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Moral Action Moral Action is such as renders the Agent or what.
Doer good or bad, or worthy of Reward or Pu
nishment. How an Aktion That an Action be good or bad, it is requir'd becomes good there be a certain Agreement or Disagreement of
the Aft and Obječt to which it is referr’d; that fo Reason may determine whether the Aktion, with regard to the Object, may be aptly, meetly, and prudently exerted, or not. And if there be any Action wherein no such Regard can be had to the Object, that Action is said to be indifferent. An Action also may become good or bad, from the End or Design thereof, and several other Cir. cumstances attending it, as Time, Place, Person,
Order, Age, Condition, Cause, &c. Aftions either In order to denominate an Action good, it is swholly good, or requisite that the Object, End, and Circumsances, wholly evil, except indiffe
are together all good, at least none of them bad. Hence it follows, that no Action can be partly good, and partly bad; and that if either the Objeci, End, or Circumstances be singly bad, the Action will be evil, and that wholly so. Lastly, it follows that there is no Participation of Good and Evil; and that Evil is only the Privation of Good, or Want of due Conformity between the Ait and its
Obiect. The same ex
For Example, in doing Alms, the Object is emplified
a poor necessitous Person; the End is to abate or prevent Misery arising from Want of Neceffaries; the Circumstances are the Person's Merit, Quality, the Time, Place, Number, &c. Now if from all these Things duly consider’d, Reason approves our giving an Alms, the Action is good, and then becomes our Duty : But if the Object be not poor and need it, or our End be the Praise of Men; or, lastly, if he be an idle, worthless, or undefer. ving Person; if a Vagrant, to whom the Laws have forbid the A& ; or the Number of Objects
so great, that in relieving them you must reduce
The Rule of human Actions or Manners, is a The Rule of
) Internal, which we call the practical Judg- (2.)Conscience.
Conscience, in bearing Testimony and passing Conscience aêts
, proceeds in a kind of syllogistical Me Illogistically.
. For Example: If any Man love the Examples. World, the Love of the Father is not in hiin; but I love the World, therefore the Love of the Father is not in me. He who does any Thing forbid by the Law sinneth ; but I have done fomewhat forbidden by the Law, therefore I have finned
. In these Syllogisms the first Proposition contains the Rule which Conscience respecteth in bearing Judgment, and is called the Light of The Light, Conscience. The second contains the Testimony of Tepimony, and Conscience, in regard of which it produceth itself I udgment of Witness . The Inference is the Judgment of Con
The Rule of The Rule by which Conscience judgeth of the Conscience the Action, and censureth the Person, is the Will of Will of God. God, known either by the Light of Nature, or
from divine Revelation. The Will of God is plainly discoverable by the Light of Nature, as hath been shewn under the foregoing Title. This also is asserted by St. Paul, Rom. ii. ver. 14, 15. From whence 'cis plain, the whole Tenor of the Moral Law was imprinted on their Minds, and engraven in their Hearts ; but, by divine Revelation, the dim Light of Reason receives a great Addition of Lustre and Brightness; and the Benefit of this divine Revelation we Christians only
enjoy from the sacred Scriptures; for therein, in Rom. i. 17. a more clear and evident Manner, is the Righ
teousness of God (or his Will, or Law of Moral Reftitude) revealed from one Article of Faith to
another. The several Conscience, in regard to the Knowledge of this Qualities of Rule of moral Action, is said to be firm, well as firm, weak, inform’d, and instructed; or weak, scrupulous, dudubious, and bious, and erroneous. An erring Conscience is that
which with a firm Aflent judgeth otherwise than the Thing is. This Error of Conscience ariseth either from a want of a clear and full Conception of its Rule, or Conclusions not well or rightly deduc'd from it ; the Cause of which is a depraved Disposition, which either leads the Mind off from a due Enquiry, or perverts it from judging rightly. A weak and scrupulous Conscience proceeds from the Rule's not being in every Part so express, extensive, and certain, as to remove all Doubts and Scruples in lesser Matters and Circumitances, and thereby to render it able to de
termine what is fit to be, or not to be done. Aitions against He that acteth against his Conscience, tho' erConscience, bu
roneous, finneth. For, (1.) he virtually acteth finful, and" against the Will of God, or what he is firmly why.
error 1115, are
persuaded is such, which is all one; for whatever Conscience dictates to be done, it pronounceth it to be done for this Reason, Because the Will of God requires it. (2.) Because he acts counter to that Reason, which is the nearest and most immediate Rule of Azting. (3.) Because the Will acting contrary to the Dictates of an erroneous Conscience, is equally culpable as when it is not erroneous : Since 'tis the same thing, with respect to the Will, to be and to appear; and that we should be moved with an apparent, equally as with a real Good.
SINCE then the Dictates of Conscience, even Weak Conscithough erroneous, are such sacred and indispen-ences ought to
be indulgd fable Ties, 'tis evident that weak, scrupulous, and
airb Liberty dubious Consciences ought to be indulg'd with the and Freedom. greatest Liberty and Freedom ; for Force, ConItraint, and Violence offer'd to the Conscience exercised with Doubts and Scruples, is a very bold Attempt, and highly affronting to God; since in this Case, whilst the Conscience is uncertain whether the Act be pleasing to God, or agreeable to the Rule of Reason, it is immediately driven upon it by coercive Power at all Adventures ; and fo cannot fail of producing much Disquietude and Unealiness in such weak Minds, and thereby renders them miserable ; contrary to the Institution of moral Government, which is to make Men bappy.
Conscience, as it respects our Conformity or Con- A Good Contrariety to the Laws of known Truth, is said to science defin’d. be Good or Evil. A Good Conscience is that which sincerely judgeth that to be Good or Evil, which is such in the Judgment of God; and that, by virtue of such a Judgment, efficaciously excites us to the Performance of good Astions, and to Abftinence from evil ones. The Means of preferving Means of pre
a Good serving it.
a Good Conscience, are, (1.) Frequent reading and meditating in the Word of God. (2.) A frequent and impartial Examination of our own Ways and Actions. And (3.) The having always a reverential Fear of the All-wife and Heartsearching God before our Eyes, and in our Hearts. The Effects of a Good Conscience every Good Man
knows. An Evil Con- AN Evil Conscience is that which doth not frience defin'd. hold or avouch that Truth which it may and
ought to know and acknowledge ; or else which Blind Con- acteth contrary to a known Truth. The first is science. faid to be a Blind Conscience, as it accuses, when
it should or ought to excuse; and the contrary. A Wicked The latter is a downright Wicked Conscience, inConscience. asmuch as it acts in a sort of Defiance to God, or
in direct Contradiction to his Will. How dangerous then is the Case of those, whose Interests prevail with them to reject known Truths, or act
contrary to them! A Law defin'd The second Part of the Rule of Human
Allions is a L AW; this is the external Part. A Law is a Precept of a supreme legitimate Power, fufficiently promulged, concerning some legal Matter, and obliging the Subject, under Penalty, to the doing or not doing thereof. Under the Name of a Precept, the Probibition of a Thing is included, which is a Precept of not doing a
Thing. 4 Divine
Law is either Divine or Human: A Divine Law, ubat. Law is the Mandate of God's own Majesty; which
we are not only obliged to obey, but to esteem perfectly good; as deriv'd from a Principle infinitely good and righteous. The Divine Law only has the Prerogative of binding the Conscience directly and immediately; because God alone can