CHA P. Member of Society; and immutably connected XVI.

the Means to the Ends. And as God governs by the Truth and Righteousness of that Rule, and by the Improvements made to it by his reveald Will ; that Rule, with the Improvements, where discover'd, is a fix'd Law both to God, and Man. And confequently Righteoufness, Truth, Love of Virtue, and Hatred of Sin, &c. in the Proceedings of Men, will be of the same kind in the Proceedings of God, but of a larger Compass.

COMMANDS therefore resulting from his Will being always so laid in the Nature and Relations of Things, as to consult the best, i, e. Happiness of the moral Agent, he governs according to his free Choice of Happiness; it is much the same Thing to say, the Thing commanded is finally holy, just, and good to that Creature, because he commands it, as to say because it is holy, just and good in its own Nature to that Creature, therefore he commands it. Since the Fitness' of Things does not exist before the Will of God, to dispute whether the Fitness of Things, or the Will of God obliges, is a Dispute only of Words. The Goodness of Things consists in their Fitness for answering the Ends they were appointed to; the Goodness and Virtue of Agents in this World appear in regulating their Actions in Conformity to the Will of God, which has chosen and fitted such and fuch Actions to the final Happiness he has conftituted Man to ; and to consult that in his moral Conduct, is the same thing as to consult the Glory of God, or the Glory of such an Appointment. Such a moral Fitness of the Means relative to his own Happiness, the End accord

ing to the Will of God, is the Rule or Law CHAP. of his Action, and of his Obligation. And so XVI. every Sin against God and our Neighbour is a Sin also against a Man's self, being a Transgression of that Law, which is a Direction to his own Happiness. In the last Place,

III. Suppose the Motive drawn from the Command of God. But he knows our Nature too well to give forth Laws and Commandments without annexing Sanctions to them. He knows he has no Authority over the free Choice and elective Faculty of Man in Comparison of what those Sanctions give him. Had he ordain'd us for Misery, we could have no Respect or. Obligation at all to him : But as he propounds Happiness, as well as Misery, to our Choice, at the Option of our own Behaviour ; and has done fo very much to secure and increase Man's Happiness, when he first prevaricated with it, that obliges us indeed to him.

And as our Happiness is complex with respect to both Parts of our Conftitution, and in both Stages of its Duration ; what it miffes in one, to be compensated in another ; he only can lay the compleat Motive, and the lasting Obligation before us, to induce us paramount to all others, at all Times, and in all Places, to observe his Will. In doing that, we secure the divine Favour, which includes a Security of our Happiness in both Parts of our Nature, and in all its Faculties. And as the Commands of God are Directions and Qualifications for our Happiness, by connecting that Means to that End, what can poslibly be wiser, or more prea vailing upon a free Agent, than to affix thac Vol. II.



Ć HA P. Sanction to the Command, as a Reward of the
Action, which is the ultimate End of it


and fo bringing the End of the Action before the Agent, direct his Choice, and oblige, and induce him more powerfully to it?

The trueft Method of investigating any Law whatsoever is, first to enquire the End of the Law, and then the Means of performing and fulfilling it. What can animate Man more to "be chearful in doing all the Good he can to his Fellow-Creatures, than the Consideration of the greater Good he shall lay up and receive for fo doing? And that the very Means of attaining Happiness above, is the communicating Happinefs here below? Or what can better reduce all the felfish Affections, the Authors of so many fublunary Mischiefs, into due Order and Subordination to the general Good, than the Certainty of losing a greater Interest hereafter for the fake of attaining a less, and so much the less as being a repented, molested, or envied Good here? Universal Happiness is God's End and View in the Creation and Redemption of the World, and as that Whole' confifts of so many Individuals, when every one pursues future Felicity by the Means in his own Power, which are so many providential Directions to every Man (that of contributing to the Happiness of others, being one amongst the reft) he concurs with God's Design, and not only prays, but contributes to his Kingdom coming daily to Perfection, coming where it has not yet enter'd ; and where it has, coming daily to greater Perfection of Rule over us.

And as he never reaps but where he has sown, and according to what he has fown ; and has

made made Virtue natural to our Reason, to our Affec-CHAP.

. tion to Society, and also to our Desires of Hap-. XVI. piness in this world, and the next : In exciting to the Practice of it, he makes use of Motives sometimes from one, sometimes from the other, but all terminating in the Interest and Advantage of the Agent here, and hereafter.

When he addresses to Reason, he expoftulates with, and adjures that, to consider our Ways, ponder the Path of our Feet, whither they are tending, and what will be the Consequence of our. Doings. Confideration being the actual opening the Eye of the Mind within us ; earnestly directing its Thoughts, which are its mental Sight of the Invisible, yet incomparably more importing Man, than all the visible Things that surround him. Thus the Faith of Abrabam in his Life of religious Consideration faw the Day of Christ, and was glad. He appeals to the Sentiments of Equity, Justice, Right and Wrong, Good and Evil, which immediately and inti. mately spring Confideration of Society and its several Relations, as an innate Law, as fo many conscious Maxims and known Truths previous to his Revelation, to try the Equity of his reveald Will, and to compare and measure their own Ways by the same. And as the End is intentionally known before the Means, that gives Conscience the Province of approving, or disapproving ; as the Action has a Tendency to advance, or obftruct our Happiness. We have a Conscience or Perception likewise wrought in us for publick Good that Total, of which we make one, and whose Interest, in moft Respects, is one with ours ; that gives the Sense of Honour or Praise, G 2


CHA P. Shame or Reproach, as our 'Actions have beneXVI. fitted or prejudic'd, help'd or harm’d that.

That Love to Society implanted in us, the great Patron and Protector of it would not have withdrawn,' but still continued to our personal Enemies, because they are yet still of the same Society with us ; leaving the Vengeance or Redress of every tolerable Wrong, consistent with the Being of Society, to himself: That we ought to imitate the great Father of it, being in that like Children to their Father; and, co-operating with his Providence, according to our Sphere, bestow our general Good, Kindnefs, and Benevolence, and not limit it, nor pass over the Opportunity he has given us, because the Object has been once' an Enemy, left a cancelled Obligation return upon us ; considering ourfelves how much we receive from, and yet how often we offend God. And why are we commanded to imitate him, the Head of the Society, in that Particular, but because our Happiness in Society consists in, and is improved by it? Thus the Love of Enemies, being one Branch and Particular of the universal Law of Benevolence, is the Law of our Nature, and the necessary redintigration of Society; and therefore is so strictly enjoin’d, enforc'd, and inserted into daily Prayer by Chriftianity, which is the Perfe&er of every thing that is good in this world, and the next. And therefore the Deistical Ridicule of this Duty is a standing Monument against them, as well of the Shallowness of their Heads, as of the Badness of their Hearts, with respect to Society, and Human Nature. And why is that Publick good, the Conversion of a Sinner, such great Sinners against God and the Publick, from


« ElőzőTovább »