Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

raised in us some desire: which then beginning to make a part of our present uneasiness, stands upon fair terms with the rest, to be satisfied"; and so, according to its greatness and pressure, comes in its turn, to determine the will.

$. 46. And thus, by a due consideration, Due conside, and examining any good proposed, it is in ration saises qur power to raise our desires in a due

pro

desire, portion to the value of that good, whereby in its turn and place it may come to work upon the will, and be pursued. For good, though appearing, and allowed ever so great, yet till it has raised desires in our minds, and thereby made us uneasy in its want, it reaches not. our wills; we are not within the sphere of its acti

; our wills being under the determination only of those uneasinesses which are present to us, which (whilst we have any) are always soliciting, and ready at hand to giye the will its next determination : the balancing, when there is any in the mind, being only wlich desire shall be next satisfied, which uneasiness first removed, Whereby comes to pass, that as long as any uneasi- , ness, any desire remains in our mind, there is no room for good, barely as such, to come at the will, or at all to determine it. Because, as has been said, the first step in our endeavours after happiness being to get wholly out of the confines of misery, and to feel no part of it, thc will can be at leisure for nothing else, till every uneasiness we feel be perfectly removed; which, in the multitude of wants and desires we are beset with in this imperfect state, we are not like to be ever freed from in this world.

§. 47. There being in us a great many The powerto. uneasinesses always soliciting, and ready to stispend the determine the will, it is natural, as I have prosecution said, that the greatest and most pressing makes way

of any desire should determine the will to the next ac- for conside tion; and so it does for the most part, but ration. not always. For the mind having in most cases, as is evident in experience, a power to suspend the execufion and satisfaction of any of its desires, and so all, one after another; is at liberty to consider the objects

of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of them, examine them on all sides, and weigh them with others. In this lies the liberty man has; and from the not using of it right comes all that variety of mistakes, errors, and faults which we run into in the conduct of our lives, and our endeavours after happiness; whilst we precipitate the determination of our wills, and engage too soon before due examination. To prevent this, we have a power to suspend the pro

secution of this or that desire, as every one daily may a experiment in himself. This seems to me the source

of all liberty; in this seems to consist that which is (as I think improperly) called free-will. For during this suspension of any desire, before the will be determined to action, and the action (which follows that determination) done, we have opportunity to examine, view, and judge of the good or evil of what we are going to do; and when, upon due examination, we bave judged, we have done our duty, all that we can or ongbe to do in pursuit of our happiness; and 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.

8. 48. This is so far from being a reTo be deter. mined by our straint or diminution of freedom, that it is own judg- the very improvement and benefit of it; it ment, is no is not an abridgment, it is the end and use restraint to

of our liberty; and the farther we are reliberty,

moved from such a determination, the nearer we are to misery and slavery. A perfect indifferency 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 pature, that it would be as great an imperfection, as the want of indifferency 10 act or not to aet till deterinined by the will, would be an imperfection on the other side. A man is at liberty to lift up bis hand to his head, or let it rest quiet; he is perfectly indifferent in either; and it would be an imperfection in him, if he wanted that power, if he were deprived of that indifferency. But it would. be as great an imperfection if he had the same indifen ency, whether he would prefer the lifting up his hand, or its remaining in rest, when it would save his head or eyes from a blow he sees coming: 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 is 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: the very end of our freedom being, that we may attain the good we choose. And therefore every man is put under a necessity by his constitution, as an intelligent being, to be determined in willing by his own thought and judge ment 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 yill, 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 time that he wills and

hand,

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; a contradiction too manifest to be admitted !

ģ. 49. If we look upon those superior beings above us

, who enjoy perfect happi- The freest as ness, we shall have reason to judge that they determined. 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 finite creatures as we are to pronounce vhat infinite wisdom and goodness could do, I think we might say, that God himself cannot choose what is not good; the freedom of the Almighty hinders not his being determined by what is best.

$. 50. But to give a right view of this A constant mistaken part of liberty, let me ask, determina“ Would any one be a changeling, be

suit of hapcause he is less determined by wise consi

piness no “ derations than a wise man? Is it worth abridgment " the name of frecdom to be at liberty to of liberty.

play

tion to a pur

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, which keeps us from choosing or doing the worse, be liberty, true liberty, madmen and fools are the only freemen: but yet, I think, nobody would choose to be mad for the sake of such liberty, but he that is mad already. The constant desire of happiness, and the constraint it puts upon us to act for it, no-body, I think, accounts an abridgment of liberty, or at least an abridgment of liberty to be complained of. God Almighty himself is under the necessity of being happy; and the more any intelligent being is so, the nearer is its approach to infinite perfection and happiness. That in this state of ignorance we short-sighted creatures might not mistake true felicity, we are endowed with a power to suspend any particular desire, and keep it from determining the will, and engaging us in action. This is standing still, where we are not sufficiently assured of the way: examination is consulting a guide. The determination of the will upon inquiry is following the direction of that guide: and he that has a power to act or not to act, according as such determination directs, is a free agent; such determination abridges not that power wherein liberty consists. He that has his chains' knocked off, and the prison-doors set open to him, is perfectly at liberty, because he may either go or stay, as he best likes; though his preference be determined to stay, by the darkness of the night, or illness of the weather, or want of other lodging. He ' ceases not to be free, though the desire of some convenience to be had there absolutely determines his pre-. ference, and makes him stay in his prison.

§. 51. As therefore the highest perfecThenecessity of pursuing

tion of intellectual nature lies in a careful true happi. and constant pursuit of true and solid hapness the

piness, so the care of ourselves, that we foundation of liberty.

mistake not imaginary for real happiness, is

the necessary foundation of our liberty. The stronger ties we have to an unalterable pursuit of happiness in general, which is our greatest good, and

wnich,

1

[ocr errors]

which, as such, our desires always follow, the more are
we free from any necessary determination of our will
to any particular action, and from a necessary compli-
ance with our desire, set upon any particular, and then
appearing preferable good, till we have duly examined,
whether it has a tendency to, or be inconsistent with
our real happiness: and therefore till we are as much in-
formed upon this inquiry, as the weight of the matter,
and the nature of the case demands; we are, by the
necessity of preferring and pursuing true happiness as
our greatest good, obliged to suspend the satisfaction of
our desires in particular cases.
5. 52. This is the hinge on which turns

The reason the liberty of intellectual beings, in their

of it, constant endeavours after and a steady prosecution of true felicity, that they can suspend this prosecution in particular cases, till they had looked before them, and informed themselves whether that particular thing, which is then proposed or desired, lie in the way to their main end, and make a real part of that which is their greatest good : for the inclination and tendency of their nature to happiness is an obligation and motive to thein, to take care not to mistake or miss it; and so necessarily puts them upon caution, deliberation, and wariness, in the direction of their particular actions, which are the means to obtain it. Whatever necessity determines to the pursuit of real bliss, the same necessity with the same force establishes suspense, deliberation, and scrutiny of each successive desire, whether the satisfaction of it does not interfere with our true happiness, and mislead us from it. This, as seems to me, is the great privilege of finite intellectual beings; and I desire it may be well considered, whether the great inlet and exercise of all the liberty men have, are capable of, or can be useful to. them, and that whereon depends the turn of their actions, does not lie in this, that they can suspend their desires, and stop them from determining their wills to any action, till they have duly and fairly examined the good and evil of it, as far forth as the weight of the thing requires. This we are able to do, and when he

bara

« PreviousContinue »