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improve ourselves and better our condition; or in iefauit of so doing, to remain teficient and wretched.
Cur being placed here in a state of probation, may so be intended as a theatre of action, wherein our respective characters may be exhibited, not indeed to Cod. because He intuitively knows them, but to His creation; and may be the means He makes use of, in rier to the future disposal of us, suitably to such exhibition of our real character.
It is therefore perfectly credible from the Analogy of Nature, that the same may be our case with respect to the happiness of a future state, and the necessary qualifications for it.
THE OPINION OF NECESSITY, CONSIDERED AS
ARGUMENT.-The credibility given to the general doctrine of religion by the analogy of Nature, is not weakened by the opinion of Necessity, or Fate. Fate is but a word, the sign of an abstract idea, and necessArily implies an agent. Now from what we see in the natural government of the world, Fate or Necessity, supposing it to exist, does not exclude deliberation, choice, and acting from certain principles to certain ends; and thus does not at all destroy the proof of an intelligent Author of Nature. Neither, on the same principles, does it destroy the scheme of religion; før, it being matter of positive experience, that under the natural government of the present world, we are practically dealt with as if we were free; the analogy of
nature leads to the conclusion, that with regard to a future state, we shall be treated as free: and thus the notion of necessity is evidently not applicable to practical subjects. If, however, Necessity be reconcileable with the natural constitution of things, as we experience them now, it must be equally so with the scheme of religion.
OUR condition under God's government in this world only, has been shewn as greatly analogous to our condition as designed for another. If then, universal necessity be reconcileable with the former, it becomes a question how far it is so with the latter;-not absolutely whether fate be reconcileable with religion, but hypothetically, whether, if it be reconcileable with the constitution of Nature, it be not reconcileable with the system of Religion also, and the proof of it: or, on the contrary, how far a fatalist has any pretence to conclude that there can be no such thing as religion, -which is absurd.
But since it may be objected, that universal Necessity is sufficient to account for the origin and preservation of all things: and whereas it has been taken for granted in our argument hitherto, that there is an intelligent Author of Nature;-the objection requires
When the fatalist asserts, that the whole constitution of nature and every thing therein, is necessary, and could not have been otherwise, this necessity cannot exclude deliberation, choice, and acting with design; for these things are a matter of all men's experience: hence necessity is no proper account of how things came to be, and to continue as they are; but only of this single circumstance, that they could not beo therwise. If a fatalist and a free-agent, for instance, disputed about a house having been built, they would both agree that it had been built by an architect; the only point in dispute would be, whether he built it necessarily or freely. Hence the fatalist must include an intelligent agent, for mere abstract notions can do nothing; and when he says the constitution of Nature was by necessity, he can only, therefore, mean an agent acting by necessity. It is true we ascribe to God a necessary existence, uncaused by any agent, and prior to all design contributing to His existence; but this arises from the scantiness of language, which has introduced such a mode of speech to express a metaphysical truth. But this mode of existence cannot possibly be ascribed to every thing in nature, so as to say of it, that it existed necessarily and antecedent to design; and for this plain reason, that design in the actions of men contributes to many alterations in
A fatalist, then, alleging necessity, can only mean, first, an agent acting necessarily; and, secondly, that such necessity does not exclude intelligence and design. Necessity as much requires a necessary agent, as freedom requires a free agent. And the appearances of design, and final causes in nature, prove that agent to be an intelligent designer, or to act from deliberation and choice.
As this notion of Necessity does not destroy the proof that there is an intelligent Author of Nature, the next question is, whether it destroys all reasonable ground of belief, that we are in a state of religion; or, whether it is reconcileable with religion, and the proof of it.
Suppose a child brought up in the principles of a fatalist, to reason, that since he could not possibly act otherwise than he does, he cannot deserve either praise or blame; let the very perceptions of commendation and blame be blotted out of his mind, and his temper and behaviour be thereupon formed; let him be taught to judge as to his reception among reasonable men, in the same way as the fatalist judges, as to what he himself is to expect from the Author of Nature, in a future state. Now what would be the consequence? Freed from restraint of fear and shame, his conceit, vanity, and self-will, must either be endured to the annoyance of all, and probably even to his own destruction; or correction must be applied to