صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Instances here mentioned. And these things CHAP. are to be considered, as a Declaration of the III. Author of Nature, for Virtue, and against m Vice: They give a Credibility to the Supposition of their being rewarded and punished Hereafter ; and also Ground to hope and to fear, that they may be rewarded and punished in higher Degrees than they are Here. And as all this is confirmed, so the Argument for Religion, from the Constitution and Course of Nature, is carried on farther, by observing, that there are natural Tendencies, and, in innumerable Cases, only artificial Hindrances, to this moral Scheme's being carried on much farther towards Perfection, than it is at present m. The Notion then of a moral Scheme of Government, much more perfect than what is seen, is not a fictitious, but a natural Notion ; for it is suggested to our Thoughts, by the essential Tendencies of Virtue and Vice. And these Tendencies are to be considered as Intiinations, as implicit Promises and Threatnings, from the Author of Nature, of much greater Rewards and Punishments to follow Virtue and Vice, than do at present. And indeed, every natural Tendency, which is to continue, but which is hindred from becoming Effect by only accidental Causes, affords a Presumption, that such Tendency will, fome Time or other, in p. 85, &c.


H 3

PAR T become Effect: a Presumption in Degree

I. proporţionable to the Length of the Duration, w through which such Tendency will continue.

And from these things together, arises a real Presumption, that the Moral Scheme of Government established in Nature, shall be carried on much farther towards Perfection hereafter; and, I think, a Presumption that it will be absolutely compleated. But from these things, joined with the moral Nature which God has given us, considered as given us by Him, arises a practical Proof” that it will be compleated : a Proof from Fact; and therefore a distinct one from That, which is deduced from the eternal and unalterable Relations, the Fitness and Unfitness of Actions.

* See this Proof drawn out briefy, Ch. vị. p. 167, &c.



Of a State of Probation, as implying

Trial, Difficulties and Danger.

[ocr errors]

HE general Doctrine of Religion, that CHAP.

our present Life is a State of Proba. IV. tion for a future one, comprehends under it several particular things, distinct from each other. But the first, and most common Meaning of it, seems to be, that our future Interest is now depending, and depending upon Ourselves ; that we have Scope and Opportunities Here, for that good and bad Behaviour, which God will reward and punish Hereafter ; together with Temptations to one, as well as Inducements of Reason to the other. And this is, in great measure, the same with saying, that we are under the moral Government of God, and to give an Account of our Actions to Him. For the Notion of a future Account and general righteous Judgment, implies some sort of Temptations to what is Wrong: otherwise there would be no moral Possibility of Doing Wrong, nor Ground for Judgment, or Discrimination. But there is this Difference, that the Wod Probation is more distinctly and particularly expressive of



PART Allurements to Wrong, or Difficulties in ad-
I. hering uniformly to what is Right, and of the

Danger of Miscarrying by such Temptations,
than the Words Moral Government. A State
of Probation then, as thus particularly im-
plying in it Trial, Difficulties and Danger,
may require to be considered distinctly by

[ocr errors]

And as the moral Government of God,
which Religion teaches us, implies, that we
are in a State of Trial with regard to a future
World: so also his natural Government over
us, implies, that we are in a State of Trial,
in the like Sense, with regard to the present
World. Natural Government by Rewards
and Punishments, as much implies natural
Trial, as moral Government does moral Trial.
The natural Government of God here meant,
consists, in his annexing Pleasure to some
Actions, and Pain to others, which are in
our Power to do or forbear, and in giving us
Notice of such Appointment beforehand,
This necessarily implies, that he has made
our Happiness and Misery, or our Interest, to
depend in Part upon Ourselves. And so far
as Men have Temptations to any Course of
Action, which will probably occafion them
greater temporal Inconvenience and Uneafi-
ness, than Satisfaction; so far their temporal
Chap. q.


[ocr errors]

Interest is in Danger from themselves, or they CHAP.
are in a State of Trial with respect to it. IV.
Now People often blame others, and even
themselves, for their Misconduct in their tem-
poral Concerns.

And we find many are
greatly wanting to themselves, and miss of
that natural Happiness, which they might
have obtained in the present Life: perhaps
every one does in some Degree. But many
run themselves into great Inconvenience, and
into extreme Distress and Misery: not through
Incapacity of knowing better, and doing bet-
ter for themselves, which would be nothing
to the present Purpose ; but through their
own Fault. And these things necessarily im-
ply Temptation, and Danger of miscarrying,
in a greater or less Degree, with respect to
our worldly Interest or Happiness. Every one
too, without having Religion in his Thoughts,
speaks of the Hazards which young People
run, upon their setting out in the World:
Hazards from other Causes, than merely
their Ignorance, and unavoidable Accidents.
And some Courses of Vice, at least, being
contrary to Men's worldly Interest or Good
Temptations to these, must at the same time
be Temptations to forego our present, and
our future Interest. Thus in our natural or
temporal Capacity, we are in a State of Trial,
į. e. of Difficulty and Danger, analogous, or
like to our moral and religious Trial.


« السابقةمتابعة »