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SECTION

II.

5

nature,

or natural

obligations, considering

nature

both

as sensible

and

rational.

There

seems also an

eternal

fitness

or

unfitness

of things

in the

social

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 should

make 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 such

or such

a

thing

in

social

life;

or that

this

is

the

dictate

of

our

reasoning

powers.

If

there

be a

God,

an

universal

Maker

and supreme

Lord

of

all,

there are eternal truths and

fitnesses 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

or

fellow-

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

of

his 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