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Will, Arminian View of the.

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I. Definitions.

1. Mind is one and indivisible. For convenience in language, the phenomena of mind are generalized, and names given to the powers by which phenomena become possible and to which phenomena are, referred. Those powers of mind which are immediately concerned in the acquisition, retention, and classification of knowledge are classed together and generalized so that the generic name of the intellect is made to include them all, or, more briefly, the mind's power to know is called the intellect. In like manner, the susceptibility of feeling is called the sensibility, and the power to put forth action is called the will. Not that there are three distinct entities, for evidently it is the same one and indivisible mind that perceives, judges, remembers, imagines, is pleased or displeased, loves or hates, chooses, resolves, determines, acts. Perhaps it would be quite as scientific as is the usual method of statement to say that mind, considered as an entity, is one, simple, indivisible, and ultimate; that the same one mind, considered as a power to know is called the intellect; considered as a power of feeling, is called the sensibility; and considered as a power of action, is called the will.

2. Edwards defines will as "the power to choose." This is unscientific and inadequate, because there are evidently other phenomena of mind as distinctly active, and as clearly distinguished from knowledge and from feeling, as is choice.

Tappan's definition of will is "the mind's causality." This is not objectionable, unless it be said that it is too general and does not enable the thinker to form a definite conception.

Whedon says the will is "that power of the mind by which it becomes the conscious author of an intentional act." This is more specific, and is correct so far as it goes; but it may be asked, Is not will sometimes active when there is no intention or purpose cognized in consciousness? Does not the mind put forth acts of will unconsciously?

Haven says, "I understand by the will that power which the mind has of determining or deciding what it will do and of putting forth volitions accordingly." Upham says "the will may properly enough be defined the mental power or susceptibility by which we put forth volitions." These are both defective, because they require a knowledge of what is meant by the term volitions. Manifestly mind is so perfectly one, and its phenomena are so thoroughly interpenetrated, each and all being mutually conditioned one upon the other, that accurate and exhaustive definition is extremely difficult, if not impossible. In the present state of mental science, perhaps we say the best thing possible, and all that is requisite for practical purposes, when we say that to know, to feel and to act is an exhaustive category of mental phenomena, and the mind's power to act is what is expressed by the term "the will."

3. In general use, all acts of will are called volitions. Some writers, however, distinguish them as "choices" and "volitions;" but no reason is apparent for varying from the general usage, as the distinction sought may be easily made when necessary by simply noting one class as volitions in choice, and the other as volitions in the executive nisus. To make a choice, to form a purpose, to seek an end, to indulge an intention, to resolve to do, with other terms of similar import, express-acts of mind which are different from the mental nisus that moves the mind or body, or both, to do the thing intended. As between idleness and employment, as between one form of occupation and another, and as between several books lying before me, I determine to take up a particular book and give attention to the reading of the same, and the study of the topic on which it treats. These selections and the determination formed are acts of will are choices, volitions in choice; but no one of them alone, nor all of them together, have as yet stirred a muscle. Another act of will is requisite to move the body and do the, work intended this may be called volition in the executive nisus.

The executive power of will is exerted both upon the mind and upon the body upon the mind as in all acts whereby attention is confined to any particular topics; upon the body as in. all cases of intended muscular movement.

The above, in a matter so well understood, may suffice as a sort of index pointing towards, rather than accurately defining, what is intended by the terms "will," "choice," "volition," and their synonyms; and we now proceed to the discussion of the question which, more than all others connected herewith, is of vital importance, namely.

II. The Freedom of the Will. Fatalism is a denial of the existence of free-will in any sense in which the term may be used. What is is, because it could not not be; and what is not is not, because it could not be. The actual is equal to the possible, and the non-existent is equal to the impossible. Eternal fate governs all existences and events. Of course atheists are universally fatalists. Materialism, when it asserts that nothing exists but matter, is inseparably associated with fatalism, and in any of the forms which it assumes it is logically fatalistic. Dualism and pantheism always lead in the same direction, though dualists and pantheists are not all professed fatalists. One form of professed theism is I confessedly fatalistic, namely, that species of theism which affirms that God acts from the necessities of his, nature, so that he does all he can do, and what he does he cannot avoid doing, the actual being, by the necessity of God's nature, the measure of the possible. All that it is deemed needful to say of fatalism in this connection is that it contradicts the universal convictions of the human mind. All men, fatalists themselves included, have an ineradicable conviction that many things might be different from what they are. All men irresistibly conceive an essential difference between a man and a machine, and conceive that that difference is found chiefly in the fact that man chooses his ends, and the means of their accomplishment, and the machine does not. Fatalism, if true, cannot be proved, for to admit the possibility of its truth long enough for the, consideration of an argument is to admit that human thought is a necessary falsehood; and arguments against fatalism are evidently futile, for the fatalist is by his own profession compelled to ignore all confidence in his own thinkings. Rejecting as he does ultimate principles, denying intuitive truths, there is no foundation for an argument.

The antagonism between fatalism and freedom may be found in their answer to the question, Is mind subject to the law of necessity in every direction, and the same sense that matter is subject to that law? The fatalist affirms and the freedomist denies. For all that is apparent, the antagonists must stand face to face forever the one affirming and the other denying with nothing for either to say that will be of any service to the other. Among anti-fatalists there is great diversity of opinion, and here controversy begins. All are agreed in affirming the doctrine of human liberty, or technically in asserting the doctrine of free-will; but they instantly begin to differ by giving different and opposite definitions of the terms "liberty," "freedom," "certainty," "necessity," etc. This controversy may be as explicitly stated, and the arguments pro and con as perspicuously presented, with some advantage as to brevity, as in any other method, by making the whole discussion: consist in an answer to the sole question, Is there existent such a thing as "power to the contrary?" It may be said that this question does not cover the whole ground of controversy, since some allow that "the power to the contrary?" is essential to a probation, and that the first man possessed it; affirming only that the posterity of the first pair, by reason of their relation to the first sin, do not possess it. This is true; but it is also true that all, or well-nigh all, arguments adduced to prove the non-existence of a power to the contrary in the posterity of Adam prove, if they prove anything, not the non-existence, but the impossibility, of such a power. The question may be stated in other terms Is mind a power competent for either of several different results? When the mind chooses A, could it at the same time and under the same circumstances have chosen B instead? Is mind, or is it not an either causal power? Is it, or is it not, in respect to any event, a first cause? The parties to this controversy have been called Freedomists and Necessitarians. We adopt these terms not only for convenience but because they explicitly-characterize the opinions held by each.

1. Freedomists affirm that the power to the contrary is not only conceivable, but actual; that it is involved in all intuitive conceptions of infinite power; that at any moment in. infinite duration God .can create or refrain from creating; that, creating a world, he can place its center in any one given point in space or in any one of an infinite number of other points; that this power in God is absolutely free from all constraint, either from anything external to himself or from anything pertaining to his own nature. They further affirm that God created man in this feature of his image, so that to deprive man of it entirely would be to dehumanize him would be to reduce him to the character and condition of a brute, or perhaps worse, to mere machinery. They still further affirm that the possession of this power is fundamental and essential in the make-up of a moral being. Necessitarians deny the power to the contrary. They affirm stating it in the mildest terms they choose to adopt an invariable antecedency in all events, psychical as well as physical. All phenomena are uniform, equally so whether pertaining to matter or to mind. External objects determines perception, perception determines emotion, emotion determines desire, desire determines volition in choice, volition in choice determines volition in the executive nisus, and this determines the external muscular action. The chain is unbreakable; the connection between choice and desire is as uniform, as impossible to be otherwise, as is the connection between external object and perception. Every cause is potent only for one sole effect; every antecedent is followed, and must be followed, by one sole consequent.

As Edwards puts it, the law of necessity governs all events; it is absurd to suppose the possibility of the opposite of what is. Discussions on this subject among theologians have primary and chief respect to the power for good. Pelagians affirm that the power for good is as essential to human nature any other power. Of course it was not lost by the fall, and all men come into personal consciousness as fully possessed of power to choose the good as they are possessed of power to choose the evil. Augustinians and Arminians affirm that power to choose the good was lost by the first sin; that man became enslaved, and that the race have inherited the enslavement. Augustinians further affirm that the lost power is never restored; that if man wills a good, it is by a. divine efficiency causing him thus to will-in other words, the power to the contrary does not exist in the human mind, has not since the first sin, and never will. Arminians agree with Pelagians in affirming that the power to the contrary is essential to a moral nature, to a being morally responsible, but differ from them when they deny that the power to good was lost by sin. Arminians agree with Augustinians in affirming that the posterity of the first pair have inherited an enslaved nature, but they differ from them when they assert that this enslavement is perpetual. Arminians affirm that the race, except the first pair, come into personal consciousness under grace; that the unconditioned benefits of atonement include not only personal existence, but also all the requisites of a fair probation, among which the power to refuse the evil and choose the good is chief, is fundamental and essential. These differences among theologians deserve mention in this connection; but its is not needful that they be kept in mind, for the discussion is the same, whether they be considered or left out of the account.

(1.) Freedomism is sustained by an appeal to universal consciousness. It is affirmed that every man does, every day of his life, many things with a consciousness while doing these things that he has power to do otherwise. It is objected to this appeal by opponents that consciousness testifies to the acts of mind, and not to its powers. This objection is an assumption which all psychologist do not admit, and it cannot-be denied that man is, in some sense, conscious of his powers. But allowing the objection to stand for what it is worth, it is still averred that the consciousness of a conviction so universal as is the conviction that very many things we do, we do with the same ability to do otherwise that we have to do as we do, is as determinative as any conviction ever existing in consciousness. If consciousness can be relied upon in any testimony that it gives respecting human nature, or if a conviction existing in universal consciousness is any evidence that that conviction is true, then man is free in the sense of the freedomists; he possesses power, or, more accurately, he is himself a power for either of several results.

(2.) Freedomists affirm that the power to the contrary is essential to moral obligation; that a conviction of its existence arises necessarily from a consciousness of moral responsibility. It is affirmed that it is impossible for any one to feel responsible for any event, unless he also feels that that event is under his control. If one feels obligated to choose the good, he must also feel that he has power to do so; if he feels condemned for choosing the evil, he must also feel that he might have chosen the good. These convictions are in perfect accordance with what in abstract science, must be judged as just, honorable, and right. Wherever obligation and responsibility exist, alternatively must be coexistent. In justice and in honor, punishment cannot be awarded for the unavoidable; if but one way be possible, moral desert is impossible. Necessitarians attempt to avoid these manifest inferences by affirming that not a power to contrary, but voluntariness, is the basis of obligation and responsibility; voluntariness, they say, is self motion in the absence of constraint. It is said if a man choose evil unconstrained by anything extraneous to himself, he is responsible; though being what he is it were impossible for him to choose otherwise. Moreover, it is said that it is no matter how he came to be what he is, whether his depravity be concerted, infused, or self-imposed, if his acts are his own and not another's, he is responsible. Is this so? If without any fault or agency of my own I am a slave to evil desires, so that I have no power or ability to choose good, am I responsible for the evil I do? Let the common sense of mankind answer.

(3.) Freedomists aver that a denial of power to the contrary, if not itself identical with fatalism, is logically its equivalent, since absence of power to be otherwise equals necessity. The term necessity cannot be more accurately defined than by the term absence of power to the contrary. In reply, necessitarians make a distinction between a physical and a moral necessity; the former being found in the connection between a physical cause and its effect, and the latter between a mental state and its consequent. Edwards says the necessity he contends for is "the full and fixed connection between the thing signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition which affirms something to be true." The rejoinder of the freedomist is that necessity is always the same, whatever be the subject to which it applies, and is always impossibility of the opposite. No distinction founded on an irrelevant matter, nor the obscurity of Edwards's definition, avails to, avert the force of the evident affirmation that absence of power to be otherwise is necessity, fate; and necessitarianism equals fatalism.

(4.) Freedomists affirm that to deny the power to the contrary is to deny human liberty fully and totally. If man cannot do otherwise than he does, he is not free. To avoid this affirmation, vicious definitions are given of the terms liberty, freedom, etc. Liberty is power to do as you will, to will as you choose, to do as you are pleased, etc. To do as you will defines physical liberty, the freedom of the body, and has no relation whatever to mental freedom. To will as you choose is without significance, because choosing is willing, and liberty if anywhere, is found in the choice itself, and not in the accordance with it of any subsequent act either of bold or mind. To will as you are pleased admits the inseparable connection between choice and antecedent pleasure or desire, and may reject the possibility of the opposite, and this is precisely that for which the definition is constructed. When used for this purpose, the outcome is simply a statement of the issue; the definition, and all that depends upon it, avails nothing in averting the affirmation that the denial of a possible opposite is a denial of the possibility of freedom fully and totally. Liberty does not exist, fixed fate governs all things.

(5.) As a corollary of the above, freedomists affirm that necessitarianism must, if consistent with itself, equally with fatalism, deny all moral distinctions and regard the idea of a moral government as chimerical.

2. The principal arguments adduced in support of necessitarianism are as follows:

(1.) Causality. Volitions are effects, and must have a cause; the cause being what it is, the effect cannot be otherwise than it is. This is regarded by opponents as a plain begging of the question, for it assumes that all causes are potent only for one sole effect, when the question under discussion is whether or not mind is a cause equally potent for each of several different effects. If it be asked, What causes the mind to cause as it does? the answer is, Nothing causes it; it is itself first cause of its own volitions, and is by its nature an adequate cause of all its volitions, both general and particular.

(2.) Edwards's reductio ad absunrdun. If the mind be self-determined, it must determine itself in any given volition by an antecedent volition; but if this antecedent volition: be self-determined, it also must be determined' by another antecedent volition, and so on ad infinitnum. But to suppose such an infinite series of volitions is absurd; therefore mind is not self- determined. All the force of this argument comes from the unfortunate use of the term self-determined. Mind is not determined, it is itself determiner. The supposed antecedent volition is useless, and the series is stopped at its beginning.

(3.) Utility. The question is asked, "What is the use of a power that is never used?" The events that do occur are produced each by a power adequate to its production; if there be a power adequate for the production of an opposite event, it is never used, is useless, and therefore need not be. The fallacy here consists in the assumption that the doctrine of freedom supposes two powers-one to do, an another not to do. Whereas the assertors of a power to the- contrary affirm that the same one power is fully adequate to the production of either of several different results. Mind is such a cause that when it produces effect A, it is fully adequate to produce effect B instead.

(4) Motivity. It is said mind cannot act without a motive. In a conflict of motives the strongest must prevail, therefore volitions always are as the strongest motive. The fallacy of this argument comes from the materialistic idea conveyed by the term "strongest." There is no analogy between mental and material phenomena that admits of such argumentation. The strength of a motive cannot be represented by the weights of a balance; to infer, prevalence from strength in mental the same as in physical phenomena is vicious. If, however, the term strongest motive must be used, it is indispensable: that it be distinctly stated in what the strength of a motive consists; the term strength must be clearly defined. "The so-called strength of a motive," says Whedon, "may be defined the degree of probability that the, will will choose in accordance with it, or on account of it." This definition being admitted, the argument is, closed, for- beyond all controversy it is evident that great improbabilities do sometimes occur; an improbability, however great, is not the equivalent even of a certainty, much less of a necessity.

But, again, the argument assumes that mind never acts but in view of motives, and that it cannot act without a motive. This is not admitted. Every active man, every day of hiis life, in a thousand indifferent and unimportant movements, both of mind and body, acts in the total absence from consciousness of any motive or reasons for doing as he does; and, again, in an equilibrium of conflicting motives, clearly cognized in consciousness, man can make-a choice. This is not a supposed case, but is of actual and frequent occurrence. Men frequently with strong motives for action find themselves without any motive whatever for action in one way rather than another, and yet in these circumstances they put forth volitions as readily and as easily as when a strong preponderance is obvious. The argument from the strength of motives is not determinative.

(5.) Divine Prescience. Infinite wisdom must include a perfect knowledge from eternity of all existences and events. A complete history of the universe through all time must have always been perfectly cognized by the Divine Mind. God's foreknowledge can never be disappointed. All existences and events will be as God has from eternity foreknown them; therefore the opposite to what is, and the different from it, could not be; the power to the contrary does not exist. Let it be distinctly noted that the inference here is not merely the non-existence of a power to the contrary, but its impossibility; and if the argument proves an impossibility in human affairs, it also proves the same as to divine affairs, indeed, as to all events from eternity to eternity and God himself is forever shut up to one sole, and necessary history; the actual equals the possible; eternal fate governs God and all that is not God.

The premises are unquestionable, but the conclusion is a non-sequitur. A future event may be certain, may be known as certain, and its opposite be possible notwithstanding; will be is not the same as must be. The argument would be equally forcible if the foreknowledge of God were eliminated. Knowledge is not causative; the knowledge of an event has nothing to do with its production. All that the divine prescience of future events does in this argument is to prove their certainty. But this must be admitted without such proof: all things will be as they will be, whether God knows them or not. The history of the universe will be in one way, and not two; objective certainty is self-evident. But certainty is not necessity; it does not exclude the possibility of an opposite. Prescience neither helps nor hurts this case at all. If a man can see no difference between certainty and necessity, he cannot admit contingency; he is logically shut up to invincible fate. If one does apprehend a clear difference between will be and must be, he may affirm both prescience and contingency. Between these two parties thus cognizing these ultimate ideas there must be a perpetual difference of opinion on the question under discussion. Further controversy is useless; they have reached the ultimate of the question; they must stand face to face, one affirming contingency, and the other necessity, without the possibility of an argument from either that will be of any service to the other.

(6.) Divine Sovereignty. God governs the world in accordance with a plan. No existence or event can be permitted to contravene his plan; all existences and events must be included in the plan, and each must form a constituent part thereof. To suppose anything contingent upon the, human will is to take that thing from the purview of the divine sovereignty, subject it to human caprice, to uncertainty, to chance. Therefore nothing can be possible which is different from what is.

All the strength of this argument lies in one or the other, or both, of two conceptions. One of these conceptions is that a perfect government implies an absolute control, a determining efficiency; the other is that contingency is the equivalent of uncertainty, no cause, chance. The one conception is that the divine sovereignty cannot be complete and perfect unless all that is not God be reduced to the condition of machinery. The antagonist of this idea is the conception of a government of beings endowed with alternative powers. The idea that a contingency is an uncertainty is antagonized by the conception that contingency and certainty may both be predicated of the same event; it may be certain that a thing will be, and yet, at the same time, be possible that it may not be. These antagonizing conceptions are ultimate; and two parties, the one entertaining one and the other the other, must forever be at variance. Controversy closes, the one party affirming and the other denying. If God cannot know how his creatures will conduct themselves when endowed with alternative power, when left to determine their conduct by their own free will; if he cannot govern the world when much of its history is within the power of his creatures, when much that is, is determined and enacted by the free volitions of men, then freedomism must quit the field, and, as we see it, fatalism is triumphant. There are innumerable possibilities, which never become actual; if the actual be the measure of the possible, then fate governs all things.

III. Literature. Arminius, Works (Auburn, N. Y. 1853, 3 vols. 8vo), is 252; 2, 472; Wesley, Works (N. Y. ed.), 2, 69, 404, 460; .5, 39: .6, 41, 49, 127, 584; 7:97; Fletcher, Works (ibid.), 1, 90 sq., 322, 502; 2, 227, etc.; Watson, Theological Institutes (ibid.), 2, 435 sq.; Fisk, Calvinistic Controversy (ibid. 1835), p. 129 sq.; Bledsoe, Examination of Edwards (Phila. 1845); Whedon, Freedom of the Will (N. Y. 1864); Raymond, Systematic Theology (Cincinnati, 1877), 2, 140 sq.; Pope, Christian Theology (Lond and N.Y. 1879 sq.), 2, 363 sq. A very moderately Calvinistic, but not strictly Arminia; view of the will may be-found in the Baptist Review, 1880; p. 527 sq. (See ARMINIANISM); (See THEOLOGY (NEW ENGLAND);) (See WESLEYANISM). (M. R.)


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Will, Arminian View of the.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/w/will-arminian-view-of-the.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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