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at last leave religion free to sound philosophy. Then it s, that men, listening to the innate sense of deity purified from every bias, acquire a clear conviction of one supreme Deity who made and governs the world.
The foregoing objection then weighs not against the sense of deity more than against the moral sense. If it have weight, it resolves into a complaint against Providence for the weakness of the sense of deity in rude and illiterate nations. If such complaint be solidly founded, it pierces extremely deep: why have not all nations, even in their nascent state, the sense of deity and the moral sense in purity and perfection? why do they not possess all the arts of life without necessity of culture or experience? why are we born poor and helpless 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 suggest, that as, with respect to individuals, there is a progress from infancy to maturity; so there is a similar 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 such knowledge in a savage be equally so? Nor can I discover what benefit a child or a
savage could reap from such knowledge; provided it remained a child or a savage in every other respect. The genuine fruits of religion, are gratitude to the Author of our being, veneration to him as the Supreme Being, absolute resignation to the established laws of his providence, and cheerful performance of every duty but a child has not the slightest idea of gratitude nor of veneration, and very little of moral duties; and a savage, with respect to these, is not much superior to a child. The formation and government of the world, as far as we know, are excellent: we have great reason to presume the same with respect to what we do not know; and every good man will rest 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 system of unerring Providence.
Morality considered as a branch of duty to our Maker.
AVING 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 subject which induced me to undertake the history of natural religion; a subject that will afford salutary instruction; and
will inspire true piety, if instruction can produce that effect.
Bayle states a question, Whether a people may not be happy in society, and be qualified for good government, upon principles of morality singly, without any sense of religion. The question is ingenious, and may give opportunity for subtle reasoning; but it is useless, because the fact supposed cannot happen. The principles of morality and of religion are equally rooted in our nature: they are indeed weak in children and in savages; but they grow up together, and advance toward maturity with equal steps. Where the moral sense is entire, there must be a sense of religion; and if a man who has no sense of religion live decently in society, he is more indebted for his conduct to good temper than to sound morals.
We have the authority of the Prophet Micah, formerly quoted, for holding, that religion, or, in other words, our duty to God, consists in doing justice, in loving mercy, and in walking humbly with him. The last is the foundation of religious worship, discussed in the foregoing section; the two former belong to the present section. And if we have gratitude to our Maker and Benefactor, if we owe implicit obedience to his will as our rightful sovereign, we ought not to separate the worship we owe to him, from justice and benevolence to our fellow-creatures; for to be unjust to them,
them, to be cruel or hard-hearted, is. a transgression of his will, no less gross than a total neglect of religious worship. "Master, which is the great "commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy “heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. "This is the first and great commandment. And "the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy "neighbour as thyself. On these two command"ments hang all the law and the prophets *." "Then shall the King say unto them on his right "hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit "the kingdom prepared for you. For I was "hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, "and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: "sick, and ye visited me: in prison, and ye came 66 unto me. Then shall the righteous answer, "saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and "fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? "When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee "in? or naked, and clothed thee? When saw "we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? "And the King shall answer, Verily I say unto
you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of "the least of these my brethren, ye have done it "unto met." "Pure religion and undefiled be"fore God, is this, To visit the fatherless and "widow
+ Matthew, xxv. 34.
* Matthew, xxii. 36.
"widow in their affliction; and to keep himself unspotted from the world *.” "Hostias et vic"timas Domino offeram quas in usum mei pro"tulit, ut rejiciam ei suum munus? Ingratum "est; cùm sit litabilis hostia bonus animus, et pura mens, et sincera conscientia. Igitur qui "innocentiam colit, Domino supplicat; qui justi-. tiam, Deo libat; qui fraudibus abstinet, propitiat Deum; qui hominem periculo subripit, optimam victimam cædit. Hæc nostra sacrificia, "hæc Dei sacra sunt. Sic apud nos religiosior est "ille, qui justior t." The laws of Zaleucus, lawgiver to the Locrians, who lived before the days of Pythagoras, are introduced with the following preamble. "No man can question the existence "of Deity who observes the order and harmony. "of the universe, which cannot be the production "of chance. Men ought to bridle their passions, " and
* James, i. 27.
+ "Shall I offer to God for a sacrifice those creatures which "his bounty has given me for my use? It were ingratitude "to throw back the gift upon the giver. The most acceptable "sacrifice is an upright mind, an untainted conscience, and an "honest heart. The actions of the innocent ascend to God "in prayer; the observance of justice is more grateful than "incense; the man who is sincere in his dealings, secures "the favour of his Creator; and the delivery of a fellow"creature from danger or destruction, is dearer in the eyes "of the Almighty than the sacrifice of blood."- -Minucius Fælix