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ix. 6,) by which God distinguishes man from the beasts, viz., in those faculties and principles of nature, whereby He is capable of moral Agency. Herein very much consists the natural image of God; as his spiritual and moral image, wherein man was made at first, consisted in that moral excellency, that He was pndowed with.
WHEREIN IT IS CONSIDERED WHETHER THERE IS OR CAN BE ANY SUCH SORT Of FREEDOM OF WILL, AS THAT WHEREIN ARMINIANS PLACE THE ESSENCE OF THE LIBERTY OF ALL MORAL AGENTS J AND WHETHER ANY SUCH THING EVER WAS OR CAN BE CONCEIVED OF.
Showing the manifest Inconsistence of the Arminian Notion of Liberty of Will, consisting in the Will's Self-determining Power.
Having taken notice of those things which maybe necessary to be observed, concerning the meaning of the principal terms and phrases made use of in controversies, concerning human Liberty, and particularly observed what Liberty is, according to the common language and general apprehension of mankind, and what it is as understood and maintained by Arminians; I proceed to consider the Arminian notion of the Freedom of the Will, and the supposed necessity of it in order to moral agency, or in order to any one's being capable of virtue or vice, and properly the subject of command or counsel, praise or blame, promises or threatenings, rewards or punishments; or whether that which has been described, as the thing meant by Liberty in common speech, be not sufficient, and the only Liberty which makes or can make any one a moral agent, and so properly the subject of these things. In this Part, I shall consider whether any such thing be possible or conceivable, as that Freedom of Will which Arminians insist on; and shall inquire, whether any such sort of Liberty be necessary to moral agency, &c, in the next Part.
And first of all, I shall consider the notion of a self-determining Power in the Will; wherein, according to the Arminians, does most essentially consist the Will's Freedom; and shall particularly inquire, whether it be not plainly absurd, and a manifest inconsistence, to suppose that the Will itself determines all the free acts of the Will.
Here I shall not insist on the great impropriety of such phrases and ways of speaking as the Will's determining itself; because actions are to be ascribed to agents, and not properly to the powers of agents; which improper way oi speaking leads to many mistakes, and much confusion, as Mr. Locke observes. But I shall suppose that the Arminians, when they speak of the Will's determining itself, do by the Will mean the soul willing. I shall take it for granted, that when they speak of the Will, as the determiner, they mean the soul in the •jxercise of a power of willing, or acting voluntarily. I shall suppose this to be their meaning, because nothing else can be meant, without the grossest and plainest absurdity. In all cases when we speak of the powers or principles of acting, as doing such things, we mean that the agents which have these Powers of acting, do them in the exercise of those Powers. So when we say, valor fights courageously, we mean, the man who is under the influence of valor fights courageously. When we say, love seeks the object loved, we mean, the person loving seeks that object . When we say, the understanding discerns, we mean the soul in the exercise of that faculty So when it is said, the Will decides or determines, the meaning must be, that the person in the exercise of a Power of willing and choosing, or the soul acting voluntarily, determines.
Therefore, if the Will determines all its own free acts, the soul determines all the free acts of the Will in the exercise of a Power of willing and choosing; or which is the same thing, it determines them of choice; it determines its own acts by choosing its own acts. If the Will determines the Will, then choice orders and determines the choice; and acts of choice are subject to the decision, and follow the conduct of other acts of choice. And therefore if the Will determines all its own free acts, then every free act of choice is determined by a preceding act of choice, choosing that act. And if that preceding act of the Will or choice be also a free act, then by these principles, in this act too, the Will is self-determined; that is, this, in like manner, is an act that the soul voluntarily chooses; or, which is the same thing, it is an act determined still by a preceding act of the Will, choosing that. And the like may again be observed of the last mentioned act, which brings us directly to a contradiction; for it supposes an act of the Will preceding the first act in the whole train, directing and determining the rest; or a free act of the Will, before the first free act of the Will. Or else we must come at last to an act of the Will, determining the consequent acts, wherein the Will is not self-determined, and so is not a free act, in this notion of freedom; but if the first act in the train, determining and fixing the rest, be not free, none of them all can be free; as is manifest at first view, but shall be demonstrated presently.
If the Will, which we find governs the members of the body and determines and commands their motions and actions, does also govern itself, and determine its own motions and actions, it doubtless determines them the same way, even by antecedent volitions. The Will determines which way the hands and feet shall move, by an act of volition or choice; and there is no other way of the Will's determining, directing or commanding any thing at all. Whatsoever the Will commands, it commands by an act of the Will. And if it has itself under its command, and determines itself in its own actions, it doubtless does it the same way that it determines other things which are under its command. So that if the freedom of the Will consists in this, that it has itself and its own actions under its command and direction, and its own volitions are determined by itself, it will follow, that every free volition arises from another antecedent volition, directing and commanding that; and if that directing volition be also free, in that also the Will is determined; that is to say, that directing volition is determined by another going before that, and so on, until we come to the first volition in the whole series; and if that first volition be free, and the Will self-determined in it, then that is determined by another volition preceding that, which is a contradiction; because by the supposition, it can have none before i.t to direct or determine it, being the first in the train. But if that first volition is not determined by any preceding act of the Will, then that act is not determined by the Will, and so is not free in the Arminian notion of freedom, which consists in the Will's self-determination. And if that first act of the Will, which determines and fixes the subsequent acts, be not free, none of the following acts, which are determined by it, can be free. If we suppose there are five acts in the train, the fifth and last determined by the fourth, and the fourth by the third, the third by the second, and the second by the first; if the first is not determined by the Will, and so not free, then none of them are truly determined by the Will; that is, that each of them is as it is, and not otherwise, is not first owing to the Will, but to the determination of the first in the series, which is not dependent on the Will, and is that which the Will has no hand in the determination of. And this being that which decides what the rest shall be, and determines their existence; therefore the first determination of their existence is not from the Will. The case is just the same, if instead of a chain of live acts of the Will, we should suppose a succession of ten, or a hundred, or ten thousand. If the first act be not free, being determined by something out of the Will, and this determines the next to be agreeable to itself, and that the next, and so on; they are none of them free, but all originally depend on, and are determined by some cause out of the Will; and so all freedom in the case is excluded, and no act of the Will can be free, according to this notion of freedom. If we should suppose a long chain of ten thousand links, so connected, that if the first link moves, it will move the next, and that the next, and so the whole chain must be determined to motion, and in the direction of its motion, by the motion of the first link, and that is moved by something else. In this case, though all the links but one, are moved by other parts of the same chain; yet it appears that the motion of no one, nor the direction of its motion, is from any self.moving or self-determining power in the chain, any more than if every link were immediately moved by something that did not belong to the chain. 11 the Will be not free in the first act, which causes the next, then neither is it free in the next, which is caused by that first act; for though indeed the Will caused it, yet it did not cause it freely, because the preceding act, by which it was caused, was not free. And again, if the Will be not free in the second act, so neither can it be in the third, which is caused by that; because in like manner, that third was determined by an act of the Will that was not free. And so we may go on to the next act, and from that to the next; and how long soever the succession of acts is, it is all one. If the first on which the whole chain depends, and which determines all the rest, be not a free act, the Will is not free in causing or determining any one of those acts, because the act by which it determines them all, is not a free act, and therefore the Will is no more free in determining them, than if it did not cause them at all. Thus, this Arminian notion of Liberty of the Will, consisting in the Will's self-determination, is repugnant to itself, and shuts itself wholly out of the world
SECTION II. Several supposed ways of Evading the foregoing Reasoning, considered.
If to evade the force of what has been observed, it should be said, that when the Arminians speak of the Will's determining its own acts, they do not mean that the Will determines its acts by any preceding act, or that one act of the Will determines another; but only that the faculty or power of Will, or the soul in the use of that power, determines its own volitions; and that it does it without any act going before the act determined; such an evasion would be full of gross absurdity.—I confess, it is an evasion of my own inventing, and I do not know but I should wrong the Jirminians, in supposing that any of them would make use of it. But it being as good a one as I can invent, I would observe upon it a few things.
First. If the faculty or power of the Will determines an act of volition, or the soul in the use or exercise of that power, determines it, that is the same thing as for the soul to determine volition by an act of the Will. For an exercise of the power of Will, and an act of that power, are the same thing. Therefore to say, that the power of Will, or the soul in the use or exercise of that power, determines volition, without an act of Will preceding the volition determined, is a contradiction.
Secondly. If a power of Will determines the act of the Will, then a power of choosing determines it. For, as was before observed, in every act of Will, there is a choice, and a power of willing is a power of choosing. But if a power of choosing determines the act of volition, it determines it by choosing it. For it is most absurd to say, that a power of choosing determines one thing rather than another, without choosing any thing. But if a power of choosing determines volition by choosing it, then here is the act of volition determined by an antecedent choice, choosing that volition.
Thirdly. To say, the faculty, or the soul, determines its own volitions, but not by any act, is a contradiction. Because, for the soul to direct, decide, or determine any thing, is to act; and this is supposed; for the soul is here spoken of as being a cause in this affair, bringing something to pass, or doing something; or which is the same thing, exerting itself in order to an effect, which effect is the determination of volition, or the particular kind and manner of an act of Will. But certainly this exertion or action is not the same with the effect, in order to the production of which it is exerted, but must be something prior to it.
Again. The advocates for this notion of the freedom of the Will, speak of a certain sovereignty in the Will, whereby it has power to determine its own volitions. And therefore the determination of volition must itself be an act of the Will; for otherwise it can be no exercise of that supposed power and sovereignty.
Again. If the Will determine itself, then either the Will is active in determining its volitions, or it is not. If it be active in it, then the determination is an act of the Will; and so there is one act of the Will determining another But if the Will is not active in the determination, then how does it exercise any liberty in it 1 These gentlemen suppose that the thing wherein the Will exercises liberty, is in its determining its own acts. But how can this be, if it be not active in determining 1 Certainly the Will, or the soul, cannot exercise any liberty in that wherein it doth not act, or wherein it doth not exercise itself. So that if either part of this dilemma be taken, this scheme of liberty, consisting in self-determining power, is overthrown. If there be an act of the Will in determining all its own free acts, then one free act of the Will is determined by another; and so we have the absurdity of every free act, even the very first, determined by a foregoing free act. But if there be no act or exercise of the Will in determining its own acts, then no liberty is exercised in determining them. From whence it follows, that no liberty consists in the Will'* power to determine its own acts; or, which is the same thing, that there is nv such thing as liberty consisting in a self-determining power of the Will.
If it should be said, that although it be true, if the soul determines its own volitions, it must be active in so doing, and the determination itself must be an act; yet there is no need of supposing this act to be prior to the volition determined; but the Will or soul determines the act of the Will in willing; it determines its own volition, in the very act of volition; it directs and limits the act of the Will, causing it to be so and not otherwise, in exerting the act, without any preceding act to exert that. If any should say after this manner, they must mean one of these two things: either, 1. That the determining act, though it be before the act determined in the order of nature, yet is not before it in order of time. Or, 2. That the determining act is not before the act determined, either in the order of time or nature, nor is truly distinct from it; but that the soul's determining the act of volition is the same thing with its exerting the act of volition; the mind's exerting such a particular act, is its causing and determining the act. Or, 3. That volition has no cause, and is no effect; but comes into existence, with such a particular determination, without any ground or reason of its existence and determination. I shall consider these distinctly.
1. If all that is meant, be, that the determining act is not before the act determined in order of time, it will not help the case at all, though it should be allowed. If it be before the determined act in the order of nature, being the cause or ground of its existence, this as much proves it to be distinct from it, and independent of it, as if it were before in the order of time. As the cause of the particular motion of a natural body in a certain direction, may have no distance as to time, yet cannot be the same with the motion effected by it, but must be as distinct from it as any other cause that is before its effect in the order of time; as the architect is distinct from the house which he builds, or the father distinct from the son which he begets. And if the act of the Will determining be distinct from the act determined, and before it in the order of nature, then we can go back from one to another, till we come to the first in the series, which has no act of the Will before it in the order of nature, determining it; and consequently is an act not determined by the Will, and so not a free act, in this notion of freedom. And this being the act which determines all the rest, none of them are free acts. As when there is a chain of many links, the first of which only is taken hold of and drawn by hand; all the rest may follow and be moved at the same instant, without any distance of time; but yet the motion of one link is before that of another in the order of nature; the last is moved by the next, and so till we come to the first; which not being moved by any other, but by something distinct from the whole chain, this as much proves that no part is moved by any self-moving power in the chain, as if the motion of one link followed that of another in the order of time.
2. If any should say, that the determining act is not before the determined act, either in order of time, or of nature, nor is distinct from it; but that the exertion of the act is the determination of the act; that for the soul to exert a particular volition, is for it to cause and determine that act of volition; I would on this observe, that the thing in question seems to be fosgotten or kept out of sight, in darkness and unintelligibleness of speech; unless such an objector would mean to contradict himself. The very act of volition itself is doubtless a determination of mind; i. e. it is the mind's drawing up a conclusion, or coming to a choice between two things or more, proposed to it. But determining among external objects of choice, is not the same with determining the act of choice itself, among various possible acts of choice. The question is, what influences, directs, or determines the mind or Will to come to such a conclusion or choice as it does 1 Or what is fee cause, ground or reasoK, whv it concludes thus, and not other