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as is under the direction and government of reafon, when considered abftractedly from his interposition; and he will forbid, discourage, and condemn tuch felfishness, and fuch only, as is unreafonable, when considered abstract edly, as aforesaid. And the fame with respect to benevolence. So that if God, in the government of the moral world, acts the part of a juft, wife, and good Being (which most certain he does) then he does not intend, by his threatnings and promifes, to exhibit to us another law, or rule of action, different and opposite to what would have been a rule of action to us, and our duty, fupposing this world to have been out all; but on the contrary, he intends, by his threatnings and promilis, to excite and lead us on to a realonable service; and which would have been equally reasonable, and our duty, whether he interpofed and gave any threatnings and promises, or not.
Having made the precedent observations, which, I think, are very material to the main point which I have now under consideration; I return to the objection, which supposes that felfishness is the ground and foundation, and the rule and measure of wisdom and folly, of right and wrong, c. to all intelligent beings who have a particular self-interest of their own, and which is plainly the case of man; and consequently, that selfishness is, and ought to be, the sole principle of action to him. Now, tho' these principles are ma
nifestly “nifestly false, as I have shewn above, and therefore no reasoning from theni can be conclusive; yet, for argument fake, I will admit them, and see how the case will stand upon that supposition. And accordingly,
I observe, that if selfishness is the ground and foundation, and the rule and measure of right and wrong, of wisdom and folly, of good and evil, &c. to all intelligent beings, and consequently is the sole principle of action in man; then it is fo, either in the nature of the thing, or else it becomes so by the will and appointment of God. And
our present behaviour has no necessary connection with another world, therefore, if God acts consonant to the nature of things, or to his own determinations, with respect to them; then he that is the most selfish, with regard to this world, as he is the most vertuous, so he will, of course, be the most pleasing and acceptable to his Maker, and will deferve to be most amply rewarded by him. And he that is the most generous (that is, has the greatest regard for the good of others) as he becomes hereby the most foolish, unjust, and evil ; 1o, of course, he muft and will render himself most unacceptable and displeasing to God, and will deserve the severest punishnient from him. I say, that this will unavoidably be the case, whether we consider selfishness to be, in the nature of the thing, the ground and foundatin
on, and the rule and measure of wisdom and folly, of right and wrong, &c. to all intelligent beings; or whether it becomes 10 by the will and appointment of God: because, in either cale, if God acts suitable to his character, as God, by conforming his affections and actions, either to the nature of things, or to his own determinations concerning them; then he will, noft certainly, pay the greatest regard by amply rewarding, in another world, those who act the most felfish part in this world, seeing our present behaviour has no necessary connection with futurity, as I observed above. And he will shew the greatest dislike, by severely punishing, in another world, those who act the most generous part as to this. Selfishness, with regard to this world, upon the present supposition, ought to have the greatest encouragement from God; and it would be manifestly wrong in him to offer any thing, whether it regards this life or another, which might check or restrain it. And,
As to publick good, we can have no reason to suppose that God would pay fuch regard to it, as to require any of his creatures to deny themselves on its account; becaule, in so doing he must act contrary either to the nature of things, or to his own determinations with relpect to them. Publick good, when it stands oppoted to private good (ufon the present lupposition) has nothing valuable in it to recommend it to the choice, either of God or man, but the contrary. And therefore, to suppole that God would thus work upon the hopes and fears of his creatures, by promising them the greatest rewards, and by threatning them with the severest punishments in another world, in order to induce and engage them to act a part here, which is either unnatural and wrong in its self, or else is become to by a divine determination, and that too in the pursuit of an end, viz. publick good, which is not worthy of the choice of either, this supposition fure ly is monstrously absurd. And how favourable foever this doctrine may be to Hobbism; yet, surely, it is very injurious to the christia an religion ; for, upon the present fuppofition, the christian revelation could not postbly have come from God, because it promises the greatest rewards to the generous (that is, to the most vicious persons) and to the most felfith as to this world, (that is, to the most vertuous persons) it threatens the feverest punishments; which, upon the present lupposition, is manifestly running cross to nature, or to that order of things which God hath constituted; and therefore such a revelation cannot possibly be divine.
If it should be laid that tho’ the promises of the Gospel are annexed to such actions as are subfervient to the good of others, or of the publick; yet these actions are not considered as the produce of generosity, but of teltilhnels, and that a man becomes entitled
to those promises only when he performs those actions, on condition, and in expectation of being sufficiently rewarded for them : and therefore if he perforins thole aciions without any view to luch a reward, then he is so far from being entitled to thole promises, that, on the contrary, he delerves to be severely chastized for his folly:
I answer; this is a very sad, as well as a very false representation of the chitian itvelation; wherein the promites, which are made to persons who pursue the good of others, and who deny themielves for the lake of the publick, are made to them only, as those actions are the produce of love, that is, of good will to mankind; and thoie promises no otherwise belong to them, than as their actions flow from this generous principle. And therefore St. Paul iaith of himnleif, that if he gave all his goods to feed the poui, and if he gave bis body to be burned, and buit not charity, or a benevolent and generous temper of mind, it would prufit bim noi bing; the promises of the golpel would then not belong to him. Burides, :if telliihness is the ground and foundation, and the rule and incalure of wisdom and foly, oi good and evil, &c. and consequentiy is the only proper rule of action to intelligent beings; then, I say, as before, that feeing our prelent behaviour has no necessary conosciion with another world; therefore God, if he would act suitably, to his character as God,