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Logicians) to mistake their Friends for
Amongst other Follies of this kind, it
Freedom. And in
deed what other Answer does he deserve, who refuses to acquiesce in that CONSCIOUSNESS of Freedom which every plain Man has, on reflecting upon what passes in his Mind when he thinks and acts ?
But yet, it may be worth while to remark the Nature of this Consciousness; from which alone (as I think, Sir, I have had the pleasure to observe to you in our Conversation on these Subjects) Freedom of Will may be demonstrated to all but the downright Atheist. It will, I suppose, be allowed to be an Impression on the Mind, made by Reflexion, as strong as any of those made by Sensation. And sure he must be as blind as even blind Fate can make him, who does not see thus far at least. So that the only question is, whether it be, like them, subject to Deception? I answer, No.
And first, for a natural Reason, As the Organs of Sense are not employed to convey the Intelligence: But secondly and principally, for a mo
ral one, As there would be nothing left to redress the wrong Representation. For, Reafon, which performs this Office in the false Impresions of Sense, is the very Faculty employed in making the Impressions of Reflexion. Were these therefore liable to the same Kind of Deception, we should be unavoidably led into and kept in Error by the natural Frame and Constitution of Things. But as this would reflect on the Author of Nature, no Theist, I presume, will be inclined to admit the Consequence. If the Fatalist should reply, that Reafon, when well exercised and refined, does here, as in the false Impressions of Sense, lay open the Delusion; this, I must tell him, is the very Folly we complain of: That, when Things are submitted to the Arbitrement of Rea. fon, her Award should be rejected while standing in the Road of Nature, with all her Powers and Faculties entire; and not thought worthy to be heard, till made giddy in the airy Heights of Me
taphysics, and racked and tortured by all the Engines of Sophistry: In a word, when Reason is no more herself; but speaks as her Keepers and Tormentors dictate.
However, it is not the looking within only, that assures the Theist of his Freedom. What he
observe abroad of the horrid Mischiefs and Absurdities arising from the Doctrine of Fate, will fully convince him of this Truth. It subverts and annihilates all Religion: For the Belief of Rewards and Punishments, without which no Religion can subsist, is founded on the Principle of Man's being an accountable Creature; but when Freedom of Will is wanting, Man is no more so than a Clock or Organ. It is likewise highly injuộious to Society: For whoever thinks himself no longer in his own Power, will be naturally inclined to give the Reins to his Passions, as it is submitting to that Fate which must at last absor lytely turn and direct them.
But after all, the most powerful Argument for Freedom, I confess, Sir, is such a Life as yours. Of which, tho' I could say much, and with Pleasure, I will only say, that it has made me, in common with every one who knows you,
Your affectionate, and
Your faithful Servant,
May 18, 1742.