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thereto. And if so; then in the nature of the thing PROP. itself it is evident, that having absolute power and uncontrollable authority, as being supreme governor and disposer of all things, he cannot but signify, by some means or other, his approbation of the one, and his displeasure against the other. And this can no way be done to any effectual purpose but by the annexing of respective rewards and punishments. Wherefore, if virtue goes finally unrewarded, and wickedness unpunished, then God never signifies his approbation of the one, nor his displeasure against the other; and if so, then there remains no sufficient proof that he is really at all pleased or displeased with either, and the consequence of that will be, that there is no reason to think the one to be his will and command, or that the other is forbidden by him ; which being once supposed, there will no longer remain any certain evidence of his own moral attributes contrary to what has been already demonstrated.
2. The certainty of rewards and punishments in And from general may also somewhat otherwise be deduced the neces
sity there from their being necessary to support the honour of is, that God and of his laws and government, in the follow there ing manner. It is evident we are obliged, in the some vinhighest ties of duty and gratitude, to pay all possible dication of honour to God, from whom we receive our being, our of and all our powers and faculties, and whatever else God's we enjoy. Now it is plain likewise, that we have no other way to honour God, (whose happiness is ca. ment. pable of no addition from any thing that any of his creatures are capable of doing,) than by honouring, that is, by obeying, his laws. The honour therefore that is thus done to his laws, God is pleased to accept as done immediately to himself. And though we were indeed absolutely obliged, in duty, to honour him in this manner, notwithstanding that there had been no reward to be expected thereupon, yet it is necessary, in the government of the world, and well-becoming an infinitely wise and good governor, that those who honour him he should honour; that is, 1 Sam. ii.
laws and govern
PROP. should distinguish them with suitable marks of his
favour. On the contrary; though nothing that weak and finite creatures are able to do, can in the least diminish from the absolute glory and happiness of God, yet, as to us, the dishonouring, that is, the disobeying his laws, is a dishonouring of himself: that is, it is, as much as in us lies, a despising his supreme authority, and bringing his government into contempt:-Now the same reason that there is, why honour should be paid to the laws of God at all; the same reason there is, that that honour should be vindicated, after it has been diminished and infringed by sin: For no lawgiver who has authority to require obedience to his laws, can or ought to see his laws despised and dishonoured, without taking some measures to vindicate the honour of them, for the support and dignity of his own authority and government. And the only way, by which the honour of a law, or of its author, can be vindicated after it has been infringed by wilful sin, is either by the repentance and reformation of the transgressor, or by his pu. nishment and destruction. So that God is necessarily obliged, in vindication of the honour of his laws and government, to punish those who presumptuously and impenitently disobey his commandments. Wherefore if there be no distinction made by suitable rewards and punishments, between those who obey the laws of God and those who obey them not, then God suffers the authority of his laws to be finally trampled upon and despised, without evermaking any vindication of it: Which being impossible, it will follow that these things are not really the laws of God, and that he has no such regard to them as we imagine. And the consequence of this must needs be the denial of his moral attributes, contrary, as before, to what has been already proved : And consequently the certainty of rewards and punishments, in general, is necessarily established.
IV. Though in order to establish this suitable dif
ference between the fruits or effects of virtue and PROP. vice, so reasonable in itself, and so absolutely neces.
IV. sary for the vindication of the honour of God, the nature of things, and the constitution and order of God's creation, was originally such, that the observance of the eternal rules of justice, equity, and goodness, does indeed of itself tend by direct and natural consequence to make all creatures happy, and the contrary practice to make them miserable; yet since, through some great and general corruption and depravation, (whencesoever that may have arisen,) the condition of men in this present state is such, that the natural order of things in this world is an event manifestly perverted, and virtue and goodness are visibly prevented in great measure from obtaining their proper and due effects in establishing men's happiness, proportionable to their behaviour and practice; therefore, it is absolutely impossible that the whole view and intention, the original and the final design, of God's creating such rational beings as men are, and placing them on this globe of earth, as the chief and principal, or indeed (to speak more properly) the only inhabitants, for whose sake alone this part at least of the creation is manifestly fitted up and accommodated; it is absolutely impossible (I say) that the whole of God's design in all this should be nothing more than to keep up eternally a succession of such shortlived generations of men as we at present are, and those in such a corrupt, confused, and disorderly state of things, as we see the world is now in ; without any due observation of the eternal rules of good and evil; without any clear and remarkable effect of the great and most necessary difference of things ; and with, out any final vindication of the honour and laws of God, in the proportionable reward of the best, or punishment of the worst of men. And, consequently, it is certain and necessary (even as certain as the moral attributes of God before demonstrated,) that instead of continuing an eternal succession of new generations in the present form and state of things,
vice are attended
PROP. there must at some time or other be such a revoluIV. tion and renovation of things, such a future state of
a existence of the same persons, as that, by an exact distribution of rewards and punishments therein, all the present disorders and inequalities may be set right, and that the whole scheme of providence, which, to us who judge of it by only one small portion of it, seems now so inexplicable and confused, may appear, at its consummation, to be a design worthy of infi
nite wisdom, justice, and goodness. That, ac. 1. In order to establish a just and suitable differcording to the origin.
ence between the respective fruits or effects of virtue al consti- and vice, the nature of things, and the constitution tution of and order of God's creation, was originally such that
, virtue and the observance of the eternal rules of piety, justice,
equity, goodness, and temperance, does of itself plainwith na ly tend, by direct and natural consequence, to make turalie
all creatures happy, and the contrary practice to punish.
make them miserable. This is evident in general ; because the practice of universal virtue is (in imitation of the divine goodness) the practice of that which is best in the whole; and that which tends to the benefit of the whole, must, of necessary consequence, originally, and in its own nature, tend also to the benefit of every individual part of the creation. More particularly; a frequent and habitual contemplating the infinitely excellent perfections of the almighty creator and all-wise governor of the world, and our most bountiful benefactor; so as to excite in our minds a suitable adoration, love, and imitation of those perfections; a regular employing all our powers and faculties, in such designs and to such purposes only, as they were originally fitted and intended for by nature; and a due subjecting all our appetites and passions to the government of sober and modest reason; are evidently the directest means to obtain such settled peace and solid satisfaction of mind, as the first foundation, and the principal and most necessary ingredient of all true happiness. The temperate and moderate enjoyment of all the
good things of this present world, and of the pleasures PROP. of life, according to the measures of right reason and simple nature, is plainly and confessedly the certainest and most direct method to preserve the health and strength of the body. And the practice of universal justice, equity, and benevolence, is manifestly (as has been before observed) as direct and adequate a means to promote the general welfare and happiness of men in society, as any physical motion, or geometrical operation, is to produce its natural effect. So that if all men were truly virtuous, and practised these rules in such manner that the miseries and calamities arising usually from the numberless follies and vices of men were prevented, undoubtedly this great truth would evidence itself visibly in fact, and appear experimentally in the happy state and condition of the world. On the contrary ; neglect of God, and insensibleness of our relation and duty towards him; abuse and unnatural misapplication of the powers and faculties of our minds ; inordinate appetites, andunbridled and furious passions,—necessarily fill the mind with confusion, trouble, and vexation. And intemperance naturally brings weak. ness, pains, and sicknesses into the body. And mutual injustice and iniquity; fraud, violence, and oppression; wars, and desolation; murders, rapine, and
; all kinds of cruelty,—are sufficiently plain causes of the miseries and calamities of men in society. So that the original constitution, order, and tendency of things, is evidently enough fitted and designed to establish naturally a just and suitable difference in general between virtue and vice, by their respective fruits or effects.
2. But though originally the constitution and But that order of God's creation was indeed such, that virtue and vice are, by the regular tendency of things, fol- sent lowed with natural rewards and punishments; yet,
world, the in event, through some great and general corruption order of and depravation, (whencesoever that may have aris- things is so en, of which more hereafter;) the condition of men that vice