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Review.- Brown's Prize Essay.
606 tions are clear and just, sueh as must conduct. him through the labyrinth , be suggested to every enlightened mind and we are much deceived if the pera by the contemplation of the works of plexities of a thinking mind will not ereation and the study of the testimony be increased rather than diminished of Scripture : nor for any thing that by the perusal of this Essay. appears in this work is there reason to In repelling the objections against believe that the creed of the worthy the Divine wisdom and goodness, PrinPrincipal is burthened with the con- cipal Brown proposes, p. 272, 1. To tradictory notions which generally ascertain the proper notions of perfecprevail on this subject. His language tion and evil, and then to evince that is plain, decisive and unqualified : the permission of this last, is not only “ There is only one Being to whom is in some measure necessary to its
not inconsistent with the former, but all the perfections already considered, and highest displays; that is, that the allevery other belonging to Deity, can be perfect nature of God required that a ascribed. God is self-existent and infinite certain portion of evil both natural and and the original cause of all! Those moral should be permiited. 2. That qualities and attributes exclude tlie supposition of plurality. Self-existence extends many evils which are produced as every where and admits im limitation. evidences against the wisdoin of Provi kufinity implies both unlimited essence and dence, are grossly exaggerated' and for unlimited perfection, and this excludes the the most part exist only in the irregu. supposition of two or more beings of whom lar imaginations of men. 3. That these can be predicated. The wisdom and these evils to which the human race is power of each of such beings must be exposed, could not be excluded from limited by the wisdom and power of the the wisest and best system of the others ; and therefore they cannot all be world, but are so controlled and die infinite or supreme beings. The notion of rected as to be productive of the two or more first causes is absurd in itself, greatest sum of good. And 4. That and involves contradictory notioos. It the present state of man is adapted 10 supposes that there is one original to the his present faculties and powers. others, and at the same time denies this
With regard to the nature of persupposition."-P. 245.
fection, Dr. Brown says, p. 276: There are many appearances in “ We call every thing perfect which nature, and many occurrences in hu- possesses all that is necessary to its naman life, which seem absolutely inex- fure, or has been brought to a higher plicable upon the principle, that there degree of improvement than belougs to is seated at the helm of affairs, a Being, individuals of the same kind, but in an of infinite wisdom and benevolence, absolute sense nothing that is subject to who ordains and regulates all the trains any defect or privation, or is circumof events that happen to all creatures. scribed by any limits, nothing but the And those difficulties have excited the Divine nature can be denominated perattention of reflective persons from
fect." very early ages.
The knowledge of With regard to the nature of evil, nature " which philosophy has dis- he
says: closed; the just way of conducting • Evil bas been divided into natural inquiries of this kind which is now
and moral, the one implying and caused pursued, and above all the clear light by some derangement of the corporeal of revelation, guiding the effects of system, the other implying and caused by intelligence and piety; have removed some disturbance of the mental frame, much of the obscurity in which this considered in a moral point of views interesting and important subject was To these two, a third species of evil bas, javolved : art in a work, to which was been added by metaphysicians, aud has adjudged a prize, instituted on purpose' obtained the name of metaphysical evil.. to clear away this darkness, it was It expresses the absence or priva:ion of natural to expect at least a lucid and certain powers, faculties and capacities, consistent statement of all that the ablest and of the felicity which these are the writers had advanced. Never were
means of obtaining." we more disappointed than in this And with regard to this last he expectation. The author is always in addsa mist; it is only now and then that 46 That the permigsion of metaphysical he seems to have a rapid and indis evil, or of a certaiv deficiency in created tinct glance of the only clue that can beings, can imply nothing repugnant to this
Dirine perfections, must appear on the motives, or in opposition to motives, smallest copsideration. The Divine good- or without any motives at all.”* This ness suggested the communication of is an admirable account of the doc"happiness. But without creation no hap- trine of philosophical liberty, and we piness could be coinmunicated. But what- cannot but regret that Dr. Brown was erer is created is limited : whatever, is in no auspicious moment inspired with limited is so far imperfect. Thus, not
an equally clear and just conception even Omnipotence itself could prevent
of it. metaphysical evil, because it could not effect contradictions. It could not render
But though Principal Brown canthat which is finite iofiuite, nor therefore
not define as well as some, he can create any being which should not be assume as well as any of bis predesubject to defect. Absolute perfection it
cessors : and we give the following could bestow on none of its works. Meta- passage as a very curious and edifying physical evil must therefore hare existed, example of the argument called by or the power, wisdom and goodness of logicians the petitio principii. God, must have remained inert, and no creation have been produced. There is and reason must also enjoy freedom of
“ All beings possessed of intelligence then in the very nature of created being, will. · Indeed to will and to act, imply an absolute necessity of metaphysical evil to will and to act freely. To will and to or defect."-Pp. 276. 280. 281.
act necessarily involves a downright conAfter these observations the author tradiction, because necessity is applicable proceeds to state, that from this ne- to what is passive and cannot be predicessity of defect or of metaphysical cated of volition and action. From this evil in the very nature of every crea- it appears that tbe genuine notion of ture, we shall be gradually led to liberty consists in the power of acting or apprehend that the permission of the abstaining from action, and of electing two other classes of evil, nainely, among various modes of action. A free moral and physical, is not incon agent cannot choose whether he shall have sistent with the Divine perfections of tion is necessary, and by this be to whom
volition or not. For to free agency Foli: wisdoin and goodness; that it may be it belongs is disposed either to action or proper to consider first moral evil, to rest. In a word w-berever will exists because natural evil proceeds in a there is freedom.” great measure from it; and that as moral evil has been defined the abuse
Dr. Brown defines necessity to be of free agency, it becomes necessary to
“that the contrary of which involves shew that men are free agents and to
a contradiction, and can neither exist explain and illustrate the specific na
nor coalesce in one idea." p. 295. And ture of free agency itself. P. 286.
this is the only necessity of which he In doing this the learned Principal event is often confounded with neces
speaks. But he adds, “ Certainty of defines liberty, “ the power of per- sity of existence, although these terms ceiving, choosing and pursuing some object:" and adds_“But the term express very different notions." p. 295. liberty when used to signify the power tain
“Those,” he says, p. 297, “who mainof executing volition, is employed in causes and effects, by which the human
constant series of independent a lax and popular sense. Its more will is infucorced without any interaccurate meaning is that of volition and choice. Whoever wills to move maintain an eternal series originating
nal principle of motion and action, or to act, is mentally as free as he who
no where"!! really moves or acts. His mind exercises its energy even when his body is
“Still it is urged," adds the Doctor, chained.” P. 290.
p. 298, “that the will is influenced by In thus making liberty consist in
the last deterinination of the undervolition, the learned Principal differs standing, and is therefore coustrained." somewhat from the libertarians who
Constrained certainly it is in every have gone before him. The liberty of attaches to the term. The last deter
sense which the advocate of necessity a moral agent, Dr. Reid says, is power over the determinations of his own
mination of the understanding is
, let us will.” And Dr. Gregory aftirms that suppose, that an object which it has man possesses an independent, self- conteniplated is desirable; that no cir. governing, self-determining, power, which he may at his own discretion
* Dr. Gregory's Philosophicad Essays: exert, by acting either according to Sec. I. P. 3.
Review.-Brown's Prize Essay:
607 cuinstance exists to counteract its im- itself and the end in view : in a word, pression; that its attainment will be comprehending every circumstance ima productive of happiness, and that the mediately previous to the volition; and means to attain it are within its reach. which in the least degree contributes This perception and determination of to generate the choice. Can volition the understanding places the mind in take place independently of motive as a certain condition, namely, in the thus defined? The libertarian contends state of desire and of determination to that in the saine previous circumstances exert its power to gratify that desire. and with views and inclinations preNow this peculiar condition of the cisely the same, a different choice may mind is termed will, or volition, and be made. The necessarian denies this, the question is, whether it could pro- and maintains that there can be no bably be different from what it actually difference in the choice without a coris. The state of the mind and all the respondent difference in the previous circumstances remaining exactly the state of the mind; that is,' in the same, that is, an object appearing de- judgment or inclination of the agent."* sirable and nothing occurring to coun- This is the simple question stated in teract the impression, that the attain- plain and simple language; and had ment of it will be productive of hap. Dr. Brown taken the pains to underpiness, can it avoid desiring it? And stand it, he would not have written the perceiving the means by which it can many absurdities by which this part of obtain the gratification of its desire, his work is deformed. He would not, can it avoid exerting them? If not, if for example, have defined necessity to the desirableness of an object must ex- be “that the contrary of which incite desire, and the consciousness that volves a contradiction and can neither the means of attaining it are within esist nor coalesce in one idea.” For reach must induce the determination is to the terin necessity some metaphyto excite them; then it is most obvious sicians have affixed the notion expressed that volition and action are necessary in this definition, Dr. Brown knew, in the only sense which in this con- or ought to have known, that the troversy is meant to be conveyed by advocates for the doctrine of Philo. this term ; that is to say, volition and sophical Necessity expressly distinguish action could not possibly be otherwise between this sense of the word and than they are, the constitution of the that which they annex to it. Dr. inind and the circuitstances in which Brown takes upon himself to say, it is placed remaining the same. p. 269, that Dr. Priestley, together
What has led to so much confusion with Hobbes and Spinosa and Bayle on this subject, is the indistinct and and Voltaire and Hume, has acquired false notion which has been annexed to celebrity by attacking the doctrines of the terin will. Will is nothing but a a Divine Providence and of the freedom modification of desire, and therefore of the will. Was the Reverend Princannot possibly be excited by the mind cipal really acquainted with the writings itself at its own pleasure. Ti is induced of Dr. Priestley? Dr. Priestley has by objects which the mind perceives to acquired celebrity by attacking the be good or evil, pleasing or painful, or doctrine of a Divine Providence ! And iinagines to be so. The mind cannot this affirmation goes forth to the world will will; but objects appearing to ii' with the authority of the Reverend pleasurable excite the desire or will 10 Principal of Marischal College. To possess them, or appearing painful, attempt to justify Dr. Priestley from induce the desire or will to avoid them : the charge of attacking the doctrine of and the question again recurs, can an a Divine Providence were an insult to object apprehended to be thus painful his menory and to the understanding or pleasurable, fail to induce the cor- of the reader; and with regard to his responding desirę or will and the attacking the freedom of the human consequent action?
will, the most charitable opinion is The whole of this controversy turns, that Dr. Brown was utterly ignorant of as has been well stated by Mr. Belsham the writings of the man even on this on this simple question: "Can volition subject whom he presumes thus deeply take place independently of motive? to censure. meaning by motive whatever moves or influences the mind in its choice, thus • Belsham's Elements of the Philosophy including both this bias of the inind of the Mind. P. 280.
"I would observe," says Dr. Priestley, human will is always inclined to prefer good in the very beginning of his Illustrations to evil, and among goods to prefer that of the Doctrine of Philosophical Ne- which appears to afford the greatest sum cessity, p. 2, “that I allow io men all happiness, and among evils to avoid that the liberty or power that is possible in wbich appears to bring the greatest sum of itself, and to which the ideas of man- misery. This is its constant and invariable kind in general ever go, which is the determination. But in order to enable it power of doing whatever they will or pleuse, to make this election, the understanding both with respect to the operations of must carefully scrutinize the respective natheir minds and the motions of their
tures of the objects presented, and decide
on tbeir tendencies to happiness or misery. bodies, uncontrolled by any foreign . When this decision, just or erroneons, is principle or cause. Thus every man is once made, election or reprobation immeat liberty to turn his thoughts to what- diately ensues. The determination of the ever subject he pleases, to consider the will towards agreeable and blissful objects, reasons for or against any scheme or- and its aversion from those wbich are proproposition, and to reflect upon them ductive of pain and misery, are uniform as long as he shall think proper, as well and invariable."-"Modern opponents as to walk wherever he pleases, and to of liberty have directed tbeir principal efdo whatever his hands and other limbs forts to prove that human action, as inare capable of doing. --All the liberty fluenced by motive, always follows a certain or rather power that I say a man has
and definitive course. This is readily not, is that of doing several things when granted.”—P. 304. all the previous circumstances (inclu- And this being granted, all is granted ding the state of his mind, and his for which Dr. Priestley, or any other views of things,) are precisely the same. advocate of the doctrine of PhilosoWhat I contend for is, that with the phical Necessity, who understood the same state of mind, (the same strength subject, erer contended : but such is of any particular passion, for example) the looseness with which Dr. Brown and the same views of things, (as any allows himself to think and write, that particular object appearing equally de he absolutely confounds with this which sirable,) he would always, voluntarily, is his own opinion and the opinion of make the same choice and come to the Dr. Priestley and of all other modern same determination. For instance, if necessarians, the doctrine of fate, or as I make any particular choice to-day, I he terms it alsolute necessily, fatal nes should have done the same yesterday, cessity, &c. (p. 304): a doctrine which and shall do the same to-morrow, pro- no one as far as we know has pretended vided there be no change in the state to maintain in modern times. of my mind respecting the object of Having discussed in this clear and the choice. In other words I maintain, erudite manner the great question bethat there is some fixed law of nature tween the necessarians and the libertarespecting the will, as well as the other rians, Dr. Brown applies his doctrine powers of the mind, and every thing of free agency to the removal of the else in the constitution of nature ; and difficulties which press on the Divine consequently that it is never determined character and administration from the without some real or apparent cause, existence of natural and moral evil. foreign to itself; that is without some He argues that moral evil is the result motive of choice, or that motives in- of free agency; that where the latter fluence in some definite and invariable exists the permission of the former is manner; so that every volition or choice unavoidable; that since it is consistent is constantly regulated and determined with the Divine wisdom and goodness by what precedes it. And this constant to create free agents, the permission of determination of mind, according to moral evil cannot be inconsistent with the motives presented to it, is all that I those perfections, because the one infers mean by its necessary determination."
the other. P. 316. But the fact is, Dr. Brown is hiinself Should this reasoning be capable of a believer in this very doctrine, as far removing from any mind the slightest as it is possible to judge of his belief difficults which appeared to it io in on the subject.
volve the Divine administration, we “What,” says he, pp. 298, 299, “ do we should despair of being able to benefit signify by willing or choosing any thing it by any thing which we could say ; but that of judging it preferable. The nor should we have much greater hope
Review.--Brown's Prize Essay.
609 if it could derive any instruction of fallibly take place. If frec agency, the comfort from the following illustration chief source of happiness to mau, and the 'of this argument:
foundation of all virtue and religion,
required the permission of vice and its ( Who can impute to the Author of the continuance during a state of trial, its admirable fabric and constitution of nature, misery to WHATEVER EXTENT OR DURAthat perversion which is most repugnant to
TION, when it has become habitual to the his will, but which his wisdom and goodness soul, follows as a necessary consequence." Buggested to him not to prevent? When Vol. II. p. 203. “ And no person can a ship has been wrecked by the ignorance complain of the severity of the Divine of the master, can we blame the ship threatenings, if he is fully warded of his builder who fitted it for all the purposes of danger, is furnished with every necessary navigation, and displayed admirable skill in aid for avoiding it, and as long as life its construction, because he did not render continues has still space left for repenit incapable of perishing?
Can we blame tance." P. 207. “ The only effectual enan architect who bas planned a most con
couragement to virtue, the only effectual renient and elegant house, or the mason restraint to rice, is the enactment of who has built it, when it has been de- rewards sufficiently animating and of pustroyed by fire, because neither of them pishments sufficiently formidable.
The' secured it against this calamity? Nor can greater those are in prospect the more we with more reason lay it to the charge of powerful is the check and the more the great Author of human nature, that invigorating the encouragement. I grant the noble faculties with which be has en
indeed that the iufliction of cruel human dowed it, and whose tendencies are to im- punishments in this life, while the course provement and happiness, have been most of probation is still anfinished, has rather a upnaturally perverted aud' depraved."'
tendency to corrupt than to correct a people Pp. 320, 321.
by inuring them to sarage and barbarous Dr. Brown. asks, whether it were spectacles. But the case is different, when jnconsistent with the infinite wisdom all hopes of amendment are gone, and the and goodness of God to create such an period of probation is closed. Then every order of beings as men.
character is completely formed. Vice is decidedly, on his scheme, it was. If rivetted on the soul. Its natural conthere be one proposition clear and un
sequences are allowed to take place. It is deniable, it is that a Being of infinite necessary that its final result should be wisdom and goodness must iinpart to
tremendous and irreversible.':-P. 210. every creature which he calls into ex
And this is the final result of the istence a greater sum of happiness than moral administration of a Being of misery, the whole of its existence being infinite power, wisdom and goodness, considered : if this be not the case he in regard to the great majority of is not good, nor is it possible for any mankind-of that Being “ whose coningenuity or sophistry to prove him to stant and immutable disposition it is to be so. Nay Dr. Brown himself affirms communicate and extend the highest that the goodness of the Deity must be measure of happiness to all his crea“a constant and immutable disposition fares--to communicate all possible to communicate and extend the highest happiness to the whole and to every measure of happiness to all his creatures, part of his sensitive creation !" and that this necessarily implies the
Since endless punishinent cannot communication of all possible happi- benefit those who are saved and can of ness to the whole and to every part of his course be of no advantage to those upon sensitive creation." P. 223. How then whom it is inflicted, it had always is this consistent with his appointment been considered somewhat difficult to from all eternity of the great majority explain the use of it under the wise of mankind to inutterable and unend- and benevolent government of the ing torment? Why thus :
Deity. But Dr. Brown easily solves “ It has been already shown that the
this difficulty, and intimates that it permission of moral evil is inseparable from may be of great service to the people of
the Moon or the inhabitants of Saturn. free agency. The natural and necessary consequences of corruption, proceeding " As we find that among men, prisons, from the abuse of freedom, must also be public examples and places of punishment permitted. Every species, every degree and are useful for impressing vicious minds every extent of depraration however sınall with terror; so the eternal sufferiogs of the or short is inconsistent with the Divine incorrigibly perverse and wicked of the huperfections and laws, and whatever those man race, as they certainly convey an awful require must, in the order of things, in warning to those of our own species wlio