Page images

fulness to his Will in all things, which who foever doth, cannot fail of being at length eternally happy, because the most of his Precepts at least (as in Sechs 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. will be féen) áre proper means in themselves for procuring mans Felicity; which the performing of things wholly indifferent in their Nature, when enjoyned by God, (if any such there be) by facilitating of Obedience will be apt to further, in that a pliableness to ob ferve Commands in things necessary will be promoted thereby. But if it were so that Obedience were good for the meer Commands sake, without respect had to the benefit intended to accrue to the sincere Observers of it, Disobedience would be e qually sinful in every sinful Act whatsoever ; whence a small stroke given in wrath would be as great a Crime as Parricide or Treason; to rob a poor Man of all he has, would be a Fault as small, as to steal a Penny from the richest Person and to commit Adulte ry or Incest would be no greater a sin, than a lascivious Thought or Word, since all fin without' exception is absolutely forbidden by God, and not one single Crime whatsoeever allowed to be committed. But if Difobedience to Gads Commands be therefore


sinful, in that it causes a Want or Privation of fome good, or degree thereof, which is a Means conducible to Felicity, then is every sin greater or less than other, by how much the good whereof it deprives theSoul,is more or less available then other for bringing it to Bliss. And therefore although every Sin be a Transgression of the Law, yet inai much as every Branch and Title of the Law is not of equal Virtue to further Mans Fe. licity, 'tis clear that all Acts whereby the Law is transgressed are not equally bad or Ginful.

Object. 3. God by the fole Acť of Creation, or making Man out of nothing to have an Existence or Being; obtained a Som vereignty over him, by virtue of which he has a Right of Dominion, or a just Power to lay what Commands he pleases upon him. Whence it must needs be that every Act of Difobedience to Gods Commands is a Wrong and Injury done unto him, although the Performance of the Command would neither do him good, nor the omitting to do it procure him any harm.

Solut. That God has a Right of Domini. on over Man, or a juft Power to command him whatever he pleases, is an undeniable Truth 5 but the Ground thereof is not fole


ly (as the Objection would make it) becaule Man was created by God, and receive ed his Being from him ; but by reason also that such is the unerrable Rectitude of his Understanding, and the absolute Goodness of his Will that he cannot possibly command him any thing, but what, if duly ob. served, will infallibly procure his Good. For if God by the fole Act of Creation (abstracting from this, that he created Man from an end agreeable to his Nature, cera tainly to be obtain'd, if he obeyed the Law of his Maker) had a Right to dispose of him after any manner whatsoever, without regard had to his Wisdom and Goodness, (which always deterinine his Will to command that which is good for the Creature, seeing nothing can be fo, extrase, to himfelf) the Almighty would have been as Benign and merciful (being ever of necessity the same, Sect.J. Par.8.) as he now is, if so be he had inflicted on all Mankind without ảny Demerit of theirs the most exquisite and endless Torments; because he would have been no less their Creator by doing that, then in Chewing the greatest Kindness imaginable. The truth of this Assertion, that God obtaind not a Sovereignty over Man to command him any thing, whatsoe.


ver pleaseth him, upon the bare account of the Creation, may be somewhat illustrated, if we take into consideration the Right which Parents have to command their Chilt dren, who doubtles are

pot obliged to o bedience upon this fale account, that they were begotten by them for otherwise O. bedience from Children to Parents would be due to be performed to them, however qualified, infomuch that neither extream Folly, nor raging Madness, nor any other thing whatsoever could incapacitate them justly

. to exact at all times, and in all things, an entire Obfervance of all their Commands whatever they should be, because their Pa. rental Right of Dominion and Authority over them would be in all Conditions the fame, if it only arose and grew from this, that they were the issue of their Bodies; but who ever was known to affert the Duty of such Obedience? The truth is, in whoinsoever a Regular Power of commanding or giving Precepts to others

according to the Principles and Distates of Reason justly reGides, there are those three things previously required and presumed to be in him. First, A Will and Desire to do them good. Secondly, An Understanding sufficient to judge what will (at least in probability)


[merged small][ocr errors]

procure their good. Thirdly, A Power enabling him to encourage them to Obedi: ence, by propofing a Benefit to be rationally expected by their observance of what he commands, and on the contrary to deter them from Disobedience" by threatning

e or ject to do what iš enjoyned. Whence ap pears a manifest Reason why God is always (actively to be obeyed, but Huthan Powers are not fo. "For God through the absolute Purity of his Nature,


a stedfaff unchangeable Mind and Wil to do good, and by reason of his infallible Wisdom, a constant Ability to know what is good; and in virtue of his Omnipotency, a lasting indeficient Power to benefit the due Obfervers of his Commands, and to denuntiate Evil which will infallibly befall the Violaters of them; whereas all Human Power's are at one time or other (orat least may be destitute of some one or more of the mentioned Qualifications, and thereupon may command what is repugnant to some Moral Precept, and so are not necessarily to be actively complied with in every thing they give in Command; to some Moral Precept, I say, because through all Positive Divine Precepts, as well as Moral, are to be active


« PreviousContinue »