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ing the latter. Are working men not too much already from morning to night with this world? Yet here is a professed friend who would persuade them to give this world every possible thought and feeling, and who would interdict them from looking above and beyond its confines—though in these there may be many an opening through which solemn whisperings have come of a God related to them, and of an immortality destined for them, and though there be strong promptings in their own hearts to launch out into spiritual speculation and communion. Surely a tyrant or a slave-driver speaks in the friend. The education of working men is now under much discussion ; yet what would education be worth if not only theology but all spiritual ideas were banished from churches on Sabbath, from books and conversation every day, and from the mind itself each moment, as well as from the schools for reading, writing, and arithmetic? In such a case, it might be said that all the lawful knowledgeall the knowledge that remained --was not worth the trouble of acquiring: In short, let secularism prevail among working men, and their mind and their lot would be alike brutalised.'
OBSERVER. Liverpool, May, 1855.
IS GOD'S FOREKNOWLEDGE OF A HUMAN ACTION
CONSISTENT WITH ITS FREEDOM ?
This has been a vexed question in philosophic theology in all times, and even now is far from being satisfactorily settled in many minds. It is a very difficult question, and has driven to fatalism many good thinkers who have desired to work out for themselves a consistent system of truth. This need not be the case, for even on the supposition that the two facts--man's freedom and God's foreknowledge-cannot be made to harmonise, it is not on this account right to deny either of them. The first duty of the thinker is to get at the facts, and then, if possible, harmonise them, but it is by no means to be permitted that he should alter already established facts in order to work out for himself a consistent scheme of thought.
In our question the facts are established. God does foreknow everything that comes to pass--- and man is a free agent. To deny the first of these facts is to deny the existence of an all-wise and omniscient Being—to deny the second is to deny the existence of man as a moral and accountable being, the universal testimony of consciousness, and the existence of that which constitutes the real personality of man. Since, then, the facts are real, we may first analyse the
in order that we may be able to judge concerning their harmony or otherwise.
Concerning God's foreknowledge there are two theories that have come under our notice. 1st. That God does not foreknow what actually will come to pass, but that he has exhausted the possibilities of human action, and, in knowing these, he foreknows what will come to pass only because it is one of the things possible. 2nd. That God knows not what may possibly take place, but what will actually take place. This latter theory is the more generally adopted, and, as we think, the true one; for, if God live in an eternal now, and in his omniscience perceives all that is in it, he inust know everything as present, though to us it is yet in the future. From this it also appears that that which we call foreknowledge in God is really knowledge, for if there be no past or future, there can be neither foreknowledge nor memory. But, without entering into anything like a theory of knowing, knowledge is evidently dependent for its existence and character on the thing known-and is only a true knowledge in so far as it correctly represents its object. God's knowledge, it will not be
denied, is a true knowledge, that is, it represents the objects on which it is set as they really exist, pierces into their very essence, and comprehends all their qualities. To confine ourselves, then, to man's actions, let us ask what relation does God's foreknowledge bear to them. It is their exact representation in the Divine mind, it being a true knowledge, is a knowledge of the actions as they are, it comprehends them in themselves and in all pertaining to them. It bears to them no such relation as that of a cause, inasmuch as power to cause belongs to the will of God. Will is the source of power, knowledge is the representation in the mind of objects in consciousness or in the external world. To suppose, therefore, that God's foreknowledge necessitates human actions is to commit a metaphysical blunder, and to attribute to one department of mind that which belongs to another. If human acts are necessitated by a foreign power, that power can originate only in the will of God, but God's foreknowledge is not God's will, therefore God's foreknowledge does not necessitate human acts. In support of this opinion it were an easy matter to quote a host of passages from the Christian Fathers. The author of the Questiones et Responsiones in Justin Martyr's Works says, “Foreknowledge is not the cause of that which is future, but that which is future is the cause of foreknowledge.' And Joh : Damascenus, writing on the true faith, says, “It is necessary to know, that though God foreknows all things, he does not predestinate all things.'
Let us suppose that God knows that at a time yet future I will do a certain thing-say that I will eat. What in this case does God's knowledge comprehend? The act as connected with a chain of antecedent and consequent circumstances. If, for instance, we trace this act to its source we have the feeling of hunger, and the perception of this by the mind—a deliberation as to whether it is better to remain hungry or to satisfy the cravings of appetite-a preference of the latter-a determination to eat-the fulfilling of this determination in the act of eating. These, we may suppose, are some of the things known by God in connection with my foreknown act. But is this all ? By no means; for God not only knows that I will feel, perceive, judge, prefer, determine, and act, but he knows exactly what is the nature of these things—that is, since God's is a true knowledge it represents to him each of these acts and feelings correctly. This being the case, whatever else we may be able to say of the Divine knowledge, we can most confidently say this—that it leaves its objects as to their nature entirely unaltered. But we can go further than this we can analyse these various states of mind, and so learn the real character of each, and thus learn what God's knowledge of them is. And, as at present we are most concerned with man's freedom, we shall consider them with reference to it.
We may pass over all these states until we come to the volition, for there is no element of freedom in any of them up to that point. The feeling and its perception are beyond the control of our will, the deliberation is a mere consideration with doubt, the preference is the verdict of the intellect in the matter, and is devoid of real power; but in the next step a new and hitherto unknown element comes before us. The volition is wholly free. We are in this state conscious of the ability to eat or not to eat; of the power in the same circumstances to feast or fast. The act proper is the issuing of the will's power through the physical organisation into contact with the external world. These things, at least, are comprehended in God's foreknowledge of my act of eating. He foreknows, then, among other things, that I do it freely, unnecessitated by any foreign power whatever. If God's foreknowledge does not include this, it is an incorrect knowledge, that is, it is no knowledge. In other words, if God's forekhowledge does not
include among other things the fact that I act freely, he either tells me through my consciousness what he does not know as existing--that is, my freedom; or he deceives me by telling me what he knows as not existing.
I am, yours respectfully,
Our Oprn Page.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
The correspondent to the open page of the Defender labours under great disadvantage, when the editor does not insert the whole article sent, which is a reply to what had been previously stated by him to his readers. Such was the case in an article from me, part of which appeared in No. 18, of the Defender. Upon what was sent, or was inserted, the editor says :- All that you have written is an entire evasion of our argument.' But, it substantiates my own argument, and that was intended, by the part inserted. It is also said, the five premises that I laid down do not warrant my conclusion. I believe my conclusion to be in strict accordance with the premises stated; and what you have asserted does not invalidate either the premises or the conclusion, as given by me. Again it is said — We have not denied, and we do not deny, the existence of circumstances likely to influence human volitions; but we have denied, and do deny, that these circumstances necessitate man's choice.'
Here you seem to use the word circumstances in a more limited sense, upon this subject, than I do. Upgrown men and women are circumstances, that influence children and young persons, hy instruction and habits, from which children become creatures of such circumstances that surround them;---While they have everything to learn, before they can be useful themselves, or to others in society. The organization, with all its faculties or qualities possessed by the infant, is a circumstance over which the infant has no control, either at birth, or in the early part of its life after birth.
It is only through repeated efforts that we obtain command over our bodily powers, and the same process is necessary for the acquisition of intellectual strength and moral excellence. The constitution of the individual I never overlook, as a circumstance in the formation of character, which grows with the individual as habits and affections are acquired, and help to make him what he is known to be, in the estimation of himself and others. Man, as a being, is an effect originally, but he afterwards becomes a cause to other effects. This cannot be denied, because facts establish its truthfulness to all who see their own species continued.
I have already proved my position, although nothing specially has been said about the will, by me. I consider will in its primary character to be an effect, induced or brought out by a previous motive; but after the individual has obtained knowledge from experience or education, then will may be a cause in command, or desire, from which certain effects must follow, either to himself or others, when the command or desire is obeyed. "That man should have free agency, it were needful that he should be able to will or choose without motive. Action always being the effect of his will, once. determined; but by a motive, which is not in his own power, it follows, that he is never, the master of the determination of his own peculiar will; that consequently he never acts as a free agent. Indeed man passes a great portion of his life without even willing:
His will attends the motive by which it is determined. It is only by the aid : of experience that man acquires the faculty of understanding what he ought to love, of knowing what he ought to fear.'
The free agency doctrine may be tested thus : can man act without motive? He that acts without motive is considered beside himself, not fit to be trusted, or else pitied for his ignorance, or his simplicity. It is as necessary for society to restrain the individual, whose acts are injurious or unjust to others, as it is
for the indiviqual to obey the strongest motive that moves him into action. But society should give tħe best motive to all, in surrounding its members with the best influences by example in every part of the commonwealth.
Individual interest is opposed to this, as it engenders selfishness by its class institutions or divided arrangements, for party-purposes and individual gain.
This system gives its character to all that grow up with it.
Where the effects from the system are bad, it would be the best policy to change the cause-system, and commence on an entire'new principle, in order that we may produce better effects.
With respect to the Turk not embracing the truth, when presented to him by the Christian missionary: it is easily accounted for,—the Turk thinks he has the truth from the Koran, and therefore he believes the Christian's truth to be error, where it does not agree with his truth. Only reverse the case, and what would the Christian think; if the Turk told him that he required to be converted to the true faith of Mahomet, before he could be saved.
WILLIS KNOWLES: Hyde, May 23rd, 1855.
AN OPPONENT AT LAST.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
My attention has been called to an article in the Defender' of May 20th, by Observer,' purporting to give an account of his advertisement for an intelligent Infidel' to discuss his principles without indulging in 'offensive personalities, and my application for the situation. Permit me to observe that when I saw the advertisement of Observer,' and replied to it—it was with the understanding that an 'intelligent Infidel' was wanted to explain the views of his party, and defend them from the attacks of Observer.' In this, it appears I was disappointed, for the advertiser declines entering into such a controversy, and hands me over to the tender mercies of the editor by usurping the editorial functions of informing me “that the editor would insert in extenso any article he (I) would send him (Editor) against Christianity, and reply to it." I mentioned to Observer' my willingness to commence a series of articles against Christianity, beginning with the question of the “Existence of God, and ending with that of responsibility.” I am prepared to discuss the whole range of difference betwixt the Christian and the Atheist, in a series of connected letters in the open page of the Defendler, providing that an opponent on the side of Christianity shall reply to my letters in the same number of the Defender, so that the statement and the refutation may appear simultaneous, and the whole controversy be conducted with good-feeling on both sides. For myself, I shall not introduce any isolated texts from the Bible, but will devote my attention to the leading principles of Christianity; if those be not sufficient for the Atheist to refute his opponent's creed, I for one would give in the palm of victory to the Bible, and I have observed with pain, that the communications which have already appeared in the Defender' from men calling themselves Atheists, must have done their cause great harm by the apparently trivial objections they have made towards Christianity. I would therefore, propose, that the
following leading doctrines of Christianity be comprehensively treated. 1st—"The existence of God.” 2nd—“The immortality and immateriality of the soul.” 3rd" The fall of man.” 4th—"The atonement." 5th
"The evidence and truthfulness of miracles.” 6th-"The truth of prophecy, &c.". I am prepared to enter into and discuss the truth or falsity of those doctrines, my only aim being to come to a solution of those problems whether on the affirmative or negative position. I have devoted years of study to overturn (what I now consider) the false teachings of my Christian educators, and conscientiously believing that there is not the slightest foundation in facts or human stature for the claims of Christianity. I am ready to support my belief to the best of my ability, in advocating what I believe to be true, and opposing what I think is false.
I shall neither attempt to be witty nor sarcastic, for the honor of Christianity cannot be shaken by a sneer, or be overturned by a bon-mot. My principles I will unfold, (with the editor's permission) and if they are defensible, I will defend them; if not, I will own myself unable to
successfully fight against that Old Tree which has braved the blasts of • near 2000 years.
W. H. J.,
ACCEPTANCE OF THE PROPOSAL.
We are thankful that there is now a prospect of having a thorough discussion of the question in our
open page.” We shall leave Mr. Johnson to choose for himself the course that he deems best; and we shall secure a combatant who will reply in the same number in which his communications appear.
MAN AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
Mr. Willis Knowles complains that his last communication was not inserted in full in the pages of tke "Defender.” He surely cannot expect that in your limited space you will insert more than is relavant to the point under discussion. This I suppose you and I doubt not that Mr. K. will be satisfied when he considers that to fill up pages with irrelavant matter not only makes a periodical unreadable; but deadens the power of any writer's article.
In his letter of this week Mr. K. most seriously contradicts himself, and as we shall see faults all that the most strenous advocates of the will's freedom can desire. As it is impossible for one to notice every point in your correspondent's letter, perhaps I may be permitted to criticize some of its statements, without seeking to obtain any advantage in the way of making unfair selections.
Mr. K. still asserts, what no one would think of denying, that circumstances influence human condition; and says that you used circumstances in a more limited sense than he. To all this we say the question at issue is not, do circumstances influence, but do they necessitate man's will ? Until Mr. K. proves this latter point, he fails to establish his assertion that man is not a free agent.