Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

A consequent [or absolute) contingency cannot consist with a conscquent (or absolute] necessity, nor can they meet together in one event: In the same manner, one conclusion cannot be both necessary and contingent in regard to its consequence, [that is, it cannot have, at the same time, a necessity and a contingency that are hypothetical]. But the cause why one thing cannot be necessary and contingent at the same time, is this, that what is necessary, and what is contingent, divide the whole amplitude

of being. For every being is either necessary or contingent. But those things which divide the whole of being, cannot coincide or meet together in any single being: Otherwise they would not divide the whole range of being. What is contingent, and what is necessary, likewise differ in their entire

been previously given [concerning absolute and hypothetical necessity,] for necessitas consequentiæ is assumed from the supposition of something precedent to it, and is thus in a certain sense hypothetical." After detailing the derivation of both terms from a syllogistic distinction much employed by Logicians, Scheibler thus proceeds : “ That necessity is called necessitas consequentiæ when any thing is said to be necessary by its subordination or relation to other things, and by its connection with them. But that necessity is styled necessitas consequentis, by which any thing is really necessary after the removal of such a connection as has been just described, and by a consideration of the thing absolutely in itself." His definition of the other species of necessity, to which he says “ they are allied,” is the following:

“ An ABSOLUTE necessity, is that which is assumed ab intrinseco from within, by which any thing is immutable when such is the requsition of its own nature. On this account it is called the necessity of nature and of definition.But a HYPOTHETICAL necessity is that according to which whatever is immutable, is so through the extrinsic position of some circumstance. Thus, it is an ABSOLUTE necessity, that God is just, and that fire burns. But that is a HYPOTHETICAL necessity concerning which we say, What is done, cannot be undone : For in this case the necessity does not arise from the nature of the thing, which is called 'necessary ;' but it arises extrinsically,-that is, from the hypothesis or supposition of time. Thus it is necessary, that offences must come,-that is, on the supposition of the condition of human beings, because man is inclined to every species of wickedness and crime. This kind of hypothetical necessity obtains likewise in bypothetical propositions, which derive their appellation from that circumstance: Thus, “If an ass fly, it has wings.' -“St. Augustine says, in his City of God, (lib. iv, c. 10.) “That is one kind

of necessity when we say, It is of necessity, that God always lives and foreknows all things. It is another kind when we say, It is of necessity, that men die.-And it is still different when we say, Man now wills something .bu his free will : Therefore it is of necessity that he wills it.'"

I must here again be permitted to state, in behalf of Arminius, that it would have been impossible for him, or any other man, to overturn the arguments of his adversaries, who had intrenched their errors within certain refined metaphysical distinctions, unless he had evinced the great superiority of his powers as a metaphysician. In this Article, and the two which succeed it, he proves himself to be a worthy disciple of Ramus and Zabarella; he unravels the complex yet ingenious scheme of his opponents, and shews the most admired of their positions to be untenable. In two of his private letters, he has treated the subject of Necessity and Contingency in a more ample manner, and illustrated it by a great number of familiar examples.

וי

But they say,

essences and in the whole of their definition. For that is neces. sary which cannot possibly not be or not be done, [or, in the old English way, which cannot but be or be done): And that is contingent which is possible not to be or to be donc. Thus contradictorily are they opposed to each other; and this opposition is infinite, and therefore always dividing truth from falsehood: As, “this thing is either a man, or it is not a man it is not possible for any thing to be both of these at once,that is, it is impossible for any thing of one essence. Otherwise [in another sense,] “ Christ is a man," as proceeding from his mother Mary; "he is not a man,” in reference to his having been begotten of the Father from all eternity; but these are two things and two natures.

• It is possible for one and the same event to • be necessary and contingent in different respects necessary

with regard to the First Cause, which is God,-and contin'gent in respect to second causes.' I answer,-FIRST. Those things which differ in their entire essences, do not co-incide in respects.-SECONDLY. The necessity or contingency of an event is to be estimated, not from one cause, but from all the causes united together. For after ten causes have been fixed, * from which a thing is produced, not necessarily, but contingently, if one be added from which the thing may be necessarily completed, the whole of that thing is said to have been done not contingently but necessarily. Because when all these causes were together appointed, it was impossible for that thing to hinder itself from being produced and from being brought into existence. That thing, I confess indeed, when distinctly compared by our mind with each of its causes, has a different relation to them respectively: But since none of those causes is the total cause of that event, and since all of them united together form the total cause, the thing ought itself to be accounted and declared to have been done from that total cause, either necessarily or contingently.

It is not only a rash saying, but a false and an ignorant one, —that a thing which in regard to second causes is done con' tingently is said to be done necessarily in regard to the Di

vine Decree.' For the Divine decree itself, being an internal action of God, is not immediately the cause of the thing; but, whatever effects it may produce, it performs them by power, according to the mode of which a thing will be said to

* The logical word positis often occurs in these three Articles, and by it the readers may understand any of the terms “ laid down, fixed, or supposed."

be either necessarily or contingently. For if God resolve to use an irresistible power in the execution of his Decree, or if he determine to employ such a quantum of power as nothing can resist or can hinder it from completing his purpose, it will follow that the thing will necessarily be brought into existence: Thus, Wicked men, who persevere in their sins, will necessarily perish;' for God will by an irresistible force cast them down into the depths of hell.-- But if he resolve to use a force that is not irresistible, but that can be resisted by the creature, then that thing is said to be done, not necessarily, but contingently,—although its actual occurrence was certainly foreknown by God, according to the infinity of his understanding, by which He knows all results whatever, that will arise from certain causes which are laid down, and whether those causes produce a thing necessarily or contingently. From whence the school-men say, that “all things are done by a necessity of infallibility ;" * which phrase is used in a deter

* The following quotation from A Correct Copy of some Notes concerning God's Decrees, by that profound Logician and Divine, Dr. Thomas Pierce, will elucidate this remark, while it also serves to explain to the mere English reader some metaphysical terms which Arminius has here employed : “ Many conclude that God's working upon the wills of his Elect, is by such a physical immediate immutation of their wills, as doth not only produce a certain, but a necessary effect : And being forgetful (raiher than ignorant) to distinguish necessity from certainty of events, they call that necessary which is but certain and infallible, and so (through haste or inadvertency) they swallow down the error of Irresistible Grace; using the word irresistible instead of efficacious.

Infallible properly is that which cannot err, or be deceived.' That is properiy necessary' which cannot but be.' The first relates to the perfection of the knowledge of God, but the second to the Almightiness of his will. The First is properly applied unto the object of God's foresight,-and though it is otherwise used, yet it is by such a Catachresis as l humbly conceive to be a stone of stumbling. But the Second [is applied) more precisely unto the object of his decree. The First is consistent with those contingent events to which the Second is diametrically opposed. For instance: That I am now writing, is but contingent, because I do it upon choice. Yet God's foreknowledge of this my writing from all eternity, did infer that this my writing would infallibly come to pass. This event is contingent, for I can choose; but yet infallible, for God cannot err. This contingent therefore doth infallibly come to pass; not by way of a consequent, but by way of consequence; my writing being not the effect but the object only of God's Omniscience, which is (in order) before the act. God foresees a contingent will contingently come to pass; and therefore we iufer, it will infallibly come to pass, because He foresees it who is infallible. So that his prescience is a consequent of the thing's coming to pass ; and its infallibility of coming to pass is inferred from his prescience only by way of consequence. It is one to follow as the effect of a cause, in order of nature; and quite another, to follow as the sequel of an antecedent, in way of argumentation. The short and plain upshot of all is this : The precious vessels of Election do very certainly and infallibly persevere unto the end, and that by reason of God's Omniscience which cannot be deceived; but not of necessity and irresistibly, by reason of his Omnipotence which cannot be frustrate por defeated." Vol. I.

YY

minate sense, although the words in which its cnunciation is expressed are ill-chosen. For infallibility is not an affection of a being, which exists from causes; but it is an affection of a Mind that sees or that foresees from what causes it will transpire. But I readily endure a catachrestic Metalepsis, {an improper trope,] when it is evident concerning a thing, although it is my wish that our enunciations were always the best-accommodated to the natures of the things themselves.

But the inventors of these articles try to prove by the examples which they produce, that one and the same thing, ' which with respect to SECOND CAUSES is done contingently,

is in respect to the DIVINE DECREE done necessarily.' They say, It was possible for the bones of Christ to be broken, or not to be broken. It was possible for them to be broken, if

any person considers the nature of bones; for they were ' undoubtedly fragile. But they could not be broken, if the

decree of God be taken into the account.'-In answer to this, I deny, that in respect of the DIVINE DECREE they could not be broken. For God did not decree, that it was IMPOSSIBLE for them to be broken, but that they should not be broken. This is apparent from the manner in which the transaction was actually conducted. For God did not employ an irresistible power by which he might prevent the bones of Christ from being broken by those who approached to break them ; but by a mild kind of suasion he caused that they should not will to break the bones of Christ, by an argument drawn from

[ocr errors]

* Arminius says, in one of his letters : By a Metalepsis, therefore, that which belongs to the fore-knowing Mind is ascribed to the thing foreknown, -as though an event woull necessarily happen because it was infallibly foreknown by the Divine Mind. But God knows as infallibly what things will happen contingently, as what will happen necessarily; for his forekuowledge does not depend upon an immutable cause of the existence of the thing, but on the INFINITY of the Divine Kuowledge. And what praise is due to the Divine Wisdom, if it therefore foreknow future things-because God resolves to produce them by such a power as the creatures cannot resist ? As often therefore as it is said, 'that a thing will happen infallibly or certainly,' such an expression is Metaleptic. It is another instance of Metalepsis, when that which it is said will infallibly happen, is stated to be done necessarily."

In a subsequent letter, written in 1607, he says : “ It follows therefore, that the Prescience of God is infallible on account of the Infinity of bis Knowledge. This truth the human mind is capable of grasping ; but the mede by which it is a truth, is known to God alone. But since we are not able cer tainly to foreknow any thing in any other manner than on account of it cing dependent on an immutable cause,—from this mode of our own certain foreknowledge we form a conclusion respecting the mode of the Divine ForeKNOWLEDGE. But we act improperly in thus determining: Because unless this mode differ entirely from the mode of human prescience, and have nothing analogous to it, it is not Divine. Human knowledge, indeed, possesses something analogous to that which is Divine; but the mode of Divine Knowledge is decidedly transcendent."

its inutility.

For since Christ had already given up the ghost, before those who broke the legs had arrived at the cross, they were not at all inclined to undertake a vain and fruitless labour in breaking the legs of our Saviour. Because the breaking of legs, with a design to hasten death, was only done lest the bodies should remain suspended on the cross on a festival or sacred day, contrary to the Divine law.-Indeed if the Divine Wisdom knows how to effect that which it has decreed, by employing causes according to their nature and motion,—whether their nature and motion be contingent or free, -the praise due to such Wisdom is far greater than if it employ a power which no creature can possibly resist: Although God can employ such a power whensoever it may seem expedient to his Wisdom. t I am therefore of opinion, that I committed no offence when I said, “ No contingent “ thing, that is, nothing which is done or has been done

CONTINGENTLY,-can be said to be or to have been done “ NECESSARILY with regard to the Divine decree.

ARTICLE VI.
All things are done contingently.

ANSWER. This Article is expressed in such a stupid and senseless manner, that they who attribute it to me, declare by this very circumstance, that they do not perceive under how many falsities this expression labours; nay, they do not understand

* “ But when the soldiers came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.” (John xix, 31–36.)

+ Another quotation from Dr. Pierce may communicate to this assertion a larger elucidation: “God indeed (if it please him) can, by his absolute power over his creature, make him act this thing or take that thing, by ineluctable necessity, and whether he will or not: But then that acting is not volition, and that taking is not choice. For the very word choice cannot be apprehended, but it must carry along with it a sound of freedom. Optio must be optimorum, and so duorum at least : 'It is of two things or more, that we choose the best,' wbether in reality or in appearance. And this liberty of the will (by which we choose) being acknowledged on all sides, (as well by Mr. Perkins and Dr. Twisse, as by Bellarmine and Arminius, as every man knows that hath but read and compared them,) that famous evenka of a twofold necessity, the one of co-action, and the other of infallibility, (being built upon a manifest and gross mistake both of the word Necessity, and the word Infallibility,) seems to me to be serviceable to no other end, than to cover a wound, which it is impossible to cure.-Shall I declare my judgment then, (although in weakness, yet in sincerity,) how free will is necessary to the choosing of good,—to which, without grace, it is altogether insufficient? My judgment is, that it is necessary, not as a Cause but as a Condition ;

« AnteriorContinua »