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not the being. There is perhaps not a person above the condition of a changling, but can say why he did so and so, what moved him, what he intended. Nor is a single fact stated to make us believe, that ever a man acted against his own desire, who was not compelled by external force. On the contrary, constant and universal experience proves, that human actions are governed by certain inflexible laws; and that a man cannot exert his self-motive power, but in pursuance of some
desire or motive.
Had a motive always the same influence, ac'tions proceeding from it would appear no less necessary than the actions of matter. The various degrees of influence that motives have on different men at the same time, and on the same man at different times, occasion a doubt by suggesting a notion of chance. Some motives however have such influence, as to leave no doubt: a timid female has a physical power to throw herself into the mouth of a lion, roaring for food; but she is withheld by terror no less effectually than by cords: if she should rush upon the lion, would not every one conclude that she was frantic? A man, though in a deep sleep, retains a physical power to act, but he cannot exert it. A man, though desperately in love, retains a physical power to refuse the hand of his mistress; but he cannot exert that power in contradiction to his own ardent desire, more than if he were fast asleep. Now if a M2 3m 8 and') strong
strong motive have a necessary influence, there is no reason for doubting, but that a weak motive must also have its influence, the same in kind, though not in degree. Some actions indeed are strangely irregular: but let the wildest action be scrutinized, there will always be discovered some motive or desire, which, however whimsical or capricious, was what influenced the person to act. Of two contending motives, is it not natural to expect that the stronger will prevail, however little its excess may be? If there be any doubt, it must arise from a supposition that a weak motive can be resisted arbitrarily. Where then are we to fix the boundary between a weak and a strong motive? If a weak motive can be resisted, why not one a little stronger, and why not the strongest? In Elements of Criticism* the reader will find many examples of contrary motives weighing against each other. Let him ponder these with the strictest attention: his conclusion will be, that between two motives, however nearly balanced, a man has not an arbitrary choice, but must yield to the stronger. The mind indeed fluctuates for some time, and feels itself in a measure loose: at last, however, it is determined by the more powerful motive, as a balance is by the greater weight after many vibrations.
Such then are the laws that govern our voluntary actions. A man is absolutely free to act ac
* Chap. 2. Part 4.
cording to his own will; greater freedom than which is not conceivable. At the same time, as man is made accountable for his conduct, to his Maker, to his fellow-creatures, and to himself, he is not left to act arbitrarily; for at that rate he would be altogether unaccountable: his will is regulated by desire; and desire by what pleases or displeases him. Where we are subjected to the will of another, would it be our wish, that his will should be under no regulation? And where we are guided by our own will, would it be reasonable to wish, that it should be under no regulation, but be exerted without reason, without any motive, and contrary to common sense? Thus, with, regard to human conduct, there is a chain of laws established by nature, no one link of which is left arbitrary. By that wise system, man is made accountable by it, he is made a fit subject for divine and human government: by it, persons of sagacity foresee the conduct of others and by it, the presence of the Deity with respect to human actions, is clearly established.
The absurd figure that a man would make acting in contradiction to motives, should be sufficient to open our eyes without an argument. What a despicable figure does a person make, upon whom the same motive has great influence at one time, and very little at another? He is a bad member of society, and cannot be relied on as a friend or as an associate. But how highly rational is this saraks supposed
supposed person, compared with one who can act in contradiction to every motive? The former may be termed whimsical or capricious: the latter is worse; he is absoluetly unaccountable, and cannot be the subject of government, more than a lump of matter unconscious of its own motion.
Let the faculty of acting be compared with that of reasoning: the comparison will reconcile every unbiassed mind to the necessary influence of motives. A man is tied by his nature to form conclusions upon what appears to him true at the time. This indeed does not always secure him against error; but would he be more secure by a power to form conclusions contrary to what ap
pears true? Such a power would make him a most absurd reasoner. Would he be less absurd in acting, if he had a power to act against motives, and contrary to what he thinks right or eligible? To act in that manner, is inconsistent with any notion we can form of a sensible being. Nor do we suppose that man is such a being; in accounting for any action, however whimsical, we always ascribe it to some motive; never once dreaming that there was no motive, SAM 19 Gyarado
And after all, where would be the advantage of such an arbitrary power? Can a rational man wish seriously to have such a power? or can he seriously think, that God would make man so whimsical a being? To endue man with a degree of selfcommand sufficient to resist every vitious motive,
without any power to resist those that are virtuous, would indeed be a valuable gift; too valuable indeed for man, because it would exalt him to be an angel. But such self-command as to resist both equally, which is the present supposition, would be a great curse, as it would unqualify us for being governed either by God or by man. Better far to be led as rational creatures by the prospect of good, however erroneous our judgment may sometimes be...
While all other animals are subjected to divine government and unerringly fulfil their destination, and considering that man is the only terrestrial being who is formed to know his Maker and to worship him; will it not sound harsh that he alone should be withdrawn from divine government?! The power of resisting the strongest motives, whether of religion or of morality, would render him independent of the Deity.
a? ¢ ?
This reasoning is too diffuse: if it can be com prehended in a single view, it will make the deeper impression. There may be conceived different systems for governing man as a thinking and rational being. One is, That virtuous motives should always prevail over every other motive. This, in appearance, would be the most perfect governmentit but man is not so constituted; and there is reason to doubt, whether such perfection would in his present state correspond to the other branches of his nature *. Another system is, that virtuous and crotub
* See book 2. sketch 1. at the end.