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III.: Further, the scripture specifies to us the exercises from which the future happiness of the virtuous flow. - 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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Further, the scripture specifies to us the exercises from which the future happiness of the virtuous flow.
I. It represents that future happiness as resulting from knowledge, that is, from the exercises of the understanding about objects fitted to give it high delight, fitted to give it noble employment and full satisfaction. We are told in the passages already quoted, that we shall see God, and rejoice in the light of his countenance. The meaning of which must be, that we shall see far into the works of God, far into the scheme of providence, and all that wonderful order and beauty which must prevail throughout the government of an infinitely wise and good ruler. To see or know any mind is to have a clear and satisfying view of its character from its productions, its plans, its thoughts, its sentiments and affections, its conduct: and therefore to know God, in whatever degree of perfection, must mean, to have, to a certain degree, a clear and satisfactory view of his temper and character, from the knowledge of his works, his productions, his scheme of government. And how delightful is the contemplation of the order and harmony that appears in God’s works, to those who search them out, even now that we are able to see so small a part of them? How unspeakable therefore must our satisfaction be when we<447> shall have a fuller view of them; when all that is now involved in darkness shall be light to us? We now see but a very small part, we have now but a very narrow confined view; and yet what we see sufficiently manifests to us the infinite perfections of the great Creator and Governor of the universe; his eternal power, wisdom and goodness; and therefore highly ravishes and transports the mind. But then we shall have a much larger prospect of God’s government; then we shall be daily advancing in a more perfect knowledge of his administration? The knowledge we shall then be capable of receiving shall be so great, in comparison of what our present situation or point of view can afford us, that in respect of the former the latter is called, knowing as children know—Nay, so far superior shall it be to our present knowledge, in clearness, comprehensiveness, and satisfaction, that in respect of it our present knowledge is called, seeing but darkly, as thro’ a glass; and it is said to be, seeing God face to face, and knowing him even as we are known of him. The scripture, ’tis plain, here labours to give us a very high conception of our delight, arising from the perfection of our knowledge in a future state; and the expressions must not be understood as meaning that our knowledge shall ever bear any proportion to the fullness, the infinite perfection of the divine knowledge. What they are designed to signify to us, is the vast superiority in respect of extent and delight by which our future knowledge shall surpass the most perfect insight we can now acquire into the works of God. It shall be, in comparison of our present knowledge, what seeing and conversing with one, is in respect to knowing him only by report. It is seeing God, not darkly through a glass, but face to face. It is seeing him in his works, so as not to mistake him, but to have a clear and just apprehension of their beauty and excellency, and his perfections. It is seeing his divine excellencies fully display’d, as we see the character of one fully manifested<448> to us by his actions and conversation, with whom we are in intimate acquaintance and correspondence. ’Tis no wonder that some men, endeavouring to comprehend the full adequate meaning of such expressions about the perfection of our future knowledge of God, have over-strained or over-heated their imaginations, and quite lost themselves: their full import is too big for our present comprehension: and it is dangerous for us to indulge our imaginations upon so raptorous a subject, without keeping a strict guard over ourselves. For the command and ballance of the mind may be lost by admiration, even when the subject is truly noble and pure, as well as by too great indulgence to other affections. And it is sufficient for our present comfort to know, that there is a state prepared for well improved minds, in which their joy resulting from the intelligent admiration of God’s works, or of God in his works, in his administration, shall far exceed what revelation can now describe or paint out to us by the strongest images. Those who are acquainted with the pleasures of knowledge, the divine satisfaction which the discovery of beauty and order in the works of God now affords to an enlarged understanding, united with a sound, a well disposed heart, cannot be at a loss to conceive what is meant, when the happiness which is to arise from larger and clearer, yet ever growing knowledge of God, and the pious affections such knowledge must excite and maintain in the mind, is said to be unutterably, inconceivably great.
II. But our future happiness is not represented in scripture, as wholly consisting in the pleasures accruing from the contemplation of God in his works, from knowledge of the divine perfections and administration, and the devout affections towards God, which the knowledge of him must kindle and keep alive in the mind. It is represented, as, in a great measure, the fruit of active, social exercises and employments. If we<449> judge at all from the analogy of nature, we must suppose that our hereafter state will be a community; nothing which we at present see can lead us to the thought of a solitary, unactive, unsocial, disunited state in another life. Nothing here leads us to imagine, that men do not continue to be in another life one kind, mutually dependent one on another: much less does any thing here lead us to suppose, that men cease to be agents; or to have active powers and faculties. Nor can we, indeed, in our thoughts, imagine men to become so many unactive, solitary individuals, without sinking and degrading mankind, instead of exalting them in our imagination. And in scripture, a future life is not represented as a solitary, disunited, unactive state; but, on the contrary, as a community, and an united, active state. We are not represented as merely contemplative beings, wholly engaged, each particular by himself in contemplation, admiration, and worship, without any correspondence, without any sympathy, connexion, dependence, or commerce. No: a future state of happiness is represented as a kingdom, a city under the supreme direction of God, of which the blessed inhabitants are fellow-citizens, contributing to one another’s happiness, mutually serving and served. It is called a glorious kingdom, the glorious kingdom of God, a glorious city, a new Jerusalem, a heavenly state, or community; a kingdom wherein dwelleth righteousness; a city whose builder and maker is God, and which abideth for ever; and the rewards constituting the happiness of that state are expressed by receiving a kingdom, a trust, a rule. “Thou hast been faithful, saith our Saviour to the righteous and profitable servant, over a few things, and therefore I will make thee ruler over many.”43 The blessed are said to reign with God, and to rejoice in doing his will, in executing his commands, and to receive a crown from him, a crown of righteousness.<450>
Let it be observed on this head, that the scripture no where represents to us any state of unactive happiness. The happiness of God himself is set forth to us as consisting in the continual communication of his goodness; in the uninterrupted exercise of his power and wisdom, for the best and noblest purposes, in order to promote the greatest general good. This is the idea the scripture gives us of the divine felicity: it consists in his unbounded, uninterrupted, active benevolence. Now, in order to be happy in another life, we are told in scripture, we must be like to God in love, i.e. benevolence; and that must certainly mean active benevolence; but not surely in order to have no occasion for an active principle of benevolence. The idea of the happiness of angels and archangels, and of all the choirs of celestial beings superior to man, is represented as consisting in their being ministring spirits to God; or beings employed in great and important offices to promote the glorious scheme of divine providence, and who are extreamly happy in this their instrumentality; or in their thus co-operating with God, or for God.a
Again, Jesus Christ in scripture is represented as delighting to do the will of God; as rejoicing in executing his commands; as having a high charge committed to him, and as having fulfilled it in part, and going on to fulfil it thoroughly. Two things are very evidently asserted in scripture concerning Jesus Christ, his visiting mankind, and his return to the Father after his resurrection, when he ascended into heaven. “That what he did for mankind was undertaken and performed by him from a noble principle of benevolence and virtue, in obedience to the will of God, with great delight and complacency; and that the commission<451> with which he was trusted was given him because of his worthiness; that he undertook and executed it with high satisfaction; and that he was to receive, and has received, for what he did on earth, a glorious recompence of reward. Lo, I come, I delight to do thy will, O my God, yea, thy law is within my heart. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even his God, anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows. He was made flesh, took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man: and being found in fashion as a man, was in all things tempted as we are. He became obedient to the death, even the death of the cross—and God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers, might and dominion, and every name which is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things in the church—Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof—for worthy is the lamb which was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing—The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign—Blessing, honour, and glory, and power be unto him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the lamb for ever—” And we are thus exhorted by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews: “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us; looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”44
Now, from all these ways of speaking laid together, without enquiring at present into the commission given<452> to Christ, with regard to mankind; or what that part is which he is employed in carrying on in God’s universal government; it is very manifest, 1. That his commission was given to him on account of his worthiness, his consummate virtue. The plain language of the scripture, of all that is said in the holy writings, about Jesus Christ, his commission, the power, the authority given to him of the Father, is, that true virtue is the only valuable consideration that prevails with God, the only power or quality, in heaven or in earth, that can be honoured and rewarded by him. 2. That as in this world, or God’s visible government, all is carried on chiefly by the instrumentality of men; so the invisible government of God is carried on by the instrumentality of agents superior to man. And, indeed, we must suppose the happiness of other rational agents to arise in a manner analogous to the happiness of good men, though in a superior degree, from their instrumentality in doing good; from their virtuous employments in promoting universal happiness. 3. It is no less evident from what is said of Jesus Christ, and his glorious commission and charge from the Father, and of the angels being ministring spirits to the heirs of salvation, and to execute other great purposes of God’s universal benevolence, that beings of the noblest and most perfect orders may have occasion for fortitude, for magnanimity and resignation to the divine will, in order to their noble employments, in the execution of which they are happy beyond all expression. The patience, the magnanimity, the resignation to God, and the benevolence to mankind, with which Jesus Christ bore the contradiction, the raillery, the persecution of sinners, is set before us in scripture, at once as an example of, and a strong motive to our sedulous study of those virtues. And they shew, that there may be occasion for these virtues in the most perfect state. But my design being merely to shew the consistency of the principles of religion discoverable by reason, with the fundamental<453> doctrines of revelation concerning God, providence, virtue, and a future state, and not to enter into any enquiry concerning any doctrine peculiar to christianity; ’tis sufficient to have observed, that according to the accounts given us in scripture of the divine felicity, and of the happiness of all moral beings, there is no ground to imagine, that the happiness of any moral being in any state, however perfect, is an inactive happiness. And therefore though we are not able to see here into the employments of our future state; nor indeed to receive any account of them from revelation, except a very general one, as hath been observed, we have reason to conclude, that our happiness in a future state is not an inactive but an active one, to which all the habits of virtue formed in this present state of discipline are necessary preparatives, or qualifications. Nor can we indeed conceive ourselves changed into a passive state without being sunk and degraded. Though the scripture had not expressly said, that our future state shall be a society, a regular social state, we must, we cannot chuse but imagine it to be such; for analogy inevitably leads us to conceive every state of moral beings of whatever rank or dignity, as such. And considering what variety there must be in respect of genius, temper, and abilities among men, as they enter into a future state upon their leaving this world, partly owing to original differences, and partly the effect of various situations and circumstances in this life; all which diversity is very consistent with virtuous tempers—what immense variety of happy employments may we fancy to ourselves in consequence of perfect union and harmony—perfect government to promote universal good, universal advancement in knowledge, and higher moral perfection? For though the habits of virtue be necessary to qualify us for the heavenly state, let us not imagine, that there is no farther progress to be made, after our entrance in to it, in moral perfection. This is equally contrary to scripture, and to all our ideas of<454> moral beings. Their capacity of progress knoweth no stop, no bounds; but their perfection will ever be advancing in proportion to culture, which, the first habits of virtue being well established in the mind, will never afterwards be wanting. In order to help our imaginations in this pleasing attempt to form some faint idea of future happiness in the active way, let us first figure to ourselves the vast happiness that mankind would enjoy even here in consequence of perfect government; such government, as the best writers on politicks have demonstrated human nature to be capable of, and consequently not to be impracticable—and then let us raise our minds to a celestial state of beings, compleatly virtuous, and unanimously conspiring to the promotion of their best common interests, in a social well-regulated state, the orders of which secure the constant advancement of the greatest publick good such beings are capable of—i.e. the souls of good men are capable of in a state where they can take in larger views of God’s providence; and are redeemed from the necessity of attending to low animal cares. For let it be remembered, that though christianity tells us we are again at the general resurrection to be embodied; yet, according to the account christianity gives of that re-union with bodies, it is to be with bodies capable of affording our minds higher and nobler means of enjoyment and exercises than our present bodies are. Our present bodies are admirably adjusted to the present state of our minds. And the bodies with which the spirits of just men made perfect are to be cloathed at the resurrection, shall be equally well adapted to that state of our souls.a “All bodies, saith St. Paul, are not the same. There are terrestial and celestial bodies. And the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised<455> in incorruption. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. This corruptible shall therefore put on incorruption; and this mortal shall put on immortality.” And these bodies are to qualify us for inheriting a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.a “Then shall the tabernacle of God be with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” By these and many parallel passages is evidently pointed out to us a happiness to the virtuous, to commence at that period, resulting from righteousness, the universal prevalency of righteousness, from perfect government and society; from a government so perfect as to deserve, in a peculiar manner, the name of a Theocracy, or God’s immediate government. The revelation of these future things cannot extend beyond certain bounds; because nothing can be discovered to us concerning future felicity, but what is analogous to our present experience. And there may be wise and good reasons for its not being so extensive and full as analogy admits, though we cannot possibly determine whether it is so or not. It is sufficient for us, that revelation concurs with reason to assure us of a future state, in which every man shall reap as he has sown here. The holy scripture represents the future state of the virtuous, as a social active state. And reason and analogy oblige us to conceive of it as such; to conceive of every state, of every class of moral beings as such; i.e. as a state in which their power encreases with their knowledge of the connexions of things; a state in which all goods, all enjoyments are the purchase of industry, and in which there is a common interest to<456> be promoted. Here in our present state, to use the expression of a very great man, “nature sells all to industry: it is the treasure which purchases all of God.” And there is good reason to imagine, that this law of industy is universal. It seems, indeed, necessarily to belong to the very character of created agents. We cannot suppose this law altered, with regard to the exercise of power, and the acquisitions of industry, without sinking created agents into a lower class of merely passive beings. Agency includes in it a capacity of extending power by knowledge, and of acquiring by the exercises of intelligent power. Beings who have no power can acquire nothing; they cannot act. And as it is acting, and acquiring by acting, which alone distinguishes an agent from a merely perceptive being; so it is difference with regard to spheres of power, that constitutes higher and lower, superior and inferior agents in nature. Wherefore, if beings in a future state have no more any sphere of activity, they are no more agents. But where there is a sphere of activity, there industry or exercise of power is the purchaser of all goods. Further, where there is no activity, no sphere of power, and where the law of industry does not take place, there can be no virtue or merit. For what is virtue or merit, but greatness of mind, or a disposition to extend and enlarge one’s power, guided and directed by benevolence: a disposition to promote publick good by our power; and to extend our capacity to promote it. We can form no other notion of virtue or merit: it can be nothing else in any state. It cannot therefore belong to any state of beings, where there is no sphere of activity, and where the law of industry does not take place. Again, where the law of industry takes place, and beings are capable of virtue and merit, there must be a publick interest to promote, as well as a private one. Virtue and merit, as they suppose a sphere of activity or power, so they include in their notion the dependence of a publick interest upon the use<457> particulars make of their power, a mutual relation and connexion, regular society and the instrumentality of particulars in promoting the general interests. What entertainment, in fine, what employment can we imagine to belong to beings who have no sphere of power, and no common good to promote? Such beings must be lower than men are in their present state. And, on the other hand, what a variety of excellent, noble entertainments and employments may belong to men, in whose minds benevolence predomines when their sphere of activity being enlarged, i.e. their capacity of encreasing in knowledge, and of encreasing in power proportionably to encrease in knowledge being enlarged, they have a great common good to pursue, even the common advancement of the whole society, or state of good men from greater to greater moral perfection; in a state where no differences inconsistent with virtue remaining, every particular will be continually laying himself out withfull complacency and delight to promote the publick interest; in a state where the habits of virtue being fully established in every mind, the diversity which then takes place shall be no other than what is necessary to lay a foundation for mutual union, for mutual giving and receiving; and thus every one shall mutually give an dreceive; and all shall be equally happy in giving and receiving: what a vast variety of very noble employments may, must take place in such a perfect state? And towards such a state is the natural tendency of reason, of virtue, of a moral constitution. Whatever happiness would be the effect of general virtue here, in our first state, while our powers are but in embrio, as it were, and while our sphere of power, though not contemptible, but rather great, is yet narrow in respect of what it may be in another situation; that happiness must, however, be but in considerable in comparison of the happiness general virtue must produce, when our powers are formed to great perfection by culture, and our sphere<458> of activity, is greatly enlarged, and continually enlarging. And yet, who can express all the happiness which the prevalence of virtue, according to its natural tendency, would produce even in our present state? It is almost above description. Our present sphere of activity is very well adapted to our powers in their first state to be perfected by culture; very well adapted to make a proper school of exercise for perfectionating them; for perfectionating virtuous habits in us in particular; and our present happiness depends upon the prevalence of virtue, and rightly constituted society, in order to make men good, or promote virtue: it is the effect of the natural tendency of virtue; and holds proportion to its prevalence. And therefore as it is reasonable to think, that enlargement of our sphere of activity will be the reward of virtue; so the general prevalence of virtue in a state where our sphere of activity is enlarged, and continually enlarging, must, in consequence of the natural tendency of virtue, produce the most perfect happiness—happiness too big for the mind at present to comprehend—the prospect of which ought powerfully to animate us to give all diligence now to add virtue to virtue; to grow and advance in spiritual strength, in vigour and perfection of mind, and not to faint or weary; forasmuch as we know that our labour shall not be in vain; that our acquisitions shall not be destroyed; but that in a future state we shall continue to go on from strength to strength, from glory to glory, rejoicing in God the rewarder of virtue. This delightful hope ought ever to be present with us, that we may look upon every circumstance in our present life, as an opportunity for perfecting ourselves in some virtue, for which there is a glorious recompence in store; for some virtue which shall add to our crown of glory in the life to come, where the righteous shall shine in proportion to their righteousness; and those who by their counsel, joined with a noble example, have turned many to righteousness, shall rule with God.<459> These strong expression sare authorised by the scripture. And it is no small satisfaction to a virtuous mind to find all good and wise men in all ages of the world representing the future state of the virtuous in like expressions: for as an excellent ancient philosopher observes, “the greater, the nobler the mind is, the more it becomes in love with virtue and virtuous exercises; the more it delights itself in the hopes of future happiness in the society of the virtuous, resulting from greater power and greater perfection in virtue proportioned one to another, or keeping pace one with another.” It only now remains to observe in the last place,
[43. ]Matt. 25.21.
[a. ]Heb. i. 7. 14. Ephes. i. 20, 21, &c. Philip. ii. 5, &c. Heb. i. 2, 3, &c. Rev. v. 5, &c. Rev. vi. 15, &c. Heb. xii. 2, 3.
[44. ]Heb. 12.1–3.
[a. ]1 Cor. xv. 39–44, 50, 53.
[a. ]2 Peter iii. 13. Isa. lxv. 17, &c. Rev. xxi. 3, &c.