Chapter IIITHE HUMAN WILL ACTS UNDER TWO LAWS
The Foreknowledge of God - L. D. McCabe
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WHEN God created man, he provided that a large part of his being should be under the laws which rule material forces. His physical frame, his providential condition, his intellectual and sensitive natures, all were subjected to the great law of cause and effect. The world would be startled did it perceive how very large is the proportion of human volitionsincluded in the kingdom of providence and in that of uniform lawwhich occur according to this law of cause and effect. But there is one part of man's nature, the will, the autocrat of the human soul, which God did not subject to that law. The law of cause and effect no more invades the freedom of the human will in the kingdom of grace than it does the divine freedom. Every event within the domain of that law is caused by some agency outside of itself. Physical causation and unconstrained voluntary action have nothing and can have nothing in common, either in reality or in conception. They differ as widely as matter differs from spirit.
Human consciousness testifies to nothing more clearly than it does to the radical unlikeness between physical causes and volitions, and to nothing more clearly than to the self-origination and freedom of the latter. God made the human will high above the law of necessity. He impressed upon it the highest attributes of a dependent moral being. In short, he gave to man entire freedom of the will, and therefore entire freedom of choice. The will is the capacity of electing, of originating from the spirit itself, choices and acts.
This noblest characteristic man lost in his foul revolt: as soon as he sinned his will lost its highest endowment, its complete freedom of action. If man's nature be left to itself, the necessity of sinning ever after was the consequence of that great loss. After sinning once, man could of himself never will to be holy. Henceforth he must remain incapable, without help, of choosing the morally right. The motives that could influence him, ever after, could differ only in degree. They could no longer differ in kind. His will was thus shut up to a single kind of motives, to motives that centered in self. All the high motives of right, holiness, universal order, the well-being of the universe, all those considerations that center in God, were forever outside the range of its possible choice. Thus man lost his great distinguishing characteristic; the self-originating power to choose the right, influenced by motives that differed in kind as well as in degree, was forfeited.
In the work of saving men it was essential that the Redeemer should free man from that dire necessity of sinning, should lift up the human will above the range of exclusively sinful motives, and restore to it its pristine freedom. Consequently, under the remedial dispensation man is able to choose, or to reject, holiness and obedience to God. This was one of the wonderful achievements of the Son of God. Sin had despoiled man of this crown of glory: Jesus Christ came triumphant, and restored it. But if any accountable being pass his probation refusing to choose holiness, then among his eternal losses will be the loss of this purchased freedom to choose and to enjoy God.
Satan, and all who followed him to defeat, lost this divine endowment, and are now immutable in their depravity and eternally fixed in their moral character. Their wills like the wills of the demoniacally possessed, are now under the sway of motives that belong to the domain of sin exclusively. If they have any power of choice it is only within narrow limits, and under the influence of motives which center in self, and differing only in degree, not in essential character.
To illustrate the full signification of freedom, let us use this diagram. Though spirit can not be imaged by form and outlines, it is nevertheless a something, an essence, a power which acts, whose might is felt in us all. Let us represent this something by z. Now, if a being possess a freedom, for the exercise of which he can justly be held accountable, he must be endowed with power to say to the holy attraction x. I will not yield to your holy influence, but I will yield to the unholy attractive influence y. And at the same moment that he can make this choice, freedom requires that he possess the power to say to the unholy attractive influence y I will not yield to your unholy influence, but I will yield to the holy attractive influence x. This is the true, full significance of freedom. If the will is the creator of moral character, then its action must be wholly unlike and different from action under the law of constraint. The action of the law ruling mechanical forces can never originate character. The action on the will of the sensibilities must be according to the law of cause and effect, for the reason that the sensibilities and intellectualities know no other law, and are capable of no other law, either actively or passively. But the will does act and must act under some other law and through some other processes, or moral character and moral government are impossibilities. Now spirits that have sinned away their day of grace and are now in perdition, have lost the capability which was temporarily regained for them by Christ, of being influenced by motives that are holy. Sin incorrigibly persevered in, has eliminated out of their souls every element upon which holy attractions could ever operate. They now can be influenced or attracted but by a single class of motivesthe unholy and selfward. And for the lost, even these unholy influences or motives can differ only in degree, but never in kind.
Temptations are addressed either to the reason or to the sensibilities. The law of duty, as well as the law of pleasure and pain, is the occasion of an influence directed to and bearing on the will. "The reasonable," says Dr. Whedon, "is choosable, not because it is desirable, but because it is reasonable." Temptations are meaningless if they neither influence the reason nor stir the sensibilities. If they do either, and, by stirring the sensibilities, are the occasion of an influence on the will, they then create the liability to wrongdoing. If there be no such liability there is no arena on which to manifest loyalty. If there be no real ground on which one can display loyalty, then there can be no consideration by which he can claim or justify endless rewards and punishments. These temptations, therefore, must be intense enough to create the liability and the peril of doing wrong and of incurring loss. They may be intensified indefinitely beyond that point; but the moment they are intensified beyond what is indispensable to the achievement of moral character and desert, that moment the probationary being has not a fair chance, an equitable trial. A special degree of intensity in the temptation is therefore necessary to the achievement of moral character. A less degree than that leaves the being destitute of the needed ground to claim or to merit endless rewards: a greater degree takes from the being his accountability. For, if one is not to blame for not rising up when a mountain is upon him, neither can he be called to account for not achieving a moral character when temptational influences out of all due proportion to his resources of volitional energy were allowed to overpower him.
The mind, being limited in all its faculties, is limited also in its power of will. The amount of motive influence must be measured, and carefully proportioned to the receptive and active capacities of the finite free agent. The moment divine or diabolical influences are brought to bear on an individual will, which are out of exact proportion to its strength of resistance, the will loses its freedom, and comes under the power of the same law that rules material forces. True, the will requires occasions for its action. These occasions are reasons presented to the intellect, or motives presented to the sensibilities. These occasions of human volition, these influences, without which the will does not act, are, in the normal state of the soul, merely influential, but not causal: they are testing, but not controlling. But there are limits to our mental and moral forces, to our powers of endurance and of resistance, just as there are limits to our physical strength. Now, when these testing influences are out of proportion to the strength of the will, the will is simply overpowered, and its freedom of action, in that instance, is prevented; it acts under constraint, and its accountability therefore is annihilated. These influences, in such cases, then cease to be merely testing or occasioning, and become causal. In these instances the reason of the will's action is not in the will itself, but outside of itself in causal antecedents.
Hosts of perplexities have arisen from a failure to make this manifest and pregnant distinction. "Because the will does sometimes act under constraint, under the law of cause and effect, therefore it always acts under that law"; and "because the will does sometimes act under the law of liberty, therefore it always acts under that law," are the hasty conclusions which have sadly bewildered theologians, especially in their interpretations of Holy Scripture. Doubtless both these kinds of causation, are found in the action of the human will. Sometimes it acts freely from its own voluntary choice; sometimes consentingly, because objective influences overmaster its capacities of resistance or endurance. When the will acts freely, the incipiency of the volition is in the will itself; that is, the incipiency of the volition is subjective, and the will is active. When the will acts only consentingly, the incipiency of the volition is in the objective, and the will is not positively active, but passive, rather. In the free action of the will, the occasions of its volitions are merely influential, merely afford the necessary test. In the cementing action of the will, the occasions of its volitions are causal, controlling, and necessary.
Strikingly in harmony with this rigid teaching of philosophy, the inspired apostle declares, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." In this passage, God assumes that reasons, motives, influences, and occasions for disobedience do exert a testing influence upon a free agent in his choices. He assumes that without these influences there could be neither loyalty nor manifestation of character worthy of reward; that they are indispensable to test adherence to the right; that it is possible to make a choice worthy of reward, or of punishment, when these influences are in due proportion to the moral strength of the free agent; and that the moment these influences are in excess of the strength of any person's will his free agency disappears, and his accountability for his choices ceases. He therefore pledges, in this passage, that on the arena of probation for eternity, in the actions involving responsibility, these influences shall never be disproportionate to the strength of the free agent. The moment the choices of a being are not the choices of a free agent, they become strictly the effects of causes ab extra, and can involve no moral character.
Man is so constituted, that his will can be brought under the law of cause and effect, by bringing overpowering influences to act upon his reason and his sensibilities. God, therefore, can use him as an instrument in his hands. He can make use of him as easily as he can make use of fire, water, light, air, sun, moon, or stars. To deny that God can place man in such circumstances that his choices would not have or involve any moral character, or to deny that God can use man merely as an instrument, would be to limit Omnipotence, and prevent the possibility of a superintending providence. God uses the material universe, the animal and vegetable kingdoms, in carrying out his own various plans and purposes. He spake to Balaam through the mouth of a dumb beast, and he commanded the stars in their courses to fight for his chosen ones. So in like manner he uses intelligent beings with the same wise and benign designs. When he wishes to accomplish any end through intelligent beings, he may bring such influences to bear upon them, or offer to them such suggestions, or mysteriously so lead them by some of the resources and instrumentalities within his almighty embrace, that the action of their wills shall be under the law of cause and effect. Such influences may be brought to bear upon the them as to interfere with their free agency.
In those acts of the will which involve moral character, there must be occasions for the action of the will in choosing. If upon such occasions there be nothing to exert an influence over the choice, there could be neither test, character, nor reward. But if there be in them any thing to coerce the choice, then there could be neither freedom nor accountability. The moment that degree of intensity is reached in the force of these occasions which determines the choice, free agency and moral character disappear from the arena of human action.
Hence, if God desired a certain providential work to be accomplished five hundred years hence, he could predict it with absolute certainty. All that would be necessary would be to influence the will of some one then living with the requisite intensity to secure a consenting volition, or, as in many cases, an unconscious instrument: The volitions of such an agent would be necessary and 2 foreseen, because forefixed. They would not be free, but in violation of the law of liberty. Or if God wished to punish his people, all that would be necessary would be, to place some man under circumstances where influences would be too potent for his resistance, or where he would have no inclination to overcome them, or no repugnance to the special work assigned him. Or if God wished to use a wicked man, one who had sinned away his day of grace, to punish a wicked or polytheistic people, all that would be needed would be to allow demoniacal spirits to exercise control over that man's will. Or if God desired to teach one of his servants great lessons, indispensable for him to know, he might suffer him to be tempted above that he was able to bear, and not make for him a way of escape, that he might be able to bear it. When Satan should come in upon him like a flood, he might refuse to lift up a standard against him. All such future choices of free beings God could easily foresee.
In reading the life of George Washington the reader is struck with the remarkable providences which developed him, mentally, morally, politically, and socially, for his special work and illustrious destiny. He studied here, mingled in societies and assemblies there, went upon a surveying expedition yonder, receiving meanwhile, from his brother John, the advantages of European culture and manners without subjecting his republican ideas and tendencies to the perverting influence of foreign associations. In the reception of this preparatory training he followed the lead of circumstances, and thus unconsciously prepared himself for acting a distinguished part in the history of the world. He did all this consentingly. He thought he was choosing, but another was choosing for him. He builded grander than he knew.
Said a friend to Professor Morse, whose first message on the telegraph was, "Behold what God hath wrought," "Tell me, is your invention any wonder now, or has the wonder worn off?" He replied: "The wonder is as great to me now as ever. I go into the telegraph offices and watch the operators, and the wonder all comes back; it seems to be set above me. I can hardly realize that it is my work; it seems as if another had done it through me." "This confession," says Dr. Robert Collyer, "was most honorable; for the reason of the electric telegraph, as of all great discoveries, dwells not in the seen, but in the unseen. It is the inner, subtle, divine influence, working through the delicate organism of the child of genius, pulsating through him toward the great unfolding of the ages, watching for the full time." Our progression in civilization is only because God is striving to make men work out his thought into the events of human life. God himself is the inspirer of the artist who calls out thoughts chiming through the ages, and of the master of song who sets the world a thrill by the power of his majestic harmonies.
When God desires or intends that a certain man shall perform a certain work, or illustrate to the world some doctrine or phase of religious or political or scientific truth, he can easily subject him to any discipline, or by force of circumstances call him to the performance of any duties, which he may deem best calculated to accomplish his divine purpose. All he would need to do, even in an extreme case, would be to bring controlling influences to bear upon his sensibilities, to put his will under the law of cause and effect, to make his choices certain, in order to foreknow with entire accuracy the whole process and final result. This view seems completely and satisfactorily to explain all the predictions of prophecy, all the teachings of Sacred Scripture, relative to or involving foreknowledge, and also all those other future events which God has determined shall certainly be accomplished upon our globe.
How beautifully and strongly is this theory illustrated in the case of Cyrus. God says: "Thus saith the Lord thy Redeemer, I am the Lord that maketh all things . . . that frustrateth the tokens of the liars, that maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; that confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, 'Thou shalt be inhabited and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof; that saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers; that saith of Cyrus,' He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, 'Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shalt be laid.' Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me." "I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways. He shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts." (Isaiah xliv, 24-28; xlv, 1-4, 13.) Historians state that when the Jews showed to Cyrus the above prophecy he became deeply interested in the welfare of the Jewish nation. The prophecy in which he was personally named was the preponderating influence upon his mind to accomplish the designs of God in rebuilding the city, refounding the temple, and liberating the captives without price or reward.
This theory of prophecy is fully sustained by other passages of Holy Writ: "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." (Isaiah xlvi, 9-11.) It is said the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, so that he made a proclamation that he had been charged by the Lord God of heaven to "build the house of the Lord God of Israel, which is in Jerusalem." (Ezra i, 1.) "Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem." (Ezra vii, 27.) Cyrus proclaimed, "The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem. Go ye up and build in Jerusalem the house of Jehovah, God of Israel. He is God." "The king's heart," says Solomon, "is in the hands of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will." (Proverbs xxi, i.) "He made the people to be pitied of all those who carried them away captive." (Psalm cvi, 40.) "God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended unto us mercy in the sight of the kings of Persia." (Ezra ix, 9.) "When seventy years are accomplished, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, saith the Lord, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations." (Jer. xxv, 12.) "I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." (Jer. xxix, 10. "O house of Israel, . . . at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them." (Jer. xviii, 6-8.) "Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah; . . . if so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings." (Jer. xxvi, 2, 3.) "It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them, that they may return every man from his evil way." (Jer. xxxvi, 3.) "Make bright the arrows; gather the shields; the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it." "For the Lord hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon." "Every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon." (Jer. li, II, 12, 29.) How clearly do these passages show that Cyrus was a consenting instrument in the hands of God, and that his will was brought under the law of cause and effect! The reader will also remember that the angel said to Daniel: "The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me." "And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia." (Dan. x, 13, 20.)
Historians tell us that when Alexander was approaching Jerusalem, to besiege it, Jaddua, the highpriest, who had been warned in a dream how to avert the king's anger, clothed in his priestly garments of hyacinth and gold, accompanied by the people arrayed in white robes, went forth to meet him. Alexander, seeing the impressive display, fell prostrate before Jaddua, and said, "While I was in Macedonia, at Dium, a man appeared unto me in the same dress, who invited me to come into Asia, and promised to deliver the Persian Empire into my hands." After this Alexander went to the temple, and offered sacrifices under the direction of the high priest. They then pointed out to him the prophecy of Daniel, in which it is said that a Grecian should come and destroy the Persians. This prophecy established him in the conviction that he himself was the individual spoken of by the prophet. He therefore bestowed upon the Jews whatever favors they desired. He guaranteed to them in Babylon, as well as in Judea, the free observance. of their laws, and every Sabbatical year exempted them from tribute.
As Cyrus had been the providential representative of the East, so Alexander felt himself to be the providential representative of the West. He sincerely believed that he was chosen by destiny for the great work of establishing not simply the supremacy of a single people, but of combining and equalizing, in a just union, the East with the West. His policy was, therefore, to weaken nationalities, as the great means of breaking down old religions. As Cyrus had developed the idea of order, he aimed to develop the idea of independence. So deep was the impression of his policy that it was stamped upon his successors for a hundred and fifty years. In founding the city of Alexandria he brought about a direct interchange of thought and feeling between Greece, Egypt, and Judea. The rapidity of his victories, the large incorporation of foreign elements into his armies, the terrible wars and varied fortunes of his successors, opened the way for larger conceptions of life and of faith than had ever been possible before. Paganism in none of its forms could survive transplanting. God thus overruled these instruments, inaugurating through one the consolidation of the Church, and through the other the distinctions of the sects. The wonderful influence of these mighty men upon the history of the world proves them to have been special instruments in the hands of divine providence.
The view that the human will may be made to act consentingly under the law of cause and effect is sustained by Dr. Hamilton in his profound work on Autology. He asks the question. (page 99).
"Can God inevitably convert a soul?" His answer is, "Yes; if he sees fit so to do." "This is not," he continues, "a question of liberty, but one of power. It refers to the affections, the reason, and the conscience, which are not the efficient but the occasional power of choice. God can inevitably carry his cause against the mere human power of the soul, by persuading it to yield to his wishes. This is not a question of liberty, but of persuasiveness, where the soul has just the same liberty that God has, and exercises it to the last. God is too intellectual, persuasive, and talented, and hence can undoubtedly gain his cause over the soul."
Had that writer clearly perceived, what is evidently involved in this statement, that the laws of freedom may be violated, that the human will may act under two distinct lawsthe law of liberty and the law of cause and effecthe certainly would not have made a statement that must strike every thinker as erroneous or incomprehensibleone, indeed, that must awaken the resentment of every adherent of Arminius. For all theologians of the Arminian school would ask, If God can inevitably convert one soul "if he sees fit to do so," why does he not convert all souls? And how can a volitional act have moral character and, at the same time, be a coerced act? No act of the soul can be godly or wicked, that is not through the exercise of a free volition. Under the influence of extraneous power the human will may and does act; but the act, not being that of a free agent, can not be held culpable, since, as we have before remarked, it is only when the will acts under the law of liberty, possessing its power of contrary choice, that its acts can have moral character, or that its possessor can act as an accountable being. Every rational mind must perceive that the opposite proposition, namely, that a coerced act of the will has moral quality and merits reward or punishment, involves contradiction and absurdity, and that to govern an accountable being, in acts involving morality, by constraint, or by the application of force, is as unreasonable as it would be to hold inert matter morally responsible for obeying the law of gravitation.
Calvinists, while maintaining human freedom, have usually urged that God did in regeneration, in some mysterious way, control or constrain the human will. They surely can accept the proposition, that the human will is sometimes constrained, that it is sometimes made to act under the law of cause and effect. Arminians have always maintained that God does not control the will of man in acts involving responsibility and endless destiny; but, on the contrary, that in such cases the will must be left to act freely under the law of liberty. They have never, however, asserted that it is in no case put under restraining influences, that it is never overborne by influences too powerful for its strength of endurance. They need not, therefore, hesitate to accept the proposition that the human will does, at different times, act under two laws, the law of liberty and the law of cause and effectfreely, under the former; consentingly, under the latter. And why the human will may not be subjected to constraining influences when used as an instrument of Providence, no argument, theological or psychological, is discoverable by the writer. "I girded thee," says God, "though thou hast not known me."
And surely this is a very reasonable theory of inspired prophecy. Indeed, we think that there can be no other which is not open to fatal objections. Wegscheider denies the possibility of prophecy in toto, on the ground that a prediction of human events is destructive of human freedom. In this view he follows Emanuel Kant. "It is with Mr. Mansell," says Dr. M'Cosh, "to show how general predictions could be uttered as to voluntary acts, if there be no causation operating in those acts." Ammon also affirms "that prophecies take away human freedom, favor fatalism, and are irreconcilable with divine perfection." If God inspired men to utter prophecies, those prophecies must be fulfilled. But they may fail if the human will never operates consentingly under the laws of cause and effect. If the human will never acts otherwise than under the law of liberty, then any prophecies which require human concurrence for their fulfillment are inconceivable. Prophecy would then be laid in the quicksands of contingencies. If God foretells that a certain man will perform a certain deed, then there can be no objective avoidability of his performing that deed and bringing to pass that prophecy. But if a future act be unavoidable, it can not involve the quality of freedom. It is only under the supposition that the human will does act consentingly (not freely) under the law of constraint, that prophecy is possible in itself and possible of explanation.
If a future free being be accountable for his acts, then the decisive cause of those acts must reside wholly within his own will; and if so, then they are not under the control of causes now existing. There can be no inevitable nexus between any cause now existing and the act of a future free being. If man is free, his future conduct must be contingent, and God can not place that dependence on it which is indispensable to the fulfillment of the sure word of prophecy. In all God's dealings and teachings in the kingdom of grace he assumes that man may disappoint his desires and his expectations. "When I say," says God, "unto the righteous, he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity he shall die for it." How different is the phraseology in the Word of God relative to events which depend for their accomplishment wholly upon the divine will and that relative to events dependent upon the human will. Of the former it is said, they shall come to pass; but the language used relative to events dependent upon man expresses or implies a condition. For example: "If ye seek me, I will be found of thee." A short time before the taking of Jerusalem Jeremiah said to Zedekiah,
"Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. If thou wilt assuredly go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live and this city shall not be burned with fire, and thou shalt live and thine house; but if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given unto the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire and thou shalt not escape out of their hand." (Jer. xxxviii, 17.) The taking of Jerusalem depended upon the free choice of Zedekiah. The city would not have been taken had he chosen otherwise. But in prophecy it is necessary that God should confidently rely upon the instruments, by which he intends to accomplish his purposes. Prophecies are certain; human actions, when free, are contingent. The reader, however, may reply that God foresees, with certainty, the future free actions of his prophetic instruments. If this be so, it must be either by looking directly at the human will or at the objective attractions, which may be presented to that will. But if you affirm that God foreknows future actions by knowing the objective attractions which may be presented to that will, you annihilate at once the distinction between the law of liberty and the law of cause and effect. The moment a future act is perceived only through the objective, in lieu of the subjective; the moment its securative cause is discovered and located in the objective surroundings, or in the motives addressed to either the reason or the sensibilities, in place of discovering and locating its incipiency in the subjective self, in the free causative will, that moment you inevitably sink human freedom into necessity, and make man a mere creature of circumstances. For, under such conditions, you are compelled to regard the will as acting under the constraint of the law of cause and effect, and not under the law of liberty; and you infer with certainty its action upon knowing merely the occasions of its acting. This mental proceeding is inevitable in regard to all events in the realm of material forces, of cause and effect. And this was precisely Jonathan Edwards's procedure when he bound fast the human will under the strongest motive. And after doing that, all the liberty he could claim for man was only the semblance of liberty, an irritating mockery of freedoma will with the incipiency of all its volitions located in the objective. The uniform testimony of the philosophy of the current age supports our position.
If it be possible for God to previse and to declare with certainty the future volitions of a free spirit, while acting under the law of liberty it can only be by looking not at the occasions of the will's action, but at the source where alone its certainty can originate; namely, at the human will itself. But the free will of a future free spirit has as yet no existence whatever. Its future free choices are bound up in no existing causes. No existing causes can now give the slightest indication of what those future choices will be. Every one of those possible choicesfor example, the choice of holinessis also now a nonentity. The choice of holiness being a nonentity, the specific self-acting cause of that choice, the free volition, is also now a nonentity. The will itself is also a nonentity. And if both the choice of holiness and the soul itself are now nonentities, the prevision of this choice must be impossible in the nature of things, and hence involve absurdity. To previse the effect of a cause, which has now no possible existence, is unthinkable. A nonentity, for whose future possibility there now exists no causality, can not, therefore, be foreknowable. And so the only tenable theory of prophecy is this, that the will of the prophetic instrument can be made to act consentingly, uncontingently, unerringly under the action of the law of cause and effect.
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