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The supreme cause, therefore, and author of all things, PROP. since (as has already been proved,) he must of necessity have infinite knowledge, and the perfection of wisdom, so that it is absolutely impossible he should err, or be in any respect ignorant of the true relations and fitness or unfitness of things, or be by any means deceived or imposed upon herein; and since he is likewise self-existent, absolutely independent and all-powerful; so that, having no want of any thing, it is impossible his will should be influenced by any wrong affection, and having no dependence; it is impossible his power should be limited by any superior strength, it is evident he must of necessity, (meaning, not a necessity of fate, but such a moral necessity as I before said was consistent with the most perfect liberty,) do always what he knows to be fittest to be done; that is, he must act always according to the strictest rules of infinite goodness, justice, and truth, and all other moral perfections. In particular, the supreme cause must, in the first place, be infinitely good; that is, he must have an unalterable disposition to do and to communicate good or happiness; because, being himself necessarily happy in the eternal enjoyment of his own infinite perfections, he cannot possibly have any other motives to make any creatures at all, but only that he may communicate to them his own perfections, according to their different capacities, arising from that variety of natures which it was fit for infinite wisdom to produce; and according to their different improvements, arising from that liberty which is essentially necessary to the constitution of intelligent and active beings. That he must be infinitely good, appears likewise further from hence; that, being necessarily all-sufficient, he must consequently be infinitely removed from all malice and envy, and from all other possible causes or temptations of doing evil, which, it is evident, can only be effects of want and weakness, of imperfection or depravation. Again, the supreme cause and author of all things, must in like manner be infinitely just; because, the
PROP. rule of equity being nothing else but the very naXII._ture of things, and their necessary relations one to another; and the execution of justice being nothing else but a suiting the circumstances of things to the qualifications of persons, according to the original fitness and agreeableness which I have before shown to be necessarily in nature, antecedent to will and to all positive appointment, it is manifest that he who knows perfectly this rule of equity, and necessarily judges of things as they are; who has complete power to execute justice according to that knowledge, and no possible temptation to deviate in the least therefrom; who can neither be imposed upon by any deceit, nor swayed by any bias, nor awed by any power,-must, of necessity, do always that which is right, without iniquity, and without partiality; without prejudice, and without respect of persons. Lastly, that the supreme cause and author of all things must be true and faithful, in all his declarations and all his promises, is most evident. the only possible reason of falsifying, is either rashness or forgetfulness, inconstancy or impotency, fear of evil, or hope of gain; from all which* an infinitely wise, all-sufficient, and good being must of necessity be infinitely removed; and consequently, as it is impossible for him to be deceived himself, so neither is it possible for him in any wise to deceive others. In a word, all evil and all imperfections whatsoever arise plainly either from shortness of understanding, defect of power, or faultiness of will; and this last, evidently from some impotency, corruption, or depravation; being nothing else but a direct choosing to act contrary to the known reason and nature of things. From all which, it being manifest that the supreme cause and author of all things cannot but be infinitely removed, it follows undeniably that he must of necessity be a being of in
Οὐκ ἔστιν ὗ ἕνεκα ἂν θεός ψευδοτο. Κομιδῆ ἄρα ὁ θεὸς ἁπλᾶν καὶ ἀληθὲς ἔν τε ἔργῳ καὶ ἐν λόγῳ. Καὶ ἔτε αὐτος μεθίσταται, ἔτε ἄλλες ἐξαπα τᾶ, ἔτε κατὰ φαντασίας, ἔτε κατὰ λόγες, ἔτε κατὰ σημείων πομπάς, ἔν Srag o vag. Plato de Repub. lib. 2, sub finem.
finitegoodness, justice, and truth, and all other moral PROP, perfections.
To this argumentation a priori, there can be opposed but one objection that I know of drawn on the contrary, a posteriori, from experience and observation of the unequal distributions of providence in the world. But (besides the just vindication of the wisdom and goodness of providence in its dispensations, even with respect to this present world only, which Plutarch and other heathen writers have judiciously made,) the objection itself is entirely wide of the question. For, concerning the justice and goodness of God, (as of any governor whatsoever,) no judgment is to be made from a partial view of a few - small portions of his dispensations, but from an entire consideration of the whole; and, consequently, not only the short duration of this present state, but moreover all that is past and that is still to come, must be taken into the account: and then every thing will clearly appear just and right.
From this account of the moral attributes of God, it follows:
1st. That though all the actions of God are entirely The neces free, and consequently the exercise of his moral at- God's motributes cannot be said to be necessary, in the same ral attrisense of necessity as his existence and eternity are sistent necessary; yet these moral attributes are really and with pertruly necessary, by such a necessity, as, though it be fect libernot at all inconsistent with liberty, yet is equally certain, infallible, and to be depended upon, as even the existence itself, or the eternity of God. For though nothing is more certain (as has been already proved in the ninth proposition of this discourse,) than that God acts, not necessarily, but voluntarily, with particular intention and design, knowing that he does good, and intending to do so, freely and out of choice, and when he has no other constraint upon him but this, that his goodness inclines his will to communicate himself and to do good; so that the divine nature is under no necessity but such as is con
PROP. sistent with the most perfect liberty and freest choice; XII. (which is the ground of all our prayers and thanksgivings, the reason, why we pray to him to be good to us and gracious, and thank him for being just and merciful; whereas no man prays to him to be omnipresent, or thanks him for being omnipotent, or for knowing all things :) though nothing, I say, is more certain than that God acts, not necessarily, but voluntarily; yet it is nevertheless as truly and absolutely impossible for God not to do (or to do any thing contrary to) what his moral attributes require him to do; as if he was really not a free but a necessary agent. And the reason hereof is plain: because infinite knowledge, power, and goodness in conjunction, may, notwithstanding the most perfect freedom and choice, act with altogether as much certainty and unalterable steadiness, as even the necessity of fate can be supposed to do. Nay, these perfections cannot possibly but so act; because free choice, in a being of infinite knowledge, power, and goodness, can no more choose to act contrary to these perfections, than knowledge can be ignorance, power be weakness, or goodness malice; so that free choice, in such a being, may be as certain and steady a principle of action as the necessity of fate. We may, therefore, as certainly and infallibly rely upon the moral as upon the natural attributes of God; it being as absolutely impossible for him to act contrary to the one as to divest himself of the other; and as much a contradiction to suppose him choosing to do any thing inconsistent with his justice, goodness, and truth, as to suppose him divested of infinity, power, or existence. The one is contrary to the immediate and absolute necessity of his nature, the other to the unalterable rectitude of his will: The one is in itself an immediate contradiction in the terms, the other is an express contradiction to the necessary perfections of the divine nature. To suppose the one, is saying absolutely that something is, at the same time that it is not; to suppose the other, is to say that infinite knowledge can act ig
norantly, infinite power weakly, or that infinite PROP. wisdom and goodness can do things not good or XII. wise to be done: All which are equally great and equally manifest absurdities. This, I conceive, is a very intelligible account of the moral attributes of God, satisfactory to the mind, and without perplexity and confusion of ideas: I might have said it at once, (as the truth most certainly is,) that justice, goodness, and all the other moral attributes of God, are as essential to the divine nature as the natural attributes of eternity, infinity, and the like. But because all atheistical persons, after they are fully convinced that there must needs be in the universe some one eternal, nécessary, infinite, and all-powerful being, will still, with unreasonable obstinacy, contend that they can by no means see any necessary connexion of goodness, justice, or any other moral attribute, with these natural perfections; therefore, I chose to endeavour to demonstrate the moral attributes by a particular deduction, in the manner I have now done.
2dly. From hence it follows, that though God is of the nea most perfectly free agent, yet he cannot but do al- cessity of ways what is best and wisest in the whole. The rea- ing always son is evident; because perfect wisdom and good- what is ness are as steady and certain principles of action fittest in as necessity itself. And an infinitely wise and good the whole. being, indued with the most perfect liberty, can no more choose to act in contradiction to wisdom and goodness than a necessary agent can act contrary to the necessity by which it is acted: it being as great an absurdity and impossibility in choice, for infinite wisdom to choose to act unwisely, or infinite goodness to choose what is not good; as it would be in nature for absolute necessity to fail of producing its necessary effect. There was indeed no necessity in nature, that God should at first create such beings as he has created, or indeed any beings at all; because he is in himself infinitely happy and allsufficient. There was also no necessity in nature that he should preserve and continue things in being