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it; nor, consequently, can he fail of obtaining that happiDess, which this constitution and relation necessarily suppose connected with that character.
These several observations concerning the active principle of virtue and obedience to God's commands, are applicable to passive submission or resignation to his will; which is another essential part of a right character, connected with the former, and very much in our power to form ourselves to. It
may be imagined, that nothing but afflictions can give occasion for or require this virtue ; that it can have no respect to, nor be any way necessary to qualify for, a state of perfect happiness; but it is not experience which can make us think thus. Prosperity itself, whilst any thing supposed desirable is not ours, begets extravagant and unbounded thoughts. Imagination is altogether as much a source of discontent as any thing in our external condition. It is indeed true, that there can be no scope for patience, when sorrow shall be no more; but there may be need of a temper of mind which shall have been formed by patience. For, though self-love, considered merely as an active principle leading us to pursue our chief interest, cannot but be uniformly coincident with the principle of obedience to God's commands, our interest being rightly understood; because this obedience, and the pursuit of our own chief interest, must be in every case one and the same thing; yet it may be questioned, whether self-love, considered merely as the desire of our own interest or happiness, can, from its nature, be thus absolutely and uniformly coincident with the will of God, any more than particular affections can*; coincident in such sort, as not to be liable to be excited upon occasions and in degrees, impossible to be gratified consistently with the constitution of things, or the divine appointments. So that habits of resignation may, upon this account, be requisite for all creatures; habits, I say, which signify what is formed by use.
However, in general it is obvious, that both self-love and particular affections in human creatures, con
sidered only as passive feelings, distort and rend the mind, and therefore standin need of discipline. Now, denial of those particular affections, in a course of active virtue and obedience to God's will, has a tendency to moderate them, and seems also to have a tendency to habituate the mind to be easy and satisfied with that degree of happiness which is allotted us, i. e. to moderate self-love. But the proper discipline for resignation is affliction. For a right behaviour under that trial, recollecting ourselves so as to consider it, in the view in which religion teaches us to consider it, as from the hand of God; receiving it as what he appoints or thinks proper to permit in this world, and under his government, this will habituate the mind to a dutiful submission ; and such submission, together with the active principle of obedience, make up the temper and character in us which answers to his sovereignty, and which absolutely belongs to the condition of our being, as dependent creatures. Nor can it be said, that this is only breaking the mind to a submission to mere power, for mere power may be accidental, and precarious, and usurped: but it is forming within ourselves the temper of resignation to his rightful authority, who is, by nature, supreme over all.
Upon the whole, such a character, and such qualifications, are necessary for a mature state of life in the present world, as nature alone does in nowise bestow, but has put it
upon us in great part to acquire, in our progress from one stage of life to another, from childhood to mature age-put it
upon us to acquire them, by giving us capacities of doing it, and by placing us, in the beginning of life, in a condition fit for it. And this is a general analogy to our condition in the present world, as in a state of moral discipline for another. It is in vain, then, to object against the credibility of the present life being intended for this purpose, that all the trouble and the danger unavoidably accompanying such discipline might have been saved us, by our being made at once the ' creatures and the characters which we were to be. For we experience, that what we were to be, was to the effect of what
we would do; and that the general conduct of nature is, not to save us trouble or danger, but to make us capable of going through them, and to put it upon us to do so. Acquirements of our own experience and habits are the natural supply to our deficiencies, and security against our dangers ; since it is as plainly natural to set ourselves to acquire the qualifications as the external things which we stand in need of. In particular, it is as plainly a general law of nature, that we should, with regard to our temporal interest, form and cultivate practical principles within us, by attention, use, and discipline, as any thing whatever is a natural law; chiefly in the beginning of life, but also throughout the whole course of it. And the alternative is left to our choice, either to improve ourselves, and better our condition, or, in default of such improvement, to remain deficient and wretched. It is therefore perfectly credible, from the analogy of nature, that the same may be our case with respect to the happiness of a future state, and the qualifications necessary for it.
There is a third thing, which may seem implied in the present world being in a state of probation, that it is a theatre of action for the manifestation of persons' characters with respect to a future one; not, to be sure, to an all-knowing Being, but to his creation, or part of it. This may perhaps be only a consequence of our being in a state of probation in the other senses. However, it is not impossible that men's showing and making manifest what is in their heart, what their real character is, may have respect to a future life, in ways and manners which we are not acquainted with ; particularly it may be a means (for the Author of nature does not appear to do any thing without means) of their being disposed of suitably to their characters, and of its being known to the creation, by way of example, that they are thus disposed of. But not to enter upon any conjectural account of this, one may just mention, that the manifestation of persons'characters contributes very much, iu various ways, to the carrying on a great part of that general course of nature respecting mankind, which comes under our observation at present. I shall only add that probation, in both these senses, as well as in that treated of in the foregoing chapter, is implied in moral government; since by persons' behaviour under it, their characters cannot but be manifested, and, if they behave well, improved.
Of the Opinion of Necessity, considered as influencing
Practice. THROUGHOUT the foregoing Treatise it appears, that the condition of mankind, considered as inhabitants of the world only, and under the government of God which we experience, is greatly analogous to our condition as designed for another world, or under that farther government which religion teaches us. If therefore any assert, as a fatalist must, that the opinion of universal necessity is reconcilable with the former, there immediately arises a question in the way of analogy-whether he must not also own it to be reconcilable with the latter ; i. e. with the system of religion itself, and the proof of it. The reader, then, will observe, that the question now before us is not absolute, whether the opinion of fate be reconcilable with religion ; but hypothetical, whether, upon supposition of its being reconcilable with the constitution of nature, it be not reconcilable with religion also; or, what pretence a fatalist—not other persons, but a fatalist-has to conclude, from his opinion, that there can be no such thing as religion. And as the puzzle and obscurity, which must unavoidably arise from arguing upon so absurd a supposition as that of universal necessity, will, I fear, easily be seen, it will, I hope, as easily be excused.
But since it has been all along taken for granted, as a thing proved, that there is an intelligent Author of nature, or natural Governor of the world; and since an objection may be made against the proof of this, from the opinion of universal necessity, as it may be supposed that such necessity will itself account for the origin and preservation of all things; it is requisite that this objection be distinctly answered, or that it be shown that a fatality, supposed consistent with what we certainly experience, does not destroy the proof of an intelligent Author and Governor of nature, before we proceed to consider, whether it destroys the proof of a moral Governor of it, or of our being in a state of religion.
Now, when it is said by a fatalist, that the whole constitution of nature, and the actions of men, that every thing, and every mode and circumstance of every thing, is necessary, and could not possibly have been otherwise, it is to be observed, that this necessity does not exclude deliberation, choice, preference, and acting from certain principles, and to certain ends; because all this is matter of undoubted experience, acknowledged by all, and what every man may, every moment, be conscious of. And from hence it follows, that necessity, alone and of itself, is in no sort an account of the constitution of nature, and how things came to be and continue as they are; but only an account of this circumstance relating to their origin and continuance, that they could not have been otherwise than they are and have been. The assertion, that every thing is by necessity of nature, is not an answer to the question, Whether the world came into being as it is, by an intelligent Agent forming it thus, or not, but to quite another question-Whether it came into being as it is, in that way and manner which we call necessarily, or in that
way and manner which we call freely. pose further, that one who was a fatalist, and one who kept to his natural sense of things, and believed himself a free agent, were disputing together, and vindicating their respective opinions, and they should happen to instance in a house, they would agree that it was built by an architect. Their difference concerning necessity and freedom would occasion no difference of judgment concerning this, but only concerning another matter, whether the architect built it neces