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And I think it must be allowed by all that every thing that is properly called a motive, excitement, or inducement to a perceiving, willing agent, has some sort and degree of tendency or advantage to move or excite the Will, previous to the effect, or to the act of the Will excited. This previous tendency of the motive is what I call the strength of the motive. That motive which has a less degree of previous advantage, or tendency to move the Will, or that appears less inviting, as it stands in view of the mind, is what I call a weaker motive. On the contrary, that which appears most inviting, and has, by what appears concerning it to the understanding or apprehension, the greatest degree of previous tendency to excite and induce the choice, is what I call the strongest motive.
Things that exist in the view of the mind have their strength, tendency, or advantage to move or excite its Will, from many things appertaining to the nature and circumstances of the thing viewed, the nature and circumstances of the mind that views, and the degree and manner of its views, of which it would perhaps be hard to make a perfect enumeration. But so much I think may be determined in general, without room for controversy, that whatever is perceived or apprehended by an intelligent and voluntary agent, which has the nature and influence of a motive to volition or choice, is considered or viewed as good ; nor has it any tendency to invite or engage the election of the soul in any further degree than it appears such. For to say otherwise, would be to say that things that appear have a tendency by the appearance they make, to engage the mind to elect them, some other way than by their appearing eligible to it ; which is absurd. And therefore it must be true, in some sense, that the Will is always as the greatest apparent good is.
I use the term good as of the same import as agreeable. To appear good to the mind, as I use the phrase, is the same as to appear agreeable, or seem pleasing to the mind. Certainly nothing appears inviting and eligible to the mind, or tending to engage its inclination and choice, considered as evil or disagreeable ; nor, indeed, as indifferent, and neither agreeable nor disagreeable. but if it tends to draw the inclination, and move the Will, it must be under the notion of that which suits the mind. And, therefore, that must have the greatest tendency to attract and engage it, which, as it stands in the mind's view, suits it best, and pleases it most ; and in that sense it is the greatest apparent good. The word good, in this sense, includes in its signification the removal or avoiding of evil, or of that which is disagreeable and uneasy. It is agreeable and pleasing to avoid what is disagreeable and unpleasing, and to have uneasiness removed.
When I say, the Will is as the greatest apparent good is, or that volition has always for its object the thing which appears most agreeable, it must be carefully observed that I speak of the direct and immediate object of the act of volition; and not of some object that the act of the Will has not an immediate but only an indirect and remote respect to. Many acts of volition have some remote relation to an object that is different from the thing most immediately willed and chosen. Thus, when a drunkard has his liquor before him, and he has to choose whether to drink or no, the proper and immediate objects about which his present volition is conversant, and between which his choice now decides, are his own acts, in drinking the liquor or letting it alone; and this will certainly be done according to what, in the present view of his mind, taken in the whole of it, is the most agreeable to him. If he chooses or wills to drink it, and not to let it alone, then his action, as it stands in the view of his mind, with all that belongs to its appearance there, is more agreeable and pleasing than letting it alone.
But the objects to which this act of volition may relate more remotely, and between which his choice may determine more indirectly, are the present pleasure the man expects by drinking, and the future misery which he judges will be the consequence of it. He may judge that this future misery when it comes, will be more disagreeable and unpleasant than refraining from drinking now would be. But these two things are not the proper objects that the act of volition spoken of is nextly conversant about. For the act of Will spoken of is concerning present drinking or forbearing to drink. If he wills to drink, drinking is the proper object of the act of his Will; and drinking, on some account or other, now appears most agreeable to him, and suits him best. If he chooses to refrain, then refraining is the immediate object of his will, and is most pleasing to him. If in the choice he makes in the case, he prefers a present pleasure to a future advantage, which he judges will be greater when it comes, then a lesser present pleasure appears more agreeable to him than a greater advantage at a distance. If, on the contrary a future advantage is preferred, then that appears most agreeable and suits him best. And so still the present volition_is as the greatest apparent good at present is.—The Freedom of the Will, Part I., Section 2.
THE IMMINENT PERIL OF SINNERS.
The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given ; and the longer
; the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when once it is let loose. It is true that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the foods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath ; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the floodgate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and Justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow; and it is nothing but the
mere pleasure of God—and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all—that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls ; all of you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion, in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction.
The God that holds you over the pit of hell—much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire-abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath toward you burns like fire; He looks upon you as being worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful, wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not at this very moment drop down into hell. - Sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an angry God."
EDWARDS, MATILDA BARBARA BETHAM, an English novelist, born at Westerfield, Suffolk, in 1836. Her first novel, The White House by the Sea, published in 1857, passed through several editions. She has since contributed critical and social pa. pers to Punch, the Pall Mall Gazette, Fraser's Magazine, and other periodical publications, and has written numerous novels and books for children. Among them are Holidays Among the Mountains; or, Scenes and Stories of Wales, and Little Bird Red and Little Bird Blue (1861); John and I and Snow-Flakes and the Stories they told the Children (1862); Doctor Jacob (1864); A Winter with the Swallows (1867); Dr. Company's Courtship and Through Spain to the Sahara (1868); Kitty (1869); The Sylvestres (1871); Mademoiselle Josephine's Fridays (1874); A Year in Western France (1877); Holidays in Eastern France (1879); Six Life Studies of Famous Women (1880); Pearla (1884). Arthur Young's Travels in France, with notes, biography, and general sketch of France (1889); The Roof of France, or Travels in Lozére (1889); Forestalled, or the Life-quest (1891); France of To-day (1892); A North Country Comedy (1892); The Romance of a French Parsonage (1892); The Curb of Honor (1893); A Romance of Dijon (1894). Her hymn, God Make My Life a Little Light, is included in Dr. Julian's great dictionary of Hymnology recently issued.