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(however constituted) which is capable of perceiving what pleasure and pain is. The cafe is the fame with refpect to right and wrong, kind and unkind, and the like; these are not only different from, but alfo one preferable to another in nature; and our faculties do not conftitute that difference, but only enable us to perceive it. And, as there is not an univerfal fameness in nature, but a real difference with refpect to things and actions themselves; and, as there is not an univerfal indifference in nature, but a real difference with refpect to the valuableness or preferableness of one thing or action to another, when they are brought into a comparison: fo that difference, in all fimple (tho' it be otherwife in complex) cafes is the object of fimple perception only, and as fuch thofe prove themselves; that is, they appear evident to our preceptive faculty, and do not admit of any other kind of proof. If it fhould be afked, how can it be proved that two and two are equal to four ? that the whole is equal to all it's parts? that acting right is different from, and preferable to acting wrong? and the like; the anfwer would be, that these are felf-evident propofitions, that is, they appear evident to our difcerning faculties, and as fuch they prove themselves, and do not admit of any other kind of proof. Again,
Secondly, as there is a natural and an effential difference in things; fo that difference exhibits, if I may fo fpeak, a reafon or rule of action to every moral agent. That is, as
doing right is in nature better, and therefore, preferable to doing wrong; fo this difference will always be a reafon, (refulting from the nature of things) to every moral agent, why he fhould chufe to do right, and will be a reafon against, or why he fhould not chufe to do wrong. Again, as pleafure is in nature preferable to pain, the one being a natural good, the other a natural evil; fo that difference affords a reason to every moral agent, to chufe to tafte pleasure himself, and to chufe to com→ municate pleasure to others; and it likewise affords a reason why he should chufe to avoid pain himself, and chufe to avoid communicat ing pain to others, when thefe are confidered abstractedly from all other confiderations. And, as there is a reafon founded in nature for acting right, and a reafon against acting wrong, a reason for communicating pleafure, and a reafon against communicating pain; fo to act agreeably to reafon, in doing the former is what conftitutes moral good, and to act against the reafon of the thing in doing the latter, is what conftitutes moral evil; moral good and evil in every inftance being nothing else but the acting agreeably with, or contrary to that reafon or rule of action which is founded in, and refults from the natural and effential difference in things; and all moral obligations are nothing elfe but the reafon refulting from that difference why we should chufe to a& this way, or that way, rather than their contraries. And, as thofe reafons for acting one way rather than
another are founded in nature, that is, they refult from the natural and effential difference in things; fo they become a rule of action, which is equally obliging, to all intelligent beings capable of difcerning that difference. And confequently, (in this fenfe of the word oblige,) God, as he is a moral agent, is in reafon obliged to govern his actions by this rule. And,
As there is a reason or rule of action which is equally obliging to every moral agent; fo from hence it will follow that the reasonableness of an action ought to determine the will of every rational being, to the performance of that action, even tho' there be no other motive to it, and tho' there be a thousand temptations to excite to the contrary. For, whilft," (when all things are taken into the cafe,) it is reafonable that an action should be performed, it is impoffible that any, even the strongest temptations, (how many fo ever they be,) fhould make it reasonable to omit that action; bẹcause if that were the cafe, then, under these circumstances, it would not be a reasonable, or at least an indifferent, but an unreasonable action, and as fuch it does not come into the prefent question, except we can suppose an action to be both reasonable and unreasonable or indifferent at the fame time, and under the fame circumstances, which is a manifest contradiction. So that to fuppofe fome other motives should take place, befides the reafonableness of an action, which may be more than
than a ballance to the many, and strong temptations, with which a reasonable creature may be furrounded, in order to engage his will for the choice of that action, and without which motives, the bare reasonableness of an action would not be more than a ballance to those temptations, is exceedingly wrong; because the reasonablenefs of an action is in itself, when confidered abftractedly from all other motives, more than a ballance to all temptations, for otherwife it would not be a reafonable action. And it is a man's not following his reafon in oppofition to all temptations which renders him justly condemnable to himself, and to every other reasonable being, and confequently, to his Maker as fuch. And, here I beg leave to obferve to my reader, that the prefent question is, what ought in reafon to determine the will of a being endowed with a reafoning faculty to the performance of a reasonable action, and not what is in fact fufficient for that purpose. And here, I fay, that the reasonableness of an action ought in reafon to determine the will of every fuch being for the choice of that action, but then it depends upon the pleasure of each individual whether it fhall, in fact, be fufficient for this purpose, or not. And, this is the cafe of all other motives which may be fuperadded, it depends upon the pleasure of each individual whether, in fact, thofe motives shall be to him the ground or reason of action, or not. therefore, we fee, not only the unreasonable
ness of an action, but all other motives that may be added to it, piz, the hopes and fears of this world, and the hopes and fears of the world to come, are not fufficient, in fact, to reftrain some men from unreasonable actions.
And, as there is a reafon or rule of action refulting from the natural and effential differences in things; fo this rule is, in common language, called the law of nature. It is alfo called the law of God, as it is that rule by which God governs his behaviour towards his creatures. And it is God's law as he adopts it and makes it his, by giving it as a rule of action to his fubjects, (he being the great governor of the moral world,) all God's laws being founded upon it, and conformed to it. But it is not God's law as founded folely on his will and commandment, because it is, and ought to be a rule of action to all intelligent beings, whether God willed or commanded it, or not. And, this law of nature is in order of nature above and before all other laws, it being the ground and foundation of them; all law and government whether human or divine being originally founded, not in a fuperiority of power, but in the reafon of things as aforefaid. And, as government itself is founded in the reason of things; fo all authority, and all laws flowing from it ought to be directed and governed by this original and primary law of nature. It being a manifeft E 2 abfurdity See my Tract intitled, A Difcourfe concerning Reafon with regard to Religion and Divine Revelation.