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PART cerning the moral Character of the Author of

1. Nature, considered in this Relation of Govermnor; does not ascertain his Government to be

moral, or prove that he is the righteous Judge of the World. Moral Government consists, not barely in rewarding and punishing Men for their Actions, which the most tyrannical Person may do: but in rewarding the Righteous and punishing the Wicked ; in rendring to Men according to their Actions, considered as good or evil. And the Perfection of moral Government consists in doing this, with regard to all intelligent Creatures, in an exact Proportion to their personal Merits or Demerits.

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Some Men seem to think the only Character of the Author of Nature to be That of fimple absolute Benevolence. This, confidered as a Principle of Action and infinite in Degree, is a Disposition to produce the greatest possible Happiness, without Regard to Persons Behaviour, otherwise than as such Regard would produce higher Degrees of it. And supposing this to be the only Character of God, Veracity and Justice in Him would be nothing but Benevolence conducted by Wisdom. Now surely this ought not to be asserted, unless it can be proved ; for we should speak with cautious Reverence upon such a Subject. And whether it can be proved



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or no, is not the thing here to be inquired CHAP.

but whether in the Constitution and III. Condu&t of the World, a righteous Govern-m ment be not discernibly planned out: which necessarily implies a righteous Governor. There may possibly be in the Creation Beings, to whom the Author of Nature manifests him. self under this most amiable of all Characters, this of infinite absolute Benevolence ; for it is the most amiable, supposing it not, as perhaps it is not, incompatible with Justice : but he manifests himself to Us under the Character of a righteous Governor. He may, confiftently with this, be simply and absolutely benevolent, in the Sense now explained : But he is, for he has given us a Proof in the Constitution and Conduct of the World that he is, a Governor over Servants, as he rewards and punishes us for our Actions. And in the Constitution and Conduct of it, he may

also have given, besides the Reason of the thing, and the natural Presages of Conscience, clear and distinct Intimations, that his Government is righteous or moral : clear to such as think the Nature of it deserving their Attention; and yet not to every careless Person, who casts a transient Reflection upon the Subject 6.


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• The Objections against Religion, from the Evidence of it not being universal, nor so strong as might possibly have been,


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PART But it is particularly to be observed, that

I. the divine Government, which we experience MOurselves under in the present State, taken

alone, is allowed not to be the Perfection of moral Government. And yet this by no means hinders, but that there may be fomewhat, be it more or less, truly moral in it. A righteous Government may plainly appear to be carried on to some Degree: enough to give us the Apprehension that it shall be compleated, or carried on to that Degree of Perfection which Religion teaches us it shall ; but which cannot appear, till much more of the divine Administration be seen, than can in the present Life. And the Design of this Chapter is to inquire, how far this is the Case: how far, over and above the moral Nature which God has given us, and our natural Notion of Him as righteous Governor of those his Creatures, to whom he has given this Natured; I say how far besides this, the Principles and Beginnings of a moral Government

may be urged against natural Religion, as well as againft re-
vealed. And therefore the Confideration of them belongs to
the first part of this Treatise, as well as the second. But as
these Objections are chiefly urged against revealed Religion, I
chose to consider them in the second Part. And the Answer
to them there, Ch. vi. as urged against Chriftianity, being al-
most equally applicable to them as urged against the Religion
of Nature; to avoid Repetition, the Reader is referred to that
<Differtation 2

Chap. vi. p. 167, &c.


over the World may be discerned, notwith-CHAP. standing and amidst all the Confusion and III. Disorder of it.

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Now one might mention here, what has been often urged with great Force, that in general, less Uneasiness and more Satisfaction, are the natural Consequences of a virtuous than of a vitious Course of Life, in the present State, as an Instance of a moral Government established in Nature ; an Instance of it, collected from Experience and present Matter of fact. But it must be owned a thing of Difficulty to weigh and balance Pleasures and Uneasinesses, each amongst themselves, and also against each other, so as to make an Estimate with any Exactness, of the Overplus of Happiness on the Side of Virtue, And it is not impossible, that, amidst the infinite Disorders of the World, there may be Exceptions to the Happiness of Virtue ; even with regard to those Persons, whose Course of Life from their Youth


has been blameless; and more with regard to those, who have gone on for some time in the ways of Vice, and have afterwards reformed. For suppose an Instance of the latter Case; a Pere son with his Passions inflamed, his natural Faculty of Self-Government impaired by Habits of Indulgence, and with all his Vices See Lord Shaftesbury's Inquiry concerning Virtue, Part II,


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PAR Tabout him, like so many Harpies, craving for

I. their accustomed Gratification : who can say
Mvhow long it might be, before such a Person

would find more Satisfaction in the Reasona-
bleness and present goud Consequences of
Virtue, than Difficulties and Self-denial in
the Restraints of it? Experience also shows,
that Men can, to a great Degree, get over
their Sense of Shame, so as that by professing
themselves to be without Principle, and
avowing even direct Villainy, they can sup-
port themselves against the Infamy of it. But
as the ill Actions of any one will probably be
more talked of, and oftener thrown in his
way, upon his Reformation ; so the Infamy
of them will be much more felt, after the na-
tural Sense of Virtue and of Honour is re-
covered. Uneasinesses of this Kind ought in-
deed to be put to the Account of former Vi-
ces : yet it will be said, they are in Part the
Consequences of Reformation. Still I am far
from allowing it doubtful, whether Virtue,
upon the whole, be happier than Vice in the
present World. But if it were, yet the Be-
ginnings of a righteous Administration may
beyond all Question be found in Nature, if
we will attentively inquire after them. And,

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I. In whatever Manner the Notion of God's moral Government over the World might be treated, if it did not appear, whe


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