Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

quently that the Dispute has been about Words, CHAP which receive their full and ultimate Meaning XVI. from the other; and are all reconciled in it.

What is Publick- Affe&tion but multiplying the Love of Self, by the Rule and Order of Citizenship in both Worlds ?

What is the moral Taste, but that Hunger and Thirst in our Nature after Happiness ; directed to Righteousness, in order to accomplish it, and be satisfied ?

WHAT

fideration, as Means to that End ; if they offer true Means to that End, they cure Ignorance and Mistake ; but it is the Office of the Understanding to distinguish of that as its proper Object. The Understanding is the mental Eye of the Agent to see his Way to the End : But it is not the Eye that moves the Feet to walk in the Way, but the Will; Selfmotion springs from that, and that is the only moral Agent in the Man, and when it chuses an Action or Means to that End, it becomes moral.

He says, pag. 52, the truest Definition of Natural Religion is, The Pursuit of Happiness by the Praćtice of Reason and Truth. It is plain then, that he very rightly makes Happiness the End of his Truth : But the Practice of Reason and Truth seems a very unaccurate Expression; had he faid chusing true Means by the Discernment of Reason, and putting them in practice to that End, he would have made his Truth both eligible and practicable, and so brought it into Morality. His System of Truth is vastly beholden to Revelation, tho' unacknowledgod, and made all to proceed from a mere Philosopher : But what Philosopher before the Appearance of the Gospel ever taught some of those Truths, or put any of them in such a Light as they appear in that Book ?

However the Deists have no Reafon, as I doubt some of them think they have, to plume themselves upon it; for they can find no Arguments there to contradiet Revelation ; but they may please to read their own Condemnation in these Words of the Author. “ Here I begin to be very

sensible

CH AP.
XVI.

What is the Faculty of Reason given for, but to find out Truth, and the Relation of Things, and Persons, as they affeet and concern our Happiness ? Speculative Truth, and Relation * may servę for Contemplation, and entertain the Faculty hereafter, when it is more at leisure. But now is the Scene of Action, Probation, and Distinction of the Ways and Means which lead to our End. Tho' it shews the Will the Reasonableness of the Action never so clearly from Truth and the Relation of Things, it only clears the Eye-light of video meliora proboq; the Judgment is often convinc'd, and the Man no Convert. But the Will is guided most in its Choice by the Motive, and gaind by the Confideration of Advantage and Happiness; and that, which is eternal," is adapted to influence most, and prefer that Choice as most reasonable, which makes it an Agent to the best Purpose.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ how much I want a Guide. But as the Religion of Nature “ is my Theme, I must at present content myself with that “ Light which Nature affords; my Business being, as it

seems, only to thew what a Heathen Philosopher without “ any other help, and almost autodidaXT, may be sup

posed to think. I hope that neither the doing this, nor any “ thing else contain'd in this Delineation can be the least Pre

judice to any other true Religion. Whatever is immediately ' reveald from God, must, as well as any Thing else, be “ treated as being what it is ; which cannot be, if it is not “ treated with the highest Regard, believed and obey'd. That « therefore which has been so much insisted on by me, and is • as it were the Burden of my Song, is so far from underI mining true reveald Religion, that it rather paves the Way ó for its Reception." pag. 211.

* See the present Dean of ChriA-Church's Answer to Chrifianity as old, &c. pag. 245.

So

CHAP So high as you can lay the Supposition or De. XVI. sign of fixing such an End, and constituting such a Society, or System, so high you may place the Relation, Fitness and Obligation : One will be immutable and eternal in the fame Sense the other is. But the actual Commencement of the Relation, Fitness, and Obligation, can be no older than the first beginning of such a System, or Society ; being no more in Fact and Reality than the Consequence of the actual Existence of fuch Beings.

If the WILL of God is the Measure of his Power in giving Existence to such a System, and likewise of his Goodness in communicating Happiness, and fixing that for the End ; which must be granted, unless you affirm he is a necessary, not a free Agent with respect to the Effects either of his Power, or Goodness ; and if the End was fix'd by his Will, and that End is Happiness, then all Notion of Arbitrariness is shut out from his Will.

AND as the End determines the Means, and he could not will any Means inconsistent with the End that he had willed, then the moral Virtues proceed likewise from, and are fix'd by his Will, as well as the End. Then the moral Reason, Relation, and Fitness of Things seem to depend upon his Will, and not his Will upon them for its Determinacion ; seeing they receiv'd their consequent Being, Existence, and Constitution, from the previous Determination of that Will. Wisdom and Power being eternally attendant upon that Will when it has a Mind to act ; ever knowing what is beft, fecures the ever

willing

CHAP willing what is best ; ever willing what is best
XVI. establishes eternal Holiness, out of which arises

eternal Goodness and Justice ; out of them arife
his Commands, which are holy, just and good.

1

CONCERNING those other Perfections, the Exercise whereof “ depends upon his [God's] " Will ; such are his Justice, Veracity, Good

ness, Mercy, and all other moral Perfections ; “ the absolute Immutability of these is not in, « deed so obvious and self-evident ; because it “ depends on the Unchangeableness, not only of “ his Essence, but of his Will also. Neverthe“ less, upon careful Consideration, the Unchange“ ableness of these likewise will no less certainly

appear: Because in a Being who always knows “ what is right to be done, and can never pof

sibly be deceiv'd, or aw'd, or tempted, or

imposed upon ; his general Will or Intention, of doing always what is best and most fit and “ right, will in Reality, though not upon the fame Ground of natural Necesity, yet in Event, “ and upon the whole, be as certainly and truly " unchangeable, as his very Essence itself-With “ the Father of Lights, there is no Variableness “ nor Shadow of Turning. *" The supreme Perfection is the Measure of all Things : Restum eft index fui & obliqui.

AND if that is the ReEtitude of the divine Will to be ever fteddy to Good, and determind to that which is best in the whole, in the Constitu. tion of Things he has willed ; the morab Attributes seem to flow from that, as their Fountain; his effential Holiness is his essential, yet

Dr. Clark's Pofthumous Serm. Vol. I. pag. 147, 148.

free

free Adherence to Good. For whatever is moralCH AP. in God, or Man, must have Will and Choice for XVI. its Root and Origin. The Choice or Energy of the Will, the universal Principle of moral Action, authenticates the Action, and denominates it moral ; chusing, God leading the Way to sew what is, and is not Good, what he marks, distinguishes, and directs to be so, and avoiding what he disapproves and forbids, so that Will to Good is the same in kind in God, in Angels and in Men, tho' they differ in Degree, i. e, in Adherence to Good. Man's Degree is to be Followers of God as dear Children: Rom. xii. 4. Abborring that which is Evil, cleaving to tbat which is Good, suitable to his diminutive Human Capacity, And as the whole of Morality seems to be a System of practical Means and Ends, graduated into several intermediate Ends, and all subordinate to the ultimate End; the Rule of Morality, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Fitness and Unfitness, seems to be fix'd in the fix'd Respect of the Means to the End; intended, chosen, and put in practice for the Sake of the Ends that are intermediate, and that which is ultimate. And the Gradation of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, &c. will arise, as the Means affect it, i. e, promote, or hinder the mediate, or ultimate End: The last being the greatest Concern to the Agent. And the Diflinction of Good and Evil, c. will confift and be fix'd in the fix'd Suitableness or Agreement, Dilagreement or Contrariety, of the Means to the respective Ends. And chat Distinction will be as durable, and immutable, as the Will of God has actually fix'd the ultimate End and Enjoyment of Happiness in another World, and the subordinate End or Taste of it in this, for every

Member

« ElőzőTovább »