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´╗┐Title: An Examination of President Edwards' Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will
Author: Bledsoe, Albert Taylor, 1809-1877
Language: English
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EXAMINATION

OF

EDWARDS ON THE WILL.



AN EXAMINATION

OF

PRESIDENT EDWARDS' INQUIRY

INTO THE

FREEDOM OF THE WILL.


BY

ALBERT TAYLOR BLEDSOE.


"Man, as the minister and interpreter of nature, does and understands as
much as his observations on the order of nature, either with regard to
things or the mind, permit him, and neither knows more, nor is capable
of more."--_Novum Organum_.


PHILADELPHIA:

H. HOOKER, 16 SOUTH SEVENTH STREET.

1845.



ENTERED, according to act of Congress, in the year 1845, by H. HOOKER,
in the clerk's office of the District Court for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania.


King & Baird, Printers, 9 George St.



TO

THE REV. WILLIAM SPARROW, D. D.

AS A TOKEN

OF ADMIRATION FOR HIS GENIUS,

AND

AFFECTIONATE REGARD FOR HIS VIRTUES,

This little Volume

IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED,

BY THE AUTHOR.



CONTENTS.

  INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

  SECTION I.
    OF THE POINT IN CONTROVERSY

  SECTION II.
    OF EDWARDS' USE OF THE TERM CAUSE

  SECTION III.
    THE INQUIRY INVOLVED IN A VICIOUS CIRCLE

  SECTION IV.
    VOLITION NOT AN EFFECT

  SECTION V.
    OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF REGARDING VOLITION AS AN EFFECT

  SECTION VI.
    OF THE MAXIM THAT EVERY EFFECT MUST HAVE A CAUSE

  SECTION VII.
    OF THE APPLICATION OF THE MAXIM THAT EVERY EFFECT MUST HAVE A CAUSE

  SECTION VIII.
    OF THE RELATION BETWEEN THE FEELINGS AND THE WILL

  SECTION IX.
    OF THE LIBERTY OF INDIFFERENCE

  SECTION X.
    OF ACTION AND PASSION

  SECTION XI.
    OF THE ARGUMENT FROM THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD

  SECTION XII.
    OF EDWARDS' USE OF THE TERM NECESSITY

  SECTION XIII.
    OF NATURAL AND MORAL NECESSITY

  SECTION XIV.
    OF EDWARDS' IDEA OF LIBERTY

  SECTION XV.
    OF EDWARDS' IDEA OF VIRTUE

  SECTION XVI.
    OF THE SELF-DETERMINING POWER

  SECTION XVII.
    OF THE DEFINITION OF A FREE-AGENT

  SECTION XVIII.
    OF THE TESTIMONY OF CONSCIOUSNESS



INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

I ENTERED upon an examination of the "Inquiry" of President Edwards, not
with a view to find any fallacy therein, but simply with a desire to
ascertain the truth for myself. If I have come to the conclusion, that
the whole scheme of moral necessity which Edwards has laboured to
establish, is founded in error and delusion; this has not been because I
came to the examination of his work with any preconceived opinion. In
coming to this conclusion I have disputed every inch of the ground with
myself, as firmly and as resolutely as I could have done with an
adversary. The result has been, that the views which I now entertain, in
regard to the philosophy of the will, are widely different from those
usually held by the opponents of moral necessity, as well as from those
which are maintained by its advocates.

The formation of these views, whether they be correct or not, has been
no light task. Long have I struggled under the stupendous difficulties
of the subject. Long has darkness, a deep and perplexing darkness,
seemed to rest upon it. Faint glimmerings of light have alternately
appeared and disappeared. Some of these have returned at intervals,
while others have vanished for ever. Some have returned, and become less
wavering, and led on the mind to other regions of mingled obscurity and
light. Gladly and joyfully have I followed. By patient thought, and
sustained attention, these faint glimmerings have, in more instances
than one, been made to open out into what has appeared to be the clear
and steady light of truth. If these are not mere fond illusions, the
true intellectual system of the world is far different from that which
has been constructed by the logic of President Edwards.

If his system be false, why, it may be asked, has the Inquiry so often
appeared to be unanswerable? Why has it been supposed, even by some of
the advocates of free agency, that logic is in favour of his system,
while consciousness only is in favour of ours? One reason of this
opinion is, that it has been taken for granted, that either the scheme
of President Edwards or that of his opponents must be true; and hence,
his system has appeared to stand upon immoveable ground, in so far logic
is concerned, only because he has, with such irresistible power and
skill, demolished and trampled into ruins that of his adversaries.
Reason has been supposed to be on his side, because he has so clearly
shown that it is not on the side of his opponents. But the scheme of the
motive-determining power, does not necessarily arise out of the ruins of
the self-determining power; it is only to the imagination that it
appears to do so. Because the one system is false, it does not follow
that the other is true.

There is another and still more powerful reason for the idea in
question. The advocates of free agency have granted too much. The great
foundation principles of the scheme of moral necessity have been
incautiously admitted by its adversaries. These principles have appeared
so obvious at first view, that their correctness has not been doubted;
and hence they have been assumed by the one side and conceded by the
other. Yet, if I am not greatly mistaken, they have been derived, not
from the true oracles of nature, but from what Bacon quaintly calls the
"idols of the tribe." If this be the case, as I think it will hereafter
appear to be; then in order to secure a complete triumph over the scheme
of moral necessity, even on the arena of logic, we must not only know
_how to reason_, but also _how to doubt_.

I fully concur with the younger Edwards, that "Clarke, Johnson, Price,
and Reid have granted too much;" and while I try to show this, I shall
also endeavour to show that President Edwards has assumed too much, not
for the good of the cause in which he is engaged, but for the attainment
of truth.

If his system had not been founded upon certain natural illusions, by
which the true secrets of nature are concealed from our view, it could
never have been the boast of its admirers, "that a reluctant world has
been constrained to bow in homage to its truth." If we would try the
strength of this system then, we must bend a searching and scrutinizing
eye upon the premises and assumptions upon which it is based; we must
put aside every preconceived notion, even the most plausible and
commonly received opinions, and lay our minds open to the steady and
unbiased contemplation of nature, just as it has been created by the
Almighty Architect; we must view the intellectual system of the world,
not as it is seen through our hasty and careless conceptions, but as it
is revealed to us in the light of consciousness and severe meditation.
This will be no light task, I am aware; but whosoever would seek the
truth on such a subject, must not expect to find it by light and
trifling efforts; he must go after it in all the loving energy of his
soul. Let this course be pursued, honestly and perseveringly pursued,
and I am persuaded, that a system of truth will be revealed to the mind,
to which it will not be constrained to render "a reluctant homage," but
which, by harmonizing the deductions of logic with the dictates of
nature, will secure to itself the most pleasing and delightful homage of
which the human mind is susceptible.

Those false conceptions which are common to the human mind, those "idols
of the tribe," of which Bacon speaks, have been, as it is well known,
the sources of some of the most obstinate errors, both in science and in
religion, that have ever infested the world. And it is evident, that
while the assumptions from which any system, however false, legitimately
results, are conceded, it will stand, like a wall of adamant, against
the most powerful artillery of logic. It will remain triumphant in spite
of all opposition. It may be contrary to our natural convictions, and
consequently liable to our suspicions; but it cannot be refuted by
argument. Its advocates may reason correctly, and its adversaries may
appeal to opposite truths; but neither can ever arrive at the truth, and
the whole truth. This has appeared to me to be the case, with respect to
the long controverted question of liberty and necessity.

The above causes, conspiring with some instances of false logic, which
have been overlooked amid so much that is really conclusive, and also
with a number of unsound, yet plausible, devices to reconcile the scheme
of moral necessity with the reality of virtue and free-agency, have, in
the minds of many, rendered the work of President Edwards both an
acceptable and an unanswerable production. Such, at least, is the
conclusion to which I have been constrained to come; but whether this
conclusion be correct or not, it is not for me to determine. Time alone
can show, whether the foundation of his system, like that of truth, is
immutable, or whether, like many which have been laid by the master
spirits of other ages, it is destined to pass away, though not to be
forgotten.

In the above enumeration of causes I have not alluded to those of a
theological nature; because they have been but partial in their
operation. And besides, I have not wished to refer to this subject at
all, except in so far as, is necessary to indicate wherein I conceive
the errors of the Inquiry to consist, and thereby to point out the
course which I intend to pursue in the following discussion.



SECTION I.

OF THE POINT IN CONTROVERSY.

IT is worse than a waste of time, it is a grievous offence against the
cause of truth, to undertake to refute an author without having taken
pains to understand exactly what he teaches. In every discussion, the
first thing to be settled is the point in dispute; and if this be
omitted, the controversy must needs degenerate into a mere idle
logomachy. It seldom happens that any thing affords so much
satisfaction, or throws so much light on a controversy, as to have the
point at issue clearly made up, and _constantly borne in mind_.

What then, is the precise doctrine of the Inquiry which I intend to
oppose? The great question is, says Edwards, what determines the will.
It is taken for granted, on all sides, that the will is determined; and
the only point is, or rather has been, as to what determines it. It is
determined by the strongest motive, says one; it is not determined by
the strongest motive, says another. But although the issue is thus made
up in general terms, it is very far from being settled with any
tolerable degree of clearness and precision; ample room is still left
for all that loose and declamatory kind of warfare in which so many
controversialists delight to indulge.

The question still remains to be settled, what is meant by determining
the will? In regard to this point, the necessitarian does not seem to
have a very clear and definite idea. "The object of our Inquiry," says
President Day, "is not to learn whether the mind acts at all. This no
one can doubt. Nor is it to determine _why we will at all_. The very
nature of the faculty of the will implies that we put forth volitions.
But the real point of inquiry is, _why we will one way rather than
another; why we choose one thing rather than its opposite_," p. 42. One
would suppose from this statement, that we have nothing to do with the
question, _why we put forth volitions_, but exclusively with the
question, why we will _one way rather than another_. Here the author's
meaning seems to be plain, and we may imagine that we know exactly where
to find him; but, in the very next sentence, he declares that the object
of our inquiry is, "what is it that determines _not only that there
shall be volitions_, but what they shall be?" p. 42. In one breath we
are told, that we have nothing to do with the question, why our
volitions are put forth or come into existence; these are admitted to be
implied in the "very nature of the faculty of the will;" but, in the
very next, we are informed that we have to inquire into this point also.
One moment, only one of these points is in dispute, and the next, both
are put in controversy. Surely, this does not indicate any very clear
and definite idea, on the part of President Day, as to the point at
issue.

The notion of President Edwards, on this subject, appears to be equally
unsteady and vacillating. "Thus," says he, "by determining the will, if
the phrase be used with any meaning, _must be intended_, causing that
the act of the _will should be thus, and not otherwise:_ and the will is
said to be determined, when, in consequence of some action, or
influence, its choice is directed to, and fixed upon a particular
object. As when we speak of the determination of motion, we mean causing
the motion of the body to be in such a direction, rather than another,"
p. 18.

Now, are we to understand from this, that the determination of the will
can only refer to the question, why it is directed to and fixed upon a
particular object, and not to the question, how it comes to put forth a
volition at all? One would certainly suppose so; and that, according to
Edwards, we have nothing to do with the question, "How a spirit comes to
act," but with the question, "why its action has such and such a
particular direction and determination." But this supposition would be
very far from the truth. For he informs us, that "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?" This clearly implies, that although the question, "How a
spirit comes to act," is not chiefly concerned in the present
controversy; yet _it is partly_ concerned in it. This question is
concerned in it, though not _so much_ as the other question, why the act
of the mind is as it is, rather than otherwise.

This is not all. When Edwards attacks the doctrine of his adversaries,
in regard to the determining of the will, he never seems to dream of the
idea, which, according to himself, if the phrase mean any thing, _must_
be attached to it. He treats it as a settled point, that by determining
the will must be intended, not causing volition to be one way rather
than another, but causing it to come into existence. He could take this
expression to mean the one thing or the other, just as it suited his
purpose.

Are these two questions really distinct? Can there be one cause of
volition, and another cause of its particular direction? I answer, there
cannot. No such distinction can be shown to exist by a reference to the
cause of motion. Force is the cause of motion. One force may put a body
in motion; and, afterwards, another force may change the direction of
its motion. Upon a superficial observation, this may seem to illustrate
the distinction in question; but, upon more mature reflection, it will
not appear to do so. For the force which sets a body in motion
necessarily causes it to move in one particular direction, and not
another; because it is impossible for a body to move without moving in a
particular direction. After one force has put a body in motion, another
force, it is true, may change its direction; but in such a case, it is
not correct to say, that one force caused its motion and another the
direction of that motion. For, in reality, both the motion of the body
and its direction, result from the joint action of the two forces; or,
in other words, each force contributes to the motion, and each to its
direction. Both the motion and its direction are caused by what is
technically called, in mechanical philosophy, the "resultant" of the two
forces; and the case is really not different, so far as the distinction
in question is concerned, from the case of motion produced by the action
of a single force. The absurdity of this distinction consists, in
supposing that a body may be put in motion without moving in a
particular direction; and that something else beside the cause of its
motion, is necessary to account for the direction of that motion. The
illustration, therefore, drawn from the phenomena of motion, fails to
answer the purpose for which President Edwards has produced it.

The same absurdity is involved in the supposition, that one thing may
cause volition to exist, and another may cause it to be directed to and
fixed upon a particular object. No man can conceive of a choice as
existing, which has not some particular object. It is of the very nature
and essence of a choice to have some particular direction and
determination. If a choice exists at all, it must be a choice of some
particular thing. Hence, whatever causes a volition to exist, must cause
it to have a particular direction and determination. Let any one show a
choice, which is not the preference of one thing rather than another,
and then we may admit that there is some reason for the distinction in
question; but until then, we must be permitted to regard it as having no
foundation in the nature of things. If it were necessary, this matter
might be fully and unanswerably illustrated; but a bare statement of it
is sufficient to render it perfectly clear.

We shall hereafter see, that the reason why President Edwards supposed
that there is some foundation for such a distinction is, that he did not
sufficiently distinguish between the cause of a thing and its condition.
Although we may suppose that the "activity of the soul" is the cause of
its acting; yet motive may be the indispensable condition of its acting;
and, in this sense, may be the reason why a volition is one way rather
than another. But it is denied that there can be two _causes_ in the
case; one to produce volition, and another to determine its object. We
have seen that such a supposition is absurd; and we shall hereafter see,
that Edwards was led to make it, by confounding the condition with the
cause of volition.

After all, it may be said, that Edwards himself did not really consider
these two things as distinct, but only as different aspects of the same
thing. If so, it will follow, that when he undertook to establish his
own scheme, he represented motive as the cause of volition; and yet when
he was reminded, that the activity of the nature of the soul is the
cause of its actions, he replied, that although this may be very true,
yet this activity of nature is not the "cause why its acts are thus and
thus limited, directed and determined." He replied that the question is
not _so much_, "How a spirit comes to act," as why it acts thus, and not
otherwise. That is to say, it will follow, that he chose to build up his
scheme under one aspect of it, and to defend it under another aspect
thereof; that as the architect of his system, he chose to assume and
occupy the position, that motive is the cause of volition itself; yet as
the defender of it, he sometimes preferred to present this same position
under the far milder aspect, that although "the activity of spirit, may
be the cause why it acts," yet motive is the cause why its acts are thus
and thus limited, &c. In other words, it will follow, that his doctrine
possesses two faces; and that with the one it looks sternly on the
scheme of necessity, whilst, with the other, it seems to smile on its
adversaries.

The truth is, the great question which President Edwards discusses
throughout the Inquiry, as we shall see, is "How a spirit comes to act;"
and the other question, "why its action is thus and thus limited," &c.,
which, on occasion, swells out into such immense importance, as to seem
to cover the whole field of vision, generally shrinks down into
comparative insignificance. As a general thing, he goes along in the
even tenor of his way, to prove that no event can begin to be without a
cause of its existence; and, in particular, that no volition can come
into existence without being caused to do so by motive; and it is only
when it is urged upon him, that "a spirit endowed with activity" may
give rise to its own acts, that he takes a sudden turn and reminds us,
that the question is not so much "how a spirit comes to act?" as "why
its acts are thus and thus limited?"

From the supposition made by Edwards, that "if activity of nature be the
cause why a spirit acts," it has been concluded that he regarded the
soul of man as the efficient cause of its volitions, and motive as
merely the occasion on which they are put forth or exerted. But surely,
those who have so understood the Inquiry, have done so very unadvisedly,
and have but little reason to complain, as they are prone to do, that
his opponents do not understand him. If Edwards makes mind the efficient
cause of volition, what becomes of his famous argument against the
self-determining power, by which he reduces it to the absurdity of an
infinite series of volitions? "If the mind causes its volition," says
he, "it can do so only by a preceding volition; and so on _ad
infinitum_." Is not all this true, on the supposition that the mind is
the efficient cause of volition? And if so, how can any reader of
Edwards, who does not wish to make either his author or himself appear
ridiculous, seriously contend that he holds mind to be the efficient, or
producing cause of volition? There be pretended followers and blind
admirers of President Edwards, who, knowing but little of his work
themselves, are ever ready to defend him, whensoever attacked, even by
those who have devoted years to the study of the Inquiry, by most
ignorantly and flippantly declaring that they do not understand him.
These pseudo-disciples will not listen to the charge, that Edwards makes
the strongest motive the producing cause of volition; but whether this
charge be true or not, we shall see in the following section.



SECTION II.

OF EDWARDS' USE OF THE TERM CAUSE.

WE have already seen that Edwards must be understood as holding motive
to be the cause of volition; but still we cannot make up the issue with
him, until we have ascertained in what sense he employs the term
_cause_. It has been contended, by high authority, that he did not
regard motive as the efficient, or producing cause of volition, but only
as the occasion or condition on which volition is produced. Hence, it
becomes necessary to examine this point, and to settle the meaning of
the author, in order that I may not be supposed to misrepresent him, and
to dispute with him only about words.

The above notion is based on the following passage:

"I would explain," says President Edwards, "how I would be understood
when I use the word _cause_ in this discourse; since, for want of a
better word, I shall have occasion to use it in a sense which is more
extensive, than that in which it is sometimes used. The word is often
used in so restrained a sense as to signify only that which has a
positive efficiency or influence to produce a thing, or bring it to
pass. But there are many things which have no such positive productive
influence; which yet are causes in this respect, that they have truly
the nature of a reason why some things are, rather than others; or why
they are thus rather than otherwise.". . . . "I sometimes use the word
_Cause_, in this Inquiry, to signify any antecedent, either natural or
moral, . . . upon which an event so depends, that it is the ground or
reason, either in whole or in part, why it is, rather than not; or why
it is as it is, rather than otherwise; or, in other words, any
antecedent with which a consequent event is so connected, that it truly
belongs to the reason why the proposition which affirms that event, is
true; whether _it has any positive influence, or not_. And, agreeably to
this, I sometimes use the term _effect_ for the consequence of another
thing, which is perhaps rather an occasion than cause, most properly
speaking." And he tells us, that "I am the more careful thus to explain
my meaning, that I may cut off occasion, from any that might seek
occasion to cavil and object against some things which I may say
concerning the dependence of all things which come to pass, on some
cause, and their connection with their cause," p. 50-1.

This is the portion of the Inquiry on which the younger Edwards founds
his conclusion, that his father did not regard motive as the _efficient_
cause of volition, but only as the occasion, or condition, or antecedent
of volition. He finds this language in the Essays of Dr. West; "We
cannot agree with Mr. Edwards in his assertion, that motive is the cause
of volition;" and he replies, "Mr. Edwards has very particularly
informed us in what sense he uses the term _cause_;" and, in proof of
this, he proceeds to quote a portion of the above extracts from the
Inquiry. Having done this, he triumphantly demands, "Now, does Dr. West
deny, that motive is an antecedent, on which volition, either in whole
or in part depends? or that it is a ground or reason, either in whole or
in part, either by positive influence or not, why it is rather than not?
Surely, he cannot with consistency deny this, since he says, 'By motive
we understand the _occasion_, end or design, which an agent has in view
when he acts.' So that, however desirous Dr. West may be to be thought
to differ, in this point, from President Edwards, it appears that he
most exactly agrees with him," p. 65.

Now, if Edwards really believed that motive is merely the occasion on
which the mind acts, agreeing herein most perfectly with Dr. West, why
did he not say so? Why adhere to the term cause, which can only obscure
such an idea, instead of adopting the word occasion, or condition, or
antecedent, which would have clearly expressed it? Surely, if Edwards
maintained the doctrine ascribed to him, he has been most unfortunate in
his manner of setting it forth; it is a great pity he did not give it a
more conspicuous place in his system. It is to be regretted, that he has
not once told us that such was his doctrine, in order that we might see
for ourselves his agreement with Dr. West in this respect, instead of
leaving it to the initiated few to enlighten us on this subject.

He has, we are told, "very particularly informed us in what sense he
uses the word cause," p. 64. Now is this so? Has he informed us that by
_cause_ he means _occasion?_ He has done no such thing, and his language
admits of no such construction. He merely tells us, that he _sometimes_
uses the term cause to signify an occasion only; but when and where he
so employs it, he has not explained at all. He has not once said, that
when he applies it to motive he uses it in the sense of an occasion, or
antecedent; and, if he had said so, it would not have been true. The
truth is, that he has used the word in question with no little vagueness
and indistinctness of meaning; for he sometimes employs it to signify
merely an occasion, which exerts no positive influence, and sometimes to
signify a producing cause. This is the manner in which he uses it, when
he applies it to motive. In his definition of motive, as the younger
Edwards truly says, he includes "_every cause_ or occasion of volition;"
every thing which has a "tendency to volition;" &c., p. 104. Thus,
according to the younger Edwards himself, the elder Edwards has, in his
definition of motive, included every conceivable cause of volition; and
yet, when Dr. West objects that he makes motive the producing cause of
volition, the very same writer replies that he has done no such thing:
that he has "very particularly explained in what sense he uses the word
cause" when applied to motive, and that he means "by _cause_, no other
than _occasion, reason, or previous circumstance necessary for
volition_; and that in this Dr. West entirely agrees with him," p. 65.
If we may believe the younger Edwards, then, when the author of the
Inquiry says, that motive is the cause of volition, he means that it is
no other than the occasion or previous circumstance necessary to
volition, and not that it is the cause thereof in the proper sense of
the word; and yet that it is the cause thereof in every conceivable
sense of the word! Now, he agrees with Dr. West himself; and again, he
teaches precisely the opposite doctrine! Let those who so fondly imagine
that they are the only men who understand the Inquiry, and that the most
elaborate replies to it may be sufficiently refuted by raising the cry
of "misconstruction;" let them, I say, take some little pains to
understand the work for themselves, instead of merely giving echo to the
blunders of the younger Edwards.

President Edwards says, that the term cause is often used in so
restrained a sense as to signify that which has "a _positive efficiency_
or _influence_ to _produce_ a thing, or bring it to pass." It is in this
restrained sense that I use the word, when I say that President Edwards
regarded motive as the cause of volition; and it is in this sense that I
intend to make the charge good. I intend to show that he regarded
motive, not merely as the occasion or condition of volition, but as that
which _produces_ it. This position, as we have seen, has been denied by
high authority; and therefore it becomes necessary to establish it, in
order that I may not be charged with disputing only about words; and
that although I may be exceedingly "desirous of being thought to differ
with President Edwards" on this subject, yet I do "most exactly agree
with him."

To begin then;--if motive is merely the condition on which the mind
acts, and exerts no influence in the production of volition, it is
certainly improper to say, that it _gives rise to volition_. This
clearly implies that it is the efficient, or producing cause of
volition. On this point, let the younger Edwards himself be the judge.
"That self-determination _gives rise_ to volition," is an expression
which he quotes from Dr. Chauncey, and italicizes the words "gives rise
to," as showing that the author of them regarded the mind as the
efficient cause of volition. Now, President Edwards says, that the
"strongest motive excites the mind to volition;" and he adds, that "the
notion of exciting, is _exerting influence to cause the effect to arise
and come forth into existence_," p. 96. Surely, if to give rise to a
thing, is efficiently to cause it, no less can be said of exerting
influence "to _cause it to arise and come forth into existence_." And if
so, then, according to the younger Edwards himself, the author of the
Inquiry regarded motive as the efficient cause of volition; and yet, on
p. 66 he declares, that President Edwards did not hold "motive to be the
efficient cause of volition;" and that if he has dropped any expression
which implies such a doctrine, it must have been an inadvertency. I
intend to show, before I have done, that there are many such
inadvertencies in his work; the younger Edwards himself being the judge.

Now, it will not be denied, that that which produces a thing, is its
efficient cause. The younger Edwards himself has spoken of an
"_efficient, producing_ cause," in such a manner as to show that he
regarded them as convertible terms, p. 46. He being judge, then, that
which produces a thing, is its efficient cause. I might easily show, if
it were necessary, that he himself frequently speaks of motive as the
efficient, or producing cause of volition; but, at present, I am only
concerned with the doctrine of President Edwards. "It is true," says
President Edwards, "I find myself possessed of my volitions before I can
see the effectual power of any cause to _produce_ them, for the power
and _efficacy_ of the cause is not seen but by the effect," p. 277.
Here, from the volition, from the effect, he infers the operation of the
cause or power which _produces_ it. Now this cause is motive, the
strongest motive; for this is that which operates to induce a choice.
Motive, then, _produces_ volition, according to the Inquiry; it is not
merely the condition on which it is produced.

The younger Edwards declares, that President Edwards did not regard
"motive as the efficient cause of volition," p. 66, but only as the
"occasion or previous circumstances necessary to volition;" in this
respect "most exactly agreeing with Dr. West" himself; and yet he tells
us, in another place, that "every cause of volition is included in
President Edwards' definition of motive," p. 104. Now, does not every
cause of volition include the efficient cause thereof? Does not this
expression include that which is the cause of volition in the real, in
the only proper, sense of the word?

To save the consistency of the author, will it be said, that "every
cause" does not include the efficient cause in his estimation, since in
his opinion there is no such cause? If this should be said, it would not
be true; for the younger Edwards did, as it is well known, regard the
influence of the Divine Being as the efficient cause of volition. He
regarded the Deity as the sole fountain of all efficiency in heaven and
in earth. Hence, if the definition of President Edwards included "every
cause" of volition; it must have included this divine influence, this
efficient cause. Indeed, the younger Edwards expressly asserts, that
this "divine influence" is included in President Edwards' "explanation
of his idea of motive," p. 104. He tells us, then, that President
Edwards regards motive as merely the _occasion_ of volition; and yet
that he considered motive as including the efficient cause of volition!
At one time, motive is merely the antecedent, which exerts no influence;
at another, it embraces the efficient cause! At one time, the author of
the Inquiry "most exactly agrees" with the libertarian in regard to this
all-important point; and, at another, he most perfectly disagrees with
him! It is to be hoped, that President Edwards is not quite so glaringly
inconsistent with himself, on this subject, as he is represented to be
by his distinguished son.

Again. President Edwards has written a section to prove, that "volitions
are necessarily connected with the influence of motives;" which clearly
implies that they are brought to pass by the influence of motives. In
this section, he says, "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." Here motives
are said to be the causes of volitions, and to _bring them to pass by
their influence_. Is this to make motive merely the condition on which
the mind acts? Is this to consider it as merely an antecedent to
volition, which exerts no influence? On the contrary, does it not
strongly remind one of that "restrained sense of the word cause," in
which it signifies, that which "has an influence to produce a thing, _or
bring it to pass?_"

Once more. In relation to the acts of the will, he adopts the
following language to show that they are necessarily dependent on the
influence of motives: "For an event to have a cause and ground of its
existence, and yet not be connected with its cause, is an inconsistency.
For if the event be not connected with the cause, it is not dependent on
its cause; its _existence_ is as it were _loose from its influence_; and
it may attend it, or it may not; its being a mere contingency, whether
it follows or attends the influence of the cause, or not; and that is
the same thing as not to be dependent on it. And to say the event is not
dependent on its cause, _is absurd_; it is the same thing as to say, it
is not its cause, nor the event the effect of it; for dependence on _the
influence of a cause is the very notion of an effect_. If there be no
such relation between one thing and another, consisting in the connexion
and dependence of one thing on the influence of another, then it is
certain there is no such relation between them as is signified by the
relation of cause and effect," p. 77-8. Now, here we are told, that it
is the very notion of an effect, that it owes its existence to the
influence of its cause; and that _it is absurd_ to speak of an effect
which is loose from the influence of its cause. It is this influence,
"which causes volition to arise and come forth into existence." Any
other notion of cause and effect is absurd and unmeaning. And yet,
President Edwards informs us, that he sometimes uses the term cause to
signify any antecedent, though it may exert no influence; and that he so
employs it, in order to prevent cavilling and objecting. Now, what is
all this taken together, but to inform us, that he sometimes uses the
word in question _very absurdly_, in order to keep us from finding fault
with him? The truth is, that whatever apparent concession President
Edwards may have made, he does habitually bring down the term _cause_ to
its narrow and restrained sense, to its strict and proper meaning, when
he says, that motive is the cause of volition. He loses sight entirely
of the idea, that it is only the _occasion_ on which the mind acts.

I might multiply extracts to the same effect almost without end; but it
is not necessary. It must be evident to every impartial reader of the
Inquiry, that even if the author really meant by the above extracts,
that motive is merely the antecedent to volition; this was only a
momentary concession made to his opponents, with the vague and
ill-defined hope, perhaps, that it would render his system less
obnoxious to them. It had no abiding place in his mind. It was no sooner
uttered than it was repelled and driven away by the whole tenor of his
system. We soon hear him, as if no such thing had ever been dreamed of
in his philosophy, asking the question, and that too, in relation to
motives, "What _can be meant by a cause_, but something that is the
ground and reason of a thing _by its influence_, AN INFLUENCE THAT IS
PREVALENT AND EFFECTUAL," p. 97. Will it be pretended, that this does
not come up to his definition of an efficient cause, as that which
brings something to pass by "a _positive_ influence?" Such a pretext
would amount to nothing; for Edwards has said, that "motives excite
volition;" and "to excite, _is to be a cause in the most proper sense,
not merely a negative occasion, but a ground of existence by positive
influence,_" p. 96.

An efficient cause is properly defined by the Edwardses themselves.
"Does not the man talk absurdly and inconsistently," says the younger
Edwards, "who asserts, that a man is the efficient cause of his own
volitions, yet puts forth no exertion in order to cause it? If any other
way of _efficiently_ causing an effect, be possible or conceivable, let
it be pointed out," p.49. President Edwards evidently entertained the
same idea; for he repeatedly says, that if the mind be the cause of its
own volitions, it must cause them by a preceding act of the mind. The
objection which he urges against the self-determining power, is founded
on this idea of a cause. It is what he means, when he says, that the
term _cause_ is "often used in so restrained a sense as to signify only
that which has a _positive efficiency_ or _influence_ to _produce_ a
thing, or _bring it to pass_."

That President Edwards regarded motive as the efficient or producing
cause of volition, according to his own notion of it, is clear not only
from numerous passages of the Inquiry; it is also wrought into the very
substance and structure of his whole argument. It is involved in his
very definition of the strongest motive. The strongest motive, says he,
is the whole of that which "_operates_ to induce a particular choice."
Now, to say that one thing _operates_ to induce another, or bring it
into existence, is, according to the definition of the younger Edwards
himself, to say that it is the efficient cause of the thing so produced.
If there be any meaning in words, or any truth in the definition of the
Edwardses, then to say that one thing operates to produce another, is to
say that it is its efficient cause. President Edwards, as we have seen,
holds that motive is "the effectual power and efficacy" which produces
volition.

Again. Edwards frequently says, that "if this great principle of common
sense, that every effect must have a cause, be given up, then there will
be no such thing as reasoning from effect to cause. We cannot even prove
the existence of Deity. If any thing can begin to be without a cause of
its existence, then we cannot know that there is a God." Now, the sense
in which this maxim is here used is perfectly obvious; for nothing can
begin to be without an efficient cause, by which it is brought into
existence. When we reason from those things which begin to be up to God,
we clearly reason from effects to their efficient causes. Hence, when
this maxim is applied by Edwards to volitions, he evidently refers to
the efficient causes of them. If he does not, his maxim is misapplied;
for it is established in one sense, and applied in another. If it proves
any thing, it proves that volition must have an efficient cause; and
when motive is taken to be that cause, it is taken to be the efficient
cause of volition.

This is not all. Edwards undertakes to point out the difference between
natural and moral necessity. In the case of moral necessity, says he,
"the cause with which the effect is connected is of a particular kind:
viz., that which is of a moral nature; either some previous habitual
disposition, or some motive presented 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." But the difference, says he, "does not lie so much _in the
nature of the connection_, as in the two terms connected." Now, let us
suppose that any effect, the creation of the world, for example, is
produced by the power of God. In this case, the connection between the
effect produced, the creation of the world, and the act of the divine
omnipotence by which it is created, is certainly the connection between
an effect and its efficient cause. The two terms are here connected by a
natural necessity. But we are most explicitly informed, that the
connection between motives and volitions, differs from this in the
nature of the two terms connected, rather than in the nature of the
connection. How could language more clearly or precisely convey the
meaning of an author? To say that President Edwards does not make motive
the efficient cause of volition, is, indeed, not so much to interpret,
as it is to new model, his philosophy of the will.

The connection between the strongest motive, he declares, and the
corresponding volition, is "absolute," just as absolute as any
connection in the world. If the strongest motive exists, the volition is
sure to follow; it necessarily follows; it is _absurd_ to suppose, that
it may attend its cause or not. To say that it may follow the influence
of its cause, or may not, is to say that it is not dependent on that
influence, that it is not the effect of it. In other words, it is to say
that a volition is the effect of the strongest motive, and yet that it
is not the effect of it; which is a plain contradiction. Such, as we
have seen, is the clear and unequivocal teaching of the Inquiry.

In conclusion, if Edwards really held, that motive does not produce
volition, but is merely the occasion on which it is put forth, where
shall we find his doctrine? Where shall we look for it? We hear him
charged with destroying man's free-agency, by making motive the
producing cause of volition; and we see him labouring to repel this
charge. Truly, if he held the doctrine ascribed to him, we might have
expected to find some allusion to it in his attempts to refute such a
charge. If such had been his doctrine, with what ease might he have
repelled the charge in question, and shown its utter futility, by simply
alleging that, according to his system, motive is the occasion, and not
the producing cause, of volition? Instead of the many pages through
which he has so laboriously struggled, in order to bring our ideas of
free-agency and virtue into harmony with his scheme; with what infinite
ease might a single word have brought his scheme into harmony with the
common sentiments of mankind in regard to free-agency and virtue!
Indeed, if Edwards really believed that motive is merely the condition
on which the mind acts, nothing can be more wonderful than his profound
silence in regard to it on such an occasion; except the great pains
which, on all occasions, he has taken to keep it entirely in the
background. If the younger Edwards is not mistaken as to the true import
of his father's doctrine, then, instead of setting it forth in a clear
light, so that it may be read of all men, the author of the Inquiry has,
indeed, enveloped it in such a flood of darkness, that it is no wonder
those who have been so fortunate as to find it out, should be so
frequently called upon to complain that his opponents do not understand
him. Indeed, if such be the doctrine of the Inquiry, I do not see how
any man can possibly understand it, unless he has inherited some
peculiar power, unknown to the rest of mankind, by which its occult
meaning may be discerned, notwithstanding all the outward appearances by
which it is contradicted and obscured.

The plain truth is, as we have seen, that President Edwards holds motive
to be the producing cause of volition. According to his scheme,
"Volitions are necessarily connected with the influence of motives;"
they "are brought to pass by the prevailing and effectual influence" of
motives. Motive is "the effectual power and efficacy" by which they are
"produced." They are not merely caused to be thus, and not otherwise, by
motive; they are "caused to arise and come forth into existence." This
is the great doctrine for which Edwards contends; and this is precisely
the doctrine which I deny. _I contend against no other kind of necessity
but this moral necessity, just as it is explained by Edwards himself_.

Here the issue with President Edwards is joined; and I intend to hold
him steadily to it. No ambiguity of words shall, for a moment, divert my
mind from it. If his arguments, when thoroughly sifted and scrutinized,
establish this doctrine; then shall I lay down my arms and surrender at
discretion. But if his assumptions are unsound, or his deductions false,
I shall hold them for naught. If he reconciles his scheme of moral
necessity with the reality of virtue, with the moral agency and
accountability of man, and with the purity of God; then I shall lay
aside my objections; but if, in reality, he only reconciles it with the
semblance of these things, whilst he denies their substance, I shall not
be diverted from an opposition to so monstrous a system, by the fair
appearances it may be made to wear to the outward eye.



SECTION III.

THE INQUIRY INVOLVED IN A VICIOUS CIRCLE.

THE great doctrine of the Inquiry seems to go round in a vicious circle,
to run into an insignificant truism. This is a grave charge, I am aware,
and I have ventured to make it only after the most mature reflection:
and the justness of it, may be shown by a variety of considerations.

In the first place, when we ask, "what determines the will?" the author
replies, "it is the strongest motive;" and yet, according to his
definition, the strongest motive is that which determines the will.
Thus, says Edwards, "when I speak of the strongest motive, I have
respect to the whole that operates to induce a particular act of
volition, whether that be the strength of one thing alone, or of many
together." If we ask, then, what produces any particular act of
volition, we are told, it is the strongest motive; and if we inquire
what is the strongest motive, we are informed, it is the whole of that
which operated to produce that particular act of volition. What is this
but to inform us, that an act of volition is produced by that which
produces it?

It is taken for granted by President Edwards, that volition is an
effect, and consequently has a cause. The great question, according to
his work, is, what is this cause? He says it is the strongest motive; in
the definition of which he includes every thing that in any way
contributes to the production of volition; in other words, the strongest
motive is made to embrace every thing that acts as a cause of volition.
This is the way in which he explains himself, as well as the manner in
which he is understood by others. Thus, says the younger Edwards, "in
his explanation of his idea of motive, he mentions all agreeable objects
and views, all reasons and arguments, and all internal biases and
tempers, which have a tendency to volition; i. e. every _cause_ or
_occasion_ of volition," p. 104. Every reader of President Edwards must
be satisfied that this is a correct account of his definition of motive;
and this being the case, the whole amounts to just this proposition,
that volition is caused by that which causes it! He admits that it would
be hard, if not impossible, to enumerate all those things and
circumstances which aid in the production of volition; but still he is
quite sure, that the whole of that which operates to produce a volition
does actually produce it! Though he may have failed to show wherein
consists the strength of motives; yet he contends that the strongest
motive, or the cause of volition, is really and unquestionably the cause
of volition! Such is the great doctrine of the Inquiry.

If this is what the Inquiry means to establish, surely it rests upon
unassailable ground. Well may President Day assert, that "to say a
weaker motive prevails against a stronger one is to say, that that which
has the least influence has the greatest influence," p. 66. Now who
would deny this position of the learned president? Who would say, that
that which has the greatest influence has not the greatest influence?
Surely, this great doctrine is to the full as certain as the newly
discovered axiom of professor Villant, that "a thing is equal to
itself!"

President Day, following in the footsteps of Edwards, informs us that
the will is determined by the strongest motive; but how shall we know
what is the strongest motive? "The strength of a motive," says he, "is
not its prevailing, but the power by which it prevails. Yet we may very
properly measure _this power by the actual result!_" Thus are we gravely
informed that the will is determined by that which determines it.

Again. If we suppose there is a real strength in motives, that they
exert a positive influence in the production of volitions, then we
concede every thing to President Edwards. For, if motives are so many
forces acting upon the will, to say that the strongest will prevail, is
simply to say that it is the strongest. But if motives exert no positive
influence, then when we say that one is stronger than another, we must
be understood to use this expression in a metaphorical sense; we must
refer to some property of motives which we figuratively call their
strength, and of which we suppose one motive to possess a greater degree
than another. If this be so, what is this common property of motives,
which we call their strength? If they do not possess a real strength, if
they do not exert an efficient influence; but are merely said,
metaphorically speaking, to possess such power and to exert such
influence; then what becomes of the self-evidence which President
Edwards claims for his fundamental proposition motives exert a real
force, of course the strongest must prevail; but if they only have
something else about them, which we call their strength, it is not
self-evident that the motive which possesses this something else in the
highest degree must necessarily prevail. Hence, the great doctrine of
President Edwards is either a proposition whose truth arises out of the
very definition of the terms in which it is expressed, or it is utterly
destitute of that axiomatical certainty which he claims for it. In other
words, he has settled his great doctrine of the will by the mere force
of a definition; or he has left its foundations quite unsettled.

Motives, as they are called, are different from each other in nature and
in kind; and hence, it were absurd to compare them in degree. "The
strongest motive," therefore, is a mode of expression which can have no
intelligible meaning, unless it be used with reference to the influence
which motives are supposed to exert over the mind. This is the sense in
which it clearly seems to be used by Edwards. The distinguishing
property of a motive, according to his definition, is nothing in the
nature of the motive itself; it consists in its adaptedness "to move or
excite the mind to volition;" nor indeed could he find any other way of
measuring or determining what he calls the strength of motives, since
they are so diverse in their own nature from each other. He could not
have given any plausible definition of the strength of motives, if he
had looked at them as they are in themselves; and hence, he was under
the necessity of defining it, by a reference to the "degree of tendency
or _advantage_ they have to move or excite the will." Thus, according to
the Inquiry, the will is determined by the strongest motive; and yet we
can form no intelligible idea of what is meant by the strongest motive,
unless we conceive it to be that which determines the will. The matter
will not be mended, by alleging that the strongest motive is not defined
to be that which actually determines the will, but that which has the
greatest degree of previous tendency or advantage, to excite or move it;
for we cannot know what motive has this greatest degree of previous
tendency or advantage, except by observing what motive actually does
determine the will.

This leads us to another view of the same subject. The strength of a
motive, as President Edwards properly remarks, depends upon the state of
the mind to which it is addressed. Hence, in a great majority of cases,
we can know nothing about the relative strength of motives, except from
the actual influence which they exert over the mind of the individual
upon whom they are brought to bear. This shows that the universal
proposition, that the will is _always_ determined by the strongest
motive, can be known to be true, only by assuming that the strongest
motive is that by which the will is determined.

The same thing may be made to appear from another point of view. It has
been well said by the philosopher of Malmsbury, "that experience
concludeth nothing universally." From experience we can pronounce, only
in so far as we have observed, and no farther. But the proposition, that
the will is always determined by the strongest motive, is a universal
proposition; and hence, if true at all, its truth could not have been
learnt from observation and experience. It must depend upon the very
definition of the terms in which it is expressed. We cannot say that the
will is in all cases determined by the strongest motive, unless we
include in the very idea and definition of the strongest motive, that it
is such that it determines the will. President Edwards not only does,
but he must necessarily, go around in this circle, in order to give any
degree of clearness and certainty to his doctrine.

That President Edwards goes around in this vicious circle, may be shown
in another way. "It appears from these things," says he, "that in some
sense, _the will always follows the last dictate of the understanding_.
But then the _understanding_ must be taken in a large sense, as
including the whole faculty of perception or apprehension, and not
merely what is called reason or judgment. If by the last dictate of the
understanding is meant what reason declares to be best, or most for the
person's happiness, taking in the whole of its duration, it is not true,
that the will always follows the last dictate of the understanding," p.
25. In this place, President Edwards gives no distinct idea of what he
means by the last dictate of the understanding, which the will is said
to follow in all cases. But in the eighth volume of his works, that
dictate of the understanding which the will is said to follow, is called
the "practical judgment;" and this is defined to be, "that judgment
which men make of things that prevail, so as to determine their actions
and govern their practice." Here again are we informed, that the will
always follows the practical judgment, and that the practical judgment
is that which men make of things that prevail, so as to determine the
will.

The Inquiry itself furnishes abundant evidence, that I have done its
author no injustice. "I have chosen," says he, "rather to express myself
thus, _that the will always is as the greatest apparent good, or as what
appears most agreeable_, than to say the will is determined by the
greatest apparent good, or by what seems most agreeable; because an
appearing most agreeable to the mind, and the mind's preferring, seem
scarcely distinct. If strict propriety of speech be insisted on, it may
more properly be said, that the _voluntary action_, which is the
immediate consequence of the mind's choice, is determined by that which
appears most agreeable, than the choice itself." After all, then, it
seems that choice itself, or volition, is not determined by that which
appears the most agreeable; because, in reality, the sense of the most
agreeable and volition are one and the same thing. But surely, if we
cannot distinguish between choice and the sense of the most agreeable,
then to say that the one always is as the other, is only to say that a
thing is always as it is. Edwards saw the absurdity of saying that a
thing is determined by itself; but he does not seem to have seen how
insignificant is the proposition, that a thing is always as it is, and
not otherwise; and hence this is the form in which he has chosen to
present the great leading idea of his work on the will. And henceforth
we are to understand, that the preference of the mind is always as that
which appears most agreeable to the mind; or, in other words, that the
preference or choice of the mind is always as the choice of the mind.

This is not all. President Edwards himself has frequently reduced the
fundamental doctrine of the Inquiry to an identical proposition. It is
well known, that "to be determined by the strongest motive," "to follow
the greatest apparent good," "to do what is most agreeable," or "what
pleases most," are all different modes of expression employed by him to
set forth the same fundamental doctrine. In speaking of this doctrine,
he says: "There is scarcely a plainer and more _universal_ dictate of
the sense and experience of mankind, than that, when men act
voluntarily, and do what they please, then they do what suits them best,
or what is most _agreeable to them_. To say, that they do what _pleases_
them, but yet not what is agreeable to them, is the same thing as to
say, they do what they please, but do not act their pleasure; and that
is to say, that they do what they please, and yet do not what they
please." Most assuredly, if to deny the leading proposition of the
Inquiry, is to deny that men do what they please when they do what they
please; then to affirm it, is only to advance the insignificant truism,
that men do what they please when they do what they please. It seems to
me, that after President Edwards had reduced his fundamental proposition
to such a truism, he might very well have spared himself the three
hundred pages that follow.

Again, he says: "It is manifest that no acts of the will are contingent,
in such sense as to be without all necessity, or so as not to be
necessary with a necessity of consequence and connection; because every
act of the will is some way connected with the understanding, and is as
the greatest apparent good is, in the manner which has already been
explained; namely, that the soul always wills or chooses that, which in
the present view of the mind, considered in the whole of that view, and
all that belongs to it, appears most agreeable. Because, as we observed
before, nothing is more evident than that, when men act voluntarily, and
do what they please, then they do what appears most agreeable to them;
and to say otherwise would be as much as to affirm, that men do not
choose what appears to suit them best, or what seems most pleasing to
them; or that they do not choose what they prefer, _which brings the
matter to a contradiction_."

Thus, the great fundamental doctrine of the Inquiry is reduced by
Edwards himself to the barren truism, that men do actually choose what
they choose; a proposition which the boldest advocate of free-agency
would hardly dare to call in question. After labouring through a whole
section to establish this position, the author concludes by saying,
"These things may serve, I hope, in some measure to illustrate and
confirm the position laid down in the beginning of this section: viz.
That the will is always determined by the strongest motive, or by the
view of the mind which has the greatest previous tendency to excite
volition. But whether I have been so happy as rightly to explain the
thing wherein consists the strength of motives, or not, _yet my failing
in this will not overthrow the position itself; which carries much of
its own evidence along with it, and is a point of chief importance to
the purpose of the ensuing discourse:_ and the truth of it I hope will
appear _with great clearness_, before I have finished what I have to say
on the subject of human liberty." Truly the position in question, as it
is explained by the author himself, carries not only much, but all, of
its own evidence along with it. Who can deny that a man always does what
he pleases, when he does what he pleases? This truth appears with just
as great clearness at the beginning, as it does at the conclusion, of
the celebrated Inquiry of the author. It is invested in a flood of
light, which can neither be increased by argument, nor obscured by
sophistry.

From the foregoing remarks, it appears, I think, that the fundamental
doctrine of the Inquiry is a barren truism, or a vicious circle. If
Edwards understood the import of his own doctrine, when he reduced it to
the form that a man does what he pleases when he does what he pleases,
it is certainly a truism; and if this is all his famous doctrine amounts
to, it can have no bearing whatever upon the question as to the cause of
volition; for whether the mind be the cause of its own volitions, or
whether the strongest motive always causes them, or whether they have no
causes at all, it is equally and unalterably true, that every man does
what he pleases when he does what he pleases. There is no possible form
of the doctrine of free-agency or contingency, however wild, which is at
all inconsistent with such a truism.

Edwards is not always consistent with himself. He sometimes represents
the greatest apparent good, or sense of the most agreeable, as the cause
of volition; and then his doctrine assumes the form, that the will is
determined by the strongest motive, or the greatest apparent good. And
yet he sometimes identifies a sense of the most agreeable with the
choice itself; and then his doctrine assumes the form that the choice of
the mind is always as the choice of the mind; and to deny it is a plain
contradiction in terms.

From the fact that Edwards has gone round in a circle, it has been
concluded that he has begged the question; but how, or wherein he has
begged it, is a point which has not been sufficiently noticed. The very
authors who have uttered this complaint, have granted him the very thing
for which he has begged. If volition is an _effect_, if it has a
_cause_, then most unquestionably the cause of volition is the cause of
volition. Admit that volition is an effect, as so many libertarians have
done, and then his definition of motive, which includes every cause of
volition, places his doctrine upon an immutable foundation. We might as
well heave at the everlasting mountains as to try to shake it.

Admit that volition is an effect, and what can we say? Can we say, that
the strongest motive may exist, and yet no volition may follow from it?
To this the necessitarian would instantly reply, that it any thing
exists, and no volition follows thereupon, it is evidently not the cause
of volition, and consequently is not the strongest motive; for this,
according to the definition, includes every cause of volition: it is
indeed absurd, to suppose that an effect should not proceed from its
cause: This is the ground taken both by President Edwards and President
Day. It is absurd, says the latter, to suppose that a weaker motive, or
any thing else, can prevail over the stronger--and why? Because the
strongest motive is that which prevails. "If it be said," he continues,
"that _something else_ gives the weaker motive a superiority over the
stronger; _then this something else is itself a motive_, and the united
influence of the two is greater than that of the third," p. 66. Thus,
say what we will, we can never escape this admirable net of words, that
the will is determined by that which determines it.

I do not intend, then, to engage in the hopeless task, of admitting
volition to be an effect, and yet striving to extricate it from "the
mechanism of cause and effect." This ground has long since been occupied
by much abler persons than myself; and if they have failed of success,
falling into innumerable inconsistencies, it is because, on such ground,
success is impossible; and that notwithstanding their transcendant
abilities, they have been fated to contradict themselves.



SECTION IV.

VOLITION NOT AN EFFECT.

THE argument of the Inquiry, as I have shown, assumes that a volition is
an effect in the proper sense of the word; that it is the correlative of
an efficient cause. If it were necessary, this point might be
established by a great variety of additional considerations; but, I
presume that every candid reader of the Inquiry is fully satisfied in
relation to it.

If we mean by an effect, every thing that comes to pass, of course a
volition is an effect; for no one can deny that it comes to pass. Or, if
we include in the definition of the term, every thing which has a
sufficient reason and ground of its existence, we cannot deny that it
embraces the idea of a volition. For, under certain circumstances, the
free mind will furnish a sufficient reason and ground of the existence
of a volition. All that I deny is, that a volition does proceed from the
mind, or from motive, or from anything else, in the same manner that an
effect, properly so called, proceeds from its efficient cause.

This is a point on which I desire to be distinctly understood. I put
forth a volition to move my hand. The motion of the hand follows. Now,
here I observe the action of the mind, and also the motion of the hand.
The effect exists in the body, in that which is by nature passive; the
cause in that which is active, in the mind. The effect produced in the
body, in the hand, is the passive result of the prior direct action of
the mind. It is in this restricted sense, that I use the term in
question, when I deny that a volition is an effect. I do not deny that
it depends for its production upon certain circumstances, as the
conditions of action, and upon the powers of the mind, by which it is
capable of acting in view of such circumstances. All that I deny is,
that volition results from the prior action of mind, or of
circumstances, or of any thing else, in the same manner that the motion
of body results from the prior action of mind. Or, in other words, I
contend that action is the invariable antecedent of bodily motion, but
not of volition; that whatever may be its relations to other things, a
volition does not sustain the same relation to any thing in the
universe, that an effect sustains to its efficient cause, that a passive
result sustains to the direct prior action by which it is produced. I
hope I may be _always_ so understood, when I affirm that a volition is
not an effect.

It is in this narrow and restricted sense that Edwards assumes a
volition to be an effect. He does not say, in so many words, that the
mind cannot put forth a volition, except in the way of producing it by a
preceding volition or act of the will; but he first assumes a volition
to be an effect; and then he asserts, that the mind can be the cause of
no _effect_, (italicising the term effect,) except by the prior action
of the mind. Thus, having assumed a volition to be an effect, he takes
it for granted that it cannot proceed from the mind in any way, except
that in which any effect in the outer world proceeds from the mind; that
is to say, except it be produced by the direct prior action of the mind,
by a preceding volition. Thus he brings the idea of a volition under the
above narrow and restricted notion of an effect; and thereby confounds
the relation which subsists between mind and its volitions, with the
relation which subsists between mind and its external effects in body.
In other words, on the supposition that our volitions proceed from the
mind, he takes it for granted that they must be produced by the
preceding action of the mind; just as an effect, in the limited sense of
the term, is produced by the prior action of its cause. It is in this
assumption, that Edwards lays the foundation of the logic, by which he
reduces the self-determining power of the mind to the absurdity of an
infinite series of volitions.

It is evident that such is the course pursued by Edwards; for he not
only calls a volition, an effect, but he also says, that the mind can
"bring no _effects_ to pass, but what are consequent upon its acting,"
p. 56. And again he says, "The will determines which way the hands and
feet shall move, by an act of choice; and _there is no other way_ of the
will's determining, directing, or commanding any thing at all." This is
very true, if a volition is such an effect as requires the prior action
of something else to account for its production, just as the motion of
the "hands and feet" requires the action of the mind to account for its
production; but it is not true, if a volition is such an effect, that
its existence may be accounted for by the presence of certain
circumstances or motives, as the conditions of action, in conjunction
with a mind capable of acting in view of such motives. In other words,
his assertion is true, if we allow him to assume, as he does, that a
volition is an effect, in the above restricted meaning of the term; but
it is not true, if we consider a volition as an effect in a larger sense
of the word. Hence, the whole strength of Edwards' position lies in the
sense which he arbitrarily attaches to the term _effect_, when he says
that a volition is an effect.

Now, is a volition an effect in such a sense of the word? Is it brought
into existence, like the motion of body, by the prior action of any
thing else? We answer, No. But how shall this point be decided? The
necessitarian says, a moment before the volition did not exist, now it
does exist; and hence, it necessarily follows, that there must have been
a cause by which it was brought into existence. That is to say, it
_must_ be an effect. True, it must be an effect, if you please; but in
what sense of the word? Is volition an effect, in the same sense that
the motion of the body is an effect? This is the question.

And this question, I contend, is not to be decided by abstract
considerations, nor yet by the laying of words together, and drawing
conclusions from them. It is a question, not of logic, but of
psychology. By whatever name you may please to call it, the true nature
of a volition is not to be determined by reference to abstractions, nor
by the power of words; but _by simply looking at it and seeing what it
is_. If we would really understand its nature, we must not undertake to
_reason it out;_ we must _open our eyes_, and _look_, and _see_. The
former course would do very well, no doubt, if the object were to
construct a world for ourselves; but if we would behold the glory of
that which God has constructed for us, and in us, we must lay aside the
proud syllogistic method of the schools, and betake ourselves to the
humble task of observation--of patient, severe, and scrutinizing
observation. There is no other condition on which we can "enter into the
kingdom of man, which is founded in the sciences." There is no other
course marked out for us by the immortal Bacon: and if we pursue any
other we may wander in the dazzling light of a thousand abstractions,
and behold whatever fleeting images of grandeur and of beauty we may be
pleased to conjure up for ourselves; but the pure light of nature and of
truth will be hid from us.

What then is a volition just as it is revealed to us in the light of
consciousness? Does it result from the prior action of mind, or of
motive, or of any thing else? In other words, is it an _effect_, as the
motion of body is an effect!

We always conceive of the subject in which such an effect resides, as
being wholly passive. President Edwards himself has repeatedly said,
that it is the very notion of an effect, that it results from the action
or influence of its cause; and that nothing is any further an effect,
than as it proceeds from that action or influence. The subject in which
it is produced, is always passive as to its production; and just in so
far as it is itself active, it is not the subject of an effect, but the
author of an action. Such is the idea of an effect in the true and
proper sense of the word.

Now does our idea of a volition correspond with this idea of an effect?
Is it produced in the mind, and is the mind passive as to its
production? Is it, like the motion of a body, the passive result of the
action of something else? No. It is not the result of action; it is
action itself. The mind is not passive as to its production; it is in
and of itself an action of the mind. It is not _determined_; it is a
_determination_. It is not a produced effect, like the motion of body;
it is itself an original producing cause. It does seem to me, that if
any man will only reflect on this subject, he must see that there is a
clear and manifest difference between an ACT and an EFFECT.

Although the scheme of Edwards identifies these two things, and his
argument assumes them to be one and the same; yet his language, it
appears to me, frequently betrays the fact, that his consciousness did
not work in harmony with his theory. While speaking of the acts of the
will as effects, he frequently says, that it is the very idea of an
effect that it results from, and is necessarily connected with, the
action of its cause, and that it is absurd to suppose that it is free or
loose from the influence of its cause.

And yet, in reference to volitions, he often uses the expression, "_this
sort_ of effects," as if it did not exactly correspond with the "very
idea of an effect," from which it is absurd to depart in our
conceptions. When he gives fair play to consciousness, he speaks of
different kinds of effects; and yet, when he returns to his theory and
his reasoning, all this seems to vanish; and there remains but one
clear, fixed, and definite idea of an effect, and to speak of any thing
else as such is absurd. He now and then pays a passing tribute to the
power of consciousness, by admitting that the soul exerts its own
volitions, that the soul itself acts; but he no sooner comes to the work
of argument and refutation, than it is motive that "causes them to be
put forth or exerted," p. 96. Ever and anon, he seems to catch a whisper
from the voice of consciousness; and he concedes that he sometimes uses
the term cause to designate that which has not a _positive_ or
_productive_ influence, p. 50-1. But this is not when he is engaged in
the energy of debate. Let Mr. Chubb cross his path; let him hear the
voice of opposition giving utterance to the sentiment, that "in motive
there is no causality in the production of action;" and that moment the
voice of consciousness is hushed in the most profound silence. He rises,
like a giant, in the defence of his system, and he declares, that "to
excite," as motives do, "is positively to do something," and "certainly
that which does something, is the cause of the thing done by it." Yea,
"to excite, _is to cause in the most proper sense, not merely a negative
occasion_, but a ground of existence by _positive influence_," p. 96.

These passages, which are scattered up and down through the Inquiry, in
which the doctrine of liberty seems to be conceded, I cannot but regard
as highly important concessions. They have been used to show that we
misconceive the scheme of Edwards, when we ascribe to him the doctrine
of fate. But when they are thus adduced, to show that we misrepresent
his doctrine, I beg it may be remembered that such evidence can prove
only one of two things; either that we do not understand what he
teaches, or that he is not always consistent with himself.

If he really held the doctrine of fatalism, we ought not to be surprised
that he has furnished such evidence against himself. It is not in the
nature of the human mind to keep itself always deaf to the voice of
consciousness. It is not in the power of any system always to counteract
the spontaneous workings of nature. Though the mind should be surrounded
by those deep-seated, all-pervading, and obstinate illusions, by which
the scheme of fatalism is made to wear the appearance of self-evident
truth; yet when it loses sight of that system, it will, at times, speak
out in accordance with the dictates of nature. The stern and unrelenting
features of fatalism cannot always be so intimately present to the mind,
as entirely to exclude it from the contemplation of a milder and more
captivating system of philosophy. Notwithstanding the influence of
system, how rigid soever may be its demands, the human mind will, in its
moments of relaxation, recognize _in its feelings_ and _in its
utterance_, those great truths which are inseparable from its very
nature.

Let it be borne in mind, then, that there is more than one process in
the universe. Some things are produced, it is most true, by the prior
action of other things; and herein we behold the relation of cause and
effect, properly so called; but it does not follow, that all things are
embraced by this _one_ relation. This appears to be so only to the mind
of the necessitarian; from which one fixed idea has shut out the light
of observation. He no longer sees the rich variety, the boundless
diversity, there is in the works of God: all things and all modes and
all processes of the awe-inspiring universe, are made to conform to the
narrow and contracted methods of his own mind. Look where he will, he
sees not the "free and flowing outline" of nature's true lineaments; he
every where beholds the image of the one fixed idea in his mind,
projected outwardly upon the universe of God; behind which the true
secrets and operations of nature are concealed from his vision. Even
when he contemplates that living source of action, that bubbling
fountain of volitions, the immortal mind of man itself, he only beholds
a _thing_, which is made to act by the action of something else upon it;
just as a body is made to move by the action of force upon it. His
philosophy is, therefore, an essentially shallow and superficial
philosophy. The great name of Edwards cannot shield it from such
condemnation.



SECTION V.

OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF REGARDING VOLITION AS AN EFFECT.

IT has been frequently conceded that a volition is an effect; but to
make this concession, without explanation or qualification, is to
surrender the whole cause of free agency into the hand of the enemy. For
if a volition is an effect, properly speaking, the only question is as
to its efficient cause: it is necessarily produced by its cause.

To make this matter clear, let us consider what is precisely meant by
the term cause when it is thus used? An effect is necessarily connected,
not with the _thing_ which is sometimes called its cause, but with the
_action_ or _positive influence_ of that thing. Thus, the mind, or the
power of the mind, is sometimes said to be the cause of motion in the
body; but this is not to speak with philosophical precision. No motion
of the body is necessarily connected, either with the mind itself, or
with the power of the mind. In other words, if these should lie dormant,
or fail to act, they would produce no bodily motion. But let the mind
act, or will a particular motion, and the body will necessarily move in
consequence of that action. Hence, it is neither with the mind, nor with
the power of the mind, that bodily motion, as an effect, is necessarily
connected; it is with an act of the mind or volition that this necessary
connection subsists. A cause is said to imply its effect: it is not the
mind, but an act of the mind, that implies motion in the body.

This is evidently the idea of Edwards, when he says, as he frequently
does, that an effect is necessarily connected with the _influence_ or
_action_ of its cause. The term _cause_ is ambiguous; and when he says,
that an effect is necessarily connected with its cause, he should be
understood to mean, in accordance with his own doctrine, that the cause
referred to _is the influence_ or _action_ by which it is produced, and
not the thing which exerts that _influence_ or _action_. Thus, although
motives are said to be causes of action, he contends, they can do
nothing except by their influence; and so much as results from their
influence is the effect of that influence, and is necessarily connected
with it.

Now, if a volition is an effect, if it has an efficient cause, what is
that cause? By the _action_ of what is it produced? It cannot be by the
act of the mind, says Edwards, because the mind can produce an _effect_
only by another act. Thus, on the supposition in question, we cannot
ascribe a volition to the mind as its cause, without being compelled to
admit that it results from a preceding act of the mind. But that
preceding act, on the same supposition, will require still another
preceding act to account for its production; and so on _ad infinitum_.
Such is the absurdity which Edwards delighted to urge against the
self-determining power of the mind. It is triumphantly based on the
concession that a volition is an effect; that as such the prior _action_
of something else is necessary to account for its existence. And if we
suppose, in accordance with the truth, that a volition is merely a state
of the mind, which does not sustain the same relation to the mind that
an effect does to its efficient cause, this absurdity will vanish. The
doctrine of liberty will no longer be encumbered with it.

Now, proceeding on the same supposition, let us conceive of a volition
as resulting from the influence exerted by motive. If an _act_ of the
mind is an effect, surely we may say, that the act or productive
influence of motive, or of any thing else, is likewise an effect; and
consequently must have a cause to account for its existence; and so on
_ad infinitum_. Hence, the very absurdity which Edwards charges upon our
system, really attaches to his own.

Will it be said that this _ad infinitum_ absurdity does not result from
the supposition in question, but from the fact that the mind can do
nothing except by its action or influence? It is very true, as Edwards
repeatedly declares, that the mind can be the cause of no _effect_,
except by a preceding act of the mind. The truth of this proposition is
involved in the very idea which he attaches to the term _effect_, and it
is based upon this idea alone. And we may say, with equal propriety,
that motive can be the cause of no _effect_, except by its action or
productive influence. Indeed, Edwards himself expressly says, that
motives can do nothing, except by an exertion of their influence, or by
operating to produce effects. Thus, the two cases are rendered perfectly
parallel; and afford the same foundation on which to erect an infinite
series of causes.

To evade this, can it be pretended, that motive just exerts this
influence of itself? May we not with equal, nay, with infinitely greater
propriety, contend that mind just exerts its own positive influence of
itself? Or, will it be said, that it is a mistake, to suppose that
Edwards ascribed any real, productive, or causal influence to motives;
that he regarded them as the _occasions_ on which the mind acts, and not
properly as the _causes_ of its action? If so, then the whole scheme of
moral necessity is abandoned, and the doctrine of liberty is left to
stand upon its own foundation, in the undisputed evidence of
consciousness.

The truth is, if we take it for granted, that a volition is an effect,
properly so called, and as such must proceed from the prior action of
something else, we cannot escape the _ad infinitum_, absurdity of the
Inquiry. If we rise from this platform, we cannot possibly ascend in any
direction, without entering upon an infinite series of causes. Whether
we ascend through the self-determining power of the mind, or through the
determining power of motives, or through the joint action of both, we
can save ourselves from such an absurd consequence only by a glaring act
of inconsistency. Hence, we are forced back upon the conclusion that
action may, and _actually does_ arise in the world of mind, without any
efficient or producing cause of its existence, without resulting from
the prior action of any thing whatever. Any other hypothesis is involved
in absurdity.

Let it be assumed, that a volition is, properly speaking, an effect, and
every thing is conceded. On this vantage ground, the scheme of necessity
may be erected beyond the possibility of an overthrow. For, even if we
"suppose that action is determined by the will and free choice," this
"is as much as to say, that it must be necessary, being dependent upon,
and determined by something foregoing; namely, a foregoing act of
choice," p. 199. Let the above position be conceded, and there is no
escape from this conclusion. Nay, the conclusion itself is but another
mode of stating the position assumed.

It is evident, then, that action must take its rise somewhere in the
world, without being caused by prior action; or else there must be an
infinite series of acts. I say it takes its rise in the mind, in that
which is essentially active, and not in matter. Edwards does not say,
that it takes its rise in matter; and hence, there is no dispute on this
point. It is very remarkable, that this objection to his scheme, that it
runs into an infinite series, seems never to have occurred to President
Edwards. He seems to have endeavoured to anticipate and reply to all
possible objections to his system; and yet this, which has occurred to
so many others, appears not to have occurred to himself, for he has not
noticed it.

The younger Edwards has attempted to reply to it. Let us see his reply.
"We maintain," says he, "that action may be the effect of a divine
influence; or that it may be the effect of one or more second causes,
the first of which is immediately produced by the Deity. Here then is
not an infinite series of causes, but a very short series, which
terminates in the Deity or first cause," p. 121. Thus, according to the
younger Edwards, the infinite series of causes is cut short, terminating
in the volition of Deity. What! does the volition of God come into
existence without a cause of its existence? What then becomes of "that
great principle of common sense," so often applied to volition, that no
event can begin to be without a cause of its existence? Is this great
principle given up? Has it become obsolete?

It may be contended, that although human volition is an effect, and so
must have a cause; yet the divine volition is not an effect. The elder
Edwards could not have taken this ground; for he contends, that the
volition of Deity is just as necessarily connected With the strongest
motive, or the greatest apparent good, as is the volition of man.
According to the Inquiry, all volitions, both human and divine, are
necessarily connected with the greatest apparent good, and in precisely
the same manner. The above pretext, therefore, could not have been set
up by him.

This ground, however, is taken by the younger Edwards. "It is granted,"
says he, "that volition in the Deity is not an effect," p. 122; it has
no cause, and here terminates the series. But how is this? Can some
event, after all, begin to be without having a cause of its existence?
without being an effect? By no means. How is it then? Why, says the
learned author, the volitions of the Deity have existed from all
eternity! They have no causes; because they have never begun to be!

"I deny," says he, "that the operations and energies of the Deity _begin
in time_, though the effects of those operations do. They no more begin
in time than the divine existence does; but human volitions all begin in
time," p. 123. This makes all the difference imaginable; for as the
divine acts have existed from all eternity, so they cannot be caused.

But there is an objection to this view. "If it should be said," he
continues, "that on this supposition the effects take place not till
long after the acts, by which they are produced, I answer, they do so in
our view, but not in the view of God. With him there is no time, no
before nor after with respect to time," p. 124.

Now, it will not be denied, that things appear to God just as they are
in themselves; and hence, if his volitions, which are said to exist long
before their effects, even from all eternity, appear to him not to exist
long before them; then they do not in reality exist long before them.
But if the divine volitions do not really exist long before their
effects, but just before them, as other causes do before their effects,
why should they not have causes as well as any other volitions? If they
really exist just before their effects in time, and not long before
them, why do they not exist in time just as much as any other volitions?
and why do they not as much require causes to account for their
existence? If they only seem to us to exist long before their effects,
even from all eternity, how can this mere seeming make any real
difference in the case? There is a very short series, we are told, the
volition of Deity constituting the first link. Has not this first link,
this volition of the Deity, a cause? No. And why? Because it has existed
from all eternity; and so nothing could go before it to produce it. Did
it not exist long before the effect then, which it produces in time? No.
And why? Because in the view of God and in reality, it existed just
before its effect, as all causes do, and therefore there is no real
severance of cause and effect in the case! It really comes just before
its effect in time, and therefore there is no severance of cause and
effect; and yet it really existed before all time, even from all
eternity, and therefore it cannot have a cause! Now is this logic, or is
it legerdemain?

There is no time with God, says the author; then there is no time in
reality; it is all an illusion arising from the succession of our own
thoughts. If this be so, then all things do really come to pass
simultaneously; and if there were a very long series, even an infinite
series of causes and effects, yet would they all come to pass in the
same instant. Indeed, there is very great uncertainty about the
speculations of philosophers in regard to time and space; and we hardly
know what to make of them, except we cannot very well understand them;
but one thing is abundantly certain; and that is, that it is not good
logic, to assert that a particular cause cannot be produced, because it
has existed long before its effect, even from all eternity; and yet
repel objections to this assertion, by alleging that they only seem to
do so, while in reality there is no such tiling. This is to turn from
the illusion to the reality, and from the reality to the illusion, just
as it suits the exigency of the moment. Such are the poor shifts and
shallow devices, to which even gifted minds are reduced, when they
refuse to admit that action, that volition, may take its rise in the
world, spontaneously proceeding from mind itself, without being made to
do so by the action of any thing upon it.

Let us suppose, that a man should tell us, that a producing cause
existed long before its effect; that there was nothing to prevent it
from bringing its effect to pass; and yet, long after it had existed,
its effect sprang up and came into existence; what should we think?
Should we not see that it is absurd, in the highest degree, to say that
an unimpeded causative act existed yesterday, and even from all
eternity, unchanged and unchangeable; and yet its effect did not come to
pass until to-day? Surely, no man in his right mind can be made to
believe this, unless it be forced upon him by the desperate necessities
of a false system; and if any person were told, that although such a
thing may seem absurd to us, inasmuch as the cause seems to exist in
full operation long before its effect, yet it is not so in the view of
God, with whom there is no time, should he not be pardoned if he doubted
the infallibility of his informant?

The truth is, we must reason about cause and effect as they appear to
us; and whether time be an illusion or not, we must, in all our
reasonings, conceive of cause and effect as conjoined in what we call
time, or we cannot reason at all. According to the younger Edwards, the
act of creation, not the mere purpose to create, but the real causative
act of creation, existed in the divine mind from all eternity. Why then
did the world spring up and come into existence at one point of time
rather than another? How happened it, that so many ages rolled away, and
this mighty causative act produced no effect? In view of such a case,
how could the author have said, as he frequently does, that a cause
necessarily implies its effect? How can this be, if a causative act of
the Almighty may exist, and yet, for millions of ages, its omnipotent
energy produce no effect? Indeed, such a doctrine destroys all our
notions of cause and effect; it overthrows "the great principle of
common sense" that cause and effect necessarily imply each other; and
involves all our reasoning from cause to effect, and _vice versa_, in
the utmost perplexity and confusion. It throws clouds and darkness over
the whole field of inquiry.

Since the time of Dr. Samuel Clarke, it has been frequently objected to
the scheme of moral necessity, that it is involved in the great
absurdity of an infinite series of causes. President Edwards urged this
objection against the doctrine of the self-determining power; he did not
perceive that it lay against his own scheme of the motive-determining
power; and hence, he has not even attempted to answer it. This was
reserved for the younger Edwards; and although he has deservedly ranked
high as a logician, I cannot but regard his attempt to answer the
objection in question, as one of the most remarkable abortions in the
history of philosophy.



SECTION VI.

OF THE MAXIM THAT EVERY EFFECT MUST HAVE A CAUSE.

IN a former section, I referred to some of the false assumptions which
have been incautiously conceded to the necessitarian, and in which he
has laid the foundations of his system; but I have not, as yet, alluded
to the argument or deduction in which he is accustomed to triumph. This
argument, strange as it may seem, is a deduction, not from any principle
or general fact which has been ascertained by observation or experience,
but from a self-evident and universal truth.

That every effect must have a cause, is the maxim upon which the
necessitarian takes his stand, and from which he delights to draw his
favourite conclusion. It may be well, therefore, to examine the argument
which has been so frequently erected upon the maxim in question.
Although from various considerations, it has been very justly concluded,
that there is somewhere a lurking fallacy in the argument, yet it has
not been precisely shown where the fallacy lies. Suspicion has been
thrown over it: nay, abundant reason has been shown why it should be
rejected; but yet the fallacy of it should be dragged from the place of
its concealment, and laid open in a clear light, so as to render it
apparent to every eye. If it is a sophism, it certainly can be exposed,
and it should be done.

In order to do this, it will be necessary to consider the nature and use
of the maxim, that every effect must have a cause. I am aware, that no
necessitarian of the present day, would choose to express this maxim as
I have expressed it; for in such a form Mr. Hume has shown that it
contains no information, and is indeed a most insignificant proposition.
And, in truth, what does it amount to? Cause and effect are correlative
terms; and when we speak of an effect, we mean something that is
produced by a cause; and hence, the famous proposition, that every
effect has a cause, amounts only to this, that every effect is an
effect!

After Mr. Hume had caused the subject to be viewed in this light, the
usual mode of expression was dropped; and it has now become the common
practice to say, that there is no change in nature without a cause. But
I do not see how this mends the matter _in the least:_ it may disguise,
but it does not alter the nature or real import of the maxim in
question. For when it is said that every change has a cause, it is
evident that a change is conceived of under the idea of an effect. It is
supposed to be produced by a cause, and therefore it must be considered
as an effect; and if the idea remains precisely the same, I do not see
that giving it a new name, can possibly make any difference in the
meaning of the proposition.

The maxim, that every effect must have a cause, is a self-evident and
universal proposition. Its truth is involved in the very definition of
the terms of which it is composed. In this respect it is like the axioms
of geometry. When it is said, for example, that "the whole is equal to
the sum of the parts," we at once perceive the truth of the axiom;
because the "whole" is merely another name for "the sum of the parts."
It is intuitively certain that they are equal, because they are but
different expressions of the same thing. So, likewise, when it is
affirmed, that every effect or every change in nature has a cause, we
instantly perceive the truth of the proposition; inasmuch as an effect
is that which is produced by a cause. The very idea of an effect implies
its relation to a cause; and to say, that it has one, is only to say,
that an effect is an effect. For if it were not produced by a cause, it
would not be an effect.

The maxim under consideration is as unquestionably true as any axiom in
Euclid. It does not depend for the evidence of its truth upon
observation, or experience, or reasoning; it carries its own evidence
along with it. No sooner are the terms in which it is expressed
understood, than it rivets irresistible conviction on the mind. It is a
fundamental law of belief; and it is impossible for the imagination of
man to conceive, that an effect, or that which is produced by a cause,
should be without a cause. And it were just as idle an employment of
one's time, to undertake to prove such a proposition, as it would be to
attempt to refute it.

Now, one of the fallacies of the argument of the necessitarian is, that
it is an attempt to draw a conclusion from the axiomatical truth above
referred to, as from the major of a syllogism. Every such attempt must
necessarily be vain and fruitless. "Axioms," justly remarks Mr. Locke,
"are not the foundations on which any of the sciences are built." And
again, "It was not the influence of those maxims which are taken for
principles in mathematics, that hath led the masters of that science
into the wonderful discoveries they have made. Let a man of good parts
know all the maxims generally made use of in mathematics never so
perfectly, and contemplate their extent and consequences as much as he
pleases, he will, by their assistance, I suppose, scarce ever come to
know, that the square of the hypothenuse in a right-angled triangle, is
equal to the squares of the two other sides. The knowledge, that the
whole is equal to the parts, and, if you take equals from equals, the
remainder will be equal, helped him not, I presume, to this
demonstration. And a man may, I think, pore long enough on those axioms,
without ever seeing one jot the more of mathematical truths."

The same doctrine is still more distinctly stated by Dugald Stewart. "If
by the first principles of a science," says he, "be meant those
fundamental propositions from which its remoter truths are derived, the
axioms cannot, with any consistency, be called the first principles of
mathematics. They have not, (it will be admitted,) the most distant
analogy to what are called the first principles of natural
philosophy:--to those general facts, for example, of the gravity and
elasticity of the air, from which may be deduced, as consequences, the
suspension of the mercury in the Torricellian tube, and its fall when
carried up to an eminence. According to this meaning of the word, the
first principles of mathematical science are, not the _axioms_ but the
_definitions_; which definitions hold, in mathematics, precisely the
same place that is held in natural philosophy by such general facts as
have now been referred to."

But the doctrine in question rests upon a firmer basis than that of
human authority. Let any man examine the demonstrations in geometry, and
attentively consider the principles from which the conclusions of that
science are deduced, and he will find that they are _definitions_, and
not _axioms_. He will find; that the properties of the triangle are
derived from the definition of a triangle, and those of a circle from
the definition of a circle. And then let him try his own skill upon the
axioms of that science; let him arrange them and combine them in all
possible ways; let him compare them together as long as he pleases, and
determine for himself, whether they can be made to yield a single
logical inference. If the question is thus brought to the test of an
actual experience, I think it is not difficult to foresee, that the
decision must be in favour of the doctrine of Stewart, and that it will
be seen, that no such proposition as that whatever _is, is,_ can even
constitute the postulate, or first principle, in any sound argument; and
that it is only from general facts, such as are ascertained by
observation and experience, that we can derive logical consequences of
any kind whatever, either in relation to matter or to mind.

If there is any truth in the foregoing remarks, or correctness in the
position of Locke and Stewart, it is certainly one of the capital errors
of Edwards, as well as of other necessitarians, that he has undertaken
to deduce his doctrine from a metaphysical axiom, or identical
proposition.

Supposing this to be the case, how has it happened, it may be asked,
that the argument of the necessitarian has appeared so conclusive to
himself, as well as unanswerable to others? The reason is plain. Having
set out with a proposition, which is barren of all consequences, as the
basis of his argument, it became necessary, in order to arrive at the
destined conclusion, to assume, somewhere and somehow, in the course of
his reasoning, the very point which he had undertaken to prove.
Accordingly, this has been done; and the tacit assumption of the point
in dispute seems not to have been suspected by him.

The justice of this remark may be shown, by a reference to the argument
of the necessitarian. When this is reduced to the form of a syllogism,
it stands thus: Every effect has a cause; a volition is an effect; and,
therefore, a volition has a cause. In the middle term, which assumes
that a volition is an effect, the point in dispute is taken for granted,
the whole question is completely begged.

If we take the words in any sense, yet as they are correlative terms,
the maxim that every effect must have a cause is self-evident; and
hence, no conclusion can be drawn from it, unless the conclusion
intended to be drawn is assumed in the middle term of the syllogism. It
either begs the question, or it decides nothing to the purpose. It is
true, that every change in nature must have a cause; that is to say, it
is in some sense of the word an effect, and consequently must have a
corresponding cause; but in what sense does every act of the mind come
under the idea and definition of an effect? This is the question. Is it
brought to pass by the prior action of motive? Is it necessitated? Upon
this precise question, the maxim that every change must have a cause can
throw no light; it only seems to refer to this point, by means of the
very convenient ambiguity of the terms in which it is expressed. The
necessitarian never fails to avail himself of this ambiguity. He seems
both to himself and to the spectator to be carrying on a "great
demonstration;" and this is one reason, perhaps, why the mind is
diverted from the sophistical tricks, the metaphysical jugglery, by
which both are deceived. Let us look a little more narrowly at this
pretended demonstration.

The maxim in question is applied to volition; every change in nature,
even the voluntary acts of the mind, must have a cause. Now according to
Edwards' explanation of the term, this is a proposition which, I will
venture to say, no man in his right mind ever ventured to deny. It is
true, that President Edwards tells us of those, who "imagine that a
volition has no cause, or _that it produces itself_;" and he has very
well compared this to the absurdity of supposing, "that I gave myself my
own being, or that I came into being without a cause," p. 277. But who
ever held such a doctrine? Did any man, in his right mind, ever contend
that "a volition could produce itself," can arise out of nothing, and
bring itself into existence? If so, they were certainly beyond the reach
of logic; they stood in need of the physician. I have never been so
unfortunate as to meet with any advocate of free-agency, either in
actual life or in history, who supposed that a volition arose out of
nothing, without _any cause_ of its existence, or that it produced
itself. They have all maintained, with one consent, that the mind is the
cause of volition. Is the mind nothing? If a man should say, as so many
have said, that the mind produces its own volitions, is that equivalent
to saying, that nothing produces it; that it comes "into being
accidentally, without any cause of its being?" Such is the broad
caricature of their doctrine, which is repeatedly given by President
Edwards.

It is freely admitted, and the advocates of free-agency have always
admitted, that volition has a cause, as that word is frequently used by
Edwards. He tells us, that by cause he sometimes means any antecedent,
whether it exerts any positive influence or no. Now, in this sense, it
is conceded by the advocates of free-agency, that motive itself is the
cause of volition. This is the question: Is motive the efficient, or
producing cause of volition? This is the question, I say; but Edwards
frequently loses sight of it in a mist of ambiguities; and he lays
around him in the dark, with such prodigious strength, that if his
adversaries were not altogether imaginary beings, and therefore
impassible to his ponderous blows, I have no doubt he would have slain
more of them than ever Samson did of the Philistines.

The manner in which the necessitarian speaks of cause in his maxims, and
reasonings, and pretended demonstrations, is of very great service to
him. It includes, as we are told, every condition or cause of volition;
(what a heterogeneous mass!) every thing without which volition could
not come to pass. Yea, it is used in this sense, when it is said that
motive is the cause of volition. What shall we do, then, with this
broad, this most ambiguous proposition? Shall we deny it? If so, then we
deny that volition has any cause of its existence, and fall into the
great absurdity of supposing "volition to produce itself." Shall we
assent to it, then? If so, we really admit that motive is the efficient
cause of volition; and thus, by denying, we are made to reject our own
doctrine, while, by affirming, we are made to receive that of our
opponents. This way of proposing the doctrine of necessity very strongly
reminds one of a certain trick in legislation, by which such things are
forced into a bill, that in voting upon it, you must either reject what
you most earnestly desire, or else sanction and support what you most
earnestly detest. We should, therefore, neither affirm nor deny the
whole proposition as it is set forth by the necessitarian; we should
touch it with the dissecting knife, and cure it of its manifold
infirmities.

The ambiguity of the term cause is, indeed, one of the most powerful
weapons, both of attack and defence, in the whole armory of the
necessitarian. Do you affirm the mind to be the cause of volition? Then,
forthwith, as if the word could have only one meaning, it is alleged,
that if the mind is the cause of volition, it can cause it only by a
preceding volition; and so on _ad infinitum_. Hence, your doctrine must
needs be absurd; because the word is understood, yea, and will be
understood, in its most restrained and narrow sense. But do you deny
motive to be the cause of volition? Then, how absurd are you again; you
are no longer understood to use the word in the same sense; you now
mean, not only that motive is not the producing cause of volition, but
that there is absolutely nothing upon which it depends for its
existence, and that "it produces itself." Does Edwards affirm that
motive is the cause of volition; that motive causes volition to arise
and come forth into existence; that it is not merely "the negative
occasion" thereof, but the cause in the most proper sense of the word;
that it is "the effectual power which produces volition?" What then?
Dare you assert, in the face of such teaching, that motive is not the
cause of volition? If so, then you are a most obstinate and perverse
caviller; and you are silenced by the information that he _sometimes_
uses the word cause to signify any antecedent, whether it has any
positive influence or no. Yea, he gives this information, he declares,
to "cut off occasion from any that might seek occasion to cavil and
object against his doctrine," p. 51. These, and many other things of the
same kind, are to be found in the writings of Day, and Edwards, and
Collins, and Hobbes; and whosoever may be pleased to follow them,
through all the doublings and windings of their logic, may do so at his
leisure. It is sufficient for my present purpose to remark, that Edwards
has included a number of different ideas in his definition of cause; and
that he turns from the one to the other of these ideas, just as it suits
the exigencies of his argument. It is in this way, as we have seen, that
the famous maxim, that every change in nature must have a cause, has
been made to serve his purpose.

He did not look at a volition and an effect, so as to mark their
differences narrowly, and to proceed in his reasonings according to
them; he set out with the great and universal truth, that every change
in the universe must have a cause; from which lofty position the
differences of things in this nether world were invisible. Having
secured this position to his entire satisfaction, being firmly persuaded
in his own mind, that "nonentity could not bring forth," he supposed he
had gained a strong foothold; and from thence he proceeded to reason
downward to what actually takes place in this lower world!

We are but "the humble servants and interpreters of nature," and we "can
understand her operations only in so far as we have observed them." The
necessitarian takes higher ground than this. He disdains the humble and
patient task of observation. He plants his foot upon an eternal and
immutable axiom; and, turning away from the study of what is, he
magisterially pronounces what _must be_.

It is easy to see how he constructs his system. Every change in nature
must have a cause, says he; this is very true; there is no truth in the
world more certain, according to the sense in which he frequently
understands it. If he means to assert, that nothing, whether it be an
entity, or an attribute, or a mode, can bring itself into existence, no
one disputes his doctrine. It is most true, that there can be no choice
without a mind that chooses, or an object in view of which it chooses; a
mind, an object, and a desire, (if you please,) are the indispensable
prerequisites, the invariable antecedents, to volition; but there is an
immense chasm between this position and the doctrine, that the mind
cannot put forth a volition, unless it is made to do so by the action of
something else upon it. This immense chasm, the necessitarian can cross
only by stepping over from one branch of his ambiguous proposition to
another; he either does this, or he does not reach the point in
controversy at all.



SECTION VII.

OF THE APPLICATION OF THE MAXIM THAT EVERY EFFECT MUST HAVE A CAUSE.

IN the last section I considered the application of the maxim, "that
every effect must have a cause," to the question of necessity. This
maxim figures so largely in every scheme of necessity, and it is relied
upon with so much confidence, that I shall present some further views
respecting its true nature and application. The necessitarian may see
the truth of this maxim clearly, but he applies it vaguely.

He is always saying, "that if we give up this great principle of common
sense, then there is no reasoning from effect to cause; and we cannot
prove the existence of a God." Now I propose to show that we need not
give up "this great principle of common sense;" that we may continue to
reason from effect to cause, and so reach the conclusion that there is a
God, by one of the most incontrovertible of all our mental processes;
and yet we may, with perfect consistency, refuse to apply the maxim in
question to human actions or volitions. In other words, that we may
freely admit the principle in question, and yet reject the application
which the necessitarian is accustomed to make of it.

In order to do this in a perspicuous and satisfactory manner, let us
consider the occasion on which we first became acquainted with the truth
of the principle, that every effect must have a cause. Let us consider
the circumstances under which it is first suggested to the mind. Whence,
then, do we derive the ideas of cause and effect, and of the necessary
connection between them?

Locke, it is well known, supposed that we might derive the idea of
causation by reflecting on the changes which take place in the external
world. The fallacy of this supposition has been fully shown by Hume, and
Brown, and Consin. In the refutation of Locke's notion, these celebrated
philosophers were undoubtedly right; but the two first were wrong in the
conclusion that we have no idea of power at all. Because the ideas of
power and causation are not suggested by the changes of the material
world, it does not follow that we have no such ideas in reality; that
the only notion we have of causation is that of an invariable
antecedence.

The only way in which the mind ever comes to be furnished with the ideas
of cause and effect at all is this: we are conscious that we will a
certain motion in the body, and we discover that the motion follows the
volition. It is this act of the mind, this exertion of the will, that
gives us the idea of a cause; and the change which it produces in the
body, is that from which we derive the idea of an effect. If we had
never experienced a volition, we should never have formed the idea of
causation. The idea of positive efficiency, or active power, would never
have entered into our minds.

The two terms of the sequence, with which we are thus furnished by an
actual experience, is an act of the mind, or a volition, on the one
hand, which we call an efficient cause; and a modification or change in
inert, passive matter, on the other, which we call an effect. It is easy
to see how we rise from this single experience to the universal maxim in
question. We are so made and constituted, by the Author of our nature,
that we cannot help believing in the uniformity of nature's laws, or
sequences. Hence, whenever we see either term of the above sequence, we
are necessarily compelled, by a fundamental law of belief, to infer the
existence of the other.

This fundamental law of belief, by which we repose the most implicit
confidence in the uniformity of nature's sequences, has been recognized
by many distinguished writers in modern times. It is well stated and
illustrated by Dr. Chalmers. "The doctrine of innate ideas in the mind,"
says he, "is wholly different from the doctrine of innate tendencies in
the mind--which tendencies may lie undeveloped till the excitement of
some occasion have manifested or brought them forth. In a newly-formed
mind, there is no idea of nature, or of a single object in nature; yet,
no sooner is an object presented, or is an event observed to happen,
than there is elicited the tendency of the mind to presume on the
constancy of nature. At least as far back as our observation extends,
the law of the mind is in full operation. Let an infant, for the first
time in his life, strike on the table with a spoon; and, pleased with
the noise, it will repeat that stroke with every appearance of a
confident expectation that the noise will be repeated also. It counts on
the invariableness wherewith the same consequent will follow the same
antecedent. In the language of Dr. Thomas Brown, these two terms make up
a sequence, and there seems to exist in the spirit of man not an
underived, but an aboriginal faith in the uniformity of nature's
sequences."--Nat. Theo. p. 121.

Now, the two terms which we find connected in the case before us, is an
act of the mind, and a change or modification of the body. The volition
is the antecedent, and the motion of body is the consequent. And these
two, by virtue of the law of belief above stated, we shall always expect
to find conjoined. Wherever we discover a change or modification, for
example, in the corporeal system of any other person, similar to that
which results from our own volitions, we shall necessarily infer the
existence of a prior act by which it was produced.

Hence, when we witness a change _in the world of matter_, we are
authorized to apply the maxim we have derived in the manner above
explained. We have really no idea of an efficient cause, except that
which we have derived from the phenomena of action. Hence, if we would
not suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by words without meaning, when
we see any change or effect in the material world, we should conclude
that it proceeds from an action of spirit. When we see the same
consequent, we should infer the existence of the same antecedent; and
not suffer our minds to be confused and misled by the manifold
ambiguities of language, as well as by the innumerable illusions of the
fancy. Wherever we see a change in matter, we should infer an act by
which it is produced; and thus, through all the changes and
modifications of the material universe, we shall behold the sublime
manifestations of an ever-present and all-pervading agency of spirit.

By a similar process, we are made acquainted with the existence of an
intelligent and designing First Cause. We learn the connection between
the adaptation of means to an end, and the operations of a designing
mind, by reflecting on what passes within ourselves when we plan and
execute a work of skill and contrivance. And, as we are so made as to
rely with implicit confidence on the uniformity of nature's sequences;
so, without further experience or induction, it is impossible for us to
conceive of any contrivance whatever, without conceiving of it as
proceeding from the hand of a contriver. Thus, we necessarily rise from
the innumerable and wonderful contrivances in nature, to a belief in the
existence of an intelligent and designing mind. In like manner may we
establish the other attributes of God.

But to return to our maxim. We can only infer, from a change or
modification in matter, the existence of an act by which it is produced.
The former is the only idea we have of an effect; the latter is the only
idea we have of an efficient cause. Hence, in reasoning from effect to
cause, we can only reason from a change or modification in matter, or in
that what is passive, to the act of some active power. This lays a
sufficient foundation on which to rest the proof of the existence of
God, as well as the existence of other minds.

But the case is very different when we turn from the contemplation of a
_passive result_ to consider an _efficient cause_--when we turn from the
_motion of body_ to consider the _activity of mind_. In such a case, the
consequent ceases to be the same; and hence we have no right to infer
that the antecedent is the same. We are conscious of an act; we perceive
that it is followed by a change in the outward world; and henceforth,
whenever we observe another change in the outward world, we are
compelled to ascribe it, also, to a similar cause. This conviction
results from the constitution of our minds--from a fundamental law of
belief. But when we contemplate, not a change in the outward world, in
that which is passive, but an act of the mind itself, the case is
entirely different. We have some experience that certain changes in
matter are the results of certain acts; and hence, whenever we observe
similar phenomena, we are under a necessity of our nature to refer them
to similar causes. We merely rely upon our veritable belief in the
uniformity of nature's sequences, without a reliance upon which there
can be no such thing as reasoning, when we ascend from the changes in
the outward world to a belief in the agency of an efficient Cause. But
we have no experience that an act of the mind is produced by a preceding
act of the mind, or by the prior action of any thing else. President
Edwards himself admits that our experience is silent on this subject.
And hence, when we witness an act of the mind, or when we are conscious
of a volition, our instinctive belief in the uniformity of nature's
sequences does not require us to believe that it has an efficient cause;
or, in other words, that it is produced by the prior action of something
else, as the motion of body is produced by a prior act of mind. _A
change in body_ necessarily implies the prior action of something else
by which it is produced; _an act of mind_ only implies the existence of
an agent that is capable of acting. Wherever an act exists, we must
believe that there is a soul, or mind, or agent, that is capable of
acting. We need not suppose that, like a change in body, it is brought
to pass by a prior act. In other words, a change in that which is by
nature passive, necessarily implies an act by which it is produced. But
an act of the mind itself, which is not passive, does not likewise imply
a preceding act by which it is produced. _It only implies the existence
of an agent that is capable of acting, and the circumstances necessary
to action as conditions, not as causes._

Herein, then, lies the error of the necessitarian. He discovers from
experience the connection between an act and a corresponding motion; and
his instinctive belief in the uniformity of nature's sequences
authorizes him to extend this connection to all sequences where the two
terms are the same. That is to say, wherever he discovers a change in
body, he is authorized to infer the existence of a prior act by which it
was produced. But he does not confine himself to this sequence alone. He
does not rest satisfied with the universal principle, that every change
in body, or in that which is passive, must proceed from the prior action
of something else. He makes a most unwarrantable extension of this
principle. He supposes not only that every change in body, but also that
every act of mind, must proceed from the prior action of something else.
Thus he confounds passion and action. He takes it for granted that a
volition is an _effect_--an effect in such a sense that it cannot
proceed from the mind, unless it be produced by the prior act thereof.
He asserts that "the mind cannot be the cause of such an effect," of a
volition, "except by the preceding action of the mind." Thus, in rising
from a single experience to a universal maxim, by virtue of our belief
in the uniformity of nature's laws, he does not confine himself to the
observed sequences; he does not keep his attention steadily fixed on a
change in body as the consequent, and on an act as the invariable
antecedent. On the contrary, from the exceedingly abstruse and subtle
nature of the subject, as well as from the ambiguity of language, he
treats a volition as a consequent, which implies the same kind of
antecedent as does a change in body. Thus, by this unwarrantable
extension or application of his principle, he confounds the _motion of
body_ with the _action of spirit_; than which there could hardly be a
more unphilosophical confusion of ideas.

From the foregoing remarks, it will be perceived, as I have already
said, that the question is not, _whether every effect must have a
cause_. This is conceded. We do not give up "this great principle of
common sense." We insist upon it as firmly as do our adversaries; and
hence, we have as strong a foundation whereon to rest our belief in the
being of a God. But the question is, _whether every cause is an effect?_
Or, in other words, whether an act of mind can exist without being
produced by the prior action of something else; just as the motion of
body is produced by the prior action of mind? We say that it can exist
without any such producing cause.

If it were otherwise, if every cause were an effect in the sense in
which a volition is assumed to be an effect by the necessitarian, what
would be the consequence? It is evident, that each and every cause in
the universe must itself have a cause--must itself result from the
preceding action of something else; and thus we should be involved in
the great absurdity of an infinite series of causes, as well as in the
iron scheme of an all-pervading necessity. But, happily, there is
nothing in our experience, nor in any law of our nature, nor in both
together, which requires us to believe that a volition is an effect in
any such sense of the word. Call it an effect, if you please; but then
it must be conceded that it is not, like the motion of body, such a
consequent as necessarily requires the prior action of something else
for its production.

Every _effect_ must have a cause, it is true; but it is purely a
gratuitous assumption--a mere _petitio principii_, to take it for
granted that a volition is an effect in the sense in which the word
should always be understood in this celebrated maxim. This maxim is
undoubtedly true, as we have seen, when applied to the changes of that
which cannot act: it is in reference to such effects, or consequents,
that the conviction of its truth is first suggested; and we cannot doubt
of the propriety of its application to all such effects, unless we can
doubt of the uniformity of nature's sequences. But when we go over from
the region of inert, passive matter, into that which is full of
spiritual vigour and unceasing activity, and apply this maxim here in
all its rigour, we do make a most unwarrantable extension of it. We
pervert it from its true meaning and import; we identify volition with
local motion; we involve ourselves in the greatest of all absurdities,
as well as in the most ruinous of all doctrines.

As we have already said, then, we do not give up the great principle of
common sense, that every effect must have a cause. We recognize this
principle when we reason from effect to cause--when we ascend from the
creation up to the Creator. We deny that volition is an effect; and what
then? If volition be not an effect, are there no effects in the
universe? Are we sunk in utter darkness? Have we no platform left
whereon to stand, and to behold the glory of God, our Creator and
Preserver? Surely we have. Every change throughout inanimate nature
bespeaks the agency of Him, who "sits concealed behind his own
creation," but is everywhere manifested by his omnipresent energy. The
human body is an effect, teeming with evidences of the most wonderful
skill of its Great Cause and Contriver. The soul itself is an
effect,--the soul, with all its complicated and wonder-working powers,
is an effect; and clearly proclaims the wisdom, and the goodness, and
the holiness of its Maker. The heavens above us, with all its shining
hosts and admirable mechanism, proclaims the glory of God; and the whole
universe of created intelligences shout for joy, as they respond in
their eternal anthems to the "music of the spheres." And is not this
enough? Is the whole psaltery of heaven and earth marred, and all its
sweet harmony turned into harsh discord, if we only dare to assert that
an act is not an effect? No, no: this too proclaims the glory of God;
for, however great may be the mystery, it only shows that the Almighty
has called into existence innumerable creatures, bearing the impress of
his own glorious image, and that, in consequence thereof, they are
capable of acting without being compelled to act.

It is the position of Edwards, and not ours, that would disprove the
existence of a God. We believe in action which is uncaused by any prior
action; and hence, we can reason from effects up to Cause, and there
find a resting-place. We do not look beyond that which is uncaused. We
believe there is action somewhere, uncaused by preceding action; and if
we did not believe this, we should be constrained to adopt the doctrine
of Edwards, that action itself must be caused "by the action of
something else," p. 203; which necessarily lands us in an infinite
series of causes; the very ground occupied by Atheists in all ages of
the world. It is well, therefore, to hold on to "this great principle of
common sense, that every effect must have a cause," in order that we may
rise from the world and its innumerable wonders to the contemplation of
the infinite wisdom and goodness of God: it is also well that we should
hold it with a distinction, and not apply it to action, in order that we
may not be forced beyond the Great First Cause--the central light of the
Universe, into the "outer darkness" of the old atheistic scheme of an
infinite series of causes. If we give up this principle, we cannot prove
the existence of a God, it is most true; but yet, if we apply this
principle as Edwards applies it, we are irresistibly launched upon an
infinite series of causes, and compelled to shoot entirely beyond the
belief of a God. We quarrel not, therefore, with his great principle;
but we utterly reject his application of it, as leading directly to
Atheism.



SECTION VIII.

OF THE RELATION BETWEEN THE FEELINGS AND THE WILL.

IT is well known that Edwards confounds the sensitive part of our nature
with the will, the susceptibility by which the mind feels with the power
by which it acts. He expressly declares, that "the affections and the
will are not two faculties of the soul;" and it is upon this confusion
of things that much of his argument depends for its coherency.

But although he thus expressly confounds them; yet he frequently speaks
of them, in the course of his argument, as if they were two different
faculties of the soul. Thus, he frequently asserts that the will is
determined by "the strongest appetite," by "the strongest disposition,"
by "the strongest inclination." Now, in these expressions, he evidently
means to distinguish appetite, inclination, and disposition, from the
will; and if he does not, then he asserts, that the will is determined
by itself, a doctrine which he utterly repudiates.

The soundness of much of his argument depends, as I have said, upon the
confusion or the identification of these two properties of the mind; the
soundness of much of it also depends upon the fact that they are not
identical, but distinct. From a great number of similar passages, we may
select the following, as an illustration of the justness of this remark:
"Moral necessity," says he, "may be as _absolute_, as natural necessity.
That is, the effect may be as powerfully 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, or 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 bias 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 be 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 an 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_ connexion between moral causes and effects; so this only is
what I call by the name of _moral necessity_."

Now he here speaks of inclination and previous bias, as elsewhere of
appetite and disposition, as distinct from volition. In this he is
right; even the necessitarian will not, at the present day, deny that
our desires, affections, &c., are different from volition. "Between
motive and volition," says President Day, "there must intervene an
apprehension of the object, and _consequent feeling excited in the
mind_." Thus, according to President Day, feeling is not volition; it
intervenes between the external object and volition. But although
Edwards is right in this; there is one thing in which he is wrong. He is
wrong in supposing that our feelings possess a real strength, by which
they act upon and control the will.

It is obvious that the coherency and force of the above passage depends
on the idea, that there is a real power in the strongest inclination or
desire of the mind, which renders it difficult to be surmounted or
overcome. For if we suppose, that our inclinations or desires are merely
the occasions on which we act, and that they themselves exert no
influence or efficiency in the production of our volitions, it would be
absurd to speak of the difficulty of overcoming them, as well as to
speak of this difficulty as increasing with the increasing strength of
the inclination, or desire. Take away this idea, show that there is no
real strength in motives, or desires and inclinations, and the above
extract will lose all its force; it will fall to pieces of itself.

Indeed, the idea or supposition in question, is one of the strongholds
of the necessitarian. External objects are regarded as the efficient
causes of desire; desire as the efficient cause of volition; and in this
way, the whole question seems to be settled. The same result would
follow, if we should suppose that desire is awakened not exclusively by
external objects, but partly by that which is external, and partly by
that which is internal. On this supposition, as well as on the former,
the will would seem to be under the dominion of the strongest desire or
inclination of the soul.

The assumption, that there is a real efficiency exerted by the desires
and inclinations of the soul, has been, so far as I know, universally
conceded to the necessitarian. He seems to have been left in the
undisputed possession of this stronghold; and yet, upon mature
reflection, I think we may find some reason to call it in question. If I
am not greatly mistaken, we may see that the necessitarian has some
reason to abate the loftiness of his tone, when he asserts, that "we
_know_ that the feelings do exert an influence in the production of
volition." This may appear very evident to his mind; nay, at first view,
it may appear very evident to all minds; and yet, after all, it may be
only an "idol of the tribe."

It is a commonly received opinion, among philosophers, that the
passions, desires, &c., do really exert an influence to produce
volition. This was evidently the idea of Burlamaqui. He draws a
distinction between voluntary actions and free actions; and as an
instance of a voluntary action which is not free, he cites the case of a
man who, as he supposes, is constrained to act from fear. He supposes
that such an action, though voluntary, is not free, because it is
brought about by the irresistible influence of the passion of fear.

It is believed, also, by the disciples of Butler, that there is a real
strength possessed by what are called the "active powers" of the mind.
"This distinction," says Dr. Chalmers, "made by the sagacious Butler
between the power of a principle and its authority, enables us in the
midst of all the actual anomalies and disorders of our state, to form a
precise estimate of the place which conscience naturally and rightly
holds in man's constitution. The desire of acting virtuously, which is a
desire consequent on our sense of right and wrong, may not be of _equal
strength_ with the desire of some criminal indulgence, and so,
practically, the evil may predominate over the good. And thus it is that
the system of the inner man, from _the weakness_ of that which claims to
be the ascendant principle of our nature, may be thrown into a state of
turbulence and disorder."--Nat. The. p. 313.

Such was the idea of Butler himself. He frequently speaks of the
supremacy of conscience, in terms such as the following: "That principle
by which we survey, and either approve or disapprove, our heart, temper,
and actions, is not only to be considered as what in its turn is to have
some influence, which may be said of every passion, of the basest
appetite; but likewise as being superior; as from its very nature
manifestly claiming superiority over all others; insomuch that you
cannot form a notion of this faculty conscience, without taking in
judgement, direction, and superintendency. This is a constituent part of
the idea, that is of the faculty itself; and to preside and govern, from
the very economy and constitution of man, belongs to it. Had it _might_,
as it has right; had it _power_, as it has manifest authority; it would
absolutely govern the world."

This language, it should be observed, is not used in a metaphorical
sense; it occurs in the statement of a philosophical theory of human
nature. Similar language is frequently to be found in the writings of
the most enlightened advocates of free-agency. Thus, says Jouffroy, even
while he is contending against the doctrine of necessity: "There are two
kinds of _moving powers_ acting upon us; first, the impulses of
instinct, or passion; and, secondly, the conceptions of reason. . . . .
That these two kinds of moving powers can and do, act efficiently upon
our volitions, there can be no doubt," p. 102. If it were necessary, it
might be shown, by hundreds of extracts from their writings, that the
great advocates of free-agency have held, that the emotions, desires,
and passions, do really act on the will, and tend to produce volitions.

But why dwell upon particular instances? If any advocate of free-agency
had really believed, that the passions, desires, affections, &c., exert
no influence over the will, is it not certain that he would have availed
himself of this principle? If the principle that no desire, or
affection, or passion, is possessed of any power or causal influence,
had been adopted by the advocates of free-agency, its bearing in favour
of their cause would have been too obvious and too important to have
been overlooked. The necessitarian might have supposed, if he had
pleased, that our desires and affections are produced by the action of
external objects; and yet, on the supposition that these exerted no
positive or causal influence, the doctrine of liberty might have been
most successfully maintained. For, after all, the desires and affections
thus produced in the mind, would not, on the supposition in question, be
the causes of our volitions. They would merely be the occasions on which
we act. There would be no necessary connexion between what are called
motives and their corresponding actions. Our desires or emotions might
be under the influence and dominion of external causes, or of causes
that are partly external and partly internal; but yet our volitions
would be perfectly free from all preceding influences whatever. Our
volitions might depend on certain conditions, it is true, such as the
possession of certain desires or affections; but they would not result
from the influence or action of them. They would be absolutely free and
uncontrolled. The reason why this principle has not been employed by the
advocates of free-agency is, I humbly conceive, because it has not been
entertained by them.

In short, if the advocates of free-agency had shaken off the common
illusion that there is a real efficiency, or causal influence, exerted
by the desires of the soul, they would have made it known in the most
explicit and unequivocal terms. Instead of resorting to the expedients
they have adopted, in order to surmount the difficulties by which they
have been surrounded, they would, every where and on all occasions, have
reminded their adversaries that those difficulties arise merely from
ascribing a literal signification to language, which is only true in a
metaphorical sense; and we should have had pages, not to say volumes,
concerning this use of language, where we have not had a syllable.

If the illusion in question has been as general as I have supposed, it
is not difficult to account for its prevalence. The fact that a desire,
or affection is the indispensable condition, the invariable antecedent,
of an act of the will, is of itself sufficient to account for the
prevalence of such a notion. Nothing is more common than for men to
mistake an invariable antecedent for an efficient cause. This source of
error, it is well known, has given rise to some of the most obstinate
delusions that have ever infested and enslaved the human mind.

And besides, when such an error or illusion prevails, its hold upon the
mind is confirmed and rendered almost invincible by the circumstance,
that it is interwoven into the structure of all our language. In this
case in particular, we never cease to speak of "the active principles,"
of "the ruling passion," of "ungovernable desire," of "the dominion of
lust," of being "enslaved to a vicious propensity;"--in a thousand ways,
the idea that there is a real efficiency in the desires and affections
of the soul, is wrought into the structure of our language; and hence,
there is no wonder that it has gained such an ascendency over our
thoughts. It has met us at every turn; it has presented itself to us in
a thousand shapes; it has become so familiar, that we have not even
stopped to inquire into its true nature. Its dominion has become
complete and secure, just because its truth has never been doubted.

The illusion in question, if it be one, has derived an accession of
strength from another source. It is a fact, that whenever we feel
intensely, we do, as a general thing, act with a proportioned degree of
energy; and _vice versa_. Hence, we naturally derive the impression,
that the determinations of the will are produced by the strength of our
feelings. If the passion or desire is languid, (since we must use a
metaphor,) the action is in general feeble; and if it is intense, the
act is _usually_ powerful and energetic. Hence, we are prone to
conclude, that the mind is moved to act by the influence of passion or
desire; and that the energy of the action corresponds with the strength
of the motive, or moving principle.

Though the principle in question has been so commonly received, I think
we should be led to question it in consequence of the conclusions which
have been deduced from it. If our desires, affections, &c., operate to
influence the will, how can it be free in putting forth volitions? How
does Mr. Locke meet this difficulty? Does he tell us, that it arises
solely from our mistaking a metaphorical for a literal mode of
expression? Far from it.

He does not place liberty on the broad ground, that the desires by which
volitions are supposed to be determined, are in reality nothing more
than the conditions or occasions on which the mind acts; and that they
themselves can exert no positive influence or efficiency. The liberty of
the soul consists, according to him, not in the circumstance that its
desires do not _operate_, but in its power to arrest the operation of
its desires. He admits that they operate, that they tend to produce
volition; but the mind is nevertheless free, because it can suspend the
operation of desire, and prevent the tendency thereof from passing into
effect. "There being," says he, "in us a great many uneasinesses always
soliciting and ready to determine the will, it is natural, as I have
said, that the greatest or most pressing should determine the will to
the next action; and so it does for the most part, but not always. For
the mind having in most cases, as is evident in experience, a power to
suspend the execution and satisfaction of its desires, and so all, one
after another, examine them on all sides, and weigh them with others. In
this lies the liberty man has."

Thus we are supposed to be free, because we have a power to resist, in
some cases at least, the influence of desire. But this is not always the
case. Our desires may be so strong as entirely to overcome us--and what
then? Why we cease to be free agents; and it is only when the storm of
passion subsides, that we are restored to the rank of accountable
beings. "Sometimes a boisterous passion hurries away our thoughts," says
Locke, "as a hurricane does our bodies, without leaving us the liberty
of thinking on other things, which we would rather choose. But as soon
as the mind regains the power to stop or continue, begin or forbear, any
of these motives of the body without, or thoughts within, according as
it thinks fit to prefer either to the other, we then consider the man as
a free-agent again." This language is employed by Mr. Locke, while
attempting to define the idea of liberty or free-agency; and he
evidently supposed, as appears from the above passage, as well as from
some others, that we frequently cease to be free-agents, in consequence
of the irresistible power of our desires or passions.

Dr. Reid set out from the same position, and he arrived at the same
conclusion. He frequently speaks of the appetites and passions as so
many forces, whose action is "directly upon the will." "They draw a man
towards a certain object, without any further view, by a sort of
violence."--Essays, p. 18. "When a man is acted upon by motives of this
kind, he finds it easy to yield to the strongest. They are like two
forces pushing him in contrary directions. To yield to the strongest, he
need only be passive," p. 237. "In actions that proceed from appetite
and passion, we are passive in part and only in part active. They are
therefore in part imputed to the passion; and if it is supposed to be
irresistible, we do not impute them to the man at all. Even an American
savage judges in this way; when in a fit of drunkenness he kills his
friend; as soon as he comes to himself, he is very sorry for what he has
done, but pleads that drink, and not he, was the cause," p. 14, 15. Such
is the dreadful consequence, which Dr. Reid boldly deduces from the
principle, that the appetites and passions do really act upon the will.
Though he was an advocate of free-agency; yet, holding this principle,
he could speak of _actions that are partly passive;_ and that in so far
as they are passive, he maintained they should not be imputed to the man
whose actions they are, but to the passions by which they are produced,
This may appear to be strange doctrine for an advocate of free-agency
and accountability; but it seems to be the natural and inevitable
consequence of the commonly received notion with respect to the relation
which subsists between the passions and the will.

The principle that our appetites, desires, &c., do exert a real
influence in the production of volition, was common to Edwards, Locke,
and Reid: indeed, so far as I know, it has been universally received. In
the opinion of Edwards, this influence becomes "so powerful" at times as
to establish a moral necessity beyond all question; and in that of Locke
and Reid, it is sometimes so great as to destroy free-agency and
accountability. Is not this inference well drawn? It seems to me that it
is; and this constitutes one reason, why I deny the principle from which
it is deduced.

Is it true, then, that any power or efficacy belongs to the sensitive or
emotive part of our nature? Reflection must show us, I think, that it is
absurd to suppose that any desire, affection, or disposition of the
mind, can really and truly exert any positive or productive influence.
When we speak of the appetites, desires, affections, &c., as the "active
principles" of our nature, we must needs understand this as a purely
metaphorical mode of expression.

Edwards himself has shown the impropriety of regarding similar modes of
speech as a literal expression of the truth. "To talk of liberty," says
he, "or the contrary, as belonging to the _very will itself_, is not to
speak good sense; if we judge of sense, and nonsense, by the original
and proper signification of words. For the will _itself_ is not an agent
that _has a will:_ the power of choosing, itself, has not a power of
choosing. That which has the power of volition is the man, or the soul,
and not the power of volition itself. To be free is the property of an
agent, who is possessed of powers and faculties, as much as to be
cunning, valiant, bountiful, or zealous. But _these qualities are the
properties of persons_, and not the _properties of properties_." This
remark, no doubt, is perfectly just, as well as highly important. And it
may be applied with equal force and propriety, to the practice of
speaking of the strength of motives, or inclinations, or desires; for
power is a "property of the person, or the soul; and not the property of
a property."

It appeared exceedingly absurd to the author of the "Inquiry," to speak
of "the free acts of the will," as being _determined by the will
itself;_ because the _will_ is not an agent, and "actions are to be
ascribed to agents, and not properly to the powers and properties of
agents." But he seemed to perceive no absurdity, in speaking of "the
free acts of the will," as being caused by the strongest motives, by the
dispositions and appetites of the soul. Now, are the strongest motives,
as they are called, are the strongest dispositions and desires of the
soul, agents, or are they merely the properties of agents? Let the
necessitarian answer this question, and then determine whether his logic
is consistent with itself.

Mr. Locke, also, has well said, that it is absurd to inquire whether
"the will be free or no; inasmuch as _liberty_, which is but a _power_,
belongs only to agents, and cannot be an attribute or modification of
will, which is also but a power." Though Mr. Locke applied this remark
to the usual form of speech, by which freedom is ascribed to the will,
he failed to do so in regard to the language by which power, which is a
property of the mind itself, is ascribed to our desires, or passions, or
affections, which are likewise properties of the mind. And hence have
arisen many of his difficulties in regard to the freedom of human
actions. Supposing that our desires exerted some positive influence or
efficiency in the production of volitions, his views on the subject of
free-agency become vague, inconsistent, fluctuating and unsatisfactory.

The hypothesis that the desires impel the will to act, is inconsistent
with observed facts. If this hypothesis were true, the phenomena of
volition would be very different from what they are. A man may desire
that it should rain, for example; he may have the most intense feeling
on this subject imaginable, and there may be no counteracting desire or
feeling whatever; now if desire ever impelled a man to volition, it
would induce him, in such a case, to will that it should rain. But no
man, in his senses, ever puts forth a volition to make it rain--and why?
Just because he is a rational creature, and knows that his volition
cannot produce any such effect. In the same manner, a man might wish to
fly, or to do a thousand other things which are beyond his power; and
yet not make the least effort to do so, not because he has no power to
put forth such efforts, but because he does not choose to make a fool of
himself: This shows that desire, feeling, &c., is merely one of the
conditions necessary to volition, and not its producing cause.

Again. It has been frequently observed, since the time of Butler, that
our passive impressions often become weaker and weaker, while our active
habits become stronger and stronger. Thus, the feeling of pity, by being
frequently excited, may become less and less vivid, while the active
habit of benevolence, by which it is supposed to be induced, becomes
more and more energetic. That is to say, while the power, as it is
called, or the causal influence, is gradually diminishing, the effect,
which is supposed to flow from it, is becoming more and more
conspicuous. And again, the feeling of pity is sometimes exceedingly
strong; that is to say, exceedingly vivid and painful, while there is no
act attending it. The passive impression or susceptibility is entirely
dissociated, in many cases, from the acts of the will. The feeling often
exists in all its _power_, and yet there is no act, and no disposition
to act, on the part of the individual who is the subject of it. The
cause operates, and yet the effect does not follow!

All that we can say is, that when we see the mind deeply agitated, and,
as it were, carried away by a storm of passion, we also observe that it
frequently acts with great vehemency. But we do not observe, and we do
not know, that this increased _power of action_, is the result of an
increased _power of feeling_. All that we know is, that as a matter of
fact, when our feelings are languid, we are apt to act but feebly; and
that when they are intense, we are accustomed to act with energy. Or, in
other words, that we do not _ordinarily_ act with so much energy in
order to gratify a slight feeling or emotion, as we do to gratify one of
greater intensity and painfulness. But it is wrong to conclude from
hence, that it is the increased intensity of feeling, which produces the
increased energy of the action. No matter how intense the feeling, it is
wrong to conclude, that it literally causes us to act, that it ever lays
the will under constraint, and thereby destroys, even for a moment, our
free-agency. Such an assumption is a mere hypothesis, unsupported by
observation, inconsistent with the dictates of reason, and
irreconcilable with observed facts.

I repeat it, such an assumption is inconsistent with observed facts; for
who that has any energy of will, has not, on many a trying occasion,
stood firm amid the fiercest storm of passion; and, though the elements
of discord raged within, remained _himself_ unmoved; giving not the
least sign or manifestation of what was passing in his bosom? Who has
not felt, on such an occasion, that although the passions may storm, yet
the will alone is power?

It is not uncommon to see this truth indirectly recognized by those who
_absolutely know_ that some power is exerted by our passions and
desires, and that the will is always determined by the strongest. Thus,
says President Day, "our acts of choice, are _not_ always controlled by
those emotions which _appear to be most vivid_. We often find a
determined and settled purpose, apparently calm, but unyielding, which
carries a man steadily forward, amid all the solicitations of appetite
and passion The inflexible determination of Howard, _gave law to his
emotions_, and guided his benevolent movements," p. 65. Here, although
President Day holds that the will is determined by the strongest desire,
passion, or emotion, he unconsciously admits that the will, "the
inflexible determination," is independent of them all.

Let it be supposed, that no one means so absurd a thing as to say, that
the affections themselves act upon the will, but that the mind in the
exercise of its affections acts upon it, and thereby exerts a power over
its determinations; let us suppose, that this is the manner in which a
real force is supposed to bear upon the will; and what will be the
consequence? Why, if the will is not distinguished from the affections,
we shall have the will acting upon itself; a doctrine to which the
necessitarian will not listen for a moment. And if they are
distinguished from the will, we shall have two powers of action, two
forces in the mind, each contending for the mastery. But what do we mean
by a will, if it is not the faculty by which the mind acts, by which it
exerts a _real force?_ And if this be the idea and definition of a will,
we cannot distinguish the will from the affections, and say that the
latter exerts a real force, without making two wills. This seems to be
the inevitable consequence of the commonly received notion, that the
mind, in the exercise of its affections, does really act upon the will
with an impelling force. Indeed, there seems to have been no little
perplexity and confusion of conception on this subject, arising from the
extreme subtlety of our mental processes, as well as from the
ambiguities of language.

The truth is, that in feeling the mind is passive; and it is absurd to
make a passive impression, the active cause of any thing. The
sensibility does not _act_, it merely _suffers_. The appetites and
passions, which have always been called the "active powers," the "moving
principles," and so forth, should be called the passive
susceptibilities. Unless this truth be clearly and fully recognized, and
the commonly received notion respecting the relation which the appetites
and passions sustain to the will, to the _active power_, be discarded,
it seems to me, that the great doctrine of the liberty of the will, must
continue to be involved in the sadest perplexity, the most distressing
darkness.



SECTION IX.

OF THE LIBERTY OF INDIFFERENCE.

IF, as I have endeavoured to show, the appetites and passions exert no
positive influence in the production of volition, if they do not sustain
the relation of cause to the acts of the will; then is the doctrine of
the liberty of indifference placed in a clear and strong light having
admitted that the sensitive part of our nature always tends to produce
volition, and in some cases irresistibly produces it, the advocates of
free agency have not been able to maintain the doctrine of a perfect
liberty in regard to all human actions. They have been compelled to
retire from the broad and open field of the controverted territory, and
to take their stand in a dark corner, in order to contend for that
perfect liberty, without which there cannot be a perfect and unclouded
accountability. Hence, it has been no uncommon thing, even for those who
have been the most disposed to sympathize with them, to feel a
dissatisfaction in reading what they have written on the subject of a
liberty of indifference. This they have placed in a perfect freedom to
choose between a few insignificant things, in regard to which we have no
feeling; while, in regard to the great objects which relate to our
eternal destiny, we have been supposed to enjoy no such freedom.

The true liberty of indifference does not consist, as I have endeavoured
to show, in a power to resist the influence of the appetites and
passions struggling to produce volition; because there is no such
influence in existence. This notion is encumbered with insuperable
difficulties; it supposes two powers struggling for the mastery--the
desires on the one hand, and the will on the other; and that when the
desires are so strong as to prevail, and bear us away in spite of
ourselves, we cease to be free agents. It supposes that at no time we
have a perfect liberty, unless we are perfectly destitute of feeling;
and that at some of the most trying, and critical, and awful moments of
our existence, we have no liberty at all; the whole man being passive to
the power and dominion of the passions. What a wound is thus given to
the cause of free-agency and accountability! What scope is thus allowed
for the sophistry of the passions! Every man who can persuade himself
that his appetites, his desires, or his passions, have been too strong
for him, may blind his mind to a sense of his guilt, and lull his
conscience into a fatal repose.

The necessitarian, like a skilful general, is not slow to attack this
weak point in the philosophy of free-agency. If our emotions operate to
produce volition, says he, then the strongest must prevail; to say
otherwise, is to say that it is not the strongest. This is the ground
uniformly occupied by President Day. And it is urged by President
Edwards, that if a great degree of such influence destroys free agency,
as it is supposed to do, then every smaller degree of it must impair
free agency; and hence, according to the principles and scheme of its
advocates, it cannot be perfect. Is not this inference well drawn?
Indeed, it seems to me, that while the notion that our desires possess a
real power and efficacy, which are exerted over the will, maintains its
hold upon the mind, the great doctrine of liberty can never be seen in
the brightness of its full-orbed glory; and that it must, at times,
suffer a total eclipse.

The liberty which we really possess, then, does not consist in an
indifference of the desires and affections, but in that of the will
itself. We are perfectly free, says the libertarian, in regard to all
those things about which our feelings are in a state of indifference;
such as touching one of two spots, or choosing one of two objects that
are perfectly alike. To this the necessitarian replies, what does it
signify that a man has a perfect liberty in regard to the choice of "one
of two peppercorns?" Are not such things perfectly insignificant, and
unworthy "the grave attention of the philosopher," while treating of the
great questions of moral good and evil?

There is some truth in this reply, and some injustice. It truly
signifies nothing, that we are at perfect liberty to choose between two
pepper-corns, if we are not so to choose between good and evil, life and
death. But in making this attack upon the position of his opponent, when
viewed as designed to serve the cause of free-agency, the necessitarian
overlooks its bearing upon his own scheme. He contends, that the mind
cannot act unless it is made to act by some extraneous influence: this
is a universal proposition, extending to all our mental acts; and hence,
if it can be shown that, in a single instance, the mind can and does put
forth a volition, without being made to do so, his doctrine is subverted
from its foundations. If this can be shown, by a reference to the case
of "two pepper-corns," it may be made to serve an important purpose in
philosophy, how much soever it may be despised by the philosopher.

If we keep the distinction between the will and the sensibility in mind,
it will throw much light on what has been written in regard to the
subject of indifference. If you offer a guinea and a penny to a man's
choice, asks President Day, which will he choose? Will the one exert as
great an influence over him as the other? President Day may assert, if
he pleases, that the guinea will exert the greater influence over his
feelings; but this does not destroy the equilibrium of the will. The
feelings and the will are different. By the one we feel, by the other we
act; by the one we _suffer_, by the other we _do_. Why, then, will the
man be certain to choose the guinea, all other things being equal? Not
because its influence acts upon the will, either directly or indirectly
through the passions, and compels him to choose it, but because he has a
purpose to accomplish; and, as a rational being, he sees that the guinea
will answer his purpose better than the penny. He is not made to act,
therefore, by a blind impulse; he acts freely in the light of reason.
The philosophy of the necessitarian overlooks the slight circumstance,
that the will of man is not a ball to be set a-going by external
impulse; but that man is a rational being, made in the image of his
Maker, and can act as a designing cause. Hence, when we affirm that the
will of man acts without being made to do so by the action of any thing
upon _the will itself_, he imagines that we dethrone the Almighty, and
"place chance upon the throne of the moral universe." Day on the Will,
p. 195. But I would remind him, once for all, that the act of a free
designing cause, no less than that of a necessitated act, proceeding
from an efficient cause, (if such a thing can be conceived,) is utterly
inconsistent with the idea of accident. Choice in its very nature is
opposed to chance.

The doctrine of the indifference of the will has been subjected to
another mode of attack. This doctrine implies that we have a power to
choose one thing or another; or, as it is sometimes called, a power of
choice to the contrary. For, if the will is not controlled by any
extraneous influence, it is evident that we may choose a thing, or let
it alone--that we may put forth a volition, or refuse to put it forth.
This power, which results from the idea of indifference as just
explained, is regarded as in the highest degree absurd; and a torrent of
impetuous questions is poured forth to sweep it away. "When Satan, as a
roaring lion," asks President Day, "goeth about, seeking whom he may
devour, is he equally inclined to promote the salvation of mankind?" &c.
&c. &c. Now, I freely admit, that when Satan is inclined to do evil, and
is actually doing it, he is not inclined to the contrary. I freely admit
that a thing is not different from itself; and the learned author is
welcome to all such triumphant positions.

In the same easy way, President Edwards, as he imagines, demolishes the
doctrine of indifference. He supposes that, according to this doctrine,
the will does not choose when it does choose; and, having supposed this,
he proceeds to demolish it, as if he were contending with a thousand
adversaries; and yet, I will venture to affirm, that no man in his
senses ever maintained such a position. The most contemptible advocate
of free-agency that ever lived, has maintained nothing so absurd as that
the mind ever chooses without choosing. This is the light in which the
doctrine of indifference is frequently represented by Edwards, but it is
a gross misrepresentation.

"The question is," says Edwards, "whether ever the soul of man puts
forth an act of will, while it yet remains in a state of liberty, viz:
as implying a state of indifference; or whether the soul ever exerts an
act of preference, while at the very time _the will_ is in a perfect
equilibrium, not inclining one way more than another," p. 72. If this be
the point in dispute, he may well add, that "the very putting of the
question is sufficient to show the absurdity of the affirmative answer;"
and he might have added, the utter futility of the negative reply. "How
ridiculous," he continues, "for any body to insist that the soul chooses
one thing before another, when, at the very same instant, it is
perfectly indifferent with respect to each! This is the same thing as to
say, we shall prefer one thing to another, at the very same time that it
has no preference. Choice and preference can no more be in a state of
indifference than motion can be in a state of rest," &c. p. 72. And he
repeats it over and over again, that this is to put "the soul in a state
of choice, and in a state of equilibrium at the same time;" "choosing
one way, while it remains in a state of perfect indifference, and has no
choice of one way more than the other;" p. 74. "To suppose the will to
act at all in a state of indifference, is to assert that the mind
chooses without choosing," p. 64; and so in various other places.

Now, if the doctrine of the indifference of the will, as commonly
understood, amounts to this, that the will does not choose when it
chooses, then Edwards was certainly right in opposing it; but how could
he have expected to correct such incorrigible blockheads as the authors
of such a doctrine must have been, by the force of logic?

Edwards has not always, though frequently, mis-stated the doctrine of
his adversaries. The liberty of indifference, says he, in one place,
consists in this, "that the will, in choosing, is subject to _no
prevailing_ influence," p. 64. Now this is a fair statement of the
doctrine in question. Why did not Edwards, then, combat this idea? Why
transform it into the monstrous absurdity, that "the will chooses
without choosing," or exerts an act of choice at the same time that it
exerts no act of choice; and then proceed to demolish it? Was it because
he did not wish to march up, fairly and squarely, in the face of the
enemy, and contend with them in their strongholds and fastnesses? By no
means. There never was a more honest reasoner than Edwards. But his
psychology is false; and hence, he has not only misrepresented the
doctrine of his opponents, but also his own. He confounds the sensitive
part of our nature with the will, expressly in his definitions, though
he frequently distinguishes them in his arguments. This is the reason
why he sometimes asserts, that the choice of the mind is always as the
sense of the most agreeable; and, at others, throws this fundamental
doctrine into the form, as we have seen in our third section, that the
choice of the mind is always as the choice of the mind; and holds that
to deny it is a plain contradiction. By reason of the same confusion of
things, the doctrine of his opponents, that "the will, in choosing, is
subject to no prevailing influence," seemed to him to mean that the
will, in choosing, does not choose. In both cases, he confounds the most
agreeable impression upon the sensibility with the choice of the mind;
and thus misrepresents both his own doctrine, and that of his opponents,
by reducing the one to an insignificant truism, and the other to a
glaring absurdity. President Day should have avoided the error of
Edwards, in thus misconceiving the doctrine of his opponents; for he
expressly distinguishes the sensibility from the will. But there is this
difference between Edwards and Day; the first expressly confounds these
two parts of our nature, and then proceeds to reason, in many cases, as
if they were distinct; while the last most explicitly distinguishes
them, and then frequently proceeds to reason as if they were one and the
same. It is in this way that he also gravely teaches that the mind
chooses when it chooses; and makes his adversaries assert that the mind
chooses without choosing, or that the will is inclined without being
inclined. Start from whatever point he will, the necessitarian never
feels so strong, as when he finds himself securely intrenched in the
truism, that a thing is always as itself; there manfully contending
against those who assert that a thing is different from itself.

The doctrine of the liberty of indifference, as usually held, is
this--that the will is not determined by any prevailing influence. This
is not a perfect liberty, it is true, wherever the will is partially
influenced by an extraneous cause; but it is not equivalent to the gross
absurdity of the position, that the will chooses without choosing. Nor
can we possibly reduce it to this form, unless we forget that the
authors of it did not confound that which is supposed to exert the
influence over the will, with the act of the will itself. They contended
for a partial indifference of the will only; and, consequently, they
could only contend for a partial, and not a perfect liberty. On the
contrary, I think we should contend for a perfect indifference, not in
regard to feeling, but in regard to the will. Standing on this high
ground, we need not retire from the broad and open field, in order to
set up the empire of a perfect liberty in a dark corner, extending to a
few insignificant things only: we may establish it over the whole range
of human activity, bringing out into a clear and full light, the great
fact of man's perfect accountability, for all his _actions_, under all
the circumstances of his life.



SECTION X.

OF ACTION AND PASSION.

THERE are no two things in nature which are more perfectly distinct than
action and passion; the one necessarily excludes the other. Thus, if an
effect is produced in any thing, by the action or influence of something
else, then is the thing in which the effect is produced wholly passive
in regard to it. The effect itself is called passion or passiveness. It
is not an act of that in which it is produced; it is an effect resulting
wholly from that which produces it. To say that a thing acts then, is to
say that it is not passive; or, in other words, that its act is not
produced by the action or influence of any thing else. To suppose that
an act is so produced, is to suppose that it is not an act; the object
in which it is said to be caused being wholly passive in regard to it.

If this statement be correct, it follows that an act of the mind cannot
be a produced effect; that the ideas of action and passion, of cause and
effect, are opposite and contrary the one to the other; and hence, it is
absurd to assert that the mind may be caused to act, or that a volition
can be produced by any thing acting upon the mind. This is a
self-evident truth. The younger Edwards calls for proof of it; but the
only evidence there is in the case, is that which arises from the nature
of the things themselves, as they must appear to every mind which will
bestow suitable reflection on the subject. But as he held the
affirmative, maintaining that the mind is caused to act, it would have
been well for him to have furnished proof himself, before he called for
it from the opposite party.

It may be said, that if it were self-evident that the mind cannot be
caused to act, it would appear so to all men, and there could be no
doubt on the subject; that a truth or proposition cannot be said to be
self-evident, unless it carries irresistible conviction to every mind to
which it is proposed. But this does not follow. Previous to the time of
Galileo, it was universally believed by mankind, that if a body were set
in motion, it would run down of itself; though it should meet with no
resistance whatever in its progress. But that great philosopher, by
reflecting on the nature of matter, very clearly saw, that if a body
were put in motion, and met with no resistance, it would continue to
move on in a right line forever. As matter is inert, so he saw that it
could not put itself in motion; and if put in motion by the action of
any thing upon it, he perceived with equal clearness that it could not
check itself in its career. He perceived that it is just as impossible
for passive, inert matter, to change its state from motion to rest, as
it is for it to change its state from rest to motion. Thus, by simply
reflecting upon the nature of matter, as that which cannot act, the mind
of Galileo recognized it as a self-evident and unquestionable truth,
that if a body be put in motion, and there is nothing to impede its
career, it will move on in a right line forever. This great law of
motion, first recognized by Galileo, and afterwards adopted by all other
philosophers, is called the law of inertia; because its truth
necessarily results from the fact, that matter is essentially inert, or
cannot act.

I am aware it has been contended by Mr. Whewell, in his Bridgewater
Treatise, that the law of motion in question is not a necessary or
self-evident truth; and the reason he assigns is, that if it were a
truth of this nature, it would have been recognized and believed by all
men before the time of Galileo. But this reason is not good. For if it
did not appear self-evident to those philosophers who lived before
Galileo, it was because they did not bestow sufficient reflection upon
the subject, and not because it was not a self-evident truth. All men
had seen bodies moving only in a resisting medium, amid counteracting
influences; and having always seen them run down in such a medium, they
very naturally concluded that a body put in motion would run down of
itself. Yielding to an illusion of the senses, instead of rising above
it by a sustained effort of reason and meditation, they supposed that
the motion of a body would spend itself in the course of time, and so
come to an end without any cause of its extinction. This is the reason
why they did not see, what must have appeared to be a self-evident
truth, if they had bestowed sufficient reflection upon the subject,
instead of being swayed by an illusion of the senses.

Mr. Whewell admits the law in question to be a truth; he only denies
that it is a necessary or self-evident truth. Now, if it be not a
necessary truth, I should like to know how he has ascertained it to be a
truth at all. Has any man ever seen a body put in motion, and continue
to move on in a right line forever? Has any man ever ascertained the
truth of this law by observation and experiment? It is evident, that if
it be true at all, it must be a necessary truth. Who that is capable of
rising above the associations of sense, so as to view things as they are
in themselves, can meditate upon this subject, without perceiving that
the law of _inertia_ is a self-evident truth, necessarily arising out of
the very nature of matter?

It does not follow, then, that a truth is not "self-evident", because it
does not appear so to all men; for some may be blinded to the truth by
an illusion of the senses. This is the case, with the necessitarian. He
has always seen the motion of body produced by the action of something
else; and hence, confounding the activity of mind with the motion of
body, he concludes that volition is produced by the prior action of
something else. All that he needs in order to see the impossibility of
such a thing, is severe and sustained meditation. But how can we expect
this from him? Is he not a great reasoner, rather than a great thinker?
Does he not display his skill in drawing logical conclusions from the
illusions of the senses, and assumptions founded thereon; rather than in
laying his foundations and his premises aright, in the immutable depths
of meditation and consciousness? We may appeal to his _reason_, and he
will fall to _reasoning_. We may ask for _meditation_, and he will give
us _logic_. Indeed, he wants that severe and scrutinizing observation
which pierces through all the illusions and associations of the senses,
rising to a contemplation of things as they are in themselves; which is
one of the best attributes of the great thinker.

To show that he does this, I shall begin with President Day. No other
necessitarian has made so formal and elaborate an attempt to prove, that
the mind may be caused to act. He undertakes to answer the objection
which has been urged against the scheme of moral necessity, that it
confounds action and passion. It is alleged, that a volition cannot be
produced or caused by the action or influence of any thing. To this
President Day replies, "these are terms of very convenient ambiguity,
with which it is easy to construct a plausible but fallacious argument.
The word passive is sometimes used to signify that which is _inactive_.
With this meaning, it must, of course, be the opposite of every thing
which is active. To say that that which is in _this_ sense passive, is
at the same time active, is to assert that that which is active is not
active. But this is not the only signification of the term passive in
common use. It is very frequently used to express the relation of an
effect to its cause," p. 159.

Now, here is the distinction, but is it not without a difference? If an
effect is produced, is it not passive in relation to its cause? This is
not denied. Is it active then in relation to any thing? President Day
says it is. But is this so? Is not an effect, which is wholly produced
in one thing by the action or influence of another, wholly passive? Is
not the thing which, according to the supposition, is wholly passive to
the influence acting upon it, wholly passive? In other words; is it made
to act? Does it not merely suffer? If it is endued with an active
nature, and really puts forth an act, is not this act clearly different
from the passive impression made upon it?

One would certainly suppose so, but for the logic of the necessitarian.
Let us examine this logic. "The term passive," says President Day, "is
sometimes employed to express the relation of an effect to its cause. In
this sense, it is so far from being inconsistent with activity, that
activity may be the very effect which is produced. A thing may be
_caused_ to be active. A cannon shot is said to be passive, with respect
to the charge of powder which impels it. But is there no activity given
to the ball? Is not the whirlwind active, when it tears up the forest?"
&c. &c., p. 160.

Now, all these illustrations are brought to show that the mind may be
caused to act;--that it may be passive in relation to the cause of its
volition, and active in relation to the effect of its volition. A more
striking instance could not be adduced to prove the correctness of the
assertion already made, that the necessitarian confounds the motion of
body with the action of mind. "A thing may be caused to act," says
President Day. But how does he show this? By showing that a thing may be
caused to move! "Is no _activity_ given to the ball? Is not the
whirlwind _active_, when it tears up the forest?" And so he goes on,
leaving the light of reason and of consciousness; now rushing into the
darkness of the whirlwind; now riding "on the mountain wave;" and now
plunging into the depths of "volcanic lava;"--all the time in quest of
light respecting the phenomena of mind! We could have wished him to stop
awhile, in the impetuous current of rhetoric, and inform us, whether he
really considers, "the motion of a ball" as the same thing with the
volition of the mind. If he does, then he may suppose that his
illustrations are to the purpose, how great soever may be his mistake;
but if he supposes there is a real difference between them, how can he
ever pretend to show that mind may be caused to act, by showing that
body may be caused to move?

I freely admit, that body may be caused to move. Body is perfectly
passive in motion; and hence, its motion may be caused. But the mind is
not passive in volition; and hence the difference in the two cases. It
is an error, as I have already said, pervading the views of the
necessitarian, that he confounds the action of mind with the motion of
body. Even Mr. Locke, who, in some places, has recognized the essential
difference between them, has frequently confounded them in his
reasonings and illustrations. Hence, it becomes necessary to bear this
distinction always in mind, in the examination of their writings. It
should be rendered perfectly clear to our minds by meditation; and never
permitted to grow dim through forgetfulness. This is indispensably
necessary to shut out the illusions of the senses, in order that we may
have a clear and unclouded view of the phenomena of nature.

Is the motion of body, then, one and the same thing with the action of
mind? They are frequently called by the same name. The motion of mind,
and the action of body, are very common modes of expression. Body is
said to act, when it only moves; and mind is said to move, when it
really acts. These metaphors and supposed analogies are intimately and
inseparably interwoven into the very frame-work of our language; and
hence the necessity of guarding against them in our conceptions. They
are almost as subtle as the great adversary of truth; and therefore we
should be constantly on the watch, lest we should be deceived or misled
by them.

Let us look, then, at these things just as they are in themselves. When
a body moves, it simply passes from one place to another; and when the
mind acts or chooses, it simply prefers one thing to another. Here,
there is no real identity or sameness of nature. The body _suffers_ a
change; the mind itself _acts_. The one is pure passim or passiveness;
the other is pure action--the very opposite of passivity. The one is a
_suffering_, and the other is a _doing_. There are no two things in the
whole range of nature, which are more perfectly and essentially
distinct; and he who confounds them in his reasonings, as philosophers
have so often done, can never arrive at a clear perception of the truth.

President Day, if he intended any thing to the purpose, undertook to
show that an act may be produced in mind, in that which is active, by
the action or influence of something else; and what has he shown? Why,
that body may be caused to move! Let a case be produced in which the
mind, the active soul of man, is made to act: let a case be produced in
which a volition is caused to exist in the soul of man, by the action or
influence of any thing whatever, and it will be something to the
purpose: but what does it signify to tell us, that a body, that that
which is wholly and essentially passive in its nature, may be made to
move, or _suffer_ a change of place? A more palpable sophism was never
perpetrated; and that such a mind should have recourse to such an
argument, only betrays the miserable weakness, and the forlorn
hopelessness, of the cause in which it is enlisted.

Indeed, the learned president seems, after all, to be at least half
conscious that the analogies of matter can throw no light on the
phenomena of mind; and that what he has so eloquently said, amounts to
just nothing at all. For he says, "It may be objected, that these are
all examples of _inanimate_ objects; and that they have no proper
application to mental activity," p. 161. Yes, truly, this is the very
objection which we should urge against all the fine illustrations of
President Day; and it is a full and complete answer to them. It is the
great principle of the inductive study of mind, that its phenomena can
be understood only in so far as we have observed them in the pure light
of consciousness, and no farther; they should never be viewed through
the darkening and confounding analogies of matter.

No one, that I know of, has ever denied that a body may be caused to
move; the only point on which we desire to be enlightened is, whether
the mind may be caused to act. To this point President Day next directly
comes. Leaving "inanimate objects," he says, "take the case of deep and
earnest thinking. Is there no activity in this? And is it without a
cause? When reading the orations of Demosthenes, or the demonstrations
of Newton, are our minds wholly inactive; or if they think intensely,
have our thoughts no dependence on the book before us?" p. 161. Truly,
there is activity in this, in our "deep and earnest thinking"; but what
is the cause of this activity? Does the book before us _cause_ us to
think? This is the point at which the argument of the author is driving,
and to which it should come, if it would be to the purpose, and yet he
does not seem to like to speak it out right manfully; and hence, instead
of saying that the book causes us to think, he chooses to say that our
thoughts have a _dependence_ on the book. It is true, that no man can
read a book, unless he has it to read; and, consequently, his thoughts
in reading the book are absolutely dependent on the possession of it.
But still, the possession of a book is the _condition_, and not the
_cause_, of his reading it. The cause of a thing, and the indispensable
_condition_ of it, are perfectly distinct from each other; and the
argument of Day, in confounding them, has presented us with another
sophism.

The ideas of a condition and of a cause, though so different in
themselves, are always blended together by necessitarians; and hence the
confusion into which they run. Edwards has united them, as we have seen,
under the term cause; and then employed this term to signify the one or
the other at his pleasure. The word "dependence," is the favourite of
President Day; and he uses it with fully as much vagueness and
vacillation of meaning, as Edwards does the term cause. He has
undertaken to show us, that the mind may be _caused_ to act; and he has
shown us, that a particular class of thoughts cannot come to existence,
except upon a particular condition! This is not to reason; but to slip
and to slide from one meaning of an ambiguous word to another.

When it is said that the mind cannot be caused to act, President Day
must have known in what sense the term cause is used in this
proposition. He must have known, that no one meant to assert, that there
are no _conditions_ or _antecedents_, on which the action of the mind
depends. There is not an advocate of free-agency in the universe, who
will contend, that the mind can choose a thing, unless there is a thing
to be chosen; or, to take his own illustration, can read a book, unless
there is a book to be read. The question is not, whether there are
_conditions_, without the existence of which the mind cannot act; this
no one denies; but whether there is, or can be, a real and efficient
cause of the mind's action. The point in dispute, relates not to mere
fact of dependence, but to the _nature_ of that dependence. The question
is, _can the mind be efficiently caused to act?_ This being the
question, what does it signify to tell us, that it cannot read a book,
unless it has a book to read? Or what does it signify to tell us, that a
body may be caused to move? These are mere irrelevancies; they fall
short of the point in dispute; and they only seem to reach it by means
of a very "convenient ambiguity" of words.

But still it may be said, that although a body is passive in motion, it
may act upon other bodies, and thereby communicate motion to them. This
is the ground taken by President Day. "The very same thing," says he,
"may be both cause and effect. The mountain wave, which is the effect of
the wind, may be the cause which buries the ship in the ocean," p. 160.
I am aware, that one body is frequently said to _act_ upon another; but
this word action, as President Day has well said, is a term "of very
convenient ambiguity, with which it is easy to construct a plausible but
fallacious argument," p. 159. The only cause in every case of motion, is
that _force_, whatever it may be, which acts upon the body moved, and
puts it in motion. All the rest is pure passion or passiveness. The
motion of the body is not action; it is the most pure passion of which
the mind can form a conception. If a body in action is said to act upon
another, this is but a metaphor; there is no real action in the case.
Indeed, if a body be put in motion, and meets with no resistance, it
will move on in a right line forever--and why? just because of its
_inertia_, of its inherent destitution of a power to act. As a
mathematician, President Day certainly knew all this; but he seems to
have forgotten it all, in his eagerness to support the cause of moral
necessity.

He saw that motion is frequently called action; he saw that one body is
sometimes said to act upon another; and this was sufficient for his
purpose. He did not reflect upon the natures of motion and of volition,
as they are in themselves; he views them through the medium of an
ambiguous phraseology. Nor did he reflect, that if motion is
communicated from one body to another, this is not because one body
really acts upon another, but because it is impossible for two bodies to
occupy the same place at one and the same time. He did not reflect, that
if motion is communicated from one body to another, this does not arise
from the activity, but from the impenetrability of matter. In short, he
did not reflect, that there is no state or phenomena of matter, whatever
may be its name, that at all resembles the state of mind which we call
action or volition; or else he would have seen, that all his
illustrations drawn from material objects can throw no light on the
point in controversy.

We find the same confusion of things in the works of the Edwardses. We
do not at all confound action and passion, President Edwards contends,
by supposing that acts of the soul are effects, wherein the soul is the
object of something acting upon and influencing it, p. 203. And again,
"It is no more a contradiction to suppose that action may be the effect
of some other cause beside the agent, or being that acts, than to
suppose that life may be the effect of some other cause beside the being
that lives," p. 203. The younger Edwards also asserts, that "to say that
an agent that is acted upon cannot act, is as groundless, as to say,
that a body acted upon cannot move," p. 131. We might adduce many
similar passages; but these are sufficient. What do they prove? If they
are any thing to the purpose, they are only so by confounding motion
with volition, passion with action.

No one would pretend to deny, that the mind may be, and is, caused to
exist, or that the agent may be caused to live. In regard to our being
and living we are perfectly passive; and hence we admit that we may be
caused to exist and to live. _Living_ and _being_ are not _acting_. We
are not passive in regard to volition; this is an act of the mind
itself. The above assertions only overlook the slight circumstance that
_being_ and _doing_ are two different things; that motion is not
volition, that passion is not action. This strange confusion of things
is very common in the writings of the Edwardses, as well as in those of
all other necessitarians.

Edwards held volition to be a produced effect. This identifies a passive
impression made upon the mind, with an act of the mind itself. In order
to escape this difficulty, Edwards was bound to show that action and
passion are not opposite in their natures. "Action, when properly set in
opposition to passion or passiveness," says he, "is no real existence;
it is not the same with _an action_, but is a mere relation." And again,
"Action and passion are not two contrary natures;" when placed in
opposition they are only contrary relations. The same ground is taken by
President Day. "Are not cause and effect," says he, "opposite in their
natures? They are opposite relations, but not always opposite things."
They contend, that an object may be passive in relation to one thing,
and active in relation to another; that a volition may be passive in
relation to its producing cause, and yet active in relation to its
produced effect.

Now, this is not true. An act is opposite in its nature to a passive
impression made upon the mind. This every man may clearly see by
suitable reflection, if he will not blind himself to the truth, as the
necessitarian always does, by false analogies drawn from the world of
matter, and the phenomena of motion. We have seen how President Day has
attempted to show, that an object may be passive in relation to one
thing, and yet active in relation to another; and that in all these
attempts he has confounded the motion of body with the action or choice
of mind. We have seen that all the illustrations adduced to throw light
on this subject are fallacious. Let this subject be studied in the light
of consciousness, not through the darkening and confounding medium of
false analogies, and we may safely anticipate a verdict in our favour.
For who that will closely and steadily reflect upon _an action_ of the
mind, does not perceive that it is different, in nature and in kind,
from a passive impression made upon the mind from without? I do not say
action, which President Edwards seems to think does not signify any
thing positive, such as _an action_, when it is set in opposition to
passion; but I say that _an action_ itself is opposite in its nature to
passion, to a produced effect.

President Edwards cannot escape the absurdity of his doctrine by
alleging, that when action and passion are set in opposition, they do
not signify opposite natures, but only opposite relations. For he has
confounded _an act_ of the mind with a _passive impression_ made
thereon; and these things are opposite in their natures, whether he is
pleased to say that action and passion are opposite _natures_ or not.

This position may be easily established. "I humbly conceive," says he,
"that the affections of the soul are not properly distinguished from the
will, as though they were two faculties in the soul." . . . . "The
affections are no other than the more vigorous and sensible exercises of
the inclination and will of the soul." These passages are referred to by
President Day to prove, that Edwards regarded our "emotions or
affections as acts of the will," p. 39. Having confounded the will and
the sensibility, it became exceedingly easy for Edwards to show that a
volition may be produced or caused: all that he had to do was to show,
that an emotion may be produced, which is the same thing with an act of
the will or a volition. It is upon this confusion of things, that his
whole system rests; for if the sensibility is different from the will,
as most persons, at the present day, will admit it is; then to excite an
emotion, or to make a passive impression upon the sensibility, is very
different from producing a volition.

Edwards has taken great pains with the superstructure of his system,
while he has left its foundations without support. He has not shown, nor
can any man show, that the sensibility and the will are one and the same
faculty of the soul. He assumes that an emotion is an act of the will,
and then proceeds to build upon it, and to argue from it, as if it were
a clear and unquestionable truth. Thus, he repeatedly says, that
whatever pleases us most, or excites the most agreeable sensation, is
that which "operates to induce a volition;" and to say otherwise, is to
assert that that which pleases us most, does not please us most. Such
assertions, (and I have already had occasion to adduce many such,)
clearly identify a sense of the most agreeable, or the most pleasing
emotion, with an act of the will. His definition, as we have already
seen, laid the foundation for this, and his arguments are based upon it.
The passive impression, or the sensation produced, is, according to
Edwards, a volition! No wonder, then, that he could conceive of an
action of the mind _as being produced_. The wonder is, how he could
conceive of it _as being an action at all_.

Let us suppose, now, that a feeling or an emotion is produced by an
object in view of the mind. It will follow, that the mind is passive in
feeling, or in experiencing emotion. We are conscious of such feeling or
emotion; and hence we infer, that we are susceptible of feeling or
emotion. This susceptibility we call the sensibility, the heart, the
affections, &c. But there is another phenomenon of our nature, which is
perfectly distinct in nature and in kind from an emotion or a feeling.
We are conscious of a volition or choice; and hence we infer that we
have a power of acting, or putting forth volitions. This power we call
the will.

Now, the phenomena exhibited by these two faculties of the soul, the
sensibility and the will, are entirely different from each other; and
there is not the least shadow of evidence going to show that the
faculties themselves are one and the same. On the contrary, we are
compelled by a fundamental law of belief, to regard the susceptibility
of our nature, by which we feel, as different from that power of the
soul, by which we act or put forth volitions. The only reason we have
for saying that matter is different from mind, is that its
manifestations or phenomena are different; and we have a similar reason
for asserting, that the emotive part of our nature, or the sensibility,
is distinct from the will. And yet, in the face of all this, President
Edwards has expressly denied that there is any difference between these
two faculties of the soul. It is in this confusion of things, in this
false psychology, that he has laid the foundation of his system.

If President Edwards be right, it is no wonder that the younger Edwards
should so often assert, that it is no more absurd to say, that volition
may be caused, than it is to say, that feeling or emotion may be caused.
For, if the doctrine in question be true, a volition is an emotion or
feeling; and to produce the one is to produce the other. How short and
easy has the path of the necessitarian been made, by a convenient
definition!

If we only bear the distinction between the sensibility and the will in
mind, it will be exceedingly easy to see through the cloudy
sophistications of the necessitarian. "How does it appear to be a
_fact_," asks President Day, "that the will cannot act when it is acted
upon?" I reply that the _will_ is not acted upon at all; that passive
impressions are made upon the sensibility, and not upon the will. This
is a _fact_ which the necessitarian always overlooks.

Again; the same object may be both passive and active; passive with
respect to one thing, and active with respect to another. Thus, says
President Day, "The axe is passive, with respect to the hand which moves
it; but active, with respect to the object which it strikes. The cricket
club is passive in _receiving_ motion from the hand of the player; it is
active in _communicating_ motion to the ball." The fallacy of all such
illustrations, in confounding motion and action, I have already noticed,
and I intend to say nothing more in relation to this point. But there is
another less palpable fallacy in them.

How are such illustrations intended to be applied to the phenomena of
volition? Is it meant, that volition itself is passive in relation to
one thing, and active in relation to another? If so, I reply it is
absurd to affirm, that volition, or an act, is passive in relation to
any thing? Is it meant, that not volition itself, but the will, is
passive to that which acts upon it, while it is active in relation to
its effect? If so, I contend that the will is not acted upon at all;
that the passive impression is made upon the sensibility, and not upon
the will. Is it supposed, that it is neither the volition nor the will,
which is both active and passive at the same time; but that it is the
mind? This may be very true. The mind may be passive, if you please, in
relation to that which acts upon its sensibility, while it is active in
volition; but how does this prove the doctrine, that _an act_ may be
produced by something else acting upon the will? How does this show,
that action and passion are not confounded, in supposing that an act is
caused? The passive impression, the state of the sensibility is produced
but this is not _a volition_. The passive impression exists in the
sensibility; the volition exists in the will. The first is a produced
effect; the last is an act of the mind. And the only way in which this
act of the mind itself has been linked with that which acts upon the
mind, as an effect is linked with its cause, has been by confounding the
_sensibility_ with the _will_; and the light of this distinction is no
sooner held up, than we see that a very important link is wanting in the
chain of the necessitarian's logic. Let this light be carried around
through all the dark corners of his system, and through all its dark
labyrinths of words; and many a lurking sophism will be detected and
brought out from its unsuspected hiding place.

When it is said, that the same thing may be active and passive, this
remark should be understood with reference to the mind itself. The
language of the necessitarian, I am aware, sometimes points to the
volition itself, and sometimes to the will; but we should always
understand him as referring to the mind. He may not have so understood
himself; but he must be so understood. For it is not the will that acts;
it is the mind. This is conceded by the necessitarian. Hence, when he
says, that the same thing may be both active and passive, he must be
understood as applying this proposition to the mind itself; and not to
the will or to volition. It is the mind that acts; and hence the mind
must be also passive; or we cannot say that _the same thing_ may be both
active and passive.

The mind then, it may be said, is both active and passive at the same
time. But it is passive in regard to its emotions and feelings; and
hence, if you please, these may be produced. It is active in regard to
its volitions, or rather in its volitions; and hence these cannot be
produced by the action of any thing upon the mind. To show that they
can, the necessitarian, as we have seen, has confounded a passive
impression with an active volition. If these be distinct, as they most
clearly are, the necessitarian can make his point good, only by showing
that the passive impression made upon the mind, is connected with the
volition of the mind, as a producing cause is connected with its effect.
But this he has not shown; and hence his whole system rests upon
gratuitous and unfounded assumptions. I say his whole system; for if the
mind cannot be caused to act, if it is absurd to speak of a produced
action, it is not true, that an action or volition does or can result
from the necessitating action, or influence of motives.



SECTION XI.

OF THE ARGUMENT FROM THE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD.

THE argument from the foreknowledge of God, is one on which the
necessitarian relies with great confidence. Nor is this at all
surprising; since to so many minds, even among distinguished
philosophers, the prescience of Deity and the free-agency of man have
appeared to be irreconcilable.

Thus, says Mr. Stewart, "I have mentioned the attempt of Clarke and
others to show that no valid argument against the scheme of free-will
can be deduced from the prescience of God, even supposing _that_ to
extend to all the actions of voluntary beings. On this point I must
decline offering any opinion of my own, because I conceive it as placed
far beyond the reach of our faculties." Dr. Campbell also says, "To
reconcile the divine prescience with the freedom, and even contingency,
and consequently with the good or ill desert of human actions, is what I
have never yet seen achieved by any, and indeed despair of seeing." And
Mr. Locke declares, "I cannot make freedom in man consistent with
omnipotence and omniscience in God, though I am as fully persuaded of
both as of any truth I most firmly assent to; and therefore I have long
since given off the consideration of that subject, resolving all into
this short conclusion, that if it is possible for God to make a
free-agent, then man is free, though I see not the way of it."

Sentiments like these, which are so often met with in the writings of
eminent philosophers, have repeatedly led me to reconsider the
conclusion at which I have arrived on this subject; but I have been able
to discover no reason why it should be abandoned. Indeed, if authority
were a sufficient reason why the great difficulty in question should be
regarded as incapable of being solved, I should abandon it in despair,
and leave the necessitarian to make the most of his argument; but it has
only induced me to proceed with the greater caution; and this, instead
of having shaken my convictions, has settled them with the greater
firmness and clearness in my mind. Whether I am in the right, or whether
I labour under a hallucination, satisfactory only to myself, and
perplexing to all others, I must submit to the candid consideration of
the reader.

Why should it be thought impossible to reconcile the free-agency of man
with the foreknowledge of God? No one pretends that there is any
disagreement between the things themselves, as they really exist; if
there is any discrepancy in the case, it must exist only between our
ideas of foreknowledge and free-agency. Indeed, we cannot think of the
things themselves, or compare them, except by means of the ideas we have
formed of then; and if our ideas of them are really irreconcilable, it
is because they have not been correctly formed, and do not correspond
with the things themselves. What shall we do then? Shall we set to work
to reform our ideas? Shall we explain away the free-agency of man, or
deny the foreknowledge of God? No. We may retain both.

Edwards contends, that volitions are brought to pass by the influence of
motives, and that it is impossible in any case, that a volition should
depart from the influence of the strongest motive. This is the great
doctrine of moral necessity, which it is the object of President Edwards
to establish. Now, if his celebrated argument, or "demonstration," as it
is called, proves this point, then it is to be held as true and valid;
but if it only proves some other thing which is called by the name of
necessity, it is not to the purpose. And if it can be shown, that his
argument does not prove any thing at all in relation to the causation of
choice, it will appear that it has no relevancy to the point at issue.

The foreknowledge of God, I admit, infers the necessity of all human
actions, in one sense of the word; but not that _kind_ of necessity for
which any necessitarian pleads, or against which _any_ libertarian is at
all concerned to contend. The fallacy of the argument in question is,
that it shows all human actions to be necessary in a sense in which it
is not opposed to any scheme of liberty whatever, and assumes them to be
necessary in another and quite different sense; and thus the great
doctrine of freewill, otherwise so clear and unquestionable, is
overshadowed and obscured by an imperfect and ambiguous phraseology,
rather than by the inherent difficulties of the subject. This is the
position which I shall endeavour to establish.

The first argument of President Edwards is as follows. When the
existence of a thing is infallibly and indissolubly connected with
something else, which has already had existence, then its existence is
necessary; but the future volitions of moral agents, are infallibly and
indissolubly connected with the foreknowledge of God; and therefore they
are necessary, p. 114-15. Now this argument is perfectly sound; the
conclusion is really contained in the premise, or definition of
necessity, and it is fairly deduced from it. It is as perfect as any
syllogism in Euclid _but what does it prove?_ It proves that all human
actions are necessary--but in what sense? Does it prove that they are
necessary with a _moral necessity?_ Does it prove that they are brought
to pass by the influence of moral causes? No such thing is even
pretended: "I allow what Dr. Whitby says to be true," says Edwards,
"that mere foreknowledge does not affect the thing known, to _make_ it
more certain or future," p. 122. He admits that foreknowledge exerts "no
influence on the thing known to make it necessary." He does not even
pretend that there is any _moral necessity_ shown to exist by this
argument; and hence his conclusion has no connexion with the great
doctrine of the Inquiry, or the point in dispute. It aims at the word,
but not at the thing. The infallible connexion it shows to exist, is
admitted to be entirely different from the infallible connexion between
moral causes and volitions; that is to say, it is admitted that it does
not prove any thing to the purpose.

But is the indissoluble connexion, or necessity, established by this
argument, at all inconsistent with human liberty? If it is not; and if
our scheme of liberty is perfectly consistent and reconcilable with it;
then it infers nothing, and is nothing, that is opposed to what we hold.

This question admits of an easy solution. The foreknowledge of a future
event proves it to be necessary in precisely the same manner that the
knowledge of a present event shows it to be necessary. This is conceded
by Edwards. "All certain knowledge," says he, "whether it be
foreknowledge, or after knowledge, or concomitant knowledge, proves the
thing known now to be necessary, by some means or other; _or proves that
it is impossible it should now be otherwise than true_," p. 121. And
again, "All certain knowledge proves the necessity of the truth known;
whether it be _before_, or _after_, or _at the same time_," p. 124; and
so in other places.

In what sense then, let us inquire, does the knowledge of a present
event prove it to be necessary? It is necessary, says Edwards, because
it is indissolubly connected with the knowledge of it. In other words,
it could not possibly be known to exist, unless it did exist; and hence,
its existence is said to be indissolubly connected with the knowledge of
its existence, or, in other words, it is said to be necessary. This is
all true; but is this indissoluble connexion, or necessity, at all
inconsistent with the contingency of the event known? _This is the
question;_ and let us not lose sight of it in a mist of words. Let it be
distinctly borne in mind, and it will be easily settled.

For this purpose, let us suppose, to adopt the language of President
Edwards, "that nonentity is about to bring forth;" and that an event
comes into being without any cause of its existence. This event then
exists; it is seen, and it is known to exist. Now, even on this wild
supposition, there is an infallible and indissoluble connexion between
the existence of the event and the knowledge of it; and hence it is
necessary, in the sense above explained. But what has this necessary
connexion to do with the cause of its existence? This indissoluble
connexion, this dire necessity, is perfectly consistent, as we have
seen, with the supposition that the event had no cause at all of its
existence. How can it conflict, then, with any scheme of free-agency
that ever was dreamed of by man?

If this argument proves any thing in regard to human actions, it only
proves that a volition has an effect, and not that it has a cause.
Indeed, it has been said, that the knowledge of an event is the effect
of its existence; and the same remark has been extended to the
foreknowledge of God with respect to the future volitions of human
beings. This position is not denied by Edwards; he considers, in fact,
that it strengthens, rather than weakens, his argument. "Because it
shows the existence of the event to be so settled and firm, that _it is
as if it had already been;_ inasmuch as _in effect_ it actually exists
already;" and much more to the same purpose, p.122-3. "It is as strong
arguing," says he, "from the effect to the cause, as from the cause to
the effect."

This is all true; it is as strong arguing from effect to cause, as it is
from cause to effect. But do the arguments prove the same thing? Let us
see. I know a thing to exist; and therefore it does exist. This is to
reason from effect to cause. The conclusion is inevitable; but what does
it prove? Why, it proves that the thing does exist--it proves the bare
fact of existence. The indissoluble connexion, or the necessity, in this
case, exists between the knowledge and the event known; and it has no
relation to the question how the event came to exist. This argument,
then, in regard to human volitions, only proves that they are
indissolubly connected with their effects, and are necessarily implied
by them; just as every cause is implied by its effects: but no
libertarian in the world has ever questioned such a position. For all
that such an argument proves, all the volitions of moral agents may come
into existence, without having the least shadow of reason or ground of
their existence. We admit that volitions are efficient causes; and that
they have effects, with which they are indissolubly connected. Edwards
undertook to show, that volitions are necessary, because they are
infallibly and indissolubly connected with their causes; and he has
shown that they are necessary, because they are infallibly and
indissolubly connected with their effects! This is one branch of his
great argument.

There is another sense, in which the knowledge of an event, whether it
be _fore_, or _after_, or _concomitant_, knowledge, proves it to be
necessary. This sense is not clearly distinguished from the former by
Edwards. He recognizes them both, however, although he blends them
together, and frequently turns from the one to the other in the course
of his argument. It is highly important, and affords no little
satisfaction, to keep them clearly distinct in our minds.

A thing is said to be necessary, as we have seen, because it is
connected with the knowledge of it; and, if a thing does exist, or is
certainly and infallibly known to exist, it may be said to be necessary,
on the principle that it is impossible it should exist and not exist at
one and the same time. These two things are evidently different; and,
for the sake of distinctness in our language, as well as in our
thoughts, I shall call the first a _logical_, and the last an
_axiomatical_ necessity. A thing, then, which does exist, is said to be
necessary with an _axiomatical_ necessity; because it is impossible for
it not to exist while it does exist: and it is said to be necessary,
with a _logical_ necessity, because it is indissolubly connected with
the knowledge of it. The former kind of necessity is frequently
presented in this form of expression, that if a thing does exist, it is
impossible it should be otherwise than true that it does exist. In this
form of expression, it is frequently resorted to by Edwards.

Thus, says he, "I observed before, in explaining the nature of
necessity, that in things which are past, their past existence is now
_necessary;_ having already made sure of existence, _it is now
impossible that it should be otherwise than true, that the thing has
existed_," p. 114-15. Just so we may say in relation to things which now
exist; for, having already made sure of existence, it is impossible it
should be otherwise than true, that they do now exist; or, in other
words, it is impossible they should not exist while they do exist. In
like manner, if the future existence of any thing is foreknown, "it is
impossible it should be otherwise than true," that it should exist, or
come to pass: that is to say, if it will exist, it will be impossible
for it not to exist at the time of its existence.

Foreknowledge, I admit, infers this kind of necessity; but is this any
thing to the purpose? The conclusion is the same, whether it be deduced
from foreknowledge, or concomitant knowledge. Let us suppose, then, for
the sake of clearness and convenience, that a thing is now known to
exist. It follows from hence, by a _logical_ necessity, that it does
exist; for it could not possibly be known to exist, unless it did exist.
And, as it does exist, "it is impossible that it should be otherwise
than true that it does exist;" or, in other words, it is impossible for
it not to exist now, while it does exist. This is all there is in this
part of the argument.

And what does it amount to? It is a simple declaration of what no body
ever denied--that if a thing exists, or is to exist, or has existed, it
is impossible to conceive of it as not existing at the time of its
existence. All this is perfectly true, without the least reference to
the question, how it came to exist, or how it will come to exist? It is
wholly irrelevant to the point at issue. It controverts no position,
held by any sane man that now lives, or that ever has lived.

In other words, if a thing is known to exist, certainly and infallibly,
then it does exist; and if it does exist, then "it is impossible it
should be otherwise than true" that it does exist; and hence its
existence is said to be necessary with an _axiomatical_ necessity. But
this does not prove that it is _necessarily produced_. For, supposing it
to exist, its existence would be necessary in the above sense, even if
it had no cause of its existence. The necessity here referred to, is a
necessity _in the order of our ideas_, and not _in the course of
events_. It arises from the impossibility of a thing's not existing at
the time it does exist; and it has no reference whatever to the
causation of any thing: it is a fundamental law of belief, and not a
_causal_ necessity. These three things, an _axiomatical_, a _logical_,
and a _causal_ necessity, are most strangely confounded in the argument
of President Edwards.

Will it be said, that in this argument, it was not the object of
Edwards, to prove that there is a moral necessity in regard to our
volitions; but only that they are "not without all necessity?" Suppose
this to be the case, with whom has he any controversy, or to what
purpose has he argued? No one has ever held that human volitions are
"without all necessity," according to Edwards' use of that term; and no
one can hold it. No one can deny, that there is an indissoluble
connexion between the existence of a thing, and the certain and
infallible knowledge of its existence; or between the effect of a thing
and the thing itself; or that it is impossible for a thing not to exist
while it does exist. In these senses of the word, all rational creatures
are bound to acknowledge that human volitions are necessary. The most
strenuous advocate of free-agency has not one word to say against them;
and such being the meaning of Edwards, we must all heartily concur with
him, when he says, "that there is no geometrical theorem or proposition
whatever more capable of _strict demonstration_, than that God's certain
prescience of the volition of moral agents is inconsistent with such a
contingency of these events, _as is without all necessity_," p. 125-6.

If it can be truly said, that a thing is foreknown, it follows that it
will come to pass, or the proposition which affirms the future existence
of it, is necessarily true. In other words, it is self-contradictory and
absurd, to assert that a thing is foreknown, and yet that it may not
come to pass; just as it is to assert that a thing is known to exist and
yet at the same time does not exist. Hence, it is frequently alleged by
Edwards, that to deny his conclusions, drawn from foreknowledge, is
self-contradictory and absurd; unless we deny foreknowledge itself. To
admit this, says he, and yet contend that the thing foreknown may
possibly not be, is to fall into a plain contradiction, and "to suppose
God's foreknowledge to be inconsistent with itself," p. 117. Is it not
strange, that it did not occur to Edwards, that if to deny his position
is to deny that God foreknows what he foreknows; then to affirm it, is
only to affirm that he foreknows what he foreknows? Indeed, all those
reasonings in which he represents the denial of his position as
self-contradictory and absurd, should have convinced him that he could
prove nothing to the purpose, by arguing from the foreknowledge of God,
or else he must assume the very thing in dispute, by taking it for
granted that it is future; or, which is the same thing in effect, that
it is foreknown. For in admitting any premise, we admit, no more than is
contained in it; and if we only deny what is not contained in our
admission, we are not involved in a self-contradiction, or absurdity. In
alleging that we have done this, therefore, in the present case;--in
alleging that we contradict ourselves by admitting the foreknowledge of
God, and in denying necessity, he takes it for granted that the very
thing in dispute is included in that foreknowledge. In other words, if
Edwards does not mean to say, that the point in dispute is included in
the foreknowledge of God; then he cannot say, that we contradict
ourselves by admitting that divine prescience; and if he does mean to
say, that the thing which we deny is included in the foreknowledge of
God, then he begs the question.

It is freely conceded, that whatever God foreknows will most certainly
and infallibly come to pass. He foresees all human volitions; and,
therefore, they will most certainly and infallibly come to pass, in some
manner or other: the bare fact of their future existence is clearly
established by God's foreknowledge of them. And if all human volitions
will be brought to pass, by the operation of moral causes; then this
manner of their existence is foreknown to God, and will all come to pass
in this way; but to take this for granted, is to beg the question. We
have just as much right to suppose, that God foreknows that the
volitions of moral agents are not necessitated, as the necessitarian has
to suppose that He foreknows the contrary; and then it would follow that
our volitions are necessarily free, or without any producing causes. If
God foreknows that our actions will come to pass in the way we call
freely, (and we have as much right to this supposition as our opponents
have to the contrary,) then, as foreknowledge infers necessity, our
actions are necessarily free. And surely, if the necessity which is
inferred from foreknowledge, is predicable of freedom itself, it cannot
be inconsistent with it.

In other words, if the necessity of human volitions, according to the
scheme of Edwards, be a fact, then it was foreknown to God that such is
the fact; and, if we please, we may infer the fact from his
foreknowledge, after having inferred his foreknowledge from the fact. On
the other hand, if the scheme of necessity be a mere hypothesis, having
no corresponding reality in the universe; then God never foreknew that
it is according to such scheme that all human actions are brought to
pass; unless he foreknew things to be necessitated which in reality are
not necessitated. Hence, we can prove nothing by reasoning from the
foreknowledge of God; except what we first assume to be true, and
consequently foreknown to Him; and, if we choose to resort to this
pitiful way of begging the question, we may prove our hypothesis just as
well as any other.

The foreknowledge of an event, as I have already said, proves nothing
more nor less than _the bare certainty_ of its future existence; it
decides nothing as _to the manner_ of its coming into existence. The
necessitarian may ring the changes upon this subject as long as he
pleases, and all he can possibly make out of it is, that if God
foreknows a thing, it will certainly be, and to suppose otherwise, is a
contradiction. Thus, says Edwards, "To suppose the future volitions of
moral agents not to be necessary events; or, which is the same thing,
events which it is not possible but that they may come to pass; and yet
to suppose that God certainly foreknows them, and knows all things, is
to suppose God's knowledge to be inconsistent with itself. For to say
that God certainly, and without all conjecture, knows that a thing will
infallibly be, which at the same time he knows to be so _contingent_
that it may possibly not be, is to suppose his knowledge inconsistent
with itself; or that one thing he knows is utterly inconsistent with
another thing he knows. It is the same as to say, he now knows a
proposition to be of certain infallible truth, which he knows to be of
contingent uncertain truth. If a future volition is so without all
necessity, that nothing hinders but it may not be, then the proposition
which asserts its future existence is so uncertain, that nothing hinders
but that the truth of it may entirely fail. And if God knows all things,
he knows this proposition to be thus uncertain; and that is inconsistent
with his knowing it to be infallibly true; and so inconsistent with his
knowing that it is true." p. 117. Now all this going around and around
amounts to just this, that if God certainly and infallibly foreknows a
thing, he certainly and infallibly foreknows it, or that if it will
certainly come to pass, it will certainly come to pass.

We admit that the certainty of all future events is implied in God's
foreknowledge of them. Does the argument in question prove any more than
the bare fact of the certainty of the events foreknown? The argument, so
far as we have yet followed it, clearly does not. It merely proves the
bare fact of the certainty of existence. Indeed, Edwards himself says,
that "metaphysical or philosophical necessity," (and this is the
necessity for which he here contends,) "is nothing different from their
certainty." p. 23. And the younger Edwards frequently says, "If a
proposition asserting some future event, be a real and absolute truth,
there is an absolute certainty of the event; _such absolute certainty is
all that is implied in the divine foreknowledge; and all the moral
necessity for which we plead_." p. 160. Now, if these writers merely
mean that a thing is certain, when they say it is necessary, it is to be
regretted that they did not use the right word. It would have saved
their works from no little confusion.

But the truth is, that the moral necessity for which they contend
consists sometimes in the certainty of an event, and sometimes in _the
ground_ of that certainty. Volitions are said to be morally necessitory
in their definition, and in their system, because they are _made certain
by the influence of moral causes_. But in their arguments, and the
defence of their system, _the bare absolute certainty_, without any
reference to the ground of it, is frequently all that is meant by moral
necessity. Thus, they build upon one idea of necessity, while they
attack and defend themselves upon another idea thereof.

This is our present starting point then, agreed upon by all sides, that
the foreknowledge of God infers the certainty of all future realities.
Now, how can we conclude from hence, that the volitions of moral agents
are, not only certain, but rendered certain by the influence of moral
causes? It may be said, that it is sufficient that the foreknowledge of
God proves that human volitions will certainly come to pass in some way
or other; for if they will certainly come to pass in any way, we know
that they must have some cause of their existence; and it is just as
absurd to suppose that a volition can come into being without any cause
of its existence, as it is to suppose that a world can come into being
of itself. If this ground should be taken, (and it certainly will be,)
the reply is obvious. It would show that the divine prescience can only
prove the certainty of future events while it is left to the old maxim,
that every effect must have a cause, in order to make out the doctrine
of moral necessity, or the point in dispute! It would show, that after
all the parade made with the divine prescience, it leaves the whole
argument to rest upon ground which has already been occupied by one
side, and fully considered by the other! It would only show, that a
great pretence of demonstration had been made from the foreknowledge of
God; whereas, in fact, it proves nothing to the purpose, unless "its
most impotent and lame conclusion" be helped out by something else!

Another attempt is made to link the conclusion drawn from the
foreknowledge of God, with the point to be established by the
necessitarian. It is said, that God could not foreknow all future
events, unless he views them as connected with known causes. This ground
is taken by many eminent necessitarians. Thus, says Dr. John Dick,
"Future events cannot be foreseen, unless they are certain; they cannot
be certain, unless God have determined to bring them to pass."

The same position is assumed by President Edwards, "There must be a
certainty in things themselves," says he, "before they are certainly
foreknown." . . . "There must be a certainty in things to be a ground of
certainty of knowledge, and render things capable of being known to be
certain." p. 122. Now, what is this certainty in things themselves, or
in human volitions, without which they are incapable of being foreknown?
The answer is obvious; for Edwards every where contends, that unless
volitions are brought to pass by the _influence_ of moral causes--that
unless they are necessarily produced by an "effectual power and
efficacy"--they are altogether uncertain and contingent, and connected
with nothing that can render them certain. Hence, he clearly maintains,
that unless human volitions are necessarily brought to pass by the
influence of motives, they are not certain in themselves, and hence are
incapable of being foreknown. And besides, he has a laboured argument to
prove, that God could not foreknow the future volitions of moral agents,
unless he views them as "necessarily connected with something else that
is evident." pp. 115-117. This something else is not foreknowledge
itself; for it is the ground of foreknowledge, it is the necessary
influence of motives, or moral causes. But we need not dwell upon this
point, as this is so evidently his meaning; and if it is not, then it is
nothing to the purpose.

If Edwards means that a thing cannot be foreknown unless it has a
sufficient ground and reason for its existence, and does not of itself
come forth out of nothing, we are not at all concerned to deny his
position. Every advocate of free-agency contends, that volition proceeds
from the mind, acting in view of motives; and therefore is not destitute
of a sufficient ground and reason of its existence. He denies that
volition is necessarily brought to pass by the operation of motives.
Hence, if Edwards merely means that God could not foreknow a human
volition, unless he foreknew all the circumstances in view of the mind
when it is to act, as well as the nature and all the circumstances of
the mind from which the act is to proceed; no advocate of free-agency is
at all concerned to deny his position. It may be true, or it may be
false; but it establishes nothing which may not be consistently admitted
by the advocates of free-agency. If he means any thing to the purpose,
he must mean, that God could not foresee human volitions, unless they
are necessarily connected with causes, according to his scheme of moral
necessity; that is, unless they are necessarily produced by "the action
or influence" of motives, or moral causes. If this is his meaning, then
indeed it is something to the purpose; but what unbounded presumption is
it, on the part of a poor blind worm of the dust, thus to set bounds and
limits to the modes of knowledge possesssd by an infinite, all-knowing
God! It is true, that "no understanding, created or uncreated, can see
evidence where there is none"; but what kind of evidence that is, by
which all things are rendered perfectly clear to the eye of Omniscience,
it is surely not for us to determine. That all things are known to God,
is freely admitted; but that they can be known, only by reason of their
resulting from the necessitating influence of known causes, which are
themselves necessitated, is more than any finite mind should presume to
affirm. It were, indeed, to make our shallow, limited, and feeble
intellects, the measure of all possible modes of knowledge. It were to
make God like one of ourselves. Yet this position the necessitarian has
been compelled to assume. After all his pretended demonstrations from
the foreknowledge of God, his argument can reach the point in dispute,
only by means of this tremendous flight of presumption.

Let the necessitarian show, that God cannot foresee future events,
unless he "have determined to bring them to pass," or unless they are
brought to pass by a chain of producing causes, ultimately connected
with his own will; and he will prove something to the purpose. But let
him not talk so boastfully about demonstrations, while there is this
exceedingly weak link in the chain of his argument. If God were so like
one of ourselves, that he could not foresee future volitions, unless
they are brought to pass by the operation of known causes; then, I
admit, that his foreknowledge would infer the moral necessity for which
Edwards contends, provided he really possesses that knowledge; but if he
were so imperfect a being, I should be compelled to believe, that there
are some things which he could not foreknow.

This assumption comes with a peculiarly ill grace from the
necessitarian. He should be the last man to contend, that God cannot
foresee future events unless they are involved in known producing
causes; just as all that we know of the future is ascertained by
reasoning from known causes to effects. For he contends that with God,
"there is no time"; but that to His view all things are seen as if they
were present. His knowledge is without succession, and there is no
before nor after with him; all things are intimately present to his mind
from all eternity. Such is the doctrine of both the Edwardses; and Dr.
Dick believes, that "God sees all things at a glance."

Now, present things are not known to exist, because they are implied by
known causes, but because they are present and seen. And hence, if God
sees all things as present, there is not the shadow of a foundation
whereon to rest the proof of "moral necessity" from his foreknowledge.
It is all taken away by their own doctrine, and their argument is left
without the least support from it.

Indeed, there is no need of lugging the foreknowledge of God into the
present controversy, except it be to deceive the mind. For all future
events will certainly and infallibly come to pass, whether they are
foreknown or not; and foreknowledge cannot make the matter any more
certain than it is without it. We may say that God foreknows all things,
and we may mix this up with all possible propositions; but this will
never help the conclusion, that "all future things will certainly and
infallibly come to pass." If God should cease to foreknow all future
volitions, or if he had never foreknown them, they would, nevertheless,
just as certainly and infallibly come to pass, as if he had foreknown
them from all eternity. The bare naked fact, that they are future infers
all that is implied in God's foreknowledge of them; and it is just as
much a contradiction in terms, to say that what is future will not come
to pass, as it is to say, that what God foreknows will never take place.
Hence, by bringing in the prescience of Deity, we do not really
strengthen or add to the conclusion in favour of necessity. It only
furnishes a very convenient and plausible method of begging the
question, or of seeming to prove something by hiding our sophisms in the
blaze of the divine attributes. It only serves as a veil, behind which
is concealed those sophistical tricks, by which both the performer and
the spectator are deceived. This whole argument from the foreknowledge
of God, is, indeed, a grand specimen of undesigned metaphysical
jugglery, by which the mind is called off in one direction, whilst it is
deceived, perplexed, and confounded, by not seeing what takes place in
another.

It appears from these things, that those persons who have endeavoured to
clear up this matter, by supposing that some things are not foreknown to
God; have only got rid of one of the divine attributes, and not of their
difficulty. It appears also, that Edwards might have made his argument
far more simple and direct, by leaving out the long section in which he
proves that God really foreknows all _future_ things; and confining
himself to the simple proposition, "that all future events will
certainly and infallibly come to pass;" that "it is a contradiction in
terms to say that a thing is future and yet that it will not come to
pass"; or, in other words, "if a thing is future, _it is impossible it
should be otherwise than true_," that it will come to pass. And how
unreasonable are those, who have imagined that we are free-agents,
because God has chosen not to foresee our free actions; as if the
supposition that he might have foreseen them, does not infer necessity
just as much as the fact that he does foresee them. Indeed, these
reasoners seem to have expected to see one truth, by shutting their eyes
upon another!

Mr. Hobbes has an argument to prove necessity, precisely like that of
Edwards, except that its nakedness is not covered up with the
foreknowledge of God. "Let the case be put," says he, "of the weather:
'tis necessary that to-morrow it shall rain or not rain. If, therefore,
it be not necessary that it shall rain, it is necessary it shall not
rain; otherwise there is no necessity that the proposition, it shall
rain or not rain, should be true." This sophism confounds the
_axiomatical necessity_ referred to in the premise, that it must rain or
not rain, with the _causal necessity_ intended to be deduced from it in
the conclusion. This poor sophism has been adopted by Mr. Locke, and
seriously employed to prove that human volitions "cannot be free." Thus,
says he, "It is unavoidably necessary to prefer the doing or forbearance
of an action in a man's power, which is once proposed to a man's
thoughts. The act of volition or preferring one of the two, being that,
which he cannot avoid, a man in respect of that act of willing is under
necessity." Here we have precisely the same confusion of an
_axiomatical_ with a _causal_ necessity, that occurs in the argument of
Mr. Hobbes. And yet, the younger Edwards has deemed this argument of Mr.
Locke as worthy of his special notice and commendation; and President
Day falls in with the same idea, alleging that "we will because we
cannot avoid willing," because we must either choose or refuse. Is it
not wonderful, that these philosophers should have imagined, that they
had any controversy with any one, in contending so manfully that the
mind, under certain circumstances, must either choose or refuse? or that
they could infer any thing from this, in favour of a causal
necessity--the only question in dispute? With what clearness! with what
force! would President Edwards have dashed this poor flimsy sophism into
a thousand atoms, if he had come across it in the atheism of Hobbes!
But, unfortunately, he came across it in a different direction; and
hence, he has rescued it from the loathsome dunghill of atheistical
trash, invested it with dignity, seeming to clothe it in the solemn
sanction of religion, by covering it up in the ample folds of the divine
Omniscience.

This, then, is the conclusion of the whole matter. The prescience of God
does not _make_ our volitions necessary; it only _proves_ them to be
certain. This is conceded by Edwards. It proves them to be certain, just
as present knowledge proves them to be certain. This also is admitted by
Edwards. But present knowledge proves an act of the mind to be certain,
because it is infallibly connected with that knowledge, and not because
it is necessitated by the influence of a cause. It proves it to be
certain, because it is impossible for a volition, or any thing else, not
to exist at the time of its existence, and not because it is impossible
for it to come to pass without being necessitated. In short, it proves
an _axiomatical_ and a _logical_ necessity, but not a _causal_
necessity; that is to say, it proves nothing to the point in dispute.

The necessitarian can connect his conclusion with the thing he has
undertaken to prove, in only one of two ways: he may say, that if an
event is certain, it cannot come into existence without a producing
cause; or he may allege, that God cannot foresee them, unless he is
determined to bring them to pass. If he takes the former position, he
really discards the argument from foreknowledge, and returns for support
to the old argument, that every effect must have a cause. And if he
assumes the latter, maintaining that God cannot foreknow future events
unless he reasons from producing causes to effects, he builds his
argument, not upon foreknowledge alone, but upon this in connection with
a most unwarrantable flight of presumption, without which the argument
from prescience is good for nothing.

And besides, the bringing in of the divine prescience, only serves to
blind, and not to illuminate. For God foreknows only what is future; and
all future things will come to pass just as infallibly, without being
foreknown, as they will with it. If we assume them to be future, it is
just as much a contradiction to deny that they will come to pass; as it
is to assume that they are foreknown and yet deny it. Nothing can be
proved in this way, except what is assumed or taken for granted; and the
foreknowledge of God is only a plausible way of begging the question, or
concealing a sophism.

In conclusion, the necessitarian takes the wrong course in his
inquiries, and lays his premises in the dark. To illustrate this
point:--I know that I act; and hence, I conclude that God foreknew that
I would act. And again, I know that my act is not necessitated, that it
does necessarily proceed from the action, or influence of causes; and
hence, I conclude that God foreknew that I would thus act freely, in
precisely this manner, and not otherwise. Thus, I reason from what I
know to what I do not know, from my knowledge of the actual world as it
is, up to God's foreknowledge respecting it.

The necessitarian pursues the opposite course. He reasons from what he
does not know, that is, from the particulars of the divine
foreknowledge, about which he absolutely knows nothing _a priori_, down
to the facts of the actual world. Thus, quitting the light which shines
so brightly within us and around us, he seeks for light in the midst of
impenetrable darkness. He endeavours to determine the phenomena of the
world, not by looking at them and seeing what they are; but by deducing
conclusions from God's infinite foreknowledge respecting them!

In doing this, a grand illusion is practised, by his merely supposing
that the volitions themselves are foreknown, without taking into the
supposition the whole of the case, and recollecting that God not only
foresees all our actions, but also all about them. For if this were
done, if it were remembered that He not only foresees that our volitions
will come to pass, but also _how_ they will come to pass; the
necessitarian would see, that nothing could be proved in this way except
what is first tacitly assumed. The grand illusion would vanish, and it
would be clearly seen, that if the argument from foreknowledge proves
any thing, it just as well proves the _necessity of freedom_ as any
thing else.

Indeed, it does seem to me, that it is one of the most wonderful
phenomena in the history of the human mind, that, in reasoning about
facts in relation to which the most direct and palpable sources of
evidence are open before us, so many of its brightest ornaments should
so long have endeavoured to draw conclusions from "the dark unknown" of
God's foreknowledge; without perceiving that this is to reject the true
method, to invert the true order of inquiry, and to involve the inquirer
in all the darkness and confusion inseparable therefrom: without
perceiving that no powers, however great, that no genius, however
exalted, can possibly extort from such a method any thing but the dark,
and confused, and perplexing exhibitions of an ingenious logomachy.



SECTION XII.

OF EDWARDS' USE OF THE TERM NECESSITY.

IN the controversy concerning the will, nothing is of more importance,
it will readily be admitted, than to guard against the influence of the
ambiguity of words. Yet, it may be shown, that President Edwards has
used the principal terms in this controversy in an exceedingly loose and
indeterminate manner. This he has done especially in regard to the term
_necessity_. His very definition prepares the way for such an abuse of
language.

"_Philosophical necessity_," says he, "is really nothing else than the
FULL AND FIXED CONNEXION BETWEEN THE THINGS SIGNIFIED BY THE SUBJECT AND
PREDICATE OF A PROPOSITION, which affirms something to be true. When
there is such a connexion, then the thing affirmed in the proposition is
necessary, in a philosophical sense, whether any opposition or contrary
effort be supposed 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 CONNEXION, 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 endeavour 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 connexion several ways."

"1. They may have a full and perfect connexion _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 as it were the sum of all contradictions; as
might be shown, if this were the 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 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
mathematical truths are necessary _in themselves_; the subject and
predicate of the proposition which affirms them, are perfectly connected
of _themselves_."

"2. The connexion 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 affirms present or 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, may have a real and certain connexion _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 former 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 made sure of its existence. This
necessity lies _in_, and may be explained _by_, the connexion between
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."

After having defined what he means by philosophical or metaphysical
necessity, he tells us, that this is the sense in which he uses the
word, when he endeavours to show that necessity is not inconsistent with
liberty. And yet under "this sense," how many totally distinct ideas are
embraced! The eternal existence of being in general; the attributes of
God; the proposition that two and two are four; the equality of the
radii of a circle; the moral duty that we should do as we would be done
by; the existence of a thing which has already come to pass; the
existence of things, that are connected with that which is absolutely
necessary in itself, or with something that has already made sure of its
existence; the connexion of two or more propositions with each
other--all these things are included in his definition of philosophical
necessity! And yet he tells us, that he uses the term in this sense (in
what sense?) when he undertakes to reconcile liberty with necessity!
When he says, that he employs the word in _this_ sense, one would
suppose that, as a great metaphysician, he referred to some one of its
precise and definite significations; but no such thing. He merely refers
to its philosophical sense, which, according to his own explanation,
embraces a multitude of different ideas. Hence, although he may keep
close to this philosophical sense of the word, "in the ensuing
discourse;" yet he may, before the discourse is concluded, shift his
position a thousand times from one of these ideas to another. And he may
always seem, to superficial observers, to speak of the same thing;
because although the things spoken of are really different, they are all
drawn together under one definition, and called by one name. He not only
may have done this; he actually has done it. And if he had formed the
express design to envelope the whole subject in a cloud of sophistry, he
could not have taken a better course to accomplish his object.

It was the design of the Inquiry to establish the doctrine of moral
necessity; and hence it was incumbent on President Edwards to reconcile
this kind of necessity, and not philosophical necessity, with the
free-agency of man. He contends that there is a necessary connexion
between the influence of motives and volitions. This he calls moral
necessity. It differs from natural necessity, says he, it differs from
the necessary connexion between cause and effect; but yet, he expressly
tells us, that this difference "does not lie so much _in the nature of
the connexion_, as in the _terms connected_." In both cases, he
maintains, the connexion is necessary and absolute. The two terms
connected are different; but the kind and nature of the connexion is the
same. This is the kind of necessity for which he pleads; and we can
never be satisfied with his scheme, until the term shall be used in this
precise and definite sense, and the doctrine it expresses shall be shown
to be consistent with the true idea and feeling of liberty in the human
breast. It will not, it cannot satisfy the mind, that any other kind of
necessity is reconcilable with liberty; while it remains to be shown
that moral necessity, as it is defined and explained in the Inquiry, is
consistent with the free-agency of man.

There is one sense of the term in question, says he, "which especially
belongs to the controversy about acts of the will," p. 30. It is what he
calls "a necessity of consequence." This would be very true, if he
merely meant by a necessity of consequence, to refer to the necessary
connexion between cause and effect. But this is not his meaning; for he
expressly says, that "a necessity of consequence" "lies _in_, and may be
explained _by_, the connexion of two or more propositions one with
another." Now what has the connexion between any two or all the
propositions in the universe, to do with the controversy about acts of
the will? Is it not evident, that it is the connexion which subsists
between effects and their producing causes, and which is supposed to
subsist between motives and actions, that has to do with the controversy
in question; and that the connexion which subsists between two or more
propositions is entirely foreign to the subject?

It may be said, that by "a necessity of consequence," Edwards referred
not only to the connexion between two or more propositions, but also to
the connexion between cause and effect. This is undoubtedly true; for he
speaks of effects as coming to pass by this kind of necessity. But then
it is to be lamented that two ideas, which are so perfectly distinct,
should have been couched under the same mode of expression, and treated
as if they were identically the same. Such a confounding of different
ideas, has led to no little confusion and error in the reasoning of
President Edwards.

The subject of the last section furnishes a striking illustration of the
justness of this remark. From the proposition that a volition is
certainly and infallibly foreknown, it follows, by a necessity of
consequence, that it will come to pass. This is an instance of the
necessary connexion between two ideas or propositions; between the idea
or proposition, that a certain volition is foreknown, and the idea that
it will come to pass; between the proposition which affirms that, it is
foreknown, and the idea that it will come to pass in other words, the
proposition which affirms that it is foreknown, necessarily assumes that
it will come to pass; and to deny this assumption, at the same time that
we make it, is surely to be guilty of a contradiction in terms. To
suppose that a volition will not come to pass, is inconsistent with the
proposition that it is certainly and infallibly foreknown. Edwards
himself has frequently declared that this is the kind of necessity which
is inferred from foreknowledge.

In truth, the necessary connexion which exists between the idea that a
thing is foreknown, and the truth of the proposition which predicates
future existence of it, is perfectly distinct from the necessary
connexion between cause and effect. They are as widely different, as the
connexion between any two propositions in Euclid is from the connexion
between the motion of a ball and the force by which it is put in motion.
Hence, the kind of necessity which is involved in the idea of
foreknowledge, has nothing to do with the controversy about acts of the
will.

There is, in like manner, a necessary connexion between the idea that a
volition is now certainly and infallibly known to exist, and the truth
of the proposition which affirms present existence of it; and hence, its
present existence is necessary, by "a necessity of consequence,"
according to the definition of President Edwards. But all this has no
relevancy to the question, as to _how_ that volition came to pass. Its
present existence is necessarily connected with the idea that it is
certainly known to exist; but this is "a necessity of consequence" which
"lies in, and may be explained by, the connexion between two or more
propositions." It is not "a necessity of consequence" that lies _in_, or
can be explained _by_, the connexion between cause and effect. The two
things are entirely different, and it is strange, that they should
always have been confounded by President Edwards. I do most certainly
and infallibly know, for example, that I am now _willing_ to write; and
from this knowledge, it necessarily follows, that I am now _willing_ to
write. But if any one should infer from hence, that I am necessitated to
write, by the operation of some cause, we should certainly think his
inference very badly drawn. Yet this is precisely the way in which the
necessitarian proceeds, when he infers the necessity of human actions
from the foreknowledge of God. He confounds the necessary connexion
between two propositions, with the necessary connexion between cause and
effect. This single ambiguity has been a mighty instrument in the
building up of that portentous scheme of necessity, which has seemed to
overshadow the glory and beauty of man's nature as a free and
accountable being.

This is not the only ambiguity of the term in question which has been
turned to account by the necessitarian. In opposition to the scheme of
moral necessity, or the necessary connexion between volitions and the
influence of motives, it has been said, that volitions are produced
neither by motives, nor by preceding acts of choice. This is a direct
denial of the doctrine of moral necessity, of the only thing which we
are at all concerned to deny. We may thus attempt to escape from the
thing, but the name still pursues us.

For, to this view of the subject, President Edwards replies as follows:
"If any shall see cause to deny this, and say they hold no such thing as
that every action is chosen or determined by a foregoing choice; but
that the very first exertion of will only, undetermined by any preceding
act, is properly called action; then I say, such a man's notion of
action implies necessity; for what the mind is the subject of, without
the determination of its own previous choice, it is the subject of
necessarily, as to any hand that free choice has in the affair; and
without any ability the mind has to prevent it, by any will or election
of its own; because by the supposition it precludes all previous acts of
the will or choice in the case, which might prevent it. So that it is
again, in this other way, implied in the notion of an act, that, it is
both necessary and not necessary," p. 199. It is in this manner, that
President Edwards disposes of this important view of the subject of
free-agency. Let us examine his logic.

In the first place, the argument is not sound. It proceeds on the
supposition, that unless a volition is produced, it cannot be prevented,
by a preceding act of volition. This is a false supposition. I choose,
for example, to go out at one of the doors of my room. This choice is
not produced by any preceding act of choice. And yet I can certainly
prevent it, by choosing to go out at the other door of the room, or by
choosing to sit still. Thus one act of choice may, from the very nature
of things, necessarily exclude or prevent another act of choice;
although it could not possibly have produced that other act of choice.

But suppose the argument to be sound, what does it prove? It proves our
actions to be necessary; but in what sense? Does it show them to be
subject to that moral necessity, for which Edwards contends, and against
which we protest? This is the question, let me repeat, which we have
undertaken to discuss; and if we would not wander in an eternal maze of
words, we must keep to it; it is the talisman which is to conduct us out
of all our difficulties and perplexities. It is the first point, and the
second point, and the third point in logic, to keep to the issue,
steadily, constantly, and without the least shadow of turning. Otherwise
we shall lose ourselves in a labyrinth of words, in darkness and
confusion interminable.

In what sense, then, does the above argument, supposing it to be sound,
prove our actions to be necessary? Does it prove them to be necessary
with a moral necessity? It does not. According to the argument in
question, volitions are necessary, "_as to any hand free choice has in
the affair;_ because _by the supposition_ it precludes all previous acts
of the will or choice in the case, _which might prevent them_." That is
to say, volitions are necessary as to previous acts of choice; because
_by the supposition_ previous acts of choice do not produce them, and
consequently cannot prevent them. This is the argument.

Now, it is very true, that this is not an unheard of use of the term in
question. We say a thing is necessary, when it is dependent upon no
cause for its existence. Thus the existence of the Supreme Being is said
to be necessary, because he is the uncaused Cause of all things. As he
owes his existence to nothing, so there is nothing capable of destroying
it. He is independent of all causes; and hence, his existence is said to
be necessary.

In like manner, a thing may be said to be necessary as to any other
particular thing, upon which it does not depend for its existence. As
the Supreme Being is said to be necessary as to all things, because his
existence depends upon nothing; so any created object may be said to be
necessary, as to the influence of any other object, to which it does not
owe its existence, and upon which its existence does not depend. It is
in this sense that our volitions are shown to be necessary by the above
argument of President Edwards. A volition "is necessary as to any hand
free choice has in the affair; because by the supposition it preclude
all previous acts of the will or choice in the case, which might prevent
it." That is to say, it is necessary as to preceding acts of choice;
because, by the supposition, it is wholly independent of preceding acts
of choice for its existence.

Now, in so far as the doctrine of moral necessity is concerned, this
argument amounts to just exactly nothing. For although a volition may be
necessary as to one particular cause, in consequence of its being wholly
independent of that cause; it does not follow that it is necessarily
produced by another cause. Because it does not result from any preceding
act of volition, and consequently is necessary as to any hand that
preceding act of volition had in the affair, it does not follow, that
the "strongest motive" produces it. Supposing a volition to be
independent of all causes, as well as of preceding acts of choice; and
then it would be necessary, in the same sense, as to all causes, as well
as to preceding acts of choice. But how infinitely absurd would it be to
conclude, that because a volition is independent of the influence of all
causes, it is therefore necessarily connected with the influence of a
particular cause!

We only deny that volitions are necessarily connected with the "power,"
or "influence," or "action," of motives or moral causes. This is the
only kind of necessity against which, as the advocates of free-agency,
we are at all concerned to contend. And it is worse than idle for the
necessitarian to endeavour to establish any other kind of necessity
beside this. Let him come directly to the point, and _keep to it_, if he
would hope to accomplish any thing. This shifting backwards and forwards
from one meaning of an ambiguous term to another; this showing a
volition to be necessary in one sense, and then tacitly assuming it to
be necessary in another sense; is not the way to silence and refute the
adversaries of the doctrine of moral necessity. It may show, (supposing
the argument to be sound,) that a volition is necessary as to a
particular cause, on the supposition that it is not produced by that
cause; and in the same manner, it might be shown, that a volition is
necessary as to all causes, on the supposition that it is produced by no
cause. But the necessity which results from such a supposition, would be
directly arrayed against the necessity for which President Edwards
contends. In the same sense, volitions "are necessary as to any hand
motives have in the affair," on the supposition that they do not result
from the influence of motives; but instead of building on this kind of
necessity, one would have supposed that President Edwards was somewhat
concerned in its destruction.

In short, the case stands thus: a thing is said to be necessary, on the
supposition that it has _no cause_ of its existence; or necessary as to
another thing, on the supposition that it does not depend on that other
thing for its existence. Again, a thing is said to be necessary, on the
supposition that it proceeds from the operation of _a cause_. These
ideas are perfectly distinct. The difference between them is as clear as
noonday. It is true, they have the same name; but to reason from the one
to the other, is about as wild an abuse of language as could be made.
President Edwards is required to show that a volition is necessary, in
the sense of _its having a moral cause;_ he has shown that it is
necessary in the sense of _its not having a cause_. This is his
argument.

Let us view this subject in another light. If we say that a volition
proceeds from a prior act of choice, we certainly hold the doctrine of
necessity. President Edwards speaks out from the Inquiry and convicts us
of this doctrine. "Their notion of, action," says he, "implies
necessity, and supposes that it is necessary, and cannot be contingent.
For they suppose, that whatever is properly called action, must be
determined by the will and free choice; and this is as much as to say,
that it must be necessary, being dependent upon, and determined by
something foregoing; namely, a foregoing act of choice," p. 199. Thus,
if we say that a volition is produced by a preceding act of volition, we
are clearly convicted of the doctrine of necessity.

Now let us endeavour to escape from this accusation. For this purpose,
let us assume the directly opposite position: let us deny that our
volitions are produced by preceding acts of choice--and what then? Are
we out of danger? Far from it. We are still convicted of the dreaded
doctrine of necessity. On the very supposition we have made,
diametrically opposite as it is to the former, we are still convicted of
the same doctrine of necessity. We cannot escape from it. It pursues us,
like a ghost, through the dark and ill-defined shadows of an ambiguous
phraseology, and lays its cold hand upon us. Turn wheresoever we may, it
is sure to meet us in some shape or other.

This is not all. We are also convicted of a contradiction in terms. It
is shown, that we hold an act to be "both necessary and not necessary."
This may appear to be an exceedingly grave charge; and yet I think we
may venture to put in the plea of "guilty." We do hold an act to be
necessary, as to the strongest motive, as well as to any preceding act
of choice, by which we contend it is not produced, and by which it
cannot be prevented. We likewise most freely admit, that many volitions
are necessary in other senses of the word, as explained by President
Edwards. We cannot deny this, so long as we retain our senses; for "a
thing is said to be necessary," according to him, "when it has already
come to pass, and so made sure of its existence; and it is likewise said
to be necessary, when its present existence, is certainly and infallibly
known, as well as when its future existence is certainly and infallibly
foreknown. But yet we deny, that an act of volition is necessary, in the
sense that it is produced by the operation of the strongest motive, as
it is called. That is to say, we admit an act of choice to be necessary,
in some senses of the word; and, in another sense of it, we deny it to
be necessary." Is there any thing very contradictory in all this? Any
thing to shock the common sense and reason of mankind?

It may be said, that Edwards does not always endeavour to establish the
doctrine of moral necessity; that he frequently aims merely to show,
that our actions are "not without all necessity." This is unquestionably
true. He frequently arrives at this conclusion; and he seems to think
that he has done something, whenever he has shown our actions to be
necessary in any sense of the word as defined by himself. But it is
difficult to conceive with whom he could have had any controversy. For
certainly no one in his right mind, could pretend to deny that human
actions are necessary in any sense, as the word is explained and used in
the Inquiry. When it is said, for example, that the truth of the
proposition which affirms the future existence of an event, is
_necessarily_ connected with the idea that that event is certainly and
infallibly foreknown; no one, in his right mind, can deny the position.
Such a denial, as Edwards says, involves a contradiction in terms.
Hence, this notion of necessity only requires to be stated and
understood, in order to rivet irresistible conviction on the mind of
every rational being. No light has been thrown upon it, by the pages
which President Edwards has devoted to the subject; nor could a thousand
volumes render it one whit clearer than it is in itself. Hence, the
author of the Inquiry should have seen, that if there was any
controversy with him on this point, it was not because there was any
diversity of opinion; but because there was a misconception of his
proposition. And no doubt he would have seen this, if the meaning of his
own language had been clearly defined in his own mind: if he had marked
out and circumscribed, as with a sunbeam, the precise limitation within
which his own propositions are true, and beyond which they are false.

If he had done this, he would have seen that there was, and that there
could have been, but one real point of difference between himself and
his adversaries. He would have seen, that, aside from the ambiguities of
language, there was but one real point in dispute. He would have seen,
that it was affirmed, on the one side, that the strongest motive
operates to produce a choice; and that this was denied on the other. And
hence, he would have put forth his whole strength to establish this
single point, to fortify this single doctrine of moral necessity. He
would not have crowded so many different ideas into the definition of
the term _necessity_; and then imagined that he was overwhelming and
confounding his adversaries, when he was only showing that human
"actions are not without all necessity." And when they said, that "a
necessary action is a contradiction," he would have seen how they used
the term necessary; and he would not have concluded, as he has done,
that this "notion of action implies contingence, _and excludes all
necessity_," p. 199. He would have seen, that the idea of an action, in
our view, is inconsistent with necessity, in one sense of the word; and
yet not inconsistent with every thing that has been called necessity.

In the definition of President Edwards, there is an inherent and radical
defect, which I have not as yet noticed; and which is, indeed, the
source of all his vacillating on this subject. It proceeds from a very
common error, which has been well explained and illustrated by Mr.
Stewart in his Essay on the Beautiful.

The various theories, which ingenious men have framed in relation to the
beautiful, says Mr. Stewart, "have originated in a prejudice, which has
descended to modern times from the scholastic ages; that when a word
admits of a variety of significations, these different significations
must all be _species_ of the same _genus_; and must consequently include
some essential idea common to every individual to which the generic term
can be applied."

The question of Aristippas, "how can beauty differ from beauty," says
Mr. Stewart, "plainly proceeded on a total misconception of the nature
of the circumstances; which, in the history of language, attach
different meanings to the same word; and which by slow and insensible
gradations, remove them to such a distance from their primitive or
radical sense, that no ingenuity can trace the successive steps of their
progress. The variety of these circumstances is, in fact, so great, that
it is impossible to attempt a complete enumeration of them; and I shall,
therefore, select a few of the cases, in which the principle now in
question appears most obviously and indisputably to fail."

"I shall begin with supposing, that the letters A, B, C, D, E, denote a
series of objects; that A possesses some quality in common with B; B a
quality in common with C; C a quality in common with D; D a quality in
common with E;--while at the same time, no quality can be found which
belongs in common to any _three_ objects in the series. Is it not
conceivable, that the affinity between A and B may produce a
transference of the name of the first to the second; and that, in
consequence of the other affinities which connect the remaining objects
together, the same name may pass in succession from B to C; from C to D;
and from D to E?"

This idea, and the reasoning which Mr. Stewart has founded upon it, are
at once obvious, original and profound. It shows that the most gifted
philosophers, have not been able to frame a satisfactory theory of the
beautiful, because they have proceeded on the false supposition, that
all those objects which are called beautiful have some common property,
merely because they have a common appellation, by which they are
distinguished from other objects; and that in endeavouring to point out
and define this common property, they have engaged in an impracticable
attempt; and hence they have succeeded to their own satisfaction, only
by doing violence to the nature of things.

This is a fruitful idea. It admits of many illustrations. I shall select
only a few. Philosophers and jurists have frequently attempted to define
executive power; but they have proceeded on the supposition, that all
those powers called executive, have a common and distinguishing
property, because they have a common name. Hence, they have necessarily
failed; because the supposition on which they have proceeded is false.
Executive power, properly so called, is that which sees to the execution
of the laws; and other powers are called executive, not because they
partake of the nature of such powers, but simply because they have been
conferred upon the chief executive magistrate.

The same remark, may be made, in relation to the attempts of ingenious
men, to define the nature of law in general. If we analyze all those
things which have been called laws, we shall find that they have no
element or property in common: the only thing they have in common is the
name. Hence, when we undertake to define law in general, or to point out
the common property by which laws are distinguished from other things,
we must necessarily fail. We may frame a definition in words, as others
have done; but, however carefully this may be constructed, it can be
applied to different kinds of laws, only by giving totally different
meanings to the words of which it is composed. Thus, for example, a law
is said to be "a rule of conduct," given by a superior to an inferior,
and "which the inferior is bound to obey." Now, who does not see, that
the words _conduct_ and _obedience_, must have totally distinct
meanings, when they are applied to inanimate objects and when they are
applied to the actions of moral and accountable beings? And who does not
see, that human beings are _bound_ to do their duty, in an entirely
different sense, from that in which matter can be said to be under an
obligation? The same remark may be extended to all the definitions which
have been given of law in general. And whoever understands the
philosophy of definitions, will easily perceive that every attempt to
draw things, so wholly unlike each other, under one and the same mode of
expression, is not really to define, but to hide, the true nature of
things under the ambiguities of language.

Of this common fault, President Edwards has been guilty. Instead of
defining the various senses of the term necessity, and always using it
with precision and without confusion; he has undertaken to show wherein
those things called necessary really agree in some common property. He
looked for a common nature, where there is only a common name. As
Aristippas could not conceive, "how beauty could differ from beauty;"
so, if we may judge from his argument, it was a great difficulty with
him, to conceive how necessity can differ from necessity. Hence, when he
proves an action to be necessary in any one of the various senses which
are included under his definition of philosophical necessity, he
imagines that his work is done; and when his adversary denies that an
action is necessary in any one of those senses, he concludes that he
denies "all necessity!" In all this, we see the question as plainly as
if it had been expressly written down, "how can philosophical necessity
differ from philosophical necessity?" To which I would simply reply,
that a thing cannot differ from itself, it is true; but the same word
may have very different meanings; and that it is "a prejudice which has
descended to modern times from the scholastic ages," to suppose that
things have a common nature, merely because they have a common name.

No better illustration of the fallacy of this prejudice could be
furnished, than that which Edwards has given in his definition of
philosophical or metaphysical necessity. Under this definition, as we
have seen, he has included the being of a God, which is said to be
necessary, because he has existed from all eternity, unmade and
uncaused; and also the existence of an effect, which is said to be
necessary, because it necessarily results from the operation of a cause.
Now, these two ideas stand in direct opposition to each other; and the
only thing they have in common is the name. And yet President Edwards
reasons from the one to the other! If he can, in any way, reach the
name, this seems to satisfy him. The _thing_ in dispute is entirely
overlooked. If we say that choice is produced by choice, then he
contends it is an effect, and consequently necessary. If we deny that
choice is produced by choice, then it is necessary any how; not because
it is produced by a cause, but because it is independent of a cause,
being neither produced nor prevented by it. It makes no difference with
this great champion of necessity, whether choice is said to be produced
by choice or not; for, on either of these opposite suppositions, he can
show that our volitions are necessary. The absence of the very
circumstance which makes it necessary in the one case, is that which
makes it necessary in the other. Is choice produced by choice? Then this
dependence of choice upon choice, shows it to be necessary. Is choice
_not_ produced by choice? Then this independence of choice upon choice
is the very thing which shows it to be necessary! Thus this great
champion of necessity, just passes from one meaning of the term to
another, without the least regard to the point in dispute, or to the
logical coherency of his argument. Surely, if "a reluctant world has
bowed in homage" to his logic, it must have been because the world has
been too indolent to pry into the sophisms with which it swarms. It is
only in his onsets upon error, that the might of his resistless logic is
felt; in the defence of his own system, he does not reason at all, he
merely rambles. Indeed, with all his gigantic power, he was compelled to
reel and stagger under the burden of such a cause.



SECTION XIII.

OF NATURAL AND MORAL NECESSITY.

I HAVE already said many things bearing upon the famous distinction
between natural and moral necessity; but this distinction is regarded as
so important by its advocates, that it deserves a separate notice. This
I shall proceed to give it.

The distinction in question is treated with no great reverence by the
advocates of free-agency. It is denounced by them as a distinction
without a difference; and, though this may be true in the main, yet this
is not the way to settle any thing. There is, indeed, a real difference
between natural and moral necessity, as they are held and described by
necessitarians; and if we pay no attention to it, our declarations about
its futility will be apt to produce more heat than light. I fully
recognize the justness of the demand made by Dr. Edwards, that those who
insist that natural and moral necessity are the same, should tell us in
what respects they are so. "We have informed them," says he, "in what
respects we hold them to be different. We wish them to be equally
explicit and candid," p. 19. I intend to be equally explicit and candid.

I admit, then, that there is a real difference between natural and moral
necessity; they differ, as the Edwardses say, in the nature of the terms
connected. In the one case, there is a natural cause and its effect,
such as force and the motion produced by it, connected together; and in
the other, there is a motive and a volition. In this respect, I believe
that there is a greater difference between them than does the
necessitarian himself; for he considers volition to be of the same
nature with an effect, whereas I regard it as essentially different in
nature and in kind from an effect.

There is another difference between natural and moral necessity. Natural
necessity admits of an opposition of the will; whereas it is absurd to
suppose any such opposition in the case of moral necessity. A man may be
so bound that his utmost efforts to move may prove unavailing: in such a
case, he is said to labour under a natural necessity. This always
implies and presupposes an opposition of will. But not so in regard to
moral necessity. It is absurd to suppose, that our wills can ever be in
opposition to moral necessity; for this would be to suppose that we are
made willing by the influence of motives, and yet are not willing.

Now, I fully recognize these differences between natural and moral
necessity, as they are viewed by the necessitarian. Whether they are not
inconsistent with their ideas of moral necessity, is another question.
But as I am not concerned with that question at present, I am willing to
take these differences without the least abatement. Admitting, then,
that these distinctions are well-founded, and that they are perfectly
consistent with the idea of moral necessity, let us see in what respects
there is an agreement between the things under consideration. The
difference does not lie, says Edwards, _so much in the nature of the
connexion_, as in the two terms connected. Moral necessity is "a sure
and perfect connexion between moral causes and effects." It is "as
absolute as natural necessity." The influence of motives is not a
condition of volition, which the will may or may not follow; it is the
_cause_ thereof; and it is absurd to suppose that the effect, the
volition, can be loose from the influence of its cause, p. 77-8. Yes,
volition is just as absolutely and unconditionally controlled by motive,
as the inanimate objects of nature are controlled by the power of the
Almighty. The connexion, the necessary connexion, which subsists between
motion and the force by which it is produced, is the same in nature and
in kind as that which subsists between the "action or influence of
motive" and volition. Herein, then, is the agreement, that in moral
necessity, as well as in natural, the effect is produced by the
influence of its cause. The nature of the connexion is the same in both;
and in both it is equally absolute.

Now we have seen the differences, and we have also seen the points of
agreement; and the question is, not whether this famous distinction be
well-founded, but whether it will serve the purpose for which it is
employed. In the full light, and in the perfect recognition of this
distinction, we deny that it will serve the purpose of the
necessitarian.

It is supposed, that natural necessity alone interferes with the
free-agency of man, while moral necessity is perfectly consistent with
it. But, in reality, moral necessity is more utterly subversive of all
free-agency and accountability than natural necessity itself. Think not
that this is a mere hasty and idle assertion. Let us look at it, and see
if it is not true.

We have already seen, that a caused volition is no volition at
all;--that a necessary agent is a contradiction in terms. In other
words, a power to act must itself act, and not be made to act by the
action of any other power, or else it does not act at all. And if it
must be caused to act, before it can act, then, as we have already seen,
there must be an infinite series of acts. These things have been fully
illustrated, and defended against the false analogies, by which they
have been assailed; and they are here mentioned only for the sake of
greater clearness and distinctness.

If the scheme of moral necessity be true, then, according to which our
volitions are absolutely caused by the "action or influence of motive,"
it is idle to talk about free acts of the will; for there are no acts of
the will at all. If our wills are caused to put forth volitions, and are
turned to one side or the other, by the controlling influence of
motives, it is idle to talk about a free-will; for we have no will at
all. I know full well, that President Edwards admits that we have a
will; and that the will does really act; but this admission is
contradicted by bringing the will and all its exercises under the
domination and absolute control of motives. He obliterates the
distinction between cause and effect, between action and passion,
between mental activity and bodily motion; and thereby draws the
phenomena of will, the volitions of all intelligent creatures, under the
iron scheme of necessity. We are eternally reminded that Edwards
believes in the existence of a will, and in the reality of its acts. We
know it; but let us not be accused of misrepresenting him, unless it can
be shown that one part of his system does not contradict
another,--unless it can be shown, not by false analogies and an abuse of
words, but by valid evidence, that _an act of the mind may be
necessarily caused_. This never has been shown; and the attempts of the
necessitarian to show it, as we have seen, are among the most signal
failures in the whole range of human philosophy. Until this be shown, we
must contend that there is nothing in the universe so diametrically
opposed to all free-agency--to all liberty of the will, as the scheme of
moral necessity; which so clearly overthrows and, demolishes the very
idea of a will and all its volitions.

Indeed, what is called natural necessity does not properly interfere
with the liberty of _the will_ at all; it merely restrains the freedom
of _motion_. It is moral necessity that reaches the seat of the mind,
and takes away all the freedom thereof; even denying to us the
possession of a will itself. When my hand is bound, I may strive to move
it in vain; in this case, my _will_ is free, because I may strive, or I
may not; but the hand is not free, because it cannot move. But if
motives cause the mind to follow their influence, so that it may not
possibly depart or be loose from that influence; then we have no will at
all; and it is idle and a mockery to talk about freedom of the will. And
yet, although Edwards would have us to believe that no system is
consistent with free-agency but his own; he occupies the position, that
it is absurd to suppose, that a volition may possibly be loose from the
influence of motive; that this is to suppose that it is the effect of
motive, and at the same time that it is not the effect of motive!

"All agree," says Day, "that a necessity which is opposed to our choice,
is inconsistent with liberty," p. 91. That is to say, a necessity which
cuts off or prevents the external consequence of our choice, is
inconsistent with liberty of the will; but that which takes away one
choice, and sets up another, is perfectly consistent with it! If the arm
is held, so that the free choice cannot move it, then is the liberty of
the will interfered with; but, though the will may be absolutely swayed
and controlled, by the influence of motives, or by the sovereign power
of God himself, yet is it perfectly free! If such be the liberty of the
will, what is it worth?

There are many things, which it is beyond the power of the human mind to
accomplish. Even in such cases, the natural necessity under which we are
said to labour, does not interfere with the liberty of the will. If we
cannot do such things, it is not because our will is not free in regard
to them, but because its power is limited. We might very well attempt
them, and put forth volitions in order to accomplish them, as in our
ignorance we often do; and if we abstain from so doing in other cases,
wherein we might wish to act, it is because we know they are beyond our
power, and, as rational creatures, do not choose to make fools of
ourselves. To say that we are under a natural necessity, then, is only
to say that our power is limited, and not that it is not free. It is
reserved for moral necessity--shall I say to enslave?--no, but to
annihilate the will.

It is true, if we will to do a thing, and are restrained from doing it
by a superior force, we are not to blame for not doing it; or if we
refuse to do it, and are constrained to do it, we are equally blameless.
In such cases, natural necessity, although it does not reach the will,
is an excuse for external conduct. If the question were, is a man
accountable for his external actions? for the movements of his body?
then we might talk about natural necessity. But as the question, in the
present controversy, is, whether a man is accountable for his internal
acts, for the volitions of his mind? to talk about natural necessity is
wholly irrelevant. It has nothing to do with such a controversy; and
hence, Edwards is entirely mistaken when he supposes that it is natural
necessity, and that alone, which is opposed to the freedom of the will.
It is in fact opposed to nothing but the freedom of the body; and by
lugging it into the present controversy, it can only serve to make
confusion the worse confounded.

It is the general sentiment of mankind, that moral necessity is
inconsistent with free-agency and accountability. Edwards has taken
great pains to explain this fact. His great reason for it is, that men
are in the habit of excusing themselves for their outward conduct, on
the ground of natural necessity. In this way, by early and constant
association, the idea of blamelessness becomes firmly attached to the
term necessity, as well as those terms, such as must, cannot, &c., in
which the same thing is implied. Hence, we naturally suppose that we are
excusable for those things which are necessary with a moral necessity.
Thus, the fact that men generally regard moral necessity and free-agency
as incompatible with each other, is supposed by Edwards to arise from
the ambiguity of language; and that if we will only shake off this
influence, we shall see a perfect agreement and harmony between them.

But is this so? Let any man fix his mind upon the very idea of moral
necessity itself, and then answer this question. Let him lay aside the
term necessity, and all kindred words; let him simply and abstractedly
consider a volition as being produced by the "action or influence of
motives;" and then ask himself, if the subject in which this effect is
produced is accountable for it? If it can be his virtue or his vice? Let
him conceive of a volition, or anything else, as being produced in the
human mind, by an extraneous cause; and then ask himself if the mind in
which it is thus produced can be to praise or to blame for it? Let any
man do this, and I think he will see a better reason for the common
sentiment of mankind than any which Edwards has assigned for it; he will
see that men have generally regarded moral necessity as incompatible
with free-agency and accountability, just because it is utterly
irreconcilable with them.

Indeed, however liable "the common people," and philosophers too, may be
to be deceived and misled by the ambiguities of language, there is no
such deception in the present case. The common people, as they are
called, do not always say, my actions are "necessary," "I cannot help
them," and therefore I am not accountable for them. They as frequently
say, that if my actions, if my volitions, are brought to pass by the
strength and influence of motives, I am not responsible for them. This
common sentiment and conviction of mankind, therefore, does not blindly
aim merely at the name, while it misses the thing; it does indeed bear
with all its force directly upon the scheme of moral necessity itself.
And its power is sought to be evaded, as we have seen, and as we shall
still further see, not by explaining the ambiguities of language, so as
to enlighten mankind, but by confounding the most opposite natures, such
as action and passion, volition and local motion, through the
ambiguities of language. It is the necessitarian, who is always talking
about the ambiguities of language, that is continually building upon
them. Indeed, it is hard to conceive why he has so often been supposed
to use language with such wonderful precision, if it be not because he
is eternally complaining of the want of it in others.

Just let the common people, or those of them who may desire an opiate
for their consciences, see the scheme of moral necessity as it is in
itself, stripped of all the disguises of an ambiguous phraseology, and
it will satisfy them. It will be the one thing needful to their craving
and hungering appetites. Let them be made to believe that all our
volitions are produced by the action and influence of motives, so that
they may not be otherwise than they are; and a sense of moral obligation
and responsibility will be extinguished in their breasts, unless nature
should prove too strong for sophistry. Indeed, if we may believe the
most authentic accounts, this doctrine has done its strange and fearful
work among the common people, both in this country and in Europe. It is
a philosophy which is within the reach of the most ordinary minds, as
well as the most agreeable to the most abandoned hearts; and hence its
awfully desolating power. And if its ravages and devastations have not
extended wider and deeper than they have, it is because they have been
checked by the combined powers of nature and of religion, rather than by
logic; by the happy inconsistency, rather than by the superior
metaphysical acumen, of its advocates and admirers.



SECTION XIV.

OF EDWARDS' IDEA OF LIBERTY.

IT was not the design of Edwards, as it is well known, to interfere with
the moral agency of man. He honestly believed that the scheme of
necessity, as held by himself, was perfectly consistent with the
doctrine of liberty; and he retorted upon his adversaries that it was
their system, and not his, which struck at the foundation of moral
agency and accountability. But however upright may have been his
intentions, he has merely left us the name of liberty, while he has in
reality denied to us its nature and its essence.

According to his view of the subject, "The plain and obvious meaning of
the words freedom and liberty, in common speech, is the _power,
opportunity_, or _advantage that any one has to do as he pleases_. Or,
in other words, his being free from hindrance or impediment in the way
of doing, or conducting in any respect as he wills. And the contrary to
liberty, whatever name we call that by, is a person's being hindered, or
unable to conduct as he will, or being necessitated to do otherwise."

This is the kind of liberty for which he contends. And he says, "There
are two things contrary to what is called liberty in common speech. One
is _constraint_, otherwise called _force_, _compulsion_, and
_co-action_, which is a person's being necessitated to do a thing
_contrary_ to his will. The other is _restraint_; which is his being
hindered, and not having power to do _according_ to his will. But that
which has no will cannot be the subject of these things."

This notion of liberty, as Edwards says, presupposes the existence of a
will. In fact, it presupposes more than this; it presupposes the
existence of a determination of the will. For, unless one is determined
not to do a thing, he cannot be constrained to do it, contrary to his
will; and, unless he is determined to do a thing, he cannot be
restrained from doing it according to his will. This kind of liberty,
then, as it presupposes the existence of a determination of the will,
has nothing to do with the manner in which that determination is brought
to pass. If the determination of the mind or will were brought to pass,
so to speak, by an absolutely irresistible force; just as any other
effect is brought to pass by its efficient cause; yet this kind of
liberty might exist in its utmost perfection. For it only requires that
after the will is determined in this manner, or in any other, that it
should be left free from _constraint_ or _restraint_, to flow on just as
it has been determined to do. It is no other liberty than that which is
possessed by a current of water, when it is said to flow _freely_,
because it is not opposed in its course by any material obstruction.

That the liberty for which Edwards contends, has nothing to do with the
manner in which our actions or volitions come to pass; or, more properly
speaking, with the kind of relation between motives and actions, we have
his own express acknowledgment. "What is vulgarly called liberty," says
he, "namely, that power and opportunity for one to do and conduct as he
will, or according to his choice, is all that is meant by it; without
taking into the meaning of the word _any thing of the cause of that
choice; or at all considering how the person came to have such a
volition;_ whether it was caused by some _external motive_, or _internal
habitual bias;_ whether it was determined by some internal antecedent
volition, or whether it happened without a cause; whether _it was
necessarily connected with something foregoing, or not connected. Let
the person come by his choice_ ANY HOW, yet if he is able, and there is
nothing in the way to hinder his pursuing and executing his will, _the
man is perfectly free_, according to the primary and common notion of
freedom."

This notion of liberty, it is easy to see, is consistent with the most
absolute scheme of fatality of which it is possible to conceive. For,
according to this idea of it, if we should come by our choice "any how,"
even by the most irresistible influence of external circumstances, yet
we might be "perfectly free." Hence it is no wonder that we find the
same definition of liberty in the writings of the most absolute
fatalists.

It is remarkable that Edwards has taken great pains to define his idea
of philosophical necessity, and to distinguish it from the common sense
of the word; and yet he supposes that the notion of liberty, about which
the same dispute is conversant, is that which is referred to "in common
speech," or that "which is vulgarly called liberty." He contends for a
_philosophical necessity_, and especially for a necessary connexion
between the influence of motives and volitions; but the _philosophical
liberty_ which stands opposed to his scheme, which denies any such
_necessary_ connexion, he has not deemed it worth his while to notice!

Liberty, according to Edwards' sense of the term, has nothing to do with
the controversy respecting free-agency and necessity. It is as
consistent with fatalism as could be desired by the most extravagant
supporters of that odious system. Hence, when the doctrine of necessity
is denied, and that of liberty or moral agency is asserted, something
more than this is intended. The idea of liberty, as it stands connected
with the controversy in question, has reference to the manner in which
our volitions come to pass, to the relation which subsists between
motives and their corresponding actions. When we say that the will is
free, we mean "that it is not necessarily determined by the influence of
motives;" we mean to deny the doctrine of moral necessity, or that the
relation which subsists between a motive and its corresponding act, is
not that which subsists between an efficient cause and its effect. We
mean to contend for a philosophical liberty, as President Edwards
contends for a philosophical necessity, and not for that "which is
vulgarly called liberty."

There is an inconsistency, I am aware, in supposing a choice to be
induced by the force of external circumstances, or by the force of
motives, whether external or internal; but this inconsistency belongs to
the scheme of necessity; and if I have indulged in the supposition for a
moment, it was only to meet the necessitarian, and argue with him on his
own ground. As I have already said, a will that is _determined_, instead
of _determining_, is no will at all. And the liberty of the will for
which we contend, is implied by the power of the mind to ACT. It does
not depend upon the presence or the absence of any external obstruction.
It is no such occasional, or accidental thing; it is an inherent and
essential attribute and power of the mind. No power in the universe, but
that of creation, can produce it, and no chains on earth can bind it.

The idea of liberty, as contended for by President Edwards, is no other
than that entertained by Mr. Locke. Thus, says the latter, "there may be
thought, there may be will, there may be _volition, where there is no
liberty_." In illustration of this position he says, "A man falling into
water, (a bridge breaking under him,) has not herein liberty, is not a
free-agent. For though he has _volition_, though he prefers his not
falling to falling, yet the forbearance of that motion not being in his
power, the stop or cessation of that motion follows not upon his
volition; and therefore therein he is not free."

It is true, he is not therein free, in one of the most common senses of
the term; but it is wrong to conclude from hence, that there is in such
a case, "_no liberty_." For if the volition, of which he is said to be
possessed, did not result from the action of any thing, if it was simply
an act of the mind, which was not necessarily produced by another act,
then he possessed freedom in the philosophical sense of the term. He was
free in the act of willing, in the possession of his volition, although
the consequence of that volition was cut off and prevented by an
over-ruling necessity, which had no conceivable relation to the manner
in which he came by his volition. Wherever there is a volition, there is
this kind of liberty; for a volition is not, and cannot be, produced by
any coercive force.

The foregoing illustration might have been very consistently offered by
President Edwards, who considered a volition and a preference of the
mind as identically the same; but it comes not with so good a grace from
Mr. Locke. He considered an act of the will as different from a
preference. According to his doctrine, a man might prefer not to fall,
in such a case as that put by himself, and yet not will not to fall. And
he illustrates the difference by saying, "a man would prefer flying to
walking, yet who can say he ever wills it?" Now, if a man cannot will to
fly, it is very difficult to see how he can will not to fall, in case he
were dropped from the air.

The illustration of Mr. Locke is fallacious. It does not show, and I
humbly conceive it cannot be shown, that there can be a volition
anywhere in the universe where there is not freedom. The very idea of a
volition, or an act of the mind, necessarily implies that kind of
philosophical liberty for which we contend.

The above notion of liberty, which Mr. Locke borrowed from Hobbes, and
Edwards from Locke, evidently confounds the motion of the body, (which
they frequently call action,) with volition or action of the mind. Thus,
no matter how a volition comes to pass, or is caused to exist, if there
is nothing to prevent the _motion_ of the body from following its
influence, we are said to be perfectly free. This kind of liberty,
therefore, refers to the motion of the body, and not to the action of
the mind. It has no reference whatever to the question, Is the mind free
in the act of willing? This is the question in dispute; and hence, if
the necessitarian would say any thing to the purpose, he must show that
his scheme is reconcilable with the freedom of the mind in willing. This
Edwards has not attempted to do. He has, in fact, as we have seen, only
given us the name, while he has taken from us the substance of liberty.

The idea of liberty, for which Edwards contends, may be illustrated by
an unobstructed fall of water. Indeed, this is the very thing by which
Mr. Hobbes has chosen to illustrate and explain it. "I conceive liberty
to be rightly defined in this manner," says he; "liberty is the absence
of all the impediments to action, (motion?) that are not contained in
the nature and intrinsical quality of the agent, as for example, the
water is said to descend freely, or to have liberty to descend by the
channel of the river, because there is no impediment that way, but not
across, because the banks are impediments, and though the water cannot
ascend, yet men never say it wants the liberty to ascend, but the
faculty or power, because the impediment is in the nature of the water,
and intrinsical." Mr. Hobbes encountered no more difficulty in
reconciling this notion of liberty with the scheme of fatality for which
he contended, than President Edwards found in reconciling it with the
same scheme in disguise.

According to the Inquiry, then, we have no other liberty than that which
may be ascribed to the winds and the waves of the sea, as they are
carried onward in their courses by the power of the Almighty. Edwards
looks for liberty, and he finds it, not in the will, but in the motions
of the body, which is universally admitted to be passive to the action
of the will. He looks for liberty, and he finds it, where, by universal
consent, an absolute necessity reigns; thus seeking and finding the
living among the dead. It is no wonder, that he could reconcile such a
liberty with the scheme of necessity.

Even President Day is not satisfied with this account of liberty. "On
the subject of liberty or freedom," says he, "which occupies a portion
of the fifth section of Edwards' first book, he has been less particular
than was to be expected, considering that this is the great object of
inquiry in his work." How could Edwards have been more particular? He
has repeatedly and most explicitly informed us, that liberty consists in
a power, or opportunity, to do as we choose; _without considering how we
come by our choice_. If we can only do as we choose, though our choice
should be produced by the most absolute and irresistible power in the
universe, yet are we perfectly free in the highest conceivable sense of
the word. "If any imagine they desire, and that they conceive of a
higher liberty than this," says he, "they are deceived, and delude
themselves with confused ambiguous words instead of ideas." President
Day complains that all this is not sufficiently particular; but although
he may not have been aware of it, I apprehend that he has been
dissatisfied with the dreadful particularity and precision with which
the doctrine of the Inquiry has been exhibited. It is precisely the
doctrine of liberty which has been held by the most absolute and
unqualified fatalists the world has ever seen; and it is set forth, too,
with a bold precision and clearness, which would have done honour to the
stern consistency of Hobbes himself. It is no wonder, that President Day
should have felt a desire to see such a doctrine softened down by the
author of the Inquiry.

"The professed object of his book," says President Day, "_according to
the title-page_, is an inquiry concerning the freedom of the will;--not
the freedom of external conduct. We naturally look for his meaning of
this internal liberty. What he has said, in this section, respecting
freedom of the will, has rather the appearance of evading such a
definition of it as might be considered his own." Yes, it is in this
section that we naturally look for his idea of the liberty of the will;
but we do not find it. We must turn to the title-page, if we wish to see
any thing about the liberty of the will. "What he has said, in this
section, respecting freedom of the will," does not, (President Day
himself being judge,) relate to the freedom of the will at all; it only
relates to the freedom of the body, which has no freedom at all; but
which is wholly passive to the action of the will. President Day is not
satisfied with all this; and hence, he proceeds to tell us, what Edwards
would have said in this section, if he had not thus evaded his own
definition of internal liberty. Let us see, then, what he would have
said.

From a letter to a minister of the Church of Scotland, President Day
finds that in the phrase conducting as a man pleases, the author of the
Inquiry means to include the idea of _choosing as he pleases_. Now, this
is all true; and this is the internal liberty, which President Day has
extracted from the aforesaid letter. Then, according to Edwards, we have
two kinds of liberty: the one is a liberty to move the body as we
please, or as we choose; and the other is, to choose as we please, or as
we choose. In the vocabulary, and according to the psychology of
President Edwards, as we have frequently seen, and as we here see, our
pleasing and our choosing are one and the same thing. Hence, to move our
bodies according to our pleasure, is to move it according to our choice;
and to choose as we please, is to choose as we choose. President Day
need not have gone to the letter in question, in order to find this
doctrine; for it is repeatedly set forth in the inquiry. President
Edwards, as we have seen, frequently contends in the Inquiry, that we
always choose as we choose; and as frequently makes his adversaries
assert, that we can "choose without choosing;" which is just as absurd,
he truly declares, as to say that a body can move while it is in a state
of rest.

Now, to place liberty in this "choosing as we choose," without regard to
the cause or origin of our choice, is just about as rational as it would
be to place it in the axioms of geometry. Suppose a man is made to
choose, by an absolute and uncontrollable power; it is nevertheless
true, that he chooses as he does choose. This cannot be otherwise than
true; it is a self-evident and necessary truth; for nothing can be
different from itself, can be what it is, and yet not what it is, at one
and the same time. To speak of a power of choosing as we choose, as
Edwards and Day both do, is just about as reasonable as it were to speak
of a power to make two and two equal to four. Supposing the Almighty
should cause us to choose, it is not in his power to prevent us from
choosing as we do choose; for he cannot work contradictions.

Whether President Edwards speaks of our moving as we please, or of our
choosing as we please; whether he speaks of an external liberty, or of
this internal liberty; he is always careful to remind us, that it has no
reference to the question, how we come by our pleasure or choice. In the
letter referred to, wherein he admits that a man's liberty of conducting
as he pleases or chooses, includes "a liberty of choosing as he
pleases," he instantly adds, but "without determining how he came by
that pleasure." Yes, no matter how we come by our choice, though it be
wrought into us by the most uncontrollable power in the universe, yet
are we free in the highest conceivable sense of the word, if we can only
"conduct according to our choice." This, instead of being the greatest
liberty, is indeed the greatest mockery, of which it is possible for the
imagination of man to conceive. The liberty of fate itself, is, in all
respects, to the full as desirable as such a liberty as this. Is it not
wonderful, to behold the great and good author of the Inquiry, thus
planting himself upon the very ground of atheistical fatalism; and from
thence, in sober, serious earnestness, holding out to us, as a great and
glorious reality, the mere name and shadow and fiction of liberty? the
very phantom which atheists, in mockery and derision, have been pleased
to confer upon mankind, as upon poor blind fools, who merely dream of
liberty, and fondly dote upon the empty name thereof, whilst they are
ignorant of the chains which bind them fast in fate.



SECTION XV.

OF EDWARDS' IDEA OF VIRTUE.

IN order to reconcile his scheme of necessity with the existence and
reality of virtue, it appears that Edwards has adopted a false notion of
virtue. This is the course he has taken, as I have already shown, in
regard to the doctrine of liberty or free-agency, in order to reconcile
it with necessity; and if I mistake not, it may be shown, that he has
been able to reconcile necessity and virtue only by transforming the
nature of virtue to make it suit his system.

I do not intend, at present, to enter into a full discussion of the
author's views in relation to the nature of virtue. I shall content
myself with a brief consideration of his notion of virtue, as it stands
more immediately and directly connected with the subject of the Inquiry.

It is a fundamental principle with him, that "the essence of the virtue
and viciousness of dispositions of the heart, and acts of the will, lies
not in their cause, but their nature." In what precise sense the author
would have us to understand this proposition, I shall not now stop to
inquire. It is sufficient for my present purpose, that he attaches such
a sense to it, as to make the idea of virtue it is intended to define,
to agree not only with his doctrine of necessity, but also with any
other kind of necessity or fatality whatever. For he maintains, that as
the essence of virtue does not consist in its cause, but in its nature,
so a man by the mere act of creation may, in the proper sense of the
word, be endowed with virtuous and holy dispositions. It is true, the
man himself has had no share in the production of his dispositions, they
are exclusively the work of his Creator; but yet they are virtuous, they
are the objects of moral approbation, because the virtuousness of
dispositions has nothing at all to do with their cause or origin. It
depends wholly on their nature, and having this nature, (as he supposes
they may have by creation alone,) he concludes that they are properly
and truly virtuous, although the person in whom they exist has in no
manner whatever contributed to their production; neither in whole nor in
part, neither exclusively nor concurrently with his Maker. Now, it is
evident, I think, that if virtue may be made to exist in this way, by a
power wholly extraneous to the being in whom it exists, and wholly
independent of all his own thoughts and reflections and doings, then it
may be easily reconciled with the most absolute scheme of fatality that
has ever been advocated. For it may exist without any agency or
concurrence or consent on the part of the person in whom it exists; and
hence, there would be no difficulty in reconciling it with any scheme of
necessity that any fatalist may be pleased to advance.

To show that I have not misrepresented the author, I shall select from
many passages of similar import, the following from his work on
"Original Sin:"--"Human nature must be created with some dispositions; a
disposition to relish some things as good and amiable, and to be averse
to other things as odious and disagreeable: otherwise it must be without
any such thing as inclination or will, perfectly indifferent, without
preference, without choice or aversion towards any thing as agreeable or
disagreeable. But if it had any concreated dispositions at all, they
must be either right or wrong, either agreeable or disagreeable to the
nature of things. If man had at first the highest relish of things
excellent and beautiful, a disposition to have the quickest and highest
delight in those things which are most worthy of it, then his
dispositions were morally right and amiable, and _never can be excellent
in a higher sense_. But if he had a disposition to love most those
things that were inferior and less worthy, then his dispositions were
vicious. And it is evident there can be no medium between these."

Now, this principle, that a man may be to praise or to blame, that he
may be esteemed virtuous or vicious, on account of what he has wholly
and exclusively received from another, appears to me to be utterly
irreconcilable with one of the clearest and most unequivocal dictates of
reason and conscience.

According to the above passage, there can be no medium between virtuous
and vicious dispositions. This sentiment is still more explicitly
declared in the following words; "In a moral agent, subject to moral
obligations, it is the same thing to be perfectly _innocent_, as to be
perfectly _righteous_. It must be the same, because there can no more be
any medium between sin and righteousness, or between being right and
being wrong, in a moral sense, than there can be between being straight
and crooked, in a natural sense." Now, all this is very true, in regard
to a moral being who has been called upon to act; for he must either
live up to the rule of duty, or he must fall short of it. If he does the
former, he becomes righteous in the true and proper sense of the term;
and if he does the latter, he loses his original innocence, and becomes
a transgressor. But before he has any opportunity of acting, at the
instant of his creation, I humbly conceive that no moral agent is either
to be praised or blamed for any disposition with which he may have been
endowed by his Maker. He is neither virtuous nor vicious, neither
righteous nor sinful. This was the condition of Adam, as it very clearly
appears to me, at the instant of his creation. He was in a state of
perfect _innocency_; having neither transgressed the law of God, nor
attained to true holiness. And if this be the case, then in regard to
such a moral agent, before he has an opportunity to act, or to think, or
to feel, it is not "the same thing to be perfectly innocent, as to be,
perfectly righteous;" nor the same thing to be destitute of true
righteousness, as to be sinful.

It strikes my mind with the force of a self-evident truth, that nothing
can be our virtue, unless we are in some sense the author of it; and to
affirm that a man may be justly praised or blamed, that he may be
esteemed virtuous or vicious, on account of what he has wholly and
exclusively received from another, appears to me to contradict one of
the clearest and most unequivocal dictates of reason, one of the most
universal and irreversible laws of human belief.

Though the Almighty endowed Adam with all that is lovely in human
nature, the recipient of such noble qualities certainly deserved no
credit for them, as he had no agency in their production. All the praise
and glory belonged to God. Such dispositions are no doubt the objects of
our admiration and love, but they are no more the objects of our _moral
approbation_ than is the beauty of a flower. Both are the work of the
same creative energy which hath diffused so much of loveliness and
beauty over every part of the creation.

Hence, I deny that Adam was "created or brought into existence
righteous." I am willing to admit, that he "was brought into existence
capable of acting immediately as a moral agent; and, therefore, he was
immediately under a rule of _right_ action. He was obliged as soon as he
existed, to _act right_." But I deny that until he did begin to act, he
could possess the character of true holiness or virtue. That President
Edwards thought otherwise, is evident, not only from the passage already
quoted, but also from many others, as well as from the fact, that he
argues if Adam had not possessed virtuous dispositions before he began
to act,--if he had not derived them directly from his Creator, then the
existence of virtue would have been impossible.

On this subject, his argument is ingenious and plausible. It is as
follows: "It is agreeable to the sense of men, in all nations and ages,
not only that the fruit or effect of a good choice is virtuous, but that
the good choice itself from whence that effect proceeds, is so; yea,
also the antecedent good disposition, temper, or affection of mind, from
whence proceeds that _good_ choice, is virtuous. This is the general
notion--not that principles derive their goodness from actions,
but--that actions derive their goodness from the principles whence they
proceed; so that the act of choosing what is good, is no further
virtuous, than it proceeds from a good principle, or virtuous
disposition of mind. Which supposes that a virtuous disposition of mind,
may be before a virtuous act of choice; and that, therefore, it is not
necessary there should first be thought, reflection, and choice, before
there can be any virtuous disposition. If the choice be first, before
the existence of a good disposition of heart, what is the character of
that choice? There can, according to our natural notions, be no virtue
in a choice which proceeds from no virtuous principle, but from mere
self-love, ambition, or some animal appetite: therefore, a virtuous
temper of mind may be before a good act of choice, as a tree may be
before the fruit, and the fountain before the stream which proceeds from
it," p. 407.

It is true, that actions derive their good or evil quality, as the case
may be, from the principles whence they proceed. This accords, as the
author truly says, with the universal sentiment of mankind. But this
proposition, plain and simple as it appears to be at first sight, may be
misunderstood. The term "principle" is ambiguous; and, according to the
idea attached to it, the above proposition may be true or false. When it
is said, for example, that a vicious or sinful action derives its evil
quality from the principle or motive whence it proceeds, I apprehend
that no one pretends to fix the brand of condemnation on the implanted
principle, or the natural spring of action, from which it is supposed to
proceed. To take the very case in question; our first parents, in eating
the forbidden fruit, acted partly from a desire of food and partly from
a desire of knowledge. Now, this was a sinful action, because forbidden,
and consequently, according to the sense of men in all ages and nations,
it must have proceeded from a sinful inclination or principle. But yet
no one, I presume, will contend that either the desire of food or the
desire of knowledge, from which it is supposed to have proceeded, is in
itself sinful. They were implanted in our nature by the finger of God,
for wise and beneficent purposes; and to assert that they are sinful, is
to make God the author of sin. Our first parents were not to blame
because they were endowed with these principles. Hence, when it is said,
that a sinful action must proceed from a sinful principle, we are not to
understand the proposition as meaning that the inherent constitutional
principle of action from which it is supposed to proceed is sinful. Our
first parents sinned, not in possessing an appetite for food, or a
desire for knowledge, but in indulging these contrary to the will of
God. It was their _intention_ and _design_ to do that which God had
commanded them not to do, and which they knew it was wrong for them to
do. It was this intention and design, which was certainly not an
implanted principle, or any part of the work of the Creator, which
constituted their sin; and it is this intention and design that is
pointed at, when it is said, that the principle or motive from which
their transgression proceeded, was a sinful principle or motive. And
hence, we very clearly perceive, that a sinful action may result from
those principles of our constitution, which are in themselves neither
virtuous nor vicious, which are wholly destitute of any moral character
whatever. So, in like manner, a virtuous action may result from a
principle of our nature, implanted in the human breast by the Author of
our being, although such principle may not, properly speaking, be called
a virtuous principle, or an object of moral approbation.

The fallacy of the author's argument, I conceive, has arisen from the
ambiguity of the term principle. As it is truly said, that a holy action
can proceed only from a holy principle or disposition, he concluded,
that if man had not been created with a principle of virtue or holiness
in his heart, then no such thing as virtue or holiness could ever have
found its way into the world. Supposing, all the time, that it is
universally considered that a virtuous act could proceed only from an
implanted principle of virtue, of which God alone is the author;
whereas, in fact, the virtuous principle from which the virtuous act is
supposed to derive its character, is not an implanted principle at all,
but the design, or intention, or motive with which the act is done; and
of which the created agent is himself the author.

There is one thing well worthy of remark in this connexion. President
Edwards contends, as we have seen, that Adam must have been created with
a principle of virtue, of which his Maker was the sole author, or else
the existence of virtue would have been impossible, And yet, he contends
that Adam was created perfectly free from sin;--that as he came from the
hand of his Maker, he was perfectly pure and holy, without the least
stain or blemish of any wrong or vicious principle upon his nature. Is
it not wonderful, that it did not occur to so acute a reasoner as the
author of the "Inquiry," that if his own argument was sound, it would,
according to his own principle, prove the introduction of sin into the
world to be utterly impossible? That he did not see, if it is impossible
to account for the existence of holiness, except on the supposition that
man was created or brought into the world with a principle of holiness
implanted in his heart; so, for the same reason, it is equally
impossible to account for the existence of sin, except on the
supposition that a sinful principle was implanted in the breast of man
by the hand of his Maker?

The above extract, by which Edwards endeavours to prove that Adam could
not have performed a virtuous act, unless a virtuous principle had been
planted in his nature by the Creator, would be just as correct and
conclusive, if we were to read vicious instead of virtuous. By the very
same argument, we might prove that he could not have sinned, and so sin
would have been impossible, unless God had planted a sinful principle or
disposition in his nature.

It is sufficiently evident, that President Edwards' idea of the essence
of virtue, was not altogether correct, and that he was led to adopt it
by the necessities of a false system. For if we admit that the essence
of virtue or of sin consists in its nature, and not in its cause or
origin, it must be conceded, on the other hand, that the nature of those
principles, or dispositions, or volitions, or habits, (call them what we
may,) which are termed virtuous or vicious, depend in a very important
sense upon their cause or origin. It must be conceded, that no
disposition or principle whatever which has derived its origin wholly
from any cause or power extraneous to the moral agent in which it
exists, can be properly denominated virtuous or vicious. It cannot
partake of the nature of virtue or of vice, unless it owes its origin to
the agent whose virtue or whose vice it is supposed to be. If it
proceeds wholly from the "power, influence, or action," of motives, or
from the hand of the Creator, it is not the act of the agent in whom it
exists, and consequently he is not accountable for it. Or, in other
words, the nature of virtue and vice is such, that they cannot possibly
be produced by any "cause, or power, or influence," which is wholly
extraneous to the mind in which they exist. Virtue and vice, in the
strict and proper sense of the words, must have the concurrence and
consent of the mind in which they exist, or they cannot possibly exist
at all. To speak of virtue,--of that which deserves our moral
approbation, as being wholly derived from another--as being exclusively
the work of God in the soul, is to be guilty of a contradiction, as
plain and palpable as the light of heaven. It is to be regretted, it is
to be deeply lamented, that Edwards did not try to bring his doctrine of
the will into harmony with the common sentiments of mankind with respect
to the nature of virtue and free-agency, instead of exerting his
matchless powers to make virtue and free-agency agree with his scheme of
necessity, by explaining away and transforming their natures. It is to
be lamented; because in attempting to uphold and support the distinctive
peculiarities of his own system of theology, he has unintentionally
struck a deadly blow at the vital and fundamental principles of all
religion, both natural and revealed. The infidel and the atheist are
much indebted to him for such an exertion of his immortal powers.



SECTION XVI.

OF THE SELF-DETERMINING POWER.

THE advocates of free-agency have contended that the will is determined
by itself, and not by the strongest motive. This is the ground which, so
far as I know, has always been taken against the doctrine of necessity;
but it may be questioned whether it is tenable, and whether the friends
of moral agency might not have made far greater headway against their
adversaries if they had not assumed such a position. It appears to be
involved in several inevitable contradictions; in the exposure of which
the necessitarian has been accustomed to triumph.

The leading argument of Edwards against the self-determining power may
be substantially stated in a few words. The will can be the cause of no
effect, says he, except by acting, or putting forth a volition to cause
it; and hence, if we assert that the will causes its own volitions, we
must suppose it causes them by preceding volitions. It can cause a
volition only by a prior volition, which, in its turn, can be caused
only by another volition prior to it; and so on _ad infinitum_. Thus,
according to Edwards, the self-determining power of the will necessarily
runs out into the absurdity of an infinite series of volitions.

If this reasoning is just, the doctrine in question must be abandoned;
for no sound doctrine can lead to such a conclusion. But is it just?
Does such an absurdity really flow from the self-determining power of
the will?

It has been objected to the argument of Edwards, that it is based on a
false assumption. The position of Edwards, "that if the will determines
itself, it must determine itself by an act of choice," is, it has been
contended, clearly an assumption unsupported, and incapable of being
supported. The reason assigned for this objection is, that we do not
know how any cause exerts itself in the production of phenomena; and
consequently we have no right to assume that the will can cause its
volitions only by volitions. In other words, as we do not know how any
cause produces its effects, so it is wholly a gratuitous assumption to
say, that if the will causes its volitions, it must cause them in this
particular manner, that is, by preceding acts of volition.

This objection does not seem to be well taken. When we say, that the
will is the cause of any thing, we do not really mean that the will
itself is the cause of it; for the will itself does not act: it is not
an agent, it is merely the power of an agent. It is that power by which
the mind acts. Hence, when the will is said to cause a thing, the
language must either have no intelligible meaning, or it must be
understood to mean, that the mind causes it by an exercise of its power
of willing. But to say that the mind causes a thing by an exercise of
its power of willing, is to say that it causes it by an act of the will
or a volition; which brings us to the assumption of Edwards. Hence, if
the language that "the will causes its own volitions" means any thing,
it must mean what Edwards supposes it does. That is, if the will causes
its volition, or rather, if the mind in the act of willing causes them,
then they must be caused by volitions or acts of the will.

It is said, that "we do not know _how_ any cause acts." This is very
true, when properly understood; but in the true sense of this maxim,
Edwards has not undertaken to explain how a cause acts; nor has he made
any assumption as to how it acts. The _term_ cause has a variety of
meanings; and it is frequently applied with extreme vagueness and want
of precision. What is the cause of an effect?--of the motion of the
hand, for example? It is the mind, says one; it is the will, says
another; it is a volition, replies a third. Now here are three distinct
things,--the mind, the will, and the volition; and yet each is said to
be the cause of the same identical effect. This diversity of expression
may do very well in popular discourse, but it must be laid aside
whenever philosophical precision is required.

What is then, really and properly speaking, the cause of the motion in
question? It is neither the mind, nor the will; for these might both
exist, and yet no such effect result from them. A mind, or a will, that
lies still and does not act, is the cause of no effect. If we would
speak with philosophical precision, then, we should say that the act of
the mind is the cause of the effect in question. The idea of a cause, in
the strict and proper sense of the term, is that from which the effect
immediately and necessarily flows. Now the motion of the hand is not
necessarily connected with the mind itself; for if the mind were to lie
still and not act, no such effect would follow. It is with the act of
the mind that the effect in question is connected as with its efficient
cause. It is the act of the mind which implies the motion of the hand,
and that is implied by it; and hence, it is the act of the mind, or the
volition, that is properly said to be the cause of such motion. For
cause and effect, are said to imply each other.

Now Edwards has not pretended to say how a volition acts upon the
external part of our being; if he had done so, he would have been justly
obnoxious to the charge of presuming to know how a cause acts, in the
proper sense of the word; but he has done no such thing. The connexion
between cause and effect, in the proper sense of the terms, he has left
enveloped in profound mystery. He has not presumed to say how an act, or
cause, properly so called, produces its corresponding effect.

He does not assume to know how a cause acts; but how what is sometimes
called a cause really becomes such. The will may be called a cause, if
you please; but, in reality, unless it acts, it is the cause of no
effect; and even then, properly speaking, the act is the cause. He
clearly saw that a will which lies still and does nothing, is the cause
of no effect; and hence he stated the simple fact, that it must act in
order to become a cause, or, which is the same thing, in order to
produce an effect. And is not this perfectly self-evident? We do not
know how the will acts, nor how its act produces a change in the
external part of our being; but yet do we not certainly know, that a
dormant will can do nothing, and that it must act in order to produce an
effect. If this be to explain how a cause acts, I humbly conceive that
we may do so with perfect propriety.

Indeed, all that is assumed by Edwards, has been conceded to him by most
of his adversaries. Thus says Dr. West, as quoted by Edwards the
younger, "No being can become a cause, i. e. an efficient, or that which
produces an effect, but by first operating, acting, or energizing." Here
we are told, not how a cause acts, but how the mind becomes a cause, or
the author of effects. This is all that Edwards takes for granted; and,
for aught that I can see, he has done so with perfect propriety.

The same thing is conceded by Dr. Reid. "The change," says he, "whether
it be of thought, of will, or of motion, is the effect. Active power,
therefore, is a quality in the cause, which enables it to produce the
effect. And the exertion of that active power in producing the effect,
is called action, agency, efficiency. In order to the production of any
effect, there must be in the cause, not only power, _but the exertion of
that power_."--Essays on the Active Powers, p. 259. Here it is declared
by Dr. Reid, that active power or the will must act, in order to produce
an effect, whether the effect be in the mind itself, or out of the mind,
whether it be "of thought, of will, or of motion." This is all that
Edwards assumes as the basis of his argument.

But the question is not so much what has been conceded, as what is true.
Is it true, then, that if the will causes its own volitions, it can
cause them only by preceding volitions? It is, as we have already seen,
according to the common acceptation of the terms; for a dormant cause
can produce no effect; it must act in order to produce effects. Edwards
has truly said, that "if the will be determined, there is a determiner.
This must be supposed to be intended even by those that say the will
determines itself. If it be so, the will is both determiner and
determined; it is a cause that acts and produces effects upon itself,
and is the object of its own influence and action." p. 19. Now, whatever
may be the meaning of those who choose to affirm that the will
determines itself, admitting that it is both determined and determiner;
the conclusion of Edwards seems to be fairly drawn from the language in
which their doctrine is expressed. To say the least, he fairly reduces
the obvious meaning of their language to the absurdity of an infinite
series of volitions.

If the phrase, that the will is determined by itself, has any meaning,
it must mean, either that the will is made to act by a preceding act of
the will, or that the will simply acts. If the meaning be, that the act
or choice of the will is produced by a preceding act of the will, then
is the inference of Edwards well drawn, and the self-determining power
is involved in the aforesaid _ad infinitum_ absurdity. But if the
meaning be, that the will simply acts, why not present the idea in this
its true and unambiguous form?

It is evident, that while the will remains inactive, it can produce no
effect; it must act, in order to become the author of effects. The
effect caused, and the causative act, are clearly distinct; the one
produces the other. If the causative act is a volition, then we have an
infinite series of volitions. And if it be not a volition, but some
other effort of the mind, the same difficulty arises; for if it be
necessary to suppose a preceding effort of the mind in order to account
for a volition, it will be equally necessary to suppose the existence of
another effort to account for that; and so on _ad infinitum_. And an
infinite series of efforts is just as great an absurdity as an infinite
series of volitions.

Now let us suppose that, in order to escape these difficulties, an
advocate of the self-determining power should deny that there is any
causative act of volition; but that volition is itself an act uncaused
by any preceding act. According to this view, what does the
self-determining power amount to? It amounts to just this, that the will
itself acts,--a position which is as freely recognized by Edwards as it
could possibly be by the warmest advocate of the self-determining power.
If this be all that is meant by self-determination, why not state the
simple fact that the will itself acts, in plain English, instead of
going about to envelope it in a mist of words? If this be all that is
meant, why not state the thing so that it may be acquiesced in by the
necessitarian, instead of keeping up such a war of words? Indeed, it
appears plain to me, that the assertion that the will is determined by
itself, is either false doctrine, or else the language in which it is
couched is not a clear and distinct expression of its own meaning. On
either supposition, this mode of expression should be abandoned.

I have long been impressed with the conviction, that the
self-determining power, as it is generally understood, is full of
inconsistencies. While we hold this doctrine, we cannot with a good
grace contend that the motive-determining power is involved in the
absurdity of an infinite series of causes; for we ourselves are involved
in it. Nor can we very well maintain that "a necessary agent is no agent
at all;" for the necessitarian will reply, as he always does, that
according to our own scheme, our actions are caused; and hence, if it be
absurd to speak of a caused action, this is equally true, whether the
cause be intrinsic or extrinsic. Moreover, if we should complain that,
according to the necessitarian, the phenomena of the will are involved
in the "mechanism of cause and effect," he will be sure to reply, that
the same thing is true according to our own scheme, inasmuch as we admit
volition to be an effect, and place it under the dominion of an internal
cause. These difficulties, as well as some others, have always
encumbered the cause of free and accountable agency; just because it has
been supposed to consist in the self-determining power of the will. We
should, therefore, abandon this doctrine. If Clarke, and Price, and
Reid, and West, have not been able to maintain it without running into
such inconsistencies, it is high time it should be laid aside forever.

It has always been taken for granted that the will is determined. The
use of this word clearly implies that the will is acted upon, either by
the will itself, or by something else. It has been conceded, on all
sides, that it is determined; and the only controversy has been, as to
what is the determiner. It is determined by the strongest motive, says
one; it is determined by itself, says another; and upon these two
positions the combatants have arranged themselves. But behind all this
controversy, there is a question which has not been agitated; and that
is, whether the will is determined at all? For my part, I am firmly and
fully persuaded that it is not, but that it simply determines. It is the
"determiner," but not the "determined." It is never the object of its
own determination. It acts, but there is no causative act, by which it
is made to act. This position, I trust, has been made good in the
preceding pages.

If we say that the will is determined by itself, this implies that it is
determined in the passive voice, at the same time that it determines in
the active voice; whereas, in reality, it is simply active, and not
passive to the action of any thing, in its determinations. We should not
say, then, that the mind is self-determined, but simply that it is
self-active. On this ground we may securely rest in our opposition to
the scheme of necessity. It can never be shown that it is involved in
the absurdity of an endless series of causes; it will remain for the
necessitarian alone to extricate himself from that absurdity. That the
mind is self-active, I have already shown, by showing that it is absurd
to suppose that an act of the mind is produced by the action of any
thing upon it. It is right here, then, upon the self-activity of the
human mind, that we take our stand, in order to plant the lever which
shall heave the scheme of moral necessity from its foundations. It is
right here that we find our stronghold; that we erect the bulwark and
the fortifications of man's free-agency, against which, as against a
wall of adamant, all the shafts of the necessitarian will fall blunted
to the earth, or else recoil with destructive force upon himself.

But why fight against the doctrine of those who have laboured in the
same great cause with myself? Truly, most truly, not because it is a
grateful task, but because it is a deep and earnest conviction, wrought
into my mind by the meditation of years, that the great and glorious
cause of free-agency has been retarded by some of the errors of its
friends, more than by all the truths of its enemies. This has appeared
to be the case especially in regard to the self-determining power of the
will. It seems to have retained its hold upon the mind of its friends,
not so much by its intrinsic merits, as by its denial of moral
necessity, and the idea that it is the only mode of such denial. As the
scheme of moral necessity has triumphed in the weakness of the
self-determining power, so has the self-determining power resisted the
siege of centuries, in the unconquerable energy of its opposition to the
determining and controlling power of motives. And if both have stood
together, each deriving strength from the weakness of the other, is it
not possible that both may fall together, and that a more complete and
satisfactory scheme of moral agency may arise out of the common ruins?



SECTION XVII.

OF THE DEFINITION OF A FREE AGENT.

HAVING shown, as I trust, that there is no influence whatever operating
upon the mind to produce volition, I am now prepared to declare the true
idea of a free-agent.

A free-agent, then, is one who acts without being caused to act. Here
the question arises, Is such a thing possible? Can any being act,
without being caused to act? The answer to this question, depends upon
the meaning which is attached to the very ambiguous term cause. If it
means an efficient cause, or that which produces a thing by prior action
or influence, it is possible for a spirit to act without being caused to
do so; and, as we have already seen, if there can be no action without
such a cause of its existence, then there must be an infinite series of
actions or causes. But if the question be, Can an act arise and come
into being, without a sufficient "ground and reason" of its existence? I
answer, No. It is very necessary to separate the different questions
included in the general one, Is not a volition caused? or has it not a
cause? and to pass upon them separately.

There is, I admit, a "sufficient ground and reason" for our actions; but
not an _efficient_ cause of them. This is the all-important distinction
which has been overlooked in the present controversy. Edwards frequently
asks, if a volition is without a cause? Now we call for a division of
this question. Has volition an efficient cause? I answer, No. Has it a
"sufficient ground and reason" of its existence? I answer, Yes. No one
ever imagined that there are no indispensable antecedents to choice,
without which it could not take place; but Edwards has framed this
question in such a manner, that we cannot give a categorical answer to
it, without either denying our own doctrine, or else subscribing to his.
Unless there were a mind, there could be no act of the mind; and unless
the mind possessed a power of acting, it could not put forth volitions.
The mind, then, and the power of the mind called will, constitute the
ground of action or volition.

But a power to act, it will be said, is not a sufficient reason to
account for the existence of action. This is true. The _reason_ is to
come. The sufficient reason, however, is not an efficient cause; for
there is some difference between a blind impulse or force, and
rationality. The mind is endowed with various appetites, passions, and
desires,--with noble affections, and, above all, with a feeling of moral
approbation and disapprobation. These are not the "active principles,"
or the "motive powers," as they have been called; they are the ends of
our acting: we simply act in order to gratify them. They exert no
influence over the will, much less is the will controlled by them; and
hence, we are perfectly free, to gratify the one or the other of
them;--to act in obedience to the dictates of conscience, or in order to
gratify the lowest appetites of our nature. We see that certain means
must be used, in order to gratify the passion, desire, affection, or
feeling, which we _intend_ to gratify; and we act accordingly. In all
this, we form our designs or _intentions_ free from all influence
whatever: nothing acts upon the will: we fix upon the end, and we choose
the means to accomplish it. We adapt the means to our end; because there
is a fitness in them to accomplish that end or design; and because, as
rational creatures, we perceive that fitness. Thus, we act according to
reason, but not from the influence of reason. We act with a view to our
desires, but not from the influence of our desires; and our volition is
virtuous or vicious according to the intention with which it is put
forth,--according to the design with which it is directed. Passion is
not "the gale," it is "the card." Reason is not the force, it is the
law. All the power resides in the free, untrammelled will. He who
overlooks this, and blindly seeks for something to "move the mind to
volition," loses sight of the grand and distinctive peculiarity of man's
nature, and brings it down to the dust, subjecting it to the laws of
matter and to bondage.

We do not allow Mr. Hobbes to declare our idea of a free-agent, as "one
that, when all the circumstances necessary to produce action are
present, _can nevertheless not act_;" nor do we accept of the amendment,
of another, "that a free-agent is one who, when all the circumstances
necessary to produce action are present, _can act_." For if all the
circumstances necessary _to produce_ action are present, then they would
produce it; and nothing would be left for the will to do, except to
receive the producing influence. In other words, if volition is produced
by circumstances, then it is a passive impression made upon the will,
and not an act at all.

It is contended by Edwards, that it is just as absurd to say, that a
volition can come into existence without a cause, as it is that a world
should do so. It is true, that a world cannot arise out of nothing, and
come into existence of itself; and this is also equally true of a
volition. But is the mind nothing? Is the will nothing? Is a free,
intelligent, designing cause nothing?

The mind is something; and it is capable of acting in order to fulfil
its own designs, though it be not impelled to act. Is this idea absurd?
Is it self-contradictory? Is it any thing like the assertion, that an
effect has no cause? It is not. It implies no contradiction;--it is a
possible idea. How does it act, then? I do not know. This is a mystery.
Indeed, every ultimate fact in man's nature, and every simple exercise
of his intellectual powers, is a mystery. An exercise of the power of
conception, by which the past is called up, and made to pass in review
before us; an exercise of the imagination, by which the world is made to
teem with wonders of our own creation; and an exercise of the will, by
which we produce changes in, the external world; are all mysteries? Now,
shall we fly from these mysteries? Shall we strive to make the matter
plain, in a single instance, by assigning an efficient cause to an act
of the will? If so, whether we escape the _mystery_ or not, we shall
certainly plunge into _absurdity_. We shall embrace a doctrine, which
denies the nature of action, and which is necessarily involved in the
great absurdity of an infinite series of causes. For my part, I prefer a
simple statement of the fact of volition, with its attendant
circumstances, how much soever of mystery it may seem to leave around
the subject, to any _explanation_ which involves it in absurdity.

The philosophers of all ages have sought for the efficient cause of
volition; but who has found it? Is it in the will? The necessitarian has
shown the absurdities of this hypothesis. Is it in the power of motive?
This hypothesis is fraught with the very same absurdities. Is it in the
uncaused volition of Deity? The younger Edwards could do nothing with
this hypothesis. In truth, the efficient cause of volition is nowhere.
It has never been found, because it does not exist; and it never will be
found, so long as an action of mind continues to be what it is.

This, then, is the true idea of a free-agent: it is one who, in view of
circumstances, both external and internal, can act, without being
efficiently caused to do so. This is the idea of a free-agent which God
has realized by the creation of the soul of man. It may be a mystery;
but it is not a contradiction. It may be a mystery; but then it solves a
thousand difficulties which we have unnecessarily created to ourselves.
It may be a mystery; but then it is the only safe retreat from
self-contradiction, absurdity, and atheism.

It is no reason for disbelieving a thing, that we cannot conceive how it
is. This will be readily admitted; but this principle, like every other,
may be misapplied and abused. If any thing is possible in itself
considered, that is, if it implies no contradiction, we should not
refuse to believe it, because we cannot conceive how it is. When
confined within these limits, the principle or maxim in question is one
of immense importance; and to disregard it betrays one of the greatest
weaknesses to which the human mind is exposed. If we do not adhere to
it, there is no resting-place for us this side of the most unqualified
atheism: we shall be compelled to renounce, not only the stupendous
facts and mysteries of revelation, but also all the great truths of
natural religion. The very being and attributes of God can find no place
in our minds, if we expunge this principle from them; and insist upon
seeing how every thing is, before we consent to receive it as an object
of belief.

We should find no difficulty, therefore, in believing that the mind of
man acts, without being efficiently caused to act. This implies no
contradiction; and hence the creative power of God can produce such a
being--a being that acts freely, without labouring under any necessity,
either natural or moral, in its accountable and moral agency. A being,
the end of whose action is found in the sensibility; the intention, the
design, and the plan of whose action is formed in the intelligence; and
the power by which this intention is executed, and this plan
accomplished, is in the will alone. It is in this triunity of the
sensibility, the intelligence, and the will, that the glory of man's
nature, as a free and accountable being, consists. The relation between
them is most intimate,--is inconceivably intimate; but the relation is
not the same in nature and kind as that which subsists between an effect
and its efficient, or producing cause. The only relation of this kind,
which is to be found in the case, is that which subsists between the
action of the will, or the volition, and the corresponding change which
it produces in the external part of our being. I say, we can very easily
believe all this, as it implies no contradiction; and yet not feel
ourselves bound, by a regard for consistency, to believe that a world
may rise up out of nothing, and come into being of itself, without any
cause of its existence. These things are blended together, in the
philosophy of the necessitarian, by a most convenient use of an
ambiguous phraseology; but they are, indeed, as widely different from
each other as mystery is from absurdity,--as light is from darkness.

But the above maxim, as I have already said, may be grievously
misapplied; and thus the garb of intellectual humility may be thrown
over the greatest absurdities. We may be told, for example, that the
same body may be wholly in one place, and wholly in a far distant place,
at one and the same time; and, if we object to this doctrine, the
murmurings of reason are sought to be silenced, by reminding us, that it
is exceedingly weak and presumptuous for poor blind creatures like
ourselves, to reject a truth because we cannot conceive how it is. In
like manner, we are informed that a volition, or an act of the will, may
be produced in the mind, may be necessitated, by the action of an
extraneous cause; or, if you please, of an intrinsic cause; and if we
ask how this can be, without interfering with our free-agency, it is
frequently replied, that we cannot tell; but that it is exceedingly
absurd and presumptuous to disbelieve a thing because we cannot conceive
how it is. That God operates upon the mind, not to rectify and elevate
its powers, but to produce a volition in it; not to cleanse and purify
the whole stream and current of our natures, but merely to throw up a
bubble upon the surface thereof, for which _effect_ he holds us
accountable: that he does this, we are told, is a great mystery, which
we should not presume to call in question. For my part, I had rather
believe the doctrine of transubstantiation itself, than such a _mystery_
as this.

There is some difference, I have supposed, between disbelieving a thing
because we cannot see how it is, and disbelieving it, because we very
clearly see that it cannot possibly be any how at all. It is upon this
distinction that I stand, when I receive the great mysteries of the
Godhead, and reject the absurdities of transubstantiation. And it is
upon the same ground, that I most freely and fully recognize and embrace
the great mysteries of our being, whilst I reject the absurdities of an
efficiently caused and accountable agency.

Is not this distinction properly applied? If the action or influence of
any thing produces an effect upon the mind, is not that effect merely a
passive impression? Is it not absurd to suppose, that it is a passive
impression, produced by the action of something else, and yet that it is
an action of the mind itself? If so; and so I think it has been made to
appear, then we not only should, but must, reject it. We must reject it,
unless we suffer ourselves to be blinded by false analogies, and verbal
ambiguities.

This is not to deny the divine influence, as has been so often imagined.
The regeneration, the new creation, of the soul, by the power of God, is
no more inconsistent with free and accountable agency, than was the
original creation of it with all its powers; but this cannot be said of
the production of our acts or volitions by a divine influence. Those
must take an exceedingly narrow and superficial view of the great work
of regeneration; who suppose that it is altogether denied, unless we
admit that the Spirit produces our volitions; who suppose that the
divine agency can in no way cleanse and purify our powers, unless it can
superinduce a volition, or an act, upon our depraved natures. How many
persons have laboured in vain, to reconcile the free-agency of man with
the reality of a divine influence; just because they have laboured under
the superficial notion, the grand illusion, that the Spirit of God
cannot act upon the mind at all, unless it acts to produce a volition!
It is no wonder that they have laboured in vain, and abandoned the task
in despair; because what they have taken for a seeming difficulty, is,
when narrowly inspected, seen to be a real absurdity. Lay this aside,
and there will be a mystery in the case, it is true; but there will not
be _even a seeming contradiction_.

But I do not intend to enter upon the subject of theology. This is
entirely beside the purpose of the present work; and if I have touched
upon it for a moment, it was only to show, by a passing glance, how very
easy it were for any one, if he were so disposed, to draw false
conclusions with respect to theology, from the views which have been
advanced in regard to the philosophy of the will. True, philosophy and
religion will always perfectly harmonize; but then he is very apt to be
a poor philosopher, who derives his philosophy from his religion; and he
a miserable theologian, who derives his religion from his philosophy. It
was in that way, that Edwards became a necessitarian; it is in this,
that many a necessitarian has become an infidel or an atheist.



SECTION XVIII.

OF THE TESTIMONY OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

WHETHER our volitions come to pass in the manner we call freely, or are
brought to pass by the operation of necessary causes, is a question of
fact, which should be referred to the tribunal of consciousness. If we
ever hope to settle this question, we must occasionally turn from the
arena of dialectics, and unite our efforts in the cultivation of the
much-neglected field of observation. We must turn from the dust and
smoke of mere logical contention, and consult the living oracle within;
we must behold the pure light that ever burns behind the darkened veil
of disputation.

This appeal is not declined by the necessitarian. He consents to the
appeal; and the dispute is, as to the true interpretation of the
decision of the tribunal in question. We contend that the testimony of
consciousness is clearly and unequivocally in favour of the doctrine of
liberty, while our opponents allege the same evidence in their own
favour. Now, what is the real import of this testimony?

It is to be regretted that President Edwards has said so little on this
subject. He has disposed of it in one brief note; as if the nature of
our mental operations were to be determined by abstract and universal
propositions, or truisms, and observation consulted only to confirm our
preconceived opinions. What little he has said on this subject, however,
is sufficient to show with what faint hope of success the necessitarian
can venture to submit his cause to the tribunal of consciousness.

The testimony of consciousness, I have no doubt, might have been made
much stronger in our favour, if the wrong question had not been
submitted to it. All the advocates of free-agency, so far as I remember,
have said that we are conscious of freedom; that we are conscious of a
power of contrary choice. Or, in other words, that when we put forth a
volition, we are conscious that we might forbear to do so. But this does
not seem to be the case. We are not conscious of what does not take
place in our minds; and hence, we are only conscious of the volition
which we put forth. We are not even conscious of our power to act; this
is necessarily inferred from the acts of which we are conscious. As we
do not then, according to the supposition, put forth the contrary
choice, we cannot be conscious of it, nor of the power to put it forth.
By referring this, therefore, to the tribunal of consciousness, it seems
to me that most advocates of free-agency have rendered a disservice to
the cause which they have so ably supported in other respects. For the
necessitarian sees, that the doctrine of liberty, or the power of choice
to the contrary, cannot be established by the direct testimony of
consciousness alone; and hence he strengthens himself in his own
convictions, by picking flaws in our evidence. He sees that we are not
borne out by the testimony of consciousness, in regard to the point
which we submit to it; and hence, he readily concludes that we are wrong
in the whole matter. It is well, it is exceedingly important, to observe
what are the strong points of our cause, upon which we can rest with
unshaken confidence, and to take our stand upon them; giving up all
untenable positions.

By consciousness, then, we discover the existence of an act. We see no
cause by which it is produced. If it were produced by the act or
operation of any thing else, it would be a passive impression, and not
an act of the mind itself. The mind would be wholly passive in relation
to it, and it would not be an act at all. Whether it is produced by a
preceding act of the mind, or by the action of any thing else, the mind
would be passive as to the effect produced. But we see, in the clear and
unquestionable light of consciousness, that instead of being passive,
the mind is active in its volitions.--Hence, it follows by an inference
as clear as noonday, and as irresistible as fate, that the action of the
mind is not a produced effect. It is not a passive impression; and hence
it does not, _it cannot_, result from the action of any thing else. To
say that it is produced by the action of something else upon the mind,
is to say that it is a passive impression, and to deny that it is an
act. We are simply conscious of an act then, and the irresistible
inference which results from this fact, stands out in direct and eternal
opposition to the doctrine of necessity.

When we reflect upon the operation of the will, or of the mind in the
act of willing, we simply find ourselves in possession of a volition. We
do not see how we come by this volition; how we come to exist in this
state of activity. On this point, I am happy to find that the
consciousness of President Edwards agreed with my own. "It is true,"
says he, "I find myself possessed of my volitions before I can see the
effectual power of any cause to produce them, for the power and efficacy
of the cause is seen but by the _effect_, and this, for aught I know,
may make some imagine that volition has no cause, or that it produces
itself."

Our consciousness is precisely the same; but just observe how he
interprets it. He finds himself possessed of a _volition_; but does he
look at this volition to see what it is? Does he ask himself whether it
is the same in nature and in kind with a produced effect? He does not.
It is most unquestionably a produced effect; this is beyond all doubt,
and it is taken for granted. He sees no effectual power by which this
volition is produced; _but he knows it is a produced effect_, and
therefore he knows it must have a producing cause. The oracle is not
consulted on this point at all. It would be an insult to reason to
consult the great oracle of nature on so plain a point as this. This has
been decided long ago, and the ear is deaf to any response that might
possibly contravene so clear a decision. Thus it is that the
necessitarian goes to the true oracle within, and delivers oracles
himself.

He reasons not from the observed, but from the assumed, nature of a
volition. It must be an effect, says he, and though I do not see "the
effectual power by which it is produced;" yet there must be such a
power. Yes, it is just as absurd to suppose that it can exist, without
being produced by the effectual power of something operating upon the
mind, as it is to suppose that a world can create itself!

But as we appeal to consciousness, let us pay some little attention to
its teaching. We find ourselves, then, possessed of a volition; we find
our minds in a state of acting. This is all we discover by the light of
consciousness. We see "not the effectual power of any cause" operating to
produce it. What shall we conclude then? Shall we conclude that there
_must_ be some cause to produce it? This were not to study nature, as
"the humble servants and interpreters thereof;" but to approach it in
the attitude of dictators.

If we draw such an inference at all, it must be from the fact, it seems,
that volition is a produced effect. But is it such an effect? What says
consciousness upon this point? We have already repeatedly seen, what
every man may see, that a volition is not the passive result of any
prior action; it is action itself. It is not a produced effect; it is a
producing cause. It is not _determined_ at all; it is simply a
_determination_. As it stands out in the light of consciousness, it is
as perfectly distinct from the idea of an effect, as any one thing can
possibly be from another; and if it has not so appeared to every
reflecting mind, it is because it has not been simply looked at, and
beheld as it is in itself, but has been viewed through the medium of a
certain fixed notion, a certain preconceived form of thought, a certain
grand illusion, by which the witchery of the senses has blinded the eye
of consciousness. Every change in the external world requires a
producing cause; who then can possibly conceive of a volition as
existing upon any other terms or conditions! It is this fallacy, this
begging of the question, this perpetual declaration that it is
self-evident, that has, through a natural illusion of the senses, spread
the scheme of necessity far and wide over the minds of men. It is this
grand illusion of the senses, or, if you please, of the mind, that has
brought "the dictates of reason," as they have been called, into
conflict with the testimony of consciousness.

The doctrine of liberty is as inevitably connected with the _observed_
nature of a volition, as that of necessity is connected with its assumed
nature. I would not say that we are conscious of liberty; for that would
not be correct; but I will say, that we are conscious of that which
necessarily leads to the conviction that we are free, that we have a
power of contrary choice. I would not say with Dr. Clarke, that liberty
consists in a power to act; but I will say, that it necessarily results
from it. I would not say, that we are conscious of the existence of no
producing cause of our volitions; for we cannot be conscious of that
which does not exist. But I will say, that as we are conscious of the
existence of an act, so we see and do know that this is not a passive
impression, or a produced effect. And as we are not compelled to act, so
we know that we may act or may not act, so we know that our actions are
not necessitated, but may be put forth or withheld. This is liberty,
this is "a power of contrary choice." This idea of liberty, I say,
follows from the fact of consciousness that we do act, by an inference
as clear as noonday; by an inference so natural, so direct, and so
inconceivably rapid, that it has often been supposed to be included in
the testimony of consciousness itself. No man could help the conclusion,
if he would only allow his reason to speak for itself.

Is this doctrine any the less certain, because it is a matter of
inference? It will be conceded that it is not. The most unquestionable
facts in the universe are made known by the same kind of evidence. It is
sometimes said, that we are conscious of our own existence; but this is
not to use language with philosophical precision. We are merely
conscious of the existence of thought, of feeling, of volition; and we
are so made, that we are compelled to believe that there is something
which thinks, and feels, and wills. It is thus, by what has been called
a fundamental law of belief, that we arrive at the knowledge of the
existence of our minds. In like manner, from the fact of consciousness
that we do act, or put forth volitions, we are forced, by a fundamental
law of belief, to yield to the conviction that we are free. This
inference as necessarily results from the observed phenomena of the
mind, as the existence of the mind itself results from the same
phenomena. And if the doctrine of the necessitarian were true, that
volition is a produced effect, we should never infer from it that we
have _a power of acting_ at all; we should simply infer that we are
_susceptible of passive impressions_.

I have said, that we are not conscious that there is no producing cause
of volition. No man can be conscious of that which does not exist.
Hence, it is highly absurd to require us to furnish the evidence of
consciousness that there is no such cause of volition. It cannot testify
to any such universal negative; and one might as well require a
mathematical demonstration of the point in dispute, as to demand such
evidence from us. And yet, President Edwards declares, that by
experience he knows nothing like the doctrine, that "any volition arises
in his mind contingently;" that is to say, he was not conscious that a
volition has _no producing_ cause of its existence. Did he expect that
we should prove the non-existence of a thing by the direct evidence of
consciousness? All that he could reasonably expect in such a case is,
that we should not be conscious of any such influence; and this
President Edwards himself admits. He admits, that we do not see the
"effectual power of any cause," or feel its influence, operating to
produce a volition: he merely infers this from the assumption that
volition is a produced effect.

He also says, I find "that the acts of my will are my own; i. e. that
they are acts of my will--the volitions of my own mind; or, in other
words, that what I will, I will; which, I suppose, is the sum of what
others experience in this affair." Surely, no one was ever so silly as
to deny that what a man wills, he wills; and if this is all that
consciousness teaches on the subject, its information can throw no light
upon this or upon any other controversy. This proposition, that a man
wills what he wills, is independent of all experience and all
consciousness. It is an identical proposition, which experience can
neither shake nor confirm. We may see, nay, we must see, that each and
every thing in the universe is what it is, without any reference to
consciousness or experience.

Indeed, it is as absurd to appeal to experience or consciousness for the
truth of such a universal and self-evident axiom, as it is to appeal to
universal and self-evident axioms, to ascertain and determine the
_nature_ of our mental phenomena,--of the states and processes of the
mind. Edwards has done both: he has deduced the truth of the
proposition, that a man wills what he wills, from the evidence of
consciousness or experience, as the sum of all its teaching; and he has
established the fact, that a volition is produced by the operation of an
effectual power, by an appeal to a universal axiom. He has submitted a
truism, which declines every test of its truth, to the tribunal of
consciousness; and he has determined the nature of a volition, as well
as the manner of its production, by the application of a similar truism,
which contains no conceivable information respecting the nature of any
thing in the universe.

Edwards says, "I find myself possessed of my volitions." He was
conscious of his own acts. This is a sufficient foundation for the
doctrine of liberty; for such a consciousness is utterly irreconcilable
with the supposition that those acts are produced by the operation of
efficient causes. To say that they are "my acts," and yet to say that
they are produced by the action of something else, is, as we have
repeatedly seen, to say that they are my acts, and at the same time to
say that they are not my _acts_, but _effects_ produced upon my mind.
This very admission, therefore, lays the foundation of the doctrine of
liberty. And hence, it has been supposed that Edwards himself was an
advocate of this doctrine; because he has spoken of the soul as exerting
its own volitions. From such an admission, it has been concluded by some
of his admirers, that he really regarded the mind as the "efficient
cause of its own acts," and "motives as merely the occasions on which it
acts." But such an admission only proves, that his consciousness cannot
be reconciled with his theory. His consciousness lays the foundation of
liberty; but he does not build thereon. On the contrary, he lays the
foundation of his system in universal abstractions, and not in observed
facts; and hence, as it is not derived from an observation of nature, so
it can never be brought into harmony with the dictates and operations of
nature. It is altogether a thing of definitions and words; and as such
it must pass away, when men shall cease to construct for themselves, and
come forward as "the humble servants and interpreters of nature," to
study the world of mind upon the true principles of the inductive
method.

Edwards did not observe the intellectual world just as it has been
constructed by the Almighty, and narrowly watch it in its workings; he
only reasoned about it and about it; and hence, he was necessarily
devoted to blindness. With all his gigantic power, he was necessarily
compelled to go around, eternally, upon the treadmill of a merely
dialectical philosophy, which of itself can yield no fruit, instead of
going forth to the harvest upon the rich and boundless field of
discovery. Why should the failure of other times, resulting from such a
course, inspire us with despair? We hope for better results, not from
better minds, but from better methods. Socrates dissuaded the men of his
time from the study of nature, alleging that "the wonderful art"
wherewith the heavens had been constructed, was concealed from their
eyes; and that it was displeasing to the gods, that men should so vainly
strive to pry into mysteries which are so far above their reach.
Faint-hearted sage! Though Bacon had beheld the genius and labour of two
thousand years after Socrates had been laid in the dust, wasted upon the
same great problem, yet did not the unconquerable ardour of his hope
droop for a moment. Rising aloft, even from the wild waste which men had
made of their powers in all times past, he poured down the floods of his
indignation upon those who are thus ready and willing to devote mankind
to darkness and despair. Inspired by his philosophy, and pursuing his
method, the more than immortal Newton did not fear, cautiously yet
boldly, humbly yet hopefully, to pry into "the wonderful art" wherewith
the Almighty has constructed the heavens; and the great problem which
Socrates had so timidly, yet so rashly, pronounced to lie beyond the
reach of man, did this humble student of nature most triumphantly solve;
showing, to the admiration of the world and the glory of God, that that
wonderful art is infinitely more wonderful than any thing which had ever
been dreamed of in the philosophy of antiquity. How great soever, then,
the failure of times past may have been, we should not despair. Nor
should we listen, for a moment, to those who are ever ready to declare,
that the great problem of the intellectual system of the universe is not
within the reach of the human faculties.

_Note_.--The edition of Edwards' works quoted in this volume, is that by
G. & C. & H. Carvill, New York, 1830.





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