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consistent with the absolute and most perfect sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is his ability and authority to
itself; and an infinitely wise and good Being, indued with the most perfect liberiy, can no more choose to act in contradiction to wisdom and goodness, than a necessary agent can act contrary to the Necessity by which it is acted; it being as great an absurdity and impossibility in choice, for Infinite Wisdom to choose to act unwisely, or Infinite Goodness to choose what is not good, as it would be in nature, for absolute Necessity to fail of producing its necessary effect. There was, indeed, no Necessity in nature, that God should at first create such beings as he has created, or indeed any being at all; because he is, in Himself, infinitely happy and all-sufficient. There was, also, no Necessity in nature, that he should preserve and continue things in being after they were created; because he would be self-sufficient without their continuance, as he was before their crea: tion. But it was fit, and wise, and good, that Infinite Wisdom should manifest, and Infinite Goodness communicate itself; and therefore it was necessary, in the sense of Necessity I am now speaking of, that things should be made at such a time, and continued so long, and indeed with various perfections in such degrees, as Infinite Wisdom and Goodness saw it wisest and best that they should.” Ibid. D. 112, 113.
It is not a fault, but a perfection of our nature, to desire, will, and act, according to the last result of a fair examination. This is so far from being a restraint or diminution of freedom, that it is the very improvement and benefit of it : it is not an abridgment, it is the end and use of our liberty; and the further we are removed from such a determination, the nearer we are to misery and slavery. A perfect indifference in the mind, not determinable by its last judgment, of the good or evil that is thought to attend its choice, would be so far from being an advantage and excellency of any intellectual nature, that it would be as great an imperfection, as the want of indifferency to act, or not to act, till determined by the will, would be an imperfection on the other side. It is as much a perfection, that desire or the power of preferring should be determined by good, as that the power of acting should be determined by the will : and the certainer such determination is, the greater the perfection. Nay, were we determined by any thing but the last result of our own minds, judging of the good or evil of any action, we were not free. This very end of our freedom being, that we might attain the good we choose ; and, therefore, every man is brought under a Necessity by his constitution, as an intelligent being, to be determined in willing by his own thought and judgment, what is best for him to do; else he would be under the determination of some other than himself, which is want of liberty. And to deny that a man's will, in every determination, follows his own judgment, is to say, that a man wills and acts for an end that he would not have, at the same time that he wills and acts for it. For if he prefers it in his present thoughts before any other, it is plain he then thinks better of it, and would have it before any other ; unless he can have, and not have it ; will, and not will it, at the same time ; & contradiction too manifest to be admitted. If we look upon those superior beings above us, who enjoy perfect happiness, we shall have reason to judge, that they are more steadily determined in their choice of good than we; and yet we have
no reason to think they are less happy, or less free, than we are. And if it were fit for such poor finito ereatures as we are, to pronounce what Infinite Wisdom and Goodness could do, I think we might say, that God himself cannot choose what is not good. Phe freedom of the Almighty hinders not his being determined by what is best.–But to give a right view of this mistaken part of liberty, let me ask, Would any one be a changeling, because he is less determined by wise determination than a wise man? Is it worth the name of freedom, to be at liberty to play the fool, and draw shame and misery upon a man's self? If to break' loose from the conduct of reason, and to want that restraint of examination and judgment that keeps us from doing or choosing the worse, be liberty, true liberty, mad men and fools are the only free men. Yet, I think, no body would choose to be mad, for the sake of such liberty, but he that is mad already." Locke's Hum. Und. Vol. I. Edit. 7. p, 215, 216.
"This Being, kaving all things always necessarily in view, must always, and eternally will, according to his infinite comprehension of things that is, must will all things that are wisest and best to be done. There is no getting free of this con
do whatever pleases him ; whereby “ he doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what dost thou ?”—The following things belong to the sovereignty of God; viz: (1.) Supreme, Universal, and Infinite Power; whereby he is able to do what he pleases, without controul, without any confinement of that power, without any subjection, in the least measure, to any other power ; and so without
any hindrance or restraint, that it should be either impossible or at all difficult for him to accomplish his Will; and without any dependence of his power on any other power, from whence it should be derived or of which it should stand in any need ; so far from this, that all other power is derived from him, and is absolutely dependent on him. (2.) That He has gupreme authority; absolute and most perfect right to do what he wills, without subjection to any superior authority, or any derivation of authority from any other, or limitation by any distinct independent authority, either superior, equal, or inferior; he being the head of all dominion, and fountain of all authority ; and also without restraint by any obligation, implying either subjection, derivation, or dependence, or proper limitation. (3.) That his Will is supreme, underived, and independent on any thing without Himself; being in every thing determined by his own counsel, having no other rule but his own wisdom ; his will not being subject to, or restrained by the will of any other, and other wills being perfectly subject to his. (4.) That his Wisdom, which determines bis will, is supreme, perfect, underived, self-sufficient, and independent; so that it may be said, as in Isai. xl. 14. “ With whom took He counsel ? And who instructed Him and taught Him in the path of judg. inent, and taught Him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding ?" There is no other Divine Sovereignty but this : and this is properly absolute sovereignty ; no other is desirable ; nor would any other be honourable or happy : and indeed there is no other conceivable or possible. It is the glory and greatness of the Divine Sovereign, that his Will is determined by his own infinite, all-sufficient wisdom in every thing; and is in nothing at all directed either by inferior wisdom, or by no wisdom; whereby it would become senseless arbitrariness, determining and acting without reason, design, or end.
sequence. If it can will at all, it must will this way. To be capable of knowing, and not capable of willing, is not to be understood. And to be capable of willing otherwise than what is wisest and best, contradicts that knowledge which is infinite. Infinite Knowledge must direct the will without error. Here then is the origin of moral Necessity; and that is, really, of freedom-Perhaps it may be said, when the Divine Will is determined, from the consideration of the eternal aptitudes of things, it is as necessarily determined, as if it were physically impelled, if that were possible. But it is unskilfulness to suppose this an objection. The great principle is once established, viz. That the Divine Will is determined by the eternal reason and aptitudes of things, instead of being physically impelled; and after that, the more strong and necessary this determination is, the more perfect the Deity must be allowed to be: it is this that makes him an amia. ble and adorable Being, whose Will and Power are constantly, immutably determined, by the consideration of what is wisest and best ; instead of a gurd Being, with power, without discerning and reason. It is the beauty of this Necessity, that it is strong as fate itself, with all the advantage of reason and goodness.—It is strange to see men contend, that the Deity is not free, because he is necessarily rational, immutably good and wise ; when a man is allowed still the perfecter being, the more fixedly and constantly his will is determined by reason and truth.”—Enquá ry into the Nalure of the Human Sod. Edit. 3. Vol. II. p. 403, 404,
If God's Will is steadily and surely determined in every thing by supreme wisdom, then it is in every thing necessarily determined to that which is most wise, and certainly, it would be a disadvantage and indignity to be otherwise ; for if the Divine Will was not necessarily determined to what in
every case is wisest and best, it must be subject to some degree of undesigning contingence; and so in the same degree
liable to evil. To suppose the Divine Will liable to be carried hither and thither at random, by the uncertain wind of blind contingence which is guided by no wisdom, no motive, no intelligent dictate whatsoever, (if any such thing were possible) would certainly argue a great degree of imperfection and meanness, infinitely unworthy of the Deity. If it. be a disadvantage for the Divine Will to be attended with this moral Necessity, then the more free from it, and the more left at random, the greater dignity and advantage. And consequently, to be perfectly free from the direction of understanding, and universally and entirely left to senseless unmeaning contingence, to act absolutely at random, would be the supreme glory!
It no more argues any dependence of God's Will, that his supremely wise volition is necessary, than it argues a depen. dence of his being, that his existence is necessary. If it be something too low for the Supreme Being to have his Will determined by moral Necessity, so as necessarily, in every case, to will in the highest degree holily and happily ; then why is it not also something too low for him to have his existence, and the infinite perfection of his nature, and his infinite happiness determined by Necessity? It is no more to God's dishonour to be necessarily wise than to be necessarily holy. And if neither of them be to his aishonour, then it is not to his dishonour necessarily to act holily and wisely. And if it be not dishonourable to be necessarily holy and wise, in the highest possible degree, no more is it mean and dishonourable, necessarily to act holy and wisely in the highest possible degree; or which is the same thing, to do that, in every case, which above all other things is wisest and best.
The reason why it is not dishonourable to be necessarily most holy is, because holiness in itself is an excellent and honourable thing. For the same reason it is no dishonour to be necessarily most wise, and in every case to act most wisely, or do the thing which is the wisest of all : for wisdom is also in itself excellent and honourable.
The forementioned Author of the Essay on the Freedom of Will, &-c. as has been observed, represents that doctrine of the Divine Will being in every thing necessarily determined by superior fitness, as making the blessed God a kind of Almighty Minister and mechanical medium of fate: he insists,(p. 93, 94,) that this moral Necessity and impossibility is in effect the same thing with physical and natural Necessity and impossibility : and says, (p. 54, 55.) “ The scheme which determines the will always and certainly by the understanding, and the understanding by the appearance of things, seems to take away the true nature of vice and virtue. For the sublimest of virtues, and the vilest of vices, seem rather to be matters of fate and Necessity, flowing naturally and necessarily from the existence, the circumstances, and present situation of persons and things; for this existence and situation necessarily makes such an appearance to the mind; from this appearance flows a necessary perception and judgment concerning these things; this judgment necessarily determines the will : and thus, by this chain of necessary causes, virtue and vice would lose their nature, and become natural ideas and necessary things, instead of moral and free actions."
And yet this same Author allows, (p. 30, 31.) That a perfectly wise being will constantly and certainly choose what is most fit; and says, (p. 102, 103.) “I grant, and always have granted, that wheresoever there is such antecedent superior fitness of things, God acts according to it, so as never to contradict it; and, particularly, in all his judicial proceedings as a governor, and Distributer of rewards and punishments. Yea, he says expressly, (p. 42.) " That it is not possible for God to act otherwise, than according to this fitness and goodness in things."
So that according to this Author, putting these several passages of his Essay together, there is no virtue, nor any thing of a moral nature, in the most sublime and glorious acts and exercises of God's holiness, justice, and faithfulness; and he never does any thing which is in itself supremely worthy, and above all other things fit and excellent, but only as a kind of mechanical medium of fate; and in what he does as the Judge and moral Governor of the world, he exercises no moral excellency ; exercising no freedom in these things, because he acts by moral Necessity, which is, in effect, the same with physical or Natural Necessity; and therefore he
only acts by an Hobbistical fatality; "as a Being indeed of vast understanding, as well as power and efficiency (as he said before) but without a will to choose, being a kind of Almighty Minister of fate, acting under its supreme influence.” For he allows, that in all these things God's will is determined constantly and certainly by a superior fitness, and that it is not possible for him to act otherwise. And if these things are so, what glory or praise belongs to God for doing holily and justly, or taking the most fit, holy, wise and excellent course, in any one instance? Whereas, according to the scriptures, and also the common sense of mankind, it does not in the least derogate from the honour of any being, that through the moral perfection of his nature, he necessarily acts with supreme wisdom and holiness ; but on the contrary his praise is the greater : herein consists the height of his glory,
The same author, (p. 56,) supposes, that herein appears the excellent “ character of a wise and good man, that though he can choose contrary to the fitness of things, yet he does not, but suffers himself to be directed by fitness ;" and that, in this conduct, “he imitates the blessed God." And yet he supposes it is contrariwise with the blessed God: not that he suffers himself to be directed by fitness, when " he can choose, contrary to the fitness of things ;" but that “ he cannot choose contrary to the fitness of things," as he says, p. 42, “That it is not possible for God to act otherwise than according to this fitness, where there is any fitness or goodness in things.” Yea, he supposes (p. 31.) That if a man“ were perfectly wise and good, he could not do otherwise than be constantly and certainly determined by the fitness of things."
One thing more I would observe, before I conclude this section ; and that is, that if it derogate nothing from the glory of God, to be necessarily determined by superior fitness in some things, then neither does it to be thus determined in all things; from any thing in the nature of such Necessity, as at all detracting from God's freedom, independence, absolute supremacy, or any dignity or glory of his nature, state or manner of acting; or as implying any infirmity, restraint or subjection. And if the thing be such as well consists with God's glory, and has nothing tending at all to detract from it; then we need not be afraid of ascribing it to God in too many things, lest thereby we should detract from God's glory too much,