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subjection to any superior authority, 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 dominion, 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 determined by his own counsel, having no other rule but his own wisdom; his Will not being subject to, or restrained 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, selfsufficient and independent ; so that it may be said, as in Isa. xl. 14. With whom took He counsel ? ...And who instructed Him and taught Him in the flath of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and shewed Him the way of understanding 2....There is no other Divine Sovereignty but this, and this is properly absolute sovereignty ; no other is desirable, nor would any other be honorable, or happy, and indeed, there is no other conceivable or possible. It is the glory and greatness of the Divine Sovereignty, that God's Will is determined by his own infinite allsufficient wisdom in evcry thing; and in nothing is either directed, by any inferior wisdom, or by no wisdom ; whereby it would become senseless arbitrariness, determining and acting without reason, design or end. - o If God's Will is steadily and surely determined in every thing by supreme wisdom, then it is in every thing necessarily 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 determined to that, which in every case is wisest and best, it must be subject te some degree of undesigning contingence ; 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 contingence, 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 imperfection 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 advantage. And, consequently to be perfectly free from the direction of understanding, and universally and entirely left to senseless, unmeaning contingence, to act absolutely 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 ease, to will in the highest degree holily and happily ; then why is it not also something too low, for him to have his ex. istence, and the infinite perfection of his nature, and his infinite happiness determined by necessity ? It is no more te God’s dishonor, to be necessarily wise, than to be necessarily holy. And if neither of them be to his dishonor, then it is not to his dishonor necessarily to act holily and wisely. And if it be not dishonorable to be necessarily holy and wise, in the highest possible degree, no more is it mean and dishonorable, 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 dishonorable to be necessarily most holy, is, because holiness in itself is an excellent and honorable thing. For the same reason, it is no dishonor 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 honorable. The forementioned author of the Essay on the Freedom of Will, &c. as has been observed, represents that doctrine of the Divine Will's being in every thing necessarily determined by superior fitness, as making the blessed God a kind of Almighty Minister and mechanical medium of fate; and he insists, page 93, 94, that this moral necessity and impossibility is, in effect, the same thing with physical and natural ne.
cessity and impossibility : And in p. 54, 55, he says, “ The scheme which determines the Will always and certainly by the understanding, 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 natur, ally 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 flows 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 lose their nature, and ber come natural ideas, and necessary things, instead of moral and free actions.” And yet this same author allows, p. 30, 31, 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 antecedent 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 otherwise, than according to this fitness and goodness in things.” So that according to this author, putting these several passages of his Essay together, there is no virtue, nor anything of a moral nature, in the most sublime and glorious acts and exercises of God’s holiness, justice, and faithfulness; and he never does anything 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 Governor 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 Hobistical fatality; as a Being indeed of vast understanding, as well as flower and efficiency (as he said before) but without a Will to choose, being a kind of Almighty Minister of fate, acting tunder its suffireme influence. For he allows, that in all these things, God's Will is determined constantly and certainly by a superior 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 2 Whereas, according to the scriptures, and also the common sense of mankind, it does not, in the least, derogate from the honor of any being, that through the moral perfection of his nature, he necessarily 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 appears 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 suf..fers himself to be directed by fitness ; 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 the sitness of things, but that he cannot choose contrary to the fitness of things ; as he says, p. 42....That it is not fossible for God to act otherwise than according to this fitness, where there is any fitness or goodness in things : Yea, he supposes, p. 31, That if a man were hersectly wise and good, he could not do otherwise, than be constantly and certainly determined by the fitness 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 superior 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 atly dignity or glory of his nature, state or manner of acting ; 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 to detract frem 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 toe much.
Some further Objections against the moral Necessity of GoD's Volitions considered.
THE author last 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 dishonor, nothing in any respect unworthy of God, for him to act from necessity; notwithstanding all that can be objected from the agreement 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 dishonor, or anything, in any respect, unworthy, or unbecoming of God, for his Will to be necessarily determined in every thing. And if this be allowed, it is a giving up entirely the argument, from the unsuitableness of such a necessity to the liberty, supremacy, independence and glory of the Divine Being ; and a resting the whole weight of the affair on the decision of another point wholly diverse; viz. Whether it be so indeed, 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,