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The total Depravity and Corruption of Man's Nature.
Wherein are explained and stated va
rious Terms and Things belonging to the Subject of the ensuing Discourse.
Concerning the Nature of the Will.
T may possibly be thought, that there I is no great Need of going about to de
fine or describe the Will; this Word being generally as well understood as
any other Words we can use to explain it: And fo perhaps it would be, had not Philosophers, Metaphysicians and Polemic Divines brought the Matter into Obscurity by the Things they have said of it. But since it is so, I think it may be of some Use, and will tend to the greater Clearness in the following Discourse, to say a few Things concerning it.
And therefore I observe, that the Will (without any metaphysical Refining) is plainly, That by which the Mind chuses any Thing. The Faculty of the Will is that Faculty, or Power, or Principle of the Mind by which it is capable of chusing. An Act of the Will is the same as an Act of Chufing or Cboice.
If any think 'tis a more perfect Definition of the Will, to say, that it is that by which the Soul either chuses or refuses; I am content with it: tho' I think that 'tis enough to say, It's that by which the Soul chufes : For in every Act of the Will whatsoever, the Mind chuses one Thing rather than another; it chufes something rather than the Contrary, or rather than the Want or Non-existence of that Thing. So in every Act of Refusal, the Mind chuses the Absence of the Thing refused; The Positive and the Negative are set before the Mind for its Choice, and it chuses the Negative ; and the Mind's making its Choice in that Case is properly the Act of the Will: The Will's determining between the two is a voluntary determining; but that is the fame Thing as making a Choice. So that whatever Names we call the Act of the Will by, a Chusing, Refusing, Approving, Disapproving, Liking, Disliking, Embracing, Rejecting, Determining, Direčting, Commanding, Forbidding, Inclining or being averse to, being pleased or displeas’d with; all may be reduced to this of Chufing. For the Soul to act voluntarily, is evermore to act ele&tively.
Mr. Locke * says, “ The Will signifies Nothing “ but a Power or Ability to prefer or chuse.” And in the foregoing Page says,
"'The Word Preferring seems best to express the Act of Volition;"
* Human Understanding, Edit. 7. Vol. I. p. 197.
But adds, that “ it does it not precisely; For (says he) “ tho' a Man would prefer Flying to
Walking, yet who can say he ever wills it?" Bur the Instance he mentions don't prove that there is any Thing else in Willing, but merely Preferring : For it should be considered what is the next and immediate Object of the Will, with respect to a Man's Walking, or any other external Action ; which is not his being removed from one place to another, on the Earth, or thro' the Air ; these are remoter Objects of Preference; but such or such an immediate Exertion of himself. The Thing nextly chosen or prefer'd when a Man wills to walk, is not his being removed to such a Place where he would be, but such an Exertion and Motion of his Legs and Feet &c. in order to it. And his willing such an Alteration in his Body in the present Moment, is nothing else but his chusing or preferring such an Alteration in his Body at such a Moment, or his liking it better than the Forbearance of it. And God has so made and establish'd the human Nature, (the Soul being united to a Body in proper State,) that the Soul preferring or chuling such an immediate Exertion or Alteration of the Body, such an Alteration instantaneously follows. There is nothing else in the Actings of my Mind, that I am conscious of while I walk, but only my preferring or chusing, thro' successive Moments, that there should be such Alterations of my external Sensations and Motions; together with a concurring habitual Expectation that it will be fo; having ever found by Experience, that on such an immediate Preference, such Sensations and Motions do'actually, instantaneously, and constantly arise. But it is not so in the Case of Flying: Tho' a Man may be said remotely to chuse or prefer Flying; yet he don't chuse or prefer, incline to or desire, under Circumstances in View, any
immediate Exertion of the Members of his Body in order to it ; because he has no Expectation that he shall obtain the desired End by any such Exertion : he doth not prefer or incline to any bodily Exertion or Effort, under this apprehended Circumstance of it's being wholly in vain. So that if we carefully distinguish the proper Objects of the several Acts of the Will, it will not appear by this, and such-like Instances, that there is any Difference between Volition and Preference ; or that a Man's chusing, liking best, or being best pleased with a Thing, are not the same with his willing that Thing; as they seem to be according to those general and more natural Notions of Men, according to which Language is formed. Thus an Act of the Will is commonly express’d by it's pleasing a. Man to do thus or thus ; and a Man's doing as he wills, and doing as he pleases, are the same Thing in common Speech.
Mr. Locke says, † “ The Will is perfectly dif
tinguish'd from Desire ; which in the very same “ Action may have a quite contrary Tendency s from that which our Wills set us upon. A “ Man (says he) whom I cannot deny, may oblige
me to use Persuasions to another, which, at “ the same Time I am speaking, I may
not prevail on him. In this Cafe 'tis plain the " Will and Desire run counter.” I don't suppose, that Will and Defire are Words of precisely the fame Signification: Will seems to be a Word of a more general Signification, extending to Things present and absent. Desire respects fomething absent. I may prefer my present Situation and Pofture, fuppofe sitting still
, or having my Eyes open, and so may will it. But yet I can't
+ Hum. Und, Vol. I. p. 203.