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great exclamations of Arminians against the Calvinists, from the supposed inconsistence of Calvinistic principles with the
whole of the difficulty, and yet he leaves it untouched. The free agent fails in the exercise of liberty; this failure is an effect; but there is no effect without a cause; therefore this failure must have a cause; and this cause (not the abuse of liberty) must bring us to the origin of moral evil.
10. What Dr. CLARKE has left untouched may yet be ascertained. We think it has been fairly excluded, by what has been already advanced, from every thing except Liberty and Passive Power. Therefore, the abuse of liberty can arise only from its associate. But how can this operate as a cause of the abuse of liberty? In order to answer this question, we must recollect what liberty itself is, viz. a natural power or instrument of the mind, capable of producing moral effects.Not a self-determining power, which would be contrary to the first axiom; and which our author has abundantly demonstrated to be full of contradictions, and an utter impossibility. It must then be determined by motives. But motives, as before shown (in a former note) are the objects of choice in union with the state of the mind, as a compound effect. Now the cause why the real good, suppose the chief good, which is absolutely unchangeable, is not chosen, and an inferior good appears at the instant of choice preferable, and is in fact preferred, must arise from that part of the motive which is the state of the mind.
11. Now there are only two states of the mind conceivable whereby liberty can be influenced; the one a state naturally evil; the other a state morally good. Were we to say that the state was morally evil at the first entrance of sin, we should contradict the third axiom. And were we to say that the cause was only naturally good, we should contradict the first axiom. Therefore the cause of the abuse of liberty is a state naturally evil. No other cause can possibly be assigned, without involving a contradiction. But what is a state naturally evil, and without any mixture of moral evil? It can be no other but a state under the influence of what we call passive power.
12. Let us view the subject in another light. Perfect liberty, in reference to virtue and vice, the scale of merit and demerit, and its attendant degrees of happiness or misery, is a MEDIUM, standing between all extremes-between virtue and vice, merit and demerit, happiness and misery. If we regard divine rectitude or equity according to a former simile, in reference to the moral system, as an universal plane, liberty may be said to coincide with it. And being a natural perfection, or, when exerted, a good which has a positive cause, it is the effect of benevolent energy. If the mind be under unmerited, sovereign, benevolent influ ence, its liberty attaches itself to real good; then the agent rises on the scale of excellence, and therefore of happiness. But if the mind be under passive influence, or the influence of passive power, (a depraved nature and confirmed vicious habits being now out of the question) its liberty attaches itself to apparent good, in opposition to real; then vice is generated, the agent sinks on the scale of deterioration, and consequently of misery.
13. It appears, then, that the will, in the exercise of its freedom, when producing moral effects, is the instrument of the disposition; and that the character of the effect bears an infallible and exact proportion to that of the predisposing cause. Yet the will in the exercise of choice is so free, that all constraint, coac tion, and impulse, are entirely excluded from that which constitutes the morality of the act. Here lies the essence of moral agency; and the ground of accountableness. The agent has a moral alterative; IF he be DIFFERENTLY MINDED he may choose otherwise than he actually does. If under benevolent influence he will, in proportion, infallibly choose aright; if under equitable, passive influence, the apparent good will not be the real one, and consequently the choice will be morally bad. Means, objects perfectly suitable and sufficient, are exhibited to view; but these of themselves would never determine the will, otherwise the same effect would always follow the same means. Temptations also are presented; these in like manner of themselves never determine the will, otherwise temptation and sin would be infallibly connected. Then the holy Jesus could not have withstood the numerous and powerful solicitations of the tempter. why did he withstand all? Because objects of temptation did not constitute the whole of motives; because objects operate according to the state of the mind; and because in him benevolent influence counteracted passive power.
moral perfections of God, as exercised in his government of mankind. The consistence of such a doctrine of necessity as has been maintained, with the fitness and reasonableness of
Hence, when the prince of this world came, he found nothing in him; and hence he rose to the greatest height of glory, having a name above every
14. There is no end of objections and cavils, however demonstrative the proof; for such there have been against all the first principles of religion--the being of God-a revelation of his will to the human race-the doctrine of a future state, &c. &c. Some may say, Why should sin be made to originate in these two things, liberty and passive power? We answer, It has been demonstrated, that all metaphysical, positive and negative, causation, in reference to moral evil, is reducible to these two; and therefore they might as well ask, Why one and one make two, rather than any other number?
15. Others may say, Why not proceed from God alone? They might as well ask, Why is not the sun the cause of darkness? Love, the cause of enmity? Wisdom, the cause of folly? Happiness, the cause of misery? Order, the cause of confusion? But the effect, it may be said, is the same. We reply, the assignation of a cause, whether true or false, does not alter the nature of phenomena. It would be, indeed, a strange phenomenon, hitherto unknown, and unknowable, for an hypothesis, however demonstrable, to alter the nature of the things in question. The effects are the same. Very true. But the question is not about the EFFECTS; the enquiry is about the true cause of those effects, in opposition to falsc philosophy. The effect of moral evil is misery, or deserved suffering. Now does it make no difference, in justifying the ways of God to men, whether a rational, immortal being suffer deservedly or undeservedly? To suffer for moral evil, is to suffer deservedly; but were sin and suffering from God alone, or the effect of constituted laws, this could not be the case. To say, that this partial suffering may be ultimately counterbalanced by a restoration, is begging the question, that there will be a restoration. And if there were, what is it better than an apology for past injustice? To suffer undeservedly. is to suffer unjustly; and to punish at all is an act of injustice, if undeserved, as well as to punish for ever.
16. It may be again asked, What advantage is there in fixing on this origin of moral evil, rather than another? We reply by putting another question. Why should we put up with a false cause assigned for any thing? Surely, phenomena more interesting, more alarming in their nature, and more awful in their conse quences, than moral evils, cannot arrest human observation. And it would be passing strange to suppose, that the ascertaining of their true cause and origin is not an important part of philosophy, and deserving of the closest investigation. What can be more dishonourable to the moral character of Deity, than to make sin originate in his will alone? Or, if this be its origin, how preposterous to call it moral evil, as distinguished from natural? How cruel and unjust, beyond precedent, to punish it; and how absurd the idea of threatening punishment for what was irreversibly appointed.
17. Some may say, Why may we not be satisfied with the idea of permission? If properly understood, we acknowledge that this goes a considerable way. But we suspect, few seem acquainted with the full implication of the term. God permits. True; if by it we mean he does not hinder. The free agent acts amiss when he is not hindered. This only shews, that God might hinder if he pleased; but it assigns no cause x why the agent acts amiss. Permitting, or not hindering, IMPLIES a cause distinct from divine causation. And the question returns, what is the cause of sin taking place when not hindered? In vain do we fix on chance, or a self-determining power; these explain nothing, and in fact are nothing, as our author has demonstrated various ways. In vain do we say, sin arises from the abuse of liberty. For the question recurs, What is the cause of that abuse? If this be not explained, nothing is effected. In vain shall we say, It proceeds from the cause of causes. For that cause is good only. From such a cause only good can proceed; and to ascribe sin to this cause is as proper as to say that moral evil is a good thing, and ought to be rewarded rather than punished. If this be not a reprovable mode of calling "evil good, and good evil," (Isai. v. 20.) we know not what is.
God's commands, promises and threatenings, rewards and punishments, has been particularly considered. The cavils of our opponents, as though our doctrine of necessity made God the author of sin, have been answered; and also their objections against these principles, as inconsistent with God's sincerity, in his counsels, invitations, and persuasions, has been already obviated, in what has been observed respecting the consistence of what Calvinists suppose, concerning the secret and revealed will of God. By that it appears, there is no repugnance in supposing it may be the secret will of God, that his ordination and permission of events should be such, that it shall be a certain consequence, that a thing never will come to pass; which yet it is man's duty to do, and so God's preceptive will, that he should do; and this is the same thing as to say, God may sincerely command and require him to do it. And if he may be sincere in commanding him, he may, for the same reason, be sincere in counselling, inviting and using persuasions with him to do it. Counsels and invitations are manifestations of God's preceptive will, or of what God loves, and what is in itself, and as man's act, agreeable to his heart; and not of his disposing will, and what he chooses as a part of his own infinite scheme of things. It has been particularly shewn, Part III. Sect. IV. that such a necessity as has been maintained, is not inconsistent with the propriety and fitness of divine commands; and for the same reason, not inconsistent with the sincerity of invitations and counsels, in the Corollary at the end of that Section. Yea, it hath been shewn, Part III. Sect. VII. Corol. 1. that this objection of Arminians, concerning the sincerity and use of divine exhortations, invitations and counsels, is demonstrably against themselves.
Notwithstanding, I would further observe, that the difficulty of reconciling the sincerity of counsels, invitations and persuasions with such an antecedent known fixedness of all events as has been supposed, is not peculiar to this scheme,
18. Those who renounce the idea of passive power, as before explained, and its influence on the mind of a free agent, as a negative metaphysical cause; can never find the true, philosophical cause of vice and sin, and consequently of deserved suffering. As soon might they ascertain the laws of the planetary motions, while rejecting the principle of gravitation. If it be asked, What is the link of connection between this principle and the event? We reply, Essential truth, the same truth as connects 2+2=4, or 2—1=1.
19. Those who renounce a sovereign, benevolent, physical, holy influence on the mind can never find the true, philosophical origin of virtue and holiness, and consequently happiness.
20. From the premises we infer, that the highest wisdom, the best interest, and the greatest honour of a rational and accountable being, is to employ his li berty, and all his powers, in the way of absolute submission to the divine will; in supreme affection, fear and love, to the infinite majesty and self-existent excellence of God; and in' the way of humble and diligent obedience, according to the manifestation which God has made of himself.-W.
as distinguished from that of the generality of Arminians, which acknowledge the absolute foreknowledge of God: and therefore, it would be unreasonably brought as an objection against my differing from them. The main seeming difficulty in the case is this: that God, in counselling, inviting and persuading, makes a shew of aiming at, seeking and using endeavours for the thing exhorted and persuaded to; whereas, it is impossible for any intelligent being truly to seek, or use endeavours for a thing, which he at the same time knows, most perfectly, will not come to pass; and that it is absurd to suppose he makes the obtaining of a thing his end, in his calls and counsels, which he, at the same time, infallibly knows will not be obtained by these means. Now, if God knows this, in the utmost certainty and perfection, the way by which he comes by this knowledge makes no difference. If he knows it is by the necessity which he sees in things, or by some other means; it alters not the case. But it is in effect allowed by Arminians themselves, that God's inviting and persuading men to do things, which he, at the same time, certainly knows will not be done, is no evidence of insincerity; because they allow, that God has a certain foreknowledge of all sinful actions and omissions. And as this is implicitly allowed by most Arminians, so all that pretend to own the scriptures to be the word of God, must be constrained to allow it. God commanded and counselled Pharaoh to let his people go, and used arguments and persuasions to induce him to it; he laid before him arguments taken from his infinite greatness and almighty power, (Exod. vii. 16.) and forewarned him of the fatal consequences of his refusal from time to time; (chap. viii. 1, 2, 20, 21. chap. ix. 1,—5. 13,—17. and x. 3, 6.) He commanded Moses, and the elders of Israel, to go and beseech Pharaoh to let the people go; and at the same time told them, he knew surely that he would not comply with it. (Exod. iii. 18, 19.) "And thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and you shall say unto him; the Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us; and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God:" and, "I am sure, that the king of Egypt will not let you go." So our blessed Saviour, the evening wherein he was betrayed, knew that Peter would shamefully deny him before the morning: for he declares it to him with asseverations, to shew the certainty of it; and tells the disciples, that all of them should be offended because of him that night; (Matt. xxvi. 31, --35. John xiii. 38. Luke xxii. 31,-34. John xvi. 32.) And yet it was their duty to avoid these things; they were very sinful things, which God had forbidden, and which it was their duty to watch and pray against; and they were obliged to do so from the counsels and persuasions Christ used with them, at
that very time, so to do; (Matt. xxvi. 41.) "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation." So that whatever difficulty there can be in this matter, it can be no objection against any principles which have been maintained in opposition to the principles of Arminians; nor does it any more concern me to remove the difficulty, than it does them, or indeed all, that call themselves Christians, and acknowledge the divine authority of the scriptures.- Nevertheless, this matter may possibly (God allowing) be more particularly and largely considered in some future discourse on the doctrine of predestination.*
But I would here observe, that however the defenders of that notion of liberty which I have opposed, exclaim against the doctrine of Calvinists, as tending to bring men into doubts concerning the moral perfections of God: it is their scheme, and not the scheme of Calvinists, that indeed is justly chargeable with this. For it is one of their most fundamental points, that a freedom of will consisting in self-determination, without all necessity, is essential to moral agency. This is the same thing as to say, that such a determination of the will, without all necessity, must be in all intelligent beings, in those things, wherein they are moral agents, or in their moral acts: and from this it will follow, that God's will is not necessarily determined, in any thing he does, as a moral agent, or in any of his acts that are of a moral nature: So that in all things wherein he acts holily, justly and truly, he does not act necessarily; or his will is not necessarily determined to act holily and justly; because, if it were necessarily determined, he would not be a moral agent in thus acting: his will would be attended with necessity; which, they say, is inconsistent with moral agency: "He can act no otherwise; he is at no liberty in the affair; he is determined by unavoidable invincible necessity: therefore such agency is no moral agency; yea, no agency at all, properly speaking: a necessary agent is no agent: he being passive, and subject to necessity, what he does is no act of his, but an effect of a necessity prior to any act of his." This is agreeable to their manner of arguing. Now then, what is become of all our proof of the moral perfections of God? How can we prove, that God certainly will, in any one instance, do that which is just and holy; seeing his will is determined in the matter by no necessity? We have no other way of proving that any thing certainly will be, but only by the necessity of the event. Where we can see no necessity, but that the thing may be, or may not be, there we are unavoidably left at a loss.
* It does not appear that the author did any thing more towards accomplishing this design, than to pen some thoughts, probably with a view to an elaborate treatise, which are included in his Miscellaneous Remarks and Observations.