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with liberty, it was poslible he might be so foolish as to neglect his own interest, and with open eyes run into ruin and misery? What no reasonable being would choose, let not presumptuous man blame his Maker for not putting in his choice. If man is what he ought to be, and is placed where he ought to be, what has he to do, but to think of filling his station with such propriety as is necessary for a reasonable being to study, who is defirous of attaining his own perfection and happiness in the only way in which they are attainable ?
If the perfect concurrence of reasonable beings, as well as others, with the Divine Scheme, was necessary to the very notion of a regular Universal System, with an Universal Governor at the head of it; it was to be expected, that the final happiness of such beings as should study to conform themselves habitually in difposition and practice to the Divine Scheme, should by the positive ordination of the Ruler of the world be closely connected with their character and behaviour. And if it be impoflible to conceive a plan of universal @conomy laid by an universal and perfect Mind, that should not be suitable to his own neceffary nature and character, but founded in mere arbitrary will; it is likewise impoflible to conceive a system in which the habitual conformity of reasonable beings to the Grand Scheme of the Universal Governor should not naturally, and as it were of itsell, produce happiness. The Divine Scheme of Government is founded, not in arbitrary will; but in the eternal and unchangeable rectitude of the Divine Nature. And therefore it was as much an impoflibility that it should be contrary to what it is, or that conformity to it thould finally produce any thing but happiness, or irregularity any thing but misery; as that the Divine Nature, which is necessarily what it is, thould have been otherwise. So that, till the time comes, when universal regularity shall have the fame natural tendency to promote order, perfection, and happiness, as universal conformity to the scheme of the universe; when the Divine Will comes to be directly contrary to all the moral perfections of his nature, till impossibilities become poflible, and direct contradictions the same; till the time comes, when all these shall happen, inere can be no chance for the happiness of any reasoning being who does not study to conform his dil, position and practice to the general scheme of the Ruler of the world.
Let daring impious man hear this and tremble.
That there is a rectitude in conduct, which is independent upon any connected happiness, seems so evident, that one would wonder how some writers have persuaded themselves, and laboured to persuade others, That the only good, or rectitude of an action, is its tendency to produce happiness. After what I have said to thew the natural, as well as judicial connection between virtue and happiness, I must declare, that to me it appears evident, That rectitude is prior to, and independent upon, all tendency to produce happiness. To prove this very briefly, let it be proposed to a person, that he have his choice to perform fome noble action, such as delivering his country, by one of two methods, the former of which shall oblige him to make use of a piece of diffimulation, which shall hurt no creature, but if he chooses the latter, he may save his country without the least deviation from truth. Ought a man of integrity. to hesitate one moment which of the two methods he would choose? And does not the preference of the latter to the former, the consequences of both being the same, shew plainly à rectitude in mere veracity, independent of its producing happiness? Again, were a traveller ia see some strange fight, which never had been, or could be seen, by any other, would it not be evidently better that he gave an account of it on his return, exactly in every circumstance as it really was, than that he should in the smallest circumstance deviate from truth; though such deviation should have no kind of effect upon any pcrfon in the world ? Farther, is it not certain, beyond all poslibility of doubt, that the Supreme Being acts always from the greatest and best motives, and according to the wisest and most perfect rules, at the same time that his happiness is, has been, and will be, necessarily, at all moments, from eternity to eternity, the same, un
changeable, changeable, and absolutely perfect. Is the whole recti- . tude of created beings the pursuit of happiness? And is there no foundation for Divine Rectitude ? Is it not rectitude in a prince, or a father, to wish the happiness of his people, or children, without regard to his own happiness? is not benevolence the more truly commendable for its being disinterested? Whereas, upon the scheme of placing the whole of rectitude in pursuing the greatest happiness, it ought to be quite the reyerle. Ought not a good man to do what is right, rather than the contrary, if he were sure, that himlelf and the whole universe were to be annihilated the next moment, so that it would be impoflible that any degree of happiness should be the confequence?
There is plainly an independent rcctitude, or goodness, in the conduct of moral agents, separate from the connexion between virtue and happiness. And this is the foundation of the necellity of their ading according to a certain fixed courk; and consequently of their having laws and rules promulgated to them by the Universal Governor. Nor does this at all invalidate the connection between virtue and happiness; but on the contrary, shews that there is, and ought to be, such a connection. And, generally speaking, there is no safer way to try the moral excellence or turpitude of actions, than by considering the natural consequences of their being universally practised. For example, let it be supposed a questionable point, Whether the murder of the innocent is in itself right, or otherwise. Try it by the consequences, which must follow the universal practice of destroying all the good and virtuous part of mankind; and it immediately appears to be so far from right, that nothing can be conceived more contrary to rectitude. On the other hand, let it be disputed, Whether the protection and preservation of the innocent be right. Let it be considered, what would be the consequences of innocence's being universally preserved and protected; and it appears evident beyond all poflibility of doubt, that nothing is more agreeable to recitude. Rectitude, therefore, does not consist in the pursuit of happiness; por does the bappiness, consequent upon a certain course
of conduct, constitute the rectitude of such conduct, The true state of the cafe is, Certain actions are first in themselves right, and then happiness is the natural and judicial consequence of them.
In order to bring mankind to a complete and perfect concurrence with the Universal Scheme, it was plainly necessary, that other means should be used than force, or instinct; the first of which was suficient for working dead matter, and the second, the animal creation, to the Divine purpose. Had man been only inanimate matter, nothing more would have been necessary, than that he should be acted upon.
Had he been a machine ; a weight, or a spring, would have been sufficient to make him perform his motions. Were there nothing in man but the mere animal powers, were he capable of being wrought to nothing higher than the animal functions, were his nature fit for no higher happiness, than those of eating and drinking, and, after living a few years, and leaving behind him a successor to fill his place, and continue the species, to pass out of existence; were this the case, there would have needed no very grand apparatus to make him fill his inconsiderable place, so as to contribute his small share to the happiness of the whole, and to secure his own mean portion. But it is very much otherwise, as will immediately appear. I believe hardly any one will deny, that man (or however most of the fpecies) are endowed with the faculty of understanding; by which, though weak indeed and narrow at present, our species are yet capable of distinguishing truth from fallehood, in all points of importance, and with sufficient certainty, as shewn above. Now, in order to a creature's acting properly its part, and concurring with the whole, it is evidently necessary, that it make a proper use and application of every one of its faculties. No one will pretend, I think, that the perfection and hap: piness of the universe would be as universally promoted by every individual's making a wrong use of his faculties, as a right one; but on the contrary, that every individual's making an improper use of his faculties would produce the most consummate disorder and imperfection in the system, and would be the most opposite to the
Divine Scheme, that could be imagined. It follows, that, if man is endowed with understanding, he is to be brought to cultivate and inform it, not to ftifle and blind it; to endeavour to enlarge, not to narrow it; to apply it to the searching out of useful and important truth, not to mislead it into the belief of falsehoods, nor to employ it upon objects unworthy of it.''
Another leading faculty in the human mind is will. That there is in man a faculty of will, or a power of choosing and refusing, we all fee established immediately. What I have to say at present is, That in order to man's concurrence with the Univerfal Scheme, it is necessary, that he regulate bis will properly, or in such à manner, that he may will or defire whatever is for the general good, and will or desire nothing that may be generally prejudicial. No man, I think, will pretend, that it would be better if the wills of all created beings were set to thwart the general scheme, than that they were formed to concur with it; but, on the contrary, it is evident, that a general opposition of all beings to what is the nature of things, and the right upon the whole, must produce universal confufion, and that if there was no way to bring about this general concurTence, it were reasonable to expect, from the absolutely perfect rectitude of the Supreme Governor of the World, that an universe of such perverse and unruly beings should be utterly destroyed, or rather never have been produced. It is plain, then, that, in order to man's acting his part, and concurring with the general scheme, he muit be brought to use all the faculties of his mind properly.
I promised above to bring some proofs for the fact of man's being a creature endowed with will, or freedom to desire, and power to determine himself in favour of, or against any particular object. The certainty of this fact is founded in sensation, and confirmed by reasoning. Let any man observe what passes in his own mind, and he will be obliged to own, that he feels he has it in his power to will, or desire, and determine himself in fafour of, or against any particular object. . We have no