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-^The foregoing objection then weighs not against the'fense of deity more than against the rjAoral' fense. If it have weight, it resolves' into a, complaint against Provlvidence for the weakness of the fense of deity in rttde and illiterate nations.; If %th jcomplaint be solidly founded, it pierces extremely deep: why have not all nations, even in their nascent state, the 'ierjie:bf deity and the moral sense in purity and perfection? why do they not possess Mt.he^artl of life without necessity of Culture or experience? why are we born oor 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 afoove the reach of our weak criticisms: it is but a small portion that is laid open to our view; can we pretend to j udge of the whole? I venture only to luggest; that as, with respect to individuals,'there is a progress from infancy to maturity.; so there is a similar progress in every1 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 jnot "'• fu.:Ii
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 chearful performance of every duty.: but a child has not the slightest idea of gratis tude 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 ef duty to our Maker. .
TTAving 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 rriay not be happy in society and be qualified for good government, upon principles of morality singly, without any fense of religion. The question is ingenious, and rnay give opportunity for subtile 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; 3 '-; . _•/ in in children and in savages; but they grow up together, and advance toward maturity with equal steps. Where the moral fense is entire, there must be a fense of religion; .and if* a man who has no fense of religion live decently' iii "society, Kb is more indebted for his conduct to5 good temper than to found morals.
We have the atithority of the Prophet Micah, formerly quoted, for holding, 'that religion, Or, in other Words, our duty to God, consists in doing justicej 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, to be cruel or hard-hearted, is a traftsgresiion of his will, no less gross than a total neglect of religious worship. "Mau ster, which is the great commandment *' in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou "malt love the Lord thy God with all;tUy
Vol. IV. Xvx "' heart, "heart, with all thy foul, and with all thy "mind. This is the first and great com*' mandment. And the second is like unto "it> Thou shalt love thy neighbour asthy"self. On these two commandments hang "all the law and the prophets (a)" "Then "shall the King fay 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 w drink: I was a stranger, and ye took "me in: naked, and ye cloathed 'me: "sick, and ye visited me: in prison, and "' ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer, faying, Lord, when law we thee hunorv, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee "in ? or naked, and cloathed thee? When "saw we thee sick, or in prison, and "came unto thee? And the King shall "answer, Verily I fay unto you, in as "much as ye have done it unto one of "the least of these my brethren, ye have "done it unto me (£)." "Pure religion