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therefore motives or purposes have in themselves & power to determine necessarily the mind to act, they must also in themselves possess the power of beginping or communicating motion; that is, they must be either minds or bodies. But a motive, such as the love of money, or a sense of duty, is neither a miod, por a body, and therefore cannot begin motion, nor consequently be of itself the immediate and necessary cause of action.
A motive may indeed raise within us a certain desire or aversion, it may itself be that desire or aversion when raised; but desire and a version are so far from being understood to be actions, that in all the languages we know they are called by a name corresponding to the English word passions, and signifying, not acting, but suffering, or being acted upon. We may indeed act according to the impulse of aversion or desire ; but still it is we that act; and it depends upon our will, upon our power of self-determination, whether we are to act according to that impulse, or not. A hungry man has a great desire to eat; but within his reach there may be victuals, which though he knows to be good, he may refrain from eating ; though at the same time he, is conscious it is in his power to eat, notwithstanding any motive, a regard to health for example, tbat may urge him to abstain. Every man has an aversion to pain and death ; but whether a soldier sball flee from both, or bravely in his country's cause set both at defiance, depends entirely upon himself as long at least as he retains the use of reason, and the power of managing his limbs; that is as long as he is an accountable being.
There are writers, who maintain, that the human frame is wholly corporeal and that there is no good reason for distinguishing between the soul and the body of man. This doctrine has been called materialism. If I could acquiesce in it, I should perhaps grant, that all human actions are necessary; because, being produced by one bodily part operating upon
another, they must as really be the effects of mechanism, as the motions of a clock. But if this be true; and if motives, that is, thoughts and abstract ideas, have the power of producing human action ;'those motives or ideas must have the power of putting that great machine, the human body, or part of it at least, in motion, and must therefore themselves be either bodies, which inconceivable and impossible, or spirit, wbich the materialist denies to be in human nature. Here is a difficulty, which it seems impossible to get over, without renouncing both materialism and necessity; that is, without admitting, that there is in man something which is not matter, and which has the power of beginning motion both in itself, and in the human body.
I do not here mean to enter minutely into the question concerning liberty and necessity : first, because I have explained myself at soine length on that subject in another place; secondly, because to give even a summary of all that has been written about it would take up too much time; and, thirdly, because in these moral inquiries I thiok it my duty to avoid controversy and unprofitable speculation, and confine myself to plain, practical, and useful truth. I therefore only add a few miscellaneous remarks. The first is, that the freedom of the buman will is a matter of fact and experience, whereof the human mind is conscious, and which the language and behaviour of maokind in all ages prove that they did, and do, and must acknowledge. In all cases of conduct, in which I consider myself as an accountable being, I feel that I have it in my power to do or not to do, to speak or be silent, to speak truth or falsehood, to do my duty or neglect it. And were I to speak and act as if such things did not seem to me to be in my power, the world would charge me with affectation or insanity.
Even those few speculative men, and they are but few, who in words deny the freedom of the will, do yet in the ordinary affairs of life speak and act like other people; making promises, giving advice, laying dowo rules and precepts, blaming certain actions as what ought not to have been done, and praising others as right and what ougbt to be done : the propriety of which conduct it is not easy to reconcile, in a satisfactory manner, to the terets of those who teach as the advocates for necessity do, that po past action of our lives could have been different from what it is, and that no future action can be contingent, or such as it is in our power to do or not to do. The condition of these theorists is similar to that of those who argue against the exisienee of matter. Both affirm what . contradicts the opinion and experience, not of the vulgar only, but of the most acute philosophers, and of mankind in general: both say, they believe that, which is inconsistent with what common sense taught them to believe, and with what they would still have believed, if they had kept to their natural sense of things, and not perplexed themselves with metapbysical arguments : and both assert to be true what they cannot reduce to jraelice, and what is not warranted by christianity or by the morality and politicks of any enlighlened nation.
With respect to the christian religion, as concerned in this matter; it may be observed, that one stren. nous fatalist urges the doctrine of necessity, as an argument, either in favor of atheism, or against the turpitude of vice; and that another zealous necessarian, who a vows his belief both in God and in Christ, seems to admit, that the testimony of the sacred writers is rather against necessity than for it. Judging, then, either from the affirmation of the one, or from the concession of the other, we must infer, that the cbristian religion and the doctrine of necessity are not friendly to each other; which is indeed what the asserters of liberty have generally maintained. If pecessity lead to atheism, or if it confound the distinction of vice and virtue, (and I not only agree with
Mr. Hume, that it does either the one or the other, but am satisfied that it does both,) it is surely subversive of all religion. And if the sacred writers seem to declare in favor of liberty, (which I agree with Dr. Priestley that they do); and if it is from them and from them only, that I learn what christianity is; I must either question their infallibility as teachers, or I must- with them declare in favor of liberty. But, though the belief of necesity would, if I were capable of it, be fatal to my religious and moral principles, I am far from thinking that it must have the same effect on every other person : different minds may no doubt conceive of it differently. Yet it is remarkable, that some of its most distinguished advocates, of whom I shall only mention Spinosa, Hobbes, Collins, Hume and Voitaire, were enemies to our faith; wbereas of the mod. era defenders of liberty I do not recollect one who was not a cbristian. The opinion of necessity, says bishop Butter. seems to be the very basis upon
which infidelity grounds itself.
We are permitted, and commanded, to pray, we consider it as a high privilege, and most reasonable service : we feel that it produces good effects on the mind; and our religion promises particular blessings to those who piously perform it. But if every change in our minds for the better or for the worse, if all the blessings we can receive, and if our praying, or not praying, are all things necessary, and the unalterable result of a long series of causes, that began to operate before we were born, and still continue to operate independently on us, why is prayer, or indeed any thing else, enjoined as a duty ? and how are we to blame for neglecting, or how can we be rewaden for doing, that which it is not possible for us either to do or to neglect ? In like manner, if no past action of our lives could have been different from what it is, way do we blame ourselves for any action of our past. lise ? we may as reasonably -blame ourselves for not having learned to fly, or for not coming into the world before
the present century. And yet, if we do not blame any part of our past conduct, we cannot repent of it; and if we do not repent, we cannot be saved. Here seems to be another strange and striking opposition between the doctrine of the New Testament, and that of the fatalist. In short, all the precepts of morality and religion, all purposes of reformation, and all those sentiments of regret, self-condemnation, and sorrow which accompany repeptance, proceed on a supposition, that certain actions are so far in our power, that we may either do them, or not do themk And most of the words we make use of in speaking of the morality of actions are, on the principles of those who deny free ageney, unintelligible. Sueh are the words, ought, ought not, moral, immoral, merit, demerit, reward, punishment, and many others.
By a very zealous asserter of necessity, some concessions have lately been made, which seem to convey notions of this doctrine, that are not much in its favour. He says that nothing can be plainer than the doctrine of necessity; that it is as certain as that two and two are four : and yet he admits, that nine tenths of the generality of mankind will always disbelieve it. What can this mean but that pine tenths of mankind are irrational; or that necessity is an incredible thing, potwithstanding its being as certain as that two and two are four; or that the teachers of this doctrine are unable to explain it ? Were it self-evident, I should grant, that argument could not make it plainer. But that cannot be self-evident, which nine tenths of mankind deny, and which many of the acutest pbilosophers that ever lived have to the satisfaction of thou sands proved to be absurd.
BR. Joseph Pike of Sutton, N. H. has been most peculiarly visited with affliction. Enjoying the so ciety of the most amiable of women, and children