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Arminian Notions of moral Agency inconhstent
with all Influence of Motive and Inducement, in either virtuous or vicious Astions.
· S Arminian Notions of that Liberty, which
is essential to Virtue or Vice, are inconsistent with common Sense, in their being inconsistent with all virtuous or vicious Habits and Difpositions ; so they are no less so in their Inconsistency with all Influence of Motives in moral Actions.
'Tis equally against those Notions of Liberty of Will, whether there be, previous to the Act of Choice, a Preponderancy of the Inclination, or a Preponderancy of those Circumstances, which have a Tendency to move the Inclination : And indeed it comes to just the same Thing. To say, the Circumstances of the Mind are such as tend to sway and turn its Inclination one Way, is the same Thing as to say, the Inclination of the Mind, as under such Circumstances, tends that Way.
Or if any think it most proper to say, that Motives do alter the Inclination, and give a new Bias to the Mind; it will not alter the Case, as to the present Argument. For if Motives operate by giving the Mind an Inclination, then they operate by destroying the Mind's Indifference, and laying it under a Bias. But to do this, is to destroy the Arminian Freedom : It is not to leave the Will to its own Self-determination, but to bring it into Subjection to the Power of something ex
trinsick, which operates upon it, sways and determines it, previous to its own Determination. So that what is done from Motive, can't be either virtuous or vicious. — And besides, if the Acts of the Will are excited by Motives, those Motives are the Causes of those Acts of the Will: which makes the Acts of the Will necessary; as Efects necessarily follow the Efficiency of the Cause. And if the Influence and Power of the Motive causes the Volition, then the Influence of the Motive determines Volition, and Volition don't determine itself, and so is not free, in the Sense of Arminians (as has been largely shewn already) and consequently can be neither virtuous nor vicious.
The Supposition, which has already been taken Notice of as an insufficient Evasion in other Cases, would be in like Manner impertinently alleged in this Case ; namely, the Supposition that Liberty consists in a Power of suspending Action for the present, in order to Deliberation. If it should be said, Tho' it be true, that the Will is under a Necessity of finally following the strongest Motive, yet it may for the present forbear to act upon the Motive presented, till there has been Opportunity thoroughly to consider it, and compare its real Weight with the Merit of other Motives. I answer as follows.
Here again it must be reniėmber'd, that if determining thus to suspend and consider, be that Act of the Will wherein alone Liberty is exercised, then in this all Virtue and Vice must consist; and the Acts that follow this Consideration, and are the Effects of it, being necessary, are no more virtuous or vicious than fome good or bad Events which happen when men are fast asleep, S 3
and which are the Consequences of what they did when they were awake. Therefore I would here observe two Things.
1. To suppose that all Virtue and Vice, in every Case, consists in determining whether to take Time for Consideration, or not, is not agreeable to common Sense. For according to such a Supposition, the most horrid Crimes, Adultery, Murder, Buggery, Blasphemy, &c. do not at all consist in the horrid Nature of the Things themselves, but only in the Neglect of thorough Confideration before they were perpetrated; which brings their Viciousness to a small Matter, and makes all Crimes equal. If it be said, that Neglect of Consideration, when such heinous Evils are proposed to Choice, is worse than in other Cases": I answer, this is inconsistent, as it supposes the very Thing to be, which at the same Time is supposed not to be; it supposes all moral Evil, all Viciousness and Heinousness, does not consist merely in the want of Consideration. It supposes fome Crimes in themselves, in their own Nature, to be more heinous than others, antecedent to Consideration or Inconsideration, which lays the Person under a previous Obligation to consider in some cases more than others.
2. If it were so, that all Virtue and Vice, in every Case, consisted only in the Act of the Will, whereby it determines whether to consider or no, it would not alter the Case in the least, as to the present Argument. For still in this Act of the Will on this Determination, it is induced by some Motive, and necessarily follows the strongest Motive; and fo is necessary, even in that Act wherein alone it is either virtuous or vicious.
One Thing more I would observe, concerning the Inconsistence of Arminian Notions of moral Agency with the Influence of Motives, — I fup. pose none will deny, that 'tis possible for Motives to be set before the Mind so powerful, and exhibited in so strong a Light, and under so advantageous Circumstances, as to be invincible ; and such as the Mind cannot but yield to. In this Case, Arminians will doubtless say, Liberty is destroyed. And if so, then if Motives are exhibited with half so much Power, they hinder Liberty in Proportion to their Strength, and go half-way towards destroying it, If a thousand Degrees of Motive abolish all Liberty, then five Hundred take it half away. If one Degree of the Influence of Motive don't at all infringe or diminish Liberty, then no more do two Degrees; for Nothing doubled, is still Nothing. And if two Degrees don't diminish the Will's Liberty, no more do four, eight, fixteen, or six Thousand. For Nothing multiplied ever so much, comes to but Nothing. If there be nothing in the Nature of Motive or moral Suasion, that is at all opposite to Liberty, then the greatest Degree of it can't hurt Liberty. But if there be any Thing in the Nature of the Thing, that is against Liberty, then the least Degree of it hurts it in some Degree; and consequently hurts and diminishes Virtue. If invincible Motives to that Action which is good, take away all the Freedom of the Act, and so all the Virtue of it ; then the more forceable the Motives are, so much the worse, so much the lefs Virtue; and the weaker the Motives are, the better for the Cause of Virtue; and none is best of all,
Now let it be considered, whether these Things åre agreeable to common Sense. If it ihould be
allowed, that there are some Instances wherein the Soul chuses without any Motive; what Virtue can there be in such a Choice? I am sure, there is no Prudence or Wisdom in it. Such a Choice is made for no good End; for it is for no End at all. If it were for any End, the View of the End would be the Motive exciting to the Act; and if the Act be for no good End, and so from no good Aim, then there is no good Intention in it: And therefore, according to all our natural Notions of Virtue, no more Virtue in it than in the Motion of the Smoke, which is driven to and fro by the Wind, without any Aim or End in the Thing moved, and which knows not whither, nor why and wherefore, it is moved.
Corol. 1. By these Things it appears, that the Argument against the Calvinists, taken from the Use of Counsels, Exhortacions, Invitations, Expoftulations, &c. so much insisted on by Arminians, is truly against themselves. For these Things can operate no other Way to any good Effect, than as in them is exhibited Motive and Inducement, tending to excite and determine the Acts of the Will. But it follows on their Principles, that the Acts of Will excited by such Causes, can't be virtuous; because so far as they are from these, they are not from the Will's self-determining Power. Hence it will follow, that it is not worth the while to offer any Arguments to persuade Men to any virtuous Volition or voluntary Action ; 'tis in vain to set before them the Wisdom and Amiableness of Ways of Virtue, or the Odiousness and Folly of Ways of Vice. This Notion of Liberty and moral Agency frustrates all Endeavours to draw Men to Virtue by Instruction, or Persuasion, Precept, or Example : For tho' these Things may induce Men to what is ma