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ty, that it should be in ten thousand places at the same time. It is by metaphysical arguments only we are able to prove that the rational soul is not corporeal ; that lead or sand cannot think; that thoughts are not square or round, or do not weigh a pound. The arguments by which we prove the being of God, if handled closely and distinctly, so as to shew their clear and demonstrative evidence, must be metaphysically treated. It is by metaphysics only, that we can demonstrate, that God is not limited to a place, or is not mutable ; that he is not ignorant or forgetful; that it is impossible for him to lie, or be unjust, and that there is one Cod only, and not hundreds or thousands. And, indeed, we have no strict demonstration of any thing, excepting mathematical truths, but by metaphysics. We can have no proof that is properly demonstrative, of any one proposition, relating to the being and nature of God, his creation of the world, the dependence of all things on him, the nature of bodies or spirits, the nature of our own souls, or any of the great truths of morality and natural religion, but what is metaphysical. I am willing my arguments should be brought to the test of the strictest and justest reason, and that a clear, distinct and determinate meaning of the terms I use, should be insisted on ; but let not the whole be rejected, as if all were confuted, by fixing on it the epithet, metrfihysical. - - '. -
II. If the reasoning which has been made use of, be in some sense metaphysical, it will not follow that therefore it must needs be abstruse, unintelligible, and akin to the jargon of the schools. I humbly conceive the foregoing reasoning, at least as to those things which are most material belonging to it, depends on no abstruse definitions or distinctions, or terms without a meaning, or of very ambiguous and undetermined signification, or any points of such abstraction and subtilty, as tends to involve the attentive understanding in clouds and darkness. There is no high degree of refinement and abstruse speculation, in determining that a thing is not before it is, and so cannot be the cause of itself; or that the first act of free choice, has not another act of frce choice going before that, to excite or direct it, or in determining, that no choice is made, while the mind remains in a state of absolute indifference; that preference and equillibrium never coexist; and that therefore no choice is made in a state of liberty, consisting in indifference; and that so far as the Will is determined by motives, exhibited and operating previous to the act of the Will, so far it is not determined by the act of the Will itself; that nothing can begin to be, which before was not, without a cause, or some antecedent ground or reason, why it then begins to be ; that effects depend on their causes, and are connected with them ; that virtue is not the worse, nor sin the better, for the strength of inclination with which it is practised, and the difficulty which thence arises of doing otherwise; that when it is already infallibly known, that the thing will be, it is not a thing contingent whether it will ever be or no; or that it can be truly said, notwithstanding, that it is not necessary it should be, but it either may be, or may not be. And the like might be observed of many other things which belong to the foregoing reasoning.
If any shall still stand to it, that the foregoing reasoning is nothing but metaphysical sophistry; and that it must be so, that the seeming force of the arguments all depends on some fallacy, and while that is hid in the obscurity, which always attends a great degree of metaphysical abstraction and refinement; and shall be ready to say, “Here is indeed something that tends to confound the mind, but not to satisfy it; for, who can ever be truly satisfied in it, that men are fitly blamed or commended, punished or rewarded for those volitions which are not from themselves, and of whose existence they are not the causes: Men may refine as much as they please, and advance their abstract notions, and make out a thousand seeming contradictions, to puzzle our understandings; yet there can be no satisfaction in such doctrine as this ; the natural sense of the mind of man will always resist it.” I humbly conceive, that such an objector, if he has capacity and humility and calmness of spirit, and sufficient impartiality, thoroughly to cxamine himself, will find that he knows not really what he would be at ; and that indeed, his difficulty is nothing but a mere prejudice, from an inadvertent customary use of words, in a meaning that is not clearly understood, nor carefully reflected upon. Let the objector reflect again, if he has candor and patience enough, and does not scorn to be at the trouble of close attention in the affair. He would have a man's volition be from himself. Let it be from himself, most primarily and originally of any way conceivable ; that is, from his own choice : How will that help the matter, as to his being justly blamed or praised, unless that choice itself be blame or praiseworthy ; And how is the choice itself (an ill choice, for instance) blameworthy, according to these principles, unless that be from himself too, in the same manner; that is, from his own choice : But the original and first determining choice in the affair is not from his choice; his choice is not the cause of it. And if it be from himself some other way, and not from his choice, surely that will not help the matter: If it be not from himself of choice, then it is not from himself voluntarily ; and if so, he is surely no more to blame, than if it were not from himself at all. It is a vanity, to pretend it is a sufficient answer to this, to say, that it is nothing but metaphysical refinement and subtilty, and so attended with obscurity and uncertainty. If it be the natural sense of our minds, that what is blameworthy in a man must be from himself, then it doubtless is also, that it must be from something bad in himself, a bad choice, or bad disposition. But then our natural sense is, that this bad choice or disposition is evil in itself, and the man blameworthy for it, on its own account, without taking into our motion of its blameworthiness, another bad choice, or disposition going before this, from whence this arises; for that is a ridiculous absurdity, running us into an immediate contradiction, which our natural sense of blameworthiness has nothing to do with, and never comes into the mind, nor is Supposed in the judgment we naturally make of the affair. As was demonstrated before, natural sense does not place the moral evil of volitions and dispositions in the cause of them, but the nature of them. An evil thing’s being FROM a man, or from something antecedent in him, is not essential to the original notion we have of blameworthiness; but it is its being the choice of the heart ; as appears by this, that if a thing be from us, and not from our choice, it has not the nature of blameworthiness or ill desert, according to our natural sense. When a thing is FRom a man, in that sense, that it is from his Will or choice, he is to blame for it, because his Will is IN 1T : So far as the Will is IN IT, blame is IN IT, and no further. Neither do we go any further in our notion of blame, to inquire whether the bad Will be from a bad Will : There is no consideration of the original of that bad Will ; because, according to our natural apprehension, blame originally consists in it. Therefore a thing's being from a man, is a secondary consideration, in the notion of blame or ill desert. Because those things, in our external actions, are most properly said to be from us, which are from our choice ; and no other external actions, but those that are from us in this sense, have the nature of blame; and they indeed, not so properly because they are from us, as because we are in them, i.e. our Wills are in them; not so much because they are from some firosherty of ours, as because they are our firoherties.
* A certain noted author of the present age says, the arguments for necessity are nothing but quibbling, or logomadhy, using words without a meaning, or bogging the question. I do not know what kind of necessity any authors, he may have reference to, are advocates for ; or whether they have managed their arguments well, or ill. As to the arguments I have made use of, if they are quibbles they may be shewn to be so : Such knots are capable of being untied, and the trick and cheat may be detected and plainly laid open. If this be fairly done, with respect to the grounds and reasons I have relied upon, I shall have just occasion, for the future, to be silent, if not to be ashamed of my argumentations. I am willing my proofs should be thoroughly examined ; and if there be nothing but logging the question, or mere logomachy, or dispute of words, let it be made manifest, and shewn how the seeming strength of the argument depends on my using words without a meaning, or arises from the ambiguity of terms, or my making use of words in an indeterminate and unsteady manner; and that the weight of my reasons rests mainly on such a foundation; and then, I shall either be ready to retract what I have urged, and thank the man that has done the kind part, or shall be justly exposed for my obstimacy. The same author is abundant in appealing, in this affair, from what he calls ingomachy and sophistry, to experience. A person can experience only what passes in his own mind. But yet, as we may well suppose, that all men have the same human faculties; so a man may well argue from his own experience to that of others, in things that shew the nature of those faculties, and the manner of their operation. But then one has as good right to allege his experience, as another. As to my own experience, I find, that in innumerable things I can do as I will ; that the motions of my body, in many respects, instantaneously follow the acts of my Will concerning those motions; and that my Will has some command of my thoughts; and that the acts of my Will are my own, i.e. that they are acts of my Will, the volitions of my own mind; or, in other words, that what I will, I will. Which, I presume, is the sum of what others experience in this affair. But as to finding by experience, that my Will is originally determined by itself; or that, my Will first choosing what volition there shall be, the chosen volition accordingly fol. lows; and that this is the first rise of the determination of my will in any af. fair; or that any volition rises in my mind contingently; I declare, I know nothing in myself, by experience, of this nature; and nothing that ever I experienced, carries the least appearance or shadow of any such thing, or gives me any more reason to suppose or suspect any such thing, than to suppose that my volitions existed twenty years before they existed. It is true, I find myself possessed of my volitions, before I can see the effectual power of any cause to produce them, (for the power and efficacy of the cause is not seen but by the effect) and this, for ought I know, may make some imagine, that volition has no cause, or that it produces itself. But I have no more reason from hence to determine any such thing, than I have to determine that I gave myself my own being, or that I came into being accidentally without a cause, because I first found myself possessed of being, before I had knowledge of a cause of my being.
However, all these external actions being truly from w8, as their cause ; and we being so used, in ordinary speech, and in the common affairs of life, to speak of men’s actions and conduct that we see, and that affect human society, as deserving ill or well, as worthy of blame or praise; hence it is come to pass, that philosophers have incautiously taken all their measures of good and evil, praise and blame, from the dictates of common sense, about these overt acts of men; to the running of every thing into the most lamentable and dreadful confusion.