Abbildungen der Seite

and this is the internal choice, and it is wrong:But, when I come to consider the will of God, his promise of reward, if I do pray, and his comminution of punishment, if I do not, and compare these objects together, I may choose to pray; this choice is external, and is caused by motives foreign from the nature of prayer in itself considered, and may be called a right choice. But, when the internal choice is right, the external choice never counteracts its influence, but both united impose on the mind the highest moral necessity of willing according to its choice.

I would here remark, that the choice may be erro. neous in the mind, that possesses a virtuous nature, and has a relish for virtuous objects. This may arise from the limitation of the powers and facule ties of the mind, not always being able to under. stand the nature and tendency of the objects in the comparison; or it may arise from the mind making a wrong combination of objects, when itmakes comparisons.

III. Let us consider what causes a difference in our choice of voluntary actions at different times. I believe our choice in these, is varied from time to time, by the different combinations which the mind makes of objects. Thus, I have no chvice to go to church lo worship God, in itself considered. But when I consider it is the Lord's day, that if I stay cute

[ocr errors]

home, my neighbours will say I have no regard for the Sabbath ; that God requires I should worship hiin, and threatens me with elernal misery if I do not; I say, when I duly coosider, and combine these several things, and make one complex thing of them, and compare this complex thing with staying at home, I may choose to attend church. But if I omit in the combination the consideration, " that God requires I should worship him, and threatens me with eternal misery if I do not," I might come to a different choice, I might choose to stay at home, notwithstanding, my neighbours might say, “ I have no regard for the Sabbath." Their opinion concerning me, unconnected with the other considerations, might not be sufficient in the mind's view, when compared with staying at home, to make it more pleasing or agreeable to the mind to go, than to stay, therefore, in this comparison, the mind must choose to stay at home. Here we see, how much our choice in voluntary actions, depends on the combination which the mind makes. In reflecting, combining, and comparing, the mind is altogether active, it wills. If the choice in voluntary actions depends so much on the combination of things, and their combination depends on our volitions, why should we not be accountable for our choice, as well as for the voluntary actions ?

IV. It inust be acknowledged, that we have nalurally a desire for happiness; we eagerly search for it in almost every object; In this way we experience a vast variety of objects, some of which are thought to be for our preservation, perfection, conveniency, or pleasure, so we call them good; others are not so considered, therefore, we call them evil. Goods, are divided into natural and spiritual goods; evils, have the same division.Except the difference, which arises from the different relishes of our minds, I apprehend, that objects whether they be natural or spiritual good, or evil, usually affect mankind nearly alike. The mind after it has experienced things, or has a, knowledge of them, if its choice be right, and it would act consistent with its own nature, which is a desire for happiness, should always will according to its choice in the objects; that is, it should will to do, or to enjoy that thing in the comparison, which is the most pleasing or agreeable to the mind;. provided no law be transgressed by such doing, or enjoyment: The moral law is to be taken into the account in com, ing to a choice, and in no: case, is it to be vio. lated. But where the nature of the mind is. wholly vicious, it must have a relish to do those things, that are forbidden by the inoral law, and no relish to do those things, that the law requires

Such a mind is liable to mistake its way to happiness. With this relish, if the mind would have its voluntary actions conform in any respect to the law, and also to a choice, the choice in voluntary actions cannot be internal, but it must be external ; that is, the mind may extend its views to the moral law, and consider future rewards, and punishments; these no doubt have a powerful influence, and in them, the mind may have a choice to do those voluntary actions, which the law requires, or not to do those, which the law forbids, and will accordingly.




[ocr errors]

I. We have defined liberty or freedom to be, "the mind beginning, regulating, continuing, and ending its volition without any thing to act on the mind, so as therein to produce, or prevent volition; also, there being nothing to hinder, or impede the intended external effect of volition."

We have already stated, that the mind has an active power ; but I do not consider this alone, though it is taken into the account, to be freedom. But the absence of things, that the mind may ex• ercise its active power in beginning, regulating, continuing and ending its volition, without compulsion, or restraint, and without any thing to hinder, or impede the intended external effect of volition, is liberty. To illustrate this, let us suppose one wills to fly; his mind is free in willing; that is, there is nothing that acts on his mind, so as therein to produce or prevent his volition; but he is

« ZurückWeiter »