« הקודםהמשך »
CONCERNING GOD'S MORAL GOVERNMENT, A FUTURE STATE,
AND THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL,
The Creator of the world, is doubtless also the Governor of it. He that had power to give being to the world, and set all the parts of it in order, has doubtless power to dispose of the world, to continue the order he has constituted, or to alter it. He that first gave the laws of nature, must bave all nature in his hands: So that it is evident God has tbe world in bis bands, to dispose of as he pleases. And, as God is able, so he is inclined, to govern the world. For, as he is an intelligent being, he had some end in what he did, otherwise he did not act as a voluntary agent in making the world. That being never acts voluntarily, that has no end in what he does, and aims at nothing at all in it. Neither God nor man is properly said to make any thing that necessarily or accidentally proceeds from them, but that only which is voluntarily producel. Besides, we see in the particular parts of the world, that God had a particular end in their formation. They are fitted for such an end. By which it appears, that the Creator did act as a voluntary agent, proposing final causes in the work of creation: And he that made the particular parts for certain ends, doubtless made the whole for a certain end. And, if God made the world for some end, doubtless he will choose to have this world disposed of to answer that end.
For his proposing the end, supposes, that he chooses it should be obtained. There ore, it follows, that God will choose to take care that the world be disposed of to the obtaining of his own ends, which is the same thing as his choosing to have the government of the world. And it is manifest, in fact, that God is not careless how the affairs and concerns of the world he bas made proceed, because he was not careless of this matter in the creation itselt; as it is apparent, by the manner and order in which things were created, that God, in creating, took care of the future progress and state of things in the world. This being establishied, I now proceed to shew, that it must be, that God maintains a moral government over the world of mankind.
$ 2. If it be certain, that God is concerned, and does take care how things proceed in the state of the world he has made, then he will be especially concerned how things proceed in the state of the world of mankind. Maukind are the principal part of the visible creation. They have understanding, are voluntary agents, and can produce works of their own will, design, and contrivance, as God does. And the Creator looks upon them as the principal part of his visible creation, as is manifest, because he hath set them at the head of his creation. The world is evidently made to be an habitation for man, and all things about him are subordinated to his use.
Now, if God be careful how the world that he bas made be regulated, that his end may be answered, and that it may not be in vain, he will be especially careful of this concerning the principal part of it, and in the same proportion that it is principal or superior in his own account to the rest. The more God has respect to any part of the world he has made, the more concerned he will be about the state of that part. But, it is manifest by the creation itself, that God has more respect or regard to man, than to any other part of the visible creation; because he has evidently made and fitted other parts to man's use. And therefore God will not leave the world of mankind to themselves, without taking any care to govern and order their state. It is evident, by the manner in which God bas formed and constituted other things, that he has respect to beauty, good order and regulation, proportion and harmony; so, in the system of the world, in the seasons of the year, in the formation of plants, and of the various parts of the human body. Surely, therefore, he will not leave the principal part of the creation, about the state of which he is evidently, in fact, chiefly concerned, without making any proper provision for its being in any other than a state of deformity, discord, and the most hateful and dreadful confusion.
$3. By what has been already said, God is most concerned about the state and goverument of that which is highest in his creation, and which he values most; and so he is principally concerned about the ordering the state of mankind, which is a part of the creation that he has made superior, and that he value's most : And therefore, in like manner, it follows, that he is principally concerned about the regulation of that which he values most in man, viz. what appertains to his intelligence and voluntary acts. If there be any thing in the principal part of the cre'ition, that the Creator values more than other paris, it must be that wherein it is above them, or, at least, something wherein it differs from them. But the only thing wherein men differ from the inferior creation, is intelligent perception and action. This is that in which the Creator has made man to differ from the rest of the crea. tion, and by which he has set him over it, and by which he governs the inferior creatures, and uses them for bimself; and therefore, it must needs be, that the Creator should be chiefly concerned, that the state of mankind should be regulated according to his will, with respect to what appertains to him as an intelligent, voluntary creature. Hence it must be, that God does take care, that a good moral government should be maintained over man; that bis intelligent, voluntary acts, should be all subject to rules; and that with respect to them all, he should be the subject of judicial proceeding. For unless this be, there is no care taken, that the state of mankind, with respect to their intelligent, voluntary acts, should be regulated at all; but all things will be remedilessly in the utmost deformity, confusion, and ruin. The world of mankind, instead of being superior, will be the worse, and more hateful, and the more vile and miserable, for having the faculties of reason and will; and this highest part of the creation will be the lowest, and infinitely the most confused, deformed, and detestable, without any provision for rectifying its evils. And the God of order, peace, and harmony, that constituted the inferior parts of the world, which he has subjected to man, and made subservient to him, in such decency, beauty, and harmony, will appear to bave left this chief part of his work, and the end of all the rest, to the reign of everlasting discord, confusion, and ruin; contradicting and conflicting with its own nature and faculties; having reason, and yet acting in all things contradictory to it; being inen, but yet beasts ; setting sense above reason; improving reason only as a weapon of mischief and destruction of God's workmanship.
$ 4. I would again argue, that God must maintain a moral government over mankind, thus :-It is evident, that it was VOL. VIII.
agreeable to the Creator's design, that there should be some moral government maintained amongst men; because, without any, either in nations, provinces, towns, or families, and also without any divine government over the whole, the world of mankind could not subsist, but would destroy itself. Men would be not only much more destructive to each other, than any kind of animals are to their own species, but a thousand times more than any kind of beasts are to those of any other species. Therefore, the nature that God has given all mankind, and the circumstances in which he bas placed them, lead all, in all ages throughout the habitable world, into moral government. And the Creator doubtless intended this for the preservation of this bighest species of creatures; otherwise he has made much less provision for the defence and preservation of this species, than of any other. There is no kind of creature that he has left without proper means for its own preservation. But unless man's own reason, to be improved in moral rule and order, be the means he bas provided for the preservation of man, he has provided him with no m«ans at all. Therefore, it is doubtless the original design of the Creator, that there should be moral subordinationi amongst men, and that he designed there should be beads, princes, or governors, to whoin honour, subjection, and obedience should be paid. Now, this strongly argues, that the Creator bimself will maintain a moral government over the whole. For, without this, the preservation of the species is but very imperfectly provided for. If men have nothing but human government to be a restraint upon their lusts, and have no rule or judgment of an universal omniscient governor to be a restraint upon their consciences, still they are left in a most woeful condition, and the preservation and common benefit of the species, according to its necessities, and the exigencies of its place, nature and circumstances in the creation, is in nowise provided for, as the preservation and necessities of other species are.
Now, is it reasonable to think, that the Creator would so constitute the circumstances of mankind, that some particular persons, that have only a little image and shadow of his great. ness and power over men, should exercise it in giving forth edicts, and executing judgment; and that he who is above all, and the original of all, should exercise no power in this way himself, when mankind stand in so much more need of such an exercise of his power, than of the power of human governors ? —He has infinitely the greatest right to exercise the power of a moral governor, if be pleases. His relation to man as bis Creator, most naturally leads to it. He is infinitely the most worthy of that respect, honour and subjection, that is due to a moral governor.
He has infinitely the best qualifications of a governor, being infinitely wise,
powerful, and holy, and his government will be infinitely the most effectual to answer the ends of
$ 5. It is manifest, that the Creator of the world, in constituting human moral governments among men, has, in that constitution, had great respect to those qualifications, that relation, and those rights and obligations, in those whom he has appointed to be rulers, and in putting others under their moral government, which he has in himsiif in a vastly more eminent degree. As particularly, in the government of parents over their children, which of all other kinds of human moral government is most «vidently founded in nature, and which the preservation of the species doth most immediately require. Here God hath set those to be moral rulers, who are the wiser and stronger, and has appointed those to be in subjection, who are less knowing, and weaker, and have received being from their rulers, and are dependent, preserved and maintained. Would not he therefore maintain moral government himself over mankind, who is their universal father, their universal preserver, who maintains all, and provides all with food and raiment, and all the necessaries and enjoyments of life, and is infinitely wiser and stronger than they ? Would not he maintain a moral government over men, who need his government, as children need the government of their parents, and who are no more fit to be leit to themselves in the world without his rules, directions, authority, promises, threatenings, and judgment, than children are fit to be left to themselves in a house?
$ 6. As man is made capable of knowing his Creator, so he is capable of a bigh esteem of his perfections, his power, wisdom, and goodness. He is capable of a proper esteem of God for his wise, excellent, and wonderful works, which he beholds; and for their admirable contrivance, which appears in so excellently ordering all things; and of gratitude to him for all the goo Iness of which he himself is the subject; or, on the contrary, of slighting and despising him, and hating him, finding fault with his works, reproaching him for them, slighting all bis goodness which he receives from him; yea, haling bim for ordering things in his providence to bim as he bas done, and cursing and blaspheming him for it.
Now, it is unreasonable to suppose, that God should be an indifferent spectator of those things in his creature made in his own image, and made superior to all other creatures; and in a creature that he values above all the rest of the creation. It cannot be equally agreeable to him, whether man gives him proper esteem, love, honour, and gratitude; or, on the contrary, unreasonably despises, hates, and curses him. And if