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it, that both would naturally be expressed in the very same words and manner of description. In the book of Proverbs,* for instance, Wisdom is introduced as frequenting the most public places of resort, and as rejected when she offers herself as the natural appointed guide of human life. "How long," speaking to those who are passing through it, "how long, ye simple ones, will ye love folly, and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof. Behold, I will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make known my words unto you." But upon being neglected, "Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." This passage, every one sees, is poetical, and some parts of it are highly figurative; but their meaning is obvious. And the thing intended is expressed more literally in the following words: "For that they hated knowledge, and did not chuse the fear of the Lord; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the security of

* Chap. i.

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the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.” And the whole passage is so equally applicable to what we experience in the present world, concerning the consequences of men's actions, and to what religion teaches us is to be expected in another, that it may be questioned which of the two was principally intended.

Indeed, when one has been recollecting the propër proofs of a future state of rewards and punishments, nothing, methinks, can give one so sensible an apprehension of the latter, or representation of it to the 'mind, as observing, that after the many disregarded checks, admonitions, and' warnings, which people meet with in the ways of vice, and folly, and extravagance; warnings from their very nature; from the examples of others; from the lesser inconveniences which they bring upon themselves; from the instructions of wise and virtuous men: after these have been long despised, scorned, ridiculed; after the chief bad consequences, temporal consequences, of their follies, have been delayed for a great while; at length they break in irresistibly, like an armed force; repentance is too late to relieve, and can serve only to aggravate their distress: the case is become desperate; and poverty and sickness, remorse and anguish, infamy and death, the effects of their own doings, overwhelm them, beyond possibility of remedy or escape. This is an account of what is in fact the general constitution of nature.

It is not in any sort meant, that according to what appears at present of the natural course of

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things, men are always uniformly punished in proportion to their misbehaviour; but that there are very many instances of misbehaviour punished in the several ways now mentioned, and very dreadful instances too, sufficient to shew what the laws of the universe may admit; and, if thoroughly considered, sufficient fully to answer all objections against the credibility of a future state of punishments, from any imaginations, that the frailty of our nature and external temptations almost annihilate the guilt of human vices ; as well as objections of another sort; from necessity; from suppositions that the will of an infinite Being cannot be contradicted; or that he must be incapable of offence and provocation.*

Reflections of this kind are not without their terrors to serious persons, the most free from enthusiasm, and of the greatest strength of mind; but it is fit things be stated and considered as they really are. And there is, in the present age, a certain fearlessness with regard to what may be here- . after under the government of God, which nothing but an universally acknowledged demonstration on the side of atheism can justify, and which makes it quite necessary that men be reminded, and, if possible, made to feel, that there is no sort of ground for being thus presumptuous, even upon the most sceptical principles. For, may it not be said of any person, upon his being born into the world, he may behave so as to be of no service to

* See Chap. 4. and 6.

Of the Government of God, &c. Part 1. it, but by being made an example of the woful effects of vice and folly: That he may, as any one may, if he will, incur an infamous execution from the hands of civil justice; or in some other course of extravagance shorten his days; or bring upon himself infamy and diseases worse than death? . So that it had been better for him, even with regard to the present world, that he had never been. born. And' is there any pretence of reason for people to think themselves secure, and talk as if they had certain proof, that, let them act as licentiously as they will, there can be nothing analogous to this, with regard to a future and more general interest, under the providence and government of the same God?

55

CHAP. III.

Of the Moral Government of God.

As the manifold appearances of design and of final causes, in the constitution of the world, prove it to be the work of an intelligent Mind, so the particular final causes of pleasure and pain, distributed amongst his creatures, prove that they are under his government; what may be called his natural government of creatures, endued with sense and reason. This, however, implies somewhat more than seems usually attended to, when we speak of God's natural government of the world. It implies government of the very same kind with that which a master exercises over his servants, or a civil magistrate over his subjects. These latter instances of final causes as really prove an intelligent Governor of the world, in 'the sense now mentioned, and before * distinctly treated of, as any other instances of final causes prove an intelligent Maker of it.

But this alone does not appear, at first sight, to determine any thing certainly, concerning the moral character of the Author of Nature, considered in this relation of governor; does not ascertain his

*

Chap. 2.

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