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fect's happening once, though the effect may be great, yea, though it may come to pass on the same occasion in many subjects at the same time, will not prove any fixed propensity, or permanent influence. It is true, it proves an influence great and extensive, answerable to the effect, once exerted, or once effectual ; but it proves nothing in the cause fixed or constant. If a particular tree, or a great number of trees standing together, have blasted fruit on their branches at a particular season, yea, if the fruit be very much blasted, and entirely spoiled, it is evident that (something was the occasion of such an effect at that time ; but this alone does not prove the nature of the tree to be bad. But if it be observed, that those trees, and all other trees of the kind, wherever planted, and in all soils, countries, climates and seasons, and however cultivated and managed, still bear ill fruit, from year to year; and in all ages, it is a good evidence of the evil nature of the tree ; and if the fruit, at all these times, and in all these cases, be very bad, it proves the nature of the tree to be very bad ; and if we argue in like manner from what appears among men, it is easy to determine, whether the universal sinfulness of mankind, and their all sinning immediately, as soon as capable of it, and all sinning continually, and generally being of a wick. ed character, at all times, in all ages, and all places, and under all possible circumstances, against means and motives inexpressibly manifold and great, and in the utmost conceivable variety, be from a permanent, internal, great cause.
If the voice of common sense were attended to, and heard, there would be no occasion for labor in multiplying arguments and instances to shew, that one act does not prove a fixed inclination ; but that constant practice and pursuit do. We see that it is in fact agreeable to the reason of all mankind, to argue fixed principles, tempers, and prevailing inclinations, from repeated and continued actions, though the actions are voluntary, and performed of choice; and thus to judge of the tempers and inclinations of persons, ages, sexes, tribes and nations. But is it the manner of men to conclude, that whatever they see others once do, they have a fixed, abiding inclination to do? Yea, there may be several acts seen,
and yet they not taken as good evidence of an established propensity; nay, though attended with that circumstance, that one act, or those several acts, are followed with such constant practice, as afterwards evidences fixed disposition. As for example, there may be several instances of a man's drinking some spirituous liquor, and they be no sign of a fixed incli. nation to that liquor ; but these acts may be introductory to a settled habit or propensity, which may be made very manifest afterwards by constant practice."
From these things it is plain, that what is alleged concerning the first sin of Adam, and of the angels, without a previ. ous, fixed disposition to sin, cannot in the least injure or weaken the arguments, which have been brought to prove a fixed propensity to sin in mankind in their present state. The thing which the permanence of the cause has been argued from, is the permanence of the effect. And that the permanent cause consists in an internal, fixed propensity, and not any particular, external circumstances, has been argued from the effects being the same, through a vast variety and change į of circumstances. Which things do not take place with respect to the first act of sin that Adam or the angels were guilty of ; which first acts, considered in themselves, were no per. manent, continued effects. And though a great number of the angels sinned, and the effect on that account was the greater, and more extensive ; yet this extent of the effect is a very different thing from that permanence, or settled continuance of the effect, which is supposed to shew a permanent cause, or fixed influence or propensity. Neither was there any trial of a vast variety of circumstances attending a permanent effect, to shew the fixed cause to be internal, consisting in a settled disposition of nature, in the instances objected. And however great the sin of Adam, or of the angels was, and however great means, motives, and obligations they sinned against ; whatever may be thence argued concerning the transient cause, occasion, or temptation, as being very subtle, remarkably tending to deceive and seduce, or otherwise great; yet it argues nothing of ar.y settled disposition, or fixed cause át all, either great or smail; the effect both in the angels aud
our first parents, being in itself transient, and for ought aga pears, happening in each of them under one system or coincidence of influential circumstances.
The general, continued wickedness of mankind, against such means and motives, proves each of these things, viz.. that the cause is fired, and that the fixed cause is internal, in man's nature, and also that it is very powerful. It proves the first, namely, that the cause is fixed, because the effect is so abiding, through so many changes. It proves the second, that is, that the fixed cause is internal, because the circumstances are so various: The variety of means and motives is one thing that is to be referred to the head of variety of circumstances ; and they are that kind of circumstances, which above all others proves this ; for they are such circumstances as cannot possibly cause the effect, being most opposite to the effect in their tendency. And it proves the third, viz. the greatness of the internal cause, or the powerfulness of the propensity ; because the means which have opposed its influcnce, have been so great, and yet have been statedly overcome.
But here I may observe by the way, that with regard to the motives and obligations which our first father sinned against, it is not reasonably alleged, that he sinned when he knew his sin would have destructive consequences to all his posterity, and might, in process of time, pave the whole globe with skulls. &c. Seeing it is so evident, by the plain account the scripture gives us of the temptation which prevailed with our first parents to commit that sin, that it was so contrived by the subtilty of the tempter, as first to blind and deceive them as to that matter, and to make them believe that their disobedience should be followed with no destruction or calamity at all to themselves (and therefore not to their posterity) but . on the contrary, with a great increase and advancement of dignity and happiness.
Evasion 2. Let the wickedness of the world be ever so general and great, there is no necessity of supposing any depravity of nature to be the cause : Man's own free will is cause sufficient. Let mankind be more or less corrupt, they make
themselves.corrupt by their own free choice. This, Dr. Taylor abundantly insists upon, in many parts of his book.*
But I would ask, how it comes to pass that mankind so universally agree in this evil exercise of their free will ? If their wills are in the first place as free to good as evil, what is it to be ascribed to, that the world of mankind, consisting of so many millions, in so many successive generations, without cousultation, all agree to exercise their freedom in favor of evil ? If there be no natural tendency or preponderation in the case, then there is as good a chance for the will's being determined to good as evil. If the cause is indifferent, why is not the effect in some measure indifferent ? If the balance be no heavier at onc end than the other, why does it perpetu. ! ally, and, as it were, infinitely, preponderate one way? How comes it to pass, that the free will of mankind has been determined to evil, in like manner before the flood, and after the flood ; under the law, and under the gospel; among both Jews and Genules, under the Old Testament; and since that, among Christians, Jews, Mahometans ; among Papists and Protestants; in those nations where civility, politeness, arts, and learning most prevail, and among the Negroes and Hottentots in Africa, the Tartars in Asia, and Indians in America, towards both the poles, and on every side of the globe; in greatest cities and obscurest villages ; in palaces and in huts, wigwams and cells under ground ? Is it enough to reply, it happens so, that inen every where, and at all times, choose thus to determine their own wills, and so to make themselves sinful, as soon as ever they are capable of it, and to sin constantly as long as they live, and universally to choose never to come up half way to their duty ?
As has been often observed, a steady effect requires a steady cause ; but free will, without any previous propensity to influence its determinations, is no permanent cause ; noth. ing can be conceived of, further from it ? For the very potion of freedom of will, consisting in selfdetermining power, implies contingence : And if the will is free in that sense,
• Page 257, 258, 52, 53, S, and many other places.
that it is perfectly free from any government of previous iaclination, its freedom must imply the most absolute and per. fect contingence; and surely nothing can be conceived of, more unfixed than that. The notion of liberty of will, in this sense, implies perfect freedom from every thing that should previously fix, bind or determine it; that it may be left to be fixed and determined wholly by itself: Therefore its determinations must be previously altogether unfixed. And can that which is so unfixed, so contingent, be a cause sufficient to account for an effect, in such a manner, and to such a de. gree, permanent, fixed and constant?
When men see only one particular person, going on in a certain course with great constancy, against all manner of means to dissuade him, do they judge this to be no argument of any fixed disposition of mind, because he, being free, may determine to do so, if he will, without any such disposition? Or if they see a nation or people that differ greatly from other nations, in such and such instances of their constant conduct, as though their tempers and inclinations were very diverse, and any should deny it to be from any such cause, and should say, we cannot judge at all of the temper or disposition of any nation or people, by any thing observable in their constant practice or behavior, because they have all free will, and therefore may all choose to act so, if they please, without any thing in their temper or inclination to bias them ; would such an account of such effects be satisfying to the reason of mankind? But infinitely further would it be from satis. fying a considerate mind, to account for the constant and universal sinfulness of mankind, by saying, that the will of all mankind is free, and therefore all mankind may, if they please, make themselves wicked: They are free when they first begin to act as moral agents, and therefore all may, if they please, begin to sin as soon as they begin to act : They are free as long as they continue to act in the world, and therefore they may all commit sin continually, if they will: Men of all nations are free, and therefore all nations may act alike in these respects, if they please (though some do not know how other nations do act.) Men of high and low condi.