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Third, Of a Rational Animal related to all other Creatures.
And these are the only capacities of Virtue that are in Humane Nature : So that all the Virtues we are obliged to, and capable of, consist in behaving our selves suitable to the State and Condition of Rational Animals, that are related to God and their Fellow Creatures.
By which three Capacities of our Nature, the Virtue or Suitableness of Behaviour which we stand obliged to, is distinguished into three kinds, aiz.
Humane Virtue consists in behaving our felves suis
tably to the State and Capacity of mere Rational
Animals : Divine Virtue consists in behaving our felves
suitably to the Condition of Rational Animals
related to God: Social Virtue consists in behaving our felves sui
tably to the Capacity of Rational Animals related to their Fellove Creatures, but especially to Rational Creatures that are of the same Class and Society with us.
That I may therefore proceed more distinctly in this Argument, I shall endeavour to fhew what those Virtues of the Christian Life are, which are proper to a man in each of these Capacities; and how much each of those Virtues contributes to the Happineß of Heaven,
SECT SECT. I.
Concerning those Humane Virtues which belong to a
Man as he is a Reasonable Animal, Shewing that they are all included in the Heavenly Part of the Christian Life, and that the Practice of them effe£tually conduces to our future Happines.
First we will consider Man in the Capacity of a meer Rational Animal, that is compounded of contrary Principles, viz. Spirit and Matter, or a Rational Soul and Humane Body; by which Composition He is, as it were, the Buckle of both Worlds, in whom the Spiritual and Material World are clasped and united together; and partaking, as he does, of both. Extreams, of Spirit and of Matter, of Angel and Brute, there arise within him from those contrary Natures contrary Propenfions, viz. Rational and Sensual, or Angelical and Brutish, and in the due Subordination of these his Sensual to his Rational Propensions, confifts all Humane Virtue.
For his Reafon being the noblest Principle of his Nature, must be supposed to be implanted in him by God to rule and govern him, to be an Eye to his blind and brutis Affections, to correct the Errors of his Imagination, to bound the Extravagancies of his Appetites, and regulate the whole Course of his Actions; so as that he may do nothing that is destructive or injurious to this excellent Frame and Structure of his Nature. But now in this compounded Nature of a Man, there are his Concupiscible and Irafcible Affections : with the
first of which he desires and pursues his Pleasures ; and with the second, he shuns and avoids his Dangers; and there are also Bodily Appetites, such as Hunger, Thirst, and Carnal Concupiscence s and together with these a Self-Esteem and Valuation; all which are the natural Subjects of his Reason, and indeed the only Subjects upon which it is to exercise its Dominion. So that in the well and ill Government of these, consists all Humane Virtue and Vice. To the perfect well governing therefore of a mans self, there are Five things indispensably necessary.
i. That he shall impartially consult his Reason what is absolutely best for him, and by what means it is best attainable, and then constantly pursue what it proposes and directs him to. For so far as he is wanting in this, he cafts off the Government of his Reafon.
2. That he should proportion his Concupiscible Affections to the just value which his Reason sets upon those things which he affets : For every Degree of Affection which exceeds the merit of Things, is irrational, and consequently injurious to our Rational Nature.
3. That he should not suffer his Irafcible Affe(tions to exceed those Evils and Dangers which he would avoid: For if he doth, they will prove greater Evils to him than those Evils or Dangers are which raise and provoke them.
4. That he should not indulge his Bodily Appetites to the Hurt and Prejudice of his Rational Nature : For if he does, he will violate the nobler, for the sake of the vile Part of himself. And
5. That upon the whole, he should maintain a Modest Opinion of himself; and not think better of his own Conduct and Management of himself than it deserves : For by so doing, he will be apt to over-look his own Misgovernments, and so incapacitate himself for any farther Improvements, And in these five Particulars consists all that Virtue which belongs to a man, considered merely in the Capacity of a Rational Animal :
The First is the Virtue of Prudence,
The Fifth is the Virtue of Humility. All which, as I shall shew, are Esential Parts of the Christian Life, and such as do effectually contribute to our Heavenly Happines.
1. Prudence. And this is the Root and Ground-Work, of all other Virtues ; 'Tis this that gives Law and Scope to all our Motions, that proposes the Ends, and prescribes the Measures of our Actions. For Prudence confifts in being guided and directed by Right Reason, as it proposes to us the worthiest Ends, and directs us to the fittest and most effectual Means of obtaining them. So that to live predently, is to live in the constarit Exercise of our Reason, and to be continually pursuing such Ends as Right Reason proposes, by such Means as Right Reafon directs us to, which is the proper Business of all the Virtues of Religion. And hence Religion in the Scripture is frequently called by the Name of Wisdom or Prudence; The Fear of the Lord that is Wisdom, faith Job, and to
depart from Evil, that is Understanding, Job xxviii. 28. And, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, faith David, Pfalcxi. 10. where the Fear of the Lord comprehends all the Afts of Religion, which are therefore wife and prudent, because they are the fittest Means to those worthiest Ends which Right Reason proposes. So that to exercise our Reason in the Search and Discovery of what is absolutely beft for us, and to follow our Reason in the Pursuit and Acqueft of what it discovers to be fo, is that virtue of Prudence whereunto we stand obliged as we are Rational Animals.
For our Reason being the nobleft Principle of our Nature, That by which we are raised above the Level of Brutes, yea, by which we are allied to Angels, and do border upon God himself, ought upon that account to be submitted to, as the supremie Regent and Directreß of all our other Powers, and to be looked upon as the Rule of our Will, and the Guide of all our Animal Motions. And when to gratifie our sensual Appetites, or unreasonable Pallions we either negle& those Ends which our Reason proposes to us, or purfue them by such Means as our Reason disallows of, we reverse the very order of our Natures, and tread Antipodes to our selves ; And while we do so, it is impossible we should be happy, either here, or hereafter. For every thing you see, is diseased while it is in an unnatural State and Condition, while its Parts are displaced, or put into a Diforder, or distorted into an unnatural Figure. And so it is with a Man, who while he preferves his Faculties in their natural Station and Subordination to each other,