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Natures as to believe and love a Lye, or become Enemies to the Truth.
A known Falfhood can indeed be no more assented to by the Understanding, than a sensible Evil can be embraced by the Will. The latter is not more naturally attach'd to what it esteems Happiness, than the former is to what appears to be Truth; to these they respectively incline, like the Needle to the Pole, by a necessary Instinct and Direction. 'Tis inconsistent with the Divine Nature to form any Being for Misery, or to give it Appetites after Evil and Falíhood; but yet we can so change our Natures, and misguide our Faculties, as to put Darkness for Light and Evil for Good; insomuch, that what is the real Misery of our upright Nature, may be the only Good it is capable of enjoying in its Depravity; a fatal Liberty this, but not peculiar to Man. The Devils are represented as such Beings; and those Men
are not improperly styl’d their Children, who are Enemies to all Righteousness, full of Subtilcy and Milchief, and Perverters of the Right Ways of the Lord. That Mankind should have a Power over their Faculties, of exerting and applying them variously,
necessary to constitute them Free Agents; that there should be some Difficulty, some Industry and Application requir’d in the right Use of them is further necessary to make them virtuous, and Creatures capable of Rewards. But that the Byass should draw so forcibly the wrong Way, that the Balance should be so unequally pois'd, that
many, very many, mould almost totally abuse their Powers, destroy their Happiness, and defeat the End of their Creation, and but few (very few indeed of lo numerous and fruitful a Species) should seek the goodly Pearls, and fo trade with their Talents as to - enter into the Joy of their Lord; this is a Cafe hard to resolve!
The wiser Heathens imagin’d that Human Nature had undergone and suffer'd some great Change for the worse, and hoped for a Time when it should be reinstated in its original Power and Perfection. But the great Misfortune is, that we who have the History of this great Revolution, and the Means provided by Revelation to balance against it, seem only to have better Notions of Things, and the empty Privilege of boasting of a fuperior Knowledge and Information ; but all this while our Virtue, our Manners and Behaviour, do not rise in a due Proportion; the Light which is in us is Darkness, and how great therefore is that Darkness! The Degeneracy of the Heathen World is lurprising enough, but how much more so must that of the Christians be? 'Tis very certain, that either Revelation has not provided Means fufficient to enable Mankind to discover
and discharge their Duty; or, if it has, that Men do generally either neglect or misunderstand those Means.
Without any further Enlargement or Aggravations of this Matter, I shall proceed to enquire
Secondly, Into the Reason of it, which our Lord here assigns.
This Behaviour of the Jews, this their Enmity to Truth, our Lord ascribes to their being Children of the Devil, to those Evil-habits they had contracted, and were govern’d by; for in this the Children of God are manifest, and the Children of the Devil; whosoever doth not Righteoufnefs is not of God, neither he that loveth not his Brother, 1 Joh. iii. 10.--
'Tis evident and obvious enough, that Happiness is the supreme View of Mankind; and further, thac according to the Happiness we propose to ourselves, muit our Faculties be employ'd; every particular kind of
Happiness requiring particular Means; forming in us a particular Sert of Manners; drawing after them a suitable Train of Actions. Now when Men seek their Happiness in the Indulgence of one or more particular Appetites, those Appetites must become the governing Powers, dictating to the rest, and forcing them all into their Service. Hence the Understanding is not suffer'd to contemplate or propose any thing, but in Subordination to the Will; or if it should at times suggest any thing difagreeable to our Inclinations and Paflions, they suppress and silence it as soon as possible.
The Knowledge of Truth is the Discovery of the Natures of Things, and of their Relations to each other; Moral Truth is the Relation of Things to the Happiness of Mankind. As Men alter their Natures, so all things around them must stand in different