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M O RA L S,
BY WAY OF
TO WHICH IS ADDED,
UNDER THE TITLE OF
AN AFTER THOUGHT.
BY SIR ROGER L'ESTRANGE, KNT,
KEENE, (N. H.]
But whether a translation, or an abstract, was the question. A translation I perceive it must not be, at least, for several reasons : First," it is a thing alreadly done to my hand, and above sixty years standing;" though with as little credit perhaps, to the author, as satisfaction ) the reader. Secondly, there is a great deal in him, that is wholly for. eign to my business: As his philosophical treatises of meteors, earth. quakes, the original of rivets, several frivolous disputes betwixt the Epicurians and the Stoicks, &c. to say nothing of the frequent repetitions of the same thing again in other words (wherein he very hand.. somely excuses himself, by saying, that he does but inculcate over and over the same counsels,tothose that over and over committhe same fitults.)* Thirdly,his excellency consists rather in a rhapsody of divine andextraordinary bints and notions, than in any regulated method of discourse ; so that to take him as he lies, and so go through with him, were utterly inconsistent with the order and brevity which I propound; my principale design being only to digest, and common-place his morals, in such sort, that any man, upon occasion, niay kaow where to find them. And I have kept myself so close to this proposition, that I have reduced all his scattered etbics to their proper berrets; without any additions of my own, more than of absolute necessity for the tacking of them together. Some other man in my place would perhaps make you'twenty apolo." gies for his want of skill and address, in governing this affair ; but these are for nial and pedantic fooleries : as if any man that takes him. self for a coxcorab in his own heart, would afterwards'ınake hiniself one in print too. This abstract, such as it is, you are extremely wel.come to ; and I am sorry it is no better, both for your sake and my own. For if it were written up to the spirit of the original, it would be one of the most valuable presents that ever any private man be. stowed upon the public. And this too, even in the judgment of both parties, as well christia as heathen: Of which in its dae place.
Next to my choiee of the author and of the subject, tegértier with the manner of handling it, I have likewise had some regard in this? publication, to the timing of it, and to the preference of this topic of benefits abive all'others, for the ground work of my first essay. We are fallen into an age of vain philosophy (as the holy apostle calls it) and so desperately overrun with drulis and sceptics, that there is hard.. ly any thing so certain or so sacred, that is not exposed to qitestion or contempt. Insomuch, that betwixt the bypocrite and the utbrist
, the very fouridations of religion and good manners are shaken, and the two tables of the decalogue dashed to pieces, the one against the oth. t1: The laws of government are subjected to the fancies of the val:
gar ; public authority to the private passions and opinions of the people; and the supernatural motions of grace confounded with the common dictates of nature. In this state of corruption, who so fit as a good honest Christiar-Pagan,fòra moderator among Pagan-Christians 2:
To pass now from the general scope of the whole work, to the particuler argument of the first part of it: I pitched upon the thene of benefits, gratitude, and ingratitude, to begin withal, as an earnest of the rest, and a lecture. expressly calculaied for the unthankfulness of these times : The foulest undoubtedly, and the most execrable of all others since the very apostacy of the angels : Nay,I durst but suppose: a possibility of mercy for those damned spirits, that they might ever. be taken into favor again, my charity would hope even better for then, than we have found from some of our revolters; and that they would so behave themselves, as not to incur a second forfeiture. And to carry the resemblance yet one point further, they do both of them. agree in an implacable malice against those of their fellows that keep their stations. But, alas ! what could ingratitude do, without hypocrisy, the inseparable companion of it ; and, in effect, the boidery, and the blacker devil of the two ? For Lucifer himself never had the face to lift up his eyes to heaven, and talk to the Almighty at the familiar rate of our pretended patriots and zealots, and at the same. time to make him party to a cheat. It is.not fur nothing that the Holy Ghost has denounced. so many woes, and redoubled so many cautions against hypocrites : Plainly intimating at once, how dane: gerous a snare they are to mankind, and.no less odious to God.hin. self : Which is .sufficiently denoted in the force of that dreadful expression. [And your partion sball be with bypocrites.] You will find in the holy scriptures (as I have formerly observed that God has given the grace of repentance to persecutors, idolaters, murderer ers, adulterers, &f. But I am mistaken, if the whole bilan affords. you any one instance of a converted hypocrite.
To descend now from truth itself to our own experience. Have: we not seen, even in our days, a most pious (and almost faultless) prince brought to the scaffold by his own subjects! The most gloria, ous constitution upon the face of the earth, both ecclesiastical and civil, torn to pieces, and dissclved.!. The happiest people under the: sun enslaved ? Our temples saerileg ously prufaned; and, a license; given to all sorts of heresy and outrage ! And. by whom, but by 2. race of hypocrites, who had nothing in their mouths all the while, buc. the purity of the gospel, the bougr of the king, and the liberty of the peo.. p'e : Assisied underhand with defamatory papers, which were level. led at the king himself, through the sides of his most faithful mize: isters? This project succeeded so well against one government,
that it is now again ser afoot against another. And by some of the very actors too in that tragedy, and after a mošt gracious pardon also . when Providence had laid, their necks and their fortunes at his me. jesty's feet. It is a wonderful thing that libels and libellers, the most. infamous of practices, and of men; the most unmanly sneaking methods, and instruments of mischief, the very bane of human society and the plague of all governments : It is a wonderful thing (I say); that these engines and engineers should ever find credit enough in