But his extreme anxiety to save the credit of his author has betrayed him, it seems to us, into an apology which will not bear a close examination. “On the subject of liberty or freedom,” says he, “which occupies a portion of the fifth section of Edwards’s first book, he has been less particular than was to be expected, considering that this is the great object of inquiry in his work.
But let the same murder be done with the thorough consent of the will, the conscience stops not to inquire whether this consent has been caused or no.” Thus, after all his dissent from Edwards, he returns precisely to Edwards’s definition of the freedom of the will as the ground of human responsibility; after all his strictures upon “necessitarians of the first order,” he falls back upon precisely that notion of free-will which was so long ago condemned by Calvin, and exploded by Leibnitz, and which relates, as we have so often seen, not to acts of the will at all, but only to the external movements of the body.
Edwards’s remarks on this subject:— “Exempted as these people are from a host of diseases usually ascribed to the vitiated habits of more civilised life, as well as from those equally numerous and more destructive ones engendered by the pestilential effluvia that float in the atmosphere of more favoured climes, the diversity of their maladies is, as might
We may easily see that he had all the powers requisite to moral agency, and that he was really capable of either a holy or a sinful act, without any antecedent principle of holiness or sin in his nature. We have now said enough, we think, to show the fallacy of Edwards’s first great argument in favour of a necessary holiness.
This seeming inconsistency between the command of God and his countermand, in relation to the same external action, has been fully removed by Leibnitz; and if it had not been, it is just as incumbent on the abettors of Edwards’s scheme to explain it, as it is upon his opponents.