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cannot, or unable, are properly relative, and have relation to power exerted, or that may be exerted, in order to the thing spoken of; to which, as I have now observed, the word Necessity, as used by philosophers, has no reference.
Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the full and fixed connection between the things signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connection, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition, or contrary effort, be supposed, or supposable in the case, or no. When the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing, either substance, quality, act or circumstance, have a full and certain connection, then the existence or being of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical sense. And in this sense I use the word Necessity, in the following discourse, when I endeavor to prove that Necessity is not inconsistent with liberty.
The subject and predicate of a proposition which affirms existence of something, may have a full, fixed, and certain connection several ways.
(1.) They may have a full and perfect connection in and of themselves; because it may imply a contradiction, or gross absurdity, to suppose them not connected. Thus many things are necessary in their own nature. So the eternal existence of being, generally considered, is necessary in itself; because it would be in itself the greatest absurdity, to deny the existence of being in general, or to say there was absolute and universal nothing; and is as it were the sum of all contradictions; as might be shown, if this were a proper place for it. So God's infinity, and other attributes are necessary: So it is necessary in its
own nature, that two and two should be four; and it is necessary, that all right lines drawn from the centre of a circle to the circumference should be equal
. It is necessary, fit and suitable, that men should do to others, as they would that they should do to them. So innumerable metaphysical and mathe. matical truths are necessary in themselves ; the subject and predicate of the proposition which affirms them, are perfectly connected of themselves. (2.
) The connection of the subject and predicate of a proposition which affirms the existence of something, may be fixed and made certain, because the existence of that thing is already come to pass ; and either now is, or has been ; and so has as it were made sure of existence. And therefore, the proposition which afirms present and past existence of it, may by this means be made certain, and necessarily and unalterably true. The past event has fixed and decided the matter, as to its existence ; and has made it impossible but that existence should be truly predicated of it. Thus the existence of whatever is already come to pass, is now become necessary; it is become impossible it should be otherwise than true, that such a thing has been.
(3.) The subject and predicate of a proposition which affirms something to be.
hare a real and certain connection consequentially; and so the existence of the thing may be consequentially necessary; as it may be surely and firmly connected with something else, that is necessary in one of the foriner respects. As it is either fully and thoroughly connected with that which is absolutely necessary in its own nature, or with something which has already received and made sure of existence. This Necessity lies in, or may be explained. by the connection of two or more propositions one with another. Things which are perfectly connected with other things that are necessary, are necessary themselves
, by a Necessity of consequence. And here it may be observed, that all things which are future, or which will hereafter begin to be, which can be said to be necessary, are necessary only in
this last way. Their existence is not necessary in itself; for if so, they always would have existed. Nor is their existence become necessary by being made sure, by being already come to pass. Therefore, the only way that any thing that is to come to pass hereafter, is or can be necessary, is by a connection with something that is necessary in its own nature, or something that already is, or has been ; so that the one being supposed, the other certainly follows. And this also is the only way that all things past, excepting those which were from eternity, could be necessary before they came to pass, or could come to pass necessarily; and therefore the only way in which any effect or event, or any thing whatsoever that ever has had, or will have a beginning, has come into being necessarily, or will hereafter necessarily exist. And therefore this is the Necessity which especially belongs to controversies about the acts of the Will.
It may be of some use in these controversies, further to observe concerning metaphysical Necessity, that (agreeably to the distinction before observed of Necessity, as vulgarly understood) things that exist may be said to be necessary, either with a general or particular Necessity. The existence of a thing may be said to be necessary with a general Necessity, when all things whatsoever being considered, there is a foundation for certainty of its existence; or when in the most general and universal view of things, the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms its existence, would appear with an infallible connection.
An event, or the existence of a thing, may be said to be necessary with a particular necessity, or with regard to a particular person, thing, or time, when nothing that can be taken into consideration, in or about that person, thing, or time, alters the case at all, as to the certainty of that event, or the existence of that thing; or can be of any account at all, in determining the infallibility of the connection of the subject and predicate in the proposition which affirins the existence of the thing ; so that it is all one, as to that person, or thing, at least at that time, as if the existence were necessary with a Necessity that is most universal and absolute. Thus there are many things that happen to particular persons, which they have no hand in, and in the existence of which no will of theirs has
any concern, at least at that time; which, whether they are necessary or not, with regard to things in general, yet are necessary to them, and with regard to any volition of theirs at that time; as they prevent all acts of the will about the affair. I shall have occasion to apply this observation to particular instances in the following discourse. Whether the same things that are necessary with a particular Necessity, be not also necessary with a general Necessity, may be a matter of future consideration. Let that be as it will, it alters not the case, as to the use of this distinction of the kinds of Necessity. These things may be sufficient for the explaining of the terms necessary
and necessity, as terms of art, and as often used by metaphysicians, and controversial writers in divinity, in a sense diverse from, and more extensive than their original meaning in conmon language, which was before explained.
What has been said to show the meaning of the terms necessary and necessity, may be sufficient for the explaining of the opposite terms impossible and impossibility. For there is no difference, but only the latter are negative, and the former positive. Impossibility is the same as negative Necessity, or a Necessity that a thing should not be. And it is used as a term of art in a like diversity from the original and vulgar meaning with Necessity. The same may be observed concerning the words unable and inability,
It has been observed, that these terms, in their original and common use, have relation to will and endeavor, as supposable in the case, and as insufficient for
alwas the bringing to pass the thing willed and endeavored. But as these terms are
inade often used by philosophers and divines, especially writers on controversies about y thing free will, they are used in a quite different, and far more extensive sense, and are in wit applied to many cases wherein no will or endeavor for the bringing of the thing y is
, a to pass, is or can be supposed, but is actually denied and excluded in the nature Ándi of the case. e from As the words necessary, impossible, unable, &c., are used by polemic
writers, in a sense diverse from their common signification, the like has happened to the term contingent. Any thing is said to be contingent, or to come
to pass by chance or accident, in the original meaning of such words, when its is the comection with its causes or antecedents, according to the established course of things
, is not discerned; and so is what we have no means of the foresight of. erning
And especially is any thing said to be contingent or accidental with regard to ed oil us, when any thing comes to pass that we are concerned in, as occasions or svars subjects
, without our foreknowledge, and beside our design and scope.
But the word contingent is abundantly used in a very different sense; not being
for that whose connection with the series of things we cannot discern, so as to foresee the event, but for something which has absolutely no previous ground or reason, with which its existence has any fixed and certain connection
of the Distinction of Natural and Moral Necessity, and Inability.
That Necessity which has been explained, consisting in an infallible conthe nection of the things signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition, as a intelligent beings are the subjects of it, is distinguished into moral and natural
I shall not now stand to inquire whether this distinction be a proper and ol! perfect distinction; but shall only explain how these two sorts of Necessity are | understood, as the terms are sometimes used, and as they are used in the following discourse.
The phrase, moral Necessity, is used variously; sometimes it is used for a .; Necessity of moral obligation. So we say, a man is under Necessity, when he
is under bonds of duty and conscience, which he cannot be discharged from. So the word Necessity is often used for great obligation in point of interest. Sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that apparent connection of things, which is the ground of moral evidence; and so is distinguished from absolute Necessity, or that sure connection of things, that is a foundation for infallible certainty. In this sense, moral Necessity signifies much the same as that high degree of probability, which is ordinarily sufficient to satisfy, and be relied upon by mankind, in their conduct and behavior in the world, as they would consult their own safety and interest, and treat others properly as members of society: And sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that Necessity of connection and consequence, which arises from such moral causes, as the strength of inclination, Of motives, and the connection which there is in many cases between these, and such certain volitions and actions. And it is in this sense, that I use the phrase, moral Necessity, in the following discourse.
By natural Necessity, as applied to men, I mean such Necessity as men are under through the force of natural causes; as distinguished from what are called moral causes, such as habits and dispositions of the heart, and moral
motives and inducements. Thus men placed in certain circumstances, are the subjects of particular sensations by Necessity; they feel pain when their bodies are wounded ; they see the objects presented before them in a clear light, when their eyes are opened ; so they assent to the truth of certain propositions, as soon as the terms are understood; as that two and two make four, that black is not white, that two parallel lines can never cross one another ; so by a natural Necessity men's bodies move downwards, when there is nothing to support them.
But here several things may be noted concerning these two kinds of Necessity.
1. Moral Necessity may be as absolute, as natural Necessity. That is, the effect may be as perfectly connected with its moral cause, as a natural necessary effect is with its natural cause. Whether the Will in every case is necessarily determined by the strongest motive, or whether the Will ever makes any resistance to such a motive, or can ever oppose the strongest present inclination, or not; if that matter should be controverted, yet I suppose none will deny, but that, in some cases, a previous bias and inclination, or the motive presented, may be so powerful, that the act of the Will may be certainly and indissolubly connected therewith. When motives or previous biases are very strong, all will allow that there is some difficulty in going against them. And if they were yet stronger, the difficulty would be still greater. And therefore, if more were still added to their strength, to a certain degree, it would make the difficulty so great, that it would be wholly impossible to surmount it; for this plain reason, because whatever power men may be supposed to have to surmount difficulties, yet that power is not infinite; and so goes not beyond certain limits. If a man can surmount ten degrees of difficulty of this kind with twenty degrees of strength, because the degrees of strength are beyond the degrees of difficulty; yet if the difficulty be increased to thirty, or a hundred, or a thousand degrees, and his strength not also increased, his strength will be wholly insufficient to surmount the difficulty. As therefore it must be allowed, that there may be such a thing as a sure and perfect connection between moral causes and effects; so this only is what I call by the name of moral Necessity.
2. When I use this distinction of moral and natural Necessity, I would not be understood to suppose, that if any thing comes to pass by the former kind of Necessity, the nature of things is not concerned in it, as well as in the latter I do not mean to determine, that when a moral habit or motive is so strong, that the act of the Will infallibly follows, this is not owing to the nature of things. But these are the names that these two kinds of Necessity have usually been called by; and they must be distinguished by some names or other; for there is a distinction or difference between them, that is very important in its consequences; which difference does not lie so much in the nature of the connection, as in the two terms connected. The cause with which the effect is connected, is of a particular kind, viz., that which is of moral nature ; either some previous habitual disposition, or some motive exhibited to the understanding. And the effect is also of a particular kind; being likewise of a moral nature; consisting in some inclination or volition of the soul or voluntary action.
I suppose, that Necessity which is called natural, in distinction from moral necessity, is so called, because mere nature, as the word is vulgarly used, is concerned, without any thing of choice. The word nature is often used in opposition to choice; not because nature has indeed never any hand in our choice; but this probably comes to pass by means that we first get our notion
they more 2 the
of nature from that discernible and obvious course of events, which we observe
, interrupts and alters the chain of events in these external objects, and causes them to proceed otherwise than they would do, if let alone, and left to go on according to the laws of motion among themselves. Hence it is spoken of as if it were a principle of motion entirely distinct from nature, and properly set in opposition to it. Names being commonly given to things, according to what is most obvious, and is suggested by what appears to the senses without reflection and research.
3. It must be observed, that in what has been explained, as signified by the name of moral Necessity, the word Necessity is not used according to the original design and meaning of the word; for, as was observed before, such terins, necessary, impossible, irresistible, &c., in common speech, and their most proper sense, are always relative; having reference to some supposable voluntary opposition or endeavor, that is insufficient. But no such opposition, or contrary will and endeavor, is supposable in the case of moral Necessity; which is a certainty of the inclination and will itself; which does not adnit of the supposition of a will to oppose and resist it. For it is absurd to suppose the same individual will to oppose itself, in its present act; or the present choice to be opposite to, and resisting present choice; as absurd as it is to talk of two contrary motions, in the same moving body, at the same time. And therefore the very case supposed never admits of any trial whether an opposing or resisting will can overcome this Necessity.
What has been said of natural and moral Necessity, may serve to explain what is intended by natural and moral Inability. We are said to be naturally unable to do a thing, when we cannot do it if we will, because what is most commonly called nature does not allow of it, or because of some impeding defect or obstacle that is extrinsic to the will, either in the faculty of understanding, constitution of body, or external objects. Moral Inability consists not in any of these things ; but either in the want of inclination, or the strength of a contrary inclination, or the want of sufficient motives in view, to induce and excite the act of the will, or the strength of apparent motives to the contrary. Or both these may be resolved into one; and it may be said in one word, that moral Inability consists in the opposition or want of inclination. For when a person is unable to will or choose such a thing, through a defect of motives, or prevalence of contrary motives, it is the same thing as his being unable through the want of an inclination,