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is one thing that is put into the scales, and is to be considered as a thing that has concern in the compound influence which moves and induces the Will; and is one thing that is to be considered in estimating the degree of that appearance of good which the Will always follows ; either as having its influence 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 resistance 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 degree 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 itself; 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 I have finished what I have to say on the subject of human liberty.
Concerning the Meaning of the Terms Necessity, Impossibility, Inability, &c. and of Contingence.
THE words necessary, impossible, &c. are abundantly used in controversies about Free Will and moral agency ; and therefore the scnse in which they are used, should be clearly understood.
Here I might say, that a thing is then said to be necessary, 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 explained the word must, by there being a necessity. The words must, can, and cannot, need explication as much as the words necessary and imfossible ; excepting that the former are words that children commonly use, and know something of the meaning of earlier than the latter. 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 vain to hinder or alter it. That is necessary, in the original and proper sense of the word, which is, or will be, notwithstanding all supposable 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 manisestly 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 endeavor which is insufficient ; and as the word irresistible is relative, and has always reference to resistance which is made, or may be made to some force or power tending to an effect, and is insufficient to withstand the power or hinder the effect. The common notion of necessity and impossibility implies something that frustrates endeavor or desire. Here several things are to be noted. 1. Things are said to be necessary in general, which are or will be notwithstanding any supposable opposition 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 impossible, and other such like terms. 2. These terms necessary, impossible, irresistible, &c. do especially belong to the controversy about liberty and 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.
3. As the word Vecessity in its vulgar and common use, is relative, and has always reference to some supposable insufficient opposition ; so when we speak of any thing as necessary to us, it is with relation to some supposable 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 we voluntarily oppose it. Things are said to be what must be, or necessarily are, as to us, when they are, or will be, though we desire or endeavor the contrary, or try to prevent or remove their existence : But such opposition of ours always either consists in, or implies, opposition of our Wills.
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. So any thing is said to be impossible to us, when we would do it, or would have it brought to pass, and endeavor it; or at least may be supposed to desire and seek it ; but all our desires and endeavors are, or would be vain. And that is said to be irresistible, which overcomes all our opposition, resistance, and endeavors to the contrary. And we are said to be unable to do a thing, when our supposable desires and endeavors 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, becomes fixed and settled; so that the idea of a relation to a supposed will, desire and endeavor of ours, is strongly 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, 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 exceeding 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 connexion of ideas will deceive and con
found 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, irresistible, unable, &c. are used in cases wherein no opposition, or insufficient will or endeavor, is supposed, or can be supposed, but the very nature of the supposed case itself excludes and denies any such opposition, will or endeavor, these terms are then not used in their proper signification, but quite beside their use in common speech. The reason is manifest ; namely, that in such cases we cannot use the words with reference to a supposable opposition, will or endeavor. And therefore if any man uses these terms in such cases, he either uses them nonsensically, or in some new sense, diverse from their original and proper meaning. As for instance; if a man should affirm after this manner, that it is necessary for a man, and what must be, that a man should choose virtue rather than vice, during the time that he prefers virtue to vice ; and that it is a thing impossible and irresistible, 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, irresistible, &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 opposition, unwillingness and resistance ; whereas, here, the very supposition excludes and denies any such thing : For the case supposed is that of being willing and choosing. 5. It appears from what has been said, that these terms necessary, imstossible, &c. are often used by philosophers and metaphysicians in a sense quite diverse from their 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 Beings, such as his loving himself, his loving righteousness, hating sin, &c. So they apply these terms to many cases of the inclinations and actions of created intelligent beings, angels Vel. V. D
and men; wherein all opposition of the Will is shut out and denied, in the very supposition 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 certainty 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 philosophical Necessity, namely, That by which a thing cannot 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 Mecessity ; and the former may as well be explained by the latter, as the latter by the former. Thus, if any one asked us what 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 wnable, 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 reference.
Philosophical Necessity is really nothing else than the full and fixed connexion between the things signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition, which affirms something to be true. When there is such a connexion, then the thing affirmed injthe proposition is necessary, in a philosophical sense; whether any opposition, 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 fall and certain connexion, 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 Mecessity, in the following discourse, when I endeavor to prove that Necessity is not inconsistent with liberty.