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ference, but in each of them is influenced by a preponderating inducement. So it is in the first step, the mind's general determination to touch one of the sixty-four spots: the mind is not absolutely indifferent whether it does so or no; it is induced to it, for the sake of making some experiment, or by the desire of a friend, or some other motive that prevails. So it is in the second step, the mind determining to give itself up to accident, by touching that which shall be most in the eye, or the idea of which shall be most prevalent in the mind, &c. The mind is not absolutely indifferent whether it proceeds by this rule or no; but chooses it, because it appears at that time a convenient and requisite expedient in order to fulfil the general purpose. And so it is in the third and last step, which is determining to touch that individual spot which actually does prevail in the mind's view. The mind is not indifferent concerning this ; but is influenced by a prevailing inducement and reason; which is, that this is a prosecution of the preceding determination, which appeared requisite, and was fixed before in the second step.
Accident will ever serve a man, without hindering a moment in such a case. Among a number of objects in view, one will prevail in the eye, or in idea beyond others. When we have our eyes open in the clear sun-shine, many objects strike the eye at once, and innumerable images may be at once painted in it by the rays of light; but the attention of the mind is not equal to several of them at once; or if it be, it does not continue so for
time. And so it is with respect to the ideas of the mind in general : several ideas are not in equal strength in the mind's view and notice at once; or at least, do not remain so for any sensible continuance. There is nothing in the world more constantly varying, than the ideas of the mind ; they do not remain precisely in the same state for the least perceivable space of time; as is evident by this :- That all time is perceived by the mind, only by the successive changes of its own ideas. Therefore while the perceptions of the mind remain precisely in the same state, there is no perceivable length of time, because no sensible succession at all.
As the acts of the Will, in each step of the forementioned precedure, do not come to pass without a particular cause, but every act is owing to a prevailing inducement; so the accident, as I have called it, or that which happens in the unsearchable course of things, to which the mind yields itself, and by which it is guided, is not any thing that comes to pass without a cause. The mind in determining to be guided by it, is not determined by something that has no cause; any more than if it be determined to be guided by a lot, or the casting of a die. For though the die falling in such a manner be accidental to him that casts it, yet none will suppose that there is no cause why it falls as it does. The involuntary changes in the succession of our ideas, though the cause may not be observed, have as much a cause, as the changeable motions of the motes that float in the air, or the continual, infinitely various, successive changes of the unevennesses on the surface of the water.
There are two things especially, which are probably the occasions of confusion in the minds of them who insist upon it, that the will acts in a proper indifference, and without being moved by any inducement, in its determinations in such cases as have been mentioned.*
1. They seem to mistake the point in question, or at least not to keep it distinctly in view. The question they dispute about, is, Whether the mind be indifferent about the objects presented, one of which is to be taken, touched, pointed to, &c. as two eggs, two cakes, which appear equally good. Whereas the question to be considered, is, Whether the person be indifferent with respect to his own actions ; whether he does not, on some consideration or other, prefer one act with respect to these objects before another. The mind in its determination and choice, in these cases, is not most immediately and directly conversant about the objects presented; but the acts to be done concerning these objects. The objects may appear equal, and the mind may never properly make any choice between them; but the next act of the Will being about the external actions to be performed, taking, touching, &c. these may not appear equal, and one action may properly be chosen before another. In each step of the mind's progress, the determination is not about the objects, unless indirectly and improperly, but about the actions, which it chooses for other reasons than any preference of the objects, and for reasons not taken at all from the objects.
There is no necessity of supposing, that the mind does ever at all properly choose one of the objects before another ; either before it has taken, or afterwards. Indeed the man chooses to take or touch one rather than another ; but not because it chooses the thing taken, or touched ; but from foreign considerations. The case may be so, that of two things offered, a man may, for certain reasons, prefer taking that which he undervalues, and choose to neglect that which his mind prefers. In such a case, choosing the thing taken, and choosing to, take, are diverse: and so they are in a case where the things presented are equal in the mind's esteein, and neither of them preferred. All that fact and experience makes evident, is, that the mind chooses one action rather than another. And therefore the arguments which they bring, in order to be to their purpose, should be to prove that the mind chooses the action in perfect indifference, with respect to that action ; and not to prove that the mind chooses the action in perfect indif ference with respect to the object ; which is very possible, and yet the will not act at all without prevalent inducement, and proper preponderation.
* The reader is particularly requested to give due attention to these two remarks, especially the former, as being of the utmost importance in the controversy. If he be pleased to examine, with this view, the most popular advocates for the liberty of indifference, he will find them continually confounding the objects of choice, and the acts of choice. When they have shewn, with much plausibility, that there is no perceivable difference, or ground of choice, in the objects, they hastily infer the same indifference as applicable to the acts of choice. "W.
2. Another reason of confusion and difficulty in this matter, seems to be, not distinguishing between a general indifference, or an indifference with respect to what is to be done in a more distant and general view of it, and a particular indifference, or an indifference with respect to the next immediate act, viewed with its particular and present circumstances. A man may be perfectly indifferent with respect to his own actions, in the former respect; and yet not in the latter. Thus in the foregoing instance of touching one of the squares of a chess-board; when it is first proposed that I should touch one of them, I may be perfectly indifferent which I touch ; because as yet I view the matter remotely and generally, being but in the first step of the mind's progress in the affair. But yet, when I am actually come to the last step, and the very next thing to be determined is which is to be touched, having already determined that I will touch that which happens to be most in my eye or mind, and my mind being now fixed on a particular one, the act of touching that, considered thus immediately, and in these particular present circumstances, is not what my mind is absolutely indifferent about,
Concerning the notion of Liberty of Will, consisting in Indif
What has been said in the foregoing section, has a tendency in some measure to evince the absurdity of the opinion of such as place Liberty in Indifference, or in that equilibrium whereby the Will is without all antecedent bias ; that the determination of the Will to either side may be entirely from itself, and that it may be owing only to its own power, and
the sovereignty which it has over itself, that it goes this way rather than that.*
But in as much as this has been of such long standing, and has been so generally received, and so much insisted on by Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians, Jesuits, Socinians, Arminians, and others, it may deserve a more full consideration. And therefore I shall now proceed to a more particular and thorough enquiry into this notion.
Now lest some should suppose that I do not understand those that place Liberty in Indifference, or should charge me with misrepresenting their opinion, I would signify, that I am sensible, there are some, who, when they talk of Liberty of the Will as consisting in Indifference, express themselves as though they would not be understood to mean the Indifference of the inclination or tendency of the will, but an Indifference of the soul's power of willing; or that the Will, with respect to its power or ability to choose, is indifferent, can go either way indifferently, either to the right hand or left, either act or forbear to act, one as well as the other. This indeed seems to be a refining of some particular writers only, and newly invented, which will by no means consist with the manner of expression used by the defenders of Liberty of Indifference in general. I wish such refiners would thoroughly consider, whether they distinctly know their own meaning, when they make a distinction between an Indifference of the soul as to its power or ability of choosing, and the soul's Indifference as to the preference or choice itself; and whether they do not deceive themselves in imagining that they have any distinct meaning at all. The indifference of the soul as to its ability or power to will, must be the same thing as the Indifference of the state of the power or faculty of the Will, or the Indifference of the state which the soul itself, which has that power or faculty, hitherto remains in,
Dr. WHITBY, and some other Arminians, make a distinction of different kinds of freedom; one of God, and perfect spirits above; another of persons in a state of trial. The former Dr. Whitby allows to consist with necessity; the latter he holds to be without necessity: and this latter he supposes to be requisite to our being the subject of praise or dispraise, rewards or punishments, precepts and prohibitions, promises and threats, exhortations and dehortations, and a covenant-treaty. And to this freedom he supposes Indifference to be requisite. In his Discourse on the five points, (p. 299, 300) he says; “ It is a freedom (speaking of a freedom not only from co-action, but from necessity) requisite, as we conceive, to render us capable of trial or probation, and to render our actions worthy of praise or dispraise, and our persons of rewards or punishments.” And in the next page, speaking of the same matter, he says, “Excellent to this purpose, are the words of Mr. THORNDAKE: We say not, that Indifference is requisite to all freedom, gut to the freedom of man alone in this state of travail and proficience; the ground of which is God's tender of a treaty, and conditions of peace and reconcilement to fallen man, together with those precepts and prohibitions, those promises and threats, those ens hortations and dehortations, it is en foreed with.”
as to the exercise of that power, in the choice it shall by and by make.
But not to insist any longer on the inexplicable abstruseness of this distinction ; let what will be supposed concerning the meaning of them that use it, thus much must at least be intended by Arminians when they talk of Indifference as essential to Liberty of Will, if they intend any thing, in any respect to their purpose, viz. That it is such an Indifference as leaves the Will not determined already ; but free from actual possession, and vacunt of predetermination, so far, that there may be room for the exercise of the self-determining power of the Will; and that the Will's freedom consists in, or depends upon this vacancy and opportunity that is left for the Will itself to be the determiner of the act that is to be the free act.
And bere I would observe in the first place, that to make out this scheme of Liberty, the Indifference must be perfect and absolute; there must be a perfect freedom from all antecedent preponderation or inclin tion. Because if the Will be already inclined, before it exerts its own sovereign power on itself, then its inclination is not wholly owing to itself: if when two opposites are proposed to the soul for its choice, the proposal does not find the soul wholly in a state of Indifference, then it is not found in a state of Liberty for mere selfdetermination.— The least degree of an antecedent bias must be inconsistent with their notion of Liberty. For so long as prior inclination possesses the will, and is not removed, the former binds the latter, so that it is utterly impossible that the Will should act otherwise than agreeably to it. Surely the Will cannot act or choose contrary to a remaining prevailing inclination of the Will. To suppose otherwise, would be the same thing as to suppose that the Will is inclined contrary to its present prevailing inclination, or contrary to what it is inclined to. That which the Will prefers, to that, all things considered, it preponderates and inclines. It is equally impossible for the Will to choose contrary to its own remaining and present preponderating inclination, as it is to prefer contrary to its own present preference, or choose contrary to its own present choice. The Will, therefore, so long as it is under the influence of an old preponderating inclination, is not at Liberty for a new free act; or any, that shall now be an act of self-determination. That which is a self-determined free act, must be one which the will determines in the possession and use of a peculiar sort of Liberty ; such as consists in a freedom from every thing, which, if it were there, would make it impossible that the Will, at that time, should be otherwise than that way to which it tends.*
* There is a little intricacy in this mode of expression. It may be thus illus. ated. Suppose it were asserted, “That it is impossible for the will to be other