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Corol. 2. Hence the doctrine of the Calvinists, concerning the absolute infallibie decrees of God, does not at all infer any more fatality in things, than will
demonstrably follow from the doctrine of most Arminian divines, who acAndi knowledge God's omniscience, and universal prescience. Therefore all objecrediti tions they make against the doctrine of the Calvinists, as implying Hobbes'
doctrine of Necessity, or the stoical doctrine of fate, lie no more against the say the doctrine of Calvinists, than their own doctrine : and therefore it doth not be
come those divines, to raise such an outery against the Calvinists, on this account.
Corol. 3. Hence all arguing from Necessity, against the doctrine of the givendi inability of unregenerate men to perform the conditions of salvation, and the that i
commands of God requiring spiritual duties, and against the Calvinistic doctrine of efficacious grace ; I say, all arguings of Arminians (such of them as own God's omniscience against these things, on this ground, that these doctrines, though they do not suppose men to be under any constraint or coaction, fet suppose them under Necessity, with respect to their moral actions, and those things which are required of them in order to their acceptance with God; and their arguing against the Necessity of men's volitions, taken from the reasonableness of God's commands, promises, and threatenings, and the sincerity of bis counsels and invitations, and all objections against any doctrines of the Calvinists as being inconsistent with human liberty, because they infer Ne cessity; I say, all ihese arguments and objections must fall to the ground, and be justly esteemed vain and frivolous, as coming from them; being maintained in an inconsistence with themselves, and in like manner levelled against their own doctrine, as against the doctrine of the Calvinists.
before tent ther
Whether we suppose the volitions of moral agents to be connected with any thing antecedent, or not, yet they must be necessary in such a sense as to overthrow Ar
Every act of the Will has a cause, or it has not. If it has a cause, then, ccording to what has already been demonstrated, it is not contingent, but neressary; the effect being necessarily dependent and consequent on its cause ; and that let the cause be what it will. If the cause is the Will itself, by antecedent acts choosing and determining ; still the determined and caused act must be a necessary effect. The act, that is the determined effect of the foregoing act which is its cause, cannot prevent the efficiency of its cause ; but must be wholly subject to its determination and command, as much as the motions of the hands and feet. The consequent commanded acts of the Will are as passive and as necessary, with respect to the antecedent determining acts as the parts of the body are to the volitions which determine and command them. And therefore if all the free acts of the Will are thus, if they are all determinal effects
, determined by the Will itself, that is, determined by antecedent choice, then they are all necessary; they are all subject to, and decisively fixed by the foregoing act, which is their cause : yea, even the determining act itself; for that must be determined and fixed by another act, preceding that, if it be a free and voluntary act ; and so must be necessary. So that by this all the free acts of the Will are necessary, and cannot be free unless they are necessary : VOL. II.
because they cannot be free, according to the Arminian notion of freedom, unless they are determined by the Will; which is to be determined by antecedent choice; which being their cause, proves them necessary. And yet they say, Necessity is utterly inconsistent with Liberty. So that, by their scheme, the acts of the Will cannot be free unless they are necessary, and yet cannot be free if they be necessary!
But if the other part of the dilemma be taken, and it be affirmed that the free acts of the Will have no cause, and are connected with nothing whatsoever that
goes before them and determines them, in order to maintain their proper and absolute contingence, and this should be allowed to be possible; still it will not serve their turn. For if the volition come to pass by perfect contingence, and without any cause at all, then it is certain, no act of the Will, no prior act of the soul was the cause, no determination or choice of the soul, had any hand in it. The Will, or the soul, was indeed the subject of what happened to it accidentally, but was not the cause. The Will is not active in causing or determining, but purely the passive subject; at least, according to their notion of action and passion. In this case, contingence does as much prevent the determination of the Will, as a proper cause; and as to the Will, it was necessary, and could be no otherwise.
For to suppose that it could have been otherwise, if the Will or soul had pleased, is to suppose that the act is dependent on some prior act of choice or pleasure ; contrary to what is now supposed : it is to suppose that it might have been otherwise, if its cause had made it or ordered it otherwise. But this does not agree to its having no cause or orderer at all. That must be necessary as to the soul, which is dependent on no free act of the soul : but that which is without a cause, is dependent on no free act of the soul : because, by the supposition, it is dependent on nothing, and is connected with nothing. In such a case, the soul is necessarily subjected to what accident brings to pass, from time to time, as much as the earth, that is inactive, is necessarily subjected to what falls upon it. But this does not consist with the Arminian notion of Liberty, which is the Will's power of determining itself in its own acts, and being wholly active in it, without passiveness, and without being subject to Necessity. Thus Contingence belongs to the Arminian notion of Liberty, and yet is inconsistent with it. I would here observe, that the author of the Essay on the Freedom of Will
, in God and the Creature, page 76, 77, says as follows: “ The word Chance always means something done without design. Chance and design stand in direct opposition to each other: and chance can never be properly applied to acts of the will, which is the spring of all design, and which designs to choose whatsoever it doth choose, whether there be any superior fitness in the thing which it chooses, or no; and it designs to determine itself to one thing, where two things, perfectly equal, are proposed, merely because it will." But herein appears a very great inadvertence in this author. For, if the Will be the spring of all design, as he says, then certainly it is not always the effect of design ; and the acts of the Will themselves must sometimes come to pass, when they do not spring from design; and consequently come to pass by chance, according to his own definition of chance. And if the Will designs to choose whatsoever it does choose, and designs to determine itself, as he says, then it designs to determine all its designs. Which carries us back from one design to a
foregoing design determining that, and to another determining that; and so on in infinitum. The very first design must be the effect of foregoing design, or else it must be by chance, in his notion of it.
fantas yet they
freedes Here another alternative may be proposed, relating to the connection of the
acts of the Will with something foregoing that is their cause, not much unlike
to the other ; which is this; either human liberty is such, that it may well scheine
stand with volitions being necessarily connected with the views of the undert canno standing, and so is consistent with Necessity; or it is inconsistent with, and
contrary to, such a connection and Necessity. The former is directly subversive that the
of the Arminian notion of liberty, consisting in freedom from all Necessity. And if the latter be chosen, and it be said that liberty is inconsistent with any such necessary connection of volition with foregoing views of the understanding, it consisting in freedom from any such Necessity of the Will as that would imply; then the liberty of the soul consists (in part at least) in freedom from restraint, limitation and government, in its actings, by the understanding, and in
liberty and liableness to act contrary to the understanding's views and dictates; happe and consequently the more the soul has of this disengagedness, in its acting, the CaUSA more liberty. Now let it be considered what this brings the noble principle of
buman liberty to, particularly when it is possessed and enjoyed in its perfection,
viz., a full and perfect freedom and liableness to act altogether at random, with Dit out the least connection with, or restraint or government by, any dictate of rea
son, or any thing whatsoever apprehended, considered or viewed by the understanding ; as being inconsistent with the full and perfect sovereignty of the Will over its own determinations. The notion mankind have conceived of liberty, is some dignity or privilege, something worth claiming. But what dignity or privilege is there, in being given up to such a wild contingence -as this
, to be perfectly and constantly liable to act unintelligently and unreasonably, and as much without the guidance of understanding, as if we had none, or were as destitute of perception, as the smoke that is driven by the wind !
WHEREIN IS INQUIRED, WHETHER ANY SUCH LIBERTY OF WILL AS ARMINIANS HOLD, BE
NECESSARY TO MORAL AGENCY, VIRTUE AND VICE, PRAISE AND DISPRAISE, ETC.
God's Moral Excellency necessary, yet virtuous and praiseworthy. HAVING considered the first thing that was proposed to be inquired into, relating to that freedom of Will which Arminians maintain ; namely, Whether any such thing does, ever did, or ever can exist, or be conceived of; I come now to the second thing proposed to be the subject of inquiry, viz., Whether any such kind of liberty be requisite to moral agency, virtue and vice, praise and blame, reward and punishment, &c.
I shall begin with some consideration of the virtue and agency of the Supreme moral agent, and fountain of all agency and virtue.
Dr. Whitby, in his discourses on the Five Points, p. 14, says, “ If all human actions are necessary, virtue and vice must be empty names; we being capable of nothing that is blameworthy, or deserveth praise ; for who can blame a person
for doing only what he could not help, or judge that he deserveth praise only for what he could not avoid ?” To the like purpose he speaks in places innumerable; especially in his discourse on the Freedom of the Will ; constantly maintaining, that a freedom not only from coaction, but necessity, is absolutely requisite, in order to actions being either worthy of blame, or deserving of praise. And to this agrees, as is well known, the current doctrine of Arminian writers, who, in general, hold, that there is no virtue or vice, reward or punishment, nothing to be commended or blamed, without this freedom. And yet Dr. Whitby, p. 300, allows, that God is without this freedom; and Arminians, so far as I have had opportunity to observe, generally acknowledge that God is necessarily holy, and his Will necessarily determined to that which is good.
So that putting these things together, the infinitely holy God, who used always to be esteemed by God's people not only virtuous, but a Being in whom is all possible virtue, and every virtue in the most absolute purity and perfection, and in infinitely greater brightness and amiableness than in any creature; the most perfect pattern of virtue, and the fountain from whom all others' virtue is as beams from the sun; and who has been supposed to be, on the account of his virtue and holiness, infinitely more worthy to be esteemed, loved, honored, admired, commended, extolled and praised, than any creature: and He, who is thus everywhere represented in Scripture; I say, this Being, according to this notion of Dr. Whitby, and other Arminians, has no virtue at all : virtue, when ascribed to him, is but an empty name ; and he is deserving of no commendation or praise : because he is under necessity. He cannot avoid being holy and good as he is; therefore no thanks to him for it. It seems, the holiness
, justice, faithfulness, &c., of the Most High, must not be accounted to be of the nature of that which is virtuous and praiseworthy. They will not deny, that these things in God are good; but then we must understand them, that they are no more virtuous, or of the nature of any thing commendable, than the good that is in any other being that is not a moral agent; as the brightness of the sun, and the fertility of the earth, are good, but not virtuous, because these properties are necessary to these bodies, and not the fruit of self-determining power.
There needs no other confutation of this notion of God's not being virtuous or praiseworthy, to Christians acquainted with the Bible, but only stating and particularly representing it. To bring texts of Scripture, wherein God is represented as in every respect, in the highest manner virtuous, and supremely praiseworthy, would be endless, and is altogether needless to such as have been brought up in the light of the gospel.
It were to be wished, that Dr. Whitby, and other divines of the same sort, had explained themselves, when they have asserted, that that which is necessary, is not deserving of praise ; at the same time that they have owned God's perfection to be necessary, and so in effect representing God as not deserving praise. Certainly, if their words have any meaning at all, by praise, they must mean the exercise or testimony of some sort of esteem, respect and honorable regard. And will they then say, that men are worthy of that esteem, respect and honor for their virtue, small and imperfect as it is, which yet God is not worthy of, for his infinite righteousness, holiness and goodness ? "If so, it must be, because of some sort of peculiar excellency in the virtuous man, which is his prerogative, wherein he really has the preference; some dignity, that is entirely distinguished from any excellency, amiableness, or honorableness in God: not in imperfection and dependence, but in pre-eminence: which therefore he does not receive from God, nor is God the fountain or pattern of it; nor can God, in that respect, stand
competition with him, as the object of nonor and regard ; but man may claim a peculiar esteem, commendation an'i glory, that God can have no pretension
to. Yea, God has no right, by virtue of his necessary holiness, to intermeddle boleh with that grateful respect and praise due to the virtuous man, who chooses
virtue, in the exercise of a freedom ad utrumque ; any more than a precious stone, which cannot avoid being hard and beautiful.
And if it be so, let it be explained what that peculiar respect is, that is due to the virtuous man, which differs in nature and kind, in some way of pre-eminence from all that is due to God. What is the name or description of that peculiar affection? Is it esteem, love, admiration, honor, praise or gratitude ? The Scripture everywhere represents God as the highest object of all these : there we read of the soul's magnifying the Lord, of loving Him with all the heart
, with all the soul, with all the mind, and with all the strength ; admiring Him, and his righteous acts, or greatly regarding them, as marvellous and wonderful ; honoring, glorifying, exalting, extolling, blessing, thanking and praising Him; giving unto Him all the glory of the good which is done or received, rather than unto men; that no flesh should glory in his presence; but that He should be regarded as the Being to whom all glory is due
. What then is that respect? What passion, affection or exercise is it, that Arminians call praise,
diverse from all these things, which men are worthy of for their virtue, and which iba God is not worthy of, in any degree?
If that necessity which attends God's moral perfections and actions, be as inconsistent with a being worthy of praise as a necessity of coaction; as is plainly implied in, or inferred from Dr. Whitby's discourse; then why should we thank God for his goodness, any more than if he were forced to be good, or any more than we should thank one of our fellow creatures who did us good, not freely, and of good will, or from any kindness of heart, but from mere compulsion, or extrinsical necessity ? Arminians suppose, that God is necessarily a good and gracious Being: for this they make the ground of some of their main arguments against many doctrines maintained by Calvinists; they say, these are certainly false, and it is impossible they should be true, because they are not consistent with the goodness of God. This supposes, that it is impossible but that God should be good : for if it be possible that he should be otherwise, then that impossibility of the truth of these doctrines ceases, according to their own argument.
That virtue in God is not, in the most proper sense, rewardable, is not for want of merit in his moral perfections and actions, sufficient to deserve rewards from his creatures ; but because he is infinitely above all capacity of receiving any reward or benefit from the creature : He is already infinitely and unchangeably happy, and we cannot be profitable unto him. But still he is worthy of our supreme benevolence for his virtue; and would be worthy of our beneficence, which is the fruit and expression of benevolence, if our goodness could extend to him. If God deserves to be thanked and praised for his goodness, he would, for the same reason, deserve that we should also requite his kindness, if that were possible. What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits? is the natural language of thankfulness; and so far as in us lies, it is our duty to recompense God's goodness, and render again according to benefits received. And that we might have opportunity for so natural an expression of our gratitude to God, as beneficence, notwithstanding his being infinitely above our reach : He has appointed others to be his receivers, and to stand in his stead, as the objects of our beneficence; such are especially our indigent brethren.