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When we consider these sentences as proceeding from the pen of "the first philosopher of the age,' in his palmary and capital work, designed to settle the principles of morality on their only proper foundation, "it would be the drudgery of a MONTH' to find any thing in the system of Chesterfield and his three associates, "the dancing-master, the per

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fumer, and the devil," better calculated to multiply new connexions, and dissolve old ones; any thing that so much deserves the profoundest acknowledgements from-the gentlemen of DOCTORS'

COMMONS.

Ir may still perhaps be asked, dear sir, how it should happen, that, when Mr. Hume's principles were so bad, his practices should be no worse? Let me offer the solution given of such a phenomenon in the intellectual world, by a very ingenious and sagacious writer, who had not only studied mankind in general, but, as it should seem, had bestowed some pains upon the very case now before

us.

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"This fact has been regarded as unaccountable: "that sober men, of morals apparently unblameable, "should madly unhinge the great principles of re'ligion and society, without any visible motive or "advantage. But by looking a little farther into “human nature, we shall easily resolve this seeming paradox. These writers are generally men of "speculation and industry; and therefore, though they give themselves up to the dictates of their ruling passion, yet that ruling passion commonly "leads to the tract of abstemious manners. That "desire of distinction and superiority, so natural to man, breaks out into a thousand various and fan"tastic shapes; and in each of these, according as it "is directed, becomes a virtue or a vice. In times "of luxury and dissipation therefore, when every

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LETTER III.

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tenet of irreligion is greedily embraced, what road "to present applause can lie so open and secure, as "that of disgracing religious belief? Especially if "the writer help forward the vices of the times, by relaxing morals, as well as destroying principle. "Such a writer can have little else to do, but to new model the paradoxes of ancient scepticism, in "order to figure it in the world, and be regarded, by the smatterers in literature and adepts in folly, "as a prodigy of parts and learning. Thus his vanity becomes deeply criminal, and is execrated by the wise and good; because it is gratified at "the expense of his country's welfare. But the "consolation which degenerate manners receive "from his fatal tenets, is repaid by eager praise: and "vice impatiently drinks in and applauds his hoarse "and boding voice, while, like a raven, he sits croak"ing universal death, despair, and annihilation to "the humankind."

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But taking the account of Mr. Hume's manners as his friends have given it; to say, that "few of "the professors of Christianity ever equalled him "in morality, humanity, and the government of "their passions," is certainly going a great deal too far. Thousands, in the first ages of the Gospel, gave all their goods to feed the poor; renounced, in deed as well as word, the world and the flesh, and joyfully met death in its most horrid forms, for the love of their Redeemer. On the same principle, unnumbered multitudes, in every succeeding age, have manfully sustained the heaviest calamities of human life, and with faith unfeigned, and hope that

VOL. IV.

2 B

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maketh not ashamed, yielded up their souls into the hands of their Creator. Scenes of this kind are daily and hourly passing in the chambers of the sick and dying, as they, whose office it is to visit those chambers, well know. To others they must remain unknown, for want of biographers to record them. Every Christian, who lives in piety and charity, does not favour the public, with HIS OWN LIFE. Every Christian, who expires in peace and hope, has not the happiness of a Dr. Smith to pen the story of his death:

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"Full many a gem of purest ray serene

"The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;
"Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
"And waste its sweetness in the desert air.

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"Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
"Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life

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'They kept the noiseless tenour of their way."

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Christianity," says a learned writer, “has in every age produced good effects on thousands and ten "thousands, whose lives are not recorded in history; "which is, for the most part, a register of the vices, "the follies, and the quarrels of those who made a "figure and a noise in the world; insomuch that Socrates, at the close of his work, observes, that "if men were honest and peaceable, historians "would be undone for want of materials."

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But, whether the professors of a religion be many, or few; whether they be influenced by the spirit of

it, or not; whether they be sincere, or hypocrites; whether they be detected, or undetected; the religion is still the same: it does not change with the changing tempers, dispositions, and interests of mankind, in different times and places; nor is it to be charged with the guilt of practices, against which it protests in every page. No demonstration in Euclid can be clearer than this.

To account for the opposition often so visible between the lives and opinions of Christians, one must enumerate all the various methods, by which, in matters of moral and spiritual concern, men are wont to impose upon themselves. Appetite and passion, sloth and interest, will work wonders in this way-wonders, of which he has no idea, who has not been accustomed, with this view, to contemplate the conduct of those around him, and impartially to scrutinize his own. The religion of many a person professing Christianity, is, by these means, laid by, like a best coat, for Sundays and holidays. Not a single thought occurs of the neces sity there is for its being brought into the daily and hourly concerns of common life. It is a speculative belief, deposited in the understanding, to which its owner recurs when he has nothing else to do; he finds it where he left it, and is fully satisfied with its being there, instead of bearing it always about him, in his heart and affections, as an active principle, ready for use, to operate at all seasons and on all occasions. He will even spend his days in discoursing and disputing upon the sublimest doctrines and most holy precepts of religion, his own life still

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