« PredošláPokračovať »
to the plane of inclination rather than by the ieveling up of inclination to the will. He quotes Locke with approval thus : • The will signities nothing but a power or ability to prefer or choose. ... The word preference seems best to express the act of volition.” When Locke, in qualification of this, says, “ The will is perfectly distinguished from desire,” Edwards replies :
I cannot think they are ever so perfectly distinct that they can ever be properly said to run counter. A man never in any instance wills any thing contrary to his desires, or desires any thing contrary to his will. ... If we carefully distinguish the proper objects of the several acts of the will, it will not appear
.. that there is any difference between volition and preference, or that a man's choosing, liking best, or being best pleased with a thing are not the same with his willing that thing. A man's doing as he wills and doing as he pleases are the same thing in cominon speech.—Page 2.
An appearing most agreeable or pleasing to the mind, and the mind's preferring and choosing, seem hardly to be properly and perfectly distinct.-Page 5.
THE NECESSITY WHICH HE AVOWED.
1. Edwards was a theistic Necessitarian, and his philosophy was his apology for his theology. He avowed the doctrine of necessity as a foundation principle, affirming that “the doc. trine of necessity, which supposes a necessary connection of all events on soine antecedent ground and reason of their existence, is the only medium we have to prove the being of a God.” - Page 169.
2. But it was under moral as distinguished from natural necessity that he placed the responsible characters of men—the necessity that belongs to the will--the certainty that one's will, or choice, or preference, will always be determined by the motives that appeal to him. In like manner he distinguished moral ability from natural ability, claiming that while men may have natural ability-hands, feet, voice, mental capacity, opportunity-to do otherwise, if they had the will to do so, yet that all they do and all they will is made certain by providential motives.
There are faculties of mind and capacity of nature, and every thing else sufficient but a disposition : nothing is wanting but a will.–Page 17.
It may be truly said in one word that moral inability consists in the opposition or want of inclination. For when a person is unable to will or choose such a thing throngh a defect of motives, or the prevalence of contrary motives, it is the same thing as his being unable through the want of an inclination, or the prevalence of a contrary inclination.- Page 15.
To him it was obvious that there is and can be no such thing as freedom of will, or choice, or volition, but that motives always govern the will and are the cause of volitions.
The will is always determined by the strongest motives. That motive which, as it stands in the view of the mind is the strongest, that determines the will.- Page 4.
Any other view, it was certain to him, involves the absurdity of an effect without a cause.
3. He admitted that “moral necessity may be as absolute as natural necessity; that is, the effect may be as perfectly connected with its moral cause as a natural necessary effect is with its natural cause;" and he affirmed that between the two kinds of necessity the “difference is not so much in the nature of the connection as in the two terms connected ” (page 14), and that " the will in every instance acts by moral necessity, and is morally unable to act otherwise.”—Page 102.
4. He believed the moral necessity under which the decree of God had placed all men to be itself a moral necessity; that from the perfection of his wisdom and goodness the will of the supreme Being must ever be his unavoidable preference for the one best way to the attainment of the greatest good. lle had appointed evil, moral and physical, never for its own sake, but only as he saw it to be a necessity to this worthy end.
5. He maintained that moral necessity is not inconsistent with praiseworthiness and blameworthiness, but is rather the foundation of both; that the farther one is removed by the strength of the virtuous inclination divinely implanted in him from the possibility of sin the higher his moral excellence and his moral standing with God; and, on the other hand, that the farther one's inclination sin, however he may have come by it, removes him from the possibility of holy obedience the deeper his moral culpability and the greater his condemnation. Не maintained, that if an act were not prompted by a prevailing inclination it must be an act of moral indifference, or without moral quality.
THE LIBERTY WHICH HE CLAIMED. It would be injustice to Edwards not to make prominent his advocacy of what he understood to be liberty. He thoroughly believed the moral necessity which he so frankly avowed to be the true defense of “the utmost liberty that can be desired, or that can possibly exist or be conceived of.” He defined liberty to be “the power, or opportunity, or advantage that any one has to do as he pleases.”—(Page 17.) But he believed it to be morally impossible that a man should in any instance be pleased to act otherwise than he does act, and therefore that freedom must always be limited to one open way.
If the will, all things considered, inclines or chooses to go that way, then it cannot choose, all things considered, to go the other way.—Page 101.
A man is truly morally unable to choose contrary to a present inclination which in the least prevails. - Page 102.
Throughout the work, let it be noted, the author uniformly placed freedom in the doing as one pleases, and denied it in willing or choosing, which with him were always the same.
Quoting from an opponent the statement, “He may if he PLEASE CHOOSE otherwise," Edwards answers: “ Which is the same thing as if he had said, 'He may if he choose choose otherwise.” It was to prove the impossibility of freedom of will or choice that he employed his famous argument known as the dictum necessitatis, by which he was confident he had driven his opponents either to the absurdity of an intinite series of volitions each having an antecedent free volition, or to the self-destructive conclusion of a first volition that is not free, and upon which all the other volitions of the series, few or many, depend.
How Far HE WAS Right. 1. Our author was right in treating the question of freedom as one of theology as well as of philosophy. He would have done better if he had kept his arguments from these two sources more distinct, that each might be seen to stand on its own merits, and had subjected both arguments to the clearer light of his own personal faith in God. It is more and more seen to be a mistake to treat the question of freedom as purely a philosophic or metaphysical one. The day may come when a sound philosophy of freedom will win general acceptance, but it will be under the lead of religious faith. The age
of the higher philosophy has not come. “The science of science” is a goal unreached rather than a known and trusted guide.
Is it not reason that faith in God and the eternal verities should evermore lead and transcend our philosophy? The statement of our author, that “the doctrine of necessity is the only medium we have to prove the being of a God," shows how in his mind our question is connected with that of theism. He believed that any break in the chain of necessity carrying every event back to God as the Great First Cause would destroy the argument for the being of God, and hence that the doctrine of a freedom not under the law of necessity would break this chain into fragments, and plunge us into the vortex of atheism.
How different all this looks now! Not Necessity but Freedom is recognized as the strong link that connects our question inseparably with Theism. Not all who are Christian in their faith are ready to give a decisive answer to the question of liberty or necessity. But it is a significant fact that the champions of liberty are all Christian, and that avowed Necessitarians are generally either Atheists or Agnostics. They find but an endless chain of necessity with no Great First Cause. Atheism and freedom are seen to be contradictory, and freedom and accountability to a God above us inseparable. Whatever freedom we have is God-given, and our conceptions of God must control our views of freedom. On the other hand, our notions of freedom unavoidably affect our conceptions of God. True Theism carries with it essential truth as to the freedom of moral agency, and in turn a consciousness of such freedom carries thought with the might of irresistible conviction upward to a supreme and righteous moral Governor.
2. Our author was right in claiming for Necessity some plausible advantages. His doctrine of universal Necessity gave him the advantage which cannot be claimed for the freedom of moral agency that it is within the easy comprehension of ordinary intelligence. Theistic necessity affirms that God has made man with no other freedom than to do as he finds himself pleased to do, and that man can never be pleased to do otherwise ; and further, that in doing this God has himself acted under the same law. He, too, is free only to do as he pleases, and his pleasure can never be other than the one best way. This is straightforward and simple; the coinmon mind takes in at a glance both the divine and human side of the scheine. There is no difficulty in seeing how a Being of infinite intelligence and power can control all men and have a plan of his own embracing all their actions, if in their entire activity, mental and physical, he has placed them under law of necessity.
Not so simple is the philosophy of Liberty. How a wheel is turned by a crank is easily comprehended by a child to whom the movements of the hands of a watch are a mystery. So a mind that has the satisfaction of looking through the scheme of Necessity and seeing its self-consistency may not hope with like ease to master all the difficulties involved in the freedom of moral agency. How a dependent being can be made free to choose for himself, and how such freedom can be adjusted to harmony with the sway of a divine Providence, are not postulates to all minds. Is it reasonable to expect that any mind under our present limitations shall be able to compass these problems on all their sides and in all their bearings, and clear them of all their difficulties?
It is reasonable that the human side of the problem should be clear; but that is simply our own consciousness of moral obligation, which of all facts is the surest. It is what all men know of themselves and are confident of with regard to men. But consciousness of obligation includes consciousness of freedom, or power of choice, as every whole includes its parts. Besides, there is no axiom plainer than that accountability involves such freedoin, and without it would be impossible. But when we turn to the other side of this problem, and ask how the Spirit calls us to freedom? in what measure we hold this high trust? when it begins? how frequent its exercise? and how it stands related to the plans of Providence? we have neither the self-mastery, nor the philosophic insight, nor the knowledge of God requisite to exhaustive answers.
But this advantage of Necessity carries with it a decisive objection. It is too easy to be true. It is comprehensible because it is on too low a plane. It logically rules out all moral distinctions. It would not be fair to charge upon Ed. wards the belief that God is the author of sin, nor that holiness and sin are but empty naines, nor that God is the only real