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and dependent on ourselves, us a being liable to be the subjects of acts and events, contingently and fortuitously, without desire, view, purpose or design, or any principle of action within ourselves; as we must be according to this author's own declared sense, if our actions are performed with that liberty that is opposed to moral necessity.
This author seems everywhere to suppose, that necessity, most properly so called, attends all men's actions; and that the terms necessary, unavoidable, im possible, &c, are equally applicable to the case of moral and natural necessity. In p. 173, he says, " The idea of necessary and unavoidable, equally agrees, both to moral and physical necessity." And in p. 184, "All things that fall out in the natural and moral world are alike necessary." P. 174, " This inclination and choice is unavoidably caused or occasioned by the prevailing motive. In this lies the necessity of our actions, that, in such circumstances, it was impossible we could act otherwise." He often expresses himself in like manner elsewhere, speaking in strong terms of men's actions as unavoidable, what they cannot forbear, having no power over their own actions, the order of them being unalterably fixed and inseparably linked together, &c*
On the contrary, I have largely declared, that the connection between antecedent things and consequent ones, which takes place with regard to the acts of men's Wills, which is called moral necessity, is called by the name of necessity improperly; and that all such terms as must, cannot, impossible, unable, irresistible, unavoidable, invincible, &c, when applied here, are not applied in their proper signification, and are either used nonsensically, and with perfect insignifi cance, or in a sense quite diverse from their original and proper meaning, and their use in common speech; and, that such a necessity as attends the acts of men's Wills, is more properly called certainty, than necessity ; it being no other than the certain connection between the subject and predicate of the proposition which affirms their existence.
Agreeably to what is observed in my Inquiry, I think it is evidently owing to a strong prejudice in persons' minds, arising from an insensible, habitual perversion and misapplication of such like terms as necessary, impossible, unable, unavoidable, invincible, &c, that they are ready to think, that to suppose a certain connection of men's volitions, without any foregoing motives or inclinations, or any preceding moral influence whatsoever, is truly and properly to suppose such a strong, irrefragable chain of causes and effects, as stands in the way of, and makes utterly vain, opposite desires and endeavors, like immovable and impenetrable mountains of brass 5 and impedes our liberty like walls of adamant, gates of brass, and bars of iron: whereas, all such representations suggest ideas as far from the truth, as the east is from the west. Nothing that I maintain, supposes that men are at all hindered by any fatal necessity, from doing, and even willing and choosing as they please, with full freedom; yea, with the highest degree of liberty that ever was thought of, or that ever could possibly enter into the heart of any man to conceive. I know it is in vain to endeavor to make some persons believe this, or at least fully and steadily to believe it; for if it be demonstrated to them, still the old prejudice remains, which has been long fixed by the use of the terms necessary, must, cannot, impossible, &c.; the association wifh these terms of certain ideas, inconsistent with iberty, is not broken; and the judgment is powerfully warped by it, as a thing that has been long bent and grown stiff, if it be straightened, wiL return to :ts former curvity again and again.
• P. 180, 188, 193, 194, 195, 197,198, 399, 205, 206.
The author of the Essays most manifestly supposes that if men had the truth concerning the real necessity of all their actions clearly in view, they would not appear to themselves, or one another, as at all praiseworthy or culpable, or under any moral obligation, or accountable for their actions ;* which supposes, that men are not to be blamed or praised for any of their actions, and are not under any obligations, nor are truly accountable for any thing they do, by reason of this necessity; which is very contrary to what I have endeavored to prove, throughout the third part of my Inquiry. I humbly conceive it is there shown, that this is so far from the truth, that the moral necessity of men's actions, which truly take place, is requisite to the being of virtue and vice, or any thing praiseworthy or culpable: that the liberty of indifference and contingence, which is advanced in opposition to that necessity, is inconsistent with the being of these; as it would suppose that men are not determined in what they do, by any virtuous or vicious principles, nor act from any motives, intentions or aims whatsoever; or have any end, either good or bad, in acting. And is it not remarkable, that this author should suppose, that, in order to men's actions truly having any desert, they must be performed without any view, purpose, design, or desire, or any principle of action, or any thing agreeable to a rational nature? As it will appear that he does, if we compare p. 206,207, with p. 175. The author of the Essays supposes, that God has deeply implanted in man's nature, a strong and invincible apprehension or feeling, as he calls it, of a liberty and contingence, of his own actions, opposite to that necessity which truly attends them; and which in truth does not agree with real fact,f is not agreeable to strict, philosophic truth,! is contradictory to the truth of things,§ and which truth contradicts,|| not tallying with the real plan ;U and that therefore such feelings are deceitful,** are in reality of the delusive kind.jf He speaks of them as a wise delusion,!! as nice, artificial feelings, merely that conscience may have a commanding power ;§§ meaning plainly, that these feelings are a cunning artifice of the Author of Nature, to make men believe they are free, when they are not.|||| He supposes that, by these feelings, the moral world has a disguised appearance.TTIf And other things of this kind he says. He supposes that all self-approbation, and all remorse of conscience, all commendation or condemnation of ourselves or others, all sense of desert, and all that is connected with this way of thinking, all the ideas which at present are suggested by the words ought, should, arise from this delusion, and would entirely vanish vithout it.*f
All which is very contrary to what I have abundantly insisted on and endeavored to demonstrate in my Inquiry, where I have largely shown that it is agreeable to the natural sense of mankind, that the moral necessity or certainty that attends men's actions, is consistent with praise and blame, reward and punishment ;*J and that it is agreeable to our natural notions, that moral evil, with its desert of dislike and abhorrence, and all its other ill-deservings, consists in a certain deformity in the nature of the dispositions and acts of the heart, and not in the evil of something else, diverse from these, supposed to be their cause or occasion.*^
I might well ask here, whether any one is to be found in the world of mankind, who is conscious to a sense or feeling, naturally and deeply rooted in h'i mind, that in order to a man's performing any action that is praise or blamo
* P. 207, 209, and otherplaces. tP.200. t P. 152. 5 ?. 183. IIP. 186. IT P. 20!
•• P. 203, 204, 211. t,t P. 183.» P. 209. HP. 211. Illl P. 153. TIT 214. »t P. 160, i9« 199, 205, 206, 209. »t Inquiry, Part IV. Sect. 4, throughout. *» Idem, Part IV. S«et I
\iuxughout, and p. 174,175.
worthy, he must exercise a liberty that implies and signifies a power of acting without any motive, view, design, desire or principle of action 1 For such a liberty, this author supposes that must be which is opposed to moral necessity, as I have already observed once and again. Supposing a man should actually do good, independent of desire, aim, inducement, principle or end, is it a dictate of invincible, natural sense, that his act is more meritorious or praiseworthy, than if he had performed it for some good end, and had been governed in it by good principles and motives? And so I might ask on the contrary, with respect to evil actions.*
The author of the Essays supposes that the liberty without necessity, which we have a natural feeling of, implies contingence; and speaking of this contingence, he sometimes calls it by the name of chance. And it is evident that his notion of it, or rather what he says about it, implies things happening loosely, fortuitously, by accident, and without a cause* Now I conceive the slightest reflection. may be sufficient to satisfy any one that such a contingence of men's actions, according to our natural sense, is so far from being essential to the morality or merit of those actions, that it would destroy it; and that, on the contrary, the dependence of our actions on such causes as inward inclinations, incitements and ends, is essential to the being of it. Natural sense teaches men, when they see any thing done by others of a good or evil tendency, to inquire what their intention was; what principles and views they were moved by, in order to judge how far they are to be justified or condemned; and not to determine, that in order to their being approved or blamed at all, the action must be performed altogether fortuitously, proceeding from nothing, arising from no cause. Concerning this matter 1 have fully expressed my mind in the Inquiry.
If the liberty which we have a natural sense of as necessary to desert, consists in the mind's self-determination, without being determined by previous inclination or motive, then indifference is essential to it, yea, absolute indifference, as is observed in my Inquiry. But men naturally have no notion of any such liberty as this, as essential to the morality, or demerit of their actions; but, on the contrary, such a liberty, if it were possible, would be inconsistent with our natural notions of desert, as is largely shown in the Inquiry. If it be agreeable to natural sense, that men must be indifferent in determining their own actions, then, according to the same, the more they are determined by inclination, either good or bad, the less they have of desert. The more good actions are performed from good dispositions, the less praiseworthy; and the more evil deeds are from evil dispositions, the less culpable; and in general, the more men's actions are from their hearts, the less they are to be commended or condemned; which all must know is very contrary to natural sense.
Moral necessity is owing to the power and government of the inclination of the heart, either habitual or occasional, excited by motive; but according to natural and common sense, the more a man does any thing with full inclination of heart, the more is it to be charged to his account for his condemnation if it be an ill action, and the more to be ascribed to him for his praise, if t be good.
If the mind were determined to evil actions by contingence, from a state of indifference, then either there would be no fault in them, or else the fault would be in being so perfectly indifferent, that the mind was equally liable to a bad or good determination. And if this influence be liberty, then the very essence of the blame or fault would lie in the liberty itself, or the wickedness would, primarily and summarily, lie in being a free agent . If there were no fault in
» See this matter illus,^ed in my Inquiry, Part IV. Sect. 4. t P. 156—159, IT>, V% 181, 183—185. being indifferent, then there would be no fault in he determination's being agreeable to such a state of indifference; that is, there could no fault be reasonably found with this, viz., that opposite determinations actuaVy happen tc take place indifferently sometimes good and sometimes bad, as contingencf governs and decides. And if it be a fault to be indifferent to good and evil, then such indifference is no indifference to good and evil, but is a determination to evil, or to a fault; and such an indifferent disposition would be an evil, faulty disposition, tendency or determination of mind. So inconsistent are these notions of liberty, as essential to praise or blame.
The author of the Essays supposes men's natural, delusive sense of a liberty of contingence, to be in truth, the foundation of all the labor, care and industry of mankind ;* and that if men's practical ideas had been formed on the plan of universal necessity, the ignava ratio, the inactive doctrine of the Stoics, would have followed; and that there would have been no Room for forethought about futurity, or any sort of industry and care ;f plainly implying, that in this case men would see and know that all their industry and care signified nothing, was in vain and to no purpose, or of no benefit; events being fixed in an irrefragable chain, and not at all depending on their care and endeavor; as he explains himself, particularly in the instance of men's use of means to prolong life ;| not only very contrary to what I largely maintain in my Inquiry, but also very inconsistently with his own scheme, in what he supposes of the ends for which God has so deeply implanted this deceitful feeling in man's nature; in which he manifestly supposes men's care and industry not to be in vain and of no benefit, but of great use, yea, of absolute necessity, in order to the obtaining the most important ends and necessary purposes of human life, and to fulfil the ends of action to the best advantage, as he largely declares.§ Now, how shall these things be reconciled 1 That if men had a clear view of real truth, they would see that there was no room for their care and industry, because they would see it to be in vain, and of no benefit; and yet that God, by having a clear view of real truth, sees that their being excited to care and industry, will be of excellent use to mankind, and greatly for the benefit of the world, yea, absolutely necessary in order to it; and that therefore the great wisdom and goodness ol God to men appears, in artfully contriving to put them on care and industry for their good, which good could not be obtained without them; and yet both these things are maintained at once, and in the same sentences and words by this author. The very reason he gives, why God has put this deceitful feeling into men, contradicts and destroys itself. That God in his great goodness to men gave them such a deceitful feeling, because it was very useful and necessary for them, and greatly for their benefit, or excites them to care and industry for their own good, which care and industry is useful and necessary to that end; and yet the very thing that this great benefit of care and industry is given as a reason for, is God's deceiving men in this very point, in making them think their care and industry to be of great benefit to them, when indeed it is of none at all; and if they saw the real truth, they would see all their endeavors to be wholly useless, that there was no room for them, and that the event does not at ill depend upon them.TT
And besides, what this author says plainly implies (as appears by what has been already observed), that it is necessary men should be deceived, by being made to believe that future events are contingent, and their own future actions free, with such a freedom, as signifies that their actions are not the fruit of their
•P. 184. 1 P. 189. t P. 1S4.185. 5 P. 188—192, and in many other places. t p 199 iie. own desires or designs, but altogether contingent, fortuitous, and without a cause. But how should a notion of liberty, consisting in accident or loose chance, encourage care and industry? I should think it would rather entirely discourage every thing of this nature. For surely, if our actions do not depend on our desires and designs, then they do not depend on our endeavors, flowing from our desires and designs. This author himself seems to suppose, that if men had, indeed, such a liberty of contingence, it would render all endeavors to determine or move men's future volitions vain; he says, that in this case to exhort, to instruct, to promise, or to threaten, would be to no purpose. Why 1 Because (as he himself gives the reason), then our Will would be capricious and arbitrary, and we should be thrown loose altogether, and our arbitrary power could do us good or ill only by accident. But if such a loose, fortuitous state would render vain other endeavors upon us, for the same reason would it make useless our endeavors on ourselves; for events that are truly contingent and accidental, and altogether loose from, and independent of, all foregoing causes, are independent on every foregoing cause within ourselves, as well as in others.
I suppose that it is so far from being true, that our minds are naturally possessed with a notion of such liberty as this, so strongly that it is impossible to root it out; that indeed men have no such notion of liberty at all, and that it is utterly impossible, by any means whatsoever, to implant or introduce such a notion into the mind. As no such notions as imply self-contradiction and selfabolition can subsist in the mind, as I have shown in my Inquiry, I think a mature, sensible consideration of the matter, sufficient to satisfy any one, that even the greatest and most learned advocates themselves for liberty of indifference and self-determination, have no such notion; and that indeed they mean something wholly inconsistent with, and directly subversive of, what they strenuously affirm, and earnestly contend for. By man's having a power of determining his owr Will, they plainly mean a power of determining his Will, as he pleases, or a; hi chooses; which supposes that the mind has a choice, prior to its going about to confirm any action or determination to it. And if they mean that they determine even the original or prime choice, by their own pleasure or choice, as the thing that causes and directs it; I scruple not most boldly to affirm, that they speak they know not what, and that of which they have no manner of idea, because no such contradictory notion can come into, or have a moment's subsistence in the mind of any man living, as an original or first choice being caused, or brought into being, by choice. After all, they say they have no higher or other conception of liberty, than that vulgar notion of it, which I contend for, viz., a man's having power or opportunity to do as he chooses; or if they had a notion that every act of choice was determined by choice, yet it would destroy their notion of the contingence of choice; for then no one act of choice would arise contingently, or from a state of indifference, but every individual act, in all the series, would arise from foregoing bias or preference, and from a cause predetermining and fixing its existence, which introduces at once such a chain of causes and effects, each preceding link decisively fixing the following, as they would by all means avoid.
And such kind of delusion and self-contradiction as this, does not arise in men's minds by nature; it is not owing to any natural feeling which God has; strongly fixed in the mind and nature of man; but to false philosophy, and strong prejudice, from a deceitful abuse of words. It is artificial,, not in the sense of the author of the Essays, supposing it to be a deceitful artifice of God; but artificial as opposed to natural, and as owing to an artificial, deceitful management of terms, to darken and. confound: the mind Men have no sucL