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SECTION I - George Turnbull, The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 2: Christian Philosophy 
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy. Vol. 2: Christian Philosophy, ed. and with an Introduction by Alexander Broadie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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This passage doth therefore necessarily presuppose or include in it the truth of the following propositions, each of which will appear, as we proceed, to be the express doctrine of revelation in many other places of holy writ, or a direct consequence from an express doctrine; and, at the same time, to be either demonstratively certain from the nature and course of things, and the perfections of God; or, at least, highly probable.
Revelation supposes the existence of God, and his moral attributes, to be known and understood by those to whom it is addressed.
“For they who have not very clear and just ideas of the divine perfections, far from being able to judge whether a message can really come from him or not, cannot so much as comprehend the meaning of such a pretension.”
Insomuch, that if a divine messenger should come to instruct a people quite ignorant of the Deity, he must first open their reason, and lead them gradually, by rational instruction suited to their capacity, to the knowledge of God, before he can deliver his message to them, and reason with them about it. The arguments to prove that an embassy is from God, must run in this manner. “’Tis worthy of God: ’tis suitable to his moral perfections: nay, it hath all the proper evidences and credentials of a divine message.” But can such reasoning be understood by those who have no idea of God, and do not know what moral perfection, and a supreme creator and governor of the world, signify?<16> To suppose that, is the same thing in effect, as to speak of measuring without some known standard or rule. This is too evident to be longer insisted upon. It is indeed by no means inconsistent to suppose a divine messenger taking pains to instruct in just notions of God, and the divine excellencies, that these being well understood, the divine authority he pretends to may be the more evident to those whom he would inform and influence. Nay, it is by no means absurd to imagine a person may be sent by God, on purpose to instruct a people plunged in darkness, and ignorance or superstition, in the knowledge of the only true God, his moral perfection, and the duties naturally and necessarily resulting from our relation to him, as our maker and governor, and from our relation to one another, as fellow-creatures under the same laws and administration. And such a person being invested for so excellent a purpose with very great knowledge and power, may reason in this manner, “You see, by my works, what an extensive insight I have into the nature of things, or the government of the world: this my power sufficiently evidences: this the works I do fully prove; for they are natural, full and proper samples of such very large and comprehensive knowledge. I may therefore reasonably be judged to be able to give you a true account of the government of the world, since my doctrine, far from having any hurtful tendency, hath on the contrary a very comfortable and beneficial one with regard to every man in particular, and human society in general; and since you have not the least reason to doubt of my integrity and good intention toward you, nor of my knowledge. And I do assure you, that all is made and governed, with perfect wisdom and benevolence, by one all-perfect mind, whom it is your highest excellence and happiness to know, love and imitate.”
And indeed, such reasoning would be quite unexceptionable: it is strictly philosophical. For is it not<17> precisely parallel to several ways of arguing, which no man hath any scruple about? Such as this for instance: “Sir Isaac Newton gave full proofs of his profound skill in mathematical philosophy, and of his integrity; but he asserts, that he hath accounted for the motions of the celestial bodies by that same law of gravitation, which we know takes place in all the bodies subject to immediate experiment: and therefore we may rest assured that it is so; tho’ we be not able to go through all his investigations and reasonings to prove it.” Or, to give one other example, “Such a physician hath studied the medicinal art with great application; hath shewn himself to be a very humane, wise, good man; and hath given very great proofs of his skill in the science he professes: we may therefore safely rely upon him, tho’ we do not understand the principles upon which physicians reason and choose their methods of treating our diseases.” We reason, and must reason, in innumerable instances in this manner almost every day of our life. And indeed, such reasoning, as it cannot be admitted in one case, and rejected in another, without very unaccountable partiality; so it must be universally received, or we must absurdly say, that there can be no such thing as reasoning from samples, specimens or experiments; which philosophers, at least, must immediately see to be giving up with all real knowledge.
But tho’ a divine messenger may very justly reason with the people to whom he is sent in this manner: yet it is not to be imagined that he will stop there; and not go on to tell them, that if they will attend to him, he will quickly convince them, that there are many very evident and irrefragable arguments to prove his account of the government of the world (which they have no good reason to doubt of, even as coming from him) to be true. And therefore he would certainly proceed to open and clear up their understandings gradually; and to lead them by proper steps to a<18> full conviction of his doctrine concerning God, by rational arguments, or by reasonings which will be felt to conclude necessarily by all who are made capable of attending to them. And if he should have any other message to deliver, till he hath made this first step he cannot go further; because he could not possibly be understood. It would be talking in the dark, and absolutely to no purpose.
Now, agreeably to what hath been concluded must be the conduct of a divine instructor; we find our Saviour himself, and his Apostles, frequently reasoning from supposed previous knowledge of God. We have a remarkable instance of it in the gospel of St. Mark,a “Ye err, says he, because you not only do not understand the sacred writings you have so long enjoyed, but you do not so much as understand the first principles of natural religion: you have not just conceptions of God, and his divine power.” “Ye err not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”
In like manner, St. Paul finding the Athenians very ignorant and superstitious, before he proceeds to deliver the christian doctrine to them, he argues with them from principles of natural religion. “Ye men of Athens, saith the apostle, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious: For as I passed by,a and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To the unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God, that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands: neither is he worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the<19> times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation. That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us; for, in him we live, above, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said. For we are also his offspring. For as much then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the God-head is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”
So the same apostle, in several other places, as, to name no more, in the epistle to the Galatians. “Howbeit then when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now after ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?b And, in the text, the apostle, when he speaks of mocking God, plainly supposes the nature of God to be so far known by those to whom he writes, that if they would but attend to what they understood of his moral perfections, they must perceive the truth he asserts concerning the divine moral government necessarily to result from it. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews, tells them, “That he who comes to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”9
Our Saviour reasons to the same purpose, when he says, “No man can come unto me, unless the Father who sent me draw him.” And when he tells us, that those who having just notions of God, know his will, and set themselves in earnest to do it, they shall be able to discern the truth of his doctrine, its perfect agreeableness to just conceptions of God, and of the Divine will, with regard to our moral conduct; and the truth of his pretension to be sent of God to instruct us in our duty, and the way to eternal happiness.a <20> “No man can come to me, says Jesus Christ, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.—And again, Every man that hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.”10 The phrase, except the Father draw him, is, in our present manner of speaking, unusual, and therefore it appears uncouth. But it is explained by what follows, “He that hath learned of the Father.” The meaning is, no man can effectually believe in Christ, or become a good christian, except he first believes in God. Natural religion is a necessary preparative for the reception of the christian. In the scripture stile, The love of truth and virtue in general is the dispensation of the Father; and The doctrine of the gospel in particular is the dispensation of the Son. Now, as no man can be a good christian, who is not first resolved to be a good man; so no one can listen to, understand or judge of revelation, till he hath just apprehensions of the God from whom it pretends to come. That knowing the Father, in the stile of the Scriptures means, the knowledge of the principles of natural religion and morality, is plain from what our Lord says. “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father nor me.”b That is, they have no true sense either of natural religion or revealed.
It is in this sense, that “wisdom is said to be justified of her children.”c That is, those who are wise, having just notions of virtue and God, or of the essential differences between good and evil, will easily discern a wise and good doctrine from a corrupt, foolish and vicious one, and will render justice to that which they know and understand to be true wisdom. But such alone are capable of distinguishing truth from falshood, or wisdom from folly; for such alone have in them the well improved judgment by which only the distinction can be apprehended. They alone have the rule by which the matter must be tried and measured.<21>
The existence of one infinitely powerful, wise and good mind, the Author, creator, upholder and governor of all things, is a truth that lies plain and obvious to all who will but think.
Many very evident arguments prove it, I shall only mention one, and illustrate it. “There must be in nature actually existing some being, the original fountain of all derived power, whose power is underived; or all power is derived from nothing. But an original, uncreated, independent mind, the author, upholder and ruler of that system, of which mankind make a part, must be perfectly wise and good; otherwise the order that prevails in the world, and our capacity of discerning it, and aptitude to delight in it, must either be blindly or maliciously produced. Both which suppositions are equally absurd.”
This argument consists of two parts, which must be considered separately.
I. There must be in nature actually existing some being, who is the primary or original fountain of derived power, whose power is underived, or all the power which operates in nature is derived from nothing.
That there is productive power in nature will not be denied; since we ourselves, who begin to exist, are the effect of such power; and many other things are daily brought into being, which did not exist before. But what is it that we call power, efficiency, or productive energy? Tho’ in common language, we speak of the powers of matter; yet not only do all philosophers know<22> and acknowledge that matter is absolutely inactive; but every one may perceive it. For did ever matter of itself change its state, whether of motion or rest, without some cause, to which the change is exactly proportioned? Space, in like manner, is clearly perceived, and therefore universally owned to be passive, inert and immoveable. All our ideas are also no less evidently quite passive perceptions, which have no activity, or can produce nothing. Indeed, properly speaking, what we call matter and space, are but certain orders of sensible ideas produced in us, according to established rules of nature by some external cause; for when we speak of material effects and of space, we only mean, and can indeed only mean, certain sensible perceptions excited in our mind according to a certain order, which are experienced to be absolutely inert and passive, and to have no productive force. But to wave all dispute about the existence of an external material world unperceived by us, and in itself absolutely unperceiveable, as all philosophers acknowledge, and with which of course we have nothing to do; it is obvious, that we have no notion, nor can have none by experience of any thing that is active, besides will. For when we experience ourselves to produce any effect, it is by a volition; i.e. by an exercise or act of our will to give it existence, that we do it. To produce, is to give being to a thing; and we can only bring things into being by our will to do it. It is therefore will alone that produces, hath power or productive energy. From which it plainly and necessarily follows, that whatever is produced, is produced by some being or principle capable of willing that effect to exist, and between whose volition that it should be produced, and its actual existence, there is a connexion. But there is, there can be no volition without consciousness. And therefore all power belongs to mind: or nothing is powerful but a mind, or a principle of intelligence capable of giving existence to certain effects,<23> by its volition that they should be produced. We ourselves have power, or call ourselves active in no other sense and we cannot pronounce any other being active, but in that sense alone. To speak of any other activity and power, is to speak without any meaning at all. Because experience, the only source of all our ideas, (the materials of our knowledge) does not, cannot lead us to any other conception or idea of power. Blind, unthinking, unintelligent, unconscious power, are terms which either have no signification at all; or include an express contradiction.
Thus therefore it is evident, “That whatever operates, acts, hath power, or produces in nature, is an intelligent conscious principle, capable of willing, and of giving existence to effects by willing their existence, which kind of principle we shall henceforth, for brevity’s sake, conformably to common language, call in one word, mind.”
II. But as we immediately feel and experience, that whatever we give existence to, we give it to it by an act of our will; so we no less immediately feel and experience that our power of producing is very limited, and that it is derived and dependent. We experience, that our existence and all our faculties are derived and dependent; and that the connexion between the existence of effects produced by our will, and our will to produce them, is not a connexion of our making, or any way subject to our power: it is therefore a connexion established, that is, willed by some other being, by some other mind; the same without all doubt to whom we owe our existence and all our faculties. For to suppose we have derived our faculty of willing from one mind; and that the connexion between our will, and certain effects made dependent on it, is established by some other distinct mind, is very absurd. ’Tis indeed to multiply causes, not only without any reason, but contrary<24> to all reason. For what can be more ridiculous or at least more unnecessary, than to attribute our faculty of willing to one cause, and its power or efficiency to another? But however that be, the connexion between our will, and the production of any effects whatsoever, which are found by experience to depend upon our will, as to their existence or non-existence, being evidently perceived to be an established, derived connexion, by no means of our own institution or making, because nowise subject to us, or dependent on us; it must have some institutor or establisher: it must be appointed and willed by some principle sufficient to produce and establish it; which principle, it is evident from what hath been just now laid down, must be a mind.
III. But now how far can we go on and say this and this power is derived; or the connexion between this and this willing principle and its effects is derived? Can we say so for ever or to infinity? Are all the connexions in nature between will and effects of this kind? Is every power and principle of power that operates a derived one? Can we say, we are arrived at a real source of derived power, till we are come to some principle, whose power is uncreated, underived, or which never began to be? If there be not really existing in nature some one really sufficient principle of derived power, then is all derived power derived from nothing. But what is derived cannot be an original source of power. There is therefore, in nature, actually existing a primary source or principle, whence derived power proceeds, and whose power is itself unproduced, necessarily existent, and absolutely independent: that is, a source of power between whose will to give existence to the effects brought into being by it, and their production or existence, there is a connexion that cannot but obtain; and therefore is as necessary as the connexion between one property of a triangle, and any<25> other of its essential, unalterable properties: a connexion, which it is as impossible should not take place, as it is impossible that all the angles of a triangle should not be equal to two right angles. ’Tis in vain to say, that because we experience no connexion between will and its effects, but a connexion derived, and consequently instituted by some mind different from ours, that therefore to speak of an underived connexion, is to utter words beyond our ideas, and without any meaning. For knowing what it is to be derived or established by some will, surely we can say with meaning, negatively, that a connexion is not such; knowing what it is to be impossible or contradictory, we can say with a meaning, not only that it is impossible or a contradiction to suppose all power derived; but likewise that there must be a principle of power in nature of such a kind, that there must necessarily be a contradiction in affirming that its efficiency is produced or established by any other mind; and no less a contradiction in affirming that the connexion between such will and its effects, is not as absolutely necessary in itself and of itself, that is, in the very nature of the thing, as the connexion between any two properties mutually involved in one another, or essentially and immutably connected together, is necessary.
“There is therefore, in nature, some one underived, unlimited, independent source of the derived powers in nature, which operate and produce by an established appointed connexion, independent of them.”
IV. Now how many such minds may exist in nature, is certainly a very idle question. But, which is of much greater consequence to us, it is a very clear point, that the author of the same system can be but one. We are evidently a part of a system related to our earth and all its other inhabitants, which earth is but one of several planets that revolve about the same central<26> sun, from which they all receive light and heat, according to the same laws, the same centripetal and centrifugal forces. But however large or small a system may be, it can have but one author, contriver, establisher, upholder and governor, because it is as such one effect, and one effect cannot be produced by several independent wills, each of which is sufficient to produce it, or between each of which and its existence there is a necessary connexion; for this plain reason, that the same effect cannot be produced twice totally and independently. If it is said, but may not two or more independent wills make in nature but one cause or producer? Should it not be replied, that this is a very unphilosophical question? For what can be more so, than to multiply causes without any reason, or when all may be accounted for by one? But which is more, two or more independent wills, which make in nature but one cause, are to all intents and purposes, in respect of the effects or system of effects produced by such wills, but one individual cause; for by the supposal, neither of them being separately sufficient to produce the effect; the sufficiency to produce it is really the result of the two concurring wills: or, in other words, it is the concurrence of such wills that constitutes the efficiency, and makes the cause.
And after all, what, if it be not a direct contradiction in terms, approaches nearer to one, than to speak of an efficiency to produce, resulting from the concurrence of two or more independent necessarily existent principles? For if a principle, having power, be independent, is not its power independent? And how can independent power depend as to its efficiency upon the concurrence of another distinct will in itself also independent of it?
“There is then of that system of which we are a part, one independent author.”
Now this being proved, it remains, in the second place, to confirm the truth of the other branch of our<27> argument; namely, “That an original independent mind cannot be void of all notions of general order and good, or having them, be malicious, otherwise the order that prevails in nature, and our capacity of perceiving order, and our aptitude to delight in it, are either blindly or maliciously produced.”
That there is order in nature, is not only acknowledged by philosophers, who all agree, that the more accurately we search into the government of all things with in our observation, the more and clearer proofs we find of good order, and wise benevolent administration: But it is evident to every one who can think at all. For do not the seasons, the sun, moon, and stars observe their regular courses appointed to them? Is not man fearfully and wonderfully made and preserved? Or what animal, or even vegetable, is not framed with marvellous skill, and does not shew counsel and design to bring about a very good end by most astonishing methods? In one word, the slightest review of the works of nature must convince every one, that there is design and order throughout all nature, good intention, and wise management to effectuate a generous purpose every where in the minutest as well the largest objects, which it is truly delightful to behold, observe, and contemplate. But whence this order, or whence is it that we are capable of discerning order and design, generous intention and good administration, or management, in bringing about a good end by the simplest methods; and of being so highly pleased with the contemplation of beauty, order, and benevolent design, that nothing almost is capable of taking us off from that pleasant reflexion, while our mind is intent upon it, or of giving us half so much satisfaction? Whence is this; or whence indeed can it be, but from our original make? No other answer can be given to this question; but that we are so framed, or that our Maker hath so constituted us and things. Now can we suppose our creator to have<28>so formed us either blindly or maliciously? To say, he hath so formed us and things, without having himself any ideas of order, design, good and simple, frugal, wise, generous management, is to assert he hath done it blindly. For could he be imagined to operate without consciousness or intelligence, if he so operates and produces any effect, he produces it without design, without any notion of it, i.e. blindly.
And to say, he hath done it with intelligence, not maliciously, is to assert, that the noblest, the most usefull, the most delightful faculty we have, or can have any notion of, that capacity and disposition from which we receive our highest and pleasantest entertainments, and without which we would be very low and groveling creatures, is implanted in our minds by a disposition quite opposite to such a make and temper, and which, where it takes place, naturally intends evil and misery, and not good and perfection.
To all this we may justly add, that a first independent mind cannot possibly have any interest distinct from, much less contrary to the general good of its creation; and therefore it cannot be evil, or be provoked to be such: it can have nothing to irritate, fret, disquiet, or discontent it: it can therefore have no malice; but must be in its temper as remote from all cruelty and barbarity, as it is with respect to its natural powers from all limitation, confinement, restraint, compulsion, or contradiction.
“There is therefore one universal independent mind, the author of mankind, and of the whole system of which man is a part, which mind, far from being ungenerously disposed, must be perfect in goodness as well as in intelligence and power.” His intelligence must reach as far as his power; for all power is intelligent; and his power being independent, his temper must be infinitely above all temptation to cruelty: it must therefore be perfectly benign and generous. And as for our capacity of perceiving order, general<29> laws, and publick good, and our natural disposition to rejoyce and delight in it, which is our great excellence, and the principal foundation of our happiness, as he could not have formed such a power and disposition in us blindly; so far less could he have done it maliciously, unless the best of gifts can come from malignity and bad-will.
“The original independent creator and governor of our system is therefore infinitely good.”
Now this is the very idea the sacred writings give us of God; and of the plain, full, and clear evidence, all that falls within our observation, if but attended to, carries with it, of the divine existence and perfection.
How well is all the preceeding reasoning about a first cause, its independent power, and its infinite benignity expressed in the book of wisdom,a “The Lord made all things by his word: therefore the whole world before him is as a little grain of the balance, yea as a drop of the morning dew. He can shew his great strength when he will, and who may withstand the power of his arm. But he hath mercy upon all, for he can do all things, and winketh at the sins of men, because they should amend. He loveth all the things that are, and abhorreth nothing that he hath made: for never would he have made any thing if he had hated it. And how could any thing have been or endured, if it had not been his will; or been preserved, if not by his word. But thou sparest all, O Lord: for they are thine, O thou lover of souls.” And how strongly doth he plead against those who are not able to discern the perfections of God in his works, but worship the works of his hands; or which is yet more absurd, of their own hands? “Surely vain are all men who are ignorant of God, and could not out of the good things that are seen, know him that is: neither by considering the works did they acknowledge the work-master.<30> But deemed either fire or wind, or the swift air, or the circle of the stars, or the violent water, or the lights of heaven to be the Gods which govern the world, with whose beauty, if they being delighted; took them to be gods; let them know how much better the Lord of them is: for the first author of beauty hath created them. But if they were astonished at their power and virtue, let them understand by them, how much mightier he is that made them. For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures, proportionally the Maker of them is seen.” What follows against idolatry, and the account of its rise and progress in the world, is exceeding remarkable.
St. Paul speaking of the heathen not favoured with revelation says, “That which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; even his eternal power and God-head; so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened, professing themselves wise they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the creator, who is blessed for ever, Amen.”a
The meaning of which reasoning is, that God hath every where given such a clear manifestation of his existence, perfections, and providence, that his divine<31> nature, eternal power, wisdom and goodness may be clearly discovered and understood from the visible beauty, order, and benevolence observable in the constitution and government of the universe, and in all the laws and causes by which all effects are produced in it, by all those who would turn and apply their minds attentively that way (νουμενα καθοραται, if they are minded they are seen) insomuch that every one who is ignorant of God, is absolutely without excuse. And much more are they so, who having such just notions of God as his works naturally lead to, yet glorified him not as God, or suitably to his excellency; nor with due thankfulness acknowledged him as the author of their being, and the giver of all the good they enjoyed; but following the foolish fancies of their own vain minds, set up to themselves fictitious gods, till by such absurd, superstitious practices their understandings were quite darkened. For vice long indulged, renders the understanding first unwilling, and then unable to behold the light. And their understandings being thus corrupted and perverted by evil affections and habits, assuming to themselves the opinion and name of being wise, they became fools; and quitting the incomprehensible majesty and glory of the eternal incorruptible Deity, set up to themselves the images of corruptible man, birds, beasts, and insects, as fit objects of their adoration and worship. Wherefore they, having forsaken God, the God within them, reason, the voice of the true God, that easily leads those who duly exercise and cultivate it to the knowledge of the true God, went from worse to worse, from one vice to another, till the grossest of crimes were no longer monstrous in their sight, but gave them pleasure. He who abandons reason, and consequently God, is precipitated from vice to vice, and soon becomes a reproach to human nature, made for moral perfection, because made capable of forming just notions of it, and of delighting in it, and pursuing<32> it by the proper means of right culture and exercise, by which alone it can be attained.
Need I stay to put those in mind who are acquainted with their bibles, that God, the creator of the universe, who is emphatically called in scripture the Father of rational beings or spirits, because for them chiefly was an inanimate world created, is said to be a spirit, and said to be omnipotent, all-powerful, and to have made and to govern all things with perfect wisdom and goodness, and therefore to be the only object of our adoration, and to be them odel of moral perfection, after which we ought to end eavour to perfect ourselves?a And what is it that proves and clearly manifests all this, according to the scripture, but his works? The heavens declare his glory; the firmament she weth forth his praise,b the earth is full of the works of his goodness; all things praise him. Man in particular, according to the sacred writings, being created after the image of God; crowned by him with glory and honour, and invested with a very considerable power and dominion by his reason, fully shews forth the perfection of him who made him.c The living God, said Paul and Barnabasd with a joint voice, who made heaven and earth, sea and all things therein, though he hath suffered the nations to walk in their own ways; nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
’Tis to the manifest tokens of perfect wisdom and goodness, as well as of power, clearly stamped upon all the works of creation, which must have a creator, and be the copy of his mind and character, that the appeal is solely and constantly made, in the sacred writings, to prove the providence of an all-perfect mind. To this purpose doth the holy scripture reason in several<33> places, “Understand ye brutish among the people: and ye fools when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear shall he not hear? He that formed the eye shall he not see?” He who endowed us with senses to discern good and evil, with reason, with benevolence, and generous affection, is he not intelligent, good, and benevolent? Whence else could he have copied those excellencies which being bestowed upon us by him, constitute the dignity of our nature, and render us indeed the image of a creator, who is perfect reason and virtue? This, I say, is the plain meaning of many places in holy writ, and therefore I shall only add a noble account given of God in the book of Ecclesiasticus,a “we may speak much and yet come short: wherefore in sum he is all. How shall we be able to magnify him? For he is great above all his works. The Lord is full of majesty, and very great and marvellous in his power. When you glorify the Lord, exalt as much as you can: for even yet will he far exceed: and when ye exalt him, put forth all your strength and be not weary, for you can never go far enough. Who hath seen him that he might tell us? And who can magnify him as he is? There are hid yet greater things than these be we see, for we have but seen a few of his works. For the Lord hath made all things, and to the godly hath he given wisdom.”
Before we leave this proposition, it is not improper to observe that nothing can be more absurd than the doctrine which has some times been advanced; that goodness in God is not the same as goodness in men, but something of quite another kind, and which we understand not. This is highly absurd: because were this true, it would plainly follow, we could have no notion, no knowledge of God at all: we should in that case, when we pronounce God wise, just and good,<34> only affirm we know not what, i.e. nothing at all. There must be indeed this difference, that goodness, even in the best of men, is short, imperfect, and mutable; whereas in God, and in him alone, it is essential, and incorruptibly or unchangeably perfect. But still the quality is every where of the same nature or kind, though not in the same degree or proportion. The true notion therefore of the divine benevolence must be learned by considering what it is in man. And by augmenting the idea of a good man to boundless perfection, we arrive at the nearest conception that is possible for us to frame of the goodness of an all-perfect mind. Thus our Saviour teaches us to argue and ascend in our notions of goodness. “If ye then being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your father which is in heaven give good things to them who ask him.”a All the perfections of the Deity, i.e. all his moral perfections, may be reduced to this one, perfect benevolence; for it comprehends in it perfect wisdom and perfect justice, truth, and veracity, and every other moral excellence. And it is that beneficent disposition of the divine nature, which inclines and moves him to diffuse upon all his creatures, through the immense universe, and through a boundless eternity to the uttermost stretch of infinite power, every good thing that is proper for them; every thing that tends to their true happiness; every good, which either they are in their own nature capable of receiving, or which for him, in his all-wise administration of the whole for the greater good, is fit and reasonable to give. Accordingly St. John more than once comprehends all the divine perfections in this one comprehensive expression, God is love; and all the duties of man, conformably to this account of the divine excellence, in love or benevolence.b Nay, our Saviour himself often gives us this<35> concise character of God, “There is none good but one, that is God.”
If the author and governor of all things be infinitely perfect, then, whatever is, is right; of all possible systems he hath chosen the best, and consequently there is no absolute evil in the universe.
This proposition is obviously so necessary a consequence from what hath been proved concerning the moral perfection of the supreme cause, that it does not stand in need of any arguments to prove its truth.
“The creation of an all-perfect mind must be the image of its creator; and therefore it must be perfect, it must be chosen by his infinite wisdom and goodness as the most perfect system, that is, the system in which the greatest quantity of happiness and perfection obtain, that can in the nature of things take place; and this being the case, all the seeming imperfections or evils in it, are such only in a partial view; and with respect to the whole system, they are goods; that is, they are absolutely necessary to its greater good, the end of its creation by an infinitely good being, who could have been disposed to create it by no other motive but pure goodness, or in order to communicate as much happiness as he can to creatures, and to be himself infinitely happy in so doing.”
To suppose us, who are made capable of acting with intelligence and choice, made by a being who acts either blindly, or without choice, is to assert, that we are more perfect than our Maker, or that we are endowed with a perfection, which if he hath not, he could not possibly have any idea of; than which, as hath been already observed, nothing can be more absurd. Our Creator therefore, who must likewise be the Creator of all things which constitute the same system, and consequently<36> of all within our observation, acts with intelligence, from choice and uncompelled unnecessitated affection, towards the greater good of the whole. We are so made, as to be capable of deliberating and performing, of being directed by knowledge; of being guided, or more properly speaking, of guiding and conducting ourselves by reason. But in being determined by motives, or guided by our understanding and judgment, we experience no force, no necessity, nor any thing in any degree analogous or similar to it. The whole operation or influence of motives upon our understanding, or in exciting affections in us, we experience, may very properly be expressed by perswasion; which we feel by consciousness to be as distinct from necessity, violence, or compulsion of every sort, as any two things can possibly be.
Wherefore, if we keep to experience, and reason agreeably to it, we must conclude, that our Maker, who hath thus framed us, acts in like manner with intelligence and preference, through the perswasive influence of his just and adequate views of the results of all possible orders and connexions of things; for he cannot want a perfection he hath given to us, which constitutes all our dignity and excellence, because it renders us capable of merit, and consequently of praise, and thus far exalts us above animals, which do not reason and choose. The author of nature therefore hath produced his creation with intelligence and free choice, through the perswasive influence of his full knowledge of its being the best system that could possibly be produced; the richest with good, the fullest of perfection and happiness. As he can not possibly experience any restraint or compulsion from without, being absolutely independent; so he cannot experience any necessity or compulsion within, contrary to free choice and voluntary self-approving affection towards the greater good of his creatures.<37>
All this is as manifest, as it is that we are free agents (to doubt of which we must first doubt of our inward consciousness, from which scepticism there is no possible way of recovery): and that being such, is a perfection which could not have been conferred on us by a creator not free, since being supposed not free, he must necessarily be supposed to have no idea of freedom, and consequently to be incapable of giving it. “We may therefore rest assured that the greater good of the system of which we are a part, is intended and pursued by its author with perfect free choice, and from purely benevolent liking of the universal good.”
Whence then comes evil, is the question that hath in all ages been reckoned the gordian knot in philosophy? And indeed if we own the existence of evil in the world in an absolute sense, we diametrically contradict what hath been just now proved of God. For if there be any evil in the system that is not good with respect to the whole, then is the whole not good, but evil, or at best very imperfect: and an author must be as his workmanship is. “As is the effect such is the cause.” But the solution to this difficulty is at hand, namely, “That there is no evil in the universe.” What! are there no pains, no imperfections? Is there no misery, no vice in the world! Or are not these evils? Evils indeed they are: that is, those of the one sort are hurtful, and those of the other sort are equally hurtful and a bominable. But they are not evil or mischievous with respect to the whole; for they are the result of powers, and general laws of powers, the uniform uninterrupted operation of which produces the greater good and perfection of the whole. But what is such, is not evil, but good, with regard to the universal system. Because if it be necessary to the greater good of a system that certain laws obtain universally; it is necessary to the greater good of that system, that all the effects of the constant uniform operation of such laws take place; which is in other words<38> to say, that all the operations, effects, or consequences of good general laws are, absolutely considered, goods, whatever they may be in certain particular limited respects.
God hath chosen the best of all possible systems, because it is the best: such therefore is the nature of things, that the re can be no system without partial evils, but the best general laws must, by their constant uniform operation, often produce evils. The evils in our system are not evils with respect to the whole; that is in consistent with the infinite perfection of the chooser and creator. Wherefore the evils in it are not chosen or permitted for their own sake. But they are chosen, or more properly speaking, permitted, because the laws, from the constant and uninterrupted operation of which they flow, are requisite to the greater good and perfection of the system. Leibnitz, in my opinion, makes a very proper distinction in the school-language, between the antecedent and the consequential will of God.11 The general laws of a system produced by a good creator are established for the sake of the greater good in the whole they produce; they are therefore established for their own sake, or on account of their own excellence and fitness, by the antecedent will of God. But the evils are only consequential effects of that will; because they are there only, as they are consequences of the general operation of the good laws which render the system perfect. The error of that great genius consists in his saying most unphilosophically, that God could not do otherwise than he hath done; for God always had and has immutably the physical power of making all possible systems: and he gave existence to the system produced by him with perfectly free choice. But this error proceeds from his ascribing to the motives which determine rational beings in their choices a necessary influence which we do not experience, and that cannot possibly belong to motives, which being judgments<39> or perceptions, must therefore, like all other perceptions, be inert and passive things, and consequently can have no productive energy. While we keep to experience, and use words in a determinate, clear sense, as philosophers ought to do; we must, and ever will distinguish between perswasive influence, or directing light and force, compulsion, necessity, and every thing analogous or like to them. But not to enter farther at this time into a controversy, which is become so palpable a logomachy, by deserting common language; or at least by confounding words of very different meanings, and by seeking other proofs, besides experience of what experience alone can ascertain; let us consider whether what must be inferred concerning the evils permitted to take place in a system created by an infinitely good being, in consequence of its being the production of such a being, may not be deduced from any other distinct considerations.
It may seem at first sight a very odd assertion to affirm, that there can be no orders or connexions of created beings in which evils will not be the product of certain methods of action. But we ought, as is universally allowed, to reason agreeably to experience and analogy. And it is plain that we can conceive no orders or connexions of things constituting a state proper for free agents to live and act in, in which different choices and actions are not connected with different fruits or consequences, i.e. in which as certain actions will produce pleasure and happiness, so other actions will produce pain, suffering and misery. If we allow ourselves to consider matters accurately, it will evidently appear, that the reverse of a method or fixed order, by which pleasure is produced, must necessarily be a method by which pain cannot but be produced. And it is impossible that a being, whether of a different bodily organization, or of a different mental structure from another being, can receive pleasure in the same way, or according to the same order with that other. But as it is fit that there should be<40> variety of beings, so it is fit that there should be methods by which all the different beings in the same system may have pleasure. For thus only can nature be a full manifestation of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness: thus only can there actually be in nature a great diversity of powers, perfections, and happiness. And to a state of agents, capable of improving themselves, and whose happiness is dependent on themselves, in order to its being their own acquisition, that they may have double satisfaction in it as such, it is absolutely requisite that there be connexions productive of pain, and connexions productive of pleasure. Such a constitution of things is included in the very notion of beings made and placed to improve themselves, and to make themselves happy by so doing. Such a state cannot subsist, unless different choices and pursuits have absolutely different effects and consequences: unless the right culture of the mind, and its rational powers, and the abuse or corruption of them have very opposite effects with regard to happiness or misery. All this is implied in the very idea of an active being.
Thus then we see, that as it is a contradiction to suppose an infinitely perfect mind not to choose the best possible system, so the existence of evils in a system is far from being incompatible with a perfect system, and an all-perfect author, contriver and ruler. And indeed this important truth will be yet more plain, if, having distinctly classed in our minds the evils complained of in nature, into physical and moral, we reflect, “1. That there could be no moral evil, unless certain affections, and the actions excited to by them, had hurtful effects, either within or without the mind.” “2. And that as all physical evils, properly so called, in our system, are evidently the effects of the general operation of such universal laws as are necessary to the greater good of our system; so moral evils, which have such pernicious consequences within and without us, are deviations from the good order we are sufficiently<41> directed and enabled to pursue; misguidances of affections necessary to our dignity and happiness, against which we are sufficiently forwarned.” “3. That reason cannot, in the nature of things, improve, but in proportion to culture, and yet, while it is necessarily weak for want of culture, as it must be for some time, we are furnished with excellent instincts or determinations to point and prompt us right.” “4. And that our capacity of acting by free choice, and of guiding ourselves, is a priviledge which so ennobles and exalts us above all merely perceptive beings, that it must needs be an excellent constitution by which it is established as a rule, that this our rational power and freedom shall not be encroached upon, thwarted, opposed, or counteracted.” If, I say, we consider all these things which necessarily hang together, not separately, but in one united view, we shall quickly see that when we complain of the government of the world, on account of the evils prevailing in it, we foolishly demand absurdities, or ask we know not what.
But all this having been fully considered in the Principles of Moral Philosophy, let us proceed to enquire, what revelation teaches with regard to this article. Now the freedom and disinterested benevolence of the supreme author of the universe being so plainly asserted in the texts that have been already quoted, it is not necessary to repeat them, or mention any others. Freedom is necessarily involved in the very notion of benevolence. It is therefore sufficient to observe, 1. That according to the Mosaick account of the creation, God having created the world, and established the general laws,a constituting its order and course, and from which all effects in it proceed, pronounced the whole work good, that is, perfect. 2. And the scriptureb is full of delightful hymns in praise of the wisdom and goodness of the creation. “How<42> manifold, O Lord, are thy works, and they praise thee!” According to all the books of the old testament, all God’s works of creation and providence shew forth the marvels of his wisdom, and the boundless perfection of his goodness, as well as of his power. And the new testament runs in the same strain. “The visible things of the creation, all things that are made, shew forth and declare his invisible power and godhead. There is none good but God, and all his works praise him.” The inanimate creation, but yet more the constitutions of various orders of moral beings, angels, seraphims, and archangels, praise him. And man, though made lower than angels, is his image, being crowned with glory and honour by him, that is, with immortal rational powers fitted to attain to a very noble end, a very high degree of perfection and happiness. 3. But he is at the same time said to create evil, darkness, confusion, and yet to do no evil, but to be author of good only. He is called the father of light, the author of every perfect and good gift, with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning, who tempteth no man, but giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.a And yet by the prophet Isaiasb he is introduced saying of himself, “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil, I the Lord do all these things.” What then is the meaning, the plain language of all this, but that the Lord delighteth in goodness, and as the Scripture speaks, evil is his strange work? He intends and pursues the universal good of his creation; and the evil which happens is not permitted for its own sake, or through any pleasure in evil, but because it is requisite to the greater good pursued. 4. Physical evils resulting from the general operation of those general laws, which constitute the course of nature, or the material world, are not evils, since, according to<43> the scripture, that order is perfectly wise and good; and everything obeys the laws, the commandments, the ordinances God hath appointed to them, all which are chosen and established with perfect wisdom and goodness. All things, in the scripture stile, obey his voice, his commandment, his law, and word. That hymn to the Creator in the book of Ecclesiasticus,c is full of beauties; but two or three expressions in it are exceeding remarkable. “A man need not say, What is this? Wherefore is that? For he hath made all things for their uses. All the works of the Lord are good, and he will give every needful thing in due season. So that a man cannot say this is worse than that; for in time they shall all be well approved.” 5. And as for moral evils, whence come they, according to St. James,d come they not hence, even of our lusts that war in our members? “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation, saith the same apostle,e for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren, every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” The meaning of which discourse in other words, is plainly this: Circumstances tempting to sin occur in the world; but by these virtue is tried and improved, and by overcoming them it gains strength, and merits a great reward, it becomes thus fit for that glorious after state prepared for the good and virtuous. But it is a vile and dangerous deceit, to be carefully guarded against, to imagine that<44> when a man is invited or inticed to sin of any kind by the circumstances he is placed in, even those which he could not foresee, or foreseeing prevent, he is tempted of God: as God cannot be tempted to evil; as no evil affection can possibly enter into, or be excited in the divine mind; so for that very reason it is plain he can never be disposed to tempt man or sollicite them to sin; nor is indeed a man tempted by any suggestions or motions, but those which ungoverned lusts raise in his mind, reason being unconsulted, lulled asleep, or willfully resisted and contradicted. It is thus that evil motions spring up in the mind, and those are the sources of all our deviations from the laws of moral rectitude, which not only our reason clearly discovers to us, but which we cannot, till we be hardened and rendered callous by evil habits, counteract, without feeling a strong resistance, and a very violent struggling; without a war between our reason and our sensitive appetites, those members of which we are composed. Letus be ware of this error. For God is the author of every perfect gift; and the Father of lights hath placed a light with in us, sufficient to direct us into the right path, and hath given us all the powers and faculties requisite to our becoming like our Father, and to preserve us free from sin, which, when it is finished, bringeth forth death; to preserve us from sin, the wages of which is death; from sin, which must result in the total depravation of our rational nature, and proportioned unhappiness.
But why then is it so often said, especially in the books of the Old Testament, that he is surrounded with darkness, or that his ways are a dark intricate maze? For that must be the meaning of such phrases, as clouds of darkness encompass him, &c. Now to this the answer is evident, the scheme of providence will justify itself to us as it advances; it is not yet complete; and even of what is, we have but an imperfect view; and therefore it is no wonder, if we are not able to account<45> for every thing. This is the necessary effect of having but a narrow, partial view of a system: it cannot but be so. This is the scripture-answer to the difficulty. “Here we are as children: we know but little: we see but darkly as through a glass.”a And that it is a sufficient answer is plain: for since the further we are able to advance in the knowledge of God’s works, the more we see of wisdom and goodness in his administration, to what else is it reasonable to ascribe our doubts and perplexities about any effects, but to our ignorance, or narrow views? ’Tis not very long since the works of nature might very justly have been said to have been involved in utter darkness with regard to us. But by the late improvements made in natural philosophy, in consequence of pursuing it in the only way of coming at real knowledge, what innumerable instances are discovered to us of perfect contrivance, and the wisest and best order? Have we not then good reason to conclude, that in proportion as we improve in the knowledge of God’s works, natural or moral, by searching diligently into them, we shall still find better and better ground to say, with all the writers of the sacred books, “In wisdom hast thou, O Lord, made all things.” But if this be intelligible language, it is certainly intelligible to say, that in a future state, when the scheme of providence is further advanced; our faculties are more enlarged in consequence of due culture here; and we are placed in such a situation as will afford us a larger view of God’s works than we can have here; that then we shall be more fully satisfied about the wisdom and goodness of the divine administration than the largest knowledge attainable here can make us.
Let me only add upon this head, that there can hardly be a more absurd doctrine than that advanced by some; teaching, “That things are right, merely because they are chosen, established or willed by God.” For according to such a doctrine, it was all one what God appointed to be; any one order of things, however<46> different from the present, had it been established, would have been equally good, equally perfect. The asserters of this most absurd doctrine, seem to be led to it thro’ an apprehension, that to say otherwise, is to suppose some limitation on God’s independent power. But must we then deny the moral perfections of God, in order to secure to him his natural ones? Or, is power limited, because it is directed not by another, but by wisdom and goodness, as essential to the being itself who works, as his power by which he works? “If absolute sovereignty or power, saith an excellent writer,a could suffice, as some sects of men have imagined, to make such a thing, for example, as absolute reprobation become good, it would follow, that the word goodness had no signification at all, and consequently, that it was neither in itself of any importance, nor of any consequence to us, whether the almighty God was good or no: than which nothing can be affirmed, more unworthy of the Creator of all things; or be more deservedly reckoned among those hard speeches, which if not unrighteous, yet, at least, rash inconsiderate men have spoken against him.”
“The consequence of such a doctrine is, that there is really no difference between good and evil in the nature of things, but that will and power makes all the distinction. From whence tyrannical men, who have power to do what they will, think that they have consequently a right to do what they please. But this is not only not true with regard to men, but even with regard to God himself also it is plainly a mistake: for not power or will, but the reason of things only is the foundation of right: and therefore tho’ ’tis indeed certainly true, that whatever God does, we are sure is right, because he does it; yet the meaning of this is not that God’s doing or willing a thing, makes it to be right; but that his wisdom and goodness is such, that we may depend upon it, even without<47> understanding it, that whatever he wills, was in itself right, antecedent to his willing it; and that he therefore willed it because it was right.”b
That power gives right is emphatically represented by the author of the book of wisdom, to be the fatal error of the wicked, and their corrupt language, “Let our strength be the law of justice, for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth.” The constant language of the scripture is, that God delighteth in good, and hateth evil, and that he makes all things work together in his creation for good: words that have no meaning, if there be no natural immutable differences between things; if some connexions of things be not in themselves good, and others evil, independent of his will. A doctrine as absurd as to say, that a triangle may be a circle. For if power and right are not different, no two things are. And if God can alter moral relations, he can also alter natural ones, for moral ones are natural ones. Thus then it appears, that the joint doctrine of reason and revelation is, “That the system of which God is the author, is chosen by him, because it is the best of all possible systems, and there is no absolute evil in it.” In the text, the law of God’s moral government asserted is inferred from this supposition; it can stand on no other foundation.
If God hath chosen and established all things, as may best conduce to the greater good and perfection of the whole system; then excellent, full care is taken of moral beings in that system; or of that part in which virtue is concerned.
This truth so clearly results from the former propositions, that it is needless to offer any demonstration<48> of it. It is an obvious corollary from the latter proposition demonstrated.
And indeed when changed into other equivalent terms, it is itself a maxim or self-evident principle. For who can say, that “the greater quantity of moral perfection and happiness which can exist, is not the greatest good that can be intended or pursued?” And how can it be pursued, without due care about moral beings and virtue, which is nothing else but moral powers suitably improved and cultivated, and there by brought to the perfection they are naturally susceptible of? As the perfection of a horse consists in the perfection of his qualities, which make him that particular species called a horse; or the perfection of a vine, consists in its being cultivated to the most perfect state its properties are capable of; so the virtue of a man, must lie in the greatest perfection of those powers, which raise him above the brutes to that rank called man. Thus the ancients commonly very fully and convincingly illustrate the nature of virtue, and its essential difference from vice. But moral perfections, and the happiness resulting from thence, being greater perfections than vegetable, or even sensitive powers, and their improvements; in order to the attainment of greater good in the whole of things, the greater quantity of moral perfection and happiness must be intended and pursued, as the principal end to which all others must be submitted.
This appears evident, if moral powers be in their nature superior in excellence to mere vegetative, or even animal ones; it is so necessarily involved in that proposition, that to yield the one and deny the other, is to say the same thing is greater or less, more, and yet not more important in the same respect. And to deny the superior excellence of moral powers above all other qualities, is, in reality, to level all things in nature, and absurdly to say, all things are equal, and<49> that there is no such thing as a gradation from lesser to greater perfection.
“Moral powers therefore, and their improvements, must be the chief object of that infinitely good being’s care and concern, whose scope in creating is the greater good of the whole.”
But from hence it does not follow; that proper, proportioned care is not, or may not be taken of inferior beings; it only follows from hence, that such beings are not the main object of the divine care, to which all other things are subordinated. We actually see wonderful care taken of all beings; in giving instincts to each species suited to its kind, and making proper provision for their sustinence. And we have no data, from which we can positively conclude any thing concerning such creatures, but merely, that no changes, or events of whatever kind, can happen even to them which are not requisite to the greater good in the whole system, of which they make a part. We are as sure, as that there is a God, that the greater good of the whole is the end unerringly and effectually pursued by him; and therefore, that tho’ every thing must submit to the principal end; the greater good, yet nothing is submitted but in proportion as that glorious scope requires; the happiness of no perceptive being, however far below the dignity of man, is otherwise submitted. Far less then can the happiness of any moral being be otherwise submitted to that end, which is the greater good of moral beings, or the greater quantity of the greatest kind of happiness and perfection; and much less still can it be submitted to any inferior end. Not only may the happiness of inferior beings be, very consistently with this greater good of moral beings, very fully provided for: but, which is more; there is no contradiction to what hath been said, in supposing several evils to happen, even to man in this his first probationary state, in consequence of general laws from which he<50> himself reaps several advantages, but which are perhaps more especially calculated for the interest of the inferior creation. For a mixture of evils is absolutely necessary to a probationary state, i.e. to render it a proper school for forming, training, educating, improving, and trying moral beings. How otherwise could many glorious virtues be formed, attained to, or exerted? But much less can it be concluded from what hath been said, that all things in our system are merely adapted to us; and that mankind may not, in their turn, pay submission to higher beings, as the inferior animals do to them. For can we suppose a creation, which rises so gradually to man, without any perceptible chasm, ascends no higher? It is contrary to the analogy of nature to imagine the creation so scanty, so limited, so poor and imperfect. What is enough for us to infer, and what we have sufficient reason to conclude from the perfections of the infinite mind, under whose direction and administration all beings are, as they are his creatures, is, that man is duly taken care of and provided for, as may best serve to promote the general good of the whole system; i.e. the greater quantity of the greatest good. And this will more fully and clearly appear to be the real truth of the matter, the more large views we are enabled to take of any of the parts of the system we belong to; and of human nature in particular.
For with regard to man, it is evident, that as no creature can be made for a higher end in kind than he is, so he is very well furnished, and very suitably placed here for attaining to that end in the only way it can be compassed, which is by proper pains to improve his rational powers; and every advancement toward perfection in this way, greatly rewards itself, and by so doing, plainly prognosticates a rise in happiness proportional to rise in perfection. This we have fully proved in the principles of moral philosophy,<51> let us therefore see what revelation says upon this head.
So extensive is the divine bounty and care, that the Psalmist, and other sacred writers, in magnifying him, and exalting his perfections, do not hesitate to call him the preserver, not only of man, but of beast. The brutes are emphatically said to wait upon him; and he to feed them; to satisfy their longings; that is, their appetites, which he hath himself implanted in them, in a manner and degree so suited to the particular end of each different species, as alone sufficiently manifests infinite wisdom, and mercy extending over all his works.
The sacred writings represent God as having filled the heavens with celestial inhabitants, ascending above one another by certain degrees, the lowest of which are as superior to man as he is to the highest rank of brute animals. He hath created angels, seraphims, cherubims, and archangels, and they are all ministring spirits to God. But at the same time, he who hath created beings, that approach much nearer to him than man in the noblest of powers; those rational powers, which by the different degrees in which they are bestowed, each order of them being placed in circumstances proportioned to their end, distinguish moral beings into different orders, ranks, and classes, is far from being unmindful of man:a he hath made him after his own image, so as to render him able to perfect himself after that pattern of compleat perfection; having induced him with the senses of discerning good and evil, moral rectitude, and its contrary; and with the power of attaining to a great degree of knowledge, and a very high pitch of moral goodness. He hath made him lower than the angels, but higher than many species of brutes, all well provided for; because it was fit, the creation should be as full as possible of life and happiness; or be a scale rising by due steps<52> from the lowest to the highest rank of being; but he hath crowned him with glory and honour;b with moral powers capable of as cending to higher and higher perfection for ever, and of rising in happiness in the same proportion; and he has invested him with a very large and noble dominion, i.e. he has made him capable of extending his dominion both in the natural and moral world, to a degree of which we cannot know the bounds, till we have gone as far in the study of nature as it is possible for us to reach; and that, by his reason and understanding, susceptible of improvements beyond any assignable bounds by due culture in various situations becoming larger and larger as his powers encrease by culture. For does not our dominion and lordship over sea and earth, air, and all the elements, augment with our knowledge of nature: our power over the brutes, to render them subservient to our advantage, does it not encrease with our insight into their constitutions, powers, and instincts? And finally does not our moral power over our appetites, our passions, over ourselves, and over one another, advance in proportion with our knowledge of human nature, and our diligence to establish well-informed reason as our sole ruler and conductor with the full power and authority in our minds, which of right belongs to it as a guiding principle?
Such is the conduct of God towards man, that the higher order of moral beings are not only said to behold God’s creation with wonder, to rejoice in it, and sing his praises with joy ineffable;a but they are particularly said to search and pry into the administration of God, with regard to man, with great curiosity; to look into it, not with envy, but with wonder and delight, with the highest admiration and complacency. And how emphatically is the satisfaction of God, and his delight invirtue expressed, in innumerable places<53> of holy writ. Tho’ our righteousness cannot extend to God, or profit him, as it does ourselves and one another; yet his delight is in the excellent ones of the earth; nay in them, it is said, is all his delight.b He is represented as be holding the virtuous with a glad countenance, and rejoycing in their progress towards perfection. There is saidc to be joy in heaven among all the celestial beings, when a wicked man returns to his reason and just judgment, and for saking vice with abhorrence, sets himself with all diligence to become truly good. And God is said to accept the penitent reformer, to admit him into his favour, and to rejoice over him. The apostle St. Paul tells us,a that all things work together for the good of them who love God: and who are they who in scripture-phrase are said to love him? ’Tis they who knowing the divine moral rectitude, approve it, admire it, love it, and earnestly copy after it, endeavouring with all allacrity and diligence to transplant, as much as lies in their power, all the excellencies which render the Deity so amiable into their own hearts and lives. They love him who are love, as God is love, and such dwell in him, and God in them: i.e. They have a mutual resemblance, and they mutually love and delight in one another. God is not represented as pursuing any of his creatures with revenge or hatred: but in condescension to human language, or our ordinary way of conceiving and expressing things, God is said to hate and detest the sinner; that is, the deformity of his mind; and to be aggrieved by sin; i.e. to desire sincerely that the sinner would duly ponder his ways, and return to a right sense of the depravity and vileness into which vice sinks and degrades man, and of the beauty of holiness.
It would be endless to enumerate all the strong expressions in scripture, concerning God’s universal benevolence,<54> his extensive care of all his creatures, his particular concern about moral beings, even about man, and his delight and satisfaction with their virtuous improvements.
But how delightful is this perswasion, which reason and revelation unite in enforcing upon the mind of every one who exercises his understanding to consider himself, or any of the things about him! How wonderfully does this belief dilate and expand the mind? How doth the mind greaten, exalt itself, and triumph, while this noble, this sublime, this amiable idea of the creation and its creator is present to it? To what noble attempts does it raise and elevate the soul? With what generous and truly great affections and resolutions does it inspire it? How divine are the feelings, the sentiments, the motions, the desires, the ambition, the effusion of a mind, while it considers God as spreading his blessings as wide as omnipotent bounty can diffuse itself; scattering them not profusely, or without rule, but with infinite discernment, according to the justest and the best rules, and in the fittest proportions; and when he considers for what a noble end man, capable of forming this idea and rejoycing in it, is made and furnished? ’Tis indeed hardly possible to quit this delightful, this exceeding comfortable subject. O that men were more acquainted with the satisfaction, the divine satisfaction such me ditation fills the mind, and with its happy influences on the temper!
For whether riding, walking, or whatever our bodies are employed about, our active mind can pursue such thoughts. And what is there that we behold, which does not call upon us aloud, to think of our Creator, and the end for which he made us? ’Tis the universal language of all nature: it is the voice of the whole creation, which we must hear, if we do not wilfully shut our ears, and resolve not to hearken to it.
But it will be said, if such care is taken of all moral beings; if God is indeed so bountiful, so benign,<55> so full of mercy as he hath been represented, whence those evils which so sadly vex human life, which so cruelly plague the good in particular? If special care is indeed taken of that part of the creation in which virtue is concerned, why is it so bitterly distressed as it often is! Something hath been already said in answer to this objection; and it shall afterwards be fully handled. I shall therefore at present only remark, that the holy scripture very frequently represents the afflictions of the just to be friendly chastisementsa from a wise Father, who knows what is proper for them, but hath no pleasure in plaguing any of his creatures. And pious menb are often found in scripture owning, “That it was good for them to have been afflicted,” and praising God for having tried and purified them from much corruption, in the furnace of adversity. This is universally the scripture language. And tho’ it be very true, that (which is also the scripture doctrine) according to the natural tendency of things, and in their common course, virtue is the best preservative against many of the heaviest, even external distresses and calamities in human life, and the best security even for temporal quiet, ease, and happiness; and that it is by the vices of our fellow creatures, that the greatest hardships and severest sufferings are brought upon the virtuous: tho’ all this be very true, and a sufficient vindication of the divine providence, yet it certainly well deserves our consideration, that, in a probationary state, as ours plainly appears to be from the nature of the thing, and is positively called in scripture, all the circumstances of human life, however divided and distributed, or from whatever external causes they proceed, ought to be considered equally, as means of trying and improving the virtuous disposition. The objection supposes, that adverse circumstances<56> alone ought to be considered in this light. But if our state be indeed designed for schooling, nursing, strengthning, trying, and perfectionating the virtuous temper, it is absurd not to look upon prosperity likewise in the same view. This is the account the wise man gives of riches. “Gold hath been the ruin of many, and their destruction was present. It is a stumbling-block un to them that sacrifice unto it, and every fool shall be taken there with. Blessed is the rich that is found without blemish, and hath not gone after gold. Who is he? And we will call him blessed: for wonderful things hath he done among his people. Who hath been tried thereby, and found perfect? Then let him glory. Who might of fend, and hath not offended? Or might have done evil and hath not done it?”a Prosperity is a trial, and designed to be such as well as adversity: and perhaps it is the hardest, the severest of the two. We are to be called to account for the use we have made of the one as well as of the other. And that being the case, what is the evident consequence that follows from it, with respect to man, but that such are the various circumstances of human life as may best serve to form, try, and improve various virtues.
Some are tried by prosperity, some by adversity; or rather all in general seem to have less or more their vicissitudes of both. And why this, but that men may have opportunities of acquiring, exerting, and fixing all the virtues in their turns? Or if some there be who know no adversity during the whole course of their life, and others who are all their days on earth quite strangers to quiet, ease, health, and out ward enjoyment—What, even in that case, can be supposed to be the moral use and intent of such a dispensation, but what is agreeable to the very nature; nay, necessary to the very end of a first probationary state? Namely, that some may have more particular opportunities of<57> exercising one kind of virtues, and others another kind? For what circumstances have not their peculiar class of duties and virtues belonging to them, to which they call and excite, as they give proper opportunity for exerting them?
Some are means of exercising and improving resignation to the divine will; and of recovering the mind from sensual pleasures, and raising its affections to higher objects: and other circumstances are means of exercising and improving compassion, sympathy, bounty, and every generous passion: some afford the means of growing in humility, in fortitude, in patience; and others furnish opportunities of resisting proud emotions of the soul, haughtiness, and vanity, and of conquering and subduing anger, revenge, sensual concupiscence, and many other evil passions, which sadly degrade and corrupt the mind. From what circumstances in life may not a wise and good man reap far greater advantages than all outward ones amount to? For such certainly are the virtues and graces of a well-formed and improved mind. If one is in prosperity, what noble occasions hath he of exerting an equal, modest, humble, nay generous mind; and how difficult is it to behave so! What happiness may he give to himself, by wiping tears from the eyes of the mournful, and bidding misery and affliction be no more!a Is there a more God-like happiness; or can it be surpassed by all the pleasures of sense the most luxuriant circumstances for outward gratification and enjoyment can afford? And, on the other hand, from what kind of affliction or distress, which leaves room for thought and reflexion, may not the good man reap great advantages? And how few, or at least how short are those which, if the mind hath been previously accustomed to rational employments, and is well improved by due culture, do not leave room for useful reflexion?<58> How many great men hath the school of adversity formed; how highly profitable is that experience which St. Paul tells us it teaches?b And how noble an attainment is that contempt of sensual pleasure, nay, of exquisite pain, when it comes into competition with virtue and duty, which it forms and brings to great vigour and perfection in the mind? How glorious is true magnanimity and fortitude? And in the school of affliction chiefly is it nursed, cultivated, and brought to its full force and energy. Truly, in objections against providence, on account of the goods which fall to the share of the vitious, and the evils with which virtue is often distressed, outward things are too much over-rated, and inward ones too much diminished. For the highest ornaments and blessings that man can enjoy, or be possessed of, are the goods of the mind; well-improved reason, and a virtuous temper, contempt of merely sensual gratification, and an elevated, incorruptible esteem of the joys arising from virtuous exercises. To attain to these are we made and placed as we are; and all the circumstances of life are sadly misinterpreted, if they are not understood to be occasions that call upon us to exercise the virtues suited to them, and for exerting which they give us proper occasions. This is the meaning of all those pathetick exhortations to us in scripture, to walk wisely and circumspectly; not as fools, but as rational beings,aredeeming the time, that is, employing every season, opportunity, and condition in life to the best purpose, to the improvement of our mind in knowledge and virtue: to be patient: and strong in adversity, and in prosperity to be meek and humble: to raise our affections, our desires, our hopes, our fears above this world to God, to spiritual objects and exercises, such as afford us the best satisfaction here, the most solid and durable satisfaction; and are therefore an earnest to us of the future bliss<59> kept in store for those who prepare themselves for it. If our light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work us into a rational, a virtuous temper, they work for us an exceeding weight of glory.b This is the scripture language. And if we can reason with any certainty from the constitution of a being, and its rank in life, concerning its end; this is the end of our frame, and present condition; even to improve our minds, and to do good to one another, and by so doing to seek and prepare ourselves for glory, honour, and compleat felicity in the state of happiness, to which virtue shall, when it hath been proved and tried, be promoted in an immortal life to come. For why else are we endued with sensitive appetites, but that they may be submitted to our reason and governed by it; why else have we reason, in order to contend with sensual desires, to subdue them and regulate them? Sensitive appetites surely cannot be united in the same constitution with reason and moral conscience, in order to get the ascendant over these higher and nobler powers, but on the contrary to be governed by them. And if so, then are we made to know good and evil, sensible and reasonable enjoyment, in order to attain to the power of preferring with strong affection, habitually, rational pleasures to sensitive ones. But of this more fully afterwards. Mean time it is evident, that the doctrine of reason and revelation is, “That in the creation and government of God, due care is taken of that part chiefly where virtue, i.e. moral beings and their improvements are concerned: or that every moral system is administered with perfect wisdom and goodness.”<60>
But if this be the universal rule with respect to all moral beings, and all systems of moral beings, “That what soever one soweth, that shall he also reap”; then is every moral system very well governed: then are moral beings perfectly well taken care of.
That the general, constant, and uniform observance of such a rule in the government of moral beings must render that government equal, just, righteous, nay, perfectly good is very evident from the explication already given of it. It must therefore be a fixed law in the government of moral creatures, if the administration be righteous, equal, just, faithful, true, and good, or these are words without any meaning: this, I say, will immediately appear, if we recall to mind the explication given of this rule in the introduction to this discourse, which amounts briefly to this: that the happiness of moral beings, and all their improvements, shall be their own purchase and acquisition, the product of their own industry and diligence in exerting themselves to attain to them, according to the laws of nature, fixing the means by which they may, and cannot otherwise be acquired.
Now the law, “That whatsoever one sows, that shall he also reap,” thus defined in general, seems to include in it the following particular things, which it is necessary to mention, and consider apart, in order to have a clear and adequate notion of it.
I. It supposes moral beings furnished with powers and faculties, whereby they are capable of certain moral improvements, and of certain proportionable degrees of moral happiness. And indeed, when we speak of moral beings, we necessarily speak of beings thus framed and furnished. For every inanimate thing is a complication of certain qualities fitted for<61> certain ends. Every merely animal being is a being capable of sensitive perceptions within certain bounds. And a being cannot be different from merely perceptive beings, but by means of some superior power, which raises it above them, by fitting and qualifying it for some higher end, for some nobler exercises, and proportionably nobler enjoyments. This, I believe, will be readily allowed to be too evident to need any farther confirmation, or even illustration.
II. This rule supposes moral beings to be placed in circumstances requisite for the exercise of their moral powers, and for having the enjoyments naturally redounding from them. Powers or properties, of whatever kind so placed, as that no use can be made of them, are certainly absolutely useless; they are created in vain. But we see no examples or instances of such bad oeconomy in nature of any sort, even with respect to merely material things; but have good reason to think, they are all made and placed for very advantageous purposes. As to suppose beings endued with moral powers in any degree so placed, that these powers, for want of subjects or materials to be employed about, or of occasions to call them forth into action, have, or can have no business, no exercise, no enjoyment, is to suppose the most idle and foolish, because useless conduct in the Maker and Governor of all things; so we have not the least ground of suspicion from any part of the present constitution and administration of things within our observation, to think it ever happens. ’Tis contrary to the idea of infinite bounty, to imagine any species of moral beings wanting in the universe in its due place and time, which would render nature more rich, more full and great, than it can be, without such a species of being. But it is yet more so, to suppose a moral being so placed as to exist to no purpose; which is necessarily implied in supposing any species of moral beings so<62> placed, as not to be able to exert its powers about their proper objects; not for want of powers, but for want of objects suited to their powers.
III. But, in the third place, the rule principally implies in it the dependence of the happiness and improvements of moral powers upon the moral being itself invested with them. 1. It necessarily supposes the improvement of moral powers to be a progressive work. This is implied in the very notion of moral powers and moral improvements or acquisitions. 2. It supposes the progressive improvements or advances of moral powers to depend upon the will and disposition of the moral being to set itself to make improvements and advances, and its firmness and constancy in applying itself to such a pursuit. This is likewise included in the very notion of a rational or moral creature. For how can any thing depend upon a creature otherwise, than by the dependence of its existence or non-existence upon the will of that creature? Things depend no otherwise upon the supreme being than in that way. He is omnipotent in no other sense but this alone, that all possible things depend upon his will for their existence or non-existence. And we have a sphere of activity, a certain degree of power and dominion, because with regard to us there is a certain dependence of effects, as to their existence or non-existence upon our will. Without such a dependence we would have no power; our will could never operate. And there can indeed be no other dependence of things upon any being, besides this alone. 3. The rule supposes certain fixed laws as certain able by moral beings, according to which they may attain to certain improvements, the means for making such acquisitions being fixed by these laws. And indeed nothing can be more obvious, than that were there no such laws with respect to moral beings, they could attain to nothing. Every end in an orderly<63> system must be the natural effect of certain means; the contraries of which must have very different, if not absolutely opposite and repugnant consequences. If the means for arriving at an end be not certain and fixed, they cannot be as certained by the experience and observation of any being: they are absolutely unascertainable: which, if they be, it is to all intents and purposes the same, as if there were, with respect to such beings, no means for attaining to an end; nor no end to be compassed. In moral systems therefore, where moral beings are capable of pursuing and gaining ends, there are fixed laws which prevail uniformly, determining the means by which these ends may be accomplished or brought about. 4. In the fourth place, the rule not only supposes a certain degree of happiness and improvement to be within the compass of moral beings, by the proper pursuit of them in the due use of the means correspondent to that end, according to the laws of nature; but it supposes them so framed as to have particular satisfaction in improvements so made, so purchased and acquired; a sense of merit in so doing, and of demerit in not doing so; a capacity of approving and condemning themselves according to their conduct. We are so framed that we cannot conceive any joy superior, nay in any degree near to that of inward well-founded self-approbation. And indeed beings, not capable of it, must be very inferior to us, and can hardly with any propriety be called moral beings; for what can that title mean, but having an inward discernment of moral good and evil, and being capable of pursuing the one, and avoiding the other, with an accompanying sense of acting rightly in so doing. 5. The rule supposes, that finally upon the whole, or in the sum of things, every one shall reap the full natural fruits and consequences of his behaviour. Virtue must be acquired gradually. It is a progress, a gradual purchase. And before it is formed, it cannot have the effects of<64> fully formed virtue, in whatever circumstances it may be placed, i.e. however favourable to formed and improved virtue; because the effect cannot prevent the means or cause. In its advancing state of formation, trial, and improvement, it can only have the effects of its advances. But if it hath in its state of education the natural and proper effects of its exercises towards improvement in the circumstances allotted to it for its culture, growth, and improvement, then is it exceeding likely, that when it is formed to a great degree of perfection by due culture, it shall reap, by being placed in suitable circumstances to such high improvement, the full fruits of so advanced a state. And if it hath in the present state its proper present effects; and it shall have in its improved state, the proper effects of such a one, in consequence sequence of circumstances adjusted to that end; then with respect to virtue is administration just; and doth the rule fully obtain, “That what soever a man so weth, that shall he also reap.” And what may be concluded, with respect to vice, is obvious from the received rule or maxim concerning opposites or contraries; which is, that their natural effects will be as contrary to one another, as the qualities are whence they proceed.
Now if to make beings thus capable of creating to themselves their own happiness; thus capable of providing for themselves; thus capable of perfecting themselves, and exalting their nature to its highest pitch of excellence, be not to make excellent beings; or to constitute and place beings capable of moral improvement well, what can goodness mean; how can wisdom manifest itself; what are justice, righteousness, faithfulness, truth, and bounty? Such beings are equally and justly treated; for the happiness and perfection they may attain in consequence of their frame is thus absolutely dependent on themselves: they are thus, so to speak, their own masters, masters of their own fortunes: ’tis true and faithful to do so, for thus beings<65> may really attain to the end their constitution points out as attainable by them, and so invites them to aim at and pursue. It is highly good and generous to do so, for it is rendering such creatures capable of the highest and noblest kind of happiness; it is to invest them with the most excellent powers and affections that can be conceived: and it is to render them capable of the solidest and most sublime joy that can be imagined: the consciousness of worth and merit. It is finally to observe, with regard to them, a rule which must be just, equal, and reasonable, if equity, justice, and reason have any meaning.
Need I stay to prove, that what we have said of just, equal, and generous administration, with regard to moral beings, is what the sacred scripture means by God’s judging, ruling, and governing all things, all beings, whether in heaven or on earth, in righteousness, faithfulness, truth, and mercy. What must be the consequences of not understanding these terms, when applied to God in the same sense as when we attribute goodness, and these other attributes naturally included in it, to men, hath been already observed. And the universal voice of scripture is, that God is a righteous, faithful, merciful ruler and judge; that he hath formed the inanimate worlda by weight and measure, that is, according to the best laws: and that the whole universe is full of his goodness: that he reigneth over all, not as an arbitrary tyrant, but according to the laws of reason, equity, and goodness, governing every being consistently with, or agreeably to its nature, and never departing from the end he proposed to himself, and which moved him to create, the universal good.<66>
We shall afterwards have occasion to enquire, whether limitations of any kind are consistent with this rule, and the equity, from which the observance of it results, and may be inferred. The proper place for that enquiry is, when we come to consider, how this rule is observed here with respect to mankind. And therefore it is sufficient at present to observe, that as in the natural, so much more in the moral world, it is reasonable to conclude, nay it is a necessary consequence from the infinite perfection of the Creator and Governor of the universe, that as there can be no general laws established which are not contributive in the whole to the greater good; so there can be no limitations, restrictions, or oppositions to any one good law, but from another equally good law. In nature, as far as our enquiries have reached, we find no effects, but what proceed from general laws; but we find, on many occasions, laws thwarting and controuling laws: hence monstrous births, and other such like productions, in which nature does not deviate, or is not deficient, much less malign, but is really controuled and conquered, by the superior force of some other good law. Now as it is in nature, so may it be in the moral world: there is such an analogy between these two parts of the same system conspiring to the same end, that it is not unlikely to presume, it may be found to be so. But whether it is so or not; or however far it is so, either in the one case or the other, it is equally comfortable and certain, that all the laws of the natural and moral world are fitly established, because they are chosen and appointed by infinite wisdom and goodness; for such only could infinite wisdom and goodness choose.
But it is needless to dwell longer upon a hypothetick proposition, which there will be occasion of further illustrating, when we come to prove, that the rule defined, the rule which is affirmed in the text to be an immutable law in God’s government of mankind, is really such: there is however another hypothetick proposition,<67> which plainly follows from this one we have now been explaining, if we may at all depend upon analogical reasoning; which is,
If the rule defined be really observed with respect to mankind, in their present state, we have ground to conclude, that it is an universal law in God’s moral government.
Now upon this head I would only observe two things.
I. That it hath been inferred to be a rule necessary to good administration, or that makes good administration, from the very nature of good, or even of equal administration of moral beings. It hath therefore been already proved, to be an universal rule in good and equal moral government. It hath not been inferred to be a rule in God’s government of man, from any thing particular in man’s frame; but from the consideration of properties, common to all moral beings; and from attributes of God, which must influence and guide his conduct universally: it hath therefore been deduced from such principles, as prove it to be an universal law. But,
II. If it can be once proved from experience, to be a rule that takes place, with respect to mankind here in their present state, as shall be proved immediately, it may from hence be inferred to be an universal law in all moral systems, if analogy be a good foundation to reason upon in any case.
Philosophers have so fully explained reasoning from analogy, with the other kinds of evidence, that I need not now do it; and that we must act upon presumptions founded upon analogy, no person who understands<68> the term, and the affairs of life, will deny. ’Tis therefore sufficient for my purpose to observe, that we may conclude, any rule, which by taking place among men, contributes to their dignity and happiness as moral agents, to take place also among all other moral beings: Or, 1. It is absurd to conclude, from the prevalence of gravitation, as far as experiment can reach, that it obtains universally, throughout the whole material system, even though all other appearances of the most remote celestial bodies to us, may be accounted for by it. For the one case is precisely parallel to the other: the former amounting only to this, that a rule which is found to prevail among mankind, or more properly speaking, in the government of mankind, which sufficiently accounts for the equity and goodness of the ways of providence towards man, may be concluded to prevail universally in all systems of beings, which are analogous to man, in respect of our moral powers; since that law being supposed to take place so universally, the administration of beings will be universally equal, just, nay good. And why is gravitation concluded to be an universal law, but because it obtains as far as we carry experiment; and gives an orderly, consistent, harmonious account of the most distant appearances. 2. But which is more, if this rule is found to obtain with respect to mankind, it may be justly concluded to be an universal law in all moral systems: Or all moral beings are analogous as moral beings, and yet not governed by a law, suited to the powers in which chiefly they are, or can be similar to one another. However different moral beings may be from one another in degrees, numbers, and extent of powers; yet beings which are of a moral nature must be like one another in this respect, that they have reason, and are capable of discerning the relations of objects; the fitnesses and unfitnesses of affections and actions, with respect to objects, persons, or other affections and actions, and of conducting<69> their behaviour by this moral sense or moral knowledge. Now to suppose beings so far alike, and yet the happiness and improvements of one sort of such analogous beings, and not of the other, to be conformable or proportionable to their conduct, to their choice and pursuits, is to suppose them to be unlike in the most essential, or at least the most important part belonging to the powers of reason and free agency, in which they are analogous. But why need we insist longer in reasoning from analogy, to prove a thing that is necessarily included, as hath been already shewn, in the very nature of a moral being; or without supposing which, no definition can be given of moral agents, that can distinguish them from inferior beings, who have no sphere of activity, no guiding or ruling principle in their constitution? I proceed therefore to enquire, whether experience be agreeable to what hath been inferred abstractly from the nature of things, concerning man, and all rational beings; that is, whether it be really in fact the rule in the government of mankind, “That whatsoever a man so weth, that shall he also reap.” For however convincive abstract reasonings may be, yet such is our make, who are framed to gather the principal part of our knowledge from experience, that no demonstration is more, if equally satisfactory to our mind, than plain indisputable experience: an admirable instance of the care of our Maker to adjust our frame to our circumstances.
Experience proves this to be the law, with respect to mankind in their present state, “That whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
This we have already seen to be the express doctrine of the scripture, with regard to futurity: it is directly affirmed to be so in the text; and we may not<70> only justly conclude, that what is the law in the divine government of mankind with respect to a succeeding life, is the present law as far as the nature of a preparative state to a future one admits; but, as hath likewise been observed, the consideration of the divine perfection, which is mocked or injured by denying it to be the rule, whence the apostle St. Paul infers it to be the rule, does as necessarily shew it to be the present rule, as to be the rule with regard to futurity: and indeed it is hardly conceivable in the nature of things, how it can be the rule with respect to our future state, without being the rule with regard to our present state (which is the preparative or probationary one, with respect to futurity; or, in the apostle’s phrase, its seed-time) as far as the nature of the state of probation permits it to be so.
Let us however leave all these considerations, and impartially inquire into fact: that is to say, inquire candidly, and without being by assed by any hypothesis, as philosophers ought to do, what experience says about the matter in question. 1. One thing only I must premise before I go farther; which is, that ’tis indeed very unaccountable to hear some philosophers, who confess, that we ought to reason from experiments only in natural philosophy, say, that with respect to the mind, if we appeal to experience, we can never come to certainty; for there is nothing so absurd, with relation to it, for which we shall not find witnesses who will appeal to their feeling and experience for the truth and reality of it. For if it should be retorted, as it may justly be, that there is nothing so absurd that we do not find some asserting to be true from the experience of the joint testimony of all their senses, what would follow from that? Would it follow from hence that experience has not the right of deciding in matters of experience; that the senses are not to be depended upon; and that there can be no such thing as knowledge from outward experience? That surely will not be said by any philosopher; since it is from sensible<71> experience only we can learn the connexions of external pleasures and pains with our actions, a most important part of knowledge to us. But if that cannot be said by any philosopher, I may leave it to any thinking person to determine whether the other scepticism about internal experience be not equally ridiculous. The cases are precisely parallel; and like cases must stand and fall by one and the same judgment. The same rules which, being observed in making experiments in natural philosophy, render them a sure foundation to build upon, must, if observed in moral philosophy, render experiences in it equally certain, an equally solid foundation to build moral conclusions upon. Which rules may be reduced to these two; namely, to take care “1. That the experiments be analogous in kind”; and “2. that they be proportioned in extent and moment to the inferences deduced from them. And experiences taken upon testimony, must all of them, whether concerning objects of the outward senses, or inward sentiments, operations, and affections of the mind, be tried, examined, and admitted, or repelled by the very same criteria, or rules of moral evidence.”
Having just premised this observation, to obviate rash and inconsiderate cavilling against reasoning from experience about matters of fact or experience; it is well worth while to observe, 2. That experience or careful observation of the animal world, shews us that all animals are directed by proper instincts, to the end for which they are naturally fitted; strength, agility, or whatever it be; and not only to their food, but their medicines; to suitable care of their young, while that is necessary, and no longer; to fly their enemies, or guard against them, and to herd each tribe among themselves. None of their instincts are unsuitable to their condition, unprovided for, or implanted in vain.
Now from such care of animals, so visible throughout all nature, and asserted in the scripture as an instance of the extensive bounty and care of providence, we<72> may reasonably conclude, that similar care at least prevails with respect to higher moral beings: that they are all fitted, each species to its end, duly provided for, and well placed, in order to attain to it: that their powers are not made in vain, and that they do not even want proper instincts and determinations of nature, to assist, direct, or invigorate their reason, as far as instincts are convenient or suitable to them: that all their appetites and affections are well adjusted to the end of the species to which they belong; are inlaid into their nature in such just proportions as may best serve that end; and that the laws relative to their increase or decrease, growth or diminution, improvement or degeneracy, are all likewise admirably adjusted to one another, and to the common end of them all, as may best promote the greater happiness of the whole moral system, which can be nothing else but the aggregate or sum of the happinesses of particular individuals.
But, which is more, what we have so good ground from the consideration of the inferior creation, by analogy to presume, must hold, at least, equally in the government of superior moral systems of beings, is evidently the real case with respect to the constitution and government of mankind.
For, in general, we find that almost all our pleasures or pains are put in our own power; they are dependent on our actions; they are, in the course of nature, the natural, i.e. the appointed or established effects and consequences of them. By our own care to preserve our life, is it preserved; and we can destroy it entirely, or render it as miserable as we please, by foolish pursuits, by irregular ungoverned passions, and mad, or, at least, rash and inconsiderate conduct. What we desire to have, we must set ourselves to have, in order to attain to it; and what we set ourselves to obtain, we generally obtain, if we take the proper methods to acquire it; provided it really be among the<73> number of our τα εϕ ημιν12 to know which is our own business, and may be soon understood, if we diligently observe our powers, and the natural course of things. Were every thing in our power, or were our sphere of activity, which consists in the dependence of things on our will, as to existence or nonexistence, boundless, we would be omnipotent. Were the connexion between our wills, and the existence or non-existence of any effects, a connexion necessary and independent of any other mind, we would be so far as it extends absolutely independent. But as it is absolutely in conceiveable, how any being can be limitedly independent, or, in other words, absolutely independent only within certain confined bounds; so we may soon perceive, by experience, that the extent of our power is not only limited, but derived, established by another, and not subject to us. But we are free, or have power as far as it reaches. And our interest loudly calls upon us early to apply ourselves to know the real extent of our power. It ought to be a first and principal care in education to instruct youth betimes in this important matter; for without such knowledge, and indeed without accustoming ourselves early to enquire, whether what we desire be possible, we may, as too many do, lose all our time and labour in chimerical, impossible pursuits. There are many other questions, which education, duly calculated to instruct youth in life and right behaviour, would very early inure them frequently to put to themselves very seriously; or rather, indeed, never to choose and act without having maturely pondered. As, whether it be, all things considered, a prudent choice; an expedient one; and above all, whether it be a right or a base one; a laudable or condemnable one; virtuous or vicious; beneath the dignity of man; if not repugnant to it; or agreeable to his rank, powers and end. But the first question of all, in the nature of things, ought to be, Is it possible, is it in human power, in general, or is it in my power,<74> in particular. For here a distinction must be made, since the general extent of human power must necessarily be limited by particular situations and circumstances. That may be in human power, generally speaking, which is not in the power of certain individuals, because of their particular circumstances. Every one must as necessarily have his own particular sphere of activity, as he must have his own particular point of sight; his own particular place and site in nature. And therefore, beside the general knowledge of human powers, every one ought early to be acquainted, as much as possibly can be done, with the variations the general extent of human power must suffer from various particular conditions and situations, or from whatever causes.
But we are now treating of human power, in general; and it is plain from experience, that almost all our pleasures and pains are brought about by our own actions; they are consequences to be attained or avoided by us, by certain manners of behaviour or action. There may be very different orders of beings in nature, that is, very different spheres of dominion and activity: nay, that there is an immense variety of such actually existing, reason makes, if not certain, at least very probable to us, who are so framed, that we cannot conceive an universe otherwise constituted and filled, without looking upon it, as scanty and imperfect; the effect, either of very restrained power, or of very nigardly bounty; and what naturally is so probable, the scripture assures us is true. But if we had no extent of power, no sphere of activity and rule, we would not be moral beings; there being really, in the nature of things, no difference between beings, which enjoy or suffer merely by passive sensations conveyed into them, independently of their own will; besides, what the number and variety of such sensations, or passive impressions, makes. They are all of the same class, merely passive, merely perceptive beings, to which rank of being, if reason, reflexion, and free<75> choice, with affection and self-approbation, in consequence of a sense of right and wrong, do not render naturally superior, or of greater dignity, then are perfect and imperfect, or more and less perfect, words without a meaning: then are all beings upon a level, and there is no such thing as better and worse, higher and lower in nature.
But, in order to have as clear a view of this important matter as we can, let us, 1. Consider our power with respect to external things. 2. Our power with respect to internal things. And, 3. Let us enquire if there are any limitations upon our power, besides those already mentioned, which are essential to creatures as such; and what these are, and from whence they proceed.
Now, in the first place, with respect to external things, it is evident, that when sensible objects strike our senses, they must be perceived by us: these impressions are passive; they are conveyed from without. And it is evident, that the manner in which any being is affected by objects of sense in this passive way, will differ from that in which another being is affected by the same objects of sense; or to speak more philosophically, hath sensations imprinted upon its mind from without, as their organizations differ one from another. That is the meaning of different organizations; it is their end, and must naturally and necessarily be their effect. But then it is evident likewise, that all the sensations we receive from without, are conveyed to us according to a certain, fixed, uniform, established order, which we call the order or frame of the sensible world with respect to mankind, and that renders us capable of mutual commerce and correspondence. If it were not so, we could not converse with one another, or have any intercourse, nay, we could not foresee what would be the course of things in any case; that is, what perceptions would succeed to one another, and consequently we could not act; nature would have no meaning to us; we could not understand it; and, by<76> consequence, we could not imitate it as we do by many useful arts; nor draw any rules from it with regard to our conduct. But nature, being orderly, it may be understood, imitated, reasoned from, and directions for our actions may be inferred from it. And as it is experience alone that can teach us the order of nature, so it is our business early to attend to the course of nature, in order to know it as fully as we can.
Indeed were we not capable, before we can reason, to form very quick and ready judgments of certain connexions in nature, (concerning the magnitudes and distances of objects, for example) as we very early do, we could not possibly get thro’ our infant state. And therefore that we form these judgments, or rather that they are formed in us, by the necessary operations of certain faculties belonging to us, previously to our use of reason, or capacity of making observations upon the settled connexions of nature, is a very manifest sign of the care of providence about us, whose reason must, in the nature of things, that is, according to our make, be gradually nursed and cultivated to any considerable degree of strength and vigor; more especially, if we consider the powers, and laws of powers, from which this so advantageous a way of judging of certain connexions in nature results; since these very powers, and laws of powers, which bring it about, are, on many other accounts, of the highest, the noblest use in our constitution, viz. the laws relative to association of ideas, memory and habit. But tho’ this capacity of attaining, in our infancy, from a few experiences, to so quick a way of judging of certain connexions and orders in nature, be such an advantage to us, that it may very properly and justly be said to be a supplemental power to that of reason; yet the far greater part of the connexions, by the knowledge of which alone our power can be encreased in nature, as far as it may be encreased, are left to be the objects of our diligent enquiries and researches. And that this is a<77> very pleasant employment, every one who is in the least acquainted with the study of nature will readily acknowledge.
We can extend our lordship very far: the increase of our dominion hath hitherto kept pace with our insight into nature. For what discovery in natural philosophy hath not increased our power and dominion by giving rise to some useful, or, at least, some ornamental art? We can only augment our dominion by increase in knowledge. But increase in knowledge, upon which enlargement of our natural dominion depends, is in our power, or dependent upon us, and attainable by us, not only in any sense that any other thing what soever can be said to depend upon us, and to be in our hands, if I may so speak; but it is in our power, or dependent upon us, in any sense that any thing can be pronounced to be in the power and reach, or within the acquisition of any being. For dependence upon a being can mean nothing else but having faculties to attain to it, if they are applied and used to attain to it. And thus increase in knowledge is in our power: in our power beyond any assignable bounds. For who can say of it, Hitherto can it go and no further? There are indeed limits to it: there must be limits to it: there are several things which we have good reason to think we cannot know. But who can say how far enquiries into nature, into any part of nature rightly pursued may be carried? Are not the qualities and laws of qualities belonging to any one object, an almost exhaustless fund of pleasant and useful research by experimental enquiries?
There may be various degrees of facility among beings with respect to acquiring knowledge, and to every acquisition. We experience different degrees of facility and quickness with respect to the same acquirement among ourselves. And higher and lower spheres of activity, greater and lesser powers, must comprehend such a difference, and much more in their full meaning.<78> And yet after all, with respect to mankind, the acquirement of natural knowledge may be said to be a very easy purchase. For the connexions of nature lie open to every diligent judicious enquirer; every such a one is daily making, in proportion to his assiduity in observing nature, and trying experiments, very great discoveries with ease and pleasure. Our curiosity prompts us to search into nature, and our disposition to imitate, together with our natural desire of power, strongly at once push us to search after knowledge, and direct us how to pursue or seek after it, even by copying after nature, vying with her, and making experiments. And knowledge becomes easier, in proportion to the advances we have made in it. Our faculties enlarge in proportion as they are exercised: And every discovery we make by the pleasure it gives us, and by making us feel the advantages of advancing and improving in knowledge, is a fresh incentive to diligence in the quest of science. Besides, by reflexions upon our mistakes and errors, compared with our successes, we come to be able to form rules for making surer and more expeditious researches, and for avoiding deceits and errors. And these reflexions, being, by frequent consideration, fixed upon the mind, the science or art of comparing, separating, placing in various situations and juxtapositions, and taking different views of the same objects; and, in one word, the whole science and art of reasoning, becomes habitual to the mind; insomuch, that one thus formed to search, and practised in searching, is never at a loss on any occasion, however new, how to go to work. Thus progress in knowledge becomes gradually easier and easier, and in proportion sweeter and pleasanter to the practitioner. And can there be any other way of knowledge’s becoming easier to us than this; any other way, at least, more honourable or agreeable to us?<79>
How it comes about, that notwithstanding the truth of all that hath been said, natural science hath made such slow advances, and is yet so little studied and pursued, is a question that belongs to the general enquiry, why men, notwithstanding their furniture of every sort for improving in knowledge and virtue, are so corrupt as they are; or at least generally fall so very far short of what they may attain to, in respect of perfection and proportional happiness. We shall therefore, at present, only observe upon that head, that in fact, philosophers were long misled from the plain and evident way of coming at the knowledge of nature (for what can be more obvious, than that it can only be attained to by carefully observing nature itself in its operations?) by a vain disposition, to make or contrive worlds themselves, and to spin a solution of all the phenomena of nature out of their own brain, that thus they might have some shew of reason to consider themselves as creators, or as able to give counsel to the Most High.a But such arrogance and folly, what is it but the degeneracy of a greatness of mind, of a noble disposition to augment our power, extend our capacities, and be as much beholden to ourselves as possible, implanted in us by the author of nature for many excellent purposes? since without such a disposition we could not be capable of great sentiments, great actions, and many eminent virtues, which highly bless and exalt human society. ’Tis nothing else but this useful disposition misplaced, misguided, or taking a wrong turn, which we not only have reason to guide to right purposes, but which there are other affections in our constitution, naturally of equal strength to counter-ballance and point into the proper path, or to its best pursuits, and to keep us from running into<80> this and other like extravagances. It must be still owing, partly to this vanity, partly to thoughtlessness, partly to a false notion of learning, and partly, if not principally, to sensuality, and the prevailing love of external pleasure, that natural philosophy, the advantages of cultivating which, glare every thinking man in the face, is not even yet pursued with that earnest and as siduous application it ought to be. But which ever of these wrong turns of mind be the cause of it, it is certain, that every wrong turn of mind is but a corruption of some good affection, against which we are sufficiently provided and armed by nature. For as to sensual concupiscence in particular, is it not manifest, that were not certain sensitive appetites and affections implanted in our mind by nature, we would neither be capable of those sensitive gratifications, which, when pursued and enjoyed within the bounds reason and benevolence permit, are not contemptible enjoyments; nor would our reason and moral conscience have subjects to discipline, govern, and keep in due order: without such a make it could not be our end, as it now is, to contend in opposition to sensitive lusts, to attain to a just esteem of rational exercises, and of the pleasures redounding from them, above all merely external delights. Nor is it less visible that no affections or propensions in our nature become strong and prevalent, but by being frequently exercised and gratified in consequence of the law of habit, which is indeed the law that renders us capable of perfection. For what else is any perfection, but an affection or power improved to a readiness in exerting itself to the best advantage, and in the most convenient and becoming manner? From all which it is evident that to object against our frame, either on the account of vanity, or any other bad turn, any of our natural powers or appetites may take, or of the method in which they are to be governed, ruled, and perfected, is in reality to arraign our author, because we have a stock<81> to improve, and are made capable of improving it to excellent advantage in the only me ritorious and pleasant way. Thus then we see, that we are very well qualified by nature for encreasing, by our diligence to improve in it, our knowledge of the connexions of the natural or material world, provided we but take the right way of pursuing after it, which lies open and manifest to every one who can think at all. For to accuse nature, for not having put it in our power to acquire knowledge, whatever way we take to get it, is absurdly to impeach nature for having made knowledge attainable by us; since it could not be so, were not the only means of acquiring it, fixed and certain; nay, it is indeed, in general, to accuse nature, because an end is acquired by means; that is, to accuse the author of nature, because nature is an orderly system, and there are fixed and established connexions of things, which may be known, copied and reasoned from by intelligent agents.
But knowledge of the natural world being thus in our power, and easy to be acquired; the encrease of our natural dominion is likewise in our power, and easy to be augmented by us. For having intelligent power to procure ourselves any external advantage, or to avoid any external inconvenience or uneasiness, it is, and must be our own fault entirely, if we do not exercise our power to have advantages attainable by us, and to preserve ourselves against pains avoidable by us. We may have intelligent power, and yet not exercise it; one may shut his eyes, and fold his arms, even when he hath nothing to do, but to open his eyes, and put out his hands to take hold of a very great blessing. But all that nature could do for us was to give us faculties, by the due use of which certain blessings may be acquired, with the self-satisfaction of having thus acquired them to ourselves, by the right use of our powers. To demand any thing else is absurdly to demand, that nothing should depend on our will, as<82> to its existence or non-existence; i.e. that we should not be at all active creatures, or capable of merit.
But let us now see more particularly, how certain particular, external purchases stand with regard to us. And I think all the blessings of human life may be reduced to these three, peace, health, and competence. The two last only are external, and therefore they only belong to the present question. Peace, fair virtue, is thine alone! We shall therefore consider the two other, health and competence, or let it be called wealth, tho’ ’tis really the other that is the blessing.
I. Now, as to the former, though many external diseases, pains and sufferings, are beyond our foresight, and absolutely inevitable by us, because they are the effects of the general laws of the material world, which must operate uniformly and invariably, which shall be considered afterwards; yet, in general, it is very conspicuous, that by prudence and care, we may, for the most part, pass our days in tolerable ease and quiet: and that it is by rashness, ungoverned passion, wilfulness or negligence, that men, generally speaking, make themselves very miserable. Certain virtues, really coincide with prudence and wise management with respect to health, and outward ease and convenience; and therefore, must at least be owned to be natural duties, if they be not allowed to be moral ones, or to have any further use and excellence. Of this kind are self-government, a deliberative temper, and temperance; they certainly preserve from many terrible evils, which sadly afflict the rash, inconsiderate, irregular, and unthinking, or wilful; and do really give us more sensible pleasure than their contraries, according to the fixed laws and boundaries of sensitive exercises and gratifications, or of outward pleasures and pains. This, I think, was never denied; and therefore let it only be added to it, that the study of nature, which, if it were not<83> left to ourselves, we could not really have any subjects of exercise for our understanding, or intelligent power of the natural kind, were it duly cultivated, it would certainly be able to do more for the preservation or relief of mankind, than it is yet sufficient to do. And this knowledge, being only acquirable in a progressive manner, in proportion to our application to extend and enlarge it; the external pains we feel, as they are excited only by such objects as tend to dissolve, or, at least, hurt or injure our bodily frame, they are thus proper monitors to take care of ourselves: kind warnings, which very happily supply an unavoidably necessary, or, at least, a very fit inconvenience, accruing from the progressiveness of knowledge; if any consequence, that is really in itself so proper for us, as that is, can justly be called an inconvenience.
II. Now, as for wealth, the means of all sensitive gratification; in communities, or societies regularly established; How is it acquired by men? Is it not in proportion to their industry, in the use of the means by which it may be purchased? And in a state of nature, or in society, where money is not in use, the case is the same, insomuch that what the wise man says of industry, in that respect, is an universal proverb.a “The hand of the diligent maketh rich.” How emphatical are his descriptions of the opposite effects of industry and slothfulness? And they are literally true.
“Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep, and an idle soul shall suffer hunger, the drunkard and glutton shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding, and lo, it was all grown over with thorns,<84> and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone-wall there of was laid down. Then I saw, and considered well, I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so that thy poverty come, as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” But, on the other hand,13 “He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread.” “He that gathereth by labour shall encrease.” “In all labour there is profit.” “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” “Through wisdom is an house builded, and by understanding it is established.” “And by knowledge shall thy chambers be filled with all precious pleasant riches.” “A wise man is strong, yea, a man of knowledge encreaseth strength.” The same rule takes place, in the brute creation, in many instances; that is, they are directed and moved by their instincts to provide in summer for winter; and therefore the sluggard is called upon, “to go to the ant for example, to consider her ways, and be wise, which having no guide, overseer or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” The general law with respect to encrease in wealth is, that it shall be made by those who set themselves earnestly to do it. Without this general law, there would be no encouragement to industry, by which it is fit that external advantages should alone be acquired; since it being so with regard to internal goods, as we shall quickly see it is, our whole frame is thus consistent and analogous; since our bodies require exercise as well as nourishment; and the preservation of man, by requiring many united labours, lays a foundation, and makes room for many ingenious arts, many beautiful inventions and employments, and for the mutual exchange of many friendly offices; or, in one word, makes a close mutual dependence, and so gives rise to all the variety of blessings springing<85> from that source, which are indeed innumerable. Now, this being the general rule, tho’ in consequence of natural connexions, as between parents and offspring, and social ties of various kinds in an established community, or even in a state of nature, riches may drop into the mouth of the sluggard; yet it is plain, they must have been originally purchased by labour. And, if we add to this, that the law being general; putting out the hand, or exerting our force or skill to take hold of certain external objects, will of course be generally successful, whether it is righteous or unrighteous, fraudulent and wicked, or just and good. But all that duly weighed, we have no reason to complain of the distribution of external goods in this life. For not only may a man be very vitious in several respects, and yet be worldly wise and industrious, which wisdom and industry it is fit should gain its end: but let us think what would be the consequence if only lawful art and industry were successful. To demand it is indeed the same, as to demand that the sun should only shine upon the just; and the rain from heaven only water the fields of the pious; and can we imagine greater confusion and disorder than this would produce? Whereas, as things are now constituted and regulated, the means whereby ends may be compassed are fixed and certain, and the course of things being according to general laws, it is truly orderly and regular.
We have no ground to complain of the administration of providence, with regard to the distribution of external goods, since by the law according to which they are purchased, he who applies himself to knowledge, will attain to it; he who seeks virtue or self-government, will attain to a great pitch of perfection in it; and he who merely seeks sensual gratifications, will also have it; but with all its concomitants and consequences, with a carnal mind, ungoverned passions, incapacity of rational exercises, a mean, and<86> mercenary, selfish, ungenerous temper, and consciousness of inward worthlessness. In order to pursue any end vigorously, the heart, the affections, must be strongly bent upon it: thus alone is virtue purchased. And he who is only fit for, and only thinks of encreasing wealth, in order to pamper his sensitive appetites, will, according to the common course of things, in consequence of the same law, gain that end: but he will not be the nearer to true happiness for having done so; for that outward affluence cannot give, without a well governed, generous mind. On the other hand, the good man, whose chief delight is in rational exercises, only desiring wealth, in order to be able to communicate it, and do good, not only cannot with that temper of mind so keenly pursue wealth as it is necessary, in order to make great riches; but he is really apt to fall into an indolence in this respect, which, as it is blameable, when man is considered to be made for society, so it brings its own punishment along with it, by putting it out of his power to do the good on many occasions, he must feel pain for not being able to do; and consequently checks for so utterly neglecting the purchase of such agreeable power, as not at all to mind it, tho’ it might be done to a great degree by him very consistently with his superior delight in other exercises, from which tho’ valuable advantages spring, yet the means of being liberal cannot. Such, however, generally make up, in a great degree, by their frugality and self-denial, what too great a neglect of seeking after the means of beneficence otherwise puts out of their power.
Thus then we clearly see, how equal and just the general law with respect to the acquirement of external goods is; it is plainly this, “As a man soweth, so doth he reap.”
Let us now enquire, in the second place, whether it is not the same with respect to internal goods,<87> with respect to the improvements of the mind, whether of understanding, or of will and temper. And indeed, as it is fit that all the parts composing the same mind, and all the parts constituting the same system of things relative to the same kind of moral beings, should be analogous or consonant one to another; so really it is in our own case. The same law, which obtains with respect to external purchases takes place with regard to moral or internal ones.
All that hath been said of natural knowledge and natural power, is found, by experience, to be equally true with respect to moral knowledge and moral power. And indeed, whatever names to things some people may affect to give, they must be strangers to the very meaning of the words moral knowledge, who out of contempt call it metaphysick, and will not allow it to be a part of natural knowledge, in the proper sense of natural. For what can be more evident, than that the constitution of our mind is a natural and real constitution, which hath its own real economy and symmetry, as well as any body; the human, or any other. And therefore, that an enquiry into that constitution must be carried on in the same way of experiment, and reasoning from experiment alone, as our researches into bodily frames and structures of whatever sort. And sure to deny, that the knowledge of our inward anatomy, by whatever name it be called, is not a part of knowledge that highly concerns us, is absurdly to say, that we are not at all interested in the temper and fate of our thinking part. We shall not dwell longer upon this head, since it would be but to repeat over again what hath been said of natural knowledge, in the common sense of these words; and there will be occasion in another place of this discourse, to treat of moral or practical knowledge. One thing only not yet mentioned is very well worth our attention, that in order to direct and pointus into the proper road of getting knowledge, either natural<88> or moral, nature hath wisely and generously implanted in our minds, a disposition to delight in order, unity of design, symmetry, simplicity, and consent of parts to a good end, wherever we perceive it; by which means, we are naturally excited to look out for order, wise and generous contrivance, consent of parts, general laws, harmonies and analogies. And he, who thus pursues the study of nature, whether in corporeal structures or moral ones, will not lose his labour; but have success, that will abundantly reward his assiduity, every step it advances, by pleasure far superior to all sensitive gratifications. There is no need of any proof of this truth to those who are acquainted with such researches. And the lovers of the ingenious arts, which imitate nature, as poetry, painting, sculpture, will they not immediately own, that their delight wholly arises from a taste of order, beauty, simplicity, consistency and unity in imitations of nature? We may justly conclude, as hath been done, that a wise and good being does nothing in vain, but always pursues a good end by the simplest means, carefully avoiding all superfluity, and adding force to what is principal in every thing. And it is the observance of this rule by nature throughout all its works, which renders them so beautiful and pleasing to behold, which they could not be to us, had we not naturally a sense of beauty and unity; a capacity of discerning it, and a disposition to delight in it. And, in the same way, are we qualified to acquire a good taste of the polite arts, for as their end is to imitate nature, what constitutes the beauty of their pattern, must constitute their beauty likewise. They therefore can only give pleasure to a well-formed mind, in proportion to their truth, beauty, simplicity, majesty, grandeur and unity, as nature does. And unless a mind be formed to a right, a very perfect taste of these beautiful qualities, the finest and best of productions of the imitative arts, cannot give one any satisfaction: they must be lost upon such.<89>
Now if we consider how a good temper and disposition of mind, and all the virtues which make a man at once beneficial, happy, great, and amiable, are acquired, we shall plainly perceive, that it is by labour and diligence to improve our faculties and affections, implanted in us by nature, by due culture. No labour can give us a faculty or affection, which nature hath not originally implanted in us; no more than it can add to the number of the external organs nature hath furnished us with. Art can only cultivate, improve, enlarge, and bring to perfection the powers, affections, and dispositions of nature’s growth. But if it should be asked, what is the meaning of these words, to improve and cultivate? Before we come to consider more particularly the scripture doctrine concerning virtue and vice, it is sufficient to answer, if less or more perfect may be applied to the qualities of a vegetable, or of a horse, or of any thing, it may likewise be applied to moral powers and faculties. If an imperfect and a more perfect or improved state of any one quality be once allowed, it must be universally acknowledged, that there is an imperfect and more perfect state of all qualities whatsoever. And thus the reality of virtue and vice must of necessity be yielded: since whatever is an advancement towards the natural perfection to which moral powers may be brought, is virtue, with regard to them; and contrariwise every step to degrade them below that perfection, or to hinder them from rising to it, is vice, with respect to them. But can any one be at a loss to understand, what enlargement of reason, and power, and mastership of the mind, or self-command, mean, who understands what it is to have weak and strong eyes, and a wilful, rash, inconsiderate, or a cool, sedate, deliberate head? It is therefore needless to expatiate more on this article; and all that remains to be observed, with regard to external improvements and purchases, is, that having<90> reason and certain affections and appetites in our frame, which are so many capacities of enjoyment, we are capable of improving them; in consequence,
I. Of a sense of right or wrong, natural to all men, that can never be totally effaced. It is evident, that if we had not a natural capacity of perceiving right, and distinguishing it from wrong, and of delighting in and approving the one, and of hating and disapproving the other, we could not possibly be capable of any of those sentiments expressed by self-approbation and self-condemnation, good and bad conscience, a sense of merit, and a sense of guilt and unworthiness. We would beutter strangers to them all, in the same way and for the same reason, that without an appetite, affection and capacity suited to any sensitive pleasure whatsoever, we could not desire or relish it. It must be true in general, that without appetites and affections no objects could give us more pleasure than others; or, more properly speaking, nothing could give us pleasure. The great business of reason is to cultivate, improve, and then preserve in due force this our rightly improved natural sense of right and wrong, in the same sense that it is a duty in some degree to improve our ear and eye. But it is in vain to say, that this sense is totally acquired by reason, in proportion as it is improved, and becomes able to take in large and just views of the consequences of things. For as reason may find out that it would be a very advantageous thing to have an ear for musick; or that it may be of some use to affect to have it, and to act as if one really had it; but it can never produce it, when it is originally wanting: so reason may find out, that it would be, on many occasions, advantageous to have a sense of right and wrong, especially in a constitution of things, where true advantage, upon a fair and full estimation of things, is always connected with the dictates, the first motions of such a sense; or that it may<91> be greatly for ones interest to affect to have it, and to act as if one really had it: but it cannot produce it when it is not originally implanted in some degree. For this plain reason, that as reason could never be employed to calculate external advantages, if we had no senses whereby we perceive outward pleasures and pains; so it could never be employed to compare right and laudable with outward advantageousness, unless it had a sense of both. And let no man say he hath no notion of any thing but external advantageousness in its various degrees and its contraries, unless he can affirm, that in no case whatsoever any thing ever appears to him to be base which is advantageous; or any thing honourable, and generous, and lovely, if it be contrary to a narrow confined self-interest, that only pursues sensible gratifications; which, such is our make and frame, that no man can or dare say. But having sufficiently explained this matter in the principles of moral philosophy, I shall only take notice of another thing in our constitution, necessary to our attainment to perfection of understanding or temper, which it is but just necessary to mention, because it also hath been fully handled in the same enquiry; namely,
II. The law of habit, which is indeed the law of improvement or perfection. Were it not for this general law in our frame, we could not possibly improve or enlarge any of our faculties, become more ready and expert at any exercise, or work any natural propension into temper, so as to render it the bent of the soul, and the ruling passion; but our faculties and affections would always remain in their first state, and all our repeated acts would neither make us wiser or better; more strong, more sagacious, more free, more generous, nor in any respect more improved, than if we had never exercised our reason, never enquired into nature, never acted.<92> But being constituted, as we really are in both the respects just mentioned, we have it in our power to improve all our faculties, powers, and affections; and to grow daily in wisdom and in virtue; we have a stock to improve, a rule to guide us in doing so, and we are sure of success to our endeavours.
All that hath been said, is incontrovertible experience: and need I stay to shew, that it is the scripture doctrine, which abounds with commands to improve ourselves; to give all diligencea to add to one virtue all the virtues, and to perfect ourselves, even as God is perfect.b We are there represented to be made, as man plainly is in every respect, for exercise, and not for inactivity, which soon wastes and consumes our powers, and then preys upon the very substance of the mind itself, so to speak: but chiefly for moral exercise, or for the improvement of our will and temper. I have already shewn what the scripture doctrine is concerning diligence and industry, with respect to external goods: and indeed nothing is more earnestly inculcated upon us in holy writ than diligence and application, each in some particular calling, for which he is best fitted, without fretfulness and anxiety, and without avarice, but with patient resignation to the will of an over-ruling providence, that we may be useful to society in some laudable way, and instead of being a tax and burden upon it, may even have some share of power to do good to others. “Let every man, saith the apostle, communicatea and do good to the utmost of his power; and therefore let no man be slothful in business, but diligently do the duties of some beneficial calling or employ, in the most useful way the talents and circumstances put in his power.” But the chief thing we are called upon to apply ourselves to, is the improvement of our mind in virtue, to which diligence in some useful business is so far from being an<93> impediment, that it is on the contrary absolutely requisite; or one of the properest means.b We are given often to understand, that our improvement in virtue can only be, and always will be proportioned to our endeavours to advance in it. And we are loudly called upon to remember this employment is the end of our creation, and necessary to fit us for the happiness of another life to come. In the book of proverbs how often are we exhorted to seek after wisdom diligently, and to dig for it as for hidden treasures, because in its hand are all the blessings of this life, and the life hereafter. In these exhortations to apply ourselves diligently to the study of wisdom, the wisdom chiefly recommended, is the wisdom that produces a strong mind, self-command, and mastership of the passions: but the study of natural knowledge is likewise comprehended in the description as a very useful part of it.c “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandize of it is better than the merchandize of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her. The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth: by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down dew—a Get wisdom, get understanding, forget it not, forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing: therefore get wisdom: with all thy getting, get understanding. Exalt her,<94> and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour when thou doest embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” And how beautiful is the description given of her in the book of wisdom, “Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily; and sweetly does she order all things. I loved her, and sought her out from my youth, I desired to make her my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty. In that she was conversant with God, she magnifieth her nobility: yea, the Lord of all things himself loveth her. For she is privy to the mysteries of the knowledge of God, and a lover of his works. If riches be a possession to be desired in this life, what is richer than wisdom that worketh all things? And if prudence work, who of all that are, is a more cunning workman than she? And if a man love righteousness, her labours are virtues; for she teacheth temperance and prudence, justice and fortitude, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in their life. If a man desire much experience, she knoweth things of old, and conjectureth aright what is to come: she knoweth the subtilties of speeches, and can expound dark sentences: she foreseeth signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times.”b
This is the wisdom which we are called to give all diligence to attain to, or improve in. But it is very remarkable that this same wisdom which we are commanded to labour hard to attain, is in other places of the same writings said to offer herself to us, to be at hand, nay to take hold of us: to cry upon us to hasten to her; so that we must shut our ears against her not to hear some of her instructions; and shut our eyes against all the objects around us, not to see her beauty.a This is the language of the same sacred book just quoted. And what doth this mean, but what we<95> have found by experience to be true, even that nature hath not only well qualified us for the search of wisdom; but likewise hath implanted in us love of knowledge, impatience against darkness, and ignorance; and many other powerful instincts to push and excite us to apply diligently to the study of wisdom, and to assist and direct us in the pursuit. And with regard to right and wrong in particular, we are told, not only that the moral differences of actions and affections are as essential and immutable as light and darkness, or bitter and sweet.b But that we have natural sensesc for discerning good and evil. A moral conscience, which, if it is consulted, cannot deceive us, at least in more simple cases, or in the greater outlines of duty: and that the laws of moral good and evil are written upon our hearts,d the hearts of all men universally and indelibly: and therefore that no man can sin or deviate from right in any degree, without feeling a law in his mind, warring against his evil concupiscences, till by long habit the mind is become obdurate and callous, as it may be, but always is slowly, and after very violent strugglings against an inward sense of what is praise-worthy, and truly becoming and honourable; for thus likewise the scripture speaks of virtue: phrases that have no meaning, if a sense of praiseworthy and laudable in itself be not really belonging to us. For as reasonably might an apostle exhort one who hath no eyes, saying, If there be any beauty, any visible order, proportion and symmetry, seek after these things, for they will give you delight; as recommend it to one who hath no sense of honour or shame, of base or worthy, saying,e If there be any virtue, if there be any praise, seek after these things, and thus shall you have inward satisfaction; your own hearts will not condemn but approve you, and you shall have that testimony of a good conscience, which is a perpetual <96>feast. ’Tis needless to quote more passages to prove this to be the voice of scripture, since we cannot almost turn up our bibles without finding some precepts to this effect. I shall only add one more; St. Paul writing to the Philippians,a earnestly excites them to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, that is, with all eagerness and concern. Now to work out our salvation in scripture language is, to give all diligence to prepare ourselves for the future felicity which the pure in heart alone can inherit, and into which nothing that is unclean or defiled can enter: to be assiduous and constant to improve in that sanctity of heart and life, without which no man can see the Lord, or be capable of that happiness, which a future state will afford to those who are fitted for it, by placing them in circumstances, which shall give them larger views of the divine perfections than we can now have, and better opportunities of imitating them. And what are the motives by which the apostle enforces this exhortation? “For it is God which worketh in you, to will and to do of his good pleasure.”14 Some are so absurd, as to interpret the apostle’s meaning, as if he had reasoned thus, “Work out your salvation yourselves by your own diligence, for you can do nothing, but it is God that must do every thing for you, even will for you.” Which interpretation is indeed a complication of absurdities. But the true and obvious meaning is, “Give all diligence to work out your salvation, for it is God, the creator of all things, who by giving you of his good pleasure the power of willing and doing, with a sense of right and wrong, and reason to guide and direct you, hath visibly made it your end so to do. Your frame shews, that to prepare yourselves for great moral happiness, arising from a well-cultivated and improved mind suitably placed, is your end appointed to you by your Creator.<97> Consider therefore that by neglecting this your duty, this your interest, you contemn and oppose the good will of God toward you, and his design in creating you. The other motive he adds, plainly supposes a natural sense of right and wrong common to all men; insomuch that the most wicked cannot choose but admire and approve good actions when they see them, though they loudly reproach their own opposite conduct. ‘That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, amidst a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.’”15
III. Let us now consider if there are any limitations upon what hath been found, according to experience and scripture, to be the general law in the divine government of mankind, whether with respect to external or internal acquisitions; “That as a man soweth, so shall he also reap: he who soweth to the flesh, shall reap corruption, and he who soweth to the spirit, shall reap the fruits of the spirit, which grow up naturally to eternal and compleat moral happiness.” For this hath been shewn to be the meaning of the text.
We are as certainly sure, as that there is a God who by his infinitely wise and good providence over-ruleth all, that in such a state of things all must be governed by general laws admirably adjusted to the great end of the whole administration, the greater good. For were it not so, what would be the necessary consequence, but that intelligent agents would be placed in a system which they could neither understand, nor have activity in: that is, creatures endowed with powers of intelligence and action would be incapable of understanding and acting. For how can that be understood, so as to derive rules of conduct from it, which is not ascertainable? And what can be such which does not proceed in a fixed, determined, uniform order and<98> method? ’Tis only settled and regularly proceeding connexions that can be traced, comprehended, argued from, or acted upon. For all art and conduct must go upon this principle, that such a rule being observed in the pursuit of an end, that end will be gained.
Thus we reason in agriculture, mechanicks, in every art: and thus also must we reason in the conduct of our life, in all our actions and pursuits. And as government by general laws may be inferred by necessary consequence in this manner from the moral perfections of the supreme all-perfect mind, who made, upholds, and governs all: so philosophers know that we are able to trace effects in nature to general laws in so many instances, that there is sufficient ground, independently of that consideration, to conclude by analogical reasoning, that all is governed in like manner by general laws. Accordingly in the material world, when the general laws of vegetable, and of what is very similar and near a-kin to it, animal growth, and several other powers and laws of powers in nature do not succeed, philosophers readily own, because they plainly see it is so in many instances, that this does not happen because nature is weak and deficient; far less, because it maliciously deviates in such instances from its general good methods of operation; but purely because the formation or production, which is always carried on according to the same law, or agreeably to the same principle, was in that case over-powered by the operation of some other general law, equally necessary to the good of the whole system. Thus bad weather, blasts, plants, and trees, for instance; and a disease or hurt happening to the mother, will occasion an abortion, or a monstrous deformed birth. And when these and other like appearances happen, which may shock those who are not able to take a large united view of the co-operation of many laws, in order to make a good system, they do not startle philosophers, because they know that the laws regulating<99> the weather and its effects, and the laws determining the consequences of hurts and bruises, and all the other laws from which such like effects as have been mentioned proceed, are very fitly chosen, and that the greater good requires their universal, uninterrupted operation.
In the same manner must it be in the moral world, when certain general laws have not their common and regular effects: they are then thwarted, counter-acted, or over-powered by the influence of other good general laws, equally necessary to the greater good, and therefore never the cause of evil in an absolute sense, i.e. with respect to the whole system. Ignorant men perceiving that disappointments to industry, labour, and prudence, sometimes happen, are apt to call such events unlucky accidents, and to ascribe them to chance or fate. But if we consider the matter accurately, we shall soon find, that to ascribe any event whether to chance or fate, or indeed to any thing but the course of general laws established and maintained in full force by the author of all things, is to attribute effects to no efficient. For chance or fate opposed to the will of an efficient mind, must mean causes which are not causes, or productions by nothing. Unthinking men likewise frequently speak of the course of nature, as if by that they meant something quite distinct from providence: but in reality it can have no meaning, but the regular operations of qualities and powers produced and upheld by God according to fixed laws of his appointment. But if it be absurd to attribute effects, and the causes of effects, to any thing but the will of a mind sufficient to establish and uphold that course, and by which it really subsists; then are all events reducible, in the nature of things, by such beings as have a large enough view of the system to be able to do it, to general laws of the appointment of the creator of the world: and consequently, if any one general law is at any time disturbed or interrupted in its course, it can only be in consequence of the operation<100> of some other general law of the same system.
Now all this being very clear, let us try if we can trace any of the interruptions or limitations of the general law we are now explaining, which may very properly be called, “The general law of activity, or industry,” to the general laws whence they proceed. That there are certain limitations upon it besides those which belong to it as a sphere of activity having certain bounds, which must be the case with respect to the sphere of activity of every creature as such; or limitations upon it within its appointed and regular sphere, is very plain to every one, since, though in the common course of things, “The race be to the swift, the battle to the strong, bread to the wise, riches to men of understanding, and favour to the men of skill,”16 otherwise prudence, industry, and wisdom would be empty names without a meaning; for there would be no difference at all between one way of conduct and another: yet it is not always so, “but time and chance (as the wise man saith) happen to all men, the wise; and the foolish; and God sometimes turneth wise men backward, and maketh their prudence foolishness.”
The evident meaning of all which is not that me nought not diligently to inquire into the regular consequences of second causes, and act agreeably to them: Else whence these frequent exhortations to get wisdom, and to act prudently, to industry and application: for the same wise man exhorts us,a “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, to do it with all thy might,” &c: But merely that the events of things do sometimes not answer to the natural probabilities of second causes, because many, even little unforeseen accidents unavoidably interposing, do very often change the whole course of things, and produce an event quite opposite to what, in all reasonable probability, sufficient<101> to have determined a wise man to act as he did, was to have been expected. The swiftest runner, upon the least accidental slip, loses the prize to a rival much slower than himself; and the strongest armies, upon the least disorder befalling them in the day of battle, have been defeated by an enemy whose inferior force they contemned: and as strength and agility of body are not always successful in proportion to the degrees of those faculties; nor powerful armies victorious in proportion to their numbers: so the faculties and powers of the mind likewise, understanding and wisdom, dexterity and skill, are not always successful as might regularly be expected in obtaining riches and honours, favour and distinction in the world: but unseen accidents, or more properly speaking, unseen dispensations of providence, unseen effects of other laws which must take place in the government of things, invisibly and surprisingly turn the course of things, and render qualities which are generally attended with success in their right application, successless. The causes of many unforeseen, and at first very unaccountable events, are after wards discovered by time, and then our wonder ceases; which is sufficient to lead us to conclude, it is always the case, and that it is not fortune or chance, words without a meaning.
Now if all this be not owing to the two following causes, yet so much is certainly owing to them, that we may justly presume that what is not so, and quite unaccountable by us, must however be the consequence of the operation of some equally good general laws; since the world is found in fact to be so governed, and must be so governed, if it be under the administration of a supreme mind; which it must be, or be the effect of no cause, no contriver, no power, no producer.
I. A great part of the disappointments or limitations of the general law of industry, proceeds from the operation of the laws of matter and motion by which<102> the material world, with which we are at present united, is governed. All interruptions, limitations, or disappointments with respect to the law of industry in the exertion of our power about material objects, it is highly probable, flow from the laws by which the material world is ruled and managed. And that very many do so, is visible to every one: such as external or bodily diseases of very various sorts; the effects of storms, earthquakes, deluges, and many others, too obvious to be mentioned. Now let natural philosophers account for the general laws, whence those hurtful events proceed, by which the industry and prudence of the husbandman, the trader, the general, the politician, the philosopher, &c. are often disappointed, and are either rendered abortive, or, which is more pernicious, bring about the very contrary of the good proposed and intended. And I think they have done it. For that being done, our business is merely to conclude, that such effects are not evils: which they cannot be, the laws from which they proceed being good; unless it be evil that the general operation of a law necessary to the greater good should take place, which it is a contradiction to say. The laws of the material world, whence these effects proceed, are necessary to render the material system which they constitute that beautiful and orderly one it is, being so fit a habitation for an immense variety of perceptive beings, and of man in particular, furnishing him with many means of enjoyment and pleasant exercise of the sensitive kind; and, which is more, with many means, occasions, and subjects of rational exercises and improvements.
II. But leaving this point to natural philosophers, or the enquirers in to the natural world, I shall proceed to consider another source whence many limitations upon the general law of industry take their rise. Which is, “our being made one kind; our being<103> made for society, and in order to that mutually dependent, so that to every external acquirement and to many internal ones, social assistance is in some degree necessary, and the greater advantages of life cannot be attained, but in a well formed and well governed community.” That this is our frame and make in general, cannot be denied. For what advantage, a good disposition only excepted, can any man acquire singly, independently, or without social aid and assistance? Can he attain riches, nay, can he attain bread, or but subsist one moment? Can he attain knowledge in any great degree, without any help from others, and quite by himself? And how few are the virtues that can belong to a being out of society, or quite removed from all other beings! Let us consider how we came into the world, how we subsist in it, how much we depend on our parents, how much on education, how much on example, how much on the temper and abilities of those about us, how much upon the government and constitution of the state in which we live: let us consider, in one word, how we are cloathed, fed, supported, brought into the world, bred up, defended, improved in abilities, or how we can gain any end: and no man will dispute the truth now under consideration. But to say, that it is not fit but unkind, nay unjust, to have so framed mankind, what is it but to assert, that it is unkind and unfit that we should have social dispositions, and be one kind mutually dependent: nay, it must land in saying that it is unkind and unjust to have made us any thing, but singly, each by itself an independent, all-sufficient being. The objection, cannot stop till it terminates in that absurd assertion, and so refutes itself.
If our social dependence be acknowledged to be vindicable and not blameable, then many consequences must of necessity be admitted, which will fully justify numerous limitations upon the law of industry<104> already explained. For hence it will follow that we must suffer in mind and body by bad education, by wrong example, and by the ill-disposition of those about us, of those more especially with whom we are more nearly and closely connected: hence it will follow, that we must suffer by the misfortunes of others, whether they be owing to their imprudence, or to some cause they could neither foresee nor prevent: Hence, in one word, it will follow, that to gain almost every end, we must depend upon the abilities, the prudence, the virtue, and integrity of others. In fine, the effects of as ocial frame, and of mutual dependence with respect to our happiness or misery, our acquirements or sufferings of whatever sort, are almost innumerable. I shall therefore but just insist a little upon one article of very great extent, which is our dependence upon the good constitution and right administration of the state in which we live: and even here I shall but just mention one instance. If men are slaves to despotic lawless power, or have no share in the government, i.e. in making their own laws, and laying on the taxes necessary to the support, maintenance, and advancement of their common happiness, they will naturally become abject, mean-spirited, dastardly, and low, groveling creatures. And what a train of vices must spring from this temper every observer of mankind will soon see. Hence naturally pullulate suspicion, jealousy, envy, fraud, revenge, and many other monstrous vices, which sadly depress and sink men below the dignity they naturally rise to in a free state; where a spirit of liberty and independency, a sense of one common interest and publick spiritedness, desire of aggrandizing the commonwealth, and of shining, gaining fame, honour, power, and dignity in it, by being eminently useful to it, must naturally grow up, as generous plants in their proper soil and climate; for there proper care of education, an essential point to free and happy government, cannot be wanting. There<105> not only will trade, and all arts flourish, but likewise all ingenious sciences, knowledge, ingenuity and industry will spread: and, which is more, virtue. For never was an enslaved people generally a virtuous people. Whereas, tho’ the best governed state will not be absolutely exempt from vice; yet every state is, in proportion as it is truly not nominally free, a humane, a generous, an industrious, a virtuous one. Honest measures, avowed and openly pursued by the administrators, proceeding from an honest, generous, publick-spirited disposition, do always, in proportion as they take place, diffuse virtue and happiness over a land.a Mercenary, mean cunning dares not appear: it can hardly have success: and being once detected, is sure infamy and misery. Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin, as it makes people abominable, so it is their ruin. For in a righteous constitution, where good laws are impartially executed, righteousness must run through the nation as a fruitful stream: industry will never have reason to complain, and vice can hardly escape punishment. The good example of rulers, ever more powerful than laws, will universally awake publick spirit and honest generous industry. And all the blessings of flourishing arts and sciences, and of ingenious, honest, incorruptible virtue, will as naturally prevail, as good seed sown in a good, well dressed soil produces a fruitful generous harvest. And this is the happy state men are well furnished for, and strongly instigated to pursue by nature. For, to what other end can the inventive and all the active powers of man be supposed to have been conferred upon him, under the direction of his social disposition, lively sense of moral order, and delight in publick good, but this, that men may unite together in a proper manner for promoting publick happiness? To imagine us made and framed as we are with any other intent, is as absurd<106> as to say, a ship is not made for sailing, but happens by chance to be fit for that purpose. And indeed if one thing may be invented, contrived, and executed without intelligence and design, that is, by chance, all things may.
Having thus pointed out some limitations on the general good law of industry, with their effects; it is proper to consider what in the whole is the amount of them all, that we may be yet more able to pronounce concerning their equity and goodness. But, before we go further, it is proper to observe, that all the laws of the material world, with all their effects, are plainly ascribed in the sacred writings to the will, the choice, the free, wise and good choice and appointment of the Creator. They are all attributed to his pleasure and will; and to general laws so chosen and appointed.a For what else can be the meaning of the laws and commandments he is said to have given to material beings, which they unerringly obey? What else is the word, the voice, the ordinance by which they are said to be regulated? How otherwise is it true, that it is his directions which even winds and sea obey, to which he hath said, Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further? How otherwise do the sun, moon, and stars, and all the celestial bodies, keep his statutes and ordinances? And how else, or in what other sense, doth the earth obey his will in yielding its regular increase?
And as for our social make, as it hath been explained, it is plainly implied in all the commandments to men, to be benevolent and useful one to another, and to lay themselves out vigorously in promoting the publick good, each according to his abilities, and in the sphere of power allotted to him, with which the scripture abounds. It is because we are so made, that the whole of our duty is placed in universal love, charity and benevolence; in minding every one, not<107> his own things, i.e. his own interests merely, but in regarding and consulting the good of society, and the advantage of his fellow-creatures.a To prove which to be the real doctrine of revelation is very needless; since no one who is acquainted with it, can possibly not have clearly perceived it to be the universal tenor of the scriptures.
But what is the amount upon the whole, as far as we can judge according to reason and revelation, of the limitations now mentioned? In answer to this, I shall take notice of a few very remarkable consequences of them, of those chiefly which have been observed to arise from our social make.
I. First of all, there must be very many differences among men in respect of abilities and talents, either originally, or which comes absolutely to the same thing, in consequence of the irbeing placed in different circumstances, which will naturally, by exercising affections and powers differently, or occasioning differences with respect to exercises of affections and powers, produce various dispositions and powers. This alternative is put, to avoid a philosophical enquiry, whether men have originally different turns, dispositions and talents; or whether all these differences proceed from various exercises in consequence of various circumstances, calling forth affections and powers less or more into action. For it is plain, that it comes to the same thing to all intents and purposes with regard to individuals, or to society in general, in which of these ways difference sare naturally produced. Circumstances of various kinds, the powers being originally the same, will have different effects: and as different powers are necessary to social dependence and social virtues; so different circumstances, which must naturally produce differences with regard to affections<108> and powers, are not only necessary to publick happiness in a community; but, in reality, community can no more be conceived without such differences, than any constitution, natural or artificial, can be conceived without different parts, making, by their different qualities and forms well disposed, a good whole: Not to say, (which is likewise very true, and equally evident) that it is absolutely impossible to place various members of one body or community, all of them in the same or quite like situations. The apostle St. Paul helps us to a true illustration of this matter, by a similitude he frequently employs to shew, why in the church of Christ, more especially at the first propagation of christianity, different gifts and talents were bestowed on different members.a “For, saith he, as we have different members in our body, and all the members have not the same office; so we being many, are one body in Christ.” The reasoning must hold equally good with regard to mankind, as one community, system or kind. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; so we being many, are one body, one kind, one system, of which God is the head and ruler; and we are every one members of one another strictly united and dependent, even as the members of the natural body are, making one whole. And as the practical inferences he draws from his argument with respect to different abilities and gifts for propagating the gospel, with an easy change, similar to that made in the reasoning, in order to extend it to an account of the natural differences among mankind, may be applied to mankind in their social capacity as one community; so indeed, some of them being of a general nature relative to men, as one body, they must be understood to suppose those natural differences which constitute them such. We may therefore very<109> consistently with the apostle’s design thus paraphrase the whole exhortation.17 “I beseech you, brethren, for all men are such by nature, and no differences can ever change or alter that immutable relation, by the mercies of God extending over all his works, and particularly evident in all his depensations towards mankind, in order to excite and assist them to advance the great end of their creation, that ye remember you have bodies the seat of many sensitive appetites, in order to govern them by your reason; and therefore give all diligence to attain to self-government, to command over all your passions, your sensitive ones, in particular, which are the principal means of your trial in this state, in order to your attainment to moral perfection; that so your well governed appetites, or your appetites sacrificed and submitted to your reason and moral conscience, may render you, and your conduct, as it were, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, who delighteth in this moral discipline of the mind, and will reward it; for this is your reasonable service; this is acting suitably to the dignity of your reason, and the end of your being, and consequently to the will of your Creator, whose will is your sanctification in order to your happiness, to which it is absolutely necessary.
For I say unto you, to every man among you, through the light bestowed on me, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; not to forget that he is but a part of a great system, one member of a large body; but to think justly and truly of himself, and consequently soberly and modestly, according to the measure of powers and abilities God hath dealt to every one in his great wisdom, and make the best use of them for your own sake, and for the good of the whole body. For different members, which have each its peculiar use and office, are not more necessary to compose a natural body; than different members, which have each its peculiar use and office, its particular distinguishing powers, are<110> to constitute one community of moral beings. Having then different gifts, let every one know and stir up diligently the gift that is in him, that he may be really useful, whether it be of body or mind; whether it be for teaching, or for ministering in any other way to the publick good: let us wisely choose the business we are best fitted for, and let us diligently wait on it. If one exhorts, rules, teaches or gives, let him do it with simplicity, with candor, with chearfulness, and with a benevolent and compassionate spirit. Let love be without dissimulation, as becometh members of the same body. Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another. Not slothful in business, remembering that we serve God, do an acceptable work to him, and are building ourselves up in the best manner in virtue, when we are diligent at some profitable praise-worthy business. If tribulation happens to us, while we are thus employed, let us be patient, and not be cast down as those who have no hope: but let us rather rejoice, as becometh those who know that this is but our first state of trial, to be succeeded by another life, in which virtue shall have an abundant reward: let us acknowledge God in all our ways, ever maintaining on our minds a sense of our dependence upon him, and of his moral perfections, and all-wise over-ruling providence. Which thoughts will make us benevolent, active in doing good; disposed and ready to distribute to the necessities of all in want, according to their merit: ready to shew kindness to strangers, nay, even to enemies, and thus to overcome evil with good.” This is certainly a true account of the duties resulting from our social make, our relation one to another as one kind, and our common relation to God, as our father, governor, law-giver and judge. And as we are indeed as closely cemented together by many ties and dependencies, as the members of any natural body are; so we could not be<111> capable of those duties and perfections, to which the apostle exhorts us, were we not such a one, closely compacted and united body, as we really are. And being so made, the practice of these duties makes the perfection and happiness of every private person, and the perfection and happiness of society in general.
The same apostle pursues the same comparison in another place,a to shew how unreasonable it was to complain of God’s best owing different gifts in the church, for the common good and advantage of all; which reasoning equally agrees to the similar bestowal of different gifts upon men, for the common good and advantage of the kind, and to be the foundation of social happiness and virtue. For thus may we reason concerning that matter almost in the apostle’s words, “Be not surprized, or do not murmur at the diversities of abilities and talents among mankind, which are not owing to their own neglect of cultivating their original powers in a proper manner, as all those are which are blameable, or make unhappy to any great degree. For as the body is one, and hath many members; so all the members of that one body being many, are one body: and therefore, if the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were eye, where were the hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members, every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you. It is so far from<112> being so, that the parts of the body which seem in themselves weak, are nevertheless of absolute necessity. And those parts which are thought least honourable, we take care always to cover with the more decency; and thus our least graceful parts have thereby a more studied and adventitious comeliness. For our comely parts have no need of any artificial ornaments. God hath so tempered the body, that there might be perfect symmetry, and no disunion, but that all the members should have the same care of one another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it: or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now we are one body, created by one Father, the supreme head of the creation, and each of us in particular is a member of this one body, as an eye, an ear, a nose, a hand, are members of the natural body. And God hath set or so placed some, that they are eminent rulers, others are eminent teachers, others eminent artists, some are fitted for one profession, and some for another, some for government, some for languages, some for philosophy, some for the study of medicine, or the healing art, and some for mechanical arts, no less useful in society. Are all philosophers, all heroes, all legislators, all teachers, or all great and extraordinary genius’s? Have all the same gifts, whether of healing, of speaking, interpreting, or of whatever other kind? Why then do ye unreasonably contest with one another, whose particular gift is best, and most honourable or profitable? Every gift and business that is truly profitable to men is useful and honourable, when exercised with a spirit of benevolent industry. I will shew you a more excellent way, viz. mutual good-will, affection and charity, which is the best of all attainments, that which makes the honest man, the man of merit, because it makes man the image of God, in respect of which all other gifts of the highest kind are comparatively vanity. And this disposition of mind,<113> may all attain to, whatever their powers, abilities, talents or circumstances in life may be.” This reasoning is not merely analogous to that of the apostle; it is evidently included in it.
So that according to the scripture doctrine of providence, a vast variety of differences amongst mankind is necessary to the greater good of mankind. And in reality the principal effects of all the various circumstances in which men are placed; of all the vicissitudes in life; of all the operations of external causes with regard to man, are the differences these make in respect of abilities, and occasions for exerting them; or of affections, and occasions for exerting them. But it being manifest in general that great variety in these respects is requisite to general good; nay, to the very subsistence of rational community, the presumption must be, that every particular variety is absolutely requisite to the greater good of mankind as one body. If we keep the apostle’s similitude in our view between the natural and the political body, we will easily perceive that the latter, as well as the former, must consist of many different members closely united. And indeed if we but reflect a little upon what must be the necessary result of different situations with regard to abilities and tempers, to power, to knowledge, and to all external as well as moral acquisitions, we can no longer be puzled to account for the diversity among mankind, in any of these regards. For if various situations be allowed to be necessary, as they must be, unless all beings could be placed precisely in the same point of time and sight; then must all the variety resulting from different situations likewise be necessary. But any few differences whatsoever, in respect of situation, being supposed, a very great diversity of powers and affections; or, which is the same thing, a very great diversity of operations of powers and affections, immediately presents itself to us as the natural effect of such differences.<114>
II. But not only are the principal limitations of the general law of industry no more than effects of such differences, as are absolutely necessary in the nature of things to promote general good: but, as it hath been already observed, there are no disadvantages arising to particular persons from any laws of nature, with respect to external goods, out of which moral advantages may not be educed by wisdom and virtue, which would abundantly compensate them to the sufferers themselves. And with respect to the attainment which constitutes our principal dignity, well governed affections, or a virtuous temper of mind, all men, notwithstanding all the differences in human life, are upon a very equal footing. Virtue consists in self-dominion; or in command over the interior affections destined to be governed by reason. And this acquisition is in every man’s power, in whatever situation he may be placed. It is true, some may not be able to make equal progress with others in knowledge, either not having equal abilities with them for that progress; or, which comes to the same thing in effect, not being in equally advantageous situations for it. But in every situation men may acquire a virtuous temper; or abound in benevolence toward men, and love and resignation to God. And those who have attained to this temper, as they are more happy here than affluence or even science can make those who have it not; so they must enter into another world very fitted by it for exercises of benevolence and devotion; and having this pure, refined, rational cast of mind, they may with the social, friendly assistance of the more advanced in science (a very agreeable employment to a generous mind) very soon make much greater improvements in the knowledge of God’s works, or of universal order and harmony, than those can possibly do in any situation, whatever other learning they may have acquired, whose minds are discord and impurity. A mind which is itself all harmony, cannot fail, in a proper situation, to make<115> very quick and large advances in the study of order and wisdom.
It is also true, that in certain circumstances of life there is no occasion of exerting several very noble virtues: very rare situations are necessary to give one such opportunities: but all who have attained to the love of virtue, and to self-dominion in this life, have the root of the matter in them; the never-dying root of rational happiness: a principle of virtue, which being placed in proper situations for that end, will quickly bring forth the most glorious fruits of beneficence; the most splendid virtues. So that this state being considered as a preparatory one for futurity, in which various situations, various educations, various means of exercise and trial are necessary, no objection can be made against any present differences among mankind, either with respect to opportunities of improving in science, or of exerting certain virtues, which do not terminate in requiring, either that there be no differences at all among mankind, but that they should be one kind, one community without any differences of the parts or numbers, that is, without parts; or, which is equally absurd, in requiring, that a progress should be finished without beginning, and proceeding towards its end and completion.
To illustrate and confirm what hath been said, let me just add, that the vicissitudes in human life, whether with respect to particular persons, or to large collective bodies of men, render our present state such a duly variegated or diversified school for acquiring very large moral knowledge, as it could not otherwise be in the nature of things. Now who will say that such knowledge can be of no use to beings in another world? What else can fit beings for extensive spheres of action but large knowledge, joined with benevolence, the natural concomitant of an enlarged understanding? The farther one is advanced in knowledge, the fitter are his faculties become to be placed in a situation<116> for taking in more extensive views, and attaining to higher knowledge. But this is not all, the wiser one is, i.e. the more acquainted he is with moral beings, and their power and capacities, the better qualified he is for the higher exercises of beneficence, which are the proper rewards to wisdom and virtue. Now in order to get wisdom or extensive moral knowledge, as well as to have opportunities of exerting several great virtues, moral beings must be placed in a situation proper for that end. And what situation or school can be such, but one which shews moral beings to us in very various circumstances; in many different attitudes; or very variously tried and exercised?
In fine, when we object against differences among mankind here, we do not reflect that differences are not only necessary to this state, but to every state of moral beings. Far less do we consider that the great rewards of virtue in every state of moral beings can be nothing else but certain virtuous exercises, which necessarily require differences. It is true, the differences necessary to a state of trial as such, cannot belong to the state to which it is preparatory. But even that state which succeeds to a first state of trial must have its differences: otherwise it could not be a state of active employments; a state of virtuous and rational exercises. Though the same differences cannot be equally suitable to every state of moral beings, yet in every state of moral beings, or at every stage of moral progress that can be imagined, certain differences are necessary; for the noblest exercises of the virtuous temper necessarily require some differences; rational virtuous exercise cannot take place without differences. It is therefore absurd to object against the differences which take place in our present state, in whatever view we consider it; whether by itself abstractly from the future state to which it is a prelude; or as it is a first and preparatory state with regard to a future one. The objections do really suppose that there<117> may be a whole without parts; and that virtues may be exercised where there are no objects or subjects of virtuous exercise. There are indeed but a very few first principles in morals. And these two, however simple and self-evident they may appear, are however the very principles which are called into doubt by most of the objections against providence; viz. that every being must have its own peculiar situation which no other can possess at the same time, and that every affection when it is exerted, is exerted about some object, which if it did not exist, the affection could not be gratified. Let us therefore remember the apostle’s reasoning, and the consequences to which it naturally leads. That the body must be made up of many members; and that if there be teachers or rulers, there must be persons to be taught and ruled: when we suppose a state or community, we suppose members constituting that state as different from one another as the eyes, the ears, &c. are from one another in the natural body. And whenever we suppose exercises any-wise analogous to ministring good, to teaching, to ruling, or to any other such moral exercise, we suppose persons ministred to, persons taught, ruled, benefited. But because there will be occasion to return to this subject in speaking of a future state, I shall not dwell any longer upon it at present.
From what hath been said, the following corolaries may be inferred.
That if mankind subsist and pass into any state after this life, it will likewise be the rule there; it will be the rule according to which men will be placed there; and it will still be the rule with regard to their acquisitions and advances there.
We have already reasoned in this manner. That if it be the rule with regard to placing men in a future state, and all their acquisitions in it (as St. Paul asserts<118> in the text it is) it must also be the rule here, as far as the nature of a preparatory state to futurity permits. And we may alternately argue in this manner, that being found in fact to be the rule here in this present life so exactly observed, as that from hence the ways of God to man in it are fully justifiable, it must of necessity likewise be the rule in the state that succeeds to this life, in order to make the conduct of providence towards man compleat; if there be any such after-life. The scripture asserts, that there is a future life; and that this is the rule by which men shall be tried, judged, rewarded, or placed, and have their condition determined in it, all which phrases must necessarily have the same meaning. And that it must be the rule in a future state is demonstrable from the moral perfections of the Deity, from which the apostle infers it in the text. But abstractly from all these considerations it is plain, that if we may reason from analogy at all, as from the state of mankind at one period of time to their condition at another; or from the laws obtaining with regard to God’s government of mankind in infancy and childhood to his government of them in riper years; we may likewise conclude that if there be a future state of mankind, the law observed here generally, without any limitations that do not take their rise from sources of a very beneficial tendency, shall be the law in a future state, without any limitations but such as likewise proceed from causes necessary to the greater good.
But it likewise follows from what hath been proved actually to be the rule here with regard to all acquisitions made by mankind, that there must be a future state; otherwise indeed are moral powers and their acquisitions by labour and industry made to very little purpose; nay, wilfully destroyed in a manner to which we<119> see nothing that bears any likeness or analogy in the whole course of nature. To suppose no future state succeeding to this, is to suppose God to do what no man could do without being limited in power, or extremely capricious, to lay a noble foundation, and not carry on the building; or sow, manure, and cultivate, merely to have the pleasure of destroying things in their blossom, and when they are near to maturity, or when the harvest is at hand. God will, must perfect every good work he hath begun. He must therefore compleat the moral building that may be raised upon so goodly a foundation, and which, as far as it is advanced, promises a very perfect superstructure. Shall there be spring in the moral world, and no harvest? Surely the work is not finished here when moral powers are brought, by due culture, and variety of discipline and probation, to be fit for higher exercises than they could be qualified for before they were come to this maturity and vigor. If it stops here, it is a very imperfect work; nay, it is a cruel work: it is a cruel end to such an excellent beginning and an end it in no respect looks like or threatens. But the works of an infinite good and wise being cannot thus stop short of their completion, they cannot be imperfect. He cannot change or be changed, and therefore the same excellent disposition which alone disposed him to create moral beings capable of high improvements to all eternity, and to place them in a first state where their powers might have the properest means and materials of exercise for their improvement, must excite him to place them afterwards in a situation suited to their improvements made in this state. We know that a state designed merely for probation and discipline cannot always last; and we know this state, as it does not always last, so neither can it in the nature of things; for all material things must wax old, and wear out. But moral powers are of a different kind: they do not wear out;<120> they must be wilfully destroyed, if they cease to be. And can he who is infinite goodness take pleasure in destroying moral powers, and in disappointing all their natural hopes and desires, which are to be placed in proper circumstances to improve, and become more perfect; and in knocking down at once all the acquisitions made by them with much patience and suffering, with earnest labour and struggling? To say so is indeed to think most contemptibly, most ungenerously of the supreme being: it is to mock him: it is to deny all his moral perfections: it is to represent him as the most arbitrary of beings; as the worst of tyrants.
But let such thoughts be far from us: for what instinct prompts us to hope, and reason, to say the least of it, renders highly probable, revelation, by bringing immortal life and the law observed in it to light, hath put beyond all doubt. If we doubt or are diffident about the former reasonings from the divine perfections and analogy, let us no longer be so, but firmly established in the comfortable belief of a future state, in which every man shall reap as he hath sown here; for Christ, who died and rose again from the dead, assures us it is so: and he and his apostles, not content to affirm it by a testimony confirmed by miracles, for our greater comfort and assurance, often reason that it must be so in consequence of the divine moral perfections: that otherwise his work, his providence would be a very imperfect; nay, a very unjust iniquitous scheme. And shall not the righteous Judge of the world judge and act righteously? Will he deceive the hopes he hath implanted in us, and which virtue, as it improves, renders more strong and vigorous? Will he not perfect what he has begun? But if there be no future state, can we say that providence ends well; ends mercifully; nay, so much as justly? For here certainly tho’ virtue hath noble opportunities of improvement; yet it doth not fully appear, that he who hath sown to the flesh shall reap corruption, and he who hath sown to the spirit shall<121> reap the fruits of the spirit; here the effects of virtue and vice are not fully compleat. They cannot be so till after a state of trial. For in it the effects of trial only can appear, and not the full harvest. But effects appear which do indeed promise an excellent harvest; effects which are themselves the first fruits, or at least the beautiful pleasant blossoms that betoken a joyful harvest to come in its due season. Effects which shew us how happy the virtuous mind may, must be, if after its state of formation and trial it is placed in circumstances for which it is become fit: effects which shew us, how happy God can make him, who hath given all diligence to improve the stock of rational powers he hath put in his hands, in proportion to the opportunities he had of making improvement, if he be generously disposed to do it: effects which promise indeed bitter things to carnal, sensual, corrupted minds; but bespeak blessed fruits of the same kind with themselves, only more perfect in degree, to the good and virtuous. Effects, in one word, which are the image of the divine happiness, and an earnest, a fortaste of the improvements in happiness that must arise from highly improved faculties duly situated; and therefore such effects as plainly shew to us what is the natural progress to happiness according to our make, even progress in virtue, progress in likeness to God. And what our make, and frame, and situation clearly points out to be our road to happiness must be such; otherwise our make and frame points us to an end we cannot attain to; and by it God deceives us. But we deceive ourselves and mock God, when we think, there is not a future state, in which God will render to every one according to his works, and we shall all reap the harvest of our doings, the harvest to which our doings naturally tend. For God, who cannot be mocked, resisted, or eluded, hath unalterably fixed this righteous, this truly generous and kind rule in his government of mankind, and of all moral beings, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”<122>
[a. ]Chap. xii. ver. 24, &c.
[a. ]Acts of the apostles, chap. xvii ver. 22, &c.
[b. ]Chap. iv. ver. 8, &c.
[9. ]Heb. 11.6.
[a. ]St. John vii. 17.
[10. ]John 6.44, 45.
[b. ]John xvi. 3.
[c. ]Luke vii. 35.
[a. ]Chap. ix. x. xi. xiii.
[a. ]Rom. i. 19, &c.
[a. ]Matt. v. 48.
[b. ]Ps. xix.
[c. ]Ps. viii. 5, 6.
[d. ]Acts xiv. 15–17.
[a. ]Eccles. xliii. 29–37.
[a. ]Matt. vii. 11.
[b. ]2 John ver. 6.
[11. ]Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Monadology sect. 90, in his Monadology and Other Philosophical Writings, trans. Robert Latta (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898). The scholastic locus classicus for the distinction is Aquinas, Summa Theologiae 1, 19, 6 ad 1.
[a. ]Gen. i. 31.
[b. ]Ps. xix. Ps. viii. 1 Chron. xxix. 11, 12. Nehem. ix. 5, 6.
[a. ]James i. 5.
[b. ]Isaiah xlv. 7. Amos iii. 6.
[c. ]Chap. xxxix.
[d. ]Chap. iv. 1.
[e. ]Chap. i. 12–17.
[a. ]Job xxvi. 14. 1 Cor. xiii. 11–12.
[a. ]Dr. Sam Clarke. [The quotation is a rough paraphrase of Clarke, Sermon 10, in Works, 1:63–64.
[b. ]The same author, (Dr. Clark) in another place. [Clarke, Sermon 9, in Works, 1:55.
[a. ]Gen. i. 27.
[b. ]Ps. viii. 5, &c.
[a. ]1 Peter i. 12. Ephes. iii. 10.
[b. ]Ps. xvi. 2, 3.
[c. ]Luke xv. 10.
[a. ]Rom. viii. 28.
[a. ]Heb. xii. 6.
[b. ]Ps. cxix. 67, 71. 1 Pet. i. 6, 7. 1 Cor. xi. 32. Rev. iii. 19. Wisd. iii. 5. Rom. v. 3. Jam. i. 3, 12.
[a. ]Ecclus. xxxi. 7, 8, 9, 10, &c. See likewise Deuter. xxxii. 15.
[a. ]1 Tim. vi. 17, &c.
[b. ]Rom. v. 3. James i. 3, 4, 5.
[a. ]Ephes. v. 15, &c.
[b. ]2 Cor. iv. 16, 17, 18.
[a. ]Job xxviii. 24, &c. Ecclesiast. xviii. 39, 43. Wisdom xi. 24, &c. Ps. vii. 8, &c. xi. 7. xxxvi. 5, 6, 7. xxxvii. 28, &c. xcv. 13.
[12. ]“things in our power.”
[a. ]Democrates wished to be blind, that he might the better study the nature and origin of the world. And such philosophers seem to have shut their eyes against nature, that they might not owe any part of their philosophy to nature. [“Democrates” is a mistake for “Democritus.” Plutarch mentions a story along these lines while rejecting it: “It is a falsehood that Democritus voluntarily blinded himself by directing his eyes to red-hot mirrors and receiving the reflections from them, so that his eyes would not cause a disturbance by calling his mind to external things, but should allow it to remain at home and spend its time on intelligible things like windows which give on to the street and are shut.” Plutarch, Moral Essays, On Curiosity, 521c3.
[a. ]Prov. xxii. 29. xii. 11. vi. 4. xxiii. 21. xxiv. 30.
[13. ]The following eight Biblical quotes are from, respectively, Prov. 28.19; 13.11; 14.23; 20.13; 24.3; 24.4; 24.5; 6.6–8.
[a. ]Pet. i. 5.
[b. ]Mat. v. 48.
[a. ]Gal. vi. 9, 10.
[b. ]1 Tim. v. 8, &c. Titus iii. 8. 1 Thess. iv. 11. Rom. xii. 11.
[c. ]Prov. iii. 13. &c
[a. ]Prov. iv. 5, &c.
[b. ]Wisdom viii. 1, &c.
[a. ]Prov. i. 20. viii. 1. &c. ix. 1. &c.
[b. ]Isaiah v. 20.
[c. ]Hebr. v. 14.
[d. ]Rom. ii. 15.
[e. ]Phil. iv. 8.
[a. ]Philip. ii. 12, &c.
[14. ]Phil. 2.13.
[15. ]Phil. 2.15.
[16. ]Eccles. 9.11.
[a. ]Eccles. ix. 11. Isaiah xiv. 25.
[a. ]See Eccles x. 1, &c.
[a. ]Job xxviii. 24, &c. Psal. civ. cxxxvi.
[a. ]Rom. xii. 10, 11, &c. xiii. 10. 1 Cor. xiii. Gal. v. 14, &c. Eph. iv. 31. Phil. vi. 7. Col. iii. 12, &c. 1 Thess. v. 15.
[a. ]Rom. xii. 4–5.
[17. ]The next two pages are a paraphrase of the whole of Romans 12.
[a. ]1 Cor. xii.