Page images

XIII. And lastly, it is objected ", "That our notions of liberty are contrary to the fenfe, and repugnant to the common reafon of mankind, as will be evident by the rules laid down by them, who were guided only by the light of nature." To which I answer; our cafe is very hard indeed, for if we seem to agree with the Stoicks, who 1 were governed only by the light of nature, we are reproached with holding a Stoical fate, and charged with the abfurdities of it. If we differ from them, we are cried out against as maintaining notions contrary to the sense, and repugnant to the common reafon of mankind; for, I observe, that the authors this writer refers to, by whom the rules were laid down he produces, were all, excepting Ariftotle, of the Stoick fect, or inclined to it. And as for the rules themfelves; as, that a law-giver muft act abfurdly to command what is impoffible; that vice and virtue are in our own power, and are voluntary, otherwife not worthy of praise or difpraife, reward or punishment; that it is no fault not to do that which we have no power to do; that what is natural to all men, cannot be evil; and that there can be no deliberation or confultation about things which are not in our power;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Whitby, P. 334. Ed. 2: 325.

Part III.


[ocr errors]

I fay, as to these rules laid down, and which are objected to us, I have already confidered them, and replied to them, fo far as they concern the argument before us. What now remains, is only to fubjoin some arguments, proving that liberty does not confift in an indifference to good and evil; and that it is confiftent with fome kind of receffity, and a determination to one, and a vindication of them.

I. God is a moft free agent, and liberty in him is in its utmost perfection, and yet does not lie in an indifference to good and evil; he has no freedom to that which is evil, he cannot commit iniquity, he cannot lie, or deny himself, his will is determined only to that which is good; he can do no other, he is the author of all good, and of that only; and what he does, he does freely, and yet neceffarily. It is faid ", that this argument is vain, "fince he is in no state of trial, nor can he be tempted to do evil." I reply, neither is man in a ftate of trial, as has been before fhewn; he may be, indeed, and is tempted to do evil; and there is a propenfity in his nature, nay, he is only determined to it before a principle of grace is wrought in him; which thews that the liberty of his will lies in a determination


Whitby, p. 308. Ed. 2. 300.


to one. Moreover, fince God cannot be tempted to evil, nor is it poffible that he fhould ever commit it, it follows, that true. liberty does not confift in an indifference to good and evil.

II. The human nature of Chrift, or the Man Chrift Jefus, who as he was born without fin, and lived without it all his days on earth; fo was impeccable, could not fin. He lay under fome kind of neceffity, from the purpose of God, the command of God, the covenant between God and him, as well as from the purity of his nature, to fulfil all righteousnefs; and yet he did it most freely and voluntarily, which proves that the liberty of man's will, in its greateft perfection, which is fo in the Man Chrift Jefus, does not lie in equilibrio, in an indifference to good and evil; but is confiftent with some kind of neceffity, and with a deterEmination to that which is good only. The objection to the former argument can have no force here, for tho' Chrift was not in a Iftate of trial, as men in common are not; yet he was liable to be tempted, and was tempted to evil, tho' he had no inclination to it, nor was it poffible that he should be prevailed upon to commit it.




III. The good Angels, holy and elect, who are confirmed in the ftate in which

Q 2


[ocr errors]



they are, and by the confirming grace of God are become impeccable, cannot fin, or fall from that happy ftate; yet perform their whole obedience to God, do his will and work chearfully and willingly. The freedom of their wills is not loft, nor in the leaft curtailed by their impeccability, confirmed ftate, and determination to that which is only good. To fay, << there was a time when they were not confirmed in goodness as now they are, and have loft that liberty ad utrumvis, they then had*, is more than can be proved; fince, for ought we know, they might be confirmed in goodnefs from the original of their creation; and the reason why they fell not when others of the fame fpecies of creatures did, might be because they were thus confirmed, and the reft left to the weakness and mutability of creatures. I have, indeed, in the First Part of this work, allowed the good angels to have been in a ftate of probation, antecedent to their confirmation, which I am now tempted to retract; but fince we know fo little of angels, I chufe to be in fufpence about it. When it is urged, that being thus confirmed, they are not in a state of trial; it must be replied, as before, nor is man. When it is faid, that they are not under any temptation to d il, it is faying

* Whitby, p. 308. Ed. 2. 300.

2 Ib.



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

more than can be made good. But, fuppofing it true, as it is certain, that there is no propenfity in them to fin, nor can they, by any temptation, be induced to it, it ferves but to confirm what is contended for, that liberty does not confift in an indifference to good and evil. When it is further afferted', : that their actions are not now rewardable, it is nothing to the purpose, fince this no ways affects the liberty of their actions ; tho' I fee not why their actions, which are taken notice of with commendation, may not be rewarded now by the grace of God.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

IV. The devils and damned fpirits have no inclination to, nor capacity of, doing that which is good, but are wholly determined to that which is evil; and yet do all they do freely and voluntarily. It is true, they are not in a state of trial, no more are men. But to fay, they are not fubject to any farther punishment for the evil they do, is not confiftent with the juftice of God, and the dreadful expectation of the devils themselves, who are not as yet in full tor


=0 V. The liberty of the will of man, in [ every ftate he has been, is, or fhall be in, lies not in an indifference to good and evil. In

? Whitby, p. 308, Ed. 2. 300.

b Ib.

Q 3


« PreviousContinue »