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Full text of "A careful and strict enquiry into the modern prevailing notions of that freedom of the will : which is supposed to be essential to moral agency, virtue and vice, reward and punishment, praise and blame"











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"*S i. 1 I BRAISE AN ft BLAME. 

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" It is not of him that rvilkth"-*- ROM. ix. 16. 




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find much fault with the calling pro- 
fessing Christians, that differ one from a- 
nother in some matters of opinion, hy distinct 
names ; especially calling them by the names of 
particular men who have distinguished them 
selves as maintainers and promoters of those o- 
pinions ; as the calling some professing Chris 
tians Arminians from Arminus ; others Arians, 
from Arius ; others Socinians, from Socinus , and 
the like. They think it unjust in itself; as it 
seems to suppose and suggest, that the persons 
marked out by these names, received those doc 
trines which they entertain, out of regard to 
and reliance on those men after whom they are 
named ; as though they made them their rule ; 
in the same manner as the followers of CHRIST 
are called Christians, after his name, whom they 
regard and depend upon, as their great Head 
and Rule. Whereas, this is an unjust and ground 
less imputation on those that go under the fore^ 
mentioned denominations. Thus (say they) 
there is not the least ground to suppose, that 
the chief Divines, who embrace the scheme of 
doctrine which is, by many, called Arminianism^ 
believe it the more, because Arminius believed 
it ; and that there is no reason to think any 
other, than that they sincerely and impartially 
study the holy Scriptures, and enquire after 
the mind of Christ, with as much judgment 
and sincerity, as any of those that call them by 

iv Preface. 

these names ; that they seek after truth, and 
are not careful whether they think exactly as 
Arminius did ; yea, that, in some things, they 
actually differ from him. This practice is also 
esteemed actually injurious on this account, 
that it is supposed naturally to lead the mul 
titude to imagine the difference between per 
sons thus named and others, to he greater than 
it is ; yea, as though it were so great, that they 
must be, as it were, another species of beings. 
And they object against it as arising from an un 
charitable, narrow, contracted spirit: which, 
they say, commonly inclines persons to confine all 
that is good to themselves, and their own party, 
and to make a wide distinction between them 
selves and others, and stigmatize those that dif 
fer from them with odious names. They say, 
moreover, that the keeping up such a distinction 
of names has a direct tendency to uphold dis 
tance and disaffection, and keep alive mutual 
hatred among Christians, who ought all to be 
united in friendship and charity ; however, they 
cannot, in all things, think alike. 

I confess, these things are very plausible; 
and I will not deny, that there are some unhap 
py consequences of this distinction of names, 
and that men s infirmities and evil dispositions 
often make an ill improvement of it. But yet, I 
humbly conceive, those objections are carried far 
beyond reason. The generality of mankind are 
disposed enough, and a great deal too much, to 
uncbaritableness, and to be censorious and bit 
ter towards those that differ from them in. re 
ligious opinions ; which evil temper of mind 

Preface. v 

will take occasion to exert itself from many 
things in themselves innocent, useful, and ne 
cessary. But yet, there is no necessity to sup 
pose, that the thus distinguishing persons of 
different opinions by different names, arises 
mainly from an uncharitable spirit. It may 
arise from the disposition there is in mankind 
(whom God has distinguished with an ability 
and inclination for speech) to improve the be 
nefit of language, in the proper use and design 
of names, given to things which they have often 
occasion to -speak of, or signify their minds 
about ; which is to enable them to express their 
ideas with ease and expedition, without being 
incumbered with an obscure and difficult cir 
cumlocution. And the thus distinguishing of 
persons of different opinions in religious matters 
may not imply, nor infer, any more than that 
there is a difference, and that the difference is 
such as we find we have often occasion to take 
notice of, and make mention of. That which 
we have frequent occasion to speak of (what 
ever it be, that gives the occasion) this wants a 
name ; and it is always a defect in language in 
such cases, to be obliged to make use of a de 
scription, instead of a name. Thus w r e have 
often occasion to speak of those who are the 
descendants of the ancient inhabitants of France, 
who are subjects or heads of the government 
of that land, and spake the language peculiar 
to it ; in distinction from the descendants of 
the inhabitants of Spain, who belonged to that 
community, and spake the language of that 
country. And therefore we find the great need 

vi Preface. 

of distinct names to signify these different sorts 
of people, and the great convenience of those 
distinguishing words, French and Spaniards ; 
by which the signification of our minds is 
quick and easy, and our speech is delivered 
from the burden of a continual reiteration of 
diffuse descriptions, with which it must other 
wise be embarrassed. 

That the difference of the opinions of those, 
who in their general scheme of divinity agree 
with these two noted men, Calvin and Arminius, 
is a thing there is often occasion to speak of, is 
what the practice of the latter itself confesses ; 
who are often, in their discourses and writings 
taking notice of the supposed absurd and per 
nicious opinions of the former sort. And there 
fore the making use of different names in this 
case cannot reasonably be objected against, or 
condemned, as a thing which must come from 
so bad a cause as they assign. It is easy to be 
accounted for, without supposing it to arise 
from any other source, than the exigence and 
natural tendency of the state of things ; con 
sidering the faculty and disposition God has 
given to mankind, to express things which they 
have frequent occasion to mention, by certain 
distinguishing names. It is an effect that is 
.similar to what we see arise, in innumerable 
cases which are parallel, where the cause is not 
at all blame-worthy. 

Nevertheless, at first, I had thoughts of care 
fully avoiding the use of the appellation Armi- 
nian in this Treatise. But I soon found I 
should be put to great difficulty by it ; and that 

Preface. vii 

my Discourse would be so incumbered with an 
often repeated circumlocution, instead of a 
name which would express the thing intended, 
as well and better, that I altered my purpose. 
And, therefore, I must ask the excuse of such 
as are apt to be offended with things of this na 
ture, that I have so freely used the term Armi- 
man in the following Discourse. I profess it 
to be without any design to stigmatize persons 
of any sort with a name of reproach, or at all to 
make them appear more odious. If, when I 
had occasion to speak of those Divines who are 
commonly called by this name, I had instead 
of styling them Arminians, called them these 
?nen, as Dr. Whitby does Calvinistic Divines : it 
probably would not have been taken any better, 
or thought to shew a better temper, or more 
good manners. I have done as I would be done 
by, in this matter. However, the term Calvin- 
istic is, in these days, among most, a term of 
greater reproach than the term Anninian ; yet 
I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a 
Cafoinistt for distinction s sake : I utterly dis 
claim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the 
doctrines which I hold, because he believed and 
taught them ; and cannot justly be charged with 
believing in every thing just as he taught. 

But, lest I should really be an occasion of in 
jury to some person, I would here give notice, 
that though I generally speak of that doctrine 
concerning Free Will and Moral Agency, which 
I oppose, as an Arminian doctrine ; yet, I would 
not be understood, as asserting, that every Di~ 
vine or Author, whom I have occasion to men- 

viii Preface. 

tion as maintaining that doctrine, was proper 
ly an Arminian^ or one of that sort which is 
commonly called by that name. Some of them 
went far beyond Arminians ; and I would by no 
means charge Arminians in general with all the 
corrupt doctrine which these maintained. 
Thus, for instance, it would be very injurious 
if I should rank Arminian Divines, in general, 
with such Authors as Mr Chubb. I doubt not 
many of them have some of his doctrines in ab 
horrence ; though he agrees, for the most part, 
with Arminians, in his notion of the Freedom 
of the Will And, on the other hand, though I 
suppose this notion to be a leading articie in the 
Arminian scheme, that which, if pursued in its 
consequences, will truly infer, or naturally lead 
to all the rest ; yet I do not charge all that have 
held this doctrine, with being Arminians. For 
whatever may be the consequences of the 
doctrine really, yet some that hold this doctrine, 
may not own nor see these consequences ; and 
it would be unjust, in many instances, to charge 
every Author with believing and maintain 
ing all the real consequences of his avowed doc 
trines. And I desire it may be particularly 
noted, that though I have occasion, in the fol 
lowing Discourse, often to mention the Author 
of the book, entitled, An Essay on the Freedom 
of the Will, in God and the Creature, as holding 
that notion of Freedom of Will, which I oppose, 
yet I do not mean to call him an Arminian, 
however, in that doctrine he agrees with Armi 
nians, and departs from the current and general 
opinion of Calvinhts, If the Author of that 

Preface. ix 

Essay be the same as it is commonly ascribed 
to, he doubtless was not one that ought to bear 
that name. But however good a Divine he was 
in many respects, yet that particular Arminian 
doctrine which he maintained, is never the bet 
ter for being held by such an one ; nor is there 
less need of opposing it on that account ; but 
rather is there the more need of it ; as it will be 
likely to have the more pernicious influence, for 
being taught by a Divine of his name and cha 
racter ; supposing the doctrine to be wrong, and 
in itself to be of an ill tendency. 

I have nothing further to say by way of Pre 
face, but only to bespeak the Reader s candour 
and calm attention to what! have written. The 
subject is of such importance as to demand at 
tention, and the most thorough consideration. 
Of all kinds of knowledge that we can ever ob 
tain, knowledge of God, and the knowledge of 
ourselves, are the most important. As religion 
is the great business for which we are created, 
and on which our happiness depends ; and as 
religion consists in an intercourse between our 
selves and our Maker ; and so has its foundation 
in God s nature and ours, and in the relation 
that God and we stand in to each other ; there 
fore a true knowledge of both must be needful, 
in order to true religion. But the knowledge 
of ourselves consists chiefly in right apprehen 
sions concerning those two chief faculties of our 
nature, the understanding and will. Both are 
very important ; yet the science of the latter 
must be confessed to be of greatest moment ; 
inasmuch as all virtue and religion have their 

x Preface. 

seat more immediately in the will, consisting 
more especially in right acts and habits of this 
faculty ; and the grand question about the Free 
dom of the Will, is the main point that belongs 
to the science of the Will. Therefore, I say, 
the importance of the subject greatly demands 
the attention of Christians, and especially of Di 
vines. But as to my manner of handling the 
subject, I will be far from presuming to say, that 
it is such as demands the attention of the Reader 
to what I have written. I am ready to own, 
that in this matter I depend on the Reader s 
courtesy. But only thus far 1 may have some 
colour for putting in a claim : that if the Reader 
be disposed to pass his censure on what I have 
written, I may be fully and patiently heard, and 
well attended to, before I am condemned. How 
ever, this is what I would humbly ask of my 
Readers, together with the prayers of all sin 
cere lovers of truth, that I may have much of 
that spirit which Christ promised his disciples, 
which guides into all truth ; and that the bles 
sed and powerful influences of this spirit would 
make truth victorious in the world ! 



Wherein are explained various terms and things belonging 
to the subject of the ensuing discourse. 

SECT. I. Concerning the Nature of the Will Page 1 

SECT. II. Concerning the Determination of the Will 5 

SECT. Ill Concerning the meaning of the terms Necessity, 

Impossibility, Inability, &c. and of Contingent^ J<5 

SECT. IV Of the Distinction of Natural and Moral Neces 
sity and Inability 24 

SECT.V. Concerning the Notion of Liberty, and of Moral Agency 32 


Wherein it is considered, Whether there is, or can be, any 
such sort of FREEDOM OF WILL, as that wherein Ar- 
minians place the Essence of the Liberty of all Moral 
Agents j and whether any such thing ever was, or can 
be conceived of. 

SECTION I Shewing the manifest inconsistence of the Ar- 
minian Notion of Liberty of will, consisting in the Will s 
Self-determining Power 37 

SECT. II. Several supposed ways of evading the foregoing 
Reasoning considered 41 

SECT. Ill Whether any event whatsoever, and Volition in 
particular, can come to pass without a cause, of its existence... 48 

SECT. IV Whether Volition can arise without a Cause, 
through the Activity of the nature of the soul. 55 

SECT. V Shewing that if the things asserted in these Eva 
sions should be supposed to be true, they are altogether im 
pertinent, and cannot help the Cause of Arminian Liberty ; 
and how, this being the state of the case, Arminian Writera 
are obliged to talk inconsistently 60 

SECT. VI Concerning the Will s determining in things which 
are perfectly indifferent, in the view of the mind 6.5 

SECT. VII. Concerning the Notion of Liberty of Will consist 
ing in Indifference 73 

SECT. VIII Concerning the supposed Liberty of the Will as 
opposite to all Necessity 85 

SECT. IX. Of the Connection of the Acts of the Will with 
the Dictates of the Understanding 89 



SECT. X Volition necessarily connected with the Influence 
of Motives. With particular observation of the great in- 
consistence of Mr Chubb s Assertions and lleasonings, a- 
bout the Freedom of the Will 98 

SECT. XI The Evidence of God s certain Foreknowledge 

of the Vob tions of Moral Agents 114 

SECT. XII God s certain Foreknowledge of the future Voli 
tions of Moral Agents, inconsistent with such a Contingence 
of those Volitions, as is without allNecessity 136 

And infers a Necessity of Volition, as much as an absolute 
Decree 157 

SECT. XIII. Whether we suppose the Volitions of Moral 
Agents to be connected with any thing antecedent* or not, 
yet they must be necessary in such a sense as to overthrow 
Arminian Liberty 152 


Wherein is enquired, Whether any such Liberty of Will 
as Arminians hold, be necessary to Moral Agency, Vir 
tue and Vice, Praise and Dispraise, &c. 

SECTION I God s Moral Excellency necessary, yet virtu 
ous and praise worthy 156 

SECT. II The Acts oi the Will of the Human Soul of Jesus 
Christ necessarily holy, yet virtuous, praise-worthy, re- 
wardable, &c ." 160 

SECT. III. The Case of such as are given up of God to Sin, 
and of Fallen Man in general, proves Moral Necessity and 
Inability to be consistent with Blame-worthiness 177, 

Sect. IV Command and Obligation to Obedience, consistent 

with Moral Inability to obey... 185. 

SECT. V. That Sincerity of Desires and Endeavours, which 
is supposed to excuse in the non-performance of things in 
themselves good ,. particularly considered 19T 

SECT. VI. Liberty of Indifference, not only not necessary to 
virtue, but utterly inconsistent with it ; and all, either vir 
tuous or vicious habits or inclinations, inconsistent with Ar 
minian Notions of Liberty and Moral Agency 20(5 

SECT. VII Arminian notions of Moral Agency inconsistent 
with all influence of motive and inducement, in either vir 
tuous or vicious actions 215 


Wherein the chief grounds of the reasonings of Arminians, 
in support and defence of their notions of Liberty, Mo 
ral Agency, c. and against the opposite doctrine, are 

SECT. I. The essence of the virtue and vice of the disposi 
tions of the heart, and Acts of the Will, lies not in their 
Causes, but their Nature , 223 


SECT. II. The Falseness and Inconsistence of that Metaphy 
sical Notion of Action and Agency, which seems to be gene 
rally entertained by the Defenders of the forementioned no 
tions of Liberty, Moral Agency, &c 23O 

SECT. Ill The reasons why some think it contrary to Com 
mon Sense, to suppose things which are necessary, to be wor 
thy of either praise or blame 239 

SECT. IV. It is agreeable to Common Sense, and the natural 
notions of mankind, to suppose Moral Necessity to be con 
sistent with praise and blame, reward and punishment 246 

SECT. V. Concerning those objections, that this scheme of ne 
cessity renders all means and endeavours for the avoiding of 
Sin, or the obtaining virtue and holiness, vain and to no pur 
pose ; and that it makes men no more than mere machines, 
in affairs of morality and religion 256 

SECT. VI Concerning that Objection against the Doctrine 
Tfhich has been maintained, that it agrees with the Stoical 
Doctrine of Fate, and the opinion of Mr Hobbs 264. 

SECT. VII Concerning the necessity of the Divine Will 267 

SECT. VIII Some further Objections against the Moral Ne 
cessity of God s volitions, considered 278 

SECT. IX Concerning that objection against the doctrine which 
has been maintained, that it makes God the Author of Sin .. 293 

SECT. X Concerning Sin s first entrance into the world 312 

SECT. XI Of a supposed inconsistence of these principles with 
God s Moral Character 314. 

SECT. XII Of a supposed Tendency of these principles to 

Atheism and Licentiousness 320 

SECT. XIII Concerning that objection against the Reasoning 
by which the Calvinistic Doctrine is supported, that it is 
metaphysical and abstruse 324 


WHAT treatment this discourse may probably meet with from 

some persons 332 

Consequences concerning several Calvinistic Doctrines ; such 
as an universal, decisive Providence 333 

The total depravity and eorruption of Man s nature 334 

Efficacious Grace 335 

An universal and absolute Decree, and absolute, eternal, per 
sonal Election 336 
Particular Redemption 337 
Perseverance of Saints 339 
Concerning the treatment which Calvinistic Writers and Di 
vines have met with 340 
The Unhappiness of the Change lately in many Protestant 


The Boldness of some Writers 342 

The excellent Wisdom appearing in the Holy Scriptures 343 




4c. Sfc. 

Wherein are Explained and Stated various Terms and Things be 
longing to the subject of the ensuing Discourse. 


Concerning the Nature of the Will. 

TT may possibly be thought, that there is no great 
*- need of going about to define or describe the Will ; 
this word being generally as well understood as any 
other words we can use to explain it ; and so perhaps it 
would be, had not philosophers, metaphysicians, and po 
lemic divines brought the matter into obscurity by the 
things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think 
it may be of some use, and will tend to the greater 
clearness in the following discourse, to say a few things 
concerning it. 

And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any 
metaphysical refining) is plainly That by which the mind 
chooses any thing. The faculty of the Will^ is that fa 
culty, or power, or principle of mind, by which it is ca 
pable of choosing : an act of the Will is the same as an 
act of choosing or choice. 

If any think it is a more perfect definition of the Will 
to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or 
refuses ; I am content with it ; though I think that it 
is enough to say, it is that by which the soul chooses : 


2 The Nature of the Will [Part I. 

for in every act of Will whatsoever, the mind chooses 
one thing rather than another; it chooses something 
rather than the contrary, or rather than the want or 
non-existence of that thing. So in every act of refusal, 
the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused ; the 
positive and the negative are set before the mind for its 
choice, and it chooses the negative ; and the mind s 
taking its choice in that case is properly the act of the 
Will : the Will s determining between the two is a vo 
luntary determining : but that is the same thing as mak 
ing a choice. So that whatever names we call the act 
of the Will by, choosing, refusing, approving, disap 
proving^ liking, disliking, embracing, rejecting, deter 
mining, directing, commanding^ forbidding, inclining, or 
being averse, a being pleased or displeased with ; all may 
be reduced to this of choosing. For the soul to act vo 
luntarily, is evermore to act electively* 

Mr Locke * says, " The Will signifies nothing but 
a power or ability to prefer or choose. 1 And in the 
foregoing page says, " The word preferring seems best 
to express the act of volition ;"" but adds, that " it does 
not precisely ; for (says he) though a man would prefer 
flying to walking, yet who can say he ever wills it ? v 
But the instance he mentions does not prove that there 
is any thing else in willing, but merely preferring : for 
it should be considered what is the next and immediate 
object, of the Will, with respect to a man s walking, or 
any other external action : which is not being removed 
from one place to another ; on the earth or through the 
air ; these are remoter objects of preference ; but such 
or such an immediate exertion of himself. The thing 
nextly chosen or preferred when a man wills to walk, is 
not his being removed to such a place where he would 
be, but such an exertion and motion of his legs and feet, 
&c. in order to it. And his willing such an alteration 
in his body in the present moment, is nothing else but 
his choosing or preferring such an alteration in his body 

* Human Understanding, Edit, 7, vol. i. p. 197. 

Sect. L] The Nature of the IVill 3 

at such a moment, or his liking it belter than the for 
bearance of it. And God has so made and established 
the human nature, the soul being united to a body in 
proper state, that the soul preferring or choosing such an 
immediate exertion or alteration of the body, such an al 
teration instantaneously follows. There is nothing else 
in the actions of my mind, that I am conscious of while. 
I walk, but only my preferring or choosing, through suc 
cessive moments, that there should be such alterations 
of my external sensations and motions ; together with a 
concurring habitual expectation that it will be so ; hav 
ing ever found by experience, that on such an immediate 
preference such sensations and motions do actually, in 
stantaneously, and constantly arise. But it is not so in 
the case of flying : though a man may be said remotely 
to choose or prefer flying, yet does he not choose or 
prefer, incline to. or desire, under circumstances in view, 
any immediate exertion of the members of his body in 
order to it ; because he has no expectation that he should 
obtain the desired end by any such exertion ; and he 
does not prefer or incline to any bodily exertion or ef 
fort under this apprehended circumstance, of its being 
wholly in vain. 80 that if we carefully distinguish the 
proper objects of the several acts of the Will, it will 
not appear by this, and such like instances, 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 ; 
as they seem to be according to those general ami more 
natural notions of men, according to which language is 
formed. Thus an act of the Will is commonly expressed 
by its pleasing a man to do thus or thus ; and a man 
doing as he will t and doing as he pleases, are the same 
thing in common speech. 

Mr Locke * says, " The Will is perfectly distinguish 
ed from Desire ; which in the very same action may have 
a quite contrary tendency from that which our Wills set 

Human Understanding, vol. i. p. 203, <2(H. 

4 The Nature of the Will. [Part I. 

us upon. A man (says he) whom I cannot deny, may 
oblige me to use persuasions to another, which at the 
same time I am speaking, I may wish may not prevail 
on him. In this case it is plain the Will and Desire 
run counter." I do not suppose that Will and Desire 
yre words of precisely the same signification ; Will seems 
to be a word of a more general signification, extending 
to things present and absent. Desire respects something 
absent. I may prefer my present situation and posture, 
suppose silting still, or having my eyes open, and so may 
will it. But yet I cannot think they are so entirely dis 
tinct, that they can ever be properly said to run counter. 
A man never, in any instance, wills any thing contrary 
to his desire, or desires any thing contrary to his will. 
The forementipned instance, which Mr Locke produces, 
does not prove that he ever does. He may, on some 
consideration or other, will to utter speeches which have 
a tendency to persuade another, and still may desire that 
they may not persuade him : but yet his Will and De 
sire do not run counter at all : the thing which he wills, 
the very same he desires ; and he dees not will a thing 
and desire the contrary in any particular. In this in 
stance, it is i-ot carefully observed, what is the thing 
willed, and what is the thing desired : if it were, it would 
be found that Will and Desire ;lo not clash in the least. 
The thing willed, on some consideration, is to utter 
such words ; and certainly the same consideration so in 
fluences him, that he does not desire the contrary ; all 
things considered, he chooses to utter such words, and 
does not desire not to utter them. And so as to the 
thing which Mr Locke speaks of as desired, viz. That 
the words, though they tend to persuade, should not be 
effectual to that end, his Will is not contrary to this ; 
he does not will that they should be effectual, but rather 
wills that he should not, as he desires. In order to 
prove that the Will and Desire may run counter, it 
should be shewn that they may be contrary one to the 
other in the same thing, or with respect to the very same 
object of Will or Desire : but here the objects are two; 

Sect. I] What determines the Will. 5 

and in each, taken by themselves, the Will and Desire 
agree. And it is no wonder that they should not agree 
in different things, however little distinguished they jare 
in their nature. The Will may not agree with the Will, 
nor Desire agree with Desire, in different things. As 
in this very instance which Mr Locke mentions, a pei v 
son may, on some consideration, desire to use persua 
sions, and at the same time may desire they may not 
prevail ; but yet nobody will say that Desire runs coun 
ter to Desire*; or that this proves that Desire is perfect 
ly a distinct thing from Desire. The like may be ob 
served of the other instance Mr Locke produces, of a 
man s desiring to be eased of pain, &c. 

But not to dwell any longer upon this, whether De 
sire and Will, and whether Preference and Volition, be 
precisely the same thing or no ; yet, I trust it will be 
allowed by all, that in every act of will there is ^an act 
of choice ; that in every volition there is a prefer 
ence, or a prevailing inclination of the soul, whereby 
the soul, at that instance, is out of a state of perfect in 
difference, with respect to the direct object of the voli 
tion. So that in every act, or going forth of the Will, 
there is some preponderation of the mind or inclination, 
one way rather than another ; and the soul had rather 
have or do one thing than another, or than not to have 
or do that thing j and that there, where there is abso 
lutely no preferring or choosing, but a perfect continu 
ing equilibrium, there is no volition. 


Concerning the Determination of the WilL 

BY Determining the Will, if the phrase be used 
with any meaning, must be intended, causing that 
the Act of the Will or Choice should be thus, and not 

Q What determines the Will [Part I. 

otherwise : and the Will is said to be determined, 
when, in consequence of some action, or influence, its 
choice is directed to, and fixed upon a particular object. 
As when we speak of the Determination of motion, we 
mean causing the motion of the body to be such a way, 
or in such a direction rather than another. 

To talk of the determination of the Will, supposes an 
effect, which must have a cause. If the Will be deter 
mined, there is a determiner. This must be supposed 
to be intended, even by them that s-ay, the Will deter 
mines itself. If it be so, the Will is both determiner 
and determined ; it is a cause that acts and produces ef 
fects upon itself, and is the object of its own influence 
and action. 

With respect to that grand inquiry, What determines 
the Will? it would be very tedious and unnecessary at 
present to enumerate and examine all the various opi 
nions which have been advanced concerning this matter, 
nor is it needful that I should enter into a particular 
disquisition of all points debated in disputes upon that 
question, Whether the Will always follows the last dictate 
of the understanding. It is sufficient to my present 
purpose to say : It is that motive, which as it stands in 
the view of the mind, is the strongest, that determines 
the Will but it may be necessary that I should a little 
explain my meaning in this. 

By Motive, I mean the whole of that which moves, 
excites, or invites the mind to volition, whether that be 
one thing singly, or many things conjunctly. Many 
particular things may concur and unite their strength ta 
induce the mind ; and when it is so, all together are as 
it were one complex motive. And when I speak of the 
strongest motive, I have respect to the strength of the 
whole that operates, to induce to a particular act of vo 
lition, whether that be the strength of one thing alone, 
or of many together. 

Whatever is a motive in this sense, must be something 
that is extant in the view or apprehension of the under" 
standing, or perceiving faculty. Nothing can induce or 

Sect. II.] What determines the Will. 7 

invite the mind to will or act any thing, any further 
than it is perceived, or is some way or other in the mind s 
view ; for what is wholly unperceived, and perfectly out 
of the rnind^s view, cannot affect the mind at all. It is 
most evident, that nothing 1 is in the mind, or reaches to 
it, or takes any hold of it, any otherwise than as it is 
perceived or thought of. 

And I think it must also be allowed by all, that every 
thing that is properly called a motive, excitement, or in 
ducement to a perceiving willing agent, has some sort of 
degree of tendency, or advantage to move or excite the 
"Will, previous to the effect, or to the act of the Will 
excited. This previous tendency of the motive is what 
I call the strength of the motive. That motive which has 
a less degree of previous advantage or tendency to move 
the Will, or that appears less inviting, as it stands in the 
view of the mind, is what I call a weaker motive* 
On the contrary, that which appears most inviting, and 
has by what appears concerning it to the understanding 
or apprehension, the greatest degree of previous tenden 
cy to excite and induce the choice, is what I call the 
strongest motive. And in this sense, I suppose the Will 
is always determined by the strongest motive. 

Things that exist in the view of the mind have their 
strength, tendency, or advantage to move or excite its 
Will, from many things appertaining to the nature and 
circumstances of the thing viewed, the nature and cir 
cumstances of the mind that views^ and the degree and 
manner of its view ; which it would perhaps be hard to. 
make a perfect enumeration of. But so much I. think, 
,may be determined in general, without room for contro 
versy, that whatever is perceived or apprehended by an 
intelligent and voluntary agent, which has the nature and 
influence of a motive to volition or choice, is consider 
ed or viewed as good ; nor has it any tendency to in 
vite or engage the election of the soul in any further de 
gree than it appears such. For to say otherwise, would 
be to say, that things that appear have a tendency by the 
appearance they make, to engage the mind to elect them 5 

8 What determines the Will. [Part I, 

some other way than by their appearing eligible to it ; 
which is absurd. And therefore it must be true, in some 
sense, that the Will always is as the greatest apparent 
good is. But only, for the right understanding of this, 
two things must be well and distinctly observed. 

1. It must be observed in what sense I use the term 
good ; namely, as of the same import with agreeable. 
To appear good to the mind, as I use the phrase, is 
the same as to appear agreeable, or seem jrteasing to 
the mind. Certainly nothing appears inviting and eli 
gible to the mind, or tending to engage its inclination 
and choice, considered as evil or disagreeable ; nor in 
deed, as indifferent, and neither agreeable nor disagree 
able. But if it tends to draw the inclination, and move 
the Will, it must be under the notion of that which 
suits the mind. And therefore that must have the 
greatest tendency to attract and engage it, which, as it 
stands in the mind s view, suits it best, and pleases it 
most ; and in that sense, is the greatest apparent good : 
to say otherwise, is little, if any thing, short of a direct 
and plain contradiction. 

The word good, in this sense, includes in its signifi 
cation, the removal or avoiding of evil, or of that which 
is disagreeable and uneasy. It is agreeable and plea 
sing, to avoid what is disagreeable and displeasing, and 
to have uneasiness removed. So^that here is included 
what Mr Locke supposes determines the Will. For 
when he speaks of uneasiness as determining the Will, 
he must be understood as supposing that the end or aim 
which governs in the volition or act of preference, is the 
avoiding or removal of that uneasiness ; and that is the 
same thing as choosing and seeking what is more easy 
and agreeable. 

2. When I say, the Wilfis as the greatest apparent 
good is, or (as I have explained it) that volition has al 
ways for its object the thing which appears most agree 
able ; it must be carefully observed, to avoid confusion 
and needless objection, that I speak of the direct and 
immediate object of the act of volition ; and not some 

Sect. II.] What determines the Will. g 

object that the act of Will has not an immediate, but 
only an indirect and remote respect to. Many acts of 
volition, have some- remote relation to an object that is 
different from the thing most immediately willed and 
chosen. Thus, when a drunkard has his liquor before 
him, and he has to choose whether to drink it or no ; 
the proper and immediate objects, about which his pre 
sent volition is conversant, and between which his choice 
now decides, are his own acts in drinking the liquor, or 
letting 1 it alone ; and this will certainly be done according 
to what, in the present view of his mind, taken in the 
whole of it, is most agreeable to him. If he chooses or 
wills to drink it, and not to let it alone ; then this ac 
tion, as it stands in the view of his mind, with all that 
belongs to its appearance there, is more agreeable and 
pleasing than letting it alone. 

But the objects to which this act of volition may re 
late more remotely, and between which his choice may 
determine more indirectly, are the present pleasure the 
man expects by drinking, and tUe future misery which 
he judges will be the consequence of it : he may judge 
that this future misery, when it comes, will be more 
disagreeable and unpleasant, than refraining from drink 
ing now will be. But these two things are not the pro 
per objects that the act of volition spoken of is nextly 
conversant about. For the act of Will spoken of is 
concerning present drinking or forbearing to drink. If 
he wills to drink, then drinking is the proper object of 
the act of his Will ; and drinking, on some account or 
other, now appears most agreeable to him, and suits him 
best. If he chooses to refrain, then refraining is the 
immediate object of his Will, and is most pleasing to 
him. If in the choice he makes in the case, he prefers 
a present pleasure to a future advantage, which he 
judges will be greater when it comes ; then a lesser 
present pleasure appears more agreeable to him than a 
greater advantage at a distance. If, on the contrary, a 
future advantage is preferred., then that appears most 

1 What determines the Will. [Part I. 

agreeable, and suits him best. And so still the present 
volition is as the greatest apparent good at present is. 

I have rather chosen to express myself thus,*Aal the 
Will always is as the greatest apparent good, or as what 
appears most agreeable, is, than to say that the Will 
is determined by the greatest apparent good, or by what 
seems most agreeable ; and because an appearing most 
agreeable or pleasing to the mind, and the mind s pre 
ferring and choosing, seem hardly to be properly and 
perfectly distinct. If strict propriety of speech be in 
sisted on, it may more properly be said, that the volun 
tary action, which is the immediate consequence and 
fruit of the mind s volition or choice is determined by 
that which appears most agreeable, than the preference 
or choice itself; but that the act of volition itself is al 
ways determined by that in or about the mind s view of 
the object, which causes it to appear most agreeable, I 
say, in or about the mind s view of the object, because 
what has influence to render an object in view agreeable, 
is not only what appears in the object viewed, but also 
the manner of the view, and the state and circumstances 
of the mind that views, Particularly to enumerate all 
things pertaining to the mind s view of the objects of 
volition, which have influence in their appearing agree 
able to the mind, would be a matter of no small difficul 
ty, and might require a treatise by itself, and is not ne 
cessary to my present purpose. I shall therefore only 
mention some things in general. 

I. One thing that makes an object proposed to choice 
agreeable, is the apparent nature and circumstances of 
the object. And there are various things of this sort, 
that have a hand in rendering the object more or less a- 
greeable ; as, 

1. That which appears in the object, which renders 
it beautiful and pleasant, or deformed and irksome to the 
mind ; viewing it as it is in itself. 

2. The apparent degree of pleasure or trouble attend 
ing the object or the consequence of it. Such concomi 
tants and consequents being viewed as circumstances of 

Sect. II.] What determines the Will. 11 

the objects, are to be considered as belonging to it, and 
as it were, parts of it ; as it stands in the mind s view, 
as a proposed object of choice. 

5. The apparent state of the pleasure or trouble that 
appears, with respect to distance of time ; being either 
nearer or farther off. It is a thing in itself agreeable 
to the mind, to have pleasure speedily ; and disagreea 
ble, to have it delayed : so that if there be two equal 
degrees of pleasure set in the mind s view, and all other 
things are equal, but only one is beheld as near, and the 
other far off; the nearer will appear most agreeable, and 
so will be chosen. Because, though the agreeableness 
of the objects be exactly equal, as viewed in themselves, 
vet not as viewed in their circumstances ; one of them 
having the additional agreeableness of the circumstance 
of nearness. 

II. Another thing that contributes to the agreeable- 
ness of an object of choice, -as it stands in the mind s 
view, is the manner of the view. If the object be some 
thing which appears connected with future pleasure, not 
only will the degree of apparent pleasure have influence, 
but also the manner of the view, especially in two re 

1. With respect to the degree of judgment, or firmness 
of assent, with which the mind judges the pleasure to be 
future. Because it is more agreeable to have? a certain 
happiness, than an uncertain one ; and a pleasure viewed 
as more probable, all other things being equal, is more 
agreeable to the mind, than that which is viewed as less 

2- With respect to the degree of the idea of the fu 
ture pleasure. With regard to things which are the 
subject of our thoughts, either past, present, or future, 
we have much more of an idea or apprehension of some 
things than others ; that is, our idea is much more clear 
lively and strong. 1 bus the ideas we have of sensible 
things by immediate sensation, are usually much more 
lively than those we have by mere imagination, or by 

IS What determines the Will. [Parti. 

contemplation of them when absent. My idea of the 
sun, when I look upon it, is more vivid, than when I 
only think of it. Our idea of the sweet relish of a de 
licious fruit is usually stronger when we taste it, than 
when we only imagine it. And sometimes the idea we 
have of things by contemplation, are much stronger and 
clearer than at other times. Thus, a man at one time 
has a much stronger idea of the pleasure which is to be 
enjoyed in eating some sort of food that he loves, than 
at another. Now, the degree or strength of the idea of 
sense that men have of future good or evil, is one thing 
that has great influence on their minds to excite choice 
or volition. When of two kinds of future pleasure, 
which the mind considers of, and are presented for choice, 
both are supposed exactly equal by the judgment, and 
both equally certain, and all other things are equal, but 
only one of them is what the mind has a far more lively 
sense of, than of the other ; this has the greatest advan 
tage by far to affect and attract the mind, and move the 
Will. It is now more agreeable to the mind, to take the 
pleasure it has a strong and lively sense of, than that 
which it has only a faint idea of. The view of the for 
mer is attended with the strongest appetite, and the 
greatest uneasiness attends the want of it ; and it is a- 
greeable to the mind to have uneasiness removed, and 
its appetite gratified. And if several future enjoyments 
are presented together, as competitors for the choice of 
the mind, some of them judged to be greater, and others 
less ; the mind also having a greater sense and more 
lively idea of the good of some of them, and of others 
a less ; and some are viewed as of greater certainty or 
probability than others ; and those enjoyments that ap 
pear most agreeable in one of these respects, appear 
least so in others : in this case, all other things being 
equal, the agreeableness of a proposed object of choice 
will be in a degree some way compounded of the degree 
of good supposed by the judgment, the degree of ap 
parent probability or certainty of that good, and the de 
gree of the view, or sense, or liveliness of the idea, the 

Sect. II.] What determines the Will. 13 

mind has, of that good ; because all together concur to 
constitute the degree in which the object appears at pre 
sent agreeable ; and accordingly volition will be deter 

I might further observe, the state of the mind that 
views a proposed object of choice, is another thing that 
contributes to the agreeableness or disagreeableness of 
that object ; the particular temper which the mind has 
by nature, or that has been introduced and established 
by education, example, custom, or some other means; 
or the frame or state that the mind is in on a particular 
occasion. That object which appears agreeable to one, 
does not so to another. And the same object does not 
always appear alike agreeable to the same person, at dif 
ferent times. It is most agreeable to some men, to fol 
low their reason ; and to others, to follow their appe 
tites : to some men it is more agreeable to deny a vici 
ous inclination, than to gratify it : other it suits best to 
gratify the vilest appetites. It is more disagreeable to 
some men than others, to counteract a former resolution. 
In these respects, and many others which might be men 
tioned, different things will be most agreeable to differ 
ent persons ; and not only so, but to the same persons at 
different times. 

But possibly it is needless and improper, to mention 
the frame and state of the mind, as a distinct ground of 
the agreeableness of objects from the other two men 
tioned before ; viz. The apparent nature and circum 
stances of the objects viewed, and the manner of the 
view ; perhaps if we strictly consider the matter, the 
different temper and state of the mind makes no altera 
tion as to the agreeableness of objects, any other way, 
than as it makes the objects themselves appear different 
ly beautiful or deformed, having apparent pleasure or 
pain attending them ; and as it occasions the manner of 
the view to be different, causes the idea of beauty or 
deformity, pleasure or uneasiness to be more or less 

14 What determines the Will. [Part I. 

However, I think so much is certain, that volition, in 
no one instance that can be mentioned, is otherwise than 
the greatest apparent good is, in the manner which has 
been explained. The choice of the mind never departs 
from that which, at that time, and with respect to the 
direct and immediate objects of that decision of the 
mind, appears most agreeable and pleasing, all things 
considered. If the immediate objects of the Will are 
a man s own actions, then those actions which appear 
most agreeable to him he wills. If it be now most agree 
able to him, all things considered, to walk, then he now 
wills to walk, if it be now, upon the whole of what at 
present appears to him, most agreeable to speak, then he 
chooses to speak ; if it suits him best to keep silence, 
then he chooses to keep silence. There is scarcely a 
plainer and more universal dictate of the sense and ex 
perience of mankind, than that, when men act voluntari 
ly, and do what they please, then they do what suits 
them best, or what is most agreeable to them. To say, 
that they do what they please, or what pleases them, but 
yet do not do what is agreeable to them, is the same 
thing as to say, they do what they please, but do not act 
their pleasure ; and that is to say, that they do what 
they please and yet do not do what they please. 

It appears from these things, that in some sense, the 
Will always follows the last dictate of the understand 
ing. But then the understanding must be taken in a 
large sense, as including the whole faculty of perception 
or apprehension, and not merely what is called reason 
QV judgment. If by the dictate of the understanding is 
meant what reason declares to be best or most for the 
person s happiness, taking in the -whole of its duration, 
it is not true, that the Will always follows the last dic 
tate of the understanding. Such a dictate of reason is 
quite a different matter from things appearing now 
most agreeable; all things being put together which 
pertain to the mind s present perceptions, apprehensions 
or ideas, in any respect. Although that dictate of rea 
son when it takes place, is one thing that is put into 

Sect. III.] The Nature of Necessity. 15 

the scales, and is to be considered as a thing that has 
concern in the compound influence which moves and in 
duces the Will ; and is one thing that is to he consider 
ed in estimating the degree of that appearance of good 
which the Will always follows ; either as having- its in 
fluence added to other things, or subducted from them. 
When it concurs with other things, then its weight is 
added to them, as put into the same scale; but when 
it is against them, it is as a weight in the opposite scale, 
where it resists the influence of other things ; yet its re 
sistance is often overcome by their greater weight, and 
so the act of the Will is determined in opposition to it. 

The things which I have said, may, I hope, serve, in 
some measure to illustrate and confirm the position I 
laid down, in the beginning of this section ; viz. That 
the Will is always determined by the strongest motive, 
or by that view of the mind which has the greatest de 
gree of previous tendency to excite volition. But 
whether i have been so happy as rightly to explain the 
thing wherein consists the strength of motives, or not, 
yet my failing in this will not overthrow the position it 
self; which carries much of its own evidence with it, 
and is the thing of chief importance to the purpose of 
the ensuing discourse: and the truth of it, I hope, will 
appear with great clearness, before 1 have finished what 
1 have to say on the subject of human liberty. 


Concerning the Meaning of the Terms Neces 
sity, Impossibility, Inability, Sfc. and ofCon- 

rriHE words necessary, impossible, Sec. are abundantly 
-- used in controversies about Freewill and moral 
agency ; and therefore the sense in which they are used, 
should be clearly understood. 

16 The Nature of Necessity. [Part I. 

Here I might say, that a thing is then said to be ne 
cessary, when it must be, and cannot be otherwise. But 
this would not properly be a definition of Necessity, or 
an explanation of the word, any more than if I explain 
ed the word must, by tbere being a necessity. The 
words must, can, and cannot, need explication as much 
as the words necessary, and impossible ; excepting that 
the former are words that children commonly use, and 
know something of the meaning of earlier than the lat 

The word necessary, as used in common speech, is a 
relative term ; and relates to some supposed opposition 
made to the existence of the thing spoken of, which is 
overcome, or proves in rain to binder or alter it. That 
is necessary in the original and proper sense of the 
word, which is, or will be, notwithstanding all suppos- 
able opposition. To say, that a thing is necessary, is 
the same thing as to say, that it is impossible, it should 
not be ; but the word impossible is manifestly a relative 
term, and has reference to supposed power exerted to 
bring a thing to pass, which is insufficient for the effect ; 
as the word unable is relative, and has relation to ability 
or endeavour which is insufficient ; and as the word z>- 
resistable is relative, and has always reference to resis 
tance which is made, or may be made to some force or 
power tending to an effect, and is sufficient to withstand 
the power, or hinder the effect. The common notion 
of Necessity and Impossibility implies something that 
frustrates endeavour or desire. 

Here several things are to be noted. 

1. Ihings are said to be necessary in general, which 
are, or will be, notwithstanding any supposable opposi 
tion from us or others, or from whatever quarter. But 
things are said to be necessary to us, which are, or will 
be, notwithstanding all opposition supposable in the case 
from us. The same may be observed of the word im 
possible, and other such like terms. 

2. These terms necessary, impossible, irresistible, cj C. 
do especially belong to controversy about liberty and 

Sect. III.] The Nature of Necessity. 17 

moral agency, as used in the latter of the two senses now 
mentioned ; viz. as necessary or impossible to us, and 
with relation to any supposable opposition or endeavour 
of ours. 

5. As the word Neccssily, in its vulgar and common 
use, is relative, and has always reference to some suppos 
able and sufficient opposition ; so when we speak of any 
thing as necessary to us, it is with relation to some suppos 
able opposition of our Wills, or some voluntary exertion or 
effort of ours to the contrary. For we do not properly make 
opposition to an event, any otherwise than as wevoluntari* 
ty oppose it. Things are said to be what must be, or ne 
cessarily are, as to us. when they are, or will be, though 
we desire or endeavour the contrary, or try to prevent 
or remove their existence ; but such opposition of ours 
always either consists in, or implies opposition of, our 

It is manifest that all such like words and phrases, as 
vulgarly used, are used and accepted in this manner. A 
thing is said to be necessary., when we cannot help it, 
let us do what we will. J^o any thing is said to be im 
possible to us, when we would do it, or would have it 
brought to pass, and endeavour it ; or at least may be 
supposed to desire and seek it ; but all our desires and 
endeavours are, or would be vain. And that is said to 
be irresistible 9 which overcomes all our opposition, re- 
sistence, and endeavour to the contrary. And we are to 
be said unalle to do a thing", when our supposable de 
sires and endeavours to do it are insufficient. 

We are accustomed in the common use of language, 
to apply and understand these phrases in this sense : we 
grow up with such a habit ; which by the daily use of 
these terms, in such a sense, from our childhood, be 
comes fixed and settled ; so that the idea of a relation to 
a supposed will, desire and endeavour of ours, is strong 
ly connected with these terms, and naturally excited in 
our minds, whenever we hear the words used. Such 
ideas, and these words, are so united and associated, 

18 The Nature of Necessity. [Part I. 

that they unavoidably go together; one suggests the 
other, and carries the other with it, and never can be 
separated as long as we live. And if we use the words ? 
as terms of art, in another sense, yet, unless we are ex 
ceeding circumspect and wary, we shall insensibly slide 
into the vulgar use of them, and so apply the words in a 
very inconsistent manner ; this habitual connection of 
ideas will deceive and confound us in our reasonings and 
discourses, wherein we pretend to use these terms in 
that manner, as terms of art. 

4. It follows from what has been observed, that when 
these terms necessary* impossible, irresistdble, unable^ 
&c. are used in cases wherein no opposition, or insuffi 
cient will or endeavour, is supposed, or can be suppos 
ed, but the very nature of the supposed case itself ex 
cludes, and denies any such opposition, will or endea 
vour, these terms are then not used in their proper sig 
nification, but quite beside their use in common speech. 
The reason is manifest ; namely, that in such cases \ve 
cannot use the words with reference to a supposable op 
position, will or endeavour. And therefore if any man 
uses these terms in such cases, he either uses them non 
sensically, or in some new sense, diverse from their ori 
ginal and proper meaning As for instance ; if a man 
should affirm after this manner, That it is necessary for 
a man, and what must he, that a man should choose vir 
tue rather than vice, during the time that he prefers 
virtue to vice ; and that it is a thing impossible and ir- 
resistable, that it should be otherwise than that he 
should have this choice, so long as this choice continues ; 
such a man would use the terms must, irresistable, &c. 
with perfect insignificance and nonsense, or in some new 
sense, diverse from their common use ; which is with 
reference, as has been observed, to supposable opposi 
tion, unwillingness and resistance ; whereas, here, the 
very supposition excludes and denies any such thing: 
for the case supposed is that of being willing and choos 

5. It appears from what has been said., that these 

Sect. Ill ] The Nature of Necessity. ig 

terms necessary, impossible, &c. are often used by phi 
losophers and metaphysicians in a sense quite diverse 
from the common use and original signification : for 
they apply them to many cases in which no opposition 
is supposed or supposable. Thus they use them with 
respect to God s existence before the creation of the 
world, when there was no other being but He : so with 
regard to many of the dispositions and acts of the divine 
Being, such as his loving himself, his loving righteous 
ness, haling sin r &c. So they apply these terms to 
many cases of the inclinations and actions of created in 
telligent beings, angels and men ; wherein all opposition 
of the Will is shut out and denied, in the very supposi 
tion of the case. 

Metaphysical or Philosophical Necessity is nothing 
different from their certainty. I speak not now of the 
certainty of knowledge, but the certainty that is in 
things themselves, which is the foundation of the cer 
tainty of the knowledge of them ; or that wherein lies 
the ground of the infallibility of the proposition which 
affirms them. 

What is sometimes given as the definition of philoso 
phical Necessity ; namely, That by which a thing can 
not but be, or whereby it cannot be otherwise, fails of 
being a proper explanation of it, on two accounts ; First, 
The words can, or cannot, need explanation as much as 
the word Necessity: and the former may as well be ex 
plained by the latter, as the latter by the former. 
Ihus, if any one asked us wh;<t we mean, when we say, 
a thing cannot but be, we might explain ourselves by 
saying, we mean, it must necessarily be so; as well as 
explain Necessity, by saying, it is that by which a thing 
cannot but be. And, Secondly, this definition is liable 
to the forementioned great inconvenience: the words 
cannot or unable, are properly relative, and have relation 
to power exerted, or that may be exerted, in order to 
the thing spoken of; to which, as I have now observed, 
the word Necessity, as used by philosophers has no re 

20 The Nature of Necessity. [Part I. 

Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than 
the full and fixed connection between the things signi 
fied by the subject and predicate of a proposition, which 
affirms something to be true. When there is such a 
connection, when the thing affirmed in the proposition 
is necessary, in a philosophical sense ; whether any op 
position, or contrary effort be supposed, or supposable 
in the case, or no. When the subject and predicate of 
the proposition, which affirms the existence of any thing 
either substance, quality, act or circumstance, have a 
full and certain connection, then the existence or being 
of that thing is said to be necessary in a metaphysical 
sense. And in this sense I use the word Necessity, in 
the following discourse, when I endeavour to prove 
that Necessity is not inconsistent with liberty. 

The subject and predicate of a proposition, which af 
firms the existence of something, may have a full, fixed, 
and certain connection several ways. 

(1.) They may have a full and perfect connection in 
and of themselves ; because it may imply a contradiction, 
or gross absurdity, to suppose them not connected.- 
Thus many things are necessary in their own nature. 
So the eternal existence of being generally considered, 
is necessary in itself, because it would be in itself the 
greatest absurdity to deny the existence of being in ge 
neral, or to say there was absolute and universal no 
thing ; and is as it were the sum of all contradictions ; 
as might be shewn, if this were a proper place for it. - 
So God s infinity, and other attributes are necessary. 
So it is necessary in its own nature, that two and two 
should be four ; and it is necessary, that all right lines 
drawn from the centre of a circle to the circumference 
should be equal. It is necessary, fit, and suitable, that 
men should do toothers, as they would that they should 
do to them. So innumerable metaphysical and mathe 
matical truths are necessary in themselves : the subject 
and predicate of the proposition which affirms them, are 
perfectly connected of themselves. 

(2.) The connection of the subject and predicate of a 

Sect. III.] The Nature of Necessity. 21 

proposition, which affirms the existence of something, 
may be fixed and made certain, because the existence of 
that thing is already come to pass ; and either now is, 
or has been ; and so has as it were made sure of exist 
ence. And therefore, the proposition which affirms pre 
sent and past existence of it, may by this means be 
made certain, and necessarily and unalterably true ; the 
past event has fixed and decided the matter, as to its 
existence ; and has made it impossible but that exist 
ence should be truly predicated of it. Thus the exist 
ence of whatever is already come to pass, is now be 
come necessary ; it is become impossible it should be 
otherwise than true, that such a thing has been. 

(3.) The subject and predicate of a proposition which 
affirms something to he, may have a real and certain 
connection consequentially ; and so the existence of the 
thing may be consequentially necessary ; as it may be 
surely and firmly connected with something else, that is 
necessary in one of the former respects. As it is either 
fully and thoroughly connected with that which is abso 
lutely necessary in its own nature, or with something 
which has already received and made sure of existence. 
This Necessity lies /, or may be explained by, the con 
nection of two or more propositions one with another. 
Things which are perfectly connected with other things 
that are necessary, are necessary themselves, by a ne 
cessity of consequence. 

Arid here it may be observed, that all things which 
are future, or which will hereafter begin to be, which can 
be said to be necessary, are necessary only in this last 
way. Their existence is not necessary in itself ; for if 
so, they always would have existed. Nor is their exist 
ence become necessary by being made sure, by being 
already come to pass. Therefore, the only way that 
any thing that is to come to pass, hereafter, is or can be 
necessary, is by a connection with something that is 
necessary in its own nature, or something that already 
is, or has been ; so that the one being supposed, the 
other certainly follows. And this also is the only way 

22 The Nature of Necessity [Tart I. 

that all things past, excepting those which were from 
eternity, could be necessary before they came to pass, or 
could come to pass necessarily ; and therefore the only 
way in which any effect or event, or any thing whatso 
ever that ever has had, or will have a beginning 1 , has 
come into being necessarily, or will hereafter necessarily 
exist. And therefore this is the Necessity which es 
pecially belongs to controversies about the acts of the 

It may be of some use in these controversies, further 
to observe concerning metaphysical Necessity, that 
(agreeable to the distinction before observed of Neces 
sity, as vulgarly understood) things that exist may be 
said to be necessary, either with a general or particular 
Necessity. The existence of a thing may be said to be 
necessary with a general Necessity, when all things 
whatsoever being considered, there isa foundation for cer 
tainty of their existence ; or when in the most general 
and universal view of things, the subject and predicate 
of the proposition, which affirms its existence, would 
appear with an infallible connection. 

An event, or the existence of a thing, may be said 
to be necessary with a particular Necessity or with re 
gard to a particular person, thing or time, when nothing 
that can be taken into consideration, in or about that 
person, thing or time, alters the case at ail, as to the 
certainty of that event, or the existence of that thing ; 
or can be of any account at all, in determining the in 
fallibility of the connection of the subject and predicate 
in the proposition which affirms the existence of the 
thing ; so that it is all one, as to that person, or thing, 
at least, at that time, as if the existence were necessary 
with a Necessity that is most universal and absolute. 
Thus there are many things that happen to particular 
persons, which they have no hand in, and in the exist 
ence of which no will of theirs has any concern, at least, 
at that time; which, whether they are necessary or not 
with regard to things in general, yet are necessary to 
them, and with regard to any volition of theirs at that 

Sect. III.] The Nature of Necessity. 23 

time ; as they prevent all acts of the will about the af 
fair. I shall have occasion to apply this observation to 
particular instances in the following discourse. Whether 
the same things that are necessary with a particular 
Necessity, be not also necessary with a general Neces 
sity, may be a matter of future consideration. Let that 
be as it will, it alters not the case, as to the use of this 
distinction of the kinds of Necessity. 

These things may be sufficient for the explaining of 
the terms necessary and Necessity , as terms of art, and 
as often used by metaphysicians, and controversial wri 
ters in divinity, in a sense diverse from, and more ex 
tensive than their original meaning in common language, 
which was before explained. 

What has been said to shew the meaning of the terms 
necessary and Necessity, may be sufficient for the ex 
plaining of the opposite terms, impossible and impossibi 
lity ; for there is no difference, but only the latter are 
negative, and the former positive. Impossibility is the 
same as negative Necessity, or a Necessity that a thing 
should not be. And it is used as a term of art in a like 
diversity from the original and vulgar meaning, with 

The same may be observed concerning the words 
unable and Inability. It has been observed, that these 
terms, in their original and common use, have relation 
to will and endeavour, as supposable ; in the case, and 
as insufficient for the bringing to pass the thing willed 
and endeavoured. But as these terms are often used 
by philosophers and divines, especially writers on contro 
versies about Free-will, they are used in a quite differ 
ent, and far more extensive sense, and are applied to 
many cases wherein no will or endeavour for the bring 
ing of the thing to pass, is or can he supposed, but is 
actually denied and excluded in the nature of the case. 

As the words necessary, impossible, unable, Sec. are 
used by polemic writers, in a sense diverse from their 
common signification, the like has happened to the terra 
contingent. Any thing is said to be contingent, or to 

24 Ofnaturaland moral Necessity. [Parti. 

come to pass by chance or accident, in the original 
meaning of such words, when its connection with its 
causes or antecedents, according to the established 
course of things, is not discerned ; and so is what we 
have no means of the foresight of. And especially is any 
thing 1 said to be contingent or accidental with regard to 
us, when any thing ccmes to pass that we are concerned 
in, as occasions or subjects, without our foreknowledge, 
and beside our design and scope. 

But the word contingent is abundantly used in a very 
different sense; not for that whose connection with the 
series of things we cannot discern, so as to foresee the 
event, but*for something which has absolutely no previ 
ous ground or reason, with which its existence has any 
fixed and certain connection. 


Of the Distinction of Natural and Moral Neces* 
sity and Inability. 

nnHAT Necessity which has been explained, consist- 
* ing in an infallible connection of the things signified 
by the subject and predicate of a proposition, as intelli 
gent beings are thfc subjects of it, is distinguished into 
moral and natural Necessity. 

I shall not now stand to enquire whether this dis 
tinction be a proper and perfect distinction ; but shall 
only explain how these two sorts of Necessity are under 
stood, as the terms are sometimes used, and as they are 
used in the following discourse. 

The phrase, Moral Necessity, is used variously; 
sometimes it is used for a necessity of moral obligation. 
So we say, a man is under Necessity, when he is under 
bonds of duty and conscience, which he cannot be dis 
charged from. So the word Necessity is often used for 

Sect. IV.] of Natural and Moral Necessity. 25 

great obligation in point of interest. Sometimes by 
.A/oral Necessity is meant that apparent connection of 
thing s, which is the ground of moral evidence ; and so 
is distinguished from absolute Necessity, or that sure 
connection of things, that is a foundation for infallible 
certainty. In this sense, Moral Necessity, signifies 
much the same as that high degree of probability, which 
is ordinarily sufficient to satisfy, and be relied upon by 
mankind, in their conduct and behaviour in the world, 
as they would consult their own safety and interest, and 
treat others properly as members of society. And 
sometimes by Moral Necessity is meant that Necessity 
of connection and consequence, which arises from such 
moral causes, as the strength of inclination, or motives, 
and the connection which there is in many cases between 
these, and such certain volilions and actions. And it is . 
in this sense, that I use the phrase, Moral Necessity, in 
the following discourse. 

By Natural Necessity, as applied to men, I mean 
such Necessity as men are under through the force of 
natural causes ; as distinguished from what are called 
moral causes, such as habits and dispositions of the heart, 
and moral motives and inducements. Thus men placed 
in certain circumstances, are the subjects of particular 
sensations by Necessity ; they feel pain when their bo 
dies are wounded ; they see the objects presented before 
them in a clear light, when their eyes are opened : so 
they assent to the truth of certain propositions, as soon 
as the terms are understood ; as that two and two make 
four, that black is not white, that two parallel lines can 
never cross one another ; so by a natural Necessity 
mens bodies move downwards, when there is nothing- 
to support them. 

hut here several things may be noted concerning 
these two kinds of Necessity. 

1. Moral Necessity may be as absolute, as natural 
Necessity. That is, the effect may be as perfectly con 
nected with its moral cause, as a natural necessary effect 
is with its natural cause. Whether the Will in every 

66 of natural and moral Necessity. [Part I. 

case is necessarily determined by the strongest motive, 
or whether the Will ever makes any resistance to such 
a motive, or can ever oppose the strongest present in 
clination, or not; if that matter should be controverted, 
yet I suppose none will deny, but that, in some cases, 
a previous bias and inclination, or the motive presented-, 
may be so powerful, that the act of the Will may be 
certainly and indissolubly connected therewith. When 
motives or previous bias are very strong 1 , all will allow 
that there is some difficulty in going- against them. And 
if they were yet stronger, the difficulty would be still 
greater. And therefore, if more were still added to 
their strength, to a certain degree, it would make the 
difficulty so great, that it would be wholly impossible to 
surmount it ; for this plain reason, because whatever 
power men may be supposed to have to surmount diffi 
culties, yet that power is not infinite ; and so g oes not 
beyond certain limits. If a man can surmount ten de 
grees of difficulty of this kind with twenty degrees of 
strength, because the degrees of strength are beyond 
the degrees of difficulty : yet if the difficulty be increas 
ed to thirty, or an hundred or a thousand degrees, and 
his strength not also encreased, his strength will be 
wholly insufficient to surmount the difficulty. As there 
fore it must be allowed, that there may be such a thing 
as a sure and perfect connection between moral causes 
and effects ; so this only is what I call by the name of 
Jlforal Necessity. 

2. When I use this distinction of moral and natural 
Necessity, I would not be understood to suppose, that 
if any thing comes to pass by the former kind of Neces 
sity, the nature of things is not concerned in it, as well 
as in the latter. I do not mean to determine, that when 
a moral habit or motive is so strong, that the act of the 
Will infallibly follows, this is not owing to the nature of 
things. But these are the names that these two kinds 
of Necessity have usually been called by ; and they must 
be distinguished by some names or other ; for there is a 
distinction or difference between them that is very im 

Sect. IV.] of Natural and Moral Necessity. 27 

portant in its consequences. Which difference does not 
lie so much in the nature of the connection, as in the 
two terms connected. The cause with which the effect 
is connected, is a particular kind ; viz. that which is of a 
moral nature , either some previous habitual disposition, 
or some motive exhibited to the understanding 1 . And the 
effect is also of a particular kind ; being- likewise of a 
moral nature; consisting in some inclination or volition 
of the soul or voluntary action. 

I suppose that necessity which is called natural, in 
distinction from moral necessity, is so called, because 
mere nature, as the word is vulgarly used, is concerned, 
without any thing of choice. The word nature is often 
used in opposition to choice ; not because nature has in 
deed never any hand in our choice ; but this probably 
comes to pass by means that we first get our notion of 
nature from that discernible and obvious course of events, 
which we observe in many things that our choice has no , 
concern in ; and especially in the material world ; which, 
in very many parts of it, we easily perceive to be in a; 
settled course ; the stated order and manner of succes 
sion being very apparent. But where we do not readi 
ly discern the rule and connection, (though there be a 
connection, according to an established law, truly taking 
place) we signify the manner of event by some other 
name. Even in many things which are seen in the ma 
terial and inanimate world, which do not discernibly and 
obviously coine to pass according to any settled course, 
men do not call the manner of the event by the name of 
nature, but by such names as accident, chance, conting 
ent, 4 c. So men make a distinction between nature and 
choice : as though they were completely and universally 
distinct. Whereas, 1 suppose none will deny but that 
choice, in many cases, arises from nature, as truly as 
other events. But the dependance and connection be 
tween acts of volition or choice, and their causes according 
to established laws, is not so sensible and obvious. And 
we observe that choice is as it were a new principle of 
motion and action, different from that established law and 

28 of Natural and Moral Necessity. [Parti. 

order of things which is most obvious, that is seen espe 
cially in corporeal and sensible things ; and also the choice 
often interposes, interrupts and alters the chain of events 
in these external objects, and causes them to proceed 
otherwise than they would do, if let alone, and left to go 
on according to the laws of motion among themselves. 
Hence it is spoken of as if it were n principle of motion 
entirely distinct from nature, and properly set in opposi 
tion to it. Names being commonly given to things, ac 
cording to what is most obvious, and is suggested by what 
appears to the senses without reflection and research. 

5. It must be observed, that in what has been explain 
ed, as signified by the name of Moral Necessity, the 
word Necessity is not used according to the original de 
sign and meaning of the word : for as was observed before, 
such terms, necessary r , impossible, irresistible, &c. in com 
mon speech, and their most proper sense, are alvrays re 
lative ; having reference to some supposable voluntary 
opposition or endeavour, that is insufficient. But no 
such opposition, or contrary will and endeavour, is sup 
posable in the case of moral Necessity ; which is a cer 
tainty of the inclination and will itself; which does not 
admit of the supposition of a will to oppose and resist it. 
For it is a" surd, to suppose the same individual wiil to 
oppose itself, in its present act ; or the present choice to 
be opposite to, and resisting present choice : as absurd as 
it is to talk of two contrary motions, in the same moving 
body, at the same time. And therefore the very case 
supposed never admits of any trial, whether an opposing 
or resisting will can overcome this Necessity. 

What has been said of natural and moral Necessity, 
may serve to explain what is intended by natural and mo 
ral inability. We are said to be naturally unable to do 
a thing, when we cannot do it if we will, because what 
is most commonly called nature do not allow of it, or be 
cause of some impeding defect or obstacle that is ex 
trinsic to the will ; either in the faculty of understanding, 
constitution of body, or external objects. Moral Ina 
bility consists not in any of these things ; but either in 


Sect. IV.] Of Moral Inability. 29 

the want of inclination ; or the strength of a contrary incli 
nation ; or the want of sufficient motives in view, to in 
duce and excite the act of the will, or the strength of 
apparent motives lo the contrary. Or both these may 
be resolved into one; and it may be said in one word, 
that moral Inability consists in the opposition nor want 
of inclination. For, when a person is unable to will 
or choose such a thing 1 , through a defect of motives, 
or 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, in such circum 
stances, and under the influence of such views. 

To give some instances of this Moral Inability A 
woman of great honour and chastity, may have a moral 
Inability to prostitute herself to her slave. A child of 
great love and duty to his parents, may be unable to be 
willing to kill his father. A very lascivious man, in case 
of certain opportunities and temptations, and in the ab 
sence of such and such circumstances, may be unable to 
forbear gratifying his lust. A drunkard, under such and 
such circumstances, may be unable to forbear taking of 
strong drink. A very malicious man may be unable to 
exert benevolent acts to an enemy, or to desire his pros 
perity : yea, some may be so under the power of a vile 
disposition, that they may be unable to love those who 
are most worthy of their esteem and affection. A strong 
habit of virtue, and great degree ef holiness may cause a 
moral Inability to love wickedness in general ; may ren 
der a man unable to take complacence in wicked persons 
or things ; or to choose a wicked life, and prefer it to a 
virtuous life. And on the other hand, a great degree of 
habitual wickedness may lay a man under an Inability 
to love and choose holiness ; and render him utterly un 
able to love an infinitely holy Being, or to choose and 
cleave to him as ]\h chief good. 

Here it may be of use to observe this distinction of 
moral Inability ; viz. of that which is general and habU 
tual, and that which is particular and occasional. By a 
general and habitual moral Inability, 1 mean an Inabili 
ty in trie heart to all exercises or acts of will of that na.- 

30 Of Moral Inability. [Part I. 

ture or kind, through a fixed and habitual inclination, 
or an habitual and stated defect, or want of a certain 
kind of inclination. Thus a very ill-natured man may be 
unable to exert such acts of benevolence, as another, who 
is full of good nature, commonly exerts , and a man, 
whose heart is habitually void of gratitude, may be un 
able to exert such and such grateful acts, through that 
stated defect of a grateful inclination. By particular 
and occasional moral Inability, I mean an Inability of 
the will or heart to a particular act, through the strength 
or defect of present motives, or of inducements pre 
sented to the view of the understanding, on this occa 
sion. If it be so, that the will is always determined 

by the strongest motive, then it must always have an In 
ability, in this latter sense, to act otherwise than it does ; 
it not being possible, in any case, that the will should, 
at present, go against the motive which has now, all 
things considered, the greatest strength and advantage 
to excite and induce it. The former of these kinds 
of moral Inability, consisting in that which is stated, 
habitual and general, is most commonly called by the 
name of Inability ; because the word Inability, in its 
most proper and original signification, has respect to 
some stated deject. And this especially obtains the name 
of Inability also upon another account: L before ob 
served, that the word Inability, in its original and most 
common use, is a relative term ; and has respect to will 
and endeavour, as supposable in the case, and as insuffi 
cient to bring to pass the thing desired and endeavoured. 
Now, there may be more of an appearance and shadow 
of this, with respect to the acts which arise from a fixed 
and strong habit, than others that arise only from tran 
sient occasions and causes. Indeed, will and endeavour 
against, or diverse from, present acts of the will, are in 
no case supposable, whether those acts be occasional or 
habitual ; for that would be to suppose the will, at pre 
sent, to be otherwise than, at present, it is. But yet 
there may be will and endeavour against future acts of 
the will, or volitions that are likely to take place, as 


Sect. IV.] Of Moral Inability. 51 

viewed at a distance. It is no contradiction, to suppose 
that the acts of the will at one time, may be against the 
acts of the will at another time ; and there may be de 
sires and endeavours to prevent or excite future acts of 
the will ; but such desires and endeavours are, in many 
cases, rendered insufficient and vain, through fixedness 
of habit ; when the occasion returns, the strength of 
habit overcomes and baffles all such opposition. In this 
respect, a man may be in miserable slavery and bondage 
to a strong habit. But it may be comparatively easy to 
make an alteration with respect to such future acts, as 
are only occasional and transient ; because the occasion 
or transient cause, if foreseen, may often easily be pre 
vented or avoided. On this account, the moral Inabili 
ty that attends fixed habits, especially obtains the name 
of Inability. And then, as the will may remotely and 
indirectly resist itself, and do it in vain, in the case of 
strong habits ; so reason may resist present acts of the 
will, and its resistance be insufficient ; and this is more 
commonly the case also, when the acts arise from strong- 

But it must be observed concerning moral Inability, 
in each kind of it, that the word Inability is used in a 
sense very diverse from its original import. The word 
signifies only a natural Inability, in the proper use of 
it ; and is applied to such cases only wherein a present 
will or inclination to the tiling, with respect to which a 
person is said to be unable, is supposable. It cannot 
be truly said, according to the ordinary use of language, 
that a malicious man, let him be never so malicious, can 
not hold his hand from striking, or that he is not able 
to shew his neighbour kindness ; or that a drunkard, let 
his appetite be never so strong, cannot keep the cup 
from his mouth. In the strictest propriety of speech, a 
man has a thing in his power, if he has it in his choice, 
or at his election : and a man cannot be truly said to be 
unable to do a thing, when he can do it if he will. It 
is improperly said, that a person cannot perform those 
external actions, which are dependent on the act of the 

32 The Notion of Liberty. [Part L 

will, and which would be easily performed, if the act of 
the will were present. And if it be improperly said, 
that he cannot perform those external voluntary actions, 
which depend on the will, it is in some respect more 
improperly said, that he is unable to exert the acts of 
the will themselves ; because it is more evidently false, 
with respect to these, that he cannot if he will : for to 
say so, is a downright contradiction : it is easy to 
say he cannot will, if he does will. And in this case, 
not only is it true, that it is easy for a man to do the 
thing if he will, but the very willing is the doing ; when 
once he was willed, the thing is performed ; and nothing 
else remains to be done. Therefore, in these things to 
ascribe a non-performance to the want of power or abili 
ty, is not just ; because the thing wanting is not a be 
ing able, but a being willing. There are faculties of 
mind, and capacity of nature, and every thing else, 
sufficient, but a disposition; nothing is wanting but a will. 


Concerning the Notion of Liberty, and of Moral 

rpHE plain and obvious meaning of the words Free- 
" dom and Liberty, in common speech, is power, op 
portunity, or advantage, that any one has, to do as he 
pleases. Or, in other words, his being free from hind 
rance or impediment in the way of doing, or conducting 
in any respect, as he wills*. And the contrary to liber 
ty, whatever name we may call that by, is a person s 
being hindered or unable to conduct as he will, or being 
necessitated to do otherwise. 

I say not only doing, but conducting ,- because a voluntary for 
bearing to do, sitting still, keeping silence, &c. are instances of 
persons conduct, about winch Liberty is exercised: though they 
are not so properly called doing. 


Sect. V.] And of Moral Agency. 33 

If this which I h;ive mentioned be the moaning of 
the word Liberty, in the ordinary use of language ; as 
I trust that none has ever learned to talk, and is unpre 
judiced, will deny : then it will follow, that in propriety 
of speech, neither Liberty, nor its contrary, can pro 
perly be ascribed to any being or tiling, but that which 
has such a faculty, power or property, as is called will. 
For that which is possessed of no such thing as will, 
cannot have any power or opportunity of doing 1 accord 
ing to its will, nor be necessitated to act contrary to its 
will, nor be restrained from acting agreeable to it. And 
therefore to talk of Liberty, or the contrary, as belong 
ing to the very will itsdf, is not to speak good sense ; 
if we judge of sense, and nonsense, by the original and 
proper signification of the words. Tor the will itself 
is not an Agent that has a will : the power of choosing, 
itself, lias not a power of choosing. That which has the 
power of volition or choice is the man or the gouj^and 
not the power of volition itself. And he that has the liber 
ty of doing- according to his will, is the agent or doer who 
is possessed of the will ; and not the will which ho is 
possessed of. We say with propriety, that a bird let 
loose has power and liberty to iiy : but not that the 
bird s power of Hying has a power and liberty of trying. 
To be free is the property of an agent, who is possessed 
of powers and faculties, as much as to be cunning, va 
liant, bountiful, or zealous. But these qualities an* tiie^ 
properties of men or persons ; and not the properties of 

There are two things that are contrary to this which 
is called Liberty in common speech. One is constraint : 
the same is otherwise called force, compulsion, and coac- 
tion ; which is a person s being necessitated to do a thing 
contrary to his will. The other is restraint ; which is 
his being- hindered, and not having power to do according 
to his will. But that which has no will, cannot, be the 
subject of these things. I need say the less on this 
head, Mr Locke having set the same thing forth, with so 
great clearness, in his Essay on the Human Understand- 

34 The Notion of Liberty. [Part I. 

But one thing more I would observe concerning what 
is vulgarly called Liberty ; namely, that power and op 
portunity for one to do and conduct as he will, or ac 
cording to his choice, in all that is meant by it ; without 
taking into the meaning of the word, any thing of the 
cause or original of that choice; or at all considering 
how the person came to have such a volition ; whether 
it was caused by some exterrtal motive, or internal habi 
tual bias ; whether it was determined by some internal 
antecedent volition, or whether it happened without a 
cause ; whether it was necessarily connected with some 
thing foregoing, or not connected. Let the person come 
by his volition or choice how he will, yet, if he is able, 
and there is nothing in the way to hinder his pursuing 
and executing his will, the man is fully and perfectly 
free, according to the primary and common notion of 

What has been said may be sufficient to shew what is 
meant by Liberty, according to the common notions of 
mankind, and in the usual and primary acceptation of 
the word : but the word, as used by Arminians, Pela 
gians , and others who oppose the Cafotnists, has an en 
tirely diiferent signification. These several things be 
long to their notion of liberty. ]. That it consists in a 
self determining power in the will, or a certain sove 
reignty the will has over itself, and its own acts, where* 
by it determines its own volitions ; so as not to be de 
pendent in its determination, on any cause without it 
self, nor determined by any thing prior to its own acts. 
2. Indifference belongs to Liberty in their notion of it, 
or that the mind, previous to the act of volition be, in 
equilibria. 3. Contingence is another thing that belongs 
and is essential to it ; not in the common acceptation of 
the word, as that has been already explained, but as op 
posed to all necessity , or any fixed and certain connec 
tion with some previous ground or reason of its exist 
ence. They suppose the essence of Liberty so much to 
consist in these things, that unless the will of man be 
free in this sense, he has no real freedom, how much 
soever he may be at liberty to act according to his will- 


Sect. V.] And of Moral Agency. go 

A Moral Agent is a being that is capable of those ac 
tions that have a moral quality, and which can properly 
be denominated good or evil in a moral sense, virtuous 
or vicious, commendable or faulty. To moral Agency 
belongs a moral faculty, or sense of moral good and 
evil, or such a thing as desert or worthiness, of praise 
or blame, reward or punishment; and a capacity which 
an Agent has of being influenced in his actions by moral 
inducements or motives, exhibited to the view of under 
standing and reason, to engage to a conduct agreeable 
to the moral faculty. 

The sun is very excellent and beneficial in its action 
and influence on the earth, in warming it, and causing 
it to bring forth its fruits ; but it is not a moral Agent : 
its action, though good, is not virtuous or meritorious. 
Fire that breaks out in a city, and consumes great part 
of it, is very mischievous in its operation ; but is not a 
moral Agent : what it does is not faulty or sinful, or de 
serving of any punishment. The brute creatures are 
not moral Agents ; the actions of some of them are very 
profitable and pleasant; others are very hurtful: yet, 
seeing they have no moral faculty, or sense of desert, 
and do not act from choice guided by understanding, or 
with a capacity of reasoning and reflecting, but only 
from instinct, and are not capable of being influenced by 
moral inducements, their actions are not properly sinful 
or virtuous ; nor are they properly the subjects of any 
such moral treatment for what they do, as moral Agents 
are for their faults or good deeds. 

Here it may be noted, that there is a circumstantial 
difference between the moral Agency of a ruler and a 
subject. I call it circumstantial, because it lies only in 
the difference of moral inducements they are capable of 
being influenced by, arising from the difference of cir 
cumstances. A ruler acting in that capacity only, is not 
capable of being influenced by a moral law, and its sanc 
tions of threatening* and promises, rewards and punish 
ments, as the subject is ; though both may be influenced 
by a knowledge of moral good and evil. And therefore 

3D The Notion of Liberty. [Part I. 

the moral Agency of the Supreme Being, who acts only 
in the capacity of a ruler towards his creatures, and 
never as a subject, differs in that respect from ^ the moral 
Agency of created intelligent beings. God s actions, 
ami particularly those which he exerts as a moral gover 
nor, have moral qualifications, are morally good in the 
highest degree. They are most perfectly holy and 
righteous ; and we must conceive of Kim as influenced 
in the highest degree, by that which, above all others, 
is properly a moral inducement ; viz. the moral good 
which he sees in such and such things : and therefore 
He is, in the most proper sense, a moral Agent, the 
source of moral ability and Agency, the fountain and 
rule of all virtue and moral good; though by reason of 
his being supreme over all, it is not possible He should 
be under the influence of law or command, promises or 
threatenings, rewards or punishments, counsels or warn 
ings. The essential qualities of a moral Agent are in 
God, in the greatest possible perfection ; such an under 
standing, to perceive the difference between moral good 
and evil ; a capacity of discerning that moral worthiness 
and demerit, by which some things are praise-worthy, 
others deserving of blame and punishment ; and also a 
capacity of choice, and choice guided by understanding, 
and power of acting according to his choice or pleasure, 
and being capable of doing thohe things which are in the 
highest sense praise-worthy. And herein does very 
much consist that image of God wherein he made man, 
(which we read of Gen. i. 26, 21. and chap. ix. (>.) by 
which God distinguished man from the beas s ; viz. in 
those faculiies and principles of nature, whereby He is 
capable of moral Agency. Herein very much consists 
the natural image of God ; as his spiritual and moral 
image, wherein man was made ai first, consisted in that 
moral excellency, that he was endowed with. 


Wherein it is considered whether there is or can be any such Sort cf 
FREEDOM OF WILL, as that wherein ARMIVIASS place the Es 
sence of the Liberty of all Moral Agents; and whether any such 
Thing ever was or can be conceived of. 


Shewing the manifest Inconsistence of the Ar-< 
minian Notio?i of Liberty of JVill, consisting 
of the I VilFs self-determining Power. 

TT1TAVING taken notice of those thing s which may 
*" be necessiry to be observed, concerning the mean 
ing of the principal terms and phrases made use of in 
controversies concerning Human Liberty, and particu 
larly observed what Liberty is according to the common 
" language and general apprehension of mankind, and 
what it is as understood and maintained by Arminians ; 
I proceed to consider the Arminian notion of the ^ree- 
dom of the, Will^ and the supposed necessity of it in 
order to Moral Agency, or in order to any one s be 
ing capable of virtue or vice, and properly the sub 
ject of command or counsel, praise or blame, promi 
ses or threatenings, rewards or punishments ; or whe 
ther that which has been described, as the thing meant 
by liberty in common speech, be not sufficient and the 
only liberty, which makes, or can make any one a moral 
agent, and so properly the subject of these things. In 
this Part, I shaM consider whether any such thing be 
possible or conceiveabie, as that Freedom of Will 
which Arminians insist on ; and shall enquire, whether 
any such sort of Liberty be necessary to moral agency, 
Sfc. in the next Part. 

And first of all, I shall consider the notion of a self- 
determining Power in the Will : wherein, according 1 to 

38 The Inconsistence of [Part II. 

the Arminians, does most essentially consist in the 
Will s Freedom ; and shall particularly enquire, whe 
ther it be not plainly absurd, and a manifest inconsist- 
ence, to suppose that the will itself determines all the 
free acts of the Will. 

Here I shall not insist on the great impropriety of 
such phrases, and ways of speaking-, as the Will s deter 
mining itself i because actions are to be ascribed Jo agents, 
and not properly to the power of agents ; which 
improper way of speaking leads to many mistakes 
and much confusion, as Mr Locke observes. But I 
shall suppose that the Arminians, when they speak of 
the Will s determining itself, do by the Will mean the 
soul willing. I shall take it for granted, that when 
they speak of the Will, as the determiner, they mean 
the soul in the exercise of a power of wilting, or acting 
voluntarily. I shall suppose this to be their meaning, 
because nothing else can be meant, without the grossest 
and plainest absurdity. In all cases when we speak of 
the powers or principles of acting, as doing such things, 
we mean that the agents which have these Powers of 
acting, do them, in the exercise of those Powers. So 
when we say, valour fights courageously, we mean, the 
man who is under the influence of valour fights courage 
ously. When we say, love seeks the object loved, we 
mean the person loving seeks that object. When we 
say, the understanding discerns, we mean the soul in 
the exercise of that faculty. So when it is said, the 
will decides or determines, the meaning must be, that 
the person in the exercise of a Power of willing- and 
choosing, or the soul acting voluntarily, determines. 

Therefore, if the Will determines all its own free 
acts, the soul determines all the free acts of the will 
in the exercise of a Power of willing and choosing ; 
or, which is the same thing, it determines them 
of choice ; it determines its own acts by choosing 
its own acts. If the Will determines the Will, then 
choice orders and determines the choice : and acts of 
choice are subject to the decision, and follow the conduct 

Sect. I.] Self -determining Power. 39 

of other acts of choice. And therefore if the Will de 
termines all its own free acts, then every free act of 
choice is determined by a preceding act of choice, choos 
ing that act. And if that preceding act of the Will or 
choice be also a free act, then by these principles, in 
this act too, the Will is self-determined : that is, this, 
in like manner, is an act that the soul voluntarily choos^ 
es ; or, which is the same thing, it is an act determined 
still by a preceding act of the Will, choosing that. And 
the like may again be observed of the last mentioned 
act. Which brings us directly to a contradiction : for 
it supposes an act of the Will preceding the first act in 
the whole train, directing and determining the rest ; or 
a free act of the Will, before the first free act of the 
Will. Or else we must come at last to an act of the 
Will, determining the consequent acts, wherein the 
Will is not self-determined, and so is not a free act, in 
this notion of freedom : but if the first act in the train, 
determining and fixing the rest, be not free, none of 
them all can be free : as is manifest at first view, but 
shall be demonstrated presently. 

If the Will, which we find governs the members of 
the body, and determines and commands their motions 
and actions, does also govern itself, and determine its 
own motions and actions, it doubtless determines them 
the same way, even by antecedent volitions. The Will 
determines which way the hands and feet shall move, by 
an act of volition or choice : and there is no other way 
of the Will s determining, directing, or commanding any 
thing at all. Whatsoever the Will commands, it com 
mands by an act of the Will. And if it has itself under 
its command, and determines itself in its own actions, 
it doubtless does it the same way that it determines 
other things which are under its command. So that if 
the freedom of the Will consists in this, that it has itself 
and its own actions under its command and direction, 
and its own volitions are determined by itself, it will 
follow, that every free volition arises from another ante 
cedent volition, directing and commanding that : and if 
that directing volition be also free, in that also the will 

40 The Inconmtence of [Part It. 

is determined ; that is to say, that directing volition is 
determined by another going before that : and so on till 
we come to the first volition in the whole series : and 
if that first volition be free, and the Will self-determined 
in it, then that is determined by another volition prece 
ding that. Which is a contradiction ; because by the 
supposition, it can have none before it, to direct or de 
termine it, being the first in the train. Rut if that first 
volition is not determined by any preceding act of the 
Will, then that act is not determined by the Will, 
and so is not free in the Anninian notion of free 
dom, which consists in the Will s self-determination. 
And if that first act of the Will, which determines and 
fixes the subsequent acts, be not free, none of the fol 
lowing acts, which are determined by it, can be free, 
if we suppose there are five acts in the train, the fifth 
and last determined by the fourth, and the fourth by the 
third, the third by the second, and the second by the 
first ; if the first is not determined by the Will, and so 
not free, then none of them are truly determined by the 
Will : that is, that each of them are as they are, and 
not otherwise, is not first owing to the Will, but to the 
determination, of the first in the series, which is not de 
pendant on the Will, and is that which the Will has no 
hand in the determination of. And this being that 
which decides what the rest shall he, and determines 
their existence ; therefore the first determination of 
their existence is not from the Will. The case is just 
the same, if instead of a chain of five acts of the Will, 
we should suppose a succession often, or an hundred, or 
ten thousand. If the first act be not free, being deter 
mined by something out of the Will, and this deter 
mines the next to be agreeable to itself, and that the 
next, and so on ; they are none of them free, but all 
originally depend on, and are determined by, some cause 
out of the Will : and so all freedom in the case is exclu 
ded, and no act of the Will can be free, according to 
this notion of freedom. If we should suppose a long 
chain of ten thousand links, so connected, that if the 

Sect. I.] Self-determining Power. 41 

first link moves, it will move the next, and that the 
next ; and so the whole chain must be determined to 
motion, and in the direction of its motion by the motion 
of the first link ; and that is moved by something else : 
in this case, though all the links, but t>ne, are moved by 
other parts of the same chain ; yet it appears that the 
motion of no one, nor the direction of its motion, is 
from any self-moving or self-determining Power in the 
chain, any more than if every Jink were immediately 
moved by something that did not belong to the chain. 
If the will be not free in the first act, which causes the 
next, then neither is it free in the next, which is caused by 
that first act : for though indeed the will caused it, 
yet it did not cause it freely ; because the preceding 
act, by which it was caused, was not free. And again, 
if the will be not free in the second act, so neither can 
it be in the third, which is caused by that ; because, in 
like manner, that third was determined by an act of the 
will that was not free. And so we may go on to the 
next act, and from that to the next ; and how long so 
ever the succession of acts is, it is all one ; if the first, 
on which the whole chain depends, and which deter 
mines all the rest, be not a free act, the will is not free 
in causing or determining any one of those acts, be 
cause the act by which it determines them all, is not a 
free act ; and therefore the will is no more free in de 
termining them, than if it did not cause them at all. 
Thus, this Arminian notion of Liberty of the Will, 
consisting in the Will s Self determination , is repugnant 
to itself, and shuts itself wholly out of the world. 


Several supposed Ways of evading the foregoing 
Reasoning considered. 

~JF to evade the force of what has been observed, it 
* should be said, that when the Arminians speak of 


42 Supposed Evasions considered. [Part II. 

the will s determining its own acts, they do not mean 
that the will determines its acts by any preceding act, 
or that one act of the will determines another ; hut only 
that the faculty or power of will, or the soul in the use 
of that power, determines its own volitions, and (hat it 
does it without any act going before the act determined ; 
such an evasion would be full of the most gross absurdi 
ty. 1 confess^ it is an evasion of my own inventing ; 

and I do not know but I should wrong the Arminians, 
in supposing that any of them would make use of it. 
But it being as good a one as I can invent, I would ob 
serve upon it a few things. 

First. If the faculty or power of the will determines 
an act of volition, or the soul in the use or exercise of 
that power, determines it, that is the same thing as for 
the soul to determine volition by an act of will. For an 
exercise of the power of will, and an act of that power, 
are the same thing. Therefore to say, that the power 
of will, or the soul in the use or exercise of that power, 
determines volition, without an act of will preceding the 
volition determined, is a contradiction. 

Secondly. If a power of will determines the act of 
the will, then a power of choosing determines it. For, 
as was before observed, in every act of will, there is 
choice, and a power of willing is a power of choosing. * 
But if a power of choosing determines the act of volition, 
it determines it by choosing it. For it is most absurd to 
say, that a power of choosing determines one thing ra 
ther than another, without choosing any thing. But if 
a power of choosing determines volition by choosing it, 
then here is the act of volition determined by an antece 
dent choice, choosing that volition, 

Thirdly. To say, the faculty, or the soul, determines 
its own volition, but not by any act, is a contradiction. 
Because for the soul to direct, decide, or determine any 
thing, is to act ; and this is supposed ; for the soul is 
here spoken of as being a cause in this affair, bringing 
something to pass, or doing something ; or, which is the 
same thing, exerting itself in order to an effect, which 


Sect. II.] Supposed Evasions considered. 43 

effect is the determination of volition, or the particular 
kind and manner of an act of will. But certainly this 
exertion or action is not the same with the effect, in 
order to the production of which it is exerted ; but 
must he something prior to it. 

Again : I he advocates for this notion of the freedom 
of the will, speak of a certain sovereignty in the will, 
whereby it has power to determine its own volitions. 
And therefore the determination of volition must itself 
be ai*. act of the will ; for otherwise it can be no exercise 
of that supposed power and sovereignty. 

Again . If the will determines itself, then either the 
will is active in determining- its volitions, or it is not 
If it be active in it, then the determination is an act of 
the will ; and so there is one act of the will determining 
another. But if the will is not active in the determina 
tion, then how does it exercise any liberty in it ? These 
gentlemen suppose that the thing wherein the will exer 
cises liberty, is in its determining its own acts : but 
how can this be, if it be not active in determining ? 
Certainly the will, or the soul, cannot exercise any li 
berty in that wherein it doth not act, or wherein it doth 
not exercise itself. So that if either part of this dilem 
ma be taken, this scheme of liberty, consisting in self- 
determining power, is overthrown. If there be an act 
of the will in determining all its own free acts, then 
one free act of the will is determined by another \ and 
so we have the absurdity of every free act, even the 
very first, determined by a foregoing free act. But if 
there be no act or exercise of the will in determining 
its own acts, then no liberty is exercised in determining 
them. From whence it follows, that no liberty consists 
in the will s power to determine its own acts ; or, which 
is the same thing, that there is no such thing as liberty 
consisting in a self-determining power of the will. 

If it should be said, j. hat although it be true, if the 
soul determines its own volitions, it must be active in so 
doing, and the determination itself must be an act ; yet 
there is no need of supposing tnis act to be prior to the 

44 Supposed Evasions considered. [Part II. 

volition determined : but the will or soul determines the 
act of the will in willing ; it determines its own volition, 
in the very act of volition ; it directs and limits the act 
of the will, causing it to be so and not otherwise, in ex 
erting- the act, without any preceding 1 act to exert that. 
If any should say after this manner, they must mean 
one of these three things ; Either, (1.) That the deter 
mining act, though it be before the act determined in 
the order of nature, yet it is not before it in order of 
time. Or, (2.) That the determining act is not before 
the act determined, either in the order of time or nature, 
nor is truly distinct from it , but that the soul s deter 
mining the act of volition is the same thing with its ex 
erting the act of volition : the mind s exerting such a 
particular act, is its causing and determining the act. 
Or, (3.) That volition has no cause, and is no effect; 
but comes into existence, with such a particular determi 
nation, without any ground or reason of its existence and 
determination. I shall consider these distinctly. 

(1.) If all that is meant be, that the determining 
act is not before the act determined in order of time, it 
will not help the case at all, though it should be allow 
ed. If it be before the determined act in the order of 
nature, being the cause or ground of its existence, this 
as much proves it to be distinct from it, and independent 
on it, as if it were before in the order of time. As the 
cause of the particular motion of a natural body in a 
certain direction, may have no distance as to time, yet 
cannot be the same with the motion effected by it, but 
must be as distinct from it, as any other cause, that is 
before its effect in the order of time : as the architect 
is distinct from the house which he builds, or the father 
distinct from the son which he begets. And if the act 
of the will determining be distinct from the act deter 
mined, and before it in the order of nature, then we can 
go back from one to another, till we come to the first in 
the series, which has no act of the will before it in the 
order of nature, determining it; and consequently is an 
act not determined by the will, and so not a free act, in 

Sect. II. ] Supposed Evasions considered. 45 

this notion of freedom. And this being the act which 
determines all the rest, none of them are free acts. As 
when there is a chain of many links, the first of which 
only is taken hold of and drawn hy hand ; all the rest 
may follow and be moved at the same in.stant, without 
any distance of time ; but yet the motion of one link is 
before that of another in the order of nature ; the last is 
moved by the next, and that by the next, and so till we 
come to the first ; which not being moved by any other, 
but by something distinct from the whole chain, this as 
much proves that no part is moved by any self- moving 
power in the chain, as if the motion of one link follow 
ed that of another in the order of time. 

(2) If any should say, that the determining act is 
not before the determined act, either in the order of 
time, or of nature, nor is distinct from it ; but that the 
exertion of the act is the determination of the act ; that 
for the soul to exert a particular volition, is for it to 
cause and determine that act of volition : I would on 
this observe, that the thing in question seems to be 
forgotten, i,r kept out of sight, in a darkness and unin 
telligibleness of speech ; unless such an objector would 
mean to contradict himself. The very act of volitiori 
itself is doubtless a determination of mind ; i. e. it is 
the mind s drawing up a conclusion, or coming to a choice 
between two things, or more, proposed to it. But de 
termining among external objects of choice, is not the 
same with determining the act of choice itself, among 
various possible acts of choice. The question is, What 
influences, directs, or determines the mind or will to 
come to such a conclusion or choice as it does ? Or what 
is the cause, ground, or reason, why it concludes thus, 
and not otherwise ? Now it must be answered, according 
to the Anninian notion of freedom, that the will influen 
ces, orders, and determines itself thus to act. Arid if 
it does, I say, it must be by some antecedent act. To 
say, it is caused, influenced, and determined by some 
thing, and yet not determined by any thing antecedent, 
either in order of time or nature, is a contradiction. For 

46 Supposed Evasions considered. [Part II. 

that is what is meant by a thing s being prior in the order 
of nature, that it is some way the cause or reason of the 
other thing, with respect to which it is said to be prior. 

If the particular act or exertion of will which comes 
into existence, be any thing properly determined at all, 
then it has some cause of its existing, and of its exist 
ing in such a particular determinate manner, and not 
another ; some cause, whose influence decides the mat 
ter ; which cause is distinct from the effect, and prior to 
it. But to say, that the will or mind orders, influences, 
and determines itself to exert such an act as it does, by 
the very exertion itself, is to make the exertion both 
cause and effect ; or the exerting such an act, to be a 
cause of the exertion of such an act. For the question 
is, What is the cause and reason of the soul s exerting 
such an act ? To which the answer is, The soul exerts 
such an act, and that is the cause of it. And so, by 
this, the exertion must be prior in the order of nature to 
itself, and distinct from itself. 

(3.) If the meaning be, that the soul s exertion of 
such a particular act of will, is a thing that comes to pass 
of itself , without any cause ; and that there is absolute 
ly no ground or reason of the soul s being determined to 
exert such a volition, and make such a choice, rather 
than another; I say, if this be the meaning of Annini- 
ans, when they contend so earnestly for the will s de 
termining its own acts, and for liberty of will, consisting 
in self-determining power; they do nothing but con 
found themselves and others with words without a mean- 
ing. In the question, What determines the will ? and 
in their answer, that The will determines itself, and in 
all the dispute about it, it seems to be taken for granted, 
that something determines the will; and the controversy 
on this head is not, whether any thing at all determines 
it, or whether its determination has any cause or foun 
dation at all ; but where the foundation of it is, whether 
in the will itself, or somewhere else. But if the thing 
intended be what is above-mentioned, then all comes to 
this, that nothing at all determines the will ; volition 

Sect. II.] Supposed Evasions considered. 47 

having absolutely no cause or foundation of its existence, 
either within, or without. There is a great noise made 
about self-determining 1 power, as the source of all free 
acts of the will ; but when the matter comes to be ex 
plained, the meaning is, that no power at all is the 
source of these acts, neither self-determining power, nor 
any other, but they arise from nothing ; no cause, no 
power, no influence, being at all concerned in the mat 

However, this very thing, even that the free acts of 
the will are events which come to pass without a cause, 
is certainly implied in the Armiman notion of liberty of 
will ; though it be very inconsistent with many other 
things in their scheme, and repugnant to some things 
implied in their notion of liberty. Their opinion im 
plies, that the particular determination of volition is 
without any cause ; because they hold the free acts of 
the will to be contingent events; and contingence is 
essential to freedom in their notion of it. But certain 
ly, those things which have a prior ground and reason 
of their particular existence, a cause which antecedently 
determines them to be, and determines them to be just 
as they are, do not happen contingently. If something 
foregoing, by a casual influence and connection, deter 
mines and fixes precisely their coming to pass, and the 
manner of it, then it does not remain a contingent thing 
whether they shall come to pass or no. 

And, because it is a question, in many respects, very 
important in this controversy about the freedom of will, 
whether the free acts of the will are events which come to 
pass without a cause ? I shall be particular in examining 
this point in the two following sections. 


48 Supposed Evasions considered. [Part II. 


Whether any Event whatsoever, and Volition 
in particular, can come to pass without a 
Cause of its existence. 

BEFORE I enter on any argument on this subject, 
I would explain how/I would be understood, when 
I use the word Cause in this discourse : since, for want 
of a better word, I shall have occasion to use it in a sense 
which is more extensive than that in which it is some 
times used. The word is often used in so restrained a 
sense as to signify only that which has a positive efficiency 
or influence to produce a thing, or bring it to pass. But 
there are many things which have no such positive 
productive influence ; which yet are causes in that re 
spect, that they have truly the nature of a ground or 
reason why some things are, rather than others; or why 
they are as they are, rather than otherwise. Thus the 
absence of the sun in the night, is not the Cause of the 
falling of the dew at that time, in the same manner as 
its beams are the Cause of the ascending of the vapours 
in the day-time, and its withdrawment in the winter, is 
not in the same manner the Cause of the freezing of 
the waters, as its approach in the spring is the cause of 
their thawing. But yet the withdrawment or absence 
of the sun is an antecedent, with which these effects in 
the night and winter are connected, and on which they 
depend ; and is one thing that belongs to the ground 
and reason why they come to pass at that time, rather 
than at any other times ; though the absence of the sun 
is nothing positive*, .nor has any positive influence. 

It may be further observed, that when I speak of 
connection of Causes and Effects, I have respect to 
moral Causes, as well as those that are called natural, in 
distinction from them. Moral Causes may be Causes 
in as proper sense, as any Causes whatsoever; may have 
as real an influence, and may as truly be the ground and 
reason of an Event s coming to pass. 

Sect, 111.] No Event without a Cause. 49 

Therefore, I sometimes use the word Cause in this 
enquiry, to signify any antecedent, either natural or moral, 
positive or negative, on which an event, either a thing-, 
or the manner and circumstance of a thing, so depend^ 
that it is the ground and reason, either in whole or ii 
part, why it is, rather than not ; or why it is as it [s, 
rather than otherwise, or, in other words, any antecedent- 
with which a consequent event is so connected, that it 
truly belongs to the reason why the proposition which 
affirms that Event, is true ; whether it has any posi 
tive influence, or not. And in an agreeableness to 
this 9 I sometimes use the word Effect for the conse 
quence of another thing, which is perhaps rather an oc 
casion than a Cause, most properly speaking. 

I am the more careful thus to explain my meaning, 
that 1 may cut off occasion, from any that might 
occasion to cavil and object against some things 
I may say concerning the dependence of all things w 
come to pass, on some Cause, and their connection with 
their Cause. -\* 

Having thus explained what I mean by Cause, I as- 
sert, that nothing ever comes to pass without a cause/ 
What is self-existent must be from eternity, and must 
be unchangeable : but as to all things that begin to be, 
they are not self-existent, and therefore must have some 

foundation of their existence without themselves. , 

That whatsoever begins to be, which before was not, 
must have a Cause why it then begins to exist, seems . 
to be the first dictate of the common and natural sens,e 
which God hath implanted in the minds of all mankfed, 
and the main foundation of all our reasonings about the 
existence of things, past, present, or to come. 

And this dictate of common sense equally respected 
substances and modes, or things and the manner and 
circumstances of things. Thus, if we see a body which 
has hitherto been at rest, start out of a state of rest, and 
begin to move, we do as naturally and necessarily sup 
pose there is some Cause or reason of this new mode of 



50 No Event without a Cause. [Part II. 

existence, as of the existence of a body itself which had 
hitherto not existed. And so, if a body which had 
hitherto moved in a certain direction, should suddenly 
change the direction of its motion ; or if it should put 
oft its old figure, and take a new one; or change its 
colour: the beginning of these new modes is a new 
Event, and the mind of mankind necessarily supposes 
that there is some Cause or reason of them. 

If this grand principle of common sense be taken a- 
way, all arguing from effects to Causes ceaseth, and so 
all knowledge of any existence, besides vyhat we have by 
the most direct and immediate intuition. Particularly 
all our proof of the being of God ceases : we argue His 
being from our own being, and the being of other things, 
which we are sensible once were not, but have begun to 
be ; and from the being of the world, with all its con 
stituent parts, and the manner of their existence; all 
which we see plainly are not necessary in their own na 
ture, and so not self-existent, and therefore must have 
a Cause. But if things, not in themselves necessary, 
may begin to be without a Cause, all this arguing is 

Indeed, I will not affirm, that there is in the nature 
of things no foundation for the knowledge of the Being 
of God, without any evidence of it from His works. I 
do suppose there is a great absurdity, in the nature of 
things simply considered, in supposing that there should 
be no God, or in denying Being in general, and supposing 
an eternal, absolute, universal nothing: and therefore 
that here would be foundation of intuitive evidence that 
it cannot be, and that eternal infinite most perfect Be 
ing must be ; if we had strength and comprehension of 
mind sufficient, to have a clear idea of general and uni 
versal Being, or, which is the same thing, of the infinite, 
eternalj most perfect Divine Nature and Essence. But 
then we should not properly come to the knowledge of 
the Being of God by arguing ; but our evidence would 
be intuitive: we should see it, as we see other things 
that are necessary in themselves, the contraries of which 


Sect. III.] No Event without a Came. 01 

are in their own nature absurd and contradictory ; as 
we see that twice two is four ; and as we see that a circle 
has no angles. If we had as clear an idea of universal 
infinite entity, as we have of these other things, I sup 
pose we should most intuitively see the absurdity of 
supposing such Being not to be ; should immediately 
see there is no room for the question, whether it is pos 
sible that Being, in the most general abstracted notion 
of it, should not be. But we have not that strength 
and extent of mind, to know this certainly in this intui 
tive independent manner: but the way that mankind 
come to the knowledge of the Heing of God, is that 
which the apostle speaks of, Horn. i. 20. The invisi 
ble things of Him, from the creation of the world, are 
clearly seen ; being understood by the things that aye 
made ; even his eternal Power and Godhead. We first 
ascend, and prove a posteriori, or from effects, that 
there must be an eternal Cause ; and then, secondly ,, 
proved by argumentation, not intuition, that this Being 
must be necessarily existent ; and then, thirdly, from, 
the proved necessity of his existence, we may descend, 
and prove many of his perfections a priori, 

But if once this grand principle of common sense be 
given up, that what is not necessary in itself, must have 
a Cause ; and we begin to maintain, that things may 
come into existence, and begin to be, which heretofore 
have not been, of themselves, without any cause ; all our 
means of ascending in our arguing from the creature to 
the Creator, and all our evidence of the Being of God, 
is cut of at one blow. In this case, we cannot prove 
that there is a God, either from the Being of the world, 
and the creatures in it, or from the manner of their 
being, their order, beauty and use. For if things may 
come into existence without any Cause at all, then they 
doubtless may without any Cause answerable to the 
effect. Our minds do alike naturally suppose and 
determine both these things ; namely, that what begins 
to be as a Cause, and also that it has a Cause proportion 
able and agreeable to the effect. The same principle. 

52 No Event without a Cause. [Part II. 

which leads us to determine, that there cannot be any 
thing coming to pass without a Cause, leads us to de 
termine that there cannot ue more in the effect than in 
the Cause. 

Yea, if once it should be allowed, that things may 
come to pass without a cause, we should not only have 
no proof of the Being of God, but we should be without 
evidence of the existence of any thing whatsoever, but 
our own immediately present ideas and consciousness. 
For we have no way to prove any thing else, but by 
arguing from effects to Causes : from the ideas now im 
mediately in view, we argue other things not immediate 
ly in view ; from sensations now excited in us, we infer 
the existence of things without us, as the Causes of 
these sensations : and from the existence of these things, 
we argue other things, which they depend on, as effects 
on Causes. We infer the past existence of ourselves, 
or any thing else, by memory ; only as we argue, that 
the ideas, which are now in our minds, are the conse 
quences of past ideas and sensations. We immediately 
perceive nothing else but the ideas which are this mo 
ment extant in our minds. We perceive or know other 
things only by means of these, as necessarily connected 
with others, and dependent on them. But if things may 
be without Causes, all this necessary connection and de 
pendence is dissolved, and so all means of our knowledge 
is gone. If there be no absurdity or difficulty in sup 
posing one thing to start out of non-existence, into being, 
of itself without a Cause ; then there is no absurdity or 
difficulty in supposing the same of millions of millions. 
For nothing, or no difficulty multiplied, still is nothing, 
or no difficulty : nothing multiplied by nothing, does 
not increase the sum. 

And indeed, according to the hypothesis I am oppos 
ing, of the acts of the will coming to pass without a 
Cause, it is the case in fact, that millions of millions of 
events are continually coming into existence contingent 
ly without any cause or reason why they do so, all over 
the world, every day and hour, through all ages. So it 

Sect. III.] No Event without a Cause. 53 

is in a constant, succession, in every moral agent. This 
contingency, this efficient nothing, this effectual No- 
Cause, is always ready at hand, to produce this sort of 
effects, as long as the agent exists, and as often as he 
has occasion. 

If it were so, that things only of one kind : viz. acts 
of the will, seemed to come to pass of themselves ; but 
those of this sort in general came into being thus ; and 
it were an event that was continual, and that happened 
in a course, wherever there were capable subjects of such 
events ; this very thing would demonstrate that there 
was some Cause of them, which made such a difference 
between this event and others, and that they did not 
really happen contingently. For contingence is blind, 
and does not pick and choose for a particular sort of 
Events. Nothing has no choice. This No-Cause, 
which causes no existence, cannot cause the existence 
which comes to pass, to be of one particular sort only, 
distinguished from all others. Thus, that only one sort 
of matter drops out of the heavens, even water, and that 
this comes so often, so constantly and plentifully, all over 
the world, in all ages, shews that there is some Cause or 
Reason of the falling of water out of the heavens ; and 
that something besides mere contingence has a hand in 
the matter. 

If we should suppose Non-entity to be about to bring 
forth ; and things were coming into existence, without 
any Cause or Antecedent, on which the existence, or 
kind, or manner of existence depends , or which could 
at all determine whether the things should be ; stones, 
or stars, or beasts, or angels, or human bodies, or souls, 
or only some new motion or figure in natural bodies, or 
some new sensations in animals, or new ideas in the hu 
man understanding, or new volitions in tue wili ; or any 
thing else of all the infinite number of possibles; then 
certainly it would not be expected, although many millions 
of millions of things are coming into existence in this 
manner, all over the face of the earth, that they should 
ail be only of one particular kind, and that it should be 


54 No Event without a Cause. [Part II. 

thus in all ages, and that this sort of existences should 
never fail to come to pass where there is room for them, 
or a subject capable of them, and that constantly, when 
ever there is occasion for them. 

If any should imagine, there is something in the sort 
of Event that renders it possible for it to come into ex 
istence without a Cause, and should say, that the free 
acts of the will are existences of an exceeding different 
nature from other things ; by reason of which they may 
come into existence without any previous ground or 
reason of it, though other things cannot: if they make 
this objection in good earnest, it would be an evidence 
of their strangely forgetting themselves : for they would 
be giving an account of some ground of the existence of 
a thing, when at the same time they would maintain 
there is no ground of its existence. Therefore I would 
observe, that the particular nature of existence, be it 
never so diverse from others, can lay no foundation for 
that thing s coming into existence without a Cause ; be 
cause to suppose this, would be to suppose the particular 
nature of existence to be a thing prior to the existence, 
and so a thing which makes way for existence, with such 
a circumstance ; namely, without a cause or reason of 
existence. But that which in any respect makes way 
for a thing s coming into being, or for any manner or 
circumstance of its first existence, must be prior to 
the existence. The distinguished nature of the effect, 
which is something belonging to the effect, cannot 
have influence backward, to act before it is. The 
peculiar nature of that thing called volition, can do no 
thing, can have no influence, while it is not. And 
afterwards it is too late for its influence : for then the 
thing has made sure of existence already, without its 

So that it is indeed as repugnant to reason, to suppose 
that an act of the will should come into existence with 
out a cause, as to suppose the human soul, or an angel, 
or the globe of the earth, or the whole universe, should 
come into existence without a cause. And if once we 

Sect. IV.] No Event without a Cause. 55 

allow, that such a sort of effect as a Volition may come 
to pass without a Cause, how do we know but that many 
other sorts of effects may do so too ? It is not the par 
ticular kind of effect that makes the absurdity of suppos 
ing it has been without a Cause, but something which is 
common to all things that ever begin to be ; viz. That 
they are not self-existent, or necessary in the nature of 


Whether Volition can arise without a Cause, 
through the Activity of the Nature of the 

fTIHE author of the Essay on the Freedom of the Will 
-- in God and the Creatures, in answer to that objection 
against his doctrine of a self-determining power in the 
will, (p. 68, 69.) That nothing is, or comes to pass, 
without a sufficient reason why it is, and why it is in this 
manner rather than another, allows that it is thus in cor 
poreal things, which are properly and philosophically 
speaking, passive beings ; but denies that it is thus in 
spirits, which are beings of an active nature, who have 
the spring of action within themselves, and can determine 
themselves: by which it is plainly supposed, that such an 
event is an act of the will, may come to pass in a spirit, 
without a sufficient reason why it conies to pass, or why it 
is after this manner, rather than another ; by reason of 
the activity of the nature of a spirit. But certainly this 
author, in this matter, must be very unwary and inad 
vertent. For, 

1. 1 he objection or difficulty proposed by this author, 
seems to be forgotten in his answer or solution. The 
very difficulty, as he himself proposes it, is this; How 
an event can come to pass without a sufficient reason why 

56 No Event without a Cause. [Part II. 

it is> or why it is in this manner rather than another ? 
Instead of solving this difficulty, or answering this ques 
tion with regard to Volition, as he proposes, he forgets 
himself, and answers another question quite diverse, and 
wholly inconsistent with this : viz. What is a sufficient 
reason why it is, and why it is in this manner rather 
than another ? And he assigns the active being s own 
determination as the Cause, and a Cause sufficient for 
the effect; and leaves all the difficulty unresolved, and 
the question unanswered, which yet returns ; even, How 
the soul s own determination, which he speaks of, came 
to exist, and to be what it was without a Cause ? The 
activity of the soul may enable it to be the Cause of ef 
fects ; hut it does not at all enable er help it to be the 
subject of effects which have no cause ; which is the 
thing this author supposes concerning acts of the will. 
Activity of nature will no more enable a being to produce 
effects, and determine the manner of their existence, 
within itself, without a Cause, than out of itself, in some 
other being*. But if an active being 1 should, through its 
activity, produce and determine an effect in some exter 
nal object, how absurd would it be to say, that the effect- 
was produced without a Cause ! 

2. The question is not so much, How a spirit endow 
ed with activity comes to act, as why it exerts such an 
act, and not another ; or why it acts with such a particu 
lar detormination ? If activity of nature be the Cause 
why a spirit (the soul of man for instance) acts, and does 
not lie still ; yet that alone is not the Cause why its ac 
tion is thus and thus limited, directed and determined. 
Active nature is a general thing ; it is an ability or ten 
dency of nature to action generally taken : which may 
be a Cause why the soul acts as occasion or reason is 
given , but this alone cannot be a sufficient Cause why 
the soul exerts such a particular act, at such a time, 
rather than others. In order to this, there must be 
something besides a general tendency to action ; there 
must also be a particular tendency to that individual ac 
tion. If it should be asked, why the soul of man uses 

Sect IV.] Volition not without a Cause. 57 

its activity in such a manner as it does ; and it should be 
answered, that the soul uses its activity thus, rather than 
otherwise, because it has activity ; would such an answer 
satisfy a rational man ? Would it not rather be looked 
upon as a very impertinent one ? 

3. An active being 1 can bring no effects to pass by his 
activity, but what are consequent upon his acting : he 
produces nothing by his activity, any other way, than by 
the exercise of his activity, and so nothing but the fruits 
of its exercise : he brings nothing to pass by a dormant 
activity. But the exercise of his activity is action ; and 
so his action, or exercise of his activity, must be prior to 
the effects of his activity. If an active being produces 
an effect in another being, about which his activity is 
conversant, the effect being the fruit of his activity, his 
activity must be first exercised or exerted, and the effect 
of it must follow. So it must be, with equal reason, if 
the active being is his own object, and his activity is 
conversant about himself, to produce and determine 
some effect in himself; still the exercise of his activity 
must go before the effect, which he brings to pass and 
determines by it. And therefore his activity cannot be 
the Cause of the determination of the first action, or ex 
ercise of activity itself, whence the effects of activity 
arise ; for that would imply a contradiction ; it would be 
to say, the first exercise of activity is before the first ex 
ercise of activity, and is the cause of it. 

4- That the soul, though an active substance, cannot 
diversify its own acts, but by first acting ; or be a deter 
mining Cause of different acts, or any different effects, 
sometimes of one kind, and sometimes of another ; any 
other way than in consequence of its own diverse acts, 
is manifest by this : that if so, then the same Cause, the 
same causal Power, Force or Influence, without varia 
tion in any respect, would produce different effects at 
different times. For the same substance of the soul be 
fore it acts, and the same active nature of the soul before 
it is exerted (i. e. before in the order of nature) would 
be the Cause of different effects ; viz. different Volitions 

58 Volition not without a Cause. [Pat t II. 

at different times. But the substance of the soul before 
it acts, and its active nature before it is exerted, are the 
same without variation. For it is some act that makes 
the first variation in the Cause, as to any causal exer 
tion, force or influence, but if it be so, that the soul has 
no different causality, or diverse causal force or influence, 
in producing these diverse effects; then it is evident, 
that the soul has no influence, no hand in the diversity 
of the effect ; and that the difference of the effect can 
not be owing to any thing in the soul ; or, which is 
the same thing, the soul does not determine the diversi 
ty of the effect; which is contrary to the supposition.- 
It is true, the substance of the soul before it acts, and 
before there is any difference in that respect, may be in 
a different state and circumstances \ but those whom I 
oppose, will not allow the different circumstances of the 
soul to be the determining Causes of the acts of the will, 
as being contrary to their notion of self-determination 
and self-motion. 

5. Let us suppose as these divines do, that there are 
no acts of the soul, strictly speaking, but free Volitions, 
then it will follow, that the soul is an active being in no 
thing further than it is a voluntary or elective being ; 
and whenever it produces effects actively, it produces 
effects voluntarily and eleciively. But to produce effects 
thus, is the same thing as to produce effects in conse* 
quence of, and according to, its own choice. And if so,, 
then surely the soul does not by its activity produce all 
its own acts of will or choice themselves: for this, by 
the supposition, is to produce all its free acts of choice 
voluntarily and electively, or in consequence of its own 
free acts of choice, which brings the matter directly to 
the forementioned contradiction, of a free act of choice 
before the first free act of choice. According to these 
gentlemen* own notion of action, if there arises in the 
mind a Volition without a free act of the will or choice 
to determine and produce it, the mind is not the active 
voluntary Cause of that Volition; because it does not 
arise from, nor is regulated by choice,, or design : and 

Sect. IV.] Volition not ivithout a Cause. 5Q 

therefore it cannot be, that the mind should be the 
active, voluntary, determining- Cause of the first and 
leading: Volition that relates to the affair. The 
mind s being- a designing Cause, only enables it to pro 
duce effect in consequence of its design : it will not 
enable it to be the designing Cause of all its own de 
signs. The mind s being an elective Cause, will only 
enable it to produce effects in consequence of its elec 
tions, and according to them ; but cannot enable it to be 
the elective Cause of all its own elections ; because that 
supposes an election before the first election. So the 
mind s being an active Cause enables it to produce ef 
fects in consequence of its own acts, but cannot enable it 
to be the determining Cause of all its own acts, for that 
is still in the same manner a contradiction : as it sup 
poses a determining act conversant about the first act, 
and prior to it, having a causal influence on its exis 
tence and manner of existence. 

I can conceive of nothing else that can be meant by 
the soul s having power to cause and determine its own 
Volitions, as a being to whom God has given a power of 
action, but this ; that God has given power to the soul, 
sometimes, at least, to excite Volitions at its pleasure, 
or according as H chooses. And this certainly supposes, 
in all such cases, a choice preceding all Volitions which, 
are thus caused, even the first of them ; which runs in 
to the forementioned great absurdity. 

Therefore the activity of the nature of the soul af 
fords no relief from the difficulties which the notion of 
a self-determining power in the will is attended with, 
nor will it help, in the least, its absurdities and incon- 

60 These Evasions impertinent. [Part II 


Shewing, that if the things asserted in these 
Evasions should be supposed to be true, they are 
altogether impertinent, and cannot help the cause 
of Arminian liberty ; and how (this being the 
state of the case} Arminian Writers are oblig 
ed to talk inconsistent ly. 


HAT was last observed in the preceding section 
may shew, not only that the active nature of the 
soul cannot be a reason why an act of the will is, or why 
it is in this manner, rather than another: but also, that 
if it could be so, and it could be proved that Volitions 
are contingent events, in that sense, that their being 
and manner of being is not fixed or determined by any 
cause, or any thing antecedent ; it would not at all 
serve the purpose ofArminians, to establish the Free 
dom of the Will, according to their notion of its 
freedom as consisting in the will s determination of itself ; 
which supposes every free act of the will to be determin 
ed by some act of the will going before to determine it; 
inasmuch as for the will to determine a thing, is the 
same as for the soul to determine a thing by willing ; 
and there is no way that the will can determine an act 
of the will, than by willing that act of the will, or, which 
is the same thing, choosing it. So that here must be two 
acts of the will in the case, one going before another, 
one conversant about the other, and the latter the object 
of the former, and chosen by the former. If the will 
does not cause and determine the act by choice, it does 
not cause or determine it at all ; for that which is not 
determined by choice, is not determined voluntarily or 
willingly : and to say, that the will determines some 
thing which the soul does not determine willingly, is as 
much as to say, that something is done by the will, 
which the soul doth not with its will. 

So that if Arminian liberty of will, consisting in the 

Sect. V.] These Evasions Impertinent. 61 

will s determining its own acts, be maintained, the old 
absurdity and contradiction must be maintained, that 
every free act of will is caused and determined by a 
foregoing free act of will, which doth not consist with 
the free acts arising without any cause, and being so 
contingent, as not to be fixed by any thing foregoing. 
So that this evasion must be given up, as not at all re 
lieving, and as that which, instead of supporting this 
sort of liberty, directly destroys it. 

And if it should be supposed, that the soul determines 
its own acts of will some other way than by a foregoing 
act of will ; still it will not help the cause of their liber 
ty of will. If it determines them by an act of the un 
derstanding, or some other power, then the will does 
not determine itself ; and so the self -deter mining power 
of the will is given up. And what liberty is there ex 
ercised, according to their own opinion of liberty, by the- 
soul s being determined by something besides its own 
choice ? The acts of the will, it is true, may be directed, 
and effectually determined and fixed; but it is not done 
by the soul s own will and pleasure : there is no exer 
cise at all of choice or will in producing the effect; and 
if will and choice are not exercised in it, how is the 
liberty of the will exercised in it ? 

So, that let Arminians turn which way they please 
with their notion of liberty, consisting in the will s de 
termining its own acts, their notion destroys itself. If 
they hold every free act of will to be determined by the 
soul s own free choice, or foregoing free act of will ; 
foregoing^ either in the order of time, or nature ; it im 
plies that gross contradiction, that the first free act be 
longing to the affair, is determined by a free act which is 
before it. Or if they say that the free acts of the will 
are determined by some other act of the soul, and not an 
act of will or choice ; this also destroys the notion of li 
berty consisting in the acts of the will being determined 
by the will itself ; or if they hold that the acts of the 
will are determined by nothing at ail that is prior to 

(r2 These Evasions Impertinent. [Part II. 

them, but that they are contingent in that sense, that 
they are determined and fixed by no cause at all ; this 
alsodestroys their notion of liberty, consisting in the will s 
determining its own acts. 

This being the true state of the Arminian notion of 
liberty, it hence comes to pass, that the writers that de 
fend it are forced into gross inconsistences, in what they 
say upon this subject. To instance in Dr Whitby ; he, 
in his discourse on the freedom of the will *, opposes the 
opinion of the Cahinuts, who place man s liberty only 
in a power of doing what he will, as that wherein they 
plainly agree with Mr Hobbes. And yet he himself 
mentions the very same notion of liberty, as the dictate 
of the sense and common reason of mankind, and a rule 
laid down by the light of nature ; viz. that liberty is a 
power of acting from ourselves, or DOING WHA T 
WE WILL (. This is indeed, as he says, a thing 
agreeable to the sense and common reason of mankind ; 
and therefore it is not so much to be wondered at, that 
he unawares acknowledges it against himself: for, if 
liberty does not consist in this, what else ran be devised 
that it should consist in ? If it be said, as Dr Whitby 
elsewhere insists, that it does not only consist in liberty 
of doing what we will, but also a liberty of willing, with 
out necessity ; still the question returns, What does that 
liberty of willing, without necessity consist in, but in a 
power of willing as we please, without being impeded by 
a contrary necessity ; or, in other words, a liberty for 
the soul in its willing to act according to its own choice ? 
Yea, this very thing the same author seems to allow and 
suppose again arid again, in the use he makes of sayings 
of the Fathers, whom he quotes as his vouchers. Thus 
he cites the words of Origen, which he produces as a tes 
timony on his side | ; The soul acts by HER OWN 
CHOICE, and it is free for her to incline to whatever 

In his Book on the five Points. Second Edit. p. 350, 351 352. 

t Ibid. 325, 326. 
Ju his Book on the five Points. Second Edit. p. 34?. 

Sect. V".] These Evasions impertinent. 63 

part SHE WILL. And those words of Justin Martyr* : 
The doctrine of the Christians is this, that nothing 
is done or suffered according to fate, but that every man 
doth good or evil ACCORDING TO HIS OWN 
FREE CHOICE. And from Eusebius, these words f : 
If fate be established, philosophy and piety are over 
thrown ; all these things depending upon the necessity in- 
troduced by the stars, and not upon meditation and exer 
CHOICE. And again, the words of Maccarius J : God, 
to preserve the liberty ofmens will, suffered their bodies 
to die, that it might be IN THEIR CHOICE to turn 
to good or evil. They who are acted by the Holy Spirit, 
are not held under any necessity, but have liberty to turn 
themselves, and DO WHAT THEY WILL in this 

Thus, the Doctor in effect comes into that very no- 
lion of liberty, which the Calvinists have; which he at 
the same time condemns, as agreeing with the opinion 
of Mr Hobbcs ; namely, the souVs acting by its own 
choice, mens doing good or evil, according to their own 
free choice., their being in that exercise w/iich proceeds from 
their own free choice, having it in their choice to turn to 
good or evil, and doing what they will. So that if men ex 
ercise this liberty in the acts of the will themselves, it 
must he in exerting acts of will as they will, or accord" 
ing to their own free choice : or exerting acts of will that 
proceed from their choice. And if it be so, then let every 
one judge whether this does not suppose a free choice 
going before the free act of will, or whether an act of 
choice does not go before that act of the will which pro 
ceeds from it. And if it be thus with all free acts of 
the will, then let every one judge whether it will not 
follow that there is a free choice or will going before the 
first free act of the will exerted in the case. And then 
let every one judge whether this be not a contradiction, 

Ibid. p. 360. t Ibid - 250. Ibid. 369. 

64 Arminians talk inconsistently. [Part II. 

And, finally, let every one judge whether in the scheme 
of these writers there be any possibility of avoiding these 

If liberty consists, as Dr Whitby himself says, in a 
man s doing what he will : and a man exercises this li 
berty, not "only in external actions, but in the acts of the 
will themselves; then so far as liberty is exercised in 
the latter, it consists in willing what he wills : and if 
any sav so, one of these two things must be meant, 
either ; 1. That a man has power to will, as he does 
will ; because what he wills, he wills ; and therefore 
has power to will \\hat he has power to will. If this be 
their meaning-, then all this mighty controversy about 
freedom of the will and self determining power, comes 
wholly to nothing; all that is contended for being no 
more than this ; that the mind of man does what it does, 
and is the subject of what it is the subject of, or that 
what is, is ; wherein none has any controversy with 
them. Or, 2. The meaning must be, that a man has 
power to will as he pleases or chooses to will : that is, 
he has power by one act of choice, to choose another : 
by an antecedent act of will to choose a consequent act ; 
iiiid therein to execute his own choice. And if this be 
their meaning, it is nothing but shuffling with these 
they dispute with, and baffling their own reason. For 
still the question returns, Wherein lies man^s liberty in 
that antecedent act of will which chose the consequent 
act. The answer, according to the same principles, 
must be, that his liberty in this also lies in his willing 
as he would, or as he chose, or agreeable to another act 
of choice preceding that : and so the question returns in 
infinitwn, and the like answer must be made in wfini- 
tum. In order to support their opinion, there must be 
no beginning, but free acts of will must have been cho 
sen by foregoing free acts of will in the soul of every 
man, without beginning ; and so before he had a being 1 , 
from all eternitv. 

Sect. VI.] Of choosing in things indifferent, 6j 


Concerning the J-ViWs determining in Things 
which are perfectly indifferent in the View of 
the Mind. 

A GREAT argument for Self-determining- power, is 
-^^ the supposed experience we universally have an a- 
bility to determine our wills, in cases wherein no prevail 
ing motive is presented : The Will (as is supposed) has 
its choice to make between two or more things, that are 
perfectly equal in the view of the mind ; and the Will is 
apparently altogether indifferent; and yet we find no 
difficulty in coming to a choice: the Will can instantly 
determine itself to one, by a sovereign power which it has 
over itself, without being moved by any preponderating 

Thus the forementioned author of an Essay on the 
Freedom of the Will, &c. p. 25, 26, 27, supposes, 
" That there are many instances, wherein the Will is 
determined neither by present uneasiness, nor by the 
greatest apparent good, nor by the last dictate of the 
understanding, nor by any thing else, but merely by 
itself, as a sovereign self-determining power of the soul; 
and that the soul does not will this or that action, in 
some cases, by any other influence but because it will. 
Thus (says he) I can turn my face to the South, or the 
North ; I can point with my finger upward or down 
ward. And thus, in some cases, the Will determines 
itself in a very sovereign manner, because it will, with 
out a reason borrowed from the understanding : and 
hereby it discovers its own perfect power of choice, ris 
ing from within itself, and free from all influence or re 
straint of any kind." And in pages 66, 70, and 73, 74, 
this author very expressly supposes the Will in many 
cases to be determined by no motive at all., and acts a/- 
togethcr without motive, or ground of preference . Here 
I would observe, 


66 Of choosing of things indifferent, [Part II. 

1. The very supposition which is here made, directly 
contradicts and overthrows itself. For the thing sup 
posed, wherein this grand argument consists, is, that 
among several things the Will actually chooses one be 
fore another, at the same time that it is perfectly indif 
ferent ; which is the very .same thing as to say, the 
mind has a preference, at the same that it has no pre- 
ierence. What is meant cannot be, that the mind is 
indifferent before it comes to have a choice, or until it 
has a preference ; or, which is the same thing, that the 
mind is indifferent until it comes to be not indifferent : 
for certainly this author did not suppose he had a con 
troversy with any person in supposing this, And then 
it is nothing to his purpose, that the mind which chooses, 
was indifferent once ; unless it chooses, remaining in 
different ; for otherwise, it does not choose at all in 
that case of indifference, concerning which is all the 
question. Besides, it appears in fact, that the thing 
which this author supposes, is not that the Will chooses 
one thing before another, concerning which it is indif 
ferent before it chooses ; but also is indifferent when it 
chooses ; and that its being otherwise than indifferent is 
not until afterwards, in consequence of its choice ; that 
the chosen thing s appearing preferable and more agree 
able than another, arises from its choice already made. 
His words are, (p. 50.) " Where the objects which are 
proposed, appear equally fit or good, the Will is left 
without a guide or director ; and therefore must take its 
own choice, by its own determination i it being properly 
a self-determining power. And in such cases the will 
does as it were make a good to itself by its own choice ; 
i. e. creates its own pleasure or delight in this self-chosen 
good. Even as a man by seizing upon a spot of unoc 
cupied land, in an uninhabited country, makes it his 
own possession and property, and as such rejoices in it. 
Where things were indifferent before, the will find no 
thing to make them more agreeable, considered merely 
in themselves; hut the pleasure it feels AltlSlNGr 
FROM ITS OWN CHOICE, and its perseverance 

Sect. VI.] Of choosing of things indifferent. 67 

therein. We love many things which we have cho 


This is as much as to say, that we first begin to pre 
fer many things, now ceasing any longer to he indiffer 
ent with respect to them, purely because we have pre 
ferred and chosen them before. These things must 
needs be spoken inconsiderately by this author. Choice 
or preference cannot be before itself in the same in 
stance, either in order of time or nature. It cannot be 
the foundation of itself, or the fruit or consequence of 
itself. The very act of choosing one thing rather than 
another, is preferring that thing, and that is setting a 
higher value on that thing. But that the mind sets a 
higher value on one thing than another, is not, in the first 
place, the fruit of its setting a higher value on that thing. 

This author says, (p. 30.) " The will may be per 
fectly indifferent, and yet the will may determine itself 
to choose one or the other." And again in the same 
page, " I am entirely indifferent to either ; and yet my 
Will may determine itself to choose." And again, 
kt Which I shall choose must be determined by the mere 
act of my Will." If the choice is determined by a mere 
act of Will, then the choice is determined by a mere act 
of choice. And concerning this matter ; viz. That the 
act of the Will itself is determined by an act of choice, 
this writer is express, in page 12. Speaking of the 
case, where there is no superior fitness in objects pre 
sented, he has these words : k There it must act by its 
own CHOICE, and determine itself as it PLEASES." 
Where it is supposed that the very determination, which 
is the ground and spring of the Will s act, is an act of 
choice and pleasure, wherein one act is more agreeable, 
and the mind better pleased in it than another ; and this 
preference and superior pleasedness is the ground of all 
it does in the case. And if so, the mind is not indiffer 
ent when it determines itself, but had rather do one 
thing than another, had rather determine itself one way 
than another. And therefore the Will does not act at 

68 Of choosing of things indifferent [Part II. 

all in indifference ; not so much as in the first step it 
takes, or the first rise and beginning of its acting. If 
it be possible for the understanding- to act in indifference, 
yet to be sure the Will never does ; because the Will s 
beginning 1 to act is the very same thing as its beginning* 
to choose or prefer. And if in the very first act of the 
Will, the mind prefers something, then the idea of that 
thing preferred, does at that time preponderate, or pre 
vail in the mind : or, which is the same thing, the idea 
of it has a prevailing iniluence on the Will. So that 
this wholly destroys the thing supposed, viz. That the 
mind can by a sovereign power choose one of two or 
more things, which in the view of the mind are, in 
every respect, perfectly equal, one of which does not at 
all preponderate, nor has any prevailing influence on the 
mind above another. 

So that this author, in his grand argument for the 
ability of the Will to choose one of two, or more things, 
concerning which it is perfectly indifferent, does at the 
same time, in effect, deny the^ thing he supposes, and 
allows and asserts the point he endeavours to overthrow ; 
even that the Will, in choosing, is subject to no pre 
vailing influence of the idea, or view of the thing chosen. 
And indeed it is impossible to offer this argument with 
out overthrowing it ; the thing supposed in it being in 
consistent with itself, and that which denies itself. To 
suppose the Will to act at all in a state of perfect indif 
ference, either to determine itself, or to do any thing- 
else, is to assert that the mind chooses without choosing 
io say that when it is indifferent, it can do as it pleases, 
is to say that it can follow its pleasure, when it has no 
pleasure to follow. And therefore if there be any diffi 
culty m the instances of two cakes, or two eggs, &c 
which are exactly alike, one as good as another con- 
cernmg which this author supposes the mind in fact has 
M*, and so in eflect supposes that it has a prefer. 

cied liimself to s ive 

h do 

a it does hose whom he opposes. For if these instances 
prote any thmg to his purpose, they prove that a man 

Sect. II.] Of choosing of things indifferent. 69 

chooses without choice. And yet this is not to his pur- 
pose; because if this is what he asserts, his own words 
are as much against him, and do as much contradict 
him, as the words of those he disputes against can do. 

2. 1 here is no great difficulty in shewing 1 , in such 
instances as are alledged, not only that it must needs be 
AO, that the mind must be influenced upon it, but also 
how it is so. A little attention to our own experience, 
and a distinct consideration of the acts of our own minds, 
in such cases, will be sufficient to clear up the matter. 

Thus, supposing I have a chess-board before me ; and 
because I am required by a superior, or desired by a 
friend, or to make some experiment concerning my own 
ability and liberty, or on some other consideration, I 
am determined to touch some one of the spots or squares 
on the board with my finger ; not being limited or di 
rected in the first proposal, or my own first purpose, 
which is general, to any one in particular ; and there 
being nothing in the squares in themselves considered, 
that recommends any one of all the sixty-four, more 
than another ; in this case, my mind determines to give 
itself up to what is vulgarly called accident *, by deter 
mining to touch that square which happens to be most 
in view, which my eye is especially upon at that moment, 
or which happens to be then most in my mind, or which 
I shall be directed to by some other such-like accident. 
Here are several steps of the mind s proceeding, (though 
all may be done as it were in a moment) theirs/ step is 
its general determination that it will touch one of the 
squares. The next step is another general determination 
to give itself up to accident, in some certain way ; as to 
touch that which shall be most in the eye or mind at 
that time, or to some other such-like accident. The 

* I have elsewhere observed wnat that is which is vulgarly called 
accident ; that it is nothing akin to the drminian metaphysical no 
tion of contingency something not connected with any thing forego 
ing ; but that it is something that comes to pass in" the course of 
things, in some affair that men are concerned in, unforeseen, and not 
owing to their design. 

70 Of the Will s detcrminig [Part IL 

third and last step is a particular determination to 
touch a certain individual spot, even that square, which, 
by that sort of accident the mind has pitched upon, has 
actually oifered itself beyond others. Now it is apparent 
that in none of these several steps does the mind pro 
ceed in absolute indifference, but in each of them is in 
fluenced 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 abso 
lutely 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^s 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 absolute 
ly indifferent whether- it proceeds by this rule or no ; 
but chooses it because it appears at that time a conveni 
ent and requisite expedient in order to fulfil the general 
purpose aforesaid. And so it is in the third and last 
step, it 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 the prevailing inducement and reason ; which is, 
that this is a prosecution of the preceding determina 
tion, which appeared requisite, and was fixed before in 
the second step. 

Accident will ever serve a man, without hindering 
him a moment, in such a case. It will always be so 
among a number of objects in view, one will prevail in 

3 eye, or in idea beyond others. When we have our 
eyes open in the clear sun-shine, many objects strike 

s eye at once, and innumerable images may be at once 
painted in ,t by the rays of light ; but the attention of 
the mind is not equal to several of them at once ; or if 

he, lt does not continue so for any time. And so it is 
ith respect to the ideas of the mind in general ; seve- 
l ideas are not in equal strength in the mind s view 

I notice at once ; or at least, d oes not remain so for 

Sect. IV.] in Things indifferent. 71 

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 evi 
dent by this. That all perceivable time is judged and 
perceived by the mind only by the succession or the 
successive changes of its own ideas. Therefore while 
the views or perceptions of the mind remain precisely in 
the same state, there is no perceivable space or length 
of time, because no sensible succession at all. 

As the acts of the Will, in each step of the foremen- 
tioned procedure, does not come to pass without a par 
ticular cause, every act is owing to a prevailing induce 
ment ; 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 conies to pass without a cause ; and the 
mind in determining to be guided by it, is not determin 
ed by something that has no cause, any more than if it 
determined to be guided by a lot, or the casting of 
a die. For though the die s falling in such a man 
ner 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 in 
sist upon it, that the will acts in a proper indifference, 
and without being moved by any inducement, in its de 
terminations in such cases as have been mentioned. 

1. They seern 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 con- 

72 Of choosing in Things indifferent. [Part If. 

sidered is-, Whether the person be indifferent with re 
spect 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 deter- 
mination and choice, in these cases, is not most immedi 
ately 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 pro 
perly make any choice between them ; but the next act 
of the will being about the external actions to be per 
formed, 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 deter 
mination 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 be 
fore another ; either before it has taken, or afterwards. 
Indeed the man chooses to take or touch one rather than 
another ; but not because he 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, choose and prefer the taking of that 
which he undervalues, and choose to neglect to take that 
which his mind prefers. In such a case, choosin- 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 esteem, 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, ought to 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 indifference with respect to the ob 
ject ; which is very possible, and yet the will not act at 

Sect. VII. ] Of Liberty of Indifference. 73 

all without prevalent inducement, and proper prepon- 

2. Another reason of confusion and difficulty in this 
matter, seems to be, not distinguishing between a gene- 
ral 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 re 
spect to the next immediate act, viewed with its particu 
lar and present circumstances. A man may he perfect 
ly 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, 1 may he 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 pro- 
gress in the affair. But yet, when I am actually come 
to the last step, and the very next thing to be determin* 
ed 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 parti 
cular one, the act of touching that, considered thus im 
mediately, and in these particular present circumstances, 
is not what my mind is absolutely indifferent about. 


Concerning the notion of Liberty of Will, con-* 
in Indifference. 

IAT has been said in the foregoing section, has 
a tendency in some measure to evince the ab 
surdity of the opinion of such as place Liberty in In 
difference, or in that equilibrium whereby the Will is 
without all antecedent determination or bias, and left 
hitherto free from any prepossessing inclination to one 

74 Of Liberty of Indifference. [Part II. 

side or the other ; 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 that sovereign 
ty which it has over itself, that it goes this way rather 
than that *. 

But inasmuch 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, 
Armimanst) and others, it may deserve a more full con 
sideration ; 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 under 
stand 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 the Liberty of the Will as consisting in In 
difference, express themselves as though they would not 
be understood of the Indifference of the inclination or 
tendency of the will, but of, I know not what, Indiffer 
ence of the soul s power of willing ; or that the Will, 
with respect to its power or ability to choose, is indiffer- 

* Dr Whitby, and some other Arm mians, 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 Widtby allows 
to consist with necessity ; the latter he holds to be without necessi 
ty ; and this latter he supposes to be requisite to our beino- the sub 
jects of praise or dispraise, rewards or punishments, precepts and pro 
hibitions, promises and threats, exhortations and dchortations, and a 
covenant-treaty. And to this freedom he supposes indifference to be 
requisite. In his Discourse on the five Points, p. 209, 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 dis 
praise, and our persons of rewards or punishments." And in the next 
page, speaking of the same matter, he says, Excellent to this pur- 
pose, are the words of Mr Tkomdikc :-< \Ve say not, that In ^L 
tsrequwe to all freedom, out to the freedom of man alone in this state 
tf travail and proftcience: the ground of which isGed s tender of a treaty, 
and conditions of peace and reconcilement to fallen man, together with 
those precepts and prohibitions, those promts and threats] those exhorta 
tions and tMtortatwns, it is enforced vithS " 

Sect. VII.] Of Liberty of Indifference. 75 

ent, can go cither way indifferent]) , either to the right 
hand or left, either act or forbear to act, one as well as 
the other. Though this seems to be a refining 1 only of 
some particular writers, and newly invented, and which 
will by no means consist with the manner of expression 
used by the defenders of liberty of indifference in gener 
al. And I wish such refiners would thoroughly consider, 
whether they distinctly know their own meaning 1 , when 
they make a distinction between indifference of the 
soul as to its power or ability of willing or choosing-, and 
the soul s indifference as to the preference or choice it 
self; and whether they do not deceive themselves in im 
agining that they have any distinct meaning at ull. 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 tiie state which the soul itself, which has that power 
or faculty, hitherto remains in, as to the exercise of that 
power, in the choice it shall by and by make. 

But, not to insist any longer on the abstruseness and 
inexplicablencss of this distinction ; let what will be sup 
posed concerning the meaning of them that make use of 
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, mz. that it is such an indifference as leaves the 
Will not determined already ; but free from actual pos 
session, and vacant 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 here I would observe, in thejirst 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 prenonderation or inclination : be 
cause, if the Will be already inclined, before it exerts 
its own sovereign pow-er on itself, then. its inclination is 

7 6 Of Liberty of Indifference. [Part II. 

not wholly owing to itself: if, when two oppo.sites are 
proposed to the soul for its choice, the proposal does not 
find the soul wholly in a state of indifference, then it is 
llot found in a state of Liberty for mere self-determina 
tion 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, 
ft binds the Will ; so that it is utterly impossible that 
the Will should act otherwise than agreeably to it. ^ure- 
ly the Will cannot act or choose contrary to a remaining 
prevailing inclination of the Will. To suppose other- 
wise, would be the same thing as to suppose, that the 
Will is inclined contrary to its present prevailing inclin 
ation, or contrary to what it is inclined to. That which 
the Will chooses and prefers, that, all things considered, 
it preponderates and inclines to. It is equally impossi 
ble 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 in 
clination, is not at liberty for a new free act, or any act 
that shall now be an act of self-determination. The act, 
which is a self-determined free act, must be an act which 
the will determines in the possession and use of such a 
Liberty, 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. 

If any one should say, there is no need that the in 
difference should be perfect; but although a former in 
clination and preference, still remains, yet, if it be not very 
strong and violent, possibly the strength of the Will may 
oppose and overcome it. This is grossly absurd ; for 
the strength of the Will, let it be never so great, does 
not^at all enable it to act one way, and not the contrary 
way, both at the same time. It gives it no such sover 
eignty and command, as to cause itself to prefer and not 

Sect. VII.] Of Liberty of Indifference. 77 

to prefer at the same time, or to choose contrary to its 
own present choice. 

Therefore, if there be the least degree of antecedent 
preponderation of the Will, it must be perfectly aboli 
shed, before the Will can be at liberty to determine it 
self the contrary way. And if the Will determines it 
self the same way, it was not a free- determination , be 
cause the will is not wholly at liberty in so doing 1 : its 
determination is not altogether from itself, but it was 
partly determined before, in its prior inclination : and 
ail the freedom of the will exercises in the case, as in 
an increase of inclination, which it gives itself, over and 
above what it had by foregoing- bias ; so much is from 
itself, and so much is from perfect indifference. For, 
though the will had a previous tendency that way. yet as 
to that additional degree of inclination, it had no tenden 
cy ; therefore the previous tendency is of no considera 
tion, with respect to the act wherein the will is free : 
so that it comes to the same thing which was said at first, 
that as to the act of the will, wherein the will is free, 
there must be perfect indifference., or equilibrium. 

To illustrate this : if we should suppose a sovereign, 
self-moving power in a natural body : but that the body 
is in motion already, by an antecedent bias j for instance, 
gravitation towards the centre of the earth ; and has one 
degree of motion already, by virtue of that previous ten 
dency ; but, by its self-moving power, it adds one "de 
gree more to its motion, and moves so much more swift 
ly towards the centre of the earth than it would do by 
its gravity only : it is evident, that all that is owing to 
a self-moving* power in this case, is the additional degree 
of moti./n ; and that the other degree of motion which 
it had from gravity, is of no consideration in ihe case, 
does not help the effect of the free self moving power in 
ihe least : the effect is just the same, as if the body had 
received from itself one degree of motion from a state 
of perfect rest : so if we should suppose a self- moving 
power given to the scale of a balance, which has a weight 
of one degree beyond the opposite scale ; and 1 we ascribe 

78 Of Liberty of Indifference. [Part II. 

to it an ability to add to itself another degree of force 
the same way by its self-moving power ; this is just the 
same thing as to ascribe to it a power to give itself one 
degree of preponderation from a perfect equilibrium ; 
and so much power as the scale has to give itself an over 
balance from a perfect equipoise, so much self-moving, 
self-preponderating power it has, and no more: so that 
its free power this way is always to he measured from 
perfect equilibrium. 

I need say no more to prove, that if indifference bo 
essential to liberty, it must be perfect indifference ; and 
that so far as the will is destitute of this, so far it is des 
titute of that freedom by which it is its own master, and 
in a capacity of being its own determiner, without being 
at all passive, or subject to the power and sway of some 
thing else, in its motions and determinations* 

Having observed these things, let us now try whether 
this notion of the liberty of Will consisting in indiffer 
ence and equilibrium, and the will s self-determination, 
in such a state, be not absurd and inconsistent. 

And here I would lay down this as an axiom of un 
doubted truth ; that every free act is done in a state of 
freedom, and not only after such a state. If an act of 
the will be an act wherein the soul is free, it must be 
exerted in estate of freedom, and in the time of freedom. 
It will not suffice, that the act immediately follows a 
state of liberty ; but liberty must yet continue, and co 
exists with the act ; the soul remaining in possession of 
liberty. Because that is the notion of a free act of the 
soul, even an act wherein the soul uses or exercises li 
berty. But if the soul is not, in the very time of the 
act, in the possession of liberty, it cannot at that time 
be in the use of it. 

Now the question is, whether ever the soul of man 
puts forth an act of will, while it yet remains in a state 
> liberty, in that notion of a state of liberty, viz. as im 
plying a state oi indifference; or whether the soul ever 
exerts an act of choice or preference, while at that very 
time the will is in a perfect equilibrium, not inclining 

Sect. VII.] &f Liberty of Indifference. 79 

one way more than another. The very putting of the 
question is sufficient to shew the absurdity of the affirm 
ative answer : for how ridiculous would it be for any 
body to insist, that the soul chooses one thing before 
another, when at the very same instant it is perfectly 
indifferent with respect to each ! This is the same thing 
as to say, the soul prefers one thing to another, at the 
very same time that it has no preference. Choice and 
preference can no more be in a state of indifference, than 
motion can be in a state of rest, or than the preponder- 
ation of the scale of a balance can be in a state of equi 
librium. Motion may be the next moment after rest j 
but cannot co-exist with it, in any, even the least part 
of it. So choice may be immediately after a state of in 
difference, but has no co-existence with it: even the, 
very beginning of it is not in a state of indifference.- 
And therefore if this be liberty, no act of the will, \\\ 
any degree, is ever performed in a state of liberty, or in 
the time of liberty. Volition and liberty are so far from 
agreeing together, and being essential one to another, 
that they are contrary one to another, and one ex 
cludes and destroys the other, as much as motion and 
rest, light and darkness, or life and death. So 
that the will acts not at all, does not so much as be 
gin to act in the time of such liberty ; freedom is per 
fectly at an end, and has ceased to be, at the first mo 
ment of action ; and therefore liberty cannot reach the 
action, to affect or qualify it, or give it a denomination, 
or any part of it, any more than if it had ceased to be 
twenty years before the action began. The moment 
that liberty ceases to be, it ceases to be a qualification 
of any thing. If light and darkness succeed one another 
instantaneously, light qualifies nothing after it is gone 
out, to make any thing lightsome or bright, any more at 
the first moment of perfect darkness, than months or 
years after. Life denominates nothing vital at the first 
moment of perfect death. So freedom, if it consists in, 
or implies indifference, can denominate nothing free, at 
the first moment of preference or preponderation. There 
fore it is manifest, that no liberty which the soul is pos 

80 Of Liberty of Indifference, [Part II. 

ssed of or ever uses, in any of its acts of volition con- 
rt* IB indifference; and that the opinion of such as 
suppose, that indifference belongs to the very essence of 
liberty, is to the highest degree absurd and contradic- 

. ,7* any one should imagine that this manner of arguing 
is nothing but a trick and -delusion ; and to evade the 
reasoning, should say, that the thing wherein the will 
exercises its liberty, is not in the act ol choice or pre- 
lionderation itself, but in determining itself to a certain 
choice or preference; that the act of the Will wherein 
it is free, and uses its own sovereignty, consists in its 
causing or determining the change or transition from a 
state of indifference to a certain preference, or determin 
ing to give a certain turn to the balance, which has 
hitherto been even ; and that this act the will exerts in 
a state of liberty, or while the will yet remains in equi 
librium, and perfect master of itself. 1 say, if any one 
chooses to express his notion of liberty after this, or 
some such manner, let us see if he can make out his 
matters any better than before. 

What is asserted is, that the Will, while it yet re 
mains in perfect equilibrium, without preference, deter 
mines to change itself from that state, and excite in it 
self a certain choice or preference. Now let us see 
whether this does not come to the same absurdity we had 
before. If it be so, that the Will, while it yet remains 
perfectly indifferent, determines to put itself out of that 
state, and give itself a certain preponderation ; then I 
would enquire, whether the soul does not determine this 
of choice , or whether the Will s coming to a determi* 
nation to do so, be not the same thing as the soufs co 
ining to a choice to do so. If the soul does not deter 
mine this of choice, or in the exercise of choice, then it 
does not determine it voluntarily ; and if the soul does 
not determine it voluntarily, or of its own will, then in 
what sense does its will determine it P And it the will 
does not determine it, then how is the Liberty of the 
Will exercised in the determination ? What sort of 

Sect. VIL] Of Liberty of Indifference. 81 

will is exercised by the soul in those determinations, 
wherein there is no exercise of choice, which are not vo 
luntary, and wherein the will is not concerned ? But if 
it be allowed, that this determination is an act of choice, 
and it be insisted on, that the soul, while it yet remains 
in a state of perfect Indifference, chooses to put itself 
out of that state, and so turn itself one way; then the 
soul is already come to a choice, and chooses that way. 
And so we have the very same absurdity which we had 
before. Here is the soul in a state of choice, and in a 
state of equilibrium, both at the same time : the soul 
already choosing one way, while it remains in a state of 
perfect Indifference, and has no choice of one way more 
than the other ; and indeed this manner of talking-, 
though it may a little hide the absurdity, in the obscuri 
ty of expression, is more nonsensical, and increases the 
inconsistence. To say, the free act of the will, or the 
act which the will exerts in a state of freedom and Indif 
ference, does not imply preference in it, but as what the 
will does in order to causing or producing a preference, 
is as much as to say, the soul chooses (for to will and to 
choose are the same things) without choice, and prefers 
without preference, in order to cause or produce the be 
ginning of a preference, or the first choice. And that is, 
that the first choice is exerted without choice, in order 
to produce itself. 

If any, to evade these things, should own, that a state 
of Liberty and a state of Indifference are not the same, 
and that the former may be without the latter ; but should 
say, that indifference is stiil essential to the freedom of 
an act of will, in some sort, namely, as it is necessary to 
go immediately before it, it being essential to the freedom 
of an act of will that it should directly and immediately 
arise out of a state of indifference; stiil this will nofhelp 
the cause of Arminian Liberty, or make it consistent 
with itself. For if the act springs immediately out of a 
state of indifference, then it does not arise from ante 
cedent choice or preference. But if the act arises direct 
ly out of a state of Indifference, without any intervening 

82 Of Liberty of Indifference. [Fart II. 

choice to choose and determine it, then the act not being 
determined by choice, is not determined by the will ,- the 
mind exercises no free choice in the affair, and free choice 
and free will have no hand in the determination of the 
act ; which is entirely inconsistent with their notion of 
the freedom of Volition. 

If any should suppose, that these difficulties and 
absurdities may be avoided, by saying, that the Liberty 
of the mind consists in a power to suspend the act of the 
will, and so to keep it in a state of Indifference, until 
there has been opportunity for consideration ; and so 
shall say, that however Indifference is not essential to 
Liberty in such a manner, that the mind must make its 
choice in a state of Indifference, which is an inconsisten 
cy, or that the act of the will must spring immediately 
out of Indifference ; yet Indifference may be essential to 
the liberty of acts of tire will in this respect ; viz. That 
Liberty consists in a Power of the mind to forbear or 
suspend the act of Volition, and keep the mind in a state 
of Indifference for the present, until there has been op 
portunity for proper deliberation ; I say, if any one ima 
gines that this helps the matter, it is a great mistake : 
it reconciles no inconsistency, and relieves no difficulty 
\vhich the affair is attended wi.h. For here the follow 
ing things mast be observed : 

1. That this suspending of Volition, if there be pro 
perly any such thing, is itself an act of Volition. If the 
mind determines to suspend its act, it determines it vol 
untarily ; it chooses, on some consideration, to suspend 
it. And this choice or determination, is an act ol the 
will ; and indeed it is supposed to be so in the very hy 
pothesis : for it is supposed that the Liberty of the will 
consists in its Power to do this, and that its doing it is 
the very thing wherein the Will exercises its Liberty. 
But how can the will exercise Liberty in it, if it be not 
an act of the will ? The Liberty of the will is not ex 
ercised in any thing but what the will does. 

2. I his determining to suspend acting is not only an 
act of the will, but it is supposed to be the only free act 

Sect, VII.] Of suspending Volition. 83 

of the will ; because it is said, that this is the thing 
wherein the Liberty of the will consists, Now if this be 
so, then this is all the act of will that we have to con 
sider in this controversy, about the Liberty of will, and 
in our enquiries, wherein the Liberty of man consists. 
And now the foremcntioned difficulties remain : the for 
mer question returns upon us ; viz. Wherein consists 
the freedom of the will in those dels wherein it is free ? 
And if this act of determining- a suspension he the 
only act in which the will i* free, then wherein consists 
the will s freedom with respect to this act of suspension ? 
And how is indifference essential to this act ? The an 
swer must be, according to what is supposed in the 
evasion under consideration, that the Liberty of the will 
in this act of suspension, consists in a Power to suspend 
even this act until there has been opportunity for tho 
rough deliberation. But this will be to plunge directly 
into the grossest nonsense : for it is the act of suspension 
itself that we are speaking of; and there is no room for 
a space of deliberation and suspension in order to deter 
mine whether we will suspend or no. For that sup 
poses, that even suspension itself may be deferred : 
which is absurd ; for the very deferring the determination 
of suspension, to consider whether we will stipend or 
no, will be actually suspending : for, during the space 
of suspension, to consider whether to suspend, the act is 
ipso facto suspended. There is no medium between 
suspending to act, and immediately acting ; and there 
fore no possibility of avoiding either the one or the o- 
ther one moment. 

And besides, this is attended with ridiculous absur 
dity another way : for now it is come to that, that Li 
berty consists wholly in the mind s having Power to sus 
pend its determinat:on whether to suspend or no: that 
there may be time for consideration, whether it be best 
to suspend. And if Liberty consists in this only, then 
this is the Liberty under consideration : we have to en 
quire now, How Liberty, with respect to this act of sus 
pending a determination of suspension, consists in Indif- 

84 Of suspending Volition. [Part II, 

ference, or how Indifference is essential to it. Hie 
answer, according to the hypothesis we are upon, must 
be, that it consists in a Power of suspending even this 
last mentioned act, to have time to consider whether to 
suspend that. And then the same difficulties and en- 
quiries return over again with respect to that ; and so 
on for ever ; which, if it would shew any thing, would 
shew only that there is no such thing as a free act. It 
drives the exercise of freedom back in infinitum ; and 
that is to drive it out of the world. 

And besides all this, there is a delusion, and a latent 
gross contradiction in the affair another way ; inasmuch 
as in explaining how, or in what respect the will is free 
with regard to a particular act of Volition, it is said, 
that its Liberty consists in a Power to determine to 
suspend that act, which places Liberty not in that act of 
Volition which the enquiry is about, but altogether in 
another antecedent act ; which contradicts the thing sup 
posed in both the question and answer. The question 
is, Wherein consists the mind s Liberty in any particu 
lar act of Volition ? And the answer, in pretending to 
shew wherein lies the mind s Liberty in that act^ in ef 
fect says, it does not lie in that act at all, but in ano 
ther, viz. a Volition to suspend that act. And therefore 
the answer is both contradictory, and altogether imperti 
nent and beside the purpose : for it does riot shew where 
in the Liberty of the will consists in the act in question ; 
instead of that, it supposes it does not consist in that 
act at all, but in another distinct from it, even a Voli 
tion to suspend that act, and take time to consider of it. 
And no account is pretended to be given wherein the 
mind is free with respect to that act, wherein this an 
swer supposes the Liberty of the mind indeed consists, 
viz. the act of suspension, or of determining the suspen 

On the whole, it is exceeding manifest, that the Li. 
berty of the mind does not consist in indifference, and 
that indifference is not essential or necessary to it, or at 

Sect. VIII,] Of Supposed Liberty. 85 

all belonging to it, as the Armintans suppose ; that 
opinion being full of nothing but absurdity and self-con 


Concerning the supposed Liberty of the Will, as 
opposite to all Necessity. 

IT is a thing chiefly insisted on by Armmians, in this 
controversy, as a thing most important and essential 
in human liberty, that volitions, or the acts of the will, 
are contingent events ; understanding c.ontingence as op 
posite not only to constraint, but to all necessity ; there 
fore I would particularly consider this matter. And, 

1. I would enquire, Whether there is, or can be 
any such thing, as a volition which is contingent in such 
a sense, as not only to come to pass without any neces 
sity of constraint or co-action, but also without a Neces* 
sity of consequence, or an infallible connection with any 
thing foregoing. 

2. Whether, if it were so, this would at all help tho 
cause of Liberty. 

1. I would consider whether volition is a thing that 
ever does, or can come to pass, in this manner, contin 

And here it must be remembered, that it has been 
already shewn, that nothing can ever come to pass with 
out a cause, or reason why it exists in this manner rather 
than another ; and the evidence of this has been particu 
larly applied to the acts of the will. Now if thi* be so, 
it will demonstrably follow, that the acts of the will are 
never contingent, or without necessity in the sense spo 
ken of; inasmuch as those things which have a cause, 
or reason of their existence, must be connected with 
their cause. This appears by the following considera 


86 Q/ Supposed Liberty [fart II. 

1. For an event to have a cause and ground of its 
existence, and yet not to be connected with its cause, is 
an inconsistence. For if the event be not connected 
\yith the cause, it is not dependent on the cause ; its ex 
istence is as it were loose from its influence, and may 
attend it, or may not ; it being a mere centingence, 
whether it follows or attends the influence of the cause 
or not : and that is the same thing as not to be depend 
ent on it. And to say, the event is not dependent on 
its cause is absurd : it is the same thing as to say, it is 
not its cause, nor the event the effect of it ; for depend 
ence on the influence of a cause is the very notion of 
an effect. If there be no such relation between one 
thing and another, consisting in the connection and de 
pendence of one thing on the influence of another, then 
it is certain there is no such relation between them as is 
signified by the terms cause and effect. So far as an 
event is dependent on a cause and connected with it, so 
much causality is there in the case, and no more. The 
cause does, or brings to pass no more in any event, than 
is dependent on it. If we say, the connection and de 
pendence is not total, but partial, and that the effect, 
though it has some connection and dependence, yet is 
not entirely dependent on it ; that is the same thing as 
to say, that not all that is in the event is an effect of 
that cause, but that only part of it arises from thence, 
and part some other way. 

2. If there are some events which are not necessarily 
connected with their causes, then it will follow, that 
there are some things which come to pass without any 
cause, contrary to the supposition. For if there be any 
event which was not necessarily connected with the 
influence of the cause under such circumstances, then it 
was contingent whether it would attend or follow the in 
fluence of the cause, or no ; it might have followed, and 
it might not, when the cause was the same, its influence 
the same, and under the same circumstances. And if 
so, why did it follow, rather than not follow ? There is 

Sect. VIII.] without all Necessity. 8? 

no cause or reason of this. Therefore here is something 
without any cause or reason why it is, viz. the following 
of the effect on the influence of the cause, with which it 
was not necessarily connected. If there be a necessary 
connection of the effect on any thing- antecedent, then 
we may suppose that sometimes the event will follow 
the cause, and sometimes not, when the eause is the 
same, and in every respect in the same state and circum 
stances. And what can be the cause and reason of this 
strange phenomenon, even this diversity, that in one in 
stance, the effect should follow, in another not ? It is 
evident by the supposition, that this is wholly without 
any cause or ground. Here is something in the present 
manner of the existence of things, and state of the 
world, that is absolutely without a cause. Which ia 
contrary to the supposition, and contrary to what haa 
been before demonstrated. 

5. To suppose there are some events which have a 
cause and ground of their existence, that yet are not 
necessarily connected with their cause, is to suppose that 
they have a cause which is not their cause. Thus, if 
the effect be not necessarily connected with the cause, 
with its influence, and influential circumstance ; then, as 
I observed before, it is a thing possible and supposable, 
that the cause may sometimes exert the same influence, 
under the same circumstances, and yet the effect not 
follow. And if this actually happens in any instance, 
this instance is a proof, in fact, that the influence of the 
cause is not sufficient to produce the effect. For if it 
had been sufficient, it would have done it. And yet, 
by the supposition, in another instance, the same cause, 
with perfectly the same influence, and when all circum 
stances which have any influence, are the same, it was 
followed with the effect. By which it is manifest, that 
the effect in this last instance was not owing to the in 
fluence of the cause, but must come to pass some other 
way. For it was proved before, that the influence of 
the cause was not sufficient to produce the effect. 

88 Of supposed Liberty [Part II. 

And if it was not sufficient to produce it, then the 
production of it could not be owing to that influence, 
but must be owing to something else, or owing to no 
thing. And if the effect be not owing to the influence 
of the cause, then it is not the clause. Which brings us 
to the contradiction of a cause, and no cause, that which 
is the ground and reason of the existence of a thing, and 
at the same time is not the ground and reason of its ex 
istence, nor is sufficient to be so. 

If the matter be not already so plain as to render any 
further reasoning upon it impertinent, I would say, that 
that which seems to be the cause in the supposed case, 
can be no cause ; its power and influence having, on a 
full trial, proved insufficient to produce such an effect : 
and if it be not sufficient to produce it, then it does not 
produce it. To say otherwise, is to say, there is power 
to do that which there is not power to do. If there be 
in a cause sufficient power exerted, and in circumstances 
sufficient to produce an effect, and so the effect be ac 
tually produced at one time ; these things all concurring, 
will produce the effect at all times. And so we may turn 
it the other way ; that which proves not sufficient at one 
time, cannot be sufficient at another, with precisely the 
same influential circumstances. And therefore if the ef 
fect follows, it is not owing to that cause ; unless the 
different time be a circumstance which has influence : 
but that is contrary to the supposition ; for it is suppos 
ed that all circumstances that have influence are the 
same. And besides, this would be to suppose the time 
to be the cause ; which is contrary to the supposition 
of the other things being the cause. But if merely di 
versity of time has no influence, then it is evident that 
it is as much of an absurdity to say, the cause was suffi 
cient to produce the effect at one time, and not at ano 
ther $ as to say, that it is sufficient to produce the ef 
fect at a certain time, and yet not sufficient to produce 
the same effect at the same time. 

On the whole, it is clearly manifest, that every effect 
has a necessary connection with its cause, or with that 

Sect. IX.] Of the Connection of the IVill 89 

which is the true ground and reason of its existence. 
And therefore if there he no event without a cause, as 
was proved before, then no event whatsoever is contin 
gent in the manner that Arminians suppose the free 
acts of the will to be contingent. 


Of the Connection of the Acts of the Will with 
the Dictates of the Understanding. 

TT is manifest, that the Acts of the Will are none of 
-*- them contingent in such a sense as to be without 
all necessity, or so as not to be necessary with a neces 
sity of consequence and connection ; because every Act 
of the Will is some way connected with the understand 
ing, and is as the greatest apparent good is, in the 
manner which has already been explained : namely, that 
the soul always wills or chooses that which, in the pre 
sent view of the mind, considered in the whole of that 
view, and all that belongs to it, appears most agreeable. 
Because, as was observed before, nothing is more evi 
dent than that when men act voluntarily, and do what 
they pkase, then they do what appears most agreeable 
to them ; and to say otherwise, would be as much as 
to affirm, that men do not choose what appears to suit 
them best, or what seems most pleasing to them ; or 
that they do not choose what they prefer. Which brings 
the matter to a contradiction. 

And it is very evident in itself, that the Acts of the 
will have some connection with the dictates or views of 
the understanding, so this is allowed by some of the chief 
of the Arminian writers : particularly by Dr Whilby and 
Di Samuel Clark Dr Turnbull, though a great ene 
my to the doctrine of Necessity, allows the same thing. 
In his Christian Philosophy, (p. 196,) he with much 


go Of the Connection of the Will [Part II. 

approbation cites another philosopher, as of the same 
mind, in these words : " No man, (says an excellent 
philosopher) sets himself about any thing 1 , but upon 
some view or other, which serves him for a reason for 
what he does ; and whatsoever faculties he employs, the 
understanding-, with such light as it has, well or ill-form 
ed, constantly leads ; and by that light, true or false, 
all her operative powers are directed. The will itself, 
how absolute and incontroulable soever it may be thought, 
never fails in its obedience to the dictates of the under 
standing. Temples have their sacred images; and we 
see what influence they have always had over a great 
part of mankind ; but in truth, the ideas and images in 
mens minds are the invisible powers that constantly go 
vern them ; and to these they all pay universally a ready 

But whether this be in a just consistence with them 
selves, and their own notions of liberty, I desire may 
now be impartially considered. 

Dr. Whitly plainly supposes, that the Acts and De 
terminations oi the Will always follow the Understand 
ing s apprehension or view of the greatest good to be 
obtained, or evil to be avoided, or, in other words, that 
the Determinations of the Will constantly and infal- 
Jibly follow these two things in the Understanding; 
1. Ihe degree of good to be obtained, and evil to be a- 
Yoidcd, proposed 10 the Understanding, and apprehend 
ed, viewed, and taken notice of by it. 2 The decree 
<>J tht understanding s view, notice or apprehension of 
that good or evil ; which is increased by attention 
and consideration. That this is an opinion he is ex 
ceeding peremptory in (as he is in every opinion which 
ie Hia.ntanis in his controversy with the, Calvtnists) 
with disdain of the contrary opinion, as absurd and self- 
*>n radictory, will appear by the following words of his, 
in his Discourse on the Five Points* 

v ow, it is certain, that what naturally makes the 

* Seconded*, p. 211, gig, as. 

Sect. IX.] JVitfi the Understanding. Ql 

Understanding 1 to perceive, is evidence proposed, and 
apprehended, considered or adverted to: tor nothing 
else can be requisite to make us come to the knowledge 
of the truth. Again, what makes the will choose, is 
something approved by the Understanding, and conse 
quently appearing to the soul as good. And whatso 
ever it refuseth, is something represented by the Un 
derstanding, and so appearing to the Will, as evil. 
Whence all that God requires of us is and can be only 
this ; to refuse the evil, and choose the good. Where 
fore, to say that evidence proposed, apprehended and 
considered, is not sufficient to make the Understanding 
approve ; or that the greatest good proposed, the great 
est evil threatened, when equally believed and reflected 
on, is not sufficient to engage the Will to choose the 
good and refuse the evil, is in effect to say, that which 
alone doth move the Will, to choose or to refuse, is not 
sufficient to engage it so to do; which being contradict 
ory to itself, must of necessity be false. Be it then so, 
that we naturally have an aversion to the truths proposed 
to us in the Gospel ; that only can make us indisposed 
to attend to them, but cannot hinder our conviction, when 
we do apprehend them, and attend to them. Be it, 
that there is in us also a renitency to the good we are 
to choose; that only can indispose us to believe it is, 
and to approve it as our chiefest good. Be it, that we 
are prone to the evil that we should decline ; that only 
can render it the more difficult for us to believe it is the 
worst of evils. But yet, what we do really believe to be 
our chiefest good, will still be chosen ; and what we ap 
prehend to be the worst of evils, will, whilst we do con 
tinue under that conviction, be refused by us. It there 
fore can be only requisite, in order to these ends, that 
the Good Spirit should so illuminate our understandings, 
that we attending to, and considering what lies before 
us, should apprehend and be convinced of our duty 5 
and that the blessings of the Gospel should be so pro 
pounded to us, as that we may discern them to be our 
chiefest good ; and the miseries it threateneth, so as we 

92 Of the Connection of the Will [Part II . 

may be convinced that they are the worst of evils ; that 
we may choose the one, and refuse the other. 

Here let it be observed, How plainly and peremptorily 
it is asserted, that the greatest good proposed, and the 
Greatest evil threatened, when equally believed and reflec 
ted on, is sufficient to engage the Will to choose the good, 
and refuse the evil, and is -that alone which doth move 
the Will to choose or to refuse ; and that it is contradic 
tory to itself, to suppose otherwise ; and therefore must of 
necessity be false , and then what we do really believe to 
be our chief est good will still be chosen, and what we ap 
prehend to" be the worst evils, will, whilst we continue un 
der that conviction, be refused by us. Nothing could have 
been said more to the purpose, fully to signify and de 
clare, that the determinations of the will must evermore 
follow the illumination, conviction, and notice of the un 
derstanding, with regard to the greatest good and evil 
proposed, reckoning both the degree of good and evil 
understood, and the degree of understanding, notice and 
conviction of that proposed good and evil ; and that it 
is thus necessarily, and can be otherwise in no instance ; 
because it is asserted, that it implies a contradiction, to 
suppose it ever to be otherwise. 

I am sensible, the Doctor s aim in these assertions is 
against the Ca/vinists ; to shew, in opposition to them, 
that there is no need of any physical operation of the 
Spirit of God on the Will, to change and determine that 
to a good choice, but that God\s operation and assistance 
is only moral, suggesting ideas to the understanding; 
which he supposes to be enough, if those ideas are at 
tended lo, infallibly to obtain the end. But whatever 
his design was, nothing can more directly and fully 
prove, that every determination of the Will, in choosing 
and refusing, is necessary ; directly contrary to his own, 
notion of the liberty of the Will. For if the determin 
ation of the Will, evermore, in this manner, follows the 
light, conviction and view of the understanding, concern 
ing the greatest good and evil, and this be that alone 
which oioves the Will, and it be a contradiction to sup* 

Sect. IX.] With the Understanding. 93 

pose otherwise ; then it is necessarily so, the Will neces 
sarily follows this light or view of the understanding 1 , not 
only in some of its acts, but in every act of choosing and 
refusing 1 . So that the will does not determine itself in 
any one of its own acts ; but all its acts, every act of 
choice and refusal depends on, and is necessarily con 
nected with, some antecedent cause ; which cause is not 
the will itself, nor any act of its own, nor any thing per 
taining to that faculty, but something belonging to 
another faculty, whose acts go before the will, in all its 
acts, and govern and determine them every one. 

Here, if it should be replied, that although it be true, 
that according to the Doctor, the final determination of 
the will always depends upon, and is infallibly connected 
with, the understanding s conviction, and notice of the 
greatest good ; yet the acts of the will are not neces 
sary ; because that conviction and notice of the under 
standing is first dependent on a preceding act of the will, 
in determining to attend to, and take notice of the evi 
dence exhibited ; by which means the mind obtains that 
degree of conviction, which is sufficient and effectual to 
determine the consequent and ultimate choice of the 
will ; and that the will with regard to that preceding 
act, whereby it determines whether to attend or no, is 
not necessary ; and that in this, the liberty of the will 
consists, that when God holds forth sufficient objective 
light, the will is at liberty whether to command the at 
tention of the mind to it. 

Nothing can be more weak and inconsiderate than 
such a reply as this. For that preceding act of the will, 
in determining to attend and consider, still is an act of 
the Wilt (it is so to be sure, if the liberty of the Will 
consists in it, as is supposed) and if it be an act of the 
will, it is an act of choice or refusal. And therefore, 
if what the Doctor asserts be true, it is determined by 
some antecedent light in the understanding concerning 
the greatest apparent good or evil. For he asserts, it 
is that light which alone doth move the Will to choose or 
refuse. And therefore the will must be moved by that 

94 Of the Connection of Ihe Will [Part IT.. 

in choosing to attend to the objective light offered, in 
order to another consequent act of choice ; so that this 
act is no less necessary than the other. And if we sup 
pose another act of the will, still preceding both these 
mentioned, to determine both, still that also must be an 
act of the will, and an act of choice ; and so must, by the 
same principles, be infallibly determined by some certain 
degree of light in the understanding concerning the 
greatest good. And let us suppose as many acts of the 
will, one preceding another, as we please, yet they are 
every one of them necessarily determined by a certain 
degree of light in the understanding, concerning the 
greatest and most eligible good in that case ; and so, not 
one of them free according to Dr IVhitbi/s notion of 
freedom. And if it be said, the reason why men do not 
attend to light held forth, is because of ill habits con 
tracted by evil acts committed before, whereby their 
minds are indisposed to attend to, and consider of, the 
truth held forth to them by God, the difficulty is not at 
all avoided : still the question returns, what determined 
the will in those preceding evil acts ? It must, by Dr 
Whitbifs principles, still be the vievr of the understand 
ing concerning the greatest good and evil. If this view 
of the understanding be that alone which doth move the 
will to choose or refuse, as the Doctor asserts, then every 
act of choice or refusal, from a man s first existence, is 
moved and determined by this view ; and this view of 
the understanding exciting and governing the act, must 
be before the act ; and therefore the will is necessarily 
determined, in every one of its acts, from a man s first ex 
istence, by a cause beside the will, and a cause that does 
not proceed from, or depend on, any act of the will at all. 
Which at once utterly abolishes the Doctor s whole 
scheme of liberty of will ; and he atone stroke, has cut 
the sinews of all his arguments from the goodness, 
righteousness , faithfulness and sincerity of God, in his 
commands, promises, threatenings, calls, invitations, ex 
postulations ; which he makes use of, under the heads of 
reprobation, election, universal redemption, suiHcient 

Sect. IX.] With the Understanding. Q5 

and effectual grace, and the freedom of the will of man ; 
and has enervated and made vain all those exclamations 
against the doctrine of the Calvinists, as charging God 
with manifest unrighteousness, unfaithfulness, hypocrisy, 
fallaciousness, and cruelty ; which he has over and over, 
and over again, numberless times in his book. 

Dr Samuel Clark, in his Demonstration of the Being 
and Attributes of God *, to evade the argument to prove 
the necessity of volition, from its necessary connection 
with the last dictate of the understanding, supposes the 
latter not to be diverse from the act of the will itself. 
But if it be so, it will not alter the case as to the evi 
dence of the necessity of the act of the will. If the 
dictate of the understanding be the very same with the 
determination of the will or choice, as Dr Clark sup 
poses, then this determination is no fruit or effect of 
choice : and if so, no liberty of choice has any hand in 
it : as to volition or choice, it is necessary ; that is-, 
choice cannot prevent it. If the last dictate of the un. 
derstanding be the same with the determination of voli. 
tion itself, then the existence of that determination 
must be necessary as to volition ; inasmuch as volition 
can have no opportunity to determine whether it shall 
exist or no, it having existence already before volition 
has opportunity to determine any thing. It is itself the 
very rise and existence of volition. But a thing, after 
it exists, has no opportunity to determine as to its own 
existence ; it is too late for that. 

If liberty consists in that which Arminians suppose, 
viz. in the will s determining its own acts, having free 
opportunity, and being without all necessity ; this is the 
same as to say, that liberty consists in the soul s havino* 
power and opportunity to have what determinations of 
the will it pleases or chooses. And if the determina 
tions of the will, and the last dictates of the understand 
ing be the same thing, then liberty consists in the 
mind^s having power to have, what dictates of the un- 

Edit. VI. p. 93. 

QQ Of the Connection of the Will [Part II. 

derstanding it pleases, having- opportunity to choose its 
own dictates of understanding. But this is absurd ; for 
it is to make the determination of choice prior to the 
dictate of understanding-, and the ground of it ; which 
cannot consist with the dictate of understanding s being 
the determination of choice itself. 

Here is no way to do in- this case, but only to recur 
to the old absurdity of one determination before another, 
and the cause of it ; and another before that, determin 
ing- that ; and so on in infinitum. If the last dictate of 
the understanding be the determination of the will itself, 
and the soul be free with regard to that dictate, in the 
Arminian notion of freedom ; then the soul, before that 
dictate of its understanding exists, voluntarily, ?and ac 
cording to its own choice determines, in every case, 
what that dictate of the understanding shall be ; other 
wise that dictate, as to the will, is necessary : and the 
acts determined by it must also be necessary. So that 
here is a determination of the mind prior to that dictate 
of the understanding, an act of choice going before it, 
choosing and determining what that dictate of the un 
derstanding shall be : and this preceding act of choice, 
being a free act of will, must also be the same with 
another last dictate of the understanding : and if the 
mind also be free in that dictate of understanding, that 
must be determined still by another ; and so on forever. 
Besides, if the dictate of the understanding, and de 
termination of the will be the same, this confounds the 
understanding and will, and makes then, the same. 
Whether they be the same or no, 1 will not now dispute - 
but only would observe, that if it be so, and the Armi- 
man notion of hberty consists in a self-determining 
power in the understanding, free of all necessity ; bein* 
independent, undetermined by any thing prior to its own" 
acts and determinations; and the* more the understand- 
ng is thus independent, and sovereign over its own de 
terminations the more free. By this therefore the free- 
dom of the soul as a moral agent, must consist in the 
independence of the understanding on any evidence or 

Sect. IX.] With the Understanding. 97 

appearance of things, or any thing whatsoever, that 
stands forth to the view of the mind, prior to the under 
standing s determination. And what a sort of liberty 
is that ! consisting in an ability, freedom, and easiness 
of judging, either according to evidence, or against it ; 
having a sovereign command over itself at all times, to 
judge, either agreeably or disagreeably to what is plainly 
exhibited to its own view. Certainly, it is no liberty 
that renders persons the proper subjects of persuasive 
reasoning, arguments, expostulations, and such-lika 
moral means and inducements. The use of which with 
mankind is a main argument of the Armimans, to de 
fend their notion of liberty without all necessity. For 
according to this, the more free men are, the less they 
are under the government of such means, less subject to 
the power of evidence and reason, and more independent 
on their influence, in their determinations. 

And whether the understanding and will are the same 
or no, as Dr Clark seems to suppose, yet in order to 
maintain the Arminian notion of liberty without neces 
sity} the free will is not determined by the understand 
ing, nor necessarily connected with the understanding; 
and the further from such connection, the greater 
the freedom. And when the liberty is full and com 
plete, the determinations of the will have no connection 
at all with the dictates of the understanding. And if so, 
in vain are all the applications to the understanding, in 
order to induce to any free virtuous act ; and so in vain 
are all instructions, counsels, invitations, expostulations, 
and all arguments and persuasives whatsoever : for these 
are but applications to the understanding, and a clear 
and lively exhibition of the objects of choice to the mind s 
view. But if, after all, the will must be self-determin 
ed, and independent on the understanding, to what pur 
pose are things thus represented to the understanding, 
in order to determine the choice ? 


98 Acts of the Will [Part II. 


Volition necessarily connected tuith the Influence 
of Motives ; with particular Observations on 
the great Inconsistence of Mr Chubb s Asser 
tions and Reasonings about the Freedom of the 

THAT every act of the will has some cause, and con 
sequently (by what has been already proved) has a 
necessary connection with its cause, and so is necessary 
by a necessity of connection and consequence, is evident 
by this, that every act of the will whatsoever is excited 
by some motive ; which is manifest, because, if the will 
or mind, in willing and choosing after the manner that 
it does, is excited so to do by no motive or inducement, 
then it has no end which it proposes to itself, or pur 
sues in so doing; it aims at nothing, and seeks nothing, 
and if it seeks nothing, then it does not go after any 
thing, or exert any inclination or preference towards any 
thing. Which brings the matter to a contradiction ; be 
cause for the mind to will something, and for it to go 
after something by an act of preference ami inclination, 
are the same thing 

But if every act of the will is excited by a motive, then 
that motive is the cause of the act of the will. If the acts 
of the will are excited by motives, then motives are the 
causes of their being excited; or, which is the same thing, 
the cause of their being put forth into act and existence. 
And if so, the existence of the acts of the will is proper- 
Jy the effect of their motives. Motives do nothing as 
motives or inducements, but by their influence ; and so 
much as is done by their influence is the effect of them. 
For that is the notion of an effect, something that is 
brought to pass by the influence of another thing. 

And if volitions are properly the effects of tlieir Mo 
tives, then they are necessarily connected with their 
Motives. Every effect and event being as was proved 

Sect. X.] Connected with Motives. 99 

before necessarily connected with that, which is the pro 
per ground and reason of its existence. Thus it is ma 
nifest, that volition is necessary, and is not from any self- 
determining power in the will : the volition which is 
caused by previous Motive and inducement, is not caus 
ed by the will exercising a sovereign power over itself, 
to determine, cause and excite volitions in itself. This 
is not consistent with the wilTs acting in a state of in 
difference and equilibrium, to determine itself to a pre 
ference i for the way in which motives operate, is by 
biassing the will, and giving it a certain inclination or 
preponderation one way. 

Here it may be proper to observe, that Mr Chubb^ in 
his Collection of Tracts on various Subjects, has advan 
ced a scheme of liberty, which is greatly divided against 
itself, and thoroughly subversive of itself; and that many 

1. He is abundant in asserting, that the will, in all its 
acts, is influenced by Motive and excitement ; and that 
this is the previous ground and reason of all its acts, and 
that it is never otherwise in any instance. He says, (p. 
262.) No action can take place without some Motive to 
excite it. And in p. 563. Volition cannot take place 
without some PREVIOUS reason or Motive to induce 
it. And in page -310. Action would not take place 
without some reason or Motive to induce it ; it being ab 
surd to suppose that the active faculty would be exerted 
without some PREVIOUS reason to dispose the mind 
to action- So also p. 257. And he speaks of these, 
things, as what we may be absolutely certain of, and 
which are the foundation, the only foundation we have 
of a certainty of the moral perfections of God, p. 252, 
25:*, 254, 255, 261, 262 263, 264. 

And yet the same time, by his scheme, the influence 
of Motives upon us to excite to action, and to be act 
ually a ground of volition, is consequent on the volition or 
choice of the mind. For he very greatly insists upon 
it, that in all free actions, before the mind is the subject 
of those volitions, which Motives excite, it chooses to bo 

100 Connected with Motives. [Part II. 

so. It chooses, whether it will comply with the Motive 
which presents itself in view, or not ; and when various 
motives are presented, it chooses* which it will yield to, 
and which it will reject. So p 25G. Every man has 
power to act, or to refrain from acting agreeable with, 

or contrary to any motive that presents. P. 257 

Every Man is at liberty to act, or refrain from acting , 
agreeably with, or contrary to what each of these motives, 
considered singly, would excite him to Man has poiv- 
er, and is as much at lileity to reject the motive, that 
does prevail, as h lias power, and is at liberty to reject, 
those motives that do not. And so p. &10, 311. In 
order to constitute a moral agent, it is necessary, that he 
should have power to act, or to refrain from acting, 
upon such moral motives as he pleases. And to the like 
purpose in many other places. According to these 
things, the acts tirst, and chooses or refuses to comply 
with the motive that is presented, before it falls under 
its prevailing- influence : and it is first determined by the 
mind s pleasure or choice, what motives it will be indu 
ced by, before it is induced by them. 

Now, how can these things hang together ? How 
ran the mind first act, and by its act of volition and 
choice determine, what Motives shall be the ground and 
reason of its volition and choice? For this supposes the 
choice is already made, before the Motive has its effect ; 
and that the volition is already exerted, before the mo 
tive prevails, so as actually to be the ground of the voli 
tion ; and makes the prevailing of the motive, the con 
sequence of the volition, which yet it is the ground of. 
If the mind has already chosen to comply with a motive, 
and to yield to its excitement, it does not need to yield 
to it after this : for the thing is effected already, that 
the motive would excite to, and the will is beforehand 
with the excitement ; and the excitement comes in too 
late, and is needless and in vain afterwards. If the 
mind has already chosen to yield to a motive which zw- 
mteato a thing, that implies, and in fact is a choosing 
the thing invited too , and the very act of choice is be* 

Sect. X.] Scheme of "Liberty Sfc 101 

fore the influence of the motive which induces, and is 
the ground of the choice ; the son is beforehand with 
the father that begets him : the choice is supposed to be 
the ground of that influence of the motive, which very 
influence is supposed to be the ground of the choice. 
And so vice versa, the choice is supposed to be the con 
sequence of the influence of the motive, which influence 
of the motive is the consequence of that very choice. 

And besides, if the will acts first towards the motive 
before it falls under its influence, and the prevailing of 
the motive upon it to induce it to act and choose, be the 
fruit and consequence of its act and choice-, then how is 
the motive a PREVIOUS ground and reason of the 
act and choice^ so that in the nature of the things, voli 
tion cannot take place without some PREVIOUS rea 
son and motive to induce it ; and that this act is conse 
quent upon, and follows the motive ? Which things 
Mr Chubb often asserts, as of certain and undoubted 
truth. So that the very same motive is both previous 
and consequent, both before and after, both the ground 
and fruit of the very same thing 

II. Agreeable to the forementioned inconsistent no 
tion of the will s first acting towards the motive, choos 
ing whether it will comply with it, in order to its becom 
ing a ground of the wilPs acting, before any act of voli 
tion can take place, Mr Chubb frequently calls motives 
and excitements to the action of the will, the passive 
ground or reason of that action : which is a remarkable 
phrase, than which I presume there is none more unin 
telligible, and void of distinct and consistent meaning, 
in all the writings of Duns Scotus, or Thomas Aquinas. 
When lie represents the motive to action or volition as 
passive, he must mean passive in that affair, or passive 
with respect to that ar.tion, which he speaks of; other 
wise it is nothing to his purpose, or relating to the de 
sign of his argument : he must mean, (ii that can be 
called a meaning) that the motive to volition is first 
acted upon or towards by the volition, choosing- to jieid 
to it, making it a ground of action, or determining to 

Inconsistence of Mr Chubb* s [Part IL 

fetch its influence from thence ; and so to make it a pre 
vious ground of its own excitation and existence. Which 
is the same absurdity, as if one should say, that the soul 
of man, or any other thing should, previous to its exis 
ting, choose what cause it would come into existence by, 
and should act upon its cause, to fetch influence from 
thence, to bring it ink) being-, and so its cause should 
be a passive ground of its existence ! 

Mr Chubb does very plainly suppose motive or ex 
citement to be the ground of the bring of volition. He 
speaks of it as the ground or reason of the EXERTIOM 
of an act of the will, p. 391, and 392 ; and expressly 
says, that volition cannot TAKE PLACE without 
some previous ground or motive to induce it, p. 3(H 
And he speaks of the act as FROM the motive and 
FROM THE INFLUENCE of the motive, p. 552 ; 
and from the influence that the motive has on the man, for 
the PRODUCTION of an action, p. 317. Certainly 
there is no need of multiplying words about this ; it is 
easily judged, whether motive can be the ground of vo- 
lition^s being exerted and taking place, so that the very 
production of it is from the influence of the motive, and 
yet the motive, before it becomes the ground of the vo 
lition, is passive or acted upon by the volition. But 
this I will say, that a man, who insists so much on clear 
ness of meaning in others, and is so much in blaming 
their confusion and inconsistence, ought, if he was able, 
to have explained his meaning in this phrase of passive 
ground of action, so as to shew it not to be confused and 

If .any man should suppose, that Mr Chubb, when he 
speaks of Motive as a passive ground of action, does 
not mean passive with regard to that volition which it 
is the ground of, but some other antecedent volition 
(though his purpose and argument, and whole discourse, 
will by no means allow of such a supposition) yet it 
would not help the matter in the least. For, (1.) If 
we suppose there to be an act of volition or choice, by 
the soul chooses to yield to the invitation of 

Sect. X.] Scheme of Liberty*. 103 

motive to another volition, by which the soul choases 
something else ; both these supposed volitions are in 
effect the very same. A volition, or choosing to yield 
to the force of a motive inviting to choose something, 
comes to just the same thing as choosing the thing, 
which the motive invites to, as I observed before. So 
that here can be no room to help the matter, by a dis 
tinction of two volitions. (2.) If the motive be passive 
with respect, not to the same volition, that the motive* 
excites to, but one truly distinct and prior; yet, by Mr 
Chubb) that prior volition cannot take place, without a 
motive or excitement, as a previous ground of its exis 
tence. For he insists, that it is absurd to suppose any 
volition should take place without some previous motive 
to induce it- So that at last it comes to just the same 
absurdity : for if every volition must have a previous 
motive, then the veryjirst in the whole series must be 
excited by a previous motive ; and yet the motive to 
that first volition is passive ; but cannot be passive with 
regard to another antecedent volition, because, by the 
supposition, it is the very first : therefore if it be pas 
sive with respect to any volition, it must be so with re 
gard to that very volition that it is the ground of, and 
that is excited by it. 

III. Though Mr Chubb asserts, as above, that every 
volition has some motive, and that in the nature of the 
thing, no volition can take place without some motive to 
induce it ; yet he asserts, that volition does not always 
follow the strongest motive ; or, in other words, is not 
governed by any superior strength of the motive that is 
followed, beyond motives to the contrary, previous to 
the volition itself. His own words, p. 258, are as fol 
lows : " Though with regard to physical causes, that 
which is strongest always prevails, yet it i otherwise 
with regard to moral causes. Of these, sometimes the 
stronger, sometimes the weaker, prevails. And the 
ground of this difference is evident, namely, that what 
we call moral causes, strictly speaking, are no causes at 
all, but barely passive reasons of, or excitements to the 

104 Incomistence of Mr Chubb s [Puii II. 

action, or to the refraining from acting 1 : which excite 
ments we have power, or are at liberty to comply with 
or reject, as I have shewed above." And so throughout 
the paragraph, he, in a variety of phrases insists, that 
the will is not always determined by the strongest mo 
tive, unless by strongest we preposterously mean ac 
tually prevailing in the event ; which is not in the mo 
tive, hut in the will ; but that the will is not always de 
termined by the motive, which is strongest, by any 
strength previous to the volition itself. And he else 
where does abundantly assert, that the will is determined 
by no superior strength or advantage that motives have, 
from any constitution or state of things, or any circum 
stances whatsoever, previous to the actual determination 
of the will. And indeed his whole discourse on human 
liberty implies it, his whole scheme is founded upon 

But thete things cannot stand together. There is 
such a thing as a diversity of strength in motives to 
choice, previous to the choice itself. Mr Chubb himself 
supposes, that they do previously invite, induce, excite 
and dispose the mind to action. This implies, that they 
have something in themselves that is inviting^ some ten 
dency to induce and dispose to volition, previous to vo 
lition itself. And if they have in themselves this nature 
and tendency, doubtless they have it in certain limited 
degrees, which are capable of diversity ; and some have 
it in greater degrees, others in le^s ; and they that have 
most of this tendency, considered with all their nature 
and circumstances, previous to volition, they are the 
strongest motives ; and those that have least, are the 
weakest motives. 

Now if volition sometimes does not follow the motive 
which is strongest, or has most previous tendency or ad 
vantage, all things considered, to induce or excite it, but 
follows the weakest, or that which as it stands previously 
in the mind s view, has least tendency to induce it ; 
herein the will apparently acts wholly without motive, 
without any previous reason to dispose the mind to it ? 

Sect. X.] Scheme of Liberty. 103 

contrary to what the same author supposes. The act, 
wherein the will must proceed without a previous motive 
to induce it, is the act of preferring the weakest motive. 
For how ahsurd it is to say, the mind sees previous rea 
son in the motive, to prefer that motive before the other; 
and at the same time to suppose, that there is nothing 1 
in the motive, in its nature, state, or any circumstance 
of it whatsoever, as it stands in the previous view of the 
mind, that gives it any preference ; but on the contrary 9 
the other motive that stands in competition with it, in 
all these respects, has most belonging to it, that is in 
viting 1 and moving, and has most of a tendency to choice 
and preference. This is certainly as much as to say, 
there is previous ground and reason in the motive for 
the act of preference, and yet no previous reason for it. 
By the supposition, as to all that is in the two rival mo 
tives, which tend to preference, previous to the act of 
preference, it is not in that which is preferred, but whol 
ly in the other : because appearing superior strength, 
and all appearing preferableness is in that ; and yet Mr 
Chubb supposes, that the act of preference is from pre 
vious ground and reason in the motive which is preferred. 
But are these things consistent ? Can there be previous 
ground in a thing for an event that takes place, and yet 
no previous tendency in it to that event ? If one thing 
follows another, without any previous tendency to it fol 
lowing, then I should think it very plain, that it follows 
it without any manner of previous reason why it should 

Yea, in this case, Mr Chubb supposes, that the event 
follows an antecedent or a previous thing, as the ground 
of its existence, not only that has no existence to it, but 
a contrary tendency. The event is the preference, which 
the mind gives to that motive, which is weaker as it 
stands in the previous view of the mind i the immediate 
antecedent is the view the mind has of the two rival mo 
tives conjunctly ; in which previous view of the mind, 
all the preferableness, or previous tendency to prefer 
ence, is supposed to be on the other side ? or in the cou~ 

1 06 Inconsistence of Mr Chubb s [ Part IL 

trary motive ; and all the unworthiness of preference, 
and so previous tendency to comparative neglect, rejec 
tion or undervaluing 1 , is "on that side which is preferred : 
and yet in this view of the mind is supposed to be the 
previous ground or reason of this act of preference, ex 
citing it, and disposing the mind to it. Which, 1 leave 
the reader to judge, whether it be absurd or not. If it 
be not, then it is not absurd to say, that the previous 
tendency of an antecedent to a consequent, is the ground 
and reason why that consequent does not follow : and 
the want of a previous tendency to an event, yea, a ten 
dency to the contrary, is the true ground and reason 
why that event does follow. 

An act of choice or preference is a comparative act, 
wherein the mind acts with reference to two or more 
things that are compared, and stand in competition in 
the mind^s view. If the mind, in this comparative act, 
prefers that which appears inferior in the comparison, 
then the mind herein acts absolutely without motive, or 
inducement, or any temptation whatsoever. Then, if 
a hungry man has the offer of two sorts of food, both 
which he finds an appetite to, but has a stronger appe 
tite to one than the other ; and there be no circumstan 
ces or excitements whatsoever in the case to induce him. 
to take either the one or the other, but merely his appe 
tite : if in the choice he makes between them, he chooses 
that, which he has least appetite to, and refuses that, to 
which he has the strongest appetite, this is a choice made 
absolutely without previous motive, excitement, reason, 
or temptation, as much as if he were perfectly without 
all appetite to either : because his volition in this case is 
a comparative act, attending and following a comparative 
view of the food which he chooses, viewing it as related 
to, and compared with the other sort of food, in which 
view his preference has absolutely no previous ground, 
yea, is against all previous ground and motive. And if 
there bej any principle in man, from whence an act of 
choice may arise after this manner, from the same prin 
ciple volition may arise wholly without motive on either 
[f the mind in its volition can go beyond motive, 

Sect. X.] Scheme of Liberty. 107 

then it can go without motive : for when it is beyond 
the motive, it is out of the reach of the motive, out of 
the limits of its influence, and so without motive. If 
Volition goes beyond the strength and tendency of motive, 
and especially if it goes against its tendency, this demon 
strates the independence of volition or motive. And if 
so, no reason can be given for what MrChubb so often 
asserts, even that in the nature of things volition can 
not take place without a motive to induce it. 

If the Most High should endow a balance with agen 
cy or activity of nature, in such a manner, that when un 
equal weights are put into the scales, its agency could 
enable it to cause that scale to descend, which has the 
least weight, and so to raise the greater weight ; this 
would clearly demonstrate, that the motion of the ba 
lance does not depend on weights in the scales, at least 
as much as if the balance should move itself, when there 
is no weight in either scale. And the activity of the 
balance which is sufficient to move itself, against the 
greater weight, must certainly be more than sufficient to 
move it when there is no weight at all. 

Mr Chubb supposes, that the will cannot stir at all 
without some motive ; and also supposes, that if there be 
a motive to one thing, and none to the contrary, volition 
will infallibly follow that motive. This is virtually to 
suppose an entire dependence of the will on motives : if 
it were not wholly dependent on them, it could surely 
help itself a little without them, or help itself a little 
against a motive, without help from the strength and 
weight of a contrary motive. And yet his supposing 
that the will, when it has before it various opposite mo 
tives, can use them as it pleases, and choose its own in 
fluence from them, and neglect the strongest, and follow 
the weakest, supposes it to be wholly independent on 

It further appears on Mr Chubb s supposition, that 
volition must be without any previous ground in any mo 
tive, thus : if it be, as he supposes, that the will is not 
determined by any previous superior strength of the mo- 

10 S Scheme of Liberty [PartlL 

live but determines and chooses its own motive, then, 
when the rival motives are exactly equal in strength 
and tendency to induce, in all respects, it may follow 
either and may in such a case, sometimes follow one, 
sometimes the other. And if so, this diversity which 
appears between the acts.of the will, is plainly without 
previous ground on either of the motives ; for all that is 
previously in the motives, is supposed precisely and per- 
fectly the same, without any diversity whatsoever. Now 
perfect identity, as to all that is previous in the antece 
dent, cannot be the ground and reason of diversity in 
the consequent. Perfect identity in the ground cannot 
be a reason why it is not followed with the same conse 
quence. And therefore the source of this diversity of 
consequence must be sought for elsewhere. 

And, lastly, it may be observed, that however Mr 
Chubb does much insist that no volition can take place 
withoutsome motive to induce it, which previously dis 
poses the mind to it ; yet, as he also insists that the 
mind, without reference to any superior strength of mo 
tives, picks and chooses for its motive to follow ; he him 
self herein plainly supposes, that with regard to the 
mind s preference of one motive before another, it is not 
the motive that disposes the will, but the will disposes 
itself to follow the motive. 

IV. Mr Chubb supposes necessity to be utterly in 
consistent with agency : and that to suppose a being to 
an agent in that which is necessary, is a plain contradic 
tion. P. 311, end throughout his discourses on the sub 
ject of Liberty, he supposes, that necessity cannot con 
sist with agency or freedom ; and that to suppose other 
wise, is to make Liberty and Necessity, Action and Pas 
sion, the same thing. And so he seems to suppose, 
that there is no action, strictly speaking, but volition; and 
that as to the effect of volition in body or mind, in them 
selves considered, being necessary, they are said to be 
free, only as they are the effects of an act that is not 

And yet, according to him, volition itself is the effect 

Sect. X.] Scheme of Liberty, SfC. 109 

of volition : yea, every act of free volition : and there 
fore every act of free volition must, by what has now 
been observed from him, be necessary. That every act 
of free volition is itself the effect of volition, is abundant 
ly supposed by him. In p. 341, he says, " If a man is 
such a creature as I have proved him to be, that is, if 
he has in him a power or liberty of doing either good 
or evil, and either of these is the subject of his own free 
choice, so that he might, IF HE HAD PLEASED, have 

CHOSEN and done the contrary." Here he supposes, 

all that is good or evil in man is the effect of his choice ; 
and go that his good or evil choice itself is the effect of 
his pleasure or choice, in these words, he might, if he 
had PLEASED, have CHOSEN the contrary. So in p. 556, 
" Though it be highly reasonable, that a man should al 
ways choose the greater good, yet he may, if he 
PLEASE, caoosE otherwise." Which is the same thing 
as if he had said, he twctj/, if he chooses, choose otherwise. 
And then he goes on,-" that is, lie may, if he pleases, 
vhoose what is good for himself, &c." And again in the 
same page, ** The will is not confined by the understand 
ing, to any particular sort of good, whether greater or 
less ; but is at liberty to choose what kind of good it 
pleases" If there be any meaning in the last words^ 
the meaning must be this, that the Will is at liberty to 
choose what kind of good it chooses to choose ; supposing 
the act of choice itself determined by an antecedent 
choice. The liberty Mr Chubb speaks of, is not only a 
man s having power to move his body agreeably to an 
antecedent act of choice, but to use or exert the facul 
ties of his soul. Thus, in p. 379, speaking of the facul 
ties of his mind, he says, " Man has power, and is at 
liberty to neglect these faculties, to use them aright, or 
to abuse them, as he pleases.* And that he supposes 
an act of choice, or exercise of pleasure, properly distinct 
from, arid antecedent to, those acts thus chosen, direct 
ing, commanding, and producing the chosen acts, and 
even the acts of choice themselves, is very plain in p. 
283. " He can command his actions ; and herein con- 

1 1 Scheme of Liberty, 8fc* [Part II. 

sists his liberty ; he can give or deny himself that plea 
sure, a* he pleases" And p. 377. If ) the actions of 
men ar e not the produce of a free choice, or election, 
but spring from a necessity of nature, he cannot in 
reason be the object of reward or punishment on their 
account. Whereas, if action in man, whether good or 
evil is the produce of will or free choice ; so that a man 
in either case, had it in his power, and was at liberty to 
have CHOSEN the contrary, he is the proper object of re 
ward or punishment, according as he CHOOSES tb behave 
himself." Here, in these last words, he speaks of Li 
berty of choosing according as he CHOOSES. So that the 
behaviour which he speaks of as subject to his choice, is 
his choosing itself, as well as his external conduct con 
sequent upon it. And therefore it is evident, he means 
not only external actions, but the acts of choice them 
selves, when he speaks of all free actions as the PRODUCE 
of free choice. And this is abundantly evident in what 
he says in p. 372, 373. 

Now these things imply a twofold great absurdity 
and inconsistence. 

1. To suppose, as Mr Chubb plainly does, that every 
free act of choice is commanded by, and is the produce 
of, free choice, is to suppose the first free act of choice, 
belonging to the case; yea, the first free act of choice 
that ever man exerted, lo be the produce of an antece 
dent act of choice. But I hope 1 need not labour at all 
to convince my readers, that it is an absurdity to say, 
the \eryjirst act is the produce of another act that went 
before it. 

2. If it were both possible and real, as Mr Chubb in 
sists, that every free act of choice were the produce or 
the effect of a free act of choice ; yet even then, accord 
ing to his principles, no one act of choice would be free, 
but every one necessary ; because, every act of choice 
being the effect of a foregoing act, every act would be 
necessarily connected with that foregoing cause. For 
Mr Chubb himself says, p. 389, " When the self-mov 
ing power is exerted, it becomes the necessary cause of 

Stct. X.] Scheme of Liberty, Sfc, 1 1 1 

its effects." So that his notion of a free act, that is 

rewardable or punishable, is a heap of contradictions., 
It is a free act, and yet, by his own notion of freedom, 
is necessary ; and therefore by him it is a contradiction, 
to suppose it to be free. According to him, every free 
act is the produce of a free act ; so that there must bo 
an infinite number of free acts in succession, without any 
beginning, in an agent that has a beginning. And there 
fore here is an infinite number of free acts, every one 
of them free ; and yet not any one of them 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 passive in all, <^c. 

V. Mr Chubb does most strenuously deny, that mo 
tives 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. 589 and 389, are u If the 
moving principle in man is MOVED, or CAUSED TO BE 
E,xi RTh,D, by something external to man, which all mo 
tives arc, then it would not be a self-moving principle, 
seeing it would be moved by a principle external to it 
self. And te say,*that a self-moving principle is MOVED r or 
CAUSED TO BE EXERTED, by a cau^e external to itself, is 
absurd and a contradiction, &c. And in the next page, 
it is particularly and largely insisted, that motives are 
causes in no case, that they are. merely passive in the pro 
duction of action, and have no causality in the produc 
tion of it, no causality, to be the cauae 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 excite 
ments 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, ru- 

112 Inconsistence of Mr Chubb s [Part II. 

lition 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 mo 
tives. And again, if language is of any significancy at 
all, if motives excite volition, then they are the cause of 
its bein"- excited ; and to cause volition to Ire excited, 
is to cause it to be put forth or exerted. Yea, Mr Chubb 
says himself, p, 317, motive is necessary to the extrtion 
of the active faculty. To excite, is positively to do 
something; an(1 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 
le excited. To excite, is to be a cause, in the most pro 
per sense, not merely a negative occasion, but a ground 
of existence by positive influence. The notion of ex- 
citing* 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, 
what can be meant by a cause, but something that is the 
grcund and reason of a thing by its influence, an in 
fluence that is prevalent, and so 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, in the same p. 
317: which makes the inconsistency still more palpable 
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 

4. In the same page, he once and again speaks erf 

Sect. X. ] Scheme of Liberty, 8fc. 1 1 3 

motives, as disposing the Agent to action, by their in- 
fluence. 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 faculty 
would not be exerted without some PREVIOUS REA 
SON to DISPOSE the mind to action : so from hence 
it plainly appears, that when a man is said to he disposed 
to one action rather than another, this properly signi 
fies the PREVAILING INFLUENCE that one mo- 
tive has upon a man FOR THE PRODUCTION of 
an action, or for the being at rest, before all other mo 
tives, for the production of the contrary. For as mo 
tive is the ground and reason of any action, so the mo 
tive that prevails DISPOSES the agent to the perform 
ance of that action. 1 " 

Now, if motive 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 he the cause of an act of the will. And 
yet this same Mr Chubb holds it to be absurd, to sup 
pose 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 inconsistencies. 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 place ; and they do excite these 
acts of tlie 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 excited by it, or that it has any causality in 
the production of iL or any causality to be the cause of 
the exertion of the will. 

A due consideration of these things which Mr Chubb 
has advanced; the strange inconsistencies wjii^h the no- 

114 God certainly foreknows [Part II. 

tion 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-evi 
dent, that there can be no act of will, choice, or prefer 
ence of the mind, without some motive or inducement, 
something in the mind s view, which it aims at, seeks, 
inclines to, and goes after ; so it is most manifest, there 
is no such Liberty in the universe as Arminians insist 
on ; nor any such thing possible, or conceivable. 


The Evidence of GocVs Certain Foreknowledge 
of the Volitions of Moral Agents. 

FTpHAT the acts of the will s of moral Agents are not 
contingent events, in that sense, as to be without 
all necessity, appears by God s certain foreknowledge of 
such events. 

In handling this argument, I would in ihejirst place 
prove, that God has a certain foreknowledge of the vo 
luntary acts of moral Agents ^ and secondly, shew the 
consequence, or how it follows from hence, that the Vo 
litions or 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 A- 

One would think, it should be wholly needless to en 
ter on such an argument with any that profess them 
selves Christians : but so it is ; God s certain foreknow 
ledge of the free acts of moral Agents, is denied by 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of moral Agents. 115 

some th.it 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 of; supposing myself herein to have to do with 
sucli as own the truth of the Bible. 

Arg. I. My Jirst argument shall be taken from Gftd 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 events ; that is, He cannot peremptorily and cer 
tainly foretell them. If God has no more than an un 
certain guess concerning events of this kind, then he can 
declare no more than an uncertain guess. Positively to 
foretell, is to profess to foreknow, to declare positive 

(2.) If God does not certainly foreknow the future 
Volitions of moral Agents, then neither can He cer 
tainly foreknow those events which are consequent andi 
dependent on these Volitions. The existence of the 
one depending on the existence of the other, the know 
ledge of the existence of the one depends on the know 
ledge 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 st-ries of successive events to all eterni 
ty, and should in the progress of things branch forth 
into an infinite number of series, each of them going on 
in an endless line or chain of events ; God must be as 
ignorant of all these consequences, as He is of the Vo 
lition whence they first take their rise ; all these events, 
and the whole state of things depending on them, how 
important; extensive and vast soever, must be hid from 

1 16 Cod certainly foreknows [Part II. 

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

l". Mens 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. iii. 19. lam sure that the 
King of Egypt will not Jet you go. Here God ^ pro 
fesses not only to guess at, but to know, Pharaoh s fu 
ture disobedience. In chap. vii. 4. God says, but Pha 
raoh shall iwt 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, 1 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 in opposition to idolatry, in particular 
acts of his, was foretold above three hundred years be 
fore he was born, and the propbecy sealed by a miracle, 
and renewed and confirmed by the words of a second 
prophet, as what surely would not fail, 1 Kings-JLiii, 1 
(>, 52. 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, 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, iathy servant a dog, that he should do this thing ? 
The prophet speaks of the event as what he kwew, and 
not what he conjectured, 2 Kings viii. 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. 1 I he moral conduct of Cyrus is foretold, 
long before he had a being, in his mercy to God s peo- 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of Moral Agents. 117 

pie, and regard to the true God, in turning 1 the capti 
vity of the Jews, and promoting 1 the building of the 
Temple, Isa. xHv. 28 and Ixv. 13 Compare 2 Chron. 
xxxi. 22, 23. and Ezra i. 1 -4. How many instances 
of the niferal 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 xith 
chapter of Daniel ? Their corruption, violence, rob 
bery, treachery and lies. And particularly, how much 
ig foretold of the horrid wickedness of Antiochus Epi- 
phanes, called there a vile person, instead of Epiphanes, 
or illustrious. In that chapter, and also in chapter 
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 cove 
nant, 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 uiakcth desolate ; his great pride, 
magnifying himself against God, and uttering marvel 
lous 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 h$ should corrupt many by flatteries, chap. 
xi. 32 34. But that others should behave with a glo 
rious constancy and fortitude, in opposition to him, ver. 
32, And that some good men should fall and repent, 
Ver. 35. Christ foretold Peters sin, in denying his 
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, Matthew xxvi. 21 
25, and parallel places in the other evangelists. 

2. Many events have been foretold by God, which 
are consequent and dependent on the moral conduct of 
particular persons, and were accomplished, either by 
their virtuous or vicious actions,- Tims, the children of 

118 God certainly foreknows [Part II. 

Israelis going down into Egypt to dwell there, was fore 
told to Abraham, Gen. xv. which was brought about by 
the wickedness of Joseplis brethren in selling him, and 
the wickedness of Joseph s mistress, and his own signal 
virtue in resisting her temptation. The accomplish 
ment of the thing prefigured in Joseph s dream, depended 
on the same moral conduct. Jotham s parable and pro 
phecy, Judges ix. 15 20. was accomplished by. the* 
wicked conduct of Abimelech, and the men of Shcchem. 
The prophecies against the house of Eli, 1 Sam. chap, 
ii. and iii. were accomplished by the wickedness of Doeg 
the Edomite, in accusing the priests ; and the great im 
piety, and extreme cruelty of Saul in destroying the 
priests at Nob, 1 Sam. xxii. Nathan s prophecy against 
David, 2 Sam. xii. 11, 12. was fulfilled by the horrible 
wickedness of Absalom, in rebelling against his father, 
seeking his life, and lying with his concubines in the 
sight of the sun. The prophecy against Solomon, 1 
Kings xi. 11 13. was fulfilled by Jeroboam s rebellion 
and usurpation, which was spoken of as his wickedness, 
2 Chron. xiii. 5, 6, compare ver. 18. The prophecy 
against Jeroboam s family, 1 Kings xiv. was fulfilled by 
the conspiracy, treason, and cruel murders of Haasha, 
2 Kings xv. 27, &c. The predictions of the prophet 
Jehu against the house of Baasha, 1 Kings xvi. at the 
beginning, were fulfilled by the treason and parricide of 
Zimri, 1 Kings xvi. 913, 20. 

3. How often has God foretold the future moral con 
duct of nations and people, of numbers, bodies, and suc 
cessions of men : with God s judicial proceedings, and 
many other events consequent and dependent on their 
virtues and vices ; which could not be foreknown, if the 
volitions of men, wherein they acted a moral Agents, 
had not b-en foreseen ? The future cruelty of the 
Egyptians in oppressing Israel, and God s judging and 
punishing them for it, was foretold long before, it came 
to pass, Gen. xv. 13, 14. The continuance of the ini* 
quity of the Amorites and the increase of it until it should 

Sect. XI.] The Volitions of Moral Agents. 

be full, and they ripe for destruction, was foretold above 
four hundred years before-hand, Gen. xv. 16. Acts vii. 
6, 7. The prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem, 
and the land of Judah, were absolute, 2 King s xx. 17 
19. chap. xxii. 15, to the end. It was foretold in 
Hezekiah s time, and was abundantly insisted on in the 
book of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote nothing- after He- 
zekiah s days. It was foretold in Josiah s time, in the 
beginning of a great reformation, 2 Kings xxii. And 
it is manifest by innumerable things in the prediction of 
the prophets, relating to this event, its time, its circum 
stances, its continuance and end ; the return from the 
captivity, the restoration of the temple, city, and land, 
and many circumstances, and consequences of that ; I 
.say, these shew plainly, that the prophecies of this great 
event were absolute. And yet this event was connected 
with, and dependent on, two things in mens moral con 
duct : first, the injurious rapine and violence of the king 
of Babylon and his people, as the efficient cause ; which 
God often speaks of as what he highly resented, and 
would severely punish ; and 2dly, the final obstinacy of 
the Jews. That great event is often spoken of as sus 
pended on this, Jer. iv. 1. and v. 1. vii l--7. xi. 1 6. 
xvii. 25, to the end. xxv. 17. xivi. 19, 13, and 
xxxviii. 17, 18. Therefore this destruction and capti 
vity could not be foreknown, unless such a moral con 
duct of the Chaldeans and Jews had been foreknown. 
And then it was foretold, that the people shvidd be final 
ly obstinate, to the destruction and utter desolation of 
the city and land. Isa. vi. 9 ll. Jer. i. IS, 19. vii. 
2729. Ezek. iii. 7. and Xxir. 13, 14 

The final obstinacy of those Jews who were left in the 
land of Israel, in their idolatry and rejection of the true 
Ood, was foretold by God. and the prediction confirmed 
with an oath, .Jer. xliv. 26, 27. And God tells the 
people, Isa. xlviii 3, 4 8. that he had predicted those 
things which should be consequent on their treachery 
and obstinacy, because he knew they would be obstinate; 
and that he had declared these things before hand, for 
their conviction of his being the only true God, &c. 

120 God certainty forelmous. [Part II. 

The destruction of Babylon, with many of the circum 
stances of it, was foretold, as the judgment of God for 
the exceeding pride and haughtiness of the heads of that 
monarchy, Nebuchadnezzar, and his successors, and their 
wickedly destroying other nations, and particularly for 
their exalting themselves against the true God and his 
people, hefore any of these monarchs had a being ; /set. 
chap, xiii xiv. xlvii. compare Hob. ii. 5. to the end, and 
Jer. chap. 1. and li. That Baby/oil s destruction was to 
b a recompence, according to the works of their own 
hands, appears by Jer. xxv. 14. .The immorality with 
which the people of Babylon, and particularly her prin 
ces and great men, were guilty of, that very night that 
the city was destroyed, their revelling and drunkenness 
at Belshazzafs idolatrous feast, was foretold, Jer. li. 
39, 57. 

The return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity 
is often very particularly foretold, with many circumstan 
ces, and promises of it are very peremptory ; Jer. xxxi. 
3, 40 xxxii. 615, 41- 44. and xxxiii. 24 26. And 
the very time of their return was prefixed ; Jer. xxv. 

11, 12. and xxix. 10, 11. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21. Ezek. 
iv. 6. and Dan. ix. 2. And yet the prophecies represent 
their return as consequent on their repentance. And 
their repentance itself is very expressly and particularly 
foretold, Jer. xxix. 12, 15, 14. xxxi. 8, 9, 18 51. 
xxxiii. 8. 1. 4, 5. Ezek. vi. 8, 9, 10. vii. 16. xiv. 29. 
23. and xx. 43, 44. 

It was foretold under the Old Testament, that the 
Messiah should suffer greatly through the malice and 
cruelty of men ; as is largely and fully set forth, Psalm 
xxii. applied to Christ in the New Testament, Matt, 
xxvii. 55, 4^. Luke xxiii. 54. John xix. 24. Heb. ii. 

12. And likewise in Psalm Ixix, which, it is also evi 
dent by the New Testament, is spoken of Christ ; John 
xv. 25. vii. 5, &c. and ii. 17. Rom. xv. 3. Matt, xxvii. 
34, 48. Mark xv. 23. John xix. 29. The same thing is 
also foretold, Isa. liii. ?nd 1. 6. and Mic. v. 1. This 
cruelty f men was their sin, and what they acted as mo- 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of moral Agents. 121 

ral Agents. It was foretold, that there should be an 
union of Heathen and Jewish rulers against Christ, 
Psalm ii. 1, 2. compared with Acts iv. 25 28. It was 
foretold, that the Jews should generally reject and des 
pise the Messiah, Isa. xlix. 5, 6, 7. and liii. 1- 3. Psalm 
xxii. (3, 7. and Ixix. 4, 8. 19. 20. And it was foretold 
that the body of that nation should be rejected in the 
Messiah s days, from being God s people, for their ob 
stinacy in sin ; Isa. xlix. 4 7. and viii. 14, 15, 16. com 
pared with Rom. x. 19. and Isa. Ixv. at the beginning, 
compared with Rom. x. 20, 21. It was foretold, that 
Christ should be rejected by the chief priests and rulers 
among the Jews, Psalm cxviii. 22. compared with Matt. 
xxi. 42. Acts iv. 11. 1 Pet. ii. 4, 7. 

Christ himself foretold his being delivered into the 
hands of the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and his 
being cruelly treated by them, and condemned to death, 
and that He by them should be delivered to the Gentiles, 
and that He should be mocked and scourged, and cru 
cified, (Matt. xvi. 21. and xx. 1719. Luke ix. 22. 
John viii. 28,) and that the people should be concerned 
in and consenting to his death, (Luke xx. 13 IS.) es 
pecially the inhabitants of Jerusalem ; Luke xiii. 33 
36. He fore-told, that the disciples should all be offend 
ed because of Him that night that he was betrayed, and 
should forsake him ; Matt. xxvi. 51. John. xvi. 32. 
He foretold, that He should be rejected of that genera 
tion, even the body of the people, and that they should 
continue obstinate, to their ruin, Matt. xii. 45. xxi. 33 
42. and xxii. 1 7. Luke xiii. 16, 21, 24 xvii. 25. 
xix. 14, 27, 41 41. xx. 1318. and xxiii. 5439. 

As it was foretold in both Old Testament and New, 
that the Jews should reject the Messiah, so it was fore 
told that the Gentiles should receive Him, and so be 
admitted to the privileges of God s people ; in places 
too many to be now particularly mentioned. It was 
foretold in the Old Testament, that the Jews should 
envy the Gentiles on this account; Dent, xxxii. 21. 
compared to Rom, x. 19. Christ himself often foretold 

122 God certainly foreknows Part II, 

that the Gentiles would embrace the true religion, and 
become his followers and people; Matt. viii. 10, 11. 
12. xxi. 4143. and xxii. 810. Luke xin. 29. xiv. 
10 24, and xx. 16. John x. 16. He also foretold the 
1216. Luke xv. 26. to the end. He foretold that they 
sliQiild continue in this opposition and envy, and should 
manifest it in the cruel persecutions of his followers, 
to their utter destruction : Matt. ch. xxi. 3342. 
xxii. 6. and xxiii. 3439. Luke ch. xi. 4951. 
The Jews obstinacy is also foretold Acts ch. xxii. IS. 
Christ often foretold the great persecutions his followers 
should meet with, both from Jews and Gentiles ; Matt. 

x . 16. IS, 21, 22, 5436. and xxiv. 9. Mark xiii. 9. 

Luke x. 3. xii. 11, 4953. and xvi. 12, 16, 17. John 
xv. 1821. and xvi. 14, 2022, 23. He foretold 
the martyrdom of particular persons ; Matt. xx. 23. 
John xiii. 36. and xxi. 18, 19, 22. He foretold the 
great success of the Gospel in the city of Samaria as 
near approaching ; which afterwards was fulfilled by the 
preaching of Philip ; John iv. 3538. He foretold 
the rising of many deceivers after his departure, Matt, 
xxiv. 4, 5, 11. and the apostacy of many of his profes 
sed followers ; Matt. xxiv. 10. 12. 

The persecutions which the apostle Paul was to meet 
with in the world, were foretold ; Acts ix. 16. xx. 23, 
and xxi. 11. The apostle says to the Christian Ephe- 
sians, Acts. xx. 29, 30. " I know, that after my de 
parture shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not 
" sparing the flock : also of your own selves shall men 
" arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples 
* after them." The apostle says, He knew this: but 
he did not know it, if God did not know the future ac 
tions of moral Agents. 

4. Unless God foreknows the future acts of moral 
Agents, all the prophecies we have in Scripture con 
cerning the great Antichristian apostacy : the rise, reign, 
wicked qualities, and deeds of the man of sin, and 
his instruments and adherents ; the extent and long 

Sect. II.] the Volitions of moral Agents. 123 

continuance of his dominion, bis influence on the minds 
of princes and others, to corrupt them, and draw them 
away to idolatry, and other foul vices ; his great and 
cruel persecutions ; the behaviour of the saints under 
these great temptations, .&c. &c. I say, unless the Vo 
litions of moral Agents are foreseen, all these prophecies 
are uttered without knowing the things foretold. 

The predictions relating to this great apostacy are all 
of a moral nature, relating to mens virtues and vices, 
and their exercises, fruits and consequences, and events 
depending on them ; and are very particular ; and most 
of them often repeated, with many precise characteris 
tics, descriptions, and limitations of qualities, conduct, 
influence, effects, extent, duration, periods, circumstan 
ces, final issue, &c. which it would he very long to men 
tion particularly. And to suppose, all these are predic 
ted by God without any certain knowledge of the future 
moral behaviour of free Agents, would be to the utmost 
degree absurd. 

5. Unless God foreknows the future acts of mens 
wills, and their behaviour as moral Agents, all those 
great things which are foretold in both Old Testament 
and New concerning the erection, establishment, and 
universal extent of the Kingdom of the Messiah, were 
predicted and promised while God was in ignorance 
whether any of these tilings would come to pass or no, 
ami did but guess at them. For that kingdom was not 
of this world, it does not consist in things external, but 
is within men, and consists in the dominion of virtue in 
their hearts, in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the 
Holy Ghost ; and in these things made manifest in 
practice, to the praise and glory of God. The Mes 
siah came to save men from their sins* and deliver them 
from their spiritual enemies ; that they might serve him 
in righteousness and holiness before him : he gave him 
self for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and 
purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good 
works. And therefore his success consists in gaining 
mens hearts to virtue, in their being made God s willing 

124 God certainly foreknows [Part II. 

people in the day of his power. His conquest of his ene 
mies consists in his victory over men s corruptions and 
vices. And such success, such victory, and such a reign 
and dominion is often expressly foretold : that his king 
dom shall Jill the earth ; that all people, nations, and lan 
guages should serve and obey him : and so that all na 
tions should go up to the mountain of the House of the. 
Lord, that he might teach them his ways, and thai they 
might walk in his paths .; and that all men should be 
drawn to Christ, and the earth be full of the knowledge 
of the Lord (by which, in the style of Scripture, is meant 
true virtue and religion) as the waters cover the seas ^ 
that God s law should be put into mens inward parts* 
and written in their hearts ; and that God s people should 
be all righteous, &c. &c. 

A very great part of the prophecies of the Old Tes 
tament is tak in up in such predictions as these. And 
here I would observe, that the prophecies of the univer 
sal prevalence of the kingdom of the Messiah, and true 
religion of Jesus Christ, are delivered in the most per 
emptory manner, and confirmed by the oath of God, 
Isa. xlv. 22 9 to the end, Look to me, and be ye saved, all 
the ends of the earth ; for I am God, and there is none 
else. I have SWORN by my Self, the word is gone out of 
my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that un 
to me every knee shall bow ; and every tongue shall swear. 
SURELY, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness 
and strength : even to him shall men come, fyc. But 
here this peremptory declaration, and great oath of the 
Most High, are delivered with such mighty solemnity, 
to things which God did not know, if he did not certain 
ly foresee the volitions of moral agents. 

And all the predictions of Christ and his apostles, to 
the like purpose, must be without knowledge ; as those 
of our Saviour comparing the kingdom of God to a grain 
of mustard-seed, growing exceeding great, from a small 
beginning; and to leaven hid in three measures of meal, 
until the whole was leavened, &c And the pro 
phecies in the Epistles concerning the restoration of the 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of moral Agents. 125 

nation of the Jews to the true church of God, and the 
bringing in the fuiness of the Gentiles ; and the prophe 
cies in all the Revelation concerning- the glorious change 
in the moral state of the world of mankind, attending 
the destruction of Antichrist, u the kingdoms of the 
world becoming the kingdoms of our Lord and of his 
Christ ; and its being granted to the church to be ar 
rayed in that fine linen, white and clean, which is the 
righteousness of saints, &.c." 

Corol. 1. Hence that great promise and oath of God 
to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so much celebrated in 
Scripture, both in the Old Testament and New, namely, 
" That in their seed all the nations and families of the 
earth should be blessed," 1 must be made on uncertain 
ties, if God does not certainly foreknow the volitions of 
moral agents. For the fulfilment of this promise con 
sists in that success of Christ in the work of redemption, 
and that setting up of his spiritual kingdom over the 
nations of the world, which has been spoken of. Men 
are biessed in Christ no otherwise than as they are 
brought to acknowledge Him, trust in Him, love and 
serve Him, as is represented and predicted in "Psalm 
Ixxii. 11. " All Kings shall fall down before Mini ; all 
nations shall serve Him. 1 With ver. 17. ** Men shall 
be blessed in Him ; all nations shall call Him blessed." 
This oath to Jacob and Abraham is fulfilled in subduing 
mens iniquities ; as is implied in that of the prophet 
Mich. chap. vii. 19, l ^0. 

Corol. 2. Hence also it appears, that first Gospel 
promise that ever was made to mankind, that great pre 
diction of the salvation of the iViessiah, and his victory 
over Satan, made to our first parents, Gen. iii 15. if 
there be no certain prescience of the volitions of moral 
agents, must have no better foundation than conjecture. 
For Christ s victory over Satan consists in mens being 
saved from sin, and in the victory of virtue and holiness, 
over that vice and wickedness, which Satan, by his temp 
tation has introduced, and wherein his kingdom Consists. 

6. If it be so, that God has not a prescience of the 
future actions of moral agents, it will ibhow, that the 

126 Cod certainly foreknows [Part II. 

prophecies of Scripture in general are without foreknow- 
led-e. For Scripture- prophecies, almost all of them, if 
not D universally without any exception, are either pre 
dictions of the actings and behaviours of moral agents, or 
of events depending on them, or some way connected 
with them ; judicial dispensations, judgments on men for 
their wickedness, or rewards of virtue and righteous 
ness, remarkable manifestations of favour to the righte 
ous, or manifestations of sovereign mercy to sinners, 
forgiving their iniquities, and magnifying the riches of 
divine grace ; or dispensations of providence, in some 
respect or other, relating to the conduct of the subjects 
of God s moral government, wisely adapted thereto ; 
cither providing for what should be in a future state of 
things, through the volitions and voluntary actions of 
moral agents, or consequent upon them, and regulated 
and ordered according to them. So that all events that 
are foretold, are either moral events, or other events 
which are connected with, and accommodated to moral 

That the predictions of Scripture in general must be 
without knowledge, if God does not foresee the volitions 
of men, will further appear, if it be considered, that al 
most all events belonging to the future state of the world 
of mankind, the changes and revolutions which come to 
pass in empires, kingdoms, and nations, and all societies, 
depend innumerable ways on the acts of mens wills ; yea, 
on an innumerable multitude of millions of millions of 
volitions of mankind. Such is the state and course of 
things in the world of mankind, that one single event, 
which appears in itself exceeding inconsiderable, may in 
the progress and series of things, occasion a succession 
of the greatest and most important and extensive events ; 
causing the state of mankind to be vastly different from 
what it would otherwise have been, for all succeeding 

For instance, the coming into existence of those par 
ticular men, who have been the great conquerors of the 
world, which, under God, have had the main hand in all 
the consequent state of the world, in all after-ages ; such 

Sect. XL] the Volition of Moral Agents. 127 

as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander, Pompey, Julius 
Caesar, &c. undoubtedly depended on many millions of 
acts of the will, which followed, and were occasioned 
one by another, in their parents. And perhaps most of 
these volitions depended on millions of volitions of hun 
dreds and thousands of others, their contemporaries of 
the same generation ; and most of these on millions of 
millions of volitions of others in preceding generations. 
As we go back, still the number of volitions, which were 
some way the occasion of the event, multiply as the 
branches of a river, until they come at last, as it were, 
to an infinite number. This will not seem strange to 
any one who well considers the matter; if we recollect 
what philosophers tell us of the innumerable multitudes 
of those things which are, as it were, the principia, or 
stamina vita, concerned in generation ; the animalcula 
in semen masculo, and the ova in the womb of the fe 
male ; the impregnation or animating of one of these, 
in distinction from all the rest, must depend on things 
infinitely minute, relating to the time and circumstances 
of the acts of the parents, the state of their bodies, &c. 
which must depend on innumerable foregoing circum 
stances and occurrences ; which must depend, infinite 
ways, on foregoing acts of their wills ; which are occa 
sioned by innumerable things that happen in the course 
of their lives, in which their own, arid their neighbour s 
behaviour, must have a hand, an infinite number of 
ways. And as the Volitions of others must be so many 
ways concerned in the conception and birth of such men ; 
so, no less, in their preservation, and circumstances of 
life, their particular determinations and actions, on 
which the great revolutions, they were the occasions 
of, depended. As, for instance, when the conspirators 
in Persia, against the Magi, were consulting about a 
succession to the empire, it tame into the mind of one 
of them, to propose, that he whose horse neighed first, 
when they came together the rfext morning, should be 
king. iNow such a thing s coining into his mind, might 
depend on innumerable incidents, wherein the Volitions 

] 28 God certainly foreknows [Part II, 

of mankind had been concerned But in consequence 
of this accident, Darius, the son of I ystaspes, was king. 
And if this had not been, probably his successor would 
have been the same, and all the circumstances oi the 
Persian empire, might have been far otherwise. And 
then perhaps Alexander might never have conquered 
that empire. And then probably the circumstances of 
the world in all succeeding ages, might have been vast- 
ly otherwise. I might further instance in many other 
occurrences; such as those on which depended Alexan 
der s preservation, in the many critical junctures of his 
life, wherein a small trifle would have turned the scale 
ao-ainst him ; and the preservation and success of the 
Roman people, in the infancy of their kingdom and com- 
monwealth, and afterwards ; which all the succeeding 
changes in their state, and the mighty revolutions that 
afterwards came to pass in the habitable world, depend- 
ed upon. But these hints may be sufficient for every 
discerning considerate person, to convince him, that the 
whole stae of the world of mankind, in all ages^ and 
the very being of every person who has ever lived in it, 
in every age/ since the times of the ancient prophets, 
has depended on more Volitions, or acts of the wills of 
men, than there are sands on the sea shore. 

And therefore, unless God does most exactly and per 
fectly foresee the future acts of men s wills, all the pre 
dictions which he ever uttered concerning David, Heze- 
kiah, Jcsiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Alexander , con 
cerning the four monarchies, and the revolutions in them; 
and concerning all the wars, commotions, victories, pros 
perities, and calamities of any of the kingdoms, nations, 
or communities of the world, have all been without 

So that, according to this notion of God s not foresee 
ing the Volitions and free actions of men, God could 
foresee nothing appertaining to the state of the world of 
mankind in future ages ; not so much as the being of 
one person that should live in it j and could foreknow 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of moral Agents. 12() 

no events, but only such as He would bring to pass Him 
self, by the extraordinary interposition of his immediate 
power; or things which should come to pass in the na* 
tural material world, by the laws of motion, and course 
of nature, wherein that is independent on the actions or 
works of mankind : that is, as he might, like a very 
able mathematician and astronomer, with great exactness 
calculate the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, and the 
greater wheels of the machine of the external creation. 

And if we closely consider the matter, there will ap 
pear reason to convince us, that he could not, with any 
absolute certainty, foresee even these. As to \\\v first, 
namely, things done by the immediate and extraordinary 
interposition of God s power, these cannot be foreseen, 
unless it can be foreseen vt hen there shall be occasion 
for such extraordinary interposition : and that cannot be 
foreseen, unless the state of the moral world can be 
foreseen. For whenever God thus interposes, it is with 
regard to the state of the moral world, requiring such 
divine interposition. Thus God could riot certainly 
foresee the universal deluge, the calling of Abraham, 
the degtruction of Sodom and Gommorrah, the plagues 
on Egypt, and Israels redemption out of it, the expel 
ling the seven nations of Cannaan, and the bringing 
Israel into that land ; for these all are represented as con 
nected with things belonging to the state of the moral 
world. Nor can God foreknow the most proper and 
convenient time of the day of judgment and general con 
flagration , for that chiefly depends on the course and 
state of things in the moral world. 

Nor, Secondly, can we on this supposition reasonably 
think, that God can certainly foresee what things shall 
come to pass, in the course of things, in the natural and 
material world, even those which in an ordinary state of 
things might be calculated by a good astronomer. For 
the moral world is the end of the natural world ; and 
the course of things in the former, is undoubtedly sub 
ordinate to God s designs with respect to the latter. 
Therefore he has seen cause, from regard to the state of 

ISO God certainly foreknows [Part II. 

thins in the moral world, extraordinarily to interpose, 
to interrupt and lay an arrest to the course of things in 
the natural world ; and even in the greatest wheels of 
its motion, even so as to stop the sun in its course. And 
unless he ran foresee the Volitions of men, and so know 
something of the future state of the moral world, He 
cannot know hut that he may still have as great occasion 
to interpose in this manner, as ever he had : nor can he 
foresee how, or when, He shall have occasion thus to 

Carol. 1. ^ appears from the things which have 
been observed, that unless God foresees the Volitions of 
moral Agents, that cannot be true which is observed by 
the apostle James, Acts xv. 18. "Known unto^God 
are all his works from the beginning of the world." 

Carol. 2. It appears from what has been oV-served, 
that unless God foreknows the Volitions of moral Agents 
all the prophecies of Scripture have no better foundation 
than mere conjecture ; and That, in most instances a 
conjecture which must have the utmost uncertainty ; de 
pending on an innumerable, and, as it were, infinite mul 
titude of Volitions, which are all, even to God, uncer 
tain events ; however these prophecies are delivered as 
absolute predictions, and very many of them in the most 
positive manner, with asseverations ; and some of them 
with the most solemn oaths. 

Curol. 5. It also follows, from what has been poser- 
vecl, that if this notion of God s ignorance of future Vo 
litions be true, in vain did Christ say (after uttering 
many great and important predictions, concerning God s 
moral kingdom, and tilings depending on mens moral ac 
tions) Matt. xxiv. 35. u Heaven and earth shall pass 
away, but my words shall not pass away." 

CoroL 4 . From the same notion of God^s ignorance, it 
would follow, that in vain has God Himself often spoken 
of the predictions of his word, as evidences of Fore 
knowledge , and so as evidences of that which is his 
prerogative as GOD, and his peculiar glory, greatly 
distinguishing Him from all other beings ; as in Isa. xli. 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of moral Agents. 131 

22 26. xliii. 9, 10. xliv. S. xlv. 21 . xlvi. 10. and xlviii. 

Arg. II. If God does not foreknow the volitions of 
moral Agents, then he did not foreknow the fall of man, 
nor angels, and so could not foreknow the great things 
which are consequent, on these events ; such as his sen 
ding his Son into the world to die for sinners, and all 
things pertaining to the great work of redemption ; all 
the things which were done for four thousand years be 
fore Christ came, to prepare the way fur it ; and the in- 
cornation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of 
Christ ; and the setting Him at the head of the universe 
as King of heaven and earth, angels and men ; and the set 
ting up His church and kingdom in this world, and ap 
pointing Him the Judge of the world : and all that Satan 
should do in the world in opposition to the kingdom of 
Christ: and the great transactions of the day of judg 
ment, that men and devils shall be the subjects of, and 
angels concerned in ; they are all what God was ignor 
ant of before the fall. And if so, the following scrip 
tures, and others like them, must be without any mean 
ing or contrary to truth. Eph. i. 4. " According as 
" he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the 
" world. 1 Pet. i. 20. Who verily was fore- ordained 
6 before the foundation of the world. 2 "1 im. i. 9. 
" Who hath saved u., and called us with an holy calling ; 
* not according to our works, but according to his own 
" purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus 
* before the world began. So Eph. iii. 11. (speaking 
" of the wisdom of God in the work of redemption) ac- 
" cording to the eternal purpose which he proposed in 
" Christ Jesus. Tit. i. 2. In hope of eternal life, 
" which God that cannot lie, promised before the world 
" began. Rom. viii. 29. Whom he did foreknow, them 
"lie also did predestinate, &c. 1 Pet. i. 2. Elect, ac- 
" cording to the foreknowledge of God the Father. " 

If God did not foreknow the fall of man, nor the re 
demption by Jesus Christ, nor the Volitions of man. 
since the fall ; then he did not foreknow the saints in 

1 32 God certainly foreknows [Part It. 

any sense ; neither as particular persons, nor as socie 
ties or nations ; either by election, or mere foresight of 
their virtue or good works, or any foresight, or any 
thing about them relating to their salvation ; or any be 
nefit they have by Christ, or any manner of concern of 
theirs with a Redeemer. 

Arg. III. On the supposition of God s ignorance of 
the future Volitions of free agents, it will follow, that 
God must in many cases truly repent what He has done, 
so as properly to wish He had done otherwise : by rea 
son that the event of things, in those affairs which are 
most important, viz. the affairs of his moral kingdom, 
being uncertain and contingent, often happens quite 
otherwise than he was aware before-hand. And there 
would be reason to understand, that in the most literal 
sense, in Gen. vi. 6. " It repented the Lord, that he 
had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his 
heart." And that 1 Sam. xv. 11. contrary to that, 
Num. xxiii. 19. " God is not the Son of Man, that He 
should repent." And 1 Sam. xv. 15. 29. " Also the 
Strength of Israel will not lie, nor repent ; for He is 
not a man that He should repent." Yea, from this 
notion it would follow, that God is liable to repent and 
be grieved at His heart, in a literal sense, continually ; 
and is always exposed to an infinite number of real dis 
appointments in his governing the world ; and to mani 
fold, constant, great perplexity and vexation : but this 
is not very consistent with his title of God over a//, 
blessed for evermore; which represents Him as possessed 
of perfect, constant, and uninterrupted tranquillity and 
felicity, as God over the universe, and in his manage 
ment of the affairs of the world, as supreme and univer 
sal Ruler, See Rom. i. 25. ix. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 41. 1 
Tim. vi. 15. 

Arg. IV. It will also follow from this notion, that as 
God is liable to be continually repenting what He has 
done ; so He must be exposed to be constantly chang 
ing his mind and intentions, as to his future conduct ; 
altering his measures, relinquishing his old designs, and 

Sect. XL] the Volitions of moral Agents. 133 

forming new schemes and projections. For his purposes, 
even as to the main parts of his scheme, namely, such 
as belong 1 to the state of his moral kingdom, must be al 
ways liable to be broken, through want of foresight ; and 
he must be continually putting his system to rights, as 
it gets out of order, through the contingence of the ac 
tions of mural agents ; He must be a Being, who, in 
stead of being absolutely immutable, must necessarily be 
the subject of infinitely the most numerous acts of repen 
tance, and changes of intention } of any being whatsoever ; 
for this plain reason, that his vastly extensive charge 
comprehends an infinitely greater number of those things 
which are to him contingent and uncertain. In such a 
situation, He must have little else to do, but to mend 
broken links as well as he can, and be rectifying his dis 
jointed frame and disordered movements, in the best 
manner the case will allow. The Supreme Lord of all 
things must needs be under great and miserable disadvan 
tages, in governing the world which He has made, and 
has the care of, through his being utterly unable to find 
out things of chief importance, which hereafter shall be 
fall his system ; which if He did but know, He might 
make seasonable provision for. In many cases, there 
jnay be very great necessity that He should make provi 
sion, in the manner of his ordering and disposing things,, 
for some great events which are to happen, of vast and 
extensive influence, and endless consequence to the uni 
verse ; which He may see afterwards, when it is too late, 
and may wish in vain that He had known before-hand, 
that He might have ordered his affairs accordingly. And 
it is in the power of man, on these principles, by his de 
vices, purposes and actions, thus to disappoint God, break 
his measures, make Him continually to change his mind, 
subject Him to vexation, and bring Him into confusion. 
Hut how do these things consist with reason, or with 
the Word of God ? Which represents, that all GocVs 
works, all that He has ever to do, the whole scheme and 
series of his operations, are from the beginning perfectly 

134 God certainly foreknows [Part II. 

in his view ; and declares, that whatever devices and de 
signs are in the hearts of men, the counsel of the Lord is 
that which shall stand, and the thoughts of his heart to 
all generations, Prov, xix. 21. Psalm xxxiii. 10, 11. 
And that which the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, none 
shall disannul, Isa. xiv. 21. And that he cannot be 
frustrated in one design or thought, Job xlii. 2. And 
that which God doth, it shall be for ever, that no- 
thing can be put to it, or taken from it, Ecclcs. iii. 14. 
The stability and perpetuity of God s counsels are ex 
pressly spoken of as connected with the foreknowledge of 
God, Isa. xlvi. 10. * Declaring the end from the begin 
ning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet 
done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and / will do alt my 
pleasure" And how are these things consistent with 
what the Scripture says of God s immutability, which 
represents Him as without variableness, or shadow of 
turning; and speaks of Him particularly as unchange 
able with regard to his purposes ? Mai. iii. 6. " I am 
the Lord ; I change not ; therefore ye sons of Jacob are 
not consumed. Exod. iii. 14 / AM THAT I AM. 
Job xxiii. 15, 14. " He is in one mind ; and who can 
turn him ? And what his soul desireth, even that he 
doth : for he performeth the thing that is appointed for 

Arg. V. If this notion of God s ignorance of future 
volitions of moral agents, be thoroughly considered in 
its consequences, it will appear to follow from it, that 
God, after he had made the world, was liable to be whol- 
ly frustrated of his end in the creation of it ; and so has 
been, in like manner, liable to be frustrated of his end 
in all the great works he hath wrought. It is manifest, 
the moral world is the end of the natural ; the rest of 
the creation is but an house which God hath built, with 
furniture, for moral agents : and the good or bad state 
of the moral world depends on the improvement 
they make of their natural agency, and so depends on 
their volitions. And therefore, if these cannot be fore 
seen by God, because they are contingent, and subject 

Sect. XL] The Volitions of Moral Agents. 135 

to no kind of necessity, then the affairs of the moral 
world are liable to go wrong, to any assignable degree ; 
yea, liable to be utterly ruined. As on this scheme, it 
may well be supposed to be literally said, when mankind, 
by the abuse of their moral agency, became very cor 
rupt before the flood, " that the Lord repented that he 
had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at his 
heart ;" so, when He made the universe, he did not 
know but that he might he so disappointed in it, that it 
might grieve him at his heart that he had made it. It 
actually proved, that all mankind became sinful, and a 
very great part of the angels apostatised : and how could 
God know before-hand, that all of them would not ? And 
how could God know but that all mankind, notwithstand 
ing means used to reclaim them, being still left to the 
freedom of their own will, would continue in their apos- 
tacy, and grow worse and worse, as they of the old world 
before the Hood did ? 

According to the scheme I am endeavouring to con 
fute, neither the* fall of men nor angels, could be fore 
seen, and God must be greatly disappointed in these 
events ; and so the grand scheme and contrivance for 
our redemption, and destroying the works of the devil, 
by the Messiah, and all the great things God has done 
in the prosecution of these designs, must be only the 
fruits of his own disappointment, and contrivances of his 
to mend and patch up, as well as he could, his system, 
which originally was all very good, and perfectly beau 
tiful ; but was marred, broken and confounded by the 
free will of angels and men. And still he must be li 
able to be totally disappointed a second time : He could 
not know that he should have his desired success, in the 
incarnation, life, death, resurrection and exaltation of 
his only begotten Son, and other great works accom 
plished to restore the sta,te of things : He could not 
know, after all, whether there would actually be any 
tolerable measure of restoration ; for this depended on 
the free will of man. There has been a general great 

136 God certainly foreknows [Part II. 

apostacy of almost all the Christian WorkI, to that which 
was worse than Heathenism ; which continued for many 
ages. And how could God, without foreseeing men s vo 
litions, know whether ever Christendom would return 
from this apostacy ? And which way could He tell be 
forehand how soon it would begin ? The apostle says, 
it began to work in his time ; and how could it be known 
how far it would proceed in that age ? Yea, how could 
it be known that the Gospel which was not effectual for 
the reformation of the Jews, would ever be effectual for 
the turning of the heathen nations from their heathen 
apostacy, which they had been confirmed in for so many 
ages ? 

It is represented often in Scripture, that God, who 
made the world for himself, and created it for his plea 
sure, wculd infallibly obtain his end in the creation, and 
in all his works; that as all things are o/ Him, so they 
would all be to Him ; and that in the final issue of things, 
it would appear that He is the first, and the last. Kev. 
xxi. 6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha 
and Omega, the beginning and the end, the Jirst and the 
last. But these things are not consistent with God s 
being so liable to be disappointed in all his works, nor 
indeed with his failing of his eod in any thing that ho. 
has undertaken or done. 


Cod s certain Foreknowledge of the future vo 
litions of Moral Agents inconsistent with such 
a Contingence of those volitions, as is witliout 
all Necessity. 

|TAVIN 7 G proved, that God has a certain and infal- 

L lible Prescience of the act of the will of moral 

agents, I come now, in the second place, to shew the 

consequence ; to shew how it follows from hence, that 

Sect XII.] the Volitions of Moral Agents. 137 

these events are necessary , with a necessity of connec 
tion or consequence. 

The chief Anninian divines, as far as I have had op 
portunity to observe, deny this consequence; and affirm, 
that if such foreknowledge be allowed, it is no evidence 
of any necessity of the event foreknown. Now I de 
sire, that this matter may be particularly and thoroughly 
enquired into. I cannot but think, that on particular 
and full consideration, it may be perfectly determined, 
whether it be indeed so or not. 

In order to a proper consideration of this matter, I 
would observe the following things. 

I. It is very evident, with regard to a thing whose 
existence is infallibly and indissolubly connected with 
something whioh already hath, or has had existence, the 
existence of that thing is necessary. Here may be 

1. I observed before, in explaining the nature of Ne 
cessity, that in things which are past, their past exis 
tence is now necessary : having already made sure of 
existence, it is too late for any possibility of alteration 
in that respect : it is now impossible that it should be 
otherwise than true, that that thing has existed. 

2. If there be any such thing as a divine Foreknow, 
ledge of the volitions of free agents, that Foreknowledge, 
by the supposition, is a thing which already has, and 
long ago had existence ; and so, now its existence is ne 
cessary ; it is now utterly impossible to be otherwise, 
than that this Foreknowledge should be, or should 
have been. 

3. It is also very manifest, that those things which 
are indissolubly connected with other things that are ne 
cessary, are themselves necessary. As that proposition 
whose truth is Recessarily connected with another propo 
sition, which is necessarily true, is itself necessarily true. 
To say otherwise, would be a contradiction : it would be 
in effect to say, that the connection was indissoluble, 
and yet was not so ; but might be broken. If that, whose 


138 Certain Foreknowledge [Part 1L 

existence is indissolubly connected with something whose 
existence is now necessary, is itself not necessary, then 
it may possibly not exist, notwithstanding that indissolu 
ble connection of its existence. Whether the absurdi 
ty be not glaring, let the reader judge. 

4. It is no less evident, that if there be a full, certain, 
and infallible foreknowledg e of the future existence of 
the volitions of moral agents, then there is a certain in 
fallible and indissoluble connection between those events 
and that foreknowledge ; and that therefore, by the pre- 
ceeding observations, those events are necessary events, 
being infallibly and indissolubly connected with that 
whose existence already is, and so is now necessary, and 
cannot but have been. 

To say, the Foreknowledge is certain and infallible, 
and yet the connection of the event with that foreknow 
ledge is not indissoluble, but dissoluble and fallible, is very 
absurd. To affirm it, would be the same thing as to af 
firm, that there is no necessary connection between a pro 
position s being infallibly known to be true, and its being 
true indeed. So that it is perfectly demonstrable, that 
if there be any infallible knowledge of future volitions, 
the event is necessary ; or, in other words, that it is im 
possible but the event should come to pass. For if it 
be not impossible but th at it may be otherwise, then it 
is not impossible, but that the proposition which affirms its 
future coming to pass, may not now be true. But how 
absurd is that, on the supposition that there is now an 
infallible knowledge (i. e. knowledge which it is impos 
sible should fail) that it is true. There is this absurdir 
ty in it, that it is not impossible, but that there now 
should be no truth in that proposition, which is now in 
fallibly known to be true. 

II. That no future event can be certainly foreknown, 
whose existence is contingent, and without all necessity, 
may be proved thus ; it is impossible for a thing to be 
certainly known to any intellect without evidence. To 
suppose otherwise, implies a contradiction ; because for 

Sect. XII.] infers some Necessity. 

a thing to be certainly known to any understanding 1 , is 
for it to be evident to that understanding : and fora thing 
to be evident to any understanding is the same thing as 
for that understanding to see evidence of it : but no un 
derstanding, created or uncreated, can see evidence where 
there is none : for that is the same thing, as to see that 
to be, which is not. And therefore, if there be any truth 
which is absolutely without evidence, that truth is abso 
lutely unknowable, insomuch that it implies a contra 
diction to suppose that it is known. 

But if there be any future event, whose existence is 
contingent, without all necessity, the future existence 
of the event is absolutely without evidence. If there 
be any evidence of it, it must be one of these two sorts, 
either self evidence, or proof; for there can be no 
other sort of evidence, but one of these two ; an evi 
dent thing must be either evident in itself, or evident in 
something else ; that is, evident by connection with some 
thing else. But a future thing, whose existence is with 
out all necessity, can have neither of these sorts of evi 
dence. It cannot be self evident ; for if it be, it may be 
now known, by what is now to be seen in the thing it 
self; either its present existence, or the necessity of its 
nature : but both these are contrary to the supposition. 
It is supposed, both that the thing has no present exis 
tence to be seen ; and also that it is not of such a nature 
as to be necessarily existent for the future : so that its 
future existence is not self-evident. And secondly, 
neither is there any proof, or evidence, in any thing 
else, or evidence of connection with something else that 
it is evident ; for this is also contrary to the supposition. 
It is supposed, that there is now nothing exigent, with 
which the future existence of the contingent event is con 
nected. For such a connection destroys its contingence t 
and supposes necessity. i bus it is demonstrated, that 
there is in the nature of things absolutely no evidence at 
all of the future existence of that event, which is con 
tingent, without ail necessity (if any sucii event there 
bej neither self evidence ior proof. And therefore the 

140 Certain Foreknowledge [Part II. 

thing in reality is not evident ; and ^o cannot be seen to 
be evident, or, which is the same thing, cannot he 

Let us consider this in an example. Suppose that 
five thousand seven hundred and sixty years ago, there 
was no other being but the Divine Being; and then this 
world, or some particular body or spirit, all at once starts 
out of nothing into being, nnd takes on itself a particular 
nature and form ; all in absolute contfngence without any 
concern of God, or any other cause, in the matter ; with 
out any manner of ground or reason of its existence ; or 
any dependence upon, or connection at all with any thing 
foregoing; I say, that if this be supposed, there was no 
evidence of that event before-hand. 1 he re was no evidence 
of it to be seen in the thing itself; for the thing itself as 
yet, was not. And there was no evidence of it to be seen 
in any thing else ; lor evidence in something else is con 
nection with something else : but such connection is con 
trary to the supposition. There was no evidence before, 
that this thing would happen ; for by the supposition, 
there was no reason why it should happen, rather than 
something else, or rather than nothing. And if so, then 
all things before were exactly equal, and the same, uith 
respect to that and other possible things ; there was no 
preponderating no superior weight or value ; and there 
fore, no thing that could be of any weight or value to 
determine any understanding. The thing was absolute 
ly without evidence, and absolutely unknowable. An in 
crease of understanding, or of the capacity of discerning, 
has no tendency, and makes no advance, to a discerning 
any signs or evidences of it, let it be increased never so 
much ; yea, if it be increased infinitely. The increase 
ol the strength of sight may have a tendency to enable 
to discern the evidence which is far off, and very much 
hid, and deeply involved in clouds and darkness ; but it 
lias no tendency to enable to discern evidence where 
there is none. If ;he sight be infinitely strong, and the 
capacity of discerning infinitely great, it will enable to 

Sect. XII. ] infers some Necessity. 141 

see all that there is, and to see it perfectly, and with 
ease ; yet it has no tendency at all to enable a being to 
discern that evidence which is not ; but, on the contrary, 
it has a tendency to enable to discern with great certain 
ty that there is none. 

III. To suppose the future volitions of moral agents 
not to be necessary events ; or, which is the same thing, 
events which it is not impossible but that they may not 
come to pass ; and yet to suppose that God certainly 
foreknows them, ami knows all things ; is to suppose 
God s knowledge to be inconsistent with itself. For to 
say, that God certainly, and without all conjecture, 
knows that a thing will infallibly be, which at the same 
time he knows to be so contingent, that it may possibly 
not be, is to suppose his knowledge inconsistent with it 
self; or that one thing, that he knows, is utterly incon 
sistent with another thing that he knows. It is the 
same thing as to say, he now knows a proposition to be 
of certain infallible truth, which he knows to be of con 
tingent uncertain truth. If a future volition is so 
without ail necessity, that there is nothing hinders, but 
that it may not be, then the proposition, which asserts 
its future existence, is so uncertain, that there is nothing 
hinders, but that the truth of it may entirely fail. And 
if God knows all things, he knows this proposition to be 
thus uncertain. And that is inconsistent with his know 
ing that it is infallibly true; and so inconsistent with his 
infallibly knowing that it is true. If ihe thing be indeed 
contingent, God views it so, and judges it to be contin 
gent, if he views things as they are. If the event be 
not necessary, then it is possible it may never be : 
and if it be possible it may never be, God knows it may 
possibly never be : and that is to know that the 
proposition, which affirms its existence, may possibly 
not be true ; and that is to know that the truth of it 
is uncertain ; which surely is inconsistent with his 
knowing it as a certain truth. If volitions are in them 
selves contingent events, without all necessity, then it 
is no argument of perfection of knowledge in any being 
to determine peremptorily that they will be ; but on the 

142 Certain Foreknowledge [Part II 

contrary, an argument of ignorance and mistake : be 
cause it would argue, that he supposes that proposition 
to be certain, which in its own nature, and all things 
considered, is uncertain and contingent. To say, in 
such a case, that God may have ways of knowing con 
tingent events which we cannot conceive of, is ridicu 
lous ; as much so, as to say, that God may know con 
tradictions to be true, for ought we know, or that he 
may know a thing to be certain, and at the same time 
know it not to be certain though we cannot conceive 
how ; because he has ways of knowing, which we can 
not comprehend. 

CoroL 1. From what has been observed it is evident, 
that the absolute decrees of God are no more inconsis 
tent with human liberty, on account of any necessity of 
the event which follows from such decrees, than the ab 
solute Foreknowledge of God. Because the connection 
between the event and certain foreknowledge, is as in 
fallible and indissoluble, as between the event and an 
absolute decree. That is, it is no more impossible, that 
the event and decree should not agree together, than 
that the event and absolute knowledge should disagree. 
The connection between the event and foreknowledge 
is absolutely perfect, by the supposition : because it is 
supposed, that the certainty and infallibility of the 
knowledge is absolutely perfect. And it being so, the 
certainty cannot be increased ; and therefore the con 
nection, between the knowledge and thing known, can 
not be increased ; so that if a decree be added to the 
foreknowledge, it does not at all increase the connection, 
or make it more infallible or indissoluble, if it were 
not so, the certainty of knowledge might be increased by 
the addition of a decree ; which is contrary to the sup 
position, which is, that the knowledge is absolutely per 
fect, or perfect to the highest possible degree. 

There is as much of an impossibility but that the 
things which are infallibly foreknown, should be, or 
(which is the same thing) as great a Necessity of their 
iiUure existence, as if the event were already written 

Sect. XI I.] infers some Necessity 143 

down, and read by all mankind, through all preceding 
ages, and there was the most indissoluble and perfect 
connection possible, between the writing, and the thing 
written. In such a case, it would be as impossible the 
event should fail of existence, as if it had existed already ; 
and a decree cannot make an event surer or more neces 
sary than this. 

And therefore, if there be any such foreknowledge, 
as it has been proved there is, then Necessity of con 
nection and consequence, is not at all inconsistent with 
anv liberty which man, or any other creature enjoys. 
And from hence it may be inferred, that absolute de 
crees of God, which does not at all increase the Neces 
sity, are not at all inconsistent with the liberty which 
man enjoys, on any such account, as that they make the 
event decre d necessary, and render it utterly impossible 
but that it should come to pass. Therefore, if absolute 
decrees are inconsistent with man s liberty as a moral 
agent, or his liberty in a state of probation, or any liber 
ty whatsoever that he enjoys, it is not on account of any 
necessity which absolute decrees infer. 

Dr Whitby supposes, there is a great difference be 
tween God s foreknowledge, and his decrees, with re 
gard to necessity of future events. In his Discourse on 
the five Points, p. 474s &c. he says, " God s Prescience 

has no influence at all on our actions, Should God 

(says he.) by immediate lievclation, give me the know 
ledge of the event of any man^s state of actions, would 
my knowledge of them have any influence upon his ac 
tions ? Surely none at all. Our knowledge doth not 
affect the things we know, to make them more certain, 
or more future, than they would be without it. NOWJ 
foreknowledge in God is knowledge. As therefore 
knowledge has no influence on things that are, so nei 
ther has foreknowledge on things that shall be. And 
consequently, the foreknowledge of any action that.would 
be otherwise free, cannot alter or diminish that freedom. 
Whereas God s decree of election is powerful and active, 
and comprehends the preparation and exhibition of such 

144 Certain Forknowledgc [Part II* 

means, as shall unfrustrably produce the end. Hence 
God s Prescience renders no actions necessary." And 
to this purpose, p. 473, he cites Origen, where he says, 
God s Prescience is not the cause of things future, but 
their being future is the cause of God s Prescience that 
they will be: and Le Blanc, where he says, This is the 
truest resolution of this difficulty, that Prescience is not 
the cause that things are future ; but their being future 
is the cause they are foreseen. In like manner, Dr Clark) 
in his Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of 
God, p. 95 99. And the Author of the Freedom of 
the Will, in God and the Creature, speaking to the like 
purpose with Dr Whitby, represents Forekowledge as 
having no more influence on things known, to make them 
necessary, than After- knowledge, or to that purpose. 

To all which 1 would say ; that what is said about 
knowledge, its not having influence on the thing known 
to make it necessary, is nothing to the purpose, nor does 
in the least affect the foregoing reason. Whether 
Prescience be the thing that makes the event necessary or 
no, it alters not the case. Infallible forekowledge may 
prove the necessity of the event foreknown, and yet 
not be the thing which cause sthe necessity. If the 
foreknowledge be absolute, thia proves the event known 
to be necessary, or proves it is impossible but that the 
event should be, by some means or other, either by a 
decree, or some other way, if there be any other way : 
because, as was said before, it is absurd to say, that a 
proposition is known tobe cerainly and infallibly true, 
which yet may possibly prove not true. 

The whole of the seeming force of this evasion lies in 
this ; that, inasmuch as certain Foreknowledge does not 
cause an event to be necessary, as a decree does ; there 
fore it does not prove it to be necessary, as a decree 
does. Eut there is no force in this arguing : for it is built 
wholly on this supposition, that nothing can prove, or be 
anevidence of a thing s being necessary, but that which has 
a causal influence to make it so. But this can never be 
maintained. If certain Foreknowledge of the future 

Sect. XII.] infers some Necessity. 145 

existence of an event, be not the thing 1 , which first makes 
it impossible that it should fail of existence ; yet it may, 
and certainly does demonstrate, that it is impossible it 
should fail of it, however that impossibility comes. If 
Foreknowledge be not the cause, but the effect of this 
impossibility, it may prove that there is such an impos 
sibility, as much as if it were the cause. It is as strong 
arguing from the effect to the cause, as from the cause to 
the effect. It is enough, that an existence, which is in 
fallibly foreknown, cannot fail, whether that impossibility 
arises from the Foreknowledge, or is prior to it. It is 
as evident, as it is possible any thing should be, that it is 
impossible a thing, which is infallibly known to be true 
should prove not to be true : therefore there is a A 7 eces- 
sity that it should be otherwise : whether the Knowledge 
be the cause of this Necessity, or the Necessity the cause 
of the Knowledge. 

All certain Knowledge, whether it be Foreknowledge 
or After-knowledge,orconcomitantKnowledge, proves tho, 
thing known now to be necessary, by some means or 
other; or proves that it is impossible it should now be 
otherwise than true. I freely allow, that Foreknowledge 
does not prove a thing to be necessary any more than 
After-knowledge : but then Afterknowledge, which is 
certain and infallible, proves that it is now become im 
possible but that the proposition known should be true. 
Certain After-knowledge proves that it is now, in the 
time of the Knowledge, by some means or other, be 
come impossible but that the proposition, which predi 
cates past existence on the event should be true. Ami 
so does certain Fore-knowledge prove, that now, in the 
time of the Knowledge, it is by some means or other, 
become impossible but that the proposition, which pre- 
dicatesjfire existence on the event, should be true. 
The Necessity of the truth of the propositions consisting 
in the present impossibility of the non-existence of the 
event affirmed, in both cases, is the immediate ground 
of the certainty of the Knowledge ; there can be no cer 
tainty of Knowledge without it. 


140 Certain Foreknow/edge [Part II. 

There must be a certainty in things themselves, be- 
fore they are certainly known, or (which is the same 
thing-) known to be certain. For certainty of knowledge 
is nothing else but knowing or discerning the certainty 
there is in the things themselves, which are known. 
Therefore there must be a .certainty in things to be a 
ground of certainty of knowledge, and to render things 
capable of being known to be certain. And this is no 
thing hut the necessity of the truth known, or its being 
impossible but that it should Ue true ; or, in other words, 
the firm and infallible connection between the subject 
and predicate of the proposition that contains that truth. 
All certainty of knowledge consists in the view of the 
firmness of that connection. So God s certain Foreknow 
ledge of the future existence of any event, is his view of 
the firm and indissoluble connection of the subject and 
predicate of the proposition that affirms its future exist 
ence. The subject is that possible event ; the predicate 
is its future existence : but if future existence be firmly 
and indissolubly connected with that event, then the fu 
ture existence of that event is necessary. If God cer 
tainly knows the future existence of an event which is 
wholly contingent, and may possibly never be, then He 
sees a firm connection between a subject and predicate 
that are not firmly connected ; which is a contradiction. 

I allow what I)r Whitby says to be true, " That 
mere knowledge does not affect the thing known, to 
make it more certain or more future. 1 But yet, I 
say, it supposes and proves the thing to be already, both 
future and certain; i. e. necessarily future. Know 
ledge of futurity supposes/tar% -,- and a certain know 
ledge of futurity, supposes certain futurity, antecedent 
to that certain knowledge. But there is no other cer 
tain futurity of a thing, antecedent to certainty of know 
ledge, than a prior impossibility but that the thing 
should prove true ; or (which is the same thing) the 
necessity of the event. 

I would observe one thing further concerning this 
matter, it is this ; that if it be as those forementioned 

Sect. XII. J infers some Necessity. 1*47 

writers suppose, that God s foreknowledge is not the 
cause, but the effect of the existence of the event fore 
known ; this is so far from shewing that this foreknow 
ledge doth not infer the necessity of the existence of 
that event, that it rather shews the contrary the more 
plainly. Because it shews the existence of the event 
to be so settled and firm, that it is as if it had already 
been ; in as much as in effect it actually exists already ; 
its future existence has already had actual influence and 
efficacy, and has produced an effect, viz. Prescience : 
the effect exists already ; and as the effect supposes, the 
cause is connected with the cause, and depends entirely 
upon it, therefore it is as if the future event, which is 
the cause, had existed already. The effect is firm as 
possible, it having already the possession of existence, 
and has made sure of it. But the effect cannot be more 
firm and stable than its cause, ground, and reason* The 
building cannot be firmer than the foundation. 

To illustrate this matter, let us suppose the appear 
ances and images of things in a glass ; for instance are- 
fleeting telescope to be the real effects of heavenly bodies 
(at a distance, and out of sight) which they resemble: 
if it be so, then, as these images in the telescope have 
had a past actual existence, and it is become utterly 
impossible now that it should be otherwise than that 
they have existed ; so they being the true effects of the 
heavenly bodies they resemble, this proves the existing 
of those heavenly bodies, to be as real, infallible, firm, 
and necessary as the existing of these effects , the one 
being connected with, and wholly depending on the other. 
Now let us suppose future existence some way or other 
to have influence back, to produce effects before-hand, 
and cause exact and perfect images of themselves in a 
class, a thousand years before they exist, yea, in ail 
preceding ages ; but yet that these images are real et- 
fects of these future existences, perfectly dependent on, 
and connected with their cause ; these effects and ima 
ges, having already had actual existence, rendering that 
piatter of their existing perfectly firm and stable, and 

148 Certain Foreknowledge [Part II. 

utterly impossible to be otherwise : this proves in like 
manner, as in the other instance, that the existence of 
the things, which are their causes, is also equally sure, 
firm, and necessary; and that it is alike impossible but 
that they should be, as if they had been already, as 
their effects have. And if instead of images in a glass,^ 
we suppose the antecedent effects to be perfect ideas of 
them in the Divine Mind, which have existed there 
from all eternity, which are as properly effects, as truly 
and properly connected with their cause, the case is not 

Another thing which has been said by some Armin- 
ians, to take off the force of what is urged from God s 
Prescience, against the Contingence of the volitions of 
moral agents, is to this purpose ; " That when we talk 
of foreknowledge in God, there is no strict propriety in 
our so speaking ; and that although it be true, that 
there is in God the most perfect knowledge of all 
events from eternity to eternity, yet there is no such 
things as before and after in God, but he sees all things 
by one perfect unchangeable view, without any suc 
cession. >-> To this I answer. 

1. It has been already shewn, that all certain, know 
ledge proves the necessity of the truth known ; whether 
it be before, after, or at the same time. Though it be 
true, that there is no succession in God s knowledge, 
and the manner of hisknowledge is to us inconceivable, 
yet thus much we know concerning it, that there is no 
event, past, present or to come, that God is ever un 
certain of; He never is, never was, and never will be 
without infallible knowledge of it ; He always sees the 
existence of it to be certain and infallible. And as he 
always sees things as they are in truth ; hence there 
never is in reality any thing contingent in such a sense, 
as that possibly it may happen never to exist. If, strict 
ly speaking, there is no foreknowledge in God, it is be- 
tause those things, which are future to us, are as pre 
sent to God, as if they already had existence : and that 
is as much as to say, that future events are always in 

Sect. XIL] as much as a Decree. 1 49 

GodVview as evident, clear, sure, and necessary as if 
they already were. If there never is a time wherein 
the existence of the event is not present with God, then 
there never is a time wherein it is not as much impossi 
ble for it to fail of existence, as if its existence were pre 
sent, and were already come to pass. 

God^s viewing thing-s so perfectly and unchangeably 
as that there is no succession in his ideas or judgment, 
do not hinder, but that there is properly now, in the 
mind of God, a certain and perfect knowledge of moral 
actions of men, which to us are an hundred years hence : 
yea, the objection supposes this ; and therefore it certain 
ly does not hinder but that, by the foregoing arguments, 
it is now impossible these moral actions should not come 
to pass. 

We know, that God knows the future voluntary ac 
tions of men in such a sense beforehand, as that he is 
able particularly to declare and foretell them, and write 
them, or cause them to be written down in a book, as he 
often has done ; and that therefore the necessary con 
nection which there is between God s knowledge and 
the event known, does as much prove the event to be 
necessary before-hand, as if the divine knowledge were 
in the same sense before the event, as the prediction or 
writing is. If the knowledge be infallible, then the ex 
pression of it in the written prediction is infallible ; that 
is, there is an infallible connection between that written 
prediction and the event. And if so, then it is impos 
sible it should ever be otherwise then that that predic 
tion and the event should agree ; and this is the same 
thing as to say, it is impossible but that the event 
should come to pass : and this is the same as to say that 
its coming to pass is necessary. So that it is manifest, 
that there being no proper succession in God^s mind* 
makes no alteration as to the necessity of the existence 
of the events which God knows. Yea, 

2. This is so far from weakening the proof which ha$ 
been given of the impossibility of the not coming to pass 
of future events known, as that it establishes that where- 

150 Certain Foreknowledge [Part II, 

in the strength of the foregoing arguments, consists, and 
shews the clearness of the evidence. For, 

(1.) The very reason why God s knowledge is with 
out succession, is because it is absolutely perfect, to the 
highest possible degree of clearness and certainty : all 
things, whether past, present, or to come, being viewed 
with equal evidence and fulness; future things being 
seen with as much clearness as if they were present ; the 
view is always in absolute perfection : and absolute con 
stant perfection admits of no alteration, and so no succes 
sion ; the actual existence of the thing known, does not 
at all increase, or add to the clearness or certainty of the 
thing known : God calls the things that are not, as- 
though they were; they are all one to him as if they had 
already existed. But herein consists the strength of the 
demonstration before given, of the impossibility of the 
not existing of those things, whose existence God knows j 
that it is as impossible they should fail of existence, as 
if they existed already. This objection, instead of 
weakening this argument, sets it in the clearest and 
strongest light ; for it supposes it to be so indeed, that 
the existence of future events is in God s view so much 
as if it already had been, that when they come actually 
to exist, it makes not the least alteration or variation in 
his view or knowledge of them. 

(2.) The objection is founded on the immutability of 
God s knowledge ; for it is the immutability of know 
ledge makes his knowledge to be without succession. 
But this most directly and plainly demonstrates the thing 
I insist on, viz. that it is utterly impossible the known 
events should fail of existence. For if that were pos 
sible, then it would be possible for there to be a change 
in God s knowledge and view of things. For if the 
known event should fail of existence, and not come into 
being, as God expected, then God would see it, and so 
would change his mind, and see his former mistake ; 
and thus there would be change and succession in his 
knowledge. But as God is immutable, and so it is ut 
terly, infinitely impossible that his view should bechang* 

Sect. XII.] as much as a Decree. 151 

ed ; so it is, for the same reason, just so impossible that 
the fore-known event should not exist; and that is to 
be impossible, in the highest degree : and therefore the 
contrary is necessary. Nothing 1 is more impossible than 
the immutable God should be changed, by the succes 
sion of time ; who comprehends all things, from eternity 
to eternity, in one most perfect and unalterable view ; 
so that bis whole eternal duration is vita inter minabilis^ 
tola, simul, <$ perfccta possessio. 

On the whole, I need not fear to say, that there is no 
geometrical theorem or proposition whatsoever more cap- 
able of strict demonstration, than that God^s certain Pre 
science of the volitions of moral agents is inconsistent 
with such a Contingence of these events, as is without 
all Necessity ; and so is inconsistent with the Arminian 
notion of liberty. 

CoroL 2. Hence the doctrine of the Cahinists, con 
cerning the absolute decrees of God, does not at all infer 
any more fatality in things, then will demonstrably fol 
low from the doctrine of most Arminian divines, who ac 
knowledge God s omniscience and universal Prescience. 
Therefore, all objections they make against the doctrine 
of CalvinistS) as implying Hobbes s doctrine of necessi 
ty, or the stoical doctrine of^/afe, lie no more against the 
doctrine of Calainists than their own doctrine : and 
therefore it doth not become those divines, to raise such 
an outcry against the Calvinists on this account. 

CoroL 3. Hence all arguing from necessity, against 
the doctrine of the inability of unregenerate men to per 
form the conditions of salvation, and the commands of 
God requiring spiritual duties, and against the Calvin- 
istic doctrine of efficacious grace ; I say, all arguings of 
Arminians (such of them as own God s omniscience) 
against these things, on this ground that these doctrines, 
though they do not suppose men to be under any con 
straint or coaction, yet suppose them under necessity, 
with respect to their moral actions, and those things 
which are required of them in order to their acceptance 
Tvith God ; and their arguing against the necessity of 

152 foreknowledge proves Necessity. [Part II. 

mens volitions, taken from the reasonableness of God s 
commands, promises, and threatening^, and the sincerity 
of his counsels and invitations ; and all objections against, 
and any doctrine of the Calvinists as being inconsistent 
with human liberty, because they infer Necessity ; I say, 
all these arguments and objertions must fall to the 
ground, and he justly esteemed vain and frivolous, as com 
ing from them, being maintained in an inconsistence with 
themselves, and in like manner levelled against their 
own doctrine, as again:t the doctrine of the Calcinists. 


Whether ice suppose the I 7 olitions of Moral 
jl gents to be connected u iih any thing antece 
dent, or not, yet they must be necessary in 
such a sense as to overthrow Arminian Liber 

VERY act of the will has a cause, or it has not. If 
^ it has a cause, then according to what has already 
been demonstrated, it is not contingent, but necessary ; 
the effect being necessarily dependent and consequent on 
its cause ^ and that, let the cause be what it will. If the 
cause is the will itself, by antecedent acts choosing and 
determining ; still the determined and caused act must be 
a necessary effect. The act, that is the determined ef 
fect of the foregoing act which is its cause, cannot pre 
vent the efficiency of its cause ; but must be wholly subject 
to its determination and command, as much as the mo. 
lions of the hands and feet. The consequent commanded 
acts of the w ill areas passiveand as necessary, with respect 
tothe antecedent determiningacts, asthe pa rts of t, j body 
are to the volitions which determine and command them. 
And therefore, if all the free acts of the will are thus, it 
they are all determined effects, determined by the will 

Sect. XIII. ] inconsistent with Arminian,6fc. 133 

itself, that is, determined by antecedent choice, then 
they are all necessary ; they are all subject to, and de 
cisively fixed by the foregoing act, which is their cause : 
yea, even the determining act itself; for that must be 
determined and fixed by another act, preceding that, if 
it be a free and voluntary act ; and so must be neces 
sary. So that by this ail the free acts of the will are 
necessary, and cannot be free unless they are necessary ; 
because they cannot be free, according to the Arminian 
notion of freedom, unless they are determined by the 
will ; which is to be determined by antecedent choice : 
which being their cause, proves them necessary. And 
yet they say, necessity is utterly inconsistent with Li 
berty. So that, by their scheme, the acts of the will 
cannot be free unless they are necessary, and yet can- 
not be free if they be not necessary ! 

But if the other part of the dilemma be taken, and it 
be affirmed that the free acts of the will will have no 
cause, and are connected with nothing whatsoever that 
goes before them and determines them, in order to main 
tain their proper and absolute Contingence, and this 
should be allowed to be possible, still it will not serve their 
turn. For if the volition come to pass by perfect Con 
tingence, and without any cause at all, then it is certain 
no act of the will, no prior act of the soul was the cause, 
no determination or choice of the soul had any hand in 
it. The will, or the soul, was indeed the subject of 
what happened to it accidentally, but was not the cause. 
The will is not active in causing or determining, but 
pureJy the passive subject ; at least, according to their 
notion of action and passion, tn this case, Contingence 
does as much prevent the determination of the will, as a 
proper cause ; and as to the will, it was necessary, and 
could be no otherwise. For to suppose that it could 
have been otherwise, if the will or soul had pleased, is to 
suppose that the act is dependent on some prior act of 
choice or pleasure ; contrary to what now is supposed ; 
it is to suppose that it might have been otherwise, if its 
cause had made it or ordered it otherwise. But this does 
pot agree to its having no cause or order at all. That 

154 "Both Neccessity and Contingence [Part II. 

must be necessary as to the soul, which is dependent on 
no free act of the soul : but that which is without a 
cause is dependent on no free act of the soul : because, 
by the supposition, it is dependent on nothing, and is 
connected with nothing-. In such a case, the soul is neces 
sarily subjected to what accident brings to pass, from 
time to time, as much as the earth, th.it is inactive, is 
necessarily subjected to what falls upon it. But this 
does not consist with the Arniinian notion of liberty, 
which is the will s power, of determining itself in its 
own acts, and being- wholly active in it, without pas- 
siveness, and without being subject to necessity. Thus, 
Contingence belongs to the Anninian notion of liberty, 
and yet is inconsistent with it. 

I would here observe, that the author of the Essay on 
the Freedom of the Will, in God and the Creature, p. 
76, 11, says as follows : " The word Chance always 
means something done without design. Chance and de 
sign stand in direct opposition to each other : and chance 
can never be properly applied to acts of > the will, which 
is the spring of all design, and which designs to choose 
whatsoever it doth choose, whether there be any, supe 
rior fitness in the thing which it chooses, or no; and it 
designs to determine itself to one thing, where two things, 
perfectly equal, are proposed, merely because it will." 
.But herein appears a very great inadvantage in this au 
thor. For if the will be the spring of all design, as he 
says, then certainly it is not always the effect of design ; 
and the acts of the will themselves must sometimes come 
to pass, when they do not spring jrom design ; and con 
sequently come to pass by chance, according to his own 
definition of chance. And if the will designs to choose 
whatever it does choose, and designs to determine itsdf\ 
as he says, then it designs to determine all its designs : 
which carries us back from one design to aforegoing de 
sign determining that, and to another determining that ; 
and so on in injinitum. The very first design must be 
the effect of foregoing design, or else it must be by 
chance, in his notion of it. 

Sect. Kill. ] inconsistent withArminian,8fc. 155 

Here another alternative may be proposed, relating 
to the connection of the acts of the will with something 
foregoing that is their cause, not much unlike to the 
other ; which is this, either human liberty is such, that 
it may well stand with volitions being necessarily con 
nected with the views of the understanding, and so is 
consistent with necessity ; or it is inconsistent with, and 
contrary to such a connection and necessity. The for 
mer is directly subversive of the Arminian notion of li 
berty, consisting in freedom from all necessity. And if 
the latter be chosen, and it be said, that liberty is in 
consistent with any such necessary connection of voli- 
tion with foregoing views of the understanding, it con 
sisting in freedom from any such necessity of the will 
as that would imply ; then the liberty of the soul con 
sists (in part at least) in the freedom from restraint, li 
mitation and government, in its actings, by the under 
standing, and in liberty and liableness to act contrary to 
the understanding^ views and dictates : and consequent 
ly the more the soul has of this disengagedness in its 
acting, the more liberty. Now let it be considered what 
this brings the noble principle of human liberty to, par- 
ticularly when it is possessed and enjoyed in its perfec 
tion, viz. a full and perfect freedom and liableness to act 
altogether at random, without the least connection with, 
or restraint or government by, any dictate of reason, or 
any thing whatsoever apprehended, considered or viewed 
by the understanding; as being inconsistent with the 
full and perfect sovereignty of the will over its own de 
terminations. The notion mankind has conceived of 
liberty, is some dignity or privilege, something worth 
claiming. But what dignity or privilege is there, in 
being given unto such a wild contingcnce as this, to be 
perfectly and constantly liable to act unintelligently and 
unreasonably, and as much without the guidance of un 
derstanding, as if we had none, or were as destitute of 
perception as the smoke that is driven by the wind ! 


Wherein it is enquired, Whether any such Liberty of Will as Ar* 
minians hold, be necessary to Moral Agency, Virtue and Vice, 
Praise and Dispraise, &c. 


God s Moral Excellency Necessary, yet Virtuous 
and Praiseworthy. 

TJTAVING considered the first thing- that was propo 
sed to be enquired into, relating to that Freedom 
of Will which Armenians maintain ; namely, Whether 
any such thing 1 does, ever did, or ever can exist, or be 
conceived of; I come no\v to the second thing 1 proposed 
to be the subject of enquiry, viz. Whether any such 
kind of liberty be requisite to moral agency, virtue and 
vice, praise and blame, reward and punishment, &c. 

I shall begin with some consideration of the virtue and 
agency of the Supreme Moral Agent and Fountain of 
all Agency and Virtue. 

Dr Whitby, in his Discourse on the Five Points, 
page 14, says, " If all human actions are necessary, vir 
tue and vice must be empty names ; we being capable 
of nothing that is blame-worthy, or deserveth praise j 
for who can blame a person for doing only what he could 
not help, or judge that he deserveth praise only for what 
he could not avoid ? To the like purpose he speaks in 
places innumerable ; especially in his Discourse on the 
Freedom of the Will ; constantly maintaining, that a 
freedom not only from coaction, but necessity, is abso 
lutely requisite, in erder to actions being either worthy 

Sect. I.] yet Virtuous and Praise- worthy. 157 

of blame, or deserving of praise. And to this agrees, as 
is well known, the current doctrine of Armi nian writers, 
who in general hold, that there is no virtue or vice, re 
ward or punishment, nothing to be commended or blam 
ed, without this freedom. And yet Dr Whitby, p. 500, 
allows, that God is without this freedom ; and Arminians, 
so far as 1 have had opportunity to observe, generally 
acknowledge, that God is necessarily holy, and his will 
necessarily determined to that which is good. 

So that, putting these things together, the infinitely 
holy God, who always used to be esteemed by God s 
people not only virtuous, but a Being in whom is all pos 
sible virtue, and every virtue in the most absolute puri 
ty and perfection, and in infinitely greater brightness 
and amiableness than in a creature ; the most perfect 
pattern of virtue, and the fountain from whom all other 
virtue is but as beams from the sun ; and who has been 
supposed to be, on account of his virtue and holiness, in- 
finitely more worthy to be esteemed, loved, honoured, 
admired, commended, extolled, and praised, than any 
creature : and He who is thus every where represented 
in Scripture, I say, this Being, according to this notion 
of Dr Whitby, and other Arminians, has no virtue at 
all ; virtue, when ascribed to him, is but an empty name; 
and he is deserving of no commendation or praise ; be* 
cause he is under necessity, He cannot avoid being ho 
ly and good as he is ; therefore no thanks to him for it. 
It seems, the holiness, justness, faithfulness, &c. of the 
Most High must not be accounted to be of the na 
ture of that which is virtuous and praise-worthy. They 
will not deny, that these things in God are good ; but 
then we must understand them, that they are no more 
virtuous, or of the nature of any thing commendable, 
than the good that is in any other being that is not a 
moral agent ; as the brightness of the sun, and the fer 
tility of the earth are good, but not virtuous, because 
these properties are necessary to these bodies, and not 
the fruits of self-determining power. 

There needs no other confutation of this notion of 


<158 God s Moral Excellency necessary, [Part 111. 

God s not being virtuous or praise-worthy to Christians 
acquainted with their Bible, but only stating aru^ parti 
cularly representing of it. To bring texts of Scripture, 
wherein God is represented as in every respect, in the 
highest manner virtuous, and supremely praise-worthy, 
would be endless, and is altogether needless to such as 
have been brought up in the light of the Gospel. 

It were to be wished, that Dr Whitby, and other di 
vines of the same sort, had explained themselves, when 
they have asserted, that that which is necessary, is not 
deserving of praise ; at the same time that they have 
owned GodT s perfection to be necessary, and so in effect 
representing God as not deserving praise. Certainly, 
if their words have any meaning at all, by praise, they 
must mean the exercise or testimony of some sort of es 
teem, respect or honourable regard. -And will they then 
say, that men are worthy of that esteem, respect, and 
honour for their virtue, small and imperfect as it is, 
which yet God is not worthy of for his infinite righteous 
ness, holiness, and goodness ? If so, it must be, be 
cause of some sort of peculiar excellency in the virtuous 
man, which is his prerogative, wherein he really has the 
preference; some dignity, that is entirely distinguished 
from any excellency, amiableness, or honourableness in 
God ; not in imperfection and dependence, but in pre 
eminence ; which therefore he does not receive from 
God, nor is God the fountain or pattern of it ; nor can 
God, in that respect, stand in competition with him, as 
the object of honour and regard ; but man may claim a 
peculiar esteem, commendation, and glory that God can 
have no pretension to. Yea, God has no right, by vir 
tue of his necessary holiness, to intermeddle with that 
grateful respect and praise due to the virtuous man, who 
chooses virtue, in the exercise of a freedom ad utrumque ,- 
any more than a precious stone, which cannot avoid be 
ing hard and beautiful. 

And if it be so, let it be explained what that peculiar 
respect is, that is due to the virtuous man, which differs 
in nature and kind, in some way of pre-eminence, from 
all that is due to God. What is the name or description 

Sect. L] Yet virtuous and Praise-worthy. 

of that peculiar affection ? Is it esteem, love, admirc- 
tion, honour, praise, or gratitude ? The Scripture every 
where represents God as the highest object of all these : 
there we read of the soul s magnifying the Lord, of lo 
ving Him with all the heart, with all the soul, with alt 
the mind, and with all the strength ; admiring him and his 
righteous acts, or greatly regarding them, as marvellous 
and wonderful : honouring, glorifying, exalting, extoll 
ing, blessing, thanking, and prasing Him, giving unto 
Him all the glory of the good which is done or received, 
rather than unto men ; that nojlesh should glory in his 
presence, but that He should be regarded as the Meing to 
whom all glory is due. What then is that respect ? What 
passion, affection, or exercise is it, that Arminians call 
praise, diverse from all these things, which men are wor 
thy of for their virtue, and which God is not worthy of, 
in any degree ? 

If that necessity which attends God s moral perfections 
and actions, be as inconsistent with a Being worthy of 
praise, as a necessity of coaction, as is plainly implied in^ 
or inferred from Dr Whitby s discourse, then why should 
we thank God for his goodness, any more than if lie 
were forced to be good, or any more than we should 
thank one of our fellow-creatures who did us good, not 
freely, and of good will, or from any kindness of heart, 
but from mere compulsion, or extrinsical necessity ? Ar*- 
minians suppose, that God is necessarily a good and gra 
cious Being : for this they make the ground of some of 
their main arguments against many doctrines maintain 
ed by Calvinists ; they say, these are certainly false, and 
it is impossible they should be true, because they are 
not consistent with the goodness of God. This supposes, 
that it is impossible but that God should be good : for if 
it*be possible that He should be otherwise, then that im 
possibility of the truth of these doctrines ceases, accord 
ing to their own argument. 

That virtue in God is not, in the most proper sense, 
rewardable, is not for want of merit in his moral perfec 
tions and actions, sufficient to deserve rewards from his 

160 The Acts of the Will of Christ [Part IIL 

creatures ; but because He is infinitely above all capaci 
ty of receiving any reward or benefit from the creature. 
He is already infinitely and unchangeably happy, and 
we cannot be profitable unto Him. But still he is wor 
thy of our supreme benevolence for his virtue; and 
would be worthy of our beneficence, which is the fruit 
and expression of benevolence, if our goodness could ex 
tend to Him. If God deserves to be thanked and 
praised for his goodness, he would, for the same reason, 
deserve that we should also requite his kindness, if that 
were possible. What shall 1 render to the Lord for all 
his benefits ? is the natural language of thankfulness : and 
so far as in us lies, it is our duty to recompense God s 
goodness, and render again according to benefits received. 
And that we might have opportunity for so natural an 
ejipression of our gratitude to God, as beneficence, not 
withstanding his being infinitely above our reach, He 
has appointed others to be his receivers, and to stand in 
his stead, as the objects of our beneficence ; such are 
especially our indigent brethren. 


The Acts of the Will of the human soul of Jesus 
Christ necessarily holy, yet truly virtuous, 
praise-worthy, rewardable, 8fc* 

T HAVE already considered how Dr Whitby insists 
- upon it, that a freedom, not only from coaction, but 
necessity, is requisite either to virtue, vice, praise, or 
dispraise, reward or punishment. He also insists on the 
same freedom as absolutely requisite to a person s being 1 
the subject of a law of precepts or prohibitions ; in the 
book before mentioned, (p. 301, 314, 328, 339, 340, 
541,342,347,361,373,410.) And of promises and 

Sect. IT.] Necessarily Holy. l6l 

threatening*, (p. 298, 501, 305, 311, 339, 340, 363.) 
And as requisite to a state of trial , (p. 297, &c.) 

Now therefore, with an eye to these things, I would 
enquire into the moral conduct and practices of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, which he exhibited in his human nature 
here, in his state of humiliation. And first, I would 
shew, that his holy behaviour was necessary ; or that it 
was impossible it should be otherwise, than that He 
should behave himself holily, and that he should be per 
fectly holy in each individual act of his life. And se 
condly, that his holy behaviour was properly the nature 
of virtue, and was worthy of praise ; and that he was 
the subject of law, precepts, or commands, promises and re 
wards ; and that he was in a state of trial. 

I. It was impossible that the acts of the will of the 
human soul of Christ should, in any instance, degree, or 
circumstance, be otherwise than holy, and agreeable to 
God s nature and will. The following things make this 

1. God had promised so effectually to preserve and 
uphold him by his Spirit, under all his temptations, that 
he could not fail of reaching the end for which He came 
into the world ; which he would have failed of, had he 
fallen into sin. We have such a promise, Isa. xliii. 1, 
2, 3, 4. " Behold my Servant, whom I uphold ; mine 
Elect, in whom my soul delighteth : I have put my Spi 
rit upon him: He shall bring forth judgment to the 
Gentiles : He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his 
voice to be heard in the street. He shall bring forth 
judgment unto truth. He shall not fail, nor be discou 
raged, till He have set judgment in the earth ; and the 
isles shall wait his law." This promise of Christ s hav 
ing God s Spirit put upon him, and his not crying and 
lifting up his voice, &c. relates to the time of Christ s 
appearance on earth; as is manifest from the nature of 
the promise, and also the application of it in the New 
Testament, Matthew xii. 18. And the words imply a 
promise of his being so upheld by God s Spirit, that he 
should be preserved from sin ; particularly from pride 

162 The Acts of the Will of Christ [Part 111. 

and vain-glory, and from being overcome by any of tbe 
temptations, he should be under to affect the glory of 
this world, the pomp of an earthly prince, or the applause 
and praise of men : and that he should be so upheld, that 
he should by no means fail of obtaining the end of his 
coming into the world, of bringing forth judgment unto 
victory, and establishing his kingdom of grace in the 
earth And in the following verses, this promise is con 
firmed, with the greatest imaginable solemnity Thus 
saith the LORD, He that created the heavens, and 
stretched them out ; He that spread forth the earth, 
and that which cometh out of it ; He that giveth breath 
unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk 
therein ; I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, 
and will hold thine hand ; and will keep Thee, and give 
Thee for a covenant of the people, for a Light of the 
Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the pri 
soners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness- 
out of the prison-house. I am JEHOVAH, that is 
my name," &c. 

Very parallel with these promises is that, Isa. xlix. 
7, 8, 9, which also has an apparent respect to the time 
of Christ s humiliation on earth. " Thus saith the 
Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to 
Him whom man despiseth, to Him whom the nation ab- 
horreth, to a Servant of the rulers ; kings shall see and 
arise, princes also shall worship ; because of the Lord 
that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall 
choose Thee. Thus saith the Lord, Ii> an acceptable 
time have I heard Thee. In a day of salvation have I 
helped Thee ; and I will preserve Thee, and give Thee 
for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, 1 

And in Isa. 1. 5, 6, we have the Messiah expressing 
his assurance, that God would help Him, by so opening 
his ear, or inclining his heart to God s commandments, 
that He should not be rebellious, but should persevere, 
and not apostatise, or turn his back : that through God s 
help, He should be im in ov cable, in a way of obedience 

Sect. II.] Necessarily Holy. 163 

under the great trials of reproach and suffering he should 
meet with ; setting his face like a flint : so that He 
knew He should not be ashamed, or frustrated in his de 
sign ; and finally should be approved and justified, as 
having done his work faithfully. u The Lord hath 
opened mine ear; so that I was not rebellious, neither 
turned away my back : 1 gave my back to the smiters, 
and my cheeks to them that plucked of the hair ; I hid 
not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord 
God will help me ; therefore shall I not be confounded ; 
therefore have I set my face as a flint, and I know that 
I shall not be ashamed He is near that justifieth me ; 
who will contend with me ? Let us stand together. 
Who is mine adversary ? Let him come near to me. 
Behold the Lord God will help me : who is he that 
shall condemn me ? Lo, they shall all wax old as a gar 
ment, the moth shall eat them up" 

2. The same thing is evident from all the promises 
which God made to the Messiah, of his future glory, 
kingdom, and success, in his office and character of a 
Mediator : which glory could not have been obtained, if 
his holiness had failed, and he had been guilty of sin. 
God s absolute promise of any things make the things 
promised necessary, and their failing to take place abso 
lutely impossible : and, in like manner, it makes those 
things necessary on which the thing- promised depends, 
and without which it cannot take effect. Therefore it 
appears, that it was utterly impossible that Christ s ho 
liness should fail, from such absolute promises as those, 
Psalm ex. 4. " The Lord hath sworn, and will not re 
pent : Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Mel- 
chizedek. 1 And from every other promise in that Psalm, 
contained in each verse of it. And Psal. ii. 6, 7. * I 
will decLre the decree ; The Lord hath said unto me, 
Thou art my *Son, this day have 1 begotten Thee ; Ask 
of me, and I will give Thee the Heathen for thine in 
heritance," &c. Psalm xlv. 3, 4, &c. " Gird thy sword 
on ihy thigh, O most Mighty, with thy Glory and thy 
Majesty ; and in thy Majesty ride prosperously," And 

164 The dels of the Will of Christ [Part IIH 

so every thing that is said from thence to the end of the 
Psalm. And those promises, Isa. iii. 13. 14, ch. 15. liii. 
ami 10, 11, 12- And all those promises which God 
makes to the Messiah, of success, dominion, and glory 
in the character of a Redeemer, in Isa. xlix. 

3. It was often promised to the church of God of old, 
for their comfort, that God would give them a righteous, 
sinless Saviour. Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. " Behold, the days 
come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a 
righteous branch ; and a King shall reign and prosper, 
and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 
In his days shall .ludali be saved, and Israel shall dwell 
safely. And this is the name whereby He shall be cal 
led, The Lord our righteousness."" So Jer. xxxiii. 15. 
* I will cause the branch of righteousness to grow up 
unto David; and he shall execute judgment and right 
eousness in the land."" Isa. xi. 6, 7. " For unto us a 
child is born ; upon the throne of David and of his 
kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment 
and justice, from henceforth, even for ever : the zeal of 
the Lord of Hosts will do this." Chap. ix. at the be 
ginning. u There shall come forth a rod out of the stem 
of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots ; and 
the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit 
of Knowledge, and the Fear of the Lord : with right 
eousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with 
equity ; Righteousness shall he the girdle of his loins, 
and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 1 Chap. Hi. 13. 
"My Servant shall deal prudently." Chap. liii. 9. 
" Because He had done no violence, neither was guile 
found in his mouth." If it be impossible, that these 
promises should fail, and it be easier for heaven and 
earth to pass away, than for one jot or title of these 
promises of God to pass away, then it was impossible 
that God should commit any sin. Christ himself sig 
nified, that it was impossible but that the things which 
were spoken concerning Hint, should be fulfilled. Luke 
xxiv. 44.-" That all things must be fulfilled, which 
were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, 

Sect, II.] Necessarily Holy. 1(55 

and in the Psalms concerning me." Matt. xxvi. 53, 
54. " But how then shall the Scripture be fulfilled, 
that thus it must be ?" Mark xiv. 49. " But the 
Scriptures must be fulfilled. 1 " And so the Apostle, 
Acts i. 16, 17. " This Scripture must needs have 
been fulfilled/ 1 

4. All the promises, which were made to the church 
of old, of the Messiah as a future Saviour, from that 
made to our first parents in Paradise, to that which was 
delivered by the prophet Maluchi, shew it to be impos 
sible that Christ should not have persevered in perfect 
holiness. The ancient predictions given to God s church, 
of the Messiah as a Saviour, were of the nature of 
promises ; as is evident by the predictions themselves, 
and the manner of delivering them. But they are 
expressly, and very often called promises in the New 
Testament; as in Luke i. 54, 55, 72, 73. Acts xiii. 
32, 33. Rom. i. 1, 2, 3, and chap. xv. 8. Heb. vi. 
13, &c. These promises were often made with great 
solemnity, and confirmed by an oath ; as in Gen. xxii. 
16, 17. " By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that 
in blessing, I will bless thee, and in multiplying, I will 
multiply thy seed, as the stars of heaven, and as the sand 
which is upon the sea-shore : And in thy seed shall all 
the nations of the earth be blessed. 1 Compare Luke i. 
72, 75, and Gal. iii. 8, 15, 1(5. The Apostle, in Heb. 
vi. 17, 18, speaking of this promise to Abraham, says, 
" Wherein God willing more abundantly to shew to the 
heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, con 
firmed it by an oath ; that by two IMMUTABLE things, 
in which it was IM POSSIBLE for God to lie, we might 
have strong consolation/ 1 In which words, the neces 
sity of the accomplishment, or (which is the same thing) 
the impossibility of the contrary, is fully declared. JSo 
God confirmed the promise of the great salvation of the 
Messiah, made to David, by an oath ; Psalm Ixxxix. 
3, 4. " I have made a covenant with my chosen, I 
have sworn unto David my servant ; thy seed will I 
establish forever, and build up thy throne to all genera 
tions. 1 There is nothing that is so absolutely set forth 

1 66 The Ads of the Will of Christ [Part III. 

in Scripture, as sure and irrefragable, as this promise 
and oath of David. See Psalm Ixxxix. 34, 55, 36. 
2 Sam. xxiii. 5. Isa. Iv. 4- Acts ii. 29, 50 ; and xiii. 
34. The Scripture expressly speaks of it as utterly 
impossible that this promise and oath to David, concern 
ing the everlasting dominion, of the Messiah of his seed, 
should fail. Jer. xxxiii. 15, &c. "In those days, and 
at that time, I will cause the Branch of righteousness tu 
grow up unto David. For thus saith the Lord, David 
shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the 
house of Israel. Ver. 20, 21. " If you can break my, 
covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and 
that there should not be day and night in their season \ 
then may also my covenant be broken with David my. 
servant, that He should not have a son to reign upon 
his throne." feo in ver. 25, 26. Thus abundant is the 
Scripture in representing how impossible it was, that 
the promises made of old concerning the great salvation, 
and kingdom of the Messiah should fail : which implies* 
that it was impossible that this Messiah, the second 
Adam, the promised seed of Abraham, and of David, 
should fall from his integrity, as the first Adam did. 

5. All the promises that were made to the church of 
God under the Old Testament, of the great enlarge 
ment of the church, and advancement of her glory, in 
the days of the Gospel, after the coming of the Mes 
siah ; the increase of her light, liberty, holiness, joy, 
triumph over her enemies, &c. of which so great a part 
of the Old Testament consists ; which are repeated so 
often, are so variously exhibited, so frequently intro 
duced with great pomp and solemnity, and are so abun 
dantly sealed with typical and symbolical representa 
tions ; I say, all these promises imply, that the Messiah 
should perfect the work of redemption ; and this implies, 
that he should persevere in the work, which the Father 
had appointed Him, being in all things conformed to 
his Will. These promises were often confirmed by an oath. 
(See isa. liv. 9. with the context ; chap. ixii. 18.) And: 
t is represented as utterly impossible that these pro-- 

Sect. II.] Necessarily Holy. 167 

mises should fail. (Isa. xlix. 15. with the context ; 
chap. li. 4 7. chap. xl. S. with the context.) And 
therefore it was impossible, that the Messiah should fail, 
or commit sin. 

6. It was impossible that the Messiah should fail of 
persevering in integrity and holiness, as the first Adam 
did, because this would have been inconsistent with the 
promises which God made to the blessed Virgin, his mo 
ther, and to her husband ; implying 1 that " He should 
save his people from their sins, that God would give 
Him the throne of his Father David, that He should 
reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and that of his king 
dom there shall be no end. 1 These promises were sure, 
and it was impossible they should fail. And therefore 
the Virgin Mary, in trusting fully to them, acted rea 
sonably, having an immoveable foundation of her faith ; 
as Elizabeth observes, ver. 45. " And blessed is she 
that believeth ; for there shall be a performance of those 
things, which were told her from the Lord. 11 

7. That it should have been possible that Christ 
should sin, and so fail in the work of our redemption, 
does not consist with the eternal purpose and decree of 
God, revealed in the Scriptures, that he would provide 
salvation for fallen man in and by Jesus Christ ; and that 
salvation should be offered to sinners through the preach 
ing of the Gospel. Such an absolute decree as this 
Arminians do not deny. Thus much at least (out of all 
controversy) is implied in such Scriptures, as 1 Cor. ii. 
7. Eph. i. 4, 5. and chap. iii. 9, 10, 11.1 Pet. i. 19, 
20. Such an absolute decree as this, Arminians allow 
to be signified in these texts. And the Arminians 
elections of nations and societies, and general election of 
the Christian Church, and conditional election of particu 
lar persons imply this. God could not decree before 
the foundation of this world, to save all that should be 
lieve in, and obey Christ, unless he had absolutely de 
creed, that salvation should be provided, and effect 
ually wrought out by Christ. And since (as the Ar 
minians themselves strenuously maintain) a decree of 

168 Necessarily Holy. [Part 111. 

God infers necessity ; hence it became necessary, that 
Christ should persevere, and actually work out salvation 
for us, and that he should not fail by the commission of 


8. That it should have been possible for Christ s 
Holiness to fail, is not consistent with what God promis 
ed to his Son, before all ages. For, that salvation 
should be offered to men, through Christ, and bestow 
ed on all his faithful followers, is what is at least implied 
in that certain and infallible promise spoken of by the 
apostle, Tit. i. 2. " In hope of eternal life ; which God, 
that cannot lie, promised before the world began." This 
does not seem to be controverted by Arminians *. 

9. That it should be possible for Christ to fail of do 
ing his Father s Will, is inconsistent with the promise 
made to the Father by the Son, by the Logos that was 
with the Father from the beginning, before he took the 
human nature : as may be seen in Psalm xl. 6, 7, 8. 
(compared with the apostle s interpretation, Heb, x, 5, 
9.) " Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire: 
mine ears hast thou opened, (or bored ;) burnt-offering 
and sin-offering thou hast not required. Then said I, Lo, 
I come ; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I 
delight to do thy Will, my God, and thy law is within 
my heart." Where is a manifest allusion to the covenant, 
which the willing servant, who loved his master s service, 
made with his master, to be his servant for ever, on the 
day wherein he had his ear bored ; which covenant was 
probably inserted in the public records, called the Fo- 
lumc of the Book., by the judges, who were called to 
take cognizance of the transaction ; Exod. xxi. If the 
Logos, who was with the Father before the world, and 
who made the world, thus engaged in covenant to do the 
Will of the Father in human nature, and the promise, 
was as it were recorded, that it might be made sure, 

* See Dr WJdtby on the five Points, p. 48, 49, 50. 

Sect. II.] Necessarily Hohj. 

doubtless it was impossible that it should fail ; and so it 
was impossible that Christ should fail of doing the Will 
of the Father in the human nature. 

10. If it was possible for Christ to have failed of do 
ing the Will of his Father, and so to have failed of ef 
fectually working- out redemption for sinners, then the 
salvation of all the saints, who were saved from the be 
ginning of the world, to the death of Christ, was not 
built on a firm foundation. The Messiah, and the re 
demption, which He was to work out by his obedience 
unto death, was the foundation of the salvation of all the 
posterity of fallen man, that ever were saved. There 
fore, if when the Old Testament saints had the pardon of 
their sins, and the favour of God promised them, and 
salvation bestowed upon them, still it was possible that 
the Messiah, when he came, might commit sin, then all 
this was on a foundation that was not firm and stable, but 
liable to fail ; something which it was possible might 
never be. God did as it were trust to what his Son 
had engaged and promised to do in future time ; and de 
pended so much upon it, that He proceeded actually to 
assure men on the account of it, as though it had been 
already done. J3ut this trust and dependence of God, 
on the supposition of ChrisOs being liable to fail of doing 
his Will, was leaning on a staff that was weak, and 
might possibly break. The saints of old trusted on the 
promises of a future redemption to be wrought out and 
completed by the Messiah, and built their comfort upon 
it ; Abraham saw Christ s Day, and rejoiced ; and he 
and the other Patriarchs died in the faith of the promise 
of it. (Heb. xi, 13.) Hut on this supposition, their 
faith and their comfort, and their salvation, was built on 
a moveable, fallible foundation ; Christ was not to them 
a tried stone, a sure foundation ; as in Isa xxviii. Itf. 
David entirely rested on the covenant of God with him, 
concerning the future glorious dominion and salvation of 
the Messiah, of his Seed ; says, it was all his salvation^ 
and all his desire ; and comforts himself that this coven 
ant was an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things 

1 70 The Acts of the Will of Christ [Part III 

and sure, 2 Sam. xxiii. 5. But if Christ s virtue might 
fail, he was mistaken ; his great comfort was not built so 
sure, as he thought it was, being founded entirety on the 
determinations of the Free Will of Christ s human soul, 
which was subject to no necessity, and might be deter 
mined either one way or the other. Also the de- 
pendance of those, who looked for redemption in Je 
rusalem, and waited for the consolation of Israel, (Luke 
ii. 25, 38.) and the confidence of the disciples of Jesus, 
who forsook all and followed Him, that they might en 
joy the benefits of his future kingdom, was built on a 
sandy foundation. 

11. The Man Christ Jesus, before he had finished 
his course of obedience, and while in the midst of temp 
tations and trials, was abundant in positively predicting 
his own future glory in his kingdom, and the enlarge 
ment of his Church, the salvation of the Gentiles through 
Him, &c. and in promises of blessings he would bestow 
on his true disciples in his future kingdom ; on which pro 
mises he required the full dependence of his disciples. 
(John xiv.) But the disciples would have no ground 
for such dependence, if Christ had been liable to fail in 
his work ; and Christ himself would have been guilty of 
presumption, in so abounding in peremptory promises of 
great things, which depend on a mere contingence ; viz. 
the determinations of his Free Will, consisting in a free 
dom ad utrumque, to either sin or holiness, standing in 
indifference, and incident, in thousands of future in 
stances, to go either one way or the other. 

Thus it is evident, that it was impossible that the Acts 
of the Will of the human soul of Christ should be other- 
wise than holy, and conformed to the will of the Father, 
or, in other words, they were necessarily so conformed. 

I have been the longer in the proof of this matter, it 
being a thing denied by some of the greatest Arminians, 
by Episcopius in particular ; and because I look upon it 
as a point clearly and absolutely determining the contro 
versy between Calvinists and Armmians, concerning 
the necessity of such a freedom of will as is insisted on 
by the latter in order to moral agency, virtue, com- 

Sect. II.] Praise-icorthy, Reivardabte,8fc. 171 

mand, prohibition, promise or threatening , reward or 
punishment, praise or dispraise, merit or demerit. I 
now therefore proceed, 

II. To consider whether Christ, in his holy behaviour 
on earth, was not thus a moral agent, subject to com 
mands, promises, &cc. 

Dr. Whitby very often speaks of what lie calls a free 
dom ad utrumlibet, without necessity, as requisite to law 
and commands ; and speaks of necessity as entirely in 
consistent with injunctions and prohibitions. But yet we 
read of Christ s being the subject of the commands of his 
Father, Job x. 18, and xv. 10. And Christ tells us, 
that every thing that he said, or did, was in compliance 
with commandments he had received of the Father, John 
xii. 49, 50 ; and xiv. 31. And we often read of Christ s 
obedience to his Father s commands, Rom. v. l9. Phil. 
ii. 18. Heb. v. 8. 

The forementioried writer represents promises offered 
as motives to persons to do their duty, or a being moved 
and induced by promises, as utterly inconsistent with a 
state wherein persons have not a liberty ad utrumlibct, 
but are necessarily determined to one. (See particular 
ly, p. 298, and 311.) But the thing which this writer 
asserts, is demonstrably false, if the Christian religion be 
true. If there be any truth in Christianity or the holy 
Scriptures, the Man Christ Jesus had his Will infalli 
bly, unalterably, and unfrustrably determined to good 
and that alone . but yet he had promises of glorious re 
wards made to him, on condition of his preserving in 
and perfecting the work which God hath appointed Him 
Isa. liii. 10, 11,12. Psa/m ii. and ex. Isa. xlix. 7, 
8,9. In Luke xxii. 2*, 29, Christ says to his dis- 
cipbs, t4 Ye are they which have continued with me in 
my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as 
my Father hath appointed unto me." The word most pro 
perly signifies to appoint by covenant, or promise. The 
plain meaning of Christ s words is this: - -is you have 
partook of my temptations and trials, and have been steel 
iest, and have overcome ; I promise to make you parta- 

172 Christ s Righteousness [Part Ilf. 

kers of my reward, and to give you a kingdom ; as the 
Father hath promised me a kingdom for continuing sted- 
fast, and overcoming those trials."" And the words are 
well explained by those in Hev. Hi. 21. " To him that 
overcometh, will i grant to sit with me on my throne ; 
even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father 
in his throne. " And Christ had not only promises of 
glorious success and rewards made to his obedience and 
sufferings, but the Scriptures plainly represent Him as 
using these promises for motives and inducements to obey 
and suffer; and particularly that promise of a kingdom 
which the Father hath appointed Him, or sitting with 
the Father on his throne; as in Heb. xii. 1, 2 9 u Let us 
lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth easily 
beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set 
before us. looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher 
of our faith ; who for the joy that was set before Him, 
endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down 
on the right hand of the throne of God. 

And how strange would it be to hear any Christian 
assert, that the holy and excellent temper and behaviour 
of Jesus Christ, and that obedience, which he performed 
tinder such great trials, was not virtuous or praise- wor 
thy ; because his will was not free ad utrumque, to either 
holiness or sin, but was unalterably determined to one ; 
that, upon this account, there is no virtue at all in all 
Christ s humility, meekness, patience, charity, forgive 
ness of enemies, contempt of the world, heavenly-mind- 
edness, submission to the will of God, perfect obedience 
to his commands (though He was obedient unto death, 
even the death of the cross) hisgreat compassion to the 
afflicted, his unparalleled love to mankind, his faithful 
ness to God and man, under such great trials ; his pray 
ing for his enemies, even when nailing Him to the cross ; 
that virtue, when applied to these things, is but an 
-empty name ; that, there was no merit in any of these 
things ; that is, that Christ was worthy of nothing at all 
on account of them, worthy of no reward, no praise, no 
honour, or respect from God or man ; because his will 

Sect. II.] Prattt tvortteft Rewardable, Sfc. 173 

was not indifferent, and free either to these thing s or 
the contrary ; but under such a strong inclination or bias 
to the things that were excellent, as made it impossible 
that he should choose the contrary ; that upon this ac 
count (to use Dr Whitby s language) it would be sensibly 
unreasonable that human nature should be rewarded for 
any of these things. 

According to this doctrine, that creature who is evi 
dently set forth in Scripture as \\\Q first born of every 
creature^ as having in all things the preeminence^ and as 
the highest of all creatures in virtue, honour, arid wor 
thiness of esteem, praise, and glory, on the account of 
his virtue, is less worthy of reward or praise than the 
very least of saints ; yea, no more worthy than a clock 
or mere machine, that is purely passive, and moved by 
natural necessity. 

If we judge by scriptural representations of things, 
we have reason to suppose that Christ took on him our 
nature, and dwelt with us in this world, in a suffering 
state, not only to satisfy for our sins, but that He, being 
in our nature and circumstances, and under our trials, 
might be our most fit and proper example, leader, and 
captain, in the exercise of glorious and victorious virtue, 
and might be a visible instance of the glorious end and 
reward of it ; that we might see in Him the beauty, 
amiableness, true honour and glory, and exceeding be 
nefit of that virtue, which it is proper for us human beings 
to practice ; and might thereby learn and be animated to 
seek the like glory and honour, and to obtain the like 
glorious reward. See Heb. ii 9 14, with v. 8, 9, and 
xii. 1, 2, 3. John xv. 10. Rom viii. 17. 2 1 im. ii. 
11 ,12. 1 Pet. ii. 19, 20, and iv. 13. But if there 
was nothing of any virtue or merit, or worthiness of any 
reward, glory, praise, or commendation at all in all that 
He did, because it was all necessary, and He could not 
help it, then how is there any thing so proper to animate 
and incite us free creatures by patient continuance in 
well-doing, to seek for honour, glory, and virtue ? 


1 74 Christ s Righteousness [Part III. 

God speaks of himself as peculiarly well-pleased with 
the righteousness of this servant of his. Isa. xlii. 21. 
" The Lord is well-pleased for his righteousness sake." 
The sacrifices of old are spoken of as a sweet savour to 
God ; hut the obedience of Christ as far more acceptable 
than they. Psalm xl, 6, 7. " Sacrifice and offering 
Thou didst not desire : Mine ear hast thou opened 
[as thy servant performing willing obedience ;] burnt- 
offering and sin-offering hast thou not required : then, 
said I, Lo, I come [as a servant that cheerfully answer* 
the calls of his master :] I delight to do thy will, O my 
God, and thy law is within mine heart !" Matt. xvii. 5. 
" This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." 
And Christ tells us expressly, that the Father loves him 
for that wonderful instance of his obedience, his volun 
tary yielding himself to death, in compliance with his 
Father s command, John x. 17, 18. " Therefore, doth 
my Father love me, because I lay down my life : No 
man taketh it from me ; but I lay it down of myself. 
This commandment received I of my Father." 

If there was no merit in Christ s obedience unto death, 
if it was not worthy of praise, and of the most glorious 
rewards, the heavenly hosts were exceedingly mistaken, 
by the account that is given of them, in B-ev. v. 8 12 : 
" The four beasts and the fbur-and- twenty elders fell ( down 
before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and 
golden vials full of odours ; and they sung a new song, 
saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open 
the seals thereof; for thou wast slain. And I beheld, 
and I heard the voice of many angels round about the 
throne, and the beasts, and the elders, and the number 
of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thou 
sands of thousands, saying, with a loud voice, Worthy 
is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, 
and wisdom > and strength, and honour, and glory, and 

Christ speaks of the eternal life which he was to re 
ceive, as the reward of his obedience to the Father s 
commandments, John xii. 4:9, 50. "I have not spokea 

Sect. II. J Praise- worthy, Rewardable, &c\ 175 

of myself; but the Father which sent me. He gave 
me a commandment what I should say, and what I should 
speak : and I know that his commandment is life ever 
lasting : whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Fa 
ther said unto me, so I speak. 11 God promises to divide 
him a portion with the great, &c. for his being his right 
eous Servant, for his glorious virtue under such great 
trials and afflictions. Isa. liii. 11, 12. " He shall see 
the travail of his soul and be satisfied : by his knowledge 
shall my righteous Servant justify many ; for he shall 
bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a 
portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with 
the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death. 11 
The Scriptures represent God as rewarding Him far 
above all his other Servants. Phil. ii. 7, 8, 9. " Ho 
took on Him the form of a servant, and was made in 
the likeness of men ; and being fouud in fashion as a 
man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto 
death, even the death of the cross ; wherefore GOD also 
hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name above 
every name. Psalm xlv. 7. " Thou lovest righteous 
ness, and hatest wickedness; therefore God, thy God, 
hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy 
fellows . 11 

There is no room to pretend, that the glorious bene 
fits bestowed in consequence of Christ 1 ** ohedience, are 
not properly of the nature of a reward. What is a re 
ward, in the most proper sense, but a benefit bestowed 
in consequence of something morally excellent in quali 
ty or behaviour, in testimony of well-pleasedness in that 
moral excellency, and respect, and favour on that ac 
count ? If we consider the nature of a reward most 
strictly, and make the utmost of it, and add to the 
things contained in this description, proper merit or 
worthiness, and the bestowment of the benefit in con 
sequence of a promise, still it will he found, there is no 
thing belonging to it ; but that the Scripture is most 
express as to its belonging to the glory bestowed on 
Christ after his sufferings ; as appears from what has 

175 Christ s Righteousness Part III. 

been already observed : there was a glorious benefit be 
stowed in consequence of something morally excellent, 
being called Righteousness and Obedience, there was 
great favour, love, and well-pleasedness for this right 
eousness and obedience in the Bestower ; there was 
proper merit, or worthiness, of the benefit, in the obe 
dience ; it was bestowed in fulfilment of promises made 
to that obedience ; and was bestowed therefore, or be 
cause he had performed that obedience. 

I may add to all these things, that Jesus Christ 
while here in the flesh, was manifestly in a state of trial* 
The last Adam, as Christ is called (1 Cor. xv. 45. 
Horn. v. 14) taking on Him the human nature, and sa 
the form of a servant, and being under the law, to stand 
and act for us, was put into a state of trial, as the first 
Adam was. Dr Whitby mentions these three things as 
evidences of persons being in a state of trial (on the 
Tive Points, p, 2J8, 209) namely, their afflictions be 
ing spoken of as their trials or temptations, their being 
the subjects of promises, and their being exposed to Sa 
tan s temptations. But Christ was apparently the sub 
ject of each of these. Concerning promises made to 
Him, I have spoken already. The difficulties and afflic 
tions He met with, in the course of his obedience, are 
called his temptations or trials. Luke xxii. 28. " Ye 
are they which have continued with me in my tempta 
tions or trials. 1 Heb. ii. 18. "For in that he him- 
self hath suffered being tempted (or tried) He is able to 
succour them that are tempted." And chap. iv. 15. 
We have not an high-priest, which cannot be touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was in all points 
tempted like as we are, yet without sin--" And as to 
his being tempted by Satan, it is what none will dis 

Sect. III.] Of the Inability and Sin of such 1 77 


The Case of such as are given up of God to Sin, 
and of fallen man in general, proves moral 
necessity and inability to be consistent with 

WHilby asserts freedom, not only from co- action, 
but necessity* to be essential to any thing deserv 
ing the name of Sin, and to an action s being culpable : 
in these words (Discourse on Five Points, edit. 3, p. 
318.) " If they be thus necessitated, then neither their 
sins of omission, or commission could deserve that name ; 
it being essential to the nature of sin, according to St 
Austins definition, that it be an action a quo liberum est 
abstinere. Three things seem plainly necessary to make 
an action or omission culpable; 1. That it be in our 
power to perform or forbear it ; for as Origen, and all 
the fathers say, No man is blame-worthy for not doing 
what he could not do ;" and elsewhere the Dr insists, 
that " when any do evil of necessity, what they do is no 
vice, that they are guilty of no fault*, are worthy of no 
blame, dispraisef, or dishonour j ; but are unblameable. 
If these things are true, in Dr Whitby s sense of 
necessity, they will prove all such to be blameless who 
are given up of God to sin, in what they commit after 
they are thus given up : that there is such a thing as 
men s being judicially given up to sin, is certain, if the 
Scripture rightly informs us, such a thing being often 
there spoken of; as in Psalm Ixxxi. 12. " So I gave 
them up to their own hearts lust, and they walked in 
their own counsels." Acts vii. 42- " Then God turn 
ed, and gave them up to worship the host of Heaven/* 

* Discourse on Five Points, p. 347, 360, 3G1, 37T. 
t Ibid. 303, 326 , 329, and many other places, 
Ibid. 371. Ibid. 304,361. 

17S As are given up to Sin. [Part III. 

Rom. i. 24. " Wherefore, God also gave them up to 
uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to 
dishonour their own bodies between themselves." Ver. 
26. " For this cause God gave them up to vile affec 
tions." Ver. 28. " And even as they did not like to 
retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to 
a reprobate mind, to do those things that are not con 

It is needless to stand particularly to inquire what 
God s giving men up to their own hearts lusts signifies : 
it is sufficient to observe, that hereby is certainly, meant 
God s so ordering or disposing things, in some respect 
or other, either by doing or forbearing to do, as that 
the consequence should be men s continuing in their sins. 
So much as men are given up o, so much is the conse 
quence of their being given up, whether that be less or 
more. If God does not order thing* so by action or 
permission, that sin will be the consequence, then the 
event proves that they are not given up to that conse 
quence. If good be the consequence, instead of evil, 
then God s mercy is to be acknowledged in that good ; 
which mercy must be contrary to God s judgment in 
giving up to evil. If the event must prove that they 
are given up to evil as the consequence, then the persons, 
who are the subjects of this judgment, must be the sub 
jects of such an event, and so the event is necessary. 

If not only co-action, but all necessity, will prove men 
blameless, then Judas was blameless, after Christ had 
given him over, and had already declared his certain 
damnation, and that he should vtrily betray him. He 
was guilty of no sin in betraying his Master, on this 
supposition ; though his so doing is spoken of by Christ 
as the most aggravated sin, more heinous than the sin 
of Pilate in crucifying Him : and the Jews in Egypt, 
in Jeremiah s time, were guilty of no sin, in their not 
worshipping the true God, aft r God had " sworn by 
jus great name, that his name should be no more named 
in the mouth of any man of Judab, in all the land of 
Egypt/ Jer. xliv. 26. 

Sect. III.] As are given up to Sin. 179 

Dr Whitby (Discourse on Five Points, p. 502, 303,) 
denies that men in this world are ever so given up by 
God to sin, that their wills should be necessarily deter 
mined to evil ; though he owns, that hereby it may be 
come exceeding difficult for men to do good, having a 
strong bent and powerful inclination to what is evil. But if 
we should allow the case to be just as he represents, the 
judgment of giving up to sin will no better agree with 
his notions of that liberty, which is essential to praise or 
blame, than if we should suppose it to render the avoid 
ing of sin impossible ; for if an impossibility of avoiding 
sin wholly excuses a man, then, for the same reason, its 
being difficult to avoid it, excuses him in part; and this 
just in proportion to the degree of difficulty If the 
influence of moral impossibility or inability be the same, 
to excuse persons in not doing, or not avoiding any thing, 
as that of natural inability (which is supposed), then un 
doubtedly, in like manner, moral difficulty has the same 
influence to excuse with natural difficulty. But all al 
low, that natural impossibility wholly excuses, and also 
that natural difficulty excuses in part, and makes the 
act or omission less blameable in proportion to the diffi 
culty. All natural difficulty, according to the plainest 
dictates of the li^ht of nature, excuses in some degree, 
so that the neglect is not so blameable as if there had 
been no difficulty in the case : and so the greater the 
difficulty is, still the more excusable, in proportion to 
the increase of the difficulty. And as natural impossi 
bility wholly excuses and excludes all blame, so the 
nearer the difficulty approaches to impossibility, still 
the nearer a person is to blamelessness in proportion to 
approach. And if the case of moral impossibility or ne 
cessity, be just the same with natural necessity or co- 
action, as to influence to excuse a neglect, then also, for 
the same reason, the case of natural difficulty does not 
differ in influence to excuse a ncglrct from moral diffi 
culty, arising from a strong- bias or bent to evil, such as 
Dr ^Whitby owns in the case of those that are given up 
to their own hearts lusts. So that the fault of such per- 

180 Of the Inability and Sin of such [Part III. 

sons must be lessened, in proportion to the difficulty and 
approach to impossibility. If ten degrees of moral dif 
ficulty make the action quite impossible, and so wholly 
excuse, then if there be nine degrees of difficulty, the 
person is in great part excused, and is nine degrees in 
ten less blame-worthy, than- if there had been no diffi 
culty at all ; and he has but one degree of blame-wor 
thiness. The reason is plain, on Arminian principles ; 
viz. because as difficulty, by antecedent bent and bias on 
the will, is increased, liberty of indifference arid self- 
determination in the will is diminished : so much hin 
drance and impediment is there in the way of the will s 
acting freely, by mere self-determination. And if ten 
degrees of such hindrance take away all such liberty, 
then nine degrees take away nine parts in ten, and leave 
but one degree of liberty. And therefore there is but 
one degree of blameableness, cceteris paribus, in the ne 
glect ; the man being no further blameable in what he 
does or neglects, than he has liberty in that affair: for 
blame or praise, say they, arises wholly from a good use 
or abuse of liberty. 

From all which it follows, that a strong bent and bias 
one way, and difficulty of going the contrary, never 
causes a person to be at all more exposed to sin, or any 
thing blameable : because, as the difficulty. is increased, 
so much the less is required and expected. J hough in 
one respect, exposedness to sin or fault is increased, viz. 
by an increase or exposedness to the evil action or omis 
sion ; yet it is diminished in another respect, to balance 
it ; namely, as the sinfulness or blameableness of the ac 
tion or omission is diminished in the same proportion. 
So that, on the whole, the affair, as to exposedness to 
guilt or blame, is left just as it was. 

To illustrate this, let us suppose a scale of a balance 
to be intelligent, and a free agent, and indued with a 
self-moving power, by virtue of which it could act and 
produce effects to a certain degree, ex. gr to move it- 
?3lf up or down with a force equal to a weight of ten 

Sect. III.] As are given up to Shi. 181 

pounds ; and that it might therefore be required of it, 
in ordinary circumstances, to move itself down with that 
force ; for which it has power and full liberty, and there 
fore would be blame-worthy if it failed of it. But then 
let us suppose a weight of ten pounds to be put in the 
opposite scale, which in force entirely counter-balances 
its self- moving 1 power, and so renders it impossible for 
it to move down at all ; and therefore wholly excuses it 
from any such motion. But if we suppose there to be 
only nine pounds in the opposite scale, this renders its 
motion not impossible, but yet more difficult ; so that 
it can now only move down with the force of one pound: 
but, however, this is all that is required of it under these 
circumstances ; it is wholly excused from nine parts of 
its motion ; and if the scale, under these circumstances, 
neglects to move, and remains at rest, all that it will be 
blamed for, will be its neglect of that one tenth part of 
its motion ; which it had as much liberty and advantage 
for, as in usual circumstances it has for the greater mo 
tion, which in such a case would be required. So that 
this new difficulty does not at all increase its exposed- 
ness to any thing blame-worthy. 

Thus the very supposition of difficulty in the way of 
a man s duty, or proclivity to sin, through a being given 
up to hardness of heart, or indeed by any other means 
whatsoever, is an inconsistence, according to Dr Wfiit- 
bifs notions of liberty, virtue and vice, blame and praise. 
The avoiding sin and blame, and the doing what is 
virtuous and praise-worthy, must be always equally easy. 

Dr Wkilb^s notion of liberty, obligation, virtue, sin, 
&c. led him into another great inconsistence. He abun 
dantly insists, that necessity is inconsistent with the 
nature of sin, or fault. He sa_ys, in the forementioned 
treatise, p. 14. " Who can blame a person for doing 
what he could not help ?"" And, p. 15. " Jt being 
sensibly unjust to punish any man for doing that which: 
was never in his power to avoid." And, in p. 34 i, to 
confirm his opinion, he quotes one of the Father s say- 

182 Of the Inability and Sin of such [Part III. 

ing, " Why doth God command, if man hath no free-will 
and power to obey ?" And again, in the same and the 
next page, " Who will not cry out, that it is folly to com 
mand him that hath not liberty to do what is command 
ed ; and that it is unjust to condemn him that has it not 
in his power to do what is required ?" And, in p. 373, 
he cites another saying, "A law is given to him that can 
turn to both parts ;" i. e. " obey or transgress it : but no 
law can be against him who is bound by nature." 

Yet the same Dr Whilby asserts, that fallen man is 
not able to perform perfect obedience. In p. 105, he has 
these words : " The nature of Adam had power to con 
tinue innocent, and without sin ; whereas, it is certain 
our nature never had so. 11 But if we have not power 
to continue innocent and without sin, then sin is incon 
sistent with necessity, and we may he sinful in that which 
we have not power to avoid ; and those things cannot be 
true, which he asserts elsewhere, namely, * That if we 
be necessitated, neither sins of omission nor commission, 
would deserve that name," p. 348. If we have it not 
in our power to be innocent, then we have it not in ouf 
power to be blameless : and if so, we are under a neces 
sity of being blame-worthy. And how does this consist 
with what he so often asserts, that necessity is inconsis 
tent with blame or praise ? If we have it not in our 
power to perform perfect obedience to all the commands 
of God, then we are under a necessity of breaking some 
commands; in some degree: having no power to perform 
so much as is commanded. And if so, why does he cry 
out of the unreasonableness and folly of commanding be 
yond what men have power to do ? 

Arminians in general are very inconsistent with them 
selves in what they say of the inability of fallen man in 
this respect. They strenuously maintain, that it would 
be unjust in God to require any thing of us beyond our 
present power and ability to perform ; and also hold, that 
we are now unable to perform perfect obedience, and 
that Christ died to satisfy for the imperfections of our 
nbedience, and has made way, that our imperfect obe- 

Sect. III.] As are given up to Sin. 183 

dience might be accepted instead of perfect : wherein 
they seem insensibly to run themselves into the grossest 
inconsistence. For (as I have observed elsewhere) 
they hold, that God, in mercy to mankind, has abolished 
that rigorous constitution or law, that they were under 
originally ; and instead of it, has introduced a more mild 
constitution, and put us under a new law, which requires 
no more than imperfect, sincere obedience, in compliance 
with our poor, infirm, impotent circumstances since the 

Now, how can these things be made consistent? I 
would ask, what law these imperfections of our obedience 
are a breach of ? If they are a breach of no law, that 
we were ever under, then they are not sins. And if 
they be not sins, what need of Christ s dying to satisfy 
for them ? But if they are sins, and the breach of some 
law, what law was it ? They cannot be a breach of their 
new law ; for that requires no other than imperfect obe 
dience, or obedience with imperfections : and therefore 
to have obedience attended with imperfections, is no 
breach of it , for it is as much as it requires. And they 
cannot be a breach of their old law ; for that, they say, 
is entirely abolished ; and we never were under it. 
They say, it would not be just in God to require of us 
perfect obedience, because it would not be just to require 
more than we can perform, or to punish us for failing of 
it. And, therefore, by their own scheme, the imper 
fections of our obedience do not deserve to be punished. 
What need therefore of Christ s dying to satisfy for 
them ? What need of his suffering, to satisfy for that 
which is no fault, and in its own nature deserves no suf 
fering? What need of Christ s dying, to purchase that 
our imperfect obedience should be accepted, when, ac 
cording to their scheme, it would be unjust in itself that 
any other obedience than imperfect should be required ? 
What need of Christ s dying to make way for God s ac 
cepting such an obedience, as it would be unjust in Him 
not to accept ? Is there any need of Christ s drying, to 

184 Commands consistent [Part III. 

prevail with God not to do unrighteously ? If it be said, 
that Christ died to satisfy that old law for us, that so we 
might not be under it, but that there might be room for 
our being under a more mild law, still I would inquire, 
what need of Christ s dying, that we mi^ht not be under 
a law which, by their principles, it would be in itself 
unjust that we should be under, whether Christ had died 
or no, because, in our present state, we are not able to 
keep it ? 

So the Arminifins are inconsistent with themselves,, 
not only in what they say of the need of Christ s satis 
faction to atone for those imperfections which we cannot 
avoid, but also in what they say of the grace of God, 
granted to enable men to perform the sincere obedience 
of the new law. " I grant (says Dr Stebbmg*) indeed, 
that by reason of original sin, we are utterly disabled 
for the performance of the condition, without new grace 
from God. But I say then, that he gives such a grace 
to all of us, by which the performance of the condition 
is truly possible : and upon this ground he may and doth 
most righteously require it. 1 If Dr Stebbwg intends 
to speak properly, by grace he must mean that assistance 
which is of grace, or of free favour and kindness. But 
yet in the same place he speaks of it as very unreason 
able, unjust, and cruel, for God to require that as the 
condition of pardon, what is become impossible by ori 
ginal sin. If it be so, what grace is there in giving as 
sistance and ability to perform the condition of pardon ? 
Or why is that called by the name of grace, that is an 
absolute debt, which God is bound to bestow r , and which 
it would be unjust and cruel in Him to withhold, seeing 
he requires that, as the condition oj pardon, which he 
cannot perform without it ? 

* Treatise on the Operation of the Spirit. Second Edit. p.l 12, US, 

Sect. IV.] With Moral Inability. 185 


Command and Obligation to Obedience, consis 
tent with Moral Inability to Obey. 

IT being so much insisted on by Arminian writers, 
that necessity is inconsistent with law or command, 
and particularly, that it is absurd to suppose God by his 
command should require that of men which they are un 
willing to do ; not allowing in this case for any differ 
ence that there is between natural and moral inability ; 
I would therefore now particularly consider this mat 

For the greater clearness, I would distinctly lay down 
the following things : 

I. The will itself, and not only those actions which 
are the effects of the will, is the proper object of precept 
or command. This is, such or such a state or acts of 
men s wills is, in many cases, properly required of them 
by commands ; and not only tho.se alterations in the 
state of their bodies or minds that are the consequences 
of volition. This is most manifest ; for it is the soul 
only that is properly and directly the subject of precepts 
or commands, that only being capable of receiving or 
perceiving commands. The motions or state of the body 
are that of command, only as they are subject to the soul, 
and connected with its acts. But now the soul has no 
other faculty whereby it can, in the most direct and pro 
per sense, consent, yield to, or comply with any com 
mand, but the faculty of the will; and it is by this fa 
culty only that the soul can directly disobey, or refuse 
compliance : for the very notions Q consenting, yielding, 
accepting, complying, refusing^ rejecting, ^c. are, ac 
cording to the meaning of the terms, nothing but cer 
tain acts of the will. Obedience, in the primary nature 
of it, is the submitting and yielding of the will of one 
to the will of another. Disobedience is the not coa- 


186 Command consistent [Part III. 

senting, not complying- of the will of the commanded to 
the manifested will of the commander. Other acts that 
are not the acts of the will, as certain notions of the body 
and alterations in the soul, are obedience or disobedience 
only indirectly, as they are connected with the state or 
actions of the will, according to an established law of 
nature. So that it is manifest the will itself may be re 
quired : and the being of a good will is the most proper, 
direct, and immediate subject of command; and if this 
cannot be prescribed or required by command or precept, 
nothing can , for other things can be required no other 
wise than as they depend upon, and are the fruits of a 
good will. 

Carol. 1. If there be several acts of the will, or a 
series of acts, one following another, and one the effect 
of another, the first and determining act is properly the 
subject of command, and not only the consequent acts 
which are dependent upon it. Yea, it is this more es 
pecially, which is that which command or precept has a 
proper respect to ; because it is this act that determines 
the whole affair. In this act, the obedience or disobe 
dience lies in a peculiar manner; the consequent acts 
being all subject to it, and governed and determined by 
it. This determining governing act must be the proper 
object of precept, or none. 

CoroL 2. It also follows, from what has been observed, 
that if there be any sort of act or exertion of the soul, 
prior to all free acts of the will, or acts of choice in the 
case, directing and determining what the acts of the will 
shall be, that act or exertion of the soul cannot proper 
ly be subject to any command or precept, in any respect 
whatsoever, either directly or indirectly, immediately or 
remotely. Such acts cannot be subject to commands di- 
recily, because they are no acts of the will , being, by 
the supposition, prior to all acts of the will, determining 
tmd giving rise to all its acts : they not being acts of the 
will, there can be in them no consequent to, or compli 
ance with any command. Neither can they be subject 
to command or precept indirectly or rcmvidy j for they 

Sect. IV.] with Moral Inability. 187 

are not so much as the effects or consequences of the will, 
being prior to all its acts. So that if there be any 
ohedience in that original act of the soul, determining 
all volition, it is an act of obedience wherein the will has 
no concern at all, it preceding 1 every act of the will. 
And, therefore, if the soul either obeys or disobeys in 
this act, it is wholly voluntarily ; there is no willing obe 
dience or rebellion, no compliance or opposition of the 
will in the affair ; and what sort of obedience or rebel 
lion is this ? 

Thus the Arminian notion of the freedom of the will 
consisting in the soul s determining its own acts of the 
will, instead of being essential to moral agency, and to 
man s being the subject of moral government, is utterly 
inconsistent with it ; for if the soul determines all its acts 
of will, it is therein subject to no command or moral go 
vernment, as has been now observed ; because its original 
determining act is no act of will or choice, it being prior, 
by the supposition, to every act of the will ; and the soul 
cannot be the subject of command in the act of the will 
itself, which depends on the foregoing determining act, 
and is determined by it ; inasmuch as this is necessary, 
being the necessary consequence and effect of that prior 
determining act which is not voluntarily. Nor can the 
man be the subject of command or government in his ex 
ternal actions ; because these are ail necessary, being the 
necessary effects of. the acts of the will themselves. So 
that mankind, according to this scheme, are subjects of 
command or moral government in nothing at all ; and all 
their moral agency is entirely excluded^ and no room for 
virtue or vice in the world. 

So that it is the Arminian scheme, and not the scheme 
of the Caliinists., that is utterly inconsistent with moral 
government, and with all use of laws, precepts, prohibi 
tions, promises, or threatenings. Neither is there any 
way whatsoever to make their principles consist with 
these things. For if it be said, that there is no prior 
determining act of the soul, preceding the acts of the 
will, but that volitions are events that ctine to pass by 

188 Commands consistent [Part III. 

pure accident, without any determining" cause, this is 
most palpably inconsistent with all use of laws and pre 
cepts ; for nothing is more plain than that laws can be 
ef no use to direct and regulate perfect accident ; which, 
by the supposition of its being 1 pure accident, is in no 
case regulated by any thing preceding ; but happens, 
this way or that, perfectly by chance, without any cause 
or rule. The perfect uselessness of laws and precepts 
also follows from the Armwian notion of indifference, as 
essential to that liberty which is requisite to virtue or 
vice. For the end of laws is to bind to one side ; and 
the end of commands is to turn the will one way ; and 
therefore they are of no use, unless they turn or bias the 
will that way. But if liberty consists in indifference, 
then their biassing the will one way only destroys liberty, 
as it puts the will out of equilibrium. So that the will, 
having a bias, through the influence of binding law laid 
upon it, is not wholly left to itself to determine which 
way it will, without influence from without. 

II. Having shewn that the will itself, especially in 
those acts which are original, leading and determining 
in any case, is the proper subject of precept and com 
mand, and not only those alterations in the body, &c. 
which are the effects of the will ; I now proceed, in the 
second place, to observe, that the very opposition or de 
fect of the will itself, in that act, which is its original 
and determining act in the case : I say, the wilfs oppo 
sition in this act to a thing proposed or commanded, or 
its failing of compliance, implies a moral inability to that 
thing ; or, in other words, whenever a command requires 
a certain state or act of the will, and the person command 
ed, notwithstanding the command and the circumstances 
under which it is exhibited, still finds his will opposite 
or wanting, in that, belonging to its state or acts, which 
is original and determining in the affair, that man is 
morally unable to obey that command. 

This is manifest from what was observed in the first 
pnrt, concerning the nature of Moral Inability, as dis 
tinguished from natural ; where it was observed, that a 

Sect. IV.] with Moral Inability 189 

man may then be said to be morally unable to do a thing, 
when he is under the influence of prevalence or a con 
trary inclination, or has a want of inclination, under such 
circumstances and views. It is also evident, from what 
has been before proved, that the will is always, and in 
every individual act, necessarily determined by the strong 
est motive ; and so is always unable to go against the 
motive, which, all things considered, has now the great 
est strength and advantage to move the will. But not 
further to insist on these things, the truth of the position 
now laid down, viz. that when the will is opposite to, or 
failing of a compliance with a thing in its original deter 
mining inclination or act> it is not able to comply, appears 
by the consideration of these two things. 

1. The will, in the time of that diverse or opposite 
leading act or inclination, and when actually under the 
influence of it, is not able to exert itself to the contrary, 
to make an alteration, in order to a compliance. The 
inclination is unable to change itself; and that for this 
plain reason, that it is unaole to incline to change itself. 
Present choice cannot at present choose to be otherwise: 
for what would be at present to choose something diverse 
from what is at present chosen. If the will, all things 
now considered, inclines or chooses to go that way, then 
it cannot choose, all things now considered, to go the 
other way, and so cannot choose to be made to go the 
other way. To suppose that the mind is now sincerely 
inclined to change itself to a different inclination, is to 
suppose the mind is now truly inclined otherwise than it 
is now inclined. The will may oppose some future 
remote act that it is exposed to, but not its own present 

2. As it is impossible that the will should comply with 
the thing commanded, with respect to its leading act, by 
any act of its own, in the time of that diverse or opposite 
leading and original act, or after it has actually come 
under the influence of that determining choice or inclina 
tion ; so it is impossible it should be determined to a 
compliance by any foregoing act ; for, by the very sup- 

1QO Commands consistent [Part III. 

position, there is no foregoing act ; the opposite or non- 
complying act being that act which is original and deter 
mining in the case. Therefore, it must be so, that if 
this first determining act be found non-complying, on the 
proposal of the command, the mind is morally unable to 
obey. For to suppose it to be able to obey, is to sup 
pose it to be able to determine and cause its first deter 
mining act to be otherwise, and that it has power better 
to govern and regulate its first governing and regulating^ 
act, which is absurd ; for it is to suppose a prior act of 
the will, determining its first determining act ; that is, 
an act prior to the first, and leading and governing the 
original and governing act of all ; which is a contradic 

Here if it should be said, that although the mind has 
not any ability to will contrary to what it does will, in 
the original and leading act of the will, because there is 
supposed to be no prior act to determine and order it 
otherwise, and the will cannot immediately change itself, 
because it cannot at present incline to a change ; yet 
the mind has an ability for the present to forbear to pro 
ceed to action, and taking time for deliberation ; which 
may be an occasion of the change of the inclination. 

I answer, (I.) In this objection that seems to be for 
gotten, which was observed before, vis. that the deter 
mining to take the matter into consideration, is itself an 
act of the will ; and if this be all the act wherein the 
mind exercises ability and freedom, then this, by the 
supposition, must be all that can be commanded or re 
quired by precept. And if this act be the commanding 
act, then all that has been observed concerning the com 
manding act of the will remains true, that the very want 
of it is a moral inability to exert it, &c. (2.) We are 
speaking concerning the first and leading act of the will 
in the case, or about the affair ; and if a determining to 
deliberate, or, on the contrary, to proceed immediately 
without deliberating, be the first and leading act ; or 
whether it be or no, if there be another act before it, 
which determines that 5 or whatever be the original and 

Sect. IV.] with Moral Inability 

leading act, still the foregoing proof stands good that 
the non-compliance of the leading act implies moral ina 
bility to comply. 

If it should be objected, that these things make all 
moral inability equal, and suppose men morally unable 
to will, otherwise than they actually do will, in all cases, 
and equally so in every instance. 

In answer to this objection, I desire two things may 
be observed : First, That if by being equally unable 
be meant as really unable ; then, so far as the inability 
is merely moral, it is true, the will, in every instance, 
acts by moral necessity, and is morally unable to act 
otherwise, as truly and properly in one case as another ; 
as I humbly conceive, has been perfectly and abundant 
ly demonstrated by what has been said in the preceding 
part of this Essay. But yet, in some respect, the ina 
bility may be said to be greater in some instances than 
others ; though the man be truly unable (if moral ina 
bility can truly be called Inability) yet he may be fur 
ther from being able to do somethings than others. As 
it is in things, which men are naturally unable to do. 
A person, whose strength is no more than sufficient to 
lift the weight of one hundred pounds, is as truly and 
really unable to lift one hundred and one pounds as ten 
thousand pounds ; but yet he is further from being able 
to lift the latter weight than the former ; and so, ac 
cording to common use of speech, has a greater inabili 
ty for it. ^o it is in moral inability. A man is truly 
morally unable to choose contrary to a present inclina 
tion, which in the least degree prevails , or, contrary 
to that motive, which, all things considered, has strength 
and advantage now to move the will, in the least degree, 
superior to all other motives in view ; but yet he is fur 
ther from ability to resist a very strong habit and a vio 
lent and deeply rooted inclination, or a motive vastly 
exceeding all others in strength. And again : the ina 
bility may, in some respects, be called greater in some 
instances than others, as it may be more general and ex 
tensive to all acts of that kind. So men may be said to 

192 Commands consistent [Part III. 

be unable in a different sense, and to be further from 
moral ability, who have that moral inability which is 
general and habitual, than they who have only that ina 
bility which is occasional and particular*. Thus, in. 
cases of natural inability, he that is born blind may be 
said to be unable to see, in a different manner, and is, 
in some respects, further from being able to see than he 
whose sight is hindered by a transient cloud or mist. 

Besides, that which was observed in the first part of 
this discourse, concerning 1 the inability which attends a 
strong and settled habit should be here remembered ; viz. 
that fixed habit is attended with this peculiar moral ina 
bility, by which it is distinguished from occasional voli 
tion^ namely, that endeavours to avoid future volitions 
of that kind, which are agreeable to such a habit, much 
more frequently and commonly prove vain and insuffi 
cient. For though it is impossible there should be any 
true sincere desires and endeavours against a present 
volition or choice, yet there may be against volitions of 
that kind, when viewed at a distance. A person may 
desire and use means to prevent future exercises of a 
certain inclination , and in order to it, may wish the 
habit might be removed ; but his desires and endea 
vours may be ineffectual. The man may be said, in 
some sense to be unable ; yea, even as the wor.l unable 
is a relative term, and has relation to ineffectual endeav 
ours ; yet not with regard to present, but remote en 

Secondly, It must be borne in mind, according to 
what was observed before, that indeed no inability what 
soever, is merely moral, is properly called by the name of 
Inability ; and that in the strictest propriety of speech, a 
man may be said to have a thing in his power if he has 
it at his election ; and he cannot be said lo be unable to 
do a thing, when he can, if he now pleases, or whenever 
he has a proper, direct, and immediate desire for it. As 

* See this distinction of Moral Inability explained, in Part 1, 
Section iv. 

Sect. IV.] With Moral Inability. 193 

to those desires and endeavours that may be against the 
exercises of a strong habit, with regard to which men 
may be said to be unable to avoid those exercises, they 

are remote desires and endeavours in two respects 

First, As to time ; they are never against present voliti 
ons, but only against volitions of such a kind, when view 
ed at a distance. Secondly^ As to their nature ; these 
opposite desires are not directly and properly against the 
habit and inclination itself, or the volitions in which it is 
exercised ; for these, in themselves considered, are agree 
able : but against something else that attends them, or is 
their consequence; the opposition of the mind is levelled 
entirely against this ; the inclination or volitions them 
selves are not at all opposed directly, and for their own 
sake; but only indirectly and remotely on the account of 
something alien and foreign. 

III. Though the opposition of the will itself, or the 
very want of will to a thing commanded, implies a moral 
inability to that thing; yet, if it be, as has been already 
shewn, and that the being of a good state or act of will 
is a thing most properly required by command ; then, 
in some cases, such a state or act of will may properly 
be required, which at present is not, and which may also 
be wanting after it is commanded. And therefore those 
things may properly be commanded, which men have a 
moral inability for. 

Such a state, or act of the will, may be required by 
command, as does not already exist. For if that volition 
only may be commanded to be which already is, there 
could be no use of precept ; commands in all cases would 
be perfectly vain and impertinent ; and not only may 
such a will be required, as is wanting before the com 
mand is given, but also such as may possibly be wanting 
afterwards; such as the exhibition of the command may 
not be effectual to produce or excite. Otherwise, no 
such thing as disobedience to a proper and rightful com 
mand is possible in any case ; and there is no case sup- 
posable or possible, wherein there can be an excusable 

194 Commands consistent [Part III. 

or faulty disobedience ; which Arminians cannot affirm 
consistently with their principles ; for this makes obe 
dience to just and proper commands always necessary, and 
disobedience impossible. And so the Armiman would 
overthrow himself, yielding the very point we are upon 
which he so strenuously denies, viz. that law and com 
mand are consistent with necessity, 

If merely that inability will excuse disobedience, 
which is implied in the opposition or defect of inclina 
tion, remaining after the command is exhibited, then 
wickedness always carries that in it which excuses it. It 
is evermore so, that by how much the more wickedness 
there is in a man^s heart, by so much is his inclination to 
evil the stronger, and by so much the more, therefore, 
4ias he of moral inability to the good required. His mo 
ral inability, consisting in the strength of his evil incli 
nation, is the very thing wherein his wickedness consists, 
and yet, according to Arminian principles, it must be a 
thing inconsistent with wickedness ; and by how much 
the more he has of it, by so much is he the further from 

Therefore, on the whole, it is manifest, that moral 
inability alone (which consists in disinclination) never 
renders any thing improperly the subject matter of pre 
cept or command, and never can excuse any person in 
disobedience, or want of conformity to a command. 

Natural inability, arising from the want of natural 
capacity or external hindrance (which alone is properly 
called Inability) without doubt wholly excuses or makes 
a thing improperly the matter of command. If men are 
excused from doing or acting any good thing, supposed 
to be commanded, it must be through some defect or 
obstacle that is not in the will itself, but intrinsic to it ; 
either in the capacity of understanding, or body, or out 
ward circumstance?. 

Here two or three things may be observed, 

1. As two spiritual duties or acts, or any good thing 
in the state of imminent acts of the will itself, or of the 
affections (which are only certain modes of the exercise 

Sect. IV.] with Moral Inability*. 1Q5 

of the will) if persons are justly excused, it must be* 
through want of capacity in the natural faculty of un 
derstanding. Thus the same spiritual duties or holy af 
fections and exercises of heart, cannot be required of 
men, as may be of angels ; the capacity of understand 
ing being so much inferior. So men cannot be requir 
ed to love those amiable persons, whom they have had 
no opportunity to see, or hear of, or come to the know 
ledge of, in any way agreeable to the natural state and 
capacity of the human understanding. But the insuf 
ficiency of motives will not excuse, unless their being 
insufficient arises not from the moral state of the will, or 
inclination itself, but from the state of the natural un 
derstanding. The great kindness and generosity of 
another may be a motive insufficient to excite gratitude 
in the person that receives the kindness, through his 
vile and ungrateful temper : in this case, the insufficiency 
of the motive arises from the state of the will or feincli- 
nation of heart, and does not. at all excuse. But if this 
generosity is not sufficient to excite gratitude, being un 
known, there being no means of information adequate 
to the state and measure of the person s faculties, this 
insufficiency is attended with a natural inability > which 
entirely excuses. 

2. As to such motions of body or exercises and al 
terations of mind, which does not consist in the im 
minent acts or state of the will itself, but are supposed 
to be required as effects of the will, I say, in such sup 
posed effects of the will, in cases wherein there is no 
want of a capacity of understanding, that inability, and 
that only, excuses, which consists in want of connection 
between them and the will. If the will fully complies, 
and the proposed effect does not prove, according to the 
laws of Nature, to be connected with his volition, the 
man is perfectly excused : he has a natural inability to 
the thing required ; for the will itself, as has been ob 
served, is all that can be directly and immediately re 
quired by command; and other things only indirectly, 
as connected with the will. If therefore there can be a 

196 Commands consistent [Part III. 

full compliance of will, tlie person has done his duty ; 
and if other things do not prove to be connected with 
his volition, that is not owing to him. 

3. Both these kinds of natural inability that have been 
mentioned, and so all inability that excuses, may be re 
solved into one thing ; namely, want of natural capacity 
or strength ; eilher capacity of understanding or exter 
nal strength. For when there are external defects and 
obstacles, they would be no obstacles, were it not for 
the imperfection and limitations of understanding- and 

Corol. If things, for which men have a moral inabi 
lity, may properly be the matter of precept or command, 
then they may also of invitation and counsel. Com 
mands and invitations come very much to the same thing, 
the difference is only circumstantial ; commands are as 
much a manifestation of the- will of him that speaks as 
invitations, and as much testimonies of expectation of 
compliance. The difference between them lies in no 
thing that touches the affair in hand. The main differ 
ence between Command and Invitation consists in the 
inforcement of the will of him who commands or invites. 
In the latter it is his kindness, the goodness which his 
wiil arises from ; in the former it is his authority. But 
whatever be the ground of the will of him that speaks, 
or the enforcement of what he says, yet seeing neither 
his will nor expectation, is any more testified in the one 
case than the other ; therefore a person s being direct 
ed by invitation, is no more an evidence of insincerity 
in him that directs in manifesting either a will or ex 
pectation which he has not, then his being known to be 
morally unable to do what he is directed to by command. 
JSo that all this grand objection of Arminians against the 
inability of fallen men to exert faith in Christ, or to per 
form other spiritual gospel-duties, from the sincerity 
of God s counsels and invitations, must be without 

Sect. V.] What Willingness, Sfc. 191 


That Sincerity of Desires and Endeavours 
which is supposed to excuse in the Non-per 
formance of Things in themselves good, parti 
cularly considered. 

ITT is what is much insisted on by many, that som 
* men though they are not able to perform spiritua 
duties, such as repentance of sin, love to God, a cor 
dial acceptance of Christ as exhibited and offered in the 
gospel, &c. yet they may sincerely desire and endea 
vour these things, and therefore must be excused ; it be 
ing unreasonable to blame them for the omission of 
those things, which they sincerely desire and endeavour 
to do, but cannot do. 

Concerning this matter, the following things may be 
observed : 

1. What is here supposed, is a great mistake and 
gross absurdity ; even that men may sincerely choose and 
desire those spiritual duties of love, acceptance, choice, 
rejection, &c. consisting in the exercise of the will itself, 
or in the disposition and inclination of the heart, and vet 
not be able to perform or exert them. This is absurd ; 
because it is absurd to suppose that a man should direct 
ly, properly, and sincerely incline to have an inclination, 
which at the same time is contrary to his inclination ; for 
that is to suppose him not to be inclined to that which 
he is inclined to. If a man, in the state and acts of his 
will and inclination, does properly and directly fall in 
with those duties, he therein performs them ; for the 
duties themselves consist in that very thing: they con 
sist in the state and acts of the will being so formed and 
directed. If the soul properly and sincerely falls in with 
a certain proposed act of will or choice, the soul therein 
makes that choice its own. Even as when a movin- 

1Q8 What willingness and [Part III. 

body Tails in with a proposed direction of its motion, that 
is the same thing 1 as to move in that direction. 

2. That which is called a desire and willingness for 
those inward duties, in such as do not perform, has re 
spect to these duties only indirectly and remotely, and is 
improperly represented as a willingness for them ; not 
only because (as was observed before) it respects those 
good volitions only in a distant view, and with respect 
to future time \ but also because evermore, not these 
things themselves, but something 1 else that is alien and 
foreign is the object that terminates these volitions and 

A drunkard, who continues in his drunkenness, being 
under the power of a love and violent appetite to strong 
drink, and without any love to virtue ; but being also ex 
tremely covetous and close, and very much exercised and 
grieved at the diminution of his estate, and prospect of 
poverty, may in a sort desire the virtue of Temperance ; 
and though his present will is to gratify his extravagant 
appetite, yet he may wish he had a heart to forbear fu 
ture acts of intemperance, and forsake his excesses, 
through an unwillingness to part with his money : but 
still he goes on with his drunkenness ; his wishes and en 
deavours are insufficient and ineffectual. Such a man 
has no proper, direct, sincere willingness to forsake this 
vice and vicious deeds which belong to it : for he acts 
voluntarily in continuing to drink to excess; his desire 
is very improperly called a willingness to be temperate ; 
it is no true desire of that virtue ; for it is not that vir 
tue that terminates his wishes j nor have they any direct 
respect at all to it. It is only the saving his money, and 
avoiding poverty, that terminates and exhausts the whole 
strength of his desire. The virtue of Temperance is re 
garded only very indirectly and improperly, even as a 
necessary means of gratifying the vice of Covetousnesa, 

So a man of an exceeding corrupt and wicked heart, 
who has no love to God and Jesus Christ, but, on the 
contrary, being very profanely and carnally inclined, has 
the greatest distaste of the things of religion, and en- 

Sect. V.] Sincerity is no excuse. ]()() 

mity against them ; yet being of a family, that, from 
one generation to another, have most of them died in 
youth, of an hereditary consumption, and so having 
little hope of living longer ; and having been instructed 
in the necessity of a supreme love to Christ, and grati 
tude for his death and sufferings, in order to his salva 
tion from eternal misery ; if under these circumstances 
he should, through fear of eternal torments, wish he 
had such a disposition : but his profane and carnal 
heart remaining, he continues still in his habitual dis 
taste of and enmity to God and religion, and wholly 
without any exercise of that love and gratitude (as, 
doubtless, the very devils themselves, notwithstanding 
all the devilishness of their temper, would wish for a 
holy heart, if by that means they could get out of hell :) 
in this case, there is no sincere willingness to love 
Christ, and choose him as his chief good. These holy 
dispositions and exercises are not at ail the direct object 
of the will: they truly share no part of the inclination 
or desire of the soul ; but all is terminated on deliver 
ance from torment : and these graces and pious volitions, 
notwithstanding this forced consent, are looked upon 
undesirable ; as when a sick man desires a dose lie 
greatly abhors, to save his life. From these things it 

3. That this indirect willingness which has been 
spoken of, is riot that exercise of the will which the 
command requires ; but is entirely a different one ; 
being a volition of a different nature, and terminated al 
together on different objects j wholly falling short of 
that virtue of will, which the command has respect to. 

4-. Tliis other volition, which has only some indirect 
concern with the duty required, cannot excuse for the 
want of that good will itself, which is commanded; be 
ing not the thing which answers and fulfils the command, 
and being wholly destitute of the "virtue which the 
command seeks. 

Further to illustrate this matter: If a child has a 
most excellent father, that has ever treated him with 

200 What willingness and [Part ILL 

fatherly kindness and tenderness, and has every way, in 
the highest degree, merited his love and dutiful regard, 
being withal very wealthy ; hut the son is of so vile a dis 
position, that he inve.terately hates his father ; and yet, 
apprehending that his hatred of him is like to prove his 
ruin, by bringing him finally to poverty and abject cir 
cumstances, through his father s disinheriting him, or 
otherwise ; which is exceeding cross to his avarice and 
ambition ; he, therefore, wishes it were otherwise : but 
remaining under the invisible power of his vile and ma 
lignant disposition, he continues still in his settled hatred 
of his father. Now, if such a son^s indirect willingness 
lo have love and honour towards his father, at all acquits 
or excuses before God, for his failing of actually exer 
cising these dispositions towards him, which God requires, 
it must be on one of these accounts : (1.) Either that 
it answers and fulfils the command. But this it does not, 
by the supposition ; because the thing commanded, is 
love and honour to his worthy parent. If the command 
be proper and just, as is supposed, then it obliges to the 
thing commanded ; and so nothing else but that can an 
swer the obligation. 

Or, (<2 ) It must be at least because that virtue or 
goodness in his indirect willingness, that is equivalent 
to the virtue required ; and so balances or countervails 
it, and makes up for the want of it. But that also is con 
trary to the supposition. The willingness the son has 
merely from a regard to money and honour, has no good 
ness in it to countervail the want of the pious filial res 
pect required. 

Sincerity and reality, in that indirect willingness, 
which has been spoken of, does not make it the better. 
That which is real and hearty is often called sincere ; 
whether it be in virtue or vice. Some persons are sin 
cerely bad ; others are sincerely good ; and others may 
be sincere and hearty in things, which are in their own 
nature indifferent ; as a man may be sincerely desirous 
of eating when he is hungry. But a being sincere, 
hearty, and in good earnest, is no virtue, unless it be in 

Sect. V.] Sincerity is no excuse. 201 

a thing that is virtuous. A man may be sincere and 
hearty in joining a crew of pirates or a gang of robbers. 
When the devils cried out, arid besought Christ not to 
torment them, it was no mere pretence ; they were very 
hearty in their desires not to be tormented ; but this 
did not make their will or desires virtuous. And if 
men have sincere desires, which are in their kind and 
nature no better, it can be no excuse for the want of any 
required virtue. 

As a man s being 1 sincere in such an indirect desire or 
willingness to do his duty, as has been -mentioned, can 
not excuse for the want of performance ; so it is with 
Endeavours arising from such a willingness. The en 
deavours can have no more goodness in them than the 
will which they are the effect and expression of; and, 
therefore, however sincere and real, and however great 
a person s endeavours are ; yea, though they should be 
to the utmost of his ability ; unless the will which they 
proceed from be truly good and virtuous, they can be 
of no avail, influence, or weight to any purpose whatso 
ever, in a moral sense or respect. That which is not 
truly virtuous in God s sight, is looked upon, by Him, 
as good for nothing : and so can be of no value, weight, 
or influence in his account, to recommend, satisfy, ex 
cuse, or make up for any moral defect ; for nothing can 
counter-balance evil but good. If evil be in one scale, 
and we put a great deal into the other sincere and ear 
nest desires, and many and great Endeavours ; yet, if 
there be no real goodness in all, there is no weight in 
it ; and so it does nothing towards balancing the real 
weight, which is in the opposite scale. It is only like 
the substracting a thousand noughts from before a real 
number, which leaves the sum just as it was. 

Indeed such endeavours may have a negatively good 
influence. Those things which have no positive virtue, 
have no positive moral influence; yet they may be an 
occasion of persons avoiding some positive evils. As if 
a man were in the water with a neighbour that he had 
ill will to, who could not swim, holding him by his hand; 

202 What Willingness and [Part III. 

which neighbour was much in debt to him, and should 
be tempted to let him sink and drown ; but should re 
fuse to comply with the temptation ; not from love to 
his neighbour, but from the love of money, and because by 
his drowning 1 he should lose his debt; that which he 
does in preserving his neighbour from drowning-, is no 
thing good in the sight of God : yet hereby he avoids 
the greater guilt that would have been contracted, if he^ 
had designedly let his neighbour sink and perish. But 
when ArminianS) in their disputes with Calvinists, insist 
so much on sincere desires and endeavours, as what 
must excuse men, must be accepted of God, Sec. it is 
manifest they have respect to some positive moral weight 
or influence of those desires and endeavours. Accept 
ing, justifying, or excusing on the account of sincere 
honest endeavours (as they are called) and men s doing 
what they can, &c. has relation to some more value, 
something that is accepted as good, and as such, coun 
tervailing some defect. 

But there is a great and unknown deceit arising from 
the ambiguity of the phrase, Sincere Endeavours. In 
deed there is a vast indistinctness and unfixedness in 
most, or at least very many of the terms used to express 
things pertaining to moral and spiritual matters. Whence 
arise innumerable mistakes, strong prejudices, inextrica 
ble confusion, and endless controversy. 

The word sincere is most commonly used to signify 
something that is good : men are habituated to under 
stand by it the same as honest and upright ; which terms 
excite an idea of something good in the strictest and 
highest sense ; good in the sight of Him, who sees not 
only the outward appearance, but the heart. And there 
fore, men think that if a person be sincere., he will cer 
tainly be accepted. If it be said that any one is sin 
cere in his endeavours, this suggests to men s minds as 
much, as that his heart and will is good, that there is no 
defect of duty, as to virtuous inclination ; he honestly 
and uprightly desires and endeavours to do as he is re 
quired ; and this leads them to suppose that it would be 

Sect. V.] Sincerity is no excuse. 203 

very hard and unreasonable to punish him, only because 
he is unsuccesful in his endeavours, the thing- endeavour 
ed being beyond his power. Whereas it ought to be 
observed, that the word sincere has these different sig 

1. Sincerity, as the word is sometimes used, signifi 
es no more than reality of Will and Endeavour, with 
respect to any thing that is professed or pretended ; 
without any consideration of the nature of the principle 
or aim, whence this real Will and true Endeavour arises. 
If a man has some real desire to obtain a thing either 
direct or indirect, or does really endeavour after a thing, 
he is said sincerely to desire or endeavour it ; without 
any consideration of the goodness or virtuousness of the 
principle he acts from, or any excellency or worthiness 
of the end he acts for. Thus a man, who is kind to his 
neighbour s wife, who is sick and languishing, and very 
helpful in her case, makes a shew of desiring and endeav 
ouring her restoration to health and vigour ; and not 
only makes such a shew, but there is a reality in his 
pretence, he does heartily and earnestly desire to have 
her health restored, and uses his true and utmost en 
deavours for it; he is said sincerely to desire and en 
deavour it, because he does so truly or really; though 
perhaps the principle he acts from, is no other than a 
vile and scandalous passion; having lived in adultery 
with her, he earnestly desires to have her health and vi 
gour restored, that he may return to his crimnal plea 
sures with her. Or, 

2. By sincerity is meant, not merely a reality of Will 
and Endeavour of some sort or other, and from some con 
sideration or other, but a virtuous sincerity. That is, 
that in the performance of those particular acts that 
are the matter of virtue or duty, there be not only the 
matter, but the form and essence of virtue consisting in 
the aim that governs the act, and the principle exer 
cised in it. There is not only the reality of the act, that 
is as it were the body of the duty ; but also the soul 9 
which should properly belong to such a body. In this 

204 What Sincerity of Endeavours, ${c. [Part HI. 

sense, a man is said to be sincere, when he acts with a 
pure intention ; not from sinister views or bye ends : 
he not only in reality desires and seeks the thing- to be 
done or qualification to be obtained, for some end or other; 
but he wills the thing directly and properly, as neither 
forced nor bribed ; the virtue of the thing is properly 
the object of the will. 

In the former sense, a man is said to be sincere, in 
opposition to a mere pretence and shew of the particular 
thing to be done or exhibited, without any real desire or 
endeavour at all. In the latter sense a man is said to 
be sincere, in opposition to that shew of virtue there is 
in merely doing the matter of duty , without the reality 
of the virtue itself in the soul, and the essence of it, 
which there is a shew of. A man may be sincere in the 
former sense, and yet in the latter be in the sigh: of 
God, who searches the heart, a vile hypocrite. 

In the latter kind of sincerity, only, is there any thing 
truly valuable or acceptable in the sight of God. And 
this is the thing, which in Scripture is called sincerity, 
uprightness, integrity, truth in the inward parts, and a 
bting of a perfect heart. And if there be such a sin 
cerity, and such a degree of it as there ought to be, and 
there be any thing further that the man is not able to 
perform, or which does not prove to be connected with 
his sincere desires and endeavours, the man is wholly 
excused and acquitted in the sight of God ; his will 
shall surely be accepted for his deed ; and such a sincere 
will and endeavour is all that in strictness is required of 
him by any command of God. But as to the other kind 
of sincerity of desires and endeavours, it having no vir 
tue in it (as was observed before) can be of no avail 
before God, in any case, to recommend, satisfy, or ex 
cuse, and has no positive moral weight or influence 

Corol. 1. Hence it may be inferred, that nothing in 
the reason and nature of things appears from the con 
sideration of any moral weight of that former kind of 
sincerity, which has been spoken of, at all obliging us to 
believe or leading us to suppose that God has made any 

Sect. V.] Of Promises. 205 

positive promises of salvation, or grace, or any saving 
assistance, or any spiritual benefit whatsoever, to any 
desires, prayers, endeavours, striving 1 , or obedience of 
those who hitherto have no true virtue or holiness in 
their hearts ; though we should suppose all the sincerity, 
and the utmost degree of endeavour that is possible to 
be in a person without holiness. 

Some object against God s requiring, as the condition 
of salvation, those holy exercises which are the result of 
a supernatural renovation ; such as a supreme respect 
to Christ, love to God, loving holiness for its own sake, 
&c. that these inward dispositions and exercises arc 
above men s power, as they are by nature; and there 
fore that we may conclude, that when men are brought 
to be sincere in their endeavours, and do as well as they 
can, they are accepted ; and that this must be all that 
God requires in order to men s being received as the 
objects of his favour, and must be what God has appoint 
ed as the condition of salvation : concerning which, I 
would observe, that in such a manner of speaking of 
men s being accepted^ because they arc sincere, and do as 
well as they caw, there is evidently a supposition of some 
virtue, some degree of that which is truly good ; though 
it does not go so far as were to be wished. For if men 
do what they can, unless their so doing be from some 
good principle, disposition, or exercise of heart, some 
virtuous inclination or act of the will ; their so doing 
what they can, is in some respects, not a whit better 
than if they did nothing at all. In such a case, there is 
no more positive moral goodness in a man s doing what 
he can, than in a wind-mill s doing what it can ; because 
the action does not more proceed from virtue ; and there 
is nothing in such sincerity of endeavour or doing what 
we can, that should render it any more a proper or fit 
recommendation to positive favour and acceptance, or the 
condition of any reward or actual benefit, than doing 
nothing; for both the one and the other are alike no 
thing, as to any true moral weight or value. 

206 Indifference Inconsistent [Tart III. 

CoroL 2. Hence also it follows, there is nothing that 
appears in the reason and nature of things, which can 
justly lead us to determine that God will certainly give 
the necessary means of salvation, or some way or other 
bestow true holiness and eternal life on those Heathen 
who are sincere (in the sense above explained) in their 
endeavours to find out the will of the Deity, and to 
please him, according to their light, that they may es 
cape his future displeasure and wrath, and obtain hap 
piness in the future state, through his favour. 


Liberty of Indifference, not only not necessary 
to Virtue, but utterly inconsistent with it ; 
and all, either virtuous or Vicious Habits or 
Inclinations, inconsistent with Arminian No 
tions of Liberty and Moral Agency, 

TO suppose such a freedom of will as Arminians talk 
of, to be requisite to virtue and vice, is many ways 
contrary to common sense. 

If indifference belongs to liberty of will, as Arminians 
suppose, and it be essential to a virtuous action, that it 
be performed in a state of liberty, as they also suppose; 
it will follow, that it is essential to a virtuous action, that 
it be performed in a state of indifference, then doubtless 
jt must be performed in the time of indifference. And 
so it will follow, that in order to the virtuousness of an 
act, the heart must be indifferent in the time of the per 
formance of that act, and the more indifferent and cold 
the heart is with relation to the act which is performed, 
so much the better ; because the act is performed with 
so much the greater liberty. But is this agreeable to 
the light of nature ? Is it agreeable to the notions 
which mankind in all ages have of virtue, that it lies in 

Sect VI.] With Virtue. 20T 

that which is contrary to indifference, even in the Ten 
dency and Inclination of the heart to virtuous action; 
and that the stronger the inclination, and so the further 
from indifference, the more virtuous the heart, and so 
much the more praise-worthy the act which proceeds 
from it ? 

If we should suppose (contrary to what has been be 
fore demonstrated) that there may be an act of will in a 
state of indifference ; for instance, this act, viz. The 
will s determining to put itself out of a state of indiffer 
ence, and give itself a preponderance one way, then it 
would follow, on Arminian principles, that this act or de 
termination of the will is that alone wherein virtue con 
sists, because this only is performed, while the mind re 
mains in a state of indifference, and so in a state of li 
berty : for when once the mind is put out of its equili 
brium, it is no longer in such a state ; and therefore all 
the acts which follow afterwards, proceeding from bias, 
can have the nature neither of virtue nor vice. Or if the 
thing which the will can do, while yet in a state of in 
difference, and so of liberty, be only to suspend acting, 
and determine to take the matter into consideration, 
then this determination is that alonewherein virtue con 
sists, and not proceeding to action after the scale is turn 
ed by consideration. So that it will follow, from these 
principles, all that is done after the mind, by any means, 
is once out of its equilibrium and already possessed by an 
inclination, and arising from that inclination, has nothing 
of the nature of virtue or vice, and is worthy of neither 
blame nor praise. But how plainly contrary is this to 
the universal sense of mankind, and to the notion they 
have of sincerely virtuous actions ? Which is, that they 
are actions which proceed from a heart well disposed and 
inclined; and the stronger, and the morejixed and de 
termined the good disposition of the heart, the greater 
the sincerity of virtue, and so the more of the truth and 
reality of it. But if there be any acts which are done in 
a state of equilibrium, or spring immediately from per 
fect indifference and coolness of heart, they cannot 

208 Indifference inconsistent [Part IIL 

from any good principle or disposition in the heart ; and, 
consequently, according to common sense, have no sin 
cere goodness in them, having no virtue of heart in them. 
To have a virtuous heart, is to have a heart that favours 
virtue, and is friendly to it, and not one perfectly cold 
and indifferent about it. 

Besides : the actions that are done in a state of in 
difference,, or that arise immediately out of such a state, 
cannot be virtuous, because, by the supposition, they 
are not determined by any preceding choice. For if 
there be preceding choice, then choice intervenes be 
tween the act and the state of indifference ; which is 
contrary to the supposition of the act s arising immediate 
ly out of indifference. But those acts which are not de 
termined by preceding choice, cannot be virtuous or vi 
cious, by Arminian principles, because they are not de 
termined by the will. So that neither one way nor the 
other, can any actions be virtuous or vicious, according 
to Arminian principle?. If the action be determined by 
a preceding act of choice, it cannot be virtuous; because 
the action is not done in a state of indifference, nor does 
immediately arise from such a state ; and so is not done 
in a state of liberty. If the action be not determined by 
a preceding act of choice, then it cannot be virtuous ; 
because then the will is not self-determined in it. So 
that it is made certain, that neither virtue nor vice can 
ever find any place in the universe. 

Moreover, that it is necessary to a virtuous action 
that it be performed in a state of indifference, under a 
notion of that being a state of liberty, is contrary to 
common sense ; as it is a dictate of common sense, that 
indifference itself, in many cases, is vicious, and so to a 
high degree. As if when I see my neighbour or near 
friend, and one who has in the highest degree merited of 
me, in extreme distress, and ready to perish, I find an 
indifference in my heart with respect to any thing pro 
posed to be done, which I can easily do for his relief. 
So if it should be proposed to me to blaspheme God, or 
kill my father, or do numberless other things, which 

Sect. VI.] With Virtue. 209 

might be mentioned, the being: indifferent for a moment 
would be highly vicious and vile. 

It may be further observed, that to suppose this li 
berty of indifference is essential to virtue and vice, de 
stroys the great difference of degrees of the guilt of dif 
ferent crimes, and takes away the heinousness of the most 
flagitious, horrid iniquities ; such as adultery, bestia 
lity, murder, perjury, blasphemy, Sec. ; for, according to 
these principles, there is no harm at all in having the 
mind in a state of perfect indifference with respect to 
these crimes j nay, it is absolutely necessary in order to 
any virtue in avoiding them, or vice in doing them. 
But for the mind to be in a state of indifference with 
respect to them, is to be next door to doing them ; it 
is then infinitely near to choosing, and so committing 
the fact ; for equilibrium is the next step to a degree 
of preponderation ; and one, even the least degree of 
preponderation (all things considered) is choice ; and 
not only so, but for the will to be in a state of perfect 
equilibrium, with respect to such crime, is for the mind 
to be in such a state as to be full as likely to choose 
them as to refuse them, to do them as to omit them. 
And if our minds must be in such a state, wherein it is 
as near to choosing as refusing, and wherein it must of 
necessity, according to the nature of things, be as likely to 
commit them, as to refrain from them ; where is the ex 
ceeding heinousness of choosing and committing them ? 
If there be no harm in often being in such a state wherein 
the probability of doing and forbearing are exactly equal, 
there being an equilibrium, and no more tendency to one 
than the other ; then, according to the nature and laws 
of such a contingence, it may be expected, as an inevit 
able consequence of such a disposition of things, that we 
should choose them as often as reject them : that it 
should generally so fall out is necessary, as equality in 
the effect is the natural consequence of the equal tenden 
cy of the cause, or of the antecedent state of things, 

210 Of Virtuous [Part III. 

from which the effect arises. Why then should we be 
so exceedingly to blame if it does so fall out ? 

It is many ways apparent, that the Arminiaris scheme 
of liberty is utterly inconsistent with the being of any 
such things as either virtuous or vicious habits or dispo 
sitions. If Liberty of Indifference be essential to moral 
agency, then there can be no virtue in any habitual in 
clinations of the heart; which are contrary to indiffer 
ence, and imply in their nature the very destruction and 
exclusion of it. They suppose nothing can be virtuous 
in which no liberty is exercised ; but how absurd is it to 
talk of exercising indifference under bias and prepon- 
deration ! . 

If self- determining power in the will be necessary to 
moral agency, praise, blame, &c. then nothing done by 
the will can be any further praise or blame-worthy, than 
so far as the will is moved, swayed, and determined by 
itself, and the scales turned by the sovereign power the 
will has over itself. And therefore the will must not 
be put out of its balance already, the preponderation 
must not be determined and effected before-hand ; and 
so the ^self-deter mining act anticipated. Thus it ap 
pears another way, that habitual bias is inconsistent with 
that liberty which Arminians suppose to be necessary 
to virtue or vice; and so it follows, that habitual bias 
itself cannot be either virtuous or vicious. 

The same thing follows from their doctrine concern 
ing tiie Inconsi-tence of necessity with liberty, praise, 
dispraise, &c. None will deny that bias and inclina 
tion may be so strong as to be invincible, and leave no 
possibility of the will s determining contrary to it ; and 
so be attended with necessity. This Dr Whitby allows 
concerning the will of God, angels, and glorified saints, 
with respect to good ; and the will of devils, with re 
spect to evil. Therefore, if necessity be inconsistent 
with liberty ; then, when fixed inclination is to such a 
degree of strength, it utterly excludes all virtue, vice, 
praise, or blame. And if so, then the nearer habits are 
to this strength, the more do they impede liberty, and 

Sect. IV.] And Vicious habits 211 

so diminish praise and blame. If very strong habits 
destroy liberty, the lesser ones proportionably hinder k, 
according to their degree of strength. And therefore 
it will follow, that then is the act most virtuous or vicious, 
when performed without any inclination or habitual bias 
at all j because it is then performed with most liber 

Every prepossessing fixed bias on the mind brings a 
degree of moral inability for the contrary ; because so far 
as the mind is biassed and prepossessed, so much hinde- 
rance is there of the contrary. And therefore if moral 
inability be consistent with moral agency, or the nature 
of virtue and vice, then, so far as there is any such thing 
as evil disposition of heart or habitual depravity of incli 
nation ; whether covetousness, pride, malice, cruelty, or 
whatever else, so much the more excusable persons are, 
so much the less have their evil acts of this kind the na 
ture of vice. And on the contrary, whatever excellent 
dispositions and inclinations they have, so much are they 
the less virtuous. 

It is evident that no habitual disposition of heart, 
whether it be to a greater or less degree, can be in any de 
gree virtuous or vicious, or the actions which proceed 
from them at all praise or blame-worthy. Because, 
though we should suppose the habit not to be of such 
strength as wholly to take away all moral ability and self- 
determining power ; or hinder but that, although the 
act be partly from bias, yet it may be in part from self- 
determination ; yet in this case, all that is from antece 
dent bias must be set aside, as of no consideration ; and 
in estimating the degree of virtue or vice, no more must 
be considered than what arises from self-determining 
power, without any influence of that bias, because liberty 
is exercised in no more : so that all that is the exercise 
of habitual inclination is thrown away, as not belonging 
to the morality of the action, by which it appears, that 
no exercise of these habits, let them be stronger or weak 
er, can ever have any thing of the nature of either vir 
tue or vice. 

212 Of Virtuous [Part III. 

.Here, if any one should say, that notwithstanding all 
these things, there may be the nature of virtue and vice 
in the habits of the mind ; because these habits may be 
the effects of those acts, wherein the mind exercised li 
berty; that however the forementioned reasons will prove 
that no habits, which are natural, or that are born or cre 
ated with us can be either virtuous or vicious ; yet they 
will not prove this of habits, which have been acquired 
and established by repeated free acts. 

To such an objector I would say, that this evasion 
will not at all help the matter. For if freedom of will be 
essential to the very nature of virtue and vice, then there 
is no virtue or vice, but only in that very thing wherein 
this liberty is exercised. If a man. in one or more 
things that he does, exercises liberty, and then by those 
acts is brought into such circumstances that his liberty 
ceases, and there follows a long series of acts or events 
that come to pass necessarily ; those consequent acts are 
not virtuous or vicious, rewardable or punishable ; but 
only the free acts that established this necessity j for in 
them alone was the man free. The following effects 
that are necessary, have no more of the nature of virtue 
or vice, than health or sickness of body have properly 
the nature of virtue or vice, being the effects of a course 
of free acts of temperance or intemperance ; or than the 
good qualities of a clock are of the nature of virtue, 
which are the effects of free acts of the artificer ; or the 
goodness and sweetness of the fruits of a garden are mo 
ral virtues, being the effects of the free and faithful acts 
of the gardener. If liberty be absolutely requisite to 
the morality of actions, and necessity wholly inconsistent 
with it, as Arminians greatly insist, then no necessary 
effects whatsoever, let the cause be never so good or bad, 
can be virtuous or vicious ; but the virtue or vice must 
be only in the free cause. Agreeable to this, Dr Whit- 
ly supposes, the necessity that attends the good and 
evil habits of the saints in Heaven, and damned in hell, 
which are the consequence of their free acts in their state 
of probation, are not rewardable or punishable, 

Sect. VI.] And Vicious Habits 213 

On the whole it appears, that if the notions of Armi- 
nians, concerning liberty and moral agency, be true, it 
will follow, that there is no virtue in any such habits or 
qualities as humility, meekness, patience, mercy, grati 
tude, generosity, heavenly- mindedness ; nothing at all 
praise-worthy in loving Christ above father and mother, 
wife and children, or our own lives ; or in delight, in 
holiness, hungering, and thirsting after righteousness, 
love to enemies, universal benevolence to mankind ; and, 
on the other hand, there is nothing at all vicious or wor 
thy of dispraise, in the most sordid, beastly, malignant, 
devilish dispositions ; in being ungrateful, profane, ha 
bitually hating God, and things sacred and holy ; or in 
being most treacherous, envious, and cruel towards men. 
For all these things are dispositions and inclinations of 
the heart. And, in short, there is i.o such thing as any 
virtuous or vicious qualify of mind ; no such thing as 
inherent virtue and holiness, or vice and sin ; and the 
stronger those habits and dispositions are, which used to 
be called virtuous and vicious, the further they are from 
being so indeed ; the more violent men s lusts are, the 
more fixed their pride, envy, ingratitude, and malicious 
ness, still the further are they from being blame-worthy. 
If there be a man that, by his own repeated acts or by 
any other means, is come to be of the most hellish dispo 
sition, desperately inclined to treat his neighbours with 
injuriousness, contempt, and malignity, the further they 
should be from any disposition to be angry with him, or 
in the least to blame him. So, on the other hand, if 
there be a person who is of a most excellent spirit, strong 
ly inclining him to the most amiable actions, admirably 
meek, benevolent, &c. so much is he further from any 
thing rewardable or commendable. On which principles 
the man Jesus Christ was very far from being praise 
worthy for those acts of holiness and kindness which he 
performed, these prosperities being strong in his heart. 
And above all, the infinitely holy and gracious God is 
infinitely remote from any thing commendable, his good 
inclinations being infinitely strong, and he, therefore, at 

214 Armlmamsm inconsistent, Sfc. [Part III. 

the utmost possible distance from being at liberty. And, 
in all cases, the stronger the inclinations of any are to 
virtue, and the more they love it, the less virtuous they 
are ; and the more they love wickedness, the less vicious. 
Whether these things are agreeable to Scripture, let 
every Christian, and every man who has read the Bible, 
judge ; and whether they arc agreeable to common sense, 
let every one judge that has human understanding in ex 

If we pursue these principles, we shall find that vir 
tue and vice are wholly excluded out of the world ; and 
that there never was, nor never can be, any such thing 
as one or the other, either in God, angels, or men. No 
propensity, disposition, or habit, can be virtuous or vi 
cious, as has been shewn ; because they, so far as they 
take place, destroy the freedom of the will, the founda 
tion of all moral agency, and exclude all capacity of ei 
ther virtue or vice. And if habits and dispositions them 
selves be not virtuous nor vicious, neither can the exer 
cise of these dispositions be so; for the exercise of bias 
is not the exercise of free self-determining will, and so-, 
there is no exercise of liberty in it. Consequently, no 
man is virtuous or vicious, either in being well or ill-dis 
posed, nor in acting from a good or bad disposition. 
And whether this bias or disposition be habitual or not, 
if it exists but a moment before the act of will, which is 
the effect of it, it alters not the case, as to the necessity 
of the effect ; or if there be no previous disposition at 
all, either habitual or occasional, that determines the act, 
then it is not choice that determines it. It is therefore 
a contingence that happens to the man, arising from no 
thing in him ; and is necessary, as to any inclination or 
choice of his ; and, therefore, cannot make him either 
the better or worse, any more than a tree is better than 
other trees, because it oftener happens to be sit upon by 
a swan or nightingale ; or a rock more vicious than other 
rocks, because rattle-snakes have happened oftener to 
crawl over it, So that there is no virtue nor vice in good 

Sect. VII.] Arminianism inconsistent, Sfc. 215 

or bad dispositions, either fixed or transient ; nor any 
virtue or vice in acting from any good or bad previous 
inclination ; nor yet any virtue or vice in acting wholly 
without any previous inclination. Where then shall we 
find room for virtue or vice ? 


Arminian Notions of Moral Agency inconsistent 
with all Influence of Motive and Inducement, 
in either Virtuous or Vicious Actions. 

AS Arminian notions of that liberty which is essential 
to virtue or vice, are inconsistent with common 
sense, in their being inconsistent with all virtuous or 
vicious habits and dispositions ; so they are no less so in 
their inconsistency with all influence of motives in mo 
ral actions. 

It is equally against those notions of liberty of will, 
whether there be, previous to the act of choice, a pre- 
ponderancy of the inclination or a preponderancy of those 
circumstances which have a tendency to move the inclin 
ation. And, indeed, it comes to just the same thing; 
to say, the circumstances of the mind are such as tend to 
sway and turn its inclination one way, is the same thing 
as to say, the inclination of the mind, as under such cir 
cumstances, tends that way. 

Or if any think it most proper to say, that motives 
do alter the inclination, and give a new bias to the mind, 
it will not alter the case, as to the present argument. 
For if motives operate by giving the mind an inclination, 
then they operate by destroying the mind s indifference, 
and laying it under a bias. But to do this, is to destroy 
the Arminian freedom ; it is not to leave the will to its 
own self-determination, but to bring it into subjection 
to the power of something extrinsic, which operates upon 

216 Motive and Inducement, Sfc. [Part III. 

it, sways and determines it previous to its own determin 
ation ; so that what is done from motive, cannot be either 
virtuous or vicious. And besides, if the acts of the will 
are excited by motives, those motives are the causes of 
those acts of the will ; which makes the acts of the will 
necessary, as effects necessarily follow the efficiency of 
the cause. And if the influence and power of the mo 
tive causes the volition, then the influence of the motive 
determinesvolition, and volition does not determine itself; 
and so is not free, in the sense of Arminians (as has been 
largely shewn already) and consequently can be neither 
Yirtuous nor vicious. 

The supposition, which has already been taken notice 
of as an insufficient evasion in other cases, would be, in 
like manner, impertinently alledged in this case ; namely, 
the supposition that liberty consists in a power of sus 
pending- action for the present, in order to deliberation. 
If it should be said, Though it be true, that the will is 
under a necessity of finally following the strongest mo 
tive ; yet it may, for the present, forbear to act upon 
the motive presented, till there has been opportunity 
thoroughly to consider it, and compare its real weight 
with the merit of other motives ; 1 answer as follows : 

Here again it must be remembered, that if determin 
ing thus to suspend and consider, be that act of the will, 
wherein alone liberty is exercised, then in this all virtue 
and vice must consist : and the acts thai follow this con 
sideration, and are the effects of it being necessary, are 
no more virtuous or vicious than some good or bad events, 
which happen when they are fast asleep, and are the 
consequences of what they did when they were awake. 
Therefore, I would here observe two things : 

I. To suppose that all virtue and vice in every case, 
consists in determining, whether to take time for con 
sideration or not, is riot agreeable to common sense. 
For, according to such a supposition, the most horrid 
crimes, adultery, murder, sodomy, blasphemy, &cc. do 
not at all consist in the horrid nature of the things them- 

Sect. VII.] With Anninian Virtue and Vice. 217 

selves, but only in the neglect of thorough consideration 
before they were perpetrated, which brings their vicious- 
ness to a small matter, and makes all crimes equal. If 
it be said, that neglect of consideration, when such 
heinous evils are proposed to ciioice, is worse than in 
other cases, I answer, this is inconsistent, as it sup 
poses the very thing- to be, which, at the same time, is 
supposed not to be ; it supposes all moral evil, all vicious- 
ness, and heinousness, does not consist merely in the 
want of consideration. Jt supposes some crimes in them 
selves, in their own nature, to be more heinous than 
others, antecedent to consideration or inconsideration, 
which lays the person under a previous obligation to 
consider in some cases more than others. 

2. If it were so, that all virtue and vice, in every 
case, consisted only in the act of the will, whereby it de 
termines whether to consider or no, it would not alter 
the case in the least, as to the present argument. For 
still, in this act of the will, on this determination, it is 
induced by some motive, and necessarily follows the 
strongest motive ; and so is necessarily, even in that act 
wherein alone it is either virtuous or vicious. 

One thing more I would observe, concerning the in- 
eonsistence of Anninian notions of moral agency with 
the influence of motives. I suppose none will deny that 
it is possible for motives to be set before the mind so 
powerful, and exhibited in so strong a light, and under 
so advantageous circumstances, as to be invincible ; and 
such as the mind cannot but yield to. In this case, Ar- 
minians will doubtless say, liberty is destroyed. And if 
so, then if motives are exhibited with half so much power, 
they hinder liberty in proportion to their strength, and 
go half way towards destroying it. If a thousand de 
grees of motives abolish all liberty, then five hundred 
take it half away. If one degree of the influence of mo 
tive does not at all infringe or diminish liberty, then no 
more do two degrees ; for nothing doubled, is still no 
thing. And if two degrees do not diminish the will s li 
berty, no more do four, eight, sixteen, or six thousand. 
For nothing, multiplied never so much comes to but no- 

218 Motive and Inducement, Sfc. [Part III, 

thing. If there be nothing in the nature of motive or mo 
ral suasion, that is at all opposite to liberty, then the 
greatest degree of it cannot hurt liberty ; but if there be 
anything in the nature of the thing, that is against liberty, 
then the least degree of it hurts it in some degree ; and 
consequently hurts and diminishes virtue. If invincible 
motives, to that action which is good, take away all the 
freedom of the act, and so all the virtue of it, then the 
more forceable the motives are, so much the worse, so 
much the less virtue ; and the weaker the motives are, 
the better for the cause of virtue ; and none is best of 

Now let it be considered, whether these things are 
agreeable to common sense. If it should be allowed that 
there are some instances wherein the soul chooses with 
out any motive, what virtue can there be in such a choice? 
I am sure there is no prudence nor wisdom in it. Such 
a choice is made for no good end ; for it is for no end at 
all. If it were for any end, the view of the end would 
be tire motive exciting to the act ; and if the act be for 
no good end, and so from no good aim, then there 
is no good intention in it ; and, therefore, according to 
all our natural notions of virtue, no more virtue in 
it than in the motion of the smoke, which is dri 
ven too and fro by the wind, without any aim or end in 
the thing moved, and which knows not whither, nor why, 
and wherefore, it is moved. 

Corol. 1. By these things it appears that tjie argu 
ment against the .-Calvmists, taken from the use of coun 
sels, exhortations, invitations, expostulations, &c. so 
much insisted on by Arminians, is truly against them 
selves. For these things can operate no other way to 
any good effect, than as in them is exhibited motive and 
inducement, tending to excite and determine the acts of 
the will. But it follows, on their principles, that the 
acts of the will, excited by such causes, cannot be vir 
tuous ; because so far.as they are from these, they are 
not from the wilPs self-determining power. Hence it 
will follow, that it is not worth the while to offer any 

Sect. VII.] With Anninian Virtue and Vice. 21 9 

arguments to persuade men to any virtuous volition or 
voluntary action : It is in vain to set before them the 
wisdom and amiableness of ways of virtue, or the odious- 
ness and folly of ways of vice. This notion of liberty 
and moral agency frustrates all endeavours to draw men 
to virtue by instruction or persuasion, precept or ex 
ample ; for though these things may induce men to what 
is materially -virtuous, yet at the same time they take 
away the form of virtue, because- they destroy liberty ; 
as they, by their own power, put the will out of its 
equilibrium^ determine and turn the scale, and take the 
work of self-determining power out of its hands. And 
the clearer the instructions that are given, the more 
powerful the arguments that are used ; and the more 
moving the persuasions or examples, the more likely 
they are to frustrate their own design ; because they 
have so much the greater tendency to put the will out 
of its balance, to hinder its freedom of self-determination ; 
and so to exclude the very form of virtue, and the es 
sence of whatsoever is praise-worthy. 

So it clearly follows, from these principles, that God 
has no hand in any man s virtue, nor does at all promote 
it, either by a physical or moral influence ; that none of 
the moral methods He uses with men to promote virtue 
in the world, have tendency to the attainment of that 
end ; that all the instructions which he has given to men, 
from the beginning of the world to this day, by Prophets 
or Apostles, or by his Son Jesus Christ; that all his 
counsels, invitations, promises, threatening^, warnings, 
and expostulations ; that all means He has used with 
men, in ordinances or providences ; yea, all influences 
of his Spirit, ordinary and extraordinary, have had no 
tendency at all to excite any one virtuous act of the 
mind, or to promote any thing morally good and com 
mendable, in any respect. For there is no way that 
these or any other means can promote virtue, but one 01 
these three: Either (1.) By a physical operation on 
the heart ; but all effects that are wrought in men in 
this way, have no virtue in them, by the concurring 

220 Motive and Inducement, &fc. [Part III. 

voice of all Arminians. Or (2.) Morally, by exhibiting- 
motives to the understanding 1 , to excite good acts in tbe 
will ; but it has been demonstrated, that volitions, which 
are excited by motives, are necessary, and not excited 
by a self-moving power ; and therefore, by their princi 
ples, there is no virtue in them. Or (3.) By merely 
giving- the will an opportunity to determine itself con 
cerning the objects proposed, either to choose or reject, 
by its own uncaused, unmoved, uninfluenced, self-deter 
mination. And if this be all, then all those means do 
no more to promote virtue than vice ; for they do no 
thing but give the will opportunity to determine itself 
cither way, either to good or bad, without laying it under 
any bias to either ; and so there is really as much of an 
opportunity given to determine in favour of evil as of 

Thus that horrid blasphemous consequence will cer 
tainly follow from the Arminian doctrine, which they 
charge on others; namely, that God acts an inconsistent 
part in using so many counsels, warnings, invitations, in- 
treaties, &c. with sinners, to induce them to forsake sin, 
and turn to the ways of virtue ; and that all are insin 
cere and fallacious. It will follow, from their doctrine, 
that God does those things when he knows at the same 
time that they have no manner of tendency to promote 
the effect he seems to aim at ; yea, knows that if they 
have any influence, this very influence will be inconsis 
tent with such an effect, and will prevent it. But what 
an imputation of insincerity would this fix on Him, who 
is infinitely holy and true ! So that their s is the doc 
trine which, if pursued in its consequences, does horri 
bly reflect on the most High, and fix on him the charge 
of hypocrisy ; and not the doctrine of the Cahinist, ac 
cording to their frequent and vehement,exclamations and 

CoroL 2. From what has been observed in this sec 
tion, it again appears, that Arminian principles and no 
tions, when fairly examined and pursued in their demon 
strable consequences, do evidently shut all virtue out of 

Sect. VII. ] And Vice out of the World. 2 

the world, and make it impossible that there should ever 
be any such thing in any case ; or that any such thing 
should ever be conceived of. For, by these principles, 
the very notion of virtue or vice implies absurdity and 
contradiction. For it is absurd in itself, and contrary to 
common sense, to suppose a virtuous act of mind without 
any good intention or aim ; and, by their principles, it 
is absurd to suppose a virtuous act with a good intention 
or aim ; for to act for an end is to act from a motive. 
So that if we rely on these principles, there can be no 
virtuous act with a good design and end ; and it is self- 
evident, there can be none without ; consequently there 
can be no virtuous act at all. . 

Carol. 3. It is manifest that Arminian notions of 
moral agency, and the being of a faculty of will, cannot 
consist together ; and that if there be any such thing as 
either a virtuous or vicious act, it cannot be an act of the 
will ; no will can be at all concerned in it. For that act 
which is performed without inclination, without motive, 
without end, must be performed without any concern of 
the will. To suppose an act of the will without these, 
implies a contradiction. If the soul in its act has no mo 
tive or end, then, in that act (as was observed before) 
it seeks nothing, goes after nothing, exerts no inclina 
tion to any thing; and this implies that in that act it 
desires nothing, and chooses nothing ; so that there is 
no act of choice in the case ; and that is as much as to 
say, there is no act of will in the case ; which very ef 
fectually shuts all vicious and virtuous act out of the 
universe ; inasmuch as, according to this, there can be 
no vicious or virtuous act wherein the will is concerned ; 
and according to the plainest dictates of reason, and the 
light of nature, and also the principles of Arminians 
themselves, there can be no virtuous or vicious act where 
in the will is not concerned. And therefore there is no 
room for any virtuous or vicious acts at all. 

Corol. 4. If none of the moral actions of intelligent 
beings are influenced by either previous inclination or 


222 Arminlanum excludes, Sfc. [Part 111. 

motive, another strange thing will follow ; and this is, 
that God not only cannot fore-know any of the future 
moral actions of his creatures, but he can make no con 
jecture, can give no probable guess concerning them. 
For all conjecture, in things of this nature, must depend 
on some discerning or apprehension of these two things, 
previous disposition and motive, which, as has been ob 
served, Arminian notions of moral agency, in their real 
consequence, altogether exclude. 


Wherein the chief Grounds of the Reasonings of ARMINIAXS, in 
Support and Defence of the forementioned Notions of LIBERTY, 
MORAL AGENCY, &c. and against the opposite Doctrine, are con 


The Essence of the Virtue and rice of Dispo 
sitions of the Heart, and Acts of the /TV//, 
lies not in their Cause ; but their Nature. 

^~\NE main foundation of the reasons which are brought 
^^ to establish the forementioned notions of liberty, 
virtue, vice, &cc. is a supposition that the virtuousness of 
the dispositions or acts of the will, consists not in the na 
ture of these dispositions or acts, but wholly in the ori 
gin or cause of them ; so that if the disposition of the 
mind or acts of the will be never so good, yet if the cause 
of the disposition or act be not our virtue, there is no 
thing virtuous or praise-worthy in it; and, on the con 
trary, if the will, in its inclination or acts, be never so 
bad, yet, unless it arises from something that is our vice 
or fault, there is nothing vicious or blame-worthy in it. 
Hence their grand objection and pretended demonstra 
tion or self-evidence, against any virtue and comrnend- 
ableness or vice and blame- worthiness, of those habits or 
acts of the will, which are not from some virtuous or vi 
cious determination of the will itself. 

224 Essence of Virtue and Vice. [Part IV*" 

Now, if this matter be well considered, it will appear 
to be altogether a mistake, yea, a gross absurdity ; and 
that it is most certain, that if there be any such things 
as a virtuous or vicious disposition, or volition of mind, 
the virtuousness or viciousness of them consists not in 
the origin or cause of these things ; but in the nature of 

If the essence of virtuousness or commendableness, 
and of viciousness or fault, does not lie in the nature of 
the dispositions or acts of mind, which are said to be. 
our virtue or our fault, but in their cause, then it is cer 
tain it lies nowhere at all. Thus, for instance, if the 
vice of a vicious act of the will, lies not in the nature of 
the act, but the cause ; so that its being of a bad nature 
will not make it at all our fault, unless it arises from some 
faulty determination of our s, as its cause or something 
in us that is our fault; then, for the same reason, 
neither can the viciousness of that cause lie in the nature 
of the thing itself, but in its cause; that evil determina 
tion of our s is not our fault, merely because it is of a 
bad nature, unless it arises from some cause in us that is 
our fault. And when we are come to this higher cause, 
still the reason of the thing holds good ; though this 
cause be of a bad nature, yet we are not at all to blame 
on that account, unless it arises from something faulty 
in us. Nor yet can blame-worthiness lie in the nature 
of this cause, but in the cause of that. And thus we 
must drive faultiness back from step to step, from a 
lower cause to a higher, in infinitum : and that is, 
thoroughly to banish it from the world, and to allow it 
no possibility of existence any where in the universality 
of things. On these principles, vice or moral evil cannot 
consist in any thing that is in effect ; because fault does 
not consist in the nature of things, but in their cause; 
as well as because effects are necessary, being unavoid 
ably connected with their cause; therefore the cause, 
only is to blame. And so it follows, that faultiness can 
lie only in that cause, which is a cause only> and no ef 
fect of any thing. Nor yet can it lie in this ; for then 

Sect. L] In the Nature of Volition , &f c. 223 

it must He in the nature of the thing itself; not in its 
being 1 from any determination of cur s, nor any thino* 
faulty in us which is the cause, nor indeed from any cause 
at all ; for, by the supposition, it is no effect, and has no 
cause. And thus he that will maintain it is not the na 
ture of habits or acts of will that makes them virtuous or 
faulty, but the cause, must immediately run himself out 
of his own assertion : and in maintaining- it, will insensi 
bly contradict and deny it. 

This is certain, that if effects are vicious and faulty, 
not from their nature or from any thing inherent in 
them, bat because they are from a bad cause, it must be 
on account of the badness of the cause ; a bad effect in 
the will must be bad, because the cause is bad, or of an 
evil nature, or has badness as a quality inherent in it: and 
a good effect in the will must be good, by reason of the 
goodness of the cause, or its being- of a good kind and 
nature. And if this be what is meant, the very suppo 
sition of fault and praise, lying not in the nature of the 
thing, but the cause contradicts itself, and does at least 
resolve the essence of virtue and vice into the nature of 
things, and supposes it originally to consist in that. And 
if a caviller has a mind to run from the absurdity, by 
saying, "No, the fault of the thing, which is the cause, 
lies not in this, that the cause itself is of an evil nature^ 
but that the cause is evil in that sense, that it is from 
another bad cause." Still the absurdity will follow him ; 
for, if so, then the cause before charged is at once ac 
quitted, and all the blame must be laid to the higher cause 
and must consist in that s being evil or of an evil nature, 
So now we are come again to lay the blame of the thing 
blame-worthy to the nature of the thing, and not to the 
cause. And if any is so foolish as to go higher still, and 
ascend from step to step, till he is come to that which is 
the first cause concerned in the whole affair, and will say, 
all the blame lies in that ; then, at last, he must be for 
ced to own that the faultiness of the thing which he sup 
poses alone blame-worthy, lies wholly in the nature of 
the thing, and not in the original or cause of it j for the 

2 26 Essence of Virtue and Vice, [Part IVJ 

supposition is, that it has no original, it is determined, 
by no act of our s, is caused by nothing faulty in us, 
being absolutely without any cause. And so the race is 
at an end, but the evader is taken in his flight. 

It is agreeable to the natural notions of mankind, 
that moral evil, with its desert of dislike and abhorrence, 
and all its other ill-deservings, consists in a certain de 
formity in the nature of certain dispositions of the heart 
and acts of the will , and not in the deformity of some 
thing else diverse from the very thing itself, which de- - 
serves abhorrence, supposed to be the cause of iti 
Which would be absurd, because that would be ^o sup 
pose a thing that is innocent and not evil, is truly evil 
and faulty, because another thing is evil. It implies a 
contradiction ; for it would be to suppose the, very thing 
which is morally evil and blame-worthy, is innocent and 
not blame-worthy ; but that something else, which is its 
cause, is only to blame, To say. that vice does not con 
sist in the thing which is vicious, but in its cause, is the 
same as to say, that vice does not consist in vice, but in 
that which produces it. 

It is true,, a cause may be to blame for being the 
cause of vice : it may be wickedness in the cause, that 
it produces wickedness. But it would imply a contra 
diction to suppose that these two are the same indi 
vidual wickedness. The wicked act of the cause in pro 
ducing wickedness, is one wickedness ; and the wicked,- 
ness produced, if there be any produced, is another.- 
And, therefore the wickedness of the latter does not lie 
in the former, but is distinct from it ; and the wicked 
ness of both lies in the evil nature of the things which 
are wicked. 

The thing which makes sin hateful, is that by which 
it deserves punishment; which is but the expression of 
hatred : and that which renders virtue lovely, is the same 
with that, on the account of which it is fit to receive 
praise and reward j which are but the expressions of 
esteem and love. But that which makes vice hateful 
is its hateful nature ; and that which renders virtue lov 

Sect. I.] In the Nature of Volition ,&(c. 227 

ly, is its amiable nature. It is a certain beauty or defor 
mity that are inherent in that good or evil will, which is 
the soul of virtue and vice (and not in the occasion of 
it) which is their worthiness of esteem or disesteem, 
praise or dispraise, according to the common sense of 
mankind. If the cause or occasion of the rise of an 
hateful disposition or act of will be also hateful, suppose 
another antecedent evil will, that is entirely another sin, 
that deserves punishment by itself, under a distinct con 
sideration. There is worthiness of dispraise in the na 
ture of an evil volition, and not wholly in some foregoing 
act which is its cause ; otherwise the evil volition, which 
is the effect, is no moral evil, any more than sickness or 
some other natural calamity, which arises from a cause 
morally evil. 

Thus, for instance, ingratitude, is hateful and worthy 
of dispraise, according to common sense ; not because 
something as bad or worse than ingratitude, was the 
cause that produced it ; but because it is hateful in it 
self, by its own inherent deformity. So the love of vir 
tue is amiable afld worthy of praise, not merely because 
something else went before this love of virtue in our 
minds, which caused it to take place there (for instance 
our own choice) we choose to love virtue, and, by some 
method or other, wrought ourselves into the love of it , 
but because of the amiableness and condescendency of 
such a disposition and inclination of heart. If that was 
the case, that we did choice to love virtue, and so pro 
duced that love in ourselves, this choice itself could be 
no otherwise amiable or praise-worthy, than as love to 
virtue, or some other amiable inclination, was exercised 
and implied in it. If that choice was amiable at all, 
it must be so on account of some amiable quality in the 
nature of the choice. If we choose to love virtue, not 
in love to virtue, or any thing that was good, and exer 
cised no sort of good disposition in the choice, the choice 
itself was not virtuous, nor worthy of any praise, accord 
ing to common sense, because the choice was not of a 
good nature. 

228 Essence of Virtue and Vice, [Part IV. 

It may not be improper here to take notice of some 
thing said by an author that has lately made a mighty 
noise in America. <* A necessary holiness (says he *) 

is no holiness, Adam could not be originally created 

in righteousness and true holiness, because he must 
choose to be righteous, before he could be righteous. 
And therefore he must exist, he must be created, yea, 
he must exercise thought and reflection, before he was 
righteous." There is much more to the same effect in 
that place, and also in p. 437, 438, 439, 440. If these 
things are so, it will certainly follow, that the first 
choosing to be righteous is no righteous choice ; there 
is no righteousness or holiness in it ; because no choos 
ing to be righteous goes before it. For he plainly speaks 
of choosing to be righteous, as what must go before right 
eousness ; and that which follows the choice, being the 
effect of true choice, can not be righteousness or holiness, 
for an effect is a thing necessary, and cannot prevent the 
influence or efficacy of its cause ; and therefore is una 
voidably dependant upon the cause ; and he says, a ne 
cessary holiness is no holiness. o that neither can a 
choice of righteousness be righteousness or holiness, nor 
can any thing that is consequent on that choice, and the 
effect of it be righteousness or holiness ; nor can any 
thing that is without choice, be righteousness or ho 
liness. So that by his scheme, all righteousness and 
holiness is at once shut out of the world, and no 
door left open, by which it can ever possibly enter into 
the world. 

I suppose the way that men came to entertain this 
absurd inconsistent notion with respect to internal incli 
nations and volitions themselves (or notions that imply 
it) viz. that the essence of their moral good or evil lies 
not in their nature, but their cause : was, that it is in 
deed a very plain dictate of common sense, that it is so 
with respect to all outward actions and sensible motions 
of the body ; that the moral good or evil of them does 

Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, p. 180. third edition. 

Sect. L] Essence of Virtue and Vice. 229 

not lie at all in the motions themselves ; which, taken by 
themselves, are nothing of a moral nature ; and the es 
sence of all the moral good or evil that concerns them, 
lies in those internal dispositions and volitions which are 
the cause of them. Now, being always used to deter 
mine this without hesitation or dispute, concerning ex 
ternal actions, which are the things, that in the common 
use of language are signified by such phrases, as men s 
actions or their doings ; hence, when they came to 
speak of volitions and external exercises, and their incli 
nations, under the same denominations of their actions, 
or what they do, they unwarily determined the case 
must also be the same with these, as with external ac 
tions ; not considering the vast difference in the nature 
of the case. 

If any shall still object and say, Why is it not neces 
sary that the cause should be considered, in order to de 
termine whether any thing be worthy of blame or 
praise ? Is it agreeable to reason and common sense, 
that a man is to be praised or blamed for that which he 
is not the cause or author of, and has no hand in ? 

I answer, Such phrases as being the cause, being the 
author, having a hand, and the like, are ambiguous. 
They are most vulgarly understood for being the design 
ing voluntary cause, or cause by antecedent choice ; 
and it is most certain, that men are not, in this sense, 
the causes or authors of the first act of their wills in any 
case ; as certain as any thing is or ever can be ; for 
nothing can be more certain than that a thing is 
not before it is, nor a thing of the same kind before 
the first thing of that kind ; and so no choice before 
the first choice. As the phrase, being the author, 
may be understood, not of being the producer by an 
antecedent act of will : but as a person may be said to 
be the author of the act of will itself, by his being the 
immediate agent, or the being that is acting, or in exer 
cise in that act j if the phrase of being the author, is 

230 Arminian Notion of Action. [Part 1V 

used to signify this, then doubtless common sense re 
quires men s being the authors of their own acts of 
will, in order to their being esteemed worthy of praise 
or dispraise, on account of them. And common sense 
teaches, that they must, be the authors of external actions^ 
in the former sense, namely, their being the causes of 
them by an act of will or choice, in order to their being 
justly blamed or praised ; but it teaches no such thing 

with respect to the acts of the will themselves But 

this may appear more manifest by the things which will 
be observed in the following section. 


The Falseness and Inconsistence of that Meta- 
pliysical Notion of Action and Agency, which 
seems to be generally entertained by the De 
fenders of the Arminian Doctrine concerning 
Liberty, Moral Agency, fyc. 

/"VNE thing that is made very much a ground of ar- 
^- gument and supposed demonstration by Arminiaris, 
in defence of the fore-mentioned principles, concerning 
moral agency, virtue, vice, &c. is their metaphysical no 
tion of agency and action. They say, unless the soul has 
a self-determining power, it has no power of action, if its 
yolitions be not caused by itself, but are excited, and de 
termined by some extrinsic cause, they cannot be the 
soul s own acts ; and that the soul cannot be active* but 
must be wholly passive in those effects which it is the 
subject of necessarily, and not from its own determina 

Mr Chubb lays the foundation of his scheme of liber 
ty, and of his arguments to support it, very much in this 
position, that man is an agent, and capable of action ; 
which doubtless is true ; but self-determination belongs 

Sect. II.] False and Inconsistent. 231 

to his notion of action, and is the very essence of it. 
Whence he infers, that it is impossible for a man to act 
and be acted upon, in the same thing, at the same time ; 
and that nothing 1 , that is an action, can be the effect of 
the action of another ; and he insists, that a necessary 
agent, or an agent that is necessarily determined to act, 
is a plain contradiction. 

But those are a precarious sort of demonstration, 
which men build on the meaning that they arbitarily affix 
to a word ; especially when that meaning is abstruse, in 
consistent, and entirely diverse from the original sense 
of the word in common speech. 

That the meaning of the word action, as Mr Chubb 
and many others use it, is utterly unintelligible and in 
consistent, is manifest, because it belongs to their notion 
of an action, that is something wherein is no passion or 
passiveness ; that is, (according to their sense of passive- 
ness) it is under the power, influence, or action of no 
cause. And this implies, that action has no cause, and 
is no effect ; for to be an effect implies pas&iveness, or 
the being subject to the power and action of its cause." 
And yet they .hold,, that the mind s action is the effect 
of its own determination, yea, the mind s free and vo 
luntary determination ; which is the same with free 
choice. So that action is the effect of something pre 
ceding, even a preceding act of choice ; and consequent 
ly, in this effect the mind is passive, subject to the 
power and action of the preceding cause, which is tlie 
foregoing choice, and therefore cannot be active. So 
that here we have this contradiction, that action is al 
ways the effect of foregoing choice ; and therefore can 
not be action ; because it is passive to the power of that 
preceding causal choice ; and the mind cannot be active 
and passive in the same thing, at the same time. A- 
gain, they say, necessity is utterly inconsistent with ac 
tion, and a necessary action is a contradiction ; and so 
their notion of action implies contingence, and excludes 
all necessity. And therefore their notion of action im 
plies, that it has no necessary dependence or connection 

232 Arminian Notion of action [Part IV. 

with any thing foregoing ; for such a dependence or con 
nection excludes contingence, and implies necessity. 
And yet their notion of action implies necessity, and 
supposes that it is necessary, and cannot be contingent. 
For they suppose, that whatever is properly called ac 
tion, must he determined by the will and free choice ; 
and this is as much as to say, that it must be necessary, 
being dependent upon, and determined by something 
foregoing ; namely, a foregoing act of choice. Again : 
it belongs to their notion of action, of that which is a 
proper and mere act, that it is the beginning of motion 
or of exertion of power ; but yet it is implied in their no 
tion of action, that it is not the beginning of motion 
or exertion of power, but is consequent and dependent 
on a preceding exertion of power, viz. the power of wilt 
and choice ; for they say there is no proper action but 
what is freely chosen, or, which is the same thing, de 
termined by a foregoing act of free choice. But if any 
of them shall see cause to deny this, and say they hold 
no such thing as that every action is chosen or determin 
ed by a foregoing choice; but that the very first exer 
tion of will only, undetermined by any preceding act, as 
properly called action ; then I say, such a man s notion 
of action implies necessity ; for what the mind is the 
subject of, without the determination of its own previous 
choice, it is the subject of necessarily, as to any hand, 
that free choice has in the affair, and, without any abi 
lity, the mind has to prevent it, by any will or election 
of its own ; because by the supposition it precludes all 
previous acts of the will or choice in the case, which 
might prevent it. So that it is again, in this other way, 
implied in their notion of act, that it is both necessary 
and not necessary. Again : it belongs to their notion 
of an act, that it is no effect of a pre-determining bias 
or prepondcration, but springs immediately out of indif 
ference ; and this implies, that it cannot be from fore- 
goin" 1 choice, which is foregoing preiponderation ; if it 
be not habitual, but occasional, yet if it causes the act, 
it is truly previous, efficacious, and determining. And 

Sect. II.] Take and Inconsistent* 233 

yet, at the same time, it is essential to their notion of the 
act, that it is what the agent is the author of freely and 
voluntarily, and that is by previous choice and design. 

So that, according to their notion of the act, consid 
ered with regard to its consequences, these following 
things are all essential to it , viz. That it should be 
necessary, and not necessary ; that it should be from a 
cause, and no cause, that it should be the fruit of choice 
and design, and not the fruit of choice and design ; 
that it should be the beginning of motion or exertion, 
and yet consequent on previous exertion ; that it should 
be before it is ; that it should spring immediately out of 
indifference and equilibrium, and yet be the effect of pre- 
ponderation ; that is, should be self-originated, and also 
have its original from something else ; that it is what the 
mind causes itself, of its own will, and can produce or pre 
vent, according to its choice or pleasure, and yet what 
the mind has no power to prevent, precluding all previ 
ous choice in the affair. 

So that an act, according to their metaphysical notion 
of it, is something of which there is no idea ; it is no 
thing but a confusion of the mind, excited by words 
without any distinct meaning, and is an absolute nonen 
tity ; and that in two respects : (1.) There is nothing in 
the world that ever was, is, or can be, to answer the 
things which must belong to its description, according to 
what they suppose to be essential to it; and, (2.) There 
neither is, nor ever was, nor can be, any notion or idea 
to answer the word, as they use and explain it. For if 
we should suppose any such notion, it would many ways 
destroy itself. But it is impossible any idea or notion 
should subsist in the mind, whose very nature and es 
sence, which constitutes it, destroys it. If some learned 
philosopher who had been abroad, in giving an account of 
the curious observations he had made in his travels, should 
say, "He had been in Terra del Fuego ; and there he 
had seen an animal, which he calls by a certain name, 
that begat and brought forth itself, and yet had a fire 
and dam distinct from itself ; that it had an appetite, and 


234 Armlnian Notion of Action [Part IV. 

was hungry before it had a being : that his master, who 
led him, and governed him at his pleasure, was always 
governed by him, and driven by him where he pleased ; 
that when he moved, he always took a step before the 
first step ; that he went with his head first, and yet al 
ways went tail foremost. ; and this, though he had neither 
head nor tail ;" it would be no impudence at all, to tell 
such a traveller, though a learned man, that he himself 
had no notion or idea of such an animal as he gave an 
account of, and never had, nor ever would have. 

As the forementioned notion of action is very incon 
sistent, so it is wholly diverse from the original meaning 
of the word. The more usual signification of it, in vul 
gar speech, seems to be some motion or exertion of power 
that is voluntary, or that is the effect of the will; and is 
used in the same sense as doing ; and most commonly it 
is used to signify outward actions. So thinking is often 
distinguished from acting ; and desiring and willing, 
from doing. 

Besides, this more usual and proper signification of 
the word action^ there are other ways in which the word 
is used, that are less proper, which yet have place in 
common speech. Oftentimes it is used to signify some 
motion or alteration in inanimate things, with relation to 
some object and effect. So the spring of a watch is said 
to act upon the chain and wheels ; the sun beams, to act 
upon plants and trees : and the fire to act upon wood. 
Sometimes the word is used to signify motions, altera 
tions, and exertions of power, which are seen in corporal 
things, considered absolutely ; especially when these mo 
tions seem to arise from some internal cause which is hid 
den ; so that they have a greater resemblance of those 
motions of our bodies, which are the effects of natural 
volition or invisible exertions of will. So the fermenta 
tion of liquor, the operations of the loadstone, and of e- 
lectrical bodies, are called the action of these things. And 
sometimes, the word action is used to signify theexercise 
of thought or of will and inclination ; so meditating, lov 
ing, hating, inclining, disinclining, choosing, and refus- 

Sect. IL Fake and Inconsistent. 235 

ing 1 , may be sometimes called acting ; though more rare 
ly (unless it be by philosophers and metaphysicans) than 
in any of the other senses. 

But the word is never used in vulgar speech in that 
sense, which Arminian divines use it in, namely, for the 
self-determinate exercise of the will, or an exertion of 
the soul that arises without any necessary connection 
with any thing foregoing. If a man does something vo 
luntarily, or as the effect of his choice, then, in the most 
proper sense, and as the word is most originally and 
commonly used, he is said to act , but whether that choice 
or volition be self-determined or no, whether it be con 
nected with foregoing habitual bias, whether it be the 
certain effect of the strongest motive or some intrinsic 
cause, never comes into consideration in the meaning of 
the word. 

If the word action is arbitarily used by some men 
otherwise, to suit some stheme, of metaphysic or morality, 
no argument can reasonably be founded on such a use of 
this term, to prove any thing but their own pleasure. 
For divines and philosophers strenuously to urge such 
arguments, as though they were sufficient to support 
and demonstrate a whole scheme of moral philosophy 
and divinity, is certainly to erect a mighty edifice on 
the sand, or rather on a shadow. And though it may 
now perhaps, through custom, have become natural for 
them to use the word in this sense (if that may be cal 
led a sense or meaning, which is inconsistent with itself) 
yet this does not prove that it is agreeable to the natur 
al notions men have of things, or that there can be any 
thing in the creation that should answer such a mean 
ing. And though they appeal to Expeiience, yet the 
truth is, that men are so far from experiencing any such 
thing, that it is impossible for them to have any con 
ception of it. 

If it should be objected, that action and passion are 
doubtless words of a contrary signification ; but to sup 
pose that the agent, in its action, is under the power 

236 Arminian Notion of Action [Part IV. 

and influence of something intrinsic, is to confound ac 
tion and passion, and make them the same thing". 

I answer, That action and passion are doubtless, as 
they are sometimes used, words of opposite signification ; 
but not as signifying opposite existences, but only op 
posite relations. The words cause and effect are terms 
of opposite signification ; but, nevertheless, if I assert, 
that the same thing may, at the same time, in different 
respects and relations, be both cause and effect, this 
will not prove that I confound the terms. The soul 
may be both active and passive in the same thing in dif 
ferent respects ; active with relation to one thing, and 
passive with relation to another. The word passion, 
when set in opposition to action, or rather activeness, is 
merely a relative : it signifies no effect or cause, nor 
any proper existence ; but is the same with passiveness, 
or a being passive, or a being acted upon by something ; 
which is a mere relation of a thing to some power or 
force exerted by some cause, producing some effect in 
it or upon it. And action, when set properly in opposi 
tion to passion or passiveness, is no real existence; it is 
not the same with an action, but is a mere relation : it 
is the activeness of something on another thing, being 
the opposite relation to the other, viz. a relation of 
power or force, exerted by some cause, towards another 
thing, which is the subject of the effect of that power. 
Indeed, the word action is frequently used to signify 
something not merely relative, but more absolute, and a 
real existence ; as when we say an action j when the 
word is not used transitively, but absolutely, for some 
motion or exercise of body or mind, without any relation 
to any object or effect : and as used thus, it is not pro 
perly the opposite of passion; which ordinarily signifies 
nothing absolute, but merely the relation of being acted 
upon. And, therefore, if the word Action be used in 
the like relative sense, then action and passion are only 
two contrary relations. And it is no absurdity to sup 
pose, that contrary relations may belong to the same 
thing, at the same time, with respect to different things. 

Sect. II.] False and Inconsistent. 237 

So to suppose, that there are acts of the soul by which a 
man voluntarily moves, and acts upon objects, and pro 
duces effects, which yet themselves are effects of some 
thing else, and wherein the soul itself is the object of 
something acting upon, and influencing that, do not at 
all confound action and passion. The words may never 
theless be properly of opposite signification : there may 
be as true and real a difference between acting and being 
caused to act, though we should suppose the soul to be 
both in the same volition, as there is between living and 
being quickened, or made to live. It is no more a con 
tradiction to suppose, that action may be the effect of 
some other cause, besides the agent or being that acts, 
than to suppose, that life may be the effect of some other 
cause, besides the liver, or the being that lives in whom 
life is caused to be. 

The thing which has led men into this inconsistent no 
tion of action, when applied to volition, as though it were 
essential to this internal action, that the agent should 
be self-determined in it, and that the will should be the 
cause of it, was probably this ; that according to the 
sense of mankind, and the common use of language, it 
is so, with respect to men s external actions ; which are 
what originally, and according to the vulgar use and 
most proper sense of the word, are called Actions. Men 
in these are self-directed, self-determined, and their 
wills are the cause of the motions of their bodies, and 
the external things that are done ; so that unless men 
do them voluntarily, and of choice, and the action be de 
termined by their antecedent volition, it is no action or 
doing of theirs. Hence some metaphysicians have been 
led unwarily, but exceeding absurdly, to suppose the 
same concerning volition itself, that that also must be 
determined by the will ; which is to be determined by 
antecedent volition as the motion of the body is, not 
considering the contradiction it implies. 

But it is very evident, that in the metaphysical dis 
tinction between action and passion (though long since 
become common and the general vogue) due care has 

238 Arminian Notion of Necessity [Part IV. 

not been taken to conform language to the nature of 
things, or to any distinct clear ideas. As it is in innum 
erable other philosophical metaphysical terms, used in 
these disputes, which has occasioned inexpressible diffi 
culty, contention, error, and confusion. 

And thus probably it came to be thought, that neces 
sity was inconsistent with action, as these terms are ap 
plied to volition. First, these terms Action and Neces 
sity are changed from their original meaning, as signi 
fying external voluntary action and constraint (in which 
meaning they are evidently inconsistent) to signify quite 
other things, viz. volition itself, and certainty of exis 
tence. And when the change of signification is made, 
care is not taken to make proper allowances and abate 
ments for the difference of sense ; but still the same 
things are unwarily attributed to Action and Necessity t 
in the new meaning of the words, which plainly belong 
ed to them in their first sense ; and, on this ground, 
maxims are established without any real foundation, as 
though they were the most certain truths, and the most 
evident dictates of reason. 

But however strenuously it is maintained, that what is 
necessary cannot be properly called action, and that a 
necessary action is a contradiction, yet it is probable 
there are few Arminian divines, who, if thoroughly tried, 
would stand to these principles. They will allow, that 
God is, in the highest sense, an active Being, and the 
highest Fountain of life and action ; and they would not 
probably deny that those that are called God s acts of 
righteousness, holiness, and faithfulness, are truly and 
properly God s acts, and God is really a holy agent in 
them ; and yet, I trust they will not deny that God ne 
cessarily acts justly and faithfully, and that it is impos 
sible for Him to act unrighteous and unholy. 

Sect III.] The Reasons, Sfc. 239 


The Reasons why some think it contrary to 
Common sense, to suppose those Things which 
are necessary to be wort/it/ of cither Praise 
or Blame. 

TT is abundantly affirmed and urged by Arminian 
* writers, that it is contrary to common sense, and the 
natural notions and apprehensions of mankind, to sup 
pose otherwise than that necessity (making no distinc 
tion between natural and moral necessity) is inconsistent 
with virtue and vice, praise and blame, reward and pun 
ishment. And their arguments from hence have been 
greatly triumphed in ; and have been not a little per 
plexing to many who have been friendly to the truth, as 
clearly revealed in the holy Scriptures ; it has seemed 
to them indeed difficult to reconcile Calvinistic doctrines 
with the notions men commonly have of justice and equi 
ty. And the true reasons of it seem to be these that 
follow : 

I. It is indeed a very plain dictate of common sense, 
that natural necessity is wholly inconsistent with just 
praise or blame. If men do things which in themselves 
are very good, fit to be brought to pass, and very happy 
effects, properly against their wills, and cannot help it, 
or do them from a necessity that is without their wills 
hove no concern or connection, then it is a plain dic 
tate of common sense, that it is none of their virtue, nor 
any moral good in them ; and that they are not worthy 
to be rewarded or praised ; or at all esteemed, honour 
ed, or loved on that account. And, on the other hand, 
that if, from like necessity, they do those things which 
in themselves are very unhappy and pernicious, and do 
them because they cannot help it ; the necessity is such 
that it is all one whether they will them or no ; and the 
reason why they are done, is from necessity only, and 

240 Contrary to Common Sense. [Part IV. 

not from their wills ; it is a very plain dictate of com 
mon sense, that they are not at all to blame ; there is 
no vice, fault, or moral evil at all in the effect done ; nor 
are they, who are thus necessitated, in any wise worthy 
to be punished, hated, or in the least disrespected on 
that account. 

In like manner, if things in themselves, good and 
desirable, are absolutely impossible, with a natural im 
possibility, the universal reason of mankind teaches, 
that this wholly and perfectly excuses persons in their 
not doing them. 

It is also a plain dictate of common sense, that if the 
doing things in themselves good, or avoiding things in 
themselves evil, is not absolutely impossible with such a 
natural impossibility, but very difficult with a natural 
difficulty ; that is, a difficulty prior to, and not at all con 
sisting in, will and inclination itself, and which would 
remain the same, let the inclination be what it will ; 
then a person s neglect or omission is excused in some 
measure, though not wholly ; his sin is less aggravated, 
than if the thing to be done were easy ; and if, instead 
of difficulty and hindrance, there be a contrary natural 
propensity in the state of things, to the thing to be done 
or effect to be brought to pass, abstracted from any con 
sideration of the inclination of the heart ; though the 
propensity be not so great as to mount to a natural ne 
cessity ; yet being some approach to it, so that the do 
ing the thing be very much from this natural tendency 
in the state of things, and but little from a good inclina 
tion j then it is a dictate of common sense, that there is 
so much the less virtue in what is done ; and so it is 
less praise-worthy and rewardable. The reason is easy, 
viz. because such a natural propensity or tendency is an 
approach to natural necessity ; and the greater the pro 
pensity, still so much the nearer is the approach to ne 
cessity. And, therefore, as natural necessity takes away 
or shuts out all virtue, so this propensity approaches to 
an abolition of virtue ; that is, it diminishes it. Ai 
on the other hand, natural difficulty, in the state 

Sect. It!.] Contrary to Common Sense. 241 

things, is an approach to natural impossibility ; and as 
the latter, when it is complete and absolute, wholly 
takes away blame ; so such difficulty takes away some 
blame, or diminishes blame ; and makes the things done 
to be less worthy of punishment. 

II. Men, in their first use of such phrases as these, 
must, cannot, cannot help it, cannot avoid it, necessary, 
unable, impossible, unavoidable, irresistible, &c. use 
them to signify a necessity of constraint or restraint, a 
natural necessity or impossibility ; or some necessity that 
the will has nothing to do in ; which may be, whether 
men will or no; and which may be supposed to be just 
the same, let men s inclinations and desires be what 
they will. Such kind of terms in their original use, I 
suppose, among all nations, are relative ; carrying in 
their signification (as was before observed) a reference 
or respect to some contrary will, desire or endeavour, 
which, it is supposed, is or may be in the case. All men 
find, and begin to find in early childhood, that there are 
innumerable things that cannot be done, which they de 
sire to do ; and innumerable things which they are 
averse to, that must be, they cannot avoid tbem, they 
will be, whether they choose them or no. It is to ex 
press this necessity, which men so soon and so often find, 
and which so greatly and early affects them in innumer 
able cases, that such terms and phrases are first formed ; 
and it is to signify such a necessity, that they are first 
used, and that they are most constantly used in the 
common affairs of life ; and not to signify any such 
metaphysical, speculative, and abstract notion, as that 
connection in the nature or course of things, which is 
between the subject and predicate of a proposition, and 
which is the foundation of the certain truth of that pro 
position -, to signify which, they who employ themselves 
in philosophical inquiries into the first origin and meta 
physical relations and dependences of things, have bor 
rowed these terms for want of others. But we grow up 
from our cradles in a use of such terms and phrases en 
tirely different from this, and carrying a sense exceed- 

Why Calvinism is supposed [Part IV. 

ing diverse from that, in which they are commonly used 
in the controversy between Arminians and Calvinists. 
And it being 1 , as was said before, a dictate of the uni 
versal sense of mankind, evident to us as soon as we be 
gin to think, that the necessity, signified by these terms, 
in the sense in which we first learn them, does excuse 
persons, and free them from all fault or blame ; hence 
our ideas of excusableness or faultlessness is tied to these 
terms and phrases by a strong habit, which is begun in 
childhood, as soon as we begin to speak, and grows up 
with us, and is strengthened by constant use and custom, 
the connection growing stronger and stronger. 

The habitual connection which is in meiVs minds be 
tween blamelessness and those forementioned terms, 
must, cannot, unable, necessary, impossible, unavoidable, 
&c. becomes very strong ; because, as soon as ever men 
begin to use reason and speech they have occasion to 
excuse themselves, from the natural necessity signified 

7" these terms, in numerous instances : I cannot do it, 
could not help iL And all mankind have constant and 
daily occasion to use such phrases in this sense, to ex 
cuse themselves and others, in almost all the concerns of 
life, with respect to disappointments and things that hap 
pen, which concern and affect ourselves and others, that 
are hurtful or disagreeable to us or them, or things de 
sirable, that we or others fail of. 

That a being accustomed to an union of different ideas, 
from early childhood, makes the habitual connection ex 
ceeding strong, as though such connection were owing 
to nature, is manifest in innumerable instances. It is 
altogether by such an habitual connection of ideas, that 
men judge of the bigness or distance of the objects of 
sight, from their appearance. Thus it is owing to such 
a connection early established, and growing up with a 
person, that he judges a mountain, which he sees at ten 
miles distance, to be no bigger than his nose, or further 
of than the end of it. Having been us>ed so long to join a 
considerable distance and magnitude with such an ap 
pearance, men imagine it is by a dictate of natural sense , 

Sect. II.] Contrary to Common Sense. 243 

whereas, it would be quite otherwise with one that had 
his eyes newly opened, who had been born blind ; he 
would have the same visible appearance, but natural 
sense would dictate no such thing 1 , concerning the mag 
nitude or distance of what appeared. 

III. When men, after they had been so habituated 
to connect ideas of innocency or blamelessness with such 
terms, that the union seems to be the effect of mere na 
ture, come to hear the same terms used, and learn to 
use them themselves in the forementioned new and meta 
physical sense, to signify quite another sort of necessity, 
hcihvv has no such kind of relation to a contrary suppos- 
able will and endeavour; the notion of plain and manifest 
blamelessness, by this means, is, by a strong prejudice, 
insensibly and unwarily transferred to a case to which it 
by no means belongs ; the change of the use of the terms 
to a signification which is very diverse, not being taken, 
notice of or adverted to ; and there are several reasons 
why it is not : 

1. The terms, as used by philosophers, are not very 
distinct and clear in their meaning ; few use them in a 
fixed determined sense. On the contrary, their mean 
ing is very vague and confused ; which is what common 
ly appears to the words used to signify things intellectual 
and moral, and to express what Mr. Locke calls mixt 
modes. If men had a clear and distinct understanding 
of what is intended by these metaphysical terms, they 
would be able more easily to compare them with their 
original and common sense ; and so would not be so easily 
led into delusion by no sort of terms in the world, as by 
word3 of this sort. 

2. The change of the signification of the terms is the 
more insensible, because the things signified, though in 
deed very different, yet do in some generals agree. In 
necessity, that which is vulgarly so called, there is a 
strong connection between the thing said to benecessarly 
and something antecedent to it, in the order of nature, 
so there is also in philosophical necessity. And though 
In both kinds of necessity, the connection cannot be caK* 

244 Why Calvinism is supposed [Part IV. 

led by that name, with relation to an opposite will or 
endeavour, to which it is superior ; which is the case in 
vulgar necessity ; yet in both, the connection is prior 
to will and endeavour, and so, in some respect, superior. 
In both kinds of necessity, there is a foundation for some 

certainty of the proposition that affirms the event The 

terms used being the same, and the things signified a- 
greeing in these and some other general circumstances, 
and tiie expressions as used by pholosophers being not 
well defined, and so of obscure and loose signification ; 
lience persons are not aware of the great difference; had 
the notions of innocence or faultiness, which were so 
strongly associated with them, and were strictly united 
in their minds, ever since they can remember, remain 
united with them still, as if the union were altogether 
natural and necessary ; and they that go about to make a 
separation, seem to them to do great violence even to 
nature itself. 

IV. Another reason why it appears difficult to recon 
cile it with reason, that men should be blamed for that 
which is necessary with a moral necessity (which, as was 
observed before, is a species of philosophical necessity) 
is, that for want of due consideration, men inwardly en 
tertain that apprehension, that this necessity may be 
against men s wills and sincere endeavours. They go 
away with that notion, that men may truly will, and wish 
and strive that it may be otherwise ; but that invincible 
necessity stands in the way. And many think thus con 
cerning themselves ; some, that are wicked men, think 
they wish that they were good, that they loved God and 
holiness ; but yet do not find that their wishes produce 
the effect. The reasons why men think, are as follow : 
(1.) They find what may be called an indirect willing 
ness to have a better will, in the manner before observed. 
For it is impossible, and a contradiction to suppose the 
will to be directly and properly against itself. And they 
do not consider that this indirect willingness is entirely 
a different thing from properly willing the thing that is 
the duty and virtue required ; and that there is no vir- 

Sect. III.] Why Calvinism is supposed, Sfc. 245 

tue in that sort of willingness which they have. They 
do not consider, that the volitions which a wicked man 
may have that he loved God, are no acts of the will at 
all against the moral evil of not loving God ; but only 
some disagreeable consequences. But the making the 
requisite distinction requires more care of reflection and 
thought, than most men are used to. And men, through 
a prejudice in their own favour, are disposed to think 
well of their own desires and dispositions, and to account 
them good and virtuous, though their respect to virtue 
be only indirect and remote, and it is nothing at all that 
is virtuous that truly excites or terminates their incli 
nation. (2.) Another thing that insensibly leads and 
beguiles men into a supposition .that this moral necessi 
ty or impossibility is, or may be, against men s wills and 
true endeavours, is the derivation and formation of the 
terms themselves, that are often used to express it, 
which is such as seems directly to point to, and holds 
this forth. Such words, for instance, as unable, una 
voidable, impossible, irresistible ; which carry a plain 
reference to a supposable power exerted, endeavours 
used, resistance made, in opposition to the necessity ; 
and the persons that hear them, not considering nor 
suspecting but that they are used in their proper sense j 
that sense being therefore, understood, there does na 
turally, and as it were necessarily arise in their minds a 
supposition, that it may be so indeed, that true desires 
and endeavours may take place ; but that invincible ne 
cessity stands in the way, and renders them vain and to 
no effect. 

V. Another thing, which makes persons more ready 
to suppose it to be contrary to reason, that men should 
be exposed to the punishments threatened to sin, for 
doing those things which are morally necessary, or not 
doing those things morally impossible, is, that imagina 
tion strengthens the argument, and adds greatly to the 
power and influence of the seeming reasons ogainst it, 
from the greatness of that punishment. To allow that 
they may be justly exposed to a small punishment, would 


246 Necessary Virtue, fyc. [Part IV. 

not be so difficult. Whereas, if there were any good 
reason in the case, if it were truly a dictate of reason, 
that such necessity was inconsistent with faultiness or 
just punishment, the demonstration would he equally 
certain with respect to a small punishment, or any pun 
ishment at all, as a very great one ; but it is not equal 
ly easy to the imagination. They that argue against 
the justice of damning men for those things that are 
thus necessary, seem to make their argument the strong 
er, by setting forth the greatness of the punishment in 
strong expressions : That a man should be cast into 
eternal burnings, that he should be made to fry in hell to 
all eternity for those things which he had no power to a- 
void, and was under a fatal, unfrustrable, invincible 
necessity of doing. 


It is agreeable to Common Sense, and the na 
tural Notions of Mankind, to suppose Moral Ne 
cessity to be consistent with Praise and ~Blame, 
Reward and Punishment. 

WHETHER the reasons that have been given, 
why it appears difficult to some persons to recon 
cile with common sense the praising or blaming, reward 
ing or punishing those things which are morally neces 
sary, are thought satisfactory or not ; yet it most evi 
dently appears, by the following things, that if this mat 
ter be rightly understood, setting aside all delusion arising 
from the impropriety and ambiguity of terms, this is not 
at all inconsistent with the natural apprehensions of 
mankind, and that sense of things which is found every 
where in the common people, who are furthest from 
having their thoughts perverted from their natural chan 
nel, by metaphysical and philosophical subtilties j but, 

Sect. IV.] Contrary to common Sense. 247 

on the contrary, altogether agreeable to, and the very 
voice and dictate of this natural and vulgar sense. 

1. This will appear, if we consider what the vulgar 
notion of blame-worthiness is. The idea, which the 
common people, through all ages and nations, have of 
faultiness, I suppose to be plainly this : A jjerson s be 
ing or doing wrong with his own will and pleasure ; 
containing these two things : 1. His doing wrong, when 
he does as he pleases. 2. His pleasures bting wrong ; or, 
in other words, perhaps more intelligibly expressing 
their notion, A person having his heart wrong, and doing 
wrong from his heart : and this is the sum total of the 

The common people do not ascend up in their re 
flections and abstractions to the metaphysical sources, 
relations, and dependencies of things, in order to form 
their notion of faultiness or blame-worthiness. They 
do not wait till they have decided by their refinings, 
what first determines the will ; whether it be determin 
ed by something extrinsic, or intrinsic ; whether volition 
determines, volitions or whether the understanding deter 
mines the will ; whether there be any such thing as me- 
taphysicians meant by contingence(if they have any mean 
ing,) whether there be a sort of a strange unaccountable 
sovereignty in the will, in the exercise of which, by its 
own sovereign acts, it brings to pass all its own sover 
eign acts. They do not take any part of their notion 
of fault or blame from the resolution of any such ques 
tions. If this were the case, there are multitudes, yea 
the far greater part of mankind, nine hundred and ninety- 
nine out of a thousand, would live and die, without ha 
ving any such notion as that of fault, ever entering in 
to their heads, or without so much as one having any 
conception that any body was to be either blamed or 
commended for any thing. To be sure, it would be 
a long time before men came to have such notions. 
Whereas it is manifest, they are some of the first notions 
that appear in children ; who discover, as soon as they can 
think, or speak, or act at all as rational creatures, a sense 

248 Necessary Virtue, 8fc. [Part IV. 

of desert. And, certainly, in forming their notion of it ? 
they make no use of metaphysics. All the ground they go 
upon, consists in these two things ; experience and a 
natural sensation of a certain fitness or agreeableness, 
which there is in uniting such moral evil as is above 
described, viz. a being or doing wrong with the will, and 
resentment in others, and pain inflicted on the person 
in whom this moral evil -is. Which natural sense is 
what we call by the name of conscience. 

It is true, the common people and children, in their, 
notion of any faulty act or deed, of any person, do sup 
pose that it is the person s own act and deed. But this 
is all that belongs to what they understand by a thing s 
being a person s own deed or action ; even that it is 
something done by him of choice. That gome exercise 
or motion should begin of itself, does not belong to their 
notion of an action, or doing. If so, it would belong to 
their notion of it, that it is something which is the cause 
of its own beginning : and that is as much as to say, 
that it is before it begins to be. Nor is their notion of 
an action some motion or exercise, that begins acciden 
tally, without any cause or reason ; for that is contrary 
to one of the prime dictates of common sense, namely, 
that every thing that begins to be, has some cause or 
reason why it is. 

The common people, in their notion of a faulty or 
praise- worthy deed or work done by any one, do sup^ 
pose, that the man does it in the exercise of liberty ; 
but then their notion of liberty is only a person s having 
opportunity of doing as he pleases. They have no no 
tion of liberty consisting in the will s first acting, and so 
causing its own acts; and determining, and so causing 
its own determination, or choosing, and so causing its 
own choice. Such a notion of liberty is what none 
have, but those that have darkened their own minds 
with confused metaphysical speculation, and abstruse and 
ambiguous terms. If a man is not restrained from act 
ing as his will determines, or constrained to act other 
wise, then he has liberty, according to common notions 
of liberty, without taking into the idea that grand coi> 

Sect. IV.] Contrary to (Common Sense. 249 

tradiction of all, the determinations of a man s free will 
being the effects of the determinations of his free will. 
Nor have men commonly any notion of freedom consist 
ing- in indifference. For if so, then it would be agree 
able to their notion, that the greater indifference men 
act with, the more freedom they act with ; whereas, the 
reverse is true. He that in acting, proceeds with the 
fullest inclination, does what he does with the greatest 
freedom, according to common sense. And so far is it 
from being agreeable to common sense, that such liberty 
as consists in indifference is requisite to praise or blame, 
that, on the contrary, the dictate of every man s natural 
sense through the world is, that the further he is from 
being indifferent in his acting good or evil, and the 
more he does either with full and strong inclination, the 
more is he esteemed or abhorred, commended or con- 

II. If it were inconsistent with the common sense of 
mankind, that men should be either to be blamed or 
commended in any volitions they have or fail of, in case 
of moral necessity or impossibility, then it would surely 
also be agreeable to the same sense and reason of man 
kind, that the nearer the case approaches to such a mo 
ral necessity or impossibility, either through a strong 
antecedent moral propensity, on the one hand, * or a 
great antecedent opposition and difficulty on the other, 
the nearer does it approach to a being neither blame- 
able nor commendable ; so that acts exerted with such 
preceding propensity, would be worthy of proportion- 
ably less praise ; and when omitted, the act being at 
tended with such difficulty, the omission would be 
worthy of the less blame, It is so, as was observed before, 
with natural necessity and impossibility, propensity and 
difficulty, as it is a plain dictate of the sense of all man- 

* It is here argued on supposition, that not all propensity implies 
moral necessity, but only some very high degree ; which none will 

250 Necessary Virtue, 6fc. [ Part IV. 

kind, that natural necessity and impossibility take awaj 
ail blame and praise ; and therefore, that the nearer 
the approach is to these, through previous propen 
sity or difficulty, so praise and blame are propor- 
tionably diminishtd. And if it were as much a dic 
tate of common sense, that moral necessity of doing, or 
impossibility of avoiding takes away all praise and blame* 
as that natural necessity or impossibility does this ; then, 
by a perfect parity of reason, it would be as much the 
dictate of common sense, that an approach to moral ne 
cessity of doing, or impossibility of avoiding, diminishes 
praise and blame,, as that an approach to natural neces 
sity arid impossibility does so. It is equally the voice 
of common, sense, that persons are excusable in part, 
in neglecting things difficult against theic wills,, as that 
they are excusable wholly in neglecting things impossi 
ble against their wills. And if it made no difference, 
whether the impossibility were natural and against the 
will, or moral, lying in t?he will, with regard to ex- 
cusableness ; so neither would it make any difference, 
whether the difficulty, or approach to necessity be na 
tural against the will, or moral, lying in the propensity 
of the will. 

But it is apparent, that the reverse of these things is 
true. If there be an approach to a moral necessity in 
a man^s exertion of good acts of will, they being the 
exercise of a strong propensity to good, and a very 
powerful love to virtue ; it is so far from being the dic 
tate of common sense, that he is less virtuous, and the 
less to be esteemed, loved, and praised ; that it is agree 
able to the natural notions of all mankind, that he is so 
much the better man, worthy of greater respect, and 
higher commendation. And the stronger the inclination 
is, and the nearer it approaches to necessity in that re 
spect ; or to impossibility of neglecting the virtuous act, 
or of doing a vicious one , still the more virtuous, and 
worthy of higher commendation. And, on the other 
hand, if a man exerts evil acts of mind ; as for instance, 
acts of pride or malice from a rooted and strong habit or 

Sect. IV.] Agreeable to Common Sense. 251 

principle of haughtiness and maliciousness, and a violent 
propensity of heart to such acts ; according to the natur 
al sense of men, he is so far from being the less hateful 
and blameable on that account, that he is so much the 
more worthy to be detested and condemned, by all that 
observe him. 

Moreover, it is manifest that it is no part of the no 
tion, which mankind commonly have of a blameable or 
praise-worthy act of the will, that it is an act which is 
not determined by any antecedent bias or motive, but by 
the sovereign power of the will itself; because, if so, 
the greater hand such causes have in determining any 
acts of the will, so much the less virtuous or vicious 
would they be accounted ; and the less hand, the more 
virtuous or vicious. Whereas, the reverse is true : men 
do not think a good act to be the less praise-worthy, for 
the agent s being much determined in it by a good in 
clination or a good motive, but the more. And if good 
inclination or motive has but little influence in deter 
mining the agent, they do not think his act so much the 
more virtuous, but the less. And so concerning evil 
acts, which are determined by evil motives or inclina 

Yea, if it be supposed, that good or evil dispositions 
are implanted in the hearts of men, by nature itself 
(which, it is certain, is vulgarly supposed in innumerable 
cases) yet it is not commonly supposed, that men are 
worthy of no praise or dispraise for such dispositions ; 
although what is natural, is undoubtedly necessary, na 
ture being prior to all acts of the will whatsoever. Thus, 
for instance, if a man appears to be of a very haughty 
or malicious disposition, and is supposed to be so by his 
natural temper, it is no vulgar notion, no dictate of the 
common sense and apprehension of men, that such dis 
positions are no vices or moral evils, or that such persons 
are not worthy of disesteem, or odium and dishonour; 
or that the proud or malicious acts which flow from such 
natural dispositions, are worthy of no resentment. Yea, 
such vile natural dispositions, afld the strength of them, 

252 Necessary Virtue, 8fc. [Part IV. 

will commonly be mentioned rather as an aggravation of 
the wicked acts that come from such a fountain, than an 
extenuation of them. It being natural for men to act 
thus, is often observed by men in the height of their in 
dignation : they will say, " It is his very nature : he is 
of a vile natural temper; it is as natural to him to act 
so, as it is to breathe ; he cannot help serving the devil, 
&c." But it is not thus with regard to hurtful mischie 
vous things, that any are the subjects or occasions of, by 
natural necessity, against their inclinations. In such a 
case, the necessity, by the common voice of mankind, 
will be spoken of as a full excuse. Thus it will be spo 
ken of as a full excuse. Thus it is very plain, that com 
mon sense makes a vast difference between these two 
kinds of necessity, as to the judgment it makes of their 
influence on the moral quality and desert of men s ac 

These dictates of men s minds are so natural and ne 
cessary, that it may be very much doubted whether the 
Arminians themselves have ever got rid of them , yea, 
their greatest doctors, that have gone furthest in defence 
of their metaphysical notions of liberty, and have brought 
their arguments to their greatest strength, and, as they 
suppose, to a demonstration, against the consistence of 
virtue and vice with any necessity ; it is to be ques 
tioned, whether there is so much as one of them, but 
that, if he suffered very much from the injurious acts of 
a man, under the power of an invincible haughtiness and 
malignancy of temper, would not, from the foremention- 
ed natural sense of mind, resent it far otherwise, than if 
as great sufferings came upon him from the wind that 
blows, and fire that burns by natural necessity ; and o- 
therwise than he would, if he suffered as much from the 
conduct of a man perfectly delirious ; yea, though he 
first brought his distraction upon him some way by his 
own fault. 

Some seem to disdain the distinction that we make 
between natural and moral necessity, as though it were 
altogether impertinent in this controversy ; " that which 

Sect. IV ] Agreeable to Common Sense. 253 

is necessary (say they) is necessary ; it is that which 
must be, and cannot be prevented. And that which is 
impossible, is impossible, and cannot be done; and, there 
fore, none can be to blame for not doing it." And such 
comparisons are made use of, as the commanding of a 
man to walk who has lost his legs, and condemning and 
punishing him for not obeying ; inviting and calling upon 
a man who is shut up in a strong prison to come forth, 
&cc. But, in these things, Armenians are very unrea 
sonable. Let common sense determine whether there 
be not a great difference between those two cases : the 
one, that of a man who has offended his prince, and is 
cast into prison ; and after he has lain there awhile, the 
king comes to him, calls him to come forth to him ; and 
tells him, that if he will do so, and will fall down before 
him, and humbly beg his pardon, he shall be forgiven 
and set at liberty, and also be greatly enriched and ad 
vanced to honour ; the prisoner heartily repents of the 
folly and wickedness of his offence against his prince, is 
thoroughly disposed to abase himself, and accept of the 
king s offer ; but is confined by strong walls, with gates 
of brass and bars of iron. The other case, is that of a 
man who is of a very unreasonable spirit, of a haughty, 
ungrateful, wilful disposition ; and, moreover, has been 
brought up in traitorous principles ; and has his heart 
possessed with an extreme and inveterate enmity to his 
lawful sovereign ; and for his rebellion is cast into prison, 
and lies long there, loaded with heavy chains, and in mi 
serable circumstances. At length the compassionate 
prince comes to the prison, orders his chains to be knock 
ed off, and his prison- doors to be set wide open ; calls to 
him, and tells him, if he will come forth to him, and fall 
down before him, acknowledge that he has treated him 
unworthily, and ask his forgiveness, he shall be forgiven, 
set at liberty, and set in a place of great dignity and pro 
fit in his court ; but he is stout and stomachful, and full 
of haughty malignity, that he cannot be willing to ac 
cept the offer ; his rooted strong pride and malice have 

254 Calvinism consistent [Part IV. 

perfect power over him, and as it were bind him, by 
binding his heart ; the opposition of his heart has the 
mastery over him, having an influence on his mind far 
superior to the king s grace and condescension, and to 
all his kind offers and promises. Now, is it agreeable 
to common sense, to assert and stand to it, that there 
is no difference between these two cases, as to any 
worthiness or blame in the prisoners ; because, forsooth, 
there is a necessity in both, and the required act in each 
case is impossible ? It is true, a man s evil dispositions 
may be as strong and immovable as the bars of a castle. 
But who cannot see that when a man in the latter case, 
is said to be unable to obey the command, the expression 
is used improperly, and not in the sense it has originally 
and in common speech ? and that it may properly be 
said to be in the rebel s power to come out of prison, 
seeing he can easily do it if he pleases ; though by rea 
son of his vile temper of heart, which is fixed and rooted, 
it is impossible that it should please him ? 

Upon the whole, I presume there is no person of good 
understanding, who impartially considers the things 
which have been observed, but will allow, that it is not 
evident, from the dictates of the common sense or natur 
al notions of mankind, that moral necessity is inconsistent 
with praise and blame ; and, therefore, if the Arminians 
would prove any such inconsistency, it must be by some 
philosophical and metaphysical arguments, and not com 
mon sense. 

There is a grand illusion in the pretended demonstra 
tion of Arminians from common sense. The main 
strength of all these demonstrations lies in that preju 
dice, that arises through the insensible change of the use 
and meaning of such terms as liberty, able, unable, ne 
cessary, impossible, unavoidable, invincible, action, &c. 
from their original and vulgar sense, to a metaphysical 
sense, entirely diverse ; and the strong connection of 
the ideas of blamelessness, Sec. with some of these terms, 
by an habit contracted and established, while these terms 
used in their first meaning. This prejudice and 

Sect. IV.] With common Sense. 255 

delusion, is the foundation of all those positions, they 
lay down as maxims, by which most of the Scriptures, 
which they alledge in this controversy, are interpreted, 
and on which all their pompous demonstrations from 
Scripture and reason depend. From this secret delusion 
and prejudice they have almost all their advantages ; it 
is the strength of their bulwarks, and the edge of their 
weapons ; and this is the main ground of all the right 
they have to treat their neighbours in so assuming a 
manner, and to insult others, perhaps as wise and good 
as themselves, as weak bigots, men that dwell in the dark 
caves of superstition, perversely set, obstinately shutting 
their eyes against the noon-day light* enemies to common 
sense, maintaining thejirst-born of absurdities, &c. &c. 
But perhaps an impartial consideration of the things 
which have been observed in the preceding parts of this 
enquiry, may enable the lovers of truth better to judge 
whose doctrine is indeed absurd, abstruse, self-contradic 
tory, and inconsistent with common sense, and many 
ways repugnant to the universal dictates of the reason of 

Corol. From things which have been observed, it will 
follow, that it is agreeable to common sense to suppose, 
that the glorified saints have not their freedom at all di 
minished, in any respect : and that God himself has the 
highest possible freedom, according to the true and pro 
per meaning of the term ; and that he is in the highest 
possible respect, an agent, and active in the exercise of 
his infinite holiness : though he acts therein, in the 
highest degree necessarily : and his actions of this kind 
are in the highest, most absolutely perfect manner vir 
tuous and praise-worthy : and are so, for that very rea 
son, because they are most perfectly necessary, 

256 Endeavours not rendered, Sfc. [Part IV. 


Concerning those Objections, that this Scheme of 
Necessity render all Means and Endeavours 
for the avoiding of Sin, or the obtaining Vir 
tue and Holiness, vain, and to no Purpose ; 
and that it makes Men no more than mere 
Machines in Affairs of Morality and Religion. 

A RMINIANS say, if it be so, that sin and virtue 
- J ^- come to pass by a necessity consisting in a sure con 
nection of causes and effects, antecedents and consequents, 
it can never be worth the while to use any means or en 
deavours to obtain the one, and avoid the other ; seeing 
no endeavours can alter the futurity of the event, which 
is become necessary by a connection already established. 

But I desire that this matter may be fully considered ; 
and that it may be examined with a thorough strictness, 
whether it will follow that endeavours and means, in 
order to avoid or obtain any future thing, must be more 
in vain, on the supposition of such a connection of ante 
cedents and consequents, than if the contrary be sup 

For endeavours to be in vain, is for them not to be 
successful ; that is to say, for them not eventually to be 
the means of the thing aimed at, which cannot be, but in 
one of these two ways ; either, first, That although the 
means are used, yet the event aimed at does not follow : 
or, secondly, If the event does follow, it is not because 
of the means, or from any connection or dependence of 
the event of the means, the event would have come to 
pass, as well without the means as with them. If either 
of those two things are the case, then the means are not 
properly successful, and are truly in vain. The success- 
fulness or unsuccessful ness of means, in order to an effect, 
or their being in vain or not in vain, consists in those 
means being connected or not connected with the effect, 

Sect. V.] Endeavours not rendered, fc. 257 

in sucli a manner as this, viz. That the effect is with 
the means, and not without them ; or, that the being- of 
the effect is, on the one hand, connected with means, 
and the want of the effect, on the other hand, is connec 
ted with the want of the means. If there be such a 
connection as this between means and end, the means 
are not in vain : the more there is of such a connection, 
the further they are from being in vain : and the less of 
such a connection, the more they are in vain. 

Now, therefore, the question to be answered (in or 
der to determine whether it follows from this doctrine of 
the necessary connection between foregoing things and 
consequent ones, that means used in order to any effect, 
are more in vain than they would be otherwise) is, 
whether it follows from it, that there is less of the fore- 
mentioned connection between means and effect ; that is, 
whether, on the supposition of there being a real and 
true connection between antecedent things and conse 
quent ones, there must be less of a connection between 
means and effect, than on the supposition of their being 
no fixed connection between antecedent things and con 
sequent ones ; and the very stating of this question is 
sufficient to answer it. It must appear to every one 
that will open his eyes, that this question cannot be af 
firmed, without the grossest absurdity and inconsistence. 
Means are foregoing things, and effects are following 
things ; and if there were no connection between fore 
going things and following ones, there could be no con 
nection between means and end ; and so all means would 
be wholly vain and fruitless. For it is by virtue of some 
connection only, that they become successful * it is some 
connection observed or revealed, or otherwise known, 
between antecedent things and following ones that is 
what directs in the choice of means. And if there were 
no such thirtg as an established connection, there could 
be no choice, as to means ; one thing would have no 
more tendency to an effect, than another ; there would 
be no such thing as tendency in the case. All thoso 
things which are successful means of other things, do 


258 Endeavours not rendered, Sfc. [Part IV. 

therein prove connected antecedents of them ; and there 
fore to assert, that a fixed connection between antece 
dents and consequents makes means vain and useless, 
or stands in the way to hinder the connection between 
means and end, is just so ridiculous, as to say, that a 
connection between antecedents and consequents stands 
in the way to hinder a connection between antecedent* 
and consequents. 

Nor can any supposed connection of the succession or 
train of antecedents and consequents, from the very be 
ginning of all things, the connection being- made already 
sure and necessary, either by established laws of nature, 
or by these together, with a degree of sovereign im 
mediate interpositions of divine power, on such and such 
occasions, or any other way (if any other there be) ; I 
say, no such necessary connection of a series of antece 
dents and consequents can in the least tend to hinder, 
but that the means we use may belong to the series ; and 
so may be some of those antecedents which are connect 
ed with the consequents we aim at, in the established 
course of things. Endeavours which we use, are things 
that exist , and, therefore, they belong to the general 
chain of events ; all the parts of which chain are sup 
posed to be connected ; and so endeavours are supposed 
to be connected with some effects, or some consequent 
things or other. And certainly this does not hinder 
but that the events they are connected with, may be 
those which we aim at, and which we choose, because 
we judge them most likely to have a connection with 
those events, from the established order and course of 
things which we observe, or from something in divine 

Let us suppose a real and sure connection between a 
man s having his eyes open in the clear day-light, with 
good organs of sight, and seeing ; so that seeing is con 
nected with his opening his eyes, and not seeing with 
his not opening his eyes, and also the like connection be 
tween such a man s attempting to open his eyes, and 
his actually doing it, the supposed established connec- 

Sect. V.] Means and Endeavours, 8{c. 259 

tion between these antecedents and consequents, let the 
connection be ever so sure and necessary, certainly does 
not prove that it is in vain, for a man in such circum 
stances to attempt to open his eyes, in order to seeing, 
his aiming at that event, and the use of the means, be 
ing the effect of his will, does not break the connection, 
or hinder the success. 

So that the objection we are upon does not lie against 
the doctrine of the necessity of events by a certainty of 
connection and consequence ; on the contrary, it is truly 
forcible against the Arminian doctrine of contingence 
and self-determination, which is inconsistent with such a 
connection. If there be no connection between those 
events, wherein virtue and vice consist, and any thing 
antecedent, then there is no connection between these 
events and any means or endeavours used in order to 
them ; and if so, then those means must be in vain. 
The less there is of connection between the foregoing 
things and following ones, so much the less there is be 
tween means and end, endeavours and success ; and in 
the same proportion are means and endeavours ineffec 
tual and in vain. 

It will follow from Arminian principles, that there is 
no degree of connection between virtue or vice, and any 
foregoing event or thing ; or, in other words, that the 
determination of the existence of virtue or vice do not 
in the least depend on the influence of any thing that 
eomes to pass antecedently, from which the determination 
of its existence is, as its cause, means, or ground ; be 
cause, so far as it is so, it is not from self-determination, 
and, therefore, so far there is nothing of the nature of 
virtue or vice. And so it follows, that virtue and vice 
are not at all, in any degree dependant upon, or connec 
ted with any foregoing event or existence, as its cause, 
ground or means ; and, if so, then all foregoing means 
must be totally in vain. 

Hence it follows, that there cannot, in any consis 
tence with the Arminian scheme, be any reasonable 
ground of so much as a conjecture concerning the conse- 

260 I3tj the Arminian Scheme. [Part IV. 

quence of any means and endeavours, in order to escap 
ing vice or obtaining; virtue, or any choice or preference 
of means, as having a greater probability of success by 
some than others; either from any natural connection 
or dependence of the end on the means, or through any 
divine constitution, or revealed way of God s bestowing 
or bringing- to pass these things, in any consequence of 
any means, endeavours, prayers, or deeds. Conjectures, 
in this latter case, depend on a supposition, that God 
himself is the Giver, or determining cause of the events 
sought; but if they depend on self-determination, then 
God is not the determining or disposing Author of them ; 
and if these things are not of his disposal, then no con 
jecture can be made, from any revelation he has given, 
concerning any way or method of his disposal of them. 

Yea, on these principles, it will not only follow, that 
men cannot have any reasonable ground of judgment or 
conjecture, that their means and endeavours to obtain 
virtue or avoid vice, will be successful, but they may be 
sure they will not ; they may be certain that they will 
be in vain ; and that if ever the thing, which they seek, 
comes to pass, it will not be at all owing to the means 
they use ; for means and endeavours can have no effect 
at all, in order to obtain the end, but in one of these 
two ways: either (1.) Through a natural tendency and 
influence, to prepare and dispose the mind more to vir 
tuous acts, either by causing the disposition of the heart 
to be more in favour of such acts, or by bringing the 
mind more into view of powerful motives and induce 
ments ; or (2.) By putting persons more in the way of 
God s bestowment of the benefit. But neither of these 
can be the case. Not the latter ; for, as has been just 
now observed, it does not consist with the Arminian no 
tion of self-determination, which they suppose essential 
to virtue, that God should be the Bestower, or (which 
is the same thing) the determining, disposing Author of 
virtue. Not the former ; for natural influence and ten 
dency supposes causality and connection ; and supposes 
necessity of event, which is inconsistent with 

Sect. V.] Calvinism docs not encourage Sloth. 26 1 

liberty. A tendency of means, by biassing the heart in 
favour of virtue, or by bringing the will under the in 
fluence and power of motives in its determinations, are 
both inconsistent with Arminian liberty of will, consist 
ing in indifference, and sovereign self-determination, as 
has been already demonstrated. 

But for the more full removal of this prejudice against 
the doctrine of necessity, which has been maintained, as 
though it tended to encourage a total neglect of all en 
deavours as vain, the following things may be consid 
ered : 

The question is not, Whether men may not thus im 
prove this doctrine : we know that many true and whole 
some doctrines are abused ; but, \Yhether the doctrine 
gives any just occasion for such an improvement ; or 
whether, on the supposition of the truth of the doctrine, 
such a use of it would not be unreasonable ? If any 
shall affirm, that it would not, but that the very nature 
of the doctrine is such as gives just occasion for it, it 
must be on this supposition ; namely, that such an in 
variable necessity of all things already settled, must ren 
der the interposition of all means, endeavours, conclu 
sions, or actions of ours, in order to the obtaining any 
future end whatsoever, perfectly insignificant ; because 
they cannot in the least alter or vary the course and se 
ries of things, in any event or circumstance ; all being 
already fixed unalterably by necessity ; and that there 
fore it is folly for men to use any means for any end, 
but their wisdom, to save themselves the trouble of en 
deavours, and take their ease. No person can dravr 
such an inference from this doctrine, and come to such 
a conclusion, without contradicting himself, and going 
counter to the very principles he pretends to act upon ; 
for he comes to a conclusion, and takes a course, in 
order to an end, even his ease, or the saving himself 
from trouble ; he seeks something future, and uses 
means in order to a future thing, even in his drawing up 
that conclusion, that he will seek nothing, and use no 
means in order to any thing in future ; he seeks his fu- 

Calvinism docs not encourage Sloth. [Part IV, 

ture ease, and the benefit and comfort of indolence. If 
prior necessity, that determines all things, makes vain 
all actions or conclusions of ours, in order to any thing in 
future ; then it makes vain all conclusions and conduct 
of ours, in order to our future ease. The measure of 
our ease, with the time, manner, and every circumstance 
of it, is already fixed, by all-determining- necessity, as 
much as any thing else. If he says within himself, 
" What future happiness OF misery I shall have, is al 
ready, in effect, determined by the necessary course and 
connection of things ; therefore, I will save myself the 
trouble of labour and diligence, which cannot add to my 
determined degree of happiness, or diminish my misery ; 
but will take my ease, and will enjoy the comfort of 
sloth and negligence ;"" such a man contradicts himself; 
he says, the measure of his future happiness and misery 
is already fixed, and he will not try to diminish the one, 
nor add to the other : but yet, in his very conclusion, he 
contradicts this : for, he takes up this conclusion, to add 
to his future happiness, by the ease and comfort of his 
negligence ; and to diminish his future trouble and 
misery, by saving himself the trouble of using means and 
taking pains. 

Therefore persons cannot reasonably make this im 
provement of the doctrine of necessity, that thev will go 
into a voluntary negligence of means for their own hap 
piness. For the principles they must go upon, in order 
to this, are inconsistent with their making any improve 
ment at all of the doctrine : for to make some improve 
ment of it, is to be influenced by it, to come to some 
voluntary conclusion, in regard to their own conduct, 
with some view or aim : but this, as has been shewn, is 
inconsistent with the principles they pretend to act upon. 
In short, the principles are such as cannot be acted upon 
at all, or, in any respect, consistently ; and, therefore in 
every pretence of acting upon them, or making any im 
provetnent at all of them, there is a self-contradiction. 

As to that objection against the doctrine, which I 
have endeavoured to prove, that it makes men no more 

Sect. V.] Calvinism does not encourage Sloth. 263 

than mere machines : I would say, that notwithstanding 
this doctrine, man is entirely, perfectly, and unspeakably 
different from a mere machine, in that he has reason and 
understanding, and has a faculty of will, and so is capa 
ble of volition and choice : and in that, his will is guided 
by the dictates or views of his understanding ; and in 
that his external actions and behaviour, and, in many 
respects, also his thoughts, and the exercises of his mind, 
are subject to his will ; so that he has liberty to act ac 
cording to his choice, and do what he pleases ; and by 
means of these things, is capable of moral habits and 
moral acts, such inclinations and actions as, according to 
the common sense of mankind, are worthy of praise, es 
teem, love, and reward ; or, on the contrary, of dises- 
teem, detestation, indignation, and punishment. 

In these things is all the difference from mere ma 
chines, as to liberty and agency, that would by any per 
fection, dignity, or privilege, in any respect : all the dif 
ference that can be desired, and all that can be conceived 
of; and indeed all that the pretensions of the Arminians 
themselves come to, as they are forced often to explain 
themselves though their explications overthrow and abo 
lish the things asserted, and pretended to be explained ;) 
for they are forced to explain a self-determining power 
of will, by a power in the soul, to determine as it choos 
es or wills ; which comes to no more than this, that a 
man has a power of choosing, and, in many instances, 
can do as he chooses. Which is quite a different thing 
from that contradiction, his having power of choosing his 
first act of choice in the case. 

Or, if their scheme makes any other difference than 
thisj between men and machines, it is for the worse : it 
is so far from supposing men to have a dignity and pri 
vilege above machines, that it makes the manner of their 
being determined still more unhappy. Whereas, ma 
chines are guided by an understanding cause, by the 
skilful hand of the workman or owner; the will of man 
is left to the guidance of nothing, but absolute blind 

264 Of the Stoic Faith. [Part IV- 


Concerning that objection against the doctrine 
which has been maintained, that it agrees with 
the Stoical doctrine of Fate t and the opinions 
of Mr Hobbes. 

Calvinists oppose the Arminian notion of 
the freedom of will, and contingence of voli 
tion, and insist that there are no acts of the will, nor 
any other events whatsoever, but what are attended with 
some kind of necessity, their opposers cry out of them 
as agreeing with the ancient Stoics in their doctrine of 
Fate, and with Mr Hobbes in his opinion of Necessity. 

It would not be worth while to take notice of so im 
pertinent an objection, had it not been urged by some of 
the chief Arminian writers. There were many impor 
tant truths maintained by the ancient Greek and Roman 
philosophers, and especially the Stoics, that are never the 
worse for being held by them. The Stoic philosophers, 
by the general agreement of Christian divines, and even 
Arminian divines, were the greatest, wisest, and most 
virtuous of all the heathen philosophers ; and, in their 
doctrine and practice, came the nearest to Christianity 
of any of their sects. How frequently are the sayings 
of these philosophers, in many of the writings and ser 
mons, even of Arminian divines, produced, not as argu 
ments of the falseness of the doctrines which they deliver 
ed, but as a confirmation of some of the greatest truths 
of the Christian religion, relating to the unity and per 
fections of the God-head, a future state, the duty and 
happiness of mankind, #c. ; as observing how the light 
of nature and reason, in the wisest and best, of the hea 
then, harmonized with, and confirms the gospel of Jesus 

And it is very remarkable, concerning Dr Whitly, 
that although he alledges the agreement of the Stoics 

Sect. VI.] Of the Stoic Faith, Sfc. 265 

with us, wherein he supposes they maintained the like 
doctrine with us, as an argument against the truth of our 
doctrine ; yet, this very Dr Whitby alledges the agree 
ment of the Stoics with the Arminians, wherein he sup 
poses they taught the same doctrine with them, as an ar 
gument for the truth of their doctrine.* So that when 
the Stoics agree with them, this (it seems) is a confir 
mation of their doctrine, and a confutation of ours, as 
shewing that our opinions are contrary to the natural 
sense and common reason of mankind : nevertheless, 
when the Stoics agree with us, it argues no such thing 
in our favour ; but, on the contrary, is a great argument 
against us, and shews our doctrine to be heathenish. 

It is observed by some Calcinistic writers, that the 
Arminians symbolize with the Stoics, in some of those 
doctrines wherein they are opposed by the Cahinisls ; 
particularly in their denying an original innate, total 
corruption and depravity of heart ; and in what they 
held of man s ability to make himself truly virtuous 
and conformed to God ; and in some other doctrines. 

It may be further observed, it is certainly no better 
objection against our doctrine, that it agrees, in some 
respects, with the doctrine of the ancient Stoic philoso 
phers, than it is against theirs, wherein they differ from 
us, that it agrees, in some respects, with the opinion 
of the very worst of the heathen philosophers, the fol 
lowers of Epicurus, that father of Atheism and Licen 
tiousness, and with the doctrine of the Sadduces and 

I am not much concerned to know precisely, what the 
ancient Stoic philosophers held concerning Fate, in or 
der to determine what is truth ; as though it were a sure 
way to be in the right, to lake good heed to differ 
from them. It seems, that they differed among them 
selves j and probably the doctrine of Fate, as maintain- 

* Whitly on the Five Points, Edit. 3, p. 326, 327. 
A A. 

266 Of the Stoic Faith. [Part IV. 

ed by most of them, was in some respects, erroneous. 
But whatever their doctrine was, if any of them held 
such a Fate, as is repugnant to any liberty, consisting 
in our doing as we please, 1 utterly deny such a Fate. 
If they held any such fate, as is not consistent with the 
common and universal notions that mankind have of 
liberty, activity, moral agency, virtue and vice ; I dis 
claim any such thing, and think I have demonstrated, 
that the scheme I maintain is no such scheme. If the 
Stoics by Fate, meant any thing of such a nature, as can 
be supposed to stand in the way of the advantage and 
benefit of the use of means and endeavours, or make it 
less worth while for men to desire, and seek after any 
thing wherein their virtue and happiness consists ; I 
hold no doctrine that is clogged with any such incon 
venience, any more than any other scheme whatsoever ; 
and by no means so much as the Arminian scheme of 
contingence, as has been shewn. .. If they held any such 
doctrine of universal fatality, as is inconsistent with any 
kind of liberty, that is or can be any perfection, dignity, 
privilege, or benefit, or any thing desirable ; in any res 
pect, for any intelligent creature, or indeed with any li 
berty that is possible or conceivable ; I embrace no such 
doctrine. If they held any such doctrine of Fate, as is 
inconsistent with the world s being in all things subject 
to the disposal of an intelligent, wise Agent, that pre 
sides, not as the soul of the world, but as the sovereign 
Lord of the universe, governing all things by proper 
will, choice, and design, in the exercise of the most per 
fect liberty conceivable, without subjection to any con 
straint, or being properly under the power or influence 
of any thing before, above, or without himself, I wholly 
renounce any such doctrine. 

As to Mr Hobbes 1 maintaining the same doctrine con 
cerning Necessity ; I confess, it happens I never read 
Mr Hobbes. Let his opinion be what it will we need not 
reject all truth which is demonstrated by clear evidence 
merely because it was once held by some bad man. 

Sect. VII.] Of the Stoic Faith, S^c. 267 

This great truth, that Jesus is the Son of God, was not 
spoiled because it was once and again proclaimed with a 
loud voice by the Devil. If truth is so defiled, because it 
is spoken by the mouth, or written by the pen of some ill- 
minded mischievous man, that it must never be receiv 
ed, we shall never know when we hold any of the most 
precious and evident truths by a sure tenure ; and if 
Mr Hobbes has made a bad use of this truth, that is to 
be lamented ; but the truth is not to be thought worthy 
of rejection on that account. It is common for the cor 
ruptions of the hearts of evil men to abuse the best 
things to vile purposes. 

I might also take notice of its having been observed, 
that the Arminians agree with Mr Hobbes in many 
more things than the Calvinists *. As, in what he is 
said to hold concerning original sin, in denying the ne 
cessity of supernatural illumination, in denying infused 
grace, in denying the doctrine of justification by faith 
alone, and other things. 


Concerning the Necessity of the Divine Will 

^< OME may possibly object against what has been sup- 
^ posed of the absurdity and inconsistence of a self-de 
termining power in the will, and the impossibility of its 
being otherwise, than that the will should be determined 
in every case by some motive, and by a motive which 
(as it stands in the view of the understanding) is of supe 
rior strength to any appearing on the other side ; that if 
these things are true, it will follow, that not only the 
will of created minds, but the will of God himself is ne- 

Dr, Gill, iu his Answer to Dr. Whitby. Vol. Ill, p. 183, &c. 

268 Concerning the Necessity [Part IV. 

cessary in all its determinations. Concerning which, 
says the author of the Essay on the Freedom of the Will 
in God, and in the Creature, (p. 85, 86.) " What 
strange doctrine is this, contrary to al! our ideas of the 
dominion of God ? Does it not destroy the glory of his 
Jiberty of choice, and take away from the Creator, Go 
vernor, and Benefactor of the world, that most free and 
sovereign Agent, all the glory of this sort of freedom ? 
Does it not seem to make him a kind of mechanical me 
dium of fate, and introduce Mr Hobbcs 1 doctrine of fata 
lity and necessity, into all things that God hath to do 
with ? Does it not seem to represent the blessed God 
as a Being of vast understanding, as well as power and 
efficiency, but still to leave him without a will to choose 
among all the objects within his view ? In short, it seems 
to make the blessed God a sort of Almighty Minister of 
Fate, under its universal and supreme influence ; as 
it was the professed sentiment of some of the antients, 
that Fate was above the gods." 

This is declaiming, rather than arguing ; and an ap 
plication to men s imaginations and prejudices, rather 
than to mere reason. But I would calmly endeavour to 
consider, Whether there be any reason in this frightful 
representation ? But, before I enter upon a particular 
consideration of the matter, I would observe this : That 
it is reasonable to suppose, it should be much more dif 
ficult to express or conceive things according to exact 
metaphysical truth, relating to the nature and manner 
of the existence of things in the divine understanding 
and will, and the operation of these faculties (if I may 
so call them) of the divine mind, than in the human 
mind ; which is infinitely more within our view, and 
nearer to a proportion to the measure of our compre 
hension, and more commensurate to the use and import 
of human speech. Language is indeed very deficient, 
in regard of terms to express precise truth concerning 
our own minds, and their faculties and operations. 
Words were first formed to express external things ; 
and those htat are applied to express things internal and 

Sect., VII.] Of the Divine Volition. 

spiritual, are almost all borrowed, and used in a sort of 
figurative sense. Whence they are, most of them, at 
tended with a great deal of ambiguity and unfixed ness 
in their signification, occasioning innumerable doubts, 
difficulties, and confusions, in enquiries and controver 
sies, about things of this nature. But language is much 
less adapted to express things in the mind of the incom 
prehensible Deity, precisely as they are. 

We find a great deal of difficulty in conceiving exact 
ly the nature of our own souls; and notwithstanding all 
the progress which has been made, in past and present 
ages, in this kind of knowledge, whereby our metaphy 
sics, as it relates to these things, is brought to greater 
perfection than once it was; yet, here is still work e- 
nough left for future enquiries and researches, and room 
for progress stilt to be made, for many ages and genera 
tions ; but we had need to be infinitely able metaphy 
sicians, to conceive with clearness, according to strict, 
proper, and perfect truth, concerning the nature of the 
divine essence, and the modes of the action and opera 
tion of the powers of the divine mind, 

It may be noted particularly, that though we are obli 
ged to conceive of some things in God as consequent 
and dependent on others, and of some things pertaining 
to the divine nature and will as the foundation of others, 
and so before others in the order of nature ; as, we must 
conceive of the knowledge and holiness of God as prior, 
in the order of nature, to his happiness ; the perfection 
of his understanding, as the foundation of his wise pur 
poses and decrees ; the holiness of his nature, as the 
cause and reason of his holy determinations ; and yet, 
\vhen we speak of cause and effect, antecedent and con 
sequent, fundamental and dependent, determining and 
determined, in the first Being, who is self-existent, in 
dependent, of perfect and absolute simplicity and immu 
tability, and the first cause of all things ; doubtless there 
must be less propriety in such representations, than when 
we speak of derived dependent beings, who are conv 

270 Concerning the Necessity, fyc. [Part IV. 

pounded, and liable to perpetual mutation and succes 

Having premised this, I proceed to observe concern 
ing the forementioned author s exclamation, about the 
necessary determination of God s will, in all things, by 
what he sees to be fittest and best. 

That all the seeming force of such objections and ex 
clamations must arise from an imagination, that there is 
some sort of privilege or dignity in being without such 
a moral necessity, as will make it impossible to do any 
other than always choose what is wisest and best ; as 
though there \vere some disadvantage, meanness, and 
subjection, in such a necessity ; a thing by which the 
will was confined, kept under, and held in servitude by 
something, which, as it were, maintained a strong and 
invincible power and dominion over it, by bonds that 
held him fast, and that he could by no means deliver 
himself from. Whereas, this must be all mere imagina 
tion and delusion. It is no disadvantage or dishonour 
to a being, necessarily to act in the most excellent and 
happy manner, from the necessary perfection of his own 
nature. This argues no imperfection, inferiority, or de 
pendence, nor any want of dignity, privilege, or ascen 
dency *. It is not inconsistent with the absolute and 

* " It might have been objected, with more plausibleness, that the 
Supreme Cause cannot be free, because he must needs do always what 
is best in the whole. But this would not at all serve Spinoza s purpose ; 
for this is a necessity, not of nature and of fate, but of fitness and wis 
dom ; a necessity consistent with the greatest freedom, and most per- 
feet choice. For the only foundation of this necessity is such an unal 
terable rectitude of will, and perfection of wisdom, as makes it impossi 
ble for a wise being to act foolishly." Clark s Demonstration of the Being 
and Attributes of Cod. Edit. 6, p. 64. 

" Though God is a most perfect free agent, yet he cannot but do 
always what is best and wisest in the whole. The reason is evident ; 
because perfect wisdom and goodness are as steady and certain prin 
ciples of action, as necessity itself; and an infinitely wise and good 
being, indued with the most perfect liberty, can no more choose to act 
in contradiction to wisdom and goodness, than a necessary agent can 
act contrary to the necessity by which it is acted ; it being as great 

Sect. VII.] Necessity of acting most wisely, 271 

most perfect sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of 
God is his ability and authority to do whatever "pleases 
him ; whereby He doth according to his will in the ar 
mies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of tut earth, 

an absurdity and impossibility in choice, for infinite wisdom to choose to 
act unwisely, cr infinite goodness to choose what is not good, as it 
would be in nature, for absolute necessity to fail of producing its 
necessary effect. There was, indeeed, no necessity in nature, that God 
should at first create such beings as he has created, or indeed any 
being at all ; because he is in Himself infinitely happy and all-suf 
ficient. There was, also, no necessity in nature, that lie should pre 
serve and continue things in being, after they were created ; because 
he would be self-sufficient without their continuance, as he was before 
their creation. But it was fit, wise, and good, that infinite wisdom 
should manifest, and infinite goodness communicate itself ; and there- 
fore it was necessary, in the sense of necessity I am now speaking 
of, that things should be made at such a time and continued so long 
and indeed with various perfections in such degrees, as infinite wis 
dom and goodness saw it wisest and best that they should." Ibid. 
p. 112,113. 

" 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 This is 

so far from being a restraint or diminution of freedom, that it is the 
very improvement and benefit of it ; it is not an abridgement, it is the 
end and use of our liberty; and the further we are removed from 
such a determination, the nearer we are to misery and slavery. 
A perfect indifference in the mind, not determinablc by its lastjudg- 
rnent, 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 
nature, that it would be as great an imperfection, as* the want of 
indifferency to act, or not to act, till determined by the will, would 
be an imperfection, on the other side. 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 the perfec 
tion. 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. This very end of our freedom being, that we might at 
tain the good we choose ; and, therefore, every man is brought under 
a necessity by his constitution, as an intelligent being, to be de 
termined in willing by his own thought and judgmenCwhat 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 
will, 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 
same time that he wills and acts for it. For if he prefers it in his 

272 Necessity of acting most wisely, Sfc. [Part IV. 

and none can stay his hand) or say unto him, What 
dost thou ? The following things belong to the so 
vereignty of God ; viz. (1.) Supreme, Universal, and 
Infinite Power; whereby he is able to do what he 

presenfthoughts, 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 If we look upon those superior beings 
above us, who enjoy perfect happiness, we shall have reason to judge, 
that they 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 what 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 nut his being determined by 

what it lest But to give a right view of this mistaken part of 

liberty, let me ask, Would any one be a changeling, because he is 
less determined bv wise determination than a wise man ? is it worth . 
the name of Freedom to be at liberty to 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 judg 
ment, that keeps us from doing or choosing the worse, be liberty, 
true liberty, mad men and fools are the only free men. Yet, I 
think, no body would choose to be mad, for the sake of such liberty, 
but he that is mad already." Locke Hum. Und. Vol. I, edit. 7, 
p. 215, 216, 

"This Being, having all things always necessarily in view, must 
always, and eternally will, according to his infinite comprehension 
of things ; that is, must will all things that are wisest and best to be 
done. There is no getting free of this consequence. If it can 
will at all, it must will this way. To be capable of knowing, 
and not capable of willing, is not to be understood. And to be capa- . 
ble of willing, otherwise than what is wisest and best, contradicts 
that knowledge which is infinite. Infinite Knowledge must direct 
the will without error. Here then is the origin of moral Necessity ; and 
that is really, of freedom Perhaps it may be said, when the Divine will 
is determined, from the consideration of the eternal apitudes of 
things, it is as necessarily determined, as if it were physically impel 
led, if that were possible. But it is unskilfulness to suppose this an 
objection. The great principle is or.ce established, viz. That the 
Divine Will is determined by the eternal reason and apitudes of 
things, instead of being physically impelled ; and after that, the more 
strong and necessary this determination is the more perfect, the Dei 
ty must be allowed to be : it is this that makes him an amiable and 
adorable Being, -whose Will and Power are constantly, immutably de 
termined, by the consideration of what is wisest and best; instead of 
a surd Being, with power, but without discerning and reason. It is 

Sect. VII.] Necessity of acting most wisely, 273 

pleases, without controul, without any confinement of 
that power, without any subjection, in the least measure, 
to any other power ; and so without any hindrance or 
restraint, that it should he either impossible, or at all diffi 
cult, for him to accomplish his will ; and without any depen 
dence of his power on any other power, from whence it 
should be derived, or which it should stand in any need 
of; so far from this, that all other power is derived from him, 
and is absolutely dependent on him. (2.) That Me has 
supreme authority ; absolute and most perfect right to do 
what he wills, without subjection to any superior authori 
ty, or any derivation of authority from any other, or 
limitation by any distinct independent authority, either 
superior, equal or inferior ; he being the head of all do 
minion, and Fountain of all authority ; and also without 
restraint by any obligation, implying either subjection, 
derivation, or dependence, or proper limitation. (3.) 
That his will is supreme, underived, and independent 
on any thing without himself; being in every thing de 
termined by his own counsel, having no other rule but 
his own wisdom ; his will not being subject to, or re 
strained by the will of any other, and other wills being 
perfectly subject to his. (4,) That his wisdom, which 
determines his will, is supreme, perfect, underived, self- 
sufficient and independent : so that it may be said, as in 
Isaiah xl. 14, With whom took He counsel? And who 
instructed Him and taught him in the path of Judgment, 
and taught him knowledge, and shewed him the way of 
understanding ? There is no otlur divine sovereignty 
but this, and this is properly absolute sovereignty ; rvo 
other is desirable ; nor would any other be honourable 

the leant y of this Necessity, that it iimirwigasfotc itself, with all the ad 
vantage of reason and goodness. It is strange, t see men con tend, that 
the Deity is not free, because he is necessarily rational, immutably 
good and wise; when a man is allowed still the perfecter bein^, the 
moi*e fixedly and constantly his will is determined by reason and 
truth." " Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul." J^dit. 3, 
Vol. U. p. 403, 40k 

274 Agreeable to most perfect Liberty. [Part IV. 

or happy ; and indeed, there is no other conceivable or 
possible. It is the glory and greatness of the divine 
Sovereign, that God s will is determined by his own in 
finite all-sufficient wisdom in every thing ; and in no 
thing at all is either directed by any inferior wisdom, or 
by no wisdom ; whereby it would become senseless arbi 
trariness, determining and acting without reason, design, 
or end 

If God s will is steadily and surely determined in every 
thing by supreme wisdom, then it is in every thing ne 
cessarily determined to that which is most wise. And, 
certainly, it would be a disadvantage and indignity to be 
otherwise ; for if the divine will was not necessarily de 
termined to that, which in every case is wisest and best, 
it must be subject to some degree of undesigning con- 
tingence ; and so in the same degree liable to evil. To 
suppose the divine will liable to be carried hither and 
thither at random, by the uncertain wind of blind con-- 
tingence, which is guided by no wisdom, no motive, no 
intelligent dictate whatsoever, (if any such thing were 
possible) would certainly argue a great degree of imper 
fection and meanness, infinitely unworthy of the Deity* 
If it be a disadvantage for the divine will to be attended 
with this moral necessity, then the more free from it, and 
the more left at random, the greater dignity and advan 
tage ; and, consequently, to be perfectly free from the 
direction of understanding, and universally and entirely 
left to senseless unmeaning contingence, to act absolute 
ly at random, would be the supreme glory. 

It no more argues any dependence of God s will, 
that his supremely wise volition is necessary, than it 
argues a dependence of his being, that his existence is 
necessary. If it be something too low for the Supreme 
Being to have his will determined by moral necessity, so 
as necessarily, in every case, to will in the highest de 
gree holily and happily, then why is it not also some 
thing too low for him to have his existence, and the in 
finite perfection of his nature, and his infinite happiness 
determined by necessity ? It is no more to God s dis- 

Sect. "VII.] Necessity of acting most wisely , 275 

honour to be necessarily wise, than to he necessarily 
holy. And, if neither of them be to his dishonour, then 
it is not to his dishonour necessarily to act holily and 
wisely. And if it be not dishonourable to be necessarily 
holy and wise, in the highest possible degree, no more 
is it mean and dishonourable, necessarily to act holily 
and wisely in the highest possible degree ; or, which is 
the same thing, to do that, in every case, which, above 
all other things, is wisest and best. 

The reason why it is not dishonourable to be neces 
sarily most holy, is, because holiness in itself is an ex 
cellent and honourable thing. For the same reason, it 
is no dishonour to be necessarily most wise, and, in 
every case, to act most wisely, or do the thing which is 
the wisest of all ; for wisdom is also in itself excellent 
and honourable. 

The forementioned author of the Essay on the Free 
dom of Will, &cc. as has been observed, represents that 
doctrine of the Dirine Will s being in every thing ne 
cessarily determined by superior fitness, as making the 
blessed God a kind of Almighty minister and mechanicaj 
medium of fate : and he insists (p. 92, 94) that this 
moral necessity and impossibility is, in effect, the same 
thing with physical and uatural necessity and impossibi 
lity : and in p. 54, 55, he says, " The scheme which 
determines the will always and certainly by the under 
standing, and the understanding by the appearance of 
things, seems to take away the true nature of vice and 
virtue. For the sublimest of virtues and the vilest of 
vices, seem rather to be matters of fate and necessity, 
flowing naturally and necessarily from the existence, the 
circumstances, and present situation of persons and 
things : for this existence and situation necessarily makes 
such an appearance to the mind ; from this appearance 
Hows a necessary perception and judgment, concerning 
these things ; this judgment necessarily determines the 
will : and thus, by this chain of necessary causes, virtue 
and vice would loose their nature, and become natural 

No Meanness or Disadvantage. [Part IV. 

ideas and necessary things, instead of moral and free ac 

And yet this same author allows (p. 30, 51), That a 
perfectly wise being will constantly and certainly choose 
what is most fit; and says, (p. 102, 103) " I grant, and 
always have granted, that wheresoever there is such an 
tecedent superior fitness of things, God acts according to 
it; so as never to contradict it ; and, particularly, in all 
his judicial proceedings as a Governor and Distributer 
of rewards and punishments."" Yea, he says expressly, 
(p. 42.) " That it is not possible for God to act other 
wise than according to this fitness and goodness in 

So that according to this author, putting these several 
passages of this Essay together, there is no virtue, nor 
any thing of a moral nature, m the most sublime and 
glorious acts and exercises of God s holiness, justice, and 
faithfulness ; and he never does any thing which is in 
itself supremely worthy, and, above all other things, fit 
and excellent, but only as a kind of mechanical medium 
of fate ; and in what he does as the Judge and moral Go 
vernor of the world, he exercises no moral excellency ; 
exercising no freedom in these things, because he acts 
by moral necessity, which is, in effect, the same with 
physical or natural necessity ; and, therefore, he only 
acts by an Hobbistical fatality ; as a Being indeed of 
vast understanding., as well as a power and efficiency (as 
he said before) but without a will to choose, being a kind 
of Almighty Minister of Fate, acting under a supreme 
influence. For he allows, that in all these things, God s 
Will is determined constantly and certainly by a supe 
rior fitness, and that it is not possible for him to act 
otherwise. And if these things are so, what glory or 
praise belongs to God for doing holily and justly, or 
taking the most fit, holy, wise, and excellent course, in 
any one instance ? Whereas according to the Scrip 
tures, and also the common sense of mankind, it does 
not, in the least, derogate from the honour of any being, 
that, through the moral perfection of his nature, he ne- 

Sect. VII.] Necessity of acting most wisely. 277 

cessarily acts with supreme wisdom and holiness : but, on 
the contrary, his praise is the greater. Herein consists 
the height of his glory. 

The same author (p. 56) supposes that herein ap 
pears the excellent character of a wise and good man, 
that though he can choose contrary to the fitness of things ^ 
yet he does not ; but suffers himself to be directed by Jit- 
ness ; and that, in this conduct, he imitates the blessed 
God. And yet, he supposes it is contrariwise with the 
blessed God ; not that he suffers himself to be directed 
by fitness, when he can choose contrary to thejitness of 
things ; as he says (p. 42) That it is not possible for 
God to act otherwise than according to his fitness , where 
there is any Jitness or goodness in things ; yea, he sup 
poses (p. 51), That if a man were perfectly wise and good 9 
he could not do otherwise than be constantly and certain 
ly determined by thejitness of things. 

One thing more I would observe, before I conclude 
this section ; and that is, that if it derogates nothing from 
the glory of God, to be necessarily determined by super 
ior fitness in some things, then neither does it to be 
thus determined in all things ; from any thing in the 
nature of such necessity, as at all detracting from God s 
freedom, independence, absolute supremacy, or any dig 
nity or glory of his nature, state, or manner of acting j 
or as implying any infirmity, restraint, or subjection; 
and if the thing be such as well consists with God s 
glory, and has nothing- tending at all to detract from it, 
then we need not be afraid of ascribing it to God in too 
many things, lest thereby we should detract from God s 
glory too much. 

B B 

278 Of God s creating the World [Part 


Some further Objection s against the Moral Ne 
cessity of God s* Volition considered. 

T 1 

IHE author la^t cited, as has been observed, owns 
that God, being perfectly wise, will constantly and 
certainly choose what appears most fit, where there is a 
superior fitness and goodness in things ; and that it is 
not possible for him to do otherwise. So that it is in 
effect confessed, that in those things where there is any 
real preferableness, it is no dishonour, nothing in any 
respect unworthy of God, for him to act from necessity ; 
notwithstanding all that can be objected from the agree 
ment of such a necessity, with the fate of the Stoics, and 
the necessity maintained by Mr Hobbes. From which 
it will follow, that if it were so, that in all the different 
things, among which God chooses, there were evermore 
a superior fitness or preferableness on ^one side, then it 
would be no dishonour, or any thing, in any respect un 
worthy or unbecoming of God, for his will to be neces 
sarily determined in every thing ; and if this be allowed, 
it is giving up entirely the argument, from the unsuita- 
bleness of such a necessity to the liberty, supremacy, in 
dependence, and glory of the divine Being ; and a rest 
ing the whole weight of the affair on the decision of 
another point wholly diverse ; viz, Whether it be so in 
deed, that in all the various possible things, which are 
in God s view, and may be considered as capable objects 
of his choice, there is not evermore a preferableness in 
one thing above another. This is denied by this author ; 
who supposes, that in many instances, between two or 
more possible things, which come within the view of the 
divine mind, there is a perfect indifference and equality, 
as to fitness or tendency, to attain any good end which 
God can have in view, or to answer any of his designs. 

Sect. VIII. ] At such a Time and Place. 279 

Now, therefore, I would consider whether this be evi 

The arguments brought to prove this, are of two 
kinds: (1.) It is urged, that, in many instances, we 
must suppose there is absolutely no difference between 
various possible objects of choice, which God has in 
view ; and (2.) That the difference between manj things 
is so inconsiderable, or of such a nature, that it would 
be unreasonable to suppose it to be of any consequence ; 
04* to suppose that any of God s wise designs, would not 
be answered in one way as well a the other. There 

I. The first thing to be considered is, Whether there 
are any instances wherein there is a perfect likeness, and 
absolutely no difference, between different objects of 
choice, that are proposed to the divine understanding ? 

Here, in the first place, it may be worthy to bo con 
sidered, vvhether the contradiction there is in the terms 
of the question proposed, does not gi*e reason to sus 
pect, that there is an inconsistency in the thing supposed. 
It is enquired, Whether different objects of choice may 
not be absolutely without difference ? If they are ab 
solutely without difference, then how are they different 
objects of choice ? If there be absolutely no difference, 
in any respect, then there is no variety or distinction ; 
for distinction is only by some difference ; and if there 
be no variety among proposed objects of choice, then 
there is no opportunity for variety of choice, or differ 
ence of determination ; for that determination of a thing, 
which is not different in any respect, is not a different 
determination, but the same. That this is no quibble, 
may appear more fully anon. 

The arguments to prove that the Most High, in some 
instances, chooses to do one thing rather than another, 
where the things themselves are perfectly without differ 
ence, are two. 

1. That the various parts of infinite time and space, 
absolutely considered, are perfectly alike, and do not dif 
fer at all one from another j and that therefore, when 

280 Of God s creating the World. [Part IV. 

God determined to create the world in such a part of in 
finite duration and space, rather than others, he deter 
mined to create the world in such a part of infinite du 
ration and space, rather than others, he determined and 
preferred, among various objects between which there 
was no preferableness, and absolutely no difference. 

Answer. This objection supposes an infinite length 
of time before the world was created, distinguished by 
successive parts, properly and truly so ; or a succes 
sion of limited and immeasurable periods of time, follow 
ing one another, in an infinitely long series ; which 
must needs be a groundless imagination. The eternal 
duration, which was before the world, being only the 
eternity of God s existence ; which is nothing else but 
his immediate, perfect, and invariable possession of the 
whole of his unlimited life, together and at once ; vitce 
tnterminabilis, tota simid fy perjtcta possessio ; which is 
so generally allowed, that 1 need not stand to demon 
strate it * 

" * If all created beings were taken away, all possibility of any 
mutation or succession of one thing to another, would appear to be 
also removed. Abstract succession in eternity is scarce to be under 
stood. What is it that succeeds? One minute to another, perhaps, 
vclut undo. upervenit uttilam. But when we imagine this, we fancy that 
the minutes are things separately existing. This is the common no 
tion ; and yet it is a manifest prejudice. Time is nothing but the ex 
istence of created successive beings, and eternity the necessary exis 
tence of the Deity. Therefore, if this necessary being hath no change 
or succession in his nature, his existence must of course be unsucces- 
sive. We seem to commit a double oversight in this case ,first, we find 
succession in the necessary nature and existence of the Deity himself; 
Avhich is wrong, if the reasoning 1 above be conclusive ; and then we 
ascribe this succession to eternity, considered abstractedly from the 
Eternal Being; and suppose it, one knows not what a thing subsisting 
by itself, and flowing one minute after another. This is the work of 
pure imagination, and contrary to the reality of things. Hence the 
common metaphorical expressions Time runs a pace , let us lay hold on 
the present minute, and the like. The philosophers themselves mislead 
us by their illustration. They compare etemity to the motion of a 
point running on for ever, and making a traceless infinite line. Here 
the point is supposed a thing actually subsisting, representing the 
present minute ; and then they ascribe motion or succession to \\ ; 

Sect. VIII.] At such a Time and Place. 281 

So this objection supposes an extent of space beyond 
the limits of the creation, of an infinite length, breadth 
and depth, truly and properly distinguished into dif 
ferent measureable parts, limited at certain stages, one 
beyond another, in an infinite series ; which notion of 
absolute and infinite space is doubtless as unreasonable 
as that now mentioned, of absolute and infinite dura 
tion. It is as improper to imagine, that the immensity 
and omnipresence of God is distinguished by a series of 
miles and leagues, one beyond another ; as that the infi 
nite duration of God is distinguished by months and years, 
one after another. A diversity and order of distinct 
parts, limited by certain periods, is as conceivable, and 
does as naturally obtrude itself on our imagination, in 
one case as the other ; and there is equal reason in each 
case to suppose, that our imagination deceives us. 
It is equally improper, to talk of months and years of 
the divine existence, and miles squares of Deity ; and 
we equally deceive ourselves, when we talk of the 
world s being differently fixed, with respect to either 
of these sorts of measures I think, we know not what 
we mean, if we say, the world might have been different 
ly placed from what it is, in the broad expanse of infini 
ty ; or, that it might have been differently fixed in the 
long line of eternity ; and all arguments and objections, 
which are built on the imaginations we are apt to 
have of infinite extension or duration, are buildings 
founded on shadows, or castles in the air. 

2. The second argument, to prove that the Most 
High wills one thing rather than another, without any 
superior fitness or preferableness in the thing pre- 

that is, they ascribe motion to a mere non-entity, to illustrate to us a 

successive eternity, made up of finite successive parts. If once 

we allo\v an all-perfect mind, which hath an eternal, immutable, and 
infinite comprehension of all things, always (and allow it we must) the 
distinction of past and future vanishes with respect to such a mind. 
In a word, if we proceed step by step, as above, the eternity or exist 
ence of the Deity will appear to be -cite interminabilis, tola, simul $ 
perfecta yosscssio; how much soever this may have been a paradox 
hitherto. Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Sunl. Vol.. II, v 
409, 410,411, editions, 


282 Of God s Creating the World [Fart IV. 

ferred, is God s actually placing, in different parts of the 
world, particles, or atoms of matter, that are perfectly 
equal and alike. The forementioned author says, (p. 78, 
&c.) " If one would descend to the minute specific 
particulars, of which different bodies are composed, we 
should see abundant reason to believe, that there are 
thousands of such little particles, or atoms of matter, 
which are perfectly equal and alike, and could give no 
distinct determination to the will of God where to place 
them." He there instances, in particles of water, of 
which there are such immense numbers, which compose 
the rivers and oceans of this world, and the infinite my 
riads of the luminous and fiery particles which com 
pose the body of the Sun ; so many, that it would be 
very unreasonable to suppose no two of them should be 
exactly equal and alike. 

Answer. (1.) To this I answer: That as we must 
suppose matter to be infinitely divisible, it is very un 
likely that any two, of all these particles, are exactly 
equal and alike ; so unlikely, that it is a thousand to 
one, yea, an infinite number to one, but it is otherwise ; 
and that although we should allow a great similarity 
between the different particles of water and fire, as to 
their general nature and figure ; however small we sup 
pose those particles to be, it is infinitely unlikely, that 
any two of them should be exactly equal in dimensions 
and quantity of matter. If we should suppose a great 
many globes of the same nature with the globe of the 
earth, it would be very strange, if there were any two 
of them that had exactly the same number of particles 
of dust and water in them. But infinitely less strange 
than that two particles of light should have just the same 
quantity of matter. For a particle of light, according 
to the doctrine of the infinite divisibility of matter, is 
composed of infinitely more assignable parts than there 
are particles of dust and water in the globe of the earth ; 
and as it is infinitely unlikely, that any two of the.se par 
ticles should be equal., so it is, that they should be alike 

Sect. VIII.] At suck a Time and Place. 283 

in other respects ; to instance in the configuration of 
their surfaces. If there were very many globes of the 
nature of the earth, it would be very unlikely that any 
two should have exactly the same number of particles 
of dust, water, and stone, in their surfaces, and all post 
ed exactly alike, one with respect to another, without 
any difference, in any part discernible either by the na 
ked eyeor microscope, but infinitely lessstrange, than that 
two particles of lightshould be perfectly of the same figure. 
For there are infinitely more assignable real parts on 
the surface of a particle of light, than there arc parti 
cles of dust, water, and stone on the surface of the ter 
restrial globe. 

Answer. (2.) But then, supposing that there are two 
particles or atoms of matter perfectly equal and alike, 
which God has placed in different parts of the creation 
(as I will not deny it to be possible for God to make two 
bodies perfectly alike, and put them in different places) 
yet it will not follow, that two different or distinct acts, 
or effects of the divine power have exactly the same fit 
ness or the same ends. For these two different bodies are 
not different or distinct, in any other respects than those 
wherein they differ ; they are two in no other respects 
than those wherein there is a difference. If they are 
perfectly equal and alike in themselves, then they can 
be distinguished, or be distinct, only in those things 
which are called circumstances ; as place, time, rest, 
motion, or some other present or past circumstances or 
relations; for it is difference only that constitutes dis 
tinction. If God makes two bodies, in themselves every 
way equal and alike, and agreeing perfectly in all other 
circumstances and relations, but only their place, then 
in this only is there any distinction or duplicity. The 
figure is the same, the measure is the same, the solidity, 
and resistence are the same, and every thing the same ; 
but only the place. Therefore, what the will of God de 
termines, is this, namely, that there should be the same 
figure, the same extension, the same resistance, &c. 

284 Of God s placing differently [Part IV. 

in two different places. And for this determination her 
has some reason. There is some end, for which such a 
determination and act has a peculiar fitness, above all 
other acts. Here is no one thing determined without 
an end, and no one thing without a fitness for that end, 
superior to any thing else. If it be the pleasure of God 
to cause the same resistance, and the same figure, to be 
in two different places and situations, wo can no more 
justly argue from it, that here must be some determina 
tion or act of Go<rs will, that is wholly without motive 
or end, then we can argue, that whenever, in any case, 
it is a man^s will to speak the same words, or make the 
same sounds at two different times : there must be some 
determination or act of his will, without any motive or 
end. The difference of place, in the former case, proves 
no more than the difference of the time does in the 
other. If any one should say, with regard to the for 
mer case, that there must be something determined 
without an end ; viz. that of those two similar bodies, 
this in particular should be made in this place, and the 
other in the other, and should enquire, Why the Crea 
tor did not make them in a transposition, when both are 
alike, and each would equally have suited either place ? 
The enquiry supposes something that is not true ; name 
ly, that the two bodies differ and are distinct in other 
respects besides their place. So that with this distinc 
tion inherent in them, they might, in their first creation, 
have been transposed, and each might have begun its- 
existence in the place of the other. 

Let us, for clearness sake, suppose, that God had, at 
the beginning, made two globes, each of an inch diameter, 
both perfect spheres, and perfectly solid, without pores, 
and perfectly alike in every respect, and placed them 
near one to another, one towards the right hand, and the 
other towards the left, without any difference as to time, 
motion, or rest, past or present, or any circumstance, but 
only their place ; and the question should be asked, why 
God in their creation placed them so ? Why that which 
is made on the right hand, was not made on the left, and 

Sect. VIII.] Similar Practices. 280 

vice versa ? Let it be well considered, whether there 
be any sense in such a question ; and whether the en 
quiry does not suppose something 1 false, and absurd. 
Let it be considered, what the Creator must have done 
otherwise than he did, what different act of will or power 
he must have exerted, in order to the thing- proposed. 
All that could have been done, would have been to have 
made two spheres, perfectly alike, in the same places 
where he has made them, without any difference of the 
things made, either in themselves or in any circumstan 
ces ; so that the whole effect would have been without 
any difference, and, therefore, just the same. By the 
supposition, the two spheres are different in no other 
respect but their place ; and therefore, in other respects, 
they are the same. Each has the same roundness ; it 
is not a distinct rotundity, in any other respect but its 
situation. There are also the same dimensions, differ 
ing in nothing but their place ; and so of their resistance, 
and every thing else that belongs to them. 

Here, if any choose to say, " That there is a differ 
ence in another respect, viz. that they arc not NUMERI 
CALLY the same ; that it is thus with all the qualities 
that belong to them ; that it is confessed, they are, in 
some respects, the same ; that is, they are both exactly 
alike ; but yet numerically they differ. Thus the round 
ness of one is not the" same numerical, individual round 
ness with that of the other." Let this be supposed ; 
then the question about the determination of the divine 
will in the affair, is, Why did God will that this indi* 
vidual roundness should be at the right hand, and the 
other individual roundness at the left? Why did not 
he make them in a contrary position ? Let auy rational 
person consider, whether such questions be not words 
without a meaning 1 ; as much as if God should see fit 
for some ends, to cause the same sounds to be repeated, 
or made at two different times ; the sounds being per 
fectly the same in every other respect, but only one was 
a minute after the other; and it should be asked upon 
it, Why God caused these sounds, numerically different, 

286 Of Gotfs choosing among, Sfc. [Part IV. 

one to succeed the other in such a manner ? Why he 
did not make that individual sound, which was in the 
first minute to be in the second, and the individual 
sound of the last minute to be in the first ? which en 
quiries would be even ridiculous ; as, I think, every per 
son must see at once, in the case proposed of two sounds, 
being only the same repeated, absolutely without any 
difference, but that one circumstance of time. If the 
Most High sees it will answer some good end, that the 
same sound should be made by lightning at two distinct 
times, and therefore wills that it should be so, must it" 
needs therefore be, that herein there is some act of God s 
will without any motive or end ? God saw fit often, at 
distinct times, and on different occasions, to say the very 
same words to Moses; namely, those, I am Jehovah. 
And would it not be unreasonable to infer, as a certain 
consequence, from this, that here must be some act or 
acts of the divine will, in determining and disposing these 
words exactly alike, at different times, wholly without- 
aim or inducement ? But it would be no more unrea 
sonable than to say, that there must be an act of GodY 
without any inducement, if he sees it best, and for some 
reasons, determines that there shall be the same resis 
tance, the same dimensions, and the same figure, in se 
veral distinct places. 

If. in the instance of the two spheres > perfectly alike, 
it be supposed possible that God might have made them 
in a contrary position ; that which is made at the right 
hand, being made at the left; then I ask, Whether it 
is not evidently equally possible, if God had made but 
one of them, and that in the place of the right hand 
globe, that he might have made that numerically differ 
ent from what it is, and numerically different from what 
he did make it, though perfectly alike, and in the same 
place, and at the same time, and in every respect, in the 
same circumstances and relations ? Namely, Whether 
he might not have made it numerically the same with 
that which he has now made at the left hand ; and so 

Sect. VIII.] AndThings of trivial Difference. 287 

have left that which is now created at the right hand, 
in a state of non-existence ? And, if so, Whether it 
would not have been possible to have made one in that 
place, perfectly like these, and yet numerically differing 
from both ? And let it be considered, whether from this 
notion of numerical difference in bodies, perfectly equal 
and alike, which numerical difference is something- in 
herent in the bodies themselves, and diverse from the 
difference of place or time, or any circumstance whatso 
ever, it will not follow, that there is an infinite number 
of numerically different possible bodies, perfectly alike, 
among which God chooses, by a self-determining power, 
when he goes about to create bodies. 

Therefore, let us put the case thus : Supposing that 
God, in the beginning, had created but one perfectly 
solid sphere in a certain place, and it should be enquired, 
Why God created that individual sphere, in that place, 
at that time ? And why he did not create another sphere 
perfectly like it, but numerically different, in the same 
place, at the same time? or why he chose to bring into 
being there, that very body, rather than any of the in 
finite number of other bodies, perfectly like it, either of 
which he could have made there as well, and would have 
answered his end as well ? Why he caused to exist, at that 
place and time, that individual roundness, rather than 
any other of the infinite number of individual rotundities, 
just like it? Why that individual resistance, rather than 
any other of the infinite number of possible resistances, 
just like it ? And it might as reasonably be asked, Why, 
when God first caused it to thunder, he caused that indi 
vidual sound then to be made, and not another just like it ? 
Why did he make choice of this very sound, and reject 
all the infinite number of other possible sounds just like 
it, but numerically differing from it, and all differing one 
from another ? I think, every body must be sensible 
of the absurdity and nonsense of what is supposed in 
such enquiries ; and, if we calmly attend to the matter, 
we shall be convinced, that all such kind of objections as 

288 Of God s choosing, Sfc. [Part IV, 

I am answering, are founded on nothing but the imper 
fection of our manner of conceiving things, and the ob- 
scureness of language, and great want of clearness and 
precision in the signification of terms. 

If any shall find fault with this reasoning, that it is 
going a great length into metaphysical niceties and sub- 
tilities ; I answer, the objection which they are in reply 
to, is a metaphysical subtilty, and must be treated ac 
cording to the nature of it *. 

II. Another thing alleged is, that innumerable things 
which are determined by the divine will, and chosen and 
done by God rather than others, differs from those that 
are not chosen in so inconsiderable a manner, that it 
would be unreasonable to suppose the difference to be of 
any consequence, or that there is any superior fitness or 
goodness, that God can have respect to in the determin 

To which I answer, It is impossible for us to deter 
mine, with any certainty or evidence, that because the 
difference is very small, and appears to us of no con 
sideration, therefore there is absolutely no superior good 
ness, and no valuable end, which can be proposed by 
the Creator and Governor of the world, in ordering such 
a difference. The forementioned author mentions many 
instances. One is, there being one atom in the whole 
universe more or less. But, I think, it would be un 
reasonable to suppose that God made one atom in vain, 
or without any end or motive. He made not one atom, 
but what was a work of his Almighty Power, as much 
as the whole globe of the earth, and requires as much 
of a constant exertion of Almighty Power to uphold 
it ; and was made and is upheld understandingly and 
on design, as much as if no other had been made but 
that ; and it would be as unreasonable to suppose, that 

* " For men to have recourse to subtilities, in raising difficulties, 
and then complain that they should be taking off by minutely exam 
ining these subtilities, is a strange kind of procedure." Nature of 
the Human Soul. Vol. 2, p. 331. 

Sect. VIII.] And things of trivial difference. L 28<) 

he made it without any thing really aimed at in so doin-r, 
as much as to suppose, that he made the planet Jupiter 
without aim or design. 

It is possible, that the most minute effects of the 
Creator s power, the smallest assignable difference be- 
tween the things which God has made, maybe attended, 
in the whole series of event?, and tbc whole compass and 
extent of their influence, with very great and important 
consequences. If the laws of motion and gravitation, 
laid down by Sir Isaac Newton, hold universally, there 
is not one atom, nor the least assignable part of an atom, 
but what has influence, every moment, throughout the 
whole material universe, to cause every part to be other 
wise than it would be, if it were not for that particular 
corporeal existence ; and however the effect is insensi 
ble for the present, yet it may, in length of time, become 
great and important. 

To illustrate this, let us suppose two bodies moving 
the same way, in straight lines, perfectly parallel one to 
another; but to be diverted from this parallel course, 
and drawn one from another, as much as might be by the 
attraction of an atom, at the distance of one of the furth 
est of the fixed stars from the earth ; these bodies be 
ing turned out of the lines of their parallel motion, will, 
by degrees, get further and further distant, one from 
the other ; and though the distance may be impercepti 
ble for a long time, yet at length it may become very 
great. So the revolution of a planet round the sun be 
ing retarded or accelerated, and the orbit of its revolution 
made greater or less, and more or less elliptical, and so 
its periodical time longer or shorter, no more than may 
be by the influence of the least atom, might, in length 
of time, perform a whole revolution sooner or later thair 
otherwise it would have done; which might makea vast al 
teration with regard to millions of important events. So 
the influence of ihe least particle may, for ought we know, 
have such effect on something in the constitution of some 
human bady, as to cause another thought to arise in the 

Necessity Consistent, Sfc. [Part IV. 

mind at a certain time, than otherwise would have been ; 
which, in length of time, (yea, and that not very great) 
might occasion a vast alteration through the whole world 
of mankind*, and so innumerable other ways might be 
mentioned, wherein the least assignable alteration may 
possibly be attended;with great consequences. 

Another argument, which the forementioned author 
brings against a necessary determination of the divine 
will, by a superior fitness, is, that such doctrine dero 
gates from the freeness of God s grace and goodness, in 
choosing the objects of his favour and bounty, and from 
the obligation upon men to thankfulness for special be 
nefits. P. 89, &c. 

In answer to this objection, I would observe, 

1. That it derogates no more from th goodness of 
God, to suppose the exercise of the benevolence of his 
nature to be determined by wisdom, than to suppose it 
determined by chance, and that his favours are bestow 
ed altogether at random, his will being determined by 
nothing but perfect accident, without any end or design 
whatsoever; which must be the case, as has been de 
monstrated, if volition be not determined by a prevail 
ing motive. That which is owing to perfect contin- 
gence, wherein neither previous inducement, nor ante 
cedent choice has any hand, is not owing more to good 
ness or benevolence, than that which is owing to the in 
fluence of a wise end. 

2. It is acknowledged, that if the motive that deter 
mines the will of God, in the choice of the objects of 
his favours, be any moral quality in the object, recom 
mending that object to his benevolence above others, his 
choosing that object is not so great a manifestation of 
the freeness and sovereignly of his grace, as if it were 
otherwise. But there is no necessity of supposing this, 
in order to our supposing that he has some wise end in 
view, in determining to bestow his favours on one per 
son rather than another. We are to distinguish be 
tween the merit of the object of GocTs favour, or a moral 

Sect. VI IL] Necessity Consistent > Sfc. 201 

qualification of the object attracting that favour and re 
commending to it, and the natural Jit ness of such a de 
termination of the act of God s goodness, to answer some 
wise design of his own, some end in the view of God s 
Omniscience. It is God s own act that is the proper 
and immediate object of his volition. 

3* I suppose that none will deny, but that, in some 
instances, God acts from wise design in determining the 
particular subjects of his favours : none will say, I pre 
sume, that when God distinguishes, by his bounty, par 
ticular societies or persons, he never in any instance, 
exercises any wisdom in so doing, aiming at some hap 
py consequence; and, if it be not denied to be so in some 
instances, then I would enquire, Whether, in these 
instances, God s good ness is less manifested than in those 
wherein God has no aim or end at all ? And whether 
the subjects have less cause of thankfulness ? And 
if so, who shall be thankful for the bestowment of dis 
tinguishing mercy, with that enhancing circumstance 
of the distinctions being made without an end ? How 
shall it be known when God is influenced by some wise 
aim, and when not ? It is very manifest, with respect 
to the apostle Paul, that God had wise ends in choosing 
him to be a Christian and an Apostle, who had been a 
persecutor, &c. The apostle himself mentions one end, 
in 1 Tim. i. 15, 1G: " Christ Jesus came into the 
world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit, 
for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus 
Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern 
to them who should hereafter believe on Him to life 
everlasting." But yet the apostle never looked on it 
as a diminution of the freedom and riches of divine grace 
in his election, which he so often and so greatly 
magnifies. This brings me to observe, 

4. Our supposing such a moral necessity in the acts 
of God s will, as has been spoken of, is so far from 
necessarily derogating from the riches of God s grace 
to such as are the chosen objects of his favour, that in 
many instances, this moral necessity may arise from good- 

2()2 Of Arrnmian Fatality. [Part IV. 

ness, and from the great degree of it. God may choose 
this object rather than another, as having a superior fit 
ness to answer the ends, designs, and inclinations of his 
goodness ; being more sinful, and so more miserable and 
necessitous than others ; the inclinations of Infinite 
Mercy and benevolence may b more gratified, and 
the gracious design of God s sending his Son into the 
world, may be more abundantly answered, in the ex 
ercises of merry towards such an object, rather than 

One thing more I would observe, before I finish what 
I have to say on the head of the necessity of the acts of 
God s will; and that is, that something much more like 
a servile subjection of the divine Being to- fatal necessi 
ty, will follow from Arminian principles, than from 
the doctrines which they oppose. For they (at least 
most of them) suppose, with respect to all events that 
happen in the moral world, depending on the volitions 
of moral agents, which are the most important events of 
the universe, to which all others are subordinate ; I say, 
they suppose, with respect to these, that God has a cer 
tain foreknowledge of them, antecedent to any purposes 
or decrees of his about them ; and if so they have a fixed 
certain futurity, prior to any designs or volitions of his 
and independent on them, and to which his volitions 
must be subject, as he would wisely accommodate his * 
affairs to this fixed futurity of the state of things in the 
moral world. So that here, instead of a moral neces 
sity of God s will arising from, or consisting in the in 
finite perfection and blessedness of the divine Being, we 
have a fixed unalterable state of things, properly dis 
tinct from the perfect nature of the divine mind, and the 
state of the divine will and design, and entirely inde 
pendent on these things, and which they have no hand 
in, because they are prior to them ; and which God s 
will is truly subject to, being obliged to conform or ac 
commodate himself to it, in all his purposes and decrees, 
and in every thing he does in his disposals and govern 
ment of the world, the moral world being the end of 
the natural ; so that all is in vain, that is not accommo- 

Sect. IX.] Of the Objection, Sfc. 

dated to that state of the moral world, which consists in, 
or depends upon the acts and state of the wills of moral 
agents, which had a fixed futurition from eternity. 
Such a subjection to necessity as this, would truly argue 
an inferiority and servitude, that would be unworthy of 
the Supreme Being ; and is much more agreeable tcTthe 
notion which many of the Heathen had of Fate, as a- 
bove the gods, than that moral necessity of fitness and 
wisdom which has been spoken of; and is truly repug 
nant to the absolute sovereignty of God, and inconsis 
tent with the supremacy of his will ; and really subjects 
the will of the Most High to the will of his creatures, 
and brings him into dependence upon them. 


Concerning that Objection against the Doctrine 
which has been maintained, that it makes 
God the Author of Sin. 

TT is urged by Arminians, that the doctrine of the ne- 
* cessity of men s volitions, or their necessary connec 
tion with antecedent events and circumstances, makes the 
first cause, and supreme order of all things, the Author 
of Sin ; in that he has so constituted the state and course 
of things, that sinful volitions become necessary, in con 
sequence of his disposal. Dr Whitby, in his Discourse 
on the Freedom of the Will*, cites one of the ancients, 
as on his side, declaring that this opinion of the neces 
sity of the will, absolves sinners, as doing nothing of 
their own accord which was evil, and would cast all the 
blame of all the wickedness committed in the world up r 
on God, and upon his Providence, if that were admit- 

Ou the Five Points, p. 361. 

2()4 Of the Objection about, fyc. [Part IV. 

ted by the assertors of this fate ; whether he himself did 
ncessitate them to do these things, or ordered matters 
go, that they should be constrained to do them by some 
other cause." And the doctor says, in another place*, 
" In the nature of the thing, and in the opinion of phi 
losophers, causa dejiciens, in rebus necessarns, ad cau- 
sam per se ffficientcm reducenda est. In things ne 
cessary, the deficient cause must be reduced to the ef 
ficient ; and in this case the reason is evident ; because 
the not doing what is required, or not avoiding what is 
forbidden, being a defect, must follow from the position 
of the necessary cause of that deficiency."" 

Concerning this, I would observe the following 
things : 

1. If there be any difficulty in this matter, it is no 
thing peculiar to this scheme : it is no difficulty or dis 
advantage, wherein it is distinguished from the scheme 
of Arminians ; and, therefore, not reasonably objected 
by them. 

Dr Whitby supposes, that if sin necessarily follows 
from God s withholding assistance, or if that assistance 
be not given, which is absolutely necessary to the avoid 
ing of evil, then, in the nature of the thing, God must 
be as properly the author of that evil, as if it were the 
efficient cause of it ; from whence, according to what he 
himself says of the devils and damned spirits, God must 
be the proper author of their perfect unrestrained 
wickedness : he must be the efficient cause of the great 
pride of the devils, and of their perfect malignity against 
God, Christ, his saints, and all that is good, and of the 
insatiable cruelty of their disposition; for he allows 
that God has so forsaken them, and does so withhold his 
assistance from them, that they are incapacitated from do 
ing good, and determined only to evil-j-. Our doctrine, in 
Us consequence, makes God the author of men^s sin in this 

Ibid p. 436. 
f On the Five Points, p. 302, 305. 

Sect. IX.] Of the Objections about, $c. L 2()5 

world, no more and in no other sense, than his doctrine, 
in its consequence, makes God the author of the hellish 
pride and malice of the Devils: and doubtless the lat 
ter is as odious an effect as the former. 

Again : if it will follow at all that God is the author 
of sin, from what has been supposed of a sure and infal 
lible connection between antecedents and consequents, 
it will follow because oft/n s, viz. that for God to be au 
thor or orderer of those things which he knows before 
hand, will infallibly be attended with such a consequence, 
is the same thing, in effect, as for him to be the author 
of that consequence ; but, if this be so, this is a difficul 
ty which equally attends the doctrine of Arminians them 
selves ; at least, of those of them who allow God s cer 
tain fore-knowledge of all events ; for on the supposition 
of such a fore-knowledge, this is the case with respect to 
every sin that is committed ; God knew, that if he or 
dered and brought to pass such and such events, such 
sins would infallibly follow. As for instance, God cer 
tainly foreknew, long before Judas was born, that if he 
ordered things so, that there should be such a man born, 
at such a time and at such a place, and that his life 
should be preserved, and that he should, in divine Pro 
vidence, be led into acquaintance with Jesus ; and that 
his heart should be so influenced by God^s spirit or pro 
vidence, as to be inclined to be a follower of Christ ; and 
that he should be one of those twelve, which should be 
chosen constantly to attend him as his family ; and that 
his health should be preserved, so that he should go up 
to Jerusalem, at the last passover in Christ 1 * life ; and 
it should be so ordered, that Judas should see Christ s 
kind treatment of the woman which anointed him at 
Bethany, and have that reproof from Christ, which he 
had at that time, and see and hear other things which 
excited his enmity against his Master, and other circum 
stances should be ordered, as they were ordered ; it 
would be what would most certainly and infallibly fol 
low, that Judas would betray his Lord, and would soon 
after hang himself, and die impenitent, and be sent to 
hell for his horrid wickedness. 

Of the Objection about [Part IV. 

Therefore, this supposed difficulty ought not to be 
brought as an objection against the scheme which has 
been maintained, as disagreeing- with the Arminian 
scheme, seeing it is no diQiculty owing to such a disa 
greement ; but a difficulty, wherein the Arminians share 
witli us. That must be unreasonably made an objection 
against our differing from them, which we should not 
escape or avoid at all by agreeing with them. 

Therefore I would observe, 

If. They who object, that this doctrine makes God 
the author of sin, ought distinctly to explain what they 
mean by that phrase the author of sin. I know the 
phrase, as it is commonly used, signifies something very 
ill. If by the author of sin, be meant (he sinner, the 
agent, or actor of sin, or the doer of a wicked thing ; so 
it would be a reproach and blasphemy, to suppose God 
to be the author of sin. In this sense, I utterly deny 
God to be the author of sin , rejecting such an imputa 
tion on the Most High, as what is infinitely to be abhor 
red ; and deny any such thing to be the consequence of 
what 1 have laid down. Hut if, by the author of sin 9 is 
meant the permitter, or not a hinderer of sin 5 and, at 
the same time, a disposer of the state of events, in such 
a manner, for wise, holy, and most excellent ends and 
purposes, that sin, if it be permitted or not hindered, 
will most certainly and infallibly follow ; I say, if this 
be all that is meant, by being the author of sin, I do not 
deny that God is the author of sin, (though I dislike 
and reject the phrase, as that which by use and custom 
is apt to carry another sense) it is no reproach for the 
Most High to be thus the author of sin. This is not 
to be the actor of sin, but, on the contrary, of holiness. 
What God doth herein is holy ; and a glorious exercise 
of the infinite excellency of his nature j and, I do not 
deny, that God s being thus the author of sin, follows 
from what 1 have laid down; and, I assert, that it 
equally follows from the doctrine which is maintained by 
most of the Arminian divines. 

That it is most certainly so, that God is in such a 

Sect. IX.] How God is concerned 297 

manner the disposer and orderer of sin, is evident, if any 
credit is to be given to the Scriptures ; as well as be 
cause it is impossible, in the nature of things, to be 
otherwise. In such a manner God ordered the obstin 
acy of Pharoah, in his refusing to obey God s commands, 
to let the people go." 1 Exod. iv. 21 : " I will harden his 
heart, and he shall not let the people go." Chap, vii.2 5: 
l * Aaron, thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he 
send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will har 
den Pharaoh s heart, and multiply my signs and my won 
ders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not 
hearken unto you ; that I may lay mine hand upon 
Egypt, by great judgments, 1 &c. Chap. ix. 12 : " And 
the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hear 
kened not unto them, as the Lord had spoken unto 
Moses." Chap. x. 1, 2; "And the Lord said unto 
Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh; for I have hardened his 
heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew 
these my signs before him, and that thou mayest tell it 
in the ears of thy son, and thy son s son, what things I 
have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have 
done amongst them, that ye may know that I am the 
Lord." Chap. xiv. 4 : " And 1 will harden Pharaoh s 
heart, that he shall follow after them ; and I will be 
honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host." Ver. 8. 
" And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of 
Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel." 
And it is certain, that in such a manner God, for wise 
and good ends, ordered that event, Joseph being sold 
into Egypt by his brethren. Gen. xlv, b : " Now, 
therefore, be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, 
that ye sold me hither ; for God did send me before you 
to preserve life." Ver. 7, 8 : " God did send me before 
you to preserve a posterity in the earth, and to save 
your lives by a great deliverance : so that now it was 
not you that sent me hither, but God." Psal. cvii. 17 ; 
He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was 
sold for a servant." It is certain, that thus God order 
ed the sin and folly of Silion, king of the Amontes, n 
refusing, to let the people of Israel pass by him peacea- 

In the Existence of Sin. [Part IV. 

bly. Deut. ii. 30, "But Sihon, king of Heshbon, 
would not let us pass by him ; for the Lord thy God 
hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that 
he might deliver him into thine hand. It is certain, 
that God thus ordered the sin and folly of the kings of 
Canaan, that they attempted not to make peace with 
Israel, but, with a stupid boldness and obstinacy, set 
themselves violently to oppose them and their God. 
Josh. xi. 20; "For it was of the Lord to harden their 
hearts, that they should come ngaiiist Israel in battle, 
that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might 
have no favour ; but that he might destroy them, as the 
Lord commanded Moses." It is evident, that thus God 
ordered the treacherous rebellion of Zedekiah against 
the king of Babylon. Jer. Hi. 3; "For through the 
anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Ju- 
dah, until he had cast them out from h is presence, that 
Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon." So 2 
Kings xxiv. 20. And it is exceeding manifest^ that God 
thus ordered the rapine and unrighteous ravages of Ne 
buchadnezzar, in spoiling and ruining the nations round 
about. Jer. xxv. 9; "Behold, I will send and take all 
the families of the north, saith the Lord, and Nebuchad 
nezzar my servant, and will bring them against this land, 
and against all the nations round about ; and will utter 
ly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and 
an hissing, and perpetual desolations." Chap, xliii. 10> 
11 ; "I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar, the king 
of Babylon, my servant -, and I will set his throne 
upon these stones that I have hid, and he shall spread 
his royal pavilion over them. And when he cometh, he 
shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are 
for death to death, and such as are for captivity to cap 
tivity, and such as are for the sword to the sword." 
Thus God represents himself as sending for Nebuchad 
nezzar, and taking of him and his armies, and bringing 
him against the nations, which were to be destroyed by 
him, to that very end, that he might utterly destroy 
them, and make them desolate ; and as appointing the 

Sect. IX.] In the Existence of Sin. 

work that he should do, so particularly, that the very 
persons were designed, that he should kill with the 
sword ; and those that should be killed with famine and 
pestilence, and those that should be carried into captivi 
ty ; and that in doing- all these things, he should act as 
his servant , by which, less cannot be intended, than 
that he should serve his purposes and designs. And in 
Jer. xxvii, 4, 5, 6, God declares, how he would cause 
him thus to serve his designs, viz. by bringing this to 
pass in his sovereign disposals, as the great Possessor 
and Governor of the Universe, that disposes all things 
just as pleases him. " Thus saith the Lord of Host?, 
the God of Israel ; I have made the earth, the man, and 
the beast, that are upon the ground, by my great power, 
and my stretched out arm ; and have given it unto whom 
it seemed meet unto me ; and now I have given all 
these lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar MY SER 
VANT, and the beasts of the field have I given also to serve 
him."" And Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of as doing these 
things, by having his arms strengthened by God, and 
hating God s sword put into his hands, for this end. 
Ezek. xxx. 24, 25, 26, Yea, God speaks of his terri 
bly ravaging and wasting the nations, and cruelly des 
troying all sorts, without distinction of sex or age, as 
the weapon in God^s hand, and the instrument of his 
indignation, which God makes use of to fulfil his own 
purposes, and execute his own vengeance. Jer. li. 20, 
&c. " Thou art my battle-axe, and weapons of war. 
For with thee will I break in pieces tiie nations, and 
with thee I will destroy kingdoms, and with thee I will 
break in pieces the horse and his rider, and with thee I 
will break in pieces the chariot and his rider ; with thee 
also will I break in pieces man ard woman ; and with 
thee will I break in pieces old and young ; and with 
thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid, 11 
&c. It is represented, that the designs of Nebuchad 
nezzar, and those that destroyed Jerusalem, never could 
have been accomplished, had not God determined them, 
as well as they. Lam. iii. 57 : " Who is he that saith, 

300 How God is concerned [Part IV. 

and it cometh to pass, and the Lord commanded it not ?" 
And yet the king of Babylon s thus destroying- the na 
tions, and especially the Jews, is spoken of as his great 
wickedness, for which God finally destroyed him. Isa. 
xiv. 4, 5, 6, 12; Hab. ii. 5 12; and Jer. 1. and li. 
It is most manifest, that God, to serve his own designs, 
providentially ordered Shimei a cursing David. 2 Sam. 
xvi. 10, 11 : "The Lord hath said unto him, curse Da 
vid Let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him." 

It i* certain, that God thus, for excellent, holy, 
gracious, and glorious ends, ordered the fact which they 
committed, who were concerned in Christ s death ; and 
that therein they did but fulfil God s designs. As, I 
trust, no Christian will deny, it was the design of God 
that Christ should be crucified, and that for this end he 
came into the world. It is very manifest, by many Scrip 
tures, that the whole affair of Christ s crucifixion, with 
its circumstances, and the treachery of Judas, that made 
way for it, was ordered in God s providence, in pursuance 
of his purpose ; notwithstanding the violence that is used 
with those plain Scriptures, to obscure and pervert the 
sense of them. Acts ii. 23 : " Him being delivered, by 
the determinate counsel and fore-knowledge of God*, ye 
have taken, and with wicked hands, have crucified and 
slain." Luke xxii. 21, 22: " But behold the hand of 
him that betrayeth me, is with me on the table ; and 
truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined-}-. 

* " Grotius, as well asBeza, observes, That the Greek word pro- 
jronsis, must here signify degree; and Eisner has shewn that it has 
that signification, in approved Greek writers; and it is certain that 
the Greek word ekdotos, signifies onp given up into the hands of an 
enemy." Doddridge in Loc. 

-f- " As this passage is not liable to the ambiguities, which some 
have apprehended in Acts ii. 23, and iv. 38. (which yet seem on 
the whole to be parallel to it, in their most natural construction) I 
look upon it as an evident proof, that these things are, in the lan- 
o-uage of Scripture, said to be determined or decreed (or exactly bound 
ed and marked out by God, a^ the Greek word orizo most naturally 
signifies (which he sees in fact will happen, in consequence of his 
volitions) without any necessitating agency ; as well as those events, 
of which he is properly the author." Doddrigc in T^oc. 

Sect. IX.] In the Existence of Sin. 301 

Acts iv. 27, 28 : " For of a truth, against the holy child 
Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pon 
tius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, 
were gathered tog-ether, for to do whatsoever thy hand 
and thy counsel determined hefore to be done." Acts 
iii. 17, 19: " And now, brethren, I wot that through 
ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers; but these 
things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of 
all his prophets, that Christ should suiter, he hath so 
fulfilled. So that what these murderers of Christ did, 
is spoken of as what God brought to pass or ordered, and 
that by which he fulfilled his own word. 

In Rev. xvii. 17, "The agreeing of the kings of the 
earth to give their kingdom to the beast, though it was a 
very wicked thing in them, is spoken of as a fulfilling 
God s will, and what God hath put into their hearts to 
do." It is manifest that God sometimes permits sin to be 
committed, and at the same time orders things so, that if 
he permits the fact, it will come to pass, because on some 
accounts, he sees it needful and of importance, that it 
should come to pass. Matt, xviii. 7 : "It must needs be, 
that offences come ; but wo to that man by whom the 
offence cometh."" With 1 Cor. xi. 19, "For there must 
also be heresies among you, that they which are approved 
may be made manifest among you." 

Thus it is certain and demonstrable, from the holy 
Scriptures, as well as the nature of things, and the prin 
ciples of Arminians^ that God permits sin ; and at the 
same time, so orders things, in his Providence, that it 
certainly and infallibly will come to pass, in consequence 
of his permission. 

I proceed to observe in the next place, 

III. That there is a great difference between God s 
being concerned thus, by his permission, in an event and 
act, which, in the inherent subject and agent of it, is sin 
(though the event will certainly follow on his permission) 
and his being concerning in it by producing it and exert 
ing the act of sin; or between his being the order of its 
certain existence, by not hindering it, under certain cir- 
n D 

302 How God in Concerned [Part IV. 

cumstances, and his being the proper actor or author of 
it, by a positive agency or efficiency. And this notwith 
standing what Dr. Whitby offers about a saying of phi 
losophers, that causa deficiens in rebus nccessariis, ad 
causam per se efficientem reducenda est. As there is a 
vast difference between the sun s being the cause of the 
lightsomeness and warmth of the atmosphere, and bright 
ness of gold and diamonds, by its presence and positive 
influence ; and its being the occasion of darkness and frost 
in the night, by its motion, whereby it descends below 
the horizon. The motion of the sun is the occasion of 
the latter kind of events ; but it is not the proper cause, 
efficient or producer of them ; though they are necessa 
rily consequent on that motion, under such circumstances ; 
no more is any action of the divine Being the cause of 
the evil of men s wills. If the sun were the proper cause 
of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these 
things, as it is the fountain of light and heat, and then 
something might be argued from the nature of cold and 
darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun ; and it might 
be justly inferred, that the sun itself is dark and cold, 
and that his beams are black and frosty. But from its 
being the cause no otherwise than by its departure, no 
such thing can be inferred, but the contrary ; it may 
justly be argued, that the sun is a bright and hot body, 
if cold and darkness are found ta be the consequence of 
its withdrawment ; and the more constantly and neces 
sarily these effects are connected with, and confined to its 
absence, the more strongly does it argue the sun to be 
the fountain of light and heat. So, inasmuch as sin is 
not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the 
Most High, but, on the contrary, arises from the with 
holding of his action and energy, and, under certain cir 
cumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his in 
fluence ; this is no argument that he is sinful, or his op 
eration evil, or has any thing of the nature of evil ; but, 
on the contrary, that He, and his agency, are altogether 
good and holy, and that He is the Fountain of all holi 
ness. It would be strange arguing, indeed, because men 

Sect. IX.] In tJie Existence of Sin. 303 

never commit sin, but only when God leaves them to 
themselves, and necessarily sin, when he does so, and 
therefore their sin is not from themselves^ but from God; 
and so, that God must be a sinful Being ; as strange as it 
would be to argue, because it is alway dark when the sun 
is gone, and never dark when the sun is present, that 
therefore all darkness is from the sun, and that his disk 
and beams must needs be black. 

IV. It properly belongs to the Supreme and Absolute 
Governor of the Universe, to order all important events 
within his dominion, by his wisdom ; but the events in 
the moral world are of the most important kind ; such as 
the moral actions of intelligent creatures, and their con 

These events will be ordered by something. They will 
either be disposed by wisdom, or they will be disposed by 
chance; that is, they will be disposed by blind and un- 
de&igning causes, if that were possible, and could be 
called a disposal. Is it not better, that the gootl and e- 
vil which happens in God s world, should be ordered, re 
gulated, bounded, and determined by the good pleasure 
of an infinitely wise Being, who perfectly comprehends 
within his understanding and constant view, the univer 
sality of things, in all their extent and duration, and sees 
all the influence of every event, with respect to every 
individual thing and circumstance, throughout the grand 
system, and the whole of the eternal series of conse 
quences ; than to leave these things to fall out by chance, 
and to be determined by those causes which have no un 
derstanding or aim ? Doubtless, in these important 
events, there is a better and a worse, as to the time, sub 
ject, place, manner, and circumstances of their coming 
to pass, with regard to their influence on the state and 
course of things j and if there be, it is certainly best 
that they should be determined to that time, place, &c. 
which is best ; and therefore it is in its own nature (it, 
that wisdom, and not chance, should order these things. 
So that it belongs to the Being who is the possessor of in 
finite wisdom, and is the Creator and Owner of the whole 

304 How God is concerned [Part IV. 

system of created existences, and has the care of all ; I 
say, it belongs to him, to take care of this matter ; and 
he would not do what is proper for him, if he should ne 
glect it 5 and it is so far from being- unholy in him to un 
dertake this affair, that it would rather have been unholy 
to neglect it ; as it would have been a neglecting- what 
fitly appertains to him ; and so it would have been a very 
unfit and unsuitable neglect. 

Therefore, the sovereignty of God doubtless extends 
to this matter ; especially considering, that if it should 
be supposed to be otherwise, and God should leave men s 
volitions, and all moral events, to the determination and 
disposition of blind unmeaning causes, or they should be 
left to happen perfectly without a cause ; this would be 
no more consistent with liberty, in any notion of it, ami 
particularly not in the Arminian notion of it, than if 
these events were subject to the disposal of divine Pro 
vidence, and the will of man were determined by circum 
stances which are ordered and disposed by divine wis 
dom ; as appears by what has already been observed ; 
but it is evident, that such a providential disposing and 
determining men s moral actions, though it infers a mo 
ral necessity of those actions, yet it does not in the least 
infringe the real liberty of mankind -, the only liberty that 
common sense teaches to be necessary to moral agency, 
which, as has been demonstrated, is not inconsistent with 
such necessity. 

On the whole, it is manifest, that God may be, in the 
manner which has been described, the order and disposer 
of that event, which, in the inherent subject and agent, 
is moral evil ; and yet his so doing may be no moral evil. 
He may will the disposal of such an event, and its com 
ing to pass for good ends, and his will not be an immoral 
or sinful will, but a perfect holy will ; and he may ac 
tually, in his providence, so dispose and permit things, 
that the event may be certainly and infallibly connected 
with such disposal and permission, and his act therein 
not be an immoral or unholy, but a perfect holy act. Sin 
may be an evil thing, and yet that there should be such 
a disposal and permission, as that it should come to pass* 

Sect. IX.] /// the Existence of Sin. 30~> 

may be a good thing-. This is no contradiction or incon- 
sistence. Joseph s brethren selling him into Egypt, 
considered it only as it was acted by them, and with res 
pect to their views and aims which were evil, was a very 
bad thing; but it was a good thing, as it was an event 
of God s ordering, and considered with respect to his 
views and aims which were good. Gen. I. 20. " As 
for you, ye thought evil against me ; but God meant it 
unto good." So the crucifixion of Christ, if we consider 
only those things which belong to the event as it pro 
ceeded from his murderers, and are comprehended with 
in the compass of the affair considered as their act, their 
principles, dispositions, views, and aims ; so it was one 
of the most heinous things that ever was done :, in many 
respects (he most horrid of all acts; but consider it, as 
it was willed and ordered of God, in the extent of his 
designs and views, it was the most admirable and glori 
ous of all events ; and God s willing the event was the 
most holy volition of God, that ever was made known to 
men -, and God s act in ordering it, was a divine act, 
which, above all others, manifests the moral, excellency 
of the divine Being, 

The consideration of these things may help us to a 
sufficient answer to the cavils of Arminians t concerning 
what has been supposed by many Calvinists ; of a dis 
tinction between a secret and revealed will of God, and 
their diversity one from the other ; supposing that the 
Calvinists herein ascribe inconsistent wills to the Most 
High ; which is without any foundation. God s secret 
and revealed will, or, in other words, his disposing and 
perceptive will may be diverse, and exercised in dissimi 
lar acts, the one in disapproving and opposing, the other 
in willing and determining, without any mconsistence, 
Because, although these dissimilar exercises of the divine 
will may, in some respects, relate to the same things, 
yet in strictness they have different and contrary objects, 
the one evil and the other good. Thus, for instance, 
the crucifixion of Christ was a thing- contrary to the re* 

306 Of God s Secret [Part IV. 

vealed or perceptive will of God ; because, as it was 
viewed and dene by his malignant murderers, it was a 
thing infinitely contrary to the holy nature of God, and 
so necessarily contrary to the holy inclination of his heart 
revealed in his law. Yet this do.es not at all hinder but 
that the crucifixion of Christ, considered with all those 
glorious consequences, which were within the view of 
the divine Omniscience, might be indeed, and therefore 
might appear to God to be a glorious event ; and conse 
quently be agreeable to his will, though his will may be 
secret, i. e. not revealed in God s law ; and thus consi 
dered, the crucifixion of Christ was not evil but good. If 
the secret exercises of God s will were of a kind that is 
dissimilar, and contrary to his revealed will, respecting 
the same, or like objects , if the objects of both were 
good or both evil ; then, indeed to ascribe contrary kind* 
of volition or inclination to God, respecting these ob 
jects, would be to ascribe an inconsistent will to God ; 
but to ascribe to Him different and opposite exercise* 
of heart, respecting different objects, and object con 
trary one to another, is so far from supposing God s will 
to be inconsistent with itself, that it cannot be supposed 
consistent with itself any other way ; for any being to- 
have a will of choice respecting good, and, at the same 
time, a will of rejection and refusal respecting evil, is ta 
be very consistent ; but the contrary, viz. to have the 
same will towards these contrary objects, and to choose 
and love both good and evil, at the same time, is to be 
very inconsistent. 

There is no inconsistence in supposing, that God may 
hate a thing as it is in itself, and considered simply as 
evil, and yet that it may be his will it should come to 
pass, considering all consequences. I believe, there is 
no person of good understanding, who will venture to 
say, he is certain that it is impossible it should be best,, 
taking in the whole compass and extent of existence, 
and all consequences in the endless series of events, 
that there should be such a thing as moral evil in the 

Sect. IX.] And revealed Will. 307 

world.* And, if so, it will certainly follow, that an in 
finitely wise Being, who always chooses what is best, 
must choose that there should be such a thing; and, if 

* Here are worthy to be observed some passages of a late noted 
writer of our nation, that nobody who is acquainted with him, will 
suspect to be very favourable to Calvinism. " It is difficult (says he) 
to handle the necessity of evil in such a manner, as not to stumble 
such as are not above being alarmed at propositions which have an un 
common sound. But if philosophers will but reflect calmly on the 
matter, they will find, that consistently with the unlimited power of 
the Supreme Cause it may be said, that in the best ordered system, 
evils must have place." TurnbuWs Principles of Moral Philosophy + 
p. 327, 328. He is there speaking of moral evils, as may be 

Again : the same author, in his second volume, entitled Christian, 
Philosophy, p. 35, has these words : " If the Author and Governor 
of all things be infinitely perfect, then whatever is, is right ; of all 
possible systems he hath chosen the best : and, consequently, there 
is no absolute evil in the universe.. This i>eing the case, all the 

seeming imperfections or evils in it are such only in a partial view; 
and, with respect to the whole system, they are goods. 

Ibid. p. 37, " Whence then comes evil ? is the question that hath, 
in all ages, been reckoned the Gorgian knot in philosophy. And, in 
deed, if we own the existence of evil in the world in an absolute sense, 
we diametrically contradict what hath been just now proved of 
God. For if there be any evil in the system, that is not good with 
respect to the whole, then is the whole not good, but evil ; or at best,, 
very imperfect ; and an author must be as his workmanship is ; as is 
the effect, such is the cause. But the solution of this difficulty is at 
hand ; That there is no evil in the universe. What ! are there no pains, 
no imperfections ? Is there no misery, no vice in the world ? or are not 
these evils ? Evils indeed they are ; that is, those of one sort are hurt 
ful, and those of the other sort are equally hurtful, and abominable ; 
but they are not evil or mischievous with respect to the whole. 1 

Ibid. p. 42, " But He is, at the same time, said to create evil, 
darkness, confusion ; and yet to do no evil, but to be the Author of 
good only. He is called the Father of Lights, the Author of every 
fcrfect and good gift, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of 
turning, who temptcth no man, but givcth to all men liberally, and upbraid* 
eth not, and yet, by the prophet Isaiah, He is introduced, saying of 
himself, 1 form light, and create darkness ; / makepeace, and create 
fvil , /, the Lord, do all these things. What is the meaning, the plain 
language of all this, but that the Lord delighteth in goodness, and 
(as the Scripture speaks) evil is his strange work ? He intends and 
pursues the universal good of his creation ; and the evil which hap 
pens, is not permitted for its own sake, or through any pleasure in- 
evil, but because it is requisite to the greater good pursued. 

308 Of God s Secret [Part IV, 

so, then such a choice is not an evil, but a wise and holy 
choice , and if so, then that providence which is agree 
able to such a choice, is a wise and holy providence.- 
Men do will sin as sin, and so are the authors and ac 
tors of it ; they love it as sin, and for evil ends and pur 
poses. God does not will sin as sin, or for the sake of 
any thing evil ; though it be his pleasure so to order 
things, that He permitting sin will come to pass ; for 
the sake of the great good that by his disposal shall be 
the consequence. His willing to order things so that 
evil should come to pass, for the sake of the contrary 
good, is no argument that He does not hate evil, as 
evil ;. and if so, then it is no reason why he may not 
reasonably forbid evil as evil, and punish it as such. 

The Armiuians themselves must be obliged, whether 
they will or no, to allow a distinction of God s will, 
amounting to just the same thing that Calvinists intend 
by their distinction of a secret and revealed will. They 
must allow a distinction of those things which God thinks 
best should be, considering all circumstances and conse 
quences, and so are agreeable to his disposing will, and 
those things which he loves, and are agreeable to his na 
ture, in themselves considered. Who is there that will 
dare to say, That the hellish pride, malice, and cruelty 
of devils are agreeable to God, and what he likes and 
approves ? And yet, I trust, there is no Christian di 
vine but what will allow r that it is agreeable to God s 
will so to order and dispose things concerning them, so 
to leave them to themselves, and give them up to their 
own wickedness, that this perfect wickedness should be a 
necessary consequence. Be sure Dr Whitbif* words do 
plainly suppose and allow it*. 

These following things may be laid down as maxims 
of plain truth, and indisputable evidence : 

1. That God is a perfectly happy Being, in the most 
absolute highest sense possible. 

Witty on the Five Points, edition 2, p. 300, 305, 309, 

Sect. IX.] And revealed Will. 

2. That it will follow from hence, that God is free 
from every thing that is contrary to happiness ; and so, 
that in strict propriety of speech, there is no such thing 
as any pain, grief, or trouble in God. 

5. When any intelligent liemg is realty crossed and 
disappointed, and things are contrary to what he truly 
desires, he is the less pleased, or has less pleasure, his plea 
sure and happiness is diminished, and he suffers what is 
disagreeable to him, or is the subject of something that 
is of a nature contrary to joy and happiness, even pain 
and grief*. 

From this last axiom, it follows, that if no distinction 
is to be admitted between God^s hatred of sin, and his 
will with respect to the event and the existence of sin, 
as the all-wise Determiner of all events, under the vievr 
of all consequences through the whole compass and series 
of things ; I say, then it certainly follows, that the com 
ing to pass of every individual act of sin is truly, all 
things considered, contrary to his will, and that his will 
is really crossed in it ; and this in proportion 33 He 
hates it; and as God s hatred of sin is infinite, by rea 
son of the infinite contrariety of his holy nature to sin ; 
so his will is infinitely crossed in every act of sin that 
happens ; which is as much as to say, He endures that 
which is infinitely disagreeable to Him, by means of 
every act of sin that He sees committed ; and, therefore, 
as appears by the preceding positions, He endures, truly 
and really, infinite grief or pain from every sin ; and so 
He must be infinitely crossed, and suffer infinite pain 
every day, in millions and millions of instances ; He 
must continually be the subject of an immense number 
of real, and truly infinitely groat crosses and vexations ; 

* Certainly, it is not less absurd and unreasonable to talk of God s 
will and desires being truly and properly crossed, without his suffer 
ing any uneasiness, or any thing grievous or disagreeable, than it is 
to talk of something that may be called a revealed will, which may, 
in some respect, be different from a secret purpose ; which purpose 
may be fulfilled, when the other is opposed. 

310 Of God s secret [Part IV. 

which would be to make him infinitely the most miser 
able of all Being s. 

If any objector should say, AH that these things amount 
to is, that God may do evil that good may come ; which 
is justly esteemed immoral and sinful in men; and there 
fore may be justly esteemed inconsistent with the moral 
perfections of God. I answer, That for God to dispose 
and permit evil, in the manner that has been spoken of, 
is not to do evil that good may come ; for it is not to do 
evil at all. In order to a thing s being morally evil> 
there must be one of these things belonging to it : Either 
it must be a thing unfit, and unsuitable in its own nature ; 
or it must have a bad tendency ; or it must proceed 
from an evil disposition., and be done for an evil end. 
But neither of these things can be attributed to God^s 
ordering and permitting such events, as the immoral 
acts of creatures, for good ends. (1.) It is .not unfit in 
its own nature, that He should do so; for it is in its 
own naturejfa, that infinite wisdom, and not blind chance, 
should dispose moral. good and evil in the world ; and it 
is Jit, that the Being who has infinite wisdom, and is the 
Maker, Owner, and Supreme Governor of the World-, 
should take care of that matter ; and therefore, there is 
no uiifitness nor unsuitableness in his doing it. It may 
be unfit, and so immoral, for any other being to go about 
to order this affair ; .because they are not possessed of a 
wisdom, that in any manner fits them for it ; and, in any 
other respects,, they are not. fit to be trusted with this 
affair ; nor does it belong to them, they not being the 
owners and lords of the universe, 

We need not be afraid to affirm, that if a wise and 
good man knew, with absolute certainty, it would be 
best, all things considered, that there should be such a 
thing as moral evil in the world, it would not be con 
trary to his wisdom and goodness for him to choose that 
it should be so. It is no evil desire to desire good, and 
to desire that which, all things considered, is best ; and 
it is no unwise choice to choose that that should 
be, which is best should be ; and to choose the ex^ 

Sect. IX.] And revealed Will. 3H 

istence of that thing concerning which this is known, 
viz. that it is best it should be, and so is known in the 
whole to be most worthy to be chosen. On the con 
trary, it would be a plain defect in wisdom and goodness 
for him not to choose it; and the reason why he might 
not order it, if he were able, would not be because he 
might not desire it, but only the ordering of that mat 
ter does not belong to him. Bat it is no harm for Him 
who is, by right, and in the greatest propriety, the Su 
preme Orderer of all things, to order every thing in such 
a manner, as it would be a point of wisdom in Him to 
choose that they should be ordered. If it would be a 
plain defect of wisdom and goodness in a Being, not to 
choose that that should be, which He certainly knows it 
would, all things considered, be best should be (as was 
but now observed) then it must be impossible for a Being 
who has no defect of wisdom and goodness, to do otherwise 
than choose it should be ; and that, for this very reason, 
because He is perfectly wise and good ; and if it be 
agreeable to perfect wisdom and goodness for him to 
choose that it should be, and the ordering of all things 
supremely and perfectly belongs to him, it must be agree 
able to infinite wisdom and goodness to order that it 
should be. If the choice is good, the ordering and dis 
posing things according to that choice must also be good. 
It can be no harm in one to whom it belongs to do his 
will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants 
of the earth, to execute a good volition. If this will be 
good, and the object of his will be, all things considered, 
good and best, then the choosing or willing it is not wil 
ling evil that good may come ; and if so, then his order 
ing, according to thaf will is not doing evil, that good 
may come. 

2. It is not of a bad tendency, for the Supreme Being 
thus to order and permit that moral evil to be, which is 
best should come to pass ; for that it is of good tenden 
cy, is the very thing supposed in the point now in ques 
tion. Christ s crucifixion, though a most horrid act in 

312 Of Sin s first Entrance, Sfc. [Part IV. 

them that perpetrated it, was of most glorious tendency 
as permitted arid ordered of God. 

5. Nor is there any need of supposing, it proceeds 
from any evil disposition or aim ; for by the supposition, 
what is aimed at is good, and good is the actual issue, in 
the final result of things. 


Concerning Sin^s first Entrance into the World. 

npHE things which have already been offered, may 
-*- serve to obviate or clear many of the objections 
which might be raised concerning sin s first coming into 
the world ; as though it would follow from the doctrine 
maintained, that God must be the author of the firgt sin, 
through his so disposing things, that it should necessari 
ly follow from his permission, that the sinful act should 
be committed, CJT. I need not, therefore, stand to re 
peat what has been said already, about such a necessity 
not proving God to be the author of sin, in any ill sense, 
or in any such sense as to infringe any liberty of man, 
concerned in his moral agency or capacity of blame, guilt, 
and punishment. 

But, it should nevertheless be said, supposing the 
case so, that God, when he had made man, might so 
order his circumstances, that from these circumstances, 
together with his withholding further assistance and di 
vine influence, his sin would infallibly follow, why 
might not God as well have first made man with a fixed 
prevailing principle of sin in his heart? 

I answer, (1.) It was meet, if sin did come into exis 
tence, and appear in the world, it should arise from the 
imperfection which properly belongs to a creature, as 
such, and should appear so to do, that it might appear 
not to be from God as the efficient or fountain : but 

Sect. X ] Into the JVorkL 313 

this could not have been, if man had been made at first 
with sin in his heart ; nor unless the abiding principle 
and habit of sin were first introduced by an evil act of 
the creature. If sin had not arose from the imperfec 
tion of the creature, it would not have been so visible, 
that it did not arise from God, as the positive cause and 
real force of it. But it would require room that cannot 
be here allowed, fully to consider all the difficulties 
which have been started, concerning the first entrance 
of sin into the world ; 

And therefore, 

2. I would observe, that objections against the doc 
trine that has been laid down in opposition to the Ar~ 
minian notion of liberty, from these difficulties, are al 
together impertinent ; because no additional difficulty is 
incurred by adhering to a scheme in this manner differ 
ing from theirs, and none would be removed or avoided, 
by agreeing with and maintaining theirs. Nothing that 
the Arminians say about the contingence or self-deter 
mining power of man s will, can serve to explain, with 
less difficulty, how the first sinful volition of mankind 
could take place, and man be justly charged with the 
blame of it. To say, the will was self-determined, or 
determined by free choice, in that sinful volition ; which 
is to say, that the first sinful volition was determined 
by a foregoing sinful volition ; is no solution of the dif 
ficulty. It is an odd way of solving difficulties, to ad 
vance greater, in order to it. To say, two and two 
makes nine ; or, that a child begat his father, solves no 
difficulty ; no more does it to say, the first sinful act of 
choice was before the first sinful act of choice, and chose 
and determined it, and brought it to pass. Nor is it 
any better solution to say, the first sinful volition chose, 
determined, and produced itself; which is to say, it was 
before it was. Nor will it go any further towards help 
ing us over the difficulty to say, the first sinful volition 
arose accidentally, without any cause at all ; any more 
than it will solve that difficult question, HQW the world 

314 Of the Objection [Part IV. 

could be made out of nothing ! To say, it came into 
being out of nothing, without any cause, as has been al 
ready observed ; and if we should allow that that could 
be, that the first evil volition should arise by perfect ac 
cident, without any cause ; it would relieve no difficulty 
about God^s laying the blame of it to man ; for how was 
man to blame for perfect accident, which had no cause, 
and which, therefore, he (to be sure) was not the cause 
of, any more than if it came by some external cause ? 
Such kind of solutions are no better, than if some 
person, going about to solve some of the strange mathe 
matical paradoxes, about infinitely great and small quan 
tities ; as, that some infinitely great quantities are in 
finitely greater than some other infinitely great quanti 
ties : and also that some infinitely small quantities are 
infinitely less than others, which yet are infinitely little ; 
in order to a solution, should say. that mankind hare 
been under a mistake, in supposing a greater quantity 
to exceed a smaller ; and that a hundred, multiplied by 
ten, makes but a single unit. 


Of a supposed Inconsistence of those Principles 
ivith God s Moral Character. 

things which have been already observed, may 
be sufficient to answer most of the objections, and 
silence the great exclamations of Arminians against the 
Calvinists, from the supposed inconsistence of Calvinis- 
tic principles with the moral perfections of God, as ex 
ercised in his government of mankind. The consistence 
of such a doctrine of necessity as has been maintained, 
with the fitness and reasonableness of God s commands, 
promises and threatenings, rewards and punishments, 
has been particularly considered ; the cavils of our op- 

Sect. XL] From God s Moral Character 315 

ponents, as though our doctrine of necessity made God 
the author of sin, have been answered ; and also their 
objection against these principles, as inconsistent with 
God s sincerity, in his counsels, invitations, and persua 
sions, has been already obviated, in what has been ob 
served, respecting the consistence of what Calvinisls 
suppose, concerning the secret and revealed will of God ; 
by that it appears, there is no repugnance in supposing 
it may be the secret will of God, that his ordination and 
permission of events should be such, that it shall be a 
certain consequence, that a thing never will come to 
pass; which yet it is man s duty to do, and so God s 
perceptive will that he should do ; and this is the same 
thing as to say, God may sincerely command and re 
quire him to do it ; and if he may be sincere in com 
manding him, he may, for the same reason, be sincere 
in counselling, inviting, and using persuasions with him 
to do it. Counsels and invitations are manifestations of 
God s perceptive will, or of what God loves, and what is 
in itself, and as man s act, agreeable to his heart ; and 
not of his disposing will, and what he chooses as a part 
of his own infinite scheme of things. It has been par 
ticularly shewn (Part III, Section IV.) that such a ne 
cessity as has been maintained, is not inconsistent with 
the propriety and fitness of divine commands ; and for 
the same reason, not inconsistent with the sincerity, in- 
ritations, and counsels, in the Corollary at the end of 
that Section. Yea, it hath been shewn (Part III, Sec 
tion VII, Corel. 1) that this objection of Arminians, con 
cerning the sincerity and use of divine exhortations, in 
vitations, and counsels, is demonstrably against them 

Notwithstanding, I would further observe, that the 
difficulty of reconciling the sincerity of counsels, invita 
tions, and persuasions with such an antecedent known 
fixedness of all events, as has been supposed, is not pe 
culiar to this scheme, as distinguished from that of the 
generality of Armimans, which acknowledge the absolute 
foreknowledge of God ; and, therefore, it would be uu- 

316 Of the Objection [Part IV. 

reasonably brought as an objection against my differing 
from them. The main seeming- difficulty in the case is 
this, That God, in counselling-, inviting-, and persuading 1 , 
makes a shew of aiming at, seeking, and using endea 
vours for the thing exhorted and persuaded to ; whereas, 
it is impossible for any intelligent being truly to seek, 
or use endeavours for a thing, which he at the same 
time knows, most perfectly, will not come to pass ; and 
that it is absurd to suppose, he makes the obtaining of a 
thing his end, in his calls and counsels, which he at the 
same time, infallibly knows will not be obtained by these 
means. Now, if God knows this, in the utmost certain* 
fy and perfection, the way by which he comes by this 
knowledge makes no difference. If he knows it is by 
the necessity which he sees in things, or by some other 
means, it alters not the ease. But it is in effect allowed 
by Arminians themselves, that God^s inviting and per 
suading men to do things, which he, at the same time, 
certainly knows will not be done, is no evidence of in 
sincerity ; because they allow, that God has a certain 
foreknowledge of all men s sinful actions and omissions; 
and as this is thus implicitly allowed by most Arminians, 
so all that pretend to own the Scriptures to be the word 
of God, must be constrained to allow it. God command 
ed and counselled Pharoah to let his people go, and used 
arguments and persuasions to induce him to it : he laid 
before him arguments taken from his infinite greatness 
and almighty power (Exod. vii. 16) and forewarned him 
of the fatal consequences of his refusal, from time to time 
(chap. vii. 1, 2, 20, 21 ; chap. ix. 1 5, 15 17 ; and 
x. 3, 6.) He commanded Moses, and the elders of Is 
rael, to go and beseech Pharaoh to let the people go ; 
and at the same time told them, he knew surely that he 
would not comply to it. Exod. iii. 18, 19 : " And thou 
shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel unto the king 
of Egypt, and you shall say unto him, The Lord God of 
the Hebrews hath met with us; and now let us go, we be 
seech thee, three days journey into the wilderness, that 
we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God ; and, I am sure a 

Sect. XL] From God s Moral Character. 317 

that the king of Egypt will not let you go." So our 
blessed Saviour, the evening wherein he was betrayed, 
knew that Peter would shamefully deny him before the 
morning; for he declares it to him with asseverations, to 
shew the certainty of it ; and tells the disciples, that all 
of them should be offended because of him that night 
(Matthew xxvi. 31 35 ; Mark xiii. 38; Luke xxii. 31. 
34 ; John xvi. 32 ;) and yet it was their duty to avoid 
these things ; they were very sinful things, which God 
had forbidden, and which it was their duty to watch and 
pray against ; and they were obliged to do so from the 
counsels and persuasions Christ used with them, at that 
very time, so to do (Matthew xxvi. 41) " Watch and 
pray, that ye enter not into temptation." So that what 
ever difficulty there can be in this matter, it can be no 
objection against any principles which have been main 
tained in opposition to the principles of Armimans ; nor 
does it any more concern me to remove the difficulty 
than it does them, or indeed all, that call themselves 
Christians, and acknowledge the divine authority of the 
Scriptures. Nevertheless, this matter may possibly 
(God allowing) be more particularly and largely con 
sidered, in some future discourse, on the doctrine of 

But I would here observe, that however the defen 
ders of that notion of liberty of will, which I have op 
posed, exclaim against the doctrine of Calvinists, as 
tending to bring men into doubts concerning the moral 
perfections of God, it is their scheme, and not the scheme 
of Calvimsts, that indeed is justly chargeable with this; 
for it is one of the most fundamental points of their scheme 
of things, that a freedom of will, consisting in self-de 
termination, without all necessity, is essential to moral 
agency. This is the same thing as to say, that such a 
determination of the will, without all necessity, must be 
in all intelligent beings, in those things, wherein they 
are moral agents, or in their moral acts ; and from this 
it will follow, that God s will is not necessarily deter 
mined; in any thing he does, as a moral agcni, or in 

318 Of the Objection [Part IV. 

any of his acts that are of a moral nature ; so that in all 
things, wherein he acts holily, justly, and truly, he does 
not act necessarily ; or his will is not necessarily deter 
mined to act holily and justly ; because, if it were ne 
cessarily determined, he would not be a moral agent in 
thus acting 1 ; his will would be attended with necessity ; 
which, they say, is inconsistent with moral agency, 
" He can act no olhewise. He is at no liberty in the af 
fair. He is determined by unavoidable invincible neces 
sity ; therefore such agency is no moral agency ; yea, 
no agency at all, properly speaking, a necessary agent 
is no agent : He being passive, and subject to necessity, 
what he does is no act of his, but an effect of a neces 
sity prior to any act of his." This is agreeable to their 
manner of arguing. Now then, what is become of all 
our proof of the moral perfections of God ? How can we 
prove, that God certainly will, in any one instance, do 
that which is just and holy, seeing his will is determin 
ed in the matter by no necessity ? We have no other 
way of proving that any thing certainly w ill be, but only 
by the necessity of the event. Where we ean see no 
necessity, but that the thing may be, or may not be, 
there we are unavoidably left at a loss. We have no- 
other way properly and truly to demonstrate the moral 
perfections of God, but the way that Mr Chubb proves 
them, in p. 252, 261, 262, 263, of his Tracts, viz. 
That God must necessarily perfectly know what is most 
worthy and valuable in itself, which, in the nature of 
things, is best and fittest to be done ; and, as this is the 
most eligible in itself, He being omniscient, must see it 
to be so ; and being both omniscient and self-sufficient, 
cannot have any temptation to reject it ; and so must 
necessarily will that which is best ; and thus, by this ne 
cessity of the determination of God s will to what is 
good and best, we dcmonstrably establish God s moral 

Corol. From things which have been observed, it 
appears, that most of the arguments from Scripture, 

Sect. XL] From God s Moral Character. 319 

which Arminians make use of to support their scheme, 
are no other then begging the question. For in these 
their arguments, they determine in the first place, that 
with such a freedom of will as they hold, men 

not be proper moral agents, nor the subjects of command, 
counsel, persuasion, invitation, promises, threatenings, 
expostulations, rewards, and punishments; and that 
without such freedom, it is to no purpose for men to 
take any care, or use any diligence, endeavours, or 
meanSj in order to their avoiding sin, or becoming holy,. 
escaping punishment or obtaining happiness ; and hav 
ing supposed these things, which are grand things in 
question in the debate, then they heap up Scriptures, 
containing commands, counsels, calls, warnings, persua 
sions, expostulations, promises, and threatenings (as 
doubtless they may find enough such : the Bible is con 
fessedly full of them, from the beginning to the end); and 
then they glory, how full the Scripture is on their side, 
how many more texts there are that evidently favour 
their scheme, than such as seem to favour the contrary 
But let them first make manifest the things in question, 
which they suppose and take for granted, and shew them 
to be consistent with themselves ; and produce clear 
evidence of their truth ; and they have gained their 
point, as all will confess, without bringing one Scripture, 
for none denies, that there are commands, counsels, pro 
mises, threatenings, &c. in the Bible ; but unless they 
do these things, their multiplying such texts of Scrip 
ture is insignificant and vain. 

It may further be observed, that such Scriptures as 
they bring, are really against them, and not for them. 
As it has been demonstrated, that it is their scheme, and 
not ours, that is inconsistent with the use of motives, 
and persuasives, or any moral means whatsoever, to in- 
duce men to the practice of virtue, or abstaining from 
wickedness ; their principles, and not ours, are repug 
nant to moral agency, and inconsistent with moral go 
vernment, with law or precept, with the nature of vir- 

320 Whether these Principles, Sfc. [Part IV. 

tue or vice, reward or punishment, and with every thing 
whatsoever of a moral nature, either on the part of the 
moral governor, or in the state, actions, or conduct of 
the suhject. 


Of a supposed Tendency of these Principles to 
Atheism and Licentiousness. 

TF any object against what has been maintained, that 
-"- it tends to Atheism, I know not on what grounds 
such an objection can be raised, unless it be, that some 
Atheists have held a doctrine of necessity, which they 
suppose to be like this. But if it be so, I am persuad 
ed the Arminians would not look upon it just, that their 
notion of freedom and contingence should be charged with 
a tendency to all the errors that ever any embraced, 
who have held such opinions. The Stoic philosophers, 
whom the Calvinists are charged with agreeing with 
were no Atheists ; but the greatest Theists, and nearest 
a-kin to Christians, in their opinions concerning the 
unity and the perfections of the Godhead, of all the Hea 
then philosophers j and Epicurus., that chief father of 
Atheism, maintained no such doctrine of necessity ; but 
was the greatest maintainer of contingence. 

The doctrine of necessity, which supposes a necessary 
connection of all events, on some antecedent ground and 
reason of their existence, is the only medium we have 
to prove the being of a God ; and the contrary doctrine 
of contingence, even as maintained by Arminians (which 
certainly implies or infers, that events may come into 
existence, or begin to be, without dependence on any 
thing foregoing, as their cause, ground, or reason) takes 
away all proof of the being of God j which proof is sum- 

Sect. XII.j Whether these Principles 321 

marily expressed bj the apostle, in Rom. i. 20. And 
this is a tendency to Atheism with a witness. So that, 
indeed, it is the doctrine of Arminians, and not of the 
Calvinists, that is justly charged with a tendency to 
Atheism ; it being built on a foundation that is the ut*- 
ter subversion of every demonstrative argument for the 
proof of a Deity ; as has been shewn, in Part II, Sec 
tion III. 

Whereas it has often been said, that the Calvinistic 
doctrine of necessity saps the foundations of all religion 
and virtue, and tends to the greatest licentiousness of 
practice ; this objection is built on the pretence, that 
our doctrine renders vain all means and endeavours, in 
order to be virtuous and religious. Which pretence has 
been already particularly considered in the 5th Section 
of this Fart ; where it has been demonstrated, that this 
doctrine has no suih tendency ; but that such a tendency 
is truly to be charged on the contrary doctrine ; inas 
much as the notion of contingence, which their doctrine 
implies, in its certain consequences, overthrows all con 
nection, in every degree, between endeavour and event, 
means and end. 

Besides, if many other things, which have been obser 
ved to belong to the Arminian doctrine, or to be plain 
consequences of it, be considered, there will appear just 
reason to suppose that, it is that which must rather tend 
to licentiousness. Their doctrine excuses all evil in? 
clinations, which men find to be natural ; because in 
such inclinations, they are not self-determined, as such 
inclinations are not owing to any choice or determination 
of their own wills; which leads men wholly to justify 
themselves in all their wicked actions, so far as natural 
inclination bas had a hand, in determining their wills to 
the commission of them. Yea, these notions, which 
suppose moral necessity and inability to be inconsistent 
with blame or moral obligation, will directly lead men 
to justify the vilest acts and practices, from the strength 
of their wicked inclinations of all sorts ; strong inclina 
tions inducing a moral necessity ; yea, to excuse even,- 

322 Tena to Atheism. [Part IV. 

degree of evil inclination, so far as this has evidently 
prevailed, and been the thing- which has determined their 
wills; because, so far as antecedent inclination deter 
mined the will, so far the will was without liberty of in 
difference and self-determination -, which, at last, will 
come to this, that men will justify themselves in all the 
wickedness they commit. It has been observed already, 
that this scheme of things does exceedingly diminish the 
guilt of sin, and the difference between the greatest and 
smallest offences* ; and if it be pursued in its real con 
sequences, it leaves room for no such thing as either vir 
tue or vice, blame or praise in the world. [ And then 
again, how naturally does this notion of the sovereign 
self-determining power of the will, in all things, virtuous 
or vicious, and whatsoever deserves either reward or 
punishment, tend to encourage men to put of the work 
of religion and virtue, and turning from sin to God; 
it being that which they have a sovereign power to de 
termine themselves to, just when they please ; or if not, 
they are wholly excusable in going on in sin, because of 
their inability to do any other. 

If it should be said, that the tendency of this doctrine 
of necessity to licentiousness, appears, by the improve 
ment many at this day actually make of it, to justify 
themselves in their dissolute courses, I will not deny that 
some men do unreasonably abuse this doctrine, as they 
do many other things, which are true and excellent in 
their own nature ; but I deny that this proves the doc 
trine itself has any tendency to licentiousness. I think, 
the tendency of doctrines, by what now appears in the 
world, and in our nation in particular, may much more 
justly be argued, from the general effect which has been 
seen to attend the prevailing of the principles of Armin- 
ians 9 and the contrary principles ; as both have had their 

* Part III, Section VI. 

f Part III, Section VI. Ibid. Section VII. Part IV, Section 
I. Part HI, Section UK Carol. 1, after the first head. 

Sect. XII.] Whether these Principles, Sfc. 323 

turn of general prevalence in our nation. If it be in 
deed, as is pretended, that Caloinistic doctrines under 
mine the very foundation of all religion and morality, 
enervate and disannul all rational motives to holy and 
virtuous practice ; and that the contrary doctrines give 
the inducements to virtue and goodness their proper 
force, and exhibit religion in a rational light, tending 
to recommend it to the reason of mankind, and enforce 
it in a manner that is agreeable to their natural notions 
of things, I say, if it be thus, it is remarkable, that 
virtue and religious practice should prevail most, when 
the former doctrines, so inconsistent with it, prevailed 
almost universally ; and that ever since the latter doc 
trines, so happily agreeing with it, and of so proper and 
excellent a tendency to promote it, have been gradually 
prevailing, vice, prophaneness, luxury, and wickedness 
of all sorts, and contempt of all religion, and every kind 
of seriousness and strictness of conversation, should pro- 
portionably prevail ; and that these things should thus 
accompany one another, and rise and prevail one with 
another, now for a whole age together. It is remark 
able, that this happy period (discovered by the free en 
quiries and superior sense and wisdom of this age) 
against the pernicious effects of Calvinism, so inconsis 
tent with religion, and tending so much to banish all vir 
tue from the earth, should, on so long a trial, be attend 
ed with no good effect i but that the consequence should 
be the reverse of amendment ; that, in proportion as the 
remedy takes place, and is thoroughly applied, so the 
disease should prevail ; and the very same dismal effect 
take place, to the highest degree, which Calvinistic doc 
trines are supposed to have so great a tendency to ; even 
the banishing of religion and virtue, and the prevailing 
of unbounded licentiousness of manners. If these things 
are truly so, they are very remarkable, and matter of 
very curious speculation. 

$24 Of Metaphysical [Part IV, 


Concerning that Objection against the Reason 
ing, ty which the Calvinistic Doctrine is sup. 
ported, that it is metaphysical and abstruse. 

T has often been objected against the defenders of 
-- Calvinistic principles, that in their reasonings, they 
run into nice scholastic distinctions, and abstruse meta 
physical subtilities, and set these in opposition to com 
mon sense , and it is possible, that, after the former 
manner, it may be alleged against the reasoning by 
which I have endeavoured to confute the Arminian 
scheme of liberty and moral agency, that it is very ab 
stracted and metaphysical. Concerning this, I would 
observe the following things : 

I. If that be made an objection against the foregoing 
reasoning, that it is metaphysical, or may properly be 
reduced to the science of metaphysics, it is a very imper 
tinent objection ; whether it be so or no, is not worthy 
of any dispute or controversy. If the reasoning be good, 
it is as frivolous to enquire what science it is properly 
reduced to, as what language it is delivered in ; and for 
a man to go about to confute the arguments of his op* 
ponent, by telling him, his arguments are metaphysical, 
would be as weak as to tell him, his arguments could 
not be substantial, because they were written in French 
or Latin. The question is not, Whether what is said be 
metaphysics, physics, logic, or mathematics, Latin, 
French, English, or Mohawk ? But, whether the rea 
soning be good, and the arguments truly conclusive ? 
The arguments are no more metaphysical, than those 
which we use against the Papists, to disapprove their 
doctrine of transubstantiation ; allgeing, it is inconsis 
tent with the notion of corporeal identity, that it should 
be in ten thousand places at the same time. It is by 
metaphysical arguments only we are able to prove, that 

Sect. XIII.] And Abstruse Reasoning. 32 j 

the rational soul is not corporeal ; that lead or sand can 
not think ; that thoughts are not square or round, or do 
not weigh a pound. The arguments by which we prove 
the being of God, if handled closely and distinctly, so as 
to shew their clear and demonstrative evidence, must be 
metaphysically treated. It is by metaphysics only, that 
we can demonstrate, that God is not limited to a place, 
or is not mutable ; that he is not ignorant or forgetful ; 
that it is impossible for him to lie, or be unjust ; and 
there is one God only, and not hundreds or thousands ; 
and, indeed, we have no strict demonstration of any 
thing, excepting mathematical truths, but by metaphy 
sics. We can have no proof, that is properly demon 
strative of any one proposition, relating to the being and 
nature of God, his creation of the world, the dependence 
of all things on him, the nature of bodies or spirits, the 
nature of our own souls, or any of the great truths of 
morality and natural religion, but what is metaphysical. 
I am willing my arguments should be brought to the 
test of the strictest and justest reason, and that a clear, 
distinct, and determinate meaning of the terms I use, 
should be insisted on ; but let not the whole be rejected, 
as if all were confuted, by fixing on it the epithet, meta 

II. If the reasoning, which has been made use of, be 
in some sense metaphysical, it will not follow, that 
therefore it must needs be abstruse, unintelligible, and 
a- kin to the jargon of the schools. I humbly conceive, 
the foregoing reasoning, at least to those things which 
are most material belonging to it, depends on no ab 
struse, definitions or distinctions, or terms without a 
meaning, or of very ambiguous and undetermined signifi 
cation, or any points of such abstraction and subtility, as 
tends to involve the attentive understanding in clouds 
and darkness. There is no high degree of refinement 
and abstruse speculation, in determining, that a thing is 
not before it is, and so cannot be the cause of itself j or 
that the first act of free choice, has not another act of 

326 Of Metaphysical [Part IV. 

free choice going before that, to excite or direct it ; or 
in determining, that no choice is made while the mind 
remains in a state of absolute indifference ; that prefer 
ence and equilibrium never co-exist ; that therefore no 
choice is made in a state of liberty, consisting in indif 
ference ; and that, so far as the will is determined by 
motives, exhibited and operating previous to acts of the 
will, so far it is not determined by the act of the will 
itself; that nothing can begin to be, which before was 
not, without a cause, or some antecedent ground or rea 
son, why it then begins to be ; that effects depend on 
their causes, and are connected with them ; that virtue 
is not the worse, nor sin the better, for the strength of 
inclination, with which it is practised, and the difficulty 
which thence arises of doing otherwise ; that when it is 
already infallibly known, that the thing will be, it is not 
a thing contingent whether it will ever be or no ; or that 
it can be truly said, notwithstanding, that it is not ne 
cessary it should be, that it either may be, or may not 
be ; and the like might be observed of many other things 
which belong to the foregoing reasoning. 

If any shall still stand to it, that the foregoing rea 
soning is nothing but metaphysical sophistry ; and that 
it must be so, that the seeming force of the arguments all 
depends on some fallacy and wile that is hid in the obscu 
rity which always attends a great degree of metaphysi 
cal abstraction and refinement ; and shall be ready to 
say, " Here is indeed something that tends to confound 
the mind, not to satisfy it ; for who can ever be truly 
satisfied in it, that men are fitly blamed or commended, 
punished or rewarded for those volitions which are not 
from themselves, and of whose existence they are not 
the causes? Men may refine, as much as they please, 
and advance their abstract notions, and make out a thou 
sand seeming- contradictions to puzzle our understand 
ing 5 yet there can be no satisfaction in such doctrine as 
this ; the natural sense of the mind of man will always 
resist it V I humbly conceive, that such an objector, 

* A certain noted author of the present age aays, The arguments 

Sect. XIII.] And Abstruse Reasoning. 327 

if he has capacity, humility, and calmness of spirit suf 
ficient impartially, and thoroughly to examine himself, 

for necessity are nothing but quibbling or logomachy, using words with 
out a meaning, or begging the. question. 1 do not know what kind 

of necessity any authors, he may have reference to, are advocates for ; 
or whether they have managed their arguments well or ill. As to the 
arguments I have made use of, if they are quiblles they may be shewn 
so ; such knots are capable of being untied, and the trick and cheat 
may be detected and plainly laid open. If this be fairly done, with 
respect to the grounds and reasons I have relied upon, I shall have just 
occasion for the future, to be silent, if not to be ashamed of my ar 
gumentations. I am willing my proofs should be thoroughly examin 
ed ; and if there b^ nothing bat begging the question, cr mere logom 
achy, or dispute of words, let it be made manifest, and shewn how the 
seeming strength of the argument depends on my using words wit!t~ 
out a meaning, or arises from the ambiguity of terms, or mv making 
use of -words in an indeterminate and unsteady manner ; and that the 
weight of my reasons rest rnaiuly on such a foundation ; and then, L 
shall either be ready to retract what I have urged, and thank the man 
that has done the kind part, or shall be justly exposed for my ob 

The same author is abundant in appealing in this affair, from what 
he calls logomachy and sophistry to experience. A person can ex 
perience only what passes in his own mind. But yet as we may well 
suppose that all men have the same human faculties ; so a man may 
well argue from his own experience to that of others, in things that 
shew the nature of those faculties, and the manner of their operation. 
But then one has as good right to allege his experience as another. 
As to my own experience I rmd that in innumerable things I can do 
as I will ; that the motions of my body in many respects, instantan 
eously follow the acts of my will concerning those motions ; and that 
my will has some command of my thoughts ; and that the acts of my 
will are my own, i. e. that they are acts of will, the volitions of my 
own mind ; or, in other words, that what I will, I will. Which, I 
presume, is the sum of what others experience in this affair. But as 
to finding by experience, that my will is originally determined by it 
self ; or that, my will first choosing what volition there shall be, 
the chosen volition accordingly follows ; and that this is the first 
rise of the determination of my will in any affair ; or that any vo 
lition rises in my mind contingently ; I declare, I know nothing in 
myself by experience of this nature ; and nothing that ever 1 ex 
perienced, carries the least appearance or shadow of any such thing, 
or gives me any more reason to suppose or suspect any such thing, 
than to suppose" that my volitions existed twenty years before they 
existed. It is true, I find myself possessed of my volitions, before 
I can see the effectual power of any cause to produce them (for the 
power and efficacy of the cause is not seen but by the effect) and 

328 Of Metaphysical [Part IV. 

will find that he knows not really what he would be at, 
and indeed his difficulty is nothing but a mere prejudice, 
from an inadvertent customary use of words, in a mean 
ing that is not clearly understood, nor carefully reflect 
ed upon. Let the objector reflect again, if he has can 
dour and patience enough, and does not scorn to be at 
the trouble of close attention in the affair. He would 
have a man s volition be from himself. Let it be from 
himself, most primarily and originally of any way con 
ceivable (that is, from his own choice) how will that 
help the matter, as to his being justly blamed or praised, 
unless that choice itself be blame or praise-worthy ? 
And how is the choice itself (an ill choice, for instance) 
blame-worthy, according to these principles, unless that 
be from himself too, in the same manner, that is, from his 
own choice ? But the original and first determining 
choice in the affair is not from his choice, his choice is not 
the cause of it. And if it be from himself some other way, 
and not from his choice, surely that will not help the 
matter. If it be not from himself of choice, then it is 
himself voluntarily ; and if so, he is surely no more to 
blame than if it were not from himself at all. It is a 
vanity to pretend it is a sufficient answer to this, to say, 
that it is nothing but metaphysical refinement and sub- 
tility and so attended with obscurity and uncertainty. 

If it be the natural sense of our minds, that what is 
blame-worthy in a man must be from himself, then it 
doubtless is also, that it must be something bad in him 
self, a lad choice, or bad disposition. But then our na 
tural sense is, that this bad choice or disposition is evil 
in itself, and the man blame-worthy for it, on its own 

this, for ought I kuow, may make some imagine, that volition has 
no cause, or that it produces itself. But I have no more reason from 
hence to determine any such thing, than I have to determine that 1 
gave myself my own being, or that I came into being accidentally 
without a cause, because I first found myself possessed of being, 
before 1 had knowledge of a cause of my being. 

Sect. XIII.] And Abstruse Reasoning. 32$ 

account, without taking into our notion of its blame- 
worthiness, another bad choice or disposition going be 
fore this, from whence this arises ; for that is a ridi 
culous absurdity, running; us into an immediate contra 
diction, which our natural sense of blame-worthiness has 
nothing to do with, and never comes into the mind, 
nor is supposed in the judgment we naturally make of 
the affair ; as was demonstrated before, natural sense 
does not place the moral evil of volitions and disposi 
tions in the cause of them, but the nature of them. An 
evil thing being from a man, or from something antece 
dent in him, is not essential to the original notion we 
have of blame- worthiness ; but it is its being the choice 
of the heart, as appears by this, that if a thing be from 
us, and not from our choice, it has not the natural, 
blame-worthiness or ill-desert, according to our natural 
I sense. When a thing is from a man, in that sense, 
\ that it is from his will or choice, he is to blame for 
1 it, because his will is in it ; so far as the will is in 
it, blame is in it, and no further. Neither do we go any 
4 further in our notion of blame to enquire, Whether 
the bad will be FROM a bad will ? there is no consi 
deration of the original of that bad will ; because, accord 
ing to our natural apprehension, blame originally con 
sists in it. Therefore, a thing being from a man, is a 
secondary consideration, in the notion of blame or ill 
desert. Because those things, in our external actions, 
are most properly said to be from us, which are from 
our choice ; and no other external actions, but those that 
are from us in this sense, have the nature of blame ; and 
they indeed, not so properly because they are from us, 
as because we are in them, i. e. our wills are in them ; 
not so much because they are from some property of 
ours, as because they are our properties. 

However, all these external actions being truly from 
us, as their cause, and we being so used, in ordinary 
speech, and in the common affairs of life, to speak of 
men s actions and conduct that we see, and that affect 
human society, as deierving ill or well, as worthy of 

330 A Fault of Armmian Writers. [Part LV. 

blame or praise ; hence it is come to pass, that philoso 
phers have incautiously taken all their measures of good 
and evil, praise and blame, from the dictates of common 
sense, about these overt acts of men, to the running of 
every thing into the most lamentable and dreadful con 
fusion ; and, therefore, I observe, 

III. It is so far from being true (whatever may be 
pretended) that the proof of the doctrine which has been 
maintained, depends on certain abstruse, unintelligible, 
metaphysical terms and notions ; and that the Arminian 
scheme, without needing such clouds and darkness for 
its defence, is supported by the plain dictates of common 
sense ; that the very reverse is most certainly true, and 
that to a great degree. It is fact, that they, and not we> 
have confounded things with metaphysical, unintelligible 
notions and phrases, and have drawn them from the light 
of plain truth, into the gross darkness of abstruse meta 
physical propositions,and words without ameaning. Their 
pretended demonstrations depend very much on such 
unintelligible metaphysical phrases, as self-determina 
tion, and sovereignty of the will ; and the metaphysical 
sense they put on such terms, as necessity, contingency, 
action, agency, &c. quite diverse from their meaning as 
used in common speech ; and which, as they use them, 
are without any consistent meaning, or any distinct con 
sistent ideas ; as far from it as any of theabstruse terms 
and perplexed phrases of the Peripatetic philosophers, 
or the most unintelligible jargon of the schools, or the 
cant of the wildest fanatics. Yea, we may be bold to 
say, these metaphysical terms, on which they build so 
much, are what they use without knowing what they 
mean themselves ; they are pure metaphysical sounds^ 
without any ideas whatsoever in their minds to answer 
them ; inasmuch as it has been demonstrated, that there 
cannot be any notion in the mind consistent with these 
expressions, as they pretend to explain them , because 
their explanations destroy themselves. No such no 
tions as imply self-contradiction and self-abolition, and 
this a great many ways, can subsist in the mind ; as 

Sect. XIII.] Arminiam too Metaphysical. 331 

there can be no idea of a whole which is less than any 
of its parts, or of solid extension without dimensions, 

or of an effect which is before its cause. Arminians 

improve these terms, as terms of art, and, in their me 
taphysical meaning, to advance and establish those things 
which are contrary to common sense in a high degree. 
Thus, instead of the plain, vulgar notion of liberty, 
which all mankind, in every part of the face of the earth, 
and in all ages, have, consisting in opportunity to do as 
one pleases, they have introduced a new strange liberty, 
consisting in indifference, contingence, and self-deter 
mination ; by which they involve themselves and others 
in great obscurity, and manifold gross inconsistencc. 
So, instead of placing virtue and vice, as common sense 
places them very much, in fixed bias and inclination, 
and greater virtue and vice in stronger and more esta 
blished inclination, these, through their refinings and 
abstruse notions, suppose a liberty, consisting in indif 
ference, to be essential to all virtue and vice. So they 
have reasoned themselves, not by metaphysical distinc 
tions, but by metaphysical confusion, into many princi 
ples about moral agency, blame, praise, reward, and 
punishment, which are, as has been shewn, exceeding 
contrary to the common sense of mankind ; and per 
haps to their own sense, which governs them in common 



W r HETIIER the things which have been alleged, 
are liable to any tolerable answer in the ways of 
calm, intelligible, and strict reasoning-, T must leave 
others to judge; but I am sensible they are liable to one 
sort of answer. It is not unlikely, that some, who 
value themselves on the supposed rational and generous 
principles of the modern fashionable divinity, will have 
their indignation and disdain raised at the sight of this 
discourse, and on perceiving what things are pretended 
to be proved in it; and if they think it worthy of being 
read, or of so much notice as to say much about it, they 
may probably renew the usual exclamations, with addi 
tional vehemence and contempt, about the fate of the 
Heathen, Hobbes s Necessity, and making men mere 
machines ; accumulating the terrible epithets of fatal, 
unfrustrable, inevitable, irresistible, &c. and it may be, 
with the addition of horrid and blasphemous ; and per 
haps much skill may be used to set forth things, which 
have been said, in colours which shall be shocking to the 
imaginations, and moving to the passions of those who 
have either too little capacity, or too much confidence 
of the opinions they have imbibed, and contempt of the 
contrary, to try the matter by any serious and circum 
spect examination*. Or difficulties may be started and 

* A writer of the present age, whom I have several times had 
occasion to mention, speaks once and again of those who hold the doc 
trine of necessity, as scarcely worthy of the name of Philosophers. I 
do not know whether he has respect to any particular notion of necessi 
ty, that some may have maintained ; and, if so, what doctrine of ne 
cessity is it that he means, Whether I am worthy of the name of a 
Philosopher, or not, would be a question little to the present pur 
pose. If any, and ever so many, should deny it, I should not think 

Conclusion. 333 

insisted on, which do not belong to the controversy ; 
because, let them be more or less real, and hard to be 
resolved, they are not what are owing to any thing dis 
tinguishing of this scheme from that of the Arminians, 
and would not be removed nor diminished by renouncing 
the former, and adhering to the latter. Or some par 
ticular things may be picked out, which they may think 
will sound harshest in the ears of the generality ; and 
these may be glossed and descanted on, with tart and 
contemptuous words ; and from thence, the whole treated 
with triumph and insult. 

It is easy to see, how the decision of most of the 
points in controversy, between Calvinists and Armim ans, 
depends on the determination of this grand article, con 
cerning the Freedom of the Will requisite to moral agen 
cy ; and that by clearing and establishing the Calvinis- 
tic doctrine in this point, the chief arguments are obvia 
ted, by which Arminian doctrines in general arc support 
ed, and the contrary doctrines demonstratively confirmed. 
Hereby it becomes manifest, that God s moral govern 
ment over mankind, his treating them as moral agents, 
making them the objects of his commands, counsels, calls, 
warnings, expostulations, promises, threatenings, re 
wards, and punishments, is not inconsistent with a deter- 
mining disposal of all events, of every kind, throughout 
the universe, in his providence, either by positive effi 
ciency or permission. Indeed, such an universal deter 
mining providence infers some kind of necessity of all 
events, such a necessity as implies an infallible previous 
fixedness of the futurity of the event ; but no other ne 
cessity of moral events, or volitions of intelligent agents, 

it worth the while to enter into a dispute on that question ; though 
at the same time, I might expect some better answer should be 
given to the arguments brought for the truth of the doctrine; I 
maintain ; and I might further reasonably desire, that it might be 
considered, whether it does uot become those, who are truly -worthy 
of the name of Philosophers, to be sensible, that there is a difference 
between argument and contempt ; yea, and a difference between the 
contemptibleness of the person that argues, and the inconclusive!^? 
of the arguments he offers. 

334 Conclusion. 

is needful in order to this, than moral necessity ; which 
does as much ascertain the futurity of the erent as any 
other necessity. But, as has been demonstrated, such a 
necessity is not at all repugnant to moral agency, and a 
reasonable use of commands, calls, rewards, punishments, 
&c. Yea, not only are objections of this kind against 
the doctrine of an universal determining Providence, re 
moved by what has been said ; but the truth of such a 
doctrine is demonstrated. As it has been demonstrated, 
that the futurity of all future events is established by 
previous necessity, either natural or moral, so it is mani 
fest, that the sovereign Creator and Disposer of the 
world has ordered this necessity, by ordering his own 
conduct, either in designedly acting, or forbearing to act. 
For as the being of the world is from God, so the circum 
stances in which it had its being at first, both negative 
and positive, must be ordered by him, in one of these 
ways : and all the necessary consequences of these cir 
cumstances, must be ordered by him ; and God s active 
and positive interpositions, after the world was created, 
and the consequences of these interpositions ; also every 
instance of his forbearing to interpose, and the sure con 
sequences of this forbearance, must all be determined ac 
cording to his pleasure; and therefore every event, 
which is the consequence of any thing whatsoever, or 
that is connected with any foregoing thing or circum 
stance, either positive or negative, as the ground or rea 
son of its existence, must be ordered of God ; either 
by a designing efficiency and interposition, or a designed 
forbearing to operate or interpose. But, as has been 
proved, all events whatsoever are necessarily connected 
with something foregoing, either positive or negative, 
which is the ground of its existence. It follows, there 
fore, that the whole series of events is thus connected 
with something in the state of things, either positive or 
negative, which is original in the series ; i. e. something 
which is connected with nothing preceding that, but 
God s own immediate conduct, either his acting or for 
bearing to act. From whence it follows, that as God 



designedly orders his own conduct, and its connected 
consequences, it must necessarily be, that he designedly 
orders all things. 

The things, which have been said, obviate some of 
the chief objections of Arminians against the Calvinis- 
tzc, doctrine of the total depravity and corruption of 
man s nature, whereby his heart is wholly under the 
power of sin, and he is utterly unable, without the in 
terposition of sovereign grace, savingly to love God, be 
lieve in Christ, or do any thing that is truly good and 
acceptable in God s sight ; for the main objection against 
this doctrine is, that it is inconsistent with the freedom 
of man s -will, consisting in indifference and self-deter 
mining power : because it supposes man to be under a 
necessity of sinning, and that God requires things of 
him, in order to his avoiding eternal damnation, which 
he is unable to do ; and that this doctrine is wholly in* 
consistent with the sincerity of counsels, invitations, &c. 
Now, this doctrine supposes no other necessity of sinning, 
than a moral necessity ; which, as has been shewn, does 
not at all excuse sin ; and supposes no other inability to 
obey any command, or perform any duty, even the most 
spiritual and exalted, but a moral inability, which, as 
has been proved, does not excuse persons in the non-per 
formance of any good thing, or make them not to be the 
proper objects of commands, counsels, and invitations. 
And, moreover, it has been shewn, that there is not, 
and never can be, either in existence, or so much as in 
idea, any such freedom of will, consisting in indifference 
and self-determination, for the sake of which, this doc 
trine of original sin is cast out ; and that no such free 
dom is necessary, in order to the nature of sin, and a 
just desert of punishment. 

The things which have been observed, do also take 
off the main objections of Arminians against the doc 
trine of efficacious grace ; and, at the same time, prove 
the grace of God in a sinner s conversion (if there be any 
grace or divine influence in the affair) to efficacious, 
yea, and irresistible too, if by irresistible is meant, that 

336 Conclusion. 

which is attended with a moral necessity, which it is im 
possible should ever be violated by any resistance. The 
main objection of Arminians against this doctrine is, that 
it is inconsistent with their self-determining freedom of 
will ; and that it is repugnant to the nature of virtue, 
that it should be wrought in the heart by the determin 
ing efficacy and power of another, instead of its being 
owing to a self-moving power ; that, in that case, the 
good which is wrought, would not be our virtue, but 
rather God s virtue ; because it is not the person in 
whom it is wrought, that is the determining author of 
it, but God that wrought it in him. But the things 
which are the foundation of these objections, have been 
considered : and it has been demonstrated, that the li 
berty of moral agents does not consist in self-determin 
ing power : and that there is no need of any such liber 
ty, in order to the nature of virtue : nor does it at all 
hinder, but that the state or act of the will may be the 
virtue of the subject, though it be not from self-deter 
mination, but the determination of an intrinsic cause : 
even so as to cause the event to be morally necessary to 
the subject of it ; and as it has been proved, that nothing 
in the state or acts of the will of man is contingent ; but 
that, on the contrary, every event of this kind is neces 
sary, by a moral necessity ; and has also been now de 
monstrated, that the doctrine of an universal determin 
ing Providence, follows from that doctrine of necessity, 
which was proved before ; and so that God does deci 
sively, in his providence, order all the volitions of moral 
agents, either by positive influence or permission ; and 
it being allowed, on all hands, that what God does in 
the affair of man s virtuous volitions, whether it be more 
or less, is by some positive influence, and not by mere 
permission, as in the affair of a sinful volition ; if we 
put these things together, it will follow, that God s as 
sistance or influence must be determining and decisive, 
or must be attended with a moral necessity of the event; 
and so, that God gives virtue, holiness, and conversion 
to sinners, by an influence which determines the effect. 

Conclusion. 337 

in such a manner, that the effect will infallibly follow bv 
amoral necessity; which is what Calmniats mean bv ef 
ficactous and irresistible grace. 

The things which have been said, do likewise answer 
the chief objections against the doctrine of God s univer 
sal and absolute decree, and afford infallible proof of this 
doctrine ; and of the doctrine of absolute, Lnal, per. 
sonal e cotton m particular. The main objections against 
these doctrines are, that they infer a necessity of the 
volitions of moral agents, and of the future moral state 
and acs o f men ; and so are not consistent whh those 

eternal rewards and punishments, which are connected 
with conversion and impenitence ; nor can be made to 
agree with the reasonableness and sincerity of the pre- 

t hfword fr 0l J nSelS .T" in - S and expostulations of 
the word of God ; or with the various methods and means 
01 grace, which God uses with sinners, to bring them to 
repentance ; and the whole of that moral government, 
which God exercises towards mankind ; and that the* 
infer an , ^consistence between the secret and revealed 
will of God ; and make God the author of sin, But all 
these things have been obviated in the preceding dis 
course; and the certain truth of these doctrines, concern, 
ing God s eternal purposes, will follow from what was 
just now observed concerning God s universal providence ; 
how it infallibly follows from what has been proved, that 
God orders all events, and the volitions of moral ag-ents 
amongst others, by such a decisive disposal, that the 
events are infallibly connected with his disposal ; for if 
God disposes all events, so that the infallible existence 
of the events is decided by his providence, then he, 
doubtless, thus orders and decides things knowing and 
on design. God does not do what he does, no? order 
what he orders, accidentally and unawares ; either without 
or beside his intention ; and if there be a fore"oin ff de , 
sign of doing and ordering as he does, this is the same 
ith a purpose or decree ; and as it has been shewn, that 
othmg is new to God, in any respect, but all things are 
perfectly and equally in his view from eternitv; hence 

338 Conclusion. 

it will follow, that his designs or purposes are not things 
formed anew, founded on any new views or appearances, 
but are all eternal purposes ; and as it has been now 
shewn, how the doctrine of determining efficacious grace 
certainly follows from things proved in the foregoing dis 
course ; hence will necessarily follow the doctrine of par 
ticular, eternal, absolute election. For if men are made 
true saints, no otherwise than as God makes them so, 
and distinguishes them from others, by an efficacious 
power and influence of his, that decides and fixes the 
event ; and God thus makes some saints, and not others, 
on design or purpose, and (as has been now observed) 
no designs of God are new ; it follows, that God thus 
distinguished from others, all that ever become true 
saints, by his eternal design or decree. 1 might also 
shew, how God s certain foreknowledge must suppose an 
absolute decree, and how such a decree can be proved 
to a demonstration from it ; but that this discourse may 
not be lengthened out too much, that must be omitted 
for the present. 

From these things it will inevitably follow, that however 
Christ in some sense may be said to die for all, and to 
redeem all visible Christians, yea, the whole world by 
his death ; yet there must be something particular in 
the design of his death, with respect to such as he in 
tended should actually be saved thereby. As appears by 
what has been now shewn, God has the actual salvation 
or redemption of a certain number in his proper abso 
lute design, and of a certain number only; and therefore 
such a design only can be prosecuted in any thing God 
does, in order to the salvation of men. God pursues a 
proper design of the salvation of the elect in giving 
Christ to die, and prosecutes such a design with respect 
to no other, most strictly speaking ; for it is impossible, 
that God should prosecute any other design than only 
such as he has \ he certainly does not, in the highest 
propriety and strictness of speech, pursue a design that 
he has not. And, indeed, such a particularity and limi 
tation of redemption will as infallibly follow, from the 
doctrine of God s foreknowledge, as from that of the de- 

Conclusion. 339 

rree ; for it is as impossible, in strictness of speech, that 
God should prosecute a design, or aim at a thing, which 
He at the same time most perfectly knows will not be 
accomplished, as that he should use endeavours for that 
which is beside his decree. 

By the things which have been proved, are obviated 
some of the main objections against the doctrine of the 
infallible and necessary perseverance of saints, and some 
of the main foundations of this doctrine are established. 
The main prejudices of Armenians against this doctrine 
seem to be these : They suppose such a necessary, in 
fallible, perseverance to lie repugnant to the freedom ot 
the will ; that it must be owing to man s own self-deter 
mining power, that he first becomes virtuous and holy ; 
and so, in like manner, it must be left a thing contingent, 
to be determined by the same freedom of will, whether 
he will persevere in virtue and holiness ; and that other 
wise his continuing stedfast in faith and obedience would 
not be his virtue, or at all praise-worthy and rewardable ; 
nor could his perseverance be properly the matter of di 
vine commands, counsels, and promises, nor hisapostacy 
be properly threatened, and men warned against it. 
Whereas, we find all these things in scripture ; there 
we find stedfastness and perseverance in true Christiani 
ty, represented as the virtue of the saints, spoken of as 
praise-worthy in them, and glorious rewards promised to 
it ; and also find, that God makes it the subject of his 
commands, counsels, and promises ; and the contrary, of 
threatenings and warnings. But the foundation of these 
objections has been removed, in its being shewn that 
moral necessity and infallible certainty of events is not 
inconsistent with these things ; and that as to freedom 
of will lying in the power of the will to determine itself, 
there neither is any such thing, nor need any of it, in 
order to virtue, reward, commands, counsels, &c. 

As the doctrines of efficacious graee and absolute 
^election do certainly follow from things, which have been 
proved in the preceding discourse, so some of the main 
foundations of the doctrine of perseverance, are thereby 

340 Conclusion. 

established. If the beginning of true faith and holiness, 
and a man^s becoming a true saint at first, does not de 
pend on the self-determining power of the will, but on 
the determining efficacious grace of God, it may well be 
argued, that it is also with respect to men s being con 
tinued saints, or persevering in faith and holiness. The 
conversion of a sinner being not owing to a man s self- 
determination,* but to God s determination ; and eternal 
election, which is absolute, and depending on the so 
vereign will of God ; and not on the free will of man, 
as is evident from what has been said ; and it being very 
evident from the scriptures, that the eternal election, 
which there is of saints to faith and holiness, is also an 
election of them to eternal salvation ; hence their ap 
pointment to salvation must also be absolute, and not 
depending on their contingent, self-determining will. 
From all which it follows, that it is absolutely fixed in 
Ged s decree, that all true saints persevere to actual eter 
nal salvation. 

But I must leave all these things to the consideration 
of the fair and impartial reader ; and when he has ma 
turely weighed them, I would propose it to his consider 
ation, Whether many of the first Reformers, and others 
that succeeded them, whom God in their day made the 
chief pillars of his church, and greatest instruments of 
their deliverance from error and darkness, and of the 
support of the cause of piety among them, hare not been 
injured, in the contempt with which they have been treat 
ed by many late writers, for their teaching and maintaining 
such doctrines as are commonly called Calvinistic ? In 
deed, some of these new writers, at the same time that 
they have represented the doctrines of these antient 
and eminent divines, as in the highest degree ridiculous, 
and contrary to common sense, in an ostentation of a 
very generous charity, have allowed that they were ho 
nest, well-meaning men ; yet, it may be some of them, 
as though it were in great condescension and compassion 
to them, have allowed, thatl they did pretty well for the 
day which they lived in, and considering the great dis- 

Conclusion. 341 

advantages they laboured under; when, at the same, 
time, their manner of speaking has naturally and plain 
ly suggested to the minds of their readers, that they were 
persons, who, through the lowness of their genius and 
greatness of the bigotry, with which their minds were 
shackled, and thoughts confined, living in the gloomy 
caves of Superstition, fondly embraced and demurely 
and zealously taught the most absurd, silly, and monstrous 
opinions, worthy of the greatest contempt of gentlemen, 
possessed of that noble and generous freedom of thought, 
which happily prevails in this age of light and enquiry. 
When, indeed, such is the case, that we might, if so 
disposed, speak as big words as they, and on far better 
grounds ; and really all the Arminians on earth might 
be challenged without arrogance or vanity, to make these 
principles of theirs, wherein they mainly differ from 
their father, whom they so much despise, consistent with 
common sense; yea, and perhaps to produce any doctrine 
ever embraced by the blindest bigot of the church of Rome, 
or the most ignorant Mussulman^ or extravagant en 
thusiast, that might be reduced to more demonstrable 
inconsistencies, and repugnancies to common sense, and 
to themselves ; though their inconsistencies indeed may 
not lie so deep, or be so artfully vailed by a deceitful 
ambiguity of words, and an indeterminate signification of 
phrases. I will not deny, that these gentlemen, many 
of tliem, are men of great abilities, and have been help 
ed to higher attainments in philosophy than those antient 
divines, and have done great service to the Church of 
God in some respects ; but I humbly conceive, that their 
differing from their fathers, with such magisterial as 
surance, in these points in divinity, must be owing to 
some other cause than superior wisdom. 

It may also be worthy of consideration, whether the 
great alteration which has been made in the state of 
things in our nation, and gome other parts of the Protes 
tant world, in this and the past age, by the exploding so 
general Cahinistic doctrines, that is so often spokenof as 
worthy to be greatly rejoiced in by the friends of truth, 

342 Conclusion. 

larning, and virtue, as an instance of the great increase 
eflight in the Christian Church ; I say, it may be wor 
thy to be considered, whether this be indeed a happy 
change, owing to any such cause as an increase of true 
knowledge and understanding in things of religion ; or 
whether there is not reason to fear, that it may be 
owing to some worse cause. 

I desire it may be considered, whether the boldness 
of some writers may not be worthy to be reflected on, 
who have not scrupled to say, that if these and those 
things are true (which yet appear to be the demonstra 
ble dictates of reason, as well as the certain dictates of 
the mouth of the Most High) then God is unjust and 
cruel, guilty of manifest deceit and double dealing-, and 
the like. Yea, some have gone so far, as confidently 
to assert, that if any book which pretends to be Scrip 
ture, teaches such doctrines, that alone is sufficient war 
rant for mankind to reject it, as what cannot be the 
word of God. Some, who have not gone so far, have 
said, that if the Scriptures seems to teach any such doc 
trines, so contrary to reason, we are obliged to find out 
some other interpretation of those texts, where such doc 
trines seem to be exhibited. Others express themselves 
yet more modestly, they express a tenderness and religious 
fear, least they should receive and teach any thing that 
should seem to reflect on God s moral character, or be a 
disparagement te his methods of administration in his 
moral government ; and therefore express themselves as 
not daring to embrace some doctrines, though they seem 
to be delivered in Scripture, according to the more ob 
vious and natural construction of the words. But in 
deed, it would shew a truer modesty and humility, if 
they would more entirely rely on God s wisdom and 
discerning, who knows infinitely better than we, what 
is agreeable to his own perfections, and never intended 
to leave these matters to the decision of the wisdom 
and discerning of men ; but, by his own unerring -in 
struction, to determine for us what the truth is; know 
ing how little our judgment is to be depended on, and 

Conclusion. 34^ 

extremely prone, vain, and blind men are to err in such 

The truth of the case is, that if the Scripture plainly 
taught the opposite doctrines to those that are so much 
stumbled at, viz. the Arminian doctrine of free-will, and 
others depending thereon, it would be the greatest of all 
difficulties that attend the Scriptures, incomparably 
greater than its containing any, even the most mysteri 
ous of those doctrines of the first reformers, which our 
late Free-Thinkers have so superciliously exploded. 
Indeed, it is a glorious argument of the divinity of the 
holy Scriptures, that they teach such doctrines, which in 
one age and another, through the blindness of men s 
minds, and strong prejudices of their hearts, are reject 
ed, as most absurd and unreasonable, by the wise and 
great men of the world ; which yet, when they are most 
carefully and strictly examined, appear to be exactly 
agreeable to the most demonstrable, certain, and natural 
dictates of reason. By such things it appears, that the 
foolishness of God is wiser than men, and God does, as is 
said in 1 Cor. i. J9, 20, " For it is written, I will de 
stroy the wisdom of the wise j I will bring to nothing 
the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise ! 
Where is the scribe ! Where is the disputer of this 
world! Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this 
world ?" And as it used to be in time past, so it is 
probable it will be in time to come, as it is there writ 
ten, in Ver. 27, 28, < But God hath chosen the foolish 
things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath 
chosen the weak things of the world to confound the 
things that are mighty ; and base things of the world, 
and things which are despised, hath God chosen ; yea, 
and things which are not, to bring to nought things that 
are, that no flesh should glory in his presence." Amen. 


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