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they see any thing done by others of a good or evil tendency, to inquire what their intention was; what principles and views they were moved by, in order to judge how far they are to be justified or condemned: and not to determine, that, in order to their being approved or blamed at all, the action must be performed altogether fortuitously, proceeding from nothing, arising from no cause. Concerning this matter, I have fully expressed my mind in the Inquiry.

If the liberty of which we have a natural sense as necessary to desert, consists in the mind's self-determination, without being determined by previous inclination or motive, then indifference is essential to it, yea absolute indifference; as is observed in my Inquiry. But men naturally have no notion of any such liberty as this, as essential to the morality or demerit of their actions; but, on the contrary, such a liberty, if it were possible, would be inconsistent with our natural notions of desert, as is largely shown in the Inquiry.* If it be agreeable to natural sense that men must be indifferent in determining their own actions; then, according to the same, the more they are determined by inclination, either good or bad, the less they have of desert: the more good actions are performed from good disposition, the less praise. worthy; and the more evil deeds are from evil dispositions, the less culpable ; and, in general the more men's actions are from their hearts, the less they are to be commended or condemned: which all must know is very contrary to natural sense.

Moral necessity is owing to the power and government of the inclination of the heart, either habitual or occasional, excited by motive: but according to natural and common sense, the more a man does anything with full inclination of heart, the more is to be charged to his account for his condemnation if it be an ill action, and the more to be ascribed to him for his praise if it be good.

If the mind were determined to evil actions by contingence, from a state of indifference, then either there would be no fault in them, or else the fault would be in being so perfectly indifferent, that the"mind was equally liable to be a bad or good determination. And if this indifference be liberty, then the very essence of the blame or fault would lie in the liberty itself, or the wickedness would, primarily and summarily, lie in being a free agent. If there were no fault in being indifferent, then there could be no fault in the determination being agreeable to such a state of indifference: that is, there could be no fault found, that opposite determinations actually happen to take place indifferently, sometimes good and sometimes bad, as contingence governs and decides. And if it be a fault to be indifferent to good and evil, then such indif. ference is no indifference to good and evil, but is a determina

* Especially in Part III. Sect. 6 and 7.

a tion to evil, or to a fault; and such an indifferent disposition would be an evil disposition, tendency, or determination of mind. So inconsistent are these notions of liberty, as essential to praise or blame.

The author of the Essays supposes men's natural delusive sense of a liberty of contingence to be, in truth, the foundation of all the labour, care and industry of mankind ;* and that if men's “practical ideas had been formed on the plan of universal necessity, the ignava ratio, the inactive doctrine of the Stoics, would have followed, and that there would have been no Room for forethought about futurity, or any sort of industry and care :f" plainly implying, that in this case, men would see and know that all their industry and care signified nothing, was in vain, and to no purpose, or of no benefit ; events being fixed in an irrefragable chain, and not at all DEPENDING on their care and endeavour; as he explains himself particularly, in the instance of men's use of means to prolong life : not only very contrary to what I largely maintain in my Enquiry, but also very inconsistently with his own scheme, in

s what he supposes of the ends for which God has so deeply implanted this deceitful feeling in man's nature; in which he manifestly supposes men's care and industry not to be in vain and of no benefit, but of great use, yea of absolute necessity, in order to their obtaining the most important ends and necessary purposes of human life, and to fulfil the ends of action to the BEST ADVANTAGE ; as he largely declares.|! Now, how shall these things be reconciled? That if men had a clear view of real truth, they would see that there was no room for their care and industry, because they would see it to be in vain and of no benefit; and yet that God, by having a clear view of real truth, sees their being excited to care and industry will be of excellent use to mankind and greatly for the benefit of the world, yea absolutely necessary in order to it: and that therefore the great visdom and goodness of God to men appears, in artfully contriving to put them on care and industry for their good, which good could not be obtained without them; and yet both these things are maintained at once, and in the same sentences and words by this author. The very reason he gives, why God has put this deceitful feeling into men, contradicts and destroys itself; that God in his great goodness to men gave them such a deceitful feeling, because it was very useful and necessary for them, and greatly for their benefit, or excites them to care and

|| P. 188

* P. 184. P. 189. 1 P. 184, 185. § Especially Part IV. Sect. 5. -192. and in many other places, VOL.II.



industry for their own good, which care and industry is useful and necessary to that end ; and yet the very thing for which, as a

; reason, this great benefit of care and industry is given, is God's deceiving men in this very point in making them think their care and industry to be of great benefit to them, when indeed it is of none at all; and if they saw the real truth, they would see all their endeavours to be wholly useless, that there was no ROOM for them, and that the event does not at all DEPEND upon them.*

And besides, what this author says plainly imples (as appears by what has been already observed,) that it is necessary men should be deceived, by being made to believe that future events are contingent, and their own future actions free, with such a freedom as signifies that their actions are not the fruit of their own desires or designs, but altogether contin. gent, fortuitous, and without a cause. But how should a notion of liberty consisting in accident or loose chance, encourage care and industry? I should think it would rather entirely discourage every thing of this nature. For surely if our actions do not depend on our desires and designs, then they do not depend on our endeavours flowing from our desires and designs. This Author himself seems to suppose, that if men had, indeed, such a liberty of contingence, it would render all endeavours to determine or move men's future volitions in vain : he says that in this case, to exhort, to instruct, to promise, or to threaten, would be to no purpose. Why? Because (as he himself gives the reason)," then our will would be capricious and arbitrary, and we should be thrown loose altogether, and our arbitrary power could do us good or ill only by accident.” But if such a loose fortuitous state would render vain others' endeavours upon us, for the same reason would it make useless our endeavours on ourselves : for events that are truly contingent and accidental, and altogether loose from, and independent of, all foregoing causes, are independent on every foregoing cause within ourselves, as well as in others.

I suppose that it is so far from being true, that our minds are naturally possessed with a notion of such liberty as this so strongly that it is impossible to root it out, that indeed men have no such notion of liberty at all, and that it is utterly impossible, by any means whatsoever to implant or introduce such a notion into the mind. As no such notions as imply selfcontradiction and self-abolition can subsist in the mind, as I have shewn in my Inquiry ; I think a mature sensible consideration of the matter is sufficient to satisfy any one, that even the greatest and most learned advocates themselves for liberty of indifference and self-determination have no such notion ; and that indeed they mean something wholly inconsistent with

* P, 188, 189, &c.

† P. 178, 213, 214.

and directly subversive of, what they strenuously affirm and earnestly contend for. By a man having a power of determining his own will, they plainly mean a power of determining his will as he pleases, or as he chooses; which supposes that the mind has a choice, prior to its going about to confirm any action or determination to it. And if they mean that they determine even the original or prime choice by their own pleasure or choice, as the thing that causes and directs it ; I scruple not most boldly to affirm, that they speak they know not what, and that of which they have no manner of idea ; because no such contradictory notion can come into, or have a moment's subsistence in the mind of any man living, as an original or first choice being caused or brought into being, by choice. After all, they say, they have no higher or other conception of liberty, than that vulgar notion of it, which I contend for, viz. a man's having power or opportunity to do as he chooses : or if they had a notion that every act of choice was determined by choice, yet it would destroy their notion of the contingence of choice ; for then no one act of choice would arise contingently, or from a state of indifference, but every individual act, in all the series, would arise from foregoing bias or preference, and from a cause predetermining and fixing its existence, which introduces at once such a chain of causes and effects, each preceding link decisively fixing the following, as they would by all means avoid.

And such kind of delusion and self-contradiction as this, does not arise in men's minds by nature : it is not owing to any natural feeling which God has strongly fixed in the mind and nature of man ; but to false philosophy, and strong prejudice, from a deceitful abuse of words, It is artificial ; not in the sense of the Author of the Essays, supposing it to be a deceit

a ful artifice of God; but artificial as opposed to natural, and as owing to an artificial deceitful management of terms, to darken and confound the mind. Men have no such thing when they first begin to exercise reason; but must have a great deal of time to blind themselves with metaphysical confusion, before they can embrace and rest in such definitions of liberty as are given, and imagine they understand them.

On the whole I humbly conceive, that whosoever will give himself the trouble of weighing what I have offered to consideration in my Inquiry, must be sensible that such a moral necessity of men's actions as I maintain, is not at all inconsistent with any liberty that any creature has, or can have, as a free, accountable, moral agent, and subject of moral government; and that this moral necessity is so far from being inconsistent with praise and blame and the benefit and use of men's own care and labour, that, on the contrary, it implies the very ground and reason why men's



actions are to be ascribed to them as their own, in such a manner as to infer desert, praise, and blame, approbation and remorse of conscience, reward and punishment; and that it establishes the moral system of the universe and God's moral government in every respect, with the proper use of motives, exhortations, commands, counsels, promises, and threatenings; and the use and benefit of endeavours, care and industry. There is therefore no need that the strict philosophic truth should be at all concealed ; nor is there any danger in contemplation and profound discovery in these things. So far from this, that the truth in this matter is of vast importance, and extremely needful to be known; and the more clearly and perfectly the real fact is known, and the more constantly it is in view, the better. More particularly, that the clear and full knowledge of that which is the true system of the universe in these respects, would greatly establish the doctrines which teach the true Christian scheme of Divine administration in the city of God, and the gospel of Jesus Christ in its most important articles. Indeed these things never can be well established, and the opposite errors—so subversive of the whole gospel, which at this day so greatly and generally prevail-be well confuted, or the arguments by which they are maintained answered, till these points are setiled. While this is not done, it is to me beyond doubt, that the friends of those great gospel truths will but poorly maintain their controversy with the adversaries of those truths; they will be obliged often to shuffle, bide, and turn their backs; and the latter will have a strong fort from whence they never can be driven; and weapons to use from which those whom they oppose will find no shield to screen themselves : and they will always puzzle, confound, and keep under the friends of sound doctrine, and glory and vaunt themselves in their advantage over them; and carry their affairs with a high hand, as they have done already for a long time past.

I conclude, Sir, with asking your pardon for troubling you with so much in vindication of myself from the imputation of advancing a scheme of necessity, like that of the author of the Essays on the principles of Morality and Natural Religion. Considering that what I have said is not only in vindication of myself, but as I think, one of the most important articles of moral philosophy and religion; I trust in what I know of your çandour that you will excuse Your obliged friend and brother,

J. EDWARDS. STOCKBRIDGE, Jury 25th, 1757.

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