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them: And one Irregularity after another, CHAP. embarrasses things to such a Degree, that IV. they know not where about they are ; and often makes the Path of Conduct fo intricate and perplexed, that it is difficult to trace it out; difficult even to determine what is the prudent or the moral Part. Thus, for Instance, wrong Behaviour in one Stage of Life, Youth; wrong, I mean, confidering ourselves only in our temporal Capacity, without taking in Religion; this, in several Ways, increases the Difficulties of right Behaviour in mature Age; i. e. puts us into a more difadvantageous State of Trial in our temporal Capacity.

We are an inferior Part of the Creation of God. There are natural Appearances of our being in a State of Degradation'. And we, certainly are in a Condition, which does not seem, by any means, the most advantageous we could imagine or defire, either in our natural or moral Capacity, for securing either our present or future Interest. However, this Condition, low and careful and uncertain as it is, does not afford any just Ground of Complaint. For, as Men may manage their temporal Affairs with Prudence, and so pass their Days here on Earth in tolerable Ease and Satisfaction, by a moderate Degree of Care : so Part II. Chap. v. p. 298.

likewise

I

PART likewise with regard to Religion, there is no

I. more required than what they are well able to mudo, and what they must be greatly wanting

to themselves, if they neglect. And for Persons to have That put upon them, which they are well able to go through, and no more, we naturally consider as an equitable thing; fuppofing it done by proper Authority. Nor have we any more Reason to complain of it, with regard to the Author of Nature, than of his not having given us other Advantages, belonging to other Orders of Creatures.

But the thing here insisted upon is, that the State of Trial which Religion teaches us we are in, is rendered credible, by its being throughout uniform and of a piece with the general Conduct of Providence towards us, in all other Respects within the Compass of our Knowledge. Indeed if Mankind considered in their natural Capacity, as Inhabitants of this World only, found themselves, from their Birth to their Death, in a settled State of Security and Happiness, without any Sollicitude or Thought of their own : or if they were in no Danger of being brought into Inconveniencies and Distress, by Carelessness, or the Folly of Paffion, through bad Example, the Treachery of others, or the deceitful Appearances of things : Were This our natural Condition; then it might seem

strange, Our whole pre

strange, and be fome Presumption against the C AP. Truth of Religion, that it represents our fu- IV. ture and more general Interest, as not securem of course, buc as depending upon our Behaviour, and requiring Recollection and Selfgovernment to obtain it. For it might be alledged, .What you say is our Condition in

one Respect, is not in any wise of a Sort “ with what we find, by Experience, our « Condition is in another. Our whole “ fent Interest is secured to our hands, with

out any Sollicitude of ours; and why “ should not our future Interest, if we have

any such, be so too?” But since, on the contrary, Thought and Confideration, the voluntary denying ourselves many Things which we desire, and a Course of Behaviour, far from being always agreeable to us; are ablolutely neceffary to our acting even a common decent, and common prudent Part, so as to pass with any Satisfaction through the present World, and be received upon any tolerable good Terms in it: since this is the Cafe, all Presumption against Self-denyal and Attention being necessary to secure our higher Intereft, is removed. Had we not Experience, it might, perhaps speciously, be urged, that it is improbable any thing of Hazard and Danger Thould be put upon us by an infinite Being ; when every thing which is Hazard and Danger in our manner of Conception,

PART and will end in Error, Confusion, and Mi

1. sery, is now already certain in his Fore-knowmledge. And indeed, why any thing of Ha

zard and Danger should be put upon such frail Creatures as we are, may well be thought a Difficulty in Speculation ; and cannot but be fo, till we know the whole, or, however, much more of the Case. But still the Consti. tution of Nature is as it is. Our Happiness and Misery are trusted to our Conduct, and made to depend upon it. Somewhat, and, in many Circumstances, a great deal too, is put upon Us, either to do, or to suffer, as we chuse. And all the various Miseries of Life, which People bring upon themselves by Negligence and Folly, and might have avoided by proper Care, are Instances of this: Which Miseries are beforehand, just as contingent and undetermined as their Conduct, and left to be determined by it.

1

These Observations are an Answer to the Objections against the Credibility of a State of Trial, as implying Temptations, and real Danger of miscarrying with regard to our general Interest, under the moral Government of God: and they shew, that, if we are at all to be considered in such a Capacity, and as having such an Interest ; the general Analogy of Providence must lead us to apprehend ourselves in Danger of miscarrying, in different Degrees, as to this Interest, by our neg-CHAP. lecting to act the proper Part belonging to us IV. in that Capacity. For we have a present In-m tereft, under the Government of God which we experience here upon Earth. And this Interest, as it is not forced upon us, so neither is it offered to our Acceptance, but to our Acquisition ; in such Sort, as that we are in Danger of missing it, by means of Temptations to neglect, or act contrary to it; and without Attention and Self-denial, must and do miss of it. It is then perfectly credible, that this may be our Case, with Respect to that chief and final Good, which Religion proposes to us.

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