« VorigeDoorgaan »
that 14 ported or directed by such principies, is vague
tojugn rose, men, the dispensations of Provsience and actions the world, to be analogous to the visible, so virtions tre only parts of one uniform scheme: then of roomust ve à natural tendency throughout the anid na zo power directed by Virtue, to prevail over the ockurry; just as Reason has a tendency to prevai prate force. But (as has been shown in the
na my se in the former also, there must be a certain Horta atc power on the side of Virtue: there must
and opportunity, and means for its develope w, in, and action. Indeed, less power, directed rue, could prevail over much greater, not so
; and even now, on earth, there may be suffmna #1 the good to prevail over the bad, if cream→ → ;ermitted the former to recognise each other But the shortness of life, and other causes. *** * virtue its full scope: and prevent its tendency ing carried into full effect. Virtue is here mii has to contend with dieties and ecstacies: may be removed in another state, so that there y completely prevail. And if the soci be immor... and this state progressive to a future one, as editre age, this prevalence of Virtue in a
probable, and encouraging by way of
has a tendency to prevail over mere brute force. Man is the acknowledged governing animal upon earth,— though the whole sum of the strength of brutes may be greater than that of mankind; and this superiority is not accidental, but arises from the natural tendency of Reason.
But, though this be the acknowledged natural tendency of Reason, yet to establish its actual superiority in power over brute force, there must be a certain proportionate power on the side of reason; otherwise, it might be overborne; and there must be also opportunities and means for reasonable beings to unite and combine together; otherwise, they might be crushed individually. Moreover, a conjuncture of accidents might, in some cases, give brute force the superiority; as, likewise, a headlong fury, or a sort of lucky rashness, might disconcert all reasonable precautions. And hence, though reason hath not necessarily the absolute superiority in all cases; yet, wherever the contrary happens, it is an admitted INVERSION of things; and Reason, after all, has an acknowledged tendency to prevail over brute force, though circumstances may thwart it.
Now, Virtue in society has a like tendency to procure superiority and power, by rendering public good an object to every one,-exciting each to promote it, and uniting their strength, specially by the bonds of veracity and justice. All benevolence, or public spirit,
not supported or directed by such principles, is vague and uncertain.
Suppose, then, the dispensations of Providence and the invisible world, to be analogous to the visible, so that both are only parts of one uniform scheme; then there must be a natural tendency throughout the universe, for power directed by Virtue, to prevail over the contrary; just as Reason has a tendency to prevail over brute force. But (as has been shown in the latter, so in the former also,) there must be a certain proportionate power on the side of Virtue: there must be time, and opportunity, and means for its developement, union, and action. Indeed, less power, directed by virtue, could prevail over much greater, not so directed; and even now, on earth, there may be sufficient of the good to prevail over the bad, if circumstances permitted the former to recognise each other and unite. But the shortness of life, and other causes, deny to virtue its full scope: and prevent its tendency from being carried into full effect. Virtue is here militant, and has to contend with difficulties and obstacles; these may be removed in another state, so that there it may completely prevail. And if the soul be immortal, and this state progressive to a future one, as childhood to mature age, this prevalence of Virtue in a future state is probable, and encouraging by way of example.
probability that the righteous will have the advantage over the wicked in a future life; and thereby exhibits the obligations of religion.
2ndly. When (as religion teaches) God shall reward and punish virtue and vice, according to each one's deserts, this distributive justice will not differ in kind, but only in degree, from what is apparent in His present government; it will be that in effect, towards which we now see the tendency; the completion of that moral government, the principles of which are now plainly discernible in the course of nature. Hence
3rdly. As the happiness and misery we experience under the natural government of God, lead us to suppose far higher degrees of both hereafter; so what we observe in His moral government, in rewarding or punishing virtue and vice, affords a probability of this being done in a higher degree in a future state. This receives a corroboration, if
Lastly, We consider the tendencies of virtue and vice; for these are essential; but the obstacles to their full effect are generally accidental and artificial; and hence the essential tendencies, being far more likely to remain hereafter, than the accidental hinderances, will become effectual to the perfection of moral government. But, when, where, or how, can only be known by revelation.
RECAPITULATION.-On the whole, there is a kind of moral government implied in God's natural government; virtue and vice are naturally rewarded and punished, as beneficial and mischievous to society ; and rewarded and punished directly, as such. Hence the notion of a moral government is a natural one, suggested by the constitution and course of nature affording numerous instances of it. This is a sort of declaration of the Author of nature on the side of virtue, and against vice; and leads to an inference that they will be rewarded and punished in a higher degree hereafter. And this is confirmed by the natural tendencies (obstructed only by accidental hinderances) towards the perfection of this moral scheme. Hence again the notion of a much more perfect moral government, is a natural one, suggested by the essential tendencies of virtue and vice; which tendencies are intimations from the Author of nature that much greater rewards and punishments shall follow virtue, and vice, than do at present.
Hence arises a presumption that the moral scheme in nature will be carried on hereafter to perfection: and this presumption joined to the suggestions of our moral sense or conscience, amounts to a practical proof that it will be so.