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The foregoing objection then weighs not against the fenfe of deity more than a gainft the moral fenfe. If it have weight, it refolves into a complaint against Provividence for the weakness of the fenfe of deity in rude and illiterate nations. If fuch complaint be folidly founded, it pierces extremely deep: why have not all nations, even in their nafcent state, the enfe of deity and the moral fenfe, in pu rity and perfection? why do they not poffefs all the arts of life without neceflity of culture or experience? why are we born poor and helplefs infants, instead of being produced complete in every member, internal and external, as Adam and Eve were? The plan of Providence is far above the reach of our weak criticisms: it is but a small portion that is laid open to our view; can we pretend to judge of the whole? I venture only to fuggelt, that as, with respect to individuals, there is a progrefs from infancy to maturity; fo there is a fimilar progress in every nation, from its savage state to its maturity in arts and sciences. A child that has just conceptions of the Deity and of his attributes, would be a great miracle; and would not
fuch knowledge in a favage be equally fo? Nor can I difcover what benefit a child or a favage could reap from fuch knowledge; provided it remained a child or a favage in every other refpect. The genuine fruits of religion, are gratitude to the Author of our being, veneration to him as the fupreme being, abfolute refignation to the established laws of his providence, and chearful performance of every duty but a child has not the flighteft idea of gratitude nor of veneration, and very little of moral duties; and a savage, with respect to thefe, is not much fuperior to a child. The formation and government of the world, as far as we know, are excellent: we have great reafon to prefume the fame with refpect to what we do not know; and every good man will reft satisfied with the following reflection, That we should have been men from the hour of our birth, complete in every part, had it been conformable to the fyftem Providence.
SE C T. II.
Morality confidered as a branch of duty to our Maker.
Having travelled long on a rough road, not a little fatiguing, the agreeable part lies before us; which is, to treat of morality as a branch of religion. It was that fubject which induced me to undertake the history of natural religion; a fubject that will afford falutary instruction; and will infpire true piety, if instruction can produce that effect.
Bayle states a question, Whether a people may not be happy in fociety and be qualified for good government, upon principles of morality fingly, without any fenfe of religion. The question is ingenious, and may give opportunity for fubtile reafoning; but it is useless, because the fact fuppofed cannot happen. The principles of morality and of religion are equally rooted in our nature: they are indeed weak
in children and in favages; but they grow up together, and advance toward maturity with equal fteps. Where the moral fenfe is entire, there muft be a sense of religion; and if a man who has no sense vin fociety, he is of religion live decently in
more indebted for his conduct to good temper than to found morals.
We have the authority of the Prophet Micah, formerly quoted, for holding, that religion, or, in other words, our duty to God, confifts in doing juftice, in loving mercy, and in walking humbly with him. The laft is the foundation of religious worfhip, difcuffed in the foregoing fection: the two former belong to the prefent fection. And if we have gratitude to our Maker and Benefactor, if we owe implicit obedience to his will as our rightful fovereign, we ought not to feparate the worship we owe to him, from juftice and benevolence to our fellow-creatures; for to be unjust to them, to be cruel or hard-hearted, is a tranfgreffion of his will, no lefs grofs than a total neglect of religious worship. "Ma❝fter, which is the great commandment
in the law? Jefus faid unto him, Thou "fhalt love the Lord thy God with all thy VOL. IV. heart,
heart, with all thy foul, and with all thy "mind. This is the firft and great commandment. And the fecond is like unto it, Thou fhalt love thy neighbour as thyfelf. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (a)." "Then "fhall the King fay unto them on his right hand, Come, ye bleffed of my Father, "inherit the kingdom prepared for you, έσ For I was hungry, and ye gave me έσ meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me "drink I was a ftranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye cloathed `me : fick, and ye vifited me in prifon, and ye came unto me. Then fhall the "righteous anfwer, faying, Lord, when "faw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or
thirsty, and gave thee drink? When "faw we thee a ftranger, and took thee
in? or naked, and cloathed thee? When "faw we thee fick, or in prifon, and
came unto thee? And the King fhall "anfwer, Verily I fay unto you, in as "much as ye have done it unto one of "the leaft of thefe iny brethren, ye have "done it unto me (b).” "Pure religion
(a) Matthew, xxii. 36.
(6) Matthew, xxv. 4.