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Edwards on the Will. Edwards maintains, not the nonusance but the non-existence of counter-power. “At start, he excludes power of choosing otherwise in a given case as an unthinkability. His argument of the infinite-series boastfully reduces the conception of diverse power to infinities of infinities of contradictions. His causational argument knows only inalternative cause, and the effect of any other sort of cause is (to him) a causeless effect. He identifies the necessity of a past event and of a future event as one.4 His reduction of free-will to atheism proves, if anything, that the supposition of the existence of a power of counter-choice logically supposes the non-existence of God. His identification of will with desire excludes the possibility of a counter-volition as truly as of a counter-sensation. His argument against liberty of indifference excludes all power for will to flow but in a certain channel. All activity is, with him, a passivity.7 All causality is exhausted in the result. Withdraw these arguments and what is left of Edwards? A valueless shell from which the kernel has been completely extracted. To deny that Edwards taught pure necessity as distinct from certainty, non-existence as distinct from non-usance (of counter-power), is as absurd as to deny that Euclid taught geometry" (p. 221, etc). It will, then, be seen that the theologians who teach non-usance in distinction from the non-existence of counter-power, must first unite with the Arminians in refuting Edwards, and then their issue with Edwards will be succeeded by an issue with the Arminians also.
Again : “ It is also said to be true that nobody does as well as he can; and so there is a can be which never will be. Distributively or individually that is not true. People often do as well as they can.
Our Lord testified of one that “ she hath done what she could.” People sometimes, but not usually, do as bad as they can in the given case. But
1 Whedon, p. 29.
Ibid., p. 122.
8 Ibid., p. 157.
the maxim may mean, collectively, nobody through his whole life does as well as he can. ...... It may be true distributively (cf. p. 132) that an agent is able to choose, in each and every single instance, for the rightest and best, without being able to choose always rightest and best. This high collective can, therefore, is not true” (p. 225).
On the doctrine of " secured certainty” we simply extract a few sentences. “ Pure certainty, as in the proper place we define the word, and as distinct from necessity, is not predicable of, nor to be identified with, invariable sequence, or with the relation between the antecedent and consequent of such a relation. This, our pure certainty, is the simple futo . rition of an event which is possible to be otherwise. ..... To add that such a certainty is limited to a sole condition of strongest antecedent force, and is ruled and fixed by a law of sequence, and to a sole result, furnishes new elements not belonging to the idea of a pure futurition. This becomes a certainty of a special class of the entire genus, which is really no certainty at all. For if the so-called certain act is formulated by a previous fixed universal law, selecting a particular set or sort of facts, then to this law it must conform, and this is necessity. ..... To secure a thing, truly and absolutely, is to make an opposite thing impossible. ..... The securing the previous certainty of the event can be done only by securing the event itself in the future by which such certainty is caused or shaped, and to secure the event is to destroy the power of contrariety, and transform the whole into necessity” (p. 227). On this scheme of invariability, "all guilt has this excuse and justification, that there is no being in the universe, high or low, finite or infinite, that in the same category, namely of strongest motive, would not commit the same guilty act” (p. 235).
FOREKNOWLEDGE. We can but allude to the theological argument," constituting the third section of Part II. The necessitarian argument from foreknowledge is first examined through four
strong chapters, in which, while the author admits, as fully as the most rigid predestinarian, that God has entire and definite prescience of all human volitions, actual and possible, he yet insists that it is possible, in each case, for man to put forth a different volition. God having implanted in man this alternative power of will, knows in every given case that the agent willing a certain way has full power to will another way instead. His knowing, infallibly, which way the agent will choose, does not negative his knowing that the agent has full power for diverse choice. The whole question, then, becomes one concerning the nature of man, rather than the necessity of events. It is removed from metaphysics to psycology. If the alternative power of will be proved, and thus the psycological question settled, the metaphysical question will take care of itself. The question :
Can God foreknow volitions?" changes to this : “ Can God make a being with alternative will ?” We think that consciousness and the sense of moral obligation reply that he can. The whole necessitarian argument from foreknowledge goes on two assumptions : first, that God can know future events only as we do, by sceing them wrapped up in their causes, or, as our author expresses it, that God can know the future only by travelling thither “over the bridge of causation”; and second, that God is the real cause, mediately or immediately, of all that transpires. know only what he has determined to do,” is the gist of the argument.
NECESSITATED SIN AND VIRTUE.
We have also a chapter on the free moral agency of our Saviour, in reply to the argument of Edwards, that his character furnishes a decisive example of necessitated virtue.? Other chapters follow on the freedom of the divine will, the responsibility of obdurates, and the “equation of probational advantages." Whatever the reader may judge the author's success to have been, it is obvious that he has overlooked
1 Inquiry, Part III., Sect. 2.
none of the difficulties of the subject. He has not rashly rushed among these awful themes; they have been the topics of his careful thought through studious and prayerful years. We can but glance at the
PositivE ARGUMENT AND CONCLUSION. Here, in the first place, comes the argument from consciousness. It is objected that mind can cognize only its actual operations, and so cannot be conscious of volitions never put forth. But the claim is, that mind is conscious, not of these non-existent operations, but of power to put them forth; and of this it is certainly conscious, if conscious of any power whatever. Before putting forth any volition,
, mind is always conscious of this alternative power.
We have, then, a positive argument from the possibility of the divine command. The “ distinction between automatic excellence and moral desert” is then drawn, clearly and powerfully, and “created moral desert” is shown to be impossible. An argument follows from “God's non-authorship of sin," in which it is shown that while Edwards nowhere else in the Inquiry aggressively maintains necessitation, he recoils when he reaches this topic, and defends the Arminian theory of non-prevention. The work closes with the conclusion that freedom is the condition of a possible theodicy (or theodice, as the author prefers to spell the word). The system of necessity, in whatever form presented, must, when run out to its logical consequences, make God an automatic deity, and man an automatic creature, the universe a vast automatism. Whether this automatism be considered an “orrery that moves by a force from without," or one“ that moves in the same orbit by an intrinsic force,” in either case we reach the same fearful result, — responsibility is excluded, and moral government made impossible. “Either there is no divine government, or man is a non-necessitated moral agent."
In conclusion, we feel confident that this work will take its place as a valuable original contribution to the theological
literature of our land. The reader will find it no scrap-book of old statements, arguments, and opinions; everything has passed through the author's alembic; its faults and its virtues are all his own. Of course, doctrinal statements and inferences like these must expect to undergo a fiery ordeal of criticism. To expect that this work will pass unscathed through such a trial would be chimerical enough. In its style and expression, often quaint and sometimes eccentric, incidental verbal coinage, and occasional controversial sharpness, there will be found, by those who do not care to go deeper, ample material for one style of criticism; while the author's thorough handling of the most vital topics of Christian theology must inevitably bring him into collision with candid and long established opinions that are widely prevalent in the church. But there never before has been a time when all the brethren of the great Christian family have been so ready to sit down and calmly take counsel together. All stand to-day upon land shaken with mighty and far-resounding controversies; all alike hear the tremendous questions on whose solution hangs the possibility of a Christian philosophy; and as, age after age, we slowly penetrate these realms of awful shadow and baffling mystery, all alike, who are suffused with the Master's spirit, will bail with shoutings the faintest taper-gleam upon the path.