Page images
PDF
EPUB

any intervening choice to choose and determine it, then the act. not being determined by choice, is not determined by the Will ; the mind exercises no free choice in the affair, and free choice and free Will have no hand in the determination of the act. Which is entirely inconsistent with their notion of the freedom of Volition.'

If any should suppose, that these difficulties and absurdi, ties may be avoided, by saying that the Liberty of the mind consists in a power to suspend the act of the Will, and so to keep it in a state of Indifference, until there has been oppor tunity for consideration ; and so shall say that, however In, difference is not essential to Liberty in such a manner, that the mind must make its choice in a state of Indifference, which is an inconsistency, or that the act of Will must spring immediately out of Indifference ; yet indifference may be ese sential to the liberty of acts of the Will in this respect, viz. That Liberty consists in a Power of the mind to forbear or suspend the act of Volition, and keep the mind in a state of Indifference for the present, until there has been opportunity for proper deliberation : I say, if any one imagines that this helps the matter, it is a great mistake : It reconciles no inconsistency, and relieves no difficulty with which the affair is attended.....For here the following things must be observed :

1. That this suspending of Volition, if there be properly any such thing, is itself an act of Volition. If the mind deter, mines to suspend its act, it determines it voluntarily ; it chooses, on some consideration, to suspend it. And this choice or determination, is an act of the Will : And indeed it is supposed to be so in the very hypothesis ; for it is supposed that the Liberty of the Will consists in its Power to do this, and that its doing it is the very thing wherein the Will exercises its Liberiy. But how can the Will exercise Liberty in it, if it be not an act of the Will ? The Liberty of the Will is not exercised in any thing but what the Will does..

2. This determining to suspend acting is not only an act of the Will, but it is supposed to be the only free act of the Will ; because it is said, that this is the thing wherein the Liberty of the Will consists.... Now if this be so, then this is all the act of will that we have to consider in this controversy, about the Liberty of Will, and in our inquiries, wherein the Liberty of man consists. And now the forementioned difficulties remain : The former question returns upon us, viz. Wherein consists the freedom of the Will in those acts wherein it is free ? And if this act of determining a suspension be the only act in which the Will is free, then wherein consists the Will's freedom with respect to this act of suspension ? And how is Indifference essential to this act ? The answer must be, according to what is supposed in the evasion under consideration, that the Liberty of the Will in this act of suspension, consists in a Power to suspend even this act, until there has been opportunity for thorough deliberation..... But this will be to plunge directly into the grossest nonsense: For it is the act of suspension itself that we are speaking of; and there is no room for a space of deliberation and suspension in order to determine whether we will suspend or no. For that supposes, that even suspension itself may be deferred : Which is absurd; for the very deferring the determination of suspension to consider whether we will suspend or no, will be actually suspending. For during the space of suspension, to consider, whether to suspend, the act is isso facto suspended. There is no medium between suspending to act, and immediately acting; and therefore no possibility of avoiding either the one or the other one moment."

And besides, this is attended with ridiculous absurdity another way : For now it is come to that, that Liberty consists wholly in the mind's having Power to suspend its determination whether to suspend or no; that there may be time for consideration, whether it be best to suspend. And if Liberty consists in this only, then this is the Liberty under consideration : We have to inquire now, how Liberty with respect to this act of suspending a determination of suspension, consists in Indifference, or how Indifference is essential to it. The answer, according to the hypothesis we are upon, must be, that it consists in a Power of suspending even this last mentioned act, to have time to consider whether to suspend that. And then the same difficulties and inquiries return

over again with respect to that ; and so on for ever. Which if it would shew any thing, would shew only that there is no such thing as a free act. It drives the exercise of freedom back in infinitum ; and that is to drive it out of the world.

And besides all this, there is a delusion, and a latent gross contradiction in the affair another way; in as much as in explaining how, or in what respect the Will is free with regard to a particular act of Volition, it is said that its Liberty con

sists in a Power to determine to suspend that act, which place? 'es Liberty not in that act of Volition which the inquiry is

about, but altogether in another antecedent act. Which contradicts the thing supposed in both the question and answer. The question is, wherein consists the mind's Liberty in any particular act of Volition ? And the answer, in pretending to shew wherein lies the mind's Liberty in that act, in effect says, it does not lie in that act, but in another, viz. a Volition to suspend that act. And therefore the answer is both contradictory, and altogether impertinent and beside the purpose. For it does not shew wherein the Liberty of the Will consists in the act in question ; instead of that, it supposes it does not consist in that act, but in another distinct from it, even a Volition to suspend that act, and take time to consider it. And no account is pretended to be given wherein the mind is free with respect to that act, wherein this answer supposes the Liberty of the mind indeed consists, viz. the act of suspension, or of determining the suspension.

On the whole, it is exceedingly manifest, that the Liberty of the mind does not consist in Indifference, and that Indifference is not essential or necessary to it, or belonging to it, as the Arminians suppose ; that opinion being full of absurdity and selfcontradiction.

SECTION VIII.

Concerning the supposed Liberty of the Will, as opi

posite to all Necessity.

IT is a thing chiefly insisted on by Arminians, in this cono troversy, as a thing most important and essential in human Liberty, that volitions, or the acts of the Will, are contingent events ; understanding contingence as opposite, not only to constraint, but to all necessity. Therefore I would particu. larly consider this matter. And

1. I would inquire, whether there is, or can be any such thing, as a volition which is contingent in such a sense, as not only to come to pass without any Necessity of constraint or coaction, but also without a Necessity of consequence, or an infallible connexion with any thing foregoing.

2. Whether, if it were so, this would at all help the cause of Liberty.

I. I would consider whether volition is a thing that ever does, or can come to pass, in this manner, contingently.

And here it must be remembered, that it has been already shewn, that nothing can ever come to pass without a cause, or Teason why it exists in this manner rather than another; and the evidence of this has been particularly applied to the acts of the Will. Now if this be so, it will demonstrably follow, that the acts of the Will are never contingent, or without necessity in the sense spoken of ; in as much as those things which have a cause, or reason of their existence, must be connected with their cause. This appears by the following considerations.

1, For an event to have a cause and ground of its existe' ence, and yet not to be connected with its cause, is an inconsistence. For if the event be not connected with the cause, it is not dependent on the cause ; its existence is as it were loose from its influence, and may attend it or may not ; it be. ing amere contingence, whether it follows or attends the influ. VOL. y.

М.

ence of the cause, or not: And that is the same thing as por to be dependent on it. And to say the event is not dependent on its cause is absurd : It is, the same thing as to say, it is not its cause, nor the event the effect of it: For dependence on the influence of a cause is the very notion of an effect. If there be no such relation between one thing and another, consisting in the connexion and dependence of one thing on the influence of another, then it is certain there is no such relation between them as is signified by the terms cause and effect. So far as an event is dependent on a cause and connected with it, so much causality is there in the case, and no more. The cause does, or brings to pass no more in any event, than it is dependent on it. If we say the connexion and dependence is not total, but partial, and that the effect, though it has some connexion and dependence, yet it is not en

tirely dependent on it ; that is the same thing as to say, that - not all that is in the event is an effect of that cause, but that only a part of it arises from thence, and part some other way.

2. If there are some events which are not necessarily connected with their causes, then it will follow, that there are some things which come to pass without any cause, contrary to the supposition. For if there be any event which was not necessarily connected with the influence of the cause under such circumstances, then it was contingent whetherit would attend or follow the influence of the cause, or no ; it might have followed, and it might not, when the cause was the same, its influence the same, and under the same circumstances. And, if so, why did it follow rather than not follow? There is no cause or reason of this. Therefore here is something without any cause or reason why it is, viz. the following of the effect on the influence of the cause, with which it was not necessarily connected. If there be not a necessary connexion of the effect on any thing antecedent, then we may suppose that sometimes the event will follow the cause, and sometimes not, when the cause is the same, and in every respect in the same state of circumstances. And what can be the cause and reason of this strange phenomenon, even this diversity, that in one instance, the effect should follow, in an.

« PreviousContinue »