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4

EELS-LOVE

AND

VIRTUE

NECONCTtiII..

be, and

especially

our obligations to practise them, stand

in such

a

close

connexion 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

a

hollow,

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

chiefly

of 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 in

competition

with

Isis

general

And

ultimate

happiness;