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under the greatest
PROP. in the present state is plainly such, that this natural
order of things in the world'is manifestly perverted. often flou. Virtue and goodness are visibly prevented in great
measure from obtaining their proper and due effect, perity, and in establishing men's happiness proportionable to virtue falls their behaviour and practice; and wickedness and vice
very frequently escape the punishment which the calamities general nature and disposition of things tends to
annex unto it. Wicked men, by stupidity, inconsiderateness, and sensual pleasure, often make shift to silence the reproaches of conscience, and feel very little of that confusion and remorse of mind which ought naturally to be consequent upon their vicious practices. By accidental strength and robustness of constitution, they frequently escape the natural ill consequences of intemperance and debauchery; and enjoy the same proportion of health and vigour as those who live up to the rules of strict and unblanieable sobriety. And injustice and iniquity, fraud, violence, and cruelty, though they are always attended indeed with sufficiently calamitous consequences in the general; yet the most of those ill consequences fall not always upon such persons in particular as have the greatest share in the guilt of the crimes, but very commonly on those that have the least. On the contrary ; virtue and piety, temperance and sobriety, faithfulness, honesty and charity; though they have indeed both in themselves the : true springs of happiness, and also the greatest probabilities of outward causes to concur in promoting their temporal prosperity; though they cannot indeed be prevented from affording a man the highest peace and satisfaction of spirit, and many other advantages both of body and mind in respect of his own particular person; yet in respect of those advantages which the mutual practice of social virtues ought to produce in common, it is in experience found true, that the vices of a great part of mankind do so far prevail against nature and reason, as frequently to oppress the virtue of the best; and not only hinder
them from enjoying those public benefits, which PROP. would naturally and regularly be the consequences of their virtue; but oft-times bring upon them the greatest temporal calamities, even for the sake of that very virtue. For it is but too well known that good men are very often afflicted and impoverished, and made a prey to the covetousness and ambition of the wicked; and sometimes most cruelly and maliciously persecuted, even upon account of their goodness itself. In all which affairs the providence of God seems not very evidently to interpose for the protection of the righteous. And not only so, but even in judgments also, which seem more immediately to be inflicted by the hand of heaven, it frequently suffers the righteous to be involved in the same calamities with the wicked, as they are mixed together in business and the affairs of the world.
3. Which things being so; (viz. that there is plain- That ly in event no sufficient distinction made between therefore virtue and vice; no proportionable and certain re- must needs ward annexed to the one, nor punshment to the be a future other, in this present world :) And yet it being no wards and less undeniably certain in the general, as has been punishbefore shown, that if there be a God, (and that God be himself a being of infinite justice and goodness ; and it be his will, that all rational creat:ires should imitate his moral perfections; and he* cannot but see and take notice how every creature behaves itself; and cannot but be accordingly pleased with such as obey his will and imitate his nature, and be displeased with such as act contrary thereto ;) it being
* 'Ει δε μη λανθάνετον τες θεές, ο μεν δίκαιος θεοφιλής αν είη, ο δε άδικος
o θεομισής--Το δε θεοφιλεί, όσα γε υπό θεών γίγνεται, πάντα γίγνεται ως οίόντε, άριστα.---"Ουτως άρα υπόληπτέον περί το δικαία ανδρός, εάν το εν ,
, ’ πεία γίγνεται, εαν τ' εν νόσοις, ή τινι άλλα των δοκέντων κακών, ως τέτω ταύτα εις αγαθόν τι τελευτήσει ζώντι ή και αποθανόντι. Ου γαρ δη υπό ge θεών ποτέ αμελείται, δες αν προ θυμείσθαι εθέλη δίκαιος γίγνεσθαι, και επιτηδευων αρετην είς όσον δυνατόν ανθρώπω ομοιάσθαι θεώ.-Plato de Republ. lib. 10.
PROP. certain, I say, that if these things be so, God must
needs, in vindication of the honour of his laws and government, signify at some time or other this his approbation or displeasure, by making finally a suitable difference between those who obey him, and those who obey him not; it follows unavoidably, either that all these notions which we frame concerning God, are false ; and that there is no providence, and God sees not, or at least has no regard to what is done by his creatures, and consequently the ground of all his own moral attributes is taken away, and even his being itself; or else that there must necessarily be a future state of rewards and punishments after this life, wherein all the present difficulties of providence shall be cleared up, by an exact and impartial administration of justice. But now, that these notions are true, that there is a God, and a providence, and that God is himself a being indued with all moral perfections, and expects and commands that all his rational creatures should govern all their actions by the same rules, has been particularly and distinctly proved already. It is therefore directly demonstrated, that there must be a future state of rewards and punishments. Let not thine heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long, for surely there is a reward, and thine expectation shall not be cut off.—Prov. xxiii. 17 and 18.
4. This argument is indeed a common one, but it ical opi. is nevertheless strongly conclusive and unanswerable; cerning
so that, whoever denies a future state of rewards and the self.. punishments, must, of necessity, by a chain of unasufficiency
voidable consequences, be forced to recur to downto its own right atheism. The only middle opinion that can be happiness. invented, is that assertion of the Stoics that virtue
is self-sufficient to its own happiness, and a full reward to itself in all cases, even under the greatest sufferings that can befal a man for its sake. Men who were not certain of a future state, (though most of them did indeed believe it highly probable,) and
Of the Sto.
yet would not give up the cause of virtue, had no PROP. other way left to defend it than by asserting that it was in all cases, and under all circumstances, absolutely self-sufficient to its own happiness; whereas, on the contrary, because it is manifestly not self-sufficient, and yet undoubtedly the cause of virtue is not to be given up; therefore, they ought from thence to have concluded the certainty of a future state: That virtue is truly worthy to be chosen, even merely for its own sake, without any respect to any recompense or reward, must indeed necessarily be acknowledged; but it does not from hence follow, that he who dies for the sake of virtue is really any more happy than he that dies for any fond opinion, or any unreasonable humour or obstinacy whatsoever; if he has no other happiness than the bare satisfaction arising from the sense of his resoluteness in persisting to preserve his virtue, and in adhering immoveably to what he judges to be right, and there be no future state wherein he may reap any benefit of that his resolute
perseverance. On the contrary, it will only follow, that God has made virtue necessarily amiable, and such as men's judgment and conscience can never but choose, and yet that he has not annexed to it any sufficient encouragement to support men effectually in that choice. Brave indeed, and admirable, were the things which some of the philosophers have said upon this subject, and which some very few extraordinary men (of which Regulus is a remarkable instance,) seem to have made good in their practice, even beyond the cominon abilities of human nature; but it is very plain, as I before intimated, that the general practice of virtue in the world can never be supported upon this foot; it being, indeed, neither
, possible nor truly reasonable that men, by adhering to virtue, should part with their lives, * if thereby they eternally deprived themselves of all possibility of receiving any advantage from that adherence. Virtue, it is true, in its proper seat, and
. • Ουκ οίδα όπως μακαρίες υπολάξω τους μηδέν απολαύσαντας της αρεrñs ayaddy, di autor de saúrny dvoraujéves.--Dionys. Halicarn.
PROP. with all its full effects and consequences unhindered,
must be confessed to be the chief good, as being truly the enjoyment, as well as the imitation of God; but,* as the practice of it is circumstantiated in this present world, and in the present state of things, it is plain it is not itself the chief good, but only the means to it, as running in a race is not in itself the prize, but the way to obtain it.
5. It is therefore absolutely impossible, that the whence the whole view and intention, the original and the final certainty of a future design of God's creating such rational beings as men
are, indued with such noble faculties, and so necesagain con
sarily conscious of the eternal and unchangeable differences of good and evil; it is absolutely impossible (I say) that the whole design of an infinitely wise, and just, and good God, in all this, should be nothing more than to keep up eternally a succession of new generations of men, and those in such a corrupt, confused, and disorderly state of things as we see the present world is in, without any due and regular observation of the eternal rules of good and evil, with
clear and remarkable effect of the great and most necessary differences of things, without any sufficient discrimination of virtue and vice, by their proper and respective fruits, and without 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, there must at some time or other be such a revolution and re
Porro ipsa virtus, cum sibi bonorum culmen vendicet humanorum, quid hic agit nisi perpetua bella cum vitiis; nec exterioribus, sed interioribus ; nec alienis, sed plane nostris et propriis ?Absit ergo, ut quamdiu in hoc bello intestino sumus, jam nos beatitudinem, ad quam vincendo volumus pervenire, adeptos esse credamus.--Augustin de Civitate Dei, lib. 19. c. 4.
Non enim virtus ipsa est summum bonum, sed effectrix et mater est summi boni, quoniam perveniri ad illud sine virtute non potest. --Lactant. lib. 3.