1 - 10 from 29
We must be free from an external co-action, he admits, to render us accountable for our external actions; but not from an internal necessity, to render us accountable for our internal volitions. But this does not seem to be a satisfactory reply to the difficulty in question.
Sir James Mackintosh says, that “in his treatise de Servo Arbitrio against Erasmus, Luther states the distinction between co-action and necessity as familiar a hundred and fifty years before it was proposed by Hobbes, or condemned in the Jansenists.” According to his definition of liberty, it is merely a freedom from co-action, or external compulsion. “I conceive liberty,” says he, “to be rightly defined in this manner: Liberty is the absence of all the impediments to action that are not contained in the nature and intrinsical qualities of the agent: as for example, the water is said to descend freely, or to have liberty to descend by the channel of the river, because there is no impediment that way; but not across, because the banks are impediments; and though the water cannot ascend, yet men never say it wants liberty to ascend, but the faculty or power, because the impediment is in the nature of the water and intrinsical.” According to this definition, though a man’s volitions were thrown out, not by himself, but by some irresistible power working within his mind, say the power of the Almighty, yet he would be free, provided there were no impediments to prevent the external effects of his volitions.
Hence, if the question were—Is a man accountable for his external actions, that is, for the motions of his body, we might speak of natural necessity, or co-action, with propriety; but not so when the question relates to internal acts of the will. All reference to natural necessity, or co-action, in relation to such a question, is wholly irrelevant.
It brings us back to the old distinction between necessity and co-action. God brings our volitions to pass; he wills them; they “spring entirely from him;” but we are nevertheless free, because he constrains not our external actions, or compels us to do anything contrary to our wills!
In order to remove this difficulty, and repel the attack of his opponents, Calvin makes a distinction between “co-action and necessity.” “Now, when I assert,” says he, “that the will, being deprived of its liberty, is necessarily drawn or led into evil, I should wonder if any one considered it as a harsh expression, since it has nothing in it absurd, nor is it unsanctioned by the custom of good men.
But it should be observed that natural necessity, or co-action, reaches no deeper than the external conduct; and can excuse for nothing else. As it does not influence the will itself, so it cannot excuse for acts of the will. Indeed, it presupposes the existence of a volition, or act of the will, whose natural consequences it counteracts and overcomes.
“There are two things,” says he, “contrary to what is called liberty in common speech. One is constraint, otherwise called force, compulsion, and co-action; which is a person being necessitated to do a thing contrary to his will. The other is restraint; which is, his being hindered, and not having power to do according to his will.
M’Cosh, nevertheless, falls back upon the old Calvinistic definition of liberty, as consisting in a freedom from external co-action, in order to find a basis for human responsibility.
Here the trinity of man and the Trinity of the Godhead came into a co-action and fellowship overpassing the highest outside wonder of the universe. And all this co-working, fellowship, and partnership has been repeated in the experience of every individual soul that has been fitted for this great immortality.
The will may be absolutely necessitated in all its acts, and yet the body may be free from external co-action or natural necessity! But though there is this close agreement between Hobbes and Edwards, there are some points of divergency between Edwards and Calvin. The former comes forward as the advocate of free-will, the latter expressly denies that we have a free-will.