Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

the first act of free choice, has not another act of frec choice going before that, to excite or direct it, or in determining, that no choice is made, while the mind remains in a state of absolute indifference; that preference and equillibrium never coexist; and that therefore no choice is made in a state of liberty, consisting in indifference; and that so far as the Will is determined by motives, exhibited and operating previous to the act of the Will, so far it is not determined by the act of the Will itself; that nothing can begin to be, which before was not, without a cause, or some antecedent ground or reason, why it then begins to be ; that effects depend on their causes, and are connected with them ; that virtue is not the worse, nor sin the better, for the strength of inclination with which it is practised, and the difficulty which thence arises of doing otherwise ; that when it is already infallibly known, that the thing will be, it is not a thing contingent whether it will ever be or no; or that it can be truly said, notwithstanding, that it is not necessary it should be, but it either may be, or may not be. And the like might be observed of many other things which belong to the foregoing reasoning.

If any shall still stand to it, that the foregoing reasoning is nothing but metaphysical sophistry; and that it must be so, that the seeming force of the arguments all depends on some fallacy, and while that is hid in the obscurity, which always attends a great degree of metaphysical abstraction and refinement; and shall be ready to say, “ Here is indeed something that tends to confound the mind, but not to satisfy it; for, who can ever be truly satisfied in it, that men are fitiy blamed or commended, punished or rewarded for those volitions which are not from themselves, and of wliose existence they are not the causes? Men may refine as much as they please, and advance their abstract notions, and make out a thousand seeming contradictions, to puzzle our understand ings; yet there can be no satisfaction in such doctrine usitis; the natural sense of the mind of man will always resisi in.°"*

* A certain noted author of the present age says, the ment: for necessity are nothing but quibbling, or logomachy, using words without a me ining, ur begs

I bumbly conceive, that such an objecior, if he has capacity and humility and calmness of spirit, and sufficient impartiality, thoroughly to examine himself, will find that he knows not really what he would be at; and that indeed, his difficulty is nothing but a mere prejudice, from an inadvertent customary use of words, in a meaning that is not clearly understood, nor carefully reflected upon. Let the objector reflect again, if he has candor and patience enough, and does not scorn to be at the trouble of close attention in the affair. He would have a man's volition be from himself. Let it be from himself, most primarily and originally of, any way conceivable ; that is, from his own choice : How will that help the matter, as to his being justly blamed or praised, unless that choice itself be blame or praiseworthy; And how is the choice itself (an ill choice, for instance) blameworthy, according to these principles, unless that be from himself too, in the same manner;

ging the question. I do not know what kind of necessity any authors, he may have reference to, are advocates for ; or whether they have managed their arguments well, or ill. As to the arguments I have made use of, if they are quite 'bles they may be shewn to be so : Such knots are capable of being ustied, and the trick and cheat may be detected and plainly laid open. If this be fairly done, with respect to the grounds and reasons I have relied upon, I shall have just occasion, for the future, to be silent, if not to be ashamed of my argumentations. I am willing my proofs should be thoroughly examined ; and if there be pothing but begging the question, or mere logomachy, or dispute of words, let it be made manifest, and shewn how the seeming strength of the argument depends on my using words without a meaning, or arises from the ambiguity of terms, or my making use of words in an indeterminate and un. steady manner; and that the weight of my reasons rests mainly on such a foundation ; and then, I shall either be rcady to retract what I have urged, and thank the man that has done the kind part, or shall be justly exposed for my obstinacy.

The same author is abundant in appealing, in this affair, from what he calls logomachy and sophistry, to experience. A person can experience only what passes in his own mind. But yet, as we may well suppose, that all men have the same human faculties ; so a man may well argue from his own experience to that of others, in things that shew the nature of those faculties, and the manser of their operation. But then one has as good right to allege his expericnce, as another. As to my own experience, I find, that in innumerable things I can do as I will; that the motions of my body, in many respects,

that is, from his own choice? But the original and first determining choice in the affair is not from his choice ; his choice is not the cause of it. And if it be from himself some other way, and not from his choice, surely that will not help the mat. ter: If it be not from himself of choice, then it is not from himself voluntarily; and if so, he is surely no more to blame, than if it were not from himself at all. It is a vanity, to pretend it is a sufficient answer to this, to say, that it is nothing but metaphysical refinement and subtilty, and so attended with obscurity and uncertainty.

If it be the natural sense of our minds, that what is blame. worthy in a man must be from himself, then it doubtless is also, that it must be from something bad in himself, a bad choice, or bad disposition. But then our natural sense is, that this bad choice or disposition is evil in itself, and the man blameworthy for it, on its own account, without taking into our notion of its blameworthiness, another bad choice, or disa position going before this, from whence this arises ; for that is a ridiculous absurdity, running us into an immediate con.

instantaneously follow the acts of my Will concerning those motions; and ihat my Will has some command of my thoughts ; and that the aces of my Will are my own, i. e. that they are acts of my Will, the volitions of my own mind ; or, in other words, that what I will, I will. Which, I presume, is the sum of what others experience in this affair, But as to finding by expesience, that my Will is originally determined by itself; or that, my Will first choosing what volition there shall be, the chosen volition accordingly follows; and that this is the first rise of the determination of my Will in any affair ; or that any volition rises in my mind contingently; I declare, I know zoching in myself, by experience, of this nature; and nothing ihat ever I experienced, carries the least appearance or shadow of any such thing, or gives me any more reason to suppose or suspect any such thing, than to suppose that my volitions existed twenty years before they existed. It is true, I find myself possessed of my volitions, before I can see the effectual power of any cause to produce them, (for the power and efficacy of the cause is not seen but by the effect) and this, for ought I know, may make some imagine, that volition has no cause, or that it produces itself. But I have no more reason from hence to determine any such thing, than I have to determine that I gave myself my own being, or that I came into being accidentally without a cause, because I first found myself possessed of being, before I had knowledge of a cause of my being.

tradiction, which our natural sense of blameworthiriess has nothing to do with, and never comes into the mind, nor is supposed in the judgment we naturally make of the affair. As was demonstrated before, natural sense does not place the moral evil of volitions and dispositions in the cause of them, but the nature of them. An evil thing's being FROM a man, or from something anteccdent in him, is not essential to the original notion we have of blameworthiness ; but it is its bcing the choice of the heart ; as appears by this, that if a thing be from us, and not from our choice, it has not the nature of blameworthiness or ill desert, according to our natural sense. When a thing is FROM a man, in that sense, that it is from his Will or choice, he is to blame for it, because his Will is in IT: So far as the Will is in It, blame is IN IT, and no further. Neither do we go any further in our notion of blame, to inquire whether the bad Will be from a bad Will : There is no consideration of the original of that bad Will; because, according to our natural apprehension, blame originally consists in it. Therefore a thing's being from a man, is a secondary consideration, in the notion of blame or ill desert. Because those things, in our external actions, are most properly said to be from us, which are from our choice ; and no other external actions, but those that are from us in this sense, have the nature of blame; and they indeed, not so properly because they are from us, as because we are in them, i.e. our Wills are in them ; not so much because they are from some firoperty of ours, as because they are our properties.

However, all these external actions being truly from us, as their cause ; and we being so used, in ordinary speech, and in the common affairs of life, to speak of men's actions and conduct that we see, and that affect human society, as deserve ing ill or well, as worthy of blame or praise ; hence it is come 10 pass, that philosophers have incautiously taken all their measures of good and evil, praise and blame, from the dictates of common sense, about these overt acts of men ; to the running of every thing into the most lamentable and dreadful confusion.

And, therefore, I observe, III. It is so far from being true (whatever may be pretended) that the proof of the doctrine which has been maintained, depends on certain abstruse, unintelligible, metaphys ical terms and notions; and that the Arminian scheme, without needing such clouds and darkness for its defence, is supported by the plain dictates of common sense ; that the very reverse is most certainly true, and that to a great degree. It is fact, that they, and not we, have confounded things with metaphysical, unintelligible notions and phrases ; and have drawn them from the light of plain truth, into the gross darkness of abstruse, metaphysical propositions, and words without a meaning. Their pretended demonstrations depend very much on such unintelligible, metaphysical phrases, as, selfdetermination, and sovereignty of the Will; and the metaphysical sense they put on such terms, as necessity, contingency, action, agency, &c. quite diverse from their meaning as used in common speech ; and which, as they use them, are without any consistent meaning.or any manner of distinct, consistent ideas; as far from it as any of the abstruse terms and perplexed phrases of the peripatetic philosophers or the most unintelligible jargon of the schools, or the cant of the wildest fanatics. Yea, we may be bold to say, these metaphysical terms, on which they build so much, are what they use without knowing what they mean themselves; they are pure metaphysical sounds, without any ideas whatsoever in their minds to answer them ; inasmuch as it has been demonstrated, that tbere cannot be

any

notion in the mind consistent with these expres. sions, as they pretend to explain them ; because their explanations destroy themselves. No such notions as imply selfcontradiction, and selfabolition, and this a great many ways, can subsist in the mind; as there can be no idea of a whole which is less than any of its parts, or of solid extension without dimensions, or of an effect which is before its cause....Arminians improve these terms, as terms of art, and in their metaphysical meaning, to advance and establish those things which are contrary to common sense, in a high degree. Thus, instead of the plain, vulgar notion of liberty, which all manVOL. V.

2 R

« AnteriorContinuar »