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cerning it or not; and God's judging us, and rewarding or punishing us agreeably so this rule, would have been the same, whether he had made any declaration concerning it or not. God does not judge the world; because he has declared that he will do it; but because it is reasonable that he should: and therefore, his declaration cannot be a ground of certainty in the present case. If it should be asked, how we could be certain that God would judge the world, if he had not declared that he would do it? Then, it may be asked, how we can be certain that God will judge the world, tho he has declared that he will do it? God's declaration alone is not a ground of certainty, because he may deceive us; and therefore, there must be fomething in nature to be a foundation for credit with respect to that declaration: and that which is a foundation for credit to that declaration, is a proper ground of certainty, supposing no such declaration had been made. That is, if we give credit to such a divine declaration, because we are sure that God always acts agreeably to reason, and therefore will not deceive us in the present case: then we are sure that God will judge the world, tho' he had made no declaration concerning it, because it is agreeable to reason that he should do so. And,
Here I beg my reader to consider that a future judgment is not a trifling affair, it being of the last importance to all those who are to pass that tryal; and therefore it cannot be a matter of indifferency to God, whether he will judge the world or not. So that a future judgment and retribution, is either a reasonable or an unreasonable action; that is, there is a reason resulting from the nature of things, either, for or against such a judgment. If the reason of the thing requires such a procedure, then this assures us that God will judge the world : and this assurance, is prior to any assurance which is grounded upon a divine declaration concerning this matter, because the credibility of all divine declarations is founded upon this very principle, viz. that God will act agreeably to realon, in all his deal-, ings with his creatures. And therefore, as the moon derives or borrows all her light from the sun; so all the certainty which arises from divine revelation in the present case, is derived or borrowed from the prina ciples of reason. If it should be asked, how can reason assure us of a future judgment, when it cannot assure us of our future existence? I answer, that the certainty of our future existence, and a future judgment, are both founded upon the fame principle; viz. the fitness and reasonableness of God's continuing the one, and executing the other. If it is fit and reasonable that God should continue our beings, and that he should call us to an account for our actions; then this assures us of our future existence, and of a future judgment; and all the certainty which divine revelation can give us with respect to these points, is derived from, and founded upon this very principle, as I have already observed. And therefore, if it were a matter of indifferency to God, whether he would continue our beings, or whether he would judge the world or not; then it would be as much a matter of indifferency to him, (supposing he has declared that he will do boch) whether he should abide by such his declarations, and whether he should deceive us or not, in either of those cases. The reason of things, and the importance of the affair, is as much concerned in the former as in the latter; and therefore, if the former is a matter of indifferency to God, then the latter must be so likewise; and consequently, if reason cannot assure us nor give us satisfaction in these points, then much less can we have it from divine revelation. And, this is what I would humbly recommend to the consideration of all those, who have made themselves parties in the present question.
If it should be urged (as I have been told that this or something like it, has been urged by some writer against me), viz. that tho', when things are constituted as they are, our moral obligacions will naturally and necessarily arise out of them: yet, seeing God is the author of nature, and seeing he might have constituted things otherwise than they are if he pleased; from hence it will follow, that as his will is the ground and foundation of the present constitution of things; so his wil must likewise be the ground and foundation of all obligations which naturally and necessarily result from it.
I answer, this at first sight may have the appearance of argument; but when examined it appears to be otherwise. And to Thew this, I will give an instance of another kind. The three angles of a rightlined triangle, bear such a relation to each other, as that in every instance, the three angles of a right-lined triangle are equal to two right angles. Now the question arising from hence is, whether this relation naturally and necessarily arises from the things themselves, or whether it results from the will and determination of him who first made and constituted a right-lined triangle. And the answer is most evident, viz. that this relation naturally and necessarily arises from the things themselves; because the case is, and must, and will be the same, whether he who first made such a triangle, willed or decermined any thing
concerning it or not. The three angles of a right-lined triangle, always were, and always will be, equal to two right angles : whether ever any such thing as a triangular figure existed or not; it not being within the power, and therefore it cannot depend upon the divine will, to make it lo, or to make it otherwise. The case is the fame with respect to morality. An innocent indigent moral agent in distress, always was, and always will be, the proper object of pity and relief, whether ever any such being existed or not; and it is not within the power, and therefore it cannot depend upon the divine will, to make it so, or to make it ocherwise. And tho', it depends upon the will of God, whether indigent moral agents shall exist, under this or that or the ocher circumstances; yet, when they do exist under those circumstances, then it does not depend upon his will, whether the moral obligations which do naturally and necessarily result therefrom, shall take place or not, because the case is, and must, and will be the same, with respect to those obligations, whether God willed or determined any thing concerning them or not. From what I have observed, I think it appears, thac pleasure and pain, or happiness and misery, that right and wrong, and the like, and the preferableness of these one 10 another; or in other words, that the na