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66 act thus in all those cases, in which the moral $6 fitness of things can be a rule to him. As to is all other cases, he must act arbitrarily, if he or acts at all ; because the fitness of things does * not come into the question.”. These things being premised, I proceed to consider,
PRE POSITION. I. Thor God does in sonce instances get from, or according
to the moral fitness of things, yet he does not always do.fo, that is, be sometimes acts arbitrarily.
With regard to this proposition, I shall first, examine the proposition itself: and secondly, what the Gentleman has offer'd for the proof of it: And First, With regard to the proposition itself; I observe, that, whereas it faith God sometimes acts arbitrarily, the meaning of this must be, as it is urged by way of objection to what I have laid downt, that he acis thu's in some instances in which the moral fitness of things can be a rule to hims and, consequently; if he made the moral fitness of things a rule to him in those instances, he would act otherwise. I say, this must be the meaning of the proposition, as it is urged by way of objection against me, because to urge, that God acts arbitrarily in such instances in which the moral fitness of things cannot be a rule to him, is to urge that against which I have not oppojed any thing; and consequently, is wholly foreign to the present question. So that the obvious meaning of the proposition is this, namely, that tho’ God does in some instances act from, or according to the moral funefs of things, yet he sometimes acts contrary to it; which in other words is the same as to say, that in some infiances God's a£tions ere morally evil
. The sense of the proposition being fettled, viz. that God sometimes make the
moral fitness of things the rule and measure of his actions, and sometimes acts contrary to it, I now proceed to shew that it is erroneous. And,
First, Tho' it could be made appear that God does, in fact, sometimes do what is right and fit in the nature of things that sometimes he acts otherwise ; yet it would not follow, that the fitness of things was a rule to him, that is, that it was the ground or reason of his acting in any case, because he might act from capricious humours as well in those inítances in which he act right, as in those in which he acts wrong. Like the unjust judge in the gospel, who, tho' he neither feared God nor regarded man, yet he would do the widow justice. that required it, left, by her continual coming, The should weary him. He would do a right action, tho' it were from a wrong motive or principle. Again,
Secondly, If God makes the moral fitness of things a rule to him in fome instances (which is allow'd in the proposition) then he will do it in every instance, in which that fitness can be a rule to him.
And the reason of this is evident, namely, that as the moral fitness of things is in its own nature truly excellent and valuable, and highly preferable to capricious humour and arbitrary pleasure ; and, as God knows full well wherein the fitness and valuableness of every action lies; and, as he cannot possibly be under any temptation to act wrong ; so this will always be a reason, arising from the nature of things, for God to prefer a rational conduct before arbitrary pleasure, and to direct his aflions according. It is true, that man, tho' he is qualified to discern and judge betwixt good and evil, yet, notwithstanding this, he sometimes acts right, and sometimes wrong. And the reason of this is likewise eyi. dent, amely, that is man is a compounded crea
ture, consisting partly of understanding, partly of appetite, of affection, &c. and as each part of his composition affords a distinct kind of motive or excitement to action; so he sometimes acts from one motive, and sometimes from another. And this gives occasion for his mixed charafler, viz. that he sometimes acts right, and sometimes otherwise; he fometimes follows reasons, and fometimes acts against it. But this cannot be the cafe with respect to God, who, as he knows the moral difference in things, so he has no self-intereft nor vitiated affection to mislead him (which is generally the case with respect to men) and therefore, he will, not only in some instances, but in every
cafe do what is right and fit in the nature of things. Having thus fhewn that the proposition is erroneous, I now proceed,
Secondly, To examine what the Gentleman has offer'd to support it. In my previous question I brought two arguments to prove, that God always makes the moral fitness of things, and not arbitrary pleasure, the rule and measure of his actions. And I do not understand, that theGentleman attempted to shew the weakness and inconclufiveness of those arguments ; but only, in opposition to them, he urged an argument drawn from fast, by producing two instances, viz. the prohibiting Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the probibita. ing the use of wines-flesh to the Ifraelites; which inttances he urged as a proof, that God sometimes acts arbitrarily. And here I obferve, that it is fupposed, as these instances are urged against me, that it was really wrong, in the nature of things, for God to make those prohibitions. And indeed I grant it would be so, supposing the things prohibited were proper and useful, and that no ill con, fequence attended the enjoyment of them; because
here is a reason for, but no reason against that enjoyment. But this does not appear to be the case; and therefore the contrary ought rather to be presumed. As to the first instance, tho' the prohibited fruit might be proper food for the ferpent, yet it might be otherwise to man. For, tho' it was agreeable to the senses, and gave a briskness to the spirits; yet the taking plentifully of that fruit might tend to the hurt and dissolution of the human composition. And, supposing this to be the case, then here is a reason for the prohibition; and confequently this is not an instance of arbitrary pleasure. Here is a reason for the prohibition, namely, because this fruit was prejudicial and hurtful to mankind: In tbe day thou eatest thereof thou falt (or thou wilt) surely die (or contribute to thy death.) As to the second instance, namely, the prohibiting the use of swines-flesh to the Jews ; this I think likewise falls short of proof, as in the former case. For, tho' swines-flesh might be proper food in one climate, yet it might be very, hurtful in another ; and this might possibly be the case, with respect to the land of Canaan. The taking plentifully of that food might introduce the leprosy, or some other disorder very af fictive or disagreeable to mankind. And, if this was the case, then here is a reason arising from the nature of things for the prohibition ; and consequently this is not an instance of arbitrary pleasure. * If it should be urged, that these are mere suppositions, which have no foundation in the history. I answer, Allowing them to be such; yet, if God governs himself by the moral fitness of things in his dealings with his creatures (which I think I have proved that he does) chen these, or fomething like these must be the case. If any hould yet infift, that these are instances of arbi,
questions, and, if these prohibitions are allow'd to be divine, then there is a voral certainty of the contrary. Besides, whoever thus insists, I think it will lie upon him to prove (upon the foot of God's acting arbitrarily) that the foremention'd probibitions are divine ; which I think cannot be done, as I have shewn in my previous question (obfervation III.) and which I now come more particularly to consider. And, Tho' all religions which are founded on revelation stand upon a toot in this case ; yet, seeing the supposed instances of arbitrary pleasure, which are urged against me, are taken from the Jewish revelation, therefore I shall make the divinity of that revelation the subject of my prefent enquiry. And, left my opponents should fall under any difficulty with regard to the biftorian, the transmitting the history or the facts recorded in it, I shall, in favour of them, give them leave to take for granted that Mofes was the writer of all the books which are commonly afcribed to him; that those books have been truly transmitted to us without corruption ; and that the facts (viz. the turning a rod into a ferpent, water into blood, and the like) were real as they are recorded.' And farther, that those facts were supernatural, that is, they were above the natural ability or inberent power of man to perform; and consequently, that they were performed by the agency or co-operation of an invisible being. This being the state of the case, the question will be, Whether this revelation and the law, of which Mofes is allow'd to be the promulgator, is divine ; seeing the supernatural opesutions, abovemention'd, were wrought to prove it to be fuch? And, The true answer to this queition will be, that this is perfectly uncertain tipon the present suppositioz; because God may act