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'Whether there be, or be not, any Force in such Objections, upon the foot of natural Reason, you Will consider - or whether they may be answer'd by saying, that an Obligation to such Application, does not exclude a Deserence, and Submission at the fame time.. to God's Will—That the asking, thro' Ignorance, Things improper, does not take from the Obligation of such Application in general. —And tho' God be supposed to have one invariable', determined Scheme of Providence", which is not to be alter'd on account of human [Application; yet it will not follow that such Application is useless, unnecessary, or unfit; because, such Application, appearing a priori to be in itself a fit ABion, from the natural Relation and Fitness of Things, as before exlplain'd j may it not be supposed that such ABion, and ConduB, on Man's fide, may make a necessary Part of that Scheme of Providence; so as to be a Qualification on the Tart of Man, whereby that Scheme is to be perform'd? i. e. tho' God will always and. invariably do, what is right and fit to be done in all Cases; and eternally knew what always would be so; and consequently was, in the Nature of Things, certain and fixt,. yet that eternal Fitness.and. Certainty in the Scheme of Providence, may depend on Man's Performance on his Part, in the AB of* Application, as a fit ABion, arising from our' Relation to him ;. as a natural Acknowledgment of our Dependence; or as a necessary Qualification, and

'Means 'Means of Conveyance; esiential to, and so mak~ 'ing a Part. in, the one invariable Scheme; ( being thus conneSted with, and being one Link 1 in the great Chain of Providence, just as the 'eternal Certainty of Events (which is true of all 'Events) does not interfere with the Obligation

* of Man, to do what is right and fit, to pro

* duce such Events as future Contingences; such

* Means being, on the contrary, in the Scheme 'of Providence, necessarily or essentially connected c with that Certainty of Events.

'I know not whether I have expressed my'self clearly, or whether what I have troubled

* you with comes up to what you enquire after, 'either as to the ^uejlion you intend, or the, 'Proof of it.—I pretend only to give a few '* Hints, which, if they meet with your Appro'bation, you will improve; if otherwise, you

* will however find at least one natural Fitness

* in them; and whatever other Obligation they 'may sall short of proving, they will not, I

* hope fail of proving that which I think my'self under, of always being at your Com

* mand, and, dear Sir,

Your faithful and obedient Servant,


MiMz.1748. Jo. Clarke.

1 P. S. The Question you propose is attended '. with Difficulties; and I must confess, 'that, upon looking this Letter over again,

* I do not think it comes up to so clear a 'Proof as I could wish, but believe .it

* may be improved."

D 3 . Sir, Sir, . •' i .. . o:. •' \

IN answer to the Favour of your's, concerning the natural Fitness, and moral Obligation, of the Duty of Prayer, I {hall join Issue with you in Opinion that a moral Obligation may arise from the Fitness of Things, where there is no external Sanction to enforce it. Reason, no doubt, is an eternal and immutable 'Law, or Rule of Action, to all reasonable Beings, or, else the Deity could have no Law, or Rule of Action that is binding upon his moral PerfeStions, and we could not reason from them in Proof of the Truth of Religion. And, if God be under a moral Obligation to make the Fitness of Things, i. e, Reason, the Rule of his Conduct, all intelligent Creatures must be under the same Obligation to act reasonably, tho' not under the same Necessity, for want of his absolute Perfection: But, then, as we are not, like the Deity, self -sufficient, and yet, as Beings capable of Happiness, or Misery, cannot avoid acting with a View to our own Happiness, upon the whole j if you take away the External Sanctions of Religion — a future State of Rewards and PunifJments-— in many Cafes the natural Fitness or Reason of Things would be alter'd with regard to particular Persons, under particular Circumstances and, consequently, in all those Cases all moral Obligation must cease, unless intelligent, conscious Beings could be morally obliged, knowingly, to make themselves Miserable> which I apprehend c prehend to be as contrary to Reason, and the 'Fitness of Things, as can possibly be conceived.

* I need not give Examples, they being so va

* rious and obvious in common Lise: But, let 'us come to the Question, and, in order to it, 'I must transcribe my State os it, as you had it

* in my first Letter.

'The Thing to be Proved is this, viz. " That *' Prayer is a Duty, not only as a natural Means, il of Religion and Virtue, but in itself, and for "its own lake; a Duty arising from the Nature "of Man, and the Nature of God; from us,

as dependent, finful Creatures, to him, as our "Creator, Preserver, and fudge; to which let "me add, farther, by way of Explanation, "without any regard to its Influence upon our-.. tC selves, or ether Men.

* ' In your Answer to my Letter you state my

* Question thus: "The Thing which you want M to see prov'd, is contained in the following f Proposition, viz. that the Act of Prayer, "from Man to the supreme Being, is a Duty of "natural Morality j or a Duty, the Obligation f to which is founded in, and will arise, Sim^fly, from the natural Relation, and Fitness "of Things!'—In another Part of your Letter 'it is stated thus—" The present Question is, "Whether the Act of Prayer, from Man to the "supreme Being, be an Act to which he is "' simply, as a rational Cre.iture, obliged from "the natural Relation and Fitness of Things t"

. . f Tho' the Observation has not an immediate •. Connection with our main. Question, it may, . P y. D 4 however, 'however, be os some Use to observe, by the 'way, that the Phrase, natural Religion, which 'you here use, is of an ambiguous Signification-: 'For, when we fay that any Thing is a Duty '6f natural Religion, we may mean that the 'natural Under/landing of Man, unajpjledhy any e external Revelation, might have discovered our 'Obligation to the Performance of it. In this 'Sense of the Words, I must be of Opinion 'that there is no such Thing as natural Religion j 'and that if Men had been left, solely, to the 'Guidance of their unajjijled Reason, there never 'would, or could, have been any Religion at all: '—But, if you mean no more by natural Re'ligion than this, viz. that the natural Under* standing of Man, inlightened and strengthens 'by external Communications, and Assistances 'from the Author of it, gradually improv'd this 'natural Faculty by Exercise j by which means 'Men, in time, became capable, in great measure, 'of discovering the natural Fitness of the moral 'Duties of Religion, from the Relation of 'Things; I say, if no more than this be meant, 'I subscribe to it, and think it as clear as any 'tme Truth in Morality, that Prayer, in this 'Sense of natural Religion, is one of its prime 'Duties, as having, in the Exercise of it, a 'natural Fitness, or Tendency, to promote Re'ligion and Virtue, by means of its Influence 'upon the Minds and Conduct of Men, which, 'I think, must be sufficient to convince you 'that you have not rightly stated my Question, e in those Passages which I have cited from your


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