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disregard to all religion. And, secondly, In the strictest sense ; that it is a contradiction to the whole constitution of nature, and to what we may every moment experience in ourselves, and so overturns every thing. But by no means is this assertion to be understood, as if necessity, supposing it could possibly be reconciled with the constitution of things, and with what we experience, were not also reconcileable with religion ; for upon this supposition it demonstrably is so.
the Author of nature; these rewards and punishments, being naturally * annexed to actions considered as implying good intention and good desert, ill intention and ill desert ; these natural rewards and punishments, I say, are as much a contradiction to the conclusion above, and shew its falsehood, as a more exact and complete rewarding and punishing of good and ill desert, as such. So that, if it be incredible that necessary agents should be thus rewarded and punished, then men are not necessary, but free; since it is matter of fact that they are thus rewarded and punished. But if, on the contrary, which is the supposition we have been arguing upon, it be insisted, that men are necessary agents, then there is nothing incredible in the farther supposition of necessary agents being thus rewarded and punished; since we ourselves are thus dealt with.
From the whole, therefore, it must follow, that ai necessity supposed possible, and reconcileable with the constitution of things, does in no sort prove, that the Author of nature will not, nor destroy the proof that he will, finally, and upon the whole, in his eternal government, render his creatures happy or miserable, by some means or other, as they behave well or ill. Or, to express this conclusion in words conformable to the title of the chapter, the analogy of nature shews us, that the opinion of necessity, considered as practical, is false. And if necessity, upon the supposition above-mentioned, doth not destroy the proof of natural religion, it evidently makes no alteration in the proof of revealed.
From these things, likewise, we may learn in what sense to understand that general assertion, that the opinion of necessity is essentially destructive of all religion. First, In a practical sense; that by this notion atheistical men pretend to satisfy and encourage themselves in vice, and justify to others their disregard to all religion. And, secondly, In the strictest sense ; that it is a contradiction to the whole constitution of nature, and to what we may every moment experience in ourselves, and so overturns every thing. But by no means is this assertion to be understood, as if necessity, supposing it could possibly be reconciled with the constitution of things, and with what we experience, were not also reconcileable with religion ; for upon this supposition it demonstrably is so.
* Sermon Sth, at the Rolls.
Of the Government of God, considered as a Scheme,
or Constitution, imperfectly comprehended.
THOUGH it be, as it cannot but be, acknowledged, that the analogy of nature gives a strong credibility to the general doctrine of religion, and to the several particular things contained in it, considered as so many matters of fact; and likewise that it shews this credibility not to be destroyed by any notions of necessity; yet still
, objections may be insisted upon against the wisdom, equity, and goodness of the divine government, implied in the notion of religion, and against the method by which this government is conducted, to which objections analogy can be no direct answer, For the credibility, or the certain truth, of a matter of fact, does not immediately prove any thing concerning the wisdom or goodness of it; and analogy can do no more, immediately or directly, than shew such and such things to be true or credible, considered only as matters of fact. But still, if, upon supposition of a moral constitution of nature and a moral government over it, analogy suggests and makes it credible, that this government must be a scheme, system, or constitution of government, as distinguished from a number of single unconnected acts of distributive justice and goodness; and likewise that it must be a scheme, so imperfectly comprehended, and of such a sort in other respects, as to afford a direct general answer to all ob. jections against the justice and goodness of it; then analogy is, remotely, of great service in answering
those objections, both by suggesting the answer, and shewing it to be a credible one.
Now, this, upon inquiry, will be found to be the case. For, first, Upon supposition that God exercise a moral government over the world, the analogy of his natural government suggests, and makes it credible, that his moral government must be a scheme quite beyond our comprehension ; and this affords a general answer to all objections against the justice and goodness of it. And, secondly, A more distinct observation of some particular things contained in God's scheme of natural government, the like things being supposed, by analogy, to be contained in his moral government, will farther shew how little weight is to be laid upon these objections.
1. Upon supposition that God exercises a moral government over the world, the analogy of his natural government suggests and makes it credible, that his moral government must be a scheme quite beyond our comprehension: and this affords a general answer to all objections against the justice and goodness of it. It is most obvious, analogy renders it highly credible, that upon supposition of a moral government it must be a scheme,- for the world, and the whole natural government of it, appears to be so-to be a scheme, system, or constitution, whose parts correspond to each other, and to a whole, as really as any work of art, or as any particular model of a civil constitution and government. In this great scheme of the natural world, individuals have various peculiar relations to other individuals of their own species. And whole species are, We find, variously related to other species, upon this earth. Nor do we know how much farther these kinds of relations may extend. And as there is not any action, or natural event, which we are acquainted with, so single and unconnected as not to have a respect to some other actions and events ; so, possibly, each of them, when it has not an immediate, may yet have a
remote, natural relation to other actions and events, much beyond the compass of this present world. There