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kind have, either the Laws of Nature, or the revealed Will of God, we may do either good or evil, and may deserve either Rewards or Punishments, and then we may be judged too. : . III. Whatever Being acts by Necessity or Fate, not by Choice, is no more capable of being judged than the Winds and Seas are, or any other natural and necessary Causes; for where there is no choice, there is neither moral good nor evil; But Man is a free Agent, who not only knows the difference between good and evil, but can chuse the good, arid refuse the evil, and therefore he is capable of praise or blame, of rewards or punishments, for the good or evil which he does; that is, he may be called to an account, and be judged for what he does.'
;: Especially, IV. If he be an Inferior,and subordinate Creature, who has a Superior to judge him: "To judge indeed is anact of Superior Authority and Power, and therefore those who have noneabove them, cannot be judged; but an Inferior is by the condition of his nature, or circumstances of life, obnoxious to the Judgment of his Superiors; For the very notion of a Superior and Inferior signifies to govern, and to be governed; to judge, and to be judged. An Inferior is obnoxious to ishe Judgment of his Superior, who may judge him if he pleases; and this is the condition of all Mankind, if we believe that there is a God above us, who is our Natural Lord. '1' ; So that Man by his very nature and condition was made to be judgedwhich is a very good ar-. gument that he shall be judged , if we will but allow, that God will govern all Creatures according to their natures; which is essential to the Wis; - . - '- , ,'- '' ,- dom dom and Justice of his Government: As to take a particular review of this matter.:
1. If it be naturally decent and fitting, that a reasonable Creature should give a reason of his Actions, why should we doubt, whether the wise Governor of the World will require a reason of him, and call him to an acdbunt? Reason makes us capable of giving an account of our Actions, and which is more than that, it makes us sensible, that we ought to give an account; our own minds exact an account of us, and when we cannot give a good account to our selves, we blush alone, when nobody sees us ; nay, Reason makes us so liable to give an account, that it requires no Authority to ask it, it is what we ov/e to all Mankind, and the meanest man may expect it from us, as well as our Judge; and When we cannot give a reasonable account of our Actions, a Child or Beggar shall shame and confound us, whatever our Quality or Character be. And it would seem strange, if Reason should make us accountable to all the World but only to God, who is the Sovereign Lord of all; that God should make us accountable to our selves, and to all other reasonable Beings, but not to himself.
2. If GOD have given man a Rule of Life, and a natural Measure of Good and Evil, can it be thought that he will require no account of him, whether he keeps or breaks these Laws? For to what purpose then did he give 'em? How contemptible are Laws without a Sanction,, or a Sanction without a Judge todilpence Rewards and Punishments ? To give Laws without taking notice how they are observed, or punishing the breach
'13 L of of them, is so very absurd, that no Human Government was ever wholly guilty of such Folly and why should we charge God with such Absurdities in Government, as would be ridiculous, in Men? If we will but allow God as much Wisdom and Discretion as an Earthly prince, we may certainly conclude, That if he nave given Laws to•men, he will judge them by those Laws.
3. There is no way of governing a free Agent as man is, but by Hopes and Fears, by Rewards and Punishments ; For Force and Violence is not the Government of a free Agent, because it destroys its liberty; so that if God govern Mankind at all, he must judge them: that is, he. must Reward or Punish them according to the Good or Evil they do; and though this does not directly and immediately prove a Future Judgment, yet it is a fair step towards it, as will appear more hereafter: All that I desire to conclude from hence at present is only this. That if God govern Men like reasonable Creatures, he must ;udge them; and if we have as great assurance that God will judge the world, as we hare that he governs it, there is an end of this Dispute, to men who believe a God and a Providence.
Nay, indeed we need only suppose that man was made by a wife Being, to prove that he shall be judged; i. e. that he shall be rewarded or pur nistied for all the Good or' Evil that he does in the world; for a Wife Being will take care to govern the Creatures which he makes, and to govern them in such a wavas is agreeable to the Nature he has given themj and since Man, who js a free Agent, can be governed only by Hopes' and. Fears, God would never have made man; had he not intended to judge him; that is, he would never have made such a Creature as can be governed only by the hope of Rewards, and by the fear of Punishments, had he not resolved to lay these restraints upon him, to Reward and Punish him according to his Works. How necessary Rewards and Punishments are to the Government of Mankind we fee in Human Societies, which cannot subsist without them: notwithstanding the severest Laws, and the severest Executions, every Age, and every Country produces great prodigies of Wickedness, which no doubt would be much greater and more numerous, were there no Laws and Government to restrain them; and when the universal experience of Mankind convinces the World of the necessity of Laws and Government, why should we think that the Wise Maker of Man should not over-a we him also vvith a sense of his own Power and Justice, which is a more effectual restraint than the Rods and Axes of Princes?
4. 'Thus if man by the condition of his Nature be an inferior depending Creature, he is by Nature accountable to God, who is his Sovereign Lord; and this is a good Argument that he must give an account of himself to God: For there is no reason to think that God will net call Man to an account, when he has made him by nature accountable to himself; for the nature of things is the most certain Rule to know how God will govern them; at least the nature of things is a strong presumption, unless there be plain and positive evidence to the contrary. He who acknowledges, that man is by feature an inferior Creature,who is accountable to God for all his Actions, mult reasonably take it for granted, without any further proof, that God will judge him, and call him to an account; for God has declared his in- * tentions to judge him, by making him such a Creature as is to be judged: And there is no pretence and shew of Reason to say, that God will not take an account of man, whom he has by nature made an accountable Creature, unless we can produce a plain and express Revelation of God's Will, that he will not judge Mankind, No man can prove by Reason, that God will not judge Mankind, for no reason can be good against the nature of things, and the nature of things do most reasonably prove a Judgment; and therefore we ought to take it for granted, that God will judge the World, till we see a plain Revelation, that he will not. - .
This is worth observing, because it puts the proof upon those who deny a Judgment, where in reason it ought to lye: For those who have the reason and nature of things on their side, have as good natural evidence as they can have, and need seek no farther; but those who will believe contrary to the nature of things, ought to prove their Exemption from the Laws and Condition of their Nature.
I desire you seriously to consider this, and.to lay it to heart, for it. is a very sensible Argument, and if well managed, will convince you how foolish and unreasonable all your hopes are of escaping the Judgment of God, unless you have some secret Revelation of this, which the rest of Mankind know nothing of: To represent this as plainly and familiarly as I can, give me