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I confess these things are very filausible. And I will not deny, that there are some unhafifty consequences of this distinction of names, and that men's infirmities and evil disfiositions often make an ill improvement of it. But yet, I humbly conceive, these objections are carried far beyond reason. The generality of mankind are disflosed enough, and a great deal too much, to uncharitableness, and to be censorious and bitter towards those that differ from them in religious oftinions : Which evil temper of mind will take occasion to exert itself from many things in themselves, innocent, useful and necessary. But yet there is no necessity to suffiose, that the thus distinguishing fiersons of different opinions by different names, arises mainly from an uncharitable shirit. It may arise from the disfiosition there is in mankind (whom God has distinguished with an ability and inclination for sheech) to improve the benefit of language, in the firosher use and design of names, given to things which they have of. ten occasion to sheak of, or signify their minds about ; which is to enable them to exhress their ideas with ease and eachedition, without being encumbered with an obscure and difficult circumlocution. And the thus distinguishing fiersons of different oftinions in religious matters may not imply nor infer, any more than that there is a difference, and that the difference is such as we find we have often occasion to take notice of, and make mention of That which we have frequent occasion to sheak of (whatever it be, that gives the occasion) this wants a name ; and it is always a defect in language, in such cases, to be obliged to make use of a descrifition, instead of a name. Thus we have often occasion to sheak of those who are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of France, who were subjects or heads of the government of that land, and shake the language fleculiar to it ; in distinction from the descendants of the inhabitants of Shain, who belonged to that community, and shake the language of that country. And there
fore we find the great need of distinct names to signify these dif
ferent sorts officofile, and the great convenience of those distinguishing words, French and Spaniards; by which the signification of our minds is quick and easy, and our sheech is delivered from the burden of a continual reiteration of diffuse descriptions, zvith which it must otheravise be embarrassed. That the difference of the oftinions of those who, in their general scheme of divinity, agree with these two noted men, Calvin and Arminius, is a thing there is often occasion to sheak of, is what the firactice of the latter itself confesses ; who are often, in their discourses and writings, taking notice of the suffiosed absurd and fiernicious oftinions of the former sort. And therefore the making use of different names in this case cannot reasonably Åc objected against, or condemned, as a thing which must come from so bad a cause as they assign. It is easy to be accounted jor, without suffiosing it to arise from any other source, than the existence and natural tendency of the state of things ; considering the faculty and disfiosition God has given to mankind, to eacfiress things which they have frequent occasion to mention, by certain distinguishing names. It is an effect that is simular to what we see arise, in innumerable cases which are flarallel, where the cause is not at all blameworthy. JWevertheless, at first, I had thoughts of carefully avoiding the use of the affiellation, Arminian, in this treatise : But I soon found I should be fut to great difficulty by it ; and that my discourse would be so encumbered with an often refeated circumlocution, instead of a name, which would earfiress the thing intended as well and better, that I altered my furfase. And therefore I must ask the excuse of such as are afit to be offended with things of this nature, that I have so freely used the term Arminian in the following discourse. I firgfess it to be without any design, to stigmatize fiersons of any sort with a name of refiroach, or at all to make them afflear more odious. If, when I had occasion to sheak of those Divines who are commonly called by this name, I had, instead of styling them Arminians, called them these men, as Dr. Whitby does Calvinistic Divines ; it firobaëly would not have been taken any better, or thought to shew a better temper, or more good manners. I have done as I would be done by, in this matter. However the term Calvinistic is, in these days, among most, a term of greater refiroach than the term Arminian; yet I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinction’s sake: Though I utterly disclaim a defendence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines avhich I hold, because he believed and taught them ; and cannot justly be charged with believing in every thing just as he taught. But, lest I should really be an occasion of injury to some fiersons, I would here give notice, that though I generally sheak of that doctrine, concerning Free Will and moral Agency, which I offiose, as an Arminian doctrine ; yet I would not be understood, as asserting that every Divine or Author, whom I have occasion to mention, as maintaining that doctrine, was firosherly an Arminian, or one of that sort which is commonly called by that name. Some of them went far beyond the Arminians; and I would by no means charge Arminians in general with all the corrupt doctrine, which these maintained. Thus, for instance, it would be very injurious, if I should rank Arminian Divines, in general, with such Authors as Mr. Chubb. I doubt not, many of them have some of his doctrines in abhorrence ; though he agrees, for the most fart, with Arminians, in his motion of the Freedom of the Will. And, on the other hand, though I suffiose this notion to be
a leading article in the Arminian scheme, that which, if fursued in its consequences, will truly infer, or maturally lead to all the orest ; yet I do not charge all that have held this doctrine, with being Arminians. For whatever may be the consequences of the doctrine really, yet some that hold this doctrine, may not own nor see these consequences ; and it would be unjust, in many instances, to charge every Author with believing and maintaining all the real consequences of his avowed doctrines. And I desire it may be farticularly noted, that though I have occasion, in the folIowing discourse, often to mention the Author of the book, entitled, An Essay on the Freedom of the Will, in God and the Creature, as holding that notion of Freedom of Will, which I offiose; get I do not mean to call him an Arminian : However, in that doctrine he agrees with Arminians, and defiarts from the current and general oftinion of Calvinists. If the Author of that Essay be the same as it is commonly ascribed to, he, doubtless, was not one that ought to bear that name. But however good a divine he was in many resflects, yet that fiarticular Arminian doctrine which he maintained, is never the better for being held by such an one; nor is there less need of offiosing it on that account ; but rather is there the more need of it ; as it will be likety to have the more fiernicious influence, for being taught by a divine of his name and character ; suftflosing the doctrine to be wrong, and in itself to be of an ill tendency. I have nothing further to say by way of fireface ; but only to besfieak the Reader’s candor, and calm attention to what I have written. The subject is of such importance, as to demand. attention, and the most thorough consideration. Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important. As religion is the great business, for which we are created, and on which our haffliness defends ; and as religion consists in an intercourse between ourselves and our Maker ; and so has its foundation in God’s nature and ours, and in the relation that God and we stand in to each other; therefore a true knowledge of both must be needful, in order to true religion. But the knowledge of ourselves consists chiefly in right affirehensions concerning those two chief faculties of our nature, the Understanding and Will. Both are very important : Yet the science of the latter must be confessed to be of greatest moment ; inasmuch as all virtue and religion have their seat more immediately in the Will, consisting more esfiecially in right acts and habits of this
FREEDOM OF THE WILL, PART I.
Wherein are explained and stated various Terms and Things belonging to the Subject of the ensuing Discourse.
Concerning the Nature of the WILL.
IT may possibly be thought, that there is no great
need of going about to define or describe the Will; this word being generally as well understood as any other words we can use to explain it : And so perhaps it would be, had not phiHosophers, metaphysicians and polemic divines brought the matter into obscurity by the things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think it may be of some use, and will tend to the greater clearness in the following discourse, to say a few things concerning it.
And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is plainly, That by which the mind choos- . es anything. The faculty of the Willis that faculty or power or principle of mind by which it is capable of choosing: . An act of the Will is the same as an act of choosing or choice.
If any think it is a more perfect definition of the Will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuses; I am content with it : Though I think that it is enough to say, it is that by which the soul chooses: For in every act of Will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary, or
Vol. V. B
rather than the want or nonexistence of that thing. So in every act of refusal, the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused; the positive and the negative are set before the mind for its choice, and it chooses the negative; and the mind's making its choice in that case is properly the act of the Will ; the Will's determining between the two is a voluntary determining; but that is the same thing as making a choice. So that whatever names we call the act of the Will by, choosing, refusing, approving, disapproving, liking, disliking, embracing, rejecting, determining, directing, commanding, forbidding, declining or being averse, a being pleased or displeased with ; all may be reduced to this of choosing. For the soul to act voluntarily, is evermore to act electively. Mr. Locke” says, “The Will signifies nothing but a power or ability to prefer or choose.” And in the foregoing page says, “The word preferring seems best to express the act of volition;” but adds, that “it does it not precisely; for (says he) though a malf would prefer flying to walking, yet who can say he ever wills it 7” But the instance he mentions does not prove that there is any thing else in willing, but merely preferring : For it should be considered what is the next and immediate object of the Will, with respect to a man's walking, or any other external action; which is not being removed from one place to another; on the earth, or through the air; these are remoter objects of preference ; but such or such an immediate exertion of himself. The thing nextly chosen or preferred when a man wills to walk, is not his being removed to such a place where he would be, but such an exertion and motion of his legs and feet, &c. in order to it. And his willing such an alteration in his body in the present moment, is nothing else but his choosing or preferring such an alteration in his body at such a moment, or his liking it better than the forbearance of it. And God has so made and established the human nature, the soul being united to a body in proper state, that the soul preferring or choosing such an immediate exertion or alteration of the body, such an altera
* Human Understanding, Edit, 7. vol. i. p. 197.