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laws he has instituted for the general welfare of himself and his subjects.
The next thing to be considered in this proposition is the laws of God to man, and to observe whether they confirm and corroborate the gracious and merciful character God has been pleased to give of himself, or whether they militate against it, by being in any respect arbitrary, unreasonable, grievous, or beyond the ability of man to accomplish. · As God thought proper to create man a free agent, with a mind and intellect capable of adoring, worshipping, and honouring him; at the same time quite equal to the knowledge of the virtue of obedience to the particular injunction first commanded him, and, by the express communication of God himself, well and fully apprised of the criminality of disobeying that injunction; likewise as he was created with feelings of gratitude, and a sense of obligations conferred, it seeins by no means incongruous to reason that God should be pleased to make trial of that free agency and portion of intellect which he had bestowed on his new-formed creatures, and that he should put both these to some test, compatible with the powers with which our first parents were endued. And surely, in the situation in which they were placed, no one can think, if God allowed them to eat freely of every tree in Paradise but one, that to abstain from that one
was a test at all grievous, or beyond their power to obey; or, if they considered, and they had full power to consider, that they owed their existence and their entire happiness to God, but that their feelings of gratitude, a sense of their obligations, and especially the fear of that punishment they were told they should incur by their disobedience, might altogether weigh so properly and forcibly on their minds, as to have induced them to resist the violation of an express command of God, and to have rejected a temptation to sin against it, which a being to them unknown impiously suggested, however artfully that suggestion might be made. Notwithstanding what man may. think proper rashly, and presumptuously to decide on this subject, we have good authority from Scripture to infer, that God himself thought very differently, (" he himself made man from the begin
ning, and left him in the hands of his own " counsel *,') and that the powers of resistance with which our first parents were endued were quite equal to the trial to which they were appointed; for otherwise it bears infinitely too hard on our ideas of God's wisdom and goodness to have destined them to it, and much too hard on his justice to inflict a dire and heavy punishment for a conduct they had neither power to obviate
* Eccles: xv. 14,
or control. Indeed it appears a direct affront to the wisdom of God to assert, that our first parents had not full power to comply with God's injunction to them, had they only properly exerted that power; for Eve's speech to the serpent, in acknowledging that she was not only not to eat; but not to touch, the fruit of the forbidden tree, equally implies that she was fully apprised of God's will in this respect, of the danger of her disobedience, and of her power to refrain, if she had chosen to do so; and fully justifies Lord Bacon's remark on this subject, of the greatness of her crime, in making her own will the measure of good and evil, instead of respecting and obeying the will of God as to that measure and decision : and a most heinous sin this was, is, and ever will be, in any created being, and such as will doubtless attract the high displeasure and punishment of Almighty God; yet this very crime all Deists, Atheists, and despisers of revealed religion, are guilty of at this day.
Since the fall of man, the commands of God are so far from being grievous, that they are such as his reason and conscience must tell him are all calculated in the highest degree for the promotion either of his social or his individual happiness, for that of his temporal as well as his eternal felicity.' What are all the commandments in the Decalogue, but so many rules for the accomplishment of the
general welfare of the human species, forbidding such crimes as strike at the existence of its happiness, and enjoining an observance of that virtuous and pious career of conduct, which does not ask, but commands the esteem and respect of man, and in which consists the very essence of human felicity ? Collect all the ethics, all the best systems and moral observations of Pythagoras, Plato, Socrates, and of those excellent men Epictetus and Marcus Antoninus; put them all together, and add to them the essence of the codes of Solon, Justinian, and Theodosius, and see if you can make an extract from the whole, which shall comprise, such practical rules for the general economy of human life, so compendious and so intelligible to all ranks of men, as are comprised in these two short sentences; "Do justly, love mercy, and “ walk humbly with thy God. Whatsoever ye “ would that men should do unto you, do ye also “ unto them.”
The Psalmist thus describes the laws of God; “ The statutes of the Lord are perfect, converting “ the soul, and making wise the simple; right, " rejoicing the heart; pure, enlightening the eyes; " true and righteous altogether: more to be de" sired than gold, yea, than much fine gold: : “ sweeter also than honey and the honey-cumb;' "and in keeping them there is great reward:”. and that the law of God's mouth was better to
“ him than thousands of gold and silver.” If the laws of God to man, then, so far from being in any respect grievous, or beyond his ability to perform, are such as his reason and conscience are obliged to confess are calculated to promote his social and individual bliss in the highest degree, his temporal as well as his eternal happiness; (for the restrictions in those laws are all calculated to curb and keep under subjection the bad, and to call into action and exertion the good passions of his mind;) and since God has assured him that he shall not be tempted above what he is able to bear, but that a way shall be made for his escape; and since God graciously promises to pardon his crimes on repentance and amendment; can' the goodness of God be more fully displayed, can it be better illustrated, than in this his longsuffering and merciful conduct to the human species ? And ought not the consideration of this goodness to influence and induce man to strive with all his might to yield up his heart and soul to him, and to make an obedience to these laws the basis of his whole conduct? Can he be so irrational as to expect that the thing formed can know the springs of the liuman mind, or the efficient causes of that essential happiness in which its true and real welfare consists, as the Being who formed and framed it? It is impiety, it is folly in the extreme, to foster and entertain so absurd an opinion. The