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it to be the effect of examination, habit, and gradual improvement. We cannot conceive of a mind just produced into existence, as furnished with inclinations, attachments, or even ideas of any kind. We have no conception of these as other than the effects of improvement. And we consider a mind at its first entrance into being, as endowed only with the capacity of taking in ideas, as the eye is of viewing objects, when presented to it. So that we can form no other notion of the elevated degree of goodness, which those glorious beings have attained, than as the effect of their having passed a very long course of improvement. Nor do the accounts we have in revelation, of the fall of some of them, seem so well to suit any other scheme, as that of their haying been at that time in a state of discipline analogous to ours. Be that as it will, it is evident, that to such creatures as we are, with capacities and ail other circumstances such as ours (and had they been different, we should not have been what we are, nor where we are) nothing but a state of discipline could have answered the end of producing in us the necessary attachment to rectitude or virtue. For this attachment or inclination could not have arisen in us of itself, and without adequate means,
SECT. V. The present very proper for a State of Discipline*, Objec
tions answered. ERE we to imagine a plan of a state of disci
pline, for improving a species of beings such as ours for high stations, and extentive usefulness in future, ftates; how could we suppose it contrived in any man, ner, that should be materially different from the state we find ourselves in? What scheme could be imagined, likely to answer the purposes of planting in the mind of the creature the necessary habit of obedience to the Supreme
The Author would not, if it were to do again, draw up the following Section, altogether as it stands here, seeing, as he thinks, reason to change his opinion, in fome points (none of them indeed of any material conde Suence) from what it was, when this book was written.
Being; of giving it an inviolable attachment to virtue, and horror at irregularity; and of teaching it to study a rational and voluntary concurrence with the general fcheme of the Governor of the universe; what method, I say, can we conceive of for these noble purposes, that should not take in, among others, the following particulars, viz. That the fpecics thould be furnished with sufficient capacity, and advantages of all kinds, for distinguishing between right and wrong: That the ingenuity of their dispositions, and the strength of their virtue, thould have full exercise, in order both to its trial, and its improvement: That they should have rewards and punishments set before them, as the moft powerful motives to obedience: And that, upon the whole, they should have it fairly in their power to attain the end of their being put in a itate of discipline?
If we consider the present as a state of discipline, all is ordered as Mould be. We enter into life with minds wholly unfurnished with ideas, attachments, or biasses of any kind. After a little time, we find certain inftincts begin to act pretty strongly within us, which are necessary to move us to avoid what might be hurtful, and pursue what is useful to the support of the animal frame, and these instincts are appointed to anticipate reason, which does not at first exert itfulf; and bring us to that by mechanical means, which we are not capable of being worked to by rational considerations, Nature has ordered, that our parents shall be so engaged to us by irresistible affection, as to be willing to undertake the office of caring for us in our helpless years; of opening, and cultivating our realon, as soon as it begins to appear; and of forming us by habit, by precept, and example, to virtue and regularity. As we advance in life, our faculties, by habitually exerting them upon various objects, come to enlarge themselves, so as to take in a wider compass. We become then capable of reasoning upon actions, and their consequences, and accordingly do, in general, reason juftly enough about matters of right and wrong, where paflion does not blind and mislead us. When we come into the vigorous and flourishing time of life, excited by our pallions
and appetites, without which, with the low degree of reason we then enjoy, we should be but half animated, we proceed to enter into various scenes of action. It is true, that innumerable irregularities and follies are the consequence. But without passions and appetites, we could not be the compounded creatures we are, nor confequently fill our proper station between the angelic and animal ranks. Here then is the proper opportunity for exercising our virtue; for habituating us to keep continually on our guard against innumerable affaults; for watching over ourselves, that we may not be surprized, and fall before temptation; or if we fall, that by suffering from our errors, we may be moved to greater diligence and attention to our duty, to a stronger attachment to virtue, and a more fixed hatred to the crimes which have brought such sufferings upon us.
And though the necessary propensions of our nature do indeed eventually lead us, through our own folly, into irregularity and vice, it must yet be owned at the same time, that by the wife and kind conftitution of nature, we have innumerable natural directions, and advantages, toward restraining and bringing them under subjection, and innumerable ill consequences are made to follow naturally upon our giving a loose to them. Which ought in all reason to lead us to reflect, that the government of our passions and appetites is a part of our wisdom and our duty.
Pleasure and pain, health and disease, success and misfortune, reward and punishment, often at a very great distance of time after the action, are made the natural, or at least frequent consequences of our general behaviour here; to suggest to us the reatonabliness of concluding that an extensive uniformiry prevails through the whole of the Divine moral government, and that what we fee here in thadow, will in the future ftate appear in substance and perfection, and that it not only will, but ought, to be fo, and cannot be otherwise
If we consider the opposite natural tendences and effects of virtue and vice, in the present state, we shall from thence fee reason to conclude, that the former is pleasing to the Governor of the world, and the latter the contrary. The natural effects of temperance are health, length of days, and a more delicate enjoyment of the innocent pleatures of life. The natural effects of glutrony, drunkenness, and lewdness, are disease and pain, disgust and disappointment, and untimely death. The natural effects of universal benevolence, justice, and charity, are the love of mankind, success in life, and peace in one's own mind. The consequences to be expected from ill-will, injustice, and felfishness, are the contempt and hatred of mankind, and punishment by the laws of nations. When we say such an effect follows naturally from such a cause, we mean, that it does so by the Divine appointment. For what is natural, is only fo, because the rectitude requires it to be fo.
Now, if our bodily frame is so formed that its wellbeing coniists in temperance, and that an immoderate indulgence of appetite tends to disorder and unbinge it; if the make of the human mind, and our social state in life, are fuch, that the social virtues tend to produce universal happiness, and all this by the constitution and course of nature, of which God himself is the Author
; if these things be so, who is so blind, as not to see in all this a moral government already established under God, even in this world, and going on to perfection ? That we fee in fact innumerable deviations from the natural connection between virtue and happiness, and vice and misery; and that, through the perverseness, the wickedness, and sometimes the mere caprice of mankind, and the unnatural and disorderly state things are got into, it comes to pass, that the natural consequences of things do not invariably follow, is by no means an objection against the conclusion I have drawn from the state of things, as the Divine Wisdom conftituted them, any more than the posibility of refifting the power of gravitation, or lifting a heavy body, is a proot, that there is no such law established in the natural world by the Author of Nature.
That we may not, by a continued course of ease and happiness, be led either to such arrogance and pride, as
to conclude ourselves the lords of nature, and to forget that there is One above us; or to fix our affections upon the present state, which is only intended to be transient and temporary, not lasting and final; to answer these important ends, we are placed in the school of affliction, to be broke and tamed to obedience. That happiness too easily come at, and a constant series of success and prosperity, are by no means proper for such unprincipled and unexperienced beings as we are, is too evident from the effects of ease and aflluence, which very few can bear without almost losing their reason. The scenes of madness run into by victorious princes, of which history is full; the pranks from uime to time played by our nobility and rich commoners, and the fate of whole nations, whenever they arrive at the pinnacle of greatness and riches, shew the absolute necessity of affliction to force us upon consideration, to put us in mind of the frailty of our nature and state, and to make us remember that we are under the government of One, who can raise or humble, afflict or relieve, reward or punish, as to him seems good.
That we may never lose fight of our duty, nor have it in our power to pretend ignorance, and to filence even the poor excuse of thoughtlessness, conscience, that everwatchful and faithful monitor, is placed within the mind itself, to be always at hand, to judge of our characters and actions, and to alarm us with its fings and reproaches, whenever we do amiss. And there is no mind so gross and stupid, as not to feel at times fome pangs of remorse. The very Cannibal has a clear enough sense of right and wrong, to know when he himself is injured, though he will not stick to injure his neighbour. This effectually fastens guilt upon him. And the lowest and most savage of mankind, who shall hereafter be condemned, will be obliged to own, that with all his disadvantages for knowing his duty, he might have acted his part better than' he did.
Not only conscience within, but every object in nature presents us some moral leffon. Tempeits, thunders, and lightnings from above; inundations and earthquakes from beneath; the sword, famine, and pestilence