That Arminianism is the soul of Popery, every one knows that has studied the subject. Of late, however, a view of the subject has been presented to my mind which I have not seen noticed by others. It is, that Popery may acquire great assistance from the Arminian tenet, "That the will is a self-determining power;" i.e., The will can choose, between two or more objects, without any reason why it should prefer one rather than the other. It is wholly uninfluenced by motives.
Were this position true, reason would be of no use to man. If he could act without a motive, he would be more degraded than the meanest insects; of which we have satisfying evidence that they are actuated by a desire to enjoy pleasure, or avoid pain. But is it true that man acts without a motive? Has he no motive for building a house? Has the husbandman no motive for cultivating his fields? Has the merchant no motive for sending his ship to sea? Finally, have we no motive for wearing clothes, or using food? But the Arminian is satisfied, from his own consciousness, that he can act without a motive, because he can put on either the right or the left shoe first, without any motive. A number of such instances might be mentioned, but to all of them it might be replied, these are rather circumstances of action, than the action itself; and they are so trifling that we never analyze the operations of our mind concerning them. It is still a fact, that we have a motive for putting on our shoes.
Several years ago, wishing to bring this matter to the test of experiment, I took a ruler and pencil, and divided a slate into a number of squares. I then called some of my pupils, who were too young to know any thing of the subject, and offered them a reward if they would touch one of the squares, and tell me why they touched it more than another. One said he touched the one he did because it was a corner one; another, because it was in the middle, and another, because it was the one nearest to him. Their reasons seemed so childish to themselves that they were very reluctant to tell them, but the experiment satisfied me, that if we were to analyze the operations of our minds, we would find that we have some reason (or motive) for the most trifling action that we perform.
But the absurdity of the aforesaid Arminian sentiment appears further evident, from this, that if man can act without a motive, he can choose evil as evil. It is evident, too, that if the self-determining power of the will could be established, it would be an impregnable fortress for the doctrine of transubstantiation: for if we can act without a motive, we can believe without evidence; nay, we may believe, in opposition to the strongest evidence, if we only will it. If a man wills it, he may believe that the city of Philadelphia is a snail shell. On the same hypothesis he may believe, if he chooses, that a small wafer, which he can swallow down at once, is uncreated, eternal, almighty, and everywhere present. What should hinder his believing all this, if he can act without motive?
Such absurdities, as these which we have been considering, arise from the propensity of our fallen nature to be independent of God. The will, it is alleged, can determine itself; or, if you please, act without Divine permission. This affinity between Arminian free-will, and transubstantiation, serves to account for the extraordinary facility with which the Arminian part of the Church of England turn Papists. - Pratensis (1847).