« 前へ次へ »
isted, then all is plain and clear, and every thing is accounted for.
All that beauty, that variety and order, that skill, contrivance and usefulness, which so conspicuously appear, through the whole animal and vegetable creation, is clearly accounted for, upon the supposition of a defigning mind, and so of the solar system ; whereas, with. out a designing mind, all is darkness and perplexity, and remains to be accounted for. And seeing that something must needs have existed eternally, (as I have already observed) because otherwise not any thing could have existed at all, nothing multiplied by nothing gives nothing for its product ; so it is more easy and natural to suppose, that what has existed eternally is a designing mind, than to suppose the contrary, as I have before shewn. And,
SUPPOSING it equally hard and difficult to conceive 10w mind should produce matter, as bow matter fiould produce mind; yet nothing will follow from hence in prejudice of Deity. For, were it to be admitted, that mind and matter cannot be productive of each other ; thne, as mind and matter do both exist, at least, this is generally allowed to be the case, so all that will fol
low is only this, viz. that mind and matter have both existed eternally, by, or from an absolute necessity in the nature of things ; that as there has always been an intelligent active mind, so there have always been materials, viz. the various species of matter, for that mind to act or operate upon. This, I say, must have been the case, supposing matter to have existed eternally; and therefore, the doctrine of a Deity, or of a necessarily existing mind, stands firm and unshaken, notwithstanding that supposition. But then, I think it but just to observe, that the necessary existence of matter, seems to lie open to this objection, viz. that whatever exills necessarily, will exist in every part of space, and in every point of duration ; because, that necefsity of nature which caused it to exist in one part of space, and in one point of duration, would equally cause it to exist in every part of space, and in every point of duration ; but whereas matter does not appear to exist in every part of space ; therefore, froin hence it may seem to follow, that it does not exist necefsarily, and consequently, that it is not eternal.
AND as the most perfe&t intelligence takes place in that designing mind, whom we characterise by the term God; so from hence it will follow, that God will act invariable, at all times, (at least, whenever he does act) agreeably to this intelligent principle; because as it is right he should act thus, so nature does not afford a motive or temptation to him to act otherwise. But then, this immutability in the divine conduct does not result from any fatality, not from any natural unavoidable necessity the Deity is under to act thus; but from the natural and essential difference in things, which renders it proper that God should act thus, and from the natural perfe&tions of the Deity, which put him out of the reach of all temptation to act contrary thereto. God does most clearly perceive the right and wrong, which take place in all instances and cases, thro the whole universal nature, and as acting right is, in the nature of the thing, better, and therefore, preferable to acting wrong, which renders such a manner of acting, the proper object of choice to every intelligent being ; so we may be assured, that God will always act right, not only because it is in nature better, and preferable to acting
wrong, but also becaufe there is nothing in nature which can possibly introduce an excitement in him to act otherwise.
* And in this, I apprehend, consist the moral perfections of the Deity, viz. that the divine power and the divine intelligence are voluntarily and immutably subject to the eternal and invariable rule of right and wrong; by which God is always disposed to act right and do good, when he is at full liberty to act otherwise.
And, indeed, were the Deity under a natural necessity to act right
* ResTRAINT from action arises either from want of power, or from want of inclination or will; the former of these is usually expressed by the term cannot, and the latter by the term will not. And according to this representation of the case, it may, very properly and truly, be said of the Deity, that he cannot ccafe to le; as this restraint arises from want of power, it not being (as we conceive) within the reach of divine power, for the Deity to annihilate himself; and therefore he cannot ceafe to be. In like manner, it may, with equal propriety and truth, be said of the Deity, that he will not act contrary to perfect rectitude; this restraint ariting, not from want of power, but from wani of inclination, as there is nothing in nature which can possibly dispose or incline the Deity to act wrong, and as there is in nature wherewith to dispose or incline him to act right; and therefore, he will most certainly do the latter, and will not do the form.er. But were it to be faid, that the Deity cannot act contrary to perfect rectitude, this would be speaking neither properly nor truly; because the Deity is not restrained from acting wrong, for want of pouver, but only for want of inclination, and therefore, he can act wrong, but will nor.
and do good, tho', I think, the supposition is absurd, because so far as necessity operates on the Deiry, so far the Deity is only an intelligent passive subjet, that does not act, (strictly speaking) but is acted upon, is only a passive iriftrument in the hand of necessity, (if I may so speak) to bring forth what is
produced by it; but admitting the supposition, then the Deity would be less perfect, and less valuable, in a moral sense, than those of bis creatures who act right and do good voluntarily, or from choice, and not from necesfity. If it should be faid, admitting that God is at full liberty to a&t wrong, then we cannot be certain but, fone time or other, he will do so; or, rather, we can have no certainty when we will not. Answer : tho motive is not the physical cause, but only the ground and reason of action; yet it is so far necessary thereto, as that action will not take place without some previous reason exciting to it. And as there is a reason, resulting from the nature of things, why the Deity should act right, and a reason against his acting wrong ; and as there is nothing in nature, which can possibly introduce an excitement in God to act wrong ; so these afford a moral certainty, that the Deity will