صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

own Folly, and not God's Justice, that is to be blamed if. he takes the Wrong.

2. I fhall omit the Argument of the Schools for the Eternity of Torments, upon account that the Sins which they punish, are against an infinite Dignity, (though there is more in that Argument than the Socinians will allow :) and fhall ground the Juftice of God, in this Proceeding, upon the natural Miferablenefs of Sin. God Almighty has fixed eternal Laws, that Virtue shall naturally tend to Happiness, and Vice to Mifery. And whereas the Soul is naturally Immortal, as long as it carries its Vice with it, it will be miferable. There is no Time of Purgation from Vice but in this World, through the Merits of Chrift, and the Benefits of the Gospel; and therefore a Soul that goes out of it unregenerate, is miferable for ever. It would be eternally miferable, if upon no other Account, but because it will feel eternal Remorfes for Sin, and everlastingly Regret the Lofs of an infinite Happinefs. But yet further, fuppofe that God, upon the Creation of the World, fixed fettled Laws of his Providence in Relation to Rewards and Punishments of Virtue and Vice, wherein he has determined, that Sin fhould carry Men as naturally to fuch Punishments, as frequent Debauchees into Diftempers and Indifpofition of Body; where would be the Injuftice of God, to let Men for ever fuffer the Effects which their Wickednefs had brought them into? If you by Intemperance had ruin'd the Conftitution of your Body, do you think that God Almighty's Juftice, or Mercy, is concern'd to rectify it again by a Miracle? God Almighty's Mercy and Goodnefs were fignalized enough in giving you a found Conftitution at firft, which it was in your Power to have kept, if you had lived as you ought to have done; but it is no manner of Injuftice in God, if he then fuffers your Body to remain fickly as long as it does continue in Being.

Now whereas God is not obliged to fuperfede his natural Laws, in miraculously making a Body well, which has made it felf fickly; fo the Cafe is the fame in Relation

to

to thofe Laws and Methods of Providence, which ars laid down as to Men's Souls. Vice can only naturally throw the Body into Indifpofition till Death; but the Soul being naturally Immortal, muft be eternally indifposed by the fame Laws. 'Tis one Scheme of God's Providence, that extravagant Intemperance thall make Men fickly for a mortal Life; and it is another providential Determination, that Vice, without a due Repentance, fhall make Men miferable for an eternal Life. And therefore, whereas the Order of Providence is, fuppofe, for Illuftration fake, thus, That this World shall continue fix thousand Years, and afterwards is to be burnt up, and to continue for ever in Flames of Fire, which may be, for ought I know, the local Hell; that Men, by living a Courfe of Virtue, and by fquaring their Lives according to the Rules of the Religion which God has prefcribed, may get rid from the Miseries of this burning World, and may be poffeffed of a blissful State in another; where is the Injuftice of God, if he does not miraculously alter thefe Methods of his Providence, out of Tenderness to Men, who would not procure their own Happiness, by the ordinary Methods he prefcribed to them? As God is not obliged to alter the Laws of Sanity, to make the fickly 'Man better, but that naturally he muft continue under thofe Indifpofitions as long as he lives here; fo neither is God obliged to make an Alteration in this other providential Difpenfations of another Life; but the Soul must take its moft miferable Lot there, which by its own Fault, it has plunged it felf into.

3. And as to what you fay as to God's Punishment only to make Men better, I do not take this to be any Objection against an Eternity of Torments. For tho' God does generally punish Men in order to make them better, he does this only fo long, as they are capable of being made better: For when they become incorrigible, this End muft ceafe. Now, 'tis true, that in this World God fends his Chaftifements and Afflictions to this very purpose, thereby to make us better; because this World is a State of Trial or Probation, but in the other World, the State

of

[ocr errors]

of Things are changed, and the Time of Probation is over; God has tried Men till they have plainly appeared incorrigible, and that 'tis to no Purpose to try them longer.

And therefore the End of his punishing Men must be then, to difplay the infinite Integrity of his Juftice and Holiness, and to fhew that it is contrary to the Rectitude of his Nature, to let Sin go unpunished. Not but that God's Goodness and Mercy had a Share here too; for, by this dreadful Punishment of incorrigible Offenders, he to all Eternity gives Examples of his Vengeance in punishing Sin, and Rebellion against God; thereby to engage all his Creatures to a more hearty Love of God, and to a more ready fulfilling his Will for ever.

Phil. My laft Exception is against your Chriftian Doctrine of Heaven, where you tell us, that Men muft be rewarded for their good Actions in a fine glorious Place, no Body knows where. But these are fond Notions fitted only for vulgar and mercenary People, who will do no good, but when they are hired to it. But the generoully Virtuous are they, who are Virtuous for Virtue's fake; they who choose to do good, because it is brave and honourable, and not because they think they fhall get by it. Therefore, methinks, our Deift's Religion is much preferrable to yours, because it makes Men Virtuous upon a more generous Principle, than any that is to be found in your Religion, which en courages Men to Virtue only, in Hopes of being re warded for it.

Cred. There is nothing in the Chriftian Doctrine of Heaven, and the Glories of another World, but what is very fober and rational, and agreeable to the wisest Thought. We are taught by our Religion, that we shall there enjoy eternal Life, which is but very confonant to a State of Glory, which a frail Mortality would fully; that we shall be cloathed with a glorious and in

* Oracles of Reafon, p. 111. Spinofe Eth, par. 5. prop. 42.

LI

corrupribla

Corruptible Body; whofe Principle shall not be a living of animal Soul, but a quickening Spirit, I Cor. xv. 45 & 49. (i. c.) not a living Soul wanting Nourishment as in this World; but fuch a quickening Spirit as fhall convey Life without being beholding to eating and drinking for it. What wifer Defcription can there be of a State of Glory, than to reprefent it a Vacancy from all Pain and Diflatisfaction, When God fhall wipe all Tears from our Eyes, when there shall be no more Death or Serrow of Crying, neither shall there be any more Pain, Rev. xxi. 4. And that the Height of Fruition fhall be, in the Vifion of God? Bleffed are the pure in Heart for they ball fee God. We shall fee him as he is, 1 Joh. iii. 2. This is a true rational Account of future Happiness, fuch as is worthy of God, and is not like the idle Dreams of a Pagan Elyfium, or the Paradife of the Alchoran, or the Talmud.

But to speak a Word or two in Anfwer to your taxing us with Want of Generofity, in doing good for the Hopes of Heaven. Now, for my Part, I cannot fee but that it is altogether as generous, to do good for God's fake, as for Virtue's fake. For what is Virtue abftracted from God and Religion, but only an empty Name? He that does good for God's fake, or becaufe God has commanded him, does it moft certainly for Virtue's fake too; that is, because it is agreeable to the trueft Reafon, for we are fure that God commands nothing but what is wife and good. Oh! But we have an Eye upon our own Happiness likewife when we do it, and therefore we do not do good for Virtue's fake. I can understand nothing by your doing Good for Virtue's fake, but only the doing a Thing because it is wife and rational; now what can be more wife and rational, than in all our Actions to have an Eye to our chief Good; which, if we neglect, we act neither wifely, nor rationally? We act wifely and rationally, when we are charitable to our Neighbour, and are beneficent to our Friends, becaufe our Reafon tells us, that we were not

[ocr errors]

born for our felves, but that we ought to contribute our Affiftance, as far as we can, and do all poffible good in our Generation.

And is it not likewife very wife and rational to provide for our own Happiness too in another World, by duly worshiping God, and doing as he has commanded us? To act only for the good of others, and defperately to neglect ourselves, is Madness and Folly, and not to act for Virtue's Sake, or agreeably to Reafon. For the trueft Reason tells us, that we ought to confult our own Happiness, when it is not Prejudicial to others, and when the defire of it does not degenerate into Selfishness, or a vitious Self-Love. For Reafon tells us, that God has not implanted this Principle of Self-prefervation, or Self-love, in us for nothing; and therefore, we must conclude, that we act very rationally, when we act in order to our own chief Happiness, which can be in no wife Prejudicial to that of other Mens. Now this is the trueft Way of virtuous or rational Action, because it is to act agreeable to the Reason of God. But your way of acting, according to Virtue or Reason, as you call it, is oftentimes according to Fancy, or the whimfical Reasoning of fome Opiniators, who are continually advancing new Hypothefes in Morality; as well as in Phyficks, and drawing new Schemes of Virtue or Vice, as their Spleen directs them.. This is not to follow Reafon, or to act for Virtue's fake; but 'tis to dance after all the Ignes Farui of a fpeculative Brain.

But, after all, what is this great Pretence of these Set of Men to act for Virtue's fake, which is fo brave and generous? Why, it is only to do a reputable Action to be admired and praifed, which is nothing elfe but unregenerate Pride. Such Men will rarely do a good Action in the dark, which is like to come to no one's Knowledge; or if they do, it is with fuch a fort of inward Haughtinefs, as fpoils all the Goodness of it.

Therefore, pray Philologus, leave off all these Heathen Principles, which are good for nothing, but to

LI 2

make

« السابقةمتابعة »