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C H A P.
That Reference to the End therefore seems to be the Standard to the Agent, both of the Reasonableness, and Morality of his Action : And not the Agreement of his Action to the Relation or Circumstance he is plac'd in. That indeed founds the Reason of relative Duties; but what makes those Duties moral is the Fitness and Reference of them, chosen as such, to the End God appointed them, Happiness. The bare Knowledge and Apprehension of the Relation of Things does not induce the Agent to act, unless the said End of Happiness to himself, and others, is proposed from his acting according to that Relation. And when the Action has attain'd that End, or truly intended it, it is morally good ; and is, at the same time, a Conformity to the supreme Reason, which has appointed those best Actions to those best Ends: And the divine Will and Commandments are so many Directions of our Actions to the Happiness of ourselves and others, in both Worlds.
What other, or what better End could the Fountain of all Self-goodness and Happiness propose, in making Man, than to communicate Happiness to him, according to the Nature and Faculties he had given him ? The very Glory of Goodness confifts in communicating itself, nor could it otherwise ever have been known. Man then being made a free Agent, and a sociable Creature ; to make his Happiness consistent with, and suitable to his Nature, ic must be the Result of his Choice ; and enjoyable also in Society Imperfectly enjoyable in this Life, more compleatly in the next. And what wifer or better Choice can he possibly make, than of that
End and that Happiness which his Maker has CH A P. chosen for him, and laid before him for his Ac- XVI. ceptance or Refusal? But what greater Enforcement of, or Obligation to his Good, can be laid upon him, for determining and obliging his Will to Acceptance, than such a Choice laid before him?
Be there never so many different Opinions about Happiness (as what it is in the present Life, where it is neceffarily mix'd and imperfect, there muft ever be different Sentiments, and as many Judgments as Tastes of Pleasure, and but one Truth to unite in, viz, that Happiness which is subordinate and leads to the total or ultimate Happiness hereafter) if the Author of our Being and Faculties, who best knows what is best for us in both Worlds, has shew'd us our Good and Happiness in each, all Believers of his Revelation must subscribe to his Truths and Rules concerning it : And all others will for ever be at a Loss without it.
If Happiness then is the natural, ultimate End of Man, and that End is chosen, that governs and obliges to the choice of the Means ; and the Reference to and Consideration of the End must be the Motive in chusing and pursuing the Means: the Means will accordingly be chosen not so much for their own Sake, as for the Sake of the End. And as God, the Patron of our particular Happiness, and of Society, or general Happiness, has tied and connected such and such Actions in Society to general, and particular Happiness in it here, and hereafter; and that Happiness depends upon the Performance of such Aations by natural Consequence, or by
CHA P. his Appointment; then the Performance of them
and in Regard to that, the Agent is induced and
And because necessary to attain that End, that shews the Fitness, Congruity, Reasonableness, Order, and Beauty of the Action ; as Beauty consists in a due Proportion of the Means to the End, and likewise the Agreement of the Action to such a Relation or Circumstance of Life. If the Action had not been necessary to the End, it had neither been beautiful, nor orderly, nor reasonable, nor fit : But as it is indispensably neceffary, that renders it fit to be done, because it so exactly fits the End ; reasonable, because it would be absurd to think of the End without it ; orderly as subordinate ; beautiful, as proportion'd to it.
Take away Happiness, the End to which it tends, it produces nothing : What then becomes of those fine Characters Fitness, Reasonableness, &c. Do they reside in the Means without the End? Then the Action is fit and reasonable, because it is fit and reasonable, &c. i. e, for no Reason ; if no End is applied, no Reason is offer'd, no Instance alledg'd of its Fitness ; what is this but a speculative resting in the Means without the End, and a Recommendation of them without any Respect unto it? The Obligation therefore, or Inducement to the Action, does not derive from dry Truth, Relation of the Agent, Fitness ; but in relative Truth, called Holiness of Truth, Eph. iv. 24. as it is in the Margin; holy Manners are expected from holy
Faith, as a pure Effect is from a pure Cause,CHAP. that one should enlighten and enliven the other XVI. before Men. Fitness, as it agrees with and is suited to the End, makes the Means to be em: braced, and pursued into Action.
God has made the Relation and Tendency between the Means and the End; and therefore commanded moral Good because it is naturally good, tends to, and qualifies for Happiness : And has prohibited moral Evil as it leads to Mifery; and as Misery and Happiness are essentially different, so there is an essential Difference between the other. And those natural and immutable Tendencies, make the natural and immutable Law of pursuing the one, and avoiding the other. The Agent therefore chusing the Action not as an End, but a Means in Reference to Happiness, makes the moral Good; he co-operates with God in chusing the fame End with him, and chusing and adapting the fame Means. His Mores to God, and Society, are regulated as they ought to be, and therefore his Action is morally Good. The Action of itself is a natural Good productive of natural Happiness ; but as it is chosen for the Sake of the Happiness, it becomes a moral Good, productive of Happiness suitable to, and chosen by a moral Agent. The Tie of the Obligation is fasten'd from the End, to the Choice of the Agent's Will, moving to and embracing the Means in respect to the End, whether the Obligation is consider’d with some externally, as proceeding from the Law or Command of those that require the Action ; or in- ternally with others, as inherent in the Agent.
Why then should that be laft, or least in the Action, which God and Nature has made first and greatest in it ; first in the Intention, and greatest in the Execution ? He that duly considers the End will never do amiss. The proposing the external Motives of Happiness or Misery, Life or Death, is setting the End of the Action before the Agent, that he may condua himself accordingly.
Or, if the Action is consider'd as a Qualification for enjoying the End, Happiness ; which Qualification is as necessary in the Nature of Things, as Taste is to a Palate : That introduces the moral Taste, which seems to be a Tasting our own Happiness in Society, and at the fame Time tafting the Happiness of Society.
It remains therefore that Happiness is the Estimate and Criterion of the moral Taste, Fitness, Relation, Truth *, Beauty, Goodness, Obligation, Approbation, Reasonableness. And confe
quently * Happiness as an End is the Choice of the Will, and that End must have Means suitable to it ; and those Means being fix'd, and immoveably settled by the God of our Nature in the Respects or Relations of Persons to Perfons, or Persons to Things, in their Circumstances, as his Providence orders them, that makes the Truth of Things : Which the Author of the Religion of Nature delin. has made the Foundation of his valuable Book. Tho? in making Morality consist in respecting Truth, as Truth, he plainly carries the Matter too far. "Because all Truth as such being equal, all Truth wculd be equally important ; and every Action regarding any sort of Truth would be moral ;, and no Difference in moral Actions. It mult therefore be those Truths, which one way or other respect the Good and Happiness of ourselves, or others, that concern a moral Agent, or can come under a moral Con