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believe he only punish'd when, and no further than their Good requir❜d.

Do not we bring God down to ourselves, when we fuppose he acts like us poor indigent Creatures, in feeking Worship and Honour for his own fake; nay, do we not cloath him, who has neither Parts nor Paffions, with the worft of our Infirmities, if we reprefent him as an ambitious, fufpicious, wrathful and revengeful Being.

If we dare confult our Reafon, it will tell us that Jealoufy in point of Honour and Power, Love of Fame and Glory can only belong to limited Creatures; but are as neceffarily excluded from an unlimited, abfolutely perfect Being, as Anger, Revenge, and fuch like Paffions; which would make the Deity refemble the weak, womanish, and impotent Part of our Nature, rather than the manly, noble, and generous.

Cou'd God ftrictly speaking, be made angry, provok'd, or griev'd by the Conduct of us wretched Mortals, he wou'd not enjoy a Moment's Quiet; but must be much more miferable than the most unhappy of his Creatures. Or,

HAD God any Comfort, or Satisfaction to gain from the Thoughts and Actions of his Creatures, he wou'd never have been without an Infinity of them jointly contributing to this End.

If Religion in general, and every Part of it was not useful to Mankind, there wou'd be no Reason why they shou'd know it more than other Animals; who, tho' they have wonderful Talents (in many of which they exceed Men) given them by God for preferving themselves and their Species, yet are utter Strangers to Religion, as a Thing wholly useless to them.

THE

THE Sum of what I have been faying is fully exprefs'd Ch.35.6, &c.by Job in these Words, If thou finneft, what doft thou against him? Or if thy Tranfgreffions be multiply'd, what doft thou unto him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? Or what receiveth be at thy Hands? Thy Wickedness may burt a

Man as thou art, and thy Righteousness profit the Son of Man, 2 Efdr. 8. 34. Or, as Efdras fays, What is Man that thou shouldft take Dif pleasure at him? Or what is a corruptible Generation, that thou shouldft be fo bitter towards it?

OUR greatest Felicity confifts in having fuch an impartial and difinterested Judge as well as Legislator, that whether he punishes, or rewards, he acts alike for our Good; That being the End of all his Laws, and confequently of the Penalties as well as Rewards which make them Laws; whereas your common Systems of Divinity represent him full of Wrath and Fury, ready to glut himself with Revenge for the Injuries he has fuffer'd by the Breach of his Laws.

B. Is not God's Juftice as well as his Mercy a divine Attribute, and will not That as much oblige him to punish the Breakers of his Laws, as if he had been, as he is fometimes represented, full of Anger, Wrath, and Revenge?

A. THO' Justice and Mercy can't at the fame Time be exercis'd in one and the fame Inftance on the fame Subject; yet your System Writers, left they fhou'd limit these two Attributes in God, extend them alike to all Perfons, which is making him neither juft, nor merciful; because these Attributes drawing contrary Ways muft hinder each other's Effect.

B. I must confefs, I do not see how the fame Act can be an Act both of Juftice and Mercy in relation to the fame Person; or how it can be faid that God does Justice on a Sinner, when he fhews Mercy to him; and yet we

must

must suppose the Juftice as well as Mercy of God to be infinite.

A. THE Juftice by which God is righteous in all his Actions, and the Mercy by which he is good or beneficent are infinite, and eternally inherent in the divine Nature; but These oblige not God either to punish, or pardon any further than his infinite Wisdom fees fit; and fuch Punishing and Pardoning are tranfient Acts, the Effects of his Will, not Properties belonging to his Nature. Juftice and Mercy among Men relate to different Subjects: When the Magistrate punishes a Criminal, 'tis an Act of Justice to the Publick; and when he pardons him 'tis an Act of Mercy to the Criminal, tho' an Act of Injustice to the Publick; except in fuch Circumstances, where he has Ground to believe that Pardoning him may be no Difadvantage to the Publick ; whofe Intereft it is not to lofe a useful Member.

THE greatest Difference in this Cafe between God and Man is, that the most powerful Monarch on Earth is of the fame Nature with his Subjects, and his Good involv'd in the Good of the whole, and by the Breach of his Laws may be injur'd; and as a Party injur'd may exact Reparation and Satisfaction: But This without Blafphemy can't be faid of God, whofe Nature is infinitely fuperior to That of Man, and who, as he was infinitely happy in himself before there was any Creature to adore him, or be obedient to his Will, so he must still be fuch, tho' none of them did obey his Laws, or acknowledge his Being; and therefore, in doing Acts of Justice he can't, like the Monarchs of this World, propose any Security to himself, but acts purely for the Good of his Creatures; and the Effects of his Juftice (they never extending to Annihilation) must not only be for the Good of Others, but even of the Perfons punish'd; because God, G

whose

whofe Love infinitely exceeds that of mortal Parents, chaftifes his Children, (and all Mankind are alike his Offfpring) because he loves them, and defigns their Amendment; and the Reason why God in Scripture is said to be Love, must be because all his Acts, by what Name foever you call them, are Acts of pure, impartial, and disinterested Love.

ALL Punishment for Punishment's fake is meer Cruelty and Malice, which can never be in God; nor can he hate any Thing he has made, or be subject to such Weakness or Impotence as to act arbitrarily, or out of Spite, Wrath, Revenge, or any Self-Intereft; and confequently, whatever Punishment he inflicts, must be a Mark of his Love, in not fuffering his Creatures to remain in that miserable State, which is infeparable from Sin and Wickedness.

As God's infinite Goodness appears in the Sanctions as well as Matter of his Laws, fo his infinite Wisdom knows how to adjust the Punishment to the Offence; that it may be exactly fitted to produce the defir'd Amendment.

B. Does not your fuppofing that God has no other Mo. tive in executing his Laws, than he had in making them; viz. the Good of his Creatures; and that all Punishment must bear an exact Proportion to the Offence it is defign'd to amend, ftrike at the abfolute Eternity of Hell-Torments? fince there's no Proportion between temporary Injuries done to all Men, and eternal Mifery of but one Man; nor can everlafting Torment work Amendment.

A. I fhall at prefent refer you to Dr. Burnet, de Statu Serm. Vol. 6. mortuorum, and only fay with Archbishop Tillotson, "The p. 211. & P. Right that God hath in his Creatures is founded in the "Benefits he hath conferr'd on them, and the Obligation they have to him on that Account. Now there's none,

621.

"who

"who because he has done a Benefit, can have, by virtue " of that, a Right to do a greater Evil than the Good he has "done amounts to; and I think it next to Madness to doubt, "whether extreme, and eternal Mifery be not a greater "Evil than fimple Being is a Good." But at a proper

Time I fhall confider what may be faid from Scripture as well as Reason, for the Doctrine of the abfolute Eternity of Torments; and what will be the Condition of those who dye before they are capable of undergoing a Tryal, or knowing any Thing of Religion. A Subject, which, I think, has scarce been confider'd by any One.

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