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Title: A Review of Edwards's
Author: Tappan, Henry Philip, 1805-1881
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Review of Edwards's" ***










"I am afraid that Edwards's book (however well meant,) has done much
harm in England, as it has secured a favourable hearing to the same
doctrines, which, since the time of Clarke, had been generally ranked
among the most dangerous errors of Hobbes and his disciples."--_Dugald





Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by HENRY
PHILIP TAPPAN, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States, for the Southern District of New-York.

G. F. Hopkins, Printer, 2 Ann-street.


Discussions respecting the will, have, unhappily, been confounded with
theological opinions, and hence have led to theological controversies,
where predilections for a particular school or sect, have generally
prejudged the conclusions of philosophy. As a part of the mental
constitution, the will must be subjected to the legitimate methods of
psychological investigation, and must abide the result. If we enter the
field of human consciousness in the free, fearless, and honest spirit of
Baconian observation in order to arrive at the laws of the reason or the
imagination, what should prevent us from pursuing the same enlightened
course in reference to the will?

Is it because responsibility and the duties of morality and religion are
more immediately connected with the will? This, indeed, throws solemnity
around our investigations, and warns us of caution; but, at the same
time, so far from repressing investigation, it affords the highest
reason why we should press it to the utmost limit of consciousness.
Nothing surely can serve more to fix our impressions of moral
obligation, or to open our eye to the imperishable truth and excellency
of religion, than a clear and ripe knowledge of that which makes us the
subjects of duty. As a believer in philosophy, I claim unbounded liberty
of thought, and by thinking I hope to arrive at truth. As a believer in
the Bible I always anticipate that the truths to which philosophy leads
me, will harmonize with its facts and doctrines. If in the result there
should appear to be a collision, it imposes upon me the duty of
re-examining both my philosophy and my interpretation of the text. In
this way I may in the end remove the difficulty, and not only so, but
even gain from the temporary and apparent collision, a deeper insight
into both philosophy and religion. If the difficulty cannot be removed,
then it remains a vexed point. It does not follow, however, that I must
either renounce the philosophical conclusion, or remove the text.

If the whole of philosophy or its leading truths were in opposition to
the whole of revelation or its leading truths, we should then evidently
be placed on the alternative of denying one or the other; but as the
denial of philosophy would be the destruction of reason, there would no
longer remain in our being any principle on which a revelation could be
received. Such a collision would therefore disprove the claims of any
system to be from Heaven. But let us suppose, on the other hand, that
with every advance of philosophy the facts of the Bible are borne aloft,
and their divine authority and their truth made more manifest, have we
not reason to bless the researches which have enabled us to perceive
more clearly the light from Heaven? A system of truth does not fear, it
courts philosophical scrutiny. Its excellency will be most resplendent
when it has had the most fiery trial of thought. Nothing would so weaken
my faith in the Bible as the fact of being compelled to tremble for its
safety whenever I claimed and exercised the prerogative of reason. And
what I say of it as a whole, I say of doctrines claiming to be derived
from it.

Theologists are liable to impose upon themselves when they argue from
the truths of the Bible to the truths of their philosophy; either under
the view that the last are deducible from the former, or that they serve
to account for and confirm the former. How often is their philosophy
drawn from some other source, or handed down by old authority, and
rendered venerable by associations arbitrary and accidental; and instead
of sustaining the simplicity of the Bible, the doctrine is perhaps cast
into the mould of the philosophy.

It is a maxim commended by reason and confirmed by experience, that in
pursuing our investigations in any particular science we are to confine
ourselves rigorously to its subjects and methods, neither seeking nor
fearing collision with any other science. We may feel confident that
ultimately science will be found to link with science, forming a
universal and harmonious system of truth; but this can by no means form
the principle of our particular investigations. The application of this
maxim is no less just and necessary where a philosophy or science holds
a relation to revelation. It is a matter of the highest interest that in
the developements of such philosophy or science, it should be found to
harmonize with the revelation; but nevertheless this cannot be received
as the principle on which we shall aim to develope it. If there is a
harmony, it must be discovered; it cannot be invented and made.

The Cardinals determined upon the authority of Scripture, as they
imagined, what the science of astronomy must be, and compelled the old
man Gallileo to give the lie to his reason; and since then, the science
of geology has been attempted, if not to be settled, at least to be
limited in its researches in the same way. Science, however, has pursued
her steady course resistlessly, settling her own bounds and methods, and
selecting her own fields, and giving to the world her own discoveries.
And is the truth of the Bible unsettled? No. The memory of Gallileo and
of Cuvier is blessed by the same lips which name the name of Christ.

Now we ask the same independence of research in the philosophy of the
human mind, and no less with respect to the Will than with respect to
any other faculty. We wish to make this purely a psychological question.
Let us not ask what philosophy is demanded by Calvinism in opposition to
Pelagianism and Arminianism, or by the latter in opposition to the
former; let us ask simply for the laws of our being. In the end we may
present another instance of truth honestly and fearlessly sought in the
legitimate exercise of our natural reason, harmonizing with truths

One thing is certain; the Bible no more professes to be a system of
formal mental philosophy, than it professes to contain the sciences of
astronomy and geology. If mental philosophy is given there, it is given
in facts of history, individual and national, in poetry, prophecy, law,
and ethics; and as thus given, must be collected into a system by
observation and philosophical criticism.

But observations upon these external facts could not possibly be made
independently of observations upon internal facts--the facts of the
consciousness; and the principles of philosophical criticism can be
obtained only in the same way. To him who looks not within himself,
poetry, history, law, ethics, and the distinctions of character and
conduct, would necessarily be unintelligible. No one therefore can
search the Bible for its philosophy, who has not already read philosophy
in his own being. We shall find this amply confirmed in the whole
history of theological opinion. Every interpreter of the Bible, every
author of a creed, every founder of a sect, plainly enough reveals both
the principles of his philosophy and their influence upon himself. Every
man who reflects and aims to explain, is necessarily a philosopher, and
has his philosophy. Instead therefore of professing to oppose the Bible
to philosophy, or instead of the pretence of deducing our philosophy
solely and directly from the Bible, let us openly declare that we do not
discard philosophy, but seek it in its own native fields; and that
inasmuch as it has a being and a use, and is related to all that we know
and do, we are therefore determined to pursue it in a pure, truth-loving

I am aware, however, that the doctrine of the will is so intimately
associated with great and venerable names, and has so long worn a
theological complexion, that it is well nigh impossible to disintegrate
it. The authority of great and good men, and theological interests, even
when we are disposed to be candid, impartial, and independent, do often
insensibly influence our reasonings.

It is out of respect to these old associations and prejudices, and from
the wish to avoid all unnecessary strangeness of manner in handling an
old subject, and more than all, to meet what are regarded by many as the
weightiest and most conclusive reasonings on this subject, that I open
this discussion with a review of "Edwards's Inquiry into the Freedom of
the Will." There is no work of higher authority among those who deny the
self-determining power of the will; and none which on this subject has
called forth more general admiration for acuteness of thought and
logical subtlety. I believe there is a prevailing impression that
Edwards must be fairly met in order to make any advance in an opposite
argument. I propose no less than this attempt, presumptuous though it
may seem, yet honest and made for truth's sake. Truth is greater and
more venerable than the names of great and venerable men, or of great
and venerable sects: and I cannot believe that I seek truth with a
proper love and veneration, unless I seek her, confiding in herself
alone, neither asking the authority of men in her support, nor fearing a
collision with them, however great their authority may be. It is my
interest to think and believe aright, no less than to act aright; and as
right action is meritorious not when compelled and accidental, but when
free and made under the perception and conviction of right principles;
so also right thinking and believing are meritorious, either in an
intellectual or moral point of view, when thinking and believing are
something more than gulping down dogmas because Austin, or Calvin, or
Arminius, presents the cup.

Facts of history or of description are legitimately received on
testimony, but truths of our moral and spiritual being can be received
only on the evidence of consciousness, unless the testimony be from God
himself; and even in this case we expect that the testimony, although it
may transcend consciousness, shall not contradict it. The internal
evidence of the Bible under the highest point of view, lies in this:
that although there be revelations of that which transcends
consciousness, yet wherever the truths come within the sphere of
consciousness, there is a perfect harmony between the decisions of
developed reason and the revelation.

Now in the application of these principles, if Edwards have given us a
true psychology in relation to the will, we have the means of knowing
it. In the consciousness, and in the consciousness alone, can a doctrine
of the will be ultimately and adequately tested. Nor must we be
intimidated from making this test by the assumption that the theory of
Edwards alone sustains moral responsibility and evangelical religion.
Moral responsibility and evangelical religion, if sustained and
illustrated by philosophy, must take a philosophy which has already on
its own grounds proved itself a true philosophy. Moral responsibility
and evangelical religion can derive no support from a philosophy which
they are taken first to prove.

But although I intend to conduct my argument rigidly on psychological
principles, I shall endeavour in the end to show that moral
responsibility is really sustained by this exposition of the will; and
that I have not, to say the least, weakened one of the supports of
evangelical religion, nor shorn it of one of its glories.

The plan of my undertaking embraces the following particulars:

I. A statement of Edwards's system.

II. The legitimate consequences of this system.

III. An examination of the arguments against a self-determining will.

IV. The doctrine of the will determined by an appeal to consciousness.

V. This doctrine viewed in connexion with moral agency and

VI. This doctrine viewed in connexion with the truths and precepts of
the Bible.

The first three complete the review of Edwards, and make up the present
volume. Another volume is in the course of preparation.



Edwards's System, or, in other words, his Philosophy of the Will, is
contained in part I. of his "Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will." This
part comprises five sections, which I shall give with their titles in
his own order. My object is to arrive at truth. I shall therefore use my
best endeavours to make this statement with the utmost clearness and
fairness. In this part of my work, my chief anxiety is to have Edwards
perfectly understood. My quotations are made from the edition published
by S. Converse, New-York, 1829.

"Sec. I.--Concerning the Nature of the Will."

Edwards under this title gives his definition of the will. "_The will
is, that by which the mind chooses anything_. The faculty of the _will_,
is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing:
an act of the _will_ is the same as an act of _choosing_ or _choice_."
(p. 15.)

He then identifies "choosing" and "refusing:" "In every act of refusal
the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused." (p. 16.)

The will is thus _the faculty of choice_. Choice manifests itself either
in relation to one object or several objects. Where there is but one
object, its possession or non-possession--its enjoyment or
non-enjoyment--its presence or absence, is chosen. Where there are
several objects, and they are so incompatible that the possession,
enjoyment, or presence of one, involves the refusal of the others, then
choice manifests itself in fixing upon the particular object to be
retained, and the objects to be set aside.

This definition is given on the ground that any object being regarded as
positive, may be contrasted with its negative: and that therefore the
refusing a negative is equivalent to choosing a positive; and the
choosing a negative, equivalent to refusing a positive, and vice versa.
Thus if the presence of an object be taken as positive, its absence is
negative. To refuse the presence is therefore to choose the absence; and
to choose the presence, to refuse the absence: so that every act of
choosing involves refusing, and every act of refusing involves choosing;
in other words, they are equivalents.

_Object of Will._

The object in respect to which the energy of choice is manifested,
inducing external action, or the action of any other faculty of the
mind, is always an _immediate object_. Although other objects may appear
desirable, that alone is the object of choice which is the occasion of
present action--that alone is chosen as the subject of thought on which
I actually think--that alone is chosen as the object of muscular
exertion respecting which muscular exertion is made. That is, every act
of choice manifests itself by producing some change or effect in some
other part of our being. "The thing next chosen or preferred, when a man
wills to walk, is not his being removed to such a place where he would
be, but such an exertion and motion of his legs and feet, &c. in order
to it." The same principle applies to any mental exertion.

_Will and Desire._

Edwards never opposes will and desire. The only distinction that can
possibly be made is that of genus and species. They are the same in
_kind_. "I do not suppose that _will_ and _desire_ are words of
precisely the same signification: _will_ seems to be a word of a more
general signification, extending to things present and absent. _Desire_
respects something absent. But yet I cannot think they are so entirely
distinct that they can ever be properly said to run counter. A man
never, in any instance, wills anything contrary to his desires, or
desires anything contrary to his will. The thing which he wills, the
very same he desires; and he does not will a thing and desire the
_contrary_ in any particular." (p. 17.) The immediate object of
will,--that object, in respect of which choice manifests itself by
producing effects,--is also the object of desire; that is, of supreme
desire, at that moment: so that, the object chosen is the object which
appears most desirable; and the object which appears most desirable is
always the object chosen. To produce an act of choice, therefore, we
have only to awaken a preponderating desire. Now it is plain, that
desire cannot be distinguished from passion. That which we love, we
desire to be present, to possess, to enjoy: that which we hate, we
desire to be absent, or to be affected in some way. The loving an
object, and the desiring its enjoyment, are identical: the hating it,
and desiring its absence or destruction, or any similar affection of it,
are likewise identical. The will, therefore, is not to be distinguished,
at least in _kind_, from the emotions and passions: this will appear
abundantly as we proceed. In other works he expressly identifies them:
"I humbly conceive, that the affections of the soul are not properly
distinguishable from the will; as though they were two faculties of
soul." (Revival of Religion in New England, part I.)

"God has endued the soul with two faculties: one is that by which it is
capable of perception and speculation, or by which it discerns, and
views, and judges of things; which is called the understanding. The
other faculty is that by which the soul does not merely perceive and
view things, but is in some way inclined with respect to the things it
views or considers; either is inclined _to them_, or is disinclined or
averse _from them_. This faculty is called by various names: it is
sometimes called _inclination_; and as it has respect to the actions
that are determined or governed by it, is called will. The _will_ and
the _affections_ of the soul are not two faculties: the affections are
not essentially distinct from the will, nor do they differ from the mere
actings of the will and inclination of the soul, but only in the
liveliness and sensibleness of exercise." (The Nature of the Affections,
part I.) That Edwards makes but two faculties of the mind, the
understanding and the will, as well as identifies the will and the
passions, is fully settled by the above quotation.

"Sec. II.--Concerning the Determination of Will."

_Meaning of the term._

"By _determining_ the will, if the phrase be used with any meaning, must
be intended, _causing_ that the act of the will or choice 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, some 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 in another. The determination of the will
supposes an effect, which must have a cause. If the will be determined,
there is a determiner."

Now the causation of choice and the determination of the will are here
intended to be distinguished, no more than the causation of motion and
the determination of the moving body. The cause setting a body in
motion, likewise gives it a direction; and where there are several
causes, a composition of the forces takes place, and determines both the
extent and direction of the motion. So also the cause acting upon the
will or the faculty of choice, in producing a choice determines its
direction; indeed, choice cannot be conceived of, without also
conceiving of something chosen, and where something is chosen, the
direction of the choice is determined, that is, the will is determined.
And where there are several causes acting upon the will, there is here
likewise a composition of the mental forces, and the choice or the
determination of the will takes place accordingly. (See p. 23.) Choice
or volition then being an effect must have a cause. What is this cause?


The cause of volition or choice is called motive. A cause setting a body
in motion is properly called the motive of the body; hence, analogously,
a cause exciting the will to choice is called the motive of the will. By
long usage the proper sense of motive is laid aside, and it has come now
to express only the cause or reason of volition. "By _motive_ I mean the
whole of that which moves, excites, or invites the mind to volition,
whether that be one thing singly, or many things conjointly. And when I
speak of the _strongest motive_, I have respect to the strength of the
whole that operates to induce a particular act of volition, whether that
be the strength of one thing alone, or of many together." And "_that
motive which, as it stands in view of the mind, is the strongest,
determines the will_." (p. 19.) This is general, and means nothing more
than--1. the cause of volition is called motive; 2. that where there are
several causes or motives of volition, the strongest cause prevails; 3.
the cause is often complex; 4. in estimating the strength of the cause,
if it be complex, all the particulars must be considered in their
co-operation; and, 5. the strength of the motive "stands in view of the
mind," that is, it is something which the mind knows or is sensible of.

_What constitutes the strength of Motive?_

"Everything that is properly called a motive, excitement, or inducement,
to a perceiving, willing agent, has some sort and degree of _tendency_
or _advantage_ to move or excite the will, previous to the effect, or to
the act of will excited. This previous tendency of the motive is what I
call the _strength_ of the motive." When different objects are presented
to the mind, they awaken certain emotions, and appear more or less
"inviting." (p. 20.) In the impression thus at once produced, we
perceive their "tendency or advantage to move or excite the will." It is
a preference or choice anticipated, an instantaneous perception of a
quality in the object which we feel would determine our choice, if we
were called upon to make a choice. The object is felt to be adapted to
the state of the mind, and the state of the mind to the object. They are
felt to be reciprocal.

_What is this quality which makes up the previous tendency?_

"Whatever is perceived or apprehended by an intelligent and voluntary
agent, which has the nature and influence of a motive to volition or
choice, is considered or viewed _as good_; nor has it any tendency to
engage the election of the soul in any further degree than it appears
such." Now, as the will is determined by the strongest motive; and as
the strength of motive lies in the previous tendency; and as the
previous tendency is made up of the quality of goodness; and as the
highest degree of this quality in any given case makes the strongest
motive; therefore, it follows that the "_will is always as the greatest
apparent good is_." (p. 20.)

_The sense in which the term_ "good" _is used._

"I use the term _'good'_ as of the same import with _'agreeable.'_ To
appear _good_ to the mind, as I use the phrase, is the same as to
_appear agreeable_, or _seem pleasing_ to the mind. If it tends to draw
the inclination and move the will, it must be under the notion of that
which _suits_ the mind. And therefore that must have the greatest
tendency to attract and engage it, which, as it stands in the mind's
view, suits it best, and pleases it most; and in that sense is the
greatest apparent good. The word _good_ in this sense includes the
avoiding of evil, or of that which is disagreeable and uneasy." (p. 20.)

It follows then that the will is always determined by that which _seems
most pleasing or appears most agreeable_ to the mind.

This conclusion is in perfect accordance with the position with which
Edwards set out: that will is always as the preponderating desire;
indeed, that the will is the same in kind with desire, or with the
affections; and an act of will or choice, nothing more than the
strongest desire in reference to an immediate object, and a desire
producing an effect in our mental or physical being. The determination
of will is the strongest excitement of passion. That which determines
will is the cause of passion. The strength of the cause lies in its
perceived tendency to excite the passions and afford enjoyment. As
possessing this tendency, it is called _good_, or _pleasing_, or
_agreeable_; that is, suiting the state of the mind or the condition of
the affections.

The _"good"_ which forms the characteristic of a cause or motive is an
immediate good, or a good "in the present view of the mind." (p. 21.)
Thus a drunkard, before he drinks, may be supposed to weigh against each
other the present pleasure of drinking and the remote painful
consequences; and the painful consequences may appear to him to be
greater than the present pleasure. But still the question truly in his
mind, when he comes to drink, respects the present act of drinking only;
and if this seems to him most pleasing, then he drinks. "If he wills to
drink, then drinking is the proper object of the act of his will; and
drinking, on some account or other, now appears most agreeable to him,
and suits him best. If he chooses to refrain, then refraining is the
immediate object of his will, and is most pleasing to him." The
reasoning is, that when the drunkard drinks, we are not to conclude that
he has chosen future misery over future good, but that the act of
drinking, in itself, is the object of choice; so that, in the view he
has taken of it, it is to him the greatest apparent good. In general we
may say, in accordance with this principle, that whenever the act of
choice takes place, the object of that act comes up before the mind in
such a way as to seem most pleasing to the mind; it is at the moment,
and in the immediate relation, the greatest apparent good. The man thus
never chooses what is disagreeable, but always what is agreeable to him.

_Proper use of the term_ most agreeable, _in relation to the Will._

"I have chosen 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." (p. 21, 22.) Here _the perception or sense of the
most agreeable_ is identified in express terms with _volition_ or
_choice_. "The will is as the most agreeable,"--that is, _the
determination of will_, which means _its actual choice_, as a fact of
the consciousness is embraced in the _sense of the most agreeable;_ and
as the _voluntary action_, or the action, or change, or effect,
following volition, in any part of our being,--as to walk, or talk, or
read, or think,--has its cause in the volition, or the "mind's
choice,"--so it is entirely proper to say, either that this voluntary
action is determined by the volition or that it is determined by the
sense of the most agreeable. Edwards's meaning plainly is, that the
terms are convertible: volition may be called the cause of voluntary
action, or the sense of the most agreeable may be called the cause. This
is still a carrying out of the position, that _the will is as the
desire_. "The greatest apparent good" being identical with "the most
agreeable," and this again being identical with _the most desirable_, it
must follow, that whenever, in relation to any object, the mind is
affected with _the sense of the most agreeable_, it presents the
phenomenon of "volition" or "choice;" and still farther, that which is
chosen is the most agreeable object; and is known to be such by the
simple fact that it is chosen; for its being chosen, means nothing more
than that it affects the mind with the sense of the most agreeable,--and
the most agreeable is that which is chosen, and cannot be otherwise than
chosen; for its being most agreeable, means nothing more than that it is
the object of the mind's choice or sense of the most agreeable. The
object, and the mind regarded as a sensitive or willing power, are
correlatives, and choice is the unition of both: so that if we regard
choice as characterizing the object, then the object is affirmed to be
the most agreeable; and if, on the other side, we regard choice as
characterizing the mind, then the mind is affirmed to be affected with
the sense of the most agreeable.

_Cause of Choice, or of the sense of the most agreeable._

"Volition itself is always determined by that in or about the mind's
view of the object, which causes it to appear most agreeable. I say _in
or about the mind's view of the object;_ because what has influence to
render an object in view agreeable, is not only what appears in the
object viewed, but also the manner of the view, and the _state and
circumstances_ of the mind that views." (p. 22.)

Choice being the unition of the mind's sensitivity and the object,--that
is, being an affection of the sensitivity, by reason of its perfect
agreement and correlation with the object, and of course of the perfect
agreement and correlation of the object with the sensitivity, in
determining the cause of choice, we must necessarily look both to the
mind and the object. Edwards accordingly gives several particulars in
relation to each.

I. In relation to the object, the sense of the most agreeable, or
choice, will depend upon,--

1. The beauty of the object, "viewing it as it is _in itself_,"
independently of circumstances.

2. "The apparent degree of pleasure or trouble attending the object, or
_the consequence_ of it," or the object taken with its "concomitants"
and consequences.

3. "The apparent _state_ of the pleasure or trouble that appears with
respect to _distance of time_. It is a thing in itself agreeable to the
mind, to have pleasure speedily; and disagreeable to have it delayed."
(p. 22.)

II. In relation to mind, the sense of agreeableness will depend, first,
upon the _manner_ of the mind's view; secondly, upon the state of mind.
Edwards, under the first, speaks of the object as connected with future
pleasure. Here the manner of the mind's view will have influence in two

1. The certainty or uncertainty which the mind judges to attach to the

2. The liveliness of the sense, or of the imagination, which the mind
has of it.

Now these may be in different degrees, compounded with different degrees
of pleasure, considered in itself; and "the agreeableness of a proposed
object of choice will be in a degree some way compounded of the degree
of good supposed by the judgement, the degree of apparent probability or
certainty of that good, and the degree of liveliness of the idea the
mind has of that good." (p. 23.)

Secondly: In reference to objects generally, whether connected with
present or future pleasure, the sense of agreeableness will depend also
upon "the _state of the mind_ which views a proposed object of choice."
(p. 24.) Here we have to consider "the particular temper which the mind
has by nature, or that has been introduced or established by education,
example, custom, or some other means; or the frame or state that the
mind is in on a particular occasion." (ibid.)

Edwards here suggests, that it may be unnecessary to consider the _state
of the mind_ as a ground of agreeableness distinct from the two already
mentioned: viz.--the _nature and circumstances of the object_, and the
_manner of the view_. "Perhaps, if we strictly consider the matter," he
remarks, "the different temper and state of the mind makes no alteration
as to the agreeableness of objects in any other way, than as it makes
the objects themselves appear differently; _beautiful_ or _deformed_,
having apparent pleasure or pain attending them; and as it occasions the
_manner_ of the view to be different, causes the idea of beauty or
deformity, pleasure or uneasiness, to be more or less lively." (ibid.)
In this remark, Edwards shows plainly how completely he makes mind and
object to run together in choice, or how perfect a unition of the two,
choice is. The _state of the mind_ is manifested only in relation to
_the nature and circumstances of the object;_ and the sense of
agreeableness being in the correlation of the two, _the sense of the
most agreeable_ or _choice_ is such a perfect unition of the two, that,
having described the object in its nature and circumstances in relation
to _the most agreeable_, we have comprehended in this the _state of
mind_. On the other hand, the nature and circumstances of the object, in
relation to the most agreeable, can be known only by the state of mind
produced by the presence of the object and its circumstances. To give an
example,--let a rose be the object. When I describe the beauty and
agreeableness of this object, I describe the _state of mind_ in relation
to it; for its beauty and agreeableness are identical with the
sensations and emotions which I experience, hence, in philosophical
language, called the _secondary_ qualities of the object: and so, on the
other hand, if I describe my sensations and emotions in the presence of
the rose, I do in fact describe its beauty and agreeableness. The mind
and object are thus united in the sense of agreeableness. I could not
have this sense of agreeableness without an object; but when the object
is presented to my mind, they are so made for each other, that they seem
to melt together in the pleasurable emotion. The sense of the most
agreeable or choice may be illustrated in the same way. The only
difference between the agreeable simply and the most agreeable is this:
the agreeable refers merely to an emotion awakened on the immediate
presentation of an object, without any comparison or competition. The
most agreeable takes place where there is comparison and competition.
Thus, to prefer or choose a rose above a violet is a sense of the most
agreeable of the two. In some cases, however, that which is refused is
positively disagreeable. The choice, in strictness of speech, in these
cases, is only a sense of the agreeable. As, however, in every instance
of choosing, there are two terms formed by contemplating the act of
choosing itself in the contrast of positive and negative, the phrase
_most agreeable_ or _greatest apparent good_ is convenient for general
use, and sufficiently precise to express every case which comes up.

It may be well here to remark, that in the system we are thus
endeavouring to state and to illustrate, the word _choice_ is properly
used to express the action of will, when that action is viewed in
relation to its immediate effects,--as when I say, I choose to walk.
_The sense of the most agreeable_, is properly used to express the same
action, when the action is viewed in relation to its own cause. Choice
and volition are the words in common use, because men at large only
think of choice and volition in reference to effects. But when the cause
of choice is sought after by a philosophic mind, and is supposed to lie
in the nature and circumstances of mind and object, then the _sense of
the most agreeable_ becomes the most appropriate form of expression.

Edwards concludes his discussion of the cause of the most agreeable, by
remarking: "However, I think so much is certain,--that volition, in no
one instance that can be mentioned, is otherwise than the greatest
apparent good is, in the manner which has been explained." This is the
great principle of his system; and, a few sentences after, he states it
as an axiom, or a generally admitted truth: "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." Indeed, Edwards
cannot be considered as having attempted to prove this; he has only
explained it, and therefore it is only the _explanation_ of a supposed
axiom that we have been following out.

This supposed axiom is really announced in the first section: "Will and
desire do not run counter at all: the thing which he wills, the very
same he desires;" that is, a man wills as he desires, and of course
wills what is most agreeable to him. It is to be noticed, also, that the
title of part I. runs as follows: "Wherein are explained and stated
various terms and things, &c." Receiving it, therefore, as a generally
admitted truth, "that choice or volition is always as the most
agreeable," and is itself only the sense of the most agreeable, what is
the explanation given?

1. That will, or the faculty of choice, is not a faculty distinct from
the affections or passions, or that part of our being which philosophers
sometimes call the sensitivity.

2. That volition, or choice, or preference, being at any given moment
and under any given circumstances the strongest inclination, or the
strongest affection and desire with regard to an immediate object,
appears in the constitution of our being as the antecedent of effects in
the mind itself, or in the body; which effects are called voluntary
actions,--as acts of attention, or of talking, or walking.

3. To say that volition is as the desire, is equivalent to saying that
volition is as the "greatest apparent good," which again means only the
most agreeable,--so that the volition becomes again the _sense or
feeling of the greatest apparent good_. There is in all this only a
variety of expressions for the same affection of the sensitivity.

4. Determination of will is actual choice, or the production in the mind
of volition, or choice, or the strongest affection, or the sense of the
most agreeable, or of the greatest apparent good. It is therefore an
effect, and must have a determiner or cause.

5. This determiner or cause is called motive. In explaining what
constitutes the motive, we must take into view both _mind_ and _object_.
The object must be perceived by the mind as something existent. This
perception, however, is only preliminary, or a mere introduction of the
object to the mind. Now, in order that the sense of the most agreeable,
or choice, may take place, the mind and object must be suited to each
other; they must be correlatives. The object must possess qualities of
beauty and agreeableness to the mind. The mind must possess a
susceptibility agreeable to the qualities of the object. But to say that
the object possesses qualities of beauty and agreeableness to the mind,
is in fact to affirm that the mind has the requisite susceptibility; for
these qualities of the object have a being, and are what they are only
in relation to mind. Choice, or the sense of agreeableness, may
therefore be called the unition of the sensitivity and the object.
Choice is thus, like any emotion or passion, a fact perpetually
appearing in the consciousness; and, like emotion or passion; and,
indeed, being a mere form of emotion and passion, must ultimately be
accounted for by referring it to the constitution of our being. But
inasmuch as the constitution of our being manifests itself in relation
to objects and circumstances, we do commonly account for its
manifestations by referring them to the objects and circumstances in
connexion with which they take place, and without which they would not
take place; and thus, as we say, the cause of passion is the object of
passion: so we say also, in common parlance, the cause of choice is the
object of choice; and assigning the affections of the mind springing up
in the presence of the object, to the object, as descriptive of its
qualities, we say that choice is always as the most beautiful and
agreeable; that is, as the greatest apparent good. This greatest
apparent good, thus _objectively_ described, is the motive, or
determiner, or cause of volition.

_In what sense the Will follows the last dictate of the Understanding._

"It appears from these things, 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 _judgement_. If by the 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. Such a dictate of reason
is quite a different matter from things appearing now most _agreeable_,
all things being put together which relates to the mind's present
perceptions in any respect." (p. 25.) The "large sense" in which Edwards
takes the understanding, embraces the whole intellectual and sensitive
being. In the production of choice, or the sense of the most agreeable,
the suggestions of reason may have their influence, and may work in with
other particulars to bring about the result; but then they are subject
to the same condition with the other particulars,--they must appear, at
the moment and in the immediate circumstances, the most agreeable. It is
not enough that they come from reason, and are true and right; they must
likewise _suit the state of the mind_,--for as choice is the sense of
the most agreeable, that only as an object can tend to awaken this
sense, which is properly and agreeably related to the feelings of the
subject. Where the suggestions of reason are not agreeably related, "the
act of the will is determined in opposition to it." (ibid.)

"Sec. III.--Concerning the meaning of the terms Necessity,
Impossibility, Inability, &c. and of Contingence."

After having settled his definition of choice or volition, and explained
the cause of the same, Edwards takes up the nature of the connexion
between this cause and effect: viz. motive and volition. Is this
connexion a necessary connexion?

In order to determine this point, and to explain his view of it, he
proceeds to discuss the meaning of the terms contained in the above
title. This section is entirely occupied with this preliminary

Edwards makes two kinds of necessity: 1. Necessity as understood in the
common or vulgar use; 2. Necessity as understood in the philosophical or
metaphysical use.

1. In common use, _necessity_ "is a relative term, and relates to some
supposed opposition made to the existence of a thing, which opposition
is overcome or proves insufficient to hinder or alter it. The word
_impossible_ is manifestly a relative term, and has reference to
supposed power exerted to bring a thing to pass which is insufficient
for the effect. The word _unable_ is relative, and has relation to
ability, or endeavour, which is insufficient. The word _irresistible_ is
relative, and has reference to resistance which is made, or may be made,
to some force or power tending to an effect, and is insufficient to
withstand the power or hinder the effect. The common notion of necessity
and impossibility implies _something that frustrates endeavour or

He then distinguishes this necessity into _general and particular_.
"Things are necessary _in general_, which are or will be,
notwithstanding any supposable opposition, from whatever quarter:" e. g.
that God will judge the world.

"Things are necessary _to us_ which are or will be, notwithstanding all
opposition supposable in the case _from us_." This is _particular_
necessity: e. g. any event which I cannot hinder. In the discussions
"about liberty and moral agency," the word is used especially in a
particular sense, because we are concerned in these discussions _as

According to this _common use_ of necessity in the _particular_ sense,
"When we speak of any thing necessary _to us_, it is with relation to
some supposable opposition _to our wills;_" and "a thing is said to be
necessary" in this sense "when we cannot help it, do what _we will_." So
also a thing is said to be _impossible to us_ when we cannot do it,
although we make the attempt,--that is, put forth the volition; and
_irresistible to us_, which, when we put forth a volition to hinder it,
overcomes the opposition: and we are _unable_ to do a thing "when our
supposable desires and endeavours are insufficient,"--are not followed
by any effect. In the common or vulgar use of these terms, we are not
considering volition in relation to its own cause; but we are
considering volition as itself a cause in relation to its own effects:
e. g. suppose a question be raised, whether a certain man can raise a
certain weight,--if it be affirmed that it is _impossible_ for him to
raise it, that he has not the _ability_ to raise it, and that the weight
will _necessarily_ keep its position,--no reference whatever is made to
the production of a volition or choice to raise it, but solely to the
connexion between the _volition_ and the _raising of the weight_. Now
Edwards remarks, that this common use of the term necessity and its
cognates being habitual, is likely to enter into and confound our
reasonings on subjects where it is inadmissible from the nature of the
case. We must therefore be careful to discriminate. (p. 27.)

2. In metaphysical or philosophical use, necessity is not a _relative_,
but an _absolute term_. In this use necessity applies "in cases wherein
no insufficient will is supposed, or can be supposed; but the very
nature of the supposed case itself excludes any opposition, will, or
endeavour." (ibid.) Thus it is used "with respect to God's existence
before the creation of the world, when there was no other being."
"_Metaphysical_ or _philosophical_ necessity is nothing different from
certainty,--not the certainty of knowledge, but the certainty of things
in themselves, which is the foundation of the certainty of knowledge, or
that wherein lies the ground of the infallibility of the proposition
which affirms them. Philosophical necessity 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; 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_."
(p. 27, 28, 29.)

"The subject and predicate of a proposition which affirms the existence
of something, may have a full, fixed, and certain connexion, in several

"1. They, may have a full and perfect connexion _in and of themselves_.
So God's infinity and other attributes are necessary. So it is
necessary, _in its own nature_, that two and two should be four."

2. The subject and predicate of a proposition, affirming the existence
of something which is already come to pass, are fixed and certain.

3. The subject and predicate of a proposition may be fixed and certain
_consequentially_,--and so the existence of the things affirmed may be
"consequentially necessary." "Things which are _perfectly connected_
with the things that are necessary, are necessary themselves, by a
necessity of consequence." This is logical necessity.

"And here it may be observed, that all things which are future, or which
will hereafter begin to be, which can be said to be necessary, are
necessary only in this last way,"--that is, "by a connexion with
something that is necessary in its own nature, or something that already
is or has been. This is the necessity which especially belongs to
controversies about acts of the will." (p. 30.)

Philosophical necessity is _general_ and _particular._ 1. "The existence
of a thing may be said to be necessary with a _general_ necessity, when
all things considered there is a foundation for the certainty of its
existence." This is unconditional necessity in the strictest sense.

2. _Particular_ necessity refers to "things that happen to particular
persons, in the existence of which, no will of theirs has any concern,
at least at that time; which, whether they are necessary or not with
regard to things in general, yet are necessary to them, and with regard
to any volition of theirs at that time, as they prevent all acts of the
will about the affair." (p. 31.) This particular necessity is absolute
to the individual, because his will has nothing to do with it--whether
it be absolute or not in the general sense, does not affect his case.

"What has been said to show the meaning of terms _necessary_ and
_necessity_, may be sufficient for the explaining of the opposite terms
_impossible_ and _impossibility_. For there is no difference, but only
the latter are negative and the former positive." (ibid.)

_Inability and Unable._

"It has been observed that these terms in their original and common use,
have relation to will and endeavour, as supposable in the case." That is
have relation to the connexion of volition with effects. "But as these
terms are often used by philosophers and divines, especially writers on
controversies about free will, they are used in a quite different and
far more extensive sense, and are applied to many cases wherein no will
or endeavour for the bringing of the thing to pass is or can be
supposed:" e. g. The connexion between volitions and their causes or

_Contingent and Contingency._

"Any thing is said to be contingent, or to come to pass by chance or
accident, in the original meaning of such words, when its connexion with
its causes or antecedents, according to the established course of
things, is not discerned; and so is what we have no means of foreseeing.
But the word, contingent, is abundantly used in a very different sense;
not for that, whose connexion with the series of things we cannot
discern so as to foresee the event, but for something which has
absolutely no previous ground or reason, with which its existence has
any fixed connexion." (p. 31. 32.)

Contingency and chance Edwards uses as equivalent terms. In common use,
contingency and chance are relative to our knowledge--implying that we
discern no cause. In another use,--the use of a certain philosophical
school,--he affirms that contingency is used to express absolutely no
cause; or, that some events are represented as existing without any
cause or ground of their existence. This will be examined in its proper
place. I am now only stating Edwards's opinions, not discussing them.

Sec. IV. Of the Distinction of natural and moral Necessary and

We now return to the question:--Is the connexion between motive and
volition necessary?

The term necessary, in its common or vulgar use, does not relate to this
question, for in that use as we have seen, it refers to the connexion
between volition considered as a cause, and its effects. In this
question, we are considering volition as an effect in relation to its
cause or the motive. If the connexion then of motive and volition be
necessary, it must be necessary in the philosophical or metaphysical
sense of the term. Now this philosophical necessity Edwards does hold to
characterize the connexion of motive and volition. This section opens
with the following distinction of philosophical necessity: "That
necessity which has been explained, consisting in an infallible
connexion of the things signified by the subject and predicate of a
proposition, as intelligent beings are the subjects of it, is
distinguished into _moral_ and _natural_ necessity." He then
appropriates _moral philosophical necessity_ to express the nature of
the connexion between motive and volition: "And sometimes by moral
necessity is meant that necessity of connexion and _consequence_ which
arises from _moral causes_, as the strength of inclination, or motives,
and the connexion which there is in many cases between these, and such
certain volitions and actions. And it is in _this_ sense that I use the
phrase _moral necessity_ in the following discourse." (p. 32.) Natural
_philosophical_ necessity as distinguished from this, he employs to
characterize the connexion between natural causes and phenomena of our
being, as the connexion of external objects with our various sensations,
and the connexion between truth and our assent or belief. (p. 33.)

In employing the term _moral_, however, he does not intend to intimate
that it affects at all the absoluteness of the necessity which it
distinguishes; on the contrary, he affirms that "moral necessity may be
as absolute as natural necessity. That is, the effect may be as
perfectly connected with its moral cause, as a natural necessary effect
is with its natural cause. 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 (i. e. the sure and perfect connexion,) is what I
call by the name of _moral necessity_." (p. 33.)

Nor does he intend "that when a moral habit or motive is so strong that
the act of the will infallibly follows, this is not owing to the _nature
of things!_" But these terms, moral and natural, are convenient to
express a difference which really exists; a difference, however, which
"does not lie so much in the nature of the _connexion_ as in the two
terms _connected_." Indeed, he soon after admits "that choice in _many
cases_ arises from nature, as truly as other events." His sentiment is
plainly this choice lies in the great system and chain of nature as
truly as any other phenomenon, arising from its antecedent and having
its consequents or effects: but we have appropriated nature to express
the chain of causes and effects, which lie without us, and which are
most obvious to us; and choice being, "as it were, a new principle of
motion and action," lying within us, and often interrupting or altering
the external course of nature, seems to demand a peculiar designation.
(p. 34.)

Edwards closes his remarks on moral necessity by justifying his
reduction of motive and volition under philosophical necessity. "It must
be observed, that in what has been explained, as signified by the name
of _moral necessity_, the word _necessity_ is not used according to the
original design and meaning of the word; for, as was observed before,
such terms, _necessary, impossible, irresistible,_ &c. in common speech,
and their most proper sense, are always relative, having reference to
some supposable voluntary opposition or endeavour, that is insufficient.
But no such opposition, or contrary will and endeavour, is supposable in
the case of moral necessity; which is a certainty of the inclination and
will itself; which does not admit of the supposition of a will to oppose
and resist it. For it is absurd to suppose the same individual will to
oppose itself in its present act; or the present choice to be opposite
to, and resisting present choice: as absurd as it is to talk of two
contrary motions in the same moving body at the same time. And therefore
the very case supposed never admits of any trial, whether an opposing or
resisting will can overcome this necessity." (p. 35.)

This passage is clear and full. Common necessity, or necessity in the
original use of the word, refers to the connexion between volition and
its effects; for here an opposition to will is supposable. I may choose
or will to raise a weight; but the gravity opposed to my endeavour
overcomes it, and I find it _impossible_ for me to raise it, and the
weight _necessarily_ remains in its place. In this common use of these
terms, the _impossibility_ and the _necessity_ are _relative_ to my
volition; but in the production of choice itself, or volition, or the
sense of the most agreeable, there is no reference to voluntary
endeavour. Choice is not the cause of itself: it cannot be conceived of
as struggling with itself in its own production. The cause of volition
does not lie within the sphere of volition itself; if any opposition,
therefore, were made to the production of a volition, it could not be
made by a volition. The mind, with given susceptibilities and habits, is
supposed to be placed within the influence of objects and their
circumstances, and the choice takes place in the correlation of the two,
as the sense of the most agreeable. Now choice cannot exist before its
cause, and so there can be no choice in the act of its causation. It
comes into existence, therefore, by no necessity relating to voluntary
endeavour; it comes into existence by a philosophical and absolute
necessity of cause and effect. It is necessary as the falling of a stone
which is thrown into the air; as the freezing or boiling of water at
given temperatures; as sensations of sight, sound, smell, taste, and
feeling, when the organs of sense and the objects of sense are brought
together. The application of the epithet _moral_ to the necessity of
volition, evidently does not alter in the least the character of that
necessity. It is still philosophical and absolute necessity, and as sure
and perfect as natural necessity. This we have seen he expressly admits,
(p. 33;) affirming, (p. 34,) that the difference between a moral and
natural necessity is a mere difference in the "two terms connected," and
not a difference "_in the nature of the connexion_."

_Natural and moral inability._

"What has been said of natural and moral necessity, may serve to explain
what is intended by natural and moral _inability_. We are said to be
_naturally_ unable to do a thing, when we cannot do it if we will,
because what is most commonly called _nature_ does not allow of it, or
because of some impeding defect or obstacle that is extrinsic to the
will; either in the faculty of the understanding, constitution of body,
or external objects." (p. 35.) We may make a voluntary endeavour to know
something, and may find ourselves _unable_, through a defect of the
understanding. We may make a voluntary effort _to do_ something by the
instrumentality of our hand, and may find ourselves unable through a
defect of the bodily constitution; or external objects may be regarded
as presenting such a counter force as to overcome the force we exert.
This is natural inability; this is all we mean by it. It must be
remarked too, that this is _inability_ not _metaphysically_ or
_philosophically_ considered, and therefore not _absolute_ inability;
but only inability in the common and vulgar acceptation of the term--a
relative inability, relative to volition or choice--an inability to do,
although we will to do.

What is moral inability? "Moral inability consists not in any of these
things; but either in the want of inclination, or the strength of a
contrary inclination, or the want of sufficient motives in view, to
induce and excite the act of will, or the strength of apparent motives
to the contrary. Or both these may be resolved into one; and it may be
said, in one word, that moral inability consists in the opposition or
want of inclination. For when a person is unable to will or choose such
a thing, through a defect of motives, or prevalence of contrary motives,
it is the same thing as his being unable through the want of an
inclination, or the prevalence of a contrary inclination, in such
circumstances and under the influence of such views." (bid.)

The inability in this case does not relate to the connexion between
volition and its consequents and effects; _but to the production of the
volition itself_. Now the inability to the production of a volition,
cannot be affirmed of the volition, because it is not yet supposed to
exist, and as an effect cannot be conceived of as producing itself. The
inability, therefore, must belong to the causes of volition, or to the
motive. But motive, as we have seen, lies in the _state of the mind_,
and in the _nature and circumstances of the object;_ and choice or
volition exists when, in the correlation of mind and object, the sense
of the most agreeable is produced. Now what reason can exist, in any
given case, why the volition or sense of the most agreeable is not
produced? Why simply this, that there is not such a correlation of mind
and object as to produce this sense or choice. But wherein lies the
deficiency? We may say generally, that it lies in both mind and
object--that they are not suited to each other. The mind is not _in a
state_ to be agreeably impressed by the object, and the object does not
possess qualities of beauty and agreeableness to the mind. On the part
of the mind, there is either a want of inclination to the object, or a
stronger inclination towards another object: on the part of the object,
there is a want of interesting and agreeable qualities to the
_particular state_ of mind in question, or a _suitableness_ to a
different state of mind: and this constitutes "the want of sufficient
motives in view, to induce and excite the act of will, or the strength
of apparent motives to the contrary." And both these may clearly be
resolved into one, that above mentioned, viz, a want of inclination on
the part of the mind to the object, and a stronger inclination towards
another object; or, as Edwards expresses it, "the opposition or want of
inclination." For a want of inclination to one object, implying a
stronger inclination to another object, expresses that the _state of the
mind_, and the nature and circumstances of the one object, are not
correlated; but that the _state of mind_, and the nature and
circumstances of the other object, are correlated. The first, is a "want
of sufficient motives;" the second, stronger "motives to the contrary."
Moral inability lies entirely out of the sphere of volition; volition,
therefore, cannot produce or relieve it, for this would suppose an
effect to modify its cause, and that too before the effect itself has
any existence. Moral inability is a _metaphysical_ inability: it is the
perfect and fixed impossibility of certain laws and principles of being,
leading to certain volitions; and is contrasted with _physical
inability_, which is the established impossibility of a certain
volition, producing a certain effect. So we may say, that _moral
ability_ is the certain and fixed connexion between certain laws and
principles of being, and volitions; and is contrasted with _natural_
ability, which is the established connexion between certain volitions
and certain effects.

Moral inability, although transcending the sphere of volition, is a
_real inability_. Where it exists, there is the absolute impossibility
of a given volition,--and of course an absolute impossibility of certain
effects coming to pass by that volition. The impossibility of water
freezing above an established temperature, or of boiling below an
established temperature, is no more fixed than the impossibility of
effects coming to pass by a volition, when there is a moral inability of
the volition. The difference between the two cases does not lie "in the
nature of the connexion," but "in the two terms connected."

Edwards gives several instances in illustration of moral inability.

"A woman of great honour and chastity may have a moral inability to
prostitute herself to her slave." (ibid.) There is no correlation
between _the state of her mind_ and _the act_ which forms the object
contemplated,--of course the sense of the most agreeable or choice
cannot take place; and while the state of her mind remains the same, and
the act and its circumstances remain the same, there is, on the
principle of Edwards, an utter inability to the choice, and of course to
the consequents of the choice.

"A child of great love and duty to his parents, may be thus unable to
kill his father." (ibid.) This case is similar to the preceding.

"A very lascivious man, in case of certain opportunities and
temptations, and in the absence of such and such restraints, may be
unable to forbear gratifying his lust." There is here a correlation
between _the state of mind_ and the _object_, in its _nature and
circumstances_,--and of course the sense of the most agreeable or choice
takes place. There is a _moral ability_ to the choice, and a _moral
inability_ to forbear, or to choose the opposite.

"A drunkard, under such and such circumstances, may be unable to forbear
taking strong drink." (ibid.) This is similar to the last.

"A very malicious man may be unable to exert benevolent acts to an
enemy, or to desire his prosperity; yea, some may be so under the power
of a vile disposition, that they may be unable to love those who are
most worthy of their esteem and affection." (ibid.) The _state of mind_
is such,--that is, the disposition or sensitivity, as not to be at all
correlated to the great duty of loving one's neighbour as one's
self,--or to any moral excellency in another: of course the sense of the
most agreeable is not produced; and in this state of mind it is
absolutely impossible that it should be produced. "A strong habit of
virtue, a great esteem of holiness, may cause a moral inability to love
wickedness in general." (p. 36.) "On the other hand, a great degree of
habitual wickedness may lay a man under an inability to love and choose
holiness, and render him _utterly unable_ to love an infinitely Holy
Being, or to choose and cleave to him as the chief good." (ibid.) The
love and choice of holiness is necessarily produced by the correlation
of the mind with holiness; and the love and choice of holiness is
_utterly impossible_ when this correlation does not exist. Where a moral
inability to evil exists, nothing can be more sure and fixed than this
inability. The individual who is the subject of it has absolutely no
power to alter it. If he were to proceed to alter it, he would have to
put forth a volition to this effect; but this would be an evil volition,
and by supposition the individual has no ability to evil volitions.

Where a moral inability to good exists, nothing can be more sure and
fixed than this inability. The individual who is the subject of it, has
absolutely no power to alter it. If he were to proceed to alter it, he
would have to put forth a volition to this effect; but this would be a
good volition, and by supposition the individual has no ability to good

_General and habitual, particular and occasional Inability._

The first consists "in a fixed and habitual inclination, or an habitual
and stated defect or want of a certain kind of inclination." (p. 36.)

The second is "an inability of the will or heart to a particular act,
through the strength or defect of present motives, or of inducements
presented to the view of the understanding, _on this occasion_." (ibid.)

An habitual drunkard, and a man habitually sober, on some _particular
occasion_ getting drunk, are instances of general and particular
inability. In the first instance, the _state_ of the man's mind has
become correlated to the object; under all times and circumstances _it
is fixed_. In the second instance, the _state_ of the man's mind is
correlated to the object only when presented on certain occasions and
under certain circumstances. In both instances, however, the choice is
necessary,--"it not being possible, in any case, that the will should at
present go against the motive which has now, all things considered, the
greatest advantage to induce it."

"Will and endeavour against, or diverse from _present_ acts of the will,
are in no case supposable, whether those acts be _occasional_ or
_habitual_; for that would be to suppose the will at present to be
otherwise than at present it is." (ibid.)

The passage which follows deserves particular attention. It may be
brought up under the following question:

Although will cannot be exerted against present acts of the will, yet
can present acts of the will be exerted to produce future acts of the
will, opposed to present habitual or present occasional acts?

"But yet there may be will and endeavour against _future_ acts of the
will, or volitions that are likely to take place, as viewed at a
distance. It is no contradiction, to suppose that the acts of the will
at one time may be against the act of the will at another time; and
there may be desires and endeavours to prevent or excite future acts of
the will; but such desires and endeavours are in many cases rendered
insufficient and vain through fixedness of habit: when the occasion
returns, the strength of habit overcomes and baffles all such
opposition." (p. 37.)

Let us take the instance of the drunkard. The choice or volition to
drink is the fixed correlation of his disposition and the strong drink.
But we may suppose that his disposition can be affected by other objects
likewise: as the consideration of the interest and happiness of his wife
and children, and his own respectability and final happiness. When his
cups are removed, and he has an occasional fit of satiety and loathing,
these considerations may awaken at the time the sense of the most
agreeable, and lead him to avoid the occasions of drunkenness, and to
form resolutions of amendment; but when the appetite and longing for
drink returns, and he comes again in the way of indulgence, then these
considerations, brought fairly into collision with his habits, are
overcome, and drinking, as the most agreeable, asserts its supremacy.

"But it may be comparatively easy to make an alteration with respect to
such future acts as are only _occasional_ and _transient_; because the
occasional or transient cause, if foreseen, may often easily be
prevented or avoided." (ibid.)

In the case of occasional drunkenness, for instance, the habitual
correlation is not of mind and strong drink, but of mind and
considerations of honour, prudence, and virtue. But strong drink being
associated on some occasion with objects which are correlated to the
mind, as hospitality, friendship, or festive celebrations,--may obtain
the mastery; and in this case, the individual being under no temptation
from strong drink in itself considered, and being really affected with
the sense of the most agreeable in relation to objects which are opposed
to drunkenness, may take care that strong drink shall not come again
into circumstances to give it an adventitious advantage. The repetition
of occasional drunkenness would of course by and by produce a change in
the sensitivity, and establish an habitual liking for drink. "On this
account, the moral inability that attends fixed habits, especially
obtains the name of _inability_. And then, as the will may remotely and
indirectly resist itself, and do it in vain, in the case of strong
habits; so reason may resist present acts of the will, and its
resistance be insufficient: and this is more commonly the case, also,
when the acts arise from strong habit." (ibid.)

In every act of the will, the will at the moment is unable to act
otherwise; it is in the strictest sense true, that a man, at the moment
of his acting, must act as he does act; but as we usually characterize
men by the habitual state of their minds, we more especially speak of
moral inability in relation to acts which are known to have no
correlation to this habitual state. This habitual state of the mind, if
it be opposed to reason, overcomes reason; for nothing, not even reason
itself, can be the strongest motive, unless it produce the sense of the
most agreeable; and this it cannot do, where the habitual disposition or
sensitivity is opposed to it.

_Common usage with respect to the phrase_ want of power _or_ inability
_to act in a certain way._

"But it must be observed concerning _moral inability_, in each kind of
it, that the word _inability_ is used in a sense very diverse from its
original import. The word signifies only a natural inability, in the
proper use of it; and is applied to such cases only wherein a present
will or inclination to the thing, with respect to which a person is said
to be unable, is supposable. It cannot be truly said, _according to the
ordinary use of language_, that a malicious man, let him be never so
malicious, cannot hold his hand from striking, or that he is not able to
show his neighbour a kindness; or that a drunkard, let his appetite be
never so strong, cannot keep the cup from his mouth. _In the strictest
propriety of speech, a man has a thing in his power if he has it in his
choice or at his election; and a man cannot be truly said to be unable
to do a thing, when he can do it if he will_." (ibid.)

Men, in the common use of language, and in the expression of their
common and generally received sentiments, affirm that an individual has
any thing in his power when it can be controlled by volition. Their
connexion of power does not arise from the connexion of volition with
its cause, but from the conception of volition as itself a cause with
its effects. Thus the hand of a malicious man when moved to strike,
having for its antecedent a volition; and if withheld from striking,
having for its antecedent likewise a volition; according to the common
usage of language, he, as the subject of volition, has the power to
strike or not to strike. Now as it is "improperly said that he cannot
perform those external voluntary actions which depend on the will, it is
in some respects more improperly said, that he is unable to exert the
acts of the will themselves; because it is more evidently false, with
respect to these, that he cannot if he will; for to say so is a
downright contradiction; it is to say he _cannot_ will if he _does_
will: and, in this case, not only is it true that it is easy for a man
to do the thing if he will, but the very willing is the doing." (ibid.)

It is improper, according to this, to say that a man cannot do a thing,
when nothing is wanting but an act of volition; for that is within our
power, as far as it can be within our power, which is within the reach
of our volition.

It is still more improper to say that a man is unable to exert the acts
of the will themselves, or unable to produce volitions. To say that a
man has power to produce volitions, would imply that he has power to
will volitions; but this would make one volition the cause of another,
which is absurd. But, as it is absurd to represent the will as the cause
of its own volitions, and of course to say that the man has ability to
produce his volitions, it must be absurd likewise to represent the man
as _unable_, in any particular case, to produce volitions, for this
would imply that in other cases he is able. Nay, the very language is
self-contradictory. If a man produce volitions, he must produce them by
volitions; and if in any case he is affirmed to be unable to produce
volitions; then this inability must arise from a want of connexion
between the volition by which the required volition is aimed to be
produced, and the required volition itself. So that to affirm that he is
unable to will is equivalent to saying, that he cannot will _if he
will_--a proposition which grants the very point it assumes to deny.
"The very willing is the doing," which is required.

Edwards adopts what he calls the "original" and "proper," meaning of
power, and ability, as applied to human agents, and appearing, "in the
ordinary use of language," as the legitimate and true meaning. In this
use, power, as we have seen, relates only to the connexion of volition
with its consequents, and not to its connexion with its antecedents or
motives. Hence, in reference to the human agent, "to ascribe a
non-performance to the want of power or ability," or to the want of
motives, (for this is plainly his meaning,) "is not just," "because the
thing wanting," that is, immediately wanting, and wanting so far as the
agent himself can be the subject of remark in respect of it, "is not a
being _able_," that is, a having the requisite motives, or the moral
ability, "but a being _willing_, or the act of volition, itself. To the
act of volition, or the fact of 'being willing,'" there is no facility
of mind or capacity of nature wanting, but only a disposition or state
of mind adapted to the act; but with this, the individual can have no
concern in reference to his action, because he has all the ability which
can be predicated of him legitimately, when he can do the act, if he
will to do it. It is evident that there may be an utter moral inability
to do a thing--that is the motive may be wanting which causes the
volition, which is the immediate antecedent of the thing to be done; but
still if it is true that there is such a connexion between the volition
and the thing to be done, that the moment the volition takes place the
thing is done; then, according to Edwards, the man may be affirmed to be
able to do it with the only ability that can be affirmed of him.

We can exert power only by exerting will, that is by putting forth
volitions by choosing; of course we cannot exert power over those
motives which are themselves the causes of our volitions. We are not
_unable_ to do anything in the proper and original and legitimate use of
the word when, for the want of motive, we are not the subjects of the
volition required as the immediate antecedent of the thing to be done;
but we are _unable_ in this use when, although the volition be made;
still, through some impediment, the thing is not done. We are conscious
of power, or of the want of power only in the connexion between our
actual volitions and their objects.

"Sec. V. Concerning the Notion of Liberty, and of moral Agency."

What is liberty? "The plain and obvious meaning of the words _freedom_
and _liberty_, in common speech, is _power, opportunity, or advantage
that any one has to do as he pleases_. Or, in other words, his being
free from hinderance, or impediment in the way of doing, or conducting
in any way as he wills. And the _contrary_ to liberty, whatever name we
call it by, is a person's being hindered or unable to conduct as he
will, or being, necessitated to do otherwise." (p. 38.) Again, "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, anything 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." (p. 39.)

This is Edwards's definition of liberty, and he has given it with a
clearness, a precision, and, at the same time, an amplification, which
renders it impossible to mistake his meaning.

Liberty has nothing to do with the connexion between volition and its
cause or motive. Liberty relates solely to the connexion between the
volition and its objects. He is free in the only true and proper sense,
who, when he wills, finds no impediment between the volition and the
object, who wills and it is done. He wills to walk, and his legs obey:
he wills to talk, and his intellect and tongue obey, and frame and
express sentences. If his legs were bound, he would not be free. If his
tongue were tied with a thong, or his mouth gagged, he would not be
free; or if his intellect were paralysed or disordered, he would not be
free. If there should be anything preventing the volition from taking
effect, he would not be free.

_Of what can the attribute of Liberty be affirmed?_

From the definition thus given Edwards remarks, "It will follow, that in
propriety of speech, neither liberty, nor its contrary, can properly be
ascribed to any being or thing, but that which has such a faculty,
power, or property, as is called will. For that which is possessed of no
_will_, cannot have any power or opportunity of doing _according to its
will_, nor be necessitated to act contrary to its will, nor be
restrained from acting agreeable to it. And therefore to talk of
liberty, or the contrary, as belonging to the _very will itself_, is not
to speak good sense; 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. And he that has the liberty, is the agent who
is possessed of the will; and not the will which he is possessed of."
(p. 38.)

Liberty is the attribute of the agent, because the agent is the
spiritual essence or being who is the subject of the power or capacity
of choice, and his liberty consists as we have seen in the unimpeded
connexion between the volitions produced in him and the objects of those
volitions. Hence, _free will_ is an objectionable phrase. _Free agent_
is the proper phrase, that is, an agent having the power of choice and
whose choice reaches effects.

_Moral Agent._

"A _moral agent_ is a being that is capable of those actions that have a
_moral_ quality, and which can properly be denominated good or evil in a
moral sense, virtuous or vicious, commendable or faulty." (p. 39.)

In what lies the capability of actions having a moral quality?

"To moral agency belongs a _moral faculty_, or sense of moral good and
evil, or of such a thing as desert or worthiness, of praise or blame,
reward or punishment; and a capacity which an agent has of being
influenced in his actions by moral inducements or motives, exhibited to
the view of the understanding or reason, to engage to a conduct
agreeable to moral faculty." (p. 40.)

A moral agent is a being who can perform moral actions, or actions which
are subject to praise or blame. Now the same action may be committed by
a man or by a brute--and the man alone will be guilty: why is the man
guilty? Because he has a moral sense or perception by which he
distinguishes right and wrong: the brute has no such sense or
perception. The man having thus the power of perceiving the right and
wrong of actions--actions and their moral qualities may be so correlated
to him as to produce the sense of the most agreeable or choice. Or, we
may say generally, moral agency consists in the possession of a reason
and conscience to distinguish right and wrong, and the capacity of
having the right and wrong so correlated to the mind as to form motives
and produce volitions. We might define a man of taste in the fine arts
in a similar way; thus,--a man of taste is an agent who has the power of
distinguishing beauty and ugliness, and whose mind is so correlated to
beauty that the sense of the most agreeable or choice is produced. The
only difference between the two cases is this: that, in the latter, the
sense of the most agreeable is always produced by the beauty perceived;
while in the former, the right perceived does not always produce this
sense; on the contrary, the sense of the most agreeable is often
produced by the wrong, in opposition to the decisions of reason and

I have now completed the statement of Edwards's system, nearly in his
own words, as contained in part I. of his work. The remarks and
explanations which have been thrown in, I hope will serve to make him
more perfectly understood. This end will be still more fully attained by
presenting on the basis of the foregoing investigation and statement, a
compend of his psychological system, independently of the order there
pursued, and without largely introducing quotations, which have already
been abundantly made.


I. There are two cardinal faculties of the mind. 1. The
intellectual--called reason or understanding. 2. The active and
feeling--called will or affections.

II. The relation of these to each other. The first precedes the second
in the order of exercise. The first perceives and knows objects in their
qualities, circumstances, and relations. The second experiences emotions
and passions, or desires and choices, in relation to the objects

III. Perception is necessary. When the understanding and its objects are
brought together, perception takes place according to the constituted
laws of the intelligence.

IV. The acts of will or the affections are necessary. When this faculty
of our being and its objects are brought together, volition or choice,
emotions, passions, or desires take place, according to the constituted
nature and laws of this faculty.

The objects and this faculty are correlates. In relation to the object,
we may call this faculty subject. When subject and object are suited to
each other, that is, are agreeable, affections are produced which we
call pleasant; when they are not suited, that is, are disagreeable,
affections take place which are unpleasant or painful. Every object in
relation to subject, is agreeable or disagreeable, and produces
accordingly, in general, affections pleasant or painful.

In the perfection and harmony of our being, this correspondence is
universal; that is, what is known to be agreeable is felt to be
pleasant;--what is known to be disagreeable is felt to be painful. But,
in the corruption of our being, this is reversed in respect of moral
objects. Although what is right is known to be agreeable, that is,
suited to us, it is felt to be painful. But the wrong which is known to
be unsuited, is felt to be pleasant. It must be remarked here, that
pleasant and agreeable, are used by Edwards and others, as synonymous
terms. The distinction I have here made is at least convenient in
describing the same objects as presented to the understanding and to the

V. The emotions and passions, volitions or choices, are thus produced in
the correlation of subject, that is the will, and the object. In
assigning the causes of these affections, we may refer to the nature of
the will, which is such, as to receive such and such affections when in
the presence of such and such objects: or, we may refer to the objects,
and say their nature and circumstances are such as to produce such and
such affections in the will: or, we may refer to both at once, and say
that the affections arise from the state of the mind, and from the
nature and circumstances of the object.

VI. The affections of the will stand connected with changes or effects
in other parts of our being, as stated antecedents. First, they stand
thus connected with muscular action,--as walking, talking, striking,
resisting, &c. Secondly, they stand thus connected with mental
operations,--as fixing the attention upon any subject of thought and
investigation, or upon any imagination, or any idea of the memory.

VII. The affections of the will, when thus connected with effects in
other parts of our being, have a peculiar and striking characteristic.
It is this: that the effect contemplated takes place at the moment it
appears the most agreeable,--the greatest apparent good; which, as
Edwards uses these phrases, means, that at the moment the effect
contemplated produces the most pleasant affection,--the most intense
sense of the agreeable,--it takes place. Thus, when walking seems most
pleasant, we walk; when talking, we talk; when thinking on a particular
subject, then we think on that subject. Such is the constitution and law
of our being. The play of the different parts is reciprocal. Perception
must bring up the objects, and the affections of will immediately
follow. The most agreeable are dwelt upon by the mind, and perception
again takes place particularly with regard to these; and according as
objects affect the will, do all the activities of our being come forth.

VIII. Various terms and phrases in common use can be easily explained by
this system:--_Choice_ is the sense or the affection of the most
pleasant and agreeable. _Preference_ is its synonyme, with scarcely a
shade of difference. They both have respect to the _act of selection_.
_Volition_ is another name for this affection of will, and is used more
particularly in relation to effects or changes following the affection.
_Desire_ is a nascent choice. The strongest desire, at a given moment,
is choice. _Emotion_ is an affection, pleasant or painful, according to
the quality of the object, but not ripened into desire. It is the first
sudden affection arising from an object presented; and with respect to
certain objects, it expresses all the enjoyment possible in relation to
them,--for example, the emotion of sublimity, produced by an object
which can hold no other relation to us. But then the sublimity of the
object may be the motive which causes the choice of gazing at it; that
is, it connects this act of contemplation with the sense of the most

_Passion_ is emotion accompanied by desire in reference to other
relations with the object. Thus the emotion of beauty awakened by a
flower may be accompanied by the desire of possessing it; and if this
desire becomes the strongest desire at the moment, then the passion has
the characteristic which makes it choice, and some corresponding effects
take place in order to possess it,--as walking towards it, stretching
out the hand, &c.

_The determination of will_ is the production or causation of choice. It
is used in reference to the immediate and particular choice, in
opposition to all other choices.

_The will itself_ is the capacity of being affected by objects with
emotion, passion, and desire,--and with that form of passion which we
call the sense of the most agreeable or choice, and which is connected
with effects or consequents as their stated antecedent.

_The motive_ is the cause of choice, and is complex. It lies in the
nature and susceptibilities of the will, and in the nature and
circumstances Of the object chosen.

IX. The will and reason may be opposed; that is, what reason commands
may seem disagreeable to the will, and of course reason cannot be
obeyed. Reason can be obeyed only when her commands produce the sense of
the most agreeable.

X. The terms necessity, and freedom or liberty are opposed in reference
to will. Freedom or liberty is the attribute of the man--the human soul.
The man is free when his volitions or choices are unimpeded,--when, upon
choosing to walk, he walks, &c. The man is not free, or is under
necessity, when his volitions or choices are impeded,--when, upon
choosing to walk, he finds his legs bound or paralysed, &c. Then it is
_impossible_ for him to walk,--then he has _no liberty_ to walk,--then
he is under a _necessity_ of remaining in one place.

Necessity in any other use is _metaphysical_ or _philosophical_
necessity, and is applied out of the sphere of the will: as the
necessity of truth, the necessity of being,--the necessary connexion of
cause and effect. Hence,

The _connexion_ between volitions or choices, or the sense of the most
agreeable with the motive or cause, is _necessary_ with a philosophical
necessity. The necessity of volitions in reference to motives is also
called _moral_ necessity. This term _moral_ is given, not in reference
to the nature of the connexion, but in reference to the _terms_
connected. Volitions belonging to responsible and moral beings are thus
distinguished from those phenomena which we commonly call _natural_.

XI. An agent is that which produces effects. A _natural_ agent is that
which produces effects without volition. A _moral_ agent is one
producing effects by volitions, accompanied with an intellectual
perception of the volitions and their effects, as right or wrong, and a
sense of desert, or of praiseworthiness, or blameworthiness, on account
of the volitions and their effects.

_Brutes_ or irresponsible beings are agents that have volitions, but
have no reason to perceive right and wrong, and consequently have no
sense of desert; and as they cannot perceive right and wrong, they
cannot be made the subjects of moral appeals and inducements.

XII. Moral responsibility arises first, from the possession of reason;
secondly, from the capacity of choice; thirdly, from natural ability.

Natural ability exists when the effect or act commanded to be
accomplished has an established connexion with volition or choice. Thus
we say a man has natural ability to walk, because if he chooses to walk,
he walks. Natural ability differs from freedom only in this:--The first
refers to an established connexion between volitions and effects. The
second refers to an absence of all impediment, or of all resisting
forces from between volitions and effects.

Hence a man is _naturally unable_ to do anything when there is no
established connexion between volition and that thing. A man is
naturally unable to push a mountain from its seat. He has no _liberty_
to move his arm when it is bound.

_Moral inability_ is metaphysical or philosophical inability.
Philosophical inability in general refers to the impossibility of a
certain effect for the want of a cause, or an adequate cause. Thus there
is a philosophical inability of transmuting metal; or of restoring the
decay of old age to the freshness and vigour of youth, because we have
no cause by which such effects can be produced. There is a philosophical
inability also, to pry up a rock of a hundred tons weight with a pine
lath, and by the hand of a single man, because we have not an adequate
cause. _Moral inability_ relates to the connexion between motives and
volitions in distinction from natural ability, which relates to the
connexion between volitions and actions consequent upon them: but the
term moral as we have seen, does not characterize the nature of the
_connexion_,--it only expresses the _quality_ of _terms connected_.
Hence _moral_ inability, as philosophical inability, is the
impossibility of a certain volition or choice for the want of a motive
or cause, or an adequate motive. Thus there is a moral philosophical
inability of Paul denying Jesus Christ, for there is plainly no motive
or cause to produce a volition to such an act. There is a moral
philosophical inability also, of a man selling an estate for fifty
dollars which is worth fifty thousand, because the motive is not
adequate to produce a volition to such an act.

Philosophical necessity and inability are absolute in respect of us,
because beyond the sphere of our volition.

XIII. Praiseworthiness or virtue, blameworthiness or guilt, apply only
to volitions. This indeed is not formally brought out in the part of
Edwards's work we have been examining. His discussion of it will be
found in part IV. sec. I. But as it is necessary to a complete view of
his system, we introduce it here.

He remarks in this part, "If the essence of virtuousness or
commendableness, and of viciousness or fault, does not lie in the nature
of the disposition or acts of the mind, which are said to be our virtue
or our fault, but in their cause, then it is certain it lies no where at
all. Thus, for instance, if the vice of a vicious act of will lies not
in the nature of the act, but in the cause, so that its being of a bad
nature will not make it at all our fault, unless it arises from some
faulty determination of ours as its cause, or something in us that is
our fault, &c." (page 190.) "Disposition of mind," or inclination,
--"acts of the mind," "acts of will," here obviously mean
the same thing; that is, they mean volition or choice, and are
distinguished from their cause or motive. The question is not whether
the cause or motive be pure or impure, but whether our virtuousness or
viciousness lie in the cause of our volition, or in the volition itself.
It plainly results from Edwards's psychology, and he has himself in the
above quotation stated it, that virtuousness or viciousness lie in the
volition itself. The characteristic of our personality or agency is
volition. It is in and by our volitions that we are conscious of doing
or forbearing to do, and therefore it is in respect of our volitions
that we receive praise for well-doing, or blame for evil-doing. If these
volitions are in accordance with conscience and the law of God, they are
right; if not, they are wrong, and we are judged accordingly. The
_metaphysical_ questions, how the volition was produced, and what is the
character of the cause, is the cause praiseworthy or blameworthy, are
questions which transcend the sphere of our volitions, our actions, our
personality, our responsibility. We are concerned only with this:--Do
_we_ do right? do _we_ do wrong? What is the _nature of our volitions?_

Nor does the _necessary connexion_ between the motives and the
volitions, destroy the blameworthiness and the praiseworthiness of the
volitions. We are blameworthy or praiseworthy according to the character
of the volitions in themselves, considered and judged according to the
rule of right, without considering how these volitions came to exist.
The last inquiry is altogether of a philosophical or metaphysical kind,
and not of a moral kind, or that kind which relates to moral agency,
responsibility, and duty.

And so also we are blameworthy or praiseworthy for doing or not doing
external actions, so far only as these actions are naturally connected
with volitions, as sequents with their stated antecedents. If the action
is one which ought to be done, we are responsible for the doing of it,
if we know that upon our willing it, it will be done; although at this
very moment there is no such correlation between the action and the
will, as to form the motive or cause upon which the existence of the act
of willing depends. If the action is one which ought not to be done, we
are guilty for doing it, when we know that if we were not to will it, it
would not be done; although at this very moment there is such a
correlation between the action, and the state of the will, as to form
the cause or motive by which the act of willing comes necessarily to
exist. The metaphysical or philosophical inquiry respecting the
correlation of the state of the will and any action, or respecting the
want of such a correlation, is foreign to the question of duty and
responsibility. This question relates only to the volition and its
connexion with its consequents.

This does not clash at all with the common sentiment that our actions
are to be judged of by our motives; for this sentiment does not respect
volitions in relation to their cause, but external actions in relation
to the volitions which produce them. These external actions may be in
themselves good, but they may not be what was willed; some other force
or power may have come in between the volition and its object, and
changed the circumstances of the object, so as to bring about an event
different from the will or intention; although being in connexion with
the agent, it may still be attributed to his will: or the immediate act
which appears good, may, in the mind of the agent be merely part of an
extended plan or chain of volitions, whose last action or result is
evil. It is common, therefore, to say of an external action, we must
know what the man intends, before we pronounce upon him; which is the
same thing as to say we must know what his volition really is, or what
his motive is--that is, not the cause which produces his volition, but
the volition which is aiming at effects, and is the motive and cause of
these effects;--which again, is the same thing as to say, that before we
can pronounce upon his conduct, we must know what effects he really
intends or wills, or desires, that is, what it is which is really
connected in his mind with the sense of the most agreeable.

_Edwards and Locke._

Their systems are one: there is no difference in the principle. Edwards
represents the will as necessarily determined so does Locke. Edwards
places liberty in the unimpeded connexion of volition with its stated
sequents--so does Locke.

They differ only in the mode of developing the necessary determination
of will. According to Locke, desire is in itself a necessary
modification of our being produced in its correlation with objects; and
volition is a necessary consequent of desire when excited at any given
moment to a degree which gives the most intense sense of uneasiness at
that moment. "The greatest present uneasiness is the spur of action that
is constantly felt, and for the most part, determines the will in its
choice of the next action." (book 2. ch. 21, § 40.) According to
Edwards, desire is not distinguishable from will as a faculty, and the
strongest desire, at any moment, is the volition of that moment.

Edwards's analysis is more nice than Locke's, and his whole developement
more true to the great principle of the system--necessary determination.
Locke, in distinguishing the will from the desire, seems about to launch
into a different psychology, and one destructive of the principle.



These consequences must, I am aware, be deduced with the greatest care
and clearness. The deduction must be influenced by no passion or
prejudice. It must be purely and severely logical--and such I shall
endeavour to make it. I shall begin with a deduction which Edwards has
himself made.

I. There is no self-determining power of will, and of course no liberty
consisting in a self-determining power.

A self-determining power of will is a supposed power, which will has to
determine its own volitions.

Will is the faculty of choice, or the capacity of desire, emotion, or

Volition is the strongest desire, or the sense of the most agreeable at
any given moment.

Volition arises from the state of the mind, or of the will, or
sensitivity itself, in correlation with the nature and circumstances of
the object.

Now, if the will determined itself, it would determine its own state, in
relation to objects. But to determine is to act, and therefore, for the
will to determine is for the will to act; and for the will to determine
itself, is for the will to determine itself by an act. But an act of the
will is a volition; therefore for the will to determine itself is to
create a volition by a volition. But then we have to account for this
antecedent volition, and it can be accounted for only in the same way.
We shall then have an infinite, or more properly, an indefinite series
of volitions, without any first volition; consequently we shall have no
self-determiner after all, because we can arrive at no first determiner,
and thus the idea of self-determination becomes self-destructive. Again,
we shall have effects without a cause, for the series in the nature of
the case never ends in a first, which is a cause per se. Volitions are
thus contingent, using this word as a synonyme of chance, the negative
of cause.

Now that this is a legitimate deduction, no one can question. If
Edwards's psychology be right, and if self-determination implies a will
to will, or choosing a choice, then a self-determining power is the
greatest absurdity possible.

II. It is clearly deducible from this also, that God can exercise a
perfect control over his intelligent creatures, or administer perfectly
a moral government consisting in the influence of motives.

To any given state of mind, he can adapt motives in reference to
required determinations. And when an individual is removed from the
motives adapted to his state of mind, the Almighty Providence can so
order events as to bring him into contiguity with the motives.

If the state of mind should be such that no motives can be made
available in reference to a particular determination, it is dearly
supposable that he who made the soul of man, may exert a direct
influence over this state of mind, and cause it to answer to the motives
presented. Whether there are motives adapted to every state of mind, in
reference to every possible determination required by the Almighty
Lawgiver, so as to render it unnecessary to exert a direct influence
over the will, is a question which I am not called upon here to answer.
But in either case, the divine sovereignty, perfect and absolute,
fore-determining and bringing to pass every event in the moral as well
as the physical world; and the election of a certain number to eternal
life, and the making of this election sure, are necessary and plain
consequences of this system. And as God is a being all-wise and good, we
may feel assured in connexion with this system, that, in the working out
of his great plan, whatever evil may appear in the progress of its
developement, the grand consummation will show that all things have been
working together for good.

III. It is plainly deducible from this system that moral beings exert an
influence over each other by the presentation of motives. And thus
efforts may be made either to the injury or benefit of society.

IV. If, as Edwards contends, the sense of responsibility, the
consciousness of guilt or of rectitude, and consequently the expectation
of punishment or reward, connect themselves simply with the nature of
the mere fact of volition.--that is, if this is a true and complete
representation of consciousness in relation to this subject, then upon
the mere fact of volition considered only in its own nature, and wholly
independently of its causes, can the processes of justice go forth.

Thus we may view the system in relation both to God and to man.

In relation to God. It makes him supreme and absolute--foreseeing and
fore-determining, and bringing everything to pass according to infinite
wisdom, and by the energy of an infinite will.

In relation to man. It shuts him up to the consideration of the simple
fact of volition, and its connexion as a stated or established
antecedent with certain effects. He is free to accomplish these effects,
because he can accomplish them if he will. He is free to forbear,
because he can forbear if he will. It is affirmed to be the common
judgement of men, and of course universally a fact of consciousness,
that an individual is fully responsible for the doing of anything which
ought to be done, if nothing is wanting to the doing of it but a
volition: that he is guilty and punishable for doing anything wrong,
because it was done by his volition: that he is praiseworthy and to be
rewarded for doing anything right, because it was done by his volition.
In vain does he attempt to excuse himself from right-doing on the plea
of _moral inability;_ this is _metaphysical_ inability, and transcends
the sphere of volition. He can do it if he will--and therefore he has
all the ability required in the case. Nothing is immediately wanting but
a willingness, and all his responsibility relates to this; he can do
nothing, can influence nothing, except by will; and therefore that which
goes before will is foreign to his consideration, and impossible to his

In vain does he attempt to excuse himself for wrong-doing on the ground
of moral _necessity_. This _moral necessity_ is _metaphysical_
necessity, and transcends the sphere of volition. He could have forborne
to do wrong, if he had had the will. Whatever else may have been
wanting, there was not wanting to a successful resistance of evil,
anything with which the agent has any concern, and for which he is under
any responsibility, but the volition. By his volitions simply is he to
be tried. No court of justice, human or divine, that we can conceive of,
could admit the plea--"I did not the good because I had not the will to
do it," or "I did the evil because I had the will to do it." "This is
your guilt," would be the reply of the judge, "that you had no will to
do the good--that you had a will to do the evil."

We must now take up a different class of deductions. They are such as
those abettors of this system who wish to sustain the great interests of
morality and religion do not make, but strenuously contend against. If
however they are logical deductions, it is in vain to contend against
them. I am conscious of no wish to _force_ them upon the system, and do
most firmly believe that they are logical. Let the reader judge for
himself, but let him judge _thoughtfully_ and _candidly_.

I. The system of Edwards leads to an absolute and unconditional
necessity, particular and general.

1. A particular necessity--a necessity absolute in relation to the

It is granted in the system, that the connexion of motive and volition
is necessary with an absolute necessity, because this precedes and
therefore is not within the reach of the volition. So also, the state of
mind, and the nature and circumstances of the object in relation to this
state, forming a correlation, in which lies the motive, is dependent
upon a cause, beyond the reach of volition. As the volition cannot make
its motive, so neither can the volition make the cause of its motive,
and so on in the retrogression of causes, back to the first cause.
Hence, all the train of causes preceding the volition are related by an
absolute necessity; and the volition itself, as the effect of motive,
being necessary also with an absolute necessity, the only place for
freedom that remains, if freedom be possible, is the connexion of
volition and effects, internal and external. And this is the only place
of freedom which this system claims. But what new characteristic appears
in this relation? Have we here anything beyond stated antecedents and
sequents? I will to walk, and I walk; I will to talk, and I talk; I will
to sit down, and I sit down. The volition is an established antecedent
to these muscular movements. So also, when I will to think on a certain
subject, I think on that subject. The volition of selecting a subject,
and the volition of attending to it, are stated antecedents to that
mental operation which we call thought. We have here only another
instance of cause and effect; the relation being one as absolute and
necessary as any other relation of cause and effect. The curious
organism by which a choice or a sense of the most agreeable produces
muscular movement, has not been arranged by any choice of the individual
man. The connexion is pre-established for him, and has its cause beyond
the sphere of volition. The constitution of mind which connects volition
with thinking is also pre-established, and beyond the sphere of
volition. As the volition itself appears by an absolute necessity in
relation to the individual man, so also do the stated sequents or
effects of volition appear by an absolute necessity in relation to him.

It is true, indeed, that the connexion between volition and its objects
may be interrupted by forces coming between, or overcome by superior
forces, but this is common to cause and effect, and forms no peculiar
characteristic; it is a lesser force necessarily interrupted or overcome
by a greater. Besides, the interruption or the overcoming of a force
does not prove its freedom when it is unimpeded; its movement may still
be necessitated by an antecedent force. And this is precisely the truth
in respect of volition, according to this system. The volition could
have no being without a motive, and when the motive is present it must
have a being, and no sooner does it appear than its effects follow,
unless impeded. If impeded, then we have two trains of causes coming
into collision, and the same necessity which brought them together,
gives the ascendency to the one or the other.

It seems to me impossible to resist the conclusion, that necessity,
absolute and unconditional, as far at least as the man himself is
concerned, reigns in the relation of volition and its effect, if the
volition itself be a necessary existence. All that precedes volition is
necessary; volition itself is necessary. All that follows volition is
necessary: Humanity is but a link of the inevitable chain.

2. General necessity--a necessity absolute, in relation to all being and
causality, and applicable to all events.

An event proved to be necessary in relation to an individual--is this
event likewise necessary in the whole train of its relations? Let this
event be a volition of a given individual; it is necessary in relation
to that individual. Now it must be supposed to have a connexion by a
chain of sequents and antecedents with a first cause. Let us now take
any particular antecedent and sequent in the chain, and that antecedent
and sequent, in its particular place and relations, can be proved
necessary in the same way that the volition is proved necessary in its
particular place and relations; that is, the antecedent being given
under the particular circumstances, the sequent must follow. But the
antecedent is linked by like necessity to another antecedent, of which
it is the sequent; and the sequent is linked by like necessity to
another sequent, of which it is the antecedent; and thus the whole
chain, from the given necessary volition up to the first cause, is
necessary. We come therefore at last to consider the connexion between
the first sequent and the first antecedent, or the first cause. Is this
a necessary connexion? If that first antecedent be regarded as a
volition, then the connexion must be necessary. If God will the first
sequent, then it was absolutely necessary that that sequent should
appear. But the volition itself cannot really be the first antecedent or
cause, because volition or choice, from its very nature, must itself
have a determiner or antecedent. What is this antecedent? The
motive:--for self-determination, in the sense of the will determining
itself, would involve the same absurdities on this system in relation to
God as in relation to man; since it is represented as an absurdity in
its own nature--it is determining a volition by a volition, in endless
retrogression. As the motive therefore determines the divine volition,
what is the nature of the connexion between the motive and the volition?
It cannot but be a necessary connexion; for there is nothing to render
it otherwise, save the divine will. But the divine will cannot be
supposed to do this, for the motive is already taken to be the ground
and cause of the action of the divine will. The necessity which applies
to volition, in the nature of the case must therefore apply to the
divine volition. No motives, indeed, can be supposed to influence the
divine will, except those drawn from his infinite intelligence, wisdom,
and goodness; but then the connexion between these motives and the
divine volitions is a connexion of absolute necessity. This Edwards
expressly affirms--"If God's will is steadily and surely determined in
everything by _supreme_ wisdom, then it is in everything _necessarily
determined_ to that which is _most_ wise." (p. 230.) That the universe
is governed by infinite wisdom, is a glorious and satisfactory thought,
and is abundantly contended for by this system; but still it is a
government of necessity. This may be regarded as the most excellent
government, and if it be so regarded it may fairly be contended for. Let
us not, however, wander from the question, and in representing it as the
government of wisdom, forget that it is a government of necessity, and
that absolute. The volition, therefore, with which we started, is at
last traced up to a necessary and infinite wisdom as its first and final
cause; for here the efficient cause and the motive are indeed one.

What we have thus proved in relation to one volition, must be equally
true in reference to every other volition and every other event, for the
reasoning must apply to every possible case. Every volition, every
event, must be traced up to a first and final cause, and this must be
necessary and infinite wisdom.

II. It follows, therefore, from this system, that every volition or
event is both necessary, and necessarily the best possible in its place
and relations.

The whole system of things had its origin in infinite and necessary
wisdom. All volitions and events have their last and efficient cause in
infinite and necessary wisdom. All that has been, all that is, all that
can be, are connected by an absolute necessity with the same great
source. It would be the height of absurdity to suppose it possible for
any thing to be different from what it is, or to suppose that any change
could make any thing better than it is; for all that is, is by absolute
necessity,--and all that is, is just what and where infinite wisdom has
made it, and disposed of it.

III. If that which we call evil, in reality be evil, then it must be
both necessary evil and evil having its origin in infinite wisdom. It is
in vain to say that man is the agent, in the common acceptation of the
word; that he is the author, because the particular volitions are his.
These volitions are absolutely necessary, and are necessarily carried
back to the one great source of all being and events. Hence,

IV. The creature man cannot be blameable. Every volition which appears
in him, appears by an absolute necessity,--and it cannot be supposed to
be otherwise than it is. Now the ground of blameworthiness is not only
the perception of the difference between right and wrong, and the
conviction that the right ought to be done, but the possession of a
power to do the right and refrain from the wrong. But if every volition
is fixed by an absolute necessity, then neither can the individual be
supposed to have power to do otherwise than he actually does, nor, all
things considered, can it be supposed there could have been, at that
precise moment and in that precise relation, any other volition. The
volition is fixed, and fixed by an infinite and necessary wisdom. We
cannot escape from this difficulty by perpetually running the changes
of--"He can if he will,"--"He could if he would,"--"There is nothing
wanting but a will,"--"He has a natural ability," &c. &c. Let us not
deceive ourselves, and endeavour to stop thought and conclusions by
these words, "he can if he will"! but he cannot if he don't will. The
will is wanting,--and while it is wanting, the required effect cannot
appear. And how is that new volition or antecedent to be obtained? The
man cannot change one volition for another. By supposition, he has not
the moral or metaphysical ability,--and yet this is the only ability
that can produce the new volition. It is passing strange that the power
upon which volition is absolutely dependent, should be set aside by
calling it _metaphysical_,--and the man blamed for an act because the
consequent of his volition, when the volition itself is the necessary
consequent of this power! The man is only in his volition. The volition
is good or bad in itself. The cause of volition is none of his concern,
because it transcends volition. He can if he will. That is enough for
him! But it is not enough to make him blameable, when whether he will or
not depends not only upon an antecedent out of his reach, but the
antecedent itself is fixed by a necessity in the divine nature itself.

I am not now disputing the philosophy. The philosophy may be true; it
may be very good: but then we must take its consequences along with it;
and this is all that I now insist upon.

V. It is another consequence of this system, that there can be nothing
evil in itself. If infinite wisdom and goodness are the highest form of
moral perfection, as indeed their very names imply, then all the
necessary consequences of these must partake of their nature. Infinite
wisdom and goodness, as principles, can only envelope parts of
themselves. It would be the destruction of all logic to deny this. It
would annihilate every conclusion that has ever been drawn. If it be
said that infinite wisdom has promulged a law which defines clearly what
is essentially right, and that it is a fact that volitions do transgress
this law, still this cannot affect what is said above. The promulgation
of the law was a necessary developement of infinite wisdom; and the
volition which transgresses it is a developement of the same nature. If
this seems contradictory, I cannot help it. It is drawn from the system,
and the system alone is responsible for its conclusions.

If it should be replied here, that every system must be subject to the
same difficulty, because if evil had a beginning, it must have had a
holy cause, inasmuch as it could not exist before it began to exist,--I
answer, this would be true if evil is the _necessary_ developement of a
holy cause. But more of this hereafter.

VI. The system of Edwards is a system of utilitarianism. Every volition
being the sense of the most agreeable, and arising from the correlation
of the object and the sensitivity; it follows that every motive and
every action comes under, and cannot but come under, the one idea of
gratification or enjoyment. According to this system, there can be no
collision between principle and passion, because principle can have no
power to determine the will, except as it becomes the most agreeable.
Universally, justice, truth, and benevolence, obtain sway only by
uniting with desire, and thus coming under conditions of yielding the
highest enjoyment. Justice, truth, and benevolence, when obeyed,
therefore, are not obeyed as such, but simply as the most agreeable; and
so also injustice, falsehood, and malignity, are not obeyed as such, but
simply as the most agreeable. In this quality of the most agreeable, as
the quality of all motive and the universal principle of the
determinations of the will, intrinsic moral distinctions fade away. We
may indeed _speculate_ respecting these distinctions,--we may say that
justice evidently is right in itself, and injustice wrong in itself; but
this judgement has practical efficiency only as one of the terms takes
the form of the most agreeable. But we have seen that the most agreeable
depends upon the state of the sensitivity in correlation with the
object,--a state and a correlation antecedent to action; and that
therefore it is a necessary law of our being, to be determined by the
greatest apparent good or the most agreeable. Utility, therefore, is not
only in point of fact, but also in point of necessity, the law of
action. There is no other law under which it is conceivable that we can

VII. It follows from this system, again, that no individual can make an
effort to change the habitual character of his volitions,--and of course
cannot resist his passions, or introduce any intellectual or moral
discipline other than that in which he is actually placed, or undertake
any enterprise that shall be opposite to the one in which he is engaged,
or not part or consequent of the same.

If he effect any change directly in the habitual character of his
volitions, he must do it by a volition; that is, he must will different
from his actual will,--his will must oppose itself in its own act: but
this is absurd, the system itself being judge. As, therefore, the will
cannot oppose itself, a new volition can be obtained only by presenting
a new motive; but this is equally impossible. To present a new motive is
to call up new objects and circumstances in relation to the actual state
of the mind, touching upon some principles which had been slumbering
under the habitual volitions; or the state of the mind itself must be
changed in relation to the objects now before it; or a change must take
place both of subject and object, for the motive lies in the correlation
of the two. But the volition to call up new objects and circumstances in
relation to some principle of the mind that had been slumbering,--for
example, fear, must itself have a motive; but the motive to call up
objects of fear must preexist; if it exist at all. If it preexist, then
of necessity the volition to call up objects of fear will take place;
and, it will not be a change effected by the man himself, out of the
actually existing state of mind and objects. If there be no such motive
pre-existing, then it would become necessary to present a new motive, to
cause the choice of objects of fear; and here would be a recurrence of
the original difficulty,--and so on, ad infinitum.

If the problem be to effect a change in the state of the mind in
relation to existing objects, in the first place, this cannot be
effected by a direct act of will, for the act of will is caused by the
state of mind, and this would be an effect changing or annihilating its

Nor can it be done indirectly. For to do it indirectly, would be to
bring influences to bear upon the state of mind or the sensitivity; but
the choice and volition of these influences would require a motive--but
the motive to change the state of mind must pre-exist in the state of
mind itself. And thus we have on the one hand, to show the possibility
of finding a principle in the state of mind on which to bring about its
change. And then if this be shown, the change is not really a change,
but a new developement of the long chain of the necessary causes and
volitions. And on the other, if this be not shown, we must find a motive
to change the state of mind in order to a change of the state: but this
motive, if it exist, must pre-exist in the state of mind. If it
pre-exist, then no change is required; if it do not; then we must seek
still an antecedent motive, and so in endless retrogression. If the
problem be to change both subject and object, the same difficulties
exist in two-fold abundance.

The grand difficulty is to find a _primum mobile_, or first mover, when
the very act of seeking implies a _primum mobile_, which the conditions
of the act deny.

Any new discipline, therefore, intellectual or moral, a discipline
opposite to that which the present state of the mind would naturally and
necessarily bring about, is impossible.

Of course, it is impossible to restrain passion, to deny or mortify
one's self. The present volition is as the strongest present
desire--indeed, is the strongest present desire itself. "Will and desire
do not run counter at all." "A man never in any instance, wills anything
contrary to his desires, or desires anything contrary to his will." (p.
17.) Hence to restrain a present passion would be to will against
will--would be to desire opposite ways at the same moment. Desires may
be relatively stronger and weaker, and the stronger will overcome the
weaker; but the strongest desire must prevail and govern the man; it is
utterly impossible for him to oppose any resistance, for his whole
power, activity, and volition, are in the desire itself.

He can do nothing but will; and the nature and direction of his
volitions are, at least in reference to any effort of his own, immutable
as necessity itself.

VIII. All exhortations and persuasions which call upon the man to bestir
himself, to think, to plan, to act, are inconsistent and absurd. In all
such exhortations and persuasions, the man is urged to will or put forth
volitions, as if he were the author, the determiner of the volitions. It
may be replied, 'that the man does will, that the volitions are his
volitions.' But then he wills only passively, and these volitions are
his only because they appear in his consciousness. You exhort and
persuade him to arouse himself into activity; but what is his real
condition according to this system? The exhortations and persuasions do
themselves contain the motive power: and instead of arousing himself to
action, he is absolutely and necessarily passive under the motives you
present. Whether he be moved or not, as truly and absolutely depends
upon the motives you present, as the removing of any material mass
depends upon the power and lever applied. And the material mass, whether
it be wood or stone, may with as much propriety be said to arouse itself
as the man; and the man's volition is his volition in no other sense
than the motion of the material mass is its motion. In the one case, the
man perceives; and in the other case, the material mass does not
perceive--but perception is granted by all parties to be necessary; the
addition of perception, therefore, only modifies the character of the
being moved, without altering the nature of his relation to the power
which moves him. In the material mass, too, we have an analogous
property, so far as motion is considered. For as motive cannot determine
the will unless there be perception, so neither can the lever and power
move the mass unless it possess resistance, and cohesion of parts. If I
have but the wisdom to discover the proper correlation of object and
sensitivity in the case of individuals or of masses of men, I can
command them in any direction I please, with a necessity no less
absolute than that with which a machine is caused to work by the
application of a steam or water-power.

When I bring motives before the minds of my fellow-beings in the proper
relation, the volition is necessarily produced; but let me not forget,
that in bringing these motives I put forth volitions, and that of course
I am myself moved under the necessity of some antecedent motive. My
persuasions and exhortations are necessary sequents, as well as
necessary antecedents. The water must run through the water-course; the
wheel must turn under the force of the current; I must exhort and
persuade when motives determine me. The minds I address must yield when
the motives are properly selected.

IX. Divine commands, warnings, and rebukes, when obeyed and yielded to,
are obeyed and yielded to by the necessary force which they possess in
relation to the state of mind to which they are addressed. When not
obeyed and yielded to, they fail necessarily, through a moral inability
on the part of the mind addressed; or, in other words, through the want
of a proper correlation between them and the state of mind addressed:
that is, there is not in the case a sufficient power to produce the
required volitions, and their existence of course is an utter

Divine commands, warnings, and rebukes, produce volitions of obedience
and submission, only as they produce the sense of the most agreeable;
and as the will of the creature can have no part in producing this
sense, since this would be producing a volition by a volition, it is
produced in a correlation antecedent to will, and of course by a
positive necessity. This is so clear from all that has gone before; that
no enlargement here is required.

When no obedience and submission take place, it is because the divine
commands, warnings, and rebukes, do not produce the sense of the most
agreeable. And as the will of the creature can have no part in producing
this sense, since this would be producing a volition by a volition; and
as it is produced in a correlation antecedent to will, and of course by
a positive necessity; so likewise the will of the creature can have no
part in preventing this sense from taking place. The volition of
obedience and the volition of disobedience are manifestations of the
antecedent correlations of certain objects with the subject, and are
necessarily determined by the nature of the correlation.

Now the Divine Being must know the precise relation which his commands
will necessarily hold to the vast variety of mind to which they are
addressed, and consequently must know in what cases obedience will be
produced, and in what cases disobedience. Both results are equally
necessary. The commands have therefore, necessarily and fitly, a
two-fold office. When they come into connexion with certain states of
mind, they necessarily and fitly produce what we call obedience: when in
connexion with other states of mind, they necessarily and fitly produce
what we call rebellion: and as all volitions are predetermined and fixed
by a necessary and infinite wisdom, and are therefore in their time and
place the best, it must follow that rebellion no less than obedience is
a wise and desirable result.

The consequences I am here deducing seem almost too shocking to utter.
But show me, he that can, that they are not logical deductions from this
system? I press the system to its consequences,--not to throw any
reproach upon those great and good men who unfortunately were led away
by a false philosophy, but to expose and bring to its close this
philosophy itself. It has too long been consecrated by its association
with the good. I know I shall be justified in the honest, though bold
work, of destroying this unnatural and portentous alliance.

X. The sense of guilt and shame and the fear of retribution cannot,
according to this system, have a real and necessary connexion with any
volitions, but must be regarded as prejudices or errors of education,
from which philosophy will serve to relieve us.

Edwards labours to prove, (part iv. sec. 1,) that virtue and vice lie
essentially in the volitions themselves, and that of course the
consciousness of evil volitions is the consciousness of guilt. I will,
or put forth volitions. The volitions are mine, and therefore I am
guilty. This reasoning is plausible, but not consequential; for,
according to this system, I put forth volitions in entire passivity: the
volitions appear necessarily and by Antecedent motives in my
consciousness, and really are mine only because they are produced in me.
Connected with this may be the perception that those volitions are
wrong; but if there is likewise the conviction that they are necessary,
and that to suppose them different from what they are, is to suppose
what could not possibly have been,--since a series of sequents and
antecedents connect these volitions which now appear, by absolutely
necessary relations, with a first and necessary cause,--then the sense
of guilt and shame, and the judgement I ought to be punished, can have
no place in the human mind. It is of no avail to tell me that I will,
and, according to the common judgement of mankind, I must be guilty when
I will wrong,--if, at the same time, philosophy teaches me that I will
under the necessary and inevitable governance of an antecedent motive.
The common judgement of mankind is an error, and philosophy must soon
dissipate the sense of guilt and shame, and of moral desert, which have
hitherto annoyed me and made me fearful: and much more must such a
result ensue, when I take into consideration, likewise, that the
necessity which determines me, is a necessity which takes its rise in
infinite and necessary wisdom.

What is true of guilt and retribution is true also of well-doing and
reward. If I do well, the volitions being determined by an antecedent
necessity, I could not possibly have done otherwise. It does not answer
the conditions of the case at all, to say I might have done otherwise,
if I had willed to do otherwise; because the will to do as I actually am
doing, is a will that could not have been otherwise. Give me, then, in
any action called good, great, noble, glorious, &c. the conviction that
the choice of this action was a necessary choice, predetermined in a
long and unbroken chain of necessary antecedents, and the sense of
praiseworthiness, and the judgement I ought to be rewarded, remain no

Merit and demerit are connected in our minds with our volitions, under
the impression that the good we perform, we perform in opposition to
temptation, and with the power and possibility of doing evil; and that
the evil we perform, we perform in opposition to motives of good, and
with the power and possibility of doing good. But when we are informed
that all the power and possibility of a conduct opposite to our actual
conduct is this,--that if we had put forth opposite volitions, there
would have been opposite external acts, but that nevertheless the
volitions themselves were necessary, and could not have been
otherwise,--we cannot but experience a revulsion of mind. We perhaps are
first led to doubt the philosophy,--or if, by acute reasonings, or by
the authority of great names, we are influenced to yield an implicit
belief,--the sense of merit and demerit must either die away, or be
maintained by a hasty retreat from the regions of speculation to those
of common sense.

XI. It follows from this system, also, that nature and spirit, as causes
or agents, cannot be distinguished in their operations.

There are three classes of natural causes or agents generally
acknowledged 1. Inanimate,--as water, wind, steam, magnetism, &c.; 2.
Animate, but insensible,--as the life and affinities of plants; 3.
Animate and sensitive, or brute animal power.

These all properly come under the denomination of _natural_, because
they are alike _necessitated_. "Whatever is comprised in the chain and
mechanism of cause and effect, of course necessitated, and having its
necessity in some other thing antecedent or concurrent,--this is said to
be _natural_; and the aggregate and system of all such things is
_nature_." Now spirit, as a cause or agent, by this system, comes under
the same definition: in all its acts it is necessitated. It is in will
particularly that man is taken as a cause or agent, because it is by
will that he directly produces phenomena or effects; and by this system
it is not possible to distinguish, so far as necessary connexion is
considered, a chain of antecedents and sequents made up of motives,
volitions, and the consequents of volitions, from a chain of sequents
and antecedents into which the three first mentioned classes of natural
agents enter. All the several classes have peculiar and distinguishing
characteristics; but in the relation of antecedence and sequence,--their
relation as causes or agents producing effects,--no distinction can be
perceived. Wind, water, &c. form one kind of cause; organic life forms
another; brute organization and sensitivity another; intelligent
volition another: but they are all necessary, absolutely necessary; and
therefore they are the co-ordinate parts of the one system of nature.
The difference which exists between them is a difference of terms
merely. There is no difference in the nature of the relation between the
terms. The nature of the relation between the water-wheel and the
water,--of the relation between the organic life of plants and their
developement,--of the relation between passion and volition in
brutes,--of the relation between their efforts and material
effects,--and the nature of the relation between motive and
volition,--are one: it is the relation of cause and effect considered as
stated antecedent and sequent, and no more and no less necessary in one
subject than in another.

XII. It follows, again, that sensations produced by external objects,
and all emotions following perception, and all the acts of the
intelligence, whether in intuitive knowledge or in ratiocination, are as
really our acts, and acts for which we are as really responsible, if
responsibility be granted to exist, as acts of volition. Sensations,
emotions, perceptions, reasonings, are all within us; they all lie in
our consciousness; they are not created by our volitions, like the
motions of the hands and feet; they take place by their own causes, just
as volitions take place by their causes. The relation of the man to all
is precisely the same. He is in no sense the cause of any of these
affections of his being; he is simply the subject: the subject of
sensation, of perception, of emotion, of reasoning, and of volition; and
he is the subject of all by the same necessity.

XIII. The system of punishment is only a system accommodated to the
opinions of society.

There is nothing evil in itself, according to this system of necessity,
as we have already shown. Every thing which takes place is, in its time,
place, and relations generally, the necessary result of necessary and
infinite wisdom. But still it is a fact that society are desirous of
preventing certain acts,--such as stealing, adultery, murder, &c.; and
they are necessarily so desirous. Now the system of punishment is a mere
collection of motives in relation to the sense of pain and the emotion
of fear, which prevent the commission of these acts. Where these acts do
take place, it is best they should take place; but where they are
prevented by the fear of punishment, it is best they should be
prevented. Where the criminal suffers, he has no right to complain,
because it is best that he should suffer; and yet, if he does complain,
it is best that he should complain. The system of punishment is good, as
every thing else is good. The system of divine punishments must be
considered in the same light. Indeed, what are human punishments, when
properly considered, but divine punishments? They are comprehended in
the pre-ordained and necessary chain of being and events.

XIV. Hence we must conclude, also, that there cannot really be any
calamity. The calamities which we may at any time experience, we ought
to endure and rejoice in, as flowing from the same perfect and necessary
source. But as calamity does nevertheless necessarily produce suffering
and uneasiness, and the desire of relief, we may be permitted to hope
that perfect relief and entire blessedness will finally ensue, and that
the final blessedness will be enhanced just in proportion to the present

The necessitarian may be an optimist of a high order. It he commits what
is called crime, and remorse succeeds, and punishment is inflicted under
law, the crime is good, the remorse is good, the punishment is good, all
necessary and good, and working out, as he hopes, a result of pure
happiness. Nothing can be bad in itself: it may be disagreeable; but
even this will probably give way to the agreeable. And so also with all
afflictions: they must be good in themselves, although disagreeable,
--and will probably lead the way to the agreeable, just as
hunger and thirst, which are disagreeable, lead the way to the
enjoyments of eating and drinking. All is of necessity, and of a
necessary and perfect wisdom.

XV. But as all is of necessity, and of a necessary and perfect wisdom,
there really can no more be folly in conduct, or error in reasoning and
belief, than there can be crime and calamity, considered as evils in
themselves. Every act that we call folly is a necessary act, in its
time, place, and relations generally, and is a necessary consequence of
the infinite wisdom; but a necessary consequence of infinite wisdom
cannot be opposed to infinite wisdom; so that what we call folly, when
philosophically considered, ceases to be folly.

In any act of pure reasoning, the relations seem necessary, and the
assent of the mind is necessary. This is granted by all parties. But it
must be admitted, that when men are said to reason falsely, and to yield
their assent to false conclusions, the relations seem necessary to them;
and, according to this system, they necessarily so seem, and cannot seem
otherwise: and the assent of the mind is also necessary.

The reasoning, to others, would be false reasoning, because it so
necessarily seems to them; but to the individual to whom it seems
different, it must really be different, and be good and valid reasoning.

Again: as all these different reasonings and beliefs proceed necessarily
from the same source, they must all be really true where they seem true,
and all really false where they seem false. It would follow, from this,
that no one can really be in a false position except the hypocrite and
sophist, pretending to believe and to be what he does not believe and
what he is not, and purposely reasoning falsely, and stating his false
conclusions as if they were truths. I say this would follow, were we not
compelled by this system to allow that even the hypocrite and sophist
cannot hold a false position, inasmuch as his position is a necessary
one, predetermined in its necessary connexion with the first necessary

XVI. Another consequence of this system is fatalism,--or, perhaps, more
properly speaking, the system is itself a system of fatalism.

This, indeed, has already been made to appear substantially. The word,
however, has not yet been used. I here, then, charge directly this
consequence or feature upon the system.

Fatalism is the absolute negation of liberty. This system is fatalism,
because it is the absolute negation of liberty.

No liberty is contended for, in this system, in relation to man, but
physical liberty: viz. that when he wills, the effect will follow,--that
when he wills to walk, he walks, &c. "Liberty, as I have explained it,
is the power, opportunity, or advantage, that any one has to do as he
pleases, or conducting himself in any respect according to his pleasure,
without considering how his pleasure comes to be as it is." (p. 291.)

In the first place, this is no higher liberty than what brutes possess.
They have power, opportunity, or advantage, to do as they please.
Effects follow their volitions by as certain a law as effects follow the
volitions of men.

In the second place, this is no higher liberty than slaves possess.
Slaves uniformly do as they please. If the motive be the lash, or the
fear of the lash, still, in their case as well as in that of brutes
under similar circumstances, the volition which takes place is the most
pleasing at the moment. The slave and the animal do what is most
pleasing to them, or do according to their pleasure, When the one drags
the plough and the other holds it. Nay, it is impossible for any animal,
rational or irrational, to act without doing what is most pleasing to
him or it. Volition is always as the greatest apparent good, or as the
sense of the most pleasant or agreeable.

If any should reply that slaves and animals are _liable_ to be fettered,
and this distinguishes them from the free, I rejoin that every being is
liable to various restraints; none of us can do many things which in
themselves appear desirable, and would be objects of volition if there
were known to be an established connexion between them and our wills. We
are limited in our actions by the powers of nature around us; we cannot
overturn mountains, or command the winds. We are limited in the nature
of our physical being. We are limited by our want of wealth, knowledge,
and influence. In all these respects, we may, with as much propriety as
the slave, be regarded as deprived of liberty. It does not avail to say
that, as we never really will what we know to be impossible or
impracticable, so in relation to such objects, neither liberty or a want
of liberty is to be affirmed; for the same will apply to the fettered
slave; he does not will to walk or run when he knows it to be
impossible. But in relation to him as well as to every other being,
according to this system it holds true, that whether he act or forbear
to act, his volitions are as the most agreeable.

All creatures, therefore, acting by volition, are to be accounted free,
and one really as free as another.

In the third place, the liberty here affirmed belongs equally to every
instance of stated antecedence and sequence.

The liberty which is taken to reside in the connexion between volition
and effects, is a liberty lying in a connexion of stated antecedence and
sequence, and is perfect according as this connexion is necessary and
unimpeded. The highest form of liberty, therefore, is to be found in the
most absolute form of necessity. Liberty thus becomes identified also
with power: where there is power, there is liberty; and where power is
the greatest, that is, where it overcomes the most obstacles and moves
on irresistibly to its effects, there is the greatest degree of liberty.
God is the most free of all beings, because nothing can impede his will.
His volitions are always the antecedents of effects.

But obviously we do not alter the relation, when we change the terms. If
liberty lie in the stated antecedence of volition to effects, and if
liberty is measured by the necessity of the relation, then when the
antecedent is changed, the relation remaining the same, liberty must
still be present. For example: when a volition to move the arm is
followed by a motion of the arm, there is liberty; now let galvanism be
substituted for the volition, and the effect as certainly takes place;
and as freedom is doing as we please, or will, "without considering how
this pleasure (or will) comes to be as it is;" that is, without taking
its motive into the account. So likewise, freedom may be affirmed to be
doing according to the galvanic impulse, "without considering how" that
impulse "comes to be as it is."

If we take any other instance of stated antecedence and sequence, the
reasoning is the same. For example, a water wheel in relation to the
mill-stone: when the wheel turns, the mill-stone moves. In this case
freedom may be defined: the mill-stone moving according to the turn of
the wheel, "without considering how" that turn of the wheel "comes to be
as it is." In the case of human freedom, freedom is defined, doing
according to our volitions, without considering how the volition comes
to be as it is; doing "according to choice, without taking into the
meaning of the word anything of the cause of that choice." (p. 39.)

If it be said that in the case of volition, we have the man of whom to
affirm freedom; but in the case of the wheel and mill-stone, we have
nothing of which liberty can properly be affirmed. I reply, that liberty
must be affirmed, and is properly affirmed, of that to which it really
belongs; and hence as volition is supposed to belong to the spiritual
essence, man; and this spiritual essence is pronounced free, because
volition appears in it, and is attended by consequences:--so, likewise,
the material essence of the wheel may be pronounced free, because motion
belongs to it, and is followed by consequences. As every being that has
volition is free, so likewise every thing that hath motion is free:--in
every instance of cause and effect, we meet with liberty.

But volition cannot be the characteristic of liberty, if volition itself
be governed by necessity: and yet this system which affirms liberty,
wherever there is unimpeded volition, makes volition a necessary
determination. In the fact of unimpeded volition, it gives liberty to
all creatures that have volition; and then again, in the fact of the
necessary determination of volition it destroys the possibility of
liberty. But even where it affirms liberty to exist, there is no new
feature to characterize it as liberty. The connexion between volition
and its stated consequences, is a connexion as necessary and absolute as
the connexion between the motive and the volition, and between any
antecedent and sequent whatever. That my arm should move when I make a
volition to this effect, is just as necessary and just as
incomprehensible too, as that water should freeze at a given
temperature: when the volition is impeded, we have only another instance
of necessity,--a lesser force overcome by a greater.

The liberty therefore which this system affirms in the fact of volition
and its unimpeded connexion with its consequents, is an assumption--a
mere name. It is a part of the universal necessity arbitrarily
distinguished and named, its liberty does not reside in human volition,
so neither can it reside in the divine volition. The necessary
dependence of volition upon motive, and the necessary sequence of
effects upon volition, can no more be separated from the divine mind
than from ours. It is a doctrine which, if true, is implied in the
universal conception of mind. It belongs to mind generically considered.
The creation of volition by volition is absurd in itself--it cannot but
be an absurdity. The determination of will by the strongest motive, if a
truth is a truth universally; on this system, it contains the whole
cause and possibility of volition. The whole liberty of God, it is
affirmed, is contained in this, to do as pleases him, or, in other
words, that what he wills is accomplished, and necessarily accomplished:
what pleases him is also fixed in the necessity of his own nature. His
liberty, therefore, by its own definition, differs nothing from

If the movements of mind are necessary, no argument is required to prove
that all being and events are necessary. We are thus bound up in a
universal necessity. Whatever is, is, and cannot be otherwise, and could
not have been otherwise. As therefore there is no liberty, we are
reduced to the only remaining alternative of fatalism.

Edwards does not indeed attempt to rebut wholly the charge of fatalism.
(part iv. § vi.) In relation to the Stoics, he remarks:--"It seems they
differed among themselves; and probably the doctrine of _fate_ as
maintained by most of them, was, in some respects, erroneous. But
whatever their doctrines was, if any of them held such a fate, as is
repugnant to any _liberty, consisting in our doing as we please,_ I
utterly deny such a fate." He objects to fatalism only when it should
deny our actions to be connected with our pleasure, or our sense of the
most agreeable, that is our volition. But this connexion we have fully
proved to be as necessary as the connexion between the volition and its
motive. This reservation therefore does not save him from fatalism.

In the following section, (sec. vii.) he represents the liberty and
sovereignty of God as consisting in an ability "to do whatever pleases
him." His idea of the divine liberty, therefore, is the same as that
attributed to man. That the divine volitions are necessarily determined,
he repeatedly affirms, and indeed represents as the great excellence of
the divine nature, because this necessity of determination is laid in
the infinite wisdom and perfection of his nature.

If necessity govern all being and events, it is cheering to know that it
is necessity under the forms of infinite wisdom and benevolence. But
still it remains true that necessity governs. If "it is no disadvantage
or dishonour to a being, _necessarily_ to act in the most excellent and
happy manner from the necessary perfection of his own nature," still let
us remember that under this representation _he does act necessarily_.
Fate must have some quality or form; it must be what we call good or
evil: but in determining its quality, we do not destroy its nature. Now
if we call this fate a nature of goodness and wisdom, eternal and
infinite, we present it under forms beautiful, benign, and glorious, but
it is nevertheless fate,--and as such it governs the divine volitions;
and through the divine volitions, all the consequents and effects of
these volitions;--the universe of being and things is determined by
fate;--and all volitions of angels or men are determined by fate--by
this fate so beautiful, benign, and glorious. Now if all things thus
_proceeding_ from fate were beautiful, benign, and glorious, the theory
might not alarm us. But that deformity, crime, and calamity should have
place as developements of this fate, excites uneasiness. The abettors of
this system, however, may perhaps comfort themselves with the persuasion
that deformity, crime, and calamity, are names not of realities, but of
the limited conceptions of mankind. We have indeed an instance in point
in Charles Bonnet, whom Dugald Stewart mentions as "a very learned and
pious disciple of Leibnitz." Says Bonnet--"Thus the same chain embraces
the physical and moral world, binds the past to the present, the present
to the future, the future to eternity. That wisdom which has ordained
the existence of this chain, has doubtless willed that of every link of
which it is composed. A Caligula is one of these links; and this link is
of iron. A Marcus Aurelius is another link; and this link is of gold.
_Both_ are necessary parts of one whole, which could not but exist.
Shall God then be angry at the sight of the iron link? What absurdity!
God esteems this link at its proper value. He sees it in its cause, and
he approves this cause, for it is good. God beholds moral monsters as he
beholds physical monsters. Happy is the link of gold! Still more happy
if he know that he is _only fortunate_. He has attained the highest
degree of moral perfection, and is nevertheless without pride, knowing
that what he is, is the necessary result, of the place which he must
occupy in the chain. The gospel is the allegorical exposition of this
system; the simile of the potter is its summary." He might have added,
"Happy is the link of iron, if he know that he is not guilty, but at
worst _only unfortunate;_ and really not unfortunate, because holding a
necessary place in the chain which both as a whole and in its parts, is
the result of infinite wisdom."

If anything more is required in order to establish this consequence of
the system we are examining, I would call attention to the inquiry,
whether after a contingent self-determining will there remains any
theory of action except fatalism? A contingent self-determining will is
a will which is the cause of its own volitions or choices--a
self-conscious power, self-moved and directed, and at the moment of its
choice, or movement towards a particular object, conscious of ability of
choosing, or moving towards, an opposite object. Now what conception
have we to oppose to this but that of a will not determining
itself,--not the cause of its own volitions,--a power not self-moved and
directed,--and not conscious of ability at the moment of a particular
choice, to make a contrary choice? And this last conception is a will
whose volitions are determined by some power antecedent to itself, not
contingently, but necessarily. As the will is the only power for which
contingent self-determination is claimed, if it be proved to be no such
power, then no such power exists. The whole theory of action and
causality will then be expressed as follows:

1. Absolute and necessary connexion of motives and volitions. 2.
Absolute and necessary connexion of volitions and effects. 3. Absolute
and necessary connexion of all sequents and antecedents in nature. 4.
Absolute and necessary connexion of all things existent with a first and
necessary principle or cause. 5. The necessary determination of this
principle or cause.

Denying a contingent self-determining will, this theory is all that
remains. If liberty be affirmed to reside in the 2d particular of this
theory, it becomes a mere arbitrary designation, because the _nature_ of
the relation is granted to be the same; it is not _contingent_, but
necessary. Nor can liberty be affirmed to reside in the 5th; because in
the first place, the supposed demonstration of the absurdity of a
contingent self-determining will, by infinite series of volitions, must
apply to this great first principle considered as God. And in the second
place, the doctrine of the necessary determination of motive must apply
here likewise, since God as will and intelligence requires motives no
less than we do. Such determination is represented as arising from the
very nature of mind or spirit. Now this theory advanced in opposition to
a self-determining will, is plainly the negation of liberty as opposed
to necessity. And this is all that can be meant by fatalism. Liberty
thus becomes a self-contradictory conception, and fatalism alone is
truth and reality.

XVII. It appears to me also, that pantheism is a fair deduction from
this system.

According to this system, God is the sole and universal doer--the only
efficient cause. 1. His volition is the creative act, by which all
beings and things exist. Thus far it is generally conceded that God is
all in all. "By him we live, and move, and have our being." 2. The
active powers of the whole system of nature he has constituted and
regulated. The winds are his messengers. The flaming fire his servant.
However we may conceive of these powers, whether as really powers acting
under necessary laws, or as immediate manifestations of divine energy,
in either case it is proper to attribute all their movements to God.
These movements were ordained by his wisdom, and are executed directly
or indirectly by his will. Every effect which we produce in the material
world, we produce by instrumentality. Our arms, hands, &c. are our first
instruments. All that we do by the voluntary use of these, we attribute
to ourselves. Now if we increase the instrumentality by the addition of
an axe, spade, or hammer, still the effect is justly attributed in the
same way. It is perfectly clear that to whatever extent we multiply the
instruments, the principle is the same. Whether I do the deed directly
with my hand, or do it by an instrument held in my hand, or by a
concatenation of machinery, reaching from "the centre to the utmost
pole,"--if I contemplate the deed, and designedly accomplish it in this
way, the deed is mine. And not only is the last deed contemplated as the
end of all this arrangement mine, all the intermediary movements
produced as the necessary chain of antecedents and sequents by which the
last is to be attained, are mine likewise.

I use powers and instruments whose energy and capacity I have learned by
experience, but in whose constitution I have had no hand. They are
provided for me, and I merely use them. But God in working by these,
works by what his own wisdom and power have created; and therefore _a
fortiori_ must every effect produced by these, according to his design,
and by his volition as at least the first power of the series, be
attributed to him,--be called his doing. He causeth the sun to rise and
set. "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the
service of man." "He watereth the hills from his chambers." This is not
merely poetry. It is truth.

Now the system we are considering goes one step further; it makes human
volitions as much the objects of the eternal design, and as really the
effects of the divine volition, as the rising of the stars, the flight
of the lightning, the tumult of the waters, or the light which spreadeth
itself like a garment over creation. Every volition of created mind is
God's act, as really as any effect in nature. We have seen how every
volition is connected with its motive; how the motive lies in a
pre-constitution; how the series of antecedents and sequents necessarily
runs back and connects itself with the infinite wisdom. God's volition
is his own act; the effect immediately produced by that volition is his
own deed. Let that effect be the creation of man: the man in all his
powers and susceptibilities is God's work; the objects around him are
God's work; the correlation of the objects with the sensitivity of man
is God's work; the volition which necessarily takes place as the result
of this correlation is God's work. The volition of the man is as
strictly attributable to God, as, according to our common apprehensions,
the blow which I give with an axe is attributable to me. What is true of
the first man, must be equally true of the man removed by a thousand
generations, for the intermediary links are all ordained by God under an
inevitable necessity. God is really, therefore, the sole doer--the only
efficient, the only cause. All beings and things, all motion and all
volition, are absolutely resolved into divine volition. God is the
author of all beings, things, motions, and volitions, and as much the
author of any one of these as of any other, and the author of all in the
same way and in the same sense. Set aside self-determining will, and
there is no stopping-place between a human volition and the divine
volition. The human volition is but the divine, manifested through a
lengthened it may be, but a connected and necessary chain of antecedents
and sequents. I see no way of escaping from this, as a necessary and
legitimate consequence of the necessary determination of will. And what
is this consequence but pantheism? God is the universal and
all-pervading intelligence--the universal and only power. Every movement
of nature is necessary; every movement of mind is necessary; because
necessarily caused and determined by the divine volition. There is no
life but his, no thought but his, no efficiency but his. He is the soul
of the world.

Spinosa never represented himself as an atheist, and according to the
following representation appears rather as a pantheist. "He held that
God is the _cause_ of all things; but that he acts, not from choice, but
from necessity; and, of consequence, that he is the involuntary author
of all the good and evil, virtue and vice, which are exhibited in human
life." (Dugald Stewart, vol. 6. p. 276, note.)

Cousin remarks, too, that Spinosa deserves rather the reproach of
pantheism than of atheism. His pantheism was fairly deduced from the
doctrine of necessary determination, which he advocated.

XVIII. Spinosa, however, is generally considered an atheist. "It will
not be disputed," says Stewart, "by those who comprehend the drift of
his reasonings, that in point of practical tendency atheism and
Spinosism are one and the same."

The following is Cousin's view of his system. It apparently differs from
the preceding in some respects, but really tends to the same

"Instead of accusing Spinosa of atheism, he ought to be reproached for
an error in the other direction. Spinosa starts from the perfect and
infinite being of Descartes's system, and easily demonstrates that such
a being is alone a being in itself; but that a being, finite, imperfect,
and relative, only participates of being, without possessing it, in
itself: that a being in itself is one necessarily: that there is but one
substance; and that all that remains has only a phenomenal existence:
that to call phenomena, finite substances, is affirming and denying, at
the same time; whereas, there being, but one substance which possesses
being in itself, and the finite being that which participates of
existence without possessing it in itself, a substance finite implies
two contradictory notions. Thus, in the philosophy of Spinosa, man and
nature are pure phenomena; simple attributes of that one and absolute
substance, but attributes which are co-eternal with their substance: for
as phenomena cannot exist without a subject, the imperfect without the
perfect, the finite without the infinite, and man and nature suppose
God; so likewise, the substance cannot exist without phenomena, the
perfect without the imperfect, the infinite without the finite, and God
on his part supposes man and nature. The error of his system lies in the
predominance of the relation of phenomenon to being, of attribute to
substance, over the relation of effect to cause. When man has been
represented, not as a cause, voluntary and free, but as necessary and
uncontrollable desire, and as an imperfect and finite thought; God, or
the supreme pattern of humanity, can be only a substance, and not a
cause--a being, perfect, infinite, necessary--the immutable substance of
the universe, and not its producing and creating cause. In Cartesianism,
the notion of substance figures more conspicuously than that of cause;
and this notion of substance, altogether predominating, constitutes
Spinosism." (Hist. de la Phil tom. 1. p. 466.)

The predominance of the notion of substance and attribute, over that of
cause and effect, which Cousin here pronounces the vice of Spinosa's
system, is indeed the vice of every system which contains the dogma of
the necessary determination of will. The first consequence is pantheism;
the second, atheism. I will endeavour to explain. When self
-determination is denied to will, and it is resolved into mere
desire, necessitated in all its acts from its pre-constituted
correlation with objects, then will really ceases to be a cause. It
becomes an instrument of antecedent power, but is no power in itself,
creative or productive. The reasoning employed in reference to the human
will, applies in all its force to the divine will, as has been already
abundantly shown. The divine will therefore ceases to be a cause, and
becomes a mere instrument of antecedent power. This antecedent power is
the infinite and necessary wisdom; but infinite and necessary wisdom is
eternal and unchangeable; what it is now, it always was; what tendencies
or energies it has now, it always had; and therefore, whatever volitions
it now necessarily produces, it always necessarily produced. If we
conceive a volition to have been, in one direction, the immediate and
necessary antecedent of creation; and, in another, the immediate and
necessary sequent of infinite, and eternal, and necessary wisdom; then
this volition must have always existed, and consequently, creation, as
the necessary effect of this volition, must have always existed. The
eternal and infinite wisdom thus becomes the substance, because this is
existence in itself, no antecedent being conceivable; and creation,
consisting of man and nature, imperfect and finite, participating only
of existence, and not being existence in themselves, are not substances,
but phenomena. But what is the relation of the phenomena to the
substance? Not that of effect to cause;--this relation slides entirely
out of view, the moment will ceases to be a cause. It is the relation
simply of phenomena to being, considered as the necessary and
inseparable manifestations of being; the relation of attributes to
substance, considered as the necessary and inseparable properties of
substance. We cannot conceive of substance without attributes or
phenomena, nor of attributes or phenomena without substance; they are,
therefore, co-eternal in this relation. Who then is God? Substance and
its attributes; being and its phenomena. In other words, the universe,
as made up of substance and attributes, is God. This is Spinosism; this
is pantheism; and it is the first and legitimate consequence of a
necessitated will.

The second consequence is atheism. In the denial of will as a cause _per
se_,--in resolving all its volitions into the necessary phenomena of the
eternal substance,--we destroy personality: we have nothing remaining
but the universe. Now we may call the universe God; but with equal
propriety we call God the universe. This destruction of
personality,--this merging of God into necessary substance and
attributes,--is all that we mean by Atheism. The conception is really
the same, whether we name it fate, pantheism, or atheism.

The following remark of Dugald Stewart, shows that he arrived at the
same result: "Whatever may have been the doctrines of some of the
ancient atheists about man's free agency, it will not be denied that, in
the history of modern philosophy, the schemes of atheism and of
necessity have been hitherto always connected together. Not that I would
by any means be understood to say, that every necessitarian must _ipso
facto_ be an atheist, or even that any presumption is afforded, by a
man's attachment to the former sect, of his having the slightest bias in
favour of the latter; but only that every modern atheist I have heard of
has been a necessitarian. I cannot help adding, that the most consistent
necessitarian who have yet appeared, have been those who followed out
their principles till they ended in _Spinosism_,--a doctrine which
differs from atheism more in words than in reality." (Vol. 6, p. 470.)

Cudworth, in his great work entitled "The true Intellectual System of
the Universe," shows clearly the connexion between fatalism and atheism.
This work seems to have grown out of another undertaking, which
contemplated specifically the question of liberty and necessity, and its
bearing upon morality and religion. The passage in the preface, in which
he informs us of his original plan, is a very full expression of his
opinion. "First, therefore, I acknowledge," says he, "that when I
engaged the press, I intended only a discourse concerning liberty and
necessity, or, to speak out more plainly, against the fatal necessity of
all actions and events; which, upon whatsoever grounds or principles
maintained, will, as we conceive, serve the design of atheism, and
undermine Christianity, and all religion, as taking away all guilt and
blame, punishments and rewards, and plainly rendering a day of judgement
ridiculous." This opinion of the tendency of the doctrine of a
necessitated will, is the germ of his work. The connexion established in
his mind between this doctrine and atheism, naturally led him to his
masterly and elaborate exposition and refutation of the latter.

The arguments of many atheists might be referred to, to illustrate the
connexion between necessity and atheism. I shall here refer, however, to
only one individual, remarkable both for his poetic genius and
metaphysical acumen. I mean the late Piercy Bysshe Shelley. He openly
and unblushingly professed atheism. In his Queen Mab we find this line:
"There is no God." In a note upon this line, he remarks: "This negation
must be understood solely to affect a creative Deity. The hypothesis of
a pervading spirit, co-eternal with the universe, remains unshaken."
This last hypothesis is Pantheism. Pantheism is really the negation of a
creative Deity,--the identity or at least necessary and eternal
co-existence of God and the universe. Shelley has expressed this clearly
in another passage:

   "Spirit of nature! all-sufficing power,
   Necessity! thou mother of the world!"

In a note upon this passage, Shelley has argued the doctrine of the
necessary determination of will by motive, with an acuteness and power
scarcely inferior to Collins or Edwards. He makes, indeed, a different
application of the doctrine, but a perfectly legitimate one. Collins and
Edwards, and the whole race of necessitarian theologians, evidently toil
under insurmountable difficulties, while attempting to base religion
upon this doctrine, and effect their escape only under a fog of
subtleties. But Shelley, in daring to be perfectly consistent, is
perfectly clear. He fearlessly proceeds from necessity to pantheism, and
thence to atheism and the destruction of all moral distinctions. "We are
taught," he remarks, "by the doctrine of necessity, that there is
neither good nor evil in the universe, otherwise than as the events to
which we apply these epithets have relation to our own peculiar mode of
being. Still less than with the hypothesis of a God, will the doctrine
of necessity accord with the belief of a future state of punishment."

I here close my deductions from this system. If these deductions be
legitimate, as I myself cannot doubt they are, then, to the largest
class of readers, the doctrine of necessity is overthrown: it is
overthrown by its consequences, and my argument has the force of a
_reductio ad absurdum_. If a self-determined will appear an absurdity,
still it cannot be as absurd as the contrary doctrine, if this doctrine
involve the consequences above given. At least, practical wisdom will
claim that doctrine which leaves to the world a God, and to man a moral
and responsible nature.

A question will here very naturally arise: How can we account for the
fact that so many wise and good men have contended for a necessitated
will, as if they were contending for the great basis of all morality and
religion? For example, take Edwards himself as a man of great thought
and of most fervent piety. In the whole of his treatise, he argues with
the air and manner of one who is opposing great errors as really
connected with a self-determined will. What can be stronger than the
following language: "I think that the notion of liberty, consisting in a
_contingent self-determination of the will_, as necessary to the
morality of men's dispositions and actions, is almost inconceivably
pernicious; and that the contrary truth is one of the most important
truths of moral philosophy that ever was discussed, and most necessary
to be known." The question is a fair one, and I will endeavour to answer

1. The impossibility of a self-determining will as being in itself a
contradictory idea, and as leading to the consequence of affirming the
existence of effects without causes, takes strong hold of the mind in
these individuals. This I believe, and hope to prove in the course of
this treatise, to be a philosophical error;--but it is no new thing for
great and good men to fall into philosophical errors.

As, therefore, the liberty consisting in a self-determining will, or the
_liberty of indifference_, as it has been technically called, is
conceived to be exploded, they endeavour to supply a _liberty of
spontaneity_, or a liberty lying in the unimpeded connexion between
volition and sequents.

Hobbes has defined and illustrated this liberty in a clearer manner than
any of its advocates: "I conceive," says he, "liberty to be rightly
defined,--the absence of all impediments to action, that are not
contained in the nature and intrinsical quality of the agent. As for
example, the water is said to descend _freely_, or is said 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 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. So also we
say, he that is tied, wants the _liberty_ to go, because the impediment
is not in him, but in his hands; whereas, we say not so of him who is
sick or lame, because the impediment is in himself,"--that is, he wants
the faculty or power of going:--this constitutes natural _inability_.
Liberty is volition acting upon physical instrumentalities, or upon
mental faculties, according to a fixed and constituted law of
antecedents, and meeting with no impediment or overcoming antagonistic
power. Natural ability is the fixed and constituted antecedence itself.
Hence there may be natural ability without liberty; but liberty cannot
be affirmed without natural ability. Both are necessary to constitute
responsibility. Natural ability is volition known as a stated antecedent
of certain effects. Liberty is this antecedent existing without
impediment or frustration. Since this is the only possible liberty
remaining, and as they have no wish to be considered fatalists, they
enlarge much upon this; not only as the whole of liberty actually
existing, but as the full and satisfactory notion of liberty.

In basing responsibility and praise and blameworthiness upon this
liberty, an appeal is made to the common ideas, feelings, and practices
of men. Every man regards himself as free when he does as he
pleases,--when, if he pleases to walk, he walks,--when, if he pleases to
sit down, he sits down, &c. if a man, in a court of justice, were to
plead in excuse that he committed the crime because he pleased or willed
to do it, the judge would reply--"this is your guilt, that you pleased
or willed to commit it: nay, your being pleased or willing to commit it
was the very doing of it." Now all this is just. I readily admit that we
are free when we do as we please, and that we are guilty when, in doing
as we please, we commit a crime.

Well, then, it is asked, is not this liberty sufficient to constitute
responsibility? And thus the whole difficulty seems to be got over. The
reasoning would be very fair, as far as it goes, if employed against
fatalists, but amounts to nothing when employed against those who hold
to the self-determining power of the will. The latter receive these
common ideas, feelings, and practices of men, as facts indicative of
freedom, because they raise no question against human freedom. The real
question at issue is, how are we to account for these facts? The
advocates of self-determining power account for them by referring them
to a self-determined will. We say a man is free when he does as he
pleases or according to his volitions, and has the sense of freedom in
his volitions, because he determines his own volitions; and that a man
is guilty for crime, if committed by his volition, because he determined
this volition, and at the very moment of determining it, was conscious
of ability to determine an opposite volition. And we affirm, also, that
a man is free, not only when he does as he pleases, or, in other words,
makes a volition without any impediment between it and its object,--he
is free, if he make the volition without producing effects by it:
volition itself is the act of freedom. But how do those who deny a
self-determining power account for these facts? They say that the
volition is caused by a motive antecedent to it, but that nevertheless,
inasmuch as the man feels that he is free and is generally accounted so,
he must be free; for liberty means nothing more than "power and
opportunity to do and conduct as he will, or according to his choice,
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,"--that is, the man is free, and feels himself to be so, when
he does as he pleases, because this is all that is meant by freedom.

But suppose the objection be brought up, that the definition of liberty
here given is assumed, arbitrary, and unsatisfactory; and that the sense
or consciousness of freedom in the act of volition, and the common
sentiments and practices of men in reference to voluntary action, are
not adequately accounted for,--then the advocates of necessitated
volition return to the first argument, of the impossibility of any other
definition,--and affirm that, inasmuch as this sense of freedom does
exist, and the sentiments and practices of men generally correspond to
it, we must believe that we are free when volition is unimpeded in its
connexion with sequents, and that we are blame or praiseworthy,
according to the perceived character of our volitions,--although it
cannot but be true that the volitions themselves are necessary. On the
one hand, they are compelled by their philosophy to deny a
self-determining will. On the other hand, they are compelled, by their
moral sense and religious convictions, to uphold moral distinctions and
responsibility. In order to do this, however, a _quasi_ liberty must be
preserved: hence the attempt to reconcile liberty and necessity, by
referring the first exclusively to the connexion between volition and
its sequents, and the second exclusively to the connexion between the
volition and its antecedents or motives. Liberty is physical; necessity
is metaphysical. The first belongs to man; the second transcends the
sphere of his activity, and, is not his concern. In this very difficult
position, no better or more ingenious solution could be devised; but
that it is wholly illogical and ineffectual, and forms no escape from
absolute and universal necessity, has already been abundantly proved.

2. The philosophers and divines of whom we are speaking, conceive that
when volitions are supposed to exist out of the necessary determination
of motives, they exist fortuitously and without a cause. But to give up
the necessary and universal dependence of phenomena upon causes, would
be to place events beyond the divine control: nay, more,--it would
destroy the great _a posteriori_ argument for the existence of a God. Of
course it would be the destruction of all morality and religion.

3. The doctrine of the divine foreknowledge, in particular, is much
insisted upon as incompatible with contingent volitions. Divine
foreknowledge, it is alleged, makes all events certain and necessary.
Hence volitions are necessary; and, to carry out the reasoning, it must
be added likewise that the connexion between volitions and their
sequents is equally necessary. God foresees the sequent of the volition
as well as the volition. The theory, however, is careful to preserve the
_name_ of liberty, because it fears the designation which properly
belongs to it.

4. By necessary determination, the sovereignty of God and the harmony of
his government are preserved. His volitions are determined by his
infinite wisdom. The world, therefore, must be ruled in truth and

These philosophers and divines thus represent to themselves the theory
of a self-determining will as an absurdity in itself, and, if granted to
be true, as involving the most monstrous and disastrous consequences,
while the theory which they advocate is viewed only in its favourable
points, and without reaching forth to its legitimate consequences. If
these consequences are urged by another hand, they are sought to be
evaded by concentrating attention upon the fact of volition and the
sense of freedom attending it: for example, if fatalism be urged as a
consequence, of this theory, the ready reply is invariably--"No such
necessity is maintained as goes to destroy the liberty which consists in
doing as one pleases;" or if the destruction of responsibility be urged
as a consequence, the reply is--"A man is always held a just subject of
praise or blame when he acts voluntarily." The argumentation undoubtedly
is as sincere as it is earnest. The interests at stake are momentous.
They are supposed to perish, if this philosophy be untrue. No wonder,
then, that, reverencing and loving morality and religion, they should by
every possible argument aim to sustain the philosophy which is supposed
to lie at their basis, and look away from consequences so destructive,
persuading themselves that these consequences are but the rampant
sophistries of infidelity.

It is a wonderful fact in the history of philosophy, that the philosophy
of fate, pantheism, and atheism, should be taken as the philosophy of
religion. Good men have misapprehended the philosophy, and have
succeeded in bringing it into fellowship with truth and righteousness.
Bad men and erring philosophers have embraced it in a clear
understanding of its principles, and have both logically reasoned out
and fearlessly owned its consequences.

XIX. Assuming, for the moment, that the definition of liberty given by
the theologians above alluded to, is the only possible definition, it
must follow that the most commonly received modes of preaching the
truths and urging the duties of religion are inconsistent and

A class of theologians has been found in the church, who, perhaps
without intending absolutely to deny human freedom, have denied all
ability on the part of man to comply with the divine precepts. A generic
distinction between inability and a want of freedom is not tenable, and
certainly is of no moment, where, as in this case, the inability
contended for is radical and absolute.

These theologians clearly perceived, that if volition is necessarily
determined by motive, and if motive lies in the correlation of desire
and object, then, in a being totally depraved, or a being of radically
corrupt desires, there can be no ability to good deeds: the deed is as
the volition, and the volition is as the strongest desire or the sense
of the most agreeable.

Hence these theologians refer the conversion of man exclusively to
divine influence. The man cannot change his own heart, nor employ any
means to that end; for this would imply a volition for which, according
to the supposition, he has no ability.

Now, at the same time, that this class represent men as unable to love
and obey the truths of religion, they engage with great zeal in
expounding these truths to their minds, and in urging upon them the duty
of obedience. But what is the aim of this preaching? Perhaps one will
reply, I know the man cannot determine himself to obedience, but in
preaching to him, I am presenting motives which may influence him. But
in denying his ability to do good, you deny the possibility of moving
him by motives drawn from religious truth and obligation. His heart, by
supposition, is not in correlation with truth and duty; the more,
therefore, you preach truth and duty, the more intense is the sense of
the disagreeable which you awaken. As when you present objects to a
man's mind which are correlated to his feelings, the more clearly and
frequently you present them, the more you advance towards the sense of
the most agreeable or choice. So when you present objects which are not
correlated to his feelings, the more clearly and frequently you present
them, the more you must advance towards the sense of the most
disagreeable, or positive refusal.

If it be affirmed, in reply to this, that the presentation of truth
forms the occasion or condition on which the divine influence is exerted
for the regeneration of the heart, then I ask, why do you urge the man
to repent, and believe, and love God, and discharge religious duty
generally, and rebuke him for sin, when you know that he is utterly
unable to move, in the slightest degree, towards any of these affections
and actions, and utterly unable to leave off sinning, until the divine
influence be exerted, which brings his heart into correlation with
religion, and makes it possible for him to put forth the volitions of
piety and duty? It can be regarded in no other light than playing a
solemn farce, thus to rebuke and urge and persuade, as if the man ought
to make some exertion when you feel convinced that exertion is
impossible. It certainly can form no occasion for divine interposition,
unless it be in pity of human folly. If you say that such a course does
succeed in the conversion of men, then we are constrained to believe
that your philosophy is wrong, and that your practice succeeds, because
inconsistent with it, and really belonging to some other system which
you know not, or understand not and deny.

A total inability to do good makes man the passive subject of influences
to be employed for his regeneration, and he can no more be considered
active in effecting it than he is in the process of digesting food, or
in the curative action of medicines upon any diseased part of his
system. If you urge him to exert himself for his regeneration, you urge
him to put forth volitions which, according to this philosophy, are in
no sense possible until the regeneration has been effected, or at least

I will go one step farther in this reasoning:--on supposition of total
inability, not only is the individual a passive subject of regenerating
influences, but he is also incapable of regeneration, or any disposition
or tendency towards regeneration, from any influences which lie merely
in motives, produced by arraying objects before the mind. Motive,
according to the definition, exhibited in the statement of Edwards's
system, lies in the nature and circumstances of the object standing in
correlation with the state of mind. Now the state of mind, in an
unregenerate state, is a state represented by this system itself, as
totally adverse to the objects of religion. Hence, there is no
conceivable array of religious truth, and no conceivable religious
exhortation and persuasion that could possibly come into such a relation
to this state of mind as to form the motive of a religious choice or
volition. It is perfectly plain, that before such a result could take
place, the state of mind itself would have to be changed. But as the
array of religious truth and the energy of religious exhortation must
fail to produce the required volitions, on account of the state of mind,
so neither can the state of mind be changed by this array of truth or by
this exhortation. There is a positive opposition of mind and object, and
the collision becomes more severe upon every attempt to bring them
together. It must follow, therefore, that preaching truth and duty to
the unregenerate, so far from leading to their conversion, can only
serve to call out more actively the necessary determination, not to
obey. The very enlightening of the intelligence, as it gives a clearer
perception of the disagreeable objects, only increases the

Nor can we pause in this consequence, at human instrumentality. It must
be equally true, that if divine interposition lies in the presentation
of truth and persuasions to duty, only that these are given with tenfold
light and power, it must fail of accomplishing regeneration, or of
producing any tendency towards regeneration. The heart being in no
correlation with these,--its sense of the disagreeable,--and therefore
the energy of its refusal will only be the more intense and decided.

If it should be remarked that hope and fear are feelings, which, even in
a state of unregeneracy, can be operated upon, the state of things is
equally difficult. No such hope can be operated upon as implies desire
after religious principles and enjoyments; for this cannot belong to the
corrupt nature; nor can any fear be aroused which implies a reverence of
the divine purity, and an abhorrence of sin. The fear could only relate
to danger and suffering; and the hope, to deliverance and security,
independently of moral qualities. The mere excitement of these passions
might awaken attention, constrain to an outward obedience, and form a
very prudent conduct, but could effect no purification of the heart.

There is another class of theologians, of whom Edwards is one, who
endeavour to escape the difficulties which attend a total inability, by
making the distinction of moral and natural inability:--man, they say,
is morally unable to do good, and naturally able to do good, and
therefore he can justly be made the subject of command, appeal, rebuke,
and exhortation. The futility of this distinction I cannot but think has
already been made apparent. It may be well, however, inasmuch as so
great stress is laid upon it, to call up a brief consideration of it in
this particular connexion.

Moral inability, as we have seen, is the impossibility of a given
volition, because there are no motives or causes to produce it. It is
simply the impossibility of an effect for the want of a cause: when we
speak of moral cause and effect, according to Edwards, we speak of
nothing different from physical cause and effect, except in the quality
of the terms--the relation of the terms is the same. The impossibility
of a given volition, therefore, when the appropriate motive is wanting,
is equal to the impossibility of freezing water in the sun of a summer's

When objects of volition are fairly presented, an inability to choose
them must lie in the state of the mind, sensitivity, desire, will, or
affections, for all these have the same meaning according to this
system. There is no volition of preference where there is no motive to
this effect; and there is no motive to this effect where the state of
the mind is not in correlation with the objects presented: on the
contrary, the volition which now takes place, is a volition of refusal.

Natural inability, as defined by this system, lies in the connexion
between the volition considered as an antecedent, and the effect
required. Thus I am naturally unable to walk, when, although I make the
volition, my limbs, through weakness or disease, do not obey. Any defect
in the powers or instrumentalities dependent for activity upon volition,
or any impediment which volition cannot surmount, constitutes natural
inability.[2] According to this system, I am not held responsible for
anything which, through natural inability, cannot be accomplished,
although the volition is made. But now let us suppose that there is no
defect in the powers or instrumentalities dependent for activity upon
volition, and no impediment which volition cannot surmount, so that
there need be only a volition in order to have the effect, and then the
natural ability is complete:--I will to walk, and I walk.

Now it is affirmed that a man is fairly responsible for the doing of
anything, and can be fairly urged to do it when all that is necessary
for the doing of it is a volition although there may be a moral
inability to the volition itself.

Nothing it seems to me can be more absurd than this distinction. If
liberty be essential to responsibility, liberty, as we have clearly
shown, can no more lie in the connexion between volition and its
effects, than in the connexion between volition and its motives. One is
just as necessary as the other. If it be granted to be absurd with the
first class of theologians to urge men to do right when they are
conceived to be totally unable to do right, it is equally so when they
are conceived to have only a natural ability to do right, because this
natural ability is of no avail without a corresponding moral ability. If
the volition take place, there is indeed nothing to prevent the action;
nay, "the very willing is the doing of it;" but then the volition as an
effect cannot take place without a cause; and to acknowledge a moral
inability, is nothing less than to acknowledge that there is no cause to
produce the required volition.

The condition of men as represented by the second class of theologians,
is not really different from their condition as represented by the first
class. The inability under both representations is a total inability. In
the utter impossibility of a right volition on these, is the utter
impossibility of any good deed.

When we have denied liberty, in denying a self-determining power, these
definitions in order to make out a _quasi_ liberty and ability, are
nothing but ingenious folly and plausible deception.

You tell the man, indeed, that he can if he will; and when he replies to
you, that on your own principles the required volition is impossible,
you refer him to the common notions of mankind. According to these, you
say a man is guilty when he forbears to do right, since nothing is
wanting to right-doing but a volition,--and guilty when he does wrong,
because he wills to do wrong. According to these common notions, too, a
man may fairly be persuaded to do right, when nothing is wanting but a
will to do right. But do we find this distinction of natural and moral
ability in the common notions of men? When nothing is required to the
performance of a deed but a volition, do men conceive of any inability
whatever? Do they not feel that the volition has a metaphysical
possibility as well as that the sequent of the volition has a physical
possibility? Have we not at least some reason to suspect that the
philosophy of responsibility, and the basis of rebuke and persuasion
lying in the common notions of men, are something widely different from
the scheme of a necessitated volition?

This last class of theologians, equally with the first, derive all the
force of their preaching from a philosophy, upon which they are
compelled to act, but which they stoutly deny. Let them carry out their
philosophy, and for preaching no place remains.

Preaching can produce good effects only by producing good volitions; and
good volitions can be produced only by good motives: but good motives
can exist under preaching only when the subjects of the preaching are
correlated with the state of mind. But by supposition this is not the
case, for the heart is totally depraved.

To urge the unregenerate man to put forth volitions in reference to his
regeneration, may consist with a self-determining power of will, but is
altogether irrelevant on this system. It is urging _him_ to do what _he_
cannot do; and indeed what all persuasion must fail to do _in him_ as a
mere passive subject. To assure him that the affair is quite easy,
because nothing is required of him but to will, is equivalent to
assuring him that the affair is quite easy, because it will be done when
he has done it. The man may reply, the affair would indeed be quite easy
if there existed in me a motive to produce the volition; but as there
does not, the volition is impossible. And as I cannot put forth the
volition without the motive, so neither can I make the motive which is
to produce the volition--for then an effect would make its cause. What I
cannot do for myself, I fear neither you, nor indeed an angel from
heaven will succeed in doing for me. You array the truths, and duties,
and prospects of religion before my mind, but they cannot take the
character of motives to influence my will, because they are not
agreeable to my heart.

You indeed mean well; but do you not perceive that on your own
principles all your zeal and eloquence must necessarily have an opposite
effect from what you intend? My affections not being in correlation with
these subjects, the more you urge them, the more intense becomes my
sense of the most disagreeable, or my positive refusal; and this, my
good friends, by a necessity which holds us all alike in an inevitable
and ever-during chain.

It is plainly impossible to escape from this conclusion, and yet
maintain the philosophy. All efforts of this kind, made by appealing to
the common sentiments of mankind, we have seen are self-contradictory.
It will not do to press forward the philosophy until involved in
difficulty and perplexity, and then to step aside and borrow arguments
from another system which is assumed to be overthrown. There is no
necessity more absolute and sovereign, than a logical necessity.[3]

XVIII. The cardinal principles of Edwards's system in the sections we
have been examining, from which the above consequences are deduced, are
the three following:

1. The will is always determined by the strongest motive.

2. The strongest motive is always "the most agreeable."

3. The will is necessarily determined.

I shall close this part of the present treatise with a brief examination
of the reasoning by which he endeavours to establish these points.

The reasoning by which the first point is aimed to be established, is
the general reasoning respecting cause and effect. Volition is an
effect, and must have a cause. Its cause is the motive lying in the
correlation of mind and object. When several physical causes conflict
with each other, we call that the strongest which prevails and produces
its appropriate effects, to the exclusion of the others. So also where
there are several moral causes or motives conflicting with each other,
we call that the strongest which prevails. Where a physical cause is not
opposed by any other force, it of course produces its effect; and in
this case we do not say the _strongest_ cause produces the effect,
because there is no comparison. So also there are cases in which there
is but one moral cause or motive present, when there being no
comparison, we cannot affirm that the volition is determined by the
_strongest_ motive: the doing of something may be entirely agreeable,
and the not doing of it may be utterly disagreeable: in this case the
motive is only for the doing of it. But wherever the case contains a
comparison of causes or of motives, it must be true that the effect
which actually takes place, is produced by the strongest cause or
motive. This indeed is nothing more than a truism, or a mere postulate,
as if we should say,--let a cause or motive producing effects be called
the strongest. It may be represented, also, as a _petitio principii_, or
reasoning in a circle,--since the proof that the will is determined by
the strongest motive is no other than the fact that it is determined. It
may be stated thus: The will is determined by the strongest motive. How
do you know this? Because it is determined. How does this prove it?
Because that which determines it must be the strongest.[4]

Edwards assumes, also, that motive is the cause of volition. This
assumption he afterwards endeavours indirectly to sustain, when he
argues against a self-determining will. If the will do not cause its own
volitions, then it must follow that motive is the cause. The argument
against a self-determining will we are about to take up.

2. _The strongest motive is always the most agreeable_. Edwards
maintains that the motive which always prevails to cause volition, has
this characteristic,--that it is the most agreeable or pleasant at the
time, and that volition itself is nothing but the sense of the most
agreeable. If there should be but one motive present to the mind, as in
that case there would be no comparison, we presume he would only say
that the will is determined by _the agreeable_.

But how are we to know whether the motive of every volition has this
characteristic of agreeableness, or of most agreeableness, as the case
may be? We can know it only by consulting our consciousness. If,
whenever we will, we find the sense of the most agreeable identified
with the volition, and if we are conscious of no power of willing, save
under this condition of willing what is most agreeable to us, then
certainly there remains no farther question on this point. The
determination of consciousness is final. Whether such be the
determination of consciousness, we are hereafter to consider.

Does Edwards appeal to consciousness?

He does,--but without formally announcing it. The following passage is
an appeal to consciousness, and contains Edwards's whole thought on this
subject: "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
what is not _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." (p.
25.) Motives differ widely, intrinsically considered. Some are in
accordance with reason and conscience; some are opposed to reason and
conscience. Some are wise; some are foolish. Some are good; some are
bad. But whatever may be their intrinsic properties, they all have this
characteristic of agreeableness when they cause volition; and it is by
this characteristic that their strength is measured. The appeal,
however, which is made to sustain this, is made in a way to beg the very
point in question. Will not every one admit, that "when men act
_voluntarily and do what they please_, they do what suits them best, and
what is most agreeable to them?" Yes. Is it not a palpable
contradiction, to say that men "do what pleases them," and yet do "what
is not agreeable to them," according to the ordinary use of these words?

But the point in question is, whether men, acting voluntarily, always do
what is pleasing to them: and this point Edwards assumes. He assumes it
here, and he assumes it throughout his treatise. We have seen that, in
his psychology, he identifies will and desire or the affections:--hence
volition is the prevailing desire or affection, and the object which
moves the _desire_ must of course appear _desirable_, or agreeable, or
pleasant; for they have the same meaning. If men always will what they
most desire, and desire what they will, then of course when they act
voluntarily, they do what they please; and when they do what they
please, they do what suits them best and is most agreeable to them.

Edwards runs the changes of these words with great plausibility, and we
must say deceives himself as well as others. The great point,--whether
will and desire are one,--whether the volition is as the most
agreeable,--he takes up at the beginning as an unquestionable fact, and
adheres to throughout as such; but he never once attempts an analysis of
consciousness in relation to it, adequate and satisfactory. His
psychology is an assumption.

3. The will is necessarily determined.

How does Edwards prove this? 1. On the general connexion of causes and
effects. Causes necessarily produce effects, unless resisted and
overcome by opposing forces; but where several causes are acting in
opposition, the strongest will necessarily prevail, and produce its
appropriate effects.

Now, Edwards affirms that the nature of the connexion between motives
and volitions is the same with that of any other causes and effects. The
difference is merely in the terms: and when he calls the necessity which
characterizes the connexion of motive and volition "a moral necessity,"
he refers not to the connexion itself, but only to the terms connected.
In this reasoning he plainly assumes that the connexion between cause
and effect in general, is a necessary connexion; that is, all causation
is necessary. A contingent, self-determining cause, in his system, is
characterized as an absurdity. Hence he lays himself open to all the
consequences of a universal and absolute necessity.

2. He also endeavours to prove the necessity of volition by a method of
approximation. (p. 33.) He here grants, for the sake of the argument,
that the will may oppose the strongest motive in a given case; but then
he contends that it is supposable that the strength of the motive may be
increased beyond the strength of the will to resist, and that at this
point, on the general law of causation, the determination of the will
must be considered necessary. "Whatever power," he remarks, "men may be
supposed to have to surmount difficulties, yet that power is not
infinite." If the power of the man is finite, that of the motive may be
supposed to be infinite: hence the resistance of the man must at last be
necessarily overcome. This reasoning seems plausible at first; but a
little examination, I think, will show it to be fallacious. Edwards does
not determine the strength of motives by inspecting their intrinsic
qualities, but only by observing their degrees of agreeableness. But
agreeableness, by his own representation, is relative,--relative to the
will or sensitivity. A motive of infinite strength would be a motive of
infinite agreeableness, and could be known to be such only by an
infinite sense of agreeableness in the man. The same of course must hold
true of any motive less than infinite: and universally, whatever be the
degree of strength of the motive, there must be in the man an affection
of corresponding intensity. Now, if there be a power of resistance in
the will to any motive, which is tending strongly to determine it, this
power of resistance, according to Edwards, must consist of a sense of
agreeableness opposing the other motive, which is likewise a sense of
agreeableness: and the question is simply, which shall predominate and
become a sense of the most agreeable. It is plain that if the first be
increased, the second may be supposed to be increased likewise; if the
first can become infinite, the second can become infinite likewise: and
hence the power of resistance may be supposed always to meet the motive
required to be resisted, and a point of necessary determination may
never be reached.

If Edwards should choose to throw us upon the strength of motives
intrinsically considered, then the answer is ready. There are motives of
infinite strength, thus considered, which men are continually resisting:
for example, the motive which urges them to obey and love God, and seek
the salvation of their souls.



Edwards's first and great argument against a self-determining will, is
given in part II. sec. 1, of his work, and is as follows:

The will,--or the soul, or man, by the faculty of willing, effects every
thing within its power as a cause, by acts of choice. "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." Hence, if the will determines itself, it
does it by an act of choice; "and if it has itself under its command,
and determines itself in its own actions, it doubtless does it in the
same way that it determines other things which are under its command."
But if the will determines its choice by its choice, then of course we
have an infinite series of choices, or we have a first choice which is
not determined by a choice,--"which brings us directly to a
contradiction; for it supposes an act of the will preceding the first
act in the whole train, directing and determining the rest; or a free
act of the will before the first free act of the will: or else we must
come at last to an act of the will determining the consequent acts,
wherein the will is not self-determined, and so is not a free act, in
this notion of freedom." (p. 43.)

This reasoning, and all that follows in the attempt to meet various
evasions, as Edwards terms them, of the advocates of a self-determining
will, depend mainly upon the assumption, that if the will determines
itself, it must determine itself by an act of choice; that is, inasmuch
as those acts of the will, or of the soul, considered in its power of
willing, or in its personal activity, by which effects are produced out
of the activity or will itself, are produced by acts of choice, for
example, walking and talking, rising up and sitting down: therefore, if
the soul, in the power of willing, cause volitions, it must cause them
by volitions. The causative act by which the soul causes volitions, must
itself be a volition. This assumption Edwards does not even attempt to
sustain, but takes for granted that it is of unquestionable validity. If
the assumption be of unquestionable validity, then his position is
impregnable; for nothing can be more palpably absurd than the will
determining volitions by volitions, in an interminable series.

Before directly meeting the assumption, I remark, that if it be valid,
it is fatal to all causality. Will is simply cause; volition is effect.
I affirm that the will is the sole and adequate cause of volition.
Edwards replies: if will is the cause of volition, then, to cause it, it
must put forth a causative act; but the only act of will is volition
itself: hence if it cause its own volitions, it must cause them by

Now take any other cause: there must be some effect which according to
the general views of men stands directly connected with it as its
effect. The effect is called the phenomenon, or that by which the cause
manifests itself. But how does the cause produce the phenomenon? By a
causative act:--but this causative act, according to Edwards's
reasoning, must itself be an effect or phenomenon. Then this effect
comes between the cause, and what was at first considered the immediate
effect but the effect in question must likewise be caused by a causative
act; and this causative act, again, being an effect, must have another
causative act before it; and so on, _ad infinitum_. We have here then an
infinite series of causative acts--an absurdity of the same kind, with
an infinite series of volitions.

It follows from this, that there can be no cause whatever. An infinite
series of causative acts, without any first, being, according to this
reasoning, the consequence of supposing a cause to cause its own acts,
it must therefore follow, that a cause does not cause its own acts, but
that they must be caused by some cause out of the cause. But the cause
out of the cause which causes the causative acts in question, must cause
these causative acts in the other cause by a causative act of its
own:--but the same difficulties occur in relation to the second cause as
in relation to the first; it cannot cause its own acts, and they must
therefore be caused out of itself by some other cause; and so on, _ad
infinitum_. We have here again the absurdity of an infinite series of
causative acts; and also, the absurdity of an infinite series of causes
without a first cause. Otherwise, we must come to a first cause which
causes its own acts, without an act of causation; but this is
impossible, according to the reasoning of Edwards. As, therefore, there
cannot be a cause causing its own acts, and inasmuch as the denial of
this leads to the absurdities above mentioned, we are driven to the
conclusion, that there is no cause whatever. Every cause must either
cause its own acts, or its acts must be caused out of itself. Neither of
these is possible; therefore, there is no cause.

Take the will itself as an illustration of this last consequence. The
will is cause; the volition, effect. But the will does not cause its own
volition; the volition is caused by the motive. But the motive, as a
cause, must put forth a causative act in the production of a volition.
If the motive determine the will, then there must be an act of the
motive to determine the will. To determine, to cause, is to do, is to
act. But what determines the act of the motive determining the act of
the will or volition If it determine its own act, or cause its own act,
then it must do this by a previous act, according to the principle of
this reasoning; and this again by another previous act; and so on, _ad

Take any other cause, and the reasoning must be the same.

It may be said in reply to the above, that volition is an effect
altogether peculiar. It implies selection or determination in one
direction rather than in another, and therefore that in inquiring after
its cause, we inquire not merely after the energy which makes it
existent, but also after the cause of its particular determination in
one direction rather than in another. "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 a particular determination?
If activity of nature be the cause why a spirit (the soul of man, for
instance) acts and does not lie still; yet that alone is not the cause
why its action is thus and thus limited, directed and determined." (p.

Every phenomenon or effect is particular and limited. It must
necessarily be one thing and not another, be in one place and not in
another, have certain characteristics and not others; and the cause
which determines the phenomenon, may be supposed to determine likewise
all its properties. The cause of a particular motion, for example, must,
in producing the motion, give it likewise a particular direction.

Volition must have an object; something is willed or chosen; particular
determination and direction are therefore inseparable from every
volition, and the cause which really gives it a being, must necessarily
give it character, and particular direction and determination.

Selection is the attribute of the cause, and answers to particular
determination and direction in the effect. As a phenomenon or effect
cannot come to exist without a particular determination, so a cause
cannot give existence to a phenomenon, or effect, without selection.
There must necessarily be one object selected rather than another. Thus,
if fire be thrown among various substances, it selects the combustibles,
and produces phenomena accordingly. It selects and gives particular
determination. We cannot conceive of cause without selection, nor of
effect without a particular determination. But in what lies the
selection? In the nature of the cause in correlation with certain
objects. Fire is in correlation with certain objects, and consequently
exhibits phenomena only with respect to them. In chemistry, under the
title of affinities, we have wonderful exhibitions of selection and
particular determination. Now motive, according to Edwards, lies in the
correlation of the nature of the will, or desire, with certain objects;
and volition is the effect of this correlation. The selection made by
will, arising from its nature, is, on the principle of Edwards, like the
selection made by any other cause; and the particular determination or
direction of the volition, in consequence of this, is like that which
appears in every other effect. In the case of will, whatever effect is
produced, is produced of necessity, by a pre-constitution and
disposition of will and objects, just as in the case of any other cause.

From this it appears sufficiently evident, that on Edwards's principles
there is no such difference between volition and any other effect, as to
shield his reasonings respecting a self-determining will, against the
consequences above deduced from them. The distinction of final and
efficient causes does not lie in his system. The motive is that which
produces the sense of the most agreeable, and produces it necessarily,
and often in opposition to reason and conscience; and this sense of the
most agreeable is choice or volition. It belongs to the opposite system
to make this distinction in all its clearness and force--where the
efficient will is distinguished, both from the persuasions and
allurements of passion and desire, and from the laws of reason and

Thus far my argument against Edwards's assumption,--that, to make the
will the cause of its own volitions, is to make it cause its volitions
by an act of volition,--has been indirect. If this indirect argument has
been fairly and legitimately conducted, few probably will be disposed to
deny that the assumption is overthrown by its consequences. In addition
to the above, however, on a subject so important, a direct argument will
not be deemed superfluous.

Self-determining will means simply a will causing its own volitions; and
consequently, particularly determining and directing them. Will, in
relation to volition, is just what any cause is in relation to its
effect. Will causing volitions, causes them just as any cause causes its
effects. There is no intervention of anything between the cause and
effect; between will and volition. A cause producing its phenomena by
phenomena, is a manifest absurdity. In making the will a
self-determiner, we do not imply this absurdity. Edwards assumes that we
do, and he assumes it as if it were unquestionable.

The will, he first remarks, determines all our external actions by
volitions, as the motions of the hands and feet. He next affirms,
generally, that all which the will determines, it determines in this
way; and then concludes, that if it determines its own volitions, they
must come under the general law, and be determined by volitions.

The first position is admitted. The second, involving the last, he does
not prove, and I deny that it is unquestionable.

In the first place, it cannot legitimately be taken as following from
the first. The relation of will to the sequents of its volitions, is not
necessarily the same as its relation to its volitions. The sequents of
volitions are changes or modifications, in external nature, or in parts
of the being external to the will; but the volitions are modifications
of the will itself. Now if the modification of external nature by the
will can be effected only by that modification of itself called
volition, how does it appear that this modification of itself, if
effected by itself, must be effected by a previous modification of
itself? We learn from experience, that volitions have sequents in
external nature, or in parts of our being, external to will; but this
experience teaches us nothing respecting the production of volitions.
The acts of the will are volitions, and all the acts of wills are
volitions; but this means nothing more than that all the acts of the
will are acts of the will, for volition means only this--an act of the
will. But has not the act of the will a cause? Yes, you have assigned
the cause, in the very language just employed. It is the act of the
will--the will is the cause. But how does the will cause its own acts? I
do not know, nor do I know how any cause exerts itself, in the
production of its appropriate phenomena; I know merely the facts. The
connexion between volition and its sequents, is just as wonderful and
inexplicable, as the connexion between will and its volitions. How does
volition raise the arm or move the foot? How does fire burn, or the sun
raise the tides? And how does will cause volitions? I know not; but if I
know that such are the facts, it is enough.

Volitions must have a cause; but, says Edwards, will cannot be the
cause, since this would lead to the absurdity of causing volitions by
volitions. But we cannot perceive that it leads to any such absurdity.

It is not necessary for us to explain how a cause acts. If the will
produce effects in external nature by its acts, it is impossible to
connect with this as a sequence, established either by experience or
logic, that in being received as the cause of its own acts, it becomes
such only by willing its own acts. It is clearly an assumption
unsupported, and incapable of being supported. Besides, in denying will
to be the cause of its own acts, and in supplying another cause, namely,
the motive, Edwards does not escape the very difficulty which he
creates; for I have already shown, that the same difficulty appertains
to motive, and to every possible cause. Every cause produces effects by
exertion or acting; but what is the cause of its acting? To suppose it
the cause of its own acts, involves all the absurdities which Edwards
attributes to self-determination. But, _In the second place_,--let us
look at the connexion of cause and phenomena a little more particularly.
What is cause? It is that which is the ground of the possible, and
actual existence of phenomena. How is cause known? By the phenomena. Is
cause visible? No: whatever is seen is phenomenal. We observe phenomena,
and by the law of our intelligence we assign them to cause. But how do
we conceive of cause as producing phenomena? By a _nisus_, an effort, or
energy. Is this _nisus_ itself a phenomenon? It is when it is observed.
Is it always observed? It is not. The _nisus_ of gravitation we do not
observe; we observe merely the facts of gravitation. The _nisus_ of heat
to consume we do not observe; we observe merely the facts of combustion.
Where then do we observe this _nisus?_ Only in will. Really, volition is
the _nisus_ or effort of that cause which we call will. I do not wish to
anticipate subsequent investigations, but I am constrained here to ask
every one to examine his consciousness in relation to this point. When I
wish to do anything I make an effort--a _nisus_ to do it; I make an
effort to raise my arm, and I raise it. This effort is simply the
volition. I make an effort to lift a weight with my hand,--this effort
is simply the volition to lift it,--and immediately antecedent to this
effort, I recognise only my will, or really only myself. This
effort--this _nisus_--this volition--whatever we call it,--is in the
will itself, and it becomes a phenomenon to us, because we are causes
that know ourselves. Every _nisus_, or effort, or volition, which we may
make, is in our consciousness: causes, which are not self-conscious, of
course do not reveal this _nisus_ to themselves, and they cannot reveal
it to us because it is in the very bosom of the cause itself. What we
observe in relation to all causes--not ourselves, whether they be
self-conscious or not, is not the _nisus_, but the sequents of the
_nisus_. Thus in men we do not observe the volition or _nisus_ in their
wills, but the phenomena which form the sequents of the _nisus_. And in
physical causes, we do not observe the _nisus_ of these causes, but only
the phenomena which form the sequents of this _nisus_. But when each one
comes to himself, it is all different. He penetrates himself--knows
himself. He is himself the cause--he, himself, makes the _nisus_, and is
conscious of it; and this _nisus_ to him becomes an effect--a
phenomenon, the first phenomenon by which he reveals himself, but a
phenomenon by which he reveals himself only to himself. It is by the
sequents of this _nisus_,--the effects produced in the external visible
world, that he reveals himself to others.

Sometimes the _nisus_ or volition expends itself in the will, and gives
no external phenomena. I may make an effort to raise my arm, but my arm
may be bound or paralyzed, and consequently the effort is in vain, and
is not known without. How energetic are the efforts made by the will
during a fit of the night-mare! we struggle to resist some dreadful
force; we strive to run away from danger but all in vain.

It is possible for me to make an effort to remove a mountain: I may
place my hand against its side, and tug, and strive: the _nisus_ or
volition is the most energetic that I can make, but, save the straining
of my muscles, no external expression of the energy of my will is given;
I am resisted by a greater power than myself.

The most original movement of every cause is, then, this _nisus_ in the
bosom of the cause itself, and in man, as a cause, the most original
movement is this _nisus_ likewise, which in him we call volition. To
deny such a _nisus_ would be to deny the activity, efficiency, and
energy of cause. This _nisus_, by its very conception and definition,
admits of no antecedent, phenomenon, or movement: it is in the substance
of the cause; its first going forth to effects. A first movement or
_nisus_ of cause is just as necessary a conception as first cause
itself. There is no conception to oppose to this, but that of every
cause having its first movement determined by some other cause out of
itself--a conception which runs back in endless retrogression without
arriving at a first cause, and is, indeed, the annihilation of all

The assumption of Edwards, therefore, that if will determine its own
volitions, it must determine them by an act of volition, is unsupported
alike by the facts of consciousness and a sound logic,--while all the
absurdities of an infinite series of causation of acts really fasten
upon his own theory, and destroy it by the very weapons with which it
assails the opposite system.

_In the third place_,--Edwards virtually allows the self-determining
power of will.

Will he defines as the desire, the affections, or the sensibility. There
is no personal activity out of the affections or sensitivity. Volition
is as the most agreeable, and is itself the sense of the most agreeable.
But what is the cause of volition? He affirms that it cannot be will,
assuming that to make will the cause of its own volitions, involves the
absurdity of willing volitions or choosing choices; but at the same time
he affirms the cause to be the state of the affections or will, in
correlation with the nature and circumstances of objects. But all
natural causes are in correlation with certain objects,--as, for
example, heat is in correlation with combustibles; that is, these
natural causes act only under the condition of meeting with objects so
constituted as to be susceptible of being acted upon by them. So,
likewise, according to Edwards's representation, we may say that the
cause of volition is the nature and state of the affections or the will,
acting under the condition of objects correlated to it. The sense of the
most agreeable or choice cannot indeed be awakened, unless there be an
object presented which shall appear the most agreeable; but then its
appearing most agreeable, and its awakening the sense of the most
agreeable, depends not only upon "what appears in the object viewed, but
also in the manner of the view, and _the state and circumstances_ of the
mind that views." (p. 22.) Now "the _state_ and _circumstances_ of the
mind that views, and the _manner_ of its view," is simply the mind
acting from its inherent nature and under its proper conditions, and is
a representation which answers to every natural cause with which we are
acquainted: the state of the mind, therefore, implying of course its
inherent nature, may with as much propriety be taken as the cause of
volition, on Edwards's own principles, as the nature and state of heat
may be taken as the cause of combustion: but by "the state, of mind,"
Edwards means, evidently, the state of the will or the affections. It
follows, therefore, that he makes the state of the will or the
affections the cause of volition; but as the state of the will or the
affections means nothing more in reference to will than the state of any
other cause means in reference to that cause,--and as the state of a
cause, implying of course its inherent nature or constitution, means
nothing more than its character and qualities considered as a
cause,--therefore he virtually and really makes will the cause of its
own volitions, as much as any natural cause is the cause of its
invariable sequents.

Edwards, in contemplating and urging the absurdity of determining a
volition by a volition, overlooked that, according to our most common
and necessary conceptions of cause, the first movement or action of
cause must be determined by the cause itself, and that to deny this, is
in fact to deny cause. If cause have not within itself a _nisus_ to
produce phenomena, then wherein is it a cause? He overlooked, too, that
in assigning as the cause or motive of volition, the state of the will,
he really gave the will a self-determining power, and granted the very
point he laboured to overthrow.

The point in dispute, therefore, between us and Edwards, is not, after
all, the self-determining power of the will. If will be a cause, it will
be self-determining; for all cause is self-determining, or, in other
words, is in its inherent nature active, and the ground of phenomena.

But the real point in dispute is this: "_Is the will necessarily
determined, or not?_"

The inherent nature of cause may be so constituted and fixed, that the
_nisus_ by which it determines itself to produce phenomena, shall take
place according to invariable and necessary laws. This we believe to be
true with respect to all physical causes. Heat, electricity, galvanism,
magnetism, gravitation, mechanical forces in general, and the powers at
work in chemical of affinities, produce their phenomena according to
fixed, and, with respect to the powers themselves, necessary laws. We do
not conceive it possible for these powers to produce any other
phenomena, under given circumstances, than those which they actually
produce. When a burning coal is thrown into a mass of dry gunpowder, an
explosion must take place.

Now, is it true likewise that the cause which we call will, must, under
given circumstances, necessarily produce such and such phenomena? Must
its _nisus_, its self-determining energy, or its volition, follow a
uniform and inevitable law? Edwards answers yes. Will is but the
sensitivity, and the inherent nature of the will is fixed, so that its
sense of the most agreeable, which is its most original _nisus_ or its
volition, follows certain necessary laws,--necessary in relation to
itself. If we know the state of any particular will, and its correlation
to every variety of object, we may know, with the utmost certainty, what
its volition will be at a given time, and under given circumstances.
Moral necessity and physical necessity differ only in the terms,--not in
the nature of the connexion between the terms. Volition is as necessary
as any physical phenomenon.

Now, if the will and the affections or sensitivity are one, then, as a
mere psychological fact, we must grant that volition is necessary; for
nothing can be plainer than that the desires and affections necessarily
follow the correlation of the sensitivity and its objects. But if we can
distinguish in the consciousness, the will as a personal activity, from
the sensitivity,--if we can distinguish volition from the strongest
desire or the sense of the most agreeable,--then it will not follow,
because the one is necessary, the other is necessary likewise, unless a
necessary connexion between the two be also an observed fact of
consciousness. This will be inquired into in another part of our
undertaking. What we are now mainly concerned with, is Edwards's
argument against the conception of a will not necessarily determined.
This he calls a contingent determination of will. We adopt the word
contingent; it is important in marking a distinction.

Edwards, in his argument against a contingent determination, mistakes
and begs the question under discussion.

1. He mistakes the question. Contingency is treated of throughout as if
identical with chance or no cause. "Any thing is said to be contingent,
or to come to pass by chance or accident, in the original meaning of
such words, when its connexion with its causes or antecedents, according
to the established course of things, is not discerned; and so is what we
have no means of foreseeing. And especially is any thing said to be
contingent or accidental, with regard to us, when it comes to pass
without our foreknowledge, and beside our design and scope. But the word
_contingent_ is used abundantly in a very different sense; not for that
whose connexion with the series of things we cannot discern so as to
foresee the event, but for something which has absolutely no previous
ground or reason with which its existence has any fixed and certain
connexion." (p. 31.)

Thus, according to Edwards, not only is _contingent_ used in the same
sense as chance and accident, in the ordinary and familiar acceptation
of these words, but it is also gravely employed to represent certain
phenomena, as without any ground, or reason, or cause of their
existence; and it is under this last point of view that he opposes it as
applied to the determination of the will. In part 2, sec. 3, he
elaborately discusses the question--"whether any event whatsoever, and
volition in particular, can come to pass without a cause of its
existence;" and in sec. 4,--"whether volition can arise without a cause,
through the activity of the nature of the soul."

If, in calling volitions contingent,--if, in representing the
determination of the will as contingent, we intended to represent a
class of phenomena as existing without "any previous ground or reason
with which their existence has a fixed and certain connexion,"--as
existing without any cause whatever, and therefore as existing by
chance, or as really self-existent, and therefore not demanding any
previous ground for their existence,--it seems to me that no elaborate
argument would be required to expose the absurdity of our position. That
"every phenomenon must have a cause," is unquestionably one of those
primitive truths which neither require nor admit of a demonstration,
because they precede all demonstration, and must be assumed as the basis
of all demonstration.

By a contingent will, I do not mean a will which is not a cause. By
contingent volitions, I do not mean volitions which exist without a
cause. By a contingent will, I mean a will which is not a necessitated
will, but what I conceive only and truly to be a _free will_. By
contingent volitions, I mean volitions belonging to a contingent or free
will. I do not oppose contingency to cause, but to necessity. Let it be
supposed that we have a clear idea of necessity, then whatever is not
necessary I call contingent.

Now an argument against contingency of will on the assumption that we
intend, under this title, to represent volitions as existing without a
cause, is irrelevant, since we mean no such thing.

But an argument attempting to prove that contingency is identical with
chance, or no cause, is a fair argument; but then it must be remembered
that such an argument really goes to prove that nothing but necessity is
possible, for we mean by contingency that which is opposed to necessity.

The argument must therefore turn upon these two points: First, is
contingency a possible conception, or is it in itself contradictory and
absurd? This is the main question; for if it be decided that contingency
is a contradictory and absurd conception, then we are shut up to a
universal and an absolute necessity, and no place remains for inquiry
respecting a contingent will. But if it be decided to be a possible and
rational conception, then the _second_ point will be, to determine
whether the will be contingent or necessary.

The first point is the only one which I shall discuss in this place. The
second properly belongs to the psychological investigations which are to
follow. But I proceed to remark, 2. that Edwards, in his argument
against a contingent will, really begs the question in dispute. In the
first place, he represents the will as necessarily determined. This is
brought out in a direct and positive argument contained in the first
part of his treatise. Here necessity is made universal and absolute.
Then, in the second place, when he comes particularly to discuss
contingency, he assumes that it means no cause, and that necessity is
inseparable from the idea of cause. Now this is plainly a begging of the
question, as well as a mistaking of it; for when we are inquiring
whether there be any thing contingent, that is, any thing opposed to
necessity, he _begins_ his argument by affirming all cause to be
necessary, and contingency as implying no cause. If all cause be
necessary, and contingency imply no cause, there is no occasion for
inquiry after contingency; for it is already settled that there can be
no contingency. The very points we are after, as we have seen, are these
two: whether contingency be possible; and whether there be any cause,
for example, will, which is contingent.

If Edwards has both mistaken and begged the question respecting a
contingent will, as I think clearly appears, then of course he has
logically determined nothing in relation to it.

But whether this be so or not, we may proceed now to inquire whether
contingency be a possible and rational conception, or whether it be
contradictory and absurd.

Necessity and contingency are then two ideas opposed to each other. They
at least cannot co-exist in relation to the same subject. That which is
necessary cannot be contingent at the same time, and vice versa. Whether
contingency is a possible conception and has place in relation to any
subject, remains to be determined.

Let us seek a definition of these opposing ideas: we will begin with
necessity, because that this idea is rational and admits of actual
application is not questioned. The only point in question respecting it,
is, whether it be universal, embracing all beings, causes, and events.

What is necessity? Edwards defines necessity under two points of view:--

1. Viewed in relation to will.

2. Viewed irrespective of will.

The first, supposes that opposition of will is possible, but
insufficient;--for example: it is possible for me to place myself in
opposition to a rushing torrent, but my opposition is insufficient, and
the progress of the torrent relatively to me is _necessary_.

The second does not take will into consideration at all, and applies to
subjects where opposition of will is not supposable; for example,
logical necessity, a is b, and c is a, therefore c is b: mathematical
necessity, 2 x 2 = 4. The centre of a circle is a point equally distant
from every point in the circumference: metaphysical necessity, the
existence of a first cause, of time, of space. Edwards comprehends this
second kind of necessity under the general designation of metaphysical
or philosophical. This second kind of necessity undoubtedly is absolute.
It is impossible to conceive of these subjects differently from what
they are. We cannot conceive of no space; no time; or that 2 x 2 = 5,
and so of the rest.

Necessity under both points of view he distinguishes into particular and

Relative necessity, as particular, is a necessity relative to individual
will; as general, relative to all will.

Metaphysical necessity, as particular, is a necessity irrespective of
individual will; as general, irrespective of all will.

Relative necessity is relative to the will in the connexion between
volition and its sequents. When a volition of individual will takes
place, without the sequent aimed at, because a greater force is opposed
to it, then the sequent of this greater force is necessary with a
particular relative necessity. When the greater force is greater than
all supposable will, then its sequents take place by a general relative
necessity. It is plain however, that under all supposable will, the will
of God cannot be included, as there can be no greater force than a
divine volition.

Metaphysical necessity, when particular, excludes the opposition of
individual will. Under this Edwards brings the connexion of motive and
volition. The opposition of will, he contends, is excluded from this
connexion, because will can act only by volition, and motive is the
cause of volition. Volition is necessary by a particular metaphysical
necessity, because the will of the individual cannot be opposed to it;
but not with a general metaphysical necessity, because other wills may
be opposed to it.

Metaphysical necessity, when general, excludes the opposition of all
will--even of infinite will. That 2 x 2 = 4--that the centre of a circle
is a point equally distant from every point in the circumference--the
existence of time and space--are all true and real, independently of all
will. Will hath not constituted them, nor can will destroy them. It
would imply a contradiction to suppose them different from what they
are. According to Edwards, too, the divine volitions are necessary with
a general metaphysical necessity, because, as these volitions are caused
by motives, and infinite will, as well as finite will, must act by
volitions, the opposition of infinite will itself is excluded in the
production of infinite volitions.

Now what is the simple idea of necessity contained in these two points
of view, with their two-fold distinction? _Necessity is that which is
and which cannot possibly not be, or be otherwise than it is_.

1. An event necessary by a relative particular necessity, is an event
which is and cannot possibly not be or be otherwise by the opposition of
an individual will.

2. An event necessary by a relative general necessity, is an event which
cannot possibly not be, or be otherwise by the opposition of all finite
will. In these cases, opposition of will of course is supposable.

3. An event is necessary by a metaphysical particular necessity, when it
is, and admits of no possible opposition from the individual will.

4. An event is necessary by a metaphysical general necessity, when it
is, and cannot possibly admit of opposition even from infinite will.

All this, however, in the last analysis on Edwards's system, becomes
absolute necessity. The infinite will is necessarily determined by a
metaphysical general necessity. All events are necessarily determined by
the infinite will. Hence, all events are necessarily determined by a
metaphysical general necessity. Particular and relative necessity are
merely the absolute and general necessity viewed in the particular
individual and relation:--the terms characterize only the manner of our
view. The opposition of the particular will being predetermined by the
infinite will, which comprehends all, is to the precise limit of its
force absolutely necessary; and the opposite force which overcomes the
opposition of the particular will, produces its phenomena necessarily
not only in reference to the particular will, but also in reference to
the infinite will which necessarily pre-determines it.

Having thus settled the definition of necessity, and that too, on
Edwards's own grounds, we are next to inquire, what is the opposite idea
of contingency, and whether it has place as a rational idea?

Necessity is that which is, and which cannot possibly not be, or be
otherwise than it is. Contingency then, as the opposite idea, must be
_that which is, or may be, and which possibly might not be, or might be
otherwise than it is_. Now, contingency cannot have place with respect
to anything which is independent of will;--time and space;--mathematical
and metaphysical truths, for example, that all right angles are equal,
that every phenomenon supposes a cause, cannot be contingent, for they
are seen to be real and true in themselves. They do not arise from will,
nor is it conceivable that will can alter them, for it is not
conceivable that they admit of change from any source. If the idea of
contingency have place as a rational idea, it must be with respect to
causes, being, and phenomena, which depend upon will. The whole creation
is the effect of divine volition. "God said, let there be light, and
there was light:" thus did the whole creation come to be.

Now every one will grant, that the creation does not seem necessary as
time and space; and intuitive truths with their logical deductions, seem
necessary. We cannot conceive of these as having not been, or as ceasing
to be; but we can conceive of the creation as not having been, and as
ceasing to be. No space is an impossible conception; but no body, or
void space, is a possible conception; and as the existence of body may
be annihilated in thought, so, likewise, the particular forms and
relations of body may be modified in thought, indefinitely, different
from their actual form. Now, if we wish to express in one word this
difference between space and body, or in general this difference between
that which exists independently of will, and that which exists purely as
the effect of will, we call the first necessary; the second, contingent.
The first we cannot conceive to be different from what it is. The second
we can conceive to be different from what it is. What is true of the
creation considered as a collection of beings and things, is true
likewise of all the events taking place in this creation. All these
events are either directly or mediately the effects of will, divine or
human. Now we can conceive of these as not being at all, or as being
modified indefinitely, different from what they are;--and under this
conception we call them contingent.

No one I think will deny that we do as just represented, conceive of the
possibility of the events and creations of will, either as having no
being, or as being different from what they are. This conception is
common to all men. What is the meaning of this conception? Is it a
chimera? It must be a chimera, if the system of Edwards be true; for
according to this, there really is no possibility that any event of will
might have had no being at all, or might have been different from what
it is. Will is determined by motives antecedent to itself. And this
applies to the divine will, likewise, which is determined by an infinite
and necessary wisdom. The conception, therefore, of the possibility of
that which is, being different from what it is, must on this system be
chimerical. But although the system would force us to this conclusion,
the conception still reigns in our minds, and does not _seem_ to us
chimerical;--the deduction from the system strangely conflicts with our
natural and spontaneous judgements. There are few men who would not be
startled by the dogma that all things and all events, even the
constantly occuring volitions of their minds, are absolutely necessary,
as necessary as a metaphysical axiom or a mathematical truth,--necessary
with a necessity which leaves no possibility of their being otherwise
than they actually are. There are few perhaps of the theological
abettors of Edwards's system, who would not also be startled by it. I
suppose that these would generally attempt to evade the broad
conclusion, by contending that the universal necessity here represented,
being merely a metaphysical necessity, does not affect the sequents of
volition; that if a man can do as he pleases, he has a natural liberty
and ability which relieves him from the chain of metaphysical necessity.
I have already shown how utterly futile this attempted distinction
is--how completely the metaphysical necessity embraces the so called
natural liberty and ability. If nothing better than this can be resorted
to, then we have no alternative left but to exclaim with Shelley,
"Necessity, thou mother of the world!" But why the reluctance to escape
from this universal necessity? Do the abettors of this system admit that
there is something opposed to necessity? But what is this something
opposed to necessity? Do they affirm that choice is opposed to
necessity? But how opposed--is choice contingent? Do they admit the
possibility that any choice which is, might not have been at all, or
might have been different from what it is?

We surely do not distinguish choice from necessity by merely calling it
choice, or an act of the will. If will is not necessitated, we wish to
know under what condition it exists. Volition is plainly under necessity
on Edwards's system, just as every other event is under necessity. And
the connexion between volition and its sequents is just as necessary as
the connexion between volition and its motives. Explain,--why do you
endeavour to evade the conclusion of this system when you come to
volition? why do you claim liberty here? Do _you_ likewise have a
natural and spontaneous judgement against a necessitated will? It is
evident that while Edwards and his followers embrace the doctrine of
necessity in its cardinal principles, they shrink from its application
to will. They first establish the doctrine of necessity universally and
absolutely, and then claim for will an exception from the general
law,--not by logically and psychologically pointing out the grounds and
nature of the exception, but by simply appealing to the spontaneous and
natural judgements of men, that they are free when they do as they
please: but no definition of freedom is given which distinguishes it
from necessity;--nor is the natural and spontaneous judgement against
necessity of volition explained and shown not be a mere illusion.

There is an idea opposed to necessity, says this spontaneous
judgement--and the will comes under the idea opposed to necessity. But
what is this idea opposed to necessity, and how does the will come under
it? Edwards and his followers have not answered these questions--their
attempt at a solution is self-contradictory and void.

Is there any other idea opposed to necessity than that of contingency,
viz.--that which is or may be, and possibly might not be, or might be
otherwise than it is? That 2 x 2 = 4 is a truth which cannot possibly
not be, or be otherwise than it is. But this book which I hold in my
hand, I can conceive of as not being at all, or being different from
what it is, without implying any contradiction, according to this
spontaneous judgement.

The distinction between right and wrong, I cannot conceive of as not
existing, or as being altered so as to transpose the terms, making that
right which now is wrong, and that wrong which now is right. But the
volition which I now put forth to move this pen over the paper, I can
conceive of as not existing, or as existing under a different mode, as a
volition to write words different from those which I am writing. That
this idea of contingency is not chimerical, seems settled by this, that
all men naturally have it, and entertain it as a most rational idea.
Indeed even those who hold the doctrine of necessity, do either adopt
this idea in relation to will by a self-contradiction, and under a false
position, as the abettors of the scheme which I am opposing for example,
or in the ordinary conduct of life, they act upon it. All the
institutions of society, all government and law, all our feelings of
remorse and compunction, all praise and blame, and all language itself,
seem based upon it. The idea of contingency as above explained, is
somehow connected with will, and all the creations and changes arising
from _will_.

That the will actually does come under this idea of contingency, must be
shown psychologically if shown at all. An investigation to this effect
must be reserved therefore for another occasion. In this place, I shall
simply inquire, how the will may be conceived as coming under the idea
of contingency?

The contingency of any phenomenon or event must depend upon the nature
of its cause. A contingent phenomenon or event is one which may be
conceived of, as one that might not have been at all, or might have been
different from what it is; but wherein lies the possibility that it
might not have been at all, or might have been different from what it
is? This possibility cannot lie in itself, for an effect can determine
nothing in relation to its own existence. Neither can it lie in anything
which is not its cause, for this can determine nothing in relation to
its existence. The cause therefore which actually gives it existence,
and existence under its particular form, can alone contain the
possibility of its not having existed at all, or of its having existed
under a different form. But what is the nature of such a cause? It is a
cause which in determining a particular event, has at the very moment of
doing so, the power of determining an opposite event. It is a cause not
chained to any class of effects by its correlation to a certain class of
objects--as fire, for example, is chained to combustion by its
correlation to a certain class of objects which we thence call
combustibles. It is a cause which must have this peculiarity in
opposition to all other causes, that it forbears of itself to produce an
effect which it may produce, and of any given number of effects alike
within its power, it may take any one of them in opposition to all the
others; and at the very moment it takes one effect, it has the power of
taking any other. It is a cause contingent and not necessitated. The
contingency of the event, therefore, arises from the contingency of the
cause. Now every cause must be a necessary or not necessary cause. A
necessary cause is one which cannot be conceived of as having power to
act differently from its actual developements--fire must
burn--gravitation must draw bodies towards the earth's centre. If there
be any cause opposed to this, it can be only the contingent cause above
defined, for there is no third conception. We must choose therefore
between a universal and absolute necessity, and the existence of
contingent causes. If we take necessity to be universal and absolute,
then we must take all the consequences, likewise, as deduced in part II.
There is no possible escape from this. As then all causes must be either
necessary or contingent, we bring will under the idea of contingency, by
regarding it as a contingent cause--"a power to do, or not to
do,"[5]--or a faculty of determining "to do, or not to do something
which we conceive to be in our power."[6]

We may here inquire wherein lies the necessity of a cause opposed to a
contingent cause? Its necessity lies in its nature, also. What is this
nature? It is a nature in fixed correlation with certain objects, so
that it is inconceivable that its phenomena might be different from
those which long and established observation have assigned to it. It is
inconceivable that fire might not burn when thrown amid combustibles; it
is inconceivable that water might not freeze at the freezing
temperature. But is this necessity a necessity _per se_, or a determined
necessity? It is a determined necessity--determined by the creative
will. If the creative will be under the law of necessity, then of course
every cause determined by will becomes an absolute necessity.

The only necessity _per se_ is found in that infinite and necessary
wisdom in which Edwards places the determining motives of the divine
will. All intuitive truths and their logical deductions are necessary
_per se_. But the divine will is necessary with a determined necessity
on Edwards's system,--and so of all other wills and all other causes,
dependent upon will--the divine will being the first will determined. We
must recollect, however, that on Edwards's theory of causation, a cause
is always determined out of itself; and that consequently there can be
no cause necessary _per se_; and yet at the same time there is by this
theory, an absolute necessity throughout all causality.

Now let us consider the result of making will a contingent cause. In the
first place, we have the divine will as the first and supreme contingent
cause. Then consequently in the second place, all causes ordained by the
divine will, considered as effects, are contingent. They might not have
been. They might cease to be. They might be different from what they
are. But in the third place, these causes considered as causes, are not
all contingent. Only will is contingent. Physical causes are necessary
with a determined necessity. They are necessary as fixed by the divine
will. They are necessary with a relative necessity--relatively to the
divine will. They put forth their _nisus_, and produce phenomena by a
fixed and invariable law, established by the divine will. But will is of
the nature, being made after the image of the divine will. The divine
will is infinite power, and can do everything possible to cause. The
created will is finite power, and can do only what is within its given
capacity. Its volitions or its efforts, or its _nisus_ to do, are
limited only by the extent of its intelligence. It may make an effort,
or volition, or _nisus_, to do anything of which it can conceive--but
the actual production of phenomena out of itself, must depend upon the
instrumental and physical connexion which the divine will has
established between it and the world, external to itself. Of all the
volitions or _nisus_ within its capacity, it is not necessitated to any
one, but may make any one, at any time; and at the time it makes any one
_nisus_ or volition, it has the power of making any other.

It is plain, moreover, that will is efficient, essential, and first
cause. Whatever other causes exist, are determined and fixed by will,
and are therefore properly called secondary or instrumental causes. And
as we ourselves are will, we must first of all, and most naturally and
most truly gain our idea of cause from ourselves. We cannot penetrate
these second causes--we observe only their phenomena; but we know
ourselves in the very first _nisus_ of causation.

To reason therefore from these secondary causes to ourselves, is indeed
reversing the natural and true order on this subject. Now what is the
ground of all this clamour against contingency? Do you say it represents
phenomena as existing without cause? We deny it. We oppose contingency
not to cause, but to necessity. Do you say it is contrary to the
phenomena of physical causation,--we reply that you have no right to
reason from physical causes to that cause which is yourself. For in
general you have no right to reason from the laws and properties of
matter to those of mind. Do you affirm that contingency is an absurd and
pernicious doctrine--then turn and look at the doctrine of an absolute
necessity in all its bearings and consequences, and where lies the
balance of absurdity and pernicious consequences? But we deny that there
is anything absurd and pernicious in contingency as above explained.
That it is not pernicious, but that on the contrary, it is the basis of
moral and religious responsibility, will clearly appear in the course of
our inquiries.

After what has already been said in the preceding pages, it perhaps is
unnecessary to make any further reply to its alleged absurdity.

There is one form under which this allegation comes up, however, which
is at first sight so plausible, that I shall be pardoned for prolonging
this discussion in order to dispose of it. It is as follows: That in
assigning contingency to will, we do not account for a volition being in
one direction rather than in another. The will, it is urged, under the
idea of contingency, is indifferent to any particular volition. How then
can we explain the fact that it does pass out of this state of
indifferency to a choice or volition?

In answer to this, I remark:--It has already been made clear, that
selection and particular determination belong to every cause. In
physical causes, this selection and particular determination lies in the
correlation of the nature of the cause with certain objects; and this
selection and particular determination are necessary by a necessity
determined out of the cause itself--that is, they are determined by the
creative will, which gave origin to the physical and secondary causes.
Now Edwards affirms that the particular selection and determination of
will take place in the same way. The nature of the will is correlated to
certain objects, and this nature, being fixed by the creative will,
which gave origin to the secondary dependent will, the selection and
particular determination of will, is necessary with a necessity
determined out of itself. But to a necessitated will, we have nothing to
oppose except a will whose volitions are not determined by the
correlation of its nature with certain objects--a will, indeed, which
has not its nature correlated to any objects, but a will indifferent;
for if its nature were correlated to objects, its particular selection
and determination would be influenced by this, and consequently its
action would become necessary, and that too by a necessity out of
itself; and fixed by the infinite will. In order to escape an absolute
and universal necessity, therefore, we must conceive of a will forming
volitions particular and determinate, or in other words, making a
_nisus_ towards particular objects, without any correlation of its
nature with the objects. Is this conception a possible and rational
conception? It is not a possible conception if will and the sensitivity,
or the affections are identical--for the very definition of will then
becomes that of a power in correlation with objects, and necessarily
affected by them.

But now let us conceive of the will as simply and purely an activity or
cause, and distinct from the sensitivity or affections--a cause capable
of producing changes or phenomena in relation to a great variety of
objects, and conscious that it is thus capable, but conscious also that
it is not drawn by any necessary affinity to any one of them. Is this a
possible and rational conception? It is indeed the conception of a cause
different from all other causes; and on this conception there are but
two _kinds_ of causes. The physical, which are necessarily determined by
the correlation of their nature with certain objects, and will, which is
a pure activity not thus determined, and therefore not necessitated, but

Now I may take this as a rational conception, unless its palpable
absurdity can be pointed out, or it can be proved to involve some

Does the objector allege, as a palpable absurdity, that there is, after
all, nothing to account for the particular determination? I answer that
the particular determination is accounted for in the very quality or
attribute of the cause. In the case of a physical cause, the particular
determination is accounted for in the quality of the cause, which
quality is to be necessarily correlated to the object. In the case of
will, the particular determination is accounted for in the quality of
the cause, which quality is to have the power to make the particular
determination without being necessarily correlated to the object. A
physical cause is a cause fixed, determined, and necessitated. The will
is a cause contingent and free. A physical cause is a cause instrumental
of a first cause:--the will is first cause itself. The infinite will is
the first cause inhabiting eternity, filling immensity, and unlimited in
its energy. The human will is first cause appearing in time, confined to
place, and finite in its energy; but it is the same in kind, because
made in the likeness of the infinite will; as first cause it is self
moved, it makes its _nisus_ of itself, and of itself it forbears to make
it; and within the sphere of its activity, and in relation to its
objects, it has the power of selecting by a mere arbitrary act, any
particular object. It is a cause, all whose acts, as well as any
particular act, considered as phenomena demanding a cause, are accounted
for in itself alone. This does not make the created will independent of
the uncreated. The very fact of its being a created will, settles its
dependence. The power which created it, has likewise limited it, and
could annihilate it. The power which created it, has ordained and fixed
the instrumentalities by which volitions become productive of effects.
The man may make the volition or _nisus_, to remove a mountain, but his
arm fails to carry out the _nisus_. His volitions are produced freely of
himself; they are unrestrained within the capacity of will given him,
but he meets on every side those physical causes which are mightier than
himself, and which, instrumental of the divine will, make the created
will aware of its feebleness and dependence.

But although the will is an activity or cause thus contingent,
arbitrary, free, and indifferent, it is an activity or cause united with
sensitivity and reason; and forming the unity of the soul. Will, reason,
and, the sensitivity or the affections, constitute mind, or spirit, or
soul. Although the will is arbitrary and contingent, yet it does not
follow that it _must_ act without regard to reason or feeling.

I have yet to make my appeal to consciousness; I am now only giving a
scheme of psychology in order to prove the possibility of a contingent
will, that we have nothing else to oppose to an absolute and universal

According to this scheme, we take the will as the _executive_ of the
soul or the _doer_. It is a doer having life and power in itself, not
necessarily determined in any of its acts, but a power to do or not to
do. _Reason_ we take as the _lawgiver_. It is the "source and substance"
of pure, immutable, eternal, and necessary truth. This teaches and
commands the executive will what ought to be done. The sensitivity or
the affections, or the desire, is the seat of enjoyment: it is the
capacity of pleasure and pain. Objects, in general, hold to the
sensitivity the relation of the agreeable or the disagreeable, are in
correlation with it; and, according to the degree of this correlation,
are the emotions and passions awakened.

Next let the will be taken as the chief characteristic of personality,
or more strictly, as the personality itself. By the personality, I mean
the me, or myself. The personality--the me--the will, a self-moving
cause, directs itself by an act of attention to the reason, and receives
the laws of its action. The perception of these laws is attended with
the conviction of their rectitude and imperative obligation; at the same
time, there is the consciousness of power to obey or to disobey them.

Again, let the will be supposed to direct itself in an act of attention
to the pleasurable emotions connected with the presence of certain
objects; and the painful emotions connected with the presence of other
objects; and then the desire of pleasure, and the wish to avoid pain,
become rules of action. There is here again the consciousness of power
to resist or to comply with the solicitations of desire. The will may
direct itself to those objects which yield pleasure, or may reject them,
and direct itself towards those objects which yield only pain and

We may suppose again two conditions of the reason and sensitivity
relatively to each other; a condition of agreement, and a condition of
disagreement. If the affections incline to those objects which the
reason approves, then we have the first condition. If the affections are
repelled in dislike by those objects which reason approves, then we have
the second condition. On the first condition, the will, in obeying
reason, gratifies the sensitivity, and vice versa. On the second, in
obeying the reason, it resists the sensitivity, and vice versa.

Now if the will were always governed by the highest reason, without the
possibility of resistance, it would be a necessitated will; and if it
were always governed by the strongest desire, without the possibility of
resistance, it would be a necessitated will; as much so as in the system
of Edwards, where the strongest desire is identified with volition.

The only escape from necessity, therefore, is in the conception of a
will as above defined--a conscious, self-moving power, which may obey
reason in opposition to passion, or passion in opposition to reason, or
obey both in their harmonious union; and lastly, which may act in the
indifference of all, that is, act without reference either to reason or
passion. Now when the will obeys the laws of the reason, shall it be
asked, what is the cause of the act of obedience? The will is the cause
of its own act; a cause _per se_, a cause self-conscious and
self-moving; it obeys the reason by its own _nisus_. When the will obeys
the strongest desire, shall we ask, what is the cause of the act of
obedience? Here again, the will is the cause of its own act. Are we
called upon to ascend higher? We shall at last come to such a
self-moving and contingent power, or we must resign all to an absolute
necessity. Suppose, that when the will obeys the reason, we attempt to
explain it by saying, that obedience to the reason awakens the strongest
desire, or the sense of the most agreeable; we may then ask, why the
will obeys the strongest desire? and then we may attempt to explain this
again by saying, that to obey the strongest desire seems most
reasonable. We may evidently, with as much propriety, account for
obedience to passion, by referring to reason; as account for obedience
to reason, by referring to passion. If the act of the will which goes in
the direction of the reason, finds its cause in the sensitivity; then
the act of the will which goes in the direction of the sensitivity, may
find its cause in the reason. But this is only moving in a circle, and
is no advance whatever. Why does the will obey the reason? because it is
most agreeable: but why does the will obey because it is most agreeable?
because to obey the most agreeable seems most reasonable.

Acts of the will may be conceived of as analogous to intuitive or first
truths. First truths require no demonstration; they admit of none; they
form the basis of all demonstration. Acts of the will are first
movements of primary causes, and as such neither require nor admit of
antecedent causes, to explain their action. Will is the source and basis
of all other cause. It explains all other cause, but in itself admits of
no explanation. It presents the primary and all-comprehending _fact_ of
power. In God, will is infinite, primary cause, and untreated: in man,
it is finite, primary cause, constituted by God's creative act, but not
necessitated, for if necessitated it would not be will, it would not be
power after the likeness of the divine power; it would be mere physical
or secondary cause, and comprehended in the chain of natural antecedents
and sequents.

God's will explains creation as an existent fact; man's will explains
all his volitions. When we proceed to inquire after the characteristics
of creation, we bring in the idea of infinite wisdom and goodness. But
when we inquire _why_ God's will obeyed infinite wisdom and goodness, we
must either represent his will as necessitated by infinite wisdom and
goodness, and take with this all the consequences of an absolute
necessity; or we must be content to stop short, with will itself as a
first cause, not necessary, but contingent, which, explaining all
effects, neither requires nor admits of any explanation itself.

When we proceed to inquire after the characteristics of human volition,
we bring in the idea of right and wrong; we look at the relations of the
reason and the sensitivity. But when we inquire _why_ the will now obeys
reason, and now passion; and why this passion, or that passion; we must
either represent the will as necessitated, and take all the consequences
of a necessitated will, or we must stop short here likewise, with the
will itself as a first cause, not necessary, but contingent, which, in
explaining its own volitions, neither requires nor admits of any
explanation itself, other than as a finite and dependent will it
requires to be referred to the infinite will in order to account for the
fact of its existence.

Edwards, while he burdens the question of the will's determination with
monstrous consequences, relieves it of no one difficulty. He lays down,
indeed, a uniform law of determination; but there is a last inquiry
which he does not presume to answer. The determination of the will, or
the volition, is always as the most agreeable, and is the sense of the
most agreeable. But while the will is granted to be one simple power or
capacity, there arise from it an indefinite variety of volitions; and
volitions at one time directly opposed to volitions at another time. The
question now arises, how this one simple capacity of volition comes to
produce such various volitions? It is said in reply, that whatever may
be the volition, it is at the time the sense of the most agreeable: but
that it is always the sense of the most agreeable, respects only its
relation to the will itself; the volition, intrinsically considered, is
at one time right, at another wrong; at one time rational, at another
foolish. The volition really varies, although, relatively to the will,
it always puts on the characteristic of the most agreeable. The question
therefore returns, how this simple capacity determines such a variety of
volitions, always however representing them to itself as the most
agreeable? There are three ways of answering this. _First_, we may
suppose the _state_ of the will or sensitivity to remain unchanged, and
the different volitions to be effected by the different arrangements and
conditions of the objects relatively to it. _Secondly_, we may suppose
the arrangements and conditions of the objects to remain unchanged, and
the different volitions to be effected by changes in the _state_ of the
sensitivity, or will, relatively to the objects. Or, _thirdly_, we may
suppose both the state of the will, and the arrangements and conditions
of the objects to be subject to changes, singly and mutually, and thus
giving rise to the different volitions. But our questionings are not yet
at an end. On the first supposition, the question comes up, how the
different arrangements and conditions of the objects are brought about?
On the second supposition, how the changes in the state of the
sensitivity are effected? On the third supposition, how the changes in
both, singly and mutually, are effected? If it could be said, that the
sensitivity changes itself relatively to the objects, then we should ask
again, why the sensitivity chooses at one time, as most agreeable to
itself, that which is right and rational, and at another time, that
which is wrong and foolish? Or, if it could be said, that the objects
have the power of changing their own arrangements and conditions, then
also we must ask, why at one time the objects arrange themselves to make
the right and rational appear most agreeable, and at another time, the
wrong and foolish.

These last questions are the very questions which Edwards does not
presume to answer. The motive by which he accounts for the existence of
the volition, is formed of the correlation of the state of the will, and
the nature and circumstances of the object. But when the correlation is
such as to give the volition in the direction of the right and the
rational, in opposition to the wrong and the foolish,--we ask _why_ does
the correlation give the volition in this direction. If it be said that
the volition in this direction appears most agreeable, the answer is a
mere repetition of the question; for the question amounts simply to
this:--why the correlation is such as to make the one agreeable rather
than the other? The volition which is itself only the sense of the most
agreeable, cannot be explained by affirming that it is always as the
most agreeable. The point to be explained is, why the mind changes its
state in relation to the objects; or why the objects change their
relations to the mind, so as to produce this sense of the most agreeable
in one direction rather than in another? The difficulty is precisely of
the same nature which is supposed to exist in the case of a contingent
will. The will now goes in the direction of reason, and now in the
direction of passion,--but why? We say, because as will, it has the
power of thus varying its movement. The change is accounted for by
merely referring to the will.

According to Edwards, the correlation of will and its objects, now gives
the sense of the most agreeable, or volition, in the direction of the
reason; and now in the direction of passion--but why?--Why does the
reason _now_ appear most agreeable,--and now the indulgences of impure
desire? I choose this because it is most agreeable, says Edwards, which
is equivalent to saying,--I have the sense of the most agreeable in
reference to this, because it is most agreeable; but how do you know it
is the most agreeable? because I choose it, or have the sense of the
most agreeable in reference to it. It is plain, therefore, that on
Edwards's system, as well as on that opposed to it, the particular
direction of volition, and the constant changes of volition, must be
referred simply to the cause of volition, without giving any other
explanation of the different determinations of this cause, except
referring them to the nature of the cause itself. It is possible,
indeed, to refer the changes in the correlation to some cause which
governs the correlation of the will and its objects; but then the
question must arise in relation to this cause, why it determines the
correlation in one direction at one time, and in another direction at
another time? And this could be answered only by referring it to itself
as having the capacity of these various determinations as a power to do
or not to do, and a power to determine in a given direction, or in the
opposite direction; or by referring it to still another antecedent
cause. Now let us suppose this last antecedent to be the infinite will:
then the question would be, why the infinite will determines the
sensitivity, or will of his creatures at one time to wisdom, and at
another to folly? And what answer could be given? Shall it be said that
it seems most agreeable to him? But why does it seem most agreeable to
him? Is it because the particular determination is the most reasonable,
that it seems most agreeable? But why does he determine always according
to the most reasonable? Is it because to determine according to the most
reasonable, seems most agreeable? Now, inasmuch as according to Edwards,
the volition and the sense of the most agreeable are the same; to say
that God wills as he does will, because it is most agreeable to him, is
to say that he wills because he wills; and to say that he wills as he
does will, because it seems most reasonable to him, amounts to the same
thing, because he wills according to the most reasonable only because it
is the most agreeable.

To represent the volitions, or choices, either in the human or divine
will, as determined by motives, removes therefore no difficulty which is
supposed to pertain to contingent self-determination.

Let us compare the two theories particularly, although at the hazard of
some repetition.

Contingent self-determination represents the will as a cause making its
_nisus_ or volitions of itself, and determining their direction of
itself--now obeying reason, and now obeying passion. If it be asked why
it determines in a particular direction?--if this particular direction
in which it determines be that of the reason?--then it may be said, that
it determines in this direction because it is reasonable;--if this
particular direction be that of passion, as opposed to reason, then it
may be said that it determines in this direction, because it is
pleasing. But if it be asked why the will goes in the direction of
reason, rather than in that of passion, as opposed to reason?--we cannot
say that it is most reasonable to obey reason and not passion; because
the one is all reason, and the other is all passion, and of course they
cannot be compared under the reasonable; and no more can they be
compared under the pleasing,--when, by the pleasing, we understand, the
gratification of desire, as opposed to reason. To obey reason because it
is reasonable, is nothing more than the statement of the fact that the
will does obey reason. To obey desire because it is desirable, is
nothing more than the statement of the fact that the will does obey
desire. The will goes in one direction rather than in another by an act
of self-determination, which neither admits of, nor indeed requires any
other explanation than this, that the will has power to do one or the
other, and in the exercise of this power, it does one rather than the

To this stands contrasted the system of Edwards; and what is this
system? That the will is determined by the strongest motive;--and what
is the strongest motive? The greatest apparent good, or the most
agreeable:--what constitutes the greatest apparent good, or the most
agreeable? The correlation of will or sensitivity and the object. But
why does the correlation make one object appear more agreeable than
another; or make the same object at one time appear agreeable, at
another time disagreeable? Now this question is equivalent to the
question,--why does the will go in the direction of one object rather
than of another; or go in the direction of a given object at one time,
and in opposition to it at another time? For the will to determine
itself toward an object in one system, answers to the will having the
sense of the most agreeable towards an object in Edwards's system. If
Edwards should attempt to give an answer without going beyond the
motive, he could only say that the sensitivity has the power of being
affected with the sense of the most agreeable or of the most
disagreeable; and that in the exercise of this power it is affected with
the one rather than with the other. He could not say that to obey reason
appears more agreeable than to obey passion as opposed to reason, for
the obedience of the will on his system, is nothing more than a sense of
the most agreeable. Nor could he say it is more reasonable to obey
reason, for reason cannot be compared with its opposite, under the idea
of itself; and if he could say this, it amounts to no more than this, on
his system, that it is most agreeable to obey the reasonable;--that is,
the reasonable is obeyed only as the most agreeable: but obedience of
will being nothing more than the sense of the most agreeable, to say it
is obeyed because most agreeable, is merely to say that it awakens the
sense of the most agreeable; that is, it is obeyed, because it is

To refer the motive to the divine determination makes volition necessary
to the man, and throws the difficulty in question, if it is to be
considered a difficulty, only farther back.

If God's will determines in the direction of the reasonable because it
is most agreeable, then we ask, why is it the most agreeable? If the
reply be, because it is most reasonable, then we are only moving in a
circle; but if the agreeable be taken as an ultimate fact, then inasmuch
as to will is only to have the sense of the most agreeable, it follows
that God has the sense of the most agreeable towards an object only
because it is most agreeable to him, or awakens this sense in him; and
thus the question why God wills in one direction rather than in another,
or what is the cause of his determination, is not answered by Edwards,
unless he says with us that the will in itself as a power to do or not
to do, or to do one thing, or its opposite, is a sufficient explanation,
and the only possible explanation;--or unless he refers the divine will
to an antecedent cause, and this again to another antecedent cause, in
an endless series--and thus introduce the two-fold error of an endless
series, and an absolute necessity.

All possible volitions, according to the scheme of psychology I have
above given, must be either in the direction of the reason or of the
sensitivity, or in the indifferency of both. If the volition be in the
direction of the reason, it takes the characteristics of rational, good,
&c. If in the direction of the sensitivity, it takes its characteristic
from the nature of the particular desire which it obeys:--it is
generous, benevolent, kind, &c.--or it is malicious, envious, unkind,
vicious, &c. What moves the will to go in the direction of the reason?
Nothing moves it; it is a cause _per se_; it goes in that direction
because it has power to go in that direction. What moves the will to go
in the direction of the sensitivity? Nothing moves it; it is a cause
_per se_; it goes in that direction because it has power to go in that

There are in the intelligence or reason, as united with the will in the
constitution of the mind, necessary convictions of the true, the just,
the right. There are in the sensitivity, as united in the same
constitution, necessary affections of the agreeable and the disagreeable
in reference to various objects. The will as the power which by its
_nisus_ produces changes or phenomena, is conscious of ability to go in
either of these directions, or in opposition to both. Now when it makes
its _nisus_ or volition in reference to the true, the just, the good;
should we attempt to explain this _nisus_ by saying that the true, the
just, the good, affect the sensitivity agreeably, this would only amount
to saying that the _nisus_ is made towards the true, not as the true,
but only as the agreeable; and then we would introduce the law that the
_nisus_ is always made in the direction of the agreeable. But then again
we might seek to explain why the _nisus_ is always made in the direction
of the agreeable. Is it of an antecedent necessity? Then we have an
absolute and universal necessity. Is it because to go in the direction
of the agreeable seems most rational? Then it follows that the _nisus_
is made towards the agreeable not as the agreeable, but only as the
rational; and then we would introduce the law that the _nisus_ is always
made in the direction of the rational. But then again we might seek to
explain why this _nisus_ is always made in the direction of the
rational. Is it of an antecedent necessity? Then here likewise we have
an absolute and universal necessity. Is it because to go in the
direction of the rational seems most agreeable? Then we are winding back
in a circle to our first position.

How shall we escape from these difficulties? Shall we adopt the
psychology of Edwards, and make the will and the sensitivity one? Then
as the volition is always the strongest affection of the agreeable, if
the sensitivity be necessary, volitions are necessary, and we are
plunged headlong again into an absolute and universal necessity. If the
sensitivity be not necessary, then we have shown fully, above, that we
have to account for its various determinations just as we are supposed
to be called upon to account for the various determinations of the will
when considered as a power distinct from the sensitivity:--we are met
with the questions, why does the sensitivity represent this object as
more agreeable than that object?--or the same object as agreeable at one
time, and disagreeable at another? Or if these various determinations
are resolved into an antecedent necessity comprehending them, then we go
up to the antecedent cause in which this necessity resides, and question
it in like manner.

But one thing remains, and that is to consider the will as primary
cause, contingent in opposition to being necessitated--a cause having in
itself the power of making these various volitions or _nisus_, and
neither asking nor allowing of any explanation of its acts, or their
particular direction, save its own peculiarity and energy as will.

The question respecting the indifferency of will must now be considered.
The term _indifferency_ comes up in consequence of considering the will
as distinct from the sensitivity. It is not desire or feeling--it is a
power indifferent to the agreeableness or disagreeableness of objects.

It is also a power distinct from the reason; it is not conviction or
belief--it is a power indifferent to the true and the right, to the
false and the wrong, in the sense that it is not necessarily determined
by conviction and belief, by the true and the right, or by the false and
the wrong. The conception of will in its utmost simplicity is the
conception of pure power, self-moving, and self-conscious--containing
within itself the ground and the possibility of creation and of
modification. In God it is infinite, eternal, uncreated power; and every
_nisus_ in his will is really creative or modifying, according to its
self-directed aim. In man it is constituted, dependent, limited, and

Now in direct connexion with power, we have the conception of law or
rule, or what power _ought_ to do. This law or rule is revealed in the
reason. In man as pure, and we conclude in God likewise, as the
archetype of all spirit, there is given a sensitivity or a capacity to
be affected agreeably by, and to be drawn towards the objects approved
and commanded by the reason. If this sensitivity does not move in
harmony with the reason, it is corrupted. Now will is placed in a
triunity with these two other powers. We can distinguish but not
separate it from them. A will without reason would be a power without
eyes, or light. A will without sensitivity would be a power stern and
isolated;--just as a reason and sensitivity without will, would be
without efficiency, or capacity of giving real manifestations.

The completeness and perfection of each, lies in a union with all; but
then each in its proper movements is in some sense independent and free
of the others. The convictions, beliefs, or perceptions of reason are
not made, nor can they be unmade by the energy of the will. Nor has the
will any direct command over the sensitivity. And yet the will can
excite and direct both the reason and the sensitivity, by calling up
objects and occasions. The sensitivity does not govern the reason, and
yet it supplies conditions which are necessary to its manifestations.

The reason does not govern the sensitivity, and yet the latter would
have no definite perception, and of course its highest sensibilities
would lie dormant without the reason.

So also the reason and the sensitivity do not determine the acts of the
will. The will has efficiency, or creative and modifying power in
itself--self-moved, self-directed. But then without reason and
sensitivity, the will would be without objects, without designs, without
rules,--a solitary power, conscious of ability to do, but not knowing
what to do.

It addition to the above, the will has this high and distinguishing
peculiarity. That it alone is free--that it alone is opposed to
necessity. Reason _must_ perceive, _must_ believe. Sensitivity _must_
feel when its objects are presented; but will, when the reason has given
its light and uttered its commands, and when the sensitivity has
awakened all its passions and emotions, is not compelled to obey. It is
as conscious of power not to do, as of power to do. It may be called a
power arbitrary and contingent; but this means only that it is a power
which absolutely puts forth its own _nisus_, and is free.

It follows from this, that the will can act irrespective of both reason
and sensitivity, if an object of action, bearing no relation to reason
or sensitivity, be possible. It is plain that an object bearing no such
relation, must be very trifling. If a case in illustration could not be
called up, it would not argue anything against the indifferency of
will;--it would only prove that all objects of action actually existing,
bear some relation to reason and sensitivity. There is a case, however,
frequently called up, and much disputed, which deserves some attention,
and which it appears to me, offers the illustration required. Let it be
required to select one of the squares of the chess-board. In selecting
one of the squares, does the will act irrespective of reason and
sensitivity, or not? Those who hold that the will is necessarily
determined, must make out some connexion between the act of selection,
and the reason and sensitivity. It is affirmed that there is a general
motive which determines the whole process, viz: the aim or desire to
illustrate, if possible, the question in dispute. The motive is, to
prove that the will can act without a motive.

I reply to this, that this is undoubtedly the motive of bringing the
chess-board before the eye, and in making all the preparations for a
selection;--but now the last question is, which square shall I select?
The illustration will have the same force whichever square is selected,
and there is no motive that can be drawn either from the reason or the
sensitivity for taking one square in preference to the other: under the
absence of all such motives, and affording each time the same attempt at
illustration, I can vary the selection sixty-four times: in making this
selection, therefore, it appears to me, there is an entire indifferency
as to which particular square is selected;--there is no command of the
reason directing to one square rather than another;--there is no
affection of the sensitivity towards one square rather than another, as
most agreeable and yet the will does select one of the squares.

It will be proper, in this place, to consider the following argument of
Edwards against indifferency of will: "Choice may be immediately _after_
a state of indifference, but cannot co-exist with it: even the very
beginning of it is not in a state of indifference. And, therefore, if
this be liberty, no act of the will, in any degree, is ever performed in
a state of liberty, or in the time of liberty. Volition and liberty are
so far from agreeing together, and being essential one to another, that
they are contrary one to another, and one excludes and destroys the
other, as much as motion and rest, light and darkness, or life and
death." (p. 73.)

Edwards reasons according to his own psychology: If the will and the
sensitivity are one, the will cannot well be conceived of as in a state
of indifference, and if it could be conceived of as in a state of
indifference before it exercises volition, inasmuch as, according to his
system again, volition is the sense of the most agreeable, the moment
volition begins, indifference ceases; and hence, if liberty consist in
indifference, liberty must cease when volition takes place, just as rest
ceases with motion.

But according to the system of psychology, which we adopt, and which I
shall verify hereafter, the will is not one with the sensitivity, but is
clearly distinguishable from it:--the sensitivity is the capacity of
feeling; the will is the causality of the soul:--a movement of the
sensitivity, under the quality of indifference, is self-contradictory;
and a movement of the will being a mere _nisus_ of cause, under the
quality of any sense and feeling whatever, would be self-contradictory
likewise; it would be confounding that which we had already
distinguished. From Edwards's very definition of will it cannot be
indifferent; from our very definition of will it cannot be otherwise
than indifferent. When it determines exclusively of both reason and
sensitivity, it of course must retain, in the action, the indifference
which it possessed before the action; but this is no less true when it
determines in the direction either of reason or sensitivity. When the
determination is in the direction of the reason, there is an exercise of
reason in connexion with the act, and all the interest of the reason is
wakened up, but the will considered in its entire simplicity, knows only
the _nisus_ of power. When the determination is in the direction of the
sensitivity, there is a play of emotions and passions, but the will
again knows only the _nisus_ of power which carries it in this

In the unity of the soul these powers are generally found acting
together. It may be difficult to distinguish them, and this, in
connexion with the constantly observed fact of the fixed correlation
between physical causes and the masses which they operate upon, may lead
to the conclusion that there is a fixed correlation likewise between the
will and its objects, regarding the will as the sensitivity; or at
least, that there is a fixed connexion between the will and the
sensitivity, so that the former is invariably governed by the latter. We
have already shown, that to identify sensitivity and will does not
relieve us from the difficulties of a self-determined and contingent
will, unless we plunge into absolute necessity; and that to make the
sensitivity govern the will, is only transferring to the sensitivity the
difficulties which we suppose, to encompass the will. In our
psychological investigations it will appear how clearly distinguishable
those powers are, and also how clearly independent and sovereign will
is, inasmuch as it does actually determine at one time, in opposition to
the most agreeable; at another, in opposition to reason; and at another,
in opposition to both conjoined. In the unity of our being, however, we
perceive that will is designed to obey the reason, and as subordinated
to reason, to move within the delights of the sensitivity; and we know
that we are acting _unreasonably_ and _senselessly_ when we act
otherwise; but yet _unreasonably_ and _senselessly_ do we often act. But
when we do obey reason, although we characterize the act from its
direction, will does not lose its simplicity and become reason; and when
we do obey the sensitivity, will does not become sensitivity--will is
still simply cause, and its act the _nisus_ of power: thought, and
conviction, and design, hold their place in the reason alone: emotion
and passion their place in the sensitivity alone.




Edwards's argument against a contingent, self-determining will, drawn
from the divine prescience, remains to be considered.

The argument is introduced as follows: "That the acts of the wills of
moral agents are not contingent events, in such a sense as to be without
all necessity, appears by God's certain foreknowledge of such events."
(sec. xi. p. 98.) Edwards devotes this section to "the evidence of God's
certain foreknowledge of the volitions of moral agents." In the
following section, (sec. xii. p. 114,) he proceeds formally with his
argument. Before examining this argument, let us look at the
consequences of his position.

God foresees all volitions; that he foresees them makes their existence
necessary. If their existence were not necessary, he could not foresee
them; or, to express it still more generally, foreknowledge extends to
all events, and foreknowledge proves the necessary existence of
everything to which it extends. It follows from this, that all events
exist with an absolute necessity, all physical phenomena, all volitions,
and moral, phenomena, whether good or evil, and all the divine
volitions, for God cannot but foresee his own volitions. In no part of
his work, does Edwards lay down more summarily and decidedly, the
doctrine of absolute and universal necessity. We have already, in part
II. of this treatise, deduced the consequences of this doctrine. If then
we are placed upon the alternative of denying the divine prescience of
volitions, or of acknowledging the doctrine of necessity, it would
practically be most desirable and wisest to take the first part of the
alternative. "If it could be demonstrated," remarks Dugald Stewart,
(vol. 5. app. sec. viii.) "which in my opinion has not yet been done,
that the prescience of the volitions of moral agents is incompatible
with the free agency of man, the logical inference would be, _not_ in
favour of the scheme of necessity, but that there are some events, the
foreknowledge of which implies an impossibility. Shall we venture to
affirm, that it exceeds the power of God to permit such a train of
contingent events to take place, as his own foreknowledge shall not
extend to? Does not such a proposition detract from the omnipotence of
God, in the same proportion in which it aims to exalt his omniscience?"
If the divine foreknowledge goes to establish the doctrine of necessity,
there is nothing left that it is worth while to contend for; all moral
and theological interests vanish away. But let us examine the argument
of Edwards.

This argument consists of three parts; we shall consider them in order.

I. Edwards lays down, that a past event is necessary, "having already
made sure of existence;" but divine foreknowledge is such an event, and
is therefore necessary. This is equivalent to the axiom, that whatever
is, is. He next affirms, that whatever is "indissolubly connected with
other things that are necessary, are themselves necessary;" but events
infallibly foreknown, have an indissoluble connexion with the
foreknowledge. Hence, the volitions infallibly foreknown by God, have an
indissoluble connexion with his foreknowledge, and are therefore

The force of this reasoning turns upon the connexion between
foreknowledge and the events foreknown. This connexion is affirmed to be
"indissoluble;" that is, the foreknowledge is certainly connected with
the event. But this only amounts to the certainty of divine
foreknowledge, and proves nothing as to the nature of the existence
foreknown. We may certainly know a past or present event, but our
knowledge of its existence defines nothing as to the manner in which it
came to exist. I look out of my window, and I see a man walking in a
certain direction: I have a positive knowledge of this event, and it
cannot but be that the man is walking; but then my knowledge of his
walking has no influence upon his walking, as cause or necessary
antecedent; and the question whether his walking be contingent or
necessary is entirely distinct, and relates to the cause of walking. I
looked out of my window yesterday, and saw a man walking; and the
knowledge of that event I now retain, so that it cannot but be that the
man walked yesterday: but this again leaves the question respecting the
mode of existence untouched:--Did the man walk of necessity, or was it a
contingent event? Now let me suppose myself endowed with the faculty of
prescience, sufficiently to know the events of to-morrow; then by this
faculty I may see a man walking in the time called to-morrow, just as by
the faculty of memory I see a man walking in the time called yesterday.
The knowledge, whether it relate to past, present, or future, as a
knowledge in relation to myself, is always a present knowledge; but the
object known may stand in various relations of time, place, &c. Now in
relation to the future, no more than in relation to the past and
present, does the act of knowledge on my part, explain anything in
relation to the mode of the existence of the object of knowledge.
Edwards remarks, (p. 121.) "All certain knowledge, 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 that it should now be otherwise than true."

Edwards does not distinguish between the certainty of the mere _fact_ of
existence, and the necessity by which anything comes to exist.
Foreknowledge, after-knowledge, and concomitant knowledge,--that is, the
present knowledge of events, future, past, or present,--proves of course
the reality of the events; that they will be, have been, or are: or,
more strictly speaking, the knowledge of an event, in any relation of
time, is the affirmation of its existence in that relation; but the
knowledge of the event neither proves nor affirms the necessity of its
existence. If the knowledge of the event were the _cause_ of the event,
or if it _generically_ comprehended it in its own existence, then, upon
strict logical principles, the necessity affirmed of the knowledge would
be affirmed of the event likewise.

That God foreknows all volitions is granted; that as he foreknows them,
they will be, is also granted; his foreknowledge of them is the positive
affirmation of their reality in time future; but by supposition, God's
foreknowledge is not their cause, and does not generically comprehend
them; they are caused by wills acting in the future. Hence God's
foreseeing how the wills acting in the time future, will put forth or
determine their volitions, does not take away from these wills the
contingency and freedom belonging to them, any more than our witnessing
how wills act in the time present, takes away from them their
contingency and freedom. God in his prescience, _is the spectator of the
future, as really as we are the spectators of the present_.

Edwards's reasoning is a sort of puzzle, like that employed sometimes
for exercising the student of logic in the detection of fallacies: for
example, a man in a given place, must _necessarily_ either stay in that
place, or go away from that place; therefore, whether he stays or goes
away, he acts necessarily. Now it is necessary, in the nature of things,
that a man as well as any other body should be in some place, but then
it does not follow from this, that his determination, whether to stay or
go, is a necessary determination. His necessary condition as a body, is
entirely distinct from the question respecting the necessity or
contingency of his volitions. And so also in respect of the divine
foreknowledge: all human volitions as events occurring in time, are
subject to the necessary condition of being foreknown by that Being,
"who inhabiteth eternity:" but this necessary condition of their
existence neither proves nor disproves the necessity or the contingency
of their particular causation.

II. The second proposition in Edwards's argument is, "No future event
can be certainly foreknown, whose existence is contingent, and without
all necessity." His reasoning in support of this is as follows: 1. "It
is impossible for a thing to be certainly known to any intellect without
_evidence_." 2. A contingent future event is without evidence. 3.
Therefore, a contingent future event is not a possible object of
knowledge. I dispute both premises: That which is known by _evidence_ or
_proof_ is _mediate_ knowledge,--that is, we know it through something
which is immediate, standing between the faculty of knowledge and the
object of knowledge in question. That which is known _intuitively_ is
known without proof, and this is _immediate_ knowledge. In this way all
axioms or first truths and all facts of the senses are known. Indeed
evidence itself implies immediate knowledge, for the evidence by which
anything is known is itself immediate knowledge. To a Being, therefore,
whose knowledge fills duration, future and past events may be as
immediately known as present events. Indeed, can we conceive of God
otherwise than immediately knowing all things? An Infinite and Eternal
Intelligence cannot be thought of under relations of time and space, or
as arriving at knowledge through _media_ of proof or demonstration. So
much for the first premise. The second is equally untenable: "_A
contingent future event is without evidence_." We grant with Edwards
that it is not _self-evident_; implying by that the evidence arising
from "the necessity of its nature," as for example, 2 x 2 = 4. What is
self-evident, as we have already shown, does not require any evidence or
proof, but is known immediately; and a future contingent event may be
self-evident as a fact lying before the divine mind, reaching into
futurity, although it cannot be self-evident from "the necessity of its

But Edwards affirms, that "neither is there any _proof_ or evidence in
_anything else_, or evidence of connexion with something else that is
evident; for this is also contrary to the supposition. It is supposed
that there is now nothing existent with which the future existence of
the _contingent_ event is connected. For such a connexion destroys its
contingency and supposes necessity." (p. 116.) He illustrates his
meaning by the following example: "Suppose that five thousand seven
hundred and sixty years ago, there was no other being but the Divine
Being,--and then this world, or some particular body or spirit, all at
once starts out of nothing into being, and takes on itself a particular
nature and form--all in _absolute contingence_,--without any concern of
God, or any other cause in the matter,--without any manner of ground or
reason of its existence, or any dependence upon, or connexion at all
with anything foregoing;--I say that if this be supposed, there was no
evidence of that event beforehand. There was no evidence of it to be
seen in the thing itself; for the thing itself as yet was not; and there
was no evidence of it to be seen in _any thing else;_ for _evidence_ in
something else; is _connexion_ with something else; but such connexion
is contrary to the supposition." (p. 116.)

The amount of this reasoning is this: That inasmuch as a contingent
event exists "_without any concern of God, or any other cause in the
matter,--without any manner of ground or reason of its existence,--or
any dependence upon or connexion with anything foregoing_,"--there is
really nothing by which it can be proved beforehand. If Edwards be right
in this definition of a contingent event, viz.: that it is an event
without any cause or ground of its existence, and "that there is nothing
now existent with which the future existence of the contingent event is
connected," then this reasoning must be allowed to be conclusive. But I
do not accede to the definition: Contingence I repeat again, is not
opposed to cause but to necessity. The world may have sprung into being
by _absolute contingence_ more than five thousand years ago, and yet
have sprung into being at the command of God himself, and its existence
have been foreseen by him from all eternity. The contingence expresses
only the freedom of the divine will, creating the world by sovereign
choice, and at the moment of creation, conscious of power to withhold
the creative _nibus_,--creating in the light of his infinite wisdom, but
from no compulsion or necessity of motive therein found. Under this view
to foresee creation was nothing different from foreseeing his own

The ground on which human volitions can be foreseen, is no less plain
and reasonable. In the first place, future contingent volitions are
never without a cause and sufficient ground of their existence, the
individual will being always taken as the cause and sufficient ground of
the individual volitions. God has therefore provided for the possible
existence of volitions other than his own, in the creation and
constitution of finite free will. Now, in relation to him, it is not
required to conceive of _media_ by which all the particular volitions
may be made known or proved to his mind, previous to their actual
existence. Whatever he knows, he knows by direct and infinite intuition;
he cannot be dependent upon any media for his knowledge. It is enough,
as I have already shown, to assign him prescience, in order to bring
within his positive knowledge all future contingent volitions. He knows
all the variety and the full extent of the possible, and amid the
possible he foresees the actual; and he foresees not only that class of
the actual which, as decreed and determined by himself, is relatively
necessary, but also that class of the actual which is to spring up under
the characteristic of contingency.

And herein, I would remark, lies the superiority of the divine
prescience over human forecast,--in that the former penetrates the
contingent as accurately as the necessary. With the latter it is far
otherwise. Human forecast or calculation can foresee the motions of the
planets, eclipses of the sun and moon, and even the flight of the
comets, because they are governed by necessary laws; but the volitions
of the human will form the subject of only _probable_ calculations.

But if human volitions, as contingent, form the subject of probable
calculations, there must be in opposition to Edwards something "that is
evident" and "now existent, with which the future existence of the
_contingent_ event is connected."

There are three kinds of certainty. _First_, absolute certainty. This is
the certainty which lies in necessary and eternal principles e. g. 2 x
2=4; the existence of space; every body must be in space; every
phenomenon must have a cause; the being of God.

Logical certainty, that is, the connexion between premises and
conclusion, is likewise absolute.

_Secondly_. Physical certainty. This is the certainty which lies in the
connexion between physical causes and their phenomena: e. g.
gravitation, heat, chemical affinities in general, mechanical forces.

The reason conceives of these causes as inherently active and uniform;
and hence, wherever a physical cause exists, we expect its proper

Now we do not call the operation of these causes _absolutely_ certain,
because they depend ultimately upon will,--the will of God; and we can
conceive that the same will which ordained them, can change, suspend, or
even annihilate them: they have no intrinsic necessity, still, as causes
given in time and space, we conceive of them generally as immutable. If
in any case they be changed, or suspended, we are compelled to recognise
the presence of that will which ordained them. Such change or suspension
we call a _miracle_; that is, a surprise,--a wonder, because it is
unlooked for.

When, therefore, we affirm any thing to be physically certain, we mean
that it is certain in the immutability of a cause acting in time and
space, and under a necessity relatively to the divine will; but still
not _absolutely_ certain, because there is a possibility of a miracle.
But when we affirm any thing to be absolutely certain, we mean that it
is certain as comprehended in a principle which is unalterable in its
very nature, and is therefore independent of will.

_Thirdly_. Moral certainty, is the certainty which lies between the
connexion of motive and will. By will we mean a self-conscious and
intelligent cause, or a cause in unity with intelligence. It is also, in
the fullest sense, a cause _per se_; that is, it contains within itself
proper efficiency, and determines its own direction. By _motives_ we
mean the reasons according to which the will acts. In general, all
activity proceeds according to rules, or laws, or reasons; for they have
the same meaning: but in mere material masses, the rule is not
contemplated by the acting force,--it is contemplated only by the
intelligence which ordained and conditioned the force. In spirit, on the
contrary, the activity which we call will is self-conscious, and is
connected with a perception of the reasons, or ends, or motives of
action. These motives or ends of action are of two kinds. _First_, those
found in the ideas of the practical reason, which decides what is fit
and right. These are reasons of supreme authority. _Secondly_, those
found in the understanding and sensitivity: e. g. the immediately useful
and expedient, and the gratification of passion. These are right only
when subordinate to the first.

Now these reasons and motives are a light to the will, and serve to
direct its activities; and the human conscience, which is but the
reason, has drawn up for the will explicit rules, suited to all
circumstances and relations, which are called _ethics_, or _the rules_.

These rules the will is not compelled or necessitated to obey. In every
volition it is conscious of a power to do or not to do; but yet, as the
will forms a unity with the intelligence, we take for granted that it
will obey them, unless grounds for an opposite conclusion are apparent.
But the only probable ground for a disobedience of these rules lies in a
state of sinfulness,--a corruption of the sensitivity, or a disposition
to violate the harmony and fitness of the spiritual constitution. Hence
moral certainty can exist only where the harmony of the spiritual being
is preserved. For example: God and good angels. In God moral certainty
is infinite. His dispositions are infinitely pure, and his will freely
determines to do right; it is not compelled or necessitated, for then
his infinite meritoriousness would cease. Moral certainty is _not
absolute_, because will being a power to do or not to do, there is
always a possibility, although there may be no probability, nay an
infinite improbability, that the will may disobey the laws of the

In the case of angels and good men, the moral certainty is such as to be
attended with no apprehension of a dereliction. With respect to such men
as Joseph, Daniel, Paul, Howard, and Washington, we can calculate with a
very high and satisfactory moral certainty, of the manner in which they
will act in any given circumstances involving the influence of motives.
We know they will obey truth, justice, and mercy,--that is, the _first_
class of motives; and the _second_ only so far as they are authorized by
the first. If the first class of motives are forsaken, then human
conduct can be calculated only according to the influence of the second

Human character, however, is mixed and variously compounded. We might
make a scale of an indefinite number of degrees, from the highest point
of moral excellence to the lowest point of moral degradation, and then
our predictions of human conduct would vary with every degree.

In any particular case where we are called upon to reason from the
connexion of motives with the will, it is evident we must determine the
character of the individual as accurately as possible, in order to know
the probable _resultant_ of the opposite moral forces which we are
likely to find.

We have remarked that moral certainty exists only where the harmony of
the moral constitution is preserved. Here we know the right will be
obeyed. It may be remarked in addition to this, however, that moral
certainty may almost be said to exist in the case of the lowest moral
degradation, where the right is altogether forsaken. Here the rule is,
"whatever is most agreeable;" and the volition is indeed merged into the
sense of the most agreeable. But in the intermediate state lies the wide
field of probability. What is commonly called the knowledge of human
nature, and esteemed of most importance in the affairs of life, is not
the knowledge of human nature as it ought to be, but as it is in its
vast variety of good and evil. We gain this knowledge from observation
and history. What human nature ought to be, we learn from reason.

On a subject of so much importance, and where it is so desirable to have
clear and definite ideas, the rhetorical ungracefulness of repetition is
of little moment, when this repetition serves our great end. I shall be
pardoned, therefore, in calling the attention of the reader to a point
above suggested, namely, that the will is in a triunity with reason and
sensitivity, and, in the constitution of our being, is designed to
derive its rules and inducements of action from these. Acts which are in
the direction of neither reason nor sensitivity, must be very trifling
acts; and therefore acts of this description, although possible, we may
conclude are very rare. In calculating, then, future acts of will, we
may, like the mathematicians, drop infinitesimal differences, and assume
that all acts of the will are in the direction of reason or sensitivity,
or of both in their harmony. Although the will is conscious of power to
do, out of the direction of both reason and sensitivity, still, in the
triunity in which it exists, it submits itself to the general interests
of the being, and consults the authority of conscience, or the
enjoyments of passion. Now every individual has acquired for himself
habits and a character more or less fixed. He is known to have submitted
himself from day to day, and in a great variety of transactions, to the
laws of the conscience; and hence we conclude that he has formed for
himself a fixed purpose of doing right. He has exhibited, too, on many
occasions, noble, generous, and pure feelings; and hence we conclude
that his sensitivity harmonizes with conscience. Or he is known to have
violated the laws of the conscience from day to day, and in a great
variety of transactions; and hence we conclude that he has formed for
himself a fixed purpose of doing wrong. He has exhibited, too, on many
occasions, low, selfish, and impure feelings; and hence we conclude that
his sensitivity is in collision with conscience.

In both cases supposed, and in like manner in all supposable cases,
there is plainly a basis on which, in any given circumstances, we may
foresee and predict volitions. There is something "that is evident and
now existent with which the future existence of the contingent event is
connected." On the one hand these predictions exert no necessitating
influence over the events themselves, for they are entirely disconnected
with the causation of the events: and, on the other hand, the events
need not be assumed as necessary in order to become the objects of
probable calculations. If they were necessary, the calculations would no
longer be merely probable:--they would, on the contrary, take the
precision and certainty of the calculation of eclipses and other
phenomena based upon necessary laws. But these calculations can aim only
at _moral_ certainty, because they are made according to the generally
known and received determinations of will in a unity with reason and
sensitivity; but still a will which is known also to have the power to
depart at any moment from the line of determination which it has
established for itself. Thus the calculations which we make respecting
the conduct of one man in given circumstances, based on his known
integrity, and the calculations which we make respecting another, based
on his known dishonesty, may alike disappoint us, through the
unexpected, though possible dereliction of the first, and the
unexpected, though possible reformation of the latter. When we reason
from moral effects to moral causes, or from moral causes to moral
effects, we cannot regard the operation of causes as positive and
uniform under the same law of necessity which appertains to physical
causes, because in moral causality the free will is the efficient and
last determiner. It is indeed true that we reason here with a high
degree of probability, with a probability sufficient to regulate wisely
and harmoniously the affairs of society; but we cannot reason respecting
human conduct, as we reason respecting the phenomena of the physical
world, because it is possible for the human will to disappoint
calculations based upon the ordinary influence of motives: e. g. the
motive does not hold the same relation to will which fire holds to
combustible substance; the fire must burn; the will may or may not
determine in view of motive. Hence the reason why, in common parlance,
probable evidence has received the name of moral evidence: moral
evidence being generally probable, all probable evidence is called

The will differs from physical causes in being a cause _per se_, but
although a cause _per se_, it has laws to direct its volitions. It may
indeed violate these laws and become a most arbitrary and inconstant law
unto itself; but this violation of law and this arbitrary determination
do not arise from it necessarily as a cause _per se_, but from an abuse
of its liberty. As a cause in unity with the laws of the reason, we
expect it to be uniform, and in its harmonious and perfect movements it
is uniform. Physical causes are uniform because God has determined and
fixed them according to laws derived from infinite wisdom.

The human will may likewise be uniform by obeying the laws of
conscience, but the departures may also be indefinitely numerous and

To sum up these observations in general statements, we remark;--

First: The connexion on which we base predictions of human volitions, is
the connexion of will with reason and sensitivity in the unity of the
mind or spirit.

Secondly: By this connexion, the will is seen to be designed to be
regulated by truth and righteousness, and by feeling subordinated to

Thirdly: In the purity of the soul, the will is thus regulated.

Fourthly: This regulation, however, does not take place by the necessary
governance which reason and sensitivity have over will, but by a
self-subjection of will to their rules and inducements;--this
constitutes meritoriousness,--the opposite conduct constitutes ill

Fifthly: Our calculations must proceed according to the degree and
fixedness of this self-subjection to reason and right feeling; or where
this does not exist, according to the degree and fixedness of the habits
of wrong doing, in a self-subjection to certain passions in opposition
to reason.

Sixthly: Our calculations will be more or less certain according to the
extent and accuracy of our observations upon human conduct.

Seventhly: Our calculations can never be attended with _absolute_
certainty, because the will being contingent, has the power of
disappointing calculations made upon the longest observed uniformity.

Eighthly: Our expectations respecting the determinations of Deity are
attended with the highest moral certainty. We say _moral_ certainty,
because it is certainty not arising from necessity, and in that sense
absolute; but certainty arising from the free choice of an infinitely
pure being. Thus, when God is affirmed to be immutable, and when it is
affirmed to be impossible for him to lie, it cannot be meant that he has
not the power to change or to determine contrary to truth; but that
there is an infinite moral certainty arising from the perfection of his
nature, that he never will depart from infinite wisdom and rectitude.

To assign God any other immutability would be to deprive him of freedom.

Ninthly: The divine foresight of human volitions need not be supposed to
necessitate them, any more than human foresight, inasmuch as foreseeing
them, has no necessary connexion in any case with their causation.
Again, if it does not appear essential to the divine foresight of
volitions that they should be necessary. We have seen that future
contingent volitions may be calculated with a high degree of certainty
even by men; and now supposing that the divine being must proceed in the
same way to calculate them through _media_,--the reach and accuracy of
his calculations must be in the proportion of his intelligence, and how
far short of a certain and perfect knowledge of all future contingent
volitions can infinite intelligence be supposed to fall by such

Tenthly: But we may not suppose that the infinite mind is compelled to
resort to deduction, or to employ _media_ for arriving at any particular
knowledge. In the attribute of prescience, he is really present to all
the possible and actual of the future.

III. The third and last point of Edwards's argument is as follows: "To
suppose the future volitions of moral agents, not to be necessary
events; or which is the same thing, events which it is not impossible
but that they may not 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."
(page 117.)

The substance of this reasoning is this. That inasmuch as a contingent
future event is _uncertain_ from its very nature and definition, it
cannot be called an object of _certain_ knowledge, to any mind, not even
to the divine mind, without a manifest contradiction. "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."

We have here again an error arising from not making a proper
distinction, which I have already pointed out,--the distinction between
the certainty of a future volition as a mere fact existent, and the
manner in which that fact came to exist.

The fact of volition comes to exist contingently; that is, by a power
which in giving it existence, is under no law of necessity, and at the
moment of causation, is conscious of ability to withhold the causative
_nibus_. Now all volitions which have already come to exist in this way,
have both a certain and contingent existence. It is certain that they
have come to exist, for that is a matter of observation; but their
existence is also contingent, because they came to exist, not by
necessity as a mathematical conclusion, but by a cause contingent and
free, and which, although actually giving existence to these volitions,
had the power to withhold them.

Certainty and contingency are not opposed, and exclusive of each other
in reference to what has already taken place. Are they opposed and
exclusive of each other in reference to the future? In the first place,
we may reason on probable grounds. Contingent causes have already
produced volitions--hence they may produce volitions in the future. They
have produced volitions in obedience to laws of reason and
sensitivity--hence they may do so in the future. They have done this
according to a uniformity self-imposed, and long and habitually
observed--hence this uniformity may be continued in the future.

A future contingent event may therefore have a high degree of
probability, and even a moral certainty.

But to a being endowed with prescience, what prevents a positive and
infallible knowledge of a future contingent event? His mind extends to
the actual in the future, as easily as to the actual in the past; but
the actual of the future is not only that which comes to pass by his own
determination and _nibus_, and therefore necessarily in its relation to
himself as cause, but also that which comes to pass by the _nibus_ of
constituted wills, contingent and free, as powers to do or not to do.
There is no opposition, as Edwards supposes, between the infallible
divine foreknowledge, and the contingency of the event;--the divine
foreknowledge is infallible from its own inherent perfection; and of
course there can be no doubt but that the event foreseen will come to
pass; but then it is foreseen as an event coming to pass contingently,
and not necessarily.

The error we have just noted, appears again in the corollary which
Edwards immediately deduces from his third position. "From what has been
observed," he remarks, "it is evident, that the absolute _decrees_ of
God are no more inconsistent with human liberty, on account of the
necessity of the event which follows such decrees, than the absolute
foreknowledge of God." (page 118.) The absolute decrees of God are the
determinations of his will, and comprehend the events to which they
relate, as the cause comprehends the effect. Foreknowledge, on the
contrary, has no causality in relation to events foreknown. It is not a
determination of divine will, but a form of the divine intelligence.
Hence the decrees of God do actually and truly necessitate events; while
the foreknowledge of God extends to events which are not necessary but
contingent,--as well as to those which are pre-determined.

Edwards always confounds contingency with chance or no cause, and thus
makes it absurd in its very definition. He also always confounds
certainty with necessity, and thus compels us to take the latter
universal and absolute, or to plunge into utter uncertainty, doubt, and

Prescience is an essential attribute of Deity. Prescience makes the
events foreknown, certain; but if certain, they must be necessary. And
on the other hand, if the events were not certain, they could not be
foreknown,--for that which is uncertain cannot be the object of positive
and infallible knowledge; but if they are certain in order to be
foreknown, then they must be necessary.

Again: contingence, as implying no cause, puts all future events
supposed to come under it, out of all possible connexion with anything
preceding and now actually existent, and consequently allows of no basis
upon which they can be calculated and foreseen. Contingence, also, as
opposed to necessity, destroys certainty, and excludes the possibility
even of divine prescience. This is the course of Edwards's reasoning.

Now if we have reconciled contingence with both cause and certainty, and
have opposed it only to necessity, thus separating cause and certainty
from the absolute and unvarying dominion of necessity, then this
reasoning is truly and legitimately set aside.

Necessity lies only in the eternal reason, and the sensitivity connected
with it:--contingency lies only in will. But the future acts of will can
be calculated from its known union with, and self-subjection to the
reason and sensitivity.

These calculations are more or less probable, or are certain according
to the known character of the person who is the subject of these

Of God we do not affirm merely the power of calculating future
contingent events upon known data, but a positive prescience of all
events. He sees from the beginning how contingent causes or wills, will
act. He sees with absolute infallibility and certainty--and the events
to him are infallible and certain. But still they are not necessary,
because the causes which produce them are not determined and
necessitated by anything preceding. They are causes contingent and free,
and conscious of power not to do what they are actually engaged in

I am persuaded that inattention to the important distinction of the
certainty implied in the divine foreknowledge, and the necessity implied
in the divine predetermination or decree, is the great source of
fallacious reasonings and conclusions respecting the divine prescience.
When God pre-determines or decrees, he fixes the event by a necessity
relative to himself as an infinite and irresistible cause. It cannot be
otherwise than it is decreed, while his decree remains. But when he
foreknows an event, he presents us merely a form of his infinite
intelligence, exerting no causative, and consequently no necessitating
influence whatever. The volitions which I am now conscious of
exercising, are just what they are, whether they have been foreseen or
not--and as they now do actually exist, they have certainty; and yet
they are contingent, because I am conscious that I have power not to
exercise them. They are, but they might not have been. Now let the
intelligence of God be so perfect, as five thousand years ago, to have
foreseen the volitions which I am now exercising; it is plain that this
foresight does not destroy the contingency of the volitions, nor does
the contingency render the foresight absurd. The supposition is both
rational and possible.

It is not necessary for us to consider the remaining corollaries of
Edwards, as the application of the above reasoning to them will be

Before closing this part of the treatise in hand, I deem it expedient to
lay down something like a scale of certainty. In doing this, I shall
have to repeat some things. But it is by repetition, and by placing the
same things in new positions, that we often best attain perspicuity, and
succeed in rendering philosophical ideas familiar.

First: Let us consider minutely the distinction between certainty and
necessity. Necessity relates to truths and events considered in
themselves. Certainty relates to our apprehension or conviction of them.
Hence necessity is not certainty itself, but a ground of certainty.
_Absolute certainty_ relates only to truths or to being.

First or intuitive truths, and logical conclusions drawn from them, are
necessary with an absolute necessity. They do not admit of negative
suppositions, and are irrespective of will. The being of God, and time,
and space, are necessary with an absolute necessity.

_Relative necessity_ relates to logical conclusions and events or
phenomena. Logical conclusions are always necessary relatively to the
premises, but cannot be absolutely necessary unless the premises from
which they are derived, are absolutely necessary.

All phenomena and events are necessary with only a relative necessity;
for in depending upon causes, they all ultimately depend upon will.
Considered therefore in themselves, they are contingent; for the will
which produced them, either immediately or by second or dependent
causes, is not necessitated, but free and contingent--and therefore
their non-existence is supposable. But they are necessary relatively to
will. The divine will, which gave birth to creation, is infinite; when
therefore the _nibus_ of this will was made, creation was the necessary
result. The Deity is under no necessity of willing; but when he does
will, the effect is said necessarily to follow--meaning by this, that
the _nibus_ of the divine will is essential power, and that there is no
other power that can prevent its taking effect.

Created will is under no necessity of willing; but when it does will or
make its _nibus_, effects necessarily follow, according to the connexion
established by the will of Deity, between the _nibus_ of created will
and surrounding objects. Where a _nibus_ of created will is made, and
effects do not follow, it arises from the necessarily greater force of a
resisting power, established by Deity likewise; so that whatever follows
the _nibus_ of created will, whether it be a phenomenon without, or the
mere experience of a greater resisting force, it follows by a necessity
relative to the divine will.

When we come to consider will in relation to its own volitions, we have
no more necessity, either absolute er relative; we have contingency and
absolute freedom.

Now certainty we have affirmed to relate to our knowledge or conviction
of truths and events.

Necessity is one ground of certainty, both absolute and relative. We
have a certain knowledge or conviction of that which we perceive to be
necessary in its own nature, or of which a negative is not supposable;
and this, as based upon an _absolute necessity_, may be called an
absolute certainty.

The established connexion between causes and effects, is another ground
of certainty. Causes are of two kinds; first causes, or causes _per se_,
or contingent and free causes, or will; and second or physical causes,
which are necessary with a relative necessity.

First causes are of two degrees, the infinite and the finite.

Now we are certain, that whatever God wills, will take place. This may
likewise be called an absolute certainty, because the connexion between
divine volitions and effects is absolutely necessary. It is not
supposable that God should will in vain, for that would contradict his
admitted infinity.

The connexion between the volitions of created will and effects, and the
connexion between physical causes and effects, supposing each of course
to be in its proper relations and circumstances, is a connexion of
relative necessity; that is, relative to the divine will. Now the
certainty of our knowledge or conviction that an event will take place,
depending upon volition or upon a physical cause, is plainly different
from the certain knowledge of a necessary truth, or the certain
conviction that an event which infinite power wills, will take place.
The will which established the connexion, may at any moment suspend or
change the connexion. I believe that when I will to move my hand over
this paper, it will move, supposing of course the continued healthiness
of the limb; but it is possible for God so to alter the constitution of
my being, that my will shall have no more connexion with my hands than
it now has with the circulation of the blood. I believe also that if I
throw this paper into the fire, it will burn; but it is possible for God
so to alter the constitution of this paper or of fire, that the paper
will not burn; and yet I have a certain belief that my hand will
continue to obey volition, and that paper will burn in the fire. This
certainly is not an _absolute certainty_, but a _conditional_ certainty:
events will thus continue to take place on condition the divine will
does not change the condition of things. This conditional certainty is
likewise called a _physical_ certainty, because the events contemplated
include besides the phenomena of consciousness, which are not so
commonly noticed, the events or phenomena of the physical world, or

But we must next look at will itself in relation to its volitions: Here
all is contingency and freedom,--here is no necessity. Is there any
ground of certain knowledge respecting future volitions?

If will as a cause _per se_, were isolated and in no relation whatever,
there could not be any ground of any knowledge whatever, respecting
future volitions. But will is not thus isolated. On the contrary, it
forms a unity with the sensitivity and the reason. Reason reveals _what
ought to be done_, on the basis of necessary and unchangeable truth. The
sensitivity reveals what is most desirable or pleasurable, on the ground
of personal experience. Now although it is granted that will can act
without deriving a reason or inducement of action from the reason and
the sensitivity, still the instances in which it does so act, are so
rare and trifling, that they may be thrown out of the account. We may
therefore safely assume as a general law, that the will determines
according to reasons and inducements drawn from the reason and the
sensitivity. This law is not by its very definition, and by the very
nature of the subject to which it relates, a necessary law--but a law
revealed in our consciousness as one to which the will, in the exercise
of its freedom, does submit itself. In the harmony and perfection of our
being, the reason and the sensitivity perfectly accord. In obeying the
one or the other, the will obeys both. With regard to perfect beings,
therefore, we can calculate with certainty as to their volitions under
any given circumstances. Whatever is commanded by reason, whatever
appears attractive to the pure sensitivity, will be obeyed and followed.

But what kind of certainty is this? It is not absolute certainty,
because it is supposable that the will which obeys may not obey, for it
has power not to obey. Nor is it _physical_ certainty, for it does not
relate to a physical cause, nor to the connexion between volition and
its effects, but to the connexion between will and its volitions. Nor
again can we, strictly speaking, call it a _conditional_ certainty;
because the will, as a power _per se_, is under no conditions as to the
production of its volitions. To say that the volitions will be in
accordance with the reason and pure sensitivity, if the will continue to
obey the reason and pure sensitivity, is merely saying that the
volitions will be right if the willing power put forth right volitions.
What kind of certainty is it, then? I reply, it is a certainty
altogether peculiar,--a certainty based upon the relative state of the
reason and the sensitivity, and their unity with the will; and as the
commands of reason in relation to conduct have received the name of
_moral_[7] laws, simply because they have this relation,--and as the
sensitivity, when harmonizing with the reason, is thence called morally
pure, because attracting to the same conduct which the reason
commands,--this certainty may fitly be called _moral certainty_. The
name, however, does not mark _degree_. Does this certainty possess
degrees? It does. With respect to the volitions of God, we have the
highest degree of moral certainty,--an infinite moral certainty. He,
indeed, in his infinite will, has the power of producing any volitions
whatever; but from his infinite excellency, consisting in the harmony of
infinite reason with the divine affections of infinite benevolence,
truth, and justice, we are certain that his volitions will always be
right, good, and wise. Besides, he has assured us of his fixed
determination to maintain justice, truth, and love; and he has given us
this assurance as perfectly knowing himself in the whole eternity of his
being. Let no one attempt to confound this perfect moral certainty with
necessity, for the distinction is plain. If God's will were affirmed to
be necessarily determined in the direction of truth, righteousness, and
love, it would be an affirmation respecting the manner of the
determination of the divine will: viz.--that the divine determination
takes place, not in contingency and freedom, not with the power of
making an opposite determination, but in absolute necessity. But if it
be affirmed that God's will, will _certainly_ go in the direction of
truth, righteousness, and love, the affirmation respects our _knowledge_
and _conviction_ of the character of the divine volitions in the whole
eternity of his being. We may indeed proceed to inquire after the
grounds of this knowledge and conviction; and if the necessity of the
divine determinations be the ground of this knowledge and conviction, it
must be allowed that it is a sufficient ground. But will any man assume
that necessity is the _only_ ground of certain knowledge and conviction?
If necessity be universal, embracing all beings and events, then of
course there is no place for this question, inasmuch as any other ground
of knowledge than necessity is not supposable. But if, at least for the
sake of the argument, it be granted that there may be other grounds of
knowledge than necessity, then I would ask whether the infinite
excellence of the divine reason and sensitivity, in their perfect
harmony, does afford to us a ground for the most certain and
satisfactory belief that the divine will will create and mould all being
and order all events according to infinite wisdom and rectitude. In
order to have full confidence that God will forever do right, must we
know that his will is absolutely necessitated by his reason and his
affections? Can we not enjoy this confidence, while we allow him
absolute freedom of choice? Can we not believe that the Judge of all the
Earth will do right, although in his free and omnipotent will he have
the power to do wrong? And especially may we not believe this, when, in
his omniscience and his truth, he has declared that his purposes will
forever be righteous, benevolent, and wise? Does not the glory and
excellency of God appear in this,--that while he hath unlimited power,
he employs that power by his free choice, only to dispense justice,
mercy, and grace? And does not the excellency and meritoriousness of a
creature's faith appear in this,--that while God is known to be so
mighty and so absolute, he is confided in as a being who will never
violate any moral principle or affection? Suppose God's will to be
necessitated in its wise and good volitions,--the sun dispensing heat
and light, and by their agency unfolding and revealing the beauty of
creation, seems as truly excellent and worthy of gratitude,--and the
creature, exercising gratitude towards God and confiding in him, holds
no other relation to him than the sunflower to the sun--by a necessity
of its nature, ever turning its face upwards to receive the influences
which minister to its life and properties.

The moral certainty attending the volitions of created perfect beings is
the same in kind with that attending the volitions of the Deity. It is a
certainty based upon the relative state of the reason and the
sensitivity, and their unity with the will. Wherever the reason and the
sensitivity are in harmony, there is moral certainty. I mean by this,
that in calculating the character of future volitions in this case, we
have not to calculate the relative energy of opposing principles:--all
which is now existent is, in the constituted unity of the soul,
naturally connected only with good volitions. But the _degree_ of the
moral certainty in created beings, when compared with that attending the
volitions of Deity, is only in the proportion of the finite to the
infinite. The confidence which we repose in the integrity of a good
being, does not arise from the conviction that his volitions are
necessitated, but from his known habit of obeying truth and justice; and
our sense of his meritoriousness does not arise from the impossibility
of his doing wrong, but from his known determination and habit of doing
right while having the power of doing wrong, and while even under
temptations of doing wrong.

A certainty respecting volitions, if based upon the necessity of the
volitions, would not differ from a physical certainty. But a moral
certainty has this plain distinction,--that it is based upon the
evidently pure dispositions and habits of the individual, without
implying, however, any necessity of volitions.

Moral certainty, then, is predicable only of moral perfection, and
predicable in degrees according to the dignity and excellency of the

But now let us suppose any disorder to take place in the sensitivity;
that is, let us suppose the sensitivity, to any degree, to grow into
opposition to the reason, so that while the reason commands in one
direction, the sensitivity gives the sense of the most agreeable in the
opposite direction,--and then our calculations respecting future
volitions must vary accordingly. Here moral certainty exists no longer,
because volitions are now to be calculated in connexion with opposing
principles: calculations now attain only to the probable, and in
different degrees.

By _the probable_, we mean that which has not attained to certainty, but
which nevertheless has grounds on which it claims to be believed. We
call it _probable_ or _proveable_, because it both has proof and is
still under conditions of proof, that is, admits of still farther proof.
That which is certain, has all the proof of which the case admits. A
mathematical proposition is certain on the ground of necessity, and
admits of no higher proof than that which really demonstrates its truth.

The divine volitions are certain on the ground of the divine
perfections, and admit of no higher proof than what is found in the
divine perfections.

The volitions of a good created being are certain on the ground of the
purity of such a being, and admit of no higher proof than what is found
in this purity.

But when we come to a mixed being, that is, a being of reason, and of a
sensitivity corrupted totally or in different degrees, then we have
place not for certainty, but for probability. As our knowledge of the
future volitions of such a being can only be gathered from something now
existent, this knowledge will depend upon our knowledge of the present
relative state of his reason and sensitivity; but a perfect knowledge of
this is in no case supposable,--so that, although our actual knowledge
of this being may be such as to afford us proof of what his volitions
may be, yet, inasmuch as our knowledge of him may be increased
indefinitely by close observation and study, so likewise will the proof
be increased. According to the definition of probability above given,
therefore, our knowledge of the future volitions of an imperfect being
can only amount to probable knowledge.

The direction of the probabilities will be determined by the
preponderance of the good or the bad in the mixed being supposed. If the
sensitivity be totally corrupted, the probabilities will generally go in
the direction of the corrupted sensitivity, because it is one observed
general fact in relation to a state of corruption, that the enjoyments
of passion are preferred to the duties enjoined by the conscience. But
the state of the reason itself must be considered. If the reason be in a
highly developed state, and the convictions of the right consequently
clear and strong, there may be probabilities of volitions in opposition
to passion which cannot exist where the reason is undeveloped and
subject to the errors and prejudices of custom and superstition. The
difference is that which is commonly known under the terms "enlightened
and unenlightened conscience."

Where the sensitivity is not totally corrupted, the direction of the
probabilities must depend upon the degree of corruption and the degree
to which the reason is developed or undeveloped.

With a given state of the sensitivity and the reason, the direction of
the probabilities will depend also very much upon the correlated, or
upon the opposing objects and circumstances:--where the objects and
circumstances agree with the state of the sensitivity and the reason, or
to speak generally and collectively, with "the state of the mind," the
probabilities will clearly be more easily determined than where they are
opposed to "the state of the mind."

The law which Edwards lays down as the law of volition universally, viz:
that "the volition is as the greatest apparent good:" understanding by
the term "good," as he does, simply, that which strikes us "agreeably,"
is indeed a general rule, according to which the volitions of characters
deeply depraved may be calculated. This law represents the individual as
governed wholly by his passions, and this marks the worst form of
character. It is a law which cannot extend to him who is struggling
under the light of his reason against passion, and consequently the
probabilities in this last case must be calculated in a different way.
But in relation to the former it is a sufficient rule.

Probability, as well as certainty, respects only the kind and degree of
our knowledge of any events, and not the causes by which those events
are produced: whether these causes be necessary or contingent is another

One great error in reasoning respecting the character of causes, in
connexion with the calculation of probabilities, is the assumption that
uniformity is the characteristic of necessary causes only. The reasoning
may be stated in the following syllogism:

In order to calculate either with certainty or probability any events we
must suppose a uniform law of causation; but uniformity can exist only
where there is a necessity of causation; hence, our calculations suppose
a necessity of causation.

This is another instance of applying to the will principles which were
first obtained from the observation of physical causes, and which really
belong to physical causes only. With respect to physical causes, _it is
true_ that uniformity appears to be a characteristic of necessary
causes, simply because physical causes are relatively necessary
causes:--but with respect to the will, _it is not true_ that uniformity
appears to be a characteristic of necessary cause, because the will is
not a necessary cause. That uniformity therefore, as in the case of
physical causes, seems to become a characteristic of necessary cause,
does not arise from the nature of the idea of cause, but from the nature
of the particular subject, viz., _physical_ cause. Uniformity in logical
strictness, does not belong to cause at all, but to law or rule. Cause
is simply efficiency or power: law or rule defines the direction, aims,
and modes of power: cause explains the mere existence of phenomena: law
explains their relations and characteristics: law is the thought and
design of the reason. Now a cause may be so conditioned as to be
incapable of acting except in obedience to law, and this is the case of
all physical causes which act according to the law or design of infinite
wisdom, and thus the uniformity which we are accustomed to attribute to
these causes is not their own, but belongs to the law under which they
necessarily act. But will is a cause which is not so conditioned as to
be incapable of acting except in obedience to law; it can oppose itself
to, and violate law, but still it is a cause in connexion with law, the
law found in the reason and sensitivity, which law of course has the
characteristic of uniformity. The law of the reason and pure sensitivity
is uniform--it is the law of right. The law of a totally corrupted
sensitivity is likewise a uniform law; it is the law of passion; a law
to do whatever is most pleasing to the sensitivity; and every
individual, whatever may be the degree of his corruption, forms for
himself certain rules of conduct, and as the very idea of rule embraces
uniformity, we expect in every individual more or less uniformity of
conduct. Uniformity of physical causation, is nothing but the design of
the supreme reason developed in phenomena of nature. Uniformity of
volitions is nothing but the design of reason and pure sensitivity, or
of corrupted passion developed in human conduct. The uniformity thus not
being the characteristic of cause as such, cannot be the characteristic
of necessary cause. The uniformity of causation, therefore, argues
nothing respecting the nature of the cause; it may be a necessary cause
or it may not. There is no difficulty at all in conceiving of uniformity
in a free contingent will, because this will is related to uniform
rules, which in the unity of the being we expect to be obeyed but which
we also know do not necessitate obedience. In physical causes we have
the uniformity of necessitated causes. In will we have the uniformity of
a free intelligent cause. We can conceive of perfect freedom and yet of
perfect order, because the free will can submit itself to the light of
the reason. Indeed, all the order and harmony of creation, although
springing from the _idea_ of the reason, has been constituted by the
power of the infinite free will. It is an order and harmony not
necessitated but chosen by a power determining itself. It is altogether
an assumption incapable of being supported that freedom is identified
with disorder.

_Of the words, Foreknowledge and Prescience._

These words are metaphorical: _fore_ and _pre_ do not qualify
_knowledge_ and _science_ in relation to the mind which has the
knowledge or science; but the time in which the knowledge takes place in
relation to the time in which the object of knowledge is found. The
metaphor consists in giving the attribute of the time of knowledge,
considered relatively to the time of the object of knowledge, to the act
of knowledge itself. Banishing metaphor for the sake of attaining
greater perspicuity, let us say,

First: All acts of knowing are present acts of knowing,--there is no
_fore_ knowledge and no _after_ knowledge.

Secondly: The objects of knowledge may be in no relation to time and
space whatever, e. g. pure abstract and necessary truth, as 2 x 2 = 4;
and the being of God. Or the objects of knowledge may be in relations of
time and space, e. g. all physical phenomena.

Now these relations of time and space are various;--the object of
knowledge may be in time past, or time present, or time future; and it
may be in a place near, or in a place distant. And the faculty of
knowledge may be of a capacity to know the object in all these relations
under certain limitations, or under no limitations. The faculty of
knowledge as knowing objects in all relations of time and space, under
certain limitations, is the faculty as given in man. We know objects in
time present, and past, and future; and we know objects both near and
distant; but then our knowledge does not extend to all events in any of
these relations, or in any of these relations to their utmost limit.

The faculty of knowledge as knowing objects in all relations of time and
space, under no limitations, is the faculty under its divine and
infinite form. Under this form it comprehends the present perfectly, and
the past and the future no less than the present--and it reaches through
all space. God's knowledge is an eternal now--an omnipresent here; that
is, all that is possible and actual in eternity and space, is now
perfectly known to him. Indeed God's knowledge ought not to be spoken of
in relation to time and space; it is infinite and absolute knowledge,
from eternity to eternity the same; it is unchangeable, because it is
perfect; it can neither be increased nor diminished.

We have shown before that the perfection of the knowledge does not
settle the mode of causation; that which comes to pass by necessity, and
that which comes to pass contingently, are alike known to God.


I here finish my review of Edwards's System, and his arguments against
the opposite system. I hope I have not thought or written in vain. The
review I have aimed to conduct fairly and honourably, and in supreme
reverence of truth. As to style, I have laboured only for perspicuity,
and where a homely expression has best answered this end, I have not
hesitated to adopt it. The nice graces of rhetoric, as popularly
understood, cannot be attended to in severe reasoning. To amble on a
flowery surface with fancy, when we are mining in the depths of reason,
is manifestly impossible.

The great man with whose work I have been engaged, I honour and admire
for his intellectual might, and love and venerate for a purity and
elevation of spirit, which places him among the most sainted names of
the Christian church. But have I done wrong not to be seduced by his
genius, nor won and commanded by his piety to the belief of his
philosophy? I have not done wrong if that be a false philosophy. When he
leads me to the cross, and speaks to me of salvation, I hear in mute
attention--and one of the old preachers of the martyr age seems to have
re-appeared. But when we take a walk in the academian grove, I view him
in a different character, and here his voice does not sound to me so
sweet as Plato's.

The first part of my undertaking is accomplished. When I again trouble
the public with my lucubrations, I shall appear not as a reviewer, but
in an original work, which in its turn must become the subject of
philosophical criticism.



[1] "It is remarkable that the advocates for necessity have adopted a
distinction made use of for other purposes, and forced it into their
service; I mean moral and natural necessity. They say natural or
physical necessity takes away liberty, but moral necessity does not: at
the same time they explain moral necessity so as to make it truly
physical or natural. That is physical necessity which is the
_invincible_ effect of the law of nature, and it is neither less
natural, nor less insurmountable, if it is from the laws of spirit than
it would be if it were from the laws of matter."--(Witherspoon's
Lectures on Divinity, lect. xiii.)

[2] Natural inability, and a want of liberty, are identified in this
usage; for the want of a natural faculty essential to the performance of
an action, and the existence of an impediment or antagonistic force,
which takes from a faculty supposed to exist, the _liberty_ of action,
have the same bearing upon responsibility.

[3] It is but justice to remark here, that the distinction of moral and
natural inability is made by many eminent divines, without intending
anything so futile as that we have above exposed. By moral inability
they do not appear to mean anything which really render the actions
required, impossible; but such an impediment as lies in corrupt
affections, an impediment which may be removed by a self-determination
to the use of means and appliances graciously provided or promised. By
natural ability they mean the possession of all the natural faculties
necessary to the performance of the actions required. In their
representations of this natural ability, they proceed according to a
popular method, rather than a philosophical. They affirm this natural
ability as a fact, the denial of which involves monstrous absurdities,
but they give no psychological view of it. This task I shall impose upon
myself in the subsequent volume. I shall there endeavour to point out
the connexion between the sensitivity and the will, both in a pure and a
corrupt state,--and explain what these natural faculties are, which,
according to the just meaning of these divines, form the ground of
rebuke and persuasion, and constitute responsibility.

[4] "The great argument that men are determined by the strongest
motives, is a mere equivocation, and what logicians call _petitio
principii_. It is impossible even to produce any medium of proof that it
is the strongest motive, except that it has prevailed. It is not the
greatest in itself; nor does it seem to be in all respects the strongest
to the agent; but you say it appears strongest in the meantime. Why?
Because you are determined by it. Alas! you promised to prove that I was
determined by the _strongest motive_, and you have only shown that I had
a _motive_ when I acted. But what has determined you then? Can any
effect be without a cause? I answer--supposing my self-determining power
to exist, it is as real a cause of its proper and distinguishing effect,
as your moral necessity: so that the matter just comes to a stand, and
is but one and the same thing on one side and on the other."
--(Witherspoon's Lectures, lect. xiii.)

[5] Cousin.

[6] Dr. Reid.

[7] Lat. _moralis_, from _mos_,--i. e. custom or ordinary conduct.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Review of Edwards's" ***

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