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Edwards so frequently drops one of the words, and uses the other? Why does he say, "And if there be any principle in man from whence an act of choice may arise after this manner; from the same principle volition may arise, &c." Certainly there was no need of this, if choice and same; but he might have said
volition mean the
"from the same
That what I call calls the strongest
principle choice may arise, &c." the thing chosen, and what he motive causes choice there is no dispute; but that the thing chosen or his strongest motive produces volition is what I deny, and he cannot prove.
His saying "that an act of the will is the same as an act of choosing or choice," is a mere assumption resting on no proof, and amounting to no definition of volition, or choice. For if volition mean the same as choice; then choice means the same as volition, and what he means by either, we cannot tell, unless he defines one of them. This he has not done.
But we will attend more closely to his reasoning. He says, "If the mind in this comparative act prefers that which appears inferior in the compar ison, then the mind herein acts absolutely without motive, &c." Here it is to be noticed, that the word “prefers” means the same as chooses, and the words, appears inferior' mean the same as not chosen. So the amount of his assertion is," if the
mind choose, and at the same time does not choose a thing, then the mind herein acts absolutely without motive, &c.
Again he says, "If a hungry man has the offer of two sorts of food, both which he finds an appetite to, but has a stronger appetite to one than the other, and there be no circumstances, or excitements whatsoever in the case to induce him to take either the one or the other, but merely his appetite if, in the choice he makes between them, he chooses that, which he has the least appetite to, and refuses that to which he has the strongest appetite, this is a choice made absolutely without previous motive, &c.
"Here the words, "has a stronger appetite to one than the other," mean that he chooses the one for which he has stronger appetite. And the words, If in the choice he makes between them, he chooses that which he has the least appetite to, "" mean if he chooses that which he does not choose, this is a choice made absolutely without previous motive, &c.
What does this reasoning prove? Did any body ever suppose, that the mind could choose an object, and at the same time not choose it? What if the mind cannot work a contradiction, that is, choose, and not choose an object, at the same time; does it follow, that the strongest motive, or thing chosen, is ever the cause of volition? I think not. When
the mind has come to a choice in objects, it wills with liberty in taking, or rejecting the object cho
On the whole, I consider Mr. Edwards' scheme of motives determining the will to be erroneous. Motives influence the understanding, and therein produce choice. The choice, causes a moral necessity of willing according to the choice. But neither the strongest motive, which produces the choice, nor the choice itself, produces the subsequent volition In this, and all other volitions, the mind wills with liberty.
II. Wherein does Mr. Edwards differ from Mr. Hume, respecting the free agency of man? In making this inquiry, I would not be understood to speak disrespectfully of Mr. Edwards, for a more able and faithful preacher of the gospel no country ever produced. But in his zeal to refute arminihe adopted principles, which, in my opinion, are entirely opposed to the freedom or liberty of the mind in willing.
I believe, when he says volition is an effect produced by the strongest motive in the mind's view, he means, that the strongest motive is a positive cause which acts on the mind, and therein produces volition. I infer this from the manner in which he has expressed himself upon the subject-He says, "It is true, I find myself possessed of my volitions,
before I can see the effectual power of any cause to produce them; for the power and efficacy of the cause is not seen but by the effect, and this, for aught I know, may make some imagine, that volition has no cause, or that it poduces itself.— But I have no more reason from hence to determine any such thing, then I have to determine, that I gave myself my own being, or that I came into being accidentally without a cause, because I first found myself possessed of being, before I had knowledge of a cause of my being." (Free Will, 365, n.) Here Mr. Edwards would be understood, that volition is an effect which has a positive productive cause. He does not allow that the mind has liberty in willing; but the man has liberty to do as he wills, if there be nothing to impede, or hinder his doing. I apprehend these were Mr. Edwards' principles concerning moral agency.
Now let us consider how Mr. Hume treated this subject. He says, "Every human action must proceed from some motive as its cause. The mo tive, or cause, must be sufficient to produce the action, or effect; otherwise it is no motive: and if sufficient to produce it, must necessarily produce it; for every effect proceeds necessarily from its cause, as heat necessarily proceeds from fire.Now the immediate causes of action are volitions or energies of the will: these arise necessarily
from passions or appetites, which proceed necessarily from judgments or opinions; which are the necessary effect of external things, or of ideas, operating, according to the necessary laws of nature, upon our senses, intellect, or fancy: and these ideas or things, present themselves to our powers of perception, as necessarily as light presents itself when we turn our open eyes to the sun. In a word, every, human action is the effect of a series of causes, each of which does necessarily produce its own proper effect; so that if the first operate, all the rest must follow. It is confessed, that an action may proceed immediately from volition, and may therefore properly be called voluntary: but the primum mobile, or first cause, even of a voluntary action, is something as independent on our will, as the production of the great-grandfather is independent on the grand-son. Between physical, and moral necessity there is no difference; the phenomina of the moral world being no less necessary, than those of the material. And, to conclude, if we are conscious of a feeling or sentiment of moral liberty, it must be a deceitful one; for no past action of our lives could have been prevented, and no future action can possibly be contingent. Therefore man is not a free but
a necessary agent."
If Mr. Hume's premises be true, I see not, but