Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 they are ; and the more they love wickedness, the less vicious.... 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 selfdetermining 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 make him either the better or worse, any more than a tree is better than other trees, because it oftener happens to be lit upon by a swan or 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

[ocr errors]

Arminian Motions 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 and vicious habits and dispositions; so they are no less so in their inconsistency with all influence of motives in moral actions.

It is equally against those notions of liberty of Will, 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 bias. But to do this, is to destroy the Arminian freedom . It is not to leave the Will to its own selfdetermination, 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. And 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 alleged 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 that 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 men 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 it be said, that neglect of consideration, when such heinous evils are proposed to choice, is worse than in other cases: I answer, this is inconsistent, as it supposes the verything to be, which, at the same time, is supposed not to be ; it supposes all moral evil, all viciousness and heinousness, does not consist merely in the want of consideration. It supposes some crimes in themselves, in their own nature, to be more heinous than others, antecedent to consid. eration or inconsideration, which lays the person under a previous obligation to consider in some cases more than others. a

2. If it were so, that all virtue and vice, in every case, consisted only in the act of the Will, whereby it determines whether to consider or no, it would not alter the case in the Ieast, as to the present argument. For still in this act of the Will on this determination, it is induced by some motive, and necessarily follows the strongest motive ; and so is necessary, even in that act wherein alone it is either virtuous or vicious.

One thing more I would observe, concerning the inconsistence of Arminian notions of moral agency with the influence of motives.....I suppose none will deny, that it is possible for motives to be set before the mind so powerful, and exhibited in so strong a light, and under so advantageous circumstances, as to be invincible ; and such as the mind cannot but yield to. In this case, Arminians will doubtless say, liberty is destroyed. And if so, then if motives are exhibited with half so much power, they hinder liberty in proportion to their strength, and go halfway towards destroying it. If a thousand degrees of motive abolish all liberty, then five hundred take it half away. If one degree of the influence of mo

tive does not at all infringe or diminish liberty, then no more do two degrees; for nothing doubled, is still nothing. And if two degrees do not diminish the Will's liberty, no more do four, eight, sixteen, or six thousand. For nothing multiplied ever so much, comes to but nothing. If there be nothing in the nature of motive or moral suasion, that is at all opposite to liberty, then the greatest degree of it cannot hurt liberty. But if there be any thing in the nature of the thing, that is against liberty, then the least degree of it hurts it in some degree ; and consequently hurts and diminishes virtue. If invincible motives, to that action which is good, take away all the freedom of the act, and so all the virtue of it; then the more forcible the motives are, so much the worse, so much the less virtue ; and the weaker the motives are, the better for the cause of virtue; and none is best of all. Now let it be considered, whether these things are agreeable to common sense. If it should be allowed, that there are some instances wherein the soul chooses without any motive, what virtue can there be in such a choice : I am sure, there is no prudence or wisdom in it. Such a choice is made for no good end; for it is for no end at all. If it were for any end, the view of the end would be the motive exciting to the act; and if the act be for no good end, and so from no good aim, then there is no good intention in it; and, therefore, according to all our natural notions of virtue, no more virtue in it than in the motion of the smoke, which is driven to and fro by the wind without any aim or end in the thing moved, and which knows not whither, nor why and wherefore, it is moved. Corol. 1. By these things it appears, that the argument against the Calvinists, taken from the use of counsels, exhortations, invitations, expostulations, &c. so much insisted on by .Arminians, is truly against themselves. For these things can operate no other way to any good effect, than as in them is exhibited motive and inducement, tending to excite and determine the acts of the Will. But it follows, on their principles, that the acts of Will excited by such causes, cannot be virtuous; because so far as they are from these, they are not from

« PreviousContinue »