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ture, but such as a future state furnishes, of sufficient force to deter such men from the practice of vice. Hope and fear are the two grand springs by which that curious machine, the human mind, is actuated; and to deprive Virtue of that support which she receives from their influence and operation, and to substitute in their room a sense of honour, or a love of moral beauty and order, is to betray the cause of Virtue. Secured by the awful sanctions of religion, the temple of Virtue stands unshaken upon a rock: but these, her false and pretended friends, would fain fubvert that firm and folid foundation, and in lieu of it would erect an house for her upon the fand; but if I may be allowed to borrow the language of Scripture, " When the floods come, and the winds blow, and “ beat upon that house, it will inevitably fall, “ and great will be the fall of it.” Hence, .
2dly, It is most unquestionably certain, that religion is of essential use and importance in promoting the temporal interests and felicity of mankind.
Were the belief of a God, of a providence, and of a future state banished from the world, it is evident that morality would stand on a foundation totally different from that on which it now rests. We should no longer be under an obligation, i. e. we should no longer have any rational or fufficient inducement to sacrifice our own happiness to that of others;--every individual would have a separate and detached interest, which it would, in that
cafe, be his highest wisdom to pursue, however contrary it might happen to be to that of his neighbour, or of the public. A principle of generosity might indeed deter some men from embracing opportunities of promoting their own happiness at the expence of others; but generosity would be a fceble restraint indeed upon the great majority of mankind, who, when the powerful feelings of remorse and fear were extinguished, would be little ferupulous in gratifying to the utmcft extent every passion and inclination, however depraved and corrupt, which could, in their apprehension, conduce to their own personal enjoyment; and the more completely a man could divest himself of every virtuous feeling and fympathetic emotion, the more powerful in fact would be his inducement, the more it would be his interest, if ore may be allowed to use an expression at which the mind revolts, to sacrifice the happi. ness of others to his avarice, his ambition, or his revenge. It must however be acknowledged, that the evidence which nature affords of the great truths of religion, scarcely amounts to probability: upon that probability, weak as it is, had we no better guide, it would nevertheless be our duty and our wisdom to act; but the truth is, that though in fpeculation it is impossible to deny that such a probability ought to influence our conduct as much as even a certainty, the impression made by it is so weak, that it has never been found to produce any general or permanent effect upon the hearts and lives
of mankind. The human mind is so constituted, as to stand in need of a species of evidence amounting much nearer to moral certainty, in order to effect any great practical purpose. How invaluable an advantage then ought the Christian revelation to be decmed, which is so admirably adapted to the wants and wishes of man, and which exhibits the grand doctrines of religion in a light co just and clear; which enforces them by such folemn and alarming sanctions; and which confirms and establishes the truth of thcın by a chain of evidence the most astonishing, the mot convincing, the most decifive. This religion has already produced effects highly favourable to the happiness of the human race; and those who are perfuaded of its divine authority, have the firmet reliance that it fall finally rise triumphant over all opposition; and that the knowledge and beneficial influence of it Thall, at length, cover the face of the whole carth, as the waters cover the sea.
N elegant modern writer, to whom the
world is indebted for a striking, and, in fome respects, a just view of the internal evidence of Christianity, has been pleased also, in a late volume of disquisitions, to communicate to the public his sentiments on Government and Civil Liberty, which, considering the present advanced state of knowledge relative to those topics, are really somewhat extraordinary. He allows that the subject has been much hackneyed, but he is induced to take up his pen, in order to expose and confute those “ false and mischievous prin
ciples, which," he says, " have of late been “ disseminated with unusual industry, and are as s inconsistent with common sense, as with all hu“ man fociety, and which happily require nothing “ more than to be fairly stated to be refuted." Who would not have supposed, from this preface, that attempts had been made to revive the exploded systems of Hobbes or Filmer, and that Mr. Jænyås, moved with just indignation to see the fimple and rational principles of Mr. Locke again called in question, after their authority seemed to be finally established by a prescription of almost a century, had determined to employ his eloquence and fagacity in their support. How great then must be our astonishment, when we discover that the principles which appear to Mr. J. so full of absurdity and mischief, and which disturb his mind with such alarming apprehensions, are no other than the principles of Mr. Locke himself, and of his most distinguished followers; and it is remarkable, that though in the opinion of Mr. J. they require no other refutation than to be fairly stated, they have been gradually gaining ground, not in England only, but through Europe, ever since Mr. Locke, in consequence of the ever memorable revolution, was employed in the very act of refutation referred to by Mr. J. The first of these monstrous positions is this : First, That all men are born equal. Here Mr. J. has the candour to make a voluntary concession. He allows that there is a sense in which it may be true; and if it means only, that all men are equally born, he will not take upon him to dispute the truth of it; and it must indeed be acknowledged, that if this is all that is meant, it does not seem to carry its own refutation along with it. Of this, however, Mr. J. is positive, that in every other sense it must be false, for some are born beautiful and healthy, and some with