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I confess these things are very plausible. And I will not deny, that there are some unhappy consequences of this distinction of names, and that men's infirmities and evil dispositions often make an ill improvement of it. But yet, I humbly conceive, these objections are carried far beyond reason. The generality of mankind are disposed enough, and a great deal too much, to uncharitableness, and to be censorious and bitter towards those that differ from them in religious opinions: Which evil temper of mind will take occasion to exert itself from many things in theme selves, innocent, useful and necessary. But yet there is no necessity to suppose, that the thus distinguishing persons of different opinions by different names, arises mainly from an uncharitable spirit. It may arise from the disposition there is in mankind (whom God has distinguished with an ability and inclination for speech) to improve the benefit of language, in the proper use and design of names, given to things which they have often occasion to speak of, or signify their minds about; which is to enable them to express their ideas with ease and expedition, without being encumbered with an obscure and difficult circumlocution. And the thus distinguishing persons of different opinions in religious matters may not imply nor infer, any more than that there is a difference, and that the difference is such as we find we have often occasion to take notice of, and make mention of. That which we have frequent occasion to speak of, (whatever it be, that gives the occasion) this wants a name; and it is always a defect in language, in such cases, to be obliged to make use of a description, instead of a name. Thus we have often occasion to speak of those who are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of France, who were subjects or heads of the government of that land, and spake the language peculiar to it; in distinction from the descendants of the inhabitants of Spain, who belonged to that community, and spake the language of that country. And therefore we find the great need of distinct names to signify these different sorts of people, and the great convenience of those distinguishing words, French and Spaniards; by which the signification of our minds is quick and easy, and our speech is delivered from the burden of a continual reiteration of diffuse descriptions, with which it must otherwise be embarrassed.
That the difference of the opinions of those who, in their general scheme of divinity, agree with these two noted men, Calvin and Arminius, is a thing there is often occasion to speak of, is what the practice of the latter itself confesses; who are often, in their discourses and writings, taking notice of the supposed absurd and pernicious opinions of the former sort. And therefore the making use of different names in this case cannot reasonably be objected against, or condemned, as a thing which must come
from so bad a cause as they assign. It is easy to be accounted for, without supposing it to arise from any other source, than the existence and natural tendency of the state of things; considering the faculty and disposition God has given to mankind, to express things which they have frequent occasion to mention, by certain distinguishing names. It is an effect that is simular to what we see arise, in innumerable cases which are parallel, where the cause is not at all blameworthy.
Nevertheless, at first, I had thoughts of carefully avoiding the use of the appellation, Arminian, in this treatise : But I soon found I should be put to great difficulty by it; and that my discourse would be so encumbered with an often repeated circumlocution, instead of a name, which would express the thing intended as well and better, that I altered my purpose. And therefore I must ask the excuse of such as are apt to be offended with things of this nature, that I have so freely used the term Arminian in the following discourse. I profess it to be without any design, to stigmatize persons of any sort with a name of reproach, or at all to make them appear more odious. If, when I had occasion to speak of those Divines who are commonly called by this name, I had, instead of styling them Arminians, called them these men, as Dr. Whitby does Calvinistic Divines; it proba bly would not have been taken any better, or thought to shew a better temper, or more good manners. I have done as I would be done by, in this matter. However the term Calvinistic is, in these days, among most, a term of greater reproach than the term Arminian; yet I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction's sake: Though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every thing just as he taught.
But, lest I should really be an occasion of injury to some persons, I would here give notice, that though I generally speak of that doctrine, concerning Free Will and moral Agency, which I oppose, as an Arminian doctrine ; yet I would not be understood, as asserting that every Divine or Author, whom I have occasion to mention, as maintaining that doctrine, was properly an Arminian, or one of that sort which is commonly called by that name. Some of them went far beyond the Arminians; and I would by no means charge Arminians in general with all the corrupt doctrine, which these maintained. Thus, for instance, it would be very injurious, if I should rank Arminian Divines, in general, with such Authors as Mr. Chubb. I doubt not, many of them. have some of his doctrines in abhorrence; though he agrees, for the most part, with Arminians, in his notion of the Freedom of the Will. And, on the other hand, though I suppose this notion to be
a leading article in the Arminian scheme, that which, if pursued in its consequences, will truly infer, or naturally lead to all the rest; yet I do not charge all that have held this doctrine, with being Arminians. For whatever may be the consequences of the doctrine really, yet some that hold this doctrine, may not own nor see these consequences; and it would be unjust, in many instances, to charge every Author with believing and maintaining all the real consequences of his avowed doctrines. And I desire it may be particularly noted, that though I have occasion, in the following discourse, often to mention the Author of the book, entitled, An Essay on the Freedom of the Will, in God and the Creature, as holding that notion of Freedom of Will, which I oppose; yet I do not mean to call him an Arminian: However, in that doctrine he agrees with Arminians, and departs from the cur rent and general opinion of Calvinists. If the Author of that Essay be the same as it is commonly ascribed to, he, doubtless, was not one that ought to bear that name. But however good a divine he was in many respects, yet that particular Arminian doctrine which he maintained, is never the better for being held by such an one; nor is there less need of opposing it on that account; but rather is there the more need of it; as it will be likely to have the more pernicious influence, for being taught by a divine of his name and character; supposing the doctrine to be wrong, and in itself to be of an ill tendency.
I have nothing further to say by way of preface; but only to bespeak the Reader's candor, and calm attention to what I have written. The subject is of such importance, as to demand attention, and the most thorough consideration. Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. As religion is the great business, for which we are created, and on which our happiness depends; and as religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker; and so has its foundation in God's nature and ours, and in the relation that God and we stand in to each other; therefore a true knowledge of both must be needful, in order to true religion. But the knowledge of ourselves consists chiefly in right apprehensions concerning those two chief faculties of our nature, the Understanding and Will. Both are very important: Yet the science of the latter must be confessed to be of greatest moment; inasmuch as all virtue and religion have their seat more immediately in the Will, consisting more especially in right acts and habits of this faculty.
Wherein are explained and stated various Terms and Things belonging to the Subject of the ensu ing Discourse.
Concerning the Nature of the WILL.
IT may possibly be thought, that there is no great need of going about to define or describe the Will; this word being generally as well understood as any other words we can use to explain it : And so perhaps it would be, had not philosophers, metaphysicians and polemic divines brought the matter into obscurity by the things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think it may be of some use, and will tend to the greater clearness in the following discourse, to say a few things concerning it.
And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is plainly, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the Will is that faculty or power or principle of mind by which it is capable of choosing: An act of the Will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.
If any think it is a more perfect definition of the Will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuses; I am content with it: Though I think that it is enough to say, it is that by which the soul chooses: For in every act of Will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary, or VOL. V.
rather than the want or nonexistence of that thing. So in every act of refusal, the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused; the positive and the negative are set before the mind for its choice, and it chooses the negative; and the mind's making its choice in that case is properly the act of the Will; the Will's determining between the two is a voluntary determining; but that is the same thing as making a choice. So that whatever names we call the act of the Will by, choosing, refusing, approving, disapproving, liking, disliking, embracing, rejecting, determining, directing, commanding, forbidding, declining or being averse, a being pleased or displeased with; all may be reduced to this of choosing. For the soul to act voluntarily, is evermore to act electively.
Mr. Locke* says, "The Will signifies nothing but a power or ability to prefer or choose." And in the foregoing page says, "The word preferring seems best to express the act of volition;" but adds, that "it does it not precisely; for (says he) though a marf would prefer flying to walking, yet who can say he ever wills it?" But the instance he mentions does not prove that there is any thing else in willing, but merely preferring For it should be considered what is the next and immediate object of the Will, with respect to a man's walking, or any other external action; which is not being removed from one place to another; on the earth, or through the air; these are remoter objects of preference; but such or such an immediate exertion of himself. The thing nextly chosen or preferred when a man wills to walk, is not his being removed to such a place where he would be, but such an exertion and motion of, his legs and feet, &c. in order to it. And his willing such an alteration in his body in the present moment, is nothing else but his choosing or preferring such an alteration in his body at such a moment, or his liking it better than the forbearance of it. And God has so made and established the human nature, the soul being united to a body in proper state, that the soul preferring or choosing such an immediate exertion or alteration of the body, such an altera
* Human Understanding, Edit, 7. vol. i. p. 197.