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a Volition may come to pass without a Cause, how do we know but that many other sorts of effects may do so too 1 It is not the particular kind of effect that makes the absurdity of supposing it has been without a Cause, but something which is common to all things that ever begin to be, viz., that they are not self. existent, or necessary in the nature of things.
Whether Volition can arise without a Cause through the Activity of the Nature of
The author of the Essay on the Freedom of the Will in God and the Creatures, in answer to that objection against his doctrine of a self-determining power in the Will, (p. 68, 69,) "That nothing is, or comes to pass, without a sufficient reason why it is, and why it is in this manner rather than another," allows that it is thus in corporeal things, which are, properly and philosophically speaking, passive beings; but denies that it is thus in spirits, which are beings of an active nature, who have the spring of action within themselves, and can determine themselves. By which it is plainly supposed, that such an event as an act of the Will, may come to pass in a spirit, without a sufficient reason why it comes to pass, or why it is after this manner, rather than another; by reason of the activity of the nature of a spirit.—But certainly this author, in this matter, must be very unwary and inadvertent . For,
1. The objection or difficulty proposed by this author, seems to be forgotten in his answer or solution. The very difficulty, as he himself proposes it, is this: How an event can come to pass without a sufficient reason why it is, or why it is in this manner rather than another 1 Instead of solving this difficulty, or answering this question with regard to Volition, as he proposes, he forgets himself, and answers another question quite diverse, and wholly inconsistent with this, viz., What is a sufficient reason why it is, and why it is in this manner rather than another 1 And he assigns the active being's own determination as the Cause, and a Cause sufficient for the effect; and leaves all the difficulty unresolved, and the question unanswered, which yet returns, even, how the soul's own determination, which he speaks of, came to exist, and to be what it was without a Cause 1 The activity of the soul may enable it to be the Cause of effects, but it does not at all enable or help it to be the subject of effects which have no Cause, which is the thing this author supposes concerning acts of the Will. Activity of nature will no more enable a being to produce effects, and determine the manner of their existence, within itself, without a Cause, than out of itself, in some other being. But if an active being should, through its activity, produce and determine an effect in some external object, how absurd would it be to say, that the effect was produced without a Cause!
2. The question is not so much, how a spirit endowed with activity comes to act, as why it exerts such an act, and not another; or why it acts with such a particular determination: if activity of nature be the Cause why a spirit (the soul of man for instance) acts, and does not lie still; yet that alone is not the Cause why its action is thus and thus limited, directed and determined. Active nature is a general thing; it is an ability or tendency of nature to action, generally taken; which may be a Cause why the soul acts as occasion or reason is given; but this alone cannot be a sufficient Cause why the soul exerts such p particular act, at such a time, rather than others. In order to this, there must be something besides a general tendency to action; there must also be a particular tendency to that individual action. If it should be asked, why the soul of man uses its activity in such a manner as it does, and it should be answered, that the soul uses its activity thus, rather than otherwise, because it has activity, would such an answer satisfy a rational man 1 Would it not rather je looked upon as a very impertinent one 1
3. An active being can bring no effects to pass by his activity, but what are consequent upon his acting. He produces nothing by his activity, any other way than by the exercise of his activity, and so nothing but the fruits of its exercise; he brings nothing to pass by a dormant activity. But the exercise of his activity is action; and so his action, or exercise of his activity, must be prior to the effects of his activity. If an active being produces an effect in another being, about which his activity is conversant, the effect being the fruit of his activity, his activity must be first exercised or exerted, and the effect of it must follow. So it must be, with equal reason, if the active being is his own object, and his activity is conversant about himself, to produce and determine some effect in himself; still the exercise of his activity must go before the effect, which he brings to pass and determines by it. And therefore his activity cannot be the Cause of the determination of the first action, or exercise of activity itself, whence the effects of activity arise, for that would imply a contradiction; it would be to say, the first exercise of activity is before the first exercise of activity, and is the Cause of it
4. That the soul, though an active substance, cannot diversify its own acts, but by first acting; or be a determining Cause of different acts, or any different effects, sometimes of one kind, and sometimes of another, any other way than in consequence of its own diverse acts, is manifest by this; that if so, then the same Cause, the same causal power, force or influence, without variation in any respect, would produce different effects at different times. For the same substance of the soul before it acts, and the same active nature of the soul before it is exerted, i. e. before in the order of nature, would be the Cause of different effects, viz., different Volitions at different times. But the substance of the soul before it acts, and its active nature before it is exerted, are the same without variation. For it is some act that makes the first variation in the Cause, as to any causal exertion, force, or influence. But if it be so, that the soul has no different causality, or diverse causal force or influence, in producing these diverse effects; then it is evident, that the soul has no influence, no hand in the diversity of the effect; and that the difference of the effect cannot be owing to any thing in the soul; or, which is the same thing, the soul does not determine the diversity of the effect; which is contrary to to the supposition. It is true, the substance of the soul before it acts, and before there is any difference in that respect, may be in a different state and circumstance; but those whom I oppose, will not allow the different circumstances of the soul to be the determining Causes of the acts of the Will, as being contrary to their notion of self-determination and self-motion.
5. Let us suppose, as these divines do, that there are no acts of the soul, strictly speaking, but free Volitions; then it will follow, that the soul is an active being in nothing further than it is a voluntary or elective being; and whenever it produces effects actively, it produces effects voluntarily and clectively. But to produce effects thus, is the same thing as to produce effects in consequence of, and according to its own choice. And if so, then surely the soul does not by its activity produce all its own acts of Wil. or ;hoice themselves; for this. by the supposition, is to produce all its free acts of choice voluntarily and dectively, or in consequence of its own free acts of choice, which brings the matter directly to the forementioned contradiction, of a free act of choice before the first f?ee act of choice. According to these gentlemen's own notion of action, if there arises in the mind a Volition without a free act of the Will or choice to determine and produce it, the mind is not the active, voluntary Cause of that Volition, because it does not arise from, nor is regulated by choice or design. And therefore it cannot be, that the mind should be the active, voluntary, determining Cause of the first and leading Volition that relates to the affair. The mind's being a designing Cause, only enables it to produce effects in consequence of its design; it will not enable it to be the designing Cause of all its own designs. The mind's being an elective Cause, will only enable it to produce effects in consequence of its elections, and according to them; but cannot enable it to be the elective Cause of all its own elections; because that supposes an election before the first election. So the mind's being an active Cause enables it to produce effects in consequence of its own acts, but cannot enable it to be the determining Cause of all its own acts; for that is still in the same manner a contradiction; as it supposes a determining act conversant about the first act, and prior to it, having a causal influence on its existence, and manner of existence.
I can conceive of nothing else that can be meant by the soul's having power to cause and determine its own Volitions, as a being to whom God has given a power of action, but this; that God has given power to the soul, sometimes at least, to excite Volitions at its pleasure, or according as it chooses. And this certainly supposes, in all such cases, a choice preceding all Volitions which are thus caused, even the first of them; which runs into the forementioned great absurdity.
Therefore the activity of the nature of the soul affords no relief from the difficulties which the notion of a self-determining power in the Will is attended with, nor will it help, in the least, its absurdities and inconsistencies.
SECTION V. Showing, that if the things asserted in these Evasions should be supposed to be tru* they are altogether impertinent, and cannot help the cause of Arminian liberty and how (this being the state of the case) Arminian writers are obliged to talk inconsistently.
What was last observed in the preceding section may show, not only that the active nature of the soul cannot be a reason why an act of the Will is, or why it is in this manner, rather than another; but also that if it could be so, and it could be proved that Volitions are contingent events, in that sense, that their being and manner of being is not fixed or determined by any cause, or any thing antecedent; it would not at all serve the purpose of the Armmians, to establish the freedom of the Will, according to their notion of its freedom as consisting in the Will's determination of itself; which supposes every free act of the Will to be determined by some act of the Will going before to determine it; inasmuch as for the Will to determine a thing, is the same as for the soul to determine a thing by Willing; and there is no way that the Will can determine an act of the Will, but by willing that act of the Will; or, which is the same, laiiig, choosing it. So that here must be two acts of the Will in the case, one going before another, one conversant about the other, and the latter the object of the former, and chosen by the former. If the Will does not cause and determine the act by choice, it does not cause or determine it at all; for that which is not determined by choice, is not determined voluntarily or willingly: and to say, that the Will determines something which the soul does not determine willingly, is as much as to say, that something is done by the Will, which the soul doth not with its Will.
So that if Arminian liberty of Will, consisting in the Will's determining its own acts, be maintained, the old absurdity and contradiction must be maintained, that every free act of the Will is caused and determined by a foregoing free act of Will; which doth not consist with the free acts arising without any cause, and being so contingent, as not to be fixed by any thing foregoing. So that this evasion must be given up, as not at all relieving, and as that which, instead of supporting this sort of liberty, directly destroys it.
And if it should be supposed, that the soul determines its own acts of Will some other way, than by a foregoing act of Will; still it will not help the cause of their liberty of Will. If it determines them by an act of the understanding, or some other power, then the Will does not determine itself; and so the self-determining power of the Will is given up. And what liberty is there exercised according to their own opinion of liberty, by the soul's being determined by something besides its own choice 1 The acts of the Will, it is true, may be directed, and effectually determined and fixed; but it is not done by the soul's own will and pleasure: there is no exercise at all of choice or Will in producing the effect: and if Will and choice are not exercised in it, how is the liberty of the Will exercised in it 1
So that let Arminians turn which way they please with their notion of liberty, consisting in the Will's determining its own acts, their notion destroys itself. If they hold every free act of Will to be determined by the soul's own free choice, or foregoing free act of Will; foregoing, either in the order of time, or nature; it implies that gross contradiction, that the first free act belonging to the affair, is determined by a free act which is before it . Or if they say, that the free acts of the Will are determined by some other act of the soul, and not an act of Will or choice; this also destroys their notion of liberty, consisting in the acts of the Will being determined by the Will itself; or if they hold that the acts of the Will are determined by nothing at all that is prior to them, but that they are contingent in that sense, that they are determined and fixed by no cause at all; this also destroys their notion of liberty, consisting in the Will's determining its own acts.
This being the true state of the Arminian notion of liberty, it hence comes to pass, that the writers that defend it are forced into gross inconsistencies, in what they say upon this subject. To instance in Dr. Whitby; he, in his discourse on the freedom of the Will,* opposes the opinion of the Calvinists, who place man's liberty only in a power of doing what he will, as that wherein they plainly agree with Mr. Hobbes. And yet he himself mentions the very same notion ofliberty, as the dictate of the sense and common reason of mankind, and a rule laid down by the light of nature, viz., that liberty is a power of acting from ourselves, or Doing What We wnx.f This is indeed, as he says, a thing agreeable to the sense and common reason of mankind; and therefore it is not so much to be wondered at, that he unawares acknowledges it against himself t
• In his Book on the five Pants, Second Edit. p. 350, 351,352. Ibid. p. 325, 326.
Vol. II. 5
for if liberty does not consist in this, what else can be devised that it shou-d consist in? If it be said, as Dr. Whitby elsewhere insists, that it does not only consist in liberty of doing what we will, but also a liberty of willing withou* necessity; still the question returns, what does that liberty of willing without necessity consist in, but in a power of willing as we please, without being impeded by a contrary necessity? Or in other words, a liberty for the soul in its willing to act according to its own choice 1 Yea, this very thing the same author seems to allow, and suppose again and again, in the use he makes of sayings of the Fathers, whom he quotes as his vouchers. Thus he cites the words of Origen, which he produces as a testimony on his side: * The soul acts by Her Own Choice, and it is free for her to incline to whatever part She Will. And those words of Justin Martyr: f The doctrine of the Christians is this, that nothing is doneor suffered according to fate, but that every man doth good or evil According To His Own Free Choice. And from Eusebius these words: | If fate be established, philosophy and piety are overthrown. All these things depending upon the necessity introduced by the stars, and not upon meditation and exercise ProceedIng From Our Own Free Choice. And again, the words of Maccarius: § God, to preserve the liberty of man's Will, suffered their bodies to die, that it might be In Their Choice to turn to good or evil. They who are acted by the Holy Spirit, are not held under any necessity, but have liberty to turn themselves, and Do What They Will in this life.
Thus, the doctor in effect comes into that very notion of liberty, which the Calvinists have; which he at the same time condemns, as agreeing with the opinion of Mr. Hobbes, namely, the soul's acting by its own choice, men's doing good or evil according to their own free choice, their being in that exercise which proceeds from their own free choice, having it in their choice to turn to good or evil, and doing what they will. So that if men exercise this liberty in the acts of the Will themselves, it must be in exerting acts of Will as they will, or according to their own free choice; or exerting acts of Will that proceed from their choice. And if it be so, then let every one judge whether this does not suppose a free choice going before the free act of Will, or whether an act of choice does not go before that act of the Will which proceeds from it.—And if it be thus with all free acts of the Will, then let every one judge, whether it will not follow that there is a free choice or Will going before the first free act of the Will exerted in the case. And then let every one judge, whether this be not a contradiction. And finally, let every one judge whether in the scheme of these writers there be any possibility of avoiding these absurdities.
If liberty consists, as Dr. Whitby himself says, in a man's doing what he will; and a man exercises this liberty, not only in external actions, but in the acts of the Will themselves; then so far as liberty is exercised in the latter, it consists in willing what he wills: and if any say so, one of these two things must be meant, either, 1. That a man has power to Will, as he does Will; because what he Wills, he Wills; and therefore has power to Will what he has power to Will. If this be their meaning, then this mighty controversy about freedom of the Will and self-determining power, comes wholly to nothing; all that is contended for being no more than this, that the mind of man does what it does, and is the subject of what it is the subject of, or that what is, is; wherein none has any controversy with them. Or, 2. The meaning must be, that a man has power to Will as he pleases or chooses to Will; that is, he has power by one act of choice, to choose another; by an antecedent act of Will to choose a con
• In his Book on the five Points, Second Edu p. 342. t Ibid. p. 360. J Ibid. p. 36a $ Ibid. p. 369,370