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Third, Of a Rational Animal related to all other Creatures.
And these are the only capacities of Virtue that are in Humane Nature: So that all the Virtues we are obliged to, and capable of, confift in behaving our felves fuitable to the State and Condition of Rational Animals, that are related to God and their Fellow Creatures.
By which three Capacities of our Nature, the Virtue or Suitablenes of Behaviour which we ftand obliged to, is diftinguished into three kinds, viz.
Humane Virtue confifts in behaving our felves fuitably to the State and Capacity of mere Rational Animals:
Divine Virtue confifts in behaving our felves fuitably to the Condition of Rational Animals related to God:
Social Virtue confifts in behaving our felves fuitably to the Capacity of Rational Animals related to their Fellow Creatures, but especially to Rational Creatures that are of the fame Class and Society with us.
That I may therefore proceed more diftinctly in this Argument, I fhall endeavour to fhew what thofe Virtues of the Chriftian Life are, which are proper to a man in each of these Capacities; and how much each of those Virtues contributes to the Happineß of Heaven,
Concerning thofe Humane Virtues which belong to a Man as he is a Reasonable Animal, fhewing that they are all included in the Heavenly Part of the Christian Life, and that the Practice of them effectually conduces to our future Happiness.
First we will confider Man in the Capacity of a meer Rational Animal, that is compounded of contrary Principles, viz. Spirit and Matter, or a Rational Soul and Humane Body; by which Compofition He is, as it were, the Buckle of both Worlds, in whom the Spiritual and Material World are clasped and united together; and partaking, as he does, of both Extreams, of Spirit and of Matter, of Angel and Brute, there arife within him from thofe contrary Natures contrary Propenfions, viz. Rational and Senfual, or Angelical and Brutish, and in the due Subordination of these his Senfual to his Rational Propenfions, confifts all Humane Virtue.
For his Reafon being the nobleft Principle of his Nature, must be fuppofed to be implanted in him by God to rule and govern him, to be an Eye to his blind and brutifn Affections, to correct the Errors of his Imagination, to bound the Extravagancies of his Appetites, and regulate the whole Course of his Actions; fo as that he may do nothing that is deftructive or injurious to this excellent Frame and Structure of his Nature. But now in this compounded Nature of a Man, there are his Concupifcible and Irafcible Affections: with the
firft of which he defires and pursues his Pleasures; and with the fecond, he fhuns and avoids his Dangers; and there are alfo Bodily Appetites, fuch as Hunger, Thirft, and Carnal Concupifcence s and together with thefe a Self-Esteem and Valuation, all which are the natural Subjects of his Reafon, and indeed the only Subjects upon which it is to exercise its Dominion. So that in the well and ill Government of thefe, confists all Humane Virtue and Vice. To the perfect well governing therefore of a mans felf, there are Five things indifpenfably necessary.
1. That he fhall impartially confult his Reafon what is abfolutely beft for him, and by what means it is beft attainable, and then conftantly purfuc what it propofes and directs him to. For fo far as he is wanting in this, he cafts off the Government of his Reafon.
2. That he should proportion his Concupifcible Affections to the juft value which his Reason fets upon those things which he affects: For every Degree of Affection which exceeds the merit of Things, is irrational, and confequently injurious to our Rational Nature.
3. That he fhould not fuffer his Irafcible Affetions to exceed those Evils and Dangers which he would avoid: For if he doth, they will prove greater Evils to him than thofe Evils or Dangers are which raise and provoke them.
4. That he should not indulge his Bodily Appetites to the Hurt and Prejudice of his Rational Nature: For if he does, he will violate the nobler, for the fake of the vile Part of himself. And
5. That upon the whole, he fhould maintain a Modeft Opinion of himfelf; and not think better of his own Conduct and Management of himself than it deferves: For by fo doing, he will be apt to over-look his own Mifgovernments, and so incapacitate himself for any farther Improvements. And in thefe five Particulars confifts all that Virtue which belongs to a man, confidered merely in the Capacity of a Rational Animal :
The First is the Virtue of Prudence,
All which, as I fhall fhew, are Effential Parts of the Chriftian Life, and fuch as do effectually con-. tribute to our Heavenly Happineß.
I. Prudence. And this is the Root and Ground-Work of all other Virtues; 'Tis this that gives Law and Scope to all our Motions, that propofes the Ends, and prescribes the Measures of our Actions. For Prudence confifts in being guided and directed by Right Reafon, as it propofes to us the worthieft Ends, and directs us to the fittest and most effectual Means of obtaining them. So that to live prudently, is to live in the conftant Exercife of our Reason, and to be continually pursuing fuch Ends as Right Reafon propofes, by fuch Means as Right Reafon directs us to, which is the proper Business of all the Virtues of Religion. And hence Religion in the Scripture is frequently called by the Name of Wifdam or Prudence; The Fear of the Lord that is Wifdom, faith Job, and to
depart from Evil, that is Understanding, Job xxviii. 28. And, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, faith David, Pfal. cxi. 10. where the Fear of the Lord comprehends all the Acts of Religion, which are therefore wife and prudent, because they are the fittest Means to those worthieft Ends which Right Reafon proposes. So that to exercise our Reason in the Search and Difcovery of what is abfolutely beft for us, and to follow our Reafon in the Purfuit and Acqueft of what it difcovers to be fo, is that virtue of Prudence whereunto we ftand obliged as we are Rational Animals.
For our Reason being the nobleft Principle of our Nature, That by which we are raised above the Level of Brutes, yea, by which we are allied to Angels, and do border upon God himself, ought upon that account to be fubmitted to, as the fupreme Regent and Directress of all our other Powers, and to be looked upon as the Rule of our Will, and the Guide of all our Animal Motions. And when to gratifie our fenfual Appetites, or unreafonable Paffions we either neglect thofe Ends which our Reafon propofes to us, or purfue them by fuch Means as our Reafon difallows of, we reverfe the very order of our Natures, and tread Antipodes to our felves; And while we do fo, it is impoffible we should be happy,either here, or hereafter. For every thing you fee, is difeafed while it is in an unnatural State and Condition, while its Parts are displaced, or put into a Diforder, or distorted into an unnatural Figure. And fo it is with a Man, who while he preferves his Faculties in their natural Station and Subordination to each other,