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soon produce! How fitly might the whole body, thus knit together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, increose with the increase of God, would man but enter into the same great plan of exciting industry and labour, and do what lies in his
power to promote it, viz. entail benefits and successes as the natural consequence of these; endeavour to suit every one's station to his respective merit and abilities; i.e. deal with each person according to what he is, and observe those rules which the great God of nature has established !
What emulation must this raise, joined with the utmost care and caution, when each finds it in his power so much to improve and advance, as well as to impair and debase his nature; and thereby also change his state! what eagerness to excel fome! what dread of falling below others ! what encouragement for all, to make the best use of their faculties and opportunities! This amicable contest, and perpetual struggle, must certainly make more for the good of the whole, than if all had been passive, and absolutely fixed in any degree of knowledge and perfection; or limited unalterably to any state. (b) Upon this plan
only (b) See King's Origin of Evil, Note 19. p. 108, &c. and Note Y. p. 398, &c. We may add, that the supposition of any such fixed, unimprovable fate of natural good implies, strictly speaking, no less than the fubversion of all virtue or moral good; which is nothing but the chufing to communicate the former: (See King. R. i. p. 75, 76. 4th Ed.] for which communication there could be no place in such a state, nor consequently any room for any of those ideas which are founded on it.
Nor does this scheme any better consult the interest of our intellectuel accomplishments; which, while it seems to be exalting them, is at the bottom taking away their use and exercise: while it pretends to confiitute an equality among rational agents, is really deftructive of both rationality, and agency.
only could there be place for hope or fear, reward or punishment, the only proper means of governing free, rational agents; and of conducting them to their supreme and truest happiness,which seems entirely to consist in agency; and which can only this way be excited *. . This therefore is the method most agreeable to wisdom and goodness, and in consequence most worthy of God t.
Having thus far considered the partial distribution of the gifts of nature, and consequent diversity of natural religion, and offered some hints towards explaining the reasonableness and necessity thereof; I proceed to shew the fame concerning revelation.
If a revelation were to be made at all, (and I muft here take it for granted that such a thing is neither impossible nor unreasonable in itself,) it must be conveyed in the method we are told it was, namely, at first communicated to some few select persons, and by them divulged, and gradually propagated to the rest of the world (C);
or See King: p. 216, 298, 311, 324, 335, 348, &c. with the following Note [e]. and Foster's wisdom of God in the various ranks and subordinations of human Life. Serm. vii. Vol. 2.
+ See this described more at large in Bp. Butler's Analogy, p.93, &c. 2d Edit.
I See Jenkin. Vol, i. c. 1. or Enquiry into the evidence of the Chrift, Rel. 8.
(1) Chubb (on Miracles, p. 68, &c.) objects to this first method, that hereby it would be in the power of a few men to deprive the rest of all the benefits of this revelation.
But is not that really the case in all the other benefits of nature, and the ordinary gifts of providence? Are not most of the blessings of life communicated to us by the mediation and inftramentality of other men, who may be just and faithful in communicating them, or otherwise? and is it not oft in the power of a single person to
or secondly, every particular man must have it by immediate inspiration, and be at all times, and in all cases, influenced and directed to it internally; or thirdly, it must be published again
and deprive multitudes of life itself, or any of its comforts; of liberty, peace, plenty, arts, improvements, &c? and is not all this unavoidable while men are allowed the free use of their natural powers, which he himself contends for? Men, he says, are not to be over-ruled in either the publication or reception of religion ; and if so, he has yet to explain how that is to be given so as not to leave it in the power and pleasure of a fiw, sooner or later, to restrain and suppress, to disguise and corrupt it; and consequently to prevent thoujands and millions of others from Maring in the benefits thereof, ib. p. 63. On a little farther consideration such writers may probably find, that in this scheme (of Human Liberty) it must be impoffible for any thing relating either to the minds, or outward circumstances of mankind, to remain in a state of perfect uniformity; and then they may be sensible too that the same caufes, which among other things that concern mankind, make their religion unavoidably continue in this partial and unequal way, will hold as strongly for its being originally given in the fame way.
Cbubb's second objection, That if men could be supposed to be honest and faithful in the publication of a system of revealed Reli-, gion, then there would be no occasion for such system, ib. seems to be worse founded than the other; since this revelation, notwith'ftanding all the imperfections that attend its communication, may
still be the means of conveying such superior benefits to those who do come to the knowledge of it, of making such discoveries in the nature both of God and Man, and of affording motives for men's attaining to such a degree of virtue, and'true rational happiness, as all their honesty, without such helps, could never raise them to, at least the generality of them.
And whether the jole end of revelation be to bring men to a higher pitch of happiness than they could otherwise attain, or not: ib. p. 49. this author never can prove but that this may be one of its great ends; and this end is in fact obtained, to as high a degree as is conbitent with his own scheme of perfect liberty: so that, in the last place, allowing God to forafie all the consequences, and events attending such an establishment, ib. p. 62. yet this establiíhment, so circumilanced, may, notwithstanding any thing this author has made out tu che contrary, come from him. And indeed Chubb seems at length to be tensible of that same boasted objection against the divinity of a revelution from its non-univerfality being fo very niuch weakened, that he is grown rather weary of it, and willing to get rid of it as handsomely as he can, by pretending that he has not even leaned to that fide of the question in all his debates upon it, and will take it una kindiy to have such a thing so much as infinucted of him. The Autor's Farewell, p. 219, note.
and again, and fresh miracles worked for the conviction of each unbeliever in every age.
In the second of these methods the inconveni. ences are very obvious: for First, This influence, of what kind foever it be, must either be abfolutely efficacious and irresistible, i.e. so strong as to subvert the natural powers of man, and take away his freedom of thinking and acting; and consequently destroy all virtue, merit, praise, reward; i. e. all that is good and valuable in religion: - or eise it would not be sufficient to answer the ends proposed; nor could it certainly and effectually secure the interest and salvation of mankind.
As an illumination, it must either be distinguishable from the present effects of reason and the ordinary operations of the divine spirit, or not; if the former, this must be by striking us more forcibly, and working a more assured, infallible conviction in the mind: but so much as is added to that, above what may arise from the present constitution of things, just so much must be taken from the present choice, and merit of believing ; and the concomitant delight and satisfaction which we feel, and ought to feel, in giving our assent to truth (d). Such evidence must either
(d) See ABp. King's Origin, N. 19. p. 108, &c. 4th Ed. compared with N. 59. p. 310. Whence it appears, that though in fome cases and respects the affent be unavoidable, and we merely passive in the attainment of many useful parts of knowledge; which must bel attended with satisfaction in degree proportioned to the ap. prehension of that usefulness, and of a kind perhaps very com. plex, as arising from variety of causes accidentally associated; yet
supersede all action and enquiry of our own, and overbear the judgment beyond possibility of doubt, (which yet, from the manner of our acquiring and associating ideas, and forming judgments, is impossible to be conceived, without reversing the whole frame of the human mind; neither would that appear to be at all desirable, as we have seen above) it muft, I say, either be inconsistent with the exercise of our other most valuable faculties,
or neither is the kind, nor the degree of this delight so intense, and ex: quisite, as that which usually accompanies those points which we work out ourselves ; which we properly make our own, by a free, fair investigation. These truths, though of no more importance in themselves, or their consequences, than any others that are either forcibly obtruded on us, or fortuitously thrown into our way; yeo are attended with a sort of self-approbation, and complacency, which both accompanies the first discovery, the transporting évenxz; and will continue after it, and bear reflection; and which makes them infinitely exceed all others in our estimation. The same thing, as it is come at in the one or other of these ways, is evidently not the same to us: which I can ascribe to nothing more than a consciousness that in the former case we have contributed somewhat to the acqui. sition of it, and to our own improvement by that acquisition; or an idea of merit, constantly associated with this kind of acquisitions; and which is perhaps the very strongest, and the most agreeable of all our associations.
From whence also we may collect how necessary it is to the happiness of man, that he should appear to himself to be free, in the exercise of the faculties of his mind, as well as the powers of his body; to be in some degree aflive in the attainment of his knowledge, as well as any other attainments; and how far this will go towards proving him to be really fo, I leave to be considered. If he has any real liberty, there will be a good reason for annexing this double pleafure to the exercise of it, both to excite him to action in cases of difficulty, and afterwards to justify him for engaging in such ; and enable him to go through all the toil, and hazard that attends them. If he has none, won't it be a little hard to point out, either the rise or reasonableness of this so conftant, and so general a delusion; and to account for such ideas as those of merii, esteem, reward, &c, which are intirely founded in it?
Whether the resolving all, with a late author, into the deceitful feel. ing of liberty, be attended with less difficulties, than those which this hypothesis is calculated to remove, must be submitted to the thoughtful reader. See Hume on Liberty and Neceflity, Esays on the Principles of Mor. and Nat. Rel. Part I.