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tural and moral difference in things, and all moral obligations resulting from that difference, are founded in nature, and are what they are antecedent to, and independent of the divine will, or any divine determinations concerning them. Again,
. Thirdly, As there is a natural and an effential difference in things, and as there is a reason or rule of action resulting from that difference, which is equally obliging to every moral agent; so Almighty God makes that rule, viz. the reason of things, the measure of his actions ; and this he does, in all instances and cases in which it is capable of being a rule to him. And, it is his chusing to act agreeably to this rule, which constitutes his moral character, and denominates him to be a wise, a just, and a good being. And, it is his acting at all times, and in all cafes, uniformly and universally agreeably to the reason of things, which constitutes his moral perfections; that is, which denominates him to be a perfectly wise, a perfectly just, and a perfectly good being. And, that this is a true principle, and a proper foundation for argument, I prove thus. Almighty God is present to, and, in, and with all things; and thereby, has the most perfect knowledge of them. And, as he most clearly discerns the natural and essential difference in things, and the reason or rule of action resulting from it, in every case; and as this is, and ought to be as much a rule of action to God, as to any other' moral agent; and as he is far above and thereby is perfectly free from all temptations, which might mislead him and draw him into a wrong choice ; so this affords a moral certainty, that he will always chuse to act right, or agreeably to that rule of action which is founded in the reason of things, as aforesaid. For tho', we have different, and sometimes opposite interests in view, and are surrounded with many temptations of various kinds, which invite us to a wrong choice, and which too often is the ground and reason of our foolishly and wickedly acting contrary to that rule of action, which is founded in the reason of things: yet, this is by no means the case with respect to God; and therefore, it cannot be a ground or reason to him, to chufe to act wrong in any case whatever. God has not different and opposite interests in view, he has no wrong affections within to mislead, no temptations from without to entice and allure him, no pleasing prospect to invite, nor any fuperiour power to threaten and awe him: in fine, nature does not afford a motive to invite him to a wrong choice ; and therefore, we are sure that he never will act so ; but on the contrary, he always will make the reason of things, the rule and measure of his actions. Thus, I think, I
have shewn, that the principle I have now under consideration, is a true principle: and thereby, it is a just and proper foundation for argument.
These are the principles I reason from, which if they are not well-grounded, (as I think I have shewn they are;) then I acknowledge, that all I have offered on the
be no real difference in things, but all things and actions are alike indifferent in nature, are neither good nor evil, till they are made and constituted to be either of these, by the arbitrary will and determination of some agent; or if there be not a reason or rule of action resulting from that difference, which ought in reason to determine the will of every being endowed with a capacity of discerning that difference, either for or against the performance of this or that action; or if Almighty God approves or disapproves, not from any natural and intrinsick approvableness, or disapprovableness in the objects themselves, but from capricious humour and arbitrary pleasure ; or if he arbitrarily constitutes what shall be right or wrong, good or evil, withoạt any regard to what is so in it self: then, all my reasoning upon the point, is to be set aside; because, it is founded upon the opposite principles.
But here, I must beg leave to make a digreffion, by observing, that if this were
the case, then the most absolute scepticism in matters of religion would unavoidably follow upon it: because then, we could not come to any certainty in any point wich refpect to it. For in such a case there would be no principle in nature to reason from ; and consequently, there could not be any foundation for argument. God having no principle to act from, nor any rule to govern his actions by, but what he arbitrarily adopted to himself, and which he might at any time as arbitrarily discard: he would act either fairly or foully, uprightly or deceitfully with his creatures, at any time, or in any instance as he pleased; and consequently, he could not be the proper object of our confidence, in any case whatever. Then Abraham's question, and what preceded it, Genesis xviii. 25. That be far from thee, to do after this manner, to say the righteous with the wicked, or that the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee! Shall not the judge of all the eart's do right? this question would be exceedingly vain and trifling, because whatever God does must be right, (upon the present supposition,) if he pleases to determine that it shall be fo. Whether God destroys the righteous with the wicked, or whether he destroys the righteous only, or the wicked only, and 1pares elther of these from that destruction; whether he deals fairly and equally, or unequally and
deceitfully with his creatures, all is right that God does; because upon this supposition, it is his determination alone which constitutes right and wrong, good and evil in every case; and because there is no real difference in things, nor any principle in nature to make it otherwise. And then, St. Paul also must have been very much mistaken, when he declared, that the oath and promise of God were two immutable things, in which it was impossible that God pould lie, Heb. vi. 18. Here I beg leave to ask, wherein lies this impossibility, upon the present supposition. For, if there is no real difference in things, and if swearing at one time, and for-swearing at another; if promising at one time, and falsifying that promise at another, be alike indifferent in nature; then what should hinder or restrain God, from swearing and for-swearing, from promising and falsifying his promise as often, and in what cases foever he pleases? noching surely. And therefore, St. Paul must have been very much mistaken in this point. And,
This is what I would humbly recommend to the confideration of some of the learned doctors and writers of the age; who under the shew and appearance of defending divine revelation, and revealed religion, are laying the ax to the root of all religion, by denying the natural and the essential dif