Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

Chrift, Life.

Ch. 1.

[ocr errors]

in us the moral Perfections of God, from which his Happiness is infeparable. We then, if I may fo fay, live the Life of God; that is, we, in our Place and Station, live after the fame Manner, and by the fame Rules as he does in his; and we do what God himself wou'd do was he in our Place; and there wou'd be no other Difference between his Life and ours, but what arifes from our different States and Relations; fince the fame Rules wou'd determine our Wills as determine his Will; and by our repeated Acts of Virtue, we shou'd be continually making nearer and nearer Approaches to the most perfect, and the most happy Being. By this Conduct, we, as the Scriptures affure us, fhou'd be made Partakers of the Divine Nature, be born of God, and be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; and can That be without being as happy as we are perfect? Hence we may contemplate the great Dignity of our Rational Nature, fince our Reafon for Kind, tho' not for Degree, is of the fame Nature with That of God's; nay, 'tis our Reason which makes us the Image of God himself, and is the common Bond which unites Heaven and Earth; the Creatures, and the Creator; and if our Happinefs is limited, 'tis because our Reason is fo: 'Tis God alone, who has an unlimited Reason and Happiness.


THE excellent Author just now mention'd fays, Part 2. Vol.1.« best Thing we can receive from God is Himself, and "Himself we do receive in our ftrict Compliance with "the eternal Laws of Goodness; which Laws being tran"fcrib'd from the Nature of God, from his eternal Righte"ousness and Goodness, we do, by obeying them, derive "God's Nature into our own; fo that while we write after "the Copy of his Laws, we write out the Perfections of "his Being; and his Laws being the Seal on which he has


[ocr errors]

engraven his Nature, we, in obeying them, take Impres "fion from them, and stamp his bleffed Nature on our own. Which, certainly, must make us neceffarily happy, as a contrary Conduct wou'd make us unhappy. And, I think, I may venture to say, that cou'd we fuppofe God himself to act otherwise, he wou'd then be as unhappy as he now is happy; and his Omnipotency cou'd not hinder him from being continually expos'd to the Reproach of his own Infallible Reason.

FROM these Premifes, I think, we may conclude, that Men, according as they do, or do not partake of the Nature of God, muft unavoidably be either happy, or mise ́rable: And herein appears the great Wisdom of God, in making Mens Mifery and Happiness the neceffary and infeparable Confequence of their Actions; and that rational Actions carry with them their own Reward, and irrational their own Punishment: This, I think, can't be deny'd, as long as there are fome Actions naturally beneficial to us, and others as hurtful; and that there's no Virtue, but what has fome Good infeparably annex'd to it; and no Vice, but what as neceffarily carries with it fome Evil, and if our rational Nature is to be the fame in the next Life, as it is in this, our Actions must produce Effects of the fame Kind, and that too in a much higher Degree.

In this Life, 'tis true, we can't be perfectly happy; as fubject to Diseases and Difafters: We are imperfect our selves, and have none to converfe with but imperfect Crcatures; and yet if we act according to the Dictates of right Reason, we shall receive, even here true inward Comfort and Satisfaction; and hereafter, when we are freed from those Imperfections, compleat Happiness: On the con

[ocr errors][merged small]


[ocr errors]

trary, the Man who abandons his Reason, befides the Mifery of all Sorts an irrational Conduct will bring on him, muft feel in his Mind, Pain, and Anguish even in this Life; and in the Life to come, when there are no fenfual Things to divert his Thoughts, infupportable Grief and Mifery..


[ocr errors]

THO' human Law-givers are forc'd to have Recourfe to Punishments, which are not connected with the Things they forbid; yet a Being of infinite Power is not thus ftraiten'd, but may make one the neceflary Confequence of the other: And, indeed, how can it be otherwife, fince Good and Evil have their Foundation in the effential Difference of Things, and their Nature is fix'd and immoveable: And confequently, our Happiness depends on the intrinfick Nature of the one, and our Mifery on the intrinfick Nature of the other.

As God, whofe infinite Wisdom fets him above being deceiv'd, or influenc'd by any wrong Affections, acts in constant Conformity to the Reafon and Nature of Things; and 'tis a Contradiction to his Nature for him to do any Thing that is not Fit and Reasonable; fo he wou'd have fram'd our Nature in Contradiction to his own, if he had oblig'd us to act otherwife: No, God can never give us Commands repugnant to his own Nature, or require us to do what he himself abhors to do. The End for which God has given us Reason, is to compare Things, and the Relation they stand in to each other; and from thence to judge of the Fitnefs and Unfitness of Actions; and cou'd not our Reafon judge foundly in all fuch Matters, it cou'd not have anfwer'd the End for which infinite Wisdom and Goodness bestow'd that excellent Gift; and for which we can't enough adore the Goodness of God.


HAD God, from Time to Time, fpoke to all Mankind in their several Languages, and his Words had miracu lously convey'd the fame Ideas to all Perfons; yet he cou'd not speak more plainly than he has done by the Things themselves, and the Relation which Reason fhews there is between them: Nay, fince 'tis impoffible in any Book, or Books, that a particular Rule cou'd be giv'n for every Cafe, we must even then have had Recourfe to the Light of Nature to teach us our Duty in moft Cases; especially confidering the numberlefs Circumstances which attend us, and which, perpetually varying, may make the fame Actions, according as Men are differently affected by them, either good or bad: And I may add, that most of the particular Rules laid down in the Gofpel for our Direction, are spoken after fuch figurative a Manner, that except we judge of their Meaning, not merely by the Letter, but by what the Law of Nature antecedently declares to be our Duty, they are apt to lead us wrong: And if Precepts relating to Morality, are deliver'd after an obfcure Manner, when they might have been deliver'd otherwise; what Rea fon can you affign for its being fo, but that infinite Wif dom meant to refer us to That Law for the explaining them. Sufficient Inftances of this Nature I fhall give you hereafter, tho' I must own, I can't carry this Point fo far as a learned Divine, who reprefents the Scriptures more obfcure (which One wou'd think impoffible) than even the Fathers. He tells us, "That a certain Author (viz. Flac"cus Illyricus) has furnish'd us with one and fifty Rea- Apol, c. p. ` «fons for the Obscurity of the Scriptures; adding, " I "think, I may truly fay that the Writings of the Pro"phets and Apostles abound with Tropes and Metaphors, "Types and Allegories, Parables and dark Speeches; and

E 2

[ocr errors]

"C are Reeve's

45, 46.

« are as much, nay, much more unintelligible in many "Places, than the Writings of the Ancients. 'Tis well Pref. concern. this Author, who talks of People being stark Bible-mad the Fathers. ftopp'd here; and did not with a celebrated Wit

right Ufe of

P. II.

Taleofa Tub, truly illuminated Books are the darkest of all.

cry, The

THE Writer above-mention'd fuppofes it impoffible, that God's Will fhou'd be fully reveal'd by Books; "Except, Prelim. Dif- " fays he, it might be faid perhaps without a Figure, that Lirinenf.p.199. even the World itself could not contain the Books which Vincent.

"fhould be written:" But with Submiffion to this Reverend Person, I ca'nt help thinking, but that, (fuch is the divine Goodness) God's Will is fo clearly, and fully manifefted in the Book of Nature, that he who runs may read it.

[ocr errors]

THIS can't be deny'd, if the Book of Nature fhews us in Characters legible by the whole World, the Relation we ftand in to God and our Fellow-Creatures, and the Duties refulting from thence; for then it muft teach us the whole of our Duty, fince it wou'd be unjust and tyrannical in any Being, to require more of others than the Relation they stand in to him makes it their Duty to pay; it being that Relation alone which gives him his just Power and Authority. We are encompass'd with many artificial Relations, fuch as Governor and governed, Mafter and Servant, Husband and Wife, &c. and the End of thefe Relations teaches us what they require; and they being enter'd into for the fake of each others Affiftance, either Party is injur'd by the others not obferving what these Relations demand, or by exacting more than the End of entring into them requires.


« AnteriorContinuar »