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: PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.
SOME divines, almost wholly occupied with the doctrines of the Gospel, are not sufficiently careful to insist upon morality : while philosophers, for the most part, as wholly taken up with morality, treat the doctrines of the Gospel with neglect and clisdain. It is to reconcile, if possible, these two mistaken classes of men, that a few observations are here presented upon the importance of such doctrines, and their im. mediate connexion with morality.
Morality is the science, which regulates our manners, by teaching us to know and to follow justice, rendering to every one their due, love, honour, obedience, tribute, &c. The whole of this morality is included in those maxims of natural and revealed religion..., 66 Whatsoever ye would, that men should do unto you, do've even so unto them. Render unto Cesar,the things, which are Cesar's ; and unto God, the things, which are God's.” Hence it follows, that pure morally must maintain some form of divine worship.
Some moralists, it is true, imagine it possible to be strictly just, without making any profession of piety. But if justice consists in doing that to others, which we desire may be done to ourselves; it is clear, that every man who honours not the supreme Being must
be unjusť as well as impious : since if we are parents or benefactors, we manifest so deep a sensibility of the injustice of our children or dependants, when they repay our kindness with insolence and ingratitude:
Doctrines are, in general, precepts : hut by docTrincs, are here, particularly, understood, those instructions, which Christ and his Apostles have given, respecting the different relations, in which we stand to Go:l, and to each other, together with the various du. ties consequent upon such relations. Tas
3? Such instructions, as are transmitted from generic tion to generation, under the name of maxims or doctrines, whether they be true or false, have a prodigious effect upon the conduct of those who admit them. In the ancient world, how many hapless infants have been sacrificed among the Greeks and Romans to that barbarous maxim, that fathers have the right of life and death over their new-born children. In the modern world, how vast a number of unborn infants, and how many fanciful heroes are fuiling every year unfortunate victims to those maxim's of false honour: It is better to destroy the fruit of an illicit love, or to plunge a sword into the bosom of a friend, than to live without that, which constitues the honour of the sexes. Overturn these maxims of a false point of honour, and you destroy the principles, upon which a thousand impious actions are committed.
Mankind can no more divest themselves of all prepossession in favour of general maxims, than they can lose sight of determining motives. The atheist and the infidel have their particular doctrines, as well as the just man and the christian. The inconsistency of some philosophers, in this respect, is here worthy to be noted, who begin their discourses by decrying maxims in general, and conclude them, by setting forth and maintaining the most dangerous doctrines. The road to permanent happiness, say they, is both convenient and spacious. The Almighty pays but little regard to our actions, and has endued us with passions
for the very purpose of gratifying them. They insinuate, that if a man is sufficiently rich to entertain a number of women, he may innocently enjoy whatever pleasure their society can afford him : and that when , he has no longer any relish for life, he may as innocently blow out his brains. Such are the doctrines, and such is the morality, which many ill-instructed professors are preaching among us at this day ; giving ample testimony, that no men are more ready to set up for dogmatists, than those who reject the doctrines of the Gospel. $... Co-jon, . ..
PHILOSOPHERS, so CALLED, EXALT THEMSELVES, · WITHOUT REASON, AGAINST THE DOCTRINES, OF THE GOSPEL.
AS those, who affect exterior acts of devotion, are not always possessed of the most solid piety; so they, who are foremost to magnify philosophy, are not always to be regarded as the wisest of mankind. It must, however, be confessed, that many christians have afforded philosophers too just a subject of scana, dal, by continually opposing faith to l'eason: as though, in order to be possessed of the richest christian grace, it were necessary to renounce that noble faculty, which chiefly distinguishes us from the brute creation. Like the great Apostle, we may rationally oppose faith to sense ; but we can never, without the highest indiscre--. tion, oppose it to reason. We should even be cauticus. of saying with M. de Voltaire and St. Louis, " Take heed how you follow the guidance of your weak rea. son," The reason of man is acknowledged to be weak, when compared with the intelligence of superior: