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Proposition IV - 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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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>
[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.