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endued with power, much less of one endued with infinite power; and that we can never have reason to believe, that any object, or quality of any object exists, of which we cannot form an ideap.
OF THE MORALITY OF HUMAN ACTIONS.
That every human action is necessary, and could not have been different from what it is.
That moral, intellectual, and corporeal virtues, are nearly of the same kind-In other words, that to want honesty, and to want understanding, and to want a leg, are equally the objects of moral disapprobation.
That adultery must be practised, if men would obtain all the advantages of life; that, if generally practised, it would in time cease to be scandalous; and that, if practised secretly and frequently, it would by degrees come to be thought no crime at all.
Lastly, as the soul of man, according to Mr. Hume, becomes every moment a different being, the consequence must be, that the crimes committed by him at one time, cannot be imputable to him at another.
I believe, Dr. Smith, the reader is now fully prepared to enter into the spirit of your concluding sentence, which therefore shall be mine.
P The poor prodigal Gentile, in the parable, was hardly reduced to feed upon such HUSKS as these. How good and how joyful a thing must it be, for one, that has been so reduced, to return to the house of his heavenly Father, where there is bread enough and to spare-to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent!
"My Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals is of all my "writings, historical, philosophical, or literary, incomparably "the BEST." Life, p. 16.
"I have always considered Mr. Hume, both in his life"time, and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the "idea of a PERFECTLY WISE AND VIRTUOUS MAN, as perhaps "the nature of human frailty will permit."
LET no reader take offence, though the subjects debated in the following pages be of a serious nature, if the ideas and images employed should sometimes border upon the ludicrous. The contest between Elijah and the votaries of Baal was a very serious one, and heaven itself interposed in its decision. Yet, strong and pointed is the irony of the prophet: "Cry aloud, for he is a God; either he is talk
ing, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradven❝ture he sleepeth, and must be awakeda !" Impiety provokes a frown; absurdity occasions a smile; and many who glory in the imputation of the former cannot but feel when they are convicted of the latter. Some opinions and arguments become risible, on being stated. A portrait is sufficient; a caricature needless; perhaps impossible. Where such is not the case, nothing, it is hoped, has met with this treatment, unless proved to deserve it. Ridicule is not the test of truth, because truth must always be the test of ridicule; and he, who laughs in the wrong place, exposes no character, except his own. But, as the learned and ingenious Dr. Ogilvie has well observed,
a1 Kings, xviii. 27.
"he who can fairly turn the laugh when it has been raised "against him, will be pardoned readily, provided he has "laughed in good humour."
b Inquiry into the Causes of the Infidelity and Scepticism of the Times. Page 445.
LETTERS ON INFIDELITY.
TO W. S. ESQ.
You express your surprise that, after the favourable manner in which the Letter to Dr. Smith was received by the public, and the service which, as you are pleased to say, was effected by it, nothing farther should have been attempted; especially as an Apology for the Life and Writings of David Hume, Esq. made its appearance soon afterwards; and some posthumous tracts of that philosopher have been since published to complete the good work he had so much at heart; not to mention other productions on the side of Infidelity. A few strictures on the nature and tendency, the principles and reasonings, of such performances, thrown out, from time to time, in a concise and lively way, you observe, are better calculated to suit the taste and turn of the present age, than long and elaborate dissertations; and you see no reason why a method practised by Voltaire (and so much commended by D'Alembert) against religion, should not be adopted by those who write for it. In compliance with these hints, and that you may not think me desirous of leading an idle life, when there is so much work to be done, I