sphere of transient volition over all those permanent states of intellect, affection, and will which we call the moral character. To say that we can change directly by a single volition that which, as a matter of fact, we can change only indirectly through process and means. Yet, even this exaggerated view of freedom would seem not to exclude Gods decrees or prevent a practical reconciliation of the Arminian and Calvinistic views, so long as the Arminian grants God?s foreknowledge of free human acts, and the Calvinist grants that God?s decree of these acts is not necessarily a decree that God will efficiently produce them. For a close approximation of the two views, see articles by Raymond and by A. A. Hodge, respectively, on the Arminian and the Calvinistic Doctrines of the Will, in McClintock and Strong?s Cyclopedia, 10:989, 992.

We therefore hold to the certainty of human action, and so part company with the Arminian. We cannot with Whedon (On the Will), and Hazard (Man a Creative First Cause), attribute to the will the freedom of indifference or the power to act without motive. We hold with Calderwood, Moral Philosophy, 183, that action without motive, or an act of pure will, is unknown in consciousness (see, however, an inconsistent statement of Calderwood on page 188 of the same work). Every future human act will not only be performed with a motive, but will certainly be one thing rather than another; and God knows what it will be. Whatever may be the method of God?s foreknowledge, and whether it is derived from motives or be intuitive, that foreknowledge presupposes God?s decree to create, and so presupposes the making certain of the free acts that follow creation.

But this certainty is not necessity. In reconciling God?s decrees with human freedom, we must not go to the other extreme and reduce human freedom to mere determinism, or the power of the agent to act out his character in the circumstances which environ him. Human action is not simply the expression of previously dominant affections; else neither Satan nor Adam could have fallen, nor could the Christian ever sin. We therefore, part company with Jonathan Edwards and his Treatise on the Freedom of the Will, the younger Edwards (Works, 1:420), Alexander (Moral Science, 107) and Charles Hodge (Syst. Theology, 2:278), all of whom follow Jonathan Edwards in identifying sensibility with the will in regarding affections as the causes of volition and in speaking of the connection between motive and action as a necessary one. We hold, on the contrary, that sensibility and will are two distinct powers, that affections are occasions but never causes of volition, and that, while motives may infallibly persuade, they never compel the will. The power to make the decision other than it is resides in the will, though it may never be

<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment