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the present Life's being intended for this Pur-CHAP. pose, that all the Trouble and the Danger, V. unavoidably accompanying such Discipline, might have been saved us, by our being made at once the Creatures and the Characters, which we were to be. For we experience, that what we were to be, was to be the Effect of what we would Do: and that the general Conduct of Nature is, not to save us Trouble or Danger, but to make us capable of going through them, and to put it
upon us to do so. Acquirements of our own, Experience and Habits, are the natural Supply to our Deficiencies, and Security against our Dangers : since it is as plainly natural to set ourselves to acquire the Qualifications, as the external things, which we stand in need of. In particular, it is as plainly a general Law of Nature, that we should, with regard to our temporal Interest, form and cultivate practical Principles within' us, by Attention, Use and Discipline, as any thing whatever is a natural Law; chiefly in the Beginning of Life, but also throughout the whole Course of it. And the Alternative is left to our Choice: either to improve ourselves, and bet. ter our Condition : or, in Default of such Improvement, to remain deficient and wretched. It is therefore perfectly credible, from the Analogy of Nature, that the fame may
PART be our Case, with respect to the Happiness
I. of a future State, and the Qualifications neW cessary for it.
There is a third thing, which may seem implied in the present World's being State of Probation ; that it is a Theatre of Action, for the Manifestation of Persons Characters, with respect to a future one: not to be sure to an All-knowing Being, but to his Creation or Part of it. This may, perhaps, be only a Consequence of our being in a State of Probation in the other Senfes. However, it is not impossible, that Mens Thewing and making manifest, what is in their Heart, what their real Character is, may have Respect to a future Life, in Ways and Manners which we are not acquainted with: particularly it may be a Means, for the Author of Nature does not appear to do anything without Means, of their being disposed of suitably to their Characters; and of its being known to the Creation, by way of Example, that they are thus disposed of. But not to enter upon any conjectural Account of this; One may just mention, that the Manifestation of Perfons Characters, contributes very much, in various Ways, to the carrying on a great Part of that general Course of Nature, re
fpe&ting Mankind, which comes under our CHAP. Observation at present. I shall only add, that V. Probation, in both these Senses, as well as in mu That treated of in the foregoing Chapter, is implied in moral Government: since by Perfons Behaviour under it, their Characters cannot but be manifested, and if they behave well, improved.
CH A P.
CH A P. VI.
Of the Opinion of Necessity, considered
as influencing Practice.
PART HROUGHOUT the foregoing TreaI.
tise it appears, that the Condition of Mankind, confidered as Inhabitants of this World only, and under the Government of God which we experience; is greatly analogous to our Condition, as designed for another World, or under that farther Government, which Religion teaches us.
If therefore any assert, as a Fatalist must, that the Opinion of universal Necessity is reconcileable with the former ; there immediately arises a Question in the way of Analogy, whether he must not also own it ro be reconcileable with the latter, i. e. with the System of Religion itself, and the Proof of it. The Reader then will obferve, that the Question now before us is not absolute, Whether the Opinion of Fate be reconcileable with Religion; but hypothetical, Whether, upon Supposition of its being reconcileable with the Constitution of Nature, it be not reconcileable with Religion also: Or, what Pretence a Fatalist, not other Persons, but a Fatalist, has to conclude
from his Opinion, that there can be no such CHAP. thing as Religion. And as the Puzzle and VI. Obscurity, which must unavoidably arise from arguing upon so absurd a Supposition as That of universal Necessity, will, I fear, easily be seen; it will, I hope, as easily be excused.
But since it has been all along taken for granted, as a thing proved, that there is an intelligent Author of Nature, or natural Governor of the World; and since an Objection may be made against the Proof of this, from the Opinion of universal Necessity, as it may be supposed, that such Necessity will itself account for the Origin and Preservation of all things : it is requisite, that this Objection be distinctly answered; or that it be shewn, that a Fatality, supposed consistent with what we certainly experience, does not destroy the Proof of an intelligent Author and Governor of Nature ; before we proceed to consider, whether it destroys the Proof of a moral Governor of it, or of our being in a State of Religion.
Now, when it is said by a Fatalist, that the whole Constitution of Nature, and the Actions of Men, that every thing, and every Mode and Circumstance of every thing, is necessary and could not possibly have been otherwise ; it is to be observed, that this Ne