Page images
PDF
EPUB

Things in the Mind of the incomprehensible Deity, precisely as they are.

We find a great Deal of Difficulty in conceiving exactly of the Nature of our own Souls. And notwithstanding all the Progress which has been made in past and present Ages, in this kind of Knowledge, whereby our Metaphysicks, as it relates to these Things, is brought to greater Perfection than once it was; yet here is still Work enough left for future Inquiries and Researches, and Room for Progress still to be made, for many Ages and Generations. But we had need to be infinitely able Metaphysicians, to conceive with Clearness, according to strict, proper and perfect Truth, concerning the Nature of the divine Elsence, and the Modes of the Action and Operation of the Powers of the divine Mind.

And it may be noted particularly, that tho’ we are obliged to conceive of some Things in God as consequent and dependent on others, and of some Things pertaining to the divine Nature and Will as the Foundation of others, and so before others in the Order of Nature: As, we must conceive of the Knowledge and Holiness of God as prior in the Order of Nature to his Happiness ; the Perfection of his Understanding, as the Foundation of his wife Purposes and Decrees; the Holiness of his Nature, as the Cause and Reason of his holy Determinations. And yet when we speak of Cause and Effect, Antecedent and Confequent, fundamental and dependent, determining and determined, in the first Being, who is self-existent, in, dependent, of perfect and absolute Simplicity and Immutability, and the first Cause of all Things ; doubtless there must be less Propriety in such Řepresentations, than when we speak of derived de

pendent

Y 3

pendent Beings, who are compounded, and liable to perpetual Mutation and Succellion.

Having premised this, I proceed to observe concerning the foremention'd Author's Exclamation, about the necessary Determination of God's Will, in all Things, by what He fees to be fittest and best;

That all the feeming Force of such Objections and Exclamations must arise from an Imagination, that there is some Sort of Privilege or Dignity in being without such a moral Necessity, as will make it impossible to do any other, than always chuse what is wiseft and best ; as tho' there were some Disadvantage, Meanness and Subjection, in such a Necessity; a Thing by which the Will was confined, kept under, and held in Servitude by something, which, as it were, maintained a strong and invincible Power and Doininion over it, by Bonds that held God fast, and that he could by no Means deliver himself from. Whereas, this must be all mere Imagination and Delusion. 'Tis no Disadvantage or Dishonour to a Being, necessarily to act in the most excellent and happy Manner, from the necessary Perfection of his own Nature. This argues no Imperfection, Inferiority or Dependence, nor any Want of Dignity, Privilege or Ascendency. + 'Tis not inconsistent with the

absolute

+ “ It might have been objected with much more Plausibleiness, that the supreme Cause cannot be free, because he must ar needs do always what is best in the Whole. But this would “ not at all serve Spinoza's Purpose: For this is a Neceflity, 6 not of Nature and Fate, but of Fitness and Wisdom ; a Ne« cessity consistent with the greatest Freedom, and most perfe&t “ Choice. For the only Foundation of this Necessity is such “ an unalterable Reclitude of Will, and Perfection of Wisdom, o as makes it impossible for a wise Being to act foolishly." Court's Dem, of the Being and Attrib, of God. Edit. 6. P.64.

“ Thol

absolute, and most perfect Sovereignty of God. The Sovereignty of God is his Ability and Au1 Y 4

thority

« Tho' God is a most perfectly free Agent, yet he cannot " but do always what is best and wisest on the Whole. The “ Reason is evident; because perfect Wisdom and Goodness “ are as steady and certain Principles of Action, as Necessity " itself; and an infinitely wise and good Being, indued with “ the most perfect Liberty, can no more chuse to act in Con“ tradiction to Wisdom and Goodness, than a necessary Agent “ can act contrary to the Necessity by which it is acted; it “ being as great an Absurdity and Impossibility in Choice, for “ infinite Wisdom to chuse to act unwisely, or infinite Good“ ness to chuse what is not good, as it would be in Nature, “ for absolute Necessity to tail of producing its necessary “ Effect. There was indeed no Neceflity in Nature, that God “ should at first create such Beings as he has created, or indeed “6 any Being at all; because he is in himself infinitely happy " and All-fufficient. There was also no Neceffity in Nature, “ that he fhould preserve and continue Things in Being, after " they were created, because he would be self-sufficient with

out their Continuance, as he was before their Creation. “ But it was fit and wife and good, that infinite Wisdom should “ manifest, and infinite Goodness communicate itself; and " therefore it was necessary, in the sense of Neceflity I am “ now speaking of, that Things fhould be made at such a Time, “ and continued so long, and indeed with various Perfections « in such Degrees, as infinite Wisdom and Goodness saw it « wiseft and belt that they should." Ibid. P. 112, 113.

“ 'Tis not a Fault, but a Perfection of our Nature, to de. “ fire, will and act, according to the last Result of a fair Exa“ mination. This is so far from being a Restraint or Di. “ minution of Freedom, that it is the very Improvement and « Benefit of it: 'Tis not an Abridgment, 'cis the End and “ Use of our Liberty; and the further we are removed from • such a Determination, the nearer we are to Misery and Sla“ very. A perfect Indifference in the Mind, not determin. « able by its last Judgment of the Good or Evil that is thought “ to attend its Choice, would be so far from being an Advan. " tage and Excellency of any intellectual Nature, that it « would be as great an Imperfection, as the Want of Indiffe. “ rency to act, or not to act, till determined by the Will. 6 would be an Imperfection on the other Side.---'Tis as “ much a Perfection, that Desire or the Power of preferring " thould be datermined by Good, as that the Power of acting

os faculd

thority to do whatever pleases him ; whereby He doth according to his Will in the Armies of Heaven,

and

« should be determined by the Will: And the certainer fuch • Determination is, the greater the Perfection. Nay, were “ we determined by any Thing but the last Result of our own « Minds, judging of the Good or Evil of any Action, we were “ not free. The very End of our Freedom being, that we “ might attain the Good we chose ; and therefore every Man “ is brought under a Necessity by his Constitution, as an in" telligent Being, to be determin'd in willing by his own “ Thought and Judgment, what is best for him to do ; else so he would be under the Determination of some other than “ himself, which is Want of Liberty. And to deny that a « Man's Will, in every Determination, follows his own Judg* ment, is to say, that a Man wills and acts for an End that f he would not have, at the same Time that he wills and acts “ for it. For if he prefers it in his present Thoughts, be. “ fore any other, 'tis plain he then thinks better of it, and of would have it before any other ; unless he can have, and " not have it ; will, and not will it, at the fame Time ; a “ Contradition too manifest to be admitted - If we look up. “ on those superiour Beings above us, who enjoy perfe&t Hap“ piness, we shall have Reason to judge, that they are more “ steadily determined in their Choice of Good than we; and yet we have no Reason to think they are less happy, or less “ free, than we are. And if it were fit for such poor finite 46 Creatures as we are, to pronounce what infinite Wisdom “ and Goodness could do, I think we might say, that God « himself cannot chuse what is not Good. The Freedom of the « Almighty binders not his being determined by what is beft, « But to give a right View of this mistaken Part of Liberty, « let me ak, Would any one be a Changeling, because he is « less determined by wise Determination, than a wise Man ? " Is it worth the Name of Freedom, to be at Liberty to play " the Fool, and draw Shame and Misery upon a Man's felf? « If to break loose from the Conduct of Reason, and to want " that Restraint of Examination and Judgment, that keeps us “ from doing or chusing the worse, be Liberty, true Liberty, “ Mad-men and Fools are the only free Men. Yet I think * no Body would chuse to be mad, for the sake of such Li. “ berty, but he that is mad already.” Locke, Hum. Und. Vol. I. Edit. 7. P. 215, 216 .

Pr This Being having all Things always necessarily in View, . "must always, and eternally will, according to his infinite

" Com,

and amongst the Inhabitants of the Earth, and none can stay his Hand, or say unto him, What dost thou ?The following Things belong to the Sovereignty of God; viz. (1.) Supreme, universal, and infinice Power ; whereby he is able to do what he pleases, without Controul, without any Confinement of that Power, without any Subjection in the least Measure to any other Power; and so without any Hinderance or Restraint, that it should be either impoffible, or at all difficult, for him to accomplish his Will; and without any Dependence of his Power on any other Power, from whence it Thould be derived, or which it should stand in any

Need

« Comprehension of Things; that is, must will all Things 66 that are wiselt and best to be done. There is no getting s free of this Consequence. If it can will at all, it must will “ this Way. To be capable of knowing, and not capable of “ willing, is not to be understood. And to be capable of « willing otherwise than what is wisest and best, contradicts " that Knowledge which is infinite. Infinite Knowledge must “ direct the Will without Error. Here then is the Origin of « moral Necessity; and that is really, of Freedom. Perhaps it " may be said, when the divine Will is determined, from the « Consideration of the eternal Aptitudes of Things, it is as " necessarily determined, as if it were physically impel'd, if " that were posible. But it is Unkilfulness, to suppose this “ an Objection. The great Principle is once established, viz. That the divine Will is determined by the eternal Reason ļ and Aptitudes of Things, instead of being physically im“ pelled ; and after that, the more strong and necessary this “ Determination is, the more perfect the Deity must be al.

lowed to be : It is this that makes him an amiable and " adorable Being, whose, Will and Power are conftantly, im“ mutably determined, by the Consideration of what is wifest “ and beit; instead of a surd Being, with Power, but without ** Discerning and Reason. It is the Beauty of this Necessity, that it is strong as Fate itself, with all the Advantage of Reason « ard Goodness. — It is strange, to see Men contend, that the “ Deity is not Free, because he is necessarily rational, im“ mutably good and wise; when a Man is allowed still the 56 perfecter Being, the more fixedly and constantly his Will is “ determined by Reason and Truth.” Enquiry into the Nature qf the Hum. Soul. Edit. 3. Vol. II. P. 403, 404.

« PreviousContinue »