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النشر الإلكتروني

46

CHA P. II. of the Government of God by Re

wards and Punishments; and par

ticularly of the latter. PART HAT which makes the Question

T! I.

concerning a future Life to be of fo great Importance to us, is our Capacity of Happiness and Misery. And that which makes the Confideration of it to be of so great Importance to us, is the Supposition of our Happiness and Misery Hereafter, depending upon our Actions Here. Without this indeed, Curiosity could not but sometimes bring a Subject, in which we may be so highly interested, to our Thoughts ; especially upon the Mortality of Others, or the near Prospect of our own. But reasonable Men would not take any farther Thought about Hereafter, than what should happen thus occasionally to rise in their Minds, if it were certain that our future Interest no way depended upon our present Behaviour: Whereas on the contrary, if there be Ground, either from Analogy or any thing else, to think it does; then there is Reason also for the most active Thought and Sollicitude, to secure that Interest; to behave so as

that

R Power,

that we may escape That Misery, and obtain CHAP. that Happiness in another Life, which we

II. not only suppose ourselves capable of, but which we apprehend also is put in our own

And whether there be Ground for this last Apprehension, certainly would deserve to be most seriously considered, were there no other Proof of a future Life and Interest, than That presumptive one, which the foregoing Observations amount to.

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Now in the present State, all which we enjoy, and a great Part of what we suffer, is put in our own Power. For Pleasure and Pain are the Consequences of our Actions ; and we are endued by the Author of our Nature with Capacities of foreseeing these Consequences. We find by Experience He does not so much as preserve our Lives, exclusively of our own Care and Attention, to provide ourselves with, and to make use of, that Suftenance, by which he has appointed our Lives shall be preserved; and without which, he has appointed, they shall not be preserved at all. And in general we foresee, that the external things, which are the Objects of our various Passions, can neither be obtained nor enjoyed, without exerting ourselves in such and such Manners: But by thus exerting Ourselves, we obtain and enjoy these Objects, in which our natural Good consists; or by this

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PART Means God gives us the Possession and En

I. joyment of them. I know not, that we have many one Kind or Degree of Enjoyment, but

by the Means of our own Actions. And by
Prudence and Care, we may, for the most
part, pass our Days in tolerable Ease and
Quiet : Or on the contrary, we may by
Rashness, ungoverned Passion, Willfulness,
or even by Negligence, make Ourselves as
miserable as ever we please. And many do
please to make themselves extremely misera-
ble, i. e. to do what they know beforehand
will render them so. They follow those
ways, the Fruit of which they know, by
Instruction, Example, Experience, will be
Disgrace and Poverty and Sickness and un-
timely Death. This every one obferves to be
the general Course of things; though it is
to be allowed, we cannot find by Experience,
that all our Sufferings are owing to our own
Follies.

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Why the Author of Nature does not give his Creatures promiscuously such and fuch Perceptions, without Regard to their Behaviour ; why he does not make them happy without the Instrumentality of their own Actions, and prevent their bringing any Sufferings upon themselves; is another Matter. Perhaps there may be fome Impossibilities in the Nature of things, which we are unác

quainted

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by Rewards and Punishments .

49
quainted withi. Or less Happiness, it may CHAP.
be, would upon the whole be produced by II.
such a Method of Conduct, than is by the
present. Or perhaps divine Goodness, with
which, if I mistake not, we make very
free in our Speculations, may not be a bare
single Disposition to produce Happiness; buc
a Disposition to make the good, the faithful,
the honest Man happy. Perhaps an infinitely
perfect Mind may be pleased, with seeing his
Creatures behave suitably to the Nature
which he has given them; to the Relations
which he has placed them in to each other ;
and to That, which they stand in to Him-
self: That Relation to himself, which, du-
ring their Existence, is even necessary, and
which is the most important one of all.
Perhaps, I say, an infinitely perfect Mind
may be pleased with this moral 'Piety of mo-
ral Agents, in and for itself; as well as up-
on Account of its being effentially conducive
to the Happiness of his Creation. Or the
whole End, for which God made, and thus
governs the World, may be utterly beyond
the Reach of our Faculties: There may be
somewhat in it as impossible for us to have
any Conception of, as for a blind Man to have
a Conception of Colours. But however this
be, it is certain Matter of universal Experi-
ence, that the general Method of divine Ad-
i Ch. vii. p. 185, &c.

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PART ministration, is, forewarning us, or giving us 1. Capacities to foresee, with more or less Clearvness, that if we act so and so, we shall have

such Enjoyments, if so and so, such Sufferings; and giving us those Enjoyments, and even making us feel those Sufferings, in Conse

walca quence of our Actions.

Cafea « But all this is to be ascribed to the

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ge" neral Course of Nature.” True. This is the very thing which I am observing. It is

Please to be ascribed to the general Course of Nature: i. e. not surely to the Words or Ideas, Course of Nature; but to him who appointed it, and put things into it: Or to a Course of GaRe Operation, from its Uniformity or Constancy, 3No called natural k; and which necessarily implies an operating Agent. For when Men find themselves necessitated to confess an Author of Nature, or that God is the natural Governor of the World ; they must not deny this again, because his Government is uniform: They must not deny that he does all things at all, because he does them constantly; because the Effects of his acting are permanent, whether his acting be so or not; though there is no Reason to think it is not. In short, every Man, in every thing he does, naturally acts upon the Forethought and Apprehension of avoiding evil or obtain. ķ p. 43, 44.

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