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S the following publication is
confined to the consideration of Dr. Priestley's Illustrations of Philosophical Necessity; all I shall, therefore, here fay concerning his preceding Disquisitions, relating to matter and spirit, is, that they appear to me chiefly to concern mankind, as they affect human liberty or agency. The Dr. obferves, in' the Preface to his Illustrations, thạt “ if man, as " is maintained in the Disquisitions, « be wholly a material, it will not " be denied but that he must ci be a mechanical being." I beg leave to remark, and the reasoning seems equally conclusive, on the other hand, that if, as is maintained in the following Observations, man be possessed of the power of moral agency, it will be as readily admitted, A 2
that there is something in the constitution of the being, to whom this power belongs, entirely distinct from matter, or that the spirit in man iş properly immaterial. The peculiar. importance of the subject treated of in the Illustrations, has led me to the separate discussion of that argument. I am not insensible, that there are difficulties attending the scheme of liberty, arising from the unfavourable situation in which great numbers of the human race are placed, which it is not easy, perhaps not possible, for men of the most enlarged and best improved understandings to clear up to their own satisfaction, and much less to the general fatisfaction of the thoughtful and inquisitive. But it is one thing, to be able to answer every objection, which may lie against
any particular doctrine, and another, to discern such evidence in favour of it, as shall appear greatly to overbalance the seeming difficulties which attend it, and be sufficient to determine the judgment about it. In the controversy before us, unable as we may be fully to account for the present circumstances of danger attending man, as a moral agent; the existence of a proper principle of agency, or a self-determining power, in man, seems, notwithstanding, to be among those plain and important truths; which are inseparably connected with the just idea of a divine moral government, and without which we cannot be at all accountable for any thing we do.
Punishment, on the supposition that the whole conduct of men
through life is determined by their Creator, and is, on their part, unavoidable, (as the doctrine of necessity teaches), appears as flatly repugnant to the justice, not to say, the goodness, of the supreme governor, when connected with characters usually denominated morally evil or wicked, as if it had been denounced against men, for not stilling the raging of the winds, or making their way over a mountain, which was absolutely impassable.
Nor can I help expressing very strong apprehensions of the dangerous tendency of the Neceffarian tenet, as a practical principle: for, though Dr. Priestley has, with great ingenuity, endeavoured to support the utility and importance of future retributions, on his scheme; I cannot yet but be of opinion, that the generality of