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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Necessity, Doctrine of
I. Definition. — In metaphysics, according to the common statement, "necessity" is that quality of a thing by which it cannot but be, or whereby it cannot be otherwise. When in a proposition which affirms anything to be true there is a fixed invariable connection between the subject and the predicate, then that thing is understood to be necessary. Necessity is opposed to chance, accident, contingency, and to whatever involves the idea of uncertainty and of possible variation. It is usually distinguished in philosophy and, theology into physical, metaphysical or logical, and moral.
1. Physical necessity has its origin in the established order and laws of the material universe. It is founded in the relation of cause and effect, and implies that where certain causes or forces are present certain effects must uniformly and inevitably follow. "By natural [or physical] necessity, as applied to men," says Edwards, "I mean such necessity as men are under through the force of natural causes. Thus men placed in certain circumstances are the subjects of particular sensations by necessity; they feel pain when their bodies are wounded; they see the objects presented before them in a clear light when their eyes are opened; so by a natural necessity men's bodies move downwards when there is nothing to support them" (Works, 2:13, Carter's ed.).
2. Metaphysical or logical necessity expresses "the nature of our belief in certain fundamental truths, such as the reality of a material world, the law of causation, and the axioms of mathematics." Logical necessity is characteristic of truths or ideas, as physical necessity is of events or phenomena in the material world. "It is alleged by some philosophers that the truths held by us as most certain are the result of experience. Others contend that such first principles as the axioms of mathematics are not only true. but necessarily true; we not only do believe them, but we must believe them. Such necessity, it is argued, cannot come from mere experience, and therefore implies an innate or intuitive source. Hence the theory of necessary truth is only another name for the theory of intuitive truth." This necessity, as characteristic of certain truths, may be grounded in the impossibility of conceiving the opposite to be true. Thus Dr. Whewell, in his Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1:54, 55), teaches that necessary truths are those in which we not only learn that the proposition is true, but see that it must be true; in which the negation of the truth is not only false, but impossible. That there are such truths cannot be doubted. We may take, for example, all relations of number. We cannot, by any freak of thought, imagine three and two to make seven. John Stuart Mill, in his System of Logic, argues against the theory of necessary truths, especially that the common mathematical axioms are such truths. Dr. Samuel Clarke, in his argument for the existence of God, reasons from a belief in the existence of the Divine Being being necessary in this sense. " So," says Edwards, "the eternal existence of being, generally considered, is necessary in itself, because it would be in itself the greatest absurdity to deny the existence of being in general, or to say there was absolute and universal nothing" (Works, 2:11). Besides the meaning of the term necessary in connection with intuitive, or a priori truths, the truth of a statement is sometimes said to be necessary by reason of its being implied in another. "Thus if we say that all the apostles were Jews, it follows necessarily that Peter was a Jew." Here is involved the general axiom of syllogistic reasoning that what is true of a whole class is true of each individual, which axiom may be itself an intuitive or necessary truth. But each particular proposition or conclusion from premises is necessary, because it is implied in the premises, or because "to withhold assent from it would be to violate the above axiom." This is, more strictly, logical necessity. (See LOGIC).
3. Moral necessity has reference to the volitions and actions of rational agents, and is intended to express the connection between these volitions and actions and certain moral causes, as inclinations, desires, or motives generally. Whether there be any connection which, Strictly speaking, may be termed necessary between such motives and the volitions and actions of men, or whether independent of them the will has a self-determining power, is an inquiry which has always largely engaged the attention of both philosophers and theologians. (See WILL). The term which stands opposed to necessity in the history and literature of the subject is liberty, or freedom. (See LIBERTY).
The consciousness of mankind in general, the Christian consciousness especially, has always asserted the fact of freedom, even in connection often with theories that have been called theories of necessity. The freedom of the will was strongly and almost universally affirmed, with little or no qualification or psychological analysis, as the doctrine of the Church during the anteNicene period. "All the Greek fathers, as well as the apologists Justin Martyr, Tatian, and Athenagoras. also the theologians of the Alexandrian school, Clement and Origen, exalt the autonomy, self- determination (avrEiovafov) of the human soul with the freshness of youth and a tincture of Hellenistic idealism, but also influenced by a practical Christian interest" (Hagenbach, Hist. of Doct. 1:155). With this the Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy was in harmony. Its ethics presupposes freedom. The forms in which the idea of necessity appears in the early history of philosophy, and in the popular sentiment of the first Christian centuries, are those of materialism and fatalism.
II. Historical Development of the Necessitarian Idea. 1. In the early Greek philosophy we find all things — the cosmos — subjected to a materialistic necessity, of which the conceptions of matter and mind peculiar to the materialistic philosophy of the present day are in some measure a reproduction. Heraclitus (about B.C. 500) "assumes as the substantial principle of things ethereal fire," identifies it with the Divine Spirit, the λόγος, or the eternal all-embracing order, which is according to him immanent, as the universal principle of the constant flux of all things. Democritus, with his theory of atoms, according to which "the soul consists of fire, smooth and round atoms, which are also atoms of fire," held that the motion or rest of the atoms is not due to "an all-ruling Mind," but to natural necessity. The Stoics reproduced the doctrine of Heraclitus, affirming matter and force as two ultimate principles, that the working force in the universe is God, "that the rise and decay of the world are controlled by an absolute necessity; this necessity is at once fate (εἰμαρμἐνη) and the providence (πρόνοια) which governs all things. In the human soul, which is a part of the Deity, or an emanation from the same, is a governing force (τὸ ἡγεμονικόν), to which belong representation, desires, and understanding." As the attention of these philosophers was directed mainly to the universe of nature instead of man, making their philosophy cosmological rather than anthropological, they seem not to have attempted any special explanation of the phenomena of volition, or any logically rigorous application of their doctrines of necessity to the working of the human will. In their ethics they speak of men's action as if they were free. Heraclitus "calls upon each individual to follow in his thought and action the universal reason." Democritus says, "Not the act as such, but the will determines moral character." "The Sage alone is free; he is lord also over his own life, and can lawfully bring it to an end according to his own free self-determination." Later, in the more theological Greek philosophy, as that of Philo, "God alone is free; everything finite is involved in necessity." In the less philosophical and more popular thought of the time, human action was sometimes viewed as under the control of a fate which stands in some magical way in intimate connection with the stars, or with other objects in nature. Such views were held by some of the Gnostics.
2. In the more special and systematic treatment of Christian doctrines following the Council of Nice, the theologians undertook to harmonize the doctrines of the freedom of the will and divine predestination and foreknowledge. The heathen philosophy already noticed, in attempting to be theological, had so conceived of the Divine Being in relation to the world as to bring both men and things under a necessity, physical or fatalistic. Christianity, much more decidedly theological, now undertook to give a philosophy of God's relations to human action. In the controversy on the freedom of the will between Augustine and the Pelagians, the point of dispute was the relation of the will in its activity to the grace of God. Freedom was affirmed on both sides, each asserting that its own was the true idea of freedom. The differences consist in the degree and manner of influence upon the soul ascribed to divine grace. The views of Augustine are historically of much importance in the presentation of this subject, as they have formed the basis of the Calvinistic view in modern times. "This general view has been designated a theory of necessity, though its adherents object to the term as ambiguous and misleading. Augustine looked upon grace as the active principle of life, generating as an abiding good that freedom of the will which is entirely lost in the natural man." Pelagius admitted that man stands in need of divine aid; "but he supposed this grace of God to be something external, and added to the efforts put forth by the free-will of man." "He has not the conception of a life unfolding itself; he only recognises the mechanical concatenation of single acts." Augustine "recognises in the grace of God an inspiration of love (inspiratio dilectionis), and considers this the source of everything. It was not the view of Augustine that man is like a stone or stick, upon whom grace works externally; he could conceive of grace as working only in the sphere of freedom" (Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctrines 1:301,302).
In accordance with the idea and definition of the will and its freedom, which distinguishes the Latin from the Greek anthropology (comp. Shedd, Hist. of Doct. 1:61), Augustine's idea of freedom is self determination, as distinguished from indetermination. In his view the activity of the will proceeds purely from within the man himself, and this is freedom. In all the conditions in which he contemplates man-namely, as unfallen, as fallen, and as renewed-there is self-determination, that is the "human will moves towards a proposed end by its own self-motion." The will is free in evil, even when by virtue of the moral condition of the man it can will nothing else but evil, because it delights in evil. Hence in the will of Adam, as created, there was an inclination to holiness, but at the same time also, united with it, the possibility of sinning (possibilita speccandi). In the fallen Adam, the activity of the will is inclination to sin, "the unforced, free, selforiginating, self-moved energy of the creature." It is freedom in sin, but at the same time a necessity or certainty of sinning. In the renewed, or in those in whom there is any holy activity, the motion or determination of the will from the very beginning is conditioned upon the grace of God working in the soul in some wonderful hidden way ("interna et occulta, mirabili ac ineffabili potestate") to produce voluntary action in holiness. This is the truest freedom, and its highest development consists in the non posse peccare, the felix necessitas boni. This grace Augustine designates as irresistible. "By this he meant, not that the human will is converted unwillingly or by compulsion, but that the divine grace is able to overcome the utmost obstinacy of the human spirit" (Shedd, Hist. of Doct. 1:73). Augustine's idea and explanation of the activity of the will are from the theological point of view rather than the psychological.
In the scholastic period, as two representatives of its views, we may mention Thomas Aquinas on the one hand, and Duns Scotus on the other. Aquinas held that "the will depends upon the understanding; that which appears good is necessarily sought after; but necessity arising from internal causes, and reposing on knowledge, is freedom." The will is not subject to the necessity of compulsion, but to that necessity which does not destroy freedom — the necessity of striving after ends. Duns Scotus maintained, on the contrary, that "the human will is not determined by the understanding, but has power to choose with no determining ground."
In the German mysticism, which grew up in the 13th and 14th centuries out of scholasticism, the will was treated as subordinate to the knowing faculty, and extreme emphasis was laid on the presence in the divine nature of the element of natural necessity. "True union with God takes place in cognition; knowledge, which is God's action in man, is the foundation of all essence, the ground of love, the determining power of the will."
3. With the decline of scholasticism, and the rise of the spirit of the Reformation, the views of the phenomena of volition are modified by the fact that philosophy becomes more independent of the current theology in its interpretation of the universe of nature and mind. But in their views and methods they largely influence each other. Des Cartes emphasized human freedom; but, as according to his theory the will has no power of itself over the body, his disciples, as Malebranche, introduced the doctrine of Occasionalism — that God by his direct agency moves the body in accordance with our will. Spinoza, developing and transforming the Cartesian dualism into a pantheism, making God the immanent cause of the totality of finite things, holds that God works according to the inner necessity of his nature, in which consists his freedom; that he produces all finite effects only indirectly through finite causes; that there is no such thing as human freedom independent of causality, but that all events, including all acts of volition, are determined by God, though through finite causes, and not immediately. In the seventh definition of his Ethics he defines freedom and necessity as follows: "That thing is called free which exists by the sole necessity of its nature, and the determining cause of whose activity is in itself alone. But that is called necessary, or rather constrained, which owes its existence to another, and whose activity is the result of fixed and determinable causes." Spinoza's idea of free agency differs but little from that of Augustine, as being self-determination; and he "rightly seeks for the proper opposite of freedom, not in necessity taken generally, but in a distinct kind of necessity, namely, constraint, which is to be defined as necessity having its source, not in the nature of the subject of constraint, but in something foreign to that nature (whether in the internal or external world), and overruling the endeavors to which that nature itself gives rise" (Ueberweg, Hist. of Phil. 2:68).
Leibnitz, whose philosophy, like that of Des Cartes and Spinoza, was fundamentally theistic, maintained the power of self-determination in the soul; that "freedom, not as an exemption from law, but as the power of deciding for one's self according to known law, belongs to the essence of the human spirit;" but in place of the natural operation of the spirit upon or through the body, and of the occasionalism of Des Cartes's disciples, Leibnitz substituted the theory of pre-established harmony, "that God, at the beginning, so created soul and body that, while each follows the law of its internal development with perfect independence, each remains at the same time at every instant in perfect agreement." Kant's doctrine of the activity of the will as presented in his Critique of the Practical Reason, is given by Ueberweg as follows: "Kant defines the word maxim as denoting a subjective principle of willing; the objective principle, on the contrary, which is founded in the reason itself, is termed by him the practical law; he includes both together under the conception of the practical principle, i.e., a principle which contains a universal determination of the will, involving several practical rules. All the ends to which desire may be directed furnish sensuous and egotistic motives for the will, all reducible to the principle of personal happiness or self-love. But a rational being, on the other hand, in so far as he is rational, conceives his practical universal laws as principles, which are fitted to direct the will, not by their matter, but only in view of their form. The will which is determined by the mere form of universal law is independent of the law of sensible phenomena, and therefore free. A free will can only be determined by the mere form of a maxim, or by its fitness to serve as a universal law. Hence his categorical imperative of morals.
Self- determination in conformity to the categorical imperative he terms 'autonomy of the will.' The opposite of this is the 'heteronomy of arbitrary choice.' Thus in the moral law, or categorical imperative, he finds a law of causality through freedom. The conception of cause is here employed only with practical intent, the determining motive of the will being found in the intelligible order of things. The freedom which man has as a personal being, not subject to the universal mechanism of nature, is the faculty of being subject to peculiar practical laws, given by his own reason; in other words, every person is subject to the conditions of his own personality." Developments, somewhat diverse from these views of Kant, are found in the philosophy of J.G. Fichte, raising self-determination to a creative activity of the Ego; in that of Schelling, who held "that only in God is man capable of freedom, that the freedom of man was exercised in an intelligible act done before time, that as an empirical being man is subject to necessity resting on his non-temporal self-determination;" in that of Hegel, in his philosophy of spirit, the development of which "is the gradual advance from natural determinateness to freedom, through the momenta of subjective, objective, and absolute spirit;" in the philosophy and theology of Schleiermacher, who made prominent the feeling of freedom in connection with the feeling of dependence; in the philosophy of Schopenhauer, in which motives are one of the forms of causality, the action of which is known not only from without, but from within, so that we learn by experience the mystery of the production of effects by causes in its innermost nature; in the philosophy of Herbart (1776-1841), defined by himself as "the elaboration of conceptions," according to which freedom of the will is the assured supremacy of the strongest masses of ideas over single affections or impressions; and in that of Beneke, who reduced all the phenomena of self-consciousness to four fundamental processes, under which certain feelings and judgments arise regarding the comparative worth of processes, which feelings and judgments control the tendencies of the moral agent and determine the will, so that "moral freedom consists in such a decided preponderance, and such a firm establishment of the moral nature in man, that his volition and action are determined by it alone." These views are necessitarian in general, in the sense that the volitions, or choices, and actions, are regarded as determined by, or in accordance with, reasons, motives, principles, desires, feelings, judgments, or, in general, certain prevolitional conditions.
In England as on the Continent the impulse accompanying the Reformation occasioned a freer and more prolific discussion of the freedom of the will among other theological and philosophical topics. In the empirical method of Bacon, and its decided direction of the attention to physical sciences, we have a line of thought, the tendency of which was to reduce the phenomena of volition to some law either analogous to the law of cause and effect observed in physical phenomena, or identical with it, and a part of it, giving a physical or materialistic necessity. Hobbes plainly declares that the activity of the will is from necessary causes, and he does not distinguish this necessity from ordinary physical causation. (See LIBERTY).
Locke, in the first edition of his Essay, asserts the necessitarianism of Hobbes. "In later editions a power to suspend the determinations of the will is accorded." "That which immediately determines the will from time to time," he says, "to every voluntary act is the uneasiness of desire, fixed on some absent good." In 1715 appeared Anthony Collins's argument for necessity. He states his view thus: "First, though I deny liberty in a certain meaning of the word, yet I contend for liberty as it signifies a power in man to do as he wills or pleases. Secondly, when I affirm necessity, I contend only for moral necessity, meaning thereby that man, who is an intelligent and sensible being, is determined by his reason and his senses; and I deny man to be subject to such necessity as is in clocks, watches, and such other things, which for want of sensation and intelligence are subject to an absolute physical or mechanical necessity." Dr. Samuel Clarke replied to Collins, affirming "that all proper action of the soul is ipso facto free action; that the laws which determine the judgment of the understanding next preceding any activity are diverse from those which pertain to the production of the action itself." Hartley followed Collins in his theory of the will, modifying it, however, by his peculiar doctrine of medullary vibrations, and the action of the soul dependent upon them by association. He thus in a measure anticipated the physiological and associational psychology of James Mill, John Stuart Mill, Bain, and Herbert Spencer.
The necessitarians found their most effective champion in Priestley, who took up the materialistic theories and deduced from them their logical consequence, which he called a "philosophical" necessity. According to John Stuart Mill, "the law of causality applies in the same strict sense to human actions as to other phenomena." "Correctly conceived," he says, "the doctrine of Philosophical Necessity is simply this: that given the motives which are present to an individual's mind, and given likewise the character and disposition of the individual, the manner in which he will act may be unerringly inferred" (System of Logic, 2:405, 406). He allows at the same time a power in the mind to cooperate in the formation of its own character, and complains of the application of the term necessity to the doctrine of cause and effect in human character as improper. But causation with him means "nothing but invariable, certain, and unconditional sequence," with no "mysterious constraint or compulsion" in the cause over the effect. Alexander Bain considers the will as "a collective term for all the impulses to motion or action. It is absurd to ask whether such a power is free." Dr. Reid (1710-1796), in opposition to the various forms of necessity, denies that every action is performed with some view or from some motive. Dugald Stewart, however, concedes "that for every action there must be a motive;" but maintains that "liberty as opposed to necessity means that the connection between motives and actions is not a necessary connection like that between cause and effect." "The question," he says, "is not concerning the influence of motives, but concerning the nature of that influence." This is most truly the pivotal point of the whole controversy. For the opinions of Hamilton and Mansel, (See LIBERTY).
4. In this country a fresh theological importance was given to this subject by Jonathan Edwards, who based his theory of voluntary action on the doctrine of moral necessity, taking pains to distinguish it from natural or physical necessity. (See LIBERTY).
His treatise was directed against the doctrine of the self-determining power of the will as advocated by Arminian writers, endeavoring to prove at the same time that this necessity was not inconsistent with liberty. This moral necessity he defines as "that necessity of connection and consequence which arises from such moral causes as the strength of inclinations or motives, and the connection which there is in many cases between these and such certain volitions and actions" (Works, 2:13). One great purpose in his work was to reply to the objection that the Calvinistic notions of God's moral government are contrary to the common-sense of mankind. Freedom, as involving the self-determining power of the Arminians, he argued, would involve contingency and the absence of certainty. This would exclude foreknowledge. The views of Edwards have been modified, and controverted even, by Calvinistic theologians. The term moral necessity is still used to characterize the theories of those who affirm that the will is determined or determines itself under the influence of motives, as distinguished from the theories of those who affirm a "power to the contrary," or "the power or immunity to put forth in the same circumstances either of several volitions," or such an independence of motives as to make the action of the agent contingent and uncertain, and not certainly or necessarily determined by them. It is applied also to the theories of those who hold to Augustinian and Calvinistic views of the operation of divine grace upon the will. In general they object, and it is acknowledged with justice in some respects, to the term necessity as confusing, and in its associations implying ideas which they disown, since they assert the freedom of the will as the condition of moral obligation and moral divine government. Some, as Dr. Hodge, propose and use the term certainty, as distinguished from necessity on the one hand and contingency on the other. Dr. Hodge teaches that freedom consists in the fact that a man's "volitions are truly and properly his own, determined by nothing out of himself, but proceeding from his own views, feelings, and innermost dispositions, so that they are the real, intelligent, and conscious expression of his character, or of what is in his mind." "We hold," says Dr. M'Cosh, "that the principle of cause and effect reigns in mind as in matter. But there is an important difference between the manner in which this principle operates in body and in spirit. In all proper mental operations the causes and the effects lie both within the mind. Mind is selfacting substance. We hold that the true determining cause of every given volition is not any mere anterior incitement, but the very soul itself by its inherent power of will."
III. Objections to this Theory. — The anti-necessitarians notwithstanding allege that the doctrine of necessity, in the light of these various interpretations of Calvinistic theologians, "charges God as the author of sin; that it takes away the freedom of the will; renders man unaccountable to his Maker; makes sin to be no evil, and morality or virtue to be no good; and that it precludes the use of means, and is of the most gloomy tendency. The necessitarians, on the other hand, deny these to be legitimate consequences of their doctrine, which they declare to be the most consistent mode of explaining the divine government; and they observe that the Deity acts no more immorally in decreeing vicious actions than in permitting all those irregularities which he could so easily have prevented. All necessity, say they, does not take away freedom. "The actions of a man may be at one and the same time both free and necessary. Thus it was infallibly certain that Judas would betray Christ, yet he did it voluntarily; Jesus Christ necessarily [?] became man, and died, yet he acted freely. A good man does naturally and necessarily love his children, yet voluntarily. They insist that necessity does not render actions less morally good; for, if necessary virtue be neither moral nor praiseworthy, it will follow that God himself is not a moral being, because he is a necessary one [i.e., necessarily such; rather such by nature]; and the obedience of Christ cannot be good, because it was necessary [?]. Further, say they, necessity does not preclude the use of means; for means are no less appointed than the end. It was ordained that Christ should be delivered up to death; but he could not have been betrayed without a betrayer, nor crucified without crucifiers." That it is not a gloomy doctrine, they allege, because nothing can be more consolatory than to believe that all things are under the direction of an all- wise Being, that his kingdom ruleth over all, and that he doeth all things well. They also urge that to deny necessity is to deny the foreknowledge of God, and to wrest the sceptre from the hand of the Creator, and to place that capricious and undefinable principle, the self-determining power of man, upon the throne of the universe.
In these statements there is obviously a confused use of terms in different meanings, so as to mislead the unwary. For instance, necessity is confounded with certainty; but an action may be certain, though free — that is to say, certain to an omniscient Being, who knows how a free agent will finally resolve; but this certainty is, in fact, a quality of the prescient Being, not that of the action, to which, however, men delusively transfer it. Again: God is called a necessary Being, which, if it mean anything, signifies, as to his moral acts, that he can only act right. But then this is a wrong application of the term necessity, which properly implies such a constraint upon actions, exercised ab extra, as renders choice or will impossible. But such necessity cannot exist as to the Supreme Being. Again: the obedience of Christ unto death was necessary — that is to say unless he had died, guilty man could not have been forgiven; but this could not make the act of the Jews who put him to death a necessary act — that is to say, a forced and constrained one; nor did this necessity affect the act of Christ himself, who acted voluntarily, and might have left man without salvation. That the Jews acted freely is evident from their being held liable to punishment, although unconsciously they accomplished the great designs of heaven, which, however, was no excuse for their crime. Finally: as to the allegation that the doctrine of free agency puts man's self-determining power upon the throne of the universe, that view proceeds upon notions unworthy of God, as if he could not accomplish his plans without compelling and controlling all things by a fixed fate; whereas it is both more glorious to him, and certainly more in accordance with the Scriptures, to say that he has a perfect foresight of the manner in which all creatures will act, and that he, by a profound and infinite wisdom, subordinates everything without violence to the evolution and accomplishment of his own glorious purposes. "The doctrine of necessity is nearly connected with that of predestination, which of late years has assumed a form very different from that which it formerly possessed; for, instead of being considered as a point to be determined almost entirely by the sacred writings, it has, in the hands of a number of able writers, in a great measure resolved itself into a question of natural religion, under the head of the philosophical liberty or necessity of the will; or, whether all human actions are or are not necessarily determined by motives arising from the character which God has impressed on our minds, and the train of circumstances amid which his providence has placed us? The Calvinistic doctrine of predestination is that 'God, for his own glory, hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.'
The scheme of philosophical necessity, as stated by the most celebrated necessitarian of the age, is, 'that everything is predetermined by the Divine Being; that whatever has been, must have been; and that whatever will be, must be; that all events are preordained by infinite wisdom and unlimited goodness; that the will, in all its determinations, is governed by the state of mind; that the state of mind is in every instance determined by the Deity; and that there is a continued chain of causes and effects, of motives and actions, inseparably connected, and originating from the condition in which we are brought into existence by the Author of our being.' On the other hand, it is justly remarked that 'those who believe the being and perfections of God, and a state of retribution, in which he will reward and punish mankind according to the diversity of their actions, will find it difficult to reconcile the justice of punishment with the necessity of crimes punished. And they that believe all that the Scripture says on the one hand of the eternity of future punishments, and on the other of God's compassion to sinners, and his solemn assurance that he desires not their death, will find the difficulty greatly increased.' It is doubtless an article of the Christian faith that God will reward or punish every man hereafter according to his actions in this life. But we cannot maintain his justice in this particular, if men's actions be necessary either in their own nature or by the divine decrees. Activity and self-determining powers are the foundation of all morality; and to prove that such powers belong to man, it is urged that we ourselves are conscious of possessing them. We blame and condemn ourselves when we do amiss; but guilt, and inward sense of shame, and remorse of conscience are feelings which are inconsistent with the scheme of necessity. It is also agreed that some actions deserve praise, and afford an inward satisfaction; but for this there would be no foundation, if we were invincibly determined in every volition: so that approbation and blame are consequent on free actions only. Nor is the 'matter at all relieved by bringing in a chain of circumstances as motives necessarily to determine the will. This comes to the same result in sound argument as if there was an immediate co-action of omnipotent power compelling one kind of volitions only; which is utterly irreconcilable to all just notions of the nature and operations of will, and to all accountability. Necessity, in the sense of irresistible control, and the doctrine of Scripture, cannot coexist."
IV. Roman Catholic theologians recognise also two other kinds of necessity, namely, a necessity of means, and a necessity of precept. Baptism they consider as a necessity of means, or absolute necessity, because it is the only means of salvation instituted by Christ; so that no one can be saved who has not been baptized, whether it be by his own fault or not. Communion is only a necessity of precept. If a man voluntarily refuses to participate in the Lord's Supper, he is deserving of condemnation; but if he was only involuntarily deprived of participating in it, he is not guilty.
See Priestley, A Free Discussion of the Doctrines of Materialism and Philosophical Necessity (Lond. 1778, 8vo); Bray, Philosophy of Necessity; Clarke, Boyle Lectures for 1704; Crombie, Essay on Philos. Necessity; Toplady, On Christian and Philos. Necessity; Butler, Analogy, chapter 6; Copleston, Inquiry into the Doctrine of N. Graves on Calvinistic Predestination; Jackson, Defence of Human Liberty; Tucker, Light of Nature; Watson, Theol. Institutes, ii, 350; Hodge, Christian Theology (see Index); Amer. Theol. Rev. Jan. 1860; Oct. 1861; Amer. Presb. and Theol. Rev. January 1865; North British Rev. volume 10; and the literature under WILL (See WILL) .
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Necessity, Doctrine of'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/necessity-doctrine-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the First Week of Advent