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dearing notions of one another, and a true state of ourselves both in regard to the grandeur and vileness of our natures.
Fourthly, By shewing us the blacknessa and deformity of vice, which in the Christian system is so very great, that he who is poffeffed of all perfection and the Sovereign Judge of it, is represented by several of our Divines as hating fin to the same degree that he loves the Sacred Person who was made the propitiation of it.
Fifthly, In being the ordinary and prefcribed method of making morality effectual to salvation.
I have only touched on these several heads, which every one who is converfant in discourses of this nature will ea. fily enlarge upon in his own thoughts, and draw conclusions from them which may be useful to him in the conduct of his life. One I am sure is so obvious, that he cannot miss it, namely, that a marr cannot be perfect in his scheme of morality, who does not strengthen and fupport it with that of the Christian faith.
Besides this, I shall lay down two or three other maxims which I think we may deduce from what has been said.
First, That we should be particularly cautious of making any thing an article of faith, which does not contribute to the confirmation or improvement of mo. rality. · Secondly, That no article of faith can be true and authentie, which weakens or subverts the practical part of religion, or what I have hitherto called morality.
Thirdly, That the greateft friend of morality, or natural religion, cannot possibly apprehend any danger from embracing Christianity, as it is preferved pure and uncorrupt in the doctrines of our national Church.
There is likewife another maxim which I think may be, drawn from the foregoing considerations, which is this, that we should, in all dubious points, confider any ill confequences that may arise from them, fupposing they should be erroneous, before we give up our assent to them.
For example, in that difputable point of perfecuting men for conscience fake,
besides the imbittering their minds with
å mathemetical demonstration, before I · would venture to act upon it, or make it a part of my religion.
In this case the injury done our neighbour is plain and evident, the principle that puts us upon doing it, of a dubious and disputable nature. Morality seems highly violated by the one, and whether or no a zeal for what a man thinks the true system of faith may justify it, is very uncertain. I cannot but think, if our religion produce charity as well as zeal, it will not be for shewing itself by such cruel instances. But, to conclude with the words of an excellent author, We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
highly ve zeal forn may jultoh
TT was the common boast of the Hea.
then Philosophers, that by the efficacy of their several doctrines, they made hunian nature resemble the divine. How much mistaken soever they might be in the several means they proposed for this end, it must be owned that the design was great and glorious. The finest works of invention and imagination, are of very little weight, when put in the balance with what refines and exalts the rational mind. Longinus excuses Homer very handsomly, when he says the Poet made his Gods like men, that he might make his men appear like the Gods : But it must be allowed that several of the ancient Philosophers acted, as Cicero wishes Homer had done ; they endeavoured rather to make men like Gods, than Gods like men.
According to this general maxim in philosophy, some of them have endeavoured to place men in such a state of pleasure, or indolence at least, as they
vainly imagined the happiness of the Supreme Being to consist in. On the other hand, the most virtuous fect of Philosophers have created a chimerical wise man, whom they made exempt from pasion and pain, and thought it enough to pronounce him All-fufficient. *
This last character, when divested of the glare of human philosophy that sur* rounds it, fignifies no more, - than that a good and wise man should so arm himself with patience, as not to yield tamely to the violence of passion and pain ; that he should learn so to suppress and contract his desires as to have few wants ; and that he should cherilh so many virtues in his foul, as to have a perpetual source of pleasure in himself. - The Christian religion requires, that, after having framed the best Idea, we are able, of the Divine Nature, it should be our next care to conform ourselves to it, as far as our imperfections will permit. I might mention several passages in the Sacred Writings on this head, to which I might add many maxims and wife sayings of moral Authors among the Greeks and Romans.