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- arbitrarily in this instance, as well as in any other
cale, for any thing we know, or can fheur to the
contrary. That is, notwithstanding those superE natural operations were wrought to prove what
Mofes declared to be true ; yet, Moles might be w but an impostor; because God might, in this case,
as an instance of his arbitrary pleasure, either use his own power, or permit fome other invisible
agent to exert fucb power, for the confirmation of in this imposition. I say, this may be the case, for in any thing we know. For, as God is here sup:
posed sometimes to act arbitrarily ; so this may be Jucb an instance of his arbitrary pleasure, seeing we have no rule by which we can judge when be
aets thus, and when he acts otherwise. ; @ If it should be urged, that such a conduct, viz.
the using of his power, or the fuffering other in. į visible agents to use theirs, for the confirmation
of a lie, in a matter of such importance, is incon-
to ask of those men (who maintain that God fonetimes acts arbitrarily) how they can certainly know, what will please God, and what are the sure grounds upon which they build their trust and confidence in him? If they say, that divine revelation is the rule of their actions, and the ground of their confidence, alas ! this, in consequence of their own principles, is like that broken reed Egypt (if I may be allow'd to use the Prophet's expression) upon which, if a man lean, it may disappoint his trust. For, if God sometimes acts arbitrarily, as in this case he is under no restraint; lo he must be perfectly at liberty to deceive his creatures, whensoever he pleases; and confequently, the foundation of certainty, with regard to revelation-evidence, is taken away upon this principle. And this leads me to put to those men their own question, which I will leave them to answer: What, has not God a right to do what he will with his own? which is the same as to say, may he not deceive his own creatures, if he pleases ? But I persuade myself, that the greatest advocates for arbitrariness in God will not allow that he is equally disposed to reveal the truth or a lie; and that he does either of these at pleasure ; but, on the contrary, they will be ready to affirm, that the supreme Being is a God of truth, who cannot lie ; and therefore is the proper obječt of their trust. Which, if there be any meaning or consistency in their words, is the same as to say, that truth, in the present case, is so preferable to deceit and falmood, that God cannot but be difposed, from the reason of the thing, to prefer the former before the latter, and to govern his actions accordingly. But then, I must take the freedom to curn their argument upon them ; by observing, that, if God is always dispofed to re. veal the truth from the moral fitness of such a como
duet, duet, and therefore is the proper object of our confidence ; then, I say, with equal reason, that he act agreeably to the inoral fitness of things in every other case; because the reason holds as strong, and therefore will have as great an influence upon him to direct his practice in one case as in another. And consequently, he will be as much disposed, from the reason of the thing, to do what is right and fit in every case ; as he is to reveal the truth in any declaration or promise he makes to his creatures.
If it should be urged, allowing that God does make the moral fitness of things the measure of of his actions in all those cases in which that fitness can be a rule to him ; yet seeing men are liable to make a wrong judgment, therefore it must be rigbt to, submit to every divine command, because the command would not be given, if there were not an antecedent fitness in the thing commanded ; and that this was the case of Abrahan when he was required to offer his son in sacrifice, in which cafe Abraham could not see the fitness of such an action, because it had the appearance of the contrary. I answer, as God fees thro' and to the end of things, and thereby has a perfect view of all the circumstances and consequences which attend our actions ; so he must fee wherein the fitness or unfitness of every action lies; and consequently must be a much better judge, in many cases, than man can possibly be whole views are vastly contracted. And, therefore, I say, that in all those cases in which there is no apparent unfitness, and where we are satisfied of the di. vinity of the command, there this will be a reason for our compliance; and if we should be under a delusion in judging the command to be divine, when in reality it is not, yet the delusion would not be hurtful. But, if the thing comipanded
appears to us morally unfit, then there is not any thing which can give us a reasonable fatisfaction that the commandment is divine, because here is the highest presumption to the contrary. It is not enough to say, in this case, that our judgment ought to submit to the infallible judgment of God, with regard to the fitness of the thing commanded, because that would be to take the thing for granted which is in dispute ; the present question not being, whether our judgment qught to como in competition with the judgment of our Maker, but only, whether the command in question is of a divine original, or not. Besides, if our judg. ment, of the fitness of things, is to be left out of the case, then we are laid open to the most burtful and ridiculous impositions. "For if we should urge the cruelty, and barbarity, and the likę, of any instituţion, as an argument against its divinity, the same answer may be as justly returned in every cafe, namely, that tho' these may appear morally unfit to us, yet it may be otherwise with regard to God, and that therefore we ought to submit our judgment to the judgment of our Maker, To this I may add, that if such a case should happen, as that the thing cominanded has the appearance of unfitness, when in reality it is othere wise, every wise and good governour will do all that is necessary to secure cbedience, and consequently will give the reason of the command as well as the command itself, and thereby, cut off that exception against obedience, which otherwise the command would be liable to. And, as God can have no end to answer in giving such commands, but purely the good and benefit of his creatures ; so he will, most certainly, not only give the command, but also reveal the reason, and thew the fitness of it ; seeing this is absolutely neceffary to cut off all disputes, which other
wise may justly arise, whether the command is divine, or not.
As to the case of Abrahain, I think, with submiffion, that the thing commanded was in itself morally unfit, and that God gave the command, not with an intent that it should be obeyed, but that he might take an occasion from it, to shew to Abrabam, and to all his posterity, the unfitness of all buman facrifices. And that this was the case is, I think, evident from the event. For as the command was given to Abraham to bę a tryal of his integrity, so when that end was answer'd, and Abrabam had shewn a steady resolution that he would deny himself in so signal an instance, rather than neglect to do what he judged to be his duty, then God recalled the command, and thereby teftified his disike, and shewed the unfitness of all such practices.
But that I may go to the bottom of all, and thereby remove what may be a foundation for objection in the present case, I beg leave to observe, that government, properly so called, or government, whose fitness is founded in the nature of things, is no other than the exercise of power, for the benefit of those that are governed ; and gover- · nours are no other than guardians of the hoppiness of those whose governours they are. So that if those, who have the reins of government in their hands, imploy their power otherwise than for the good of those they have under their care, this is the abuse of power; this is tyranny, and not gon vernment, strictly speaking; and all instances of mere sovereigiity, that is, of power shewn for the sake of sewing it, and not for the good of chole who are subjected to it ; I lay, all such instances are manifestations not, of the wisdom and goodness, but of the weakne's and vanity of the legislator. The cafe is the same, whether we consider go-, Cc.