« ElőzőTovább »
is a reality in his pretence, he does heartily and earnestly desire to have her health restored, and uses his true and utmost Endeavours for it; he is said sincerely to desire and endeavour after it, because he does so truly or really; though perhaps the principle he acts from is no other than a vile and scandalous passion; having lived in adultery with her, he earnestly desires to have her health and vigour restored, that he may return to his criminal pleasures. Or,
2. By sincerity is meant, not merely a reality of Will and Endeavour of some sort, and from some consideration or other, but a virtuous sincerity. That is, that in the performance of those particular acts that are the matter of virtue or duty, there be not only the matter, but the form and essence of virtue, consisting in the aim that governs the act, and the principle exercised in it. There is not only the reality of the act, that is, as it were, the body of the duty; but also the soul, which should properly belong to such a body. In this sense, a man is said to be sincere, when he acts with a pure intention ; not from sinister views: he not only in reality desires and seeks the thing to be done, or qualification to be obtained, for some end or other; but he wills the thing directly and properly, as neither forced nor bribed; the virtue of the thing is properly the object of the will.
In the former sense, a man is said to be sincere, in opposition to a mere pretence, and shew of the particular thing to be done or exhibited, without any real desire or endeavour at all. In the latter sense, a man is said to be sincere, in opposition to that shew of virtue there is in merely doing the matter of duty, without the reality of the virtue itself in the soul. A man may be sincere in the former sense, and yet in the latter be in the sight of God, who searches the heart, a vile hypo
In the latter kind of sincerity, only, is there any thing truly valuable or acceptable in the sight of God. And this is what in scripture is called sincerity, uprightness, integrity," truth in the inward parts," and "being of a perfect heart." And if there be such a sincerity, and such a degree of it as there ought to be, and there be any thing further that the man is not able to perform, or which does not prove to be connected with his sincere desires and endeavours, the man is wholly excused and acquitted in the sight of God; his will shall surely be accepted for his deed and such a sincere will and endeavour is all that in strictness is required of him, by any command of God. But as to the other kind of sincerity of desires and endeavours, having no virtue in it, (as was observed before) it can be of no avail before God, in any case, to recommend, satisfy, or excuse, and has no positive moral weight or influence whatsoever.
Corol. 1. Hence it may be inferred, that nothing in the reason and nature of things appears from the consideration of any moral weight in the former kind of sincerity, leading us to suppose, that God has made any positive Promises of salvation, or grace, or any saving assistance, or any spiritual benefit whatsoever, to any Desires, Prayers, Endeavours, Striving, or Obedience of those, who hitherto have no true virtue or holiness in their hearts; though we should suppose all the Sincerity, and the utmost degree of Endeavour, that is possible to be in a person without holiness.
Some object against God requiring, as the condition of salvation, those holy exercises which are the result of a supernatural renovation; such as a supreme respect to Christ, love to God, loving holiness for its own sake, &c. that these inward dispositions and exercises are above men's power, as they are by nature; and therefore that we may conclude, that when men are brought to be sincere in their Endeavours, and do as well as they can, they are accepted; and that this must be all that God requires, in order to their being received as the objects of his favour, and must be what God has appointed as the condition of salvation. Concerning this, I would observe, that in such manner of speaking as "men being accepted because they are sincere, and do as well as they can," there is evidently a supposition of some virtue, some degree of that which is truly good; though it does not go so far as were to be wished. For if men do what they can, unless their so doing be from some good principle, disposition, or exercise of heart, some virtuous inclination or act of the will; their so doing what they can, is in some respect not a whit better than if they did nothing at all. In such a case, there is no more positive moral goodness in a man doing what he can, than in a windmill doing what it can; because the action does no more proceed from virtue and there is nothing in such sincerity of Endeavour, or doing what we can, that should render it any more a fit recommendation to positive favour and acceptance, or the condition of any reward or actual benefit, than doing nothing; for both the one and the other are alike nothing, as to any true moral weight or value.
Corol. 2. Hence also it follows, there is nothing that appears in the reason and nature of things, which can justly lead us to determine, that God will certainly give the necessary means of salvation, or some way or other bestow true holiness and eternal life on those Heathens, who are sincere, (in the sense above explained) in their Endeavours to find out the will of the Deity, and to please him, according to their light, that they may escape his future displeasure and wrath, and obtain happiness in the future state, through his favour.
Liberty of Indifference, not only not necessary to Virtue, but utterly inconsistent with it; and all, either virtuous or vicious Habits or Inclinations, inconsistent with Arminian Notions of Liberty and moral Agency.
To suppose such a freedom of will as Arminians talk of to be requisite to Virtue and Vice, is many ways contrary to
If Indifference belong to Liberty of Will, as Arminians suppose, and it be essential to a virtuous action, that it be performed in a state of Liberty, as they also suppose; it will follow, that it is essential to a virtuous action, that it be performed in a state of Indifference: and if it be performed in a state of Indifference, then doubtless it must be performed in the time of Indifference. And so it will follow, that in order to the virtue of an act, the heart must be indifferent in the time of the performance of that act, and the more indifferent and cold the heart is with relation to the act performed, so much the better; because the act is performed with so much the greater Liberty. But is this agreeable to the light of nature? Is it agreeable to the notions which mankind in all ages have of Virtue, that it lies in what is contrary to Indifference, even in the Tendency and Inclination of the heart to virtuous action; and that the stronger the Inclination, and so the further from Indifference, the more virtuous the heart, and so much the more praiseworthy the act which proceeds from it?
If we should suppose (contrary to what has been before demonstrated) that there may be an act of will in a state of Indifference; for instance, this act, viz. The will determining to put itself out of a state of Indifference, and to give itself a preponderation one way: then it would follow, on Arminian principles, that this act or determination of the will is that alone wherein Virtue consists, because this only is performed while the mind remains in a state of Indifference, and so in a state of Liberty; for when once the mind is put out of its equilibrium, it is no longer in such a state; and therefore all the acts, which follow afterwards, proceeding from bias, can have the nature neither of Virtue nor Vice. Or if the thing which the will can do, while yet in a state of Indifference, and so of Liberty, be only to suspend acting, and determine to take the matter into consideration; then this determination is that alone wherein Virtue consists, and not proceeding to action after the scale is turned by consideration. So that it
will follow, from these principles, that whatever is done after the mind, by any means, is once out of its equilibrium, and arises from an Inclination, has nothing of the nature of Virtue or Vice, and is worthy of neither blame nor praise. But how plainly contrary is this to the universal sense of mankind, and to the notion they have of sincerely virtuous actions?— Which is, that they proceed from a heart well disposed and well inclined; and the stronger, the more fixed and determined, the good disposition of the heart, the greater the sincerity of Virtue, and so the more of its truth and reality. But if there be any acts which are done in a state of equilibrium, or spring immediately from perfect Indifference and coldness of heart, they cannot arise from any good principle or disposition in the heart; and, consequently, according to common sense, have no sincere goodness in them, having no Virtue of heart in them. To have a virtuous heart, is to have a heart that favours Virtue, and is friendly to it, and not one perfectly cold and indifferent about it.
And besides, the actions that are done in a state of Indifference, or that arise immediately out of such a state, cannot be virtuous, because, by the supposition, they are not determined by any preceding choice. For if there be preceding choice, then choice intervenes between the act and the state of Indifference; which is contrary to the supposition of the act arising immediately out of Indifference. But those acts which are not determined by preceding choice, cannot be virtuous or vicious, by Arminian principles, because they are not determined by the will. So that neither one way, nor the other, can any actions be virtuous or vicious, according to those principles. If the action be determined by a preceding act of choice, it cannot be virtuous; because the action is not done in a state of Indifference, nor does immediately arise from such a state, and so is not done in a state of Liberty.If the action be not determined by a preceding act of choice, then it cannot be virtuous; because then the will is not self-determined in it. So that it is made certain that neither Virtue nor Vice can ever find any place in the uni
Moreover, that it is necessary to a virtuous action that it be performed in a state of indifference, under a notion of that being a state of Liberty, is contrary to common sense; as it is a dictate of common sense, that Indifference itself, in many cases, is vicious, and so to a high degree. As if when I see my neighbour or near friend, and one who has in the highest degree merited of me, in extreme distress and ready to perish, I find an Indifference in my heart with respect to any thing proposed to be done, which I can easily do, for his relief. So if it should be proposed to me to blaspheme God, or kill my
father, or do numberless other things which might be mentioned, the being indifferent for a moment would be highly vicious and vile.
And it may be further observed, that to suppose this Liberty of Indifference is essential to Virtue and Vice, destroys the great difference of degrees of the guilt of different crimes, and takes away the heinousness of the most flagitious, horrid iniquities; such as adultery, bestiality, murder, perjury, blasphemy, &c. For, according to these principles, there is no harm at all in having the mind in a state of perfect Indifference with respect to these crimes; nay, it is absolutely necessary in order to any Virtue in avoiding them, or vice in doing them. But for the mind to be in a state of Indifference with respect to them, is to be next door to doing them: it is then infinitely near to choosing, and so committing the fact: for equilibrium is the next step to a degree of preponderation; and one, even the least degree of preponderation (all things considered) is choice. And not only so, but for the will to be in a state of perfect equilibrium with respect to such crimes, is for the mind to be in such a state as to be full as likely to choose them as to refuse them, to do them as to omit them. And if our minds must be in such a state, wherein it as near to choosing as refusing, and wherein it must of necessity, according to the nature of things, be as likely to commit them as to refrain from them; where is the exceeding heinousness of choosing and committing them? If there be no harm in often being in such a state, wherein the probability of doing and forbearing are exactly equal, there being an equilibrium, and no more tendency to one than the other; then, according to the nature and laws of such a contingence, it may be expected, as an inevitable consequence of such a disposition of things, that we should choose them as often as reject them that it should generally so fall out is necessary, as equality in the effect is the natural consequence of the equal tendency of the cause, or of the antecedent state of things from which the effect arises. Why then should Why then should we be so exceedingly to blame, if it does so fall out?
It is many ways apparent, that the Arminian scheme of Liberty is utterly inconsistent with the being of any such things as either virtuous or vicious Habits or Dispositions. If Liberty of Indifference be essential to moral agency, then there can be no Virtue in any habitual Inclinations of the heart; which are contrary to Indifference, and imply in their nature the very destruction and exclusion of it. They suppose nothing can be virtuous in which no Liberty is exercised; but how absurd is it to talk of exercising Indifference under bias and preponderation!
And if self-determining power in the will be necessary to