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


supply the want of those natural perceptions of praise, and blame, which had been removed, and to give him a practical belief of his being an accountable creature. Now this correction must convince him, either, first, that the system was false; or, secondly, that it was inconclusively misapplied. Even so, what the fatalist experiences of the conduct of Providence, ought to convince him, that his system either is false, or is misapplied, when applied to religion.

In short, the scheme of fatality, when practically applied to the affairs of life, will always be found fallacious and absurd.

Now, no absurdity of this kind results from the supposition of our being free; but, all our reasoning on such principles is justified by experience. Hence, though the opinion of necessity be speculatively true, yet, practically it is as if it were false; and that, through the whole course of the present world, which is constituted, as if it were free.

Since then, the application of fatalism (even though abstractedly true) to the affairs of life, assuredly misleads us dreadfully as to our present interest; it is by analogy, equally dangerous to apply it to a future, and more important one; and, therefore, highly absurd to conclude that we are free from the obligations of religion, which is a practical matter.

If then, upon the supposition of freedom, the evidence of religion be conclusive, it is so upon supposition of necessity; for the latter not being applicable to practical subjects, is, with respect to them, as if

not true.

Moreover we are conscious of possessing within ourselves a will and a character; and if this be reconcileable with fate, in us, it must be also in the Author of Nature. Now His natural government, and final causes, do imply a will, and some character or other, respecting the creatures he governs; and hence, Necessity is as reconcileable with the particular character of justice, veracity, and charity, in Him,— (which attributes are the foundation of Religion),— as with any other character; for this necessity does not hinder men from being benevolent, true, and just, rather than cruel, faithless, and unjust.

Neither, again, does this supposition of God's being necessarily of that character which is the foundation of religion, destroy the proof of His being so, and consequently the proof of religion. For it is evident from experience, that happiness, or misery, is not our fate, in such a sense as not to be the consequences of our conduct; but that in fact they are so. God's government therefore is of the same kind as that of a father over children, or a magistrate over subjects. Whatever

becomes of the abstract question of fate, veracity and justice are evidently the rule and measure of God's authority in exercise.

The proof then, from final causes, of an intelligent Author of Nature, is not affected by this opinion of necessity; and it is a fact, that He governs the world by rewards and punishments.

Moreover, He has given us a moral faculty, to discern between good and bad; by which we approve the virtuous, and disapprove the vicious. Now, this very faculty implies a rule of action, so authoritative, that we cannot violate it without being self-condemned. And it cannot but be plainly considered as a command from Him, to creatures capable of estimating it as such; and as carrying with it a virtual promise to obedience, and a threatening to disobedience. The very sense of good or evil, in the moral discernment, renders the sanctions of it evident to the understanding; and can only be an imparted presentiment of what is to be hereafter. Hence, we cannot but believe that the results of virtue and vice, shall at length correspond to the ideas, which God has so peculiarly impressed upon our minds.

Now, no objection, from necessity, can lie against this general proof of religion; for the possession of a faculty is a fact, and the conclusion drawn results immediately from the fact; the conclusion not being


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