« PreviousContinue »
Respect to each! This is the same Thing as to say, the Soul prefers one Thing to another, at the very same Time that it has no Preference. Choice and Preference can no more be in a State of Indifference, than Motion can be in a State of Rest, or than the Preponderation of the Scale of a Balance can be in a State of Equilibrium. Motion may be the next Moment after Reft; but can't co-exist with it, in any, even the least Part of it. So Choice may be immediately after a State of Indifference, but has no Co-existence with it : Even the very Beginning of it is not in a State of Indifference. And therefore if this be Liberty, no Act of the Will, in any Degree, is ever performed in a State of Liberty, or in the Time of Liberty. Volition and Liberty are so far from agreeing together, and being essential one to another, that they are contrary one to another, and one excludes and destroys the other, as much as Motion and Rest, Light and Darkness, or Life and Death. So that the Will acts not at all, does not so much as begin to act in the Time of such Liberty : Freedom is perfectly at an End, and has ceased to be, at the first Moment of Action; and therefore Liberty can't reach the Action, to affect, or qualify it, or give it a Denomination, or any Part of it, any more than if it had ceased to be twenty Years before the Action began. The Moment that Liberty ceases to be, it ceases to be a Qualification of any Thing. If Light and Darkness succeed one another instantaneously, Light qualifies Nothing after it is gone out, to make any Thing lightfome or bright, any more at the first Moment of perfect Darkness, than Months or Years after. Life denominates Nothing vital at, the first Moment of perfect Death. So Freedoms if it consists in, or implies Indifference, can denominate nothing free, at the first Moment of
Preference or Preponderation. Therefore 'tis manifest, that no Liberty which the Soul is poffessed of, or ever uses, in any of its Acts of Volition consists in Indifference, and that the Opinion of such as fuppose, that Indifference belongs to the very Effence of Liberty, is to the highest Degree absurd and contradictory.
If any one should imagine, that this Manner of arguing is Nothing but Trick and Delusion; and to evade the Reasoning, should say, that the Thing wherein the Will exercises its Liberty, is not in the Act of Choice or Preponderation itself, but in determining itfeif to a certain Choice or Preference ; That the Act of the Will wherein it is free, and uses its own Sovereignty, consists in its causing or determining the Change or Transition from a State of Indifference to a certain Preference, or determining to give a certain Turn to the Balance, which has hitherto been even; and that this Act the Will exerts in a State of Liberty, or while the Will yet remains in Equilibrium, and perfect Master of itself. I say, if any One chuses to express his Notion of Liberty after this, or some such Manner, let us fee if he can make out his Matters any better than before. .
What is asserted is, -that the Will, while it yet remains in perfeét Equilibrium, without Prefe. rence, determines to change itself from that State, and excite in itself a certain Choice or Preference. Now let us fee whether this don't come to the fame Abfurdity we had before. If it be so, thať the Will, while it yet remains perfectly Indifferent, determines to put itself out of that State, and give itself a certain Preponderation ; Then I would inquire, whether the Soul don't determine this of Choice; or whether the Will's coming to a Determination to do so, be not the same Thing
as the Soul's coming to a Choice to do so. If the Soul don't determine this of Choice, or in the Exercise of Choice, then it don't determine it
voluntarily. And if the Soul don't determine it · voluntarily, or of its own Will, then in what
Sense does its Will determine it? And if the Will don't determine it, then how is the Liberty of the :Will exercised in the Determination ? What Sort
of Liberty is exercised by the Soul in those Determinations, wherein there is no Exercise of Choice, which are not voluntary, and wherein the Will is not concerned? – But if it be allowed, that this Determination is an Act of Choice, and it be insisted on, that the Soul, while it yet remains in a State of perfect Indifference, chuses to put itself out of that State, and to turn itself one Way ; then the Soul is already come to a Choice, and chuses that Way. And so we have the very fame Absurdity which we had before. Here is the Soul in a State of Choice, and in a State of Equilibrium, both at the same Time : the Soul already chusing one Way, while it remains in a State of perfect Indifference, and has no Choice of one Way more than the other. - And indeed this Manner of talking, tho' it may a little hide the Absurdity, in the Obscurity of Expression, is more nonsensical, and increases the Inconsistence. To fay, the free Act of the Will, or the Act which the Will exerts in a State of Freedom and Indifference, does not imply Preference in it, but is what the Will does in order to causing or producing a Preference, is as much as to say, the Soul chuses (for to Will and to Chuse are the same Thing) without Choice, and prefers without Preference, in order to cause or produce the Beginning of a Preference, or the first Choice. And that is, that the first Choice is exerted without Choice, in order to produce itself.
. If · If any, to evade these Things, should own, that a State of Liberty, and a State of Indifference are not the fame, and that the former may be without the latter; But should say, that Indifference is still essential to the Freedom of an Act of Will, in fome Sort, namely, as 'tis necessary to go immediately before it ; It being essential to the Freedom of an Act of Will that it should directly and immediately arise out of a State of Indifference : still this will not help the Cause of Arminian Liberty, or make it consistent with itself. For if the Act springs immediately out of a State of Indifference, then it doth not arise from antecedent Choice or Preference. But if the Act arises directly out of a State of Indifference, without any intervening Choice to chuse and determine it, then the Act not being determined by Choice, is not determined by the Will; the Mind exercises no. free Choice in the Affair, and free Choice and free Will have no Hand in the Determination of the Act. Which is entirely inconsistent with their Notion of the Freedom of Volition.
If any should suppose, that these Difficulties and Ablurdities may be avoided, by saying, that the Liberty of the Mind consists in a Power to Suspend the Act of the Will, and so to keep it in a State of Indifference, 'till there has been Opportunity for Consideration; and fo shall say, that however Indifference is not essential to Liberty in fuch a Manner, that the Mind must make its Choice in a State of Indifference, which is an Inconsistency, or that the Act of Will must spring immédiately out of Indifference; yet Indifference may be essential to the Liberty of Acts of the Wilt in thiş Respect ; viz. That Liberty consists in a Power of the Mind to forbear or suspend the Act of Volition, and keep the Mind in a State of In
difference for the present, 'till there has been Opportunity for proper Deliberation : I say, if any one imagines that this helps the Matter, it is a great Mistake : It reconciles no Inconsistency, and relieves no Difficulty which the Affair is attended with. — For here the following Things must be observed,
1. That this suspending of Volition, if there be properly any such Thing, is itself an Act of VoIition. If the Mind determines to suspend its Act, it determines it voluntarily; it chufes, on fome Consideration, to suspend it. And this Choice or Determination, is an Act of the Will : And indeed it is supposed to be so in the very Hypothesis ; for 'tis supposed, that the Liberty of the Will consists in its Power to do this, and that its doing it is the very Thing wherein the Will exercises its Liberty. But how can the Will exercise Liberty in it; if it be not an Act of the Will? The Liberty of the Will is not exércised in any Thing but what the Will does.
2. This determining to suspend acting is not only an Act of the Will, but 'tis supposed to be the only free Act of the Will; because 'tis said, that this is the Thing wherein the Liberty of the Will confifts. —Now if this be so, then this is all the Act of Will that we have to consider in this Controverfy, about the Liberty of Will, and in our Ina quiries, wherein the Liberty of Man consists. And now the fore-mentioned Difficulties remain : the former Question returns upon us ; viz. Wherein consists the Freedom of the Will in, those Afts wherein it is free ? And if this Act of determining a Suspension be the only Act in which the Will is free, then wherein consists the Will's Freedom with Respect to this Act of Suspension?