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PROP. and charity : Whereas in the external part of their
worship, there was nothing but uncertainty and 'doubtfulness; it being absolutely impossible, without express revelation, to discover what in that
particular they might be secure would be truly acceptable to God.
This method of deducing the will of God from his attributes, is of all others the best and clearest, the certainest and most universal, that the light of nature affords: Yet there are also (as I said) some other collateral considerations, which help to prove and confirm the same thing; namely, that all moral obligations, arising from the nature and reason of things, are likewise the positive will and command of God: As
2. This appears in some measure from the conthe consid- sideration of God's creation. For God, by creating the nature things, manifests it to be his will that things should of God's be what they are.
And as providence wonderfully preserves things in their present state; and all necesşary agents, by constantly and regularly obeying the laws of their nature, necessarily employ all their natural powers in promoting the same end; so it is evident it cannot but be the will of God,* that all rational creatures, whom he has indued with those singular powers and faculties of understanding, liberty, and free-choice, whereby they are exalted in dignity above the rest of the world; should likewise employ those their extraordinary faculties in preserving the order and harmony of the creation, and not in introducing disorder and confusion therein. The nature indeed and relations, the proportions and
* Mens humana non potest non judicare, esse longè credibilius, quod eadem constantissima voluntas, à qua hominibus datum est esse, pariter mallet ipsos porro esse et valere, hoc est, conservari et felicitate frui, quam illo deturbari de statu, in quo ipsos collocavit
-Sic scilicet e voluntate creandi, cognoscitur voluntas conservandi tuendique homines. Ex hac autem innotescit obligatio, qui tenemur ad inserviendum eidem voluntati notæ.--Cumberl. de Leg. Nat.
disproportions, the fitnesses and unfitnesses of things, PROP. are eternal and in themselves absolutely unalterable; but this is only upon supposition that the things exist, and that they exist in such manner as they at present do. Now that things exist in such manner as they do, or that they exist at all, depends entirely on the arbitrary will and good pleasure of God. At the same time, therefore, and by the same means, that God manifests it to be his will that things should exist, and that they should exist in such manner as they do; (as by creating them he at first did, and by preserving them he still continually does, declare it to be his will they should;) he at the same time evidently declares, that all such moral obligations as are the result of the necessary proportions and relations of things, are likewise his positive will and command. And consequently, whoever acts contrary to the forementioned reasons and proportion of things, by dishonouring God, by introducing unjust and unequal dealings among equals, by destroying his own being, or by any way corrupting, abusing, and misapplying the faculties wherewith God has indued him, (as has been above more largely explained,) is unavoidably guilty of transgressing at the same time the positive will and command of God, which in this manner also is sufficiently discovered and made known to him.
3. The same thing may likewise further appear And from from the following consideration :- Whatever tends the tendirectly and certainly to promote the good and hap- the praca
dency of piness of the whole, and (as far as is consistent with tice of mothat chief end,) to promote also the good and welfare the tota
good of every particular part of the creation, must needs and happi.
, be agreeable to the will of God ;* who, being infi- ness of
world. * Dubitari non potest, quin Deus, qui ita naturalem rerum omnium ordinem constituit, ut talia sint actionum humanarum consequentia erga ipsos auctores, fecitque ut ordinaria hæc consequentia ab ipsis præsciri possint, aut summa cum probabilitate expectari, voluerit hæc ab iis considerari, antequam ad agendum se accingerent; atque eos his provisis velut argumentis in legum sanctione contentis determinari, ---Cumberl. de Leg. Nat. page 228.
PROP. nitely self-sufficient to his own happiness, could have
no other motive to create things at all, but only that he might communicate to them his goodness and happiness; and who consequently cannot but expect and require, that all his creatures should, according to their several powers and faculties, endeavour to pro. mote the same end. Now that the exact observance of all those moral obligations, which have before been proved to arise necessarily from the nature and relations of things; (that is to say, living agreeably to the unalterable rules of justice, righteousness, equity, and truth,) is the certainest and directest means to promote the welfare and happiness, as well of every man in particular, both in body and mind, as of all men in general, considered with respect to society, is so very manifest, that even the greatest enemies of all religion, who suppose it to be nothing more than a worldly or state-policy, do yet by that very supposition confess thus much concerning it; and, indeed, this it is not possible for any one to deny : For the practice of moral virtues does* as plainly and undeniably tend to the natural good of the world, as any physical effect or mathematical truth is naturally consequent to the principles on which it depends, and from which it is regularly derived. And without such practice, in some degree, the world can never be happy in any tolerable measure; as is sufficiently evident from Mr Hobbes's own description of the extreme miserable condition that men would be in through the total defect of the practice of all moral virtue, if they were to live in that state which he styles (falsely and contrary to all reason, as has been
Rector seu causa prima rationalis, cujus voluntate res ita disponuntur, ut hominibus satis evidenter indicetur, actus quosdam illorum esse media necessaria ad finem ipsis necessarium ; vult homines ad hos actus obligari, vel hos actus imperat.--Id. page 285.
* Pari sane ratione (ac in arithmeticis operationibus) doctrinæ moralis veritas fundatur in immutabili cohærentia inter felicitatem summam quam hominum vires assequi valent, et actus benevolentiæ universalis.--Id.
before fully proved,) the state of nature; but which PROP. really is a state of the grossest abuse and most unnatural corruption and misapplication of men's natural faculties that can be imagined. For, since God has plainly so constituted the nature of men, that they stand continually in need of each other's help and assistance, and can never live comfortably without society and mutual friendship, and are indued with the faculties of reason and speech, and with other natural powe ers, evidently fitted to enable them to assist each other in all matters of life, and mutually to promote universal love and happiness ; it is manifestly agreeable to nature, and to the will of God, who gave them these faculties, that they should employ them wholly to this regular and good end; and, consequently, it is on the contrary evident likewise, that all abuse and misapplication of these faculties, to hurt and destroy, to cheat and defraud, to oppress, insult, and domineer over each other, is directly contrary both to the dictates of nature and to the will of God, who, necessarily doing always what is best, and fittest, and most for the benefit of the whole creation, it is manifest cannot will the corruption and destruction of any of his creatures, any otherwise than as his preserving their natural faculties, (which in themselves are good and excellent, but cannot but be capable of being abused and misapplied,) necessarily implies a consequential permission of such corruption.
And this now is the great aggravation of the sin and folly of all immorality; that it is an obstinate setting up the self-will of frail, finite, and fallible creatures; as in opposition to the eternal reason of things, the unprejudiced judgment of their own minds, and the general good and welfare both of themselves and their fellow-creatures; so also in opposition to the will of the supreme author and creator of all things, who gave them their beings and all the powers and faculties they are indued with: In opposition to the will of the all-wise preserver and governor of the universe, on whose gracious protec
PROP. tion they depend every moment for the preservation
and continuance of their beings: And in opposition to the will of their greatest benefactor, to whose bounty they wholly owe whatever they enjoy at present, and all the hopes of what they expect hereafter, this is the highest of all aggravations. The utmost ureasonableness, joined with obstinate disobedience, and with the greatest ingratitude.
III. Though the fore-mentioned eternal moral obligations are incumbent indeed on all rational creatures, antecedent to any respect of particular reward or punishment, yet they must certainly and necessarily be attended with rewards and punishments : Because the same reasons, which prove God himself to be necessarily just and good, and the rules of justice, equity, and goodness, to be his unalterable will, law, and command, to all created beings; prove also that he cannot but be pleased with and approve such creatures as imitate and obey him by observing those rules, and be displeased with such as act contrary thereto; and consequently, that he cannot but some way or other, make a suitable difference in his dealings with them; and manifest his supreme power and absolute authority, in finally supporting, maintaining, and vindicating effectually the honour of these his divine laws, as becomes the just and righteous governor and disposer of all things.
This proposition also is in a manner self-evident. That the For ist, If God is himself necessarily a being (as practice of has been before shown) of infinite goodness, justice, vice must and holiness; and if the same reasons which prove
the necessity of these attributes in God himself, prove moreover (as has likewise been shown already,) that the same moral obligations must needs be bis positive
will, law, and command, to all rational creatures ; it proved follows also necessarily, by the very same argument, attributes that he cannot but be pleased with and approve such
creatures as imitate and obey him by observing those rules, and be displeased with such as act contrary
ed with rewards