A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Free Willers

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FREE-WILLERS, Arminians, characterized by their adherence to the doctrine of Free-will, as implying a self-determining power in the mind. Dr. Clarke defines liberty to be 'a power of self-motion, or self-determination,' which definition implies that in your volitions we are not acted upon. Activity, and being acted upon, are incompatible with one another. In whatever instances we cannot be acted upon. A being, in receiving a change of its state from the exertion of its state from the exertion of an adequate force, is not an agent. Man, therefore, could not be an agent, were all could not be an agent, were all his volitions derived from any force, or the effects of any mechanical causes. In this case, it would be no more true that he ever acts, than it is true of a ball, that it acts when struck by another ball. To prove that a self-determining power belongs to the will, it is urged that we ourselves are conscious of possessing such liberty. We blame and condemn ourselves for our actions; have an inward sense of guilt, shame, and remorse of conscience; which feelings are inconsistent with the scheme of necessity. We universally agree that some actions deserve praise, and others blame; for which there would be no foundation, if we were invincibly determined in every volition. Approbation and blame are consequent upon free actions only. It is an article in the christian faith, that Dog will render rewards and punishments to men for their actions in this life. We cannot maintain his justice in this particular, if men's actions be necessary, either in their own nature, or by divine decrees and influence. Activity and self-determining power are also alleged to be the foundation of all morality, and the greatest possible happiness.[1] See Necessarians.


Original footnotes[edit]

  1. See Locke on Free Will. Letters between Clarke and Leibnitz. The Correspondence between Drs. Priestley and Price.