Sidor som bilder
[ocr errors]

mean capacity, much more by one of the best education among the Jews, replies, art thou a mester in Israel, and knowest not these things ? “ What is “ there in all I said, which an ordinary Jew, much “ more one of the great council, might not well “ understand ? Do you not yourselves make pro“ selytes by washing them with water, and count " them new-born persons ? And as for that inward “holiness and purity I speak of, have not the pro

phets foretold, that God will plentifully commu“ nicate his spirit in the days of the ME'S SI AH “ for that purpose? If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell

you of heavenly things ? If ye believe me not, in “ these plain obvious things, which I have suited

to your capacities, and delivered in easy com

parisons, drawn from the most natural and com“ mon things here on earth, how much less will ye

believe me, when I tell you more sublime and heavenly mysteries ; when I declare to you the divinity, of my person, and the dignity of my

office, the spiritual nature of my kingdom, and is the sufferings which I must first undergo for the redemption and salvation of Mankind ?” ,

These words therefore plainly imply a reference to temporal things, in order to explain spiritual ; consequently some analogy between them which a human mind not extremely prejudiced cannot avoid perceiving : This analogy is often made use of in the scriptures ; some instances of which shall, in their proper places, be mentioned in the sequel of this discourse.

The general heads of analogy, which shall be treated at present, are,

First, That of the moral government of the world to the natural government of it. Secondly, That of religion to prudence. E 4

First, First, of the relation between the moral and the natural government of the world.

[ocr errors]


*HE supreme Author of all things governs his

creatures in two methods, which correspond very properly to their natures : For, since all creatures may be distinguished into two claffes, such as are capable of apprehending the fitness of an action to a rule, and are free to act according to it, or to transgress it ; or such as are intirely incapable of judging of a rule, and aệt necessarily according to Jaws affixed to their natures ; hence is the Governor of the universe to be considered in two respects : As a moral Governor, and a natural Governar,

This distinction is not so much a real difference, in the character of the supreme Governor, as a me. thod of conceiving things, necessary to our speaking properly concerning him: For it is one wisdom exercised in two respects; and all the laws of God, whether to men or matter, are alike good, and all require obedience, and tend to a noble end. Indeed the natural and moral constitution and government of the world are so connected, as to make up together but one scheme: And it is highly probable, that the first is formed and carried on, merely in fubserviency to the latter.

When a planet moves regularly round the centre of its motion, and thereby occasions variety of seafons, and all pleasurable things, to its inhabitants, it acts strictly according to the law of its nature ; but it does so neceffarily, and, being insensible of the divine approbation, it is also incapable of a reward ; yet the wisdom of the Being wlio confines it to its regularity, is to be admired. Suppose it conscious of its motion, and free to move otherwise, then it would be a moral being, and its periodic revolutions would be called strict virtue ; but


if it should break from its Orbit, and become vitious, it would deserve chastisement ; yet would not the wisdom of its maker be thereby lefsened. Suppofe a man, on the other hand, doing acts of virtue, not out of choice, but necessity, lo framed as never to commit intemperance and injury, or to omit doing justice and charity ; his behaviour, in that case, would be intirely agreeable to the divine law, but not praise worthy; and the wisdom of God would be no less conspicuous, although human desert would be nothing in that case.

But the true state of things is, the planet moves necessarily, and man acts freely; and, in both cases, regularity of motion, which one cannot but observe, and regularity of behaviour, which the other ought to observe, are alike divine wisdom : But inasmuch as God rules one by a supreme irresistible power, and the other by rewards and punishments ; hence one is a creature of his natural government, and the other of his moral. And since it is one wisdom, which directs, and rules all the creatures of both forts, it is plain, there should be a great analogy between them. Wherein that consisteth, has been already partly shewn, so far as there is a likeness between the laws of inert matter, and those of moral beings.

But inasmuch as human nature may be consider. ed as consisting of spirit, soul, and body; by the laft allyed to material beings, by the second to the brutal nature, by the third to the divine ; by one, acting naturally, and necessarily, or rather not acting at all ; only yielding a necessary obedience, as the stone to the hand that throws it; by another acting instinctively, according to appetite, as brutes act, which is a physical freedom, without judgment ; by the last acting intirely free, with regard to rewards and punishments : And as the spiritual nature is more or less improved, man becomes more or less like the Divinity. In some perfons it is almost drowned, in the animal nature, in ochers it aspires only to the prospect of temporal rewards, in a third fort it thirīts after the happiness of another Life, and acts upon the prospect of an eternal reward.


Although this distinction of three principles of "human nature be the strict truth, yet not being the common sentiment, we may perhaps fometimes not use each term, exactly in its proper sense ; but, in compliance, suppose human nature, by one princi. ple, doing many things without consciousness, (as breathing without willing, and growing in ftature without designing it;) by the other two, improving in virtue, and obedience to rules of behaviour, with a consciousness of its acts, and a desire of a reward.

Hence arises the analogy between the natural and moral man, taking natural in a more restrained sense than St. Paul, who uses it for the sum of a man's religion, who has not had the last revelation, or one unregenerate; as, the natural man receiveth not the thing sof the Spirit of God. Under the character of natural, he shall, in this discourse, be considered as part of the material or instinctive world , that is, as acting according to the necessity of matter or appetite ; which perhaps amounts to the same with what St. Paul says: For, why does not the natural man receive the things of the spirit of God? Because, not considering his moral nature, he suffers himself intirely to be governed by will and appetite.

Now because the moral man may either act solely upon the motive of rewards and punishments in this life, or principally upon the prospect of rewards and punishments in another ; the latter of which may be called religious or spiritual conduct, to diftinguish it from the former, which is merely moral; hence arises the analogy also between the moral and spiritual man.

Having thus cleared the way to the main delign of this discourse, by shewing, how God is to be considered both as a natural and moral Governor ; or, to fpeak more correctly, also as a spiritual Governor , inasmuch as all government here is in order at last to establish an universal fpiritual government, to be continued to perpetuity, of which this temporal state is an imperfect beginning; and that hunan nature may be considered as acting naturala ly, morally, and spiritually. It is now time to thew the analogy between the natural and moral man ; and also between the moral, and spiritual. But it is to be observed, that the same thing may sometimes stand as one term in two analogies, boch to the moral, and spiritual man, as shall appear particularly in the natural birth.

First, concerning the analogy between the natural and moral man. THE

HE beginning of human nature is a mystery, and

also its itate of subsistence before it comes to breath the atmosphere of the world : Thou knowejt not bow the bones do grow, in the womb of her that is with child : Yet thus much we know, that it is a state of growth, from an atom of matter to the stature of a child ; from the lowest degree of life, to a condi. tion of sense and perception. Such also is the state of man, after he breaks from the prison of his nativity, and becomes a free agent in the world. His body, by daily nourishment, increases from smalness and weakness, to ftature and strength; his mind, in proportion also, improves from mere sensation to reasoning, from ignorance to knowledge, from acting by appetite, and natural instigation ; to act by reason, and moral rules. In one ftare, that which was but a Speck of entity, becomes a well-formed creature in the other, he who could not move himself, becomes an active being; and, he who was almost weaker than the meanest creature, acquires




« FöregåendeFortsätt »