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done, the book will never be answered ? Surely, my firm belief that all these things are necessarily connected, must convince me of the necessity of setting about the work, if I wish to do it at all; and my wish to have it done, is here to be supposed, as having arisen from a variety of previous circumstances.
If, therefore, I shall certainly find myself disposed to act just as I now do, believing my actions to be necessary, your objection to my doctrine, on this account, cannot have a sufficient foundation. You say, that if the thing must be, it must be; if your book is to be answered by me, it will be answered by me ; and that I may, therefore, make myself easy about it, and do nothing. I answer, that fo I should, either if I had no desire to have it done, which happens not to be the case, or if I thought that no exertions of mine were necessary to gain my end, which is not the case neither. On this consideration depends the capital distinction that I make between the doctrines of philosophical necefity, and Calvinistic predeftination.
Dr. Priestley then proceeds to shew, that the doctrine of philosophical necessity supposes a necellary connection between bur endeavours and our success; so that if only the desire of fuccess, the first link in this chain, be sufficiently strong, all the reft will follow of course ; and the end will be certainly accomplished.'-Whereas, according to the Calvinifts, the desire and the end, have no necessary connection. In the work of conversion or regeneration, for instance, they say, that " God is the fole agent, and men altogether passive;'--that, without his immediate agency, to which nothing on the part of man can contribute, let a man exert himself ever so much, in the use of all poflible means; yet all his volitions, and all his actions, would be only finful, and deserving of the wrath and curse of God to all eternity.'
Notwithstanding these explanations, and allowing the justice and propriety of these distinctions, between the doctrine of philosophical necessity and that of Calvinistic predestination; itill, we apprehend, the capital difficulty will appear to many not to be removed by them. We mean that contained in the passage which we have marked with Italics, in the paragraph preceding the laft. Notwithstanding all that is here said, this stumblingblock fill seems to rear its head, and this question still recurs; -If the thing MUST be, it must be ; and therefore, how can í prevent it, or why pould I exert myself?-Or, in other words, does it depend on me to prevent or produce an event, which “ cannot posibly be otherwise than it is to be?? If, in the plan of providence (may an indolent man say), I am the destined agent, whose exertions are necessary to a certain end; the desire of fuccess,' and other links in the chain of causes, will necessarily impel me to those exertions; and I will patiently await their Rev. Jan. 1780.
impulse; which as yet I do not feel. -We own, however, that, in the Author's case of the farmer – who knows, certainly, that if he does not fow, it is decreed that he shall not reap-as well as in his own case, above given, the difficulty has appeared to us to be lessened'; on our particularly attending to a circumstance or two, on which Dr. Priestley has not perhaps sufficiently amplified, to render his doctrine generally intelligible to his readers. Mr. Palmer, at least, seems not to have comprehended his former illustration; by his dwelling so much on the observation, that farmers, in general, do not believe in the doctrine of neceffity :-a remark, which appears to us to be of no consequence in the present argument." Dr. Priestley's principal intention, we apprehend, was to thew, that a belief in the doctrine of necessity is not incompatible with, or even unfavourable to, the moft spirited exertions; and that a farmer, believing in that doctrine ever fo firmly, will nevertheless, without any dereliction of his principles, exert the fame endeavours as another farmer who is an anti-necessarian. Those who have not perfectly understood Dr. Priestley's illustration, may possibly perceive its drift, by seeing it represented in a somewhat new light, or the light in which it strikes us.
One of the circumstances to which we have alluded above is, the ignorance of men respecting the decrees of providence. On this ignorance (and the necessary influence of motives) we apprehend, that our Necessarian Farmer founds his plan of con, duct;—for we will suppose Dr. Priestley's aflive farmer to be as determined a neceffarian as himself; and yet he shall till and sow fields with as much spirit (Dr. Priestley would say more] as any of his more orthodox neighbours, who think they have a will of their own. Supposing one of these laft to ridicule our farmer, on account of a conduct seemingly so inconsistent with his principles ; we can conceive him thus answering his opponent:
Will you, Sir, be so kind as to inform me which of these two decrees has passed ;-whether I shall low my fields, and live, or neglect them and starve? I firmly believe one of these events to be unalterably determined; but I know not which ; nor can you inform me. Under this uncertainty (nay, partly because of this uncertainty), but knowing the uniformity of the course of nature, and that unless I low I cannot postibly reap, and feeling moreover a desire to low; I shall low with as much spirit as yourself; and half a year hence, my barns and Itacks will inform us both what was the decree.-Nay, even now, I think I can venture to specify the decree before-hand, and to pronounce, that it is the favourable one; because I find myself determined (by motives that have a certain and necessary in Auence) to exert fuch endeavours to fulfil it, as can scarce fail of producing that effect, according to the usual course of things.
Thus likewise, in the other instance, Dr. Priestley might say: I know not, certainly, whether it is decreed, that I shall, or shall not write an answer to Mr. Palmer's book : but, ignorant as I am of that decree, I know my own present feelings, and am sensible of a sufficiently strong desire to answer it. I know likewise, that unless I take the pen in my hand, I cannot answer it. Nay, further, though the decree is as yet a secret to me, it shall not (in consequence of my endeavours) remain a secret much longer; for I will sit down, and answer it immediately. - And so, in fact, it has turned out.
In these amplifications of Dr. Priestley's two illustrations, we know not whether we have caught the whole of his meaning, or only a part of it. If we have erred, in our attempt to illustrate it ftill farther, we cannot well incur much disgrace in such a dark subject : and besides, we err in very good company. -As to the main question, it is ably discussed by both the parties; but the cause of liberty is more pertinaciously defended by Mr. Palmer, than by Dr. Priestley's former amicable antagonist, Dr. Price. For instance, the latter owns, that he cannot see how a contingent event can be the object of fore-knowledge, even to the Deity himself. " It carries,” says he, in his correspondence with Dr. Priestley, p. 175. “ the appearance of a contradiction; it is indeed a difficulty, and I do not pretend to be capable of removing it.” – Mr. Palmer, however, in his zeal for liberty, more boldly gives up, in fact, the divine prescience; and endeavours to thew, that the sacrifice is not very great: for that, by giving up such a notion of prescience, as is directly inconsistent with the idea of liberty, or agency in man, 'we only deny that to belong to the supreme mind, which is in truth no perfeétion at all:”
Again, Dri Price acknowledged it to be absurd to suppose, that men ever act either without, or against, motives; but he supposed the self-determining power to exert itself only when the motives were equal and contrary: -a very rare case indeed !--and which reduces,' as Dr. Priestley observes, this boasted liberty of man to a very small matter, hardly worth contending for.' Mr. Palmer makes no such concessions; but, in general, supposes that the mind may act contrary to any motive whatever.-It is difficult, however, to resist the force of Dr. Priestley's argument,--that our volitions, and our actions, depending on them, must always be the same, cæteris paribus, i. e. every circumftance being equal; or ' must always be definite, in definite circumstances :'--for what, we may ask, is there to produce an alteration, when every assignable circumstance is exactly equal ? In physics, à proposition of this nature passes with every one as an axiom ;-that fimilar causes, operating on the same material substance, under similar circumstances, must produce effects pre
cisely cisely similar.–Why it should be false in pneumatics remains to be explained ; even allowing the mind to be immaterial.
That affection of the mind, called remorse of conscience, seems to present a plaufible objection to this proposition. Selfaccufation seemingly implies, that a man would not act the very same part over again, if he were placed in the same circumstances. Mr. Palmer accordingly observes, that when a man reproaches himself for any thing that he has formerly done, he certainly considers himself as having had the power of not doing it;' and that were he to be placed in the same situation again, he would act differently. Dr. Priestley had before observed, that, though men may think in this manner, with respect to what is past, they deceive themselves, in supposing that they could have acted differently; by their not attending to the change of disposition, and other circumstances, that have taken place since the former period. He now adds, that ' baving, since that time, acquired a different disposition, and different views of things, they unawares carry them back, and consider how they would have acted with their present acquired disposicions, -Their disposition being really altered by what has occurred to them since, they would not now act the same part over again.'
On the whole, without discussing the merits of the present controversy, which, from the nature of the subject, and the improbability of any discoveries being made in it, may, we apprehend, be carried on to the end of the world, without clearing up the difficulties which attend both sides of the argument:-we Thall only further observe, that if Dr. Priestley's antagonists seem to have any advantage over him, it is in those particular articles (such as responsibility, merit, and demerit, &c.) where they may allege, with seeming justice, that a belief in the doctrine of necellity must have an effect on the bulk of mankind, not so favourable to morality and religion, as the popular belief on this head : though the moral conduct of the necessarian philofopher, who comprehends the doctrine in all its parts, may, as Dr. Priestley alleges, be improved by his belief in it. For his own part, however, he considers it as the clearest of all questions, and the truth of it as indubitable as that of any mathematical proposition whatever.— I have no feeling,' he adds,
either of fear or arrogance, in challenging the whole world in the defence of it. This argument, I compare to such ground as one man may defend against an army.' —
Aware, however, of the unconquerable bias which even philosophical men, of the greatest integrity and abilities, necessarily acquire towards certain opinions impressed upon them by the course of their studies, habits, situations, and connections in life ; he frankly owns, that he does not expect that any thing he*
has now advanced, or is capable of advancing, will make the least change in Mr. Palmer's view of things. Our present general system of opinions, whether right or wrong, is probably that which we shall carry to our graves.'- Younger persons, whose opinions are not yet formed, may nevertheless derive an advantage from these publications, that we cannot derive from them ourselves.
Your supposed consciousness of liberty,' Dr. Priestley good humouredly adds, and other popular arguments (though, when analised they really make against your hypothesis), will always fecure you nine out of ten of the generality of our readers ;' who, he elsewhere observes,' will never get beyond the very threshold of the business.' 6 All that I can do, must be to make the most of my tenth man; and, if I poffibly can, fancy his fuffrage equivalent to that of your nine.'
Whether this spirited letter of Dr. Priestley's is the termination of the present controversy, is yet in the womb of fate. Ac the close of it, he thus expreffes himself, like a true Neceffarian, on the subject.—Now, that I have advanced, I verily believe, all that I can, in support of my opinion, I ought to acquiesce in the success of my labours, be it more or less.- I do not, however, make any fixed resolutions. If you make a rejoinder, as I think you ought, and will be advised to do, I, true to my principles as a Necessarian, shall act as circumstances shall determine
ART. VI. PhiloSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS of the Royal Society of
London. Vol. LXVIII. Part 2. For the Year 1778. [Concluded from last Month's Review.]
METEOROLOGIC A L. Article 32. Comparison between Sir George Shuckburgh and Co
lonel Roy's Rules for the Measurement of Heights with the Barometer. 'In a Letter to Colonel Roy, F.R. S. from Sir George Shuckburgh, Bart. F.R.S. IR George Shuckburgh, in his curious paper, entitled,
« Obfervations made in Savoy, in order to ascertain the Height of Mountains by Means of the Barometer," and printed in the Philosophical Transactions for 1777, had investigated rules for correcting certain irregularities of the barometer, arising from the different degrees of heat and cold in the atmosphere, and the expanfion of the different materials of which the inftruments are made, as also some others of less moment. About the same time, and from similar experiments, made in different parts of Great Britain, Col. Roy had deduced rules for correct. ing the same things. To investigate the differences between the