« PreviousContinue »
ness : That a necessary holiness is no holiness. So p. 180, where he observes, " That Adam must exist, he must be created, yea he must exercise thought and reflection, before he was righteous.” (See also p. 250, 251.) In p. 161, S. he says, 66 To
that God not only endowed Adam with a capacity of being righteous, but moreover that righteousness and true holiness were created with him, or wrought into his nature, at the same time he was made, is to affirm a contradiction, or what is inconsistent with the very nature of righteous
And in like manner Dr. TURNBULL in many places insists upon it, that it is necessary to the very being of virtue, that it be owing to our own choice and diligent culture.
With respect to this I would observe, that it consists in a notion of virtue quite inconsistent with the nature of things, and the common notions of mankind ; and also inconsistent with Dr. T.'s own notions of virtue. Therefore, if to affirm that to be virtue or holiness, which is not the fruit of preceding thought, reflection, and choice, is to affirm a contradiction, shall shew plainly, that for him to affirm otherwise, is a con. tradiction to himself.
In the first place, I think it a contradiction to the nature of things, as judged of by the common sense of mankind. It is agreeable to the sense of men, in all nations and ages, not only that the fruit or effect of a good choice is virtuous, but that the good choice itself from whence that effect proceeds, is so ; yea, also the antecedent good disposition, temper, or affection of mind, from whence proceeds that good choice, is virtuous. This is the general notion—not that principles derive their goodness from actions, but—that actions derive their goodness from the principles whence they proceed; so that the act of choosing what is good is no further virtuous, than it proceeds from a good principle, or virtuous disposition of mind. Which supposes that a virtuous disposition of mind may be before a virtuous act of choice ; and that, therefore, it is not necessary there should first be thought, reflection, and choice, before there can be any virtuous disposition. If the choice be first, before the existence of a good disposition of heart, what is the character of that choice? There can according to our natural notions, be no virtue in a choice which proceeds from no virtuous principle, but from mere self-love, ambition, or some animal appetites ; therefore, a virtuous temper of mind may be before a good act of choice, as a tree may be before the fruit, and the fountain before the stream which proceeds from it.
The following things, in Mr. Hutcheson's inquiry concerning moral good and evil, are evidently agreeable to the nature of things, and the voice of human sense and reason, (Sec II. p. 132, 133.) “Every action which we apprehend
as either morally good or evil, is always supposed to FLOW FROM some affections towards sensitive natures. And whatever we call virtue or vice, is either some such affection, or some action CONSEQUENT UPON IT.-All the actions counted religious in any country, are supposed by those who count them so, to FLOW FROM some affections towards the Deity : And whatever we call social virtue, we still suppose to flow from affections towards our fellow creatures.-Prudence, if it is only employed in promoting private interest, is never imagined to be a virtue." In these things Dr. TURNBULL expressly agrees with Mr. HUTCHEson, his admired author.
If a virtuous disposition or affection is before its acts, then they are before those virtuous acts of choice which proceed from it. Therefore there is no necessity that all virtuous dispositions or affections should be the effect of choice : And so, no such supposed necessity can be a good objection against such a disposition being natural, or from a kind of instinct, implanted in the mind in its creation. Agreeably to this Mr. HUTCHESON says, (Ibid. sect. III. p. 196, 197.) "1 know not for what reason some will not allow that to be virtue, which flows from instinct or passions. But how do they help themselves? They say, virtue arises from reason.
What is reason, but the sagacity we have in prosecuting any end ! The ultimate end proposed by common moralists, is the bappiness of the agent himself. And this certainly he is determined to pursue from instinct. Now may not another instinct towards the public, or the good of others, be as proper a principle of virtue as the instinct towards private happiness? If it be said, that actions from instinct are not the effect of prudence and choice, this objection will hold full as strongly against the actions which flow from self-love."
And if we consider what Dr. T. declares, as his own notion of the essence of virtue, and which he so confidently and often affirms, that it should follow choice, and proceed from it, we shall find it is no less repugnant to that sentiment, than it is to the nature of things and the general notions of mankind. For it is his notion, as well as Mr. HUTCHESON's, that the essence of virtue lies in good affection, and particularly in benevolence or love: As he very fully declares in these words in his Key,t “ That the word that signifies goodness and mercy should also signify moral rectitude in general, will not seem strange, if we consider that love is the fulfilling of the law. Goodness, according to the sense of scripture, and the nature of things, includes all moral rectitude; which, I reckon, may every part of it, where it is true and genuine, be resolved into
Mor. Phil. p. 112-115. p. 142. et alibi passim. † Marginal Note anpesem to 6358
this single principle.” If it be so indeed, then certainly no act whatsoever can have moral rectitude, but what proceeds from this principle. And consequently no act of volition or choice can have any moral rectitude, that takes place before this principle exists. And yet he most confidently affirms, that thought, reflection, and choice must go before virtue, and that all virtue or righteousness must be the fruit of preceding choice. This brings his scheme to an evident contradiction. For no act of choice can be virtuous but what proceeds from a principle of benevolence or love ; for he insists that all genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is resolved into this single principle. And yet the principle of benevolence itself, cannot be virtuous unless it proceeds from choice; for he aflirms, that nothing can have the nature of virtue but what comes from choice. So that virtuous love, as the principle of all virtue, must go before virtuous choice, and be the principle or spring of it; and yet virtuous choice must go before virtuous benevolence, and be the spring of that. If a virtuous act of choice goes before a principle of benevolence, and produces it, then this virtuous act is something distinct from that principle which follows it and is its effect. So that here is at least one part of virtue, yea the spring and source of all virtue, viz. a virtuous choice, that cannot be resolved into that single principle of love.
Here also it is worthy to be observed, that Dr. T. (p. 128.) says, the cause of every effect is alone chargeable with the effect it produceth or which proceedeth from it : And so he argues, that if the effect be bad, the cause alone is sinful. According to which reasoning, when the effect is good, the cause alone is righteous or virtuous. To the cause is to be ascribed all the praise of the good effect it produceth. And by the same reasoning it will follow, that if, as Dr. Taylor says, Adam must choose to be righteous before he was righteous, and if it be essential to the nature of righteousness or moral rectitude that it be the effect of choice, and hence a principle of benevolence cannot have moral rectitude, unless it proceeds from choice; then not to the principle of be nevolence, which is the effect, but to the foregoing choice alone is to be ascribed all the virtue or righteousness that is in the case. And so, instead of all moral rectitude in every part of it, being resolved into that single principle of benevolence, no moral rectitude, in any part of it, is to be resolved into that principle: But all is to be resolved into the foregoing choice, which is the cause.
But yet it follows from these inconsistent principles, that there is no moral rectitude or virtue in that first act of choice, that is the cause of all consequent virtue. This follows two ways; 1. Because every part of virtue lies in the benevolent principle, which is the effect; and therefore no part of it can lie
in the cause. 2. The choice of virtue, as to the first act at least, can have no virtue or righteousness at all, because it does not proceed from any foregoing choice. For Dr. T. insists, that a a man must first have reflection and choice, before he can have righteousness; and that it is essential to holiness that it proceed from choice. So that the first choice from which holiness proceeds can have no virtue at all, because, by the supposition, it does not proceed from choice, being the first choice. Hence, if it be essential to holiness that it proceeds from choice, it must proceed from an unholy choice; unless the first holy choice can be before itself.
And with respect to Adam, let us consider how, upon Dr. T.'s principles, it was possible he ever should have any such thing as righteousness, by any means at all. In the state wherein God created him, he could have no such thing as love to God, or any benevolence in his heart. For if so, there would have been original righteousness; there would have been genuine moral rectitude; nothing would have been wanting: For our author says, True genuine moral rectitude, in every part of it, is to be resolved into this single principle. But if he were wholly without any such thing as love to God or any virtuous love, how should he come by virtue? The answer doubtless will be, by act of choice : He must first choose to be virtuous. But what if he did choose to be virtuous ? It could not be from love to God, or any virtuous principle, that he chose it; for, by the supposition, he has no such principle in his heart. And if he chooses it without such a principle, still, according to this author, there is no virtue in his choice ; for all virtue, he says, is to be resolved into that single principle of love. Or will he say, there may be produced in the heart a virtuous benevolence by an act or acts of choice that are not virtuous ? But this does not consist with what he implicitly asserts, that to the cause alone is to be ascribed what is in the effect. So that there is no way that can possibly be devised, in consistence with Dr. To's scheme, in which Adam ever could have any righteousness, or could either obtain any principle of virtue, or perform any one virtuous act.
These confused inconsistent assertions concerning virtue and moral rectitude, arise from the absurd notions in vogue, concerning freedom of will, as if it consisted in the will's selfdetermining power, supposed to be necessary to moral agency, virtue and vice. The absurdities of which, with the grounds of these errors, and what the truth is respecting these matters, with its evidences, I have, according to my ability, fully and largely considered in my " Inquiry” on that subject; to which I must refer the reader who desires further satisfaction, and is willing to give himself the trouble of reading that discourse.*
* See the first part of this volume.
Having considered this great argument and pretended demonstration of Dr. T. against original righteousness; I proceed
1 to the proofs of the doctrine. And, in the first place, I wou:d consider, whether there be not evidence of it in the three first chapters of Genesis : Or whether the history there delivered does not lead us to suppose that our first parents were created in a state of moral rectitude and holiness.
I. This history leads us to suppose that Adam's sin with relation to the forbidden fruit was the first sin he committed. Which could not have been, had he not always, till then, been perfectly righteous, righteous from the first moment of his existence; and consequently, created or brought into existence righteous. In a moral agent, subject to moral obligations, it is the same thing to be perfectly innocent, as to be perfectly righteous It must be the same, because there can no more be any medium between sin and righteousness, or between being right and being wrong, in a moral sense, than there can be a medium between straight and crooked, in a natural sense.
Adam was brought into existence capable of acting immediately as moral agent; and therefore he was immediately under a rule of right action. He was obliged as soon as he existed to act aright. And if he was obliged to act aright as soon as he existed, he was obliged even then to be inclined to act right. Dr. T. says, (p. 166. S.) “ Adam could not sin without a sinful inclination:** and just for the same reason, he could not do aright without an inclination to right action. And as he was obliged to act rightly from the first moinent of his existence, and did so, till he sinned in reference to the forbidden fruit, he must have had a disposition of heart to do rightly the first moment of his existence; and that is the same as to be created or brought into existence with an inclination to right action, or, which is the same thing, a virtuous and holy disposition of heart.
Here it will be in vain to say, “ It is true, that it was Adam's duty to have a good disposition or inclination, as soon as it was possible to be obtained, in the nature of things; but as it could not be without time to establish such a habit, which requires antecedent thought, reflection, and repeated right action ; therefore all that Adam could be obliged to, in the first place, was to reflect, and consider things in a right manner, and apply himself to right action, in order to obtain a right disposition :" for this supposes, that even the reflection and consideration to which he was obliged, was right action. Surely he was obliged to it no otherwise than as a thing that was right : And therefore he must have an inclination to this right action imme
* This is doubtless true: For although there was no natural sinful inclination in Adam, yet an inclination to that sin of eating the forbidden fruit, was begotten in him by the delusion and error he was led into; and this inclination to eat the forbidden fruit, must precede his actual eating.