Imágenes de páginas

ferv'd, fhou'd be so observ'd; Or in other Words, we can't but know, if we in the least confider, that whatever Circumftances Men are plac'd in, by the univerfal Cause of all Things; 'that 'tis his eternal and immutable Will, by his placing them in these Circumstances, that they act as These require. 'Tis abfurd to imagine we are oblig'd to act Thus in fome Cafes, and not in others; when the Reason for acting Thus in all is the fame. This Confideration alone will direct a Man how to act in all Conditions of Life, whether Father, Son, Husband, Servant, Subject, Mafter, King, &c. Thus we see how the Reason of Things, or the Relation they have to each other, teaches us our Duty in all Cafes whatever. And I may add, that the better to cause Men to obferve those Rules, which make for their mutual Benefit, infinite Goodness has sown in their Hearts Seeds of Pity, Humanity and Tenderness, which, without much Difficulty, cannot be eradicated; but nothing operates more ftrongly than that Defire Men have of being in Esteem, Credit, and Reputation with their Fellow Creatures; not to be obtain'd without acting on the Principles of Natural Juftice, Equity, Benevolence, &c.

In a Word, As a most beneficent Difpofition in the fu preme Being is the Source of all his Actions in relation to his Creatures; fo he has implanted in Man, whom he has made after his own Image, a Love for his Species; the gratifying of which in doing Acts of Benevolence, Compaffion and good Will, produces a Pleasure that never fatiates ;)) as on the contrary, Actions of Ill Nature, Envy, Malice, &c. never fail to produce Shame, Confufion, and everlasting SelfReproach.

AND now let any One fay, how 'tis poffible God could more fully make known his Will to all intelligent CreaD 2


tures, than by making every Thing within and without them a Declaration of it, and an Argument for observing it.

HAVING thus difcover'd our Duty, we may be sure it will always be the fame; fince Inconftancy, as it argues a Defect either of Wisdom or Power, can't belong to a Being infinitely wife and powerful: What unerring Wisdom has once inftituted can have no Defects; and as God is entirely free from all Partiality, his Laws muft alike extend to alt Times and Places.

FROM thefe Premises, I think, we may boldly draw this Conclufion, That if Religion confifts in the Practice of those Duties, that refult from the Relation we ftand in to God and Man, our Religion must always be the fame. If God is unchangeable, our Duty to him must be fo too; if human Nature continues the fame, and Men at all Times stand in the fame Relation to one another, the Duties which result from those Relations must always be the fame: And confequently, our Duty to God and Man must, from the Beginning of the World to the End, always be the fame; always alike plain and perfpicuous, and can neither be chang'd in Whole or Part; which demonftrates that no Perfon, if he comes from God, can teach us any other Religion, or give us any Precepts, but what are founded on those Relations. Heaven and Earth fhall fooner pass away, than one Tittle of this Eternal Law shall either be abrogated, or alter'd.

To fum up all in few Words, As Nature teaches Men to unite for their mutual Defence, and Government was inftituted folely for this End; fo to make This more effectual, Religion, which reaches the Thoughts, was wholly ordain'd; it being impoffible for God, in governing the World, to propose to himself any other End than the Good of the governed; and confequently, whoever acts what is best for him

himself both in a publick, and private Capacity, does all that either God or Man can require. Thus from the Confideration of our own Imperfections, which we continually feel; and the Perfections of our Creator, which we constantly view in all his Works; we may arrive to the Knowledge of our Duty, both to our Creator and Fellow-Creatures. Hence I think, we may define True Religion to consist in a conftant Difpofition of Mind to do all the Good we can; and thereby render ourselves acceptable to God in answering the End of his Creation.)


[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


97.9nT 45%


That the Perfection and Happiness of all rationa! Beings, fupreme as well as fubordinate, confifts in living up to the Dictates of their Nature.

O make This, (fince all our Happiness depends on it) if poffible, more plain; The Principle from which all human Actions flow is the Defire of XXX Happinefs; and God, who does nothing in vain, would in vain have implanted this Principle, This only innate Principle in Mankind, if he had not given them Reason to difcern what Actions make for, and against their Happiness.

B. WHEREIN do you take the Happiness of rational Creatures to confift? Without knowing That, this Controverfy can't be determin'd; and when 'tis known, our Dispute must foon be ended.

A. THE Happiness of all Beings whatever confifts in the Perfection of their Nature; and the Nature of a rational Being is most perfect, when it is perfectly rational; that is, when it governs all its Actions by the Rules of right Reason; for then it arrives to the most perfect, and confequently the happieft State a rational Nature can aspire to ; and every Deviation from the Rules of right Reason being an Imperfection, must carry with it a proportionable Unhappiness; and a Man's Happiness and Duty must con

[ocr errors]

fift in the fame Things, fince no One can be oblig'd to do
any Thing that does not fome Way or other contribute to
his Happiness; and confequently according to the Sense Men
have of their own Happiness, and of the Means which will
naturally procure it, they will affuredly attain the Know-
ledge of their respective Duties.

B. If we know wherein the Happiness of God, who is
neceffarily happy, confifts, we might judge wherein confists
the Happiness of Man made after God's own Image; and
whether Happiness, or Mifery are the neceffary Confequence
of his Actions.


A. Because this is a Point of the higheft Confequence, I fhall fpeak my Sentiments (that they may the better pafs with you) in the Words of the judicious Dr. Scot, who says, "That which renders God fo infinitely happy in himself, Chrft. Life "is not fo much the Almighty Power he has to defend him- Ch. 1,

Part 2, Vol.


felf from foreign Hurts and Injuries, as the exact Agree"ment of all his Actions with the All-comprehending Rea"fon of his own Mind. God loves not himself meerly be"cause he is himself, but because he is in all Refpects mo«rally good, and his Will and Power perfectly compliant


with the infallible Dictates of his own Reafon: Hence « arises his infinite Complacency in himself, that there's nothing in him but what his own Reafon perfectly approves; no Inclinations in his Will, or Nature, but what "are exactly agreeable to the faireft Ideas of his own "Mind.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

If the Perfection, and confequently the Happiness of God, confifts in the Purity and Rectitude of his Nature, we, as far as we can arrive to a liké Purity and Rectitude, must be fo far neceffarily happy; fince by living according to the Rules of right Reason, we more and more implant


« AnteriorContinuar »