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case of indifference, concerning which is all the question. Besides, it appears in fact, that the thing which this author supposes, is not that the Will chooses one thing before another, concerning which it is indifferent before it chooses ; but also is indifferent when it chooses; and that its being otherwise than indifferent is not until afterwards, in consequence of its choice, that the chosen thing's appearing preferable and more agreeable than another, arises from its choice already made. His words are, (p. 30, “Where the objects which are proposed, appear equally fit or good, the Will is left without a guide or director ; and therefore must take its own choice by its own determination ; it being properly a selfdetermining power. And in such cases the Will does as it were make a good to itself by its own choice, i. e. creates its own pleasure or delight in this selfchosen good. Even as a man by seizing upon a spot of unoccupied land, in an uninhabited country, makes it his own possession and property, and as such rejoices in it. Where things were indifferent before, the Will finds nothing to make them more agreeable, considered merely in themselves; but the pleasure it feels arisiNG FROM ITS OWN CHOICE, and its perseverance therein. We love many things we have chosen, AND PURELY BECAUSE WE CHOSE THEM.
This is as much as to say, that we first begin to prefer many things, now ceasing any longer to be indifferent with respect to them, purely because we have preferred and chosen them before. These things must needs be spoken inconsiderately by this author. Choice or preference cannot be before itself in the same instance, either in the order of time or nature: it cannot be the foundation of itself, or the fruit or consequence of itself. The very act of choosing one thing rather than another, is preferring that thing, and that is setting a higher value on that thing. But that the mind sets a higher value on one thing than another, is not, in the first place, the fruit of its setting a higher value on that thing.
This author says, p. 36, “ The Will may be perfectly indifferent, and yet the Will may determine itself to choose one or the other." And again, in the same page, “I am entirely indifferent to either; and yet my Will may determine itself to choose.” And again, “Which I shall choose must be determined by the mere act of my Will." If the choice is determined by a mere act of Will
, then the choice is determined by a mere act of choice. And concerning this matter, viz., that the act of the Will itself is determined by an act of choice, this writer is express, in page 72. Speaking of the case, where there is no superior fitness in objects presented, he has these words : “There it must act by its own choice, and determine itself as it PLEASES.” Where it is supposed that the very determination, which is the ground and spring of the Will's act, is an act of choice and pleasure, wherein one act is more agreeable and the mind better pleased in it than another ; and this preference and superior pleasedness is the ground of all it does in the case. And if so, the mind is not indifferent when it determines itself, but had rather do one thing than another, had rather determine itself one way than another. And therefore the Will does not act at all in indifference; not so much as in the first step it takes, or the first rise and beginning of its acting. If it be possible for the understanding to act in indifference, yet to be sure the Will never does; because the Will's beginning to act is the very same thing as its beginning to choose or prefer. And if in the very first act of the Will, the mind prefers something, then the idea of that thing preferred, does at that time preponderate, or prevail in the mind; or, which is the same thing, the idea of it has a prevailing influence on the Will. So that this wholly destroys the thing supposed, viz., that the mind can, by a sovereign power, choose one of two or more things, which in the view of the mind
are, in every respect, perfectly equal, one of which does not at all preponderate,
So that his author, in his grand argument for the ability of the Will to
suppose the Will to act at all in a state of perfect indifference, either to determine itself, or to do any thing else, is to assert that the mind chooses without choosing. To say that when it is indifferent, it can do as it pleases, is to say that it can follow its pleasure when it has no pleasure to follow. And therefore if there be any difficulty in the instances of two cakes, two eggs, &c., which are exactly alike, one as good as another ; concerning which this author supposes the mind in fact has a choice, and so in effect supposes that it has a preference; it as much concerned himself to solve the difficulty, as it does those whom he opposes. For if these instances prove any thing to his purpose, they prove that a man chooses without choice. And yet this is not to his purpose ; because if this is what he asserts, his own words are as much against him, and do as much contradict him, as the words of those he disputes against can do.
2. There is no great difficulty in showing, in such instances as are alleged,
Thus, supposing I have a chess-board before me; and because I am required
, more than another :
were in a moment); the first step is its general determination that it will touch
eye or mind at that time, or to some other such like accident. The third
I have elsewhere observed what that is which is vulgarly called accident ; that it is nothing akin to the Arminian metaphysical notion of contingence, something noi connected with any thing foregoing : but that it is something that comes to pass in the course of-things, in some affair that men are concerned in, unforeseen, and not owing to their design.
not absolutely indifferent whether it does so or no; it is induced to it, for the sake of making some experiment, or by the desire of a friend, or some other motive that prevails
. So it is in the second step, the mind's determining to give itself up to accident, by touching that which shall be most in the eye, or the idea of which shall be most prevalent in the mind, &c. The mind is not absolutely indifferent whether it proceeds by this rule or no ; but chooses it because it appears at that time a convenient and requisite expedient in order to fulfil the general purpose aforesaid. And so it is in the third and last step, it is determining to touch that individual spot which actually does prevail in the mind's view The mind is not indifferent concerning this, but is influenced by a prevailing inducement and reason ; which is, that this is a prosecution of the preceding determination, which appeared requisite, and was fixed before in the second step. Accident will ever serve a man, without hindering him a moment, in such a
It will always be so among a number of objects in view, one will prevail in the eye, or in idea beyond others. When we have our eyes open in the clear sunshine, many objects strike the eye at once, and innumerable images may
be at once painted in it by the rays of light ; but the attention of the mind is not equal to several of them at once; or if it be, it does not continue so for any
time. And so it is with respect to the ideas of the mind in general : several ideas are not in equal strength in the mind's view and notice at once; or at least, do not remain so for any sensible continuance. There is nothing in the world more constantly varying, than the ideas of the mind : they do not remain precisely in the same state for the least perceivable space of time ; as is evident by this, that all perceivable time is judged and perceived by the mind only by the succession or the successive changes of its own ideas : therefore while the views or perceptions of the mind remain precisely in the same state, there is no perceivable space or length of time, because no sensible succession.
As the acts of the Will, in each step of the forementioned procedure, do not come to pass without a particular cause, every act is owing to a prevailing inducement; so the accident, as I have called it, or that which happens in the unsearchable course of things, to which the mind yields itself, and by which it is guided, is not any thing that comes to pass without a cause; and the mind, in determining to be guided by it, is not determined by something that has no cause ; any more than if it determined to be guided by a lot, or the casting of a die. For though the die's falling in such a manner be accidental to him that casts it, yet none will suppose that there is no cause why it falls as it does. The involuntary changes in the succession of our ideas, though the causes may not be observed, have as much a cause, as the changeable motions of the motes that float in the air, or the continual, infinitely various, successive changes of the unevennesses on the surface of the water.
There are two things especially, which are probably the occasions of confusion in the minds of those who insist upon it, that the Will acts in a proper indifference, and without being moved by any inducement, in its determination in such cases as have been mentioned.
1. They seem to mistake the point in question, or at least not to keep it distinctly in view. The question they dispute about, is, Whether the mind be indifferent about the objects presented, one of which is to be taken, touched, pointed to, &c., as two eggs, iw) cakes, which appear equally good. Whereas the question to be considered, is, Whether the person be indifferent with respect to his own actions ; whether he does not, on some consideration or other, prefer one act with respect to these objects before another. The mind in its determination and choice, in these cases, is not most immediately and directly conversant
about the objects presented ; but the acts to be done concerning these objects. The objects may appear equal, and the mind may never properly make any choice between them : but the next act of the Will being about the external actions to be performed, taking, touching, &c., these may not appear equal, and one action may properly be chosen before another. In each step of the mind's progress, the determination is not about the objects, unless indirectly and improperly
, but about the actions, which it chooses for other reasons than any preference of the objects, and for reasons not taken at all from the objects.
There is no necessity of supposing, that the mind does ever properly choose one of the objects before another; either before it has taken, or afterwards. Indeed the man chooses to take or touch one rather than another ; but not because it chooses the thing taken, or touched; but from foreign considerations. The
be so, that of two things offered, a man may, for certain reasons, choose and prefer the taking of that which he undervalues, and choose to neglect to take that which his mind prefers. In such a case, choosing the thing taken, and choosing to take, are diverse; and so they are in a case where che things presented are equal. in the mind's esteem, and neither of them preferred. All that fact makes evident, is, that the mind chooses one action rather than another. And therefore the arguments which they bring, in order to be to their purpose, ought to be to prove that the mind chooses the action in perfect indifference, with respect to that action; and not to prove that the mind chooses the action in perfect indifference with respect to the object; which
very possible, and yet the Will not act without prevalent inducement, and proper preponderation.
2. Another reason of confusion and difficulty in this matter, seems to be, not distinguishing between a general indifference, or an indifference with respect to what is to be done in a inore distant and general view of it, and a particular indifference, or an indifference with respect to the next immediate act, viewed with its particular and present circumstances. A man may be perfectly indifferent with respect to his own actions, in the former respect; and yet not in the latter
. Thus, in the foregoing instance of touching one of the squares of a chessboard; when it is first proposed that I should touch one of them, I may be perfectly indifferent which I touch ; because as yet I view the matter remotely and generally, being but in the first step of the mind's
, progress in the affair
. But yet, when I am actually come to the last step, and the very next thing to be determined is which is to be touched, having already determined that I will touch that which happens to be most in my eye or mind, and my mind being now fixed on a particular one, the act of touching that, considered thus immediately, and in these particular present circumstances, is not what my mind is absolutely indifferent about.
Concerning the notion of Liberty of Will, consisting in Indifference.
What has been said in the foregoing section, has a tendency in some measure to evince the absurdity of the opinion of such as place Liberty in Indifference, or in that equilibrium whereby the Will is without all antecedent determination or bias, and left hitherto free from any prepossessing inclination
to one side or the other; that so the determination of the Will to either side may be entirely from itself, and that it may be owing only to its own power, and that sovereignty which it has over itself, that it goes this way rather than that. *
Bui inasmuch as this has been of such long standing, and has been so generally received, and so much insisted on by Pelagians, Semipelagians, Jesuits, Socinians, Arminians and others, it may deserve a more full consideration. And therefore I shall now proceed to a more particular and thorough inquiry into this notion.
Now, lest some should suppose that I do not understand those that place Liberty in Indifference, or should charge me with misrepresenting their opinion, I would signify, that I am sensible, there are some, who, when they talk of the Liberty of the Will as consisting in Indifference, express themselves as though they would not be understood of the Indifference of the inclination or tendency of the Will, but of, I know not what, Indifference of the soul's power of willing; or that the Will, with respect to its power or ability to choose, is indifferent, can go either way indifferently, either to the right hand or left, either act or forbear to act, one as well as the other. However, this seems to be a refining only of some particular writers, and newly invented, and which will by no means consist with the manner of expression used by the defenders of Liberty of Indifference in general. And I wish such refiners would thoroughly considler, whether they distinctly know their own meaning, when they make a distinction between Indifference of the soul as to its power or ability of willing or choosing, and the souls Indifference as to the preference or choice itself; and whether they do not deceive themselves in imagining that they have any distinct meaning? The Indifference of the soul as to its ability or power to Will, must be the same thing as the Indifference of the state of the power or faculty of the Will, or the Indifference of the state which the soul itself, which has that power or faculty, hitherto remains in, as to the exercise of that power, in the choice it shall by and by make.
But not to insist any longer on the abstruseness and inexplicableness of this distinction ; let what will be supposed concerning the meaning of those that make use of it, thus much must at least be intended by Arminians when they talk of Indifference as essential to Liberty of Will, if they intend any thing, in any respect to their purpose, viz., that it is such an Indifference as leaves the Will not determined already; but free from, and vacant of predetermination, so far, that there may be room for the exercise of the self-determining power
of the Will; and that the Will's freedom consists in, or depends upon this vacancy and opportunity that is left for the Will itself to be the determiner of the act that is to be the free act.
And here I would observe in the first place, that to make out this scheme of Liberty, the Indifference must be perfect and absolute; there must be a per
* Dr. Whitby, and some other Arminians, make a distinction of different kinds of freedom ; one of God, and perfect spirits above ; another of persons in a state of trial. The former Dr. Whitby allows to consist with necessity; the la:ter he holds to be without necessity: and this latter he supposes to be requisite to our being the subjects of praise or dispraise, rewards or punishments, precepts and prohibia tions, promises and threats, exhortations and dehortations, and a covenant treaty, And to this freedom he supposes Indifference to be reqnisite. In his Discourse on the five Points, p. 299, 300, he says, “ It is a freedom (speaking of a freedom not only froin coaction, but from necessity) requisite, as we crnceive, to render us capable of trial or probation, and to render our actio is worthy of praise or dispraise, and our persons of rewards or punishments.” And in the next page, speaking of the same matter, he says; * Excellent to this purpose, are the words of Mr. Thorndike : We say not that Indifference is requisite to all freedom, bul to the freedom of man alone in this state of travail and proficience : the grinırıl of which is God's lender of a treaty, anul conditions of peace and reconcilement to follen man, together with those precepts and pro hibitions, those promises and threals, those exhortations and dehortalions, it is enforced with."