, selfdetermining 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 in pages 66, 70, and 73, 74, this author very expressly supposes the Will in many cases to be determined by no motive at all, but to act 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 ; or, which is the same thing, that the mind is indifferent until it comes to be not indifferent: For certainly this author did not think he had a controversy with any person in supposing this. And then it is nothing to his purpose, that the mind which chooses, was indifferent once; unless it chooses, remaining indifferent; for otherwise, it does not choose at all in that case of indifference, concerning which is all the question. Besides, it appears in fact, that the thing which this author supposes, is not that the Will chooses one thing before another, concerning which it is indifferent before it chooses; but also is indifferent when it chooses; and that its being otherwise than indifferent is not until afterwards, in consequence of its choice; that the chosen thing's 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 selfdetermining 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 selfchosen 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 choic E, and its perseverance therein. We love many things we have chosen, AND PURELY BEcAUSE we chose THEM.” This is as much as to say, that we first begin to prefer many things, now ceasing any longer to be indifferent with respect to them, purely because we have preferred and chos

« AnteriorContinuar »