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vantages, towards 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 reasonableness of concluding that an extensive uniformity prevails through the whole of the Divine moral government, and that what we see here in shadow, will in the future state appear in substance and perfection, and that it not only will, but ought to be so, and cannot be otherwise.
If we consider the opposite natural tendencies and effects of virtue and vice, in the present state, we shall from thence see 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 pleasures of life. The natural effects of gluttony, 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 selfishness, 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 so, because the rectitude requires it to be so.
Now, if our bodily frame is so formed that its well being consists in temperance, and that an immoderate indulgence of appetite tends to disorder and unhinge it; if the make of the human mind, and our social state in life, are such, that the social virtues tend to produce universal bappiness, 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 ge
vernment already established under God, even in this world, and going on to perfection? That we see in fact innumerable deviations from the natural connexion 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, at 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 constituted them, any more than the possibility of resisting the power of gravitation, or lifting a heavy body, is a proof, that there is no such law established in the natural world by the author of nature.
Tbat 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; tv answer these important ends, we are placed in the school of alliction, 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 affluence, 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 time 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, show the absolute necessity of alliction 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, allict or relieve, reward or punish, as to him seems good.
That we may never lose sight of our duty, nor have it in our power to pretend ignorance, and to silence even the poor excuse of thoughtlessness; conscience, that ever watchful 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 stings and reproaches, whenever we do amiss : and there is no mind so gross and stupid, as not to feel at times some 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 fasicos 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 lesson. Tempests, thunders, and lightnings from above; inundations and earthquakes from beneath; the sword, famine, and pestilence in our cities; diseases and pains in our own persons, or those of our nearest friends and relations, and death on our right hand and on our left; what are all these but awful and yet
kind warnings from the tender and compassionate Father of mankind, who shows himself willing to give his poor, un
, thinking, short-sig.sed creatures all possible advantages for virtue and happiness, that might be at all consistent with their nature as free agents, with their condition as beings in a state of discipline, and with the grand and universal scheme, which must be equitable, unchangeable, and uniform.
And, as if all this, and a thousand times more, not mentioned, had not been enough, we are taught that angels have a charge over us, to assist us in our trials, and to prevent our falling too shamefully ; that the Divine Providence watches over us, and suits our circumstances to our strength and ingenuity of disposition: and, to crown all, the Ambassador
of heaven, the image of Paternal Deity, and brightness of Divine Glory, has descended to our world, and in our own nature shown us, both by his example and his divine laws, what it is to live as we ought, and how we may infallibly attain the end of our being. If this is not doing enough for us, what would be enough?
Thus it appears plain that the present was intended for a state of discipline, and is very well adapted to that purpose. Nor does the actual failure and hideous ruin of numbers of moral agents, who will undoubtedly be found
hereafter to have perverted this state of discipline for vi tue, into an education in vice, prove, that the state w not intended for training them up to virtue, or that it not properly adapted to that purpose, any more than 1 amazing number of abortions, which happen in the nat ral world, proves that the general design of seeds was n to fructify, and produce plants and animals. Naturalis show us that in some cases millions of stamina perish foi one that comes to maturity. And, as we conclude ever seed of a plant, or animal egg, was formed capable o fructification, so we may, that every moral agent was form ed capable of attaining happiness. The great difference is, that in the natural world, the numerous abortions we have been speaking of, are the consequence of the com mon course of nature; but in the moral, of the fatal per verseness of unhappy beings, who wilfully rush upon their own destruction.
Some have made a difficulty of conceiving how the wisest and best of beings, who must have foreseen that great numbers of his unhappy, short-sighted creatures, in spite of all that should be done for them, would obstinately throw themselves into destruction, and defeat the end of their creation; some have puzzled themselves, I say, how to reconcile with the divine perfections of wisdom and goodness the creating of such beings.
But what state of discipline for free agents can be conceived, without supposing a possibility of their behaving ill in it? Nothing but an absolute restraint upon the liberty of the creature, which is wholly inconsistent with the nature of free agency, and of a state of discipline, could have prevented their acting in many instances amiss: but the all-bounteous Creator has effectually put it out of the power of the most presumptuously insolent of his creatures to arraign his justice; for if he has given to every accountable being a fair opportunity of working out his own happiness; if he has put into the hands of every individual the means; placed him in the direct way toward it, and is ready to assist him in his endeavours after it; if he has, in short, put happiness in the power of every accountable being, which he undoubtedly has, as shown above; he has, to all intents and purposes, done the same
fors if he had given it to every individual: for he who teoints me out the way to get an estate, or any of the good at itings of life, and who assists and supports me in my enaeavours to procure it, he it is to whom I am obliged for nat hatever I acquire in consequence of his advice, and by seans of his protection and assistance. Now, if the benerascent Author of being has thus given to every individual ish such means of happiness; as it must be wholly through evehis own perverseness if he misses it; what shadow of preble tence is there for cavilling, or what difficulty in underforstanding and vindicating the wisdom and goodness of the
adorable Author of existence? If we lay the whole blame, sand with the utmost justice, on him, who, having an opcportunity and means for gaining any secular advantage put in his hands, neglects them; if we should as much condemn the man, who, through obstinacy or indolence, has let slip an opportunity of making his fortune, as another, who through extravagance has dissipated one already in his possession; if we should as justly look upon that person as our benefactor, by whose means we acquire the conveniences of life, as on the immediate giver of a gift, what remains but that we justify and adore the boundless goodness of the universal Parent of Nature, who, by calling innumerable creatures into existence, by endow ing them with reason, by placing them in a state of discipline, and giving them all possible advantages for the improvement necessary for happiness, has, in effect, put in the hands of every accountable being a felicity fit for a God to bestow? And if every individual that shall hereafter be condemned, shall be obliged to confess his sentence just, and to own that he might have acted a better part than he did, the Divine justice and goodness stand fully vindicated in the sight of the whole rational creation. For, what! Must the infinite Author of existence, (with reverence be it spoken,) must He deny himself the exertion of his boundless goodness in producing an universe of conscious beings, of whom numbers will in the event come to happiness, merely to prevent the self-sought destruction of a set of wicked, degenerate beings? Either there must have been no creatures brought into being above the rank of brutes, consequently no happiness above the ani