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in its mechanism excelling that of beasts connected with what regards them, it is by
such as would deprive man's breast of no means a slight confirmation of the truth social affections, exempt him from all ap- of a doctrine, That the persuasion thereof prehensions of a deity, and confine his is of the utmost consequence to our present hopes to his present existence, are not the well-being. And thus the great advanpersons whom any thing here said proposes tages that are in this life derivable from to affect. They are not, I mean, directly the belief of a future retribution--that applied to in this work; but even their be are here the proper fruits of such a belief, seht it may be said consequentially to in- may be considered as evidencing how well tead, as it would certainly contribute it is founded-how reasonably it is enthereto, could it properly operate on those tertained. On this it may be of some use whose advantage is its immediate aim. more largely to infit.
We have been told, by very good judges What engagements correspond to the of human nature, how engaging virtue conviction that the state in which we now would be, if it came under the notice of are is but the passage to a better, is consisense. And what is a right practice, but dered in the last of these essays: and that, virtue made, in some measure, the object when so engaged, we are acting the part of our sense? What is a man ever acting befitting our nature and our situation, seems reasonably, but, if I may fo fpeak, imper- manifelt both on account of the approbafonated virtue--Virtue in a visible shape, tion it has from our calmest hours, our most brought into view, presenting itself to the serious deliberation and freeft judgment, sight, and through the fight as much af and likewise on account of the testimony it feating the mind, as it could be affected by receives even from them who act a quite any elegance of form, by any of the beau
What they conform not to, ties of colouring or proportion.
they applaud; they acknowledge their The notions molt dishonourable to the failures to be such ; they admire the worth, deity, and to the human species, are often, I which they cannot bring toemselves to culfaspect, first taken up, and always, certain tivate. ly, confirmed by remarking how they act If we look into the writers who supposed whose speculations express the greatest ho all the pleasures of man to be those of his nour towards both.
body, and all his views limited to his preWhen the strongest sense of an all-power sent existence; we find them, in the rule of ful and wife, a moit holy and just Governor life they gave, deserting the necessary conof the world, is professed by those who sequences of their jupposition, and prescribfew not the least concern to please him ing a morality utterly inconsistent with it.
-When reason, choice, civil obligations, Even when they taught that what was good a future recompence, have for their advo or evil was to be determined by our feel. cates such as are governed by humour, ing only--that right or wrong was acparlion, appetite; or who deny themselves cording to the pleasure or pain that would to present pleasure or advantage, for any ensue to us during the continuance of our thing that an hereafter promises; it natu present frame, since after its diffolution we rally leads others, first, to think it of little have nothing to hope or fear; their praclimoment which fide is taken on these points, cal directions were, however, that we ought and then, to take that which suits the man to be strictly just, severely ab!tinent, true Ders of them who, in their declarations, are to our friendships, fteady in the pursuit of its warmeft opposers.
honour and virtue, attentive to the public Whereas, were the apprehenfans that do welfare, and willing to part with our lives juffice to a superintending providence- in its defence. an immaterial principle in man- -his li Such they admitted man ought to be berty-his duties in society--his hopes such they exhorted him to be, and, thereat his difTolucion, to be universally evi fore, when they would allow him to act desced by a luitable practice; the great only upon motives utterly incongruous to and manifeft advantage arising from them his being this person, it followed either would be capable of suppresling every doubt that theie were wrongly afligned, or that of their truth, would prevent the entrance a conduct was required from him unsuitcary, or would soon remove it.
able to his nature. As, indeed, all that we are capable of That his obligations were rightly stated inning in our present state, appears either was on all hands agreed. The mistake was Zasicly to regard its wants, or to be in the inducements alledged for discharging
them. Nothing was more improbable than ment to the delights of sense, and the fronghis fulfilling the duties this scheme appointed eft reluctance to forego them, are strictly in him, if he was determined by it in judging character when we look not beyond them of the consequences of his actions
--when we acknowledge not any higher what good or hurt they would do him fatisfactions, and behold these as expiring
what happiness or misery would be with us, and sure never to be again taited. their result.
Whereas the prospect of a returning life, While the Epicureans admitted justice to and of enjoyments in it far superior to any be preferable to injustice--a public spirit, we now experience, or promíse ourselves, to private selfish views; while they acknow- has a necessary tendency to lessen our foliledged it more fitting that we should facri- citude about the existence here appointed fice life to the good of our country, than We cannot well be reconciled to the preserve it by deserting the common wel- loss of our being, but are easily fo to its fare; they must, I think, be regarded as change; and death considered as only its authorising a preference of the principles change, as the passage from a less to a which will make man just and public- more desirable state, will, certainly, have spirited, to those which will dispose him to the terror of its appearance much abated. be unjust, and wholly attentive to his own The conviction that there is a greater good little interests.
in reserve for us than any pleasure which Let us see, then, what will be the practi- earth can afford, and that there is fomecal consequences of adopting or rejecting thing far more to be feared by us than any the Epicurean tenet of our having nothing pain we can now be made to suffer, will, in to hope for beyond the grave.
proportion to its strength, render us indifThe value we set on life is shewn by ferent to the delights and conveniencies of what we do to preserve it, and what we our abode on earth, and dispose us to quasuffer rather than part with it. We support lify ourselves for obtaining that greater ourselves by the hardest labour, the severest good, and avoiding that so much more to drudgery, and we think death a much be dreaded evil, in these confiderations of greater evil
, than to struggle for years with life and death, of happiness and misery, disease and pain, despairing of cure, and virtue has its proper support. We are by even of any long intervals of ease. Such, hem brought to judge rightly of the part ordinarily, is our love of life. And this becoming us, and to adhere to it immovedesire to keep it cannot but be greatly in- ably: they furnish sufficient inducements to creased, when we are induced to think that avoid falsehood and injustice, of whatever once lost it is so for ever. To be without immediate advantage we may be thereby all hope of again enjoying the blefling we deprived they encourage us to serve thus highly prize, mult naturally disincline our friends and country with the utmost us to hazard it
, and indispose us for what fidelity, notwithstanding all the inconveniwill endanger its continuance. He who is encies that can be fupposed to attend is persuaded that corporeal pleasure is all he they are, indeed, proper incitements has to expect, and that it is confined to his to prefer the public welfare to our own present existence, must, if he acts agreeably safety, while they represent to us how much 10 such a perfuafon, be wholly intent on the our gain thereby would overbalance our loss. pursuit of that pleasure, and dread nothing Brutes in our end and expectations, how more than its coming to an end, or being can we be otherwise in our pursuits ?. But interrupted. Hence, if his term of life if the reasoning principle in us be an incorwould be shorter, or any greater distress ruptible one, and its right or wrong appliwould accrue to him by adhering to truth cation in his embodied state affect the whole and justice, than by departing from them of our future existence; we have, in that
if he were to be at present more a apprehension, the most powerful motive to loser by afsifting his friend, than by for. act throughout in conformity to our sasaking him if he could promise himself tional nature, or, which is the same thing a larger share of sensual gratifications from in other words, never to swerve from virbetraying his country, than from serving it tuerto despise alike danger and pleafaithfully, he would be false and unjust, he fure when standing in competition with would be perfidious to his friend, and a our duty. traitor to his country. All those sentiments Thus, when Socrates, in Plato's Phædo, and actions that express an entire attach- has proved the immortality of our soul, he
Confiders it as a neceffary consequence of the which fo far operates to the prejudice of
constituting its happiness or misery to all in which we are placed--if it alone can « eternity."
lead us to perfect our nature, and.can furSo, when the elder Scipio is introduced nish our state with satisfactory enjoyments; by Tully, apprising the younger, " That there may seem sufficient grounds to con« what is called our life, may be more
ore clude that there is such a recompence; the properly styled our death--that we persuasion thereof, thus affecting us; may * truly live, when we are freed. from the well appear moft reasonably entertained. « fetters of our body;" he proceeds to When all those principles, of whose observe, how much it then concerned him truth we have the greatest certainty, con" to be jus--to promote the public wel. duct us to happines, it is natural to think a fare-to make true glory his aim, that the influence of any principle upon
doing what is right without regard to our happiness should be no improper teft “ any advantage it will now yield him, of its truth.
despiting popular opinion, adhering to If there be no surer token of a right “ virtue for its real worth." And the practice, than its tendency to promote the youth thus instructed, professes, “That af- common good, can we but judge that to be " ter such information into what ftatë he a right opinion, which has undeniably, in w is to pass, he would not be wanting to an eminent degree, luch a tendency?
hinself: unmindful he had not been of When the difficulties that, under a gene. " his ancestor's worth, but to copy it ral corruption, attend our adherence to vir
hould now be his more especial care, tue, are only to be furmounted by the “ fince encouraged thereto by so great a prospect of a future reward; one knows u reward."
not how to believe that the proper induceLucan, representing the inhabitants of ment to our acting a part fo becoming us this part of Europe as persuaded that the so much our praise, should be no foul survived the diffolution of the body, other than a chimerical view, a romantic congratulates them, indeed, only on the and utterly vain expectation. happiness they enjoyed in an opinion that When error is manifestly the cause of freed them from the most tormenting of all whatever ill we do or suffer, it is extremekars, the dread of death--that made ly improbable, that to an erroneous notion them act with so much bravery and intre we must stand indebted for the best use of pidity. But when he admits a contempt life, and its most folid satisfactions. of death to be the proper effect of this opi But it may be asked--:vhere does this rice, he must be considered as allowing it opinion produce these boalted effects ? all chat practical influence which as natu- Among them who profefs it their firmest rally results from it, as such an indifference belief that there is a future recompence, to life doth, and has the same connex- how few do we find better men for it-ion with it.
more regular in their manners, or more If, therefore, the persuasion that death useful to the world, than they would have renders us utterly insensible, be a persua- been without any such persuasion ? fon that unmans us quite--that disposes
How far any truth shall operate upon us 40 2 course of action moft unworthy of us how far it thall in luence us, depends up--that is extremely prejudicial to society, on our application of it, upon our attention and teeds, in every way, to our own great
to it. Experience furnishes the utmost cereft hurt or debasement, we may well sup- tainty of a valt variety of particulars highly połe it an erroneous one; since it is in the interesting our present welfare, which yet we higtet degree improbable, that there should overlook, we give ourselves little or no corbe any truth in a notion the reception of cern about, tho' we thereby make ourselves
the leverest sufferers; and may be almost as of it, which is our crime, and not their de. sure as we can be of any thing, that our un- fects. We will not let them act upon us; concernedness about them must be attended as they are qualified to do. Their worth with consequences thus fatal to us. The se. is to be estimated by the worth they are veral rules which regard the lengthening of suited to produce. And it would be full as life the preservation of healthm--the absurd, when we will not mind our way, enjoyment of eafe, tho' they carry with to deny that the light can be of any help them the clearest evidence of their im to us in seeing it; as to deny the serviceportance, how very little weight have they ableness of any principle, because we fail with the generality of mankind-how in its application. unheeded are they when opposing an eager Nor is it, indeed, only our unhappiness appetite, a Itrong inclination while yet that we are inattentive to what the belief of these rules are acknowledged to remain a future recompence requires from us; reli. as true, as worthy of our notice, as cer- gion itself, is, alas! every where abused to tain in their salutary effects when observed, the obstructing the proper effects of this beas if all that practical regard to which they lief. I mean, that whatever religion is any are entitled, was paid them; and we may where profesied, some or other site or docbe as juftly thought endowed with a capa- trine of it does favour, as in Paganism and city of discovering those effects in order to Mohammediím ; or is fo conftrued, as in Jutheir profiting us, as if they universally daism and Christianity, that it is made to
favour a departure from the practice which What benefit was intended in qualifying suits the persuasion of a future reward. us for the discernment of any truth, is by no The reproach that belonged to the Jews ir means to be inferred from what ordinarily our Saviour's time, they have, as far as apensues to us wlien discerning it. A just in- pears, deserved ever since ; that by their ference as to this can only be made from scrupulous regard to the lesser points of regarding the dictates of reason upon such their law, they think they make amends a truth being discerned by us ; or, what use for the grossest neglect of its most imporof its discernment reason directs us to make. tant precepts. And with respect to us
When we are less wicked than very bad Christians*, whence is it, that there is so principles prompt us to be, which is often little virtue among us that we are the case; these are, nevertheless, full as throughout socorrupt, but from taking sancblameable as they would be if we were to tuary for our crimes in our very religion, act consistently with them. That they are -from perverting its most holy infti. not pursued, is, as to them, quite an acci- 'tutions and doctrines to be our full fedental point; in reason and nature they curity whatsoever are our vices +? should be ; and therefore are fitly charge Thus, we are either of a church in able with all the consequences that acting which we can be abfolved of all our fins; according to them would produce. or we are of the number of the elect, and
So, on the other hand, tho' it must be cannot commit any; or the merits of Christ confessed, that, with the best principles, our atone for our not having the merit even course of life is, frequently, very faulty; of honeity and sincerity; or a right faith the objection muit lye not to the nature or makes amends for our mott corrept kind of their influence, but to a weakness practices.
* Sir Ihre Nervion liavius, observed, That the prophecies concerning Cole if's for fi coming were for letting up the Cbriftian religion, adds, w ich all nations bue'e dinte corruptiol, &c. Obierv. upon the Proph. of Dan. &i. P. 252.
f The genral and great defect in those that profess the Christian faith is, that they bore for life eternal, without performing those conditions, wbereupon it is promised in the Gospe!, namely, repentance and reformation. They will trust to a fruibil, dia els fulk, or to fome pennies, and fuisfactions, and coumt made with God, doing what he hath not required instead of what he lith commanded. No perfuations thall prevail to move and excite them to do this, 110 reasons, arguments, or demonftration, 110 not the expreis words of God, that it is necessary to be done; or to forbear to censure them as Enemics in the Grace of God, who do with clear and express Scripture how the absolute neceflity of it. cubrim' Seamoni, p. 166, 167.
I I heartily with, that hy public anthority it were so ordered, that no man should ever preach er printthis doctrine, That Faith alone justifies, unless he joins this cogether with it, That univerfal obedience is necessary to falvacion. Cidlingwortis's Burigo of Prot. p. 362.
By our zeal in our opinions we growcool in our picy and practical duties. Epift. Delwat.pofixid so thi Difcacio Lópy of Proph.
We have prayers, sacraments, fasts, that To be intent on pleasure, yet negligent are never thought of to improve us in vir- of happiness, is to be careful for what will tue, but to supply the want of it-- to ease us a few moments of our life, and yet, çaiet our consciences under the moit cul- without any regard to what will distress us pable gratification of our lufts.
for many years of it. How the belief of a future recompence When I study my happiness, I consult fhould, in reason, affect our practice-- the fatisfaction of the whole continuance of what its proper and natural influence is, my being I endeavour, that throughout solely concerns the present argument.
It it i
fuffer as little, and enjoy myself as ieens enough, in the case before us, that much, as my nature and situation will adno one can be confiftent with himself, but, mit. Happiness is lasting pleasure; its if he has any hopes of happiness in another pursuit is, really, that of pleasure, with as world, his conduct will be regular, becom- îmall an allay as poslible of pain. We can. ing, rational: and, that where we find not, therefore, provide for our happiness, these hopes entertained on mature confi- without taking our Thare of pleasure; tho,' deracion, justly reasoned upon, duly at as is every where but too evident, our tended to, there we, certainly, find great eagerness after Pleasure may plunge us purity of morals, a strict regard to the into the misery we are unable to support
. part befitting a reasonable creature, and Nothing, indeed, is more specious than every other advantage ascribed to them. If the general term Pleasure. It carries with I cannot be allowed to infer from hence that it the idea of something which must be perthey are well founded, they have still for mitted us by our Maker; since we know their support all those arguments in favour not how to suppose him forbidding us to of a final retribution, with which I have taste what he has disposed us to relish. His not at all meddled, nor in the least weak. having formed us to receive pleasure, is ened by any thing I may have less perti- our licence to take it. This I will admit Dently observed. The subject of the third to be true, under proper restrictions. of the following essays led me to the re It is true, that from our nature and conmarks here made ; and to me they ap- ftitution we may collect wherein we act pear not immaterial. I cannot, indeed, agreeably to our Creator's will, and wherebring myself to think bùt that the hopes in we act contrary to it: but the mischief which induce me to act most agrecably to is, we comnionly mistake our nature, we my Creator's will, he has formed me to miscal it; we call that it which is but a entertain; and will not let me be disap- part of it, or the corruption of it; and we pointed in them.
thence make conclusions, by which when Of one thing I am sure, that they who we govern our practice, we soon find ourfufer the perfuafion of a future happiness felves in great difficulties and distress. to operate, as it ought, on their practice, For instance, we call our passions our naconstantly experience their practice adding ture ; then infer, that, in gratifying them, trength to their persuasion; the better they we follow nature; and, being thus convincbecome by their belief, the more confirmed ed that their gratification must be quite they become in it. This is a great deal to lawful, we allow ourselves in it, and are say on its behalf. What weightier recom undone by it. Whereas, the body is as mendation to our assent can any doctrine much the man, as his passions are his nahave, than that, as it tends to improve us ture; a part of it, indeed, they are, but in virtue, so the more virtuous we are, the the lowest part; and which, if more remore brmly we afsent to it; or, the better garded than the higher and nobler, it must judges we are of truth, the fuller assurance be as fatal to us, as to be guided rather by We have of its truth?
what is agreeable to our appetite, than
conducive to our health. Of this more 148. On the Employment of Time. hereafter. THE FIRST.
The call of nature being the favourite T*: dzim. inteliges, quid faciendum tibi, quid vis topic of all the men of pleasure of all i zatem ft, cam didiciris quid nutist & lisce debeas. who act the most in contradiction to na
Sen. Ep. 121. ture, I will confine the whole of the fol" Amazing! that a creature, fo warm in lowing essay to the confideration of it, so " the pursuit of her pleasures, should never far as it relates to the employment of our "call one thought towards her happiness." time; and thew how our time should be em-A reflection this, made indeed by a comic ployed, if we have a just regard to our na. Writer, but not unworthy the most serious. turt-if what it requires be consulted by us.