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evidence that the mind does not determine itself in every volition wholly independently, and irrespectively of any inducement from the objects of its choice.
The identity of these positions with the great essentials of Arminianism, which it was the object of President Edwards to subvert in his Enquiry into the freedom of the Will, is seen from the annexed passages from that work. He exhibits the following as the "notion of liberty" entertained by "Arminians, Pelagians, and others who oppose the Calvinists."
"1. That it consists in a self-determining power in the will, or a certain sovereignty the will has over itself and its own acts, whereby it determines its own volitions, so as not to be dependent in its determinations on any cause without itself, nor determined by any thing prior to its own acts. 2. Indifference belongs to liberty in their notion of it, or that the mind, previous to the act of volition, be in equilibrio. 3. Contingence is another thing that belongs and is essential to it; not in the common acceptation of the word, as that has been already explained, but as opposed to all necessity, or any fixed and certain connexion with some previous ground, or reason of its existence." Edwards's Works, edition, 1830. Vol. ii. p. 39. 1
The theory here stated, of a self-determining power in the will, is thus obviously precisely that of Dr. Taylor, that from the nature of moral agency, no fixed and certain connexion can exist between any influence which the Most High can exert on the mind, and the volitions that are put forth under it; but that after he has carried his efforts to determine its actions to the utmost possible extent, its choices may still be directly the reverse of those which he endeavours to excite.
The supposition that the powers of moral agency themselves form the sole reason of their being exerted in the
manner in which they are, which it was President Edwards's object to refute in the following passage, is identically that also which is advanced by Dr. Taylor, and lies at the foundation of his hypothesis.
"The question is not so much, how a spirit endowed with activity comes to act, as why it exerts such an act, and not another; or why it acts with such a particular determination? If activity of nature be the cause why a spirit, (the soul of man for instance) acts and does not lie still, yet, that alone is not the cause why its action is thus, and thus limited, directed, and determined. Active nature is a general thing; it is an ability or tendency of nature to action, generally taken, which may be a cause why the soul acts as occasion or reason is given; but this alone cannot be a sufficient cause why the soul exerts such a particular act, at such a time, rather than others. In order to this, there must be something besides a general tendency to action; there must also be a particular tendency to that individual action. If it should be asked why the soul of man uses its activity in such a manner as it does, and it should be answered, that the soul uses its activity thus, rather than otherwise, because it has activity, would such an answer satisfy a rational man? Would it not rather be looked upon as a very impertinent one?
"That the soul, though an active substance, cannot diversify its own acts, but by first acting, or be a determining cause of different acts or any different effects, sometimes of one kind and sometimes of another, any other way than in consequence of its own diverse acts, is manifest by this: that if so, then the same cause, the same causal influence, without variation in any respect, would produce different effects at different times. For the same substance of the soul before it acts, and the same active nature of the soul before it is exerted, i. e. before in the order of nature, would be the cause of different effects, viz. different volitions at different times. But the substance of the soul before it acts, and its active nature before it is exerted, are the same without variation. For it is some act that makes the first variation in the cause, as to any causal exertion, force, or influence; but if it be so, that the soul has no different causality, or divine causal influence, in producing these diverse effects: then it is evident that the soul has no influence in the diversity of the effect; and that the difference of the effect cannot be owing to any thing in the soul; or which is the same thing, the soul does not determine the
diversity of the effect; which is contrary to the supposition. It is true the substance of the soul before it acts, and before there is any difference in that respect, may be in a different state and circumstances; but those whom I oppose will not allow the different circumstances of the soul to be the determining causes of the acts of the will, as being contrary to their notion of self-determination."—pp. 56, 57.
That the theory here opposed by President Edwards, that the active nature of the soul, or its powers of moral agency, may solely determine the mode in which it acts, in defiance of all external influences, is the theory of Dr. Taylor, is seen from the following among many of the passages in which it is exhibited.
"It will not be denied that free moral agents can do wrong under every possible influence to prevent it. The possibility of a contradiction in supposing them to be prevented, is demonstratively certain. Free moral agents can do wrong under all possible preventing influence." "But this possibility that free agents will sin, remains (suppose what else you will) so long as moral agency remains, and how can it be proved that a thing will not be, when for aught that appears it may be? When in view of all the farts and evidence in the case, it remains true that it may be, what evidence or proof can exist that it will not be?" Christian Spectator, 1930, p. 565. ¿
The doctrine here clearly is, not only that the mind may determine its choices solely by its powers of moral agency independently of every influence from without; but that its nature is such, that the Creator himself cannot possibly prevent its being determined solely in that manner in its volitions.
After this refutation of the hypothesis that the powers themselves of moral agency may alone determine the mode in which they are exerted, President Edwards proceeded in other passages to overthrow the doctrine, that the mind cannot, without an infringement of its freedom, be controlled in its volitions by a moral influence.
"That every act of the will has some cause, and consequently, (by what has been already proved,) has a necessary connexion with its cause, and so is necessary by a necessity of connexion and consequence, is evident by this, that every act of the will whatsoever is excited by some motive; which is manifest, because, if the mind in willing after the manner it does, is excited by no motive or inducement, then it has no end which it proposes to itself, or pursues, in so doing; it aims at nothing and seeks nothing. And if it seeks nothing, then it does not go after any thing, or exert any inclination or preference towards any thing.. Which brings the matter to a contradiction; because for the mind to will something, and for it to go after something by an act of preference and inclination, are the same thing.
"But if every act of the will is excited by a motive, then that mòtive is the cause of the act. If the acts of the will are excited by motives, then motives are the causes of their.being excited; or which is the same thing, the cause of their existence. And if so, the existence of the acts of the will, is properly the effect of their motives. Motives do nothing as motives or inducements, but by their influence; and so much as is done by their influence, is the effect of them. For that is the notion of an effect, something that is brought to pass by the influence of something else. And if volitions are properly the effects of their motives, then they are necessarily connected with their motives; every effect and event being, as was proved before, necessarily connected with that which is the proper ground and reason of its existence. Thus it is manifest, that volition is necessary, and is not from any self-determining power in the will; the volition which is caused by previous motive and inducement, is not caused by the will exercising a sovereign power over itself, to determine cause and excite volitions in itself. This is not consistent with the will acting in a state of indifference and equilibrium, to determine itself to a preference ; for the way in which motives operate is by biasing the will, and giving it a certain inclination or preponderation one way.” p. 86, 87,
The doctrine he is here endeavouring to establish, that motives are the causes of the volitions that are put forth under their agency, and accordingly constitute a certainty of the exertion of those volitions, is thus identically the converse of Dr. Taylor's system, who teaches that it can never be made a matter of certainty by any moral influence which
God can bring to act on the mind, what volitions will be exerted under its agency; and if President Edwards's statements and reasonings are correct, the total error of that hypothesis is indubitably certain: for if the motives that act on the mind, are the real and sole causes that it makes the choices which it does, and if there is in every instance an infallible connexion between them and the volitions which are put forth under their influence, then it is clear that God can, by determining the motives that reach the mind, determine with absolute certainty, through their instrumentality, the choices also that are exerted under their agency. I add another passage from his Enquiry, in which he traces his opponent's views of moral agency to some of the absurd consequences to which they directly conduct.
"One thing more I would observe concerning the inconsistence of Arminian notions of moral agency with the influence of motives. 1 suppose none will deny, that it is possible for such powerful motives to be set before the mind, exhibited in so strong a light, and under such advantageous circumstances, as to be invincible, and such as the mind cannot but yield to. In this case Arminians will doubtless say liberty is destroyed, and if so, then if motives are exhibited with half so much power, they hinder liberty in proportion to their strength, and go half way toward destroying it." p. 181.
Dr. Taylor's doctrine that God cannot exhibit such an array of motives to the mind, as to render it invincibly certain that it will yield to it, without infringing its powers of moral agency, is thus again seen to be a doctrine of Arminianism, and one of the articles of that scheme which President Edwards assailed and endeavored to overthrow.
It were easy to add further proofs of the coincidence of these systems, by a multitude of other quotations, but these render it sufficiently clear that Dr. Taylor's doctrines on