« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
character of God. But what is the reply to this objection? Does he qualify his language? Not at all, but his answer is that "our moral exercises are the productions of the divine power, and not emanations of the divine nature." "All emanations of the divine nature must necessarily partake of the qualities of the divine nature," as the stream must partake of the qualities of the fountain from which it flows; but not so with the works of God. "No created object, therefore, bears the least resemblance of the Deity, because he made it." And the author illustrates his distinction by observing that serpents, vipers, and other noxious animals afford no evidence that any malignity, like their sting or poison, belongs to their Creator. This passage, in our opinion, is one of the most significant in all the writings of Emmons, as indicating the way in which the subject lay in his mind. As God is not poisonous because He creates the poison of an asp, so He is not sinful because He creates the sin of man. The pitiful weakness and impertinence of this answer are seen, when we suppose the Creator to blame and punish the asp for being thus poisonous. It certainly appears from this passage that Emmons had hit upon an idea which he deemed sufficient to save his dogma of the creation of sin by divine omnipotence, from consequences fatal to religion. The tenor of the passage, at any rate, strongly favors the ordinary interpretation of his teaching on the subject of divine agency.
In harmony with this interpretation is the general view concerning the introduction of sin into the world, which finds place in Emmons's theodicy. He does not hold that sin is impreventible, in the best moral system, by the act of God, while preventible, though not prevented, in such a system by the act of man. But he holds that sin, while in itself evil and hateful, is, nevertheless, all things considered, desirable. He subscribes to the dogma that sin is the necessary means of the greatest good, and for this reason is decreed and brought into existence by the Supreme Ruler. Sin, wherever it is committed, is, according to Emmons, on the whole, a less evil than holiness in its stead. This is treading on dangerous ground. The doctrine of divine efficiency in the most daring form in
which it was ever uttered, naturally follows in the train of this theory, which implies that sin is normal, advantageous, and indispensable.
If Dr. Emmons merely taught the previous certainty of every moral act, transgression included, how does he differ, in regard to this matter, from Dr. Taylor? Dr. Taylor went as far as this. We had been under the impression always that Dr. Emmons and his followers looked upon Dr. Taylor's formula as insufficient and Arminian in its tendency. It is certain that the older New Haven divines have understood Dr. Emmons to graft human activity, including every particular choice, upon a positive divine energy as its cause, and to make the Deity, not the subject of the sinful act to be sure, but the efficient, creative cause.
Against this interpretation of Emmons we have the authority of Professsor Park, supported by that of the venerable and excellent Dr. Ide, both of whom have possessed the highest advantages for ascertaining the views of their admired friend. They inform us that he did not profess to teach how the Divine will secures the certainty of sinful actions, but intended to assert the bare fact; and though his expressions may sometimes be open to objection, he believed in a real liberty of the human will, not only from an impersonal fate, but also from an extraneous divine energy equivalent to fate. Their suggestions are entitled to great deference. We venture to remark, however, that this kind of criticism, by which they reach their interpretation, is to be used with caution. A strong mind may propound a defective, or otherwise erroneous system; but the probability is that some sort of recognition of the omitted truths will not be absent from his writings. A pertinent example is John Locke. His doctrine was that all our knowledge is through sensation and reflection; and he thus furnished their premises to Condorcet and the school of sensualistic philosophers. But a man like Locke could not write without implying the reality of a priori ideas; and if the question is directly brought to his attention, he will avow his belief in them, as Locke actually does in his letter to the Bishop of Worcester. Yet we must allow that Cousin has
not dealt harshly with the system of Locke, and that isolated passages, virtually acknowledging a vital truth which is left out where it ought to be found, cannot modify this unfavorable judgment. Only by a process of special pleading can Locke be made to agree with Reid and Kant. The cases are not quite parallel; but sufficiently so to illustrate our idea. It may be that Professor Park is right in cutting off the claws if he will pardon the expression-of the author he has taken in hand. Certainly, a more discriminating and well informed critic than the Abbot Professor is not to be found. Yet we confess to him, knowing his clemency to a querist even when he thinks the querist unreasonable, that a portion of his criticism strikes us as being too kind to the subject of it. Judging Emmons independently of these recent expositions of his theology, by the impression which his published writings make, we should pronounce him to be an extreme Calvinist. His great doctrine is Predestination. Everything in the world is looked upon from a teleological point of view. Sin and holiness, wherever they occur, are predetermined in the same manner as the motion of the stars; and both are brought into existence by a divine energy. The commandments of God are given for the purpose of rendering some sinful and others holy, to the end that the former may perish and the latter be saved. Behind the moral law there is a secret will of God which determines that in given cases it shall not be kept, and God executes the determination by working efficiently beneath the consciousness of the creature, who is made actively, willingly to disobey. Such a system, when rigorously carried out, terminates in Pantheism; for, if the advocates of it be consistent, they will deny free causation in the Creator
as well as creature, in which case an impersonal force becomes the first cause of all things. In his language concerning the method in which sin is brought into existence, and in respect to the reasons for its introduction into the world, Emmons accords with the Pantheistic philosophers of our day.
It is entirely possible, as the history of speculation shows, for Necessitarians to use all the terms which are in the mouth of a believer in the freedom of the will. The difficulty is that
they attach to these terms a meaning, or associate with them a doctrine, which gives full room for their theory as to the nature of voluntary action. This remark is true of President Edwards, whose treatise on the Will is a plea for the doctrine of Necessity. By those who take a different view of this work, we are often referred to the author's definitions. Attend to his definitions, it is said, and you will see that he only contends for the certainty of actions, and places himself on the side of liberty. But his definitions it is, that establish just the opposite interpretation. For how does Edwards distinguish his Moral Necessity from Natural Necessity? What differentia does he find between the two? Here is the test question. Now Edwards clearly sets forth the points of difference, which are two in number. The first is, that in the case of Moral Necessity, the antecedent and consequent are moral things, states of mind. They are the motive, and the choice that follows. Have we any approach to freedom in this distinction ? None, whatever. The nexus between the antecedent and consequent is not at all affected by this difference. The second difference is that in the case of Natural Necessity there is a supposed opposition, which is insufficient; and the propriety of the term Necessity depends on the supposition of an obstacle, known, however, to be insufficient to prevent the occurrence of the event in question. When we say a body must descend to the earth, some hindrance is imagined, which is ineffectual. But-and here mark the point-in the case of choice, the event is a willingness,—with which an opposition, or coëxistent unwillingness, is incompatible. The will cannot oppose itself. Thus, in Moral Necessity, the event is not only inevitable, but there is no conceivable opposition. It is Natural Necessity doubled and twisted. Edwards expressly says that the difference between Natural and Moral Necessity is rather in the nature of the things connected than in the mode of their connection. The whole question of Liberty and Necessity is the "mode of connection" between the antecedent motive and the consequent choice.
Again, look at Edwards's definition of liberty, and his definition of the word "can," when applied to the will. Accord
ing to him, an event is said to be in my power, when, if I choose, the event follows: I can move my limbs, when my choice that they shall move, is certain to be followed by their motion. Given the choice, does the event follow? If so, the event is in my power; and this is all the power that Edwards allows. How the choice itself comes into being-the real question of liberty-is excluded from consideration by this conception of power; or rather, by this ignoring of the existence of such a thing as power. Then when the inquiry is raised, Can a man choose otherwise than, as a matter of fact, he does choose?-Edwards paraphrases the question thus: "Can he choose otherwise if he chooses?" This, according to Edwards, may mean, "if he chooses to choose;" which brings us to the absurdity of an infinite series of choices: or it may mean, "if he chooses otherwise, does he in fact choose otherwise," a futile, identical proposition. In short, the reply of Edwards is "there is no sense to your question. You either
ask, Is it possible to choose to choose; or, Is it possible to choose as we choose." The question, in the view of Edwards, admits of no third meaning. He is perpetually driving his opponents to one or the other horn of the dilemma; and this he can do by means of his previous definition of power. The question has a third meaning which is perfectly intelligible, and is the real point of the controversy between Liberty and Necessity; a point which Edwards easily and perpetually evades. Whoever will study Locke's chapter on Power, especially his notion of liberty as relating to events "consecutive to volition," will see the germ of the treatise of Edwards. It may seem presumptuous to those who laud Edwards more than they study him, but we do not hesitate to give it as our opinion, that the composition of that treatise, for a man who had thoroughly mastered the above mentioned chapter of Locke, is an intellectual achievement by no means fitted to excite wonder.
In fact, the axiom at the foundation of Edwards's reasoning is this every event must have a cause. The Necessitarian's argument is a very short one. It is the argument of Hobbes and Collins, whose reasoning is substantially the same as that of Edwards