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Proposition V - 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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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,
[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.