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of his reason, whatever diversity of judgment might PROP. be among them in other matters, would have thought that such a law could have authorised or excused, much less have justified such actions, and have made them become good ; because, it is plainly not in men's power to make falsehood be truth, though they may alter the property of their goods as they please. Now, if, in flagrant cases, the natural and essential difference between good and evil, right and wrong, cannot but be confessed to be plainly and undeniably evident, the difference between them must be also essential and unalterable in all, even the smallest, and nicest, and most intricate cases, though it be not so easy to be discerned and accurately distinguished; for, if, from the difficulty of determining exactly the bounds of right and wrong in many perplexed cases, it could truly be concluded that just and unjust were not essentially different by nature, but only by positive constitution and custom, it would follow equally, that they were not really, essentially, and unalterably different, even in the most flagrant cases that can be supposed; which is an assertion so very absurd, that Mr. Hobbes himself could hardly vent it without blushing, and discovering plainly, by his shifting expressions, his secret self-condemnation. There are, therefore, certain necessary and eternal differences of things, and certain consequent fitnesses or unfitnesses of the application of different things, or different relations one to another, not depending on any positive constitutions, but founded unchangeably in the nature and reason of things, and unavoidably arising from the differences of the things themselves; which is the first branch of the general proposition i proposed to prove.
2. Now, what these eternal and unalterable rela- That the tions, respects, or proportions of things, with their will of consequent agreements or disagreements, fitnesses, or unfitnesses, absolutely and necessarily are in them- termines selves, that also they appear to be, to the understand
according ings of all intelligent beings, except those only who to the eter
itself to act I.
PROP, understand things to be what they are not, that is,
whose understandings are either very imperfect or very much depraved. And by this understanding or knowledge of the natural and necessary relations, fitnesses, and proportions of things, the wills likewise of all intelligent beings are constantly directed, and must needs be determined to act accordingly, excepting those only who will things to be what they are not and cannot be ; that is, whose wills are corrupted by particular interest or affection, or swayed by some unreasonable and prevailing passion. Wherefore, since the natural attributes of God, his infinite knowledge, wisdom, and power, set him infinitely above all possibility of being deceived by any error, or of being influenced by any wrong affection, it is manifest bis divine will cannot but always and necessarily determine itself to choose to do what in the whole is absolutely best and fittest to be done; that is, to act constantly according to the eternal rules of infinite goodness, justice, and truth; as I have endeavoured to show distinctly in my former discourse, in deducing severally the moral attributes of God.
3. And now that the same reason of things, with rational regard to which the will of God always and necesare obliged sarily does determine itself to act in constant conforto govern mity to the eternal rules of justice, equity, goodness, in all their and truth, ought also constantly to determine the actions, by wills of all subordinate rational beings, to govern all the same their actions by the same rules, is very evident. For,
. rule of rea- as it is absolutely impossible in nature that God
should be deceived by any error, or influenced by any wrong affection, so it is very unreasonable and blame-worthy in practice, that any intelligent creatures, whom God has made so far like unto himself, as to indue them with those excellent faculties of reason and will, whereby they are enabled to distinguish good from evil, and to choose the one and refuse the other, should either negligently suffer themselves to be imposed upon and deceived in matters
of good and evil, right and wrong, or wilfully and PROP perversely allow themselves to be over-ruled by ab. surd passions, and corrupt or partial affections, to act contrary to what they know is fit to be done. Which two things, viz. negligent misunderstanding, and wilful passions or lusts, are, as I said, the only causes which can make a reasonable creature act contrary to reason, that is, contrary to the eternal rules of justice, equity, righteousness, and truth : For, was it notfor these inexcusablecorruptions and depravations, it is impossible but the same proportions and fitnesses of things, which have so much weight, and so much excellency, and beauty in them, that the all-powerful creator and governor of the universe, (who has the absolute and uncontrollable dominion of all things in his own hands, and is accountable to none for what he does, yet)thinks it nodiminution of his power to make this reason of things the unalterable rule and law of his own actions in the government of the world, and does nothing by mere will and arbitrariness ; it is impossible, (I say,) if it was not for inexcusable corruption and depravation, but the same eternal reason of things must much more have weight enough to determine constantly the wills and actions of all subordinate, finite, dependent, and accountable beings. For originally, and in reality, it is as natural and Proved (morally speaking) necessary, that the will should be from the
original nadetermined in every action by the reason of the thing, ture of and the right of the case, as it is natural and (abso- things.
. lutely speaking) necessary, that the understanding should submit to a demonstrated truth; and it is as absurd and blame-worthy, to mistake negligently plain right and wrong, that is, to understand the proportions of things in morality to be what they are not, or wilfully to act contrary to known justice and equity, that is, to will things to be what they are not and cannot be, as it would be absurd and ridiculous for a man, in arithmetical matters, ignorantly to believe that twice two is not equal to four, or wilfully and obstinately to contend, against his own clear knowledge, that the whole is not equal to all
PROP. its parts, The only difference is, that assent to
a plain speculative truth is not in a man's power to withhold; but to act according to the plain right and reason of things, this he may, by the natural liberty of his will, forbear; but the one he ought to do, and it is as much his plain and indispensable duty, as the other he cannot but do, and it is the necessity of his nature to do it: He that will. fully refuses to honour and obey God, from whom he received his being, and to whom he continually owes his preservation, is really guilty of an equal absurdity and inconsistency in practice, as he that in speculation denies the effect to owe any thing to its cause, or the whole to be bigger than its part. He that refuses to deal with all men equitably, and with every man as he desires they should deal with him, is guilty of the very same unreasonableness and contradiction in one case, as he that in another case should affirm one number or quantity to be equal to another, and yet that other at the same time not to be equal to the first : Lastly, he that acknowledges himself obliged to the practice of certain duties both towards God and towards men, and yet takes no care either to preserve his own being, or at least not to preserve himself in such a state and temper of mind and body, as may best enable him to perform those duties, is altogether as inexcusable and ridiculous as he that in any other matter should affirm one thing at the same time that he denies another, without which the former could not possibly be true; or undertake one thing at the same time that he obstinately omits another, without which the former is by no means practicable : Wherefore all rational creatures, whose wills are not constantly and regularly determined, and their actions governed by right reason and the necessary differences of good and evil, according to the eternal and invariable rules of justice, equity, goodness, and truth, but suffer themselves to be swayed by unaccountable arbitrary humours and rash passions, by lusts, vanity, and pride, by private interest, or present sensual pleasures;
these, setting up their own unreasonable self-will in PROP. opposition to the nature and reason of things, endeavour (as much as in them lies) to make things be what they are not, and cannot be; which is the highest presumption and greatest insolence, as well as the greatest absurdity imaginable : It is acting contrary to that understanding, reason, and judgment, which God has implanted in their natures, on purpose to enable them to discern the difference between good and evil ;-it is attempting to destroy that order by which the universe subsists ;—it is offering the highest affront imaginable to the creator of all things, who made things to be what they are, and governs every thing himself according to the laws of their several natures ;-in a word, all wilful wickedness and perversion of right is the very same insolence and absurdity in moral matters, as it would be in natural things for a man to pretend to alter the certain proportions of numbers, -to take away the demonstrable relations and properties of mathematical figures,—to make light darkness
, and darkness light,—or to call sweet bitter, and bitter sweet.
Further : As it appears thus, from the abstract and And from absolute reason and nature of things, that all rational the sense creatures ought, that is, are obliged to take care that even wicktheir wills and actions be constantly determined and ed men, ungoverned by the eternal rule of right and equity : so have of the certainty and universality of that obligation is theier being plainly confirmed, and the force of it particularly dis- an obligacovered and applied to every man by this; that, in tion. like manner as no one who is instructed in mathematics can forbear giving his assent to every geometrical demonstration, of which he understands the terms, either by his own study, or by having had them explained to him by others; so no man, who either has patience and opportunities to examine and consider things himself, or has the means of being taught and instructed in any tolerable manner by others, concerning the necessary relations and dependencies of things, can avoid giving his assent to the fitness and