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I answer, (1.) In this objection, that seems to be forgotten which was observed before, viz. that the determining 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 required by precept. And if this act be the commanding act, then all that has been observed concerning the commanding 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 about the affair; and if 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; or whatever be the original and leading act; still the foregoing proof stands good, that the non-compliance of the leading act implies moral inability 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 abundantly demonstrated by what has been said in the preceding part of this essay. But yet, in some respect, the inability may be said to be greater in some instances than others though the man may be truly unable, (if moral inability can truly be called inability,) yet he may be further from being able to do some things 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, according to the common use of speech, has a greater inability for it. So it is in moral inability. A man is truly morally unable to choose contrary to a present inclination, 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 further from ability to resist a very strong habit, and a violent and deeply rooted inclination, or a motive vastly exceeding all others in strength. And again, the Inability may, in some respects, be called 21


greater in some instances than others, as it may be more general and extensive to all acts of that kind. So men may be said to be unable in a different sense, and to be further from moral ability, who have that moral Inability which is generat and habitual, than they who have only that Inability which is occasional and particular.* Thus in cases of natural Inabili. ty; 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.

And besides, that which was observed in the first part of this discourse, concerning the Inability which attends a strong and settled habit, should be here remembered; viz. that a fixed habit is attended with this peculiar moral Inability, by which it is distinguished from occasional volition, 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 insufficient. For though it is impossible there should be any sincere endeavours against a present 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 endeavours may be ineffectual. The man may be said in some sense to be unable; yea, even as the word unable is a relative term, and has relation to ineffectual endeavours; yet not with regard to present, but remote endeavours.

Secondly, It must be borne in mind, according to what was observed before, that indeed no Inability whatsoever, which 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 to 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 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 volitions, but only against volitions of such a kind, when viewed 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 agreeable; but against something else that attends them, or is their consequence; the opposition of the mind is levelled entirely against this; the vo

See this distinction of moral Inability explained in Part 1. Sect. IV

litions themselves are not at all opposed directly, and for their own sake; but only indirectly and remotely, on the account of something 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 shown, 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 for which men have a moral Inability.

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 Command 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 Command is possible in any case; and there is no case possible, wherein there can be a faulty disobedience. Which Arminians cannot affirm, consistently with their principle: for this makes Obedience to just and proper Commands always necessary, and disobedience impossible. And so the Arminian would overthrow himself, yielding the very point we are upon, which he so strenuously denies, viz. that Law and Command are consistent with necessity.

If merely that Inability will excuse disobedience, which is implied in the opposition or defect of inclination, remaining after the Command is exhibited, then wickedness always carries that in it which excuses it. 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, has he of moral Inability, to the good required. His moral Inability consisting in the strength of his evil inclination, 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 wicked


Therefore, on the whole, it is manifest, that moral Inability alone (which consists in disinclination) never renders any thing improperly the subject matter of Precept 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 either in the capacity of understanding, or body, or outward circumstances.-Here two or three things may be observed,

1. As to spiritual acts, or any good thing in the state or imminent acts of the will itself, or of the affections, (which are only certain modes of the exercise of the will) if persons are justly excused, it must be through want of capacity in the natural faculty or understanding. Thus the same spiritual duties, or holy affections and exercises of heart, cannot be required of men, as may be of angels; the capacity of understanding being so much inferior. So men cannot be required to love those amiable persons, whom they have had no opportunity to see, or hear of, or know in any way agreeable to the natural state and capacity of the human understanding. But the insufficiency 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 understanding. 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 inclination of heart, and does not at all excuse. But if this generosity is not sufficient to excite gratitude, being unknown, 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 it.

2. As to such motions of body, or exercises and alterations of mind, which do not consist in the imminent acts or state of the will itself-but are supposed to be required as 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 observed, is all that can be directly and immediately required by Command; and other things only indirectly, as connected with the will. If therefore, there be a full compliance of will, the person has done his duty; and if other things do not prove

to be connected with his volition, that is not criminally owing to him.

3. Both these kinds of natural Inability, and all Inability that excuses,. may be resolved into one thing; namely, want of natural capacity or strength; either capacity of understanding, or external 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 strength.

Corol. If things for which men have a moral Inability may properly be the matter of Precept or Command, then they inay also of invitation and counsel. Commands 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 nothing that touches the affair in hand. The main difference between Command and invitation consists in the enforcement of the will of him who commands or invites. In the latter it is his kindness, the goodness from which his will arises in the former it is his authority. But whatever be the ground of will in him that speaks, or the enforcement of what he says, yet seeing neither his will nor his expectation is any more testified in the one case than the other; therefore, a person being directed by invitation, is no more an evidence of insincerity in him that directs-in manifesting either a will, or expectation which he has not-than a person being known to be morally unable to do what he is directed by command, is an evidence of insincerity. So that all this grand objection of Arminians against the Inability of fallen men to exert faith in Christ, or to perform other spiritual duties, from the sincerity of God's counsels and invitations, must be without force.*

* On the subject of Sincerity or Insincerity in prohibitions, commands, counsels, invitations, and the like, in cases where God foreknows that the event will not take place by the compliance of the moral agent addressed, we may remark a few particulars in addition to our author's reasoning:

1. The sincerity of prohibitions and commands, counsels and invitations, and the like, is founded-not in the event of things as good or bad, or the knowledge of events, or the purpose that secures some, or the necessity of consequence from which others flow, nor in the moral ability of the agent, but-in the very nature and tendency of the things themselves which are prohibited, commanded, or proposed, as good or evil, either intrinsically, if of a moral nature, or else relatively, if of possitive appointment. Therefore,

2. Whether the event be compliance or non-compliance, the command, or invitation, &c. is perfectly sincere. For, in truth, these are neither more nor less than testimonies respecting the goodness or badness of the things in question, in the sense before mentioned, and the consequent obligations of the agent respecting them, under a forfeiture either declared or implied. Consequently,

3. Insincerity can attach to a command only on supposition that the goodness or badness of the event were the ground of the signified will, while at the same time another event, diverse from that which actually takes place, was purposed by the same will. But,

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