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$

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 possible

thing 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 they

can

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

of

the

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 the

will 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 scripture

wherein

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