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cven as maintained by Arminians, (which certainly implies dr 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; which proof is summarily expressed by 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 utter subversion of every demonstrative argument for the proof of a Deity, as has been shown, Part II. Sec. 3. And 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 endeavors, in order to be virtuous and religious. Which pretence has been already particularly considered in the 5th Section of this Part; where it has been demonstrated, that this doctrine has no such tendency ; but that such a tendency is truly to be charged on the contrary doctrine ; inasmuch as the notion of contingence, which their doctrine implies, in its certain consequences, overthrows all connexion in every degree, between endeavor and event, means and end. And besides, if many other things which have been observed 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 inclinations, which men find to be natural ; because in such inclinations, they are not selfdetermined, 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 has 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 inclinations inducing a moral necessity; yea, to excuse every 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 determined the Will, so far the Will was without liberty of indifference and selfdetermination. 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 consequences, it leaves room for no such thing, as either virtue or vice, blame or praise in the world.t And then again, how naturally does this notion of the sovereign, selfdetermining power of the Will, in all things, virtuous or vicious, and whatsoever deserves either reward or punishment, tend to encourage men to put off the work of religion and virtue, and turning from sin to God; it being that which they have a sovereign power to determine 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 improvement 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 doctrine 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 Arminians, and the contrary principles; as both have had their turn of general prevalence in our nation. If it be in
* Part III. Sect. 6. # Part III. Sect. 6, Ibid. Sect. 7, Part IV. Sect. 1. Part III. Sect, 3. Corol. 1, after the first Head.
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deed, as is pretended, that Calvinistic doctrines undermine
the very foundation of all religion and morality, and 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 doctrines, 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 of every kind of seriousness and strictness of conversation, should proportionably 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 remarkable that this happy remedy (discovered by the free inquiries and superior sense and wisdom of this age} against the pernicious effects of Calvinism, so inconsistent
with religion, and tending so much to banish all virtue from the earth, should, on so long a trial, be attended with no good effect, 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 doctrines 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.
&oncerning that Objection against the reasoning, by which the Calvinistic doctrine is supported, that it is metaphysical and abstruse.
IT has often been objected against the defenders of Calvinistic principles, that in their reasonings they run into nice, scholastic distinctions and abstruse, metaphysical subtilties, and set these in opposition to common sense. And it is possible, that after the former manner it may be alleged against the reasoning by which I have endeavored to confute the Arminian scheme of liberty and moral agency, that it is very abstracted 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 impertinent 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 inquire 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 opponent, 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, logic, or mathematics, Latin, French, English or Mohawk 2 But whether the reasoning be good, and the arguments truly conclusive : The foregoing arguments are no more metaphysical, than those which we use against the Papists, to disprove their doctrine of transubstantiation ; alleging it is inconsistent 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 the rational soul is not corporeal ; that lead or sand cannot 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 that there is one Cod only, and not hundreds or thousands. And, indeed, we have no strict demonstration of any thing, excepting mathematical truths, but by metaphysics. We can have no proof that is properly demonstrative, of any one proposition, relating to thc being and nature of God, his creation of the world, the dependence of all things on him, the naturc 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, metafihysical,
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 akin to the jargon of the schools. I humbly conceive the foregoing reasoning, at least as to those things which are most material belonging to it, depends on no abstruse definitions or distinctions, or terms without a meaning, or of very ambiguous and undetermined signification, or any points of such abstraction and subtilty, 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; or that