On Things Indifferent (Adiaphora)

.

Order of Contents

Articles
Book
All Particular, Human Actions are Good or Evil
Audiaphora in Relation to Worship

.

.

Articles

Ames, William – bk. 3, ch. 18, ‘Of Things Indifferent’  in Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof  ([Leiden & London] 1639), pp. 88-91

Jeanes, Henry – A Treatise Concerning the Indifference of Human Actions  Ref  (Oxford, 1659)

Jeanes (1611-1662) was a conforming, Anglican, puritan clergyman.

.

.

Book

Baxter, Richard – Unum Necessarium: or, Christ’s Justification of Mary’s Choice & of his Servants Wrongfully Accused: containing a resolution of many weighty cases of conscience.  Viz. Indifferent things, obedience to the higher powers, etcToC  (London, 1685)

.

.

All Particular, Human Actions with Reason are Good or Evil

William Ames

pp. 89-91  of bk. 3, ch. 18, ‘Of Things Indifferent’  in Conscience with the Power & Cases Thereof  ([Leiden & London] 1639)

“Question 6.  Whether any singular and individual action be indifferent?

10th Answer.  First, there be some actions which though they be actions of a man, yet they are not humane actions; such are those which proceed from imagination only, and not from deliberate reason, as the rubbings of men’s hands, to scratch the head or beard, to take up a straw, etc. while we are thinking of something else: these actions are not morally good or evil, they want that which is required to make them so, namely counsel and deliberation.  For although a man may sin by those actions, as if in time of prayer he suffer his imagination to wander, and do give way to such toyings as those.

Yet these actions considered in themselves are neither good nor evil.  It is true these motions are subject to the command of man’s will, but yet they are so subject that they may be exercised without any precedent act of reason: Neither are we bound any further by reason to prevent them; but only so far that they hinder not the duties we are about.  So for moving of the eyelids, reason and the will have power to moderate them, but it is not worth the while to take notice how often we wink, if so be we take heed that in such things nothing be done which is indecent, or against our duty.

11.  Secondly, every action which proceeds from deliberate reason and is properly called human, considered singularly and in the individual, as it is an exercised action, is either good or evil.  For such a kind of action is either ordered to a good end, or it is not; If it be, then it has the nature of a good action, if other circumstances be correspondent; if it be not ordered to a good end, it is an evil action because it wants the perfection which ought to be in it, and is not according to its rule.

12.  Yet is not required to the goodness of natural action that it be always actually and explicitly referred to the due end, so that this [at least] be done implicity and virtually; because reason in that exercise of such kind of actions, may often with more profit be conversant about those objects.

13.  Thirdly, some one or two circumstances of an human action may be indifferent, as if one scholar be speaking with another, it is sometimes indifferent whether they use the Latin tongue, or any other.  But their talk taken with all the circumstances is necessarily either good or bad: the reason is, because the determination of an action does not depend upon one circumstance apart, but upon all jointly together.

14.  Fourthly, there may be some singular action in which there is no goodness-special to be found, which may not be found in another, and so, that at this time we do this or that, rather than another thing, therein is ofttimes neither good nor evil.  Opportunity, or the suggestion of our minds, without any respect of moral goodness, may be of weight sufficient to make the determination.

15.  Fifthly, although therefore there be no singular actions-human, that is neither good, nor evil; yet there are diverse, which singularly and in comparison of others, are neither necessary nor unlawful.  For as the carver oftentimes has no certain reason why he rather makes this image than that: yet if he make any, it is necessary that he either follow the rules of his art and make a good one, or fail and so make a bad one.  So it is in many singular actions of men, which in respect of the exercise, have no proper reason beside the inclination of the mind, but in the doing they are either good or bad.”

.

.

Adiaphora in Relation to Worship

Articles

Bagshawe, Edward – The Great Question concerning Things Indifferent in Religious Worship, briefly Stated, and Tendered to the Consideration of All Sober and Impartial Men, pt. 1, 2, 3  (London, 1660, 1661, 1662)

Bagshawe (1629-1671) was a non-conforming, puritan.   Richard Baxter criticized Bagshaw as “an Anabaptist, Fifth Monarchy man, and a Separatist”.

Bagshawe “was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, where John Locke was also, when Bagshaw was a student (i.e. Fellow of the college).  Locke’s Two Tracts on Government, representing more orthodox views of the time, were intended as replies to Bagshaw’s views on religious toleration, published as, The Great Question concerning Things Indifferent in Religious Worship in 1659.” – Wikipedia

.

.

.

Related Pages