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sight of a very important point in his whole process of argument, i. e. that the phenomenon, for which he assigns motive as a cause, has its existence in the bosom of an agent, the incompetency of which agent to cause that very phenomenon, it will not do to assume. He reasons in regard to motive, just as he reasons in regard to other causes, that act upon simple recipients of efficiency. Now suppose the mind to be something more than a mere recipient; and the whole subject is placed in a new attitude, and all the previous logic is set afloat. The nature of the mind itself, the nature of its relation to its own acts, form very material inquiries—inquiries of the first importance in deciding upon the nature of the relation of other things to those mental acts. The very definition which is given of motive is a petitio principii. “By motive, I mean the whole of that which moves,” etc. Here it is assumed, that the thing intended is something " which moves;" then that something is called motive. This begs the whole question, and decides a controversy by the mere force of a definition. Would not the logical course be, to define the thing without involving the matter in dispute, and then prove that the disputed characteristic holds true of that thing ?
This would place the question upon fair and open ground. The nature of mind, and of so much of motive as is undisputed, would come up for examination, and in the opinion of the writer a very different theory from that of moral necessity would be the result. It would be found exceedingly difficult to invent media by which to connect the predicate of necessity with motive as its subject. I indicated to the reader the design of not going extensively into this subject; I must therefore leave it, and pass on to the next inquiry
V. Whether God be the Cause of Human Volitions ?
Having admitted that motive is not, and denied that mind is, the efficient cause of volition, Dr. Edwards says, “ He who established the laws of nature, so called, is the primary cause of all things. What is meant by efficient cause in any case, in which an effect is produced according to established laws ? For instance, what is the efficient cause of the sensation of heat from fire ? If it be answered, fire is the efficient cause; I also answer that motive is the efficient cause of the volition and doing aforesaid. If it be said that the Great First Cause is the efficient cause of the sensation of heat, the same Great Agent is the effi
cient cause of volition in the same way, by a general law eståblishing a connection between motives and volitions ; as there is a connection between fire in certain situations, and the sensation of heat," p. 381. “ The cause, or series of causes, which is implied in the idea, that volition is an effect, is so far from excluding the first cause, and any efficient cause, as Dr. West says, that it inevitably leads to the first cause, and implies, that there is an efficient cause of all volition in creatures, as well as of every thing else, short of the first cause," p. 385. “We say, that fire is the cause of the sensation of heat; that rain and sunshine are the causes of vegetation, etc. Yet they are no more than the stated antecedents. In the same sense rnotives, according to Dr. West (to which sense Dr. E. assents) are causes of volitions. Besides, all second causes are the effects of the first cause. Therefore ultimately, volitions are effects of the Great First Cause," p. 393. In speaking of moral necessity as constituted by God, he says,
" that the connection between all causes and effects, and particularly the connection between motives and volitions, is established by the same Supreme agent,” p. 439.
Here we have Dr. Edwards's theory of the Will, traced to its last analysis. He explains the philosophical ground of the fact of infallible connection between motives and volitions, on which he insists. This fact is a stated order of sequence; its existence demands an efficient cause. That cause is neither the prior nor posterior terms of the sequence; neither is it the mind in which the sequence occurs. Fire is nothing but the stated antecedent of the sensation of heat; so motive is infallibly connected with volition; this is but the invariable concomitancy of two things. The motive is nothing but the anterior of two connected terms; it is not the cause of its chronological position as an antecedent. Where lies the efficiency by which the connection is established ? Dr. Edwards tells us that it lies solely and simply with the Great First Cause. God is the cause, and the only real cause of the event. All causes but the First are only modes of causation by the First. In relation to volition, neither motive nor mind is the cause; God is its sole cause. This divine cause causes, by what is termed “a general law.”. What then is “ a general law ?!! It is not itself a cause; it is the affirmation of an universal and invariable rule of divine causation. All the countless volitions of men are produced and caused by God, not in the sense that he created, sustains and gives men power to cause them, for this last idea Dr. Edwards rejects; but in the sense
that he efficiently causes them, not in Himself as their subject, but in human minds as their subject. The phrases,“ infallible connection” and “general law” simply state the rule of this divine causation; i. e. when what is called motive is presented to the mind, then God invariably causes the resulting volition; this constitutes the connection or law; the connection is infallible, in virtue of the infallible and constant causative energy of the Deity.
This is the theory to which Dr. Edwards finally comes. It has the merit of being simple. Man is created by God capable of a modification called volition, not of originating it, but of being in it. What is termed motive is an infallible antecedent of this mental state. The connection is not the cause of itself; neither are the terms its cause. God is the cause by a general law;" that law is but the universal rule according to which God causes. This is the whole theory. We see precisely the relative positions of mind, motive, and the First Cause. Stated in a single sentence, it would be, that God is the sole cause of every human volition.
This theory has the merit of being a logical deduction from the system of Dr. Edwards. The system of moral necessity must in the end terminate at this point. Others may not have pursued it so far; but they differ from Dr. Edwards in being either less candid or less logical. If the logical condition of the mind's being a cause of any thing be, that it should be in a state of willing, it obviously cannot be the cause of the willing. If we turn to the antecedents of the willing, it is obvious that their connection with it cannot be self-constituted, self-originated; that upon strict analysis they cannot be the real cause. The mind travels on, and in its very next step arrives at the First Cause who established this connection, and is therefore the only real cause of volition. Here it stops; here ends moral necessity as a theory of the will; to this point it must always come. It is sometimes covered by a cloud of words, but analysis will always bring you to the goal. The speculator may go on, and undertake the difficult task of philosophizing upon the divine volitions, which cause the human. He has entered a new field of inquiry; he cannot find another cause before the First to meet the wants of his philosophy. We do not propose to pursue him there.
Again, this theory is substantially identical with the philosophical doctrine of Dr. Emmons. His was the scheme of Divine Efficiency. He, however, never contended that the Divine Agent caused volitions without any connection with motives. He says,
“ Accordingly, when he works in us both to will and to do, he first exhibits motives before our minds, and excites us to act voluntarily in the view of the motives exhibited. And in thus acting voluntarily in the view of motives presented to us, we exercise the most perfect liberty, or moral freedom. For we can frame no higher idea of moral freedom than acting voluntarily, or just as we please in the view of motives.” Emmons's Works, Vol. IV.p. 351. Here the doctrine of infallible connection, or co-presence of motives is allowed, and the necessarian idea of liberty is presented with perfect accuracy. The reader, however, must not suppose, that when Dr. Emmons speaks of men as acting voluntarily, he meant to admit that men cause their own volitions; he meant just what Dr. Edwards did, i. e. that men are the subjects of volitions. His doctrine was, that God is the efficient cause of every human volition, whether good or bad. This we have seen to be the position of Dr. Edwards. Dr. Emmons openly avows, that God causes the wrong as really as he does the good volitions of men. This has contributed to render his system odious. Against Emmonsism numerous caveats have been put on record. But what is it? Nothing but the system of necessity in real life. It is not to be blamed for the inference, for the fault lies in the premises. Dr. Edwards comes to the generic conclusion: Dr. Emmons affirms it in both of its specific branches, in relation to the bad, as well as the good volitions of men.
Pantheism is a term deservedly in bad repute among Christian philosophers. The term to a Greek scholar suggests its own definition. Of Pantheism there have been various expositions or schemes, which have been united by one common feature, i. e. that God is the only cause in the universe. Now let it be granted, for perhaps it is true, that all physical causation is by divine efficiency; that in reality a physical cause is not a cause at all, but a mere vehicle or mode of divine efficiency. Is this true also of the phenomena of the mind ? Dr. Edwards's answer is unambiguous. What follows? That of all the events of this world, there is not, never was, and never can be but one cause, and that cause is the First Cause. Generalize this position, and you have a Pantheism that sweeps over the universe. It matters not whether you metaphysically confound the essence of God with other things, or distinguish between the two; one thing is certain, that there is but one
Again, this position of Dr. Edwards, besides being liable to all the difficulties mentioned in relation to his denial of mental causation, states many others equally formidable in a new direction. Upon his hypothesis a divine government is possible; the events of that government may be certain; but the distinction between a physical and a moral government is annihilated, and the essential incidents of the latter are totally swept away. A moral government is not possible unless it be applied to agents. But an agent that causes nothing, no modification of itself, and consequently none beyond itself
, all the modifications and changes of which are caused by the first cause, is not only a contradiction, but at war with common sense. The subject of these modifications may be called a mental subject; it does not therefore approximate to the idea of a cause or an agent; it is no agent in any correct sense. Leibnitz in his Theodicæa, called the mind a “spiritual automaton.” What if it be spiritual? Does it come any nearer being an agent ? Certainly not on this account. To set up a government of commands, rewards, and punishments, over a being that causes no phenomenon within himself, and none without himself; to make that being immortal, and endow him with the susceptibility of eternal pain; to make his destiny, whether of joy or wo, dependent on certain phenomena passing within him, to which he contributes nothing as cause, any more than if he did not exist; this contradicts all our notions of justice; it is a farce, which, if not so solemn, might be treated with ridicule. Between this supposition and atheism there is little ground of preference. The only just foundation for administering rewards and punishments, is the rightness or wrongness inherent in moral actions. But if a being cannot act at all, then it is manifest that he can act neither right nor wrong. If he cannot cause, then he cannot act, for no man can separate the idea of causing from the idea of acting. The remarks of Pere Buffier on this point are worthy of being mentioned : “For if it be a cause, it has an effect, and every thing that has an effect of course acts ; as to act and to have an effect is precisely the same thing.” “The action as impressed on or received by any being is called passion ; and as received in an intelligent being who produces it himself, is termed act.” Buffier's First Truths, p. 225, 229. If we deny that the mind acts in this sense, we deny action altogether; we might as well then go to the theory of Dr. Harteley, and generate all mental states upon the mechanical principle of vibrations.