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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 Bc all other cases, he must aet arbitrarily, if he ist acts at all ; because the fitness of things does * not come into the question.". These things being premised, I proceed to consider,
PREPOSITIO N. 1. Tho God does in sonce instances Get from, or according
to the moral fitness of things, yet he does not always do so, that is, be fometimes gets 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 fometimes acts arbitrarily, the meaning of this must be, as it is urged by way of objection to what I have laid down, that he acis thus in fome instances in which the moral fitness of things can be a rule to himand, consequently; if he made the mos ral fitness of things a rule to him in those instan: ces, 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, iş to urge that against which I have not oppojed any thing; and consequently, is wholly foreign to the prefent 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 fitness 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 Etions cre norally 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 otherwrises 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 instances 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 eyery 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 allions 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 evin dent, ziginely, that as man is a compounded crca
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 character, viz. that he sometimes acts right, and sometimes otherwise; he sometimes follows reasons, and sometimes 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 case do what is right and fit in the nature of things. Having thus shewn that the proposition is erroneous, I now proceed,
Secondly, To examine what the Gentleman has offer'd to support it. In my previous question ! brought two arguments to prove, that God al. ways makes the moral fitness of things, and not arbitrary pleasure, the rule and measure of his actions. And I do not understand, that the Gentleman 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 knowledye of good and evil, and the probibit72g the use of wines-flel to the Israelites; which initances he urged as a proof, that God sometimes acts arbitrarily. And here I observe, 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 fo, supposing the things prohibited were proper and useful, and that no ill con, fequence attended the enjoyment of them; because
here here is a reason for, but no reason against that en-:. joyment. 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 the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt (or thou wilt) surely die (or contribute to thy death.) As to the second instance, Kamely, the prohibiting the use of swines-flesh to the Jews ; this I think likewise falls short of proof, as in the former cafe. For, tho'swines-flesh might be proper food in one climate, yet it might be very hurtful in another; and this might poflibly be the case, with respect to the land of Canaan.
The taking plentifully of that food might intro. duce the leprosy, or some other disorder very af. fliktive 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 conse. quently this is not an instance of arbitrary pleasure.
If it should be urged, that these are mere suppofitions, 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) then these, or something like these must be the case. If any hould yet inlist, that these are instances of arbi,
arbitrary from the inity of that rand, left mregard
trary pleasure. I answer, This is begging the questions and, if these prohibitions are allow'd to be divine, then there is a 18oral 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 Jewijh revelation, therefore I shall make the divinity of that revelation the subject of my present enquiry. And, left my op. ponents should fall under any difficulty with regard to the bistorian, the transmitting the biftory 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 inherent power of man to perform ; and confequently, 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 operutions, abovemention’d, were wrought to prove it to be such? And, The true answer to this qucition will be, that this is perfectly uncertain upon the present suppositioiz; because God may act