the Error of their Ways, so much recommended, CH A P.

XVI. but for the sake of that increase of Happiness it brings to Society, and to the Converter

In doing good to others, the Example of God and Christ are proposed, and likewise the laying up a good Foundation against the Time to come, and reaping plentifully, that the Christian may be moved by one, or both of them, as he is disposed. Some Virtues and Duties are propos’d and press’d, sometimes upon a Temporal Advantage, at other times upon an Eternal. And so the Scripture becomes all Things to all Men, that it may gain fome by all, as they are dispos’d to be gain'd by any, Means.

Why are we bid to love God with all our Heart, with all our Soul, &c. but because that Love, as it adds nothing to God (did it add any Thing we should be superior to him) re-acts upon ourselves, by an Expansion of ourselves towards him in an Unity of Will ; and, raising the Love of our own Happiness in him, throws off the false, and fixes the true Love of ourselves and our own Good, where it ought to be. That Love does not cast out the Love of ourselves, but encourages it as its Foundation ; when it is perfect, it cafteth out Fear; and so increases the Love more and more: And as we know it consults our Interest, we resign ourselves to him in a great Measure, without so much as thinking of that, in Confidence of his taking care of it.

But, when we have erred and strayed very much from him, nothing but a State of Danger,

CHAP.or the Consideration of the neglected Motives XVI. of Rewards and Punishments, which lay hold

of the strongest Principle within us, SELFPRESERVATION, can recover us : The general Excellency of Virtue, and the Turpitude of Vice are weak and incompetent Topicks in such a Case ; but when the Eye of the Mind is open’d by Consideration, to see the several Ends they lead to ; then the Excellency of the one, and Turpitude of the other, is sensibly and compleatly perceivd.

For what is the Excellency of Virtue ; it must be excellent for something, and what is that, but as it is the best Accommodation and indifpensable Provision for our Happiness in both Worlds ? And what is the Turpitude of the other, but as it deceives and betrays us into Mifery in both ? And what is Folly but the Sense of a wrong Choice, and falfe Pursuit, for which we hate and loath ourselves into Repentance, and true Love of ourselves; for being so unwise as to love every Thing, and every Perfon better than self; for being so very thoughtless as to endeavour to monopolize Vice, by railing according to the common Mode, at the Practice of that in other People, which they pamper and indulge in themselves. What is Repentance but a Retractation of a wrong Choice of Happiness exchanged for a better? And what is Wisdom but the Sense of the Neceflity of practising Virtue, and actually setting about it? Then we understand the Meaning of the Word ought to Fear, and serve God; when our Happiness, or Misery depend upon our Care, or Neglect in doing it. For the Fear of the Lord is all Wisdom, and in all Wisdom is the performance of the Law,


and the knowledge of bis Omnipotency, Eccluf.CH A P.;

XVI. xix. 20.

ALL the Passions are subfervient to the determin's Choice of the Will ; being every one of them so many Modifications and Efforts of itself towards its Object, or its Good or Happiness (be it chose right and wisely, or wrong and foolishly) whether in the concupiscible, or irascible Kind. The Greeks rightly name it tò ¿yeμονικόν Or το αυτεξάσιον. For it governs all the Powers of the Agent with an Imperial Authority; they wait accordingly at its Levee and receive Orders, and change their Objects, as the other changes its Object, or its Notion of Happiness. The Election of the Will having fix'd its Object as its Good or Happiness, the Adhesion of that Faculty to that Object is its Love, and the Avoidance of the contrary Evil its Aversion or Hatred : And as that Adhesion of Will or Love of the Object is a King of our own chusing, no wonder we are so willing to obey its Laws. If the Good or Evil is present, Love and Hatred is modified into Complasency_or Joy, or Grief and Anger : If future, into Defire and Hope, or Fear and Caution. So that the Person who loves any of the Things of this World supremely, has a different Happiness and a wrong Object of all his Passions, in respect to him who supremely loves God and Goodness which verifies that Maxim, If any Man love the World, the Love of the Father is not in him. In the State of Innocence the Passions were subject to the Understanding or discerning Faculty of the Soul, but, upon Transgression and wrong Choice, went over to the Government of the Will or chusing Faculty of the Mind, and un

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

CH A P. der that Obedience have continued ever since.

Nor is there any possible Way of governing them
to any Effect, or setting them to tolerable
Rights, but by rectifying the Election of the
other. For this reason Love is directed to abound
more and more in Knowledge, and in all Judgment,
that we may approve things that are excellent, that
we may be sincere and without offence, Phil. i.

When the right End is pitch'd upon,
the Leader Love, and under that all the rest,
fall into Order, and Subordination ; and then all
the Commandments respecting 'God, or our
Neighbour, are perceivably fumın'd up and
practised in the Love of each of them ; whilst
the true Love of Self is the Foundation of them

9, JO.

[ocr errors]

As Love is the fupreme governing Passion, nothing is, or ought to be its chief, most preferr'd, constantly adhered to Object, but what is its supreme End, viz. God, and Happiness in his Favour ; and if Charity, for the greater Enjoyment of our Neighbour, is the End of the Commandments respecting him, we perceive the Reason why Religion is summ'd up in the Love of God, and our Neighbour. And if all true Religion of the End respecting them consists in the Love of them, how devious and absurd is that modern Pretence to true Religion, which erects its System upon dry Rationality ; pure Understanding, and gazing Admiration ?

If the End God has proposed to our Action is the true End of our Action, and is the first Principle of a religious Conversation ;, and all moral Actions are denominated from their End and Intention, more than their Effects and


Events ; it is an allow'd Maxim, that whatever CHAP: is the first Principle in constituting a Thing, XVI. ought often to be recurrid to, to keep it from deviating. Habits, being an Aggregate of many single Acts, are of the very felt-fame moral Spécies with the particular Acts which compound them. And when the Love of Virtue is put to the Test, what it is that in reality still feeds and fupplies that Love, our Author is forc'd to own the Truth against his Conscience, and the whole Design of his Book,

“ 'Tis certain, says he, “ on the other Side, that the Principle of Fear

of future Punishment, and Hope of future Re« ward, how mercenary and servile foever it

may be accounted, is yet in many Circum“ stances a great Advantage, Security, and Sup

port to Virtue *.”

Was Socrates's Love of Virtue mercenary and servile, who is the best Deift upon Record, excepting Job. When the genuine Nature of the Love of Virtue is called in Question in Speculation, whether the Love of it is, for its own sake, or for the sake of Benefit and future Reward ; is there any possible way of deciding it better, than recurring to a Teft; and that Test a Matter of Fact? And did not both those great Heroes support themselves and their Virtue in their greatest Distress, upon the future Prospect of the Favour of God ? And as they lived, and loved Virtue upon that untraversible Principle of natural Religion, God is, and is a Rewarder of those that diligently seek him, in the Desire, and Sense of the want of Revelation, so they died in the Love of Virtue upon the fame Principle.

Cbarad. Vol. II. pag. 60.


« ElőzőTovább »