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ligion proceeding from hope or fear. For, veracity, justice, and charity, regard to God's authority, and to our own chief interest, are not only all three coincident, but each of them is, in itself, a just and natural motive or principle of action. And he who begins a good life from any one of them, and perseveres in it, as he is already in some degree, so he cannot fail of becoming more and more of that character, which is correspondent to the constitution of nature as moral, and to the relation which God stands in to us as moral governor of it ; nor, consequently, can he fail of obtaining that happiness, which this constitution and relation accessarily suppose connected with that character.
These several observations, concerning the active principle of virtue and obedience to God's commands, are applicable to passive submission or resignation to his will; which is another essential part of a right character, connected with the former, and very much in our power to form ourselves to. It may be imagined, that nothing but afflictions can give occasion for or require this virtue; that it can have no respect to, nor be any way necessary to qualify for a state of perfect happiness; but it is not experience which can make us think thus :. Prosperity itself, whilst any thing supposed desirable is not ours, begets extravagant and unbounded thoughts.. Imagination is altogether. as much a source of discontent as any thing in our external condition. It is indeed true that there can be no scope for patience, when sorrow shall be no more ; but there may be need of a temper of mind, which shall have been formed by patience. For though self-love, considered merely as an active principle leading us to pursue our chief interest, cannot but be uniformly coincident with the principle of obedience to God's commands, our interest being rightly understood; because this obedience, and the pursuit of our own chief interest, must be in every case one and the same thing ; yet it may be questioned, whether selflove, considered merely as the desire of our own interest or happiness, can, from its nature, be thus absolutely and uniformly coincident with the will of God, any more than particular affections can;
* coincident in such sort, as not to be liable to be excited upon occasions and in degrees, impossible to be gratified consistently with the constitution of things, or the divine appointments. So that habits of resignation may, upon this account, be requisite for all creatures; habits, I say, which signify what is formed by use. How ever, in general, it is obvious, that both self-love and particular affections in human creatures, considered only as passive feelings, distort and rend the mind, and therefore stand in need of discipline. Now, denial of those particular affections, in a course of active virtue and obedience to God's will, has a tendency to moderate them, and seems also to have a tendency to habituate the mind to be easy and satisfied with that degree of happiness which is allotted us, i. e. to moderate self-love. But the proper discipline for resignation is affliction. For a right behaviour under that trial, recollecting ourselves so as to consider it in the view in which religion teaches us to consider it, as from the hand of God; receiving it as what he appoints, or thinks proper to permit, in his world, and under his government, this will habituate the mind to a dutiful submission ; and such submission, together with the active principle of obedience, make up the temper and character in us which answers to his sovereignty, and which absolutely belongs to the condition of our being, as dependent creatures. Nor can it be said, that this is only breaking the mind to a submission to mere power, for mere power may be accidental, and precarious, and usurped; but it is forming within ourselves the temper of resignation to his rightful authority, who is, by nature, supreme over all.
Upon the whole, such a character, and such qualifications, are necessary for a mature state of life in
* Page 76.
the present world, as nature alone does in no wise bestow, but has put it upon us in great part to acquire, in our progress
from one stage of life to another, from childhood to mature age ; put it upon us to acquire them, by giving us capacities of doing it, and by placing us, in the beginning of life, in a condition fit for it. And this is a general analogy to our condition in the present world, as in a state of moral discipline for another. It is in vain, then, to object against the credibility of the present life being intended for this purpose, that all the trouble and the danger unavoidably accompanying such discipline might bave been saved us, by our being made at once the creatures and the characters which we were to be. For we experience, that what we were to be, was to be the effect of what we would do; and that the general conduct of nature is, not to save us trouble or danger, but to make us capable of going through them, and to put it upon us to do So. Acquirements of our own experience and habits, are the natural supply to our deficiencies, and security against our dangers ; since it is as plainly natural to set ourselves to acquire the qualifications as the external things which we stand in need of. In particular, it is as plainly a general law of nature, that we should, with regard to our temporal interest, form and caltivate practical principles within us, by attention, use, and discipline, as any thing whatever is a natural law; chiefly in the beginning of life, but also throughout the whole course of it. And the alternative is left to our choice, either to improve ourselves, and better our condition, or, in default of such improvement, to remain deficient and wretched. It is therefore perfectly credible, from the analogy of nature, that the same may be our case, with respect to the happiness of a future state, and the qualifications necessary for it.
There is a third thing, which may seem implied in the present world being a state of probation, that it is a theatre of action for the manifestation of persons' characters, with respect to a future one; not, to be sure, to an all-knowing Being, but to his creation, or part of it. This may perhaps be only a consequence of our being in a state of probation in the other senses. However, it is not impossible that men's shewing and making manifest what is in their heart, what their real character is, may have respect to a future life, in ways and manners which we are not acquainted with ; particularly it
be a means, for the Author of nature does not appear to do any thing without means, of their being disposed of suitably to their characters, and of its being known to the creation, by way of example,
are thus disposed of. But not to enter upon any conjectural account of this, one may just mention, that the manifestation of persons' characters contributes very much, in various ways, to the carrying on a great part of that general course of nature respecting mankind, which comes under our observation at present. I shall only add, that probation, in both these senses, as well as in that treated of in the foregoing chapter, 'is implied in moral government; since by persons' behaviour under it, their characters cannot but be manifested, and, if they behave well, improved.
Of the Opinion of Necessity, considered as in
THROUGHOUT the foregoing Treatise it appears, that the condition of mankind, considered as inhabitants of this world only, and under the government of God which we experience, is greatly analogous to our condition, as designed for another world, or under that farther government which religion teaches us. If, therefore, any assert, as a fatalist must, that the opinion of universal necessity is reconcileable with the former, there immediately arises a question in 'the way of analogy; whether he must not also own it to be reconcileable with the latter, i. e. with the system of religion itself, and the proof of it. The reader then, will observe, that the question now before us is not absolute, whether the opinion of fate be reconcileable with religion ; but hypothetical, whether, upon supposition of its being reconcileable with the constitution of nature, it be not reconcileable with re. ligion also ? or, what pretence a fatalist,--not other persons, but a fatalist-has to conclude, from his opinion, that there can be no such thing as religion ? And as the puzzle and obscurity, which must unavoidably arise from arguing upon so absurd a supposition as that of universal necessity, will, I fear, easily be seen, it will, I hope, as easily be excused.
But since it has been all along taken for granted, as 2 thing proved, that there is an intelligent Author