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TI[E WORKS OF T.IIE ,REV. ISAAC WATTS, D. D. IN NINE VOLUMES. VOL. III. CONTAINING SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED ONLY BY RELIGION; RUMILI IV REPRESENTED IN THE CHA- RACTER 0V ST. PAUL ORTHODOXY AND CHARITY UNITED; A CAVEAT AGAINST INFIDELITY? THE HARMONY OF ALL THE RELIGIONS GOD EVER PRESCRIBED j THE STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS OF HU- MAN REASON j HOLINESS OR TIMES, PLACES, &C. LONDON': PRINTED FOR LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME AND BROWN, PATERNOSTER- ROW ; DAINES, ROBINSON AND SON, IIARDCASTLE, AND IIEATON, LEEDS, By Edward Baines, Leeds. 181,.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME III. SELF-LOVE AND.VIRTUE RECONCILED ONLY BY RELIGION HUMILITY REPRESENTED IN THE CHARACTER OF ST. PAUL ORTHODOXY AND CHARITY UNITED . ... ... ... ... ... PAGu 1 21 60 Essay I. The Substance of the Gospel ... ... ... ... ... 63 1I. The Form of the Gospel ... ... .. ... ... ... 79 III. Use of the Moral Law under the Gospel 110 IV. Mistaken Ways of Coming to God without Christ 143 V. ASinner coming to God by Christ ... ... ... 158 VI. Manifold Salvation by_Christ ... ... ... ... 169 VII. Against Uncharitableness ... ... ... 185 VIII. Difficulties in Scripture ... ... ... ... ... 214 IX. An Apology for Difference in Judgment ... 234 A CAVEAT AGAINST INFIDELITY ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 241 HARMONY OF ALL THE RELIGIONS APPOINTED BY GOD 327 333 CHAPTER I. The Dipensation of Innocence ... ... ... ... 334 II. The Adamical Dispensation ... ... ... ... 337 III. The. Noahical Dispensation ... ... ... ... ... 343 IV. The Abrahamicat Dispensation ... ... ... ... . 345 V. The Mosaical Dispensation ... ... .. ... ... 347 VI. ThePeculiar Covenant of Sinai ... .:. ... ... 349 VII. The Christian Dispensation ... ... ... ... 356 VIII. The Doctrine of Justification by Faith ... ... 358 IX. The Necessity ofSanctification _ ... ... ... 361 X. The Commencement of the Christian Dispensation 363 XI. Gradual Changefrom Judaism to Christianity. ... 865 XII. Of those who have had no Revelation ... ... ... 372 XIII. The Last Judgment ... .. ... ... ... ... 373 XIV. Conclusion of the Essay ... ... .. ... 373 STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS OF HUMAN REASON ... ... 677 381 433 ... ..oerrreuoe ... ... ... ... ... 494 THE HOLINESS OF TIMES, PLACES, PEOPLE, &c.... ... ... 523 Secrrox I. The Sabbath ... .. ... ... ... ... ... 527 Il. The Lord's-Supper ... ... ... ... 563 III. Holiness of Places of Worship ... ... 567 IV. Jewish and Christian Worship compared ... ... 596 V. Holiness of Jewish and Christian Churches com- ra ` .. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 605
SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED ONLY /t Y RELIGION: OR AN ARGUMENT TO PROVE, THAT THE ONLY EFFECTUAL OBLIGATION OF MANKIND To practise Virtue, DEPENDS ON THE EXISTENCE AND WILL OF GOD, VOL. M. A
SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED ONLY BY RELIGION : Or, An Argument to prove, that the only Effectual Obligation ofMankind topractise Virtue, depends on the Existence and Will of God, 8pc. SECT. I.TheGeneral Proposal ofthe Subject. IT has been a great controversy, whether the rules of virtue, and our obligations to practise. them, be eternal and immutable in themselves, antecedent to our conceptions of the being of a God; or, whether they depend on his will and appointment. In things which are merely speculative, it is very evident and cer- tain, that there are many eternal and unchangeable truths ; as, " two and two make four ; a circle is most comprehensive of all figures, and a right angle is larger than an acute." Note, By eternal truths we can mean no more than this; that in whatsoever moment of the eternity, past or to come, these ideal truths were or shall be proposed to an intelligentbeing, they must be assented to, and acknowledged tobe true : But any real, eternal existence of them, cannòt be supposed, without a God, in whose mind alóne they could exist. And when we,call them unchangeable, our meaning is this, , that we cannot conceive it possible, that any circumstances, or situation of things, or even the will of a God, should ever alter the nature of these truths, or make them cease to be true. But the case is not quite so evident to us, and so indisputable with regard to moral or practical subjects, however these may be supposed to be as certain in themselves. It may admit of a doubt, whether all the rules of virtue, and more especially, whether the obligations of mankind tó practisethem, are eternal and unchangeable ; , and that even before the supposition of the.existence of a God, or without any regard to such a supreme Governor. It must be granted, that there are persons of known learn- ing and piety whohave chosen this side of the question : And yet it must be acknowledged too, that it grates a little upon some re- ligious minds, to hear of eternal and unchangeable obligations lying on men, which are independent on thewill or appointment of God ; or even upon a supposition there were no God. I wouldnotchase to see such sort ofsuppositions introduced, if it be possible to secure the rules and practice of virtue without them. I think that these eternal rules of virtue, whatsoever they A2 .
4 EELS-LOVE AND VIRTUE NECONCTtiII.. be, and especially our obligations to practise them, stand in such a closeconnexion with the being and the will of God, as Gover- nor of the world, that if one could help it, they should not be even divided and separated in thought. But since these sort of suppositions are and will be made, I beg leave to examine, according to the best rules of my reason, how far this doctrine of eternal and unchangeable obligations to practise virtue may be supported ; and I will endeavour it in these following positions : SECT. II.There are Eternal Fitnesses in human Actions and in Divine. It is granted, there is an eternal fitness or unfitness of things in nature, or, if I might so express it, in our ideas of the natural world which do not depend on the will or appointment of God ; and these are perfectly unchangeable. " A globe is not fit to fill up the space of ahollow, cube ; nor is a triangle fit to fill up the area of a circle." Note, By the eternal fitness of things, we must understand the same as before I said con- cerning eternal truths, viz. that in themselves they are mere abstracted ideas, and can have no real, eternal existence but in the mind of God. Let it be observed also, that this eternal fitness of things does not require the actual existence of these things from eternity : If the mere ideas of these things have a necessary connexion together, they may be called eternal fitnesses, in the sense I have explained. I think there can re- main no reasonable doubt or contest upon this matter. The sup- position of a God, or no God, seems to make no alteration in these abstracted ideas. There seems also to be an eternal fitness or unfitness in the actions of single, rational and sensible beings. Note, Though we are here speaking chieflyof mankind, yet I call every rational being sensible, whether it be united to flesh or blood or no; be- cause it is conscious and perceptive of pleasure or pain, happi- ness or misery. I say therefore, it is fit that every rational being should preserve itself, at least so far as it may be made happy ; and it is unfit that it should destroy itself, or permit its own destruction. It is fit a rational being should seek its owir general, ultimate, or supreme happiness; and it is unfit that such a being should procure its own misery, or permit it, if he can avoid it. Nature, self-love, and reason, seem to dictate the same thing. This self-preservation and self -felicitation, are in- wrought in our natural constitution : and our rational powers confirm it. These may be called single or personal duties of * ] use the words o general, ultimate and supreme happiness,'" to distin.. guish it from any particular present pleasures, winch a man may and ought to deny or refuse by the mere rules of reason, when they stand incompetitionwith Isis general And ultimate happiness;
SECTION II. 5 nature, or natural obligations, consideringnature both as sensible and rational. There seems also an eternal fitness or unfitness of things in thesocial life. It is fit that rational, social beings should make one another easy and happy, and preserve each other's life and peace; and it seems unfit that any of them shouldmake their neighbours uneasy or unhappy, or that they should destroy them*. It is fit therefore that social beings should keep their contracts, should do justice to all around them, should not rob or steal one another's property ; and that they should love each other, and do good, and be grateful to their benefactors. This is properly called 'r social virtue." All these seem to be rules derived from the very nature of things ; that is, supposing such rational, and sensible, and social beings to exist, they are di- rected by the eternal reason of things to behave withjustice and goodness towards each other. These rules seem to carry an obligation with them by the light of reasón. Note, by the word " obligation" in this place, we cannot mean any authoritative or suasive influence from the will, or law, or authority of a supe- rior ; since we are speaking of the eternal fitness of these things, without any consideration of the being of a God. Obligation, in this place therefore, can mean nothing but the mere reasonable fitness of our doing or not doing suchor such a thing in social life; or that this is the dictate of our reasoning powers. If there be aGod, an universal Maker and supreme Lord of all, there are eternal truths andfitnesses which relate to him- self, viz. that he mast always act according to the perfections of his nature, as a single, self-existent and supreme being. That he is not always bound by the same rules which bind social beings orfellow-creatures ; for he is not bound to do all the good he can, or to hinder all the evil he can. Again; that God can- not alienate luis own right to any thing, to give it irrevocably to a creature, but by his own express promise ; and therefore his gifts, without an absolute promise, are but loans, resumable at plea- sure. That he cannot originally make a creature sinful or misera- ble. That he has a right to the obedience of his creatures. That he cannotcommand his creatures to do any thing unfit to be done. That he will be just and true to all his creatures ; and that he will not finally deal alike with the righteous and the wicked. There is therefore a reward for the righteous, &c. I mention all these here, though they are not all necessary to my present subject ; yet itis good to keep them much in our view, in order tojustify God in many parts ofhis divine conduct. * These expressions are general indeed, and must include some limitation ; but the reason and nature of things gives this plain limitation to them, viz. When men have not forfeited their life, or their ease, by criminal actions, they are to be treated well by their fellow-beings, a3
B SELF-LOVE AND V1Rt'IIE RECONCILED. Now if there actually be a God, these eternal truthsor fit nesses may be said, in some sense, to lay an obligation on God to act according to them, that is, his perfections are such that he will govern and regulate his own actions constantly and un- changeably by these eternal fitnesses or unfitnesses of things : For since he is self-sufficient for his own preservation and hap- piness and since none of these eternal fitnesses or unfitnesses can possibly stand in opposition to his own eternal being or blessedness, nor can they bring any inconvenience on him, he can have no possible motive, or reason,, or obligation to act contrary to this fitness or unfitness of things; and the rec- titude of his own nature seems unchangeably to require such a conduct. And if this be granted, then there is a sufficient foundation laid for the proof of all God's moral attributes by our ideas of his natural perfections, and our ideas of the eternal rules ofjus- tice, veracity and goodness ; and there is sufficient assurance that he will act according to them. SECT. III. In Human Actions these Fitnesses may contradict each other. But in beings of sr; inferior nature, before we consider whe- ther there be a God or no, the `case is not the same ; for it is possible that some of these rules ofreason, or, -at least, the obli- gations to practise them, may, seemingly, or really clash with each other. As for instance, in what we have called single or personal duties Do we not all agree, that a man is obliged to preserve his own life, and also to make himself happy by such a steady dictate-of his own nature, as seems essential or eternal ? Is not this piece of self-love inwrought into his very constitution and frame of nature ? And do not his reasoning powers con- firm it ? But Miserino lies in extreme anguish of gout or stone, or broken limbs ; and he seems to be encouraged, and even required, by his reasoning powers, to try to divest himself of all life, and of all possible happiness together; for he judges it better not to be, than to be miserable. In this case self-murder; or thedestruction of his being, would be a dictate of reason ; for it would be a sort of self-felicitation, though it stands directly contrary to self-preservation. Again, in another case of single or personal duties. Phi- ledon is a gentleman of good reason and learning, but of such strong and importunate passions and appetites, that everydegree of restraint is a sensible pain to -him. He sat down in a very calm and composed hour to judge whether he should pursue pleasure or virtue. His reason told him much of the eternal fitness of things, and what a noble victory it would be to deny his appetites and govern his passions ; and that he was obliged,
SECTION III. 7 by the fitness of things, to follow the rules of strict virtue con- stantly. But, on the other hand, self love and nature, with their strong sensibilities represented to him the constant and intense toil, the uneasy fatigue and pain of contradicting the dictates of his nature and his appetite of pleasure ; and that he never would have 'one easy day in the course of strict virtue. I-Iis reason balanced these things together, and finally resolved, that both his own rational. powers, and the fitness of things, required that Philedon should pursue his highest happiness, and that was to indulge his sensual inclinations in the highest degree; forthis wasthe ultimate happiness he could expect : And as soon as . he found diseases, or pains, or poverty come upon him, he might finish them all at once by a dagger, or by opium, and thus enter into eternal ease and indolence. Now in this case all his obligations to personal virtue, as well as to self-preservation, seem to be out-reasoned and overcome by the dictates of self- felicitation. And there are yet plainer instances ofsuch contradictions between single and social duties, viz. Famelico, a strong man, lies starving ; and he sees his weaker and hungry neighbour with only one piece of bread in his hand ; reason dictates that the strong man should not rob his neighbour of his property, es- pecially where this property is his very life : And yet reason, self-love and nature, join to dictate that Famelico should save his own life, and procure his own ease from the pain of hunger ; which he can do no otherwise but by taking away the bread, and perhaps life from his neighbour. Again, Naufragus is just drowning ; but he sees his neighbour supported by a little plank, which is just big enough to save one man's life ; reason and virtue dictate that, though he be stronger, he should not drown his neighbour, by taking away the plank : Yet his reason and nature seem to dictate also, that Naufragusshould save himself, though it be by taking the plank away from hisweaker neigh- bour, and leave him to be drowned. Yet again, reason dictates that Irus should pay what he has borrowed, and that at the pro- mised time ; and yet, perhaps, this payment takes away all his subsistence, and exposes him to extreme hunger and death ; and then both reason and nature at the same time dictate, that Irus should save himself from death, or secure himself from pinching hunger, whatever his neighbour loses or suffers. Or suppose, in a common shipwreck, a drowningman sees another near him, who has three or four such planks as would each of them save a life : Reason dictates he shouldpreserve his life, though it be by plundering his neighbour of one of them, if that neighbour refuse to lend or give it him : And yet reason seems to dictate too, that he should not take away his neigh- 'miles property by force. The 'same may be said concerning n3
$ SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILÉD, loaves of bread, and a man who is starving. Many such cross. ing incidents as these may be supposed to happen ; and, in some of them it is not only very hard to determine which of these dic- tates should be obeyed, but it seems to me that these rules of reason may sometimes clash so much with each other, that they cannot be reconciled. Here, indeed, an objector may start up and say, What ! is this a possiblething that reason should contradict reason ? Are we of such an absurd composition, and are we placed in such a self-repugnant state by nature, that our supremepowers of direc- tion and action will contradict themselves, or that the fitness of things should stand on both sides ? I answer ; Yes, if we come into being by chance or by fate, without a God, then we may be such an absurd mixture, and situated in such a self-repugnant state ; and who can disprove it ; or who can help it ? Surely it can be no . wonder if so so absurd a principlè as fate or chance should produce absurd things. SECT. IV:The Existence of a God Reconciles these Contra- dictions. But let us wait and enquire a little, how these difficulties may be compromised by the supposition of the being of a God, and whether theycan be compromised without the supposition of . it. If there be a God, an almighty Maker and Ruler of man, that God by his will and authority, requires and obliges° man, in his general government ofthe world, to the same rules of sin- gle duty, and of social virtue, which are dictated by the fitness or unfitness of things. This will of God, made known to men, is his law; whether it be natural and written in the heart, or reveal- ed and written in a book. Thus man is obliged by his duty to God his Maker, as well as to himself, to secure his own being and happiness ; and he is obliged by duty to God as well as to his neighbour, to practice every social virtuet. s: Here it is granted, the word rr obligation' signifies an authoritative or suasive influence from the will, command or authorityof a superior, But if you enquire, why are we obliged by thewill or command of a superior? The fun- damental and ultimate reason is still, because the fitness of things dictates it, that we should obey a rightful superior. So that the ultimate ground of all obli- gation is still the dictate of reason concerning the fitness of things. But if you Will proceed further in your enquiries, wherein it appears that the fitness of things requires such obedience ? I answer, because such a superior can reward it, and punish the neglect of it, and therefore it is the interest as well as the duty of the inferior to obey; and this increases or doubles the fitness of such obedi- ence, as shall be shewn immediately. } It most be confessed, there have been some cases in scripturewherein God seems to have commanded men to act, in appearance, contrary to these eternal fitnesses, &c. in point of social virtue : As in the case of Abraham's offer- ing up his son, and the Israelites destroying the Canaanites. But we most distin guish between these two things, viz. there is God's common providence, or his general and ordinary rules of government, which he has made known to the reason of man, whereby Wan, considered as a sociable creature, is obliged is
SECTION IV. 9 Now if personal duties, even thus confirmed, should chance to clash with one another, or with any of the social virtues, how . shall they be reconciled ? I answer ; By religion, by which name I mean a due regard to Godas a commander of virtue, and a rewarder, of it. I shall make this appear first in the case of our singleor personal duties. If therebe a God, he has made us to live for his, use and service ; and we ought not to oppose his will, and destroy ourselves. He who hath made us, hath a right to appoint our situation in what statehe pleases ; and while he con- fines our beings to this world of flesh and blood, though it be with pain and anguish ; yet it is not fit that Miserino should depart hence by destroying his animal life, or his being, against his Ma- ker'swill : But he should trust in that God, who can find ways of reliefwhichwe think impossible ; or who can and will reward us in a future state and life, with supreme felicity for what we endure with patience in this life, by the meremotive ofsubmission to his will ; and this is religion*. Thus our reason, upon the balance, in the most miserable circumstances, will supremely dictate to us, that it is our duty, anti our highest interest, to preserve our lives, and to bear this present life and pain, till almighty God relieve us by healing, or release us to a state of ultimate felicity by death. And thus the obligations to self-preservation and self-felicitation are unitedor reconciled. In like manner Philedon lies under plain obligations to God and to himself, torestrain his appetites and passions, be they ne- ver so strong, within the bounds and rules of virtue ; for this is the will or law ofGod, who made him, and has a right to govern him : And, be his life prolonged never so far, yet constant self- denial, and strict virtue, is his duty all the way ; for he may ex- pect divine rewards and supreme or ultimate felicity in some practice all social virtues in bisown transactions with bis fellow-creatures : And there is God's special providence, or his extraordinary orders or commands, whichhe may make known by some powerful revelation to men or angels, merely considered as his instruments to maintain his own divine rights, and to resume what he has given to any of his creatures, whether it be life or property, and which he mightjustlyresume by lightning orpestilence. Now, according to the . ordinary rules of sod's government, made known to man by reason, every man is bound to practise strict social virtue to his neighbour : This is agreeable to the fitness of things. Butaccording to the extraordinary orders made known by pure revelation, man may be required, as Abraham and the Israelites were in these instances, to become the instruments of God in maintaining his own divine rights, and resuming hisgifts from men. This will go a great way to justify those actions, as being still agreeable to theeternal fitness of things, especially if the rights of a God are considered as superior to the rights of a fellow-creature. But these difficulties have had other particular solutions given them : And since they arenot necessary to the present point of debate, I would not bring them in here into; thisdiipute, to embarrass the present argument with them, though I' throw this hint into themargin. *. See the connection between human virtue and divine reward, manifested and confirmed. Section VI.
n' Ito SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED. world to come from that God whose will he obeyed here in this present world, bylong and constant self-denial. The same is evident also in social life. Ifthere be a God, it is evident to reason, that this God, who is the commonFather of all his creatures, did not make awhole society for the sakeof .one mast, brit every single man is rather made for the sake of society ; and the interests of a society, are of superior impor- tance to the interest of each single person. Therefore, in the -viewof God their common Father, who is wiseand just, the preservation and happiness of a whole society of crea- tures which he has made, by their steady practice of social virtue, even though it be to the detriment of any single man, is to be preferred to the preservation and happiness of any single man, with the detriment or danger of a whole society. Now a whole society would be injured by any man's wilful neglect of social virtues : Therefore the will or law of God requires, that social virtue he practised by everyman ; and that oftentimes with the neglect of any single man's present interest, where they are inconsistent*. Now an obedience to this will of God is religion, And yet this God, who is a wise and righteous Governor of the universe, and is good to all his creatures, does not forbid the rati- oral dictate of self-interest, that is self- preservation, or self-feli- citation, to exert itself in a proper manner, but only gives it another turn or direction in particular cases : For even the light of nature and reason teaches us, that the righteous and. almighty Governor may be expected to recompence present self-denial, performed in mere obedience to his will, with future life and felicity ; for he can punish or reward after death. And thus our better life, and our ultimate felicity; are secured evenby those acts of social virtue whereinwe expose, or lose our pre- sent life or present happiness. ,This trust in thedivine recom- pence isreligion. Andupon this view of things a starving or a drowning man, if he be never so much stronger than his neighbour, may deny himself of some present. advantage or comfort, or may neglect to secure life itself, in order to keep the rule ofjustice, and to obey his Maker therein. ßeason itself will dictate to him this self- denial and steady virtue; for hereby he not only obeys his Ma - ker's will, but he pursues his own best interest, and his highest happiness; even the favour of his Maker, and the reward of his o' It is not any part of my design here to adjust all the proportionable eircu.m- Lances or oppositions of single and social interests ; much less can I say, that the 1=.+st interest ofa society, is preferable to the greatest interest of a single person. All that I think necessary to be said here, is, that opon the supposition of a God, the interest ofsocieties, sOleris paribus,,is ofa superior importance to the interest of single persons, and carries in it a stronger obligation. But to adjust every single, possible case, may sometimes afford considerable difficulties, though this general rule stands firm,
SECTION V. II virtue, from the righteous Governor of the world. And he may look upon himself as most powerfully obliged to practise such social virtue and self- denial by the will and authority of that God who can 'and will reward. him. And thus the strict rule of social virtue, built on the reason and fitness ofthings, will :lot clash with the 'other rule ofreason, which is also built on the fitness of things, via. that a rational and sensible being should still pursue self- preservation and self- felicitation. The very supposition of a righteous God, who coin- wands strict virtue, and will reward it in a future state, takes away the seeming contradiction that otherwise might lie between these two rules of reason, and reconciles them. It is the glory of religion to reconcile these contrarieties, Now let ussurvey the opposite case : SECT. V.These Contradictions Irreconcileable without an Existent God. Upon supposition that men spring up into beingby fate or . chance, and that there is no Almighty Creator, or righteous Go- vernor, or Rewarder ;, then reason would dictate to us self-pre- servation, or, at least, self-felicitation in the present state, as our supreme obligation, and our supreme rule of action, notwithstand- ing all our remonstrances of single or social virtue ; since there is no hope of any possible compensation in any future' state for pre- sent acts of self-denial : And thus the strongest obligation would be turned on theside of preserving our present life, or at least our ease or .happiness ; nature and inclination, and self-love,.would' so determine it : and they appear also to have reason, and the fitness of things on their side. Thence it will appear, as to the practice of single or personal virtue, that Philedon has not suffi- cient obligation to tie himself to the rules of it under his violent appetites to sensuality, if there be no God : But self -felicitation would direct and lead him to all manner of indu lgence of plea- sure, and to finish 'his own life and being when his pleasures ended. His reason would tell him that this was the fittest thing he could do ; and I might prove it also mathematically : Thus, Suppose Philedon spent his life according to the rules of virtue, with much fatigue, and watchfulness and self-denial, he might die quickly, and his being, and all hope of felicity are soon at an end, and that for ever. Or if he dragged on life thus painfully toold age, still, at his death, his being and hope ofhappiness are for ever gone. And what good hath his virtue done him ? But, on the other hand, if he pursue pleasure with daily appetite and relish, and die in a few years time, he bath a much larger quantity of happiness than a short, or a long life of strict virtue, and constant laborious self-denial could give a man
12 SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED, of his temper : And after death his felicity would be equal to that of the most virtuous man, that is, non existence, or eternal unconsciousness and indolence. Sothat if there beno God, then, upon the strictest reasoning from the fitness of things, Philedon would be obliged, by the principlesof nature, to make himself happy in his own. way. It will follow also, that under such an atheistical state in the social life, the fitness of paying debts, of keeping contracts, of giving to every one their due, and the unfitness of robbing or murdering our neighbour, and of plundering, or of stealing a piece of bread by a starvingman, or a plank of safetyby a drown- ing man; in short, all social virtues among mankind, will be ove }-powered, and superseded in reason by this superior fitness ; that is the rule of self-preservation or self-felicitation. Reason itself dictates this to mankind, since there is no superior authority or law to oblige them to practice these social virtues, and none can reward this self-denying virtue after death. Perhaps it will be said, that though therehe no God ; yet, in social life, the good of the many, or of a whole society, must be still preferred to the good of single persons ; that this is a rule of reasons and ought to regulate the conduct even of a drowning or starvingperson ; othetwise there will be a door opened for all manner of plunder and murder amongst men, and virtue will have no farther guard or security. I might safely grant all this terrible inference, viz. that murders and robberieswill be allowed, and virtue will have no guard : This is, and will be the sad con- sequence if there be no God. But I would give some particu- lar answers : I. In the first place then, though upon the supposition of an almighty Creator, who is the common Father of all his creatures, the good of ahundred or a thousand of these creatures, is to be preferred to the good of one, and it is his will that it should be so preferred ; yet if men come into the world by chance, or by necessary, fate, and had no relation to a God, nor any hope of hereafter, every man both would and ought to seek his own life and ultimate felicity, though hundreds or thousands perished. Self and nature, in each single man, have a much stronger, and more pungent sensibility of their own happiness or misery, than theycantsave of the misery or happiness of ten thousand others: And I think reason would dictate an obedience to this pungent sensibility, this principle of self love, this natural rule of duty and practice. I answer secondly, II. In cases which do not reach to life and death, or to such long pain and infelicity, which are worse than death, reason may dictate to us to deny our single selves many desirable things for the good of the society : But observe, that is' not becaúse the society itself has any sovereign right to this self- denial of ours; but because weourselves may
SECTION V. d$ afterwards want the helpof. this society : And we shall contradict our own best interest, and our felicity by our practice of rapine or falsehood, if we set the society against us. And therefore reason, perhaps, might dictate such self-denial to us in most of the common cases that would happen in human life, even if there were no God. I say therefore, where our lives or our ultimate happiness are not indanger, the good of the society, of which we ourselves are a part, and in whose welfare we expect our shareof felicity, would oblige us by reason to observe the common rules of social virtue. But in cases which relate to life and ultimate felicity, if there be no God to require of me any self-denying virtue here, nor to rewardme hereafter, the superior rule of nature and reason is to save myself, and make myself happy, though ten thousand of my fellow-creatures suffer by it. What obligation can the Welfareof thewhole society lay upon me to do any thing for them, if I must perish? If I must lose all life, and being, and happiness, for ever, by the practice of social virtue, what is there in reason or nature can oblige me to practise it ? Or who is there to reward any self-denying virtue ? The secret consolation, or the public glory of a few dying moments, that I have lost my being and my happiness in service to the public, is but a poorand irrational re- compense, if there be no God. Lef me add at last; wheresoever there are two different ob- ligations which cross each other, the strongest obligation must be obeyed, and the other ceases. Though there are eternal differ- ences between virtue and vice, and dry abstracted reason may require and seem to oblige us to the practice of virtue ; yet since reason and nature, with its piercing sensibilities, join to dictate self-preservation or self-felicitation are we not first obliged to obey these dictates ? Is not this obligation strongest ? And should not nature and reason, when joined together, break through, or rather surmountand supersede all these abstracted moral notions and differences of vice and virtue, in favour of each man's own sensible happiness ? And thenI think the least inference we can make is, that man's obligation to these social virtues, especiallyin such sort of- cases, can never be plainly proved and securedby reason, without the supposition of an existent God. But if there be a God who governs the world, whose will and authority require the practice of virtue, and who will bestow upon those who practise it, an ultimate felicity, then the practice of social virtue is securedby the strongest obligations : And thus the -moral obligation,' which ai'lses from the reason of things, and the divine or religious obligation, which arises from the will of God, Together with the natural obligation, which springs from the pursuit of our own happiness, are all united to secure the practice of every virtue.
14 SELF -LOVE A 1) VIRTUE RECONCILED. - SECT. VI. The Chief Difficulty of this Scheme of thoughts removed. After a careful survey of what I have written on this sub- - ject, I can find but one difficulty of any importance attending it Perhaps some friend may rise up here and object, that the whóle stress and weight of my argument against the sufficient " obli- gation to - virtue, arising from the mere fitness of things," rests and turns upon this, single point, the certainty of divine rewards, which alone can bring over the principle of self -love to the side of virtue.. But is it absolutely certain, that God will reward every man'svirtue ? And if he does not, then it will be said, that according to my argument, even the known will and command of God, though joined with the-fitness of things, will lay but an insufficient obligation upon us to practise virtue : For the will of God, which really and in truth should give the highest obliga- tion to the rules of virtue, will be as much superseded apd over- powered by this same principle of self-love and self-felicitation, as that which arises from the fitness of things : And thus, if God' be not a .rewarder of virtue, Philedon will be indulged in all manner of pleasant vices still ; though the known will of God forbids him. This objection, as plausible as it appears, I think maybe answered these two ways : I. The will of God in commanding virtue, and thewill of God to reward it, ought never to'be sepa- rated. The equity and goodness of God joined together, incline him to consult the happiness of his creatures, as well as his own honour, in the obligations which he lays upon them to virtue or piety. He has inseparably united our duty and our best interest : And, therefore, though the will of God, made known to man, is a just obligation on man to obey it; yet since God himself bath Mingled so intense and supreme a desire of happiness inour com- position, hewill provide-some satisfaction for it in the way of obe- dience or virtue. Since God has inwrought in our frame such active principles as hope and fear of gaining or losing this happi- ness, there is abundant reason, from the light of nature, to con- clude, that he did-not make all these supreme passions about hap- piness in vain; nor to obstruct our virtue, but to encourage and promote it ; and consequently that hewill be a rewarder, as well as a commander of it. If St. Paul may be cited here, he is of the same mind ; Heb. xi. 6. He that cometh unto God, that is, with a holy reso- solution to do his will, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarderof those echo diligently seek him. To live a life of obe- dience to God's will, and trust in his goodness, with the faith and hope of divine rewards, this is the general idea of the religion of man both before and since the fall, both natural and revealed ; Do this, and thoushalt lire : Repent, and your sins shall be-blot- ted out : Believe, and obey the gospel, and thou shalt be saved.
SECTION vi. 15 Shall it be said here ; but for once let us suppose it, that God may give self-denying and'hard commands without any reason to expect a reward ; do not these commands carry suf - oient reason to oblige a creature to obey ? And what if 1 should answer, no, they do not: You will tell me this is very absurd, that the willof God, which carries thehighest obligation, should not sufficiently hind a creature. I answer, first, it is not the highest obligation where all hope of reward is cut off, for the natural duty of self-felicitation being added to it by the view of a reward, would raise it higher. But, secondly, what if it be an absurd thing, that the will of God commanding does not suffici- eiently oblige ? If you will force upon me absurd and inconsis- tent suppositions, why should you expect any thing but absurd Consequences? I confess there have been some mystic divines, and some enthusiasts, among the papists, who have screwed up their notions of virtue to such sublimities, that we are bound to practise all the will of God steadily, trader the longest and sharpest trials and most self-denying instances, without any re- gard to rewards or punishments ; or even if there were no such things. There have been also some deists who have reproached. christianity as a mere selfish and mercenary thing, because of the rewards and punishments it.proposes ; and have maintained that true virtue should be practised by tiie sole motive of its own rational excellency and loveliness, that is the fitness of things*. I deny not the truth of this obligation arising from the mere manifestation of God's will, confirming the reason and fitness of things, even without the hopeof reward; but, in my opinion, this obligation alone would not be supreme and effectual : And indeed this seems not to be ,the religion of men on earth, but of some superior beings, if such there be, who can practise it. Abraham, * It is not unwórthy of our remarkhere, that the opposite extremes of error in departing far from the truth, meet again in one and the same gross mistake, viz. that " true virtue or piety must have no regard to rewards or punishments." Deism and enthusiasm agree in this point of falsehood, to oppose true Christianity and scripture. This error is of the same-stamp with the mad paradox of the stoics, that " a wise man is happy in Phalaris's bull," that is, that virtue, in the midst ,of the extremest tortures and agonies, is still a sufficient reward for itself... Alas ! for these unhappy men, these ancient philosophers ! they knew not the rewards of virtue and piety, some of which even reason might suggest or expect, if they-had known the true God; nor were they acquainted with those superior recompences of faith and holiness which christianity reveals and promises. Nor can I forbear to make this inference here, viz, thofe writers who raise their rules and their test of true piety so high, as to require that we must be con- tent to be damned .that God may be glorified in our punishment; they require what God and his word have never required : Nor doth scriptureever demand us to say, we would live in the same perfection of zeal for God, the same mortification of appetite, and persevere in the same strict self-denial and patience, both in dutjes and in sufferings, if there were no present or future recompences, no hea- ven and no hell. This is not the sense nor the languageof the prophets, or apos- tles, or oY Jesus. Christ. our Lord, when they would teach us the religion of mankind.
le SELF-LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED. and loses, and Paul, and even Christ himself on earth, had respect to the heavenly country, the recompence of reward, the prize of thehigh calling, the crown of righteousness, and the joy that was set before them : See the epistles to the Corinthians, to the Philippians, Timothy, and the Hebrews. The language of scripture runs always in this strain ; and it seems to be the sense of the bulk of mankind, as well as of Epicurus the philosopher; if we have hope in this life only, and there be no rewards after death, let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die; that is, we have not sufficient obligations to the practiceof virtue. II. Though there were no positive and additional blessed- ness to be expected as the reward of virtue, to engage the prin- ciple of self-love or self-felicitation on its side ; yet this is eter- nally certain, that God, who is the just judge of thewhole earth, will not deal with the righteous and the wicked entirely alike : If the righteous be not positively rewarded for their virtue, it isat least certain, the wicked shall be punished for their vices ; else virtue and vice would be treated alike, and both would have the same success and event. Now whatsoever advantage virtue has above vice in the remunerative sentence of God, that very advan- tage, whether it be of impunity and ease, or of positive reward, is sufficient to engage the principle of self-love or self felicitation on the side of virtue. Thus, whether virtue is positively re- warded or no, yet the virtuous shall be dealt with in a much kinder way than the vicious by God, the governor and judge of theworld ; and thus the obligation arising from thewill of God, as a- commander of virtue, will always be joined with such a su- perior motive from the recompence of God as a governor, that the strongest and supreme obligation of man will still lie on the side of virtue ; and this arises only from the supposition of the existence of a God, who, as hecommands virtue, will in some way or other recompense the practiceof it. I conclude this point of debate therefore thus :Without the supposition of the beingof aGod, I think there is no possible security to innocence, and there will be no sufficient obligation to social virtue and justice among men : But self-love, self-preser- vation, and self-felicitation will be the supreme law of nature and reason to regulate the actions of every rational and sensible be- ing. And if this supreme law meet with any opposition from the abstracted and speculative notions of the fitness and unfitness of things, and the eternal differences of virtue and vice; yet it will surmount and overturn them all; and each man's own reason will support this supreme dictate of nature, this supreme fitness of things, viz. self-preservation or self-felicitation ; though it bring with it an universal confusion, mischief and violence in social life. Therefore akingdom, or a republic of atheists, can never subsist upon any solid principles of nature or reason.
SECTION VII. - 17 SECT. VII.The Necessity of Divine Revelation, both to clear up the Rules of Virtue, and to strengthen the Obligations. If atheism, with all its pretences to reason, cannot secure our obligationsto virtue, but wants the supposition of a God to determine and establish them, it is as manifest, that deism stands in as much need of divine revelation to clear up the rules of virtue with more evidence and certainty than human reason has done, as well as to acquaint the bulk of mankind with them, and to make our obligations to practise them more effectual. It is granted, the most general rules of duty, the chief outlines. and boundaries of viceand virtue, may he discovered by the reason- ing powers of man, if rightly employed-; but these discoveries are so few, and some of them are so feebly impressed upon the minds of the multitude, that, in many cases,. they leave but a generalglimmering light, and give but a doubtful direction : So that man, by nature, in his present corrupted state, is born in the midst of so much darkness, that he,hardly knows how to find the :rules of his duty in a thousand instances, without some further revelation or assistance. This has been made abundantly evident by several writers in the defence of christianity. They have shewn how many nations of men, as well as schools of philosophers, have grossly mistaken these great outlines and boundaries of .vice and virtue. Somehave thought fornication lawful, and have practised it even in their worship. Others have encouraged theft, and the com- munity of wives, and exposing or murdering their children. Most princes and generals have esteemed the plunder, robbery and murder of neighbour-nations a piece of heroism and glory. Others again have supposed revenge to be a very honourable practice, and have despised the christian virtuesof meekness and .forgiveness. In the midst of such shameful mistakes of great men and philosophers, and whole nations, can we say, the bound- aries of virtue and vice are so plain, that all persons mayas easily discern and distinguishthem as they may distinguish light from darkness ? Or, that thebulk and lower multitude of man- kind, who seldom set themselves to study, that plowmen and labourers, can learn their duty sufficiently by the mere light of their own reasonings upon the fitness of things ? Again ; though some of the great outlines of virtue, and the general rules of it, are obvious to all men, and more might be found out by labour and reasoning ; yet, in a thousand particular practices of life, in common occurrences, every man does not know how to apply -these general rules to his present circumstances, and he will be often, if not almost always, at a loss in finding his duty inparti, cular occurrences of life. But God, by the revelation of his will in scripture, has given so bright a discovery of these general boundaries betweea vice Voa. iii. B
18 SELF -LOVE AND VIRTUE RECONCILED. and virtue, and made plain a multitude of these particular duties both by many express commands, and prohibitions, and various parallel examples, both of vice and virtue, that even the common people may learn what they are to believe, and what they are to practise, or avoid, by a far more easy and ready way of instruc- tion. Milk-maids and plowmen, and the meanest offices or ca- pacities in the worldmay learn their duty here. All the rules of virtue given us by the heathen philosophers, from their supposed fitness of things, fall vastly short of what Moses and the pro- phets, Christ and his apostles, have done inclearing up the com- mon rules of virtue to mankind, by divine revelation. This is all I shall say concerning the necessity of revelation, to make the rules of virtue plain and evident to the bulk of mankind. As to the obligationsto practise virtue, even upon the suppo- sition of the being of a God, still there is something wanting to render them. effectual. This sufficiently appears in the wicked lives of many of the heathen philosophers, who held the truth in unrighteousness, and sinned against conscience abundantly ; and they made it appear how feebly their moral obligationsimpressed their minds ; for when they knewGod, they gloried him not as God ; but practised all the idolatries of the common people, and gave themselves up to all immorality, as St. Paul informs us ; Rom."i. 21-32. But the great and awful things that are revealed to us in scripture, enforce these obligations of virtue with many additions of strength and efficacy. It is the word of God which sets be- fore us the terrors of the law of God, andhis indignation against sinners ; it is this gives assurance of pardon of sin upon repen- tance, anda trust in his mercy through Jesus the Saviour ; which tends much to melt our hearts down to repentance, and love, and new obedience. It is this word which tells us, that God takes exact cognizance of all our actions ; and that there shall be a great day of judgment, when we shall be called to an account for our behaviour, and rewarded or punished according to our 'works. It is the word of God which sets before us the certain joys or glories of heaven, and the certain torments and sorrows of hell, where happiness and misery are distributedin perfection, according to vice and virtue. These are the things which awa- ken all the reasoning and active powers of man ; these influence his hopes and fears much more powerfully than the mere light of nature could ever do, and the doctrines of virtue arising from the mere fitness of things. These discoveries of scripturehave ac-. tually produced more piety and virtue in a town or city of chris- flansthan heathenism, or the mere light of reason could ever do in whole nations. Besides all this, the gospel acquaints us with those divine assistances of the holy Spirit, which persons who pray earnestly a.
SECTION VIII 3g to God for them may expect and receive ; wherebyvice shall be subdued in their natures, and their irregular appetites and pas- sions shall be mortified ; whereby moral and divine things shall be set before them in so powerful a light, as to persuade their wills to become religious and holy. Thus between these clear instructions, these powerful, religious motives, and these divine assistances which the gospel proposes, virtue gains a vast advan- tageby christianity. To conclude ; though there are eternal fitnesses in things, and reason may findout the general rules of virtue, and the chief boundaries between good and evil ; yet a sufficient obligation to practise them cannot be established without thesupposition of a God : And even after this supposition we must confess, that the knowledge of these rules amongst the bulk of mankind, will be very dark and dubious in a thousand instances, and obligations to practise virtue will be feeble, and have little effect without the divine revelation of the law and the gospel. Blessed be God for ever for his holy bookof scripture ! O when shall it be read in every language, and be made known to the ends of the earth! 7Ballisonlibrary.regent-college.edu