페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

cover hath

any consequences, or what he cannot propose any end in doing, i. e. what he hath no reason to determine him to do. Man then being a free agent, could not be treated as such, unless he knew the end, that he might judge whether it was worthy of his choice, and would be a sufficient over-balance to the disadvantages which attended the practice of the means. * As he was to choose for himself, the case ought to have been fairly and fully stated to him : but what room was there to choose, if he was suffered to know only one side of the case, and yet it was expected of him, that he should determine upon both, and in favour of that side for which no evidence appeared; than which nothing can be more absurd and impossible. These things then being neither known nor offered to man's choice, man was made a free agent, and yet had no opportunity of giving any proofs of the right use of his free agency, in that point for which only he was made a free agent. To affirm therefore, that there is no mention of a future state in the revelation by Moses, is upon these accounts absurd, viz. That it

supposes God created man a free agent for certain ends, and yet that he was not concerned to promote those ends, or to let man know that there was any end at all; and that he who made man did not know that he made him a free agent, or after he had made him, did not think fit to treat him as such; created him a being endued with a soul, an immaterial principle, equal to the angels; and yet used him as if he had given him only a body, equal to the brutes ; thus preferring the lesser good to the greater, which the deity cannot do. And therefore it is a necessary consequence, that if God made man a free agent for certain ends, and yet

did not reveal those ends in the revelation by Moses, he could not have treated the Jews as free agents, which he certainly did intend to do by making them such, or have promoted the greater eternal, in opposition to temporal happiness, which he always must and will do. .

* Locke's Hum. Unders. Vol. I. p. 216. Sect. 51, 52.

But in another view. Man was made a free agent, and had certain laws given him, but why was he to be punished eternally for breaking those laws? The justice of this proceeding was founded no doubt upon

his knowing the consequences of breaking them; for it cannot be consistent with the justice of God to punish men for those crimes which they did not know deserve ed to be punished, i. e. did not know to be crimes. If men found it right to do certain actions, saw plainly that they would promote their temporal happiness, and had no other to promote, what can there be criminal in such actions ? * Where virtue often exposes men to dangers and hardships in this life, and vice often seduces by promises of temporal welfare, in such cases it must be fit and right that they, who have no notion of a future state, should be obliged to consult their happiness in this. Strict justice certainly cannot censure such a conduct, or punish men for doing what according to the best light God hath given them seems to be their duty to do.

+ And how is it that human lawgivers proceed? Do they not promulgate the laws and their sanctions together? Knowing that is not a law but a matter of prudence, which they recommend to the practice of others without any sanctions.

sanctions. And was it not always reckoned the highest injustice to make punishments bear no proportion to crimes, to require obedience in certain points, to conceal the intention of requiring this obedience, thereby to punish the offenders not according to any prior law, but the present absolute will of the judge. This proceeding can only answer the ends of the most arbitrary government. A just lawgiver publishes his laws, shews men the reasonableness of observing, and the penalties they incur by breaking them; thus he sets before them life and death, so that when they transgress, they know the consequences, and when they suffer, can blame none but their own sinful selves. Had not the penalties been known, the action had been indifferent, and it would have been extreme injustice to have punished, i. e. to have made that criminal afterwards, which was indifferent when it was done. But when the laws are fit and right in themselves, when the sanctions are known, and free agents have it in their power to choose, if in such circumstances they transgress, then and then only punishments are accounted reasonable and necessary.

* Nisi enim crediderit quispiam Compensationem esse bonorum & malorum, non beneplacebit Deo. Quomodo enim laboriosum virtutis iter ingrediatur, non persuasus in futuro seculo multiplices ac stabiles esse retributiones? Theophylact. in Epistolas, p. 990. + Locke's Hum. Unders. Book 2d. Ch. 28. p. 325. Sect. 6.

And shall mankind act with so much wisdom, justice, and goodness ? And shall not the judge of all the earth do right ? Shall he alone promulgate his laws, and not shew his servants the reasonableness of observing them, or the consequences of breaking them ? Blind obedience as it is not a matter of choice, can never be required by, or recommend us to the searcher of hearts. This is our merit in his

eyes,
if we have

any

merit in ourselves, to know our duty and the consequences of it, to be tempted by present advantages to neglect it, to prefer future expectations to those advantages, and so to resist the temptation. * God himself in scripture hath every where approved of this motive, hath mentioned the hopes of another life as the strongest motive to obedience, and therefore it cannot be consistent with the divine justice to require universal obedience, and yet to refuse men the strongest motive to it; or consistent with infinite goodness, not to communicate what infinite wisdom hath approved. If God does not afford this motive, how can he punish men for not attending to it? They are to be treated hereafter according to the choice they have made here; but if they could not think that a bad choice which they could not diseover had any bad consequences, why were they to be punished for not having more knowledge than their Creator was pleased to afford them means of attaining ? Is it not cruelty that he, who did not treat men as free agents here, should yet treat them as such hereafter ? And what proceeding can be more unmerciful, more barbarous than to condemn those to eternal misery, who could not know that their actions would lead them to it, and who might have been influenced to a contrary practice, by being informed that they might thereby have avoided that misery, and obtained happiness? For if happiness and misery were not offered to their choice, how could it be known which they would choose ? Or if they did choose the means that led to misery, what more extreme injustice than to punish them for a choice occasioned by involuntary ignorance ? If God then made man a free agent, put it in his pow. er to make a wrong choice, and did not let him know the consequences of it, was not this as it were ensnaring him into misery, and intending him for destruction ? * But this is the business of that being, who is the very reverse of the deity. And therefore if the Jews were free agents, if God was concerned to treat them as such, and if without he revealed to them a future state, he could not treat them as such here or hereafter, we may fairly conclude from the reason of the thing, that the law by Moses ought to contain something concerning a future state.

Matth. v. 12. vi. 33. Col. iji. 1, 2. 1 Cor. ix. 24, 25. 17, 18. Heb. xii. 2. Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. p. 615, 616. sect. 8. par. 6. Bp. Wilkins' Sermons, 8vo. Serm. Ist. on Heb. xi. 26. where he proves that it is necessary for the most eminent saints to strengthen and support themselves in their difficulties, by a special and particular regard to the recompence of reward.

2 Cor. iv,

But to advance one step farther. The ignorance of a future state tended directly to destroy the practice of the means that lead to happiness, so that man, being a free agent, could neither be treated as such, nor attain the happiness he was intended for without the knowledge of a future state. To this purpose, revealed reason will inform us, that the deity is chiefly concerned to propagate wisdom and goodness : for as wisdom is the knowledge of what is right and fit in every case, and as goodness is the practice of such wisdom, these

Stillingfleet's Origines Sacræ, p. 610, 618. P. 11. C. 11.

ness.

must be the chief objects of the divine care, the great points about which man's free-will was to be employed, and must comprehend the means to all human happi

And the same reason will also tell us, that if the law contained nothing about a future state, it could make the Jews neither wiser nor better, and therefore could not treat them as free agents; so that the end the deity proposed, by making man a free agent, was defeated by himself, and the law, a divine revelation, by the very nature of it promoted misery. But wiser this great silence about a future state could not make the Jews; because it fixed all their views on this life ; it made only the good things of this world the centre of their joys, and therefore shut out every thought of that happiness for the enjoyment of which man was created. And this must have led them to the grossest ignorance of their duty. God every where in S. S. claims the heart and affections of man. He cannot suffer

any

rival in our esteem. He expects that all our faculties should be at all times consecrated to his service : for as he alone deserves our praise and worship, he therefore expects they should be paid to him alone: hence the necessary duty of setting our hearts entirely on things above, of directing all our actions to an heavenly country, and disengaging our affections from the world. But how can man give God his whole heart and affections, and withdraw himself from the things of this life, attentive to those of another, and how can God in justice expect those duties, if he doth not reveal to man that he doth expect them ? For is it not impossible that men should be more conversant with those subjects which they have no notion of, than with those of which they are masters? Was it ever expected that men should be professors of any science before they were instructed in it, or could be perfect before they had begun to learn ? Is not this to require men to see without eyes, and to hear without ears? The Jews therefore could not possibly have been made wiser by being ignorant of a future state, but must have

« 이전계속 »