« AnkstesnisTęsti »
real and adequate caufe. The question therefore to be decidedis this, "Whether thofe mental affections are produced by a regular concatenation of circumstances or motives operating as real and adequate causes, or whether they are the refult of a certain faculty of the mind fortunately discovered for this very purpose, and dignified with the appellation of the self-determining power." He who affirms that the self-determining power is the cause of volition, must doubtless intend to convey fome farther idea than that the power by which our volitions are determined is the cause of volition; for this is a mere identical propofition, which can never be seriously propofed as the fubject of philofophical difcuffion. -By the felf-determining power therefore must be meant, if indeed it has any meaning, either the actual exertion of volition, or the mental energy which precedes volition, and which is the efficient cause of it. If it means the actual exertion of volition, then the affertors of this power evidently confound the cause with the effect, making the act of volition prior to itself, distinct from itself, and the cause of itself. But if it means the mental energy preceding and producing volition, it is then plainly equivalent to the term motive, and the question is reduced to a mere verbal controverfy; for this mental energy, denoting only a particular difpofition and state of mind, must itself have refulted from a previous difpofition of mind, as likewife that previous difpofition from one yet more remote :—a regular and uninterrupted concatenation of volitions thus
thus extending itself backwards to the original fource of agency, each volition or mental ftate, like wave impelling wave, arifing from preceding, and giving rife to fucceeding states or definite fituations of mind analogous to itself, and correfponding to those immutable laws by which the mental no less than the material world is governed by infinite wisdom and power.-But the term motive, according to the Neceffarian definition, includes all those previous circumstances which contribute to produce a definite volition or determination of the will.To what purpose then attempt to diftinguifh between the power and the motive of determination, when the ideas precifely coincide; the definite caufe of a definite volition being all which is really meant by either?-Or where is the difference between the Libertarian, who fays that the mind chufes the motive; and the Neceffarian, who afferts that the motive determines the mind; if the volition be the neceffary refult of all the previous circumftances?→→→ The distinction in this case can only amount to an idle and trifling evafion; and it is evident, that in order to preserve a fhadow of liberty, its advocates make no fcruple to adopt a grofs impropriety of expreffion to boast, that the mind chuses the motive when the mind is restricted to a definite choice, is ridiculous; and it is in fact as great a folecifm, as to affirm that the volition chufes the motive: for the choice of the mind is not prior, but fubfequent to the motive; it is therefore not the caufe, but the effect of the motive; and this pretended mental
choice is manifeftly neither more nor less than the neceffary determination of volition.
After this, it is needlefs to enlarge upon the abfurdity of the idea, that this pretended power is capable of deciding in contradiction to the most powerful motive; for if it is confidered as the real and proper cause of volition, its decifions must be definite and certain; and it is perfectly ridiculous to apply the term moft powerful to that motive which is not actually prevalent. For the fake of argument, we have admitted the existence of a power in the mind, the reality of which, as diftinguished from the power of motives, it is impoffible to establish by even the fhadow of a proof; but if it really exifted, it is evident it could exist only as the cause of volition in general; for, fo far as it is not biaffed and influenced by motives, so far it bears an exactly equal relation to each particular volition; and therefore cannot poffibly be the cause of any specific determination; just as matter endowed with a fimilar power of felf-motion would remain for ever inert, in confequence of its poffeffing an equal tendency to move in every poffible direction at the fame inftant of time. So far as it is an independent principle, therefore, it is a nugatory and useless one. But even if it could be proved the true and proper cause of every particular volition, ftill we infift that the volitions produced by it must be certain and definite; for it will ever remain an incontrovertible axiom, notwithstanding all metaphyfical refinements and fubtleties, that the fame caufe
caufe in the fame precife circumftances must inevitably produce the fame effects.-To appeal to the internal feelings and consciousness of mankind, as the advocates for liberty affect to do in confirmation of their principles, will avail them little the only fpecies of liberty that any man is or can be conscious of,is a liberty or power of voluntary agency, or of acting as he pleases or wills; and this is a power which we are fo far from contefting, that we confider it as an effential part of the Neceffarian fyftem. The fact is, that the question so much contested among philofophers, viz. Whether volitions are definite in definite circumftances, never occurs to the generality of mankind; and, if it were stated, would not be understood: To philofophers only, then, let the appeal be made; and furely every attentive and impartial examiner must be compelled to answer in the affirmative.
As to the immoral and pernicious confequences which our adverfaries pretend to deduce from Neceffarian principles, it is easy to show, that they are founded in a grofs misapprehenfion of their nature and tendency. The philofophical idea of Liberty will not indeed be included in the Neceffarian definition of virtue, but it will ftill remain as diftinct from and oppofite to vice, as excellent in itself, and as much the object of love and admiration, as it can poffibly be upon any hypothefis whatever. To incite us to the practice of it, and to deter us from the commiffion of vice, motives muft, agreeably to the frame and conftitution of the
human mind, be held out to our view; peace and happiness be annexed to the one, fhame and mifery to the other; and these associations once implanted in the mind, must produce the most beneficial effects; and the importance of early inculcating juft fentiments, and of urging men to the practice of virtue, by every laudable motive, cannot appear in fo ftriking and important a light upon any other ground, as on that which ascribes to them a certain and invariable operation. That objection to the doctrine of Neceffity, which charges it with involving the character of the Supreme Being in the guilt of moral turpitude, is an accufation equally weak and ill-founded. If the Deity acts immorally in decreeing vicious actions, how can our adverfaries, upon their own principles, vindicate God's moral government, in permitting thofe irregularities which he could fo easily have prevented. The truth is, the difficulty is the very fame on each and indeed every hypothesis; and the Neceffarians are under no peculiar obligation to folve that great problem, the introduction of evil into the univerfe: however, as we have the moft convincing proofs, derived both from reason and revelation, of the moral attributes of Deity, we may furely reft fatisfied that very wife and important ends are to be answered by it; and we may fafely conclude, that all things fhall finally terminate in pure and perfect happiness; and that the power, wifdom, and goodnefs of God fhall be at length fully difplayed, and illuf. triously