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void of passion and sensibility, who had no ding defiance to God Almighty: it consists vícious appetites to be reftrained by its in- in an active, refolute fpirit; in a spirit that fluence, and who were unsusceptible of its enables a man to act his part in the world terrors or its pleasures.
with propriety; and to bear the misfor. Gregory.
tunes of life with uniform fortitude and
dignity. This is a strength of mind, s go. Infidelity owing to Insensibility of which neither atheism nor universal sceptiHeart.
cism will ever be able to inspire. On the Absolute infidelity, or settled scepticism contrary, their tendency will be found to in religion, we acknowledge, is no proof chill all the powers of imagination; to de. of want of understanding, or a vicious dif- press spirit as well as genius; to four the pofition, but is certainly a very strong pre- temper and contract the heart. The fumption of the want of imagination and highest religious spirit, and veneration for fenfibility of heart, and of a perverted un Providence, breathes in the writings of the derstanding. Some philosophers have been ancient stoics; a seat distinguished for proinfidels; few, men of taste and sentiment. ducing the most active, intrepid, virtuous Yet the examples of Lord Bacon, Mr. men, that ever did honour to human naLocke, and Sir Isaac Newton, among many other first names in philosophy, are Can it be pretended, that atheism or a fufficient evidence, that religious belief universal scepticism have any tendency to is perfectly compatible with the clearelt form such characters? Do they tend to and most enlarged understanding. inspire that magnanimity and elevation of
Ibid. mind, that superiority to selfith and sensual
gratifications, that contempt of danger $71. Religion nct founded on Weakness of and of death, when the caufe of virtue, of Mind.
liberty, or their country, require it, which Several of those who have surmounted heroes? Or is their influence more fa
distinguish the characters of patriots and what they call religious prejudices them- vourable on the humbler and gentler virselves, affect to treat such as alhamed to avow their regard to religion, they foften the heart, and render it more
tues of private and domestic life? Do as men of weak understandings and feeble delicately sensible of the thousand nameless minds: but this shews either want of can
duties and endearments of a husband, a dour, or great ignorance of human nature.
father, or a friend : Do they produce The fundamental articles of religion have that habitual serenity and chearfulness of been very generally believed by men the moft diftinguished for acuteness and ac
temper, that gaiety of heart, which makes
a man beloved as a companion? or do curacy of judgment. Nay, it is unjust to they dilate the heart with the liberal and infer the weakness of a person's head on other subjects, from his attachment even to
generous sentiments, and that love of hu. the fooleries of superstition. Experience and blessed as the patron of depressed
man kind, which would render him revered phews, that when the imagination is heated, merit, the friend of the widow and orand the affections deeply interested, they phan, the refuge and support of the poor level all distinctions of understanding; yet and the unhappy? this affords no presumption of a thallow judgment in subjects where the imagina- there is a strong connection between a
The general opinion of mankind, that sion and paflions have no influence.
religious disposition and a feeling heart,
appears from the universal diflike which $ 72. Effects of Religion, Scepticifon, and all men have to infidelity in the fair sex. Infidelity.
We not only look on it as removing the
principal security we have for their virtue, Feebleness of mind is a reproach fre- but as the strongest proof of their want of quently thrown, not only upon such as have that softness and delicate sensibility of a sense of religion, but upon all who possess heart, which peculiarly endears them to us, warm, open, chearful tempers, and hearts and more effectually secures their empire peculiarly disposed to love and friendship. over us, than any quality they can poffels. But the reproach is ill founded. Strength There are, indeed, fome men who can of mind does not consist in a peevish tem- persuade themselves, that there is no super, in a hard inflexible heart, and in bid. preme intelligence who directs the course
aatare; who can see those they have It should therefore be expected that been connected with by the strongeit bonds those philosophers, who stand in no need of nature and friendihip gradually disap- themselves of the assistance of religion to pearing; who are persuaded, that this support their virtue, and who never feel keparation is final and eternai ; and who the want of its consolations, would yet expect, that they themselves shall soon sink have the humanity to consider the very down after them into nothing; and yet such different situation of the rest of mankind, men appear easy and contented. But to a and not endeavour to deprive them of feaáble heart, and particularly to a heart what habit, at least, if they will not allow Tottened by past endearments of love or it to be nature, has made necessary to their friendship, lach opinions are attended with morals, and to their happiness. It might gocm inexprelible; they ítrike a damp be expected, that humanity would prevent is all the pleasures and enjoyments of them from breaking into the last retreat of bie, and cut off those prospects which the unfortunate, who can no longer be obalone can comfort the foul under certain jects of their envy or resentment, and ditresses, where all other aid is feeble and tearing from them their only remaining incffettual.
comfort. The attempt to ridicule reli. Scepticism, or suspence of judgment, as gion may be agreeable to some, by reto the truth of the great articles of reli- lieving them from restraint upon their gion, is attended with the same fatal effects. pleasures, and may render others very Wherever the affections are deeply inte- miserable, by making them doubt those retted, a ftate of suspence is more 'intole. truths, in which they were most deeply rable, and more distracting to the mind, interested; but it can convey real good than the sad assurance of the evil which is and happiness to no one individual. DacA dreaded. Gregory.
Ibid. 73. Comforts of Religion. $74. Cause of Zeal to propagate Infidelity. There are many who have past the age To support openly and avowedly the of yoath and beauty, who have resigned cause of infidelity, may be owing, in some, the pleasures of that smiling season, who to the vanity of appearing wiser than the begin to decline into the vale of years, im- rest of mankind; to vanity, that amphipaired in their health, depressed in their bious passion that seeks for food, not only fortunes, stript of their friends, their chil- in the affectation of every beauty and every dren, and perhaps still more tender con- virtue that adorn humanity, but of every Dections. What resource can this world vice and perversion of the understanding zford them? It presents a dark and that disgrace it. The zeal of making creary walle through which there does profelytes to it, may often be attributed to for issue a fingle ray of comfort. Every à like vanity of possessing a direction and delunve prospect of ambition is now at an ascendency over the minds of men ; which end; long experience of mankind, an ex is a very Hattering species of fuperiority. perience very different from what the But there seems to be some other cause that opes and generous soul of youth had secretly influences the conduct of some that ford'y dreamt of, has rendered the heart reject all religion, who, from the rest of diot inaccessible to new friendships. their character, cannot be suspected of The principal sources of activity are taken vanity, in any ambition of such superiority, 2-3y, when those for whom we labour are This we fall attempt to explain. cut off from us, those who animated, and The very differing in opinion, upon any those who sweetened all the toils of life. interesting subject, from all around us, Where then can the soul find refuge, but gives a disagreeable sensation. This must in the bosom of religion? There she be greatly increased in the present case, as is admitted to those prospects of Provi- the feeling which attends infidelity or scepdence and futurity, which alone can warm ticism in religion is certainly a comfortless and fill the heart. I speak here of such as one, where there is the least degree of Tetain the feelings of humanity, whom sensibility. - Sympathy is much more Dis fortunes have softened, and perhaps sought after by an unhappy mind, than by scadered more delicately sensible; not of one chearful and at ease.' We require a fech as possess that stupid insensibility, support in the one case, which in the other wiuch some are pleased to dignify with the is not necessary. A person, therefore, void Dame of philosophy.
of religion, feels himself as it were alone
in the midst of fociety; and though, for of it?-Yet fo far does vanity prevail over prudential reasons, he chooses, on some good-nature, that we frequently see men, occasions, to disguise his sentiments, and on other occasions of the most benevolent join in fome form of religious worship, tempers, labouring to cut off that hope yet this, to a candid and ingenuous mind, which can alone chear the heart under all must always be very painful ; nor does it the pressures and afflictions of human life, abate the disagreeable feeling which a and enable us to resign it with chearfulness focial spirit has in finding itself alone, and and dignity! without any friend to footh and participate Religion may be considered in three its uneafiness. This seems to have a con different views.' First, As containing docfiderable Mare in that anxiety whick Free- trines relating to the being and perfections Thinkers generally discover to make pro- of God, his moral administration of the felytes to their opinions ; an anxiety much world, a future state of existence, and pargreater than what is sewn by those whose ticular communications to mankind, by an minds are at ease in the enjoyment of hap- immediate fupernatural revelation--Sepier prospects.
Gregory. condly, A. a rule of life and manners.
Thirdly, As the source of certain peculiar $75. Zeal in the Propagation of Infidelity affections of the mind, which either give įrexcufable.
pleasure or pain, according to the partiThe excuse which in fidel writers plead cular genius and spirit of the religion that for their conduct, is a regard for the cause inspires them.
Ibid. of truth. But this is a very infufficient one. None of them act upon this princi
$76. Religion confidered as a Science. ple, in its largest extent and application, in In the first of these views, which gives common life ; nor could any man live in a foundation to all religious belief, and on the world, and pretend so to do. . In the which the other twp depend, Reason is purfuit of happiness, our being's end and principally concerned. On this fubjeét, aim *, the discovery of truth is far from the greatest efforts of human genius and being the most important object. It is application have been exerted, and with truc, the mind receives a high pleasure the most desirable success, in those great from the investigation and discovery of and important articles that seem molt imtruth, in the abftract iciences, in the works mediately to affect the interest and hapof nature and art; but in all subjects, piness of mankind. But when our enwhere the imagination and affections are quiries here are puted to a certain length, deeply concerned, we regard it only fo far we find that Providence has set bounds to as it is fubfervient to them. One of the our reason, and even to our capacities of first principles of fociety, of decency, and apprehenfion. This is particularly the of good manners, is, that no man is enti- cate with respect to infinity and the moral tled to say every thing he thinks true, ceconomy of the Deity. The objects are when it would be injurious or offensive to here, in a great measure, beyond the reach his neighbour. If it was not for this prin- of our conception; and induction, from ciple, all mankind would be in a state of experience, on which all our other reasone hoftility.
ings are founded, cannot be applied to 4 Suppose a person to lose an only child, subject altogether difiimilar to any thing the fole comfort and happiness of his life: we are acquainted with. Many of the When the first overflowings of nature are fundainental articles of religion are such, past, he recollects the infinite goodness and that the mind may have the fullest conimpenetrable wisdom of the Disposer of all viction of their truth, but they must be events ; he is persuaded, that the revo- viewed at a distance, and are rather the ļution of a few years will again unite him objects of silent and religious veneration, to his child, never more to be separated. than of metaphysical disquisition.
If the With these sentiments he acquiefces, with mind attempts to bring them to a nearer a melancholy yet pleasing refignation, to view, it is confounded with their strange. the Divine will. Now, fuppofing all this nefs and immenfity, to be a deception, a pleating dream, would When we purlúe our enquiries into any not the general sense of mankind condemn part of nature beyond certain bounds, we the philofopher, as barbarous and inhu- find ourselves involved in perplexity and man, who should attempt to wake him cut darkness. But there is this remarkable Pope. difference between these and religious en
saries: in the investigation of nature, we with the most indecent and shocking faan always make a progress in knowlege, miliarity. The truly devotional ipirit, and approximate to the truth by the pro- whose chief foundation and characteristic per exertion of genius and observation. is genuine and profound humility, is not to But our enquiries into religious subjects, be looked for among ruch persons. are con ined within very narrow bounds; Another bad effect of this speculative
or can any force of reason or application theology has been to withdraw people's lead the mind one step beyond that impe- attention from its practical duties.-We zerable golf, which feparates the visible usually find, that thofe who are most difand inviable world.
tinguished by their excessive zeal for opiThough the articles of religious belief, nions in religion few great moderation which fall within the comprehension of and coolness as to its precepts; and their sankind, and seem effential to their hap- great severity in this respect, is commonly piness
, are few and imple, yet ingenious exerted againit a few vices where the heart men have contrived to erect them into moft is but little concerned, and to which their tremendous fyftems of metaphysical fub. own difpofitions preserved them from any dery, which will long remain monuments temptations. both of the extent and the weaknels of But the worst effects of speculative and kamen underítanding. The pernicious con- controversial theology, are those which it fequences of such fy items, have been va- produces on the temper and affections. nous. By attempting to ettablish When the mind is kept constantly embarauch, they have hurt the foundation of rassed in a perplexed and thorny path, the most interesting principles of religion. where it can find no steady light to thew -diot men are educated in a belief of the way, nor foundation to reit on, the dhe peculiar and distinguishing opinions of temper lofes its native chearfulness, and koma me religious sect or other. They contracts a gloom and severity, partly froin are taught, that all these are equally found the chagrin of disappointment, and partly ed on Divine authority, or the cleareit from the social and kind affections being deductions of reason; by which means their extinguished for want of exercise. When vlea of religion hangs so much together, this evil is exasperated by opposition and that one part cannot be shaken without dispute, the consequences prove very fatal endangering the whole. But wherever any to the peace of fociety; especially when kedom of enquiry is allowed, the absur men are persuaded, that their holding cer. dity of some of these opinions, and the tain opinions entitles them to the divine tacertain foundation of others, cannot be favour; and that those who differ from concealed. This naturally begets a gene- them, are devoted to eternal destruction. ral distruit of the whole, with that fatal This persuasion breaks at once all the ties Jakewarmness in religion, which is its ne of society. The toleration of men who cefiary consequence.
hold erroneous opinions, is considered as The very habit of frequent reasoning conniving at their destroying not only them. and disputing upon religious subjects, di- selves, but all others who come within the rinishes that reverence with which the reach of their influence. This produces mand would otherwise consider them. This that cruel and implacable spirit, which has feems particularly to be the case, when so often disgraced the cause of religion, and Den presume to enter into a minute scru. dishonoured humanity, Day of the views and economy of Provi Yet the ettećts of religious controversy dence, in the administration of the world; have fome:ines proved beneficial to man
by the Supreme Being made it as it is; kind. That fpirit of free enquiry, which the freedom of his actions ;. and many o incited the first Reformers to thake off the ter such questions, intinitely beyond our yoke of ecclefiaftical tyranny, naturally bePeach. The natural tendency of this, is to got just sentiments of civil liberty, especibessen that awful veneration with which we ally when irritated by persecution. When Gught always to contemplate the Divinity, such sentiments came to be united with Bat which can never be preserved, when that bold enthusiasm, that severity of tem, aen canvass his ways with such unwar per and manners that distinguished some rentable freedom. Accordingly we find, of the reformed feets, they produced those amongst those fe&taries where such disquia resolute and inflexible men, who alone were biors have principally prevailed, that he able to alert the cause of liberty, in an has been mentioned and even addressed age when the Christian world was ener
vated by luxury or superstition ; and to such cure the diseases of the mind. The pros men we owe that freedom and happy con- gress and degrees of perfection of both ftitution which we at present enjoy.But these arts, ought to be estimated by no these advantages of religious enthusiasm other standard, than their success in the have been but accidental.
cure of the diseases to which they are seIn general it would appear, that religion, verally applied. In medicine, the facts on considered as a science, in the manner it which the art depends, are so numerous has been usually treated, is but little bene- and complicated,' fo misrepresented by ficial to mankind, neither tending to en- fraud, credulity, or a heated imagination, large the understanding, sweeten the tem- that there has hardly ever been found a per, or mend the heart. At the same time, truly philosophical genius who has attemptthe labours of ingenious men, in explain- ed the practical part of it. There are, ining obscure and difficult passages of sacred deed, many obltacles of different kinds, writ, have been highly useful and necessary. which occur to render any improvement And though it is natural for men to carry in the practice of phyfic a matter of the their speculations, on a subject that so near- utmost difficulty, at least whilst the profefly concerns their present and eternal hap- fon rests on its present narrow foundation. piness, farther than reason extends, or than Almolt all physicians who have been men is clearly and expressly revealed; yet these of ingenuity, have amused themselves in can be followed by no bad consequences, forming theories, which gave exercise to if they are carried on with that modesty and their invention, and at the same time conreverence which the subject requires. They tributed to their reputation. Instead of become pernicious only when they are form- being at the trouble of making observaed into systems, to which the same credit tions themselves, they culled, out of the and submission is required as to Holy Writ promiscuous multitude already made, such itself.
Gregory. as best suited their purpose, and dressed
them up in the way their system required. $77. Religion considered as a Rule of Life In confequence of this, the history of meand Manners.
dicine does not so much exbibit the hisWe shall now proceed to consider reli- tory of a progreflive art, as a history of gion as a rule of life and manners. In this opinions which prevailed perhaps for twenrespect, its influence is very extensive and ty or thirty years, and then sunk into conbeneficial, even when disfigured by the tempt and oblivion. The case has been wildest superstition; as it is able to check nearly similar in practical divinity:. but and conquer those passions, which reason this is attended with much greater diffiand philosophy are too weak to encounter. culties than the practical part of medicine; But it is much to be regretted, that the in this latt, nothing is required but asliduous application of religion to this end, hath and accurate observation, and a good unnot been attended to with that care which derstanding to direct the proper application the importance of the subject required.- of such observation.
Ibid. 'The speculative part of religion seems
generally to have engrofied the attention of $78. Hov Religion is to be applied to cure men of genius. This has been the fate
the Dijeases of the Mind. of all the useful and practical arts of life; To cure the diseases of the mind, there and the application of religion, to the re- is required that intimate knowledge of the gulation of life and manners, must be con- human heart, which must be drawn from fidered entirely as a practical art.-The life itself, and which books can never causes of this neglect, seem to be these: teach ; of the various disgyises under which Men of a philosophical genius have an vice recommends herself to the imaginaaverfion to all application, where the ac- tion; of the artful association of ideas tive powers of their own minds are not which the forms there; and of the many immediately employed. But in acquiring nameless circumstances that foften the any practical art, a philosopher is obliged heart and render it accesible. It is liketo spend most of his time in employments wise neceffary to have a knowledge of the where his genius and understanding have arts of insinuation and persuasion, of the no exercise. The fate of the practical arts art of breaking false and unnatural assoof medicine and religion have been pretty ciations of ideas, or inducing counter-assofimilar: the object of the one is, to cure ciations, and opposing one passion to anthe diseases of the body; of the other, to other; and after all this knowledge is ac