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A64084 A brief disquisition of the law of nature according to the principles and method laid down in the Reverend Dr. Cumberland's (now Lord Bishop of Peterboroughs) Latin treatise on that subject : as also his confutations of Mr. Hobb's principles put into another method : with the Right Reverend author's approbation. Tyrrell, James, 1642-1718.; Cumberland, Richard, 1631-1718. De legibus naturae disquisitio philosophica. 1692 (1692) Wing T3583; ESTC R23556 190,990 498

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that of all others though such cases being Indefinite cannot be certainly or distinctly known § 8. But indeed the care of any particular Persons or a few Men's happiness is rendred useless for the present nor can be hoped for the future if it is sought by opposing or postponing the happiness of all other Rationals because the mind being thus affected a main and essential part of its own felicity must needs still be wanting viz. That inward Peace of Conscience proceeding from a solid Reason and true Prudence always constant and agreeable to it self For whilst such a Person resolves to act by one rule towards himself and by another towards all others who are of the same Nature and therefore need and require the same things with himself he must needs contradict his own Reason and so wants that true Joy and Satisfaction constantly springing in the mind of a Just Benevolent and Good-natur'd Person from the sense of another's good and happiness when promoted or procured by himself So that it is impossible for any Man to be truly happy who not only neglects the necessary causes thereof God and all other Men on whose Help and Assistance his true Happiness and Well-being wholly depends but also provokes them to his certain ruine and destruction so that there is no surer way which can bring any Man to the attaining his own particular Happiness but that which leads him also to endeavour the Common Good of all other men as well as his own § 9. But I here acknowledge that this Proposition concerning Universal Benevolence cannot be of sufficient efficacy for the due ordering our Actions and correcting our Manners until we have first propos'd to our selves this Common Good of Rational Beings viz. Our own Felicity in conjunction with that of others as our main end and that we are convinced that the various Acts contain'd under this general Love or Benevolence are the only true means to procure it The truth of which Proposition is in the first place to be made manifest to us in the next all those other Propositions that can be deduced from thence such as are those less general ones which determine concerning the Natural Power of Fidelity Gratitude Paternal and Filial Affection as also of all other particular Vertues necessary for the obtaining any part of this humane Felicity for as well the whole truth of this Proposition as of all those which follow from thence depend upon the Natural and Necessary Power of such Actions as real Causes producing such Effects § 10. And though perhaps it may at first sight seem to detract from their certainty that they depend upon such an uncertain Cause as Man's Will Yet however it suffices for their truth and certainty that whenever such voluntary Causes shall exert themselves such Effects will certainly be produced Thus in Arithmetick we freely Add and Subtract that is we can choose whether we will perform those Operations or not but if we reckon truly we shall always find the Total equal to all the particulars either Added or Subtracted And there is a like certain and true Connexion between all the Causes and Effects which can be known in any other Science And this I have likewise imitated in this Treatise of Moral Philosophy by reducing all the parts of which it consists to this one Head or Summ viz. Love or Benevolence which Idea I shall improve by enquiring into its several Kinds and shewing the necessary Connexion of this or that particular Action with the Common Good of Rationals which ought to be the great end sought for by us § 11. But since our voluntary Actions alone can be govern'd by Reason and those only which concern intelligent Agents are to be considered in Morals it is evident that from none of all these Actions we can frame a higher or more comprehensive Idea than this of Universal Benevolence which comprehends the willing and endeavouring of all good things and the removal or hindring of all evil ones from those Objects about which it is conversant And this Benevolence extends its self to all Moral Actions as well those of considering and comparing divers goods with each other as of inquiring into the means by which they may be produced nor is it more certainly true that the Addition of several numbers makes a Summ Total than that this Benevolence produces a general good effect to all those towards whom we exert it Thus it is as certain that Piety Fidelity Gratitude paternal and conjugal Affection together with filial Duty make up the chief and constituent parts of this Benevolence as that Addition Substraction Multiplication and Division are several parts of Arithmetick so that it is no material Objection That this Universal Benevolence may be prejudiced or lessened by the wickedness or ill-nature of Men. So that the great end or Summ of the Law of Nature cannot be thereby generally obtain'd as it ought any more than it is an Objection against the certainty or usefulness of Arithmetick or Geometry that some Men should through Lazyness and Inadvertency altogether neglect their Rules or make false Conclusions from those Sciences or should through Ignorance or prejudice deny their certainty So likewise it is in the Science of Morality as contain'd in the Law of Nature which is chiefly imploy'd in weighing and taking a true account of those humane Powers that contribute to the Common Good of Rational Beings which since they may vary somewhat in so great a variety of possible Cases he may be said and that deservedly to have well performed this task who first affirms in general that all those Powers are comprehended under the most general and diffusive Benevolence though he may be able afterwards more particularly to demonstrate that a just division of things Fidelity Gratitude and all the other vertues are contain'd under it and also shew in what Cases they become useful to this end by which means Religion and humane Society with all other things which may render Men's lives happy and safe will be certainly improved and advanced And herein consists the Solution of that most useful Problem concerning the Common good of Rationals procur'd by the most diffusive Benevolence which Moral Philosophy teaches us to search after Nor is the truth or authority of such Precepts at all prejudic'd or diminisht though very many Persons will not obey them or will set themselves to oppose them since this only can be the consequence of it That they will thereby lose their own happiness and perhaps may draw others by their false reasons into the same misery and so I doubt not on the other side but that Men would think themselves oblig'd to perform all the Acts that constitute this Benevolence if they were but once convinced that so great and noble an end as the Common Good of Rational Beings and in which their own happiness is likewise contained will be certainly procured thereby and cannot be had by any other or contrary means
all these Difficulties a much easier way only by supposing certain innate Idea's of moral Good and Evil imprest by God upon the Souls of Men. But I must indeed confess my self not yet so happy as to be able thus easily to attain to so great a Perfection as the Knowledge of the Laws of Nature by this natural Instinct or Impression And it doth not seem to me either safe or convenient to lay the whole Stress of Natural Religion and Morality upon an Hypothesis which hath been exploded by all Philosophers except themselves and which can never alone serve to convince those of Epicurean Principles for whom we chiefly design this Work But whosoever will take the Pains to peruse what hath been written against these innate Idea's by the inquisitive and sagacious Author of the late Essay of humane Understanding will find them very hard if not impossible to be proved to have ever been innate in the Souls of Men before they came into the World Therefore as I shall not take upon me absolutely to deny the Being or Impossibility of such Idea's so I shall not make use of any Arguments drawn from thence in this Discourse Though I heartily wish that any Reasons or Motives which may serve to promote true Vertue and Piety may prevail as far as they deserve with all sincere and honest Men. And the same Reasons which deterred me from supposing any natural Laws innate in our Minds have also made me not presently suppose as many do without any due proof That such Idea's have existed in the Divine Intellect from all Eternity And therefore I looked upon it as more proper and necessary to begin from those things which are most known and familiar to us by our Senses and from thence to prove that certain Propositions of immutable Truth prescribing our Care of the Happiness or common Good of all rational Agents considered together are necessarily imprinted upon our Minds from the Nature of things and which the first Cause perpetually determines so to act upon them And that in the Terms of these Propositions are intrinsecally included an evident Declaration of their Truth and certainty as proceeding from God the first Cause in the very intrinsick Constitution of things From whence it will be also manifest that such practical Propositions are truly and properly Laws as being declared and established by due Rewards and Punishments annexed to them by him as the supreme Legislator But after it shall appear that the Knowledge of these Laws and a Practice conformable to them are the highest Perfection or most happy State of our Rational Natures It will likewise follow that a Perfection Analogous to this Knowledge and a Practice conformable to these Laws must necessarily be in the first Cause from whence proceeds not only our own Natural Perfections but also the most wise Ordination of all Effects without us for the common Conservation and Perfection of the whole Natural System or Vniverse which our Eyes daily behold For that is look'd upon by me among the things most certainly prov'd That it must be first known what Iustice is and what those Laws enjoyn in whose Observation all Iustice consists before we can distinctly know that Iustice is to be attributed to God and that his Iustice is to be considered by us as a Pattern or Example for us to imitate Since we do not know God by an immediate Intuition of his Essence or Perfections but only from the outward Effects of his Providence first known by our Senses and Experience Neither is it safe to affix Attributes to him which we cannot sufficiently understand or make out from things without us Having now shewn you in general the difference between our Method and that which others have hitherto followed it is fit we here declare in as few words as we can the chief Heads of those things which we have delivered in this Treatise Supposing therefore those natural Principles concerning the Laws of Motion and Rest sufficiently demonstrated by Naturalists especially such as depend upon Mathematical Principles since we have only here undertaken to demonstrate the true Grounds of Moral Philosophy and to deduce them from some supposed Knowledge of Nature and as they refer to our Moral Practice I have here therefore supposed all the Effects of corporeal Motions which are natural and necessary and performed without any Intervention of humane Liberty to be derived from the Will of the first Cause And 2dly which Mr. H. himself likewise in his Leviathan admits that from the Consideration and Inquisition into these Causes and from the Powers and Operations of natural Bodies may be discovered the Existence of one Eternal Infinite Omnipotent Being which we call God So that every Motion impress'd upon the Organs of our Senses whereby the Mind is carried on to apprehend things without us and to give a right Iudgment upon them is a natural Effect which by the Mediation of other inferiour Causes owes its Original to the first Cause From whence it follows that God by these natural Motions of Causes and Effects delineates the Idea's or Images of all natural and moral Actions on our Minds And that the same God after he hath thus made us draw various Notions from the same Objects does then excite us to compare them with each other and then joyn them together and so determines us to form true Propositions of the things thus singly received and understood So that sometimes a thing is exposed whole and all at once to our View and sometimes it is more naturally considered successively or according to its several parts And the Mind thereby perceives that the Notion of awhole signifies the same with that of all the several Idea's of the particular parts put together and so is thence carried on to make a Proposition of the Identity of the whole with all its parts And can truly affirm that the same Causes which preserve the whole must also conserve all its constituent parts and then from a diligent Contemplation of all these Propositions which may justly challenge the Title of the more general Laws of Nature we may observe that they are all reduceable to one Proposition from whose fit and just Explication all the Limits or Exceptions under which the particular Propositions are proposed may be sought for and discovered as from the Evidence of that one Proposition which may be reduced into this or the like Sence viz. The endeavour as far as we are able of the common good of the whole System of Rational Beings conduces as far as lies in our Power to the good of all its several Parts or Members in which our own Felicity is also contained as part thereof Whereas the Acts opposite to this Endeavour do bring along with them Effects quite opposite thereunto and will certainly procure our own Ruine or Misery at last Therefore the whole Summ of this Proposition may be reduced to these three Things 1. That which concerns the Matter of it
glad if any of Mr. H's Disciples could shew us any sufficient Reason for that Opinion § 17. So that these things which I have now laid down concerning the Natural means of Men's happiness do appear so evident from our common Reason and daily Experience that they are of like certainty with the Principles of Arithmetick and Geometry in all whose Operations there are still supposed certain Acts depending upon our free humane Faculties and yet neither of these Sciences are rendred the more uncertain from the supposition of Men's Free-will whether they will draw Lines or cast up Sums or not since it suffices for their truth and certainty that there is an inseparable Connexion between such Acts which are supposed to be in our Power to exert and all the effects sought for To the finding of which both the pleasure annexed to their Contemplation and the various uses of Humane Life do at once invite us And in the like manner the truth of all Moral Knowledge is founded in the Immutable Coherence between the highest Felicity which Humane Power can attain to with those Acts of universal Benevolence that is of Love towards God and Men and which exerts it self in all the particular moral Vertues yet in the mean time these two things are still supposed That Men desire and seek the highest Felicity they are capable of and also That they are able to exercise this Benevolence not only towards themselves but God and Men as partakers with them of the same Rational or Intelligent Nature This I have thought fit to add to prevent all those Cavils which Mr. H's Disciples are used to make against Morality from the necessity of our Wills § 18. But before I proceed farther to inquire into the Nature of things I desire you to remember what I have already hinted in the Introduction to this Discourse That this truth concerning the efficacy of Universal Benevolence for the Preservation and Happiness of Rational Beings as also all other Propositions alike evident and contained under it do all proceed from God as the first Cause and Ordainer of all things and consequently of our Humane Understanding and of all truths therein contained And since these Rules drawn from the Natures of things tend to the procuring God's End and Design viz. The Preservation and Happiness of Mankind and also that it hath pleased Him to annex certain natural Rewards to the Observation of these Dictates of Reason and Punishments to their Transgression so that they thereby becoming apt and sufficient for the due ordering of our Thoughts and governing our Actions towards God our selves and all others as I shall farther make out in this Discourse I see nothing wanting to give it the Essence and Vigour of a Law And I shall farther shew before I have done that under this general Rule of endeavouring the Common Good of Rational Beings or Universal Benevolence is contained Piety towards God and the highest Good-will or Charity towards Men and is the Summ both of the Moral Law of Moses and of the Gospel of our Saviour Iesus Christ. § 19. These Things being thus proposed in general I come now more particularly to shew that a due Observation and Knowledge of these natural Things without us will truly and clearly teach us what Operations or Motions of them are good or evil for all other Men as well as our selves and also shew us how necessarily and unalterably all these Things are produced for Natural Knowledge searches into the true Causes of that Generation and Corruption which daily happens to all Natural Bodies and especially to Men and so can demonstrate the necessary coherence of these Effects with their Causes and therefore those Causes that help to generate or preserve Men and that make them live happily in this Life are Natural Goods as the Causes of their Misery and Dissolution are Natural Evils And it then as plainly follows That by this Knowledge we can as certainly demonstrate and foretell what Things are naturally Good or Evil for all Mankind as for any single Person § 20. Therefore we may truly conclude That the Knowledge of all these Effects which either Nature or Humane Industry can produce for Men's Food Clothing Habitation and Medicine is part of this Natural Knowledge To which we may also add the understanding of all other Humane Operations and of the Effects proceeding from thence for the Uses of Humane Life For although the voluntary Actions of Men as they exert themselves towards Things without them do not work exactly after the same manner as meer Mechanick Motions viz. from the Pulsion or Motion of other Bodies but either from their Reasons or Wills yet since all the outward Motions we exert receive their Measure and Force from the Natural Powers of Humane Bodies which are of the same Nature with others and so must perform their Natural Functions as they are regulated by the necessary Laws of Matter and Motion much after the same manner as other Natural Motions it is evident that these voluntary Actions whenever they are thus exerted are regulated by the same Natural Laws And it is commonly known how much Men's Industry by the various Motions of their Bodies which a Philosopher can easily resolve into mechanick ones does contribute to their own and other Men's Preservation by providing and administring Victuals Cloths Physick Houses c. In performing which Effects Men's Strength and Skill in Husbandry Building Navigation and other manual Trades are chiefly employ'd Nor are the Liberal Arts absolutely free from these Laws of Motion since by the help of certain sensible Signs and articulate Notes or Marks as Words Letters or Cyphers the Minds of Men come to be endued with Knowledge and directed in most of their Civil and Moral Duties I have only thought fit to hint thus much concerning Humane Actions considered as meer Natural Things existing without us but I shall treat more fully of them in the next Chapter when I come to treat of the Nature of Man considered as a voluntary Agent § 21. Hence it plainly appears That all these Natural Things and the mutual Helps by which they are procured may be certainly known and foreseen by us to be naturally and unalterably Good that is tending to the Preservation and Happiness of Mankind And for the same Reason all those contrary Causes or Motions by which Men's Bodies are weakened or destroyed by lessening or taking away the Necessaries and Conveniences of Life such as Food Rayment Liberty Quiet c. And also those Actions by which Vertue and Knowledge may be rooted out of Men's Minds and Errours and unbridled Passions destructive to the Common Good of Mankind introduced into their Rooms are necessarily and in their own Nature Evil. Therefore when we determine of Natural Goods or Evils according to the Law of Nature we are not only to consider the Preservation of a few particular Persons since the Punishment nay Death of these may often conduce to the Common Good
Occupancy or Possession since it is evident That this more exact Property or Dominion consisting in a stricter and more limitted use of these Things hath a greater efficacy in order to the Happiness and Preservation of that Nation or part of Mankind which have thus agreed to it than the bare Occupancy or Possession of these Things had before such a Division made or agreed upon nor can it now be altered however perhaps hard and unequal it may prove to some particular Persons since it will always conduce to the Happiness and Tranquility of each particular Civil Society or Commonweal that it should continue as it doth than it should be still altered according to every Man 's particular Fancy or Interest since such a Change can never be made without inconceivable Discontents and Civil Dissentions which would quickly end in open Violence and Hostility § 30. So that from these Principles here laid down there is no Right conferred upon any Man of doing whatever his own wild Fancy or unbounded Appetite may prompt him to but only what he shall according to right Reason truly judge necessary to his own or Family's Happiness and Preservation in order to the Common Good of Mankind Therefore I here desire you to take notice that whatever Right we enjoy even to the things most necessary for our Preservation it is founded if not in the Precept yet at least permission of this great Law of Nature of endeavouring the Common Good of Rational Beings when we truly judge according to the Nature of things concerning the means necessary and conducing to this great End so that it can never be proved that any one hath a right of Preserving himself unless it be first made out how this Right of Self-preservation conduces to or at least consists with this Common Good Since no Rational Man can ever believe that God intended the Preservation much less the Sensual Pleasures of any one Man as the Sole End of His Creation Which Principle being once established as the Foundation and Original of all the Natural or Civil Rights we enjoy our own natural Powers and Rights will appear so limitted thereby that we cannot without injury and injustice violate or invade the Rights of others much less break out into open War against them without just Cause nay all those Arguments by which any one Man can assume a Right to Preserve himself by the Law of Nature will likewise be of the same force to prove that he ought to Preserve others also and that it can never become lawful for us in any State to rob Innocent Persons of what is necessary for their Well-being and Preservation but rather on the contrary that all Men's natural Rights should be secured from the mischiefs of unreasonable Violence and War and Contention which natural Security in a Civil State or Commonweal is highly improved and encreased by the Assistance of Humane Skill and Industry according to the established Laws of Property or Dominion § 31. I have spoken thus much concerning the necessary Connexion between the particular Actions above mentioned and the Common Good of Mankind that by considering their relation to this Great End the Nature of all Humane Actions may more certainly be known and predetermined Since the Dependance of natural Effects on their Causes are absolutely necessary and immutable for as well in the state of Nature or Community as of Civil Society or separate Property those Humane Actions which cause or procure that the minds of all other Persons should not be prejudiced by Errors Lyes or Perfidiousness nor their Bodies hurt nor their Lives Goods Fames and Chastities violated or taken away and also by which a grateful return is rendred to those that have done us good or in short all those Actions by which the true happiness of any one Man or more is procured without injury to others as they always were so they ever will be the certain Causes of the Common Good and Happiness of Mankind and are therefore distinguished by the Titles of moral Vertues as I shall more at large demonstrate in this Discourse when I come to shew how all moral Vertues are derived from and at last resolved into this Principle of the Common Good of Rational Beings But least the variousness of the Observations treated of in this Chapter and their Independance upon each other should render them perplext and consequently unconvincing to Common Readers who may not be able to carry so long a train of consequences in their minds I shall contract what hath been now said into these few plain Propositions 1. That though all particular men are mortal and but of a short duration yet that God hath still preserved mankind without any sensible failure or decay 2. That in Order to this God hath made man to be propagated by Generation and also to be preserved by divers outward means which we call necessaries of Life 3. That these Natural means can no way answer this End but as they are allowed or appropriated to the uses and occasions of particular Persons during the time they stand in need of them and so cannot at the same time answer the different or contrary desires and necessities of divers men endeavouring to use these things after contrary or different manner 4. That the taking away those necessaries of Life which another is rightly possessed of doth not only cause the ruine and destruction of that Person and his Family who were thus possessed of them but by causing a perpetual strife among Mankind will render these things uncapable of being made use of at all for their Common Good and Preservation 5. That such a Strife if prosecuted to the utmost will certainly end in the destruction not only of particular Persons and Nations but of all mankind contrary to God's design 6. From all which we may Rationally collect that God designs the Preservation and Happiness of Mankind as also of all Individual Persons as parts of it as far as their frail and mortal Natures will permit and in subordination to the good of the whole body thereof 7. That therefore there are no surer means to procure this great End of the Common Good of Mankind than an Universal Benevolence towards Rational Beings consisting First in Divine Love or Piety towards God and in Respect of Men not only in permitting each other quietly to enjoy all the necessaries of Life but also in making a settled division of them to others so as to be appropriated to several mens uses or occasions which dictates being given us by God as a rule of all our moral Actions in the exercise of which is contained our truest Happiness as in its violation our greatest Misery is therefore truly and properly a Law and indeed the Summ of all the Laws of Nature CHAP. II. Observations and Conclusions drawn from the consideration of Humane Nature and Right Reason as also from the Nature of God § 1. HAving in the former Chapter drawn such easie
and obvious Observations from the Nature of those things without us which we daily stand in need and make use of as may serve to prove after what manner we ought to make use of them and whence that Right arises we have to them I come now to make the like Observations from the Nature of Mankind in order to the proving that we are designed by God for the Good and Preservation of others besides our selves and that in the doing of this we procure as far as lies in our Power the Good and Happiness of all Rational Beings in which our own is likewise included To perform this task I shall first take notice of those Qualities or Properties that belong to man 1 as a meer Natural Body 2 such as belong to him as an Animal 3 such as are peculiar to him as a Rational Creature endued with a higher and nobler Principle than Brutes viz. an Immortal Soul § 2. To begin with the first of these it is evident that as a Natural Body he is endued with these Properties common to all other Natural Bodies First that all his motions in which his Life Strength and Health consist do all proceed from God the first and Original or Cause of them and are necessarily complicated with and depend upon the motions of innumerable other Bodies among which the Corporeal motions of others which do often limit and restrain our own are first and chiefly to be considered 2 That from them as from other Bodies motion may be propagated Indefinitely and which does not perish but concur with other motions to perpetuate the Succession of things that is contribute to the conservation of the Universe and as the former teaches us that a particular end viz. our own Preservation depends upon our Common or joynt Forces or Natural Powers so this latter instructs us that such Powers and motions of particular Persons are often most Beneficial and conducing to the Common Good of all men The first of these Conclusions forbids us to hope for or endeavour our own private Good or Happiness as separate and distinct from that of all others and so excites us to seek the Common Good of Rationals as the Original of our own particular Happiness The other Conclusion shews that this endeavour of the Common Good can never prove in vain or to no purpose since it concurrs with the Will of God and conduces to the Preservation of the Universe and of all Humane Creatures therein contain'd and farther that in each complicated motion as well in that towards which divers Causes concurr for the Preservation of any Body for a certain time as also in that whereby each particular Body concurrs to the Conservation of the whole System There is a certain order still observed whereby some motions are necessarily determined by others in a continual Series or Succession all which are yet governed or over-ruled by the motion of the whole System of Natural Bodies And although this sort of Contemplation may seem remote from common use yet is it not to be contemned as altogether unprofitable in Humane Affairs for it makes us more distinctly perceive from some certain general Principles how necessary a constant and certain order is amongst those Causes that Act from Corporeal forces so that many of them may each in their order Successively concurr to an effect foreseen or designed by us and farther shews us a rule how we may certainly judge what Cause does more or less contribute to the Effect sought for or desired so that from the Natural Power of these Causes their Order Dignity or Power in respect to each Effect are to be determined and judged of and we are taught from the Nature of things as well what Causes are to be most esteemed for those good Effects they have or may produce as also which are most diligently to be sought for the obtaining those ends which we desire and by which means it may be also known that those Causes which Philosophers call Universal viz. God the first Cause and the motion of the Celestial Bodies as proceeding from Him are the Original Causes of the Common Good or Happiness of Mankind a part of which we either always do actually or can hope to enjoy § 3. But omitting those Motions which are not in our Power to influence or alter it is certain that among the things which are in either our Power to do or forbear those voluntary Humane motions proceeding from an Universal Benevolence of all Men towards all others are the principal Causes of their Common Happiness and in which every one's private Good is included Since from this source proceed all those Actions by which Men's Innocence and Fidelity towards each other are preserved as also by which Humanity Gratitude and almost all the other Vertues are exerted and performed after as certain a manner as the Natural motions of the Spirits Bowels Nerves and Joynts in an Animal do wholly proceed from the motion of the Heart and Circulation of the Blood which judgment or determination being taken from the Nature of things duly considered should without doubt cause us to yield Obedience to all the Laws of Nature as contributing to this Common Good of Rational Agents and may make us also diligently to take care that the same be observed by others so that there may be nothing wanting that can be done by us whereby we may not be rendered as happy as our frail Natures in this will allow since right reason can propose no higher or nobler End than this of all our moral Actions § 4. Yet whilst we compare the Aggregate Body of mankind as far as we can Act by Corporeal force with the Natural Systems of other Bodies I am not unmindful of the manifest difference there is between them viz. That all the Effects of meer Corporeal Systems are produced by the Contiguity and immediate Operation of Bodies moving upon others that are to be moved by them without any Sense Deliberation or Liberty which are only to be found in Humane Actions in whose Motions and Operations on each other though a great difference often intervenes yet for all that it is evident that the Corporeal Powers of Men when exerted are subject to the same Laws of motion with other Bodies and that divers Men may often cooperate to one certain Effect relating to the Good or Hurt of others so that there is the same necessity of a Subordination between Humane motions as there is between those of other Bodies And I must here farther take notice that Men have frequent opportunities of meeting together and also many other means by which they may hurt or help each other by Words Writing or other Actions So that if we consider the Nature of Mankind in the whole course of their Lives it ought to be considered as one entire System of Bodies consisting of several particular parts So that nothing almost can be done in Relation to any Man's Life Family or Fortune which doth
therein contain'd as far as consists with that frail and Mortal state wherein He hath Created them This Proposition hath already been made out in the First Part of this Discourse wherein I have proved that the Preservation and continuance of all the Species of Creatures and consequently of Mankind as one of them does wholly depend upon God's Providence And as for the Individuals or particular Persons since God's Knowledge is Infinite and extends even to the least things and also that of these Particulars each Species of Creatures is made up and consists It is likewise as evident that God designs their Good and Preservation as well as that of the whole kind though I grant He prefers the Good of the whole Species before that of the Individuals 2. It is the Will of God that all Men of sound Minds should be made conscious of this His intention of the Good and Preservation of Mankind and that they should operate as His Subordinate means or Instruments towards this great End Which I shall prove thus 1. It is evident that all Men of sound Minds have a notion of the Good and Happiness of others as well as of themselves 2dly That this Notion or Idea when truly pursued will at last extend it self to all Mankind for it can never stop short of it as long as it may still proceed farther and find new and fit Objects to work on every Individual Member of Mankind making a part of this Universal Idea 3. That this Notion of endeavouring the Common Good of Rational Beings is not only possible to be performed but is also highly Rational and the greatest and noblest End we can imagine or propose to our selves as comprehending the Good and Happiness of the whole System of Rational Beings and is also true i. e. agreeable with the Divine Intellect which I thus make out these grounds being supposed § 4. First It is certain that all the truths our Minds are endued with or capable of are from God since whatever perfection is found in the effect must needs have been first more eminently in its Cause Therefore if the Knowledge of Truth be a perfection as doubtless it is it must be much more so in God the Original Cause thereof so that if this Idea of the Common Good of Rational Beings as the highest Good we Men are capable of knowing it being a clear and perfect though complext Idea drawn from the Nature of God and all other things and being a Collection of the Good and Happiness of the Deity and of all other Rational Agents it must be true and consequently from God And the Divine Intellect doth as certainly agree with our Idea's concerning it as it doth when we judge that the Base of an Equilateral Triangle is equal to either of the Crura or Legs Therefore this Idea of the Common Good is true and that it is also certain that all Truth is from God as likewise that He hath made us truly to understand that he Wills the Good and Happiness of Mankind it is likewise as certain that he would have us act as Rational Agents conscious of this His great design § 5. The Second Part of this Proposition viz. That God would have us Operate as his Instruments to this End will be likewise as clear when you consider what I have already said That God who hath made nothing in vain would not have endued us with an Idea of this Common Good as the greatest End we can propose our selves for mere Speculation but rather for some practical End in order to our own Good and Happiness with that of others especially since God hath placed it so much in our Power to promote and procure this Common Good since as far as we endeavour the Good and Happiness of particular Persons we do so far contribute our share to that of Mankind considered as one aggregate Body Thus whatsoever does good to any one Member does so far benefit the whole Body and the Good and Happiness of an aggregate Body consisting of divers distinct Members consists in that of each of its parts So then if God intends the End viz. the Common Good of Mankind as I have already proved he designs likewise the means to produce it Nor can there be any better means or fitter Instruments for this End than the joint Endeavours of all Men expressed by all the Acts of Benevolence and Kindness towards each other since it is certain as I said before that Men can contribute more to the Hurt or Benefit of each other than all the rest of the Creatures put together Therefore as God hath designed the End and ordained sufficient means to produce it viz. Men's kind and benevolent Actions so it is as evident That he will make use of Men as the necessary means for this End Tho' I grant he hath ordained us to operate not only as mechanick Causes but rather as free and voluntary Agents to produce it that is as true Subjects to this Law of Nature Thus by the same steps that we arrive at the knowledge of God the Supreme Being we are likewise brought to an acknowledgment of this his great Design of the Common Good of Rational Beings And if from all the wonderful Observations and curious Contrivances observed in this last Chapter drawn from the Nature of Things and Mankind we cannot but conclude That they were so disposed by a most Wise Intelligent Being towards this great End And the very same appearances that discover these Things must likewise declare his Intention of making use of us men as necessary means thereunto § 7. The last Proposition for the proving this Description of the Law of Nature to be true is this That GOD having made this Discovery of his Will unto us we thereupon lie under a sufficient Obligation to observe this great Law of endeavouring this Common Good To prove which I first suppose that Obligation to an Action enjoyned by the natural Law is the necessary and constant effect thereof upon every Person subject to it and that this immediately results from its own Nature this Law being always just and right as the Will of GOD the Legislator is from whence it proceeds So that I understand Obligation to Active Obedience to be the immediate effect of this Law yet that it primarily flows from that Will of GOD which ordained this Law and made Man a Creature subject to it as Heat in us is the immediate Effect or Action of Fire upon us but originally both the Fire and Heat is from the first Cause Now there is no legal Liberty left us in the case of natural Laws to chuse whether we will be obliged to the Actions therein commanded or rather will submit to the Punishment attending the Violation thereof and although our natural Liberty of Will be not destroyed thereby yet we have no Right left us to determine our selves otherwise than natural Law directs because all Moral Truth or Rectitude is comprehended
of the Heathen Philosophers above all other knowledge whether Natural or Civil and that deservedly as well in respect of its usefulness as certainty since it was to that alone as most agreeable to the Natural Faculties of Mankind that Men before they were assisted by Divine Revelation owed the Discovery of their Natural Duties to God themselves and all others as Cicero hath shewn us at large in those three excellent Treatises De Officiis De Finibus and De Legibus And tho' I grant we Christians have now clearer and higher Discoveries of all Moral Duties by the Light of the Gospel yet is the Knowledge of Natural Religion or the Laws of Nature still of great use to us as well for the confirmation as illustration of all those Duties since by their Knowledge and the true Principles on which they are founded we may be convinced that God requires nothing from us in all the practical Duties of revealed Religion but our reasonable Service that is what is really our own interest and concerns our good and happiness to observe as the best and most perfect Rule of Life whether God had ever farther enforced them or not by any revealed Law And tho' I do not deny that our Saviour Jesus Christ hath highly advanced and improved these Natural Laws by more excellent and refined Precepts of Humility Charity and Self-denial than were discovered before by the wisest of the Heathen Philosophers especially as to the greater assurance we have of that grand Motive to Religion and Vertue the immortality of the Soul or a Life either eternally happy or miserable when this is ended Yet certainly it was this Law of Nature or Reason alone by which