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and Evil, and the Obligations consequent upon that Difference; it is from the same Light that we find the moral Perfections to be possessed by the Deity in their utmost Beauty : So that the same Reason and Nature, which holds forth to us the Rule of our Duty, holds forth also the perfect Example of it. Now, since no Example is a good one, which does not teach the same Doctrine with the Rule of Duty, and the Rule of Duty in this Cafe being the Light of our own Minds; it must necessarily follow, that to obey the Dictates of Reason, and to imitate the Example of God, is in the End one and the fame Thing.
That it must be so, will appear by confidering, that we can no other Way trace the Perfections of the Deity, but from those natural Notions of Perfection which we find in our own Minds: We should not ascribe to God Holiness, Justice and Mercy, did not the Light of Reason discover to us the Excellencies of thele Attributes. Now the Holiness, Justice and Mercy, which the Light of Reason discovers, are the moral Virtues which we are obliged to follow after; they are also the Perfections which we ascribe to the Deity: So that whether we follow the VOL. III.
Dictates of Reason in endeavouring after these Virtues, or whether we look up to the Deity, and copy from the Perfections of his Natures it is evident, that in both Cases we follow the same Virtues, though placed, before us in a different View. For, since our Notion of the Perfections of the Deity must be formed from such natural Notions of moral Perfection, as Reason and the Light of Nature can supply; whether we consider these Perfections as inherent in the Deity, and endeavour to copy after the First and Great Original, or whether we take our natural Notions of moral Virtue, as Principles and Rules of Religion, which ought to influence and direct our Lives, the Issue will be the same with respect to our Practice. It is easier for Men, when once they have a Notion of a perfect righteous Being, consider, in particular Cases, what such a Being would do or approve, than to run up in an abstracted way of Reasoning to first Principles and Maxims for Direction.
But whichever Way you take, the Inquiry is the same, namely, what is fit and reasonable to be done in this or that Case: And let the Method of Inquiry be what it will, the Judgment must be such as our present Share
of Reason will enable us to make. And therefore the Imitation of God is a Principle of Religion arising from, and depending on, the right Use and Exercise of Reason, as much as any other whatever. And this may serve to Thew upon what Foundation the Imitation of God stands in Natural Religion, and how we may apply this Principle for our Direction in particular Cases Thew also what is to be understood by being perfect, as God is perfect : It is absurd to aim at the Measure of his Perfection; but we are then, to all the Purposes of Life and Religion, perfect as He is perfect, when we do nothing but what He will approve: For to stand approved in the Eye of an Allperfect and Holy Being, is the true Perfection of every Creature. This is the Christian Excellency, as described by St. Paul in the Words once already quoted, and with which I shall conclude this Difcourse, That we may fand perfect and complete in all the Will of God.
John iii. 19. This is the Condemnation, that Light is come
into the World, and Men loved Darkness rather than Light, because their Deeds were evil.
K* AN being a reasonable Creature, *
and endued with Faculties to M Huono judge and chuse for himself in
all Cases, it is contrary to Na36 *
ture to suppose, that there should be any Thing absolutely or necessarily good to him ; fince the Advantage to be drawn from any Thing whateyer, depends on the right Use and Application of that Thing to its proper Ends and Purposes. Wholesome Food is good for the Sound, but if taken in