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The Case of such as are given up of God to SIN,
and of fallen Man in general, proves moral Necessity and Inability to be consistent with blameworthiness.
DR. WHITBY asserts freedom, not only from coaction, but Necessity, to be essential to any thing deserving the name of Sin, and to an action's being culpable ; in these words (Discourse on the five Points, edit. iii. p. 348.) “ If they be thus necessitated, then neither their sins of omission or commission could deserve that name ; it being essential to the nature of Sin, according to St. Austin's definition, that it be an action a quo liberum est abstinere. Three things seem plain. ly necessary to make an action or omission culpable. 1. That it be in our power 10 perform or forbear it ; for, as Origen, and all the Fathers say, no man is blameworthy for not doing what he could not do.” And elsewhere the Doctor insists, that " when any do evil of Necessity, what they do is no vice, that they are guilty of no fault,* are worthy of no blame, dispraise,t or dishonor, but are unblainable."
If these things are true, in Dr. Whitby's sense of Neces. sity, they will prove all such to be blameless, who are given up of God to sin, in what they commit after they are thus give en up. That there is such a thing as men's being judicially given up to sin is certain, if the scripture rightly informs us ; such a thing being often there spoken of; as in Psal. Ixxxi. 12. “ So I gave them up to their own hearts' lust, and they walked in their cwn counsels.” Acts vii. 42. “Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven." Rom. i. 24. “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their
* Discourse on the Five Points, p. 347, 360, 361, 377. 319, and many other places, 371. 304, 361.
own bodies between themselves.” Ver. 26. “ For this cause God gave them up to vile affections.” Ver. 28. “ And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, Godi gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not convenient.
It is needless to stand particularly to inquire, what God's giving men up to their own hearts' lusts signifies : It is sufficient to observe, that hereby is certainly meant God's so ordering or disposing things, in some respect or other, either by doing or forbearing to do, as that the consequence should be men's continuing in their sins. So much as men are given up to, so much is the consequence of their being given up, whether that be less or more. If God does not order things so, by action or permission, that sin will be the consequence, then the event proves that they are not given up to that consequence. If good be the consequence, instead of evil, then God's mercy is to be acknowledged in that good ; which mercy must be contrary to God's judgment in giving up to evil. If the event must prove, that they are given up to evil as the consequence, then the persons, who are the subjects of this judgment, must be the subjects of such an event, and so the event is necessary.
If not only coaction, but all Necessity, will prove men blameless, then Judas was blameless, after Christ had given him over, and had already declared his certain damnation, and that he should verily betray him. He was guilty of no sin in betraying his master, on this supposition ; though his so doing is spoken of by Christ as the most aggravated sin, more heinous than the sin of Pilate in crucifying him. And the Jews in Egypt, in Jeremiah's time, were guilty of no sin, in their not worshipping the true God, after God had sworn by his great name, that his name should be no more named in the mouth of any man of Judah, in all the land of Egypt.....Jer. xliy. 26.
Dr. Whitby (Discourse on Five Points, p. 302, 303) denies, that men, in this world, are ever so given up by God to , sin, that their Wills should be necessarily determined to evil ; though he owns, that hereby it may become exceeding:
dificult for men te do good, having a strong bent, and powere ful inclination, to what is evil.... But if we should allow the case to be just as he represents, the judgment of giving up to sin will no better agree with his notions of that liberty, which is essential to praise or blame, than if we should suppose it to render the avoiding of Sin impossible. For if an impossibility of avoiding Sin wholly excuses a man ; then, for the same reason, its being difficult to avoid it, excuses him in part ; and this just in proportion to the degree of difficulty.... If the influence of moral impossibility or inability be the same, to excuse persons in not doing, or not avoiding any thing, as that of natural inability, (which is suppossed) then undoubted. ly, in like manner, moral difficulty has the same influence to excuse with natural difficulty. But all allow, that natural impossibility wholly excuses, and also that natural difficulty excuses in part, and makes the act or omission less blameable in proportion to the difficulty. All natural difficulty according to the plainest dictates of the light of nature, excuses in some degree, so that the neglect is not so blameable, as if there had been no difficulty in the case : And so the greater the difficulty is, still the more excuseable, in proportion to the increase of the difficulty. And as natural impossibility wholly excuses and excludes all blame, so the nearer the difficulty approaches to impossibility, still the nearer a person is to blamelessness in proportion to that approach. And if the case of moral impossibility or necessity, be just the same with natural necessity or coaction, as to influence to excuse a neglect, then also, for the same reason, the case of natural difficulty, does not differ in influence, to excuse a neglect, from moral difficulty, arising from a strong bias or bent to evil, such as Dr. Whitby owns in the case of those that are given up to their own hearts' lusts. So that the fault of such persons must be lessened, in proportion to the difficulty, and approach to impossibility. If ten degrees of moral difficulty make the action quite impossible, and so wholly excuse, then if there be nine degrees of difficulty, the person is in great part excused, and is nine degrees in ten, less blameworthy, than if there had been no difficulty at all, and he has but one
degree of blameworthiness. The reason is plain on Armin. ian principles, viz. because as difficulty by antecedent bent and bias on the Will, is increased, liberty of in difference, and selfdetermination in the Will, is diminished ; so much binderance and impediment is there, in the way of the Wil's acting freely, by mere selfdetermination. And if ten degrees of such hinderance take away all such liberty, then nine degrees take away nine parts in ten, and leave but one degree of liberty. And therefore there is but one degree of blameableness,ceteris paribus, in the neglect; the man being no further blameable in what he does, or neglects, than he has liberty in that affair : For blame or praise (say they) arises wholly from a good use or abuse of liberty.
From all which it follows, that a strong bent and bias one way, and difficuly of going the contrary, never causes a person to be at alt more exposed to sin, or any thing blameable : Because, as the difficulty is increased; so much the less is required and expected. Though in one respect, exposedness to sin or is fault increased, viz. by an increase of exposeduess to the evil action or omission ; yet it is diminished in another respect, to balance it ; namely, as the sinfulness or blameableness of the action or omission is diminished in the same proportion. So that, on the whole, the affair, as to exposedness to guilt or blame, is left just as it was.
To illustrate this, let us suppose a scale of a balance to be intelligent, and a free agent, and indued with a selfmoying power, by virtue of which it could act and produce effects to a certain degree, ex. gr. to move itself up or down with a force equal to a weight of ten pounds; and that it might therefore be required of it, in ordinary circumstances, to move itself down with that force ; for which it has power and full liberty, and therefore would be blameworthy if it failed of it. But then let us suppose a weight of ten pounds to be put in the opposite scale, which in force entirely counterbalances its selfmoving power, and so renders it impossible for it to move down at all ; this therefore wholly excuses it from any such motion. But if we suppose there to be only nine pounds in the opposite scale, this renders its motion not im.
possible, but yet more difficult : So that it can now only move down with the force of one pound : But however this is all that is required of it under these cirumstances; it is wholly excused from nine parts of its motion : And if the scale, under these circumstances, neglects to move, and remains at rest, all that it will be blamed for, will be its neglect of that one tenth part of its motion ; which it had as much liberty and advantage for as in usual circumstances, it has for the greater motion, which in such a case would be required. So that this new difficulty, does not at all increase its exposedness to any thing blameworthy.
And thus the very supposition of difficulty in the way of a man's duty, or proclivity to sin, through a being given up to hardness of heart, or indeed by any other means whatsoever, is an inconsistence, according to. Dr. Whitby's nctions of liberty, virtue and vice, blame and praise. The avoiding sin and blame, and the doing what is virtuous and praiseworthy, must be always equally easy.
Dr. Whitby's notions of liberty, obligation, virtue, sin, &c. led him into another great inconsistence. He abundantly insists, that necessity is inconsistent with the nature of sin or fault. He says, in the forementioned treatise, p. 14. “ Who can blame a person for doing what he could not help?” And p. 15. “ It being sensibly unjust, to punish any man for doing that which was never in his power to avoid.” And in p. 341, to confirm his opinion, he quotes one of the Fathers, saying. “ Why doth God command, if man hath not free Will and power to obey ?” And again in the same and the next page, “Who will not cry out, that it is folly to command him, that hath not liberty to do what is commanded ; and that it is unjust to condemn him, that has it not in his power to do what is required ?" And in p. 373, he cites another saying. " A law is given to him that can turn to both parts, j.e. obey or transgress it: But no law can be against him who is bound by nature.”
And yet the same Dr. Whitby asserts, that fallen man is not able to perform perfect obedience. In p. 165, he has these words : “ The nature of Adam had power to continue