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thus when the reason of things can be a rule of action to him, and as to all other instances and cafes he must act arbitrarily if he acts at all; and therefore, he may and will act thus when the reason of the thing requires that he should. As thus, fuppofing a common or general good to have been the end of creation to the Deity when he called the solar system into being; then, there was a reason resulting from the nature of things why God should create the folar system rather than let it have remained in a state of non-existence. And, suppofing it to have been perfectly indifferent whether the solar systen were placed in that particular part of space in which it now exists, or in some other part of space; then, as there was a reason for the Deity to act in calling the folar fyftem into being, so there was likewise a reason that he should act arbitrarily, in appointing the particular part of space it should exist in ; because without the latter, he could not have performed the former. And, this reason will hold good in all parallel cases, whether the Deity be considered as acting the part of a Creator, or a Governor, or of a kind Physician to his creatures ; fuppofing such cases can take place when God acts in either of these capacities. -- As to divine or positive institutions, (as they are commonly called,) if God gives any of these, he is to be considered as acting the part, not of a governor or legislator, but of à Physician to his creatures. And these
institutions institutions are to be considered, not as laws or rules of action, but as kind prescriptions to mankind; because this is more properly and truly the state of the case. Man, is not only weak, and infirm with regard to his body, but also with regard to his mind; and divine in, ftitutions are intended to answer the same pure pose to the mind, as food and physick does to the body. The mind of man is liable to be over-acted, . (if I may so speak,) and thereby rendered weak and infirm various ways. The business, the cares, the troubles, the pleasures of life, and the like, are apt to engrofs the thoughts and captivate the minds of men, and render them weak and infirm; by which means man becomes less able to act a worthy and a mạnly part, and to stand out with firm, ness and resolution against the many and strong temptations with which he is surrounded. And this makes it necessary that the mind of man, should be sometimes taken off from these, and turned to subjects of a more serious nae ture; by which the mind is recruited, and renews it's strength. And this is the purposa that divine institutions are intended to serve, viz. to take off mens minds, for a time, from the business, the cares, the troubles, and pleas sures of life; to awaken in them a just and worthy sense of God, to draw forth their minds in suitable affections towards him; to excite in them a proper sense of the great end and business of life, to lead them to examine how far that end has been answered by them,
and wherein they have been defective, to point out to them how they ought to behave in time to come, and the like. These are the purposes that divine institutions are intended to serve ; and thus they become both food and phyfick to the mind of man. But then, in divine inftitutions there can be nothing dark or mysterious, because by such a conduct God would disappoint the very end he proposes to obtain by them ; viz. the strengthening and recruiting the mind of man. Mysteries in a prescription for the mind would answer the same end as powder of poft, when called by a name that is not understood, would do in a prescription for the body, supposing powder of poft to have no physical quality in it; that is, it would serve only to amuse and mislead the patient, which surely can never be the case with respect to God, in his prescriptions (as a spiritual Physician) to mankind. Darkness and mysteries are proper expedients to carry on and support base and unworthy designs; but God has no fucb designs to execute; and therefore, we may be assured that he has nothing to do with darkness and mysteries in any of his prescriptions to mankind. It is true that nature is full of mysteries, and yet nature is of God; and the reason of this is evident, viz. because our understandings are too weak to discover all the secrets and powers in nature. steries in nature must of course bear a proportion to that measure of understanding which every creature possesses for the contemplation
of it. If the understanding is weak, nature is more mysterious : if it is strong, nature is less mysterious. But then, what has this to do with divine prescriptions, which in the very nature of the thing ought to be plain and clear? Is it to be supposed that God will be darkness, where the reason of the thing requires he should be all light? Will God deal with his creatures in darkness and mystery, when the nature of the thing requires that he should deal with them in plainness and truth? No surely. God has no end to answer to himself by any prescription he may give to mankind; and, as such prescriptions are intended for our good only ; so the nature of the thing requires that they should be delivered in the plainest and clearest manner. And therefore, if any prescriptions are at any time delivered to mankind that are dark and mysterious in whole, or in part, this, I think, proves to a demonstration that such prescriptions are not divine. If it should be said that prescriptions for the body are generally dark and mysterious to the patient, and yet have their proper influence notwithstanding; and therefore, why may not prescriptions for the mind be dark and mysterious to the patient and have their proper infuence also ? Answer, the prescriptions for the body are phyhcal, and as such have a physcal influence upon the body; whereas prescriptions for the mind are moral, and as such have a moral influence upon the mind. And therefore, tho' physical prescriptions for the body that are mysterious to the patient may have their proper influence upon the body, because they operate independent of the understanding and will of the patient; yet with moral prescriptions the case is otherwise, because if such prescriptions operate at all, it must be in the use and exercise of the understanding and will ; and whereas whatever is dark and mysterious in such prescriptions cannot affect or operate upon the understanding and will, from hence it will follow that such prescriptions cannot influence the mind at all; and therefore, are vain and useless. I have here pursued the above similitude, because I think it justly exposes and ridicules all darkness and mystery in religion, which, I think, can answer no good purpose, and which serve to perplex and mislead weak minds.
To conclude this point I observe, that the earthly governors may wantonly use, or wickedly abuse their power ; yet this is by no means the case of the great governor of the intelligent · and moral world. God will not needlessly command for commanding fake, and thereby unkindly increase the burthen of his creatures duty, and likewise increase their guilt upon the breach of such superfluous laws. I say, we may be well assured that God will never act thus, because such a conduct is directly contrary to true goodness, and therefore, can never be the truth of the case. Alas! some persons are apt to measure the ways of God, by what they see take place amongst weak, vain, and