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That Natural and Reveal'd Religion having the same End, their Precepts must be the fame.
LLOWING that the Natural Knowledge we have of God, ourselves, and our Fellow Creatures, is the Foundation of all Religion, may not external Revelation, building on this Foundation, erect a larger and nobler Edifice, by extending it to fuch Things as the Light of Nature cou'd not reach, without contradicting any Thing it teaches?
A. I thought I had obviated this Objection, by proving that the Religion of Nature was fo perfect, that nothing cou'd be added to it; and that the Truth of all Revelation was to be judg'd of by its Agreement with it: 'However, fince this Objection is the most plausible of any you have yet made; I reply, That if our Natural Notions of the divine Perfections demonftrate, that God will require nothing of his Creatures but what tends to their Good; whatsoever is of this Kind, is a Superftructure that belongs to the Law of Nature: Or, in other Words, what the Reason, or Nature of the Things themselves plainly point out to us; and for all other Matters, which have no such Tendency
you must feek another Foundation, another Nature very different from the divine, to build Your Hay and Stubble upon. And,
If it be evident from the Light of Nature, what are thofe Relations we stand in to God and our Fellow-Creatures; and that neither God nor Man, without acting tyrannically, can require more than Those require; can external Reve-lation any more than internal exceed these Bounds?
If original Revelation comprehends every Thing obliga-tory on the Account of its Excellency; that is, every Thing which tends to the Honour of God, or the Good of Man; and These are the only Ends of Traditional Religion; no arbitrary, or merely pofitive Precepts, as not tending to the Honour of God, or the Good of Man, can belong either to Natural, or Reveal'd Religion.
By the Law of Nature as well as the Gofpel, the Honour of God, and the Good of Man, being the two Grand, or General Commandments; all particular Precepts must be comprehended under these Two, and belong alike to the Law of Nature as well as the Gofpel; and what does not can belong to neither. Thus any particular Precept, if by Change of Circumftances it ceafes to contribute to the Honour of God, or the Good of Man, much more if it become prejudicial to either, must lose its obliging Force.
THERE must be fome Rule, or Rules, which bind without Exception, because every Exception to a Rule is built on fome Rule or other; and as there can't be Rules, fo there can't be Exceptions ad infinitum; and I fuppofe, you will not deny, but that thefe two Grand Rules, or Commandments, the Honour of God, and the Good of Man, are obligatory without Exception. And yet Thefe would be to little Purpose, cou'd not Reason tell Men how to apply them in all Conditions, and Circumstances of Life. B. SUP
B. SUPPOSING no particular Precepts can oblige, if they chance to clash with either of thofe Commandments, yet what is to be done if these Two interfere with one another muft the Good of Man, or the Honour of God take Place ?
A. THESE Two Grand Laws are in Effect the same, since what promotes the Honour of God neceffarily promotes the Good of Man: The more we love and honour God, the more we fhall imitate him in our extenfive Love to our Fellow-Creatures; who are equally the Children of God. The greater our Veneration is for our Maker, the more it will excite us to copy thofe Perfections of Goodness and Benevolence we adore in him; fo that the Duty of a truly-religious Person, and of a good Subject and Citizen are the fame with relation to God and Man; for the more, he honours God, the more zealous will he be to act the Patriot; and the more he does That, the more he honours God; because
the happier Men are, the more Reason they have to honour That God, who made 'em fo. The Way to glorify your Fa
ther which is in Heaven, is to let your that they may fee your good Works. glorify'd, that ye bear much Fruit.
Light fo fhine before Men, Mat. 5. 16.
be plainer from Scripture, than that these two great Duties
of the Love of God, and our Neighbour, include each other.
If, fays the Apostle, a Man fay I love God, and hateth his 1 John 4. 20. Brother, he is a Liar. And, If we love one another, God Ib. Ver. 12. dwelleth in us; and the Love of God is perfected in us.
Again, Let us love one another; every one that loveth is born lb. Ver. 7. 8. of God, and knoweth God. He that loves not, knoweth not God. But whofo hath this World's Goods, and feeth his Bro-1 John 3.17. ther have need, and shutteth up his Bowels of Compassion from bim; how dwelleth the Love of God in him? And it was this Confideration, that made that great Emperor and Phi
Lib. 3. c. 12. lofopher Marcus Antoninus say, "Thou wilt never do any
in Mr. & Ma
dam Dacier's " Thing purely humane in a right Manner, unless Thou "knoweft the Relation it bears to Things divine; nor any
Thing divine, unless Thou knoweft all the Ties it has to Things humane.
In a Word, As Man is by Nature qualify'd to answer all the Purposes of a focial Life, and to act a Part agreeable to Reason, so in doing This he gives Glory to his Maker, by fulfilling the End of his Creation; but if he goes contrary to the Light of Nature in acting an unfociable and hurtful Part, he reflects Dishonour on his Creator by defeating, as far as in him lies, the Defign of God in making him a focial Creature: But,
BECAUSE Bigots reprefent these two Grand Obligations as frequently clashing; and oppofe Things which are for the Good of Man, on Pretence that the Honour of God will' either directly, or indirectly fuffer by it; and on this Pretence have frequently done fuch Mischiefs to their Fellow-Creatures, as to give Occafion for that Proverbial Saying, In Nomine Domini incipit omne malum: Give me Leave to fay, That we can no otherwife honour God, fince that. confifts in having the most exalted Ideas of him, than by fuppofing him benevolent in the most universal and impartial Manner; and confequently, to imagine he can command any Thing inconfiftent with this univerfal Benevolence, is highly to dishonour him; 'tis to destroy his impartial Goodness, and make his Power and Wisdom degenerate into Cruelty and Craft.
THO' we have receiv'd our All from God, we can give him nothing, nor do him the leaft Kindness, much less return Kindness for Kindness; and therefore, the only Way we have to fhew our real Gratitude to our great Creator
and Benefactor, is to be as useful as we can to his Creatures, whom we ought to love as ourselves; and if there can now be a Sin against the Holy Ghost, I shou'd not scruple to fay, It is making Religion the Means of destroying the End of all Religion, and rendring the Creature miferable on Pretence of doing Honour to the Creator ; who, as he has imprefs'd on Bodies, in Order to preferve the Natural World, a Tendency to each other; fo he has implanted in Minds, the better to support the Moral World, a Tendency to be kind, and beneficent to one another. And fo deep is the Impreffion of Benevolence, that we can't but applaud a Person who does brave and generous Actions, even tho' we fuffer by them; and as much condemn him who acts bafely and treacherously, tho' we are ever fo great Gainers.
"Is there then (fays a Noble Author) a natural Beauty Characterise. "of Figures; and is there not as natural One of Actions ? Vol. 2. P 414. "No fooner the Eye opens upon Figures, the Ear to Sounds "than straight the Beautiful results, and Grace and Harmony are known, and acknowledg'd. No fooner are Actions view'd, no fooner the human Affections and Paffions dif"cern'd (and they are most of them as foon discern'd as felt) than straight an inward Eye distinguishes, and fees "the fair and fhapely, the Amiable and Admirable apart "from the Deform'd, the Foul, the Odious, or the Despicable. How is it poffible therefore not to own, "That as the Di
ftinctions have their Foundation in Nature, the Discern❝ment itself is natural, and from Nature alone.
B. THIS, I own, is a beautiful Defcription of human Nature, and a ftrong Evidence of the Goodness of its Author; but do Men act as if they had such an innate Love for Virtue, or fuch a benevolent Disposition?