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cult to see. Like the author of the “ Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion," who in his system of philosophical necessity, contended that liberty was impossible, and yet allowed, that we are so constituted as necessarily to view ourselves as being free agents; so it may be, that the common sense of Dr. Edwards announced one position, and his philosophy the other.
3. To be consistent, Dr. Edwards must deny that mind is the cause of any thing whatever. If it cause any thing, it must cause either its own existence, or certain modifications and states within itself, or certain changes without itself. The first supposition is an absurdity : the second is both false and absurd according to Dr. Edwards. Here his scheme is entirely at issue with that of his opponents. One involves the causality of motive; the other of mind. They have different points of departure; move in different directions ; end differently, and mutually exclude each other. Moral necessity as a consequential necessity, predicates a causal relation between two terms, of which metive is the prior and causal term, and willing, the posterior term or effect.
Let us then accept this conclusion and institute the question: Can the mind be the cause of any thing? If so, it must be the cause of certain sequents of its own states, or modifications. These are connected in a chronological order with these states. Does the mind cause this connection ? If so, then it must act to do so, by the reasoning ; but this acting to cause the connection is but another mental state, and therefore the mind cannot be the cause of it. Suppose volition to be the first link in a chain of sequents, each depending on the preceding, and all dependent on the first link; suppose it to be said, that the mind is the cause of all but the first, and of this it is not possible that it should be the cause ; I ask, would not the supposition be self-contradictory? It is self-evident, if all the links depend on the first, and the mind has no relation of cause to the first, that it has none to any of them. If I do not cause the willing with which motion is connected as a sequent, then I do not cause the motion, whether it have for its sequent the death of a man, the revolution of an empire, or the destruction of the universe. It is not possible for a thing to be cause of events without itself, unless it originate and cause the changes within itself, whatever they may be, which are antecedent to the changes without. A cause must have causality in its own bosom, in
respect to its own modifications, before it can possibly be cause in respect to any thing connected with those modifications ; every cause must have its primordial theatre of causation in itself. But as we have seen, Dr. Edwards does not allow the mind to be cause of its own volitions. After this it is nonsense to speak of it as being cause of any thing. It it be an agent, it is such an agent as causes nothing; if it produces, it is such a producer as produces nothing. No event within or without it can be traced to it as cause. This must be allowed, or Dr. Edwards must recede from his position; it is an unavoidable deduction. The atheist, the pantheist, and the skeptic, will welcome the deduction, and use it for the vilest of purposes ; but Dr. Edwards is not the person to sit down quietly under such a view of man. He has truly made a nan which nature never made,” and which all his views of morality would lead him to unmake.
4. This position absolutely destroys all basis for any responsible agency in man.—This charge has often been brought against the scheme of necessity. It has been cordially adopted by some, and as heartily denied and rejected by others. The leading purpose of President Edwards in his work on the Will, was to reply to this imputation. Simply to renew the ebarge is therefore not sufficient; it must be shown to be a legitimate deduction, or it becomes a mere argumentum ad invidiam, alike unpropitious to the discovery of truth, and unfair in philosophical discussion. Let us for a moment attend to the confirmation of this position.
Responsible agency supposes the following postulates; the existence of a subject—that that subject is a free moral agent—that he exists in certain moral relations and that he bas actually produced moral actions. These are deducible a priori from the nature of the term; they are what would be termed in the Kantian philosophy analytical judgments, affirmations of intelligence derivable from a simple analysis of the term. The first three must be supposed to make such agency even a possible hypothesis ; the fourth must be added to reduce that bypothesis to reality. The necessity of these postulates is self-evident; some have denied their reality, but they have generally been consistent enough to deny also the doctrine of responsible agency
The position of Dr. Edwards is destructive of two supposiions; that man is a free moral agent, and has produced moral
actions. I am aware that much, so far as consistency of argument is concerned, depends on the definition of a free moral agent. Dr. Woods tells us that “a moral agent is one who perforros actions which are of a moral nature, and are related to a moral law.” Bib. Repos. July, 1840, p. 228. How much we gain by such a definition will appear if we transpose its terms; one who performs actions which are of a moral nature, and are related to a moral law, is a moral agent.” It might as well have been said, that a moral agent is a moral agent, for the predicate of the proposition is not more intelligible than the subject. It is a mere nominal definition. Speaking of freedom as " necessary for those who are the proper subjects of law," he
says, we do what we choose, and we choose as our heart is inclined," p. 229. He does not of course mean by the word “ do," choosing, for this would make him say, thai we choose what we choose, or that we choose to choose. The word“ do," therefore, means some sequent of choosing. By the phrase,
as our heart is inclined,” he does not mean choice, for this makes him to say, that we choose as our choice is. He must mean some involuntary antecedent or state going before the choice; and if he be a faithful expositor of the Edwardean creed, producing or causing the choice. A free moral agent, according to this exposition, would be one who, in the performance of moral actions, does what he chooses, and chooses as his heart is inclined. This is perhaps a fair exposition of such an agent, according to the Edwardean system. Dr. Edwards tells us, that he holds to freedom in the sense of “ power, opportunity, and advantage to execute our own choice," p. 326. The idea is, not that freedom pertains to the choice or the agent in making the choice, but to its sequents; when they are not interfered with by co-action or restraint, we have freedom, and all the freedom that is possible. President Edwards occupies the same position. His idea of freedom is, “ the power, opportunity, or advantage that any one has to do as he pleases. If the term “pleases” mean a volition, then freedom is power to do as one chooses or wills. What then does the word “ do” mean? It means either a volition, and then freedom is power to choose as one chooses ; or some sequent of volition, and then freedom is the absence of any“ hinderance or impediment” to the existence of that sequent. But if by the term "pleases” he means some antecedent of volition, and by the term “ do,” a volition, then liberty is the power to choose, as is the antece
dent. President Edwards was not always clear in the use of this phrase descriptive of liberty. In some instances he seems to use the word "pleases" in the sense of volition, and“ do" in the sense of its sequent; in others he uses the word "pleases" in the sense of the antecedent of volition, and“ do” as the volition itself. The two modes of use make out very dissimilar schemes of freedom. The first is the absence of “hinderance or impediment” to the existence of a chosen sequent; the second is but another form of saying, that volition is caused by the antecedent motive.
In this connection it is not proposed to examine these notions of liberty, as it would carry me beyond the compass of my present design. The reader is desired to fix his attention on a single point. It is admitted that freedom is “ the property of an agent”-ibat it belongs to an agent - that there must be an agent before freedom is a possibility. Moral freedom belongs to an agent, who is capable of moral distinctions. Place it where you please, either in the proximate antecedents of volition, in the volition, the agents of volition, or somewhere on the ground between the volition and its sequents; give it what characteristics you please; and on all hands it is conceded that there must be an agent somewhere, before freedom is possible, and that a being who is not a free moral agent in some sense cannot be a responsible subject. There is no debate on these points.
Now I affirrn that, according to the scheme of Dr. Edwards, agency is no reality in respect to man, that he is no agent, and therefore the epithets " free and moral,” if applied to him, are applied to a nonentity. In what respect can Dr. Edwarıls allow man to be an agent ? Not that he causes his own volitions, for this he denies; not that he causes their dependence on, and connection with, their proximate antecedents and causes, for this he also must deny; not that he causes their connection with their sequents, for this is equally inadınissible. The system absolutely sweeps all causation from the mind in all possible relations. Mind does nothing ; it is the bare subject of efficiency foreign to itself. What kind of an agent is that which does nothing, never did
any thing, and never can do any thing? It causes no modification within itself, and consequently none without itself, and yet it is an agent ! If men choose to retain the term, we have no objections to gratify their rhetorical taste; but as philosophers let them understand what they mean, and let
others understand them also. If we say with Dr. Woods, that a “moral agent is one who performs actions, etc.," the question arises : What do we mean? If by “actions” be meant the sequents of volition, and by" performs” the relation of cause between the volition and those sequents; then the question arises: Is the mind the cause of the volition? If the reply be negative, (and this is the reply of Dr. Edwards,) then the mind does not cause the “ actions”-it does not perform action in the sense of cause. But if by “ actions” be meant volitions themselves, then in what sense does the agent perform them? Not that he causes them, for this is denied. In what sense then, we beg to know? In the sense that the so called agent is a mere subject of those phenomena. There is plausibility in the mode of expression," who performs actions;" it chimes in well with the common sense of mankind; it implies causality in the agent ; but before the searching scrutiny of the Edwardean metaphysics it vanishes like the inorning cloud and early dew. The language would have been more consistent with the system had it been, a moral agent is one who is merely the subject of changes, which men call actions ; such in fact is the only kind of agent that can be picked up among the membra dispecta of humanity thus unrobed by philosophy. If any one still insist that such a being is an agent, he uses the word agent, and qualifies it by the epithets, free and moral, in precisely that sense in which it has no meaning. In this sense a block of wood may be an agent; indeed, nonentity may be such an agent. If it be demonstrable that no other agency is possible, it is as demonstrable that such an agent is in fact no agent at all. To call it an agent is contrary to the usus loquendi of the word-a total blotting out of all the ideas which in ordinary acceptation it conveys; what in common parlance would be termed " a clean
sweep;” not a wreck is left behind. Logically, therefore, although not in fact, man's agency is destroyed. To ask, whether man is a free, moral, and responsible agent, is to ask a question which is forestalled, and cut off by the answer of a previous question. The question cannot be entertained even as an hypothesis, for you have blockaded all inquiry in respect to the characteristics of agency, at its very threshold. Attach what ideas you choose to the words, free, moral, and responsible –let them be true or false in themselves and they are but the ailjuncts of an airy nothing, the attributes of a dream -in re, in connection with reality they have no existence. This