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Action, Agency, &c. quite diverse from their Meaning as used in common Speech; and which, as they use them, are without any consistent Meaning, or any Manner of distinct consistent Ideas; as far from it as any of the abstruse Terms and perplexed Phrases of the Peripatetic Philosophers, or the most unintelligible Jargon of the Schools, or the Cant of the wildest Fanaticks. Yea, we may be bold to fay, these metaphysical Terms, on which they build so much, are what they use, without knowing what they mean themselves; they are pure metaphysical Sounds, without any Ideas whatsoever in their Minds to answer them; in-as-much as it has been demonstrated, that there cannot be any Notion in the Mind consistent with these Expressions, as they pretend to explain them; because their Explanations destroy themselves. No such Notions as imply Selfcontradiction, and Self-abolition, and this a great many Ways, can subsist in the Mind; as there tan be no Idea of a Whole which is less than any of its Parts, or of solid Extension without Dimensions, or of an Effect which is before its
Cause. Arminians improve these Terms, as
Terms of Art, and in their metaphysical Meaning, to advance and establish those Things which are contrary to common sense, in a high Degree. Thus, instead of the plain vulgar Notion of Liberty, which all Mankind, in every Part of the Face of the Earth, and in all Ages, have; consisting in Opportunity to do as one pleases; they have introduced a new strange Liberty, consisting in Indifference, Contingence, and Self-determination; by which they involve themselves and others in great Obscurity, and manifold gross Inconsistence. So, instead of placing Virtue and Vice, as common Sense places them very much,
in fix'd Bias and Inclination, and greater Virtue and Vice in stronger and more established Inclination; these, through their Refinings and abstruse Notions, suppose a Liberty consisting in Indifference, to be essential to all Virtue and Vice. So they have reasoned themselves, not by metaphysical Distinctions, but metaphysical Confusion, into many Principles about moral Agency, Blame, Praise, Reward and Punishment, which are, as has been shewn, exceeding contrary to the common sense of Mankind; and perhaps to their own sense, which governs them in common Life.
HETHER the Things which have been alleged, are liable to any tolerable Answer in the Way of calm, intelligible and strict Reasoning, I must leave others to judge : But I am sensible they are liable to one Sort of Answer. *Tis not unlikely, that some who value themselves on the supposed rational and generous Principles of the modern fashionable Divinity, will have their Indignation and Disdain raised at the Sight of this Discourse, and on perceiving what Things are pretended to be proved in it. And if they think it worthy of being read, or of so much Notice as to say much about it, they may probably renew the usual Exclamations, with additional Vehemence and Contempt, about the Fate of the Heathen, Hobbes's Necessity, and making Men mere Machines; accumulating the terrible Epithets of fatal, unfrustrable, inevitable, irresistible, &c. and it may be, with the Addition of horrid and blasphemous; and perhaps much Skill may be used to set forth Things which have been said, in Colours which shall be shocking to the Imaginations, and moving to the Pasfions of those who have either too little Capacity, or too much Confidence of the Opinions
Wishing the Calvinistic Doctrine in this Point, the chief Arguments are obviated, by which Arminian Doctrines in general are supported, and the contrary Doctrines demonstratively confirmed. Hereby it becomes manifest, that God's moral Government over Mankind, his treating them as moral Agents, making them the objects of his Commands, Counsels, Calls, Warnings, Expostulations, Promises, Threatenings, Rewards and Punishments, is not inconsistent with a determining Disposal of all Events, of every Kind, throughout the Universe, in his Providence; either by positive Efficiency, or Permission. Indeed such an universal, determining Providence, infers some Kind of Necessity of all Events, such a Necessity as implies an infallible previous Fixedness of the-Futurity of the Event: But no other Necessity of moral Events, or Volitions of intelligent Agents, is needful in order to this, than moral Necessity which does as much ascertain the Futurity of the Event, as any other Necessity. But, as has been demonstrated, such a Necessity is not at all repugnant to moral Agency, and the reasonable Use of Commands, Calls, Rewards, Punishments, &c. Yea, not only are Objections of this Kind against the Doctrine of an univerfal determining Providence, removed by what has been faid; but the Truth of such a Doctrine is demonstrated. As it has been demonstrated, that the Futurity of all future Events is established by previous Necessity, either natural or moral; so 'tis manifest, that the sovereign Creator and Disposer of the World has ordered this Necessity, by ordering his own Conduct, either in designedly acting, or forbearing to act. For, as the Being of the World is from God, (b the Circumstances in which it had its Being at first, both negative and positive, must be ordered by him, in one of these Ways; and all the neces