TWO DISCOURSES INTRODUCTORY TO A DISQUISITION Demonstrating the UNLAWFULNESS OF THE MARRIAGE OF Cousin Germans; From Law, Reason, Scripture, and Antiquity. By JOHN TƲRNER, late Fellow of Christs Colledge in Cambridge.

Opinionum commenta delet dies, Naturae judicia confirmat.

LONDON, Printed by H. H. for Walter Kettilby, at the Bishops Head in St. Pauls Church-Yard. 1682.


THE Design of the two following Discourses is express'd in the Title-page, and how they contribute to that De­sign, will be best seen by the Dis­courses themselves. I do pro­fess very solemnly, whatever In­terpretations may be made, ei­ther of this Introduction, or of those Discourses which are im­mediately to follow it; yet I would not, upon any Consideration whatsoever, have published my Thoughts upon this Subject, did [Page] I not think my self obliged in Conscience to do it; did I not know certainly, that what I am about to write, aims not at the Embroilment, and Disturbance, but at the Peace of the World; and were I not equally sure, that all this may be done upon such Principles, as can give no man a­ny reasonable cause of Offence, but on the contrary, such as with which, all Wise, and Good Men ought to be extreamly satisfied and pleased.


CHAP. I. Of the true Meaning and Intention of the Statute of 32. H. VIII. c. 38.

I. THE Act of Parliament still in force concerning this Assair, which though repealed 1mo. & 2do. Phil. & Mar. c. 8. was again restored to its Ancient Power and Autho­rity 1mo. Elizabethae c. 1. is 32. II. 8. c. 38.

II. In the Preface to that Act there are these words concerning the Inconveniencies of Dispensations to Marry, which had been used in former time to be procured of the Pope, in case the Parties concerned were allied to one another in any of the Degrees prohibited by the Canon Law.

‘Further also by reason of other Prohibi­tions than Gods Law admitteth for their Lucre by that Court The Court of Rome. invented, the Dis­pensation whereof they always reserved to themselves, as in Kindred or Assinity be­tween Cousin Germans; and so to fourth [Page 2] and fourth Degree, Carnal Knowledge of any of the same Kin or Affinity before in such outward Degrees, which else were lawful, and be not prohibited by Gods Law, and all because they would get Mo­ney by it, &c.

III. And our late Reverend and Learned Mr. Hales in his Miscellaneous Discourses, hath among other things, a Letter to a Friend in Resolution of this Question concerning the Marriage of Cousin Germans, in which he determins on the Affirmative side, with what reason, we shall see in its due place; but that for which I now mentioned his Name, is that speaking of this Act of Par­liament, he saith,P. 267. Ed. 1673. ‘That amongst the De­grees specified in that Act as lawful, if his Memory fail him not, Cousin Germans are expresly mentioned.’

IV. And his Memory did not fail him, though he made a wrong use of it at this Time; for though it be true that Cousin Ger­mans are mentioned in the words above pro­duced by me, as Parties lawfully marriage­able with one another, and no ways prohi­bited by the Law of God, yet it is here to be considered, that this is not the Judgment of the Law it self, but only of the men that [Page 3] made it, who may possibly be deceived, as the Articles of our Church oblige us to be­lieve, that even a General Council may err, notwithstanding they lay claim to those Di­vine Assistances, to which no Parliament e­ver pretended; for these words are not in the very Act properly and strictly so called, but only in the Preface to it, in which, as in all other Acts of Parliament, the Reasons why that Act was made, are specified and set down; but that which in the true, strict, and legal Propriety is called the Act, and does oblige as the Act and Deed of the King, and his Two Houses in Parliament Assem­bled, is of necessity to be supposed to begin at these words, Be it therefore Enacted by the King, &c. and that only which follows these words (which otherwise would be in vain, and of no signification) is that which pas­seth an Obligation upon the Subject.

V. It is therefore in the next place to be considered, what that is, which is by this Act of Parliament prohibited, after those words, Be it Enacted by the King, &c. and that is expressed in these following words, That—all and every such Marriages as within this Church of England, shall be con­tracted between lawful Persons (as by this Act we declare all Persons to be lawful, [Page 4] that be not prohibited by Gods Law, to Mar­ry) such Marriages being contracted and so­lemnized in the Face of the Church, and con­summate with bodily Knowledge, &c. shall be by Authority of this present Parliament aforesaid, deemed, judged, and taken to be lawful, good, just and indissoluble—and that no Reservation or Prohibition, Gods Law only excepted, shall trouble or impeach any Marriage without the Levitical Degrees.

VI. So that if we will submit our selves to the Conduct and Guidance of that Clue, which this Act of Parliament hath given us for our Direction, the Levitical Degrees, that is to say, the Degrees prohibited or al­lowed by the Law of Moses, are to be the Measures of Liberty and Restraint; and whatsoever Degree the Law of Moses forbids, the same is forbidden by the Laws of England; and on the contrary, whatso­ever Degrees are permitted in the Code of Moses, the same are likewise allowed and deemed to be lawful, good, just, and in­dissoluble by this Act of Parliament, and by the Civil Laws of this Nation.

VII. Whence it is plain, that the true thing to be enquired into for a clear and so­lid Resolution of this weighty Question con­cerning [Page 5] the Marriage of Cousin Germans, so far as this Act of Parliament is concerned in it, is this; what are those Degrees which are prohibited by the Law of Moses? And if it shall appear upon a just and impartial Survey of the whole matter, that the Mar­riage of Cousin Germans was absolutely for­bidden, unless in a Case, which shall be mentioned, in which our Age and Nation is not concerned, and in another which nei­ther doth, nor can belong to persons in a private Capacity and Station, in which Number I include all but Sovereign Princes, or such as have a nigh Relation to the Crown, then it follows unavoidably, that in all ordinary Cases such Marriages are prohibited by this Act of Parliament.

VIII. Neither will it be sufficient in this Case to say, That the King and his Parlia­ment did not intend by this Act to prohibit the Marriage of Cousin Germans, but on the contrary, their Intention was certainly to make it lawful, which I do readily grant; yet here, I speak it with all Submission to the Judgment of my betters, there are two several Intentions to be considered, a Pari­cular, and a General; by a particular Intenti­on, as appears by the Preface to the Act, it was designed to make it lawful for Cousin Ger­mans [Page 6] to Marry, but the general intention consisted in these two things, first they designed to remove all the obstructions of the Canon Law, and to make all those Marriages to be good and Lawful, which had no other barr but that of Gregory or Gra­tian, and the Practice of those Courts un­der the See of Rome, to which the Cog­nizance of Marriages, whether Lawful or Unlawful, appertained.

The second general intention, besides the shaking off the Yoak, and prevent­ing the frauds and abuses of the Bishop of Rome, and such as were commissioned by him, was instead of the Canon Law, which made a trade of Incest, and would sell the most grievous sins for a Sum of Money, by adding [...] to all their pro­hibitions, nisi aliter Ecclesia dispenset, to substitute another measure in its stead, which measure was to be the Law of Moses, and therefore whatsoever degrees were for­bidden in the Levitical Law, or in the un­questionable Practice of the Church of God among the Jews, were likewise prohibited, forbidden, and made unlawful by this their second general intention, which being the declared Measure of all particular instances, it is manifest they did intend to bind up, and restrain Cousin Germans from Marry­ing [Page 7] one another, if it should appear at any time hereafter, though it did not then, that all such Marriages were Levitically unlawful.

IX. But though this Act of Parliament should in express words, have given a Li­cence for Cousin Germans to Marry, which it is very clear it hath not done, yet upon supposition that it was prohibited by the Law of God or of Nature, which is no less the voice of God then that of Revelation, it would still have remained unlawful, for any Christian Man or Woman to accept of this liberty which the Parliament had given, because in all these cases where the divine Prohibitions interfere with the liberties granted by human Laws, we are to obey God rather then men, and this may be lay'd down as a maxim of undoubted and uni­versal truth, that human Laws may if they please straiten the restraints, but they can­not enlarge the liberties of mankind, beyond what the Laws of God or Nature do allow, which, besides that the thing is very plain in it self, and if it were otherwise there could be no stable and unalterable Nature of things, but the Nature of vertue and vice might be inverted by the variable hu­mours of different times or men; I say, be­sides [Page 8] this, this is no more, than what our English Parliaments have themselves ac­knowledg'd, for so speaks that August and Venerable Assembly concerning incestuous and detestable conjunctions which were used to be dispensed with by the Authority of the See of Rome. 25. H. 8. c. 22. ‘Which Marriages albeit they be plainly prohibited and detested by the Laws of God, yet nevertheless at sometimes they have proceeded under Colours of dispen­sations, by mans Power which is but u­surped, and of right ought not to be grant­ed, admitted, ne allowed, for no man of what estate, degree, or condition soever he be, hath power to dispence with Gods Laws, as all the Clergy of this Realm—and the most part of all the famous Univer­sities of Christendom, and we also do affirm and think.’ Which very words are again repeated upon another occasion. 28. H. 8. c. 7. And the Universities that did concur in opinion with the Parliament, and Church of England, besides our own, the two most Learned and Judicious in the Christian World, were the Universities of Bononia, Padua, Paris, Orleance, Tolouse, Angiew, and divers others. ‘To which were likewise added the private writings of many right excellent and well Learned [Page 9] men.’ As it is in the said former Act in these very words expressed and declared, and it is likewise further to be considered that this very Act of 32 H. 8. c. 38. was de­signed only to abolish disannul and repeal the Canon Law, and to make all those Marri­ages and conjunctions Lawful, which had no other barr, than the canonical Prohi­bitions, founded upon the sole Authority of the Pope, without the express warranty of the Scripture it self, but if there be any degrees that were Unlawful upon another account, whether it be of Nature or of re­velation, it is the declared intention of this Act of Parliament, not to disanul these Prohibitions, but to confirm them.

X. Which things being laid down and premised beforehand, for the greater clear­ness of proceeding in this affair, and it be­ing made thus plain, both what the Law of England determins in the case, and how far human Laws may be of force or may be complyed with in matters of this Nature, the next thing to be enquired into, is, what the Laws of God in the inspired Writings either of the Old Testament or the New, have determined, or how the light of rea­son, which if appealed to without preju­dice or passion is the impartial Oracle of [Page 10] Truth and Justice, will decide this great question, which hath exercised the Wits and Pens of so many Learned men, con­cerning the Lawfulness, or Unlawfulness of the Marriage of Cousin Germans; and that the arguments which I shall produce from the revealed Law of God, may have the greater force, I shall endeavour to shew that Nature and Revelation are consistent to each other, and as I shall undeniably prove that the Marriage of Cousin Germans was Prohibited the Jews, and by conse­quence, as I shall make it appear, is in a more especial manner Unlawful to all Christian People, so that we may see, that the reason of these Laws, and consequently their obligation, is eternal, I will make my entrance upon the decision of this contro­versie, by enquiring how far the Laws of Nature are concerned in it.

CHAP. II. Of the Laws of Nature, and the rea­sons of their Obligation in the general.

I. BY the Laws of Nature are meant those standing rules of Life and Practice among men, which are of Natu­ral, Unalterable and Eternal Obligation; or they are such Laws and Rules of life, as to the breach of which there is a natural punishment annexed. For to say a thing is essentially good or evil, to call it by hard names, and to affirm that it hath a natural turpitude, or to pass a Complement upon it, and call it a moral Rectitude, and such like fine Scholastick terms, invented by men at leisure to pelt at one another, for their own diversion, that they may admire each o­ther, and be proud of themselves, without any real benefit or advantage to the World, without assigning a particular reason of interest, why we should do the one or avoid the other, is as much as to say, a [Page 12] thing is good for nothing, or it is bad, but we know not why, or it is good or bad for a Womans Reason, because it is; and this Reason will serve as well to prove, that Murder or Adultery are good things, as that they are bad ones; and such as against which no Laws can be too strict, nor any Punishment too exemplary, or too severe.

II. The Laws of Nature therefore have every one of them their Sanction in them­selves; and in this appears the excellence of natural and of revealed Religion, that they oblige us to nothing as a Rule of Life and Practice, which, all things considered, is not the truest Interest of Mankind, and the Breach of which, without any particular Divine Judgment, is not sufficiently punish­ed by it self: as on the Contrary in a strict and regular observance of those wholesome Rules, which God and Nature have tyed and bound upon us for the due Conduct and Governance of our Lives, we find the most perfect Ease and Satisfaction.

III. Neither is it any thing else that makes all kinds of Intemperance, whether in bodily Enjoyment, or in the Passions of the mind, unlawful, but that they are atten­ded with so many, and so great Dangers, Troubles, and Inconveniencies to our selves [Page 13] and others, but that they are destructive to our Health; that they discompose the quiet and serenity of our Thoughts, that they are an Obstruction to Reason, an Hin­drance to Business, that they make us useless and unserviceable to the World; that instead of procuring us Interest and Favour among men, they do always either excite their Contempt, or provoke their Displeasure a­gainst us; that they expose us to the want of Beggars, and to the shifts and contri­vances of desperate men; that by the perpe­tual Tumult and Hurry of our Minds, they hinder our Communion with God, and in­tercept the gentle Influences of his blessed Spirit, wherein the highest Improvement of mortal Happiness consists; that they bring the whole World into Disorder and Confusion; and that as they do ever more begin in Folly, so they commonly end in Misery and Disgrace.

IV. And this is plainly the reason why the contrary Practices to these, are termed and accounted Laws of Nature, be­cause they have their own Reward and Hap­piness annext to them, and because they have all of them quite contrary Effects to those I have newly mentioned, and tend all of them to the Good and Advantage of [Page 14] Mankind in general, and of every particu­lar person.

V. Charity to such as are in want, and Forgiveness to such as have offended, and an Universal Benevolence and good Will to the whole Creation of God, are therefore Laws as well of natural as revealed Religion, not only because they procure us Friends and Alliances in the World, without which no mans life can be comfortable and easie; or because they tend to the extinguishing all Quarrels and Animosities among men, which would otherwise proceed without measure, and without end to the unspeaka­ble Disturbance of Mankind; but also be­cause they are owing to that calm Tempe­rament and Frame of Mind, wherein the very Nature of true Blessedness consists.

VI. Lastly, this is the Reason why evil Appetites, as well as evil Enjoy­ments are forbidden, as well by the Law of Nature, as by that of Christ; because Appetite hath no tendency, but to Enjoy­ment; and therefore if the Enjoyment be forbidden, the pampering and indulging the Appetite must of necessity be so too. But the more immediate Reasons why all in­temperate Appetites are forbidden, either by the Laws of Nature, or by those of [Page 15] Christ, are these two. First, they are un­lawful upon the Comparison, because they take our Minds off from those Thoughts and Desires, in which we find greater Ease, Contentment, and Satisfaction to our selves.

Secondly, that being enjoyed, their Gra­tifications are already supposed to be prohibited and unlawful, and being denied Enjoyment, they are but a perpetual Pain and Torment to us, and therefore we are obliged not to give them Entertainment up­on a Principle of Self-happiness, and Self­preservation, which is the very Root and Spring of all Obligation whatsoever.

VII. For there can be no Obligation, where there is no Law; and there can be no Law, to which there is no Punishment annex'd; for how can that Law be binding, which it is indifferent whether we observe or no? as it must be, if there be no man­ner of Inconvenience attending the Breach of it; as on the contrary, if there be any Dammage or Inconvenience accruing, then it is manifest upon the same reason, by which no Inconvenience makes it no Law, that it is purely that Inconvenience or Dis­advantage, together with the Reward or Happiness annex'd to the Observance of it, in which the Sanction of the Law is found­ed, [Page 16] and from which it becomes binding or obligatory to those to whom it is prescribed.

VIII. And so those are said to be Laws of Nature whose Breach is attended with some natural Inconvenience; as for exam­ple: Temperance in our Diet, Moderation in our Passions, Justice in our Dealings, Constancy in our Friendships, Diligence in our Employments, Sweetness and Affabili­ty in our Tempers; these are therefore Laws of Nature, because the observance of them brings very signal, and very evident Advan­tages to men; and the contrary Dispositions are partly for want of those Advantages, and partly by reason of many Troubles and Incommodities which they bring a­long with them, sufficiently tormented and punished by themselves.

IX. And this, when matters are exa­mined to the bottom, will be found to be the true and only difference betwixt things necessary, and things indifferent, that in the first there is a Reason of Interest, all things considered, why we should chuse, or why we should avoid them, but in the lat­ter there is not; for let an Action be never so indifferent, yet if any Reason, how small [Page 17] soever, can be assigned, why it should be done rather than let alone, it ceases to be indifferent, and becomes in its Proportion necessary.

X. For all that is meant by necessary, is, not that a man cannot help it, or that he must do, or avoid such an Action, whe­ther he will or no, for this falls in with the Opinion of those, who would have all hu­man Actions governed by an unavoidable Fate, which destroys the very Nature of In­difference, as well as of Morality and Ver­tue; but by a necessary Action, as it is op­posed to an Indifferent one, such an Action is to be understood, as is more eligible to a Wise man, for a reason of Interest, to be done, than to be let alone; and by an in­different Action such an one is meant, as in which there is no manner of Reason to be assigned, why we should chuse one part of the Action rather than the other.

XI. Moreover, what hath been said, may be still further confirmed by a Refle­ction upon that Passion so incident to Man­kind, upon the sense of having acted a­miss, which we are used to call Guilt, Re­pentance, or Shame; which Passion is ma­nifestly the extorted Confession of Nature [Page 18] upon the wrack, and is a secret acknowledg­ment within our selves, that we have done against our Interest, or that we have acted like foolish and unreasonable men; and in­deed our Repentance it self would be the only thing that could be blamed, if that Behaviour of ours, which was the cause of it, could be justified by any substantial Rea­son, and certainly no better, or more satis­factory account of any Action can be given either to our selves or others, than that all things considered, we have acted most wise­ly for our own Advantage.

XII. This is that which depresseth our Spirits, and robs us of our natural Cheer­fulness and Vigour, that makes us hang down our heads, and fills our minds with so many painful Thoughts, upon the sense of having neglected, or swerved from our Duty into the Commission of that which hath the Appearance and Character of a Crime, that we are sensible we have acted foolishly, and that we cannot reconcile what we have done to our own Interest, or to the Interest of Mankind; we are out of favour with our selves and others, and being deserted and despised by all that have any value for the Reputation of their In­tegrity or Prudence, we become forlorn, [Page 19] useless, and contemptible Creatures.

XIII. But when we do those things, which are for our own Advantage, or for the good of the Publick, in which our own safety and security is included, this fills us all over with a strange kind of lightsomness and jollity of Spirit; we are at peace with our selves, and as far as may be, out of all apprehension of fear or danger from others; we rejoyce in the consciousness of having acted as becomes wise and understanding men, and we are confirmed in our Opinion of our selves by the Approbation of our Neighbours; and by this means we are put in a Capacity of being as powerful and con­siderable among men, as our Condition and Circumstances of Life and Fortune will al­low; and these things I take to be a very plain Testimony of Mankind and of Na­ture her self, to the truth of this Proposi­tion, That all Obligation is founded upon Interest, and that to do wisely and wicked­ly, are things in themselves, and by the unanimous Confession of both Parties, the Innocent and the Guilty, inconsistent with each other.

XIV. From whence we may discern the Vanity and Folly of those learned men, who [Page 20] are used to talk so loudly of essential Recti­tudes, and eternal Notions, and I know not what phantastical Idea's in an abstracted way, whereas there is indeed nothing which is either good or bad meerly by its self, but every thing which is good, is good, that is, useful to something, and every thing which is bad, is so with reference to some Nature or other, to which it is more or less pernici­ous and destructive; from whence it follows (the nature of Obligation being a result arising from the Usefulness or Hurtfulness of a thing proposed to be the Object of a free Agents choice, with respect to that A­gent which is conversant about it) that all Obligation must be not of a simple, but of a compound or a concrete Nature, and must always have an inseparable Respect to the Interest or Happiness of those, to whom that Obligation is binding. And it is not only true, that our Interest and our Duty are both of them the same, but that it is absolutely impossible any thing should be our Duty, which is not our Interest, into the Bargain; for no man can possibly be obli­ged to that, which, all things considered, will be to his Disadvantage.

XV. Yet I do not deny, that all the mo­ral Vertues of what sort soever, whether [Page 21] they be Personal or Political, have an essen­tial and eternal goodness in them, but not in that sense, in which some Learned men, more speculative & seemingly profound then wise, have taken it; for if you ask them why these things are good or evil, all you can get from them is, that these things are Eternal verities, and that they are as plain, as that two and two make four, or that out of nothing comes nothing, or that both parts of a contradiction cannot be true at the same time, all which propositions are plain in themselves, but to assign a reason of these things they cannot do it, and it is neces­sary they say that there should be some Pro­positions whose truth must be discerned by their own light, otherwise men would al­ways argue backwards in infinitum, and there could be no such thing as science in World.

XVI. But though it be very true that all demonstration in its last result is to proceed ab indemonstrabili, and is to be ultimately re­solved into some self evident Maxim, whose truth in its self must be every whit as plain and as evident to be seen, as the broadest Channel of the Aegyptian Nile, when it parts and divides it self into Seven several Streams, but in its causes as obscure and as [Page 22] little understood as the first source and foun­tain of that wondrous River. And though it be likewise true, that this is the very case of all those Propositions which I have newly mentioned, that they cannot be de­monstrated by any thing more clear and evi­dent then themselves, yet these Propositions as they are very plain, so it is no wonder to find all mankind to be agreed unanimously in assenting to them, because it is no mans interest to deny them, and therefore every man is willing to acknowledge his real sense and feeling of the matter.

XVII. But when you come to apply what hath been said to moral truths, you will find a manifest inconvenience, in asserting them also to be of the same Nature with Mathematical Maxims whose truth as it is the clearest of all in it self, so in its causes it is the most obscure, or to give no better reason why these things are true, than on­ly to say they are not false, or they are not bad, because they are essentially and eter­nally good, and the inconvenience you will run will be this.

XVIII. There are a great many in the World that have a mind to be Wicked, one would gratifie his Lust, another his Revenge, [Page 23] a third his Avarice, and a fourth his Ambi­tion, by means which are generally thought to be Unlawful; and as there are some that would do these things, and therefore would be glad of any pretence to put a good face and Colour upon what they are about, so there are great numbers of such as have al­ready been actually guilty, and these would be every whit as glad of any excuse to justifie and defend themselves.

XIX. And therefore when you would reprove and chide them for what they have done, or for what they intend, and yet all you can say for your self or against them is, that the rules they transgress are essen­tially and eternally good, that they are so because they are so, and because it is im­possible it should be otherwise; this instead of arguing, is nothing else but bold affir­mation and peremptory confidence, which may be turned upon your self, for they will tell you perhaps that the charms of that which you call Vice and Wickedness, are equal to those of Virtue, and that the essen­tial rectitude, that is, the quelque chose or the Je ne scay quoy of both, are exactly the same, and that it is not only true what the Stoicks of Old were used to affirm that omnia peccata sunt aequalia, but also that [Page 24] monstrous Paradox may pass for current, that virtutes sunt corpora, and after all they will say, why do you trouble your head so much about Vertue and Vice, when for ought you know they are the same, unless you can assign a difference between them.

XX. And that difference must be tak­en from the effects, otherwise it will be im­possible to make any standing Criterium or Tekmar by which Vertue and Vice, either in the general or in particular instances, shall be distinguished from one another; and if we will go this way to work, then I suppose it will be granted, that those outward practi­ces, or those inward habits and dispositions of mind, which do in their own Nature tend to the disturbance of our own happiness, or of that of the World, are vitious and moral­ly evil, and because the Nature of mankind is like for ever to continue the same, they are said to be essentially and eternally so; and on the contrary by the same reason it must be acknowledged, that all those inward affecti­ons of the mind, and all those external or im­perate activities that are derived from it, whose Natural tendency is to the publick or to a private good, without any damage or detriment to the publick that all these, whe­ther practices or inclinations, are virtuous or [Page 25] morally good; and because in their own Nature they do, and will always so long as mankind continues the World, continue and persevere to be what they are, so highly conducible and so absolutely necessary to the good of the World and to the happi­ness of particular persons, because they will always wherever they are found keep man­kind steady and upright, and hinder them from doing wrong or injury to one another, they are said to have an essential and eter­nal rectitude in them.

XXI. Further that this indeed is the measure by which we are to proceed in our disquisitions concerning Moral good and evil, that the interest and happiness of man­kind is the only true, and the only infalli­ble touchstone to which they are to be brought for Tryal, will appear from these three following considerations.

XXII. First, If Robbery and Oppression, if Rapine and Injustice, if breach of Oaths and Promises, if Betraying our Trust, or Forfeiting our Word, and breaking through all the sacred ties and obligations of Friend­ship, were things that were as much for the interest of the World as they are now against it, and tend only to bring us into [Page 26] disorder and confusion, to make every mans Life unhappy and his safety precarious, and his fears endless: If intemperance were as much for a mans health, as it is now de­structive and pernicious to all the useful faculties both of his Body and Mind, there is no question to be made but these things would be as Lawful and Commendable, as they are now worthy of Punishment or of Blame, because Laws are made for nothing else but only for the interest and well being of the publick; things that are manifestly destructive to this end they punish, about things that are indifferent or signifie no­thing either way towards it, they do not concern themselves, and those things or persons that are useful and advantageous to the publick weal, the Laws and the Gover­nors of all Nations, so far as these things can be adjusted by any common Rule or Measure, are used proportionably to encou­rage and reward; and though the other sort of Justice, which consists, not in the reward of Vritue, but in the Punishment of Wickedness or Vice, be that which is much more equally distributed than the other, yet the Measure of this Justice, being the detriment or damage accruing to the publick, and the proportion in which all punishments are inflicted, being altoge­ther [Page 27] governed by this measure, this is a Confession of all Nations and all Ages, that the measure of moral evil is the Interest of Mankind; and if all that is meant by mo­ral evil, is, that in its own nature, or in its immediate tendency, it is hurtful to a particular person, or to the Commonwealth, then all that can be meant by morally good, is that, which by the consent and experi­ence of Mankind is found to be absolutely necessary, or highly useful and expedient for it.

XXIII. Secondly, the same thing will appear from this, that there are some sort of Actions which are not always determi­nately good or evil, but sometimes one, and sometimes the other, as the Physical Action is the same, whether I kill a man se defen­dendo, or when his back was towards me, in cold blood, without any Provocation; but yet in one case the Law not only par­dons, but commends the Action; but in the other it will be sure to revenge the Death of an innocent person with that of him, by whose unjust and cruel hand that mortal Wound was inflicted; and both of these things depend upon the same reason, because it is for the Interest of the publick, and be­cause no man could be secure in any Com­monwealth, [Page 28] where, upon an extremity he may not be suffered to defend himself, or where another with impunity may be suf­fered to hurt, annoy, or kill him without provocation; and yet these two Actions, though Physically the same, yet in the mo­rality of them, they are extreamly diffe­rent from, nay, they are directly opposite and contrary to one another; and so like­wise if a man have carnal Knowledge of his lawful Wife, it is not only a lawful thing, but a Duty; but if he commit Adultery with another mans, it is so far from being a Duty that it is one of the highest Crimes that can be committed; the reason is, because the first is for the peace of every Family, and of the Commonwealth; the second is a cause of infinite Strifes and Quarrels be­tween a man and his Wife, a man and his Neighbour, a man and his Friend; it is an Invasion of that barrier and boundary of Justice, by which every man enjoys his own, and without which no Family can be safe, nor any Kingdom happy; it tends to the introducing a promiscuous Lust, and to the rooting out that shame and modesty from among men, without which the Pas­sions and Desires of men will grow too strong for the publick peace, and will by Degrees lanch out into all manner of Riot, [Page 29] Disorder, and Excess; and yet the Physical Action of the Copula Carnalis is the same in the one Case as the other; wherefore this is another unanswerable Demonstration, that the Interest of Mankind is to be the square and measure of Moral good or evil.

XXIV. But thirdly, the third and last thing by which I shall endeavour to demon­strate that all Obligation is founded in the Interest either of men considered by them­selves, or as they are Members of a Civil Society, shall be this, that though it be true in the General, for example, That Tem­perance and Justice are indispensable Duties, and such as are of Moral and Eternal Obli­gation, yet these things are not true in in­divisibli, as the Schools are used to speak, but there is a manifest Latitude to be allow­ed; for the same thing is not intemperate in one man, that may be so in another, by reason of different Constitutions, and dif­ferent Habits of body; that may be neces­sary for one man for the preservation of his Health, or for the carrying him with vi­gour and alacrity through his Business, which in another may be nothing else but the vicious Entertainment of his idle time, or the cause of Sickness and Diseases to himself and of misfortune to his Family [Page 30] and Relations; again, that may be a lawful Recreation by Wine, or Company, or Plen­tiful Feeding, or innocent and harmless Mirth after the Fatigues of Business, and to fit and prepare us for a fresh Encounter with the Cares of Human Life, which being con­stantly used, would be a sin, because it would tend to the Ruine of our selves and Fami­lies, and would render us either contempti­ble, or at least, useless and unserviceable to the World; and so also as to Justice, it is in the general, necessary, that every man should have his own, and, that no man should wrong or abuse another; but yet as to the particular Instances of this Justice, they are variable by Circumstances of time, and place, and person; they are determin­ed by the Civil Law, or by a Court of Equi­ty, where the express Letter of the Law will not give Relief: And to instance in no other Case, that of Prescription is very pertinent to this Purpose, where so many Years Possession shall give a man a legal Title, though his Ancestors came wrong­fully by that which he enjoys; the Reason is, because, if all Claims were examined to the bottom, this might unsettle a Nation, and make a publick Disturbance, if all the Frauds and Abuses which our Ancestors have committed, or all the questionable [Page 31] Priviledges or Emoluments which they have usurped, should after a long term of peace­able continuance in the Possession of them, be called into question; and therefore it is better in this Case, that a private Loss be sustained, than that the publick should be dis­quieted by old and worn out Titles, and by Claims, which when they are sifted to the bottom, will be found for the most part Vexatious and Dishonest. From all which it is manifest, that Interest, either private or publick, is the sole and entire Measure as well of publick as private Obligation; and that no other intelligible Principle can possibly be produced, that can at once ex­plain and vindicate, as this will do, all the Phaenomena, and all the conceaveable Instances that can be thought of, or alled­ged, wherein there is any thing of Duty or Obligation.

XXV. I am not ignorant, that it may be objected, because I have not yet obvia­ted that Accusation, that by resolving all Obligation into a Principle of Interest, I have cut the strongest band of human So­ciety in sunder, and that is, the mutual Faith, Confidence and Assurance, which the Members of every Civil Society, for the good of the whole, and of every part of [Page 32] it, ought always reciprocally to put in one another; but now, if Interest be the only Principle of Action, and if my own Inte­rest be to be considered in the first place, both of which Propositions I acknowledge to be of undoubted and unquestionable Truth, then when ever I can cheat or de­fraud my Neighbour, if I can rob him of his Estate, his Honour, his Life, to reapa certain Advantage to my self, without being discovered to have dealt unjustly and wrongfully by him; if a man abuses himself or tempts another to joyn with him in any wicked Act of Intemperance or lust in Idleness or Wantonness, and Mis-employ­ment of time, which might be spent to better and nobler purposes for our own good, and for the good of others; yet if this can pass off without Notice or Observa­tion, if we can commit the sin, so as to conceal the shame, or hinder any notorious Prejudice that shall accrue to us, as a Con­sequence of it; all this, according to my Principles, is lawful.

XXVI. But it would be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, nay, for Sodom and Gomorrah themselves at the day of Judg­ment, than for me, if this were my Pra­ctice of Piety, and my Whole Duty of [Page 33] Man; if this, and no more than this, were all the Doctrine of Duty and Obedience to the Laws of God, and right Reason which I pretend to teach; and therefore to this I answer, That those sins of ours, which are the most secret and concealed from the Eyes of man, and from the publick notice of the World, are yet notwithstan­ding every whit as foolish and unreasonable in themselves, and as much, nay, perhaps more against our Interest, than those which are more open and better known to the World; for the Disgrace and Prejudice which we suffer in our Astairs, the contempt which is brought upon our persons, and the Damage accruing to our Fortunes by a Dis­covery, are though not a Punishment suffici­ent, yet such as, perhaps, God upon our Repen­tance will accept as a Satisfaction and A­tonement for the Crime committed; and are besides, not unfrequently, a means of our Amendment and Reformation of life, which is the only true way of reconciling us to God, to men, and to our selves; but where the Justice of man cannot reach us, where no visible Punishment pursues the Guilty, there it is more than probable, that the Divine Judgment and Vengeance will take place, it being very unreasonable to believe, that that all-seeing Eye back'd [Page 34] and assisted by an Almighty Arm, will be­hold so much Wickedness and Presumption together, (when we please our selves with an Opinion that we are safe, because we can hide our Crimes from the Notice and Ob­servation of men) without avenging it with that Severity and Justice which it deserves; and though God Almighty in this World should not visit us by any Supernatural Judg­ment from above, yet that very secrecy which is so sweet, that it gives a new relish and gusto to the sin, proves nothing but sorrow and bitterness in the end, and by being a Temptation to us to proceed in the same Courses that we have begun, the Consequence of this, is, That we are dis­covered at the last with so much the greater Infamy and Disgrace for having lain so long and so securely concealed.

XXVII. And as to the matter of Inju­stice or Oppression, let the Crime we have committed be never so secret, yet I hope it will be granted at least, that there is a pos­sibility that it may come abroad; and upon that Supposition there are these following things to be considered.

XXVIII. First, if we be ever discovered, we do by this means proclaim our selves to [Page 35] be the common Enemies of Mankind; for he that will rob, defraud, or oppress one man, will do it to another for the same Ad­vantage; and certainly no man can be easie in himself, when he is exposed to the Cur­ses and Execrations of all that know or have any thing to do with him, no more than his Ear can be delighted with an unpleasant sound, or his Palate with an ungrateful taste; and since the good Opinion of our Neighbours invests us with a real Power, and their bad one always renders us con­temptible and weak, this might be suffici­ent to perswade us, for the sake of some present Advantage, not to run the hazard of being obnoxious to the publick Justice for the present, or to the Contempt and Hatred of the World for all our life time after.

XXIX. Secondly, in all the Instances of injustice to our Neighbour, there is great danger of our being discovered, because they have another person for their immediate Object, and so they do almost unavoidably betray themselves.

XXX. Thirdly, though they should be concealed, yet they fill us with perpetual Jealousies and Suspicions, we are always [Page 36] upon our watch, afraid of our own thoughts, and our own shadows. And we are apt to read a Discovery in mens Looks or Ex­pressions, who know nothing of the mat­ter, till we betray our selves by a too sol­licitous care of keeping concealed.

XXXI. And yet fourthly, though we were never so secure of keeping concealed, yet is it a perpetual pain and disquiet to a mans mind, to have been guilty of some­what, which he dares not own, though the Jealousies which attend all injustice could be laid asleep, yet the Guilt of it cannot, that will be always present to our minds, and will perpetually interrupt the quiet of our Thoughts; for Baseness or Injustice and Happiness are incompatible together, nei­ther is any man thoroughly at ease, who cannot justifie whatever he hath done to himself, as well as to others, but so much as he falls short of perfect Innocence, so much he must needs want of perfect Hap­piness also.

XXXII. Fifthly, it is impossible any man who is guilty of these Practises, should be perfectly reconciled to himself, because out of a sense of his own Happiness, and out of a natural desire of self-preservation, he [Page 37] must unavoidably hate and detest them in another; and this is a most certain and un­doubted truth, that no man can possibly be happy, who cannot approve his own Actions to himself.

XXXIII. Sixthly, either such Practices are grown habitual in any man, or they are not; if the latter, then the reason why he does not continue in the same bad Courses which he hath begun, is, because he feels some check and restraint upon his mind, and he is troubled for what is past; and for the same reason it had been much better for him, if he had never been guilty at all; for by happiness nothing else being meant, but a mind that is perfectly quiet and at ease from bodily pain, and from Discontent and An­guish in it self, it is manifest, that Guilt and Happiness are inconsistent together.

Horar. Ep. l. 1. ad Lol­lium.
Non domus & fundus, non aeris acervus & auri,
Aegroto domini deduxit corpore febres,
Non animo curas, valeat possessor oportet,
Si comportatis rebus bene cogitat uti.

But on the other side, if a man be hard­ned by a long course of sin into a desperate habit of persisting in it without regret, it [Page 38] is usually seen, that this is not done with­out abundance of violence to the natural grain and byass of his mind, and besides morally impossible, but he will some time or other be made a publick example of Pu­nishment, Contempt, and Shame.

XXXIV. Seventhly, it is worth out while to consider, that such Practises as these are in their example pernicious to our selves, if ever they come to be disco­vered and known; for this is the nature of Examples, that they are more easily imita­ted, than they are given; and therefore whoever claims, or seizes, or possesses any thing unjustly, whoever deals persidiously or falsely with his Neighbour, he does in effect but teach others to do the same by him. He does what lies in his power to corrupt and debauch the World into a state of Hostility, and publick Rapine, and to hinder himself from enjoying what he pos­sesses with security and ease.

XXXV. Eighthly and Lastly, we are to consider that those injuries which are done to our Neighbour, do much more ex­asperate and provoke mankind against us, than those which we commit against our selves, these upon amendment will easily [Page 39] find forgiveness, because none but our selves receive any prejudice by them any other­wise than by the bare example, which it is at the choice of others either to imitate or let alone, as they please themselves, but when we wrong or abuse another man, this makes all People for ever after to stand upon their guard, and to be very cautious of have­ing any thing to do with us, for fear of be­ing brought into a snare; they will never be persuaded that the man hath chang­ed his Principles, but he will always be sus­pected, never trusted, wherever he may get any the least advantage by deceit or by oppression, and though his repentance be ne­ver so hearty and syncere, yet the memory of his past injustice will always be an in­credible prejudice and disadvantage to him, in all his designs and undertakeings. And what can be more rash and inconsiderate, than for a man to part with his happiness, which consists in his own good opinion of himself, and with his interest, which is founded in the good opinion of others, up­on any consideration whatsoever, though seemingly of never such present advantage, when it hath so much bitterness and dis­quiet at the bottom? This certainly is a bargain much more foolish, than that un­equal exchange of Glaucus and Diomedes.


XXXVI. And as the disadvantages that accrue to men that have contracted a load of guilt by their injustice or oppression are great, the disquiet certain, the fears infinite, and the dangers dreadful to all that have not lost all sense of modesty and shame, which is it self a disease of human Nature, and is punished sufficiently by it self, and by the contempt and hatred which it certainly draws after it; so are the advantages that fol­low the contrary dispositions and practices every whit as considerable both to the pub­lick and to particular persons;Prov. 14. 34. Righteousness exalteth a Nation, said Solomon, but sin is a reproach to any people; all manner of Vice, but more especially that sort of it which consists in want of Justice, Mercy, or Chari­ty to our Neighbours, of Gratitude to our Friends, Duty to our Parents, Loyalty to our Prince, does as Naturally tend to the ruin of the Body Politick, as Poison and Diseases to that of the Natural, they are bigg with strife, and they go laden with nothing but Mischief and desola­tion, but Righteousness, that is, the con­stant exercise of all these publick Virtues, is that which makes a Nation great and hap­py, happy at home and great abroad, look­ing upon other Nations with a formidable aspect, and with a pleasing one upon it self, [Page 41] and as the perfection of these vertues run­ning through all the Veins and Vessels of the Civil Body, may be called its utmost health and life, and vigour, so is the decay of them a proportionable sickness and disease, and the final banishment or total absence of them may be call'd its death; for it cannot certainly be doubted, if men were generally without pitty on the one hand and without gratitude on the other, but this must needs extremely loosen and unty the bands of hu­man society, and produce a strange cold­ness and indifference in men to one another, if there were no Truth in mens words, no Faith in their dealings, no Security for the most perfect innocence from the malevolence of slanderous and calumniating Tongues, if not only our faults should be aggra­vated beyond their due extent, but even our best actions misrepresented, if Arbitra­ry Power were the only Measure of Action, and if neither any mans person nor his estate were secure from violence and rapine, it would be impossible that the World should subsist one moment, but all things must immediately run into disorder and con­fusion.

XXXVII. Again what hath been said of the Social or Political Vices, such as of [Page 42] the immediate inconvenience of which, our Neighbour is the Object, the same may be said also of all personal enormities, or of those Vices whose immediate damage, separated from the blasting influence of their exam­ple, terminates in our selves, that they carry their own Punishment along with them, and though they be never so con­cealed, yet, for all that, my principles do not make them Lawful, for that only is Naturally Lawful which hath no Natural inconvenience attending it, and that is Naturally of the highest Obligation which carries along with it the greatest Natural recompence and reward, for as to that which is indifferent, that is, which hath neither advantage or inconvenience going along with it, I may do as I please and am by Nature left as undetermined, as the thing it self is, which is proposed to me, as the Object of my choice; but when on the one side it hath a Natural Punishment attending it, and on the other a Natural Reward, these are the Signatures and Indi­cations of a Law, and these Rewards and Punishments proceeding not from the sen­tence of a mortal Judge, or from the hand of an Executioner, Bailiff or Beadle, but from the Immortal and Eternal Nature and tendency of things themselves, the [Page 43] Punishment will as certainly tread upon the heels of the crime, as effects follow their causes, though no man else have any know­ledge of it, or be at all sensible of those pain­ful consequences of an immoral Action or a wicked life, which Nature intended only for the Offender himself.

XXXVIII. Intemperance and lust though smothered up in never so prosound and deep a silence, will yet notwithstanding be sure to have their Natural Effects both upon our Bodies and Minds, and by that means they will betray us at last, though we mannage our business with never so much cunning and though we keep our own council never so well, the Gout and Stone may tell tales though we hold our peace, and Dropsies and Consumptions will be­tray their own causes, and the sins of those that are affected with them, if it were pos­sible, as it is hardly to be believed that it is that habituall wickedness should be a secret to the world.

XXXIX. But though our Vices should not prevail so far, as to bring any such painful or▪ languishing disease upon us, yet [Page 44] there are other Natural Punishments far short of this, that will express our shame, the dullness of a mans countenance, the in­activity and want of usual briskness in his mind, the decay of his Natural parts and abi­lities for business, or inquiries into truth, the dumpishness of his Spirit, the Deject­edness of his looks, the want of that cou­rage, and Vivacity of Spirit which is the effect of innocence and the reward of it, these do at once betray and punish him, as well from abroad, as at home within him­self; he loses his interest and gets disgrace into the bargain from without, good men shun him and even the moderately bad have no Delight and Pleasure in his conversati­on, and this is common to all that have been very guilty in any kind, but more es­pecially of Treachery, Deceitfulness, and Injustice, that they hang down their Heads, they are ashamed of the Day, and afraid of the Sun, they dread the very appear­ance of a good man, and they take but lit­tle pleasure in the company of one another.

XL. For it is so ordered by divine pro­vidence for the good of the World, that as there are Natural Punishments even from without, that do as constantly follow wick­ed and unlawful courses, as the shade haunts [Page 45] the light or light follows the Sun, and Na­tural rewards, that are with no less constan­cy and certainty annext to every thing that hath the name and esteem of good and virtu­ous among men, so there is also antecedent­ly to any of those outward effects, an inward calm and serenity of mind while it conti­nues in innocence, there is a harmony and agreement between it self and Virtue, though no reward from without should ever be be­stowed, it injoyes it self in the sense of its own Brightness and untainted Beauty; and there is a congruity between that and goodness, which being once broken, there arises presently a sense of pain, as trouble­some and vexatious to the mind, as the breaking of a Bone or the dislocation of any Joynt or Member in the Body, the Soul is ruffled disturbed and discomposed, and the Musick being spoilt, to which it was used to dance, it hears nothing now but harsh and unpleasant sounds, which put it into a disorderly and unequal Motion.

XLI. Moreover, the same merciful and gracious Being, that hath with so much ten­derness provided for the happiness of particu­lar persons, by enduingthem with such natu­ral tendencies to goodness, after all the Cal­vinistical Declamations of the Pravity and [Page 46] Beastliness of human nature, and with such Passions as shame and Sorrow, and Repen­tance for the Punishment of our sins, and for an Example to others, and for the restoring us to the primitive health and integrity of our minds, (it being but necessary, that the Wound should be searched, before it can be healed) hath also endued every man more or less, with a sense of Pity and Compassion for others of whose Sufferings we are made sensible by a certain Sympathy and Har­mony of Nature, that we may give our selves case by doing good, and that we may be helpful and subservient to the Interest and Happiness of each other; for God Al­mighty knew very well, that no man could subsist by himself, neither would it have been so much for the Happiness of human life, that we should have been able to do it, the Comforts of Friendship and mutual Obligation being far preferrable to the soli­tary Self-happiness of an Independent State in any, but an infinitely perfect Being, who hath all Goodness and Blessedness in himself; and therefore it is certain, that when, upon a fit occasion offered, we shut up our Hearts from relieving the Necessi­ties of our Brother in Affliction or Pain, and stifle this Divine sense of Pity and Com­passion, which is most prevalent in Wise [Page 47] men, and which (if it be not wholly ow­ing to that cause) is in part at least the ef­fect of a Reflection upon the uncertainty of human Affairs, is at once a great sin, and a grievous Folly together; it proceeds from want of skill, in the true state of the World, and from want of a due Submission to that Almighty Will and Power in the person of our Brother, which may, when it pleases, inflict the same Calamities or Wants, upon our own.

XLII. It is very clear from the nature of things themselves, that there is a Connexi­on betwixt Hunger and its proper Food, betwixt Sickness and those Medicines which are provided by nature for its Cure; we have all of us the same Appetites, and the same Organs fitted and intended by Nature for the same uses; and therefore we must all of us be supposed to have a natural right to all those necessary Enjoyments, which tend to the Maintenance and Preservation of life, neither can any man pretend a right to Su­perfluity, that is, to that of which he is in no absolute need, or to that of which he makes no use, when the Necessities of his Neighbour call upon him to part with it for his Relief, for this is to abuse the Gifts of Fortune against the intention of Nature, [Page 48] who hath provided sufficiently for all, and intended, that all the Wants of her Crea­tures should be supplied out of her abundant Store.

XLIII. Besides, that those Powers and Faculties which we find within our selves, as well of Body as Mind, were not de­signed by God and Nature meerly for our own use, but for the mutual Benefit and Ad­vantage of each other, as is plain from this That they are so plainly fitted for that purpose, as sit as the eye is for seeing, or the ear for hearing; and therefore he that seeing another reduced to any Extremity or Want, shall stand lazy and unactive by, when it is in his power to help him, does manifestly betray that trust, which God and Nature have reposed in him, by giving him that strength of Body, and those Fa­culties of Mind, which are so exactly fitted for the mutual aid and assistance of each o­ther.

XLIV. Not that we are to spend our whole strength, and to lay out all our Thoughts in a sollicitous Provision for the safety or subsistance of others; for we are in the first place to consult our own Happi­ness, which is inconsistent with a too sol­licitous [Page 49] carking for our selves, and much more for others; and besides, a very small Proportion of every mans care and time will be sufficient in order to this end.

XLV. Neither are we obliged to squan­der away our whole Estates in charitable uses, because they cease to be Charitable, when we are so unkind to our selves; and because an Universal Practice of such Pro­fuseness, would introduce an equality of Order and Power, and consequently an U­niversal Anarchy and Confusion, into the World, which is very inconsistent with the Quiet and Happiness of it; but it is e­nough in this case, if a man shall contribute such a reasonable quota or Proportion to­wards the relief of those that are in want, as may be sufficient, if imitated by others, in their several Capacities and Abilities of do­ing good, to supply all the real Wants and Necessities of Mankind; but if any man will do more than this comes to, so he do no prejudice to his Family and Relations, for Charity begins at home, all the harm he will get, will be, that he will have the greater satisfaction in himself, the greater praise from men, and the more exceeding Recompence of Reward from God, who sees his Charity, and approves the Image of [Page 50] his own Goodness drawn in little by the Bounty of his Creatures and Servants to­wards each other.

XLVI. And if an evil day should happen to overtake him, he will find, that this is but casting his bread upon the waters, from whence it will be sure to return again with plenty, and flow in upon him with a migh­ty stream; because, besides the Providence of God, which does not ordinarily fail to make a sutable Provision for Virtue in Di­stress, and will not easily desert or aban­don him▪ who hath been so great an Ex­ample of Mercy and Compassion to others, such is the nature of man likewise impress'd upon him by the Divine Wisdom and Goodness, for the better preservation and maintenance of his noblest Creature, that you shall find but very few, who have not some sense of Gratitude about them, or who will not charitably and affectionate­ly remember what we have done for them, when we are able to do no more for our selves; and therefore we shall be sure to find, to our exceeding Comfort and Satis­faction, that the Alms and Charities which others have begged of us, will interceed on our behalf from whence they came, with an Importunity not to be resisted, and ei­ther [Page 51] they whom we have relieved, will themselves return the Kindness; or if they are not able, yet others will the sooner do it for their sakes; and the naked whom we have clothed, the hungry whom we have fed, the Kindnesses and Civilities which we have shewn to all that have stood in need of our assistance, will plead more strongly on our behalf, than all the crafty Rhetorick of the most importunate, and most practis'd Beggar.

XLVII. Wherefore all these Instincts and Passions of the human Nature, which I have lately mentioned, being so wisely and so mer­cifully contrived for our own preservation, and for the mutual assistance of each other, are plain and manifest Indications of a Divine Providence governing the World, and super­intending human Affairs; and therefore I am so far from extending this Principle of Interest no further than the publick view of the World, that I think, for any man to do so, is the most foolish and Unphiloso­phical thing that can be conceived; for since we can neither look into our selves, nor abroad into the World, but we find all things so full of Usefulness and Beauty, since there is Nourishment and Sustenance provided round about us for our Bodies, and [Page 52] since the Organization and Contexture of our own, as well as of the Bodies of other Animals, is so exquisitely fitted to digest and assimilate that Nourishment into it self, since there is every where such plen­tiful Provision made, not only for the Ne­cessities, but for the Pleasures of life, since there is in all Animals a natural desire of maintaining and propagating their several Kinds; since there is so much wise Contri­vance, and wonderful Curiosity in the spermatick or prolisick Parts and Vessels for the accomplishing the ends of Nature, since there is in all Creatures, not excepting the most sluggish and insensible of Beasts themselves, a natural Tenderness and Fond­ness for the Preservation of their respective Broods, which would otherwise be exposed to Want and Hunger, to the Injuries of the weather, and to the ravenous Voracity of their fellow Creatures, of which so very useful and so necessary Affection, it is im­possible to give any Physical or Philosophi­cal account, since there are such Passions, as Pity and Generosity, not only in men, but in their degree in other Animals like­wise for the preservation and assistance of each other, which Passions it is our Interest to gratifie, and we are uneasie sometimes to our selves, unless we do it, since there are [Page 53] also in the VVorld so many Particular Friendships resulting from an unaccountable Harmony and Agreement of particular tempers, by which mens minds are softned and rendred more fit and pliable for Com­merce and Society with one another, to the unspeakable Emolument and Advan­tage of Mankind; what can be more rea­sonable, than to infer from the Considera­tion of these things, which it is altogether inconceivable they should either begin, or be continued by chance, that there is a wise, powerful and gracious Being, by which this Universe is made, governed, and sup­ported? A Being which is infinitely delight­ed, first, with the Existence or Being, and then with the Happiness and Preservation of his Creatures; and that therefore upon the same essential Constitution of his Na­ture, by which he is so good and gracious in himself, he will much less suffer Injustice in his Creatures, those especially, which are not only the work of his hands, but also the Image and Resemblance of his Nature, that he will severely punish those Vices, which tend to the Disturbance and Disquiet of the World, as all Acts of Injustice in them­selves, and in their Consequences do; and that he will be sure to reward those necessa­ry and useful Virtues, which tend to the [Page 54] Peace, and Order, and good Government of it; and so it is usually seen, that Estates gotten by falshood and Injustice do seldom thrive, and that all notorious Malefactors are sooner or later made Examples of Di­vine Justice and Vengeance, to the World.

XLVIII. And the same is likewise very rea­sonable to conclude of Personal, as well as of Political Vices, because these by their Exam­ple are political too, and do a publick Mischief to the World; and because those natural Punishments, which are annex'd to Intemperance or immoderate Lust, are to be looked upon as so many Admonitions of Nature, and so many calls from the Divine Goodness, whose very Chastisements are an Argument of his love, to Repentance, and Reformation and Amendment of life; which Admonitions, if frequently resisted, it is very highly rational to believe, not only for the hurt we do our selves, but others too by our evil Example, that so much Goodness and Ju­stice in Confederacy together, will not suffer such obstinate and unreclaimable Wickedness to go unpunished, especially if we consider, that our Souls, as all cogitant or thinking Be­ingsmust be, are of an immaterial, and conse­quently of an immortal and unfading Na­ture; and that if we carry a load of Guilt [Page 55] and Shame with us out of this World, we shall be sure to bring it along with us into the other, which when the Divertisements of Sense and Company are over, will, with­out the accession of any other Torment, be a sufficient Punishment in it self.

XLIX. And here is the great flaw in Mr. Hobs his Principles, who by not taking in the existence of a God and of that Justice by which he governs and orders all things which he hath made, into his Politicks; hath destroyed the main Band and Cement of Obligation, and opened the Floodgates for a Deluge of secret sin to enter in and o­verwhelm the World, nay, and the most o­pen Villanies, if they can but be safe from the Justice of the Laws, or the Revenge of men, are, according to his Principles, lawful; whereas though it be indeed true, that Self­happiness or Self-preservation are the true, and perhaps the only Principles by which a virtuous or wise man ought to proceed, yet it is equally true, that upon this very Principle, no man ought to do any thing which is against the publick Interest and Quiet of the World, and which by woun­ding those natural Instincts, and Tendences to Goodness which he finds within himself, are no less manifestly against his own; so [Page 56] certain it is, what the Psalmist tells us,Psal. 111. 10. that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, that is, it is the foundation of Vertue and the very root and basis of all obligation; and therefore this is the true difference betwixt a Fool and a Knave, a Fool is he that doth not proceed upon any prin­ciple of Interest, at all, a Knave is he that does wrong upon a principle of Interest, but he does not take his whole Interest toge­ther, and so at the long run is a Fool too as well as the other, though in his own conceit he be wonderful Wise.

L. I am really of opinion not on­ly that all the Duties of common life, but all the duties of Religion too▪ are founded upon Interest as their only true basis and bottom, and that all things considered, it is very true that no man would be obliged to fear or serve God for nought, for as for love and admiration, the one of the divine goodness, the other of the excellence and perfection of his Nature, these are not pro­perly Religious Duties, but things extorted from us, whether we will or no, by the loveliness and excellence of the Object we converse with, and it is the same thing proportionably in any other Object, bene­ficence and good Nature do unavoidably [Page 57] unite and attract us to themselves, where ever we meet with them, and so does all excel­lence extort a proportionable wonder and admiration from us; only this indeed I do not deny, that it is our duty to contem­plate much upon the Divine Wisdom and Power, and to indeavour all we can to en­flame and kindle in our minds every day and hour a stronger and a more passionate Love for his goodness, and gratitude for his Mer­cy to us, but we are not obliged to this up­on any other score than only because it is our interest, for God is a very pleasing ob­ject to converse with, a Noble Pattern for our imitation, and by meditating fre­quently upon the Power and Justice, as well as the Wisdom and Goodness of his Nature, the root of Obligation which begins in him and from thence diffuseth it self and sends an wholesome and refreshing sap through all the several branches and members of the Intel­lectual World, hath always the stronger influence and operation upon our minds, and produceth effects agreeable to it self in our lives and conversations.

LII. The remaining parts of Religion which have not been yet considered, are ei­ther Prayer for the good things we want, to him that is alone able to supply all the ne­cessities [Page 58] and cravings of our Nature, or thanksgiving for what we have received, to him whom we cannot chuse but love for all his repeated instances of unspeak­able goodness and mercy, (and in that ve­ry Love, we our selves find an infinite sa­tisfaction and contentment) to him that can give us more, and to him that can withdraw when he pleases what he hath already given, or else lastly it is Confession and Repentance of our sins to him whom we have Justly incensed and provoked against us by the commission of them, and who may when he pleases take the advantage of us and display his justice in the Punish­ment of our Offences, as well as show his Mercy by their Forgiveness, and that all these Duties are founded in self interest cannot certainly be questioned, when it appears so plainly, that their only end and mean­ing is either to procure us some good or to avert some impending evil from falling upon our Heads.

LIII. This is all the harm of Idolatry and superstition, not that God can be bet­tered by any thing we do, or that any poor acknowledgments and praises of ours can add any thing to the blessedness and per­fection of his Nature, but because these [Page 59] two are the Diseases of the mind, and tend very much to the debasing of our Spirits by Servile slatteries, and causeless fears and it would be all one to God, what senti­ments we had concerning him, if it were not that those which are the truest and the most like that being which they re­present, are Naturally fitted to ennoble and exalt our Natures, and to make us good and useful men to our selves and to one ano­ther, and if it were not that Idolatry and Polytheism do so Naturally lead men to a beliefe that there is no God at all, and do by consequence destroy the First principle of Obligation, without a due regard to which it is impossible for human society to subsist, and if it were not that superstition by pretending to appease Gods wrath by trisling expiations and ridiculous rites, gives a kind of Licence to Wickedness in the World, and is it self an indulgence to all manner of Vice, without the help of the Pontifical Chair, from whence the Pope dispenses Pardons among all that have Mo­ney to purchase them at his hands, and no sin is so mortal as to be miserably poor.

LIV. I shall conclude this discourse con­cerning the Laws of Nature by shewing the usefulness of those Principles upon which I [Page 60] proceed, by applying them very briefly to the three greatest controversies that our times afford, that is, to say, the matter of Ceremonies and set Forms in religious Wor­ship, of Episcopal superiority in the Govern­ment of the Church, and of passive obedi­ence where active cannot lawfully be given to the Civil State.

LV. For the First of these that is the Ce­rimonies of the Church, since it hath been proved so plainly that the Interest of man­kind is the measure of Obligation, since it is necessary in all publick administrations whatsoever, especially in the affairs of Re­ligion, which ought to be carry'd with the greatest gravity and decency of all others whatsoever, since men are so apt to fall out about these matters if they be not ad­justed, since all religious quarrels are of all others the most dangerous and the most lasting, since there is no end of excepting against Lawful things, unless it can be pro­ved, as it is not pretended, that any of the things enjoyned are in themselves Unlaw­ful; from hence it follows plainly, though this or that Ceremony be never so indiffer­ent, yet an uniformity in the general is of absolute necessity, and this in a few words is an unanswerable Justification of the [Page 61] Church of England, and is much more in its defence then all its Enemies have ever said against it.

LVI. Secondly, as for the Business of Episcopal Superiority, besides that I shall prove elsewhere, That it was that very Go­vernment to which our Saviour himself, and his Disciples and Apostles submitted, though the Apostolical Pretenders of our days think much to do it. I say, besides this, its lawfulness follows plainly from its ne­cessity, for it depends upon the very nature of Government, which if a Subordination in the State be most for its health and safe­ty, there is no reason why it should not be so in the Church too; and you may almost as well suppose, that it would be the best form of Civil Government, that all Magi­strates should be no more than Petty-Con­stables, as that no Ecclesiastick should be any no more than a Presbyter; and though it be confessed, that this is mostly the Govern­ment in foreign Churches, yet it is certain, that upon many accounts it comes much short of Episcopacy for all the ends of Go­vernment that can be assigned, for this Su­periority, of Dignity, and Power, and Re­venue, gives greater Encouragement to Learning, and greater esteem to the persons [Page 62] of the Clergy, which it is for the Interest of every Nation, that they should be high­ly respected; it preserves the inferiour Cler­gy in a dutiful dependance upon those that are above them, and they themselves do seem the more venerable and worthy of Respect by the comely Obedience and Du­ty which they pay to their Betters; it is the best Remedy against Faction, the best Expedient against Heresie, and the farthest Remove from Independent Congregations, which are the very top and perfection of Disorder, and produce infinite and unspeaka­ble Mischiefs both in Church and State.

LVII. Lastly, for passive Obedience, it is therefore a Duty in Cases, where active cannot be given, because the Inconvenience to Mankind is less than that of every mans being Judge for himself, and there is no Medium between these two, though they are at a great distance from one another; for the first is the height of Loyalty and O­bedience, the latter makes Obedience it self a precarious thing, and is always upon the very brink and border of Rebellion, and this I think is in a short Compass, a very suf­ficient Answer to the late Infamous Writer of Julian the Apostate, who, I cannot won­der, that he is applauded by the Calvinistical [Page 63] Tribe, for they that make God an arbitra­ry Being, and all human Actions to be necessary and fatal, are past obeying any, but themselves, and may ee'n do and say what they please.

And thus much in General of the Laws of Nature.


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