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cause of truth had he represented Mr. HUME as, what indeed he was, a subtle, sophistical wrangler. To reason with acuteness on principles fundamentally false, is the true province of a sophist, but not at all of a metaphysician.
Perhaps there never was a man less intitled to the honourable appellation of a metaphysician than Mr. HUME. And perhaps, too, there is not a term in the whole nomenclature of science so little connected, in its too common application, with a clear and distinct idea, and consequently so much abused. If indeed the science consist in “verbal disputation without precise ideas ;" if the aim of proficients in it be “to divest the mind of every principle, and of all conviction ; and consequently, to disqualify man for action, and to render him as useless and wretched as possible ;" if it intend " that mode of abstract investigation which is supported by ambiguous and indefinite phraseology, and partial experience; and which seldom fails to lead to such conclusions as contradict matter of fact, or truths of indubitable authority ;" let it be for ever banished into those regions of darkness whose prince is the father of falsehood : or if it be permitted to occupy any spot of this earth, let it be some solitary Crete, whose inhabi. tants are “always liars."
But, on the contrary, if while standing in the TEMPLE OF TRUTH, we are assisted by any science, (the title is of no moment,) to discover the grandeur of its design, its wonderful proportions, and its exquisite ornaments; and if while viewing the TEMPLE OF ERROR, we are enabled, by the saine aid, to perceive the insecurity of its foundation, its tottering pillars,
and its disgusting want of symmetry, notwithstanding its gaudy and petty embellishments ;-to speak contemptuously of such assistance is a mark of ignorance and folly, and to cultivate acquaintance with it is worthy of the purest wisdom.
EQUITY AND SOVEREIGNTY.
Containing some preparatory Observations. § 1. Man is a subject of moral obligation. § 2. And
therefore free in his actions. $ 3. Yet his ačtions are predetermined. 4. Hence the difficulty of reconciling the divine decrees with human liberty. Abp. LEIGHTON. § 5. Saurin. $ 6.
5. SAURIN. § 6. The general plan of this work. $ 7. Preparatory meditation. 1. THERE have existed but few charac
ters, comparatively, among men, so obdurate and abandoned as to deny, that mankind are subjects of moral obligation ; and, indeed, it is very difficult to reflect seriously for a moment, without admitting the solemn fact. If man be not such a subject -- an accountable creature, originally and constantly designed to render voluntary homage to the will of God - we have no evidence that there is, or may be, any being whatever in the universe, who can be morally obliged. But B
to maintain such a consequence, is to move, with unhallowed steps, to the gloomy regions of Atheism. For, it seems impoflible that any creature should either prove, or believe, on just grounds, the existence of a first Cause, without admitting, on the same grounds, his own obligations to obey
§ 2. But if man be the subject of moral obligation, it is requisite he should be free from constraint in his moral actions. We may justly say, that man becomes morally obliged to any act, on condition that he is formed and permitted to ae freely, according to his choice and pleasure. The limits of his freedom (call it power, ability, liberty, or what you please) to act as he chooses, are the limits of his obligations to act; and vice versa. To say that a man is not at liberty to act according to his volitions, is the same as to say he is not obliged fo to act. If a man is not at liberty, or has not power, to make himself an angel, to fly as a bird, or to perform any other impossibilities, it is self-evident that he is not obliged to perform them.
We should remark, however, that when any volition has for its object, in any given circumstance, what is contrary to rectitude, whether that object be attainable or unattainable, physically considered ; freedom is abused, and a breach of moral obliga. tion follows. For though we are not obliged to perform impossibilities or improprieties, however these may be the objects of our choice; and though we have no freedom to act, physically, according to some of our volitions ; yet the choice itself is the act of a moral agent, and, if contrary to rectitude, wrong.
The separate and concurrent verdict of conscience, of reason, and of revelation, in evidence of this point, being so universally acknowledged to be decisive, renders a more particular discussion of it here unnecessary.
Of the existence of this liberty every thinking person has the evidence of consciousness, and reiterated experience. From these respectable sources, notwithstanding the efforts of scepticism to prove that liberty is an illusion, he is satisfied and assured that he is free, unconstrainedly free, in all his moral actions. He finds that his accountableness to the supreme Governor is not only the inseparable adjunct, but also the necessary effe&t of liberty pro. perly so called. I say, liberty properly so called; for it must be carefully distinguished from spontaneity, or the liberty of brutes, and therefore may be denominated human liberty.
$ 3. Nevertheless, in proportion as we ascribe to the Almighty Sovereign the character of wisdom, we muft exclude chance out of the world. The one is pure light, the other total darkness. Seeing, therefore, he is infinitely wise, every entity, whether being or action, must be the effect of design.--Besides, whatever takes place in time must be foreJeen; and whatever has an efficient cause must be the effect of omnipotence; hence, the predetermination of all entity in human actions.
We observe in the world around us, independent of the evidence formed by testimony, numerous instances of evil, natural and moral; and many glorious displays are made of wisdom and benevo.