תמונות בעמוד

ment the act was completed it ceased to exist. We can conceive too, of the obligations of the moral law, and of a volition as contrary to that law. The contrariety of a volition to the law of God, we conceive of, and call this the sinfulness of that volition; but this contrariety or sinfulness has no separate existence from the volition. Sin. fulness is an inherent, inseparable attribute, of a volition contrary to the moral law. While we voluntarily abstract from the consideration of a volition opposed to the law of God, all other attributes, for the time, but its opposition to that law, we cannot conceive that the sinfulness of the volition should have any being without the volition, or the volition contrary to the law any existence without the sinfulness. Mr. A. himself teaches, that a volition of a moral agent must of necessity be either hcly or sinful; and that a volition not possessing one or the other of these attributes can no more exist, than matter can have being without some form.

How, then, does our ability to conceive of a volition abstracted from its moral relation, and of a moral attribute of a volition, abstracted from other attributes of a volition, render it possible for one to be the efficient cause of a sinful volition, and not the efficient cause of the sin. fulness of that volition? We cannot even imagine. A sinful volition cannot be a holy volition; nor is it possible that a volition determined by the divine mind to be a sin. fulvolition, can be any thing else. The sinfulness and the sinful volition have really no separate existence; and the existence of the attribute is as real as that of its subject. It is one single act of the will, which is a sin.

But says our author, “Volition is an exercise or act of the will which has its whole existence in successive voli. tions." This is nonsense.“ Volition is an act.Very well: when the act has once been performed it is done; it ceases to have any present existence; and if we say any thing about it, in truth, we must say such a volition, or act, was performed. But volition has its whole existence in successive volitions! That is, one act has its whole existence in a succession of other similar acts! It was one act to pierce our Saviour's side with a spear; but that one act never had, according to Mr. A.'s philosophy, its whole existence, because the soldier did not repeat it, and complete it, by several successive acts of piercing the sacred side: for it is as necessary that an act of pierc. ing, as that an act of volition, should have its whole ex. istence in successive acts.

If he means, that the faculty of volition is an act, we deny it, for it is the faculty that acts. If he means, that the faculty of volition has its whole existence in successive voli. tions, we deny this also; for common sense distinguishes between the faculty of volition and its operations. Besides, we have no evidence, from consciousness, or any other source, that the faculty of volition is always in ex. ercise, or that it ceases to exist whenever it ceases for a time to operate. We know it must have existed before it could operate; and we are conscious that we are often performing other mental operations, than those denomi. nated volitions. To love is one act, to judge another, and to will another; and while we are performing either of the two former operations we are not performing the latter. We may have had a volition before the act of loving, or before that of judging; and we may have one immediately after either; but rapid as our mental acts are, it is doubtful if ever the mind performs two of them at once.

But each volition has the same entity or essential be: ing that the will hus." This is not true; for the will has a being, or exists, when the mind to which it belongs is not willing at all. The assertion of our author is of this nature: any mental operation has the same essential being that the cause of that operation has: or each of a man's actions has the same essential being that he has himself. Any thing which has the same entity with another thing, must, for aught we can conceive to the contrary, be the same thing. For instance, any thing that should have the same entity, or being with the Rev. Mr. Anderson, we should think must be the Rev. Mr. Anderson himself; for we cannot conceive that another being should have the same being that he has. Another might have a similar, but not the same essential being, or the same that constitutes his essence and identity. Now, if a volition, an act of the will, has the same being with the will

, or the faculty of volition itself, then an act of the will, and

the faculty by which that act is performed are one and the same thing. With just as much propriety we might affirm, that the organs of speech, and a speech are the same thing; or that Mr. Anderson's faculties which were employed in writing these Letters, are the Letters them. selves; or that there is no essential distinction between a man and his actions. It will follow too, from Mr. Anderson's metaphysical theology, that a man and his own sinful actions are one and the same being, so that according to the scheme of some universalists, a man's actions may be sent to hell, to suffer the vengeance of a holy God.

Mr. A. intimates, that the only reasonable doctrine of mental identity is dependent on the distinction which he has set up, between the real being of volition, and the ho. liness, or the sinfulness, (that is, the attributes or predi. cates,) of that real being; for says he, “ each volition has the same essential being that the will has, and if sinfulness be the very being of a volition; holiness being an existence the very opposite of sinfulness, when the volitions of the sinner become holy, there would be a total change of the being, and these opposite existences cannot constitute the same individual will." Let us state this argument in the most favourable light; for really, Mr. A. appears not to have the happy knack of presenting his own thoughts to the best advantage. If we have not misapprehended his meaning, it is this;

1. The identity of a man's will is essential to his mental identity:

2. The identity of a man's volitions are essential to the identity of his will:

3. A volition in its very being sinful, is a volition of a different identity from that which is in its very being holy:

4. If, therefore, a man should have volitions of different identity, the identity of his will would be lost; and consequcntly his mental identity would be lost also.

It is essential, therefore, to mental identity, since the same man has holy and sinful volitions, that the holiness and the sinfulness of volitions should be abstracted from the identity, that is the essential being of volitions, so that the argument may stand thus;

1. The identity of a man's will is essential to his men. tal identity:

2. The identity of a man's volitions are essential to the identity of his will:

3. Holy and sinful volitions do not differ in their identity:

4. If, therefore, a man should have holy and sinful volitions both, the identity of his volitions remains, and consequently the identity of his will and of his mind.

If we have not correctly stated Mr. Anderson's argu. ment, we are blind indeed, or else he is not perspicuous in his reasonings. Now the first link in each of the above stated concatenations is the only sound one; and we give Mr. A. credit for writing sense, when he maintains, that "a being consisting of several constituents is the same,” or is one being. We illustrate his assertion thus: the mind of man is a complex being, of ten constituent faculties. It is one being, or creature of God. “But if one of the constituents (the will, or any other faculty) be taken away, it destroys the sameness of the being; or if one be taken away and another substituted directly opposite in its nature, the sameness is destroyed.” To this doctrine of mental identity we heartily subscribe; for we teach, that mental identity consists in the continued existence of all the constituent mental faculties of that mind of which we predicate identity. Take away any one of ten faculties from the mind of the Rev. Mr. A. and his mental identity would cease; and he would be quite another being. Our knowledge of our own mental identity we have by the operations of consciousness and memory; which has led many erroneously to suppose, that personal identity consists in consciousness, or in memory, or in both. We might as well say that the identity of a table consists in consciousness, as that the identity of a moral agent consists in knowing, that he is the same being today, that he was yesterday.

The second link, in each chain hung up before our readers, is a weak one, that will easily open. The identity of the will consists in its own continued existence as the same faculty; and not at all in the number, or the moral character, of its operations. Its identity is not lost by

ceasing to operate for a time; any more than a man's arm ceases to be an arm so soon as it is at rest. When it is proved, that the identity of a pen consists in its perpetu. ally making marks, then it may be proved, that the iden. tity of the will consists in the identity of successive volitions, or that each volition has the same essential being, that is, the same identity, that the will has.

The truth is, our faculty of volition may produce a great variety of volitions, having different attributes, and yet remain the same faculty, just as a pen may be the instrumental cause of a great variety of letters, and yet be the same pen. A sinner wills to curse his God. He performs, in willing this, a mental operation, through that inherent, constituent part of the mind, called the will, or the facul. ty of volition: and he willed to curse God, from some motive, from some sinful thought or feeling. But the grace of God soon changes his motives, and then, by the same faculty, he wills to bless God. This is a frequent case. The man remains the same, and every faculty of his mind retains its identity, and yet his mental operations are changed. His volitions were sinful; they have now become holy:

The whole chain of reasoning falls' asunder through the weakness of this second link. The identity of a man's volitions is not essential to the identity of his will. They may be contrary to the law of God, or conformable to it, and so of different identities; without changing the essence of the faculty producing them.

With unbounded self-complacency, Mr. A. informs his readers, that “these arguments may be too much compressed for the plain man, unacquainted with metaphy. sics, to understand; but the logician and philosopher know, that it would be worth their characters to oppose them.” p. 8. Alas, for us! we are not of the order of logicians and philosophers, or else we have sacrificed our character, for we have opposed Mr. A.'s wonderful metaphysics! Well, it shall content us to be deemed plain, and we would not give a fig for all the metaphysics in the world, that cannot be rendered intelligible to plain men, of common intellectual abilities. Pray, did Mr. Anderson write

his letters for the plain men of Tennessee, or only VOL. I.

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No. 4,

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