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but shall direct my chief attention to the former, as occupying more of the public attention and involving errours of a larger size.
Dr. Taylor, in treating of consideration and the comparison of different objects of choice, says, “We have already had occasion to say, that to deny the tendency of the acts specified to produce a change of heart, is to maintain the doctrine of the self-determining power of the will."* As though this was a pretended power to act without motives. And a writer on the same side, in a late Periodical, rejects the imputation under a notion that the theory of the self-determining power is, that the will determines the will. Now Pres. Edwards did, by way of inference, push his antagonists into this inconsistency, that the will is determined by a previous act of the will, and that therefore there is a volition before the first volition; but no Arminian, I believe, was ever willing to admit into his theory this inconsistency. And Pres. Edwards himself, in his book on the Freedom of the Will,t says, “I shall suppose that the Arminians, when they speak of the will's determining itself, do, by the will, mean the soul willing. I shall take it for granted that when they speak of the will as the determiner, they mean the soul in the exercise of a power of willing.-I shall suppose this to be their meaning because nothing else can be meant without the grossest and plainest absurdity.” They meant to say that the man himself chooses, unconstrained by a higher power: but they did not mean to say, (though this was an inference drawn from their arguments,) that he has * Christian Spectator for 1829 : p. 486. Lon. Ed. 1790 : p. 45.
that choice because he first chooses to have that choice; for. this would place a volition before the first volition. They maintained that the will was not compelled by any thing without; that the soul was free to act or not act, notwithstanding all inducements presented. But they still maintained, (as who will not ?) that the mind, though not forced, was uniformly induced by the stronger motive. The great masters of Arminianism who are quoted by Pres. Edwards in his work on the Will, do this.* Dr Turnbull approvingly quotes another of them as saying, “The will itself, how absolute and incontrollable soever it may be thought, never fails in its obedience to the dictates of the understanding.” Mr. Chubb says, “ No action can take place without some motive to excite it.” “Volition cannot take place without some previous reason or motive to induce it.” Dr Whitby says, “ To say that—the greatest good proposed, the greatest evil threatened, when equally believed and reflected on, is not sufficient to engage the will to choose the good and refuse the evil, is in effect to say, That which alone doth move the will to choose or to refuse, is not sufficient to engage it so to do; which, being contradictory to itself, must of necessity be false. Be it then so that we naturally have an aversion to the truths proposed in the Gospel; that only can make us indisposed to attend to them, but cannot hinder our conviction when we do apprehend them and attend to them.-Be it that there is in us also a renitency to the good we are to choose; that only can indispose us to believe it is, and to approve it as, our chiefest good. Be it that we are
* Page 107–118.
prone to the evil that we should decline; that only can render it the more difficult for us to believe it is the worst of evils. But yet what we do really believe to be our chiefest good, will still be chosen; and what we apprehend to be the worst of evils, will, whilst we do continue under that conviction, be refused by us. It therefore can be only requisite, in order to these ends, that the good Spirit should so illumine our understandings, that we, attending to and considering what lies before us, should apprehend and be convinced of our duty; and that the blessings of the Gospel should be so propounded to us, as that we may discern them to be our chiefest good; and the miseries it threateneth, so as we may be convinced that they are the worst of evils; that we may choose the one and refuse the other.”
Here is the New-Haven divinity entire. Here is Dr Taylor's constitutional susceptibility to motives, founded in self-love and wrought upon by the good contained in truth. Here is that divine illumination which fastens the wandering attention to truth and lets -in upon the mind the full power of motives; which, with the mind's own activity, is enough without divine efficiency. That power of action which requires no other stimulus than motives enforced by divine illumination, is the very self-determining power which Whitby, the prince of Arminians, maintained. And this is maintained in exact form by the gentlemen of New-Haven, though Dr Taylor disclaims the belief because he admits the necessity of motives. And who does not ? As relates to divine efficiency and motives and divine illumination, the gentlemen of New-Haven per
fectly agree with Whitby and Chubb and Turnbull as above quoted. Some of the Arminians of a darker age did indeed suppose that the will could act without motives. But this appendage was not essential to the self-determining power. If the mind moves itself to holiness in view of motives enforced by the illuminating Spirit, without divine efficiency, while it is competent to reject the motives and is not absolutely controlled by them, it possesses the self-determining power. And the New-Haven brethren will not deny that this is their exact creed. In explaining their system therefore I shall unhesitatingly ascribe to them this belief. But whether I am thought to be right in this use of the phrase or not, to prevent all dispute as to the exact imputation I make, I hereby announce once for all, that I mean by the self-determining power, a competency, (in every sense of the word,) to move, in view of motives, without divine efficiency, and a competency to reject the motives.
Even the allegation of our brethren that a change by divine efficiency would be only a physical operation, and that no change is moral but that which is wrought by motives, is borrowed from the old Arminians.
There are three distinct theories respecting the cause of the holy state or affections of the mind. One is, that it is the power of the Spirit immediately applied to the mind, to give it a holy temper, or, as others say, to make it fall in with the motives presented in divine truth. Another is, that the cause lies in the motives themselves, set clearly before the understanding by the illuminating Spirit. This is that theory which asserts the absolute do
minion of motives. The third is, that the mind turns itself, without any action of God but that which presents motives ; without any motives but those which the mind is in all respects competent to resist, and which many do finally resist. The cause then certainly lies in the selfdetermining power. Here is nothing but the illuminating Spirit, the light, and the mind deciding for itself whether to fall in with the motives or not. This is exactly the self-determining power maintained by Whitby, and this is precisely the New-Haven theory.
I suppose Dr Taylor and Dr Fitch to agree in their theory; but as each has exhibited a different part, I shall examine their writings separately. As Dr Fitch has spread out the system more at large, I shall give him the first place : and as his Review of Dr Fisk’s Sermon has been set up by some of the leading advocates of the new doctrines, as a fair exposition of their opinions, I shall attend chiefly to that.