Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

free, but every act in the whole infinite chain a necessary effect. All the acts are rewardable or punishable, and yet the agent cannot, in reason, be the object of reward or punishment, on account of any one of these actions. He is active in them all, and passive in none; yet active in none, but pas

, sive in all, &c.

V. Mr. CHUBB most strenuously denies, that Motives are causes of the acts of the will; or that the moving principle in man is moved, or caused to be exerted by Motives. His words, (p. 388 and 389,) are, “ If the moving principle in man is MOVED, or CAUSED TO BE EXERTED, by something external to man, which all Motives are, then it would not be a self

moving principle, seeing it would be moved by a principle external to itself." And to say, that a self-moving principle is moved, or CAUSED TO BE EXERTED, by a cause external to itself, is absurd and a contradiction, &c."-And in the next page, it is par. ticularly and largely insisted, that Motives are causes in no case, that “they are merely passive in the production of action, and have no causality in the production of it,-no causality, to be the cause of the exertion of the will.

Now I desire it may be considered, how this can possibly consist with what he says in other places. Let it be noted here,

1. Mr. CHUBB abundantly speaks of Motives as excitements of the acts of the will; and says, that Motives do excite volition, and induce it, and that they are necessary to this end ; that in the reason and nature of things, volition cannot take place without motives to excite it. But now, if Motives excite the will, they move it; and yet he says it is absurd to say, the will is moved by Motives. And again, if language is of any significancy at all, if Motives excite volition, then they are the cause of its being excited : and to cause volition to be excited, is to cause it to be put forth or exerted. Yea, Mr. CHUBB says himself, (p. 317.) Motive is necessary to the exertion of the active faculty. To excite, is positively to do something ; and certainly that which does something, is the cause of the thing done by it. To create, is to cause to be created ; to make, is to cause to be made ; to kill, is to cause to be killed ; to quicken, is to cause to be quickened ; and to excite, is to cause to be excited. To excite, is to be a cause in the most proper sense, not merely a negative occasion, but a ground of existence by positive influence. The notion of exciting, is exerting influence to cause the effect to arise or come forth into existence.

2. Mr. Chubb himself, (p. 317.) speaks of Motives as the ground and reason of action BY INFLUENCE, and BY PREVAILING INFLUENCE. Now, what can be meant by a cause, but some. thing that is the ground and reason of a thing by its mfluence, an influence that is prevalent and effectual ?

3. This author not only speaks of Motives as the ground and reason of action, by prevailing influence ; but expressly of their influence as prevailing FOR THE PRODUCTION of an action, (p. 317.) which makes the inconsistency still more palpab.e and notorious. The production of an effect is certainly the causing of an effect; and productive influence is causal influence, if any thing is ; and that which has this influence prevalently, so as thereby to become the ground of another thing, is a cause of that thing, if there be any such thing as a cause. This influence, Mr. CHUBB says, Motives have to produce an action ; and yet he says, it is absurd and a contradiction, to say they are causes.

4. In the same page, he once and again speaks of Motives as disposing the Agent to action by their influence. His words are these : “ As Motive, which takes place in the understanding, and is the product of intelligence, is NECESSARY to action, that is, to the EXERTION of the active faculty, because that fa. culty would not be exerted without some PREVIOUS REASON to DISPOSE the mind to action ; so from hence it plainly appears, that when a man is said to be disposed to one action rather than another, this properly signifies the PREVAILING INFLUENCE that one Motive has upon a man FOR THE PRODUCTION of an action, or for the being at rest, before all other Motives, for the production of the contrary. For as Motive is the ground and reason of any action, so the Motive that prevails, disposes the agent to the performance of that action.

Now, if Motives dispose the mind to action, then they cause the mind to be disposed ; and to cause the mind to be disposed is to cause it to be willing ; and to cause it to be willing is to cause it to will ; and that is the same thing as to be the cause of an act of the will. And yet this same Mr. CHube holds it to be absurd, to suppose Motive to be a cause of the act of the will.

And if we compare these things together, we have here again a whole heap of inconsistences. Motives are the previous ground and reason of the acts of the will; yea, the necessary ground and reason of their exertion, without which they will not be exerted, and cannot, in the nature of things, take

; and they do excite these acts of the will, and do this by a prevailing influence ; yea, an influence which prevails for the production of the act of the will, and for the disposing of the mind to it: and yet it is absurd to suppose Motive to be a cause of an act of the will, or that a principle of will is moved or caused to be exerted by it, or that it has any causality in the production of it, or any causality to be the cause of the exertion of the will.

13

place

[ocr errors]

VOL. II.

A due consideration of these things which Mr. CHubb has advanced, the strange inconsistences which his notion of Liberty-consisting in the will's power of self-determination void of all necessity, united with that dictate of common sense, that there can be no volition without a motive-drove him into, may be sufficient to convince us, that it is utterly impossible ever to make that notion of Liberty consistent with the influence of Motives in volition. And as it is in a manner self-evident, that there can be no act of will, or preference of the mind, without some motive or inducement, something in the mind's view which it aims at, and goes after; so it is most manifest, that there is no such Liberty in the universe as Arminians insist on; nor any such thing possible, or conceivable.

SECT. XI.

The Evidence of God's certain Foreknowledge of the Volitions

of moral Agents.

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.

In handling this argument, I would in the first place prove, that God has a certain Foreknowledge of the voluntary acts of moral Agents; and secondly, shew the consequence, or how it follows from hence, that the Volitions of moral Agents are not contingent, so as to be without necessity of connection and consequence.

First, I am to prove that God has an absolute and certain Foreknowledge of the free actions of moral Agents.

One would think it wholly needless to enter on such an argument with any that profess themselves Christians : but so it is: God's certain Foreknowledge of the free acts of moral Agents is denied by some that pretend to believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God: and especially of late. I therefore shall consider the evidence of such a prescience in the Most High, as fully as the designed limits of this essay will admit; supposing myself herein to have to do with such as own the truth of the Bible.

Arg. I. My first argument shall be taken from God's prediction of such events. Here I would, in the first place, lay down these two things as axioms.

1. If God does not foreknow, He cannot foretell such cvents; that is, He cannot peremptorily and certainly foretell them. If God has no more than an uncertain guess concerning events of this kind, then He can declare no more than an uncertain guess. Positively to foretell, is to profess to foreknow, or declare positive Foreknowledge.

2. If God does not certainly foreknow the future Volitions of moral Agents, then neither can He certainly foreknow those events which are dependent on these Volitions. The existence of the one depending on the existence of the other, the knowledge of the existence of the one depends on the knowledge of the existence of the other; and the one cannot be more certain than the other.

Therefore, how many, how great, and how extensive soever the consequences of the Volitions of moral Agents may be; though they should extend to an alteration of the state of things through the universe, and should be continued in a series of successive events to all eternity, and should in the progress of things branch forth into an infinite number of series, each of them going on in an endless chain of events; God must be az ignorant of all these consequences, as He is of the Volition whence they first take their rise : and the whole state of things depending on them, how important, extensive and vast soever, must be hid from him.

These positions being such as, I suppose, none will deny, I now proceed to observe the following things.

1. Men's moral conduct and qualities, their virtues and vices, their wickedness and good practice, things rewardable and punishable, have often been foretold by God.--Pharaoh's moral conduct, in refusing to obey God's command, in letting his people go, was foretold. God says to Moses, Exod. ii. 19. “I am sure that the King of Egypt will not let you go.” Here God professes not only to guess at, but to know Pharaoh's future disobedience. In chap. vii. 4, God says, “but Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you ; that I may lay mine hand upon Egypt, &c.". And chap. ix. 30. Moses says to Pharaoh, as for thee, and thy servants, I know that

ye

will not fear the Lord.” See also chap. xi. 9.—The moral conduct of Josiah, by name, in his zealously exerting himself to oppose idolatry in particular acts, was foretold above three hundred years before he was born, and the prophecy sealed by a miracle, and renewed and confirmed by the words of a second prophet, as what surely would not fail, (1 Kings xiii. 146, 32.) This prophecy was also in effect a prediction of the moral conduct of the people, in upholding their schismatical and idolatrous worship until that time, and the idolatry of those priests of the high places, which it is foretold Josiah should offer upon that altar of Bethel. Micaiah foretold the foolish and sinful conduct of Ahab, in refusing to hearken to the word of the Lord by him, and choosing rather to hearken to the false prophets, in going to Ramoth-Gilead to his ruin

66

[ocr errors]

6

(1 Kings xxi. 20,--22.) The moral conduct of Hazael was foretold in that cruelty he should be guilty of; on which Hazael says, “What, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing !" The prophet speaks of the event as what he knew, and not what he conjectured, 2 Kings vi. 12. “I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: Thou wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child." The moral conduct of Cyrus is foretold long before he had a be. ing, in his mercy to God's people, and regard to the true God, in turning the captivity of the Jews, and promoting the building of the temple, (Isai. xliv. 28. and lxv. 13. compare 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22, 23. and Ezra i. 1,-4.) How many instances of the moral conduct of the Kings of the North and South, particular instances of the wicked behaviour of the Kings of Syria and Egypt, are foretold in the eleventh chapter of Daniel ? Their corruption, violence, robbery, treachery and lies. And par. ticularly, how much is foretold of the horrid wickedness of Antiochus Epiphanes, called there “ a vile person," instead of Epiphanes, or illustrious. In that chapter, and also in chap. viii. ver. 9, 14, 23, to the end, are foretold his flattery, deceit and lies, his having " his heart set to do mischief," and set

, * against the holy covenant," his “destroying and treading under foot the holy people,” in a marvellous manner, his “having indignation against the holy covenant, setting his heart against it, and conspiring against it,” his "polluting the sanctuary of strength, treading it under foot, taking away the daily sacrifice, and placing the abomination that maketh desolate;" his great pride, “ magnifying himself against God, and uttering marvellous blasphemies against Him," until God in indignation should destroy him. Withal, the moral conduct of the Jews, on occasion of his persecution, is predicted. It is foretold, that " he should corrupt many by flatteries,(chap. xi. 32,-34.) But that others should behave with a glorious constancy and fortitude, in opposition to him, (ver. 32.) And that some good men should fall and repent, (ver. 35.) Christ foretold Peter's sin, in denying bis Lord, with its circumstances, in a peremptory manner. And so, that great sin of Judas, in betraying his master, and its dreadful and eternal punishment in hell, was foretold in the like positive manner, Matt. xxvi. 21-25, and parallel places in the other Evangelists.

2. Many events have been foretold by God, which are dependent on the moral conduct of particular persons, and were accomplished either by their virtuous or vicious actions. Thus, the children of Israel's going down into Egypt to dwell there, was foretold to Abraham, (Gen. xv.) which was brought about by the wickedness of Joseph's brethren in selling him, and the wickedness of Joseph's mistress, and his own signal virtue in resisting her temptation. The accomplishment of

« PreviousContinue »