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and not a professed believer in the doctrine. In his Treatise on Oriental Mysticism, he says, that“ the doctrine of predestination, so far from producing the despondency and inaction often ascribed to it, on the contrary, moves and excites the inmost soul, by the self-surrender which it demands to the all-prevailing will of God.” To the influence of this doctrine, he attributes whatever of seeming religion there is among those who receive the sensual dogmas of the Koran. “And Calvinism,” he allows, "is incomparably more favorable to the deeper religious life, than that doctrine, by which the will of God is limited or conditioned by the human will.”
From these concessions, as well as from other and more obvious considerations, it appears that the doctrine of God's universal and eternal purposes is not one of idle and unprofitable speculation. It is rather one, when properly stated and explained, of high practical influence and importance. It gives us the most exalted ideas of God and his truth. It humbles the pride of the sinner; tries the feelings of the human heart; sustains and comforts the people of God in seasons of darkness and affliction; and stimulates and encourages them in the performance of painful self-denying duties. It gives them a deep sense of obligation to God for his distinguishing goodness and mercy, and thus promotes their gratitude, their humility, and their growth in grace. In short, when properly represented and urged, the influences of the doctrine are good—all good, and so they have showed themselves, always and everywhere. It becomes Christians, therefore, to hold the doctrine fast, and to rejoice in it, as an important branch of that holy system of truth by which they are to be sanctified and made meet for heaven.
Review OF DR. EDWARUS's “ DISSERTATION CONCERNING LIBERTY
By Rev. Saipuel T. Spear, pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Lansingburgh, N. Y.
[Continued from page 240.] In resuming this work of examination and comparison with truth, it may be well to remind the reader, that in the former Article, the criticism upon Dr. Edwards was directed to the three following points, viz., the nature of Moral Necessity,—the distinction between the two Necessities, moral and physical and the Dictum Necessitatis. In the present inquiry we shall seek to indicate and examine the grounds of Dr. Edwards in relation to the cause of volition.
The question, What causes volition? is the main question to be proposed and answered in every theory of the will; it is the Gordian knot which has puzzled the philosophic world; it is indeed the only question, that is fraught with much difficulty. The answer indicates the school of philosophy to which its author belongs. If we adopt the canon, that the mind can bring no effects to pass but in consequence of acting, and hence infer that it cannot itself be the cause of the acting; and hence again infer that the willing must have some cause ab extra, our position is fixed in the school of necessity. If we take the opposite grounds, the Dictum Necessitatis must be rejected, mind becomes the cause of the phenomenon, and our position is fixed among the advocates of what has been termed Free Agency or Philosophical Liberty. That philosophers have not been agreed on this subject, needs no better proof than the history of this discussion. Both parties have been about equally confident as to the merits of their cause, and the success of their argumentation; both charge each other with maintaining the grossest absurdities; neither seems to have been satisfied with the reasoning of its opponents. If we were to judge of this question by the confidence with which different advocates have defended
their respective positions, we should almost be inclined to allow the possibility of demonstrating contrary propositions. On the one hand Collins, President Edwards and the Son, think they have proved, beyond successful contradiction, the truth of moral necessity. On the other, Buffin, Reid, Stewart, Dr. Clarke and Professor Tappan, claim to have fully replied to the arguments for necessity, and made out a complete demonstration of the opposite scheme.
The question, beyond a doubt, is one of great difficulty. No man can penetrate its interior without making this discovery. Its importance is not less than its difficulty; it is a vital question in its bearing on responsible agency, and man's relation, as a subject, to any religious system, whether natural or revealed. The attack has been made at this point more frequently than at any other, by those who have sought to upturn the foundations of all religion. It is the Thermopylæ of religious disputation. The skeptic has here brandished his intellectual armor, and attempted to foreclose the subject of religion by the force of the previous question.” Piety may treat him with contempt; common sense may laugh at him ; but philosophy must be serious, and conduct this warfare by argument, or leave the whole ground in the undisputed possession of the skeptic.
It deserves special notice that the ground of President Edwards on this subject has been differently understood by different writers. Some suppose him to deny mental causality in toto ; some understand him to make motive the sole cause of every volition; others regard him as asserting the causality, both of mind and motive. The fatalist and the atheist have claimed him as being on their side of the question; the philosophical and pious theist vindicates the reputation of Edwards from this aspersion, and insists that he has taken no such grounds, either by implication or concession. This discrepancy of interpretation is not a little remarkable; it argues, either great ambiguity of style, or great obscurity of view, or numerous self-contradictions, or much complexity in the subject, or a most extraordinary concurrence of contingencies, leading so many competent minds to such dissimilar interpretations. President Edwards is not now under review; if he were, it might easily be shown that he is not always consistent with himself or with truth.
Dr. Edwards prepared his Dissertation with his eye upon the work of the Elder Edwards. Having adopted the system of the
latter, his purpose was to explain and defend it, and especially to reply to the Essays of Dr. Samuel West. His Dissertation, therefore, contains not only his construction of the father's system, but also a statement of his own views. He stands before us in the attitude of an interpreter as well as an original author. If any one may be supposed to have had signal advantages for this work, that man was Dr. Edwards. He lived, thought, and wrote at the time, when this discussion was in progress. Gifted with unusual talent in metaphysical reasoning, and incited by the strong impulse of filial feeling, he doubtless searched this subject, as he supposed, to its very bottom. He had every motive to understand the Inquiry" of President Edwards, and being an honest believer in its positions, to defend it against the attack of its opponents. He addresses himself to this work with great skill-suggests no doubt as to the truth of the father's system-intimates no wish to modify its features-gives substantially the same explanations, and repeats the same general arguments. The system of the son and the father is one system. It matters but little, which work you read; both contain the same arguments, and aim at the same general conclusions; both must stand or fall together. A criticism, therefore, upon the Dissertation of Dr. Edwards, is indirectly a critique upon the great“ Inquiry” of President Edwards.
Having made the reader acquainted with the main design of this Article, and submitted several suggestions upon the attitude of the question before us, I propose the following synopsis of discussion :
1. Whether volition be an effect?
2. Whether the knowledge of what causes an effect supposes the knowledge of how it causes ?
3. Whether the mind be the cause of volition ? 4. Whether motive be its cause ?
5. Whether God be the cause of every volition ?- These inquiries cover the entire ground, they lay open the whole field. Let us proceed to examine Dr. Edwards on these several points :
I. Whether Volition be an Effect? Alexander Smith, in his “ Philosophy of Morals," does not grant the position that volition is properly an effect at all. In allusion to the arguments on the side of necessity, he says
“The fallacy in the reasoning here employed appears to me to lie in this, that it confounds an effect (as a change in the subject operated upon, from one specific state to another) with the specific mode of operation belonging to a cause, (as producing one change rather than another,) and assumes a volition or act of will to be of the former, instead of the latter description. Vol. II. p. 92. Here the preliminary position, that volition is an effect, is not admitted, and of course any subsequent inquiry after its cause is a work of mere nugation. Does Dr. Edwards assume this ground ? In chapter v. he criticises Dr. West severely for saying, “ that volition is not properly an effect, which has a cause. He does not understand bim to mean “that it is an effect, which has no cause," but“ that it is not an effect at all.” Having complimented the doctor for“ originality in this part of his system,” he proceeds to examine and overthrow the reasons for this position. I need not detain the reader to recite this argument, for with the conclusion of Dr. Edwards I am entirely satisfied. Volition is undoubtedly an effect. What is an effect?--Any event, any thing which comes to pass, whether it be the production of existence or any modification of that existence. That which once was not, but now is, or which is not now, but will be in future, is an effect, and demands for its existence a cause. Volition is of this nature; and it is not the less an effect though it be the mode of a cause, even the most ultimate mode that can be supposed. We cannot suppose an infinite series of modes following each otherwe must in the last analysis come to the ultimate mode between which and the cause there is nothing intermediate. That ultimate mode, however, must always come under the title of an effect. The fallacy of Mr. Smith was not in supposing volition to be a modification of a cause, even though it be ultimate, but in supposing such modification not to be an effect. A volition existing at the present moment, did not exist at a prior moment; hence it has the only character, which can be given to any effect; it must be an effect or be eternal.
II. Whether the knowledge of what causes an effect supposes
the knowledge of how it causes ? I am not aware that Dr. Edwards has in any instance formally said, that one kind of knowledge supposes the other; but the assumption is implied in much of his reasoning, ex hypothesi,