« 上一頁繼續 »
title of A Treatise concerning R, ligious Affections, and which called forth the warmest praises and thanks from the friends of true piety on both sides of the Atlantic. In the latter part of the year 1747, David Brainerd, the celebrated missionary, who had been laboring for many years among the Indians in different settlements in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, amidst many discouragements and with enfeebled health, with a zeal, diligence, self-denial, and perseverance which have seldom had any parallel in the history of missions, came, on invitation, to Mr. Edwards's house, and, gradually sinking under the power of a consumptive disease, closed his life in the bosom of his friend's family on the 9th of October of that year. In 1749 Mr. Edwards prepared and published a memoir of this remarkable man, entitled An Account of the Life of the late Rev. Dorrid Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, and Potator of a Church of Christian Indians in New Jersey. Thus far, the life of this eminently great and pious man had not been attended by any marked or painful trials. But his path, henceforth, was to be any thing but a smooth one, He was to experience the fickleness of popular applause, and, what was still more trying, persecutions from his own Christian brethren. It having been credibly reported that a number of the younger members of his church had in their possession immoral and licentious books, he preached upon the subject; whereupon the church resolved unanimously that a committee should be appointed to investigate the matter. But they had not proceeded far in their duty before it was ascertained that nearly every leading family in town had some member implicated in the guilt. This disclosure produced an immediate reaction, and a majority of the church determined not to proceed in the inquiry; so true is it, as his learned biographer remarks, that “nothing is more apt to revolt and alienate, and even to produce intense hostility in the minds of parents, than any thing which threatens the character or the comfort of their children.” The result was that great disaffection ensued, the discipline of the church was openly set at defiance, and great declension in zeal and morals naturally followed. But there was a cause of still deeper disaffection. Mr. Stoddard, the predecessor of Edwards, had been accustomed to receive into the church such as applied for admission, whether they gave any evidence of a change of heart or not; and Mr. Edwards continued the same practice after his ordination. At length doubts as to its rightfulness began to arise in his mind, and continued to increase with such strength that, in 1749, he disclosed to his church his change of opinion, and publicly vindicated it by his Humble Inquiry into the Rules of the Word of Got concerning the Qualifications Irequisite to a Complete Standing and Full Communion in the Visible Christian Church, which was published in August of that year. This treatise at once produced great excitement in the congregation, and he became the object of bitter opposition, which continued so long that he concluded to accept a tall from the church at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, whither he removed in the spring of 1751. Here he enjoyed great quiet and happiness, and was enabled to complete what for many years he had been engaged in, his immortal treatise,_ that on which his fame chiefly rests, The Freedom of the Will and Moral Agency, which was published in the spring of 1754. The fundamental doctrines which Edwards undertakes to establish in the Freedom of the Will are, that the only rational idea of human freedom is, the power of doing what we please; and that the acts of the will are rendered certain by some other cause than the mere power of willing; or, in other words, that they are the result of the strongest motive presented, and not brought about by the mere “self-determining power of the will;” and he has sustained his position with a degree of novelty, acuteness, depth, precision, and force of reasoning which no one ever before had reached. In 1755 he wrote two other treatises: one A Dissertation on God's Last End in the Creation of the World; and the other A Dissertation on the Nature and End of Virtue. But these, together with his treatise on Original Sin, were not published till after his death. On the death of the Rev. Aaron Burr, President of Princeton College, the trustees invited Mr. Edwards to succeed to that most responsible post,-the presidency of the college, and he removed thither in the month of January, 1758. All the friends of the college, as well as the students, were highly elated at the thought of having such a man at its head, and the manner in which he entered upon his duties more than answered their highest expectations. But, alas, how vain are all human calculations ! In five weeks after his introduction into office, he was cut off by the smallpox, on the 22d of March, 1758, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. Language can hardly express the sense of loss which all good men felt that religion and learning had sustained in the death of this great man, in whose praise the most distinguished scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have been emulous to speak and write. “On the arena of metaphysics,” writes Dr. Chalmers, “he stood the highest of all his contemporaries, and we know not what most to aduire in him, whether the deep philosophy that issued from his pen, or the humble and childlike piety that issued from his pulpit.” The venerable and learned Dr. Erskine, of Scotland, thus wrote a friend —“The loss sustained by his death, not only by the College of New Jersey, but by the church in general, is irreparable. I do not think our age has produced a divine of equal genius or judgment.” Sir James Mackintosh, in his Progress of Ethical Philosophy, says of him, “In the power of subtle argument he was, perhaps, unmatched, certainly unsurpassed, among men.” Dugald Stewart—and no one can speak on such a subject with more authority than he-remarks, “America may boast of one metaphysician, who, in logical acuteness and subtlety, does not yield to any disputant bred in the universities of Europe. I need not say that I allude to Jonathan Edwards.” And Hazlitt, in his Principles of Human Actions, thus writes:—“Having produced him, the Americans need not despair of their metaphysicians. We do not scruple to say that he is one of the acutest, most powerful, and of all reasoners the most conscientious and sincere. His closeness and his candor are alike admirable.” In summing up his general character, his biographer, Dr. Miller, says, “Other men, no doubt, have excelled him in particular qualities or accomplishments. There have been far more learned men; far more cloquent men; far more active and enterprising men in the out-door work of the sacred office. But in the assemblage and happy union of those high qualities, intellectual and moral, which constitute finished excellence,—as a Man, a Christian, a Divine, and a Philosopher, he was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest and best men that have adorned this or any other country since the apostolic age.”
THE FREEDOM OF THE WILL.
If the Will, which we find governs the members of the body, and determines their motions, does not govern itself, and determine its own actions, it doubtless determines them the same way, even by antecedent volitions. The Will determines which way the hands and feet shall move, by an act of choice: and there is no other way of the Will's determining, directing or commanding any thing at all....Whatsoever the Will commands, it commands by an act of the Will. And if it has itself under its command, and determines itself in its own actions, it doubtless does it in the same way that it determines other things which are under its command. So that if the freedom of the Will consists in this, that it has itself and its own actions under its command and direction, and its own volitions are determined by itself, it will follow, that every free volition arises from another antecedent volition, directing and commanding that: and if that directing volition be also free, in that also the Will is determined: that is to say, that directing volition is determined by another going before that; and so on, till we come to the first volition in the whole series; and if that first volition be free, and the Will self-determined in it, then that is determined by another volition preceding that. Which is a contradiction; because by the supposition it can have none before it, to direct or determine it, being the first in the train. But if that first volition is not determined by any preceding act of the Will, then that act is not determined by the Will, and so is not free in the Arminian notion of freedom, which consists in the Will's selfdetermination. And if that first act of the Will which determines and fixes the subsequent acts be not free, none of the following acts, which are determined by it, can be free. If we suppose there are five acts in the train, the fifth and last determined by the fourth, and the fourth by the third, the third by the second, and the second by the first; if the first is not determined by the Will, and so not free, then none of them are truly determined by the Will: that is, that each of them are as they are, and not otherwise, is not first owing to the Will, but to the determination of the first in the series, which is not dependent on the Will, and is that which the Will has no hand in determining. And this being that which decides what the rest shall be, and determines their existence; therefore the first determination of their existence is not from the Will. The case is just the same if, instead of a chain of five acts of the Will, we should suppose a succession of ten, or an hundred, or ten thousand. If the first act be not free, being determined by something out of the Will, and this determines the next to be agreeable to itself, and that the next, and so on; none of them are free, but all originally depend on, and are determined by, some cause out of the Will: and so all freedom in the case is excluded, and no act of the Will can be free, according to this notion of freedom. Thus, this Arminian notion of Liberty of the Will, consisting in the Will's Solf-determination, is repugnant to itself, and shuts itself wholly out of the world.
THE PERMISSION NOT THE PRODUCTION OF EVIL.
There is a great difference between God being concerned thus, by his permission, in an event and act which, in the inherent subject and agent of it, is sin, (though the event will certainly follow on his permission,) and his being concerned in it by producing it and exerting the act of sin; or between his being the orderer of its certain existence by not hindering it, under certain circumstances, and his being the proper actor or author of it, by a positive agency or officiency. As there is a vast difference between the sun being the cause of the lightsomeness and warmth of the atmosphere, and the brightness of gold and diamonds, by its presence and positive influence; and its being the occasion of darkness and frost, in the night, by its motion whereby it descends below the horizon. The motion of the sun is the occasion of the latter kind of events; but it is not the proper cause efficient or producer of them; though they are necessarily consequent on that motion, under such circumstances: no more is any action of the Divine Being the cause of the evil of men's wills. If the sun were the proper cause of cold and darkness, it would be the fountain of these things, as it is the fountain of light and heat: and then something might be argued from the nature of cold and darkness, to a likeness of nature in the sun; and it might be justly inferred that the sun itself is dark and cold, and that his beams are black and frosty. But from its being the cause no otherwise than by its departure, no such thing can be inferred, but the contrary; it may justly be argued that the sun is a bright and hot body, if cold and darkness are found to be the consequence of its withdrawment; and the more constantly and necessarily these effects are connected with, and confined to, its absence, the more strongly does it argue the sun to be the fountain of light and heat. So, inasmuch as sin is not the fruit of any positive agency or influence of the Most High, but, on the contrary, arises from the withholding of his action and energy, and, under certain circumstances, necessarily follows on the want of his influence; this is no argument that he is sinful, or his operation evil, or has any thing of the nature of evil; but, on the contrary, that he and his agency are altogether good and holy, and that he is the fountain of all holiness. It would be strange arguing, indeed, because men never commit sin, but only when God leaves them to themse/res, and necessarily sin
when he does so, and therefore their sin is not from themselves, but from God; and so, that God must be a sinful being: as strange as it would be to argue, because it is always dark when the sun is gone, and never dark when the sun is present, that therefore all darkness is from the sun, and that his disk and beams must needs be black.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, 1706–1790.
“His mind a maxim, plain, yet keenly shrewd,
This distinguished philosopher and statesman was born in Boston, on the 17th of January, 1706. His father, who was a tallow-chandler, was too poor to give him the advantages of a collegiate education, and at ten years of age he was taken from the grammar school to aid in cutting wicks for the candles, filling the moulds, and attending the shop. When he was twelve, having a strong passion for reading, and thinking that a printer's business would give him the best opportunity to indulge it, he was bound to his brother, who had recently returned from England with a press and type. He soon made himself master of the business, while he employed all his leisure time and his evenings to the improvement of his English style, by reading the best books he could find, among which, happily, was Addison's Spectator, to which he labored to make his own style conform. In 1721 his brother started a weekly newspaper, called The New England Courant, for which Benjamin, though so young, wrote with great acceptance. Soon, however, from jealousy or other cause, the elder brother quarrelled with the younger, who thereupon, at the age of seventeen, started alone for Philadelphia. The following is his own account of his
FIRST ENTRANCE INTO PHILADELPHIA.
I have entered into the particulars of my voyage, and shall, in like manner, describe my first entrance into this city, that you may be able to compare beginnings so little auspicious with the figure I have since made.
On my arrival at Philadelphia, I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come by sea. I was covered with dirt; my pockets were filled with shirts and stockings; I was unacquainted with a single soul in the place, and knew not where to seek a lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and having passed the night without sleep, I was extremely hungry, and all my money consisted of a Dutch dollar, and about a shilling's worth of cop