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time and under the circumstances, the act was needless and avoidable. Could we, one of the sharpest pangs of remorse would be extracted, if not all remorse effectually quieted and removed. No man was ever placed where he could not do right. A virtne that is “inevitable,” is no virtue. The plea, “I could not help it,” is always in bar of imputed wrong, and equally excluding merit, in action formally right. Of course we would guard against the predisposing tendencies to existent wrong, which are found in habits and propensities formed and resultant of the earlier history of the individual or the race, and our friends, in controversy, will, we judge, agree with us in this. But if I have no power against an existing temptation and array of motives, how have I against a previous habit? Such a habit is nothing to me now, in the matter of a current responsibility, except as a present influ
And if I have no capabilities concerning it, but only to freely do its bidding—if I may not at any stage, and under any circumstances, arrest and throttle it and deliver myself from it, and proclaim the freedom of eternal victory over it, from the force of the very elements of the intelligence that is in me, and of me as a creature of God, and more especially now as aided and encouraged by the assurances of the gospel, then indeed am I “led as an ox to the slaughter, and like a fool to the correction of the stocks."
But it has been objected "cui bono," “What is the use of claiming the power of contrary choice—it never is exercised?" But are you sure of that? We believe that the power of contrary choice is, and is exercised in thousands and thousands of instances every day. Indeed, not a sinner turns to God without it. Let a great revival of religion sweep through the city, and over the land, and you have it everywhere. We see not how any one gets to Christ without it. He must wake it up, and stake his salvation, under God, upon it. He must summon it to the work of resistance and counteraction. He must contravene the prevalent propensities, and temptations, and habits of a whole life of impenitence and alienation from God. He must encounter the cherished lusts of a life time, and go right abreast of all he has ever been, to resist all, and against the pleadings, and pretensions, and tyranny of all, and turn unto God and live. And in this he needs the
of contrary choice, and uses it. So that for all the purposes of this discussion this power to the contrary is, under God, the life of the world, and is seen wherever a sinner is converted from the error of his way, or a soul saved from death. How can you break away from a dominant propensity, or change a course of action, withont calling up an element of being like that for which we here contend ?
The objector will not surely take shelter under the poor subterfuge that we cannot have two and opposite choices, or go two ways at once; for what does this amount to, reduced to the last analysis ? It is just equivalent to the insignificant, identical proposition, that we do as we do—that personality is a unit, and not a duad. A given volition or exercise may be no measure of the powers of its author. Powers may lie dormant, or await the occasion for their use. We should be sorry to conclude that one who is only doing wrong, is exercising all the powers he has, or that we ever lose the power of right action, whatever, in fact, our conduct may be.
The poor deceit practised on the mind of such an objector, and which he would doubtless hold as a conceded and legitimate postulate, and which bas been the occasion of more discussions and logomachics since its invention than alınost anything else, is that of two sorts of necessity-physical and moral—the last always retiring, on the analysis of its friends, into a mere certainty, only. But how is the merely certain a correlate of the possible? Only by begging the question again, in view of the theological necessities of the scheme. A certainty may be no more allied to a necessity than an uncer. tainty, unless, as before, you restrict the thought to the mere inanity, that what will be, will be. But much will be that need not be, and that ought not to be, and that is under no necessity of being whatever. Shall we use a nomenclature, in dealing with abstract truth, which obliges us to say that that is necessary which God has forbidden, and which he is opposed to, and all good agencies in the universe, and the constituent elements of our own being? Temptation is one thing, but the necessity of compliance quite another. I may be greatly tempted, but the greater is the resistance, and the
use of my power to the contrary, which I can and should make; and if I foolishly comply, the fact would be the exponent of no necessity thereto. Of course we object not to the forms of conventional speech, found in or out of the Bible, and for popular vise, where great temptation or a perpetuated depravity is correllated with, or expressed by the words “can,” and “cannot;" as, the brethren of Joseph hated him so badly that they “could not speak peaceably to him;" when every one knows they could and should.
The error lies not in accepting this metaphoric language of the Orient and of common life, as implying hardened iniquity, or in reference to hereditary propensity, or great, overt wickedness, as when it is said that such an one is so great a liar that he “cannot” speak the truth, and the like phrases that are well enough understood among men—not this, but in running this phraseology into a universal dogma of Occidental metaphysics, and constituting it a battery in the discussions of exact truth and science behind which to screen the exigences of a theological system. But the doctrine is vital to the theory which it subserves. The aim is to secure a Divine government in the moral sphere. And to secure this, it is deemed needful to give to God the sovereignty of all volitions, that they may thereby be as on the whole he would have them to be, and as will best promote his great end in creation. And as this can be done only in the way of influence “ab extra" to the mind, (proper,) there is established from the very demands of the system this doctrine of necessity, and the coalescence of the is" and the “can be." The error lies in bringing in this idea of necessity at all within the sphere of the will, and in taking this way of securing a Divine moral government. It is inherently vicious as a method, and can but subvert the superstructure it would raise. What, in the convictions of any man, would be the value of, or what would be that moral government or universe which absorbed into the Deity all the sovereignty of volitions, and found in him alone all the discretionary movements of mind? A thing, it might be; more than that, it could not be.
The doctrine of cause is as legitimate and appreciable in derived as underived being. God made man in his own image, and after his own likeness. Intelligence is cause
per se, dependent for its being, but with a full and unrestricted personality as to its voluntary and responsible acts. Where would be the personality of God without the sovereignty in himself of his voluntary states and acts, and if we might suppose them to be in another, and to be caused by any other than himself, we could no longer see in him the element of personal cause; nothing would remain but irresponsible effect. He must have the control of his forthgoing volitions, or he is no person ; he has no discretion in respect to what he is, or will be; he is without individuality or accountableness, to himself or to another. Such is all intelligence. It must, on the last analysis, be itself the umpire in respect to its voluntary states—be itself the sovereign, and have the control over them, and say what they shall be, and whether or not they shall be. Without this you do not get a personality into the intelligence, and abstracting this you destroy it as intelligence, and convert it into a mere effect, moved by causes from without, either material or immaterial. They shall say what it shall be and do, and not the intelligence itself; and theirs should be the responsibility of its course. It is no longer a “causa causans,” but merely a “ causa causuta.” But God deals with derived intelligence as if it were a “causa causans,” and could put forth voitilons without his influence therein, or with his influence therein, or against his influence therein. “Ye stiff necked and rebell. ious, ye do alway resist the Holy Ghost.” What mean those exhortations, and promises, and comminations, and eventual retributions, which are everywhere propounded in the Bible, as related to this subject? What is the doctrine that underlies them, or what relevancy in them, if the sovereignty of our voluntary states is not in ourselves, but in God? Does one exhort another to that over which he has not the control and jurisdiction, but which, after all, is with himself? We are aware of indicating here, but what is well nigh common-place in philosophy, that all moral influence is inherently resistible, and that individual mind would be without self-respect, if it were without self-control. We prize as highly as any the work of the Spirit in the repentance and sanctification of men; but we would not thereby take from and absorb away the responsible personality of the soul. Much is resistible that will not be resisted. Men will repent when they could hold out in sin, as others will continue to hold out in sin when they could and should repent; and God knows all results in both kingdoms of his empire, and has indicated them, so far as he has thought best, to us.
All accurate thinkers distinguish between a “sine qua non” and a cause. Intelligence acts in the way of intelligence. If there were nothing to choose, there would be no occasion for choosing. The mind determines itself in view of considerations present to it; but these are not the causes of its acts, nor the exponents of its power. The atmosphere is not the cause of breathing, though indispensable to it. The mind has laws of thought and principles of action. It dwells in a sea of motive influences, variant often and contradictory, and from all the sources of truth within its range; and it selects its course among them without being commanded by any. It is itself the real and sole agent in the matter of volition, from the inherent “nisus" of its own interior sphere, with power to accept any or refuse any. It can act foolishly or wickedly, or wisely, in the same circumstances. All the motives in creation may surround and press upon it to do right, and yet it may do wrong. It holds a power within, and deeper than any external appliances can master. We present them, and leave them, and must leave them short of the result desired, and let that go to the sovereign arbitrament of the respondent mind, from its own interior sphere, in compliance or rejection, on an election and responsibility all its own.
Motives do not secure choice, or necessitate it. They present its grounds, but give not its actuality, and are often doomed to bitter disappointment there. The voluntary activities of the will are inherently contingent, and so we reason in all the intercourse of life. We do in the pulpit, and in personal appeal. We are not sure of results till we get responses. Other principles of mind, and the faets of history and experience, help us to calculate results, but with much imperfection and many failures. The necessitated faculties and well known laws of mind show the ordinary range of its voluntary being, but do not necessitate its volition, in any given instance. It can will anything, and that it does