Page images

One Thing more I would observe, concerning the Inconsistenc e of Arminian Notions of moral Agency with the Influence of Motives. — I suppose 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 fay, 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 thoufand 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 -x for Nothing doubled, is still Nothing. And if two Degrees don't diminish the Will's Liberty, no more do four, eight, sixteen, or six Thoufand. 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 less 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 are agreeable to common Sense. , If it should be S 4 allowed, 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 i 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, Exhortations, Invitations, Expostulations, &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 Act tion; '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 mar serially virtuous, yet at the fame Time they take away the Form of Virtue, because they destroy . Liberty; as they, by their own Power, put the Will out of its Equilibrium, determine and turn the Scale, and take the Work of self-determining Power out of its Hands. And the clearer the Instructions are that are given, the more powerful the Arguments that are used, and the more moving the Persuasions or Examples, the more likely they are to frustrate their own Design; because they have so much the greater Tendency to put the Will out of its Balance, to hinder its Freedom of Self-determination; and so to exclude the very Form of Virtue, and the Essence of whatsoever is Praise-worthy.

So it clearly follows from these Principles, that God has no Hand in any Man's Virtue, nor does at all promote it, either by a physical or moral Influence; that none of the moral Methods He uses with Men to promote Virtue in the World, have Tendency to the Attainment of that End; that all the Instructions which He has given to Men, from the Beginning of the World to this Day, by Prophets, or Apostles, or by his Son Jesus Christ; that all his Counsels, Invitations, Promises, Threatenings, Warnings and Expostulations; that all Means He has used with Men, in Ordinances, or Providences; yea, all Influen- . ces of his Spirit, ordinary and extraordinary, have had no Tendency at all to excite any one virtuous Act of the Mind, or to promote any Thing morally good and commendable, in any Respect.—For there is no Way that these or any other Means can promote Virtue, but one of these three. Either (1.) By a physical Operation on the Heart. But all Effects that are wrought in Men in this Way, have no Virtue in them, by

the concurring Voice of all Arminians. Or (2.) Morally, by exhibiting Motives to the Understanding, to excite good Acts in the Will. But it has been demonstrated, that Volitions which are excited by Motives, are necessary, and not excited by a self-moving Power; and therefore, by their Principles, there is no Virtue in them. Or (3.) By merely giving the Will an Opportunity to determine itself concerning the objects proposed, either to chuse or reject, by its own uncaused, unmoved, uninfluenced Self-determination. And if this be all, then all those Means do no more to promote Virtue than Vice: For they do Nothing but give the Will Opportunity to determine itself either way, either to Good or Bad, without laying it under any Bias to either: And so there is really as much of an Opportunity given to determine in Favour of Evil, as of Good.

Thus that horrid blasphemous Consequence will certainly follow from the Armiman Doctrine, which they charge on others namely, that God acts an inconsistent Part in using so many Counsels, Warnings, Invitations, Intreaties, &c. with Sinners, to induce 'em to forfake Sin, and turn to the Ways of Virtue; and that all are insincere and fallacious. It will follow from their Doctrine, that God does these Things when He knows at the fame Time, that they have no Manner of Tendency to promote the Effect He seems to aim at; yea, knows that if they have any Influence, this very Influence will be inconsistent with such an Effect, and will prevent it. But what an Imputation of Insincerity would this fix on Him who is infinitely holy and true! — So that their's is the Doctrine which if rjursued in its Consequences, does horribly reflect on the most High,

and fix on Him the Charge of Hypocrisy; and not the Doctrine of the Calvtnlft; according to their frequent, and vehement Exclamations and invectives.

Corel. 2. From what has been observed in this Section, it again appears, that Arminian Principles and Notions, when fairly examined, and pursued in their demonstrable Consequences, do evidently shut all Virtue out of the World, and make it impossible that there should ever be any such Thing, in any Case; or that any such Thing would ever be conceiv'd of. For by these Principles, the very Notion of Virtue or Vice implies Absurdity and Contradiction. For it is absurd in itself, and contrary to common sense, to suppose a virtuous act of Mind without any good Intention or Aim; and by their Principles, it is absurd to suppose a virtuous Act with a good Intention or Aim for to act for an End, is to act from a Motive. So that if we rely on these Principles, there can be no virtuous Act with a good Design and End; and 'tis self-evident, there can be none without: consequently there can be no virtuous Act at all.

Corol. 3. 'Tis manifest, that Arminian Notions of moral Agency, and the Being of a Faculty of Will, cannot consist together; and that if there be any such Thing as, either a virtuous, or vicious Act, it can't be an Act of Will ; no Will can be at all concerned in it. For that Act which is performed without Inclination, without Motive, without End, must be performed without any Concern of the Will. To suppose an Act of the Will without these, implies a Contradiction. If the Soul in its Act has no Motive or End; then in that Act (as was observed before) it seeks No

« PreviousContinue »