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moral agency, praise, blame, &c. then nothing done by the will can be any further praiseworthy or blameworthy, than so far as the will is moved, swayed and determined by itself, and the scales turned by the sovereign power the will has over itself. And therefore the will must not be out of its balance, preponderation must not be determined and effected beforehand; and so the self-determining act anticipated. Thus it appears another way, that habitual bias is inconsistent with that Liberty which Arminians suppose to be necessary to Virtue or Vice; and so it follows that habitual bias itself cannot be either virtuous or vicious.
The same thing follows from their doctrine concerning the Inconsistence of Necessity with Liberty, Praise, Dispraise, &c. None will deny that Bias and Inclination may be so strong as to be invincible, and leave no possibility of the will determining contrary to it; and so be attended with Necessity. This Dr. WHITBY allows concerning the will of God, Angels, and glorified Saints, with respect to good; and the will of Devils with respect to evil. Therefore, if Necessity be inconsistent with Liberty, then when fixed Inclination is to such a degree of strength, it utterly excludes all Virtue, Vice, Praise, or Blame. And if so, then the nearer Habits are to this strength, the more do they impede Liberty, and so diminish Praise and Blame. If very strong Habits destroy Liberty, the lesser ones proportionably hinder it, according to their degree of strength. And therefore it will follow, that then is the act most virtuous or vicious, when performed without any Inclination or habitual Bias at all; because it is then performed with most Liberty.
Every prepossessing fixed Bias on the mind brings a degree of moral Inability for the contrary; because so far as the mind is biassed and prepossessed, so much hinderance is there of the contrary. And therefore if moral Inability be inconsistent with moral agency, or the nature of Virtue and Vice, then, so far as there is any such thing as evil disposition of heart, or habitual depravity of Inclination, whether covetousness, pride, malice, cruelty, or whatever else, so much the more excusable persons are; so much the less have their evil acts of this kind the nature of Vice. And on the contrary, whatever excellent Dispositions and Inclinations they have, so much are they the less virtuous.
It is evident that no habitual disposition of heart can be in any degree virtuous or vicious; or the actions which proceed from them at all praiseworthy or blameworthy. Because, though we should suppose the Habit not to be of such strength as wholly to take away all moral ability and self-determining power; or may be partly from Bias, and in part from self-determination; yet in this case, all that is from antecedent
Bias must be set aside, as of no consideration; and in estimating the degree of Virtue or Vice, no more must be considered than what arises from self-determining power, without any influence of that Bias, because Liberty is exercised in no more : so that all that is the exercise of habitual Inclination is thrown away, as not belonging to the morality of the action. By which it appears, that no exercise of these Habits, let them be stronger or weaker, can ever have any thing of the nature of either Virtue or Vice.
Here if any one should say, that notwithstanding all these things, there may be the nature of Virtue and Vice in the Habits of the mind; because these Habits may be the effects of those acts, wherein the mind exercised Liberty; that however the forementioned reasons will prove that no Habits, which are natural, or that are born or created with us, can be either virtuous or vicious; yet they will not prove this of Habits which have been acquired and established by repeated free acts.
To such an objector I would say, that this evasion will not at all help the matter. For if freedom of will be essential to the very nature of Virtue and Vice, then there is no Virtue or Vice but only in that very thing, wherein this Liberty is exercised. If a man in one or more things that he does, exercises Liberty, and then by those acts is brought into such circumstances that his Liberty ceases, and there follows a long series of acts or events that come to pass necessarily; those consequent acts are not virtuous or vicious, rewardable or punishable; but only the free acts that established this necessity; for in them alone was the man free. The following effects, that are necessary, have no more of the nature of Virtue or Vice, than health or sickness of body have properly the nature of Virtue or Vice, being the effects of a course of free acts of temperance or intemperance; or than the good qualities of a clock are of the nature of Virtue, which are the effects of free acts of the artificer; or the goodness and sweetness of the fruits of a garden are moral Virtues, being the effects of the free and faithful acts of the gardener. If Liberty be absolutely requi site to the morality of actions, and necessity wholly inconsist ent with it, as Arminians greatly insist; then no necessary ef fects whatsoever, let the cause be never so good or bad, can be virtuous or vicious; but the virtue or vice must be only in the free cause. Agreeably to this, Dr. WHITBY supposes the necessity that attends the good and evil Habits of the saints in heaven and damned in hell, which are the consequence of their free acts in their state of probation, are not rewardable or punishable.
On the whole it appears, that if the notions of Arminians concerning liberty and moral agency be true, it will follow
that there is no virtue in any such Habits or qualities as humility, meekness, patience, mercy, gratitude, generosity, heavenly-mindedness; nothing at all praiseworthy in loving Christ above father and mother, wife and children, or our own lives; or in delight in holiness, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, love to enemies, universal benevolence to mankind and on the other hand, there is nothing at all vicious, or worthy of dispraise, in the most sordid, beastly, malignant, devilish dispositions; in being ungrateful, profane, habitually hating God, and things sacred and holy; or in being most treacherous, envious, and cruel towards men. For all these things are Dispositions and Inclinations of the heart. And in short, there is no such thing as any virtuous or vicious quality of mind; no such thing as inherent virtue and holiness, or vice and sin: and the stronger those Habits or Dispositions are, which used to be called virtuous and vicious, the further they are from being so indeed; the more violent men's lusts are, the more fixed their pride, envy, ingratitude, and maliciousness, still the further are they from being blameworthy. If there be a man that by his own repeated acts, or by any other means, is come to be of the most hellish Disposition, desperately inclined to treat his neighbours with injuriousness, contempt, and malignity; the further they should be from any Disposition to be angry with him, or in the least to blame him. So, on the other hand, if there be a person who is of a most excellent spirit, strongly inclining him to the most amiable actions, admirably meek, benevolent, &c. so much is he further from any thing rewardable or commendable. On which principles, the man Jesus Christ was very far from being praiseworthy for those acts of holiness and kindness which He performed, these propensities being strong in his heart. And above all, the infinitely holy and gracious God is infinitely remote from any thing commendable, his good Inclinations being infinitely strong, and He, therefore, at the utmost possible distance from being at liberty. And in all cases, the stronger the Inclinations of any are to Virtue, and the more they love it, the less virtuous, and the more they love wickedness, the less vicious they are. Whether these things are agreeable to Scripture, let every Christian, and every man who has read the Bible, judge: and whether they are agreeable to common sense, let every one judge, that has human understanding in exercise.
And, if we pursue these principles, we shall find that Virtue and Vice are wholly excluded out of the world; and that there never was, nor ever can be any such thing as one or the other, either in God, angels, or men. No Propensity, Disposition, or Habit, can be virtuous or vicious, as has been shewn; because they, so far as they take place, destroy the freedom of the will, the foundation of all moral agency, and
exclude all capacity of either Virtue or Vice.-And if Habits and Dispositions themselves be not virtuous nor vicious, neither can the exercise of these Dispositions be so for the exercise of Bias is not the exercise of free self-determining will, and so there is no exercise of liberty in it. Consequently, no man is virtuous or vicious, either in being well or ill disposed, nor in acting from a good or bad Disposition. And whether this Bias or Disposition be habitual or not, if it exists but a moment before the act of will which is the effect of it, it alters not the case as to the necessity of the effect. Or, if there be no previous Disposition at all, either habitual or occasional, that determines the act, then it is not choice that determines it; it is, therefore, a contingence that happens to the man, arising from nothing in him; and is necessary, as to any Inclination or Choice of his; and therefore cannot ma him either the better or worse, any more than a tree is better than other trees, because it oftener happens to be lighted upon by a nightingale or a rock more vicious than other rocks, because rattlesnakes have happened oftener to crawl over it. So that there is no Virtue nor Vice in good or bad Dispositions, either fixed or transient; nor any Virtue or Vice in acting from any good or bad previous Inclination; nor yet any virtue or vice in acting wholly without any previous Inclination. Where then shall we find room for Virtue or Vice ?
Arminian Notions of moral Agency inconsistent with all Influence of Motive and Inducement, in either virtuous or vicious Actions.
As Arminian notions of that liberty which is essential to virtue or vice, are inconsistent with common sense in their being inconsistent with all virtuous or vicious habits and dispositions; so they are no less inconsistent with all influence of Motives in moral actions.-Such influence equally against those notions of liberty, whether there be, previous to the act of choice, a preponderancy of the inclination, or a preponderancy of those circumstances which have a tendency to move the inclination. And indeed it comes to just the same thing: to say, the circumstances of the mind are such as tend to sway and turn its inclination one way, is the same thing as to say, the inclination of the mind, as under such circumstances, tends that way.
Or if any think it most proper to say, that Motives do alter the inclination, and give a new bias to the mind, it will not alter the case as to the present argument. For if Motives operate by giving the mind an inclination, then they operate by destroying the mind's indifference, and laying it under a But to do this, is to destroy the Arminian freedom: it is not to leave the will to its own self-determination, but to bring it into subjection to the power of something extrinsic, which operates upon it, sways and determines it, previous to its own determination So that what is done from Motive, cannot be either virtuous or vicious. Besides, if the acts of the will are excited by Motives, those Motives are the causes of those acts of the will; which makes the acts of the will necessary; as effects necessarily follow the efficiency of the cause. And if the influence and power of the Motive causes the volition, then the influence of the Motive determines volition, and volition does not determine itself; and so is not free in the sense of Arminians (as has been largely shewn already), and consequently can be neither virtuous nor vicious.
The supposition which has already been taken notice of as an insufficient evasion in other cases, would be, in like manner, impertinently alledged in this case; namely, the supposition that liberty consists in a power of suspending action for the present, in order to deliberation. If it should be said, Though it be true, that the will is under a necessity of finally following the strongest Motive; yet it may, for the present, forbear to act upon the Motive presented, till there has been opportunity thoroughly to consider it, and compare its real weight with the merit of other Motives. I answer as follows:
Here again it must be remembered, that if determining thus to suspend and consider be the act of the will, wherein alone liberty is exercised, then in this all virtue and vice must consist; and the acts that follow this consideration, and are the effects of it, being necessary, are no more virtuous or vicious than some good or bad events, which happen when they are fast asleep, and are the consequences of what they did when they were awake. Therefore, I would here observe two things:
1. To suppose that all virtue and vice, in every case, consists in determining, whether to take time for consideration or not, is not agreeable to common sense. For, according to such a supposition, the most horrid crimes, adultery, murder, sodomy, blasphemy, &c. do not at all consist in the horrid nature of the things themselves, but only in the neglect of thorough consideration before they were perpetrated, which brings their viciousness to a small matter, and makes all crimes equal. If